She’s not one of us

tracks 2

Getting off the school bus, she was sure to walk a few steps behind the group of pretty girls, not wanting them to notice her.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words kill.”

She knew her place.

As she crossed over to the other side of the tracks, she wondered what it would be like to own a new dress with a matching Jo-Jo bow.

Dressed in her brother’s hand-me-down jeans that never seemed to fit right, she walked on dreading the evening routine: help with little sister’s homework, get the house clean, make dinner, hope mom doesn’t get mad and yell, smile pretty, maybe dad will notice.  Just maybe today her parents will acknowledge how hard she’s working for their approval.

We all long for significance.  Desiring to be the one on top, we like to break society into classes.  Although, in America these classes are more fluid, let us not be blind to ethnic, economic, and social barriers that we created to find value and significance at the expense of other image bearers.  This man-made significance never satisfies our need.

We can mine the Bible for a rich treasure trove of truth.  God has no favorites.  He does not love the rich more, giving them more for their comfort.  He does not love the poor less, causing them to suffer because of laziness.  He doesn’t favor one skin tone over another.  He doesn’t create girls to be taken advantage of by men. We live in a world broken by sin, plagued by suffering, and characterized by the strong taking from the weak, but this is not God’s desire.

The very sin that breaks our hearts and self-image broke Jesus Christ’s body on the cross!

Romans 2:11-11 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek. For God does not show favoritism.   All who sin apart from the Law will also perish apart from the Law, and all who sin under the Law will be judged by the Law.

Deuteronomy 10:17
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.


Job 34:19
Who shows no partiality to princes Nor regards the rich above the poor, For they all are the work of His hands?

Acts 10:34
Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism,

Romans 9:14
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Absolutely not!

There are so many more verses!

The ground at the foot of the Cross is level.  If I know this to be true, why do I still struggle to find significance in the world?  Why do I still compare myself to others?  Why aren’t others struggling like me with finances, self-worth, disobedient children… the list can go on and on.  In short, a soft prosperity gospel has invaded the church.  Some-where along the way, we began to believe that being co-heirs with Christ means that we should never suffer, but that God will give us every desire of our hearts.  We missed the Bible’s message about suffering.

In Romans 8:17 Paul writes, “and if children, also heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Paul’s encouragement to us, is not that we won’t suffer, but suffering will never separate us from God’s love.  We are called, justified, glorified.  It’s not that we will never be afflicted, be anguished, be persecuted, be hungry, be naked, in danger, face the sword, or face death.  These things do not separate us from His love.

The soft prosperity gospel says, “#BLESSED, #tooblessedtobestressed.”

You have to read this article. It may hurt, but repentance frees us! Grace covers us!

How God Saved Me From The Prosperity Gospel

Before my son died, I didn’t even recognize how the soft prosperity gospel blinded me and my circle of friends.  Its influence is so subtle.  Like the author in the above article, I didn’t see it until my faith stopped making sense.  I was #blessed, so why is all this happening.  We were losing everything: Kai, house, job, friends, and church.

I faced the truth that God never promises to rescue us from the situations of earthly life that sin causes or the brokenness that follows.  Even when we ask for forgiveness, we experience the earthly consequences of sin. Read King David’s story in 2 Samuel 12:10.

We naturally gravitate towards teachers that inspire and make us feel good about ourselves.   We want to be told that we are basically OK.  Yeah, bad things happened to us, but now we are powerful and we can tell our story!  We are worthy and beautiful.  We prefer a feel good self-empowerment gospel.  After all, we want to be satisfied with our station life.  We’ve worked hard to be significant or find significance in the bad things that have happened.  We’ve exchanged the God of the Bible for therapeutic moralistic deism.  Peter says, “For uttering bombastic empty words, they seduce, by fleshly desires and debauchery… They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

Jesus teaches that his kingdom is not of this world.  To be first we must be the servant of all.  The way that leads to destruction is broad.  The road that leads to righteousness is straight and the gate is narrow.  The righteous will be persecuted.  Almost everything he teaches is the opposite of our natural inclinations, including suffering.

Peter writes, “but even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed” II Peter 3:14.  Would we write #blessed after Herod chopped off John the Baptist’s head? What about Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel? Priscilla and Aquila started three churches, but were kicked out of their hometown.  The Apostle Paul says that he was overwhelmed with fears on the inside and outside.  Blessed?

The rain falls on the just and the unjust Matthew 5:45.  All of us would like the right amount of rain at just the right time to fall for our greatest comfort.  Some of us are poor, some of us have endured abuse, some of us are plagued by tragedy, and some of us have too many children, while others are infertile.  How can we know who is loved? 

All of us! Jesus loved the whole world, and gave his life for all of us!

Revelation 3:20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he will me.”

The Lord has prepared a wedding feast for his Bride. He calls all to come and eat with him, making no accommodations for rich or poor, abused or abuser, skin color, young or old.  He simply calls everyone to repentance, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting all to be saved. He wants to walk with us through all of life’s moments. Earth is not Heaven!

