Sunday, July 29, 2018

Prepare Your Field: Sowing Seeds of Life

*Originally penned 11/2016

"A value of a life is always measured in terms of how much of it was given away!"
--Andy Stanley

Lately I have been reminded, there are clearly people who have put thumbprints so deeply impressioned  on my heart that have become part of the fabric of my soul simply because I remember how I felt in their presence . Actually about four years ago, I began sowing seeds of life and love  into my family deposited by one person in particular.

 Our before school ritual exists because more than one time one generous Colquitt County farmer would reach his wrinkled, spotted, work-worn hands across his chair in his living room and pat mine. "How's speech school? You are doing a good thing. You will be used! " Then he would slip me a $20. Lavishing words of affirmation, he planted seeds of life.

 I can also recall sitting round the holiday dinner table at the Presbyterian mans. The Farmer invited to be part of our family.  His presence brought warmth, peace, and sparkle of eye. Out of preacher daddy’s sight, he would slip us girls some money to help our poor college student budgets. Now because of him, every morning I "hall" in those seeds of encouragement as I cup cherub faces in hands before Viking buses arrive.  I declare over their lives: 

"Do your best because God is going to use you to do mighty things !" 
John Davis gives an eye roll and exclaims in a deep baritone voice,  "Ok! I Got to go! " 
Joy sighs in frustration, "Mom! You say THAT EVERY morning , I know, I KNOW!"

 After my marine , pastor daddy blessed a life, held hands and hearts, and lowered The Farmer into the Georgia red clay he tilled,  he continued to live on in us . Lives on in me. Now The Farmer's son's impressionist paintings deck our "halls" and sanctuary. The Farmer’s grandsons pass on those seeds of life to us in their own creative mass media way. See, his grandsons have gone on to write and produce movies that have greatly impacted our haven. Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Courageous, War Room….

 Who knew? Who knew all those years ago, their gifts would help my family so much. Help us through every phase of grief and many uncertainties! They have taught my fatherless son to be a courageous man, to know that circumstances don't have to dictate your destiny ;  to walk with love, walk with integrity, and we are called to be more than chameleon Christians. These Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen,  teach how to battle spiritual warfare and "Face the Giants" and to make a "War Room" . Run your race with passion, purpose, and perseverance. 

 I invite you to prepare your field. Don't waste your gift. Leave a legacy so that others will remember fondly the way they felt in your presence. Your words of life will impact the generations to come ! The Farmer sure did. His encouragement and sowing seeds deposited life in me and many others, no doubt. My aim is to prepare my field and sow the same life and love in others. Henry "Buster" Hall, I’m forever thankful for you. Thanks for sowing seeds of life and showing us how to pass on a legacy of love.

Until the whole world hears,


Friday, April 6, 2018

Give The Rose of Hope

The past few days weight has been heavy on chest and I have felt tears close to welling in eyes. Short on temper and words a bit terse. I realize a steady steam of stressors on this single mom, widowhood-walk have left this servant feeling empty and love tank bare. A fresh refilling, full measure of spirit- love, encouragement, and hope  needed to rain down and replenish my soul. Ever been there? Ever held up hands and declared, "Yes Lord,  an emotional resuscitation is in order!"

I exit the car and mount the terra-cotta brick steps at the accounting firm. As I approach the desk, the assistant exclaims, "Oh! I have your return right down here!" Honestly, I was surprised she knew my name and told her she was good at remembering. "Well, I have been here for quite a long time!"

What didn't register for me was just how long I had been a client! Seven years. Seven springs ago, they began helping me wade through all the financial questions I didn't know how to resolve in the business of death and settling an estate. This was in fact the 8th tax return they had filed for me.

As I give a couple of pages my John Hancock, I hear her musical voice comment, "I love your ring!" I glance down to focus on what ring she is referencing.

"Oh.....thanks! It has special meaning. The first book I read after my husband died was Roses In December and my blog is A New Bed of Roses."

As I walked back to the car I was reminded, a compliment so small
spoke so much to my heart. This ring and this bracelet I clothe myself in each day had fallen from my sight and become
mundane rather than the hope and "65 roses" (cystic fibrosis ) reminders they are meant to serve.  Her compliment was God reminding me of His  promises to bring beauty out of ashes and that sometimes earthly miracles still happen among us. She unknowingly gave me a rose of hope!

