The Glow Stick

17 Aug

Glow Sticks flikr“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

—Matthew 5:15 NIV

If you’ve ever spent any time on the Texas coast, you’ve heard of ghost crabbin’. We were first introduced to the “sport” the summer of 2015 when we ran into a friend of Mike’s in Port Aransas.

We happened to be staying in the same condos—our first night was their last, and Mike was delighted to bump into them.

“Billy! What are you doing here, man?”

Billy laughed, giving each of us a Texas-sized bear hug in turn. “I’ve got the whole family down here, buddy! We’re havin’ one last hoo-rah down at the beach tonight. Ya gotta come! There’s about twenty little ones—plenty of playmates for these hooligans.”

Nick looked uncertain as Billy tussled his hair.

“Seriously,” Billy said, stooping to my son’s level. “Ever been ghost crabbin’?”Ghost Crab flikr

Both of my children shook their heads.

“Then it’s settled. Y’all come on down around nine o’clock. We’re making hot dogs, smores, and as soon as that sun goes down, we’re grabbing flashlights and huntin’ ghost crabs.”

Caitlyn’s face lit up, and she looked at me as if to ask, “Can we, Mama, can we?” I nodded and smiled.

“You gotta be quick, though,” he continued, sizing the kids up. “You quick?”

“I’m the fastest runner on my whole baseball team,” boasted Nick.

“Then I expect you to get a whole lotta crabs, buddy!” Billy patted Nick on the back and this time, he didn’t squirm away.

“Nine o’clock, then?”

Nine o’clock on the dot we crossed the bridge over the dunes and scanned the beach for Billy’s group.

“There they are,” my husband pointed out, and the kids ran off, brand new shiny plastic buckets in one hand, flashlights clutched in the other.

The group greeted us warmly, offering us drinks and hot dogs. A meticulous sand castle project was underway on one side of us, a lively game of beach volleyball on the other. I sat quietly next to Mike, listening as he and Billy laughed and caught up.

By ten o’clock the group deemed it dark enough for ghost crabbing, so Billy’s oldest son rallied the troops, pointing different directions and giving instructions.

“We do this every year.”

I jumped, startled out of my reverie by a friendly voice.

Billy’s wife smiled and introduced herself.

Standing up, I returned the introduction and thanked her for her hospitality.

“We’re so glad to bump into you,” she replied graciously. “Billy has mentioned Mike many times.” She turned her gaze toward the children, then said, “I know they have flashlights, but it was making me nervous to have the kids running around in the dark, so this year I insisted they wear glow sticks.”

As if on cue, the kids started tearing open packages and cracking their sticks. They made them into headbands, bracelets, and necklaces. One boy, about thirteen, broke two and shoved a stick up each nostril.

“Look, mom, I’m a walrus,” he yelled, laughing hysterically as his mother shook her head.

Five more minutes and the kids were off. Except for a few campfires, the beach was almost completely dark. The children had grouped themselves into glowing clusters of four or five and were racing down the beach, screaming and giggling.

After chatting for a few more minutes, someone hollered for Billy’s wife, and she politely excused herself. Sitting back down, I alternated between stargazing and kid watching.

The glow sticks were truly genius. We knew precisely how many kids there were—twenty-four—and I could count exactly twenty-four sets of moving neon bands.

Call me crazy, but I think the glow stick holds some theological implications for you and me. (more…)

We Are #DallasStrong

15 Jul

They call it the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11.

On July 7th, a twenty-five-year-old former U.S. troop opened fire, sniper style, on a peaceful protest on the streets of downtown Dallas. Injuring over a dozen law enforcement officials and killing five, his mission was clearly stated: “I want to kill white cops.”

For us locals, the names and faces of the fallen police officers have become familiar. Not knowing where to go or what to do, North Texans made their way to Dallas Police Headquarters on S. LCaitlyn Nick at DPDamar St., where a makeshift memorial had sprung up.

On Thursday, July 14th, I took my two children to see it.

My plan was simple: show my nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter that God trades beauty for ashes.

They had seen it on the news, but none of the pictures could prepare them for what we saw.

We saw a mountain of flowers, stuffed animals, posters, and crosses covering and surrounding two police cars.

We saw people holding hands and praying.

We saw the Red Cross on hand passing out water.

We saw a divided people uniting in love.

