Navigating the Rapids

Never A Dull Moment – Week 3, Day 5

Well, honestly, this whole journey has been a lot more about navigating the rapids as opposed to charting the course.  I decided from the beginning that when I was given an opportunity to speak or perform somewhere, I would take it as an invitation from God and simply say, “yes” unless there was some concrete reason to say “no.”

Aw… that quote makes it sound so nice.  LOL!  Some of you know how I got into this whole thing now called Speechless Ministries, but I am betting most don’t.  Shortly after Caleb was born, Mom and I went to a Women of Faith conference, where I was first introduced to dramatist and author, Nicole Johnson.  She was truly my inspiration to perform like I do today.  I loved her and I had never seen anything like what she did!  As I hemmed and hawed around her table, Mom grabbed a set of scripts she had for sale and stated, “I’m buying these for you.”  Well, thanks, Mom.  What the heck am I going to do with a bunch of scripts?

I am a “waste not, want not” girl and those scripts just tormented me, frankly!  When the women’s team at my church began planning a conference, I approached my lead coordinator and good friend with this very confident proposition: “So, listen.  I have these scripts and there’s this one monologue about motherhood and if you have time in the conference, I would be willing to perform it.”  Plowing on… “I mean, it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t have time or it doesn’t fit your vision.  I mean, don’t feel obligated to LET me perform or anything.”

Geez.  That’s just the kind of person you want taking the stage at your event, right?!  Thank God Angie is a sweet, kind friend who also gets the job done.  She’s the type that when she says it, you can go ahead and check it off your list… because it’s handled; the perfect person to get some folks in line and make stuff happen!  She’s also the type that knows when her friend needs a boot to the bottom!

Are you crazy?  YES!  You’re going to perform the drama! – Angie

Oh, Lord Jesus, help me!  WHAT have I gotten myself into?!

I have never been so nervous in my life.  Like, throw up in the sanctuary, dying, not talking to anyone (THAT nervous?!  Yes.), “HOLY COW!  Why did Mom buy those stupid scripts!” NERVOUS!

But I did it!

And someone from another church saw it.

And then the phone rang.

And she wanted me to come do a drama at her church.

And I told her I would pray about it… and resolved in my heart that I would never call her back.

LOL!  For real.

I hung up the phone and glanced across the room at Kevin, my husband, who also could be categorized as the type of person who gets people in line and knows when they might need a boot to the bottom.

No ma’am.  I know you and you need to decide right now that when that phone rings you are going to take it as a call from God and just say “YES” because if you don’t, you’ll never go anywhere.  And the fact that you’ve been asked to go somewhere means that you ARE CALLED to do this. – Kevin

Gah.  Why does he have to be all up in my business with all his wisdom and stuff, pouncing right on me when I was planning to confidently ignore this invitation and conveniently forget to call Melanie back.  Fine.  I called her back and told her I would do it.  There was just one problem: I didn’t have “dramas.”  I had one drama!  I didn’t have a repertoire.  I had one… drama.

Whew.  Thank God for those scripts Mom bought!

I picked another from Nicole’s repertoire, “Rocks” and the nerves started again.  Oh.  MY. WORD!  How did I get talked into this?!  What am I thinking?  Who’s going to watch Caleb?! What if someone else calls?!  I only have TWO dramas!  Throw up. Dying. Wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But I did it!

And I left that place and cried the whole way home.  And all could say to the Lord through my tears was, “Thank you… thank you… thank you” over and over again.  I may not be the best dramatist you will ever see or the greatest singer, most eloquent speaker or most insightful teacher, but standing on that stage I knew that I had been obedient.  I knew that no matter what had happened before or the moment after, for those 10 minutes on that stage, I was RIGHT in the center of God’s will for my life.  And you know what?  I would not trade that feeling – that blessing – for ANYTHING else in the world.

I am typing through tears as I think about it.  I was so scared, but I had determined that I would be obedient, that I would not miss out on anything God wanted to give me and He gave me more than I ever thought possible.

I just kept saying YES and 12 years later, I’m walking through my devotional book with you and have two speaking events coming up.  I don’t perform Nicole’s stuff very much anymore because I write my own dramas now.  How faithfully God ministered to my heart through that process is a blog for another day.  I’ve led conferences and shared a stage with Laura Story.  I have a repertoire now!  😉  God keeps planting desires in my heart.  He keeps allowing the phone to ring.  He just keeps opening doors and giving me the courage to walk through them.  And it is the coolest, best thing.  As much as I pray I’ve ministered to others, the way God has ministered to ME on this journey is the best part.

What rapids are staring you in the face today?  What have you ignored that you know in your heart is God’s call?  Don’t let fear rob you of the blessings that God is waiting to give.  Isaiah 48:18 says, “If only you had paid attention to my commands (if only you had been obedient), your peace would have been like a river (not a stagnant, still pond, but a raging river, able to handle the twists and turns and make it over the obstacles in the way) and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Don’t worry about charting the course, friends.  Just resolve to navigate the rapids with the One who spoke the river into being.  The journey is the best part.