On this side of Easter, thankful for his resurrection and for laying eyes on his earthly "65 roses", life with new lungs miracle in the flesh! Grateful a compliment reminded me to put on love, keep looking at others with eyes of grace, and find the gold within ; to build others up, to give them a rose of hope in the midst of life's chaos. You never know when a seemingly small word may speak volumes to renew another heart!

...let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance, and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance (of eternal salvation). Such hope (in God's promises) never disappoints us, because God's love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:3-5 AMP

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Home Sweet Home: The day I ask my kids for forgiveness

Our holiday, winter break was truly sweet. Those days are etched in my memory. I didn't want it to end. The most peaceful Advent season we have had in years. We were truly able to keep our eyes on anticipating the Christ child's arrival; marvel at a baby coming to earth to be God with skin on.

To be sure we were intentional with our time, we made a "joy jar", filling it with ideas for quality time and fun excursions to experience around town. We enjoyed movies nestled beneath warm blankets while flames danced in the fireplace. Balsam and fir wafted in the air, while little hands constructed gingerbread houses and arranged sprinkles on cookies. 

With the clinic closed, we savored a whole week lounging in PJs and sipping coffee while gazing at twinkling lights on tree. After New Year's, an unexpected gift arrived....SNOW! I delighted in being witness to the first time my kids have felt flakes tickle noses and melt on tongues. The glee of hands scooping cold mounds and hurling through the air pelting sibling. We recounted my own childhood memories of snows in metro Atlanta where their granddad bought us make shift sleds from Ace Hardware. Black concrete mixing tubs gave us hours of rides down our steep driveway. Our southern region had not received snowfall in decades! Isn't that just God? He gives unexpected gifts just because he wants to bless his children. The break truly felt like home sweet home!

Yet, peppered throughout the break were scenes not so picturesque. Squabbles and screams. Jeers and tears. Sharp words that penetrate soul. Loud verbiage, slammed doors. Savage. My kids can turn savage. I am left perplexed  as to how this mean chaos happens again and again? If you were to ask me if I teach my kids? If I seek to discipline and disciple my kids? If I  probe their sinful hearts and point to their need for Christ? If I get them to examine their behavior in light of God's commands, fruit of the spirit, and love for others? ......My answer is a resounding YES!


As I seek retreat to the master suite to escape for encouragement, I hear conviction and truth  through a series of sermons. Rob Rienow's words made my toes and heart ache a bit. Thought I was probing little hearts and steering them in the right direction with great intention. I came to realize, I have been fooling myself. I have been believing lies.                                                                       
I sat my kids down at our kitchen table with a bag of marshmallows, a cardboard house, and their bibles.                Joy reads, Proverbs 14:1......

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers downs (brick by brick MSG)."  

Then I humbled myself. "I need to ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive me. I have discovered I have been believing two lies. Lies that I have allowed to tear down our house. "

Silence. Amazement sat on faces. "I've been believing, 'Siblings just fight!' When in fact, siblings are God's design to give you an encourager, a prayer partner, and accountability.  I've also been lulling myself into thinking your true character is who others say  you are outside this house. You are who your teachers, friends, and youth leaders compliment; brag about. When in fact, your true character is who you are in this home. If you want to know what kind of friend you are, it's how your treat your brother. If you want to know what kind of husband you will be, it's how you treat me."

"See this house? This house is a visual representation of our home (pouring in marshmallows) . We can build it up or tear it down! I love you enough to teach you how to make a home, a sweet home. Will you do your part?"  
During an interview for her role in the film, Wonder, Julia Roberts commented on the script that gripped her. "Compassion.... Compassion is not something you want to be lectured about, you want to be infused with it. " My prayer is our home is infused with love, empathy, and compassion. Since we constructed our marshmallow abode that final day of winter break, it sits as the centerpiece of our kitchen table. When harsh words ring out, marshmallows removed symbolize to little hearts they are choosing the foolish way, tearing down our house brick by brick. I wish I could tell you this teaching tool has totally transformed life under our roof; that sibling spats have ceased and encouragement from mouth abound! Not hardly! But, I do believe I've seen the aroma of my kid's hearts become a little sweeter.

"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

2 Corinthians 2:15 

Rob Rienow: Visionary Family, Visionary Marriage

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Through the Looking Glass: Letting Advent Transform Your Pane

The screams of Christmas lists,  family tensions strung high , custody schedules, and complaints echo through my ears . I feel like I'm standing still watching all the squabbling  of the season happen before me through a frosted window pane. And I want more than anything to beckon them to come and see how I see; to offer them a piece of my peace .

