He will bless you (and them) through it

I’m going to touch on something today I have not wanted to talk about. I’ve tried to shove it down it down deep where I hoped it wouldn’t find me, but God knows my heart. He searches it daily. And He’s relentless in the things He wants you to examine, and even at times the things He wants you to speak into existence. To breathe life into someone else who may need to hear of His hope in the midst of what you think is no longer possible.

He tells us when it’s just simply time. And it’s time.

I don’t like new things. I don’t like new places. I don’t like meeting new people. What this means is that I often hold tightly to the old things, and the old people of those old places. The places I may not have wanted to leave.

New things. New people. New places. They bring me anxiety. They cause me to think only of the things that are uncertain, and the one thing that becomes certain: At some point these people. These things. This place. It. They. This. Will be gone, too.

Those feelings are borne from the painful and misunderstood cycle of complicated grief. And I know that all too well.

But here’s the thing about grief we don’t talk about. 

Grief for the things and people that are still very much alive. 

Oh, we talk about grief. We talk about it all the time. See we are acquainted with grief in the ways of death. When a loved one dies, we can commiserate, we can empathize, we can acquaint ourselves with that level of grief. Someone loses someone to death and we can understand why they are angry, sad, confused for months and years to come. We offer ourselves to them to support and encourage. We get it.

But what about other loss. The loss of a job. The loss of a marriage, relationship. The loss of a person due to complicated circumstances…a pandemic for goodness sakes. The loss of a sibling to the system. Over and over. The loss of a person who is very much alive. 

We grieve, too. Sometimes over and over. But often without anyone acquainted with that kind of grief. With the need to hold on so tightly as to not have to feel that kind of sorrow again and again. Or detach so greatly as not to dare get hurt. 

My way of dealing with this complicated grief? I hold onto people. Probably longer than I should. Longer past their expiration date. But sometimes I give up on them before their prime, too. It takes someone who desires to support you to really understand why you are carrying the baggage in the first place. 

And that’s where the time to tell the story of the “blessing” begins

I had started this particular employment journey with a heavy heart. I had vowed not to get involved. Not to get too close. Not to go too far. Because of loss. 

And someone could sense this. Someone saw the power struggle. The woman vowing not to do a thing about it. And all he did was tell me this: “Numbers 6:24-26. Pray that. Over he and his family. I know you haven’t laid that burden down. So pray that.

I was reluctant. I didn’t really know if it would help. But I did. For weeks. Months. Years. That prayer eventually became a song that would make me cry. I started praying it for other people and families. The song became one of my favorites. I had seen changes, in little bitty small ways, and I believed in His blessings. 

Until one day that prayer became too much for me to handle. And I stopped. Stopped praying for blessings. That song made me weep more than I could stand, and I hated singing it, hearing it, and I flipped it off every time it came on the radio. I couldn’t see any of those blessings, and I didn’t want to be reminded of those things for which I was grieving. 

Loss. It’s not felt. Experienced. Or explained by anyone in the same way. 

But it’s still a loss.

Blessings. May not come when we expect them. May not be seen. May not be what we even want to pray for some days, but they come just the same.

See, we pray those verses in Numbers. And we sing that song, but do we understand the context of what any of what God was asking Moses and Aaron to do meant? 

God instructs Moses to have Aaron give this very message to the Israelites, a message given to them. A blessing spoken to them. A promise provided to them right before they were to enter into a time of hardship. That time of hardship, you ask? The wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. This blessing was to serve as a reminder that God’s presence was before them, beside them, and behind them. In their coming and their going. In the morning and the evening.

I have not known of the hardship of wandering in the wilderness, but I have known hardship. I have have also known the kind of grief that walks in and out of doors of varying kinds for the better part of close to 30 years. But I also know of His blessings. Some I have seen, and some I have yet to see. Some I may have to wait to see, and some I may never see. The never seen? Well, we will get to those blessings next week. This week?

‘May the Lord bless you
    and protect you.
 May the Lord smile on you
    and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
    and give you his peace.’ Number 6:24-26, NLT

And just as God promised to Aaron, when spoken in His name, He will bless them.

I do not own the rights to this video, music, or song.

Rejoicing In All Things

This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:14, NLT

It is probably no secret you have either said this verse or at least heard it. Upon waking, or upon beginning a Sunday morning church service. Spoken as a reminder to praise God for the things he has done for us. But what happens is, if we don’t forget this step once our feet begin moving, we praise Him for the good things only.