Perhaps the most profound thing I noticed was the grief etched on the face of every single officer we spoke to. The men who died in the line of duty were their brothers and friends. They were lunch buddies and confidants. Real people with real stories; who left real families behind to mourn.

But underneath the grDPD Memorialsief was gratitude.

There is an oft-neglected ministry that we are inclined to forget about, and that’s the ministry of simply showing up.

We shook hands, exchanged words, and hugged necks, and each officer said the same thing.

Thank you so much for coming. It means so much. Thank you for your support.

A verse of Scripture that I’d memorized years ago began to play through my mind:

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

—Psalm 147:3

When we rally around our wounded, we become a part of the binding process.

My children and I talked about the ways we saw God working. We discussed the ministry of showing up; how presence comforts when words fail. How signing a card says far more than our name, and how a hug or a handshake heals wounds.

You see, God works miracles of healing all the time, and His favorite instrument is us.

I want in. (more…)

Trusting For the Better “Yes”

5 Jul

We have all been there.

Praying, pleading and begging God to speak, act, or move on the behalf of ourselves or someone we love. At best, God seems silent. At worst, downright absent.hope sign dreamstime

I’ve been there a million times, but one incident, in particular, stands out. It’s how I ended up in Dallas/Fort Worth.

At the tender age of twenty-one, I had my Bachelor’s degree in journalism in one hand and my dreams in the other. Fresh out college and ready to go, I papered Kansas City and Topeka with resumes and demo tapes, all to no avail. I couldn’t understand it. I had spent an entire summer working on camera as a news reporter at the NBC affiliate in Topeka. I had spent over a year as a news personality on our highly acclaimed college radio station. I had believed with all my heart that God had opened doors and paved trails up to this point so that I could work in radio.

Where was God now? Why wouldn’t He speak?

No doors were opening. In fact, neither my degree nor my experience seemed to warrant a return phone call.

Then finally, a crack. KBEQ in Kansas City was looking for a  promotions assistant that would, along with several administrative duties, load and unload the promotional van. It paid $16K a year, approximately $11K less than I was currently making at my until-I-can-get-my-dream-job job, and I went for it.




With my broken heart and my tail between my legs, I did what I believed God was telling me to do and drove down to the DFW area so I could, gulp, move in with my parents and figure my life out. (more…)

On Shootings and Sweet Potatoes…

13 Jun

There’s no telling how long it had been there.sweet potato

Our first inclination that something was amiss was the fruit flies. It started with one or two. Puzzled, I moved a perfectly good bunch of bananas to the kitchen table, where they sat in a decorative bowl.

No luck.

Next, I moved the avocados.

Still no luck.

The fruit flies were definitely coming from the pantry, and while they weren’t taking over, they were certainly pesky, so I continued to investigate. I rearranged, scrubbed, and scoured, and still couldn’t find their source.

On June 13, 2016, barely a day and a half after the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, I sighed as I put away the groceries. We had talked about the Orlando tragedy all morning long on 90.9 KCBI, and my heart was heavy.

Grabbing a plastic bag of sweet potatoes and swatting away another tiny bug, I cleared a space in the corner on the bottom shelf. That’s when I found the fruit fly lair.

In disbelief and disgust, I pulled a thriving sweet potato plant out of our pantry and into the light. How in the world had this thing grown? There was no light, no water, no plant food! I keep a pretty spic-and-span kitchen, how had this escaped me?

Remarkable, isn’t it, how something can flourish in the most hostile conditions.

On a day of grieving and prayer, I am strangely comforted by the sweet potato. It reminds me of a few things. Like how God’s purposes are never thwarted, and how things that stun us into silence do not shake Him. If God decrees it, it cannot be stopped.

Just try to thwart God’s will. Two-thousand years ago the Pharisees and Sadducees crucified our Savior, and the grave had no power to hold Him.

Can I say that again?

Death, in the face of Christ, is like an ant in the face of a boot.

It’s a non-issue, a non-threat, not even a stumbling block.

Upon Christ’s resurrection, a tiny band of bumbling, bickering boys became an unstoppable band of brothers who took the Gospel to the farthest reaches of their world, and since then the Church has spread across the globe.

Satan can throw stones, but as history has proven time and again, the harder he presses, the more we press on.

I am sick to death at what happened at a nightclub in Orlando, and everything in me is crying out for justice. But in the face of my sadness I resolve to this: (more…)

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