Thank God for Bad Hair Days

“Okay, Mom, we’ll go tomorrow. That’s fine. See you then.” Click. Whenever I invite my mother to go shopping for the day, she always says yes, but on this particular occasion, she said no. Mom wanted to finish up a sewing project before taking off with me for a day of bargain hunting.

Oh well, I thought. At least I can look forward to visiting my sister and her family tonight. I moped into the bathroom to fix my hair. What a flop! I hadn’t had such a bad hair day in a very long time. This is not shaping up to be a good day, I thought.

The morning passed slowly. Finally lunchtime came and went, and I got my toddler down for her nap. At last! I had an hour to get ready before leaving to visit my sister, but I really wanted to go upstairs first to check my email in my office. But then I thought, I should first try to do something with this awful hair!

As I walked into the bathroom, the smell of smoke lay heavily in the air. My panic level was rising with every whiff of smoke. Was it my curling iron? Hair dryer? No. Maybe the smoke was coming inside from a fire in the backyard. No, the yard was fine. What else could it be? As I turned my head, I saw rings of smoke rising from my decorative bath towels. Upon closer examination, I found a fist-sized hole that had burned in one towel, and the ring around the hole was lit up with orange embers. The towel was just about to burst into flames. I quickly doused it with water from the faucet. Crisis over.

My house nearly burned down from most unusual circumstances. The strength of the winter sunbeams bursting through my bathroom window was reflecting off my brass mirror as it rested on the bathroom counter, and the sun rays were then bouncing onto a concentrated mark on the towel. A moment later, and the bathroom would have been in flames.

After the adrenalin ceased pumping through my veins, I began to realize what God had done for me that day. Had I gone shopping with my mother, I wouldn’t have been at home and the house would’ve burned down. Thank you, God, for having a greater purpose for life’s little disappointments. Had my hair turned out when I fixed it that morning, I wouldn’t have gone into the bathroom to catch the towel before it burst into flames. Thank you, God, for having a greater purpose in my imperfections. Had I first gone upstairs to check my email, I would’ve come back downstairs to find smoke and flames. Thank you, God, for helping me prioritize even the most insignificant affairs of life.

Why did God let the towel burn in the first place? If He hadn’t intended to permit the house to catch fire, why let the towel smolder and allow such a close call? God does everything with purpose, and He was teaching me a lesson. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28 NKJV).

Cost of replacing a smoldered bath towel: $12.99.

Cost of being reminded of God’s sovereignty: priceless.

from A Month of Miracles

Adoption Celebration

Nine years ago today, Jason Sowell entered the world. In honor of the love and joy he brings to my life, I want to share this adoption story to celebrate how God brought Jay into our home.  If you’re considering adoption, God can make a way! 

He smelled so enchanting. Resting in my arms was the most precious little boy I had ever dreamed to call my son.
Our miracle daughter was a delight to our souls, and we thanked God daily for Julia, but Kevin and I felt like the Lord would make us a family of four. My doctor said I shouldn’t expect to get pregnant again, so Kevin and I began to consider adoption. We chose an adoption agency and requested a baby boy from Guatemala. We climbed aboard the paper train of legal documents, waiting daily to hear news we were one step closer to bringing home our son Jay.
Though the paperwork was still months from completion, I longed to hold my son. I made arrangements to travel to Guatemala, and was granted permission to keep Jay for an entire weekend. What splendor! He was more beautiful than any picture could’ve conveyed. His hair was soft, his gaze was fetching, and snuggling him in my lap was a dream come true. Throughout the weekend, I obsessed over keeping him within sight and reach, and now, there he lay, sleeping beside me, on our last night together.
I could not sleep that night, though I was exhausted. I didn’t want to lose a single moment of watching him, if even to watch him sleep. A single light bulb burned in the room, just enough to cast a soft shadow of me, his mother, over his tiny sleeping frame. I stole my eyes away from him only for brief seconds, glancing at my greatest enemy of the weekend, the clock. Time was passing quickly through the night.
My mind turned back to the first moment I laid eyes on him. He covered just a few square inches on my computer screen, but his photo captured my heart. My husband I looked at him, pictured as a tiny bundle of newborn, wrinkled flesh, and somehow we knew we would love him for the rest of his life.
I fast-forwarded to my anxious emotions as I saw the lawyer pull up in her hatchback on that beautiful Guatemalan street just two days earlier. I was about to touch my son for the first time. Jay, the little boy who would grow to be a man in my home, who would have me sit in bleachers on scorching afternoons to watch him kick up dust in his little ball uniform, the little boy who would need me to clean his scrapes, wash his jeans, and frame his accomplishments on the bedroom wall – the boy who would be a part of my life forever more, and I was seconds away from laying my eyes upon him for the first time. Those first few moments were bittersweet, because my mind and heart were battling each other. My thrill of holding precious Jay was tainted from the beginning with the sickening pain of knowing it was just for the weekend; in a matter of hours, I would have to give him back into someone else’s arms, board a plane, and wait for an undetermined number of months before I could hold my son again.
Light began to appear through the windowpanes, early traces of evidence that morning had come. I could no longer fight the terrified feeling in my stomach. I wanted to pray, but the pain was so heavy. I placed Jay safely in his carrier and lay prostrate on the cold tile floor beside my bed. God, how can you expect me to do this thing? How can I place my son into someone else’s arms, a total stranger to watch over my child? I knew it would happen one way or another; I had no choice in the matter. God, I want to glorify You in this morning’s exchange, but I don’t have the strength. I want to fall apart now; I can’t bear to be strong.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord in my heart. Kimberly, I have been taking care of Jay from the moment he entered the womb. I have had My hand of protection upon him since the day he was born, and I will continue to keep Jay in MY care until you bring him home with you. A rush of reassurance flooded every empty space in my heart. And Kimberly, remember, once you get Jay home, he will still be in My care.
The morning fully bloomed, the lawyer arrived to retrieve Jay, and I watched her drive away with my precious cargo. I shed a mother’s tears, but the Lord kept a strong hand upon my shoulder as I placed my final kisses upon Jay’s soft cheeks.
On the tile floor of a guest room in Guatemala, did God do a miracle? The sun did not turn back, and time did not stand still. The lawyer didn’t miraculously show up with paperwork in hand to announce I could just take Jay home with me that day. God’s capable hands didn’t overturn any laws of nature. But what did happen was God allowed me to do something I never could have done on my own. Like Samson breaking the temple pillars in his final act of life, or Noah tending an ark full of animals for several weeks afloat, God supplied the necessary strength to my soul at just the right time. Sometimes the miraculous is not what God performs in nature but what He accomplishes in our hearts.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9a NKJV).