I know what you are thinking. “Aren’t we supposed to praise Him for the good things?” Well, yes. But, let’s reflect on this story to also consider those “other” things.

Most know the story of Job in the Bible:

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. Job 1:1-3, NLT

His misfortune begins shortly after we meet him. In several short visits, Job loses all his crops, livestock, shepherds, and even his sons and daughters. His response? “Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21, NLT

When reading this story, I have always asked myself, “How do we praise God for bad things? Especially things like this?” In reading further, I remember reading the following as Job was talking to his wife about loss, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Job 2:10, NLT

We stop praising God when bad things happen because we expect that when we are Christians life will be gravy. But that isn’t the case. Sometimes it is even harder, because God is refining us. He is strengthening us. Because He has a good and perfect will, and because even the bad stuff can be used for good. Even the bad stuff, the missteps, the stuff that makes no sense, can be part of our testimony.

So, yes. This is the day the Lord has made. And we will rejoice if it is good. And we will rejoice if it is bad.

We will give Him the praise for all He will do today. Even if what He does isn’t what we consider “good.” We can rest assured, it will be good. In due time, it will most certainly be good.

I do not own rights to video, lyrics, or music.

Hold on and keep me safe

“I lost my safe. And then I did what you call a spiral. I spiraled.”

These were the words I heard in that moment. When talking about loss and fear. And I felt that. Every bit of what was said.

Let me explain…

Prior to the isolation and anxiety that came with COVID, life was virtually predictable. Get up. Go to work. No fears or worries of any impending disasters. Safety was a job. Safety was financial security. Safety was a routine. Safety was good health. Safety was comfort in the presence of people. Safety was conversation. Safety was a hug.

But then…”I lost my safe.” And I began to spiral, too.

Nothing and no one felt safe anymore. And old habits. Old beliefs. Old hang-ups. Old negative thoughts. Old traumas took safety’s place, and left an endless cycle of anxious spirals.

The safety of a job was replaced with a loss of purpose. The safety of good health was replaced by constant panic or worry of becoming unhealthy. The safety of people was replaced with isolation, and the realization that presence doesn’t mean connection. The safety of a hug was replaced with lack of touch and physical closeness. Comfort. Warmth.

But in those spirals, those cravings for safety once again; I realized safety and security were really none of these things. Even if I could no longer hold a job. Hold onto my previous routine. Hold onto my friends and loved ones.

There was still One holding me.

Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see You
When I am sure I have reached the end
Hold on to me when I forget I need You
When I let go, hold me again
. -Lauren Daigle

Safety cannot be found in the “arms” of the world and what it holds as secure. Those things can easily be taken away. Lost. People leave. Sometimes in your darkest moments. Some were never really safe to begin with.

But God.

God is our security. He is the one who provides when the job is lost. He secures our future. He holds us in his arms and gives us a big, safe hug.

He is what keeps us safe. Hold onto Him. A sure, constant, and present promise of safety.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalm 4:8

I do not own rights to these lyrics, music, or video.

It will all be OK

Ever skipped rocks across a body of water? Picked up one with just the right shape and texture? Tossed it in such a way that it skips over the surface of the water before it finally chooses the place it will finally sink? I’ve never tried it. But I have thrown a few. Outside our yard as kids, at the tires of cars that would ride by. Devious? Yes, maybe. But it always helped with the boredom, and it seemed fun until the day my brother and I got caught.

Chucking rocks at cars as they drive by doesn’t have carefree consequences as skipping them across a lake. Both are meant to be playful, but one has severe consequences if one of those rocks gets caught up in a tire, or worse-hits a target it was never intended to.

But both can be heavy. Bulky. Jagged. They can hurt if projected in the wrong direction. Cause great pain. Too much to carry around if lugging and holding onto too many.

Kind of like our burdens.

Like worry. It gets heavy.

Past hurts. They get heavy.

Even people. They get heavy.

And some of them, some of the “rocks” I was lugging around had become heavy.

I’ve blamed myself
And if I’m honest, maybe I’ve blamed You too
But You would not forsake me
‘Cause only good things come from You. Tasha Layton, “Into the Sea”

I blamed myself for the burdens that I had held onto for far too long. That I didn’t have enough faith. Wanted too much control. Went the wrong way and said “yes,” when maybe God said, “No.” And I blamed Him, too. Because He could take some of the hurts and burdens away in a hot minute, but He had not done as I had been asking.