In my world, the perspective on the other side of the looking glass, cozy Advent atmosphere : White lights tinkle, an advent wreath, a Jesse tree.... my haven is awaiting , waiting with anticipation . Waiting for a babe. Because a babe, fully God, fully man, a Savior coming, our vocabulary changes from all the have tos to we GET to! From seeing lack to seeing all we have!

Make no mistake , life under this roof is not all a bed of roses. The realization , the pains of Advent put all first world problems into crystal perspective . And if one allows , grief can transform panes from pains. The lens of gratitude lights the path to counting life as joy and peace .The lens makes all things new.

I can't help but know there are people out there praying for what most take for granted . A roof over head, four wheels to drive, pantry of food, accessible medical treatment, faucet flowing drinkable water, eyes that read, ears to drink in sounds of the season,  diplomas on wall....all make me wealthier than 75% of the world's population.
Through the glass I see all I have only because of the one who gave it all. The one who took holes in hands knows all the holes in your heart . Discovering your holes leads you to the only one who can make you whole .  Love came down to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free.

Breathe. Breathe in hope. Breathe in peace. Breathe in joy.  Breathe in love, for the Christ child is coming !

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Helping the Greiving Through the Holidays

As a young girl growing up near the heart of Atlanta, my most vivid Christmas memory was going to see The Atlanta Ballet perform the Nutcracker at the Fox. Now I too enjoy the Nutcracker tradition in our community each Christmas season with my daughter.  A few weeks ago I found myself roaming through the ornament section of Target. I was on a hunt to find a special ornament to commemorate this year's Nutcracker tea and performance.  No ornament was really grabbing me as a token I'd like my Sugar Plum Fairy girl to hang on her tree many years from now to remember the annual event . What did catch my attention was a dull throbbing ache that began to creep up in my chest. I soon realized the familiar feeling...the return of the Holiday grief monger.

 After seven years, I have come to the conclusion, the lights that are so merry and bright illuminate holes within hearts. The holidays make grief more raw. Our pain is less sharp now, but Micah's absence is always with us. My thoughts shifted to those in my circle who are grieving right now. A friend who just buried her dad. Marriages shattered, kids worlds crumbled. Another family just kissed Dad in uniform good-bye and will see him about this time next year. As I pulled my cart to check out lane 6, there she was, a beloved MOPS sister. She shared hubby just deployed for 3 months. She shared my sentiments, holidays make pain greater.

How can you help grieving families through the holidays? Here are my top dos and don'ts :

1. Say, "I'm here. Call me if you need anything!"
This is a grand gesture, but grieving people often don't know what they need and won't remember who offered to help. If it's soon after a death, I encourage a family member or close friends helping to keep a list of all those who offer to help and what their specific ways they want to help (childcare, yard, make meals).

2. Say, "You know this was God's will. "

3. Don't say irrational spiritual statements to rationalize loss: :
" God knew it was his time!"  , "At least your kids had a dad for the time they did! Some kids never have one !" , " You are young and beautiful you will marry someone else .",  " You are young ! You can still have other children !",  "You know God knew you all needed an angel up there to watch over you !"

1. Continue to include them. Invite them to outings, game night, or parties.
Even if the person says no, the gesture that you thought of them and invited them means a lot. Know that each person is a soul. Just because their marital status may have changed doesn't mean they don't want to be included in their previous circle of friends.

2. Invite them over for a meal or take a meal to them and stay to eat.
Meals are wonderful. Company is even better. I know I've said it before but, if we are to be the supportive body of Christ, we have to get past pop and drop. Popping a casserole in the oven and dropping it off and riding into the sunset fills the belly, but not the soul. Grieving people most need a listening ear and fellowship.

3. Ask them when and how you can help them decorate their home or haul down Christmas boxes from the attic.

4. Ask what their family holiday plans are to be sure they will not be alone.
Grief can bring family closer or tear them apart. Families either lean on each other or turn on each other. Don't assume because family is close by that family supports the grieving.

5. Ask them what in their home needs repairs.

6. Ask parents if they would like help shopping for the kids and take the kids shopping for surviving parent.
For a surviving spouse or  spouse of a deployed service member, buying all your own Christmas presents and faining to be surprised on Christmas morning  is one of the hardest/lonliest parts of the grief journey.