-from A Month of Miracles 

Walking Toward Your Future

Jochebed faced a horrible decision (Exodus 2:1-10). The Egyptians were killing baby boys, and she had hidden her newborn for as long as she could. Not to decide would be to decide his death, because the child was too active to be hidden any more. Jochebed courageously placed her child in a basket among the reeds. Imagine that moment when her hands let go of the child. Next came the decision to take her fingers off the basket. Then to stand up…next to step back…and then to walk away.

God loved Jochebed, and He loved her baby. God loves you, too. It’s time for you to move forward with your decisions. Take your hands off the past, step back, and walk away. As you walk away from the past, you are walking toward your future.

-from Lost on a Familiar Road

Forgiveness

Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13)

Unforgiveness is bondage. We’re trying to hold someone else hostage by locking him up in chains of unforgiveness, only to realize that what we’ve done is effectively chain ourselves to our assailant and we also can’t break free.

Look in your heart. Look very carefully, and look more than once. Have you fully and freely forgiven your trespassers, or are you chained to them in pain and anger?

– from Lost on a Familiar Road

You Are Special and Loved

No one knows you better than God, and no one values you more than He does. God made you in His very own image (Gen. 1:26). You are His special creation, and that makes you of great worth.

God takes a particular interest in you. You aren’t person  no. 577,624,518,967,334 to God. God has always known you. Before you were born, God knew you and had already set you apart (Jer. 1:5). Make no mistake, you are a special person, because you are special to God.

Tucked away in your mind are file cabinets filled with every compliment, report card, knowing look, high five, taunting jeer, and rejection letter you’ve ever received. Purge the files. Take a new memo. God has said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).

– from Lost on a Familiar Road

A Thought on Servanthood

“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

Servanthood is not just about getting down on our hands and knees and doing work. It’s the mindset of the servant that makes the work servanthood; otherwise, we’re only piously showing off how low we can go for others to admire our good deeds.

-from Lost on a Familiar Road 

The Secret Place

Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep. (Psalm 64:6)

The mind is a deep cavern. We share our thoughts with others from time to time, but even then we tend to craft our words to package our thoughts as we prefer for them to be received. Powerful thoughts are being formed in those caverns, so deep and hidden away that even we sometimes fail to appreciate their depth.  Are you willing to traverse to the recesses of the cavern with God and allow Him to shine a bright light on the truth of what is happening in the secret place that is our mind? 

-from Lost on a Familiar Road 

Goodbye to Shame

“If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

When Christ enters our lives, we are absolutely set free from the shame of our sin. Forgiveness from God is deep, thorough, and complete.

Reject the shame. Refuse to replay the stories of your sin over and over in your mind. When you feel guilt and shame popping up in your thoughts today, immediately tell God how grateful you are for His forgiveness. Then take a deep breath and smile. Be fully convinced that you are forgiven.

-from Lost on a Familiar Road