Because I was still lugging too much stuff around

Think about the last time you spent some time on the shore, watching the waves crash. Anything in the path of the waves crashing either gets thrown back to shore, or thrown into the sea. As I walked along one morning, thinking of the burdens I had asked God to take. Those I wasn’t yet ready for Him to take. And those I didn’t yet realize I needed to give Him, I finally decided some things needed to be plunked into the sea. Only anything that came crashing back, because God had chosen it to, could stay.

Rejection. Approval. Shame. People. Control. Past hurts. The burdens of others. God, I give them to you. Help them not to pick them back up when you have left them buried in the sea. Help me to only pick up those things you have intended for good. Those things, meant for your purpose, you have decided was meant for me to carry.

I picked up a shell or rock, and one by one let each of the heavy, guilt-laden burdens sink into the sea. Surrendered them to Him. Knowing I would be OK. Knowing that once He grabs hold of these burdens, even if He sends some crashing back to me for some reason beyond my understanding; everything will be OK

What do you need to surrender to Him? What burdens or weights are you carrying around that you need to sink into the bottom of the sea? Allow Him to handle? To take away? Maybe it’s the weight of your sins-past or present. He doesn’t want you to carry that baggage. Maybe it’s the pain you still carry like a badge of honor. Or the burden of other’s expectations. Those are things He wants you to eliminate as well. Maybe you are the one carrying the burdens of everyone else. Toss it. Hand it over to Him. Give Him control of your burden, and rest in His promise that everything will be OK.

Grace for the broken

Can a woman of God be broken by Him? Can a person who is faithful to Him struggle with doubts? With temptation?

If your answer is no, you are mistaken.

I’ll tell you why.

Picture a woman. One who is sure of her purpose. She has put her trust in God, is sure of what He told her she was to do. She prays fervently for those He has placed in her path. She ministers to the “least of these.” She is faithful to His instructions, guidance, and ways.

But then…doubt creeps in. The doubts of people. Those who doubt her abilities, giftedness, and vision. The doubts she has in herself-am I enough? Do I have what it takes? And the voices of the devil that open those doubts wide: “Nope. You are not good enough. You don’t have what they have. Your vision is all wrong. God isn’t answering your prayers.”

Picture this. Constant for months. Disappointments. Changes not expected. The constant voice of the devil’s criticisms and lies.

Once faithful. Now full of doubts. Until she breaks.

What does this breaking look like?

It’s slow. Not sudden. The doubts in her abilities, her talents, her purpose slowly turn into doubts of her worth. God’s love for her.

She slowly forgets what He says about her, and who approved her, and seeks this from the world.

From people. From the opinions of those people. Trusting feelings, perceptions, and the promises of a fallen world, and not Him. She is broken, because she forgets who made her worthy.

I have always liked the song “Gracefully Broken.” There are several different versions, but my favorite is the one performed by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. In the opening commentary this is what she says about being broken, and being offered His grace:

God will break you to position
He will break you to promote you
And break you to put you in your right place
But when He breaks you He doesn’t hurt you,
When He breaks you He doesn’t destroy you, He does it with; grace.

God will let you become broken so He can provide you the way to His grace. He will allow you to be broken to show you how to climb back into His arms for safety. He will let the breaking occur so He can show you how to truly surrender to His will. He will break you to remind you of His love when you go looking elsewhere. He will allow our brokenness to happen so we can be put back together again with grace that provides deeper lessons, truths, understanding, and wisdom. Those that we could not learn and gain if we had not broken in tiny pieces.

But as the song says…He never leaves us that way. He offers us His grace.

To everyone broken, He offers us a way to put the pieces back together. In their right place. Grace to remember our worth again. Wisdom so we never allow the lies and noise of the world to cause us to forget it.

He may allow our breaking, but He also offers His grace.

Are you going to accept it, and allow Him to put your pieces back together, today?

I do not own rights to video, music, or lyrics.

Making peace with the Proverbs 31 woman

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the Proverbs 31 woman. I had a desire to be this Biblical gold standard, but then at other times, it seemed to be another standard I could just never live up to. I mean, really. Come on. She finds wool and flax, and spins it (v 13); she plants a vineyard (v 16); and she makes her own bedspreads (v 22). I don’t do any of this!

I decided to turn my love/hate relationship into one of understanding.

Who is she? And why is there an entire chapter devoted to her in the Bible? The last chapter of Proverbs, in fact; when so many others have focused on a different type of woman-an evil, manipulative, promiscuous, and adulterous woman. One who uses her beauty to deceive and lure.