Meditation: A Lamp And A Light

Today, we start a new series at McElwain Baptist Church, RESTORED. Sadly, I’m missing the first sermon because I’m home with “stomach” cramps. I can give testimony to His restoration! I am being restored! I am so thankful that Jesus redeemed me and is continually using His word to restore my life. This is my meditation for today. I need to be reminded that the Word of God is sweet and pure because sometimes it cuts deep, exposing my depravity. I must not fear the truth because as God cuts away my selfish desires I more clearly see His love for me.Restored

Meditation: A Lamp And A Light from the hymnal

Isaiah 40:8,2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; Psalms 19, 119

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever!

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the hear.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

Teach me knowledge and good judgement for I believe in your commands.

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees with my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.

I meditate on Your precepts

I consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. It is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.


In the middle of darkness my hope remains.  I have come to identify with Noah. Imagine what the atmosphere was like to wake up day after day in the ark, a giant coffin covered in black tar floating on the waves of a world wide flood with no land or sun in sight. Bone deep darkness. Imagine the fierce storm with thunder, lightning, and maddening rain. My tears have come in violent storms, tossing my soul from side to side. Noah faced an unknown future. What was happening had never happened before in human history, much less Noah’s life.

I’ve written before that I’m walking a very familiar road to women, but I feel as if I’m in the ark with patchy sun, no land in sight, and a torrent of tears. Desperately, I prayed asking God for a rainbow just as He gave to Noah. A physical promise that He has not abandoned me. For 3 weeks I begged my Father, asking like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28, through her constant asking, moved Jesus to heal her daughter. I shared with my husband my request, and that’s where my story begins. Most share their moments of victory, but here is my moment of defeat…and I mean defeat. (Said loud and in the best southern voice you can muster.)

Rainbow Selfie

Warning Rainbow Selfie

Sitting in a meeting that I didn’t want to join, I received a text. “Here’s your rainbow. ”

And bless his heart, my sobbing response was, “That’s not my rainbow, it’s yours!” God sent my husband a rainbow, not me!!! I was able to keep control through the meeting and to my van before the storm of tears broke. I sat there trying to decide what to do. I knew one thing, I didn’t want to go home, but at 9:30 pm, where do I go?  So… I called my best-friend, my soul sister. Through my sobs and hiccups, I asked her to get coffee with me. Thankfully, she understood what I was asking and agreed.

Sitting in her car with the AC on full blast, my hope broke. “Why does God hate me?” was about all I could get out… Have you been there? Devastated…  Although, my precious sister talked me down from the ledge of GIVE UP, defeat attached himself to me. I couldn’t see the Son. I was drowning.

In grief, there isn’t much anyone can say that can encourage you. I went to sleep that night with one thought, I don’t want to give up, but let me reveal to you that I had no great promise to hold on to. No Word from the Lord. No dramatic feeling of I can go on.

Have you been here? I felt abandoned. Alone. Broken. That night I wasn’t sure what to even do next. The only thing I could do was put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. I’m not even sure if I was Trusting. I just didn’t turn back. My faith became like my breathing. Sometimes I forget to breath, and my autonomic system says, “Breath. Breath noW. BREATHE NOW!.” And finally, I will gasp and suck in air. I keep believing, just not as easily as I once did.

I leave you with this. Sometimes beautiful isn’t always pretty. James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who persevered under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” I am so thankful that there are no qualifiers with “having stood the test”. Or I’d be in trouble. Some days are great! Some days, I find myself in the battle to believe. Believe that God wants to bless me.

What is in a name?

Most of us in America are named because our parent’s like the sound of the name, it’s a family name, or it’s a popular name. What I love about many other cultures is that most people know what there name means. In the Bible God’s name is significant. We are even familiar with some of them. Abba means Daddy, Jehova Jira the Provider, El Shaddai, God Almighty. God proved himself to be the “God Who Sees Beforehand.”Chairo

Kai Marshall, being the fifth child and fourth boy of a family, where all the children’s first names start with hard K sound and the middle name starts with an M, not many names are left. Coming up with a name for him was not easy. As if that wasn’t enough, he was conceived during very difficult times for our family.

Determined to celebrate that the Lord granted my request for another child, I searched for a meaningful name. During the Young Adults Bible study in Philippians 4, I was reminded of the Greek word for Rejoice, Chairo (said with a hard K). Jon and I played with it for a while. I told one of my friends, and she looked at me without missing a beat and says, “Chairo… You’re going to name him after the capital of Egypt?” Um…No.

My spiritual dad from Hawaii says, “Name him after my Hawaiian name. David is Kawika.” So, we started looking at Hawaiian names, and came across Kai meaning water. But this is the time of relativism, and things mean what you want them to mean, right? We took Chairo and shortened it to Kai, reminding us to rejoice no matter the circumstances.