7. Be a constant presence.
Whether cards, text, lunch dates. being there on a regular basis is the biggest support you could ever imagine . One mom shared,  "After my miscarriage , a dear friend would just come and sit on my couch with me and watch movies. I'd cry and she never had to say a word. Having her there meant so much "

8. Be dependable. Keep your word, be a promise keeper.
From my observations, disappointment to the grieving (especially children) is magnified more than I could put into words. Follow through on intentions to get together, take kids hunting, or on fun outings.
Be a person whose walk matches talk. We show integrity by our actions rather than our intentions. Keeping promises reaffirms there is good in a hurting world and loving people who can be trusted. If we are in Christ, then we are an extension of God's love in action.  After all,  love is something that we do and  we do what we believe.

"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and in truth."
1 John 3:18

Love Is Something That We Do: Clint Black

Emergency Response Handbook for Small Groups by Group Publishing

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Living On the Bridge Through Life's Seasons

God's given a clear word to me. The word keeps resurfacing in small group discussions, bible study, news articles.... the word is season. In this season, God has definitely tilled the soil and is doing a new work. I am so thankful my little haven is in a season of peace. I'm back to work full time in the speech rehab world. I ain't gonna lie!  I love what I'm called to do. But ya'll, the struggle  IS REAL to balance single motherhood, work, and home life.  I'm most definitely right where I am suppose to be ministering, but not exactly where I thought I'd be this season last year. 

During this season, God has taught me:

1. God gives vision and His chief desire is for us to be obedient. 
This time last year I created a LLC with the vision of training church leaders and educators on organizational leadership and on how to create safe sanctuaries. A vision to help bring awareness and a plan to protect children from sexual and emotional abuse in churches. Can I  get a witness? Our headlines every day beg and scream this is a need. Yet, apparently it's not the season my for family. 

If I'm honest, I've been through Satan getting in my head. He has spoken condemnation. "Who do you think you are? What were you thinking? See your vision did not come to fruition!" I've journeyed to contentment now knowing I was obedient and if Roots & Wings Educational Consulting is to take flight, God will open doors in his time. 

In your season of waiting, don't grow weary or give up beloved! You will reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow! Galatians 6:9

2. God can use the hardest trials to help us walk into His destiny.
I've had to sit back and watch; watch my curly headed boy wrestle with a season of hardship. My John Davis, he has been handed a Goliath size, suffering cup no mom would ever want her child to bear. I found myself apologizing to him over and over that he has to endure this mountain.

I clearly heard God whisper, "Hush, just hush". I realized this very suffering may be what shapes him for his God-calling. If this thistle is taken away, he may not be changed into God's likeness and step into all his heavenly Father has for him to become. And then right there in His word:


Isn't what we all need? To humble ourselves, cast out our idols, and rest in God's saving grace? And sometimes our silence can be the loudest remark! Closing my mouth and trusting God will give me strength to know He is working the hard, painful times into good that will glorify Him.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, 
in quietness and trust is your strength,...Isaiah 30:15 

3. We are all living on a bridge.
In this haven we are most definitely in a season, a season of matrimony. In our little corner of the globe 2017-2018 ushers in 4 weddings .  As a spectator of planning and showers, I watch brides juggle dreams with family dynamics. I have become keenly aware grief has you live on a bridge, a bridge of time; a never ending  time continuum between past, present, and future.

Any given day, I walk John Davis and Joy across the bridge through several time continuums...sometimes even multiple times. 

The bridge to the PAST takes my kids back to enjoy visiting their earthly father, to know what their Dad was like; to remember and hold on to memories, and makes him tangible in his absence.

The bridge of the PRESENT  keeps us focused on what is right in front of us. Focusing on gifts in the present unlocks joy. Joy produces contentment. 

The bridge to the FUTURE  fills us with hope. Our prayer is  for wherever God plants us we will walk in His light and be a vessel to bring him glory.  We pray for whoever God brings into our future will allow room for us to bring the past along where we will cherish them both simultaneously. For we are all a sum of our past. People who speak encouragement spur us on to love and good deeds. We treasure and hold them dear. Those that caused pain and destruction also compel us to vow to love justice, seek mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

Beloved, embrace your walk on the bridge through all of life's seasons! Knowing He is the unchangeable God of each step you take through all the changing seasons will set you free. He is the God of all of your days! 

Until the whole world hears,


God of All My Days by Casting Crowns

The Very Next Thing by Casting Crowns

Monday, January 30, 2017

Kenny Rogers Theology: When It's Time to Get Out of Toxic

If you don't happen to have a knack for reading and listening to Christian psych, this debate I'm about to weigh in on might not even be on your radar. Call me a weirdo! I really wasn't going to weigh in on this Christian Psych debate I see unfolding in podcasts and media. However, since helping abused women out of toxic is my greatest passion second to creating safe sanctuaries (measures in place to prevent sexual abuse) for children, I've prayed and couldn't hold my tongue.