Maybe because she is in fact the total opposite of those described in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. One closer to God. She is more than a woman who is “bitter poison” (5:4), or “cares nothing about the path of life” (5:6).

She honors God. Loves God. Does His will. Seeks Him first.

The writer of this well-versed chapter makes this difference known in the very first verses of Chapter 31. According to the author (King Solomon…who actually needed this advice), King Lemuel was actually given this advice from his mother: “Don’t dilute your strength on fortune-hunting women, promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders.” Proverbs 31:3, MSG. Those chronicled in those earlier chapters; those that bring destruction. Momma goes on to describe what kind of woman she desires for her boy.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12, NLT

Virtuous. Other translations describe her as noble. In other words, righteous. Good. Honest. Upright.

And she isn’t just trusted and honored by her husband. But most importantly-God.

Momma wanted the King to find him a godly woman. One of integrity. Honesty. With strong moral character.

One who was the same in secret as she was in public.

Our Heavenly husband desires this as well.

If you look back to those other chapters, those women (and ladies…let’s not be remiss to realize that men can be these things, too. This isn’t just for the ladies)…what do we find? Worldly qualities. Things folks desire simply from seeing, hearing, and trusting things other than one’s character. “Words like honey.” (Proverbs 5:4). “Lustful beauty and coy glances meant to seduce” (Proverbs 6:25).

The P31 woman is much more than looks, charm or words. She walks with God, and she mirrors His ways. When she speaks she doesn’t speak words to deceive or beguile. She speaks words of praise. Encouragement. Truth in love. She is a woman of integrity, and God has confidence and trust in her decisions, because they match the truth she reads. The life she lives, and the way she speaks.

She desires good for everyone. Not destruction. Most of all, she desires God.

And she desires Him for others, too.

I used to hate her, but now I love her. I used to want to be anything BUT her, but now she’s all I want to be.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:25-26, 30

That’s a godly woman. A woman of truth and integrity. A woman I long to be.

Note: Now that I have made peace with the Proverbs 31 woman, and continue to find peace with myself, I have some ways for you to do the same. Come back this weekend for an exciting announcement!

Placing your burdens in His hands

“You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Matthew 21:22

Prayer. It is our connection to God. The way we seek answers, and intercede for those we desire to be healed, saved, or to find peace. Prayer is a daily act of thanksgiving, surrender, and sometimes even our heaviest burden. Especially when we pray endlessly for the same thing, and don’t see any results.

How are we burdened by prayer? Our requests become heavy when we pray, but we pray out of duty, because it’s an item on a checklist. Or when we pray, we don’t let God truly handle it-we start taking the wheel, and controlling the outcome. So we show a lack of trust in Him. A lack of faith.

Our hope and our faith becomes wrapped up in our ability, and what we see happening around us. We start to manipulate things the way we want them to be, and doubt creeps in when it doesn’t happen the way we want it; or the way we asked for it to. We start to believe we have the strength to move all the mountains before us.

This is how our burdens become too heavy. Those mountains become too steep.  Because we were never meant to carry them. And, we were not meant to move them.

Prayer requires a whole ton of faith.

When the deepest sorrow weighs on your heart
When you’ve prayed for answers but the answers never come
For every tear that you cry
There’s a promise He will make your burdens light. Jamie Kimmett, “Burdens”

Prayer requires we relinquish our control, and let God do what He promised.

But these burdens, the ones we have carried for so long. We hold onto them. We tend to them. We hope to fix. We run to save. We pray, but we still keep picking it back up again. Until they are too heavy.

We don’t have to.

We can pick up our load. Our baggage. We can walk it to him. Lay it down at His feet, and say: “God, take it. You deal with it. I can’t anymore. It is not mine to carry. I give it to you. Deal with it, as you will. As YOU will, not me. I didn’t ask for this burden. So You fix this, God.”

And then BELIEVE that He will. And this is what it means to have faith as you let go.To truly lay the burden down at His feet. You can’t see what may happen. You can’t see the end. You have no clue what’s gonna happen after you lay it down, you just know He promised. You believe in those promises.

And then…watch what happens.

You are gonna change. Like a visible change.

Because you ever seen someone carrying a burden? They have a look. They look weary. They have lost a light, a bounce, a luster. They are physically, mentally, and more often than not emotionally exhausted.