Sunday morning, June 22, the puzzle pieces came together. As we sat, in our grief, trying to see through the tears, I heard my friend’s voice from that Young Adult Bible study say, “Maybe we don’t have peace because we’re praying, but we’re not being thankful.” Philippians 4:4-7 overwhelmed my soul. How do I have peace when I am so broken? How do I breath? How do I rejoice? How does my heart not become bitter and angry? How…How…HOW LORD DO I HOLD ON TO YOU?

Lift one hand to the Lord in prayer. Taking all your petitions and worries and griefs to the Lord in pray. Don’t leave one thought or feeling or worry hidden from His presence. Cry out to Him in the anguish of your soul. Lift up the other hand in thanksgiving. One steady theme has emerged for me in my reading of the scriptures. It’s like God has grabbed my face and said, “LOOK at Me. Worship Me. Hope in Me.” When I begin to view my life with eternity in mind the present sufferings are becoming smaller because I can see the Glory of the Cross. I can be thankful that MY GOD IS BIGGER than anything that I face. Thankfulness that God sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood!

It’s amazing that the very verses that have brought me hope and peace are the very verses that I found Kai’s name.

Chairo in the Lord always. I will say it again Kai!


Identify the lie

In the days after I delivered Kai darkness pressed on me from every side. The stillness and quiet of the night became a living nightmare. My will to choose to believe the Lord exercised my faith. I’d like to say that it was easy, but it wasn’t.

I wrote this to my friends and family on June 21, “To all who are grieving with us, please remember the promise. God does not promise us that sickness will not come, that death will not happen, that all manner of tribulation or tragedy will not come to us. He only promises us that “blessed are they that mourn because they will be comforted.” He promises His children that He will never leave them nor forsake them. Please make a covenant with me that you will not play the “what if game”. Identify the lie that this wouldn’t have happened if… But claim the promise that God will bring comfort. I may have to yell it, but today I will claim His promises. Know that you are loved and appreciated!

Let me tell you how much easier it is to write it than live it. In the moment it’s a 5K for your faith. I started on the path. Many of God’s truths are working themselves out in my life.

The lies we tell ourselves hinder our faith and chain us to selfishness. So often when tragedy knocks on our door,  we point to ourselves. The conversation we have within either elevates our ego to self righteousness or tears us down, devaluing our ego. Both are equally prideful and self worship.

What lies do you tell yourself? Do you crush yourself under the weight of self righteousness? Here is truth. Galatians 5 says, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

I have a tendency to tear down and devalue myself. My past chains tell me that I’m just not good enough. The voice in my head says, “You didn’t… You sinned this way… You’re not…” The lie I have to identify is that I’m still trying to justify myself by the law, which I can never do. I have sinned. I can never be righteous. But what the law was powerless to do God did by sending Jesus.

The opposite crushes and blinds by elevating and overvaluing. If you hear the lie that you can be justified by the law, then you have fallen from grace and obligated to keep the whole law. The only man to be able to do that was Jesus, and he was sacrificed to be an offering for sin to satisfy the wrath of God. You have set yourself up as a god.

When tragedy knocks on your door, the most important thing to do is to identify lies? The only way to do that is to know God. Ask Him today to break the chain of selfishness and pride.


June 20, 2014 started out beautiful. Excitement filled the air as we put the infant carrier in the van, loaded our four other children in to take them to summer camp. Plagued by intermittent contractions for two days, I knew today would be the day. We would go to the doctor, and she would send us to the hospital to welcome our fourth boy into our arms.

My husband and I sat waiting for the doctor, sharing our laughter. Then the most terrible thing I could even imagine happened. There was no heart beat. An ultrasound confirmed Kai had died in my womb. Many things ran through my mind quickly. The most important at the time was caring for my whole family. My children were anxiously awaiting another brother. They had packed. They had prepared.

Back in the van. God spoke quietly to my heart. Decide. “Decide, this moment, will you let me be God in this moment? Or will you allow your heart to harden, and allow the root of anger and bitterness fertile ground?”

Will you believe in the God who commands even the winds and the waves? This thought of Even this… is expanded in this blog post.

In that moment I said yes. God began to unfold His truths in my life. The phrase common to man brought comfort. Although, devastating, I was walking a well worn path of many woman before me. What was common to woman was happening to me.

No where in the Bible could I find a promise that said, “Because you have done everything right and obeyed all God’s laws, you are safe from what you find most terrifying.” What I did find was Matthew 5:3-12.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In the kingdom of God what is up is down. What is down is up. In every single verse the human mind says the exact opposite of what God promises. Now don’t get me wrong. Did I say that you will leap for joy and be giddy in grief? Not at first. God said to me, “In your grief, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are blessed.”

Do you need to remind yourself to view your situation through God’s perspective not man’s? Your situation is different, but pain is pain. Grief is grief. In this moment, trust God. Don’t worry about the next one until it comes.