And since I recently wrote about having Kenny Rogers theology and knowing when to hold em', knowing when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away, and when to run.... And then my girl Jen Hatmaker apparently got the same memo and writes the same message! Well......I just have to go there.

After Smalley's (Michael rather than Gary) broadcast on January 10, Healing in the Midst of Being Wounded, where he answered a listeners question, I cringed. Listeners question:

"Why do the churches preach forgiveness, but nobody discusses verbal abuse, and most christians make other christians being verbally abused feel like they are in unforgiveness when the reality is, the abuser never repents for his ways, and never owns their behavior, they just continues to be abusive, while their spouse is made to believe that they should turn the other cheek, forgive 70×7. Even God demands repentance, a change of ways so why do christians think it can come another way, and that healing can even occur when no change has occurred. If someone has a knife in my side every single day, it would be impossible to heal, so why do we expect spouses to heal in the midst of being wounded daily?”

Smalley you had some wonderful points, did a great job of weighing in and describing what is emotional/verbal abuse. You did an excellent job of citing statistics that indeed, emotional abuse leaves scars far worse than physical and leads to self harm in most cases. What stabbed my heart?

I think, if I might take the liberty to translate for her, the lady was not asking for someone to determine whether she was or was not in an abusive relationship and I'll admit that would be hard since she was not in the studio with you. She obviously feels like she is in an abusive relationship or she would not  have taken the time to ask you.  I'm concerned she truly needs help and this is her cry. And after hearing the broadcast, my concern?  She might feel she has to stuff her need to get out of TOXIC rather than get help.

I interpreted it to ask or hear her say:

As a Christian:  1. She has stayed because she has heard her pastors convey from the pulpit in addressing forgiveness and grace she needs to suck it up and take it. 2. She has exhausted all efforts and the relationship is not better because her abuser will not work on himself or admit that the way he treats her is wrong.

Mostly she is asking, "Is there EVER a time to WALK away for self preservation? And if so when?"

The answer my dear is: ABSOLUTELY!!!!

At this point, I'm going to hand the mic over to Jen Hatmaker to answer your question.( she recently pulled this post out of archives )

When Is It Time to Walk Away?
by Jen Hatmaker on April 21st, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make toffee. Again. The first attempt, despite scant instructions and just three ingredients, emerged like a sheet of sand and made me resort to violence and hatred.

Round two: sand again. $&*%!!!!

So I consulted the interwebs to discover the error of my ways. Let me condense the instruction I received:

Keep stirring. Stir constantly. Stir occasionally. Don’t stir once it boils. The temperature is too hot. It’s not hot enough. Too hot, too fast. Oops, too long. Keep a steady boil. NOT A ROLLING BOIL, YOU MORON. Use a whisk. Use a spatula. Use a wooden spoon. Recalibrate your candy thermometer. Don’t use a candy thermometer. Pour immediate at 285 degrees. Drop toffee into ice water and it should be brittle. Oops, while you were doing that it reached 286 degrees. Dump contents. Don’t cook if there is rain within 500 miles. 12 minutes exactly. 7 and a half minutes. 4 minutes and not a second more. If it separates, add water. If it separates, keep stirring. If it separates, turn the heat down. If it separates, turn the heat up. If it separates, I’m sorry to tell you, but your life is in shambles.

This inspired a new Toffee Doctrine I’d like to discuss today, catalyzed by a Facebook comment of unusual depth: “Girl, sometimes the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.” And I bowed my head and said amen.

There is something to be said for hard work, diligence, for pushing through obstacles and emerging victorious. Heaven forbid we’re people for whom failure is a chronic deal-breaker. Some best things are won through perseverance, and there is simply no other path. Often triumph is seized on the 77th try, and every last effort in Attempts #1-76 was worth it, and not only do we emerge successful, but the false starts and failures became our greatest teachers, and no amount of instruction could replace them.

But there is another narrative to consider, which doesn’t smack of the Protestant Work Ethic we champion or provide a lovely headline, but it is no less essential to health, and confusing the two approaches is not only dangerous but destructive. Help a sister out, Kenny Rogers:

You got to know when to hold ‘em…know when to fold ‘em.

I recently discussed this with my 7th grade daughter. (Fact: 7th grade exists as an evolutionary natural selection process to weed out any tender, confident, precious traits from the adolescent species. Eat or be eaten, kids.) This has been a Challenging Friend Year, and she found herself on the outside, and I don’t even have to tell you what that means because we are all 7th Grade Survivors, am I right?