Matthew 10:28 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

So, when you take that heavy burden, and you lay it down…you look different. It’s not just a physical rest. It’s a soul rest. Because here’s what’s happening before hand. You are not only carrying the weight of everything, or that person, because let’s be honest it’s usually a person, or a situation that involves a person…and what’s happening is we are all like-“but I can save them, but they are going through hard times, they need me…” well yes, but they need God…and God will fix. You lay it down. Tell Him to deal with it, and then they (God and that person) can hash that out.

Yes. That seems harsh, because we also read we are supposed to carry each other’s burdens. But here is the thing-we are not supposed to play God. God does the heavy lifting. The mountain moving. We plant seeds. We encourage. We build up. We leave the saving. The moving of the spirit. The transforming to Him.

Carry it. Lay it down. God, you deal with it. As you will.

Look, I get it. I realize how hard it is to drop that burden, and leave it there for God to handle. Some time ago I had a burden. I had it for years. I probably put it on myself a bit, but I do believe God also gave this burden to me. But it became too heavy.

In the final moment when I realized I had to surrender, I wrestled with God, and I found this passage in 1 Peter 2:

He never sinned,
    nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
    nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
    who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.
Once you were like sheep
    who wandered away.

But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
    the Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:22-25, NLT

We can’t carry everyone. We can’t pick them up, and carry all their weight. We can’t do all the heavy lifting. Those burdens are heavy.

But God can.

And I knew then, when I laid it down. And I know now. Even if. Even if I never see it. Never see salvation in those lives I pray for. It is well with me. Because I did what God asked me to do. I prayed. I surrendered. I asked for forgiveness. I showed love. Compassion. Mercy. Even if. It is well. I showed Jesus to those who didn’t know Him so that one day they may turn to the guardian of their souls, too. I am praying for that, laying them down, and letting God take over.

That is faith.

I had a choice to surrender. They have a choice to choose.

Even if. I will be ok.

And that is where we have to be. Ok to lay it down. And ok with even if. Ok with being the surrendered one and saying “God, you got this, right? You deal with it. I’m gonna pray it out, over here, while you work it out over there. You carry the burden. I’ll pray and rest.”

God’s got you covered. And guess what…he has them covered, too. That burden. As long as they want it.

Lay it down. Pray it out. Let it go. It’s out of YOUR hands. So today, simply put that burden in His.

I do not own the rights to this song/video/lyrics.

You can go here, but not there…

There is something about being at the beach that seems to bring about the idea that life really does make sense. Maybe it’s the salty air. The sounds. Or the fact that our ever moving minds and bodies are truly in “vacation” mode. But here…I hear His Spirit once again and it revives me.

As I took one of my long morning walks along the shoreline, I took note of the pattern and rythym of the waves and thought of their movement. How do they know where to stop? The waves that is. How do they know how to get to shore, and know they can only go but so far?

I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set. Jeremiah 5:22

They can only go but so far. God created boundaries so the earth would not be covered by the sea. As we walk along beaches we trust in the one who demands the wind and waves obey. Knowing they cannot cross His boundaries.

But what about those boundaries he sets for us? What happens when he tells us “You can only go this far?”

Do we listen? Or do we venture out on our own into territory He hasn’t set out for us?

Just like He commands the seas to stop at a certain point. Tells them you can go here, but not there-he sets the boundaries of right living for us as well. “You can go here, but only this far. Going any further without my guidance, against my better judgment will consume you.”

He provides us direction and boundaries because His way is always far better than ours. The direction we want to take isn’t always the one God intended. So in an effort to ensure we are not tossed by the waves, or consumed by the waters of the sea, He tells us, sends us as far as He is willing to let us go.

His boundaries are to protect not to harm. His boundaries are set to keep us safe, not to stifle us. His boundaries are set because His ways are higher than our ways.

Are we going to trust His judgment? Or are we going to stray too far away? Are we going to keep pushing boundaries until we are taken under?

What boundary are you pushing that is keeping you from going where God intends for you to go? Maybe it’s time to let Him direct you, and finally listen when He says, “You can go here, but there? I am not sending you there.”

“I’m fine.” But is that the truth?

I wrote a post recently about truth. In it I shared the importance of telling the truth to those we love. As I thought more after I posted it, and after I reflected on truth some more in the passing days, I thought about this: Are we telling the truth to ourselves? What about the truth of what we feel inside? Are we sharing this? And what would happen if we did? Would we be accepted? Or shamed?

So we hold back the truth. We lie.

