What Flag are you Waving?

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There I was with an opportunity to speak to roomful of people who would come to hear me share music and stories. It was a really bad time to have a crisis over what I was going to say. I was in the bathroom with 15 minutes left of the “opening act” and I was truly troubled. These were adults, and I did not want to waste their time!! I didn’t want a message too narrow that some might leave and think, “well, Joni, she’s young. Her message was for the young people. Or she’s artistic, that was a message for artistic people. Or she’s a mom, I bet the other moms could relate to her.” I wanted them to leave with something valuable. (These were not strangers, but mostly friends.)

I knew I couldn’t twist God’s arm for last minute wisdom, but I had to ask and pray. What he told me has carried me through many a moment since then.

“Whatever you say, testify of my grace.”

Suddenly, I knew whether I was deeply serious, lighthearted, casual, or funny, none of that was going to matter. What would matter is that the people in the room would hear and see a demonstration of the truth that God is not dealing with them according to what they deserve. Never has, never will. Even though it may look like it, and even though many a sermon has taught them so.

This was the message the lifted me out of physical and mental ruin in my early 20s.

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Night Terrors–and Jesus



I don’t care what the child psychologists or the sleep experts tell you, a night terror is true evil.

And if you ever wondered, say the name Jesus, and watch your child scream the most evil blood-curling scream.  And do it 10 times if you need to. Then you’ll know.

It is no surprise to me  that these night terrors have accompanied my daughter’s sleep the week of my walking away from some lie-bondage  involving my motherhood–ideas/philosophies which I would pass on to her.

When you’re dealing with the evil one….there’s just one perfect little problem with his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11), he is lying.

I won’t waste time describing the awful-ness of a ‘night terror’…but I will tell you how it ended.

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Just Say “LET ME GO!”

Pharoah, Pharoah, Oh whoa, let my people go!— remember the song from your childhood visit to the local Vacation Bible School (referring to Moses who went to Pharoah and simply  told him to release the Israelites who were slaves of the Egyptians.)

What kind of leader goes to another leader and just says, “Let us go.” What kind of tactic is that? ‘Let’s not fight. Let’s not put my skill against your skill. Let’s not reason. Just let me go, ok?’ That puts great generals and their scheming to shame!

On what basis? Uh, like, ….why? Why would your requesting to be let go just simply cause a ruler who has a grip on you …. to let you go.

That’s what God told Moses to do.

And like many things in the old covenant, it is a shadow of Christ to come, a picture of the gospel.

What kind of minister spends all night in a mental ward with his hands on a person’s head saying, “Let him go,” until the man is completely delivered from his insanity.

What kind of wife looks her husband in the face in his drunken rage and declares, “Satan, let him go,” only to see her husband drop on the floor, weeping, completely free, delivered from the grip of the darkness of addiction which was destroying him and his family.

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Encouraged in a crisis of double vision: when what we see and what we hope for are black and white opposites.

I woke up earlier than normal that day, heavy-hearted about horizons that didn’t line up with what I thought was coming. Life. Details. Promises. 20140714-125018.jpg

I sat in my living room floor and wondered what my options were. Give up or thank God that his promises are still SURE no matter what I see? Read more

Failing kids…by being their source.

I was circling my house trying to get a grip on what my problem was.  It’s one thing to know I’m not meeting my own expectations, another thing to know that Zach has to put up with a season of me being overwhelmed in his lifetime commitment to me, but it really hits home when you think, “I am the source of my children’s comfort and instruction, and if I am not able to give them that, I’m really messing them up!”  I’ve seen the look on older women’s faces when they recall this season of life. They admit they were deeply afraid that they were messing up their kids.  (They don’t say it out loud, but you get the hint and grimace.)

In the spin of all my questions of why I couldn’t get a grip, I landed in the pit of, “How can I just let everything else go [laundry, cooking, cleaning, social sanity time, shopping] so that I can just try to be what my kids need? I’m FAILING!” Read more

Seeing Ourselves with the Right Backdrop

It’s easy to get in a funk, I’d say. Our lives are changing year by year.  We have seasons just like life, and new growth comes at the price of perfection.

We get angry at others when our choices don’t look favorable on the backdrop of their choices. (If the world would stand still, the whole world could see I’m moving!)  The pace of their lives blurs the meaning of our movements.

Screenwriters know they have to use extremes to get a point to come out. (For something to shine, it must be dark beneath.) In literature, we learn about how foil characters contrast the main guy to make his nuances pop.

So we’re not crazy to get sucked into this game, but we can’t win it. Read more

Just when you thought the E-Mail List was DEAD!

Many of us got started  in the days before MySpace, before Facebook, before YouTube!!!!! WHAT??! Yes. It was the era of the e-mail list.

But I haven’t known what to do with my old email lists…for years!  I’m not the same as I used to be…. and … who wants an email from something they didn’t originally “sign up” for.

And nowadays, people don’t even email each other, really, right? They “facebook” (verb, transitive); they text; they avoid and bail–yes, that, too.

But I’ve been harshly awakened to the value of those lists, in the past few years, however. Stay with me if this seems too blunt at first.  (I’ll get tender.)

{My examples involve music…but this can be applied to whatever service or idea or ministry you have.}

Suddenly a TERRIBLE THING BEGAN TO HAPPEN to me ….as a “FAN.” A REAL FAN, a get-in-your-face-and-give-you-a-private-pep-rally-fan. I began finding out that some of my friends of whom I had been fans for years were releasing albums that I didn’t even know about. Like…. uh… I’m on your mailing list. I am your “friend” on facebook…. oh, are you  on instagram?   But… like HOW IN THE HE&& DID I NOT KNOW YOUR ALBUM CAME OUT!? Old friends and new friends alike.  Big and small potatoes.

I swear this happened to me like six times in a 2 year span.

Oh, because it scrolled past my facebook feed while I was loading the dishwasher one day? And you thought I'd be going to your fan page every week for 2 years to check to see if you "had anything going on?

It literally broke my heart. Over. And Over.

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