After a year of working and crying and trying again and crying and taking a different approach and crying more, I finally said, “Baby, some things are precious and worth the work it takes to keep them alive. Plenty of good things require hard work. But some things are too hard, and it’s time to cut bait.”

There is a tipping point when the work becomes exhausting beyond measure, useless. You can’t pour antidote into a vat of poison forever and expect it to transform into something safe, something healthy. In some cases, poison is poison, and the only sane answer is to move on.

Relationships, careers, churches, friendships, expectations, roles, tasks, organizations – these structures and connections can be the most life-giving elements on earth. They can lend meaning and purpose and belonging like nothing else. Within them, we find our tribes and passions, we come to life.

But anything that powerful has a downside, for they are the same things that can drain us dry and leave us for dead. When an endless amount of work and blood and sweat and tears leaves a situation or relationship or even an ambition (Perfect Mom, Size 4 Human, Person Who Has It All Together) as unhealthy as it ever was, when there is virtually no redemption, when the red flags have frantically waved for too long unheeded, the alarm bells receding into white noise after sustained disregard, sometimes the healthiest possible response is to walk away.

Assessing a circumstance as worthy of the toil is a discarded skill. Our culture doesn’t value safe boundaries like it should. We hold private disdain for the one who quit, the one who pulled out, drew a line in the sand, the one who said no more. We secretly wonder if they shouldn’t have tried harder, stayed longer, if this isn’t an indicator of their flimsy loyalty. Surely we would’ve done better in their shoes.

Locked in a toxic relationship or career or ambition or community, the levels of unhealth and spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us, and a watching world is not always privy to those private kill shots. It can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness. We can lose our heart and lose our way. And here is the key: we can pour an endless amount of energy into the chasm, and it will never matter.

There is a time to put redemption in the hands of God where it belongs and walk away before you destroy your spirit on the altar of Futile Diligence. Not every battle has a winner; sometimes it is all losers, carnage everywhere. When healthy options exist, and there is a safer alternative right…over…there, often the bravest thing we can do is stop fighting for something that will never, ever be well.

Walk away gracefully; we need not fire parting shots over the bow. That only creates more losers, and you're better than that. Take your dignity and self-respect and precious humanity, and be proud of the way you handled yourself one year from now. You don't need to be proven right; much more is at stake than validation. You'll never regret being gracious, but you might deeply regret burning a bridge that might one day be safe enough to venture back over.

It is not ungodly to evaluate critically; it is the wisest thing we can do. Reaching a point where you say “enough” to a toxic environment is not cowardly – it is so very brave. It will free you up to expend your energy in worthy ways, protecting you and maybe even your people from brutal coping mechanisms. (Do we really want to teach our children that “identifying with your captor” is the best way? When all we do is defend our imprisoner, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.)

What is the tipping point? There is no formula here and I can’t give one. This requires honest self-evaluation, safe and wise counselors, the close leadership of the Holy Spirit, a sobering assessment of reality. Ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze here?" and sometimes it is. You might discover signs of life and possibility rising up through the efforts, or the task at hand is simply too worthy to abandon, regardless. There may be necessary work left to do, and it’s too soon to assess. Or maybe the Spirit holds you in place for unclear reasons, which you may or may not ever know, but you will find peace in obedience and continue to listen for marching orders.

But the Toffee Doctrine bears adherence too: you got to know when to fold ‘em - for your health, your heart, purpose, family, your precious life. Certain goals are unattainable, and the means will never actually reach the end. And so often if you just turn a quarter degree, you’ll discover a healthier version just within reach. You’ll find the underlying value intact in a context that fits like a glove. You’ll hear yourself say, “Oh! I didn’t know it could be like this!” The toffee is still good elsewhere; maybe just need to rethink how you get it.

As for me, homemade is out, store bought is in. Now everyone is happy, the kitchen is no longer a war zone, and I know what I’m having with my coffee tomorrow morning. But there was that one recipe involving a microwave…

Someone stop me before I jump back into the crazy.


If your instinct is to counter with all the times we must stay the course, I’d ask you to carefully reread the blog and notice I already did that. My advice is for scenarios in which walking away is the right and necessary thing to do. My aim is not to lead a revolution of irresponsible quitters but of discerning disciples.

How are you struggling? Or when did you walk away for the greater good?

Until the world hears,

*helpful but not meant to self diagnose, seek counsel from a professional.