Lie number one you’re supposed to have it all together
And when they ask how you’re doing
Just smile and tell them, “Never better”
(Matthew West, Truth Be Told)

Put on a happy face. Pretend that before you got here. Clocked in. Walked on stage. Came down to dinner. Greeted your family. Your co-workers. Your friends. That you were not just crying on your bathroom floor. Or just thinking how worthless you were. Had a fight with your wife. Got bad news from the doctor. Or had someone leave you.

Put on that happy face. Pretend it’s all good. Smile. Look pretty. Happy. Even if inside you are anything but.

Lie number 2 everybody’s life is perfect except yours
So keep your messes and your wounds
And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors

Perfection is not the truth. Yet we look at the filtered lives of others and assume theirs is just that-perfect. And when ours doesn’t measure up to that, we hide our pain. We hide our mess. We filter our lives to draw some type of comparison. None of it is the truth.

Truth be told…none of us have it all together. No life is perfect. Many filter out the bad stuff so you only see what is good.

Truth be told. We lie about the scars we hide because we are afraid of what people will think. That once people know what hides within they will run and hide from us. That if others see our brokenness, then we will be found out, shamed, criticized, and shunned. So we continue our farce. It just seems safer there.

What if we admitted we are not fine? That we were sad. Bitter. Grieving. Wrestled with doubt. Wondered about our purpose. What if we told each other the truth?

What if we put away our “fake faces,” our prettied up lives that aren’t real and are a facade, and shared what makes us so not fine?

Truth be told? We’d probably be a bit more “fine” than we are now. Feel a bit more accepted. Perhaps a little less broken.

Think it’s time to tell each other the truth?

Dandelions and Jesus

My 7th year. I am coming to the end of my 7th year of this counseling youth gig. Of stepping inside schools to hopefully provide safe space for those that just need a breath of fresh air. A minute away from pressure. Someone to guide and direct them to share and express their feelings in a way that is healthy.

For the first couple years, I hid God while in those schools. Hid my Bible verse tattoos. Hid my Bible. I was scared to mention His name. Mention anything related to Him because well, I walk the halls of public schools. That is a “no-no” in these halls. The one year I did shed the long-sleeve shirts, and left my Bible in plain view? Well, that was a year filled with strife and battles. Pain. Heartache. Opposition. One I will never forget.

But…I don’t hide Him anymore.

While I don’t walk the halls thumping people over the head with a Bible, when I have an office, I still keep a Bible in it. I still pray daily before each session with each client. I still wear my cross and my Bible verse tattoo out in the open. I don’t hide, but I don’t shout it from the rooftops. Public school, remember?

So, I have found it interesting that even though I never say His name, these are the conversations I seem to be having week in and week out?

“If I wish on this dandelion do you think God will hear me?” This is the question I was asked as we went on our weekly “walk and talk.” Originally, I was surprised by the question. He had never mentioned God in our conversations before, and neither had I; so why now? And how did he know I was safe?

And I realized, I never had to mention Him by name.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

He knew to mention God because I had shown God to him. Through my actions. I never had to say a single word about Him, I simply had to show up and be like Jesus in each and every encounter on those walks.

How? Quite simple, really. I was known by my fruit (Matthew 7:16). The ones mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Those of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I never had to say one word about the Bible. Never had to mention Jesus by name. I just had to be like Him, and people saw Him in me.

This teen, though too cool for school most days. Angry, yelling and ready to yell back at any adult most days. Taller and much better at basketball than me, wasn’t too cool that day to stop and make wishes on dandelions. He also wasn’t too cool to ask tough questions about God, or even talk about him at school.

Why? Because someone had been patient. Someone had been kind. Someone had been gentle with their words. Shown self-control in their responses when he was upset.

Someone was Jesus.

I have had many conversations about Jesus prior to this day. I don’t tell people in my secular role that I am a pastor. Once they find out they often treat me differently, or are more guarded. I simply try each day to be Jesus with skin on as I walk into a session with each person who is sitting with me. Whether wishing on dandelions, shooting baskets, or playing a game. I try to be an example of Him everywhere I go.

Some may have tried to diminish that light before, but like dandelions-the hard to kill weed-the light can survive and thrive in the most hard to reach places. It grows in conditions that seem unfathomable (even out of concrete sidewalks), and it’s hard to miss their bright yellow blooms, or their dry seed heads in an open field. It’s hard not to want to pick one up and make a dandelion wish.

It’s hard not to notice the light of Jesus, when you are displaying His fruit.