Wide-Eyed Wonder

If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. – Luke 11:34, The Message

When I was in high school I had a really good friend who often said I wore rose-colored glasses.  He was a really smart guy and a year older than me.  So, I think I took that oft-heard comment as an indication that in order to be “really smart” and “mature”, I would need to eventually take off those glasses.  Over the years, there have certainly been times and seasons when the glasses seemed to be slipping.  But this morning as I read Luke 11:34 from The Message, it hit me that I don’t ever want my “positive outlook” to leave me – or even become dull from years spent in this crazy life.  Certainly, there have been experiences and circumstances that I wish were different.  I do expect the best, goodness, and honesty from people I meet along the way and when they behave differently than I expect, it is shocking and disheartening.  But Jesus said to live “wide-eyed in wonder and belief”.  Jesus said that if I live “wide-eyed in wonder and belief”, my whole body – my whole self – will fill up with light.  I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want to live!

I want my whole outlook to be hopeful.  I want to believe and see God move and trust His heart for me.  I want to be a doer of His word and trust Him for the results even when I don’t see them.  I want to extend grace to the people I meet and forgive them when they stumble because I have been extended great grace and I have stumbled many times.  I want to be known as His girl because I am filled with His light.  And I want to see others like God sees them: precious creations, made in His image; masterpieces worth dying for.  So, “mature” and “really smart” or not, I will keep looking around with wide-eyed wonder and belief, holding unswervingly to the hope I profess, knowing that the One who promised is faithful.  My prayer is that you will do the same.  Who doesn’t want to be filled with light?

30 Days of Thanksgiving

Hello All!  I am sure you have heard of taking the entire month of November to ponder on, journal and share all that you are thankful for.  Because I love lists and have SO much to be thankful for, I am jumping on the Thankful Train myself this year and will be adding to this post each day throughout the month of November.  I hope my list inspires you to write one of your own.  Life is crazy, but there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for!

Day 1 – On this First Day of November, I am most thankful for the incomparable love of Christ and for “the way” that He has made for me – both in this daily life and on into eternity. Far too often, I don’t “Consider Jesus” as I should, but I when I do, I am overwhelmed by who He is and what He has done. When I do, I am overwhelmingly thankful!
“One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank Him enough…” – Luke 17:15-16 (The Message)

Day 2 – I am thankful for Kevin Mulligan, my awesome husband! I come from a bit of a “Family Bush” and spent a lot of time before we got married watching families and marriages trying to figure out what made the good ones work. We’re not perfect, but what we have is so much more than I thought was possible! Kevin loves me even when I am very unlovable and he does what the Word says to do: “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring out the best in her… (Eph. 5:25-27a from The Message)

Day 3 – I am SO THANKFUL for my Kiddos!  No one makes me love more or desire to be better like Caleb & Keppley do!  I believe what I always tell them: God picked the PERFECT babies for me!  “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.” (Psalm 127:3 – CEV)

Day 4 – Crazy thankful for our church family: a pastor that preaches and lives the Word, mentors that pour time and LIFE into our family, great teachers, wonderful friends and brothers & sisters in Christ who laugh and cry with us, pray for us and make this walk tons better than it would be without them! LOVE those Cedar Creek Peeps! SO thankful that God called us a “far piece” out to the country… the drive is a pleasure!  “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Day 5 – Today I am thankful for the ways God takes care of me.  Words are so inadequate.  He provides all the “basics”, a ridiculous number of “wants”, universal and personal things, things everyone knows I want and things only He and I have discussed, big and little, important and trivial… He’s my Father and He never fails to give good gifts.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Day 6 – On this Election Day, I am especially thankful that God saw fit to make me a citizen of the United States of America. It is a blessing and I am proud of my country – no matter who the President is or how many problems we have left to solve!  “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:26-28)
Day 7 – Today, I am thankful for Brian P. McLendon and who he will always be to my 17 year-old self. I’m thankful for the wonderful memories that have been floating through my head these last several days. I am thankful for his precious family and for how they allowed me to be a part of their lives and loved on me and set a good example for me of what “family” is all about. I’m thankful for the life he lived and the things he taught me way back when and in retrospect. I’m just thankful that I knew him and will be praying for his family today as they remember him and mourn for him. Rest in peace, Friend.
Day 8 – I am thankful for the great school my kids attend and that I get to work there sometimes! I love substitute teaching… and HONESTLY, the other kids don’t seem to think I am NEARLY as nerdy or embarrassing as my own kids do! HaHa! I am also thankful – again – for my precious husband, who understands my tears for a friend I haven’t really talked to in 20 years. He’s quite the catch, that one.
On this 9th day of November, I am thankful for gorgeous blue skies, splashes of fall color on the trees and crisp, cool mornings! And how could I not be?  This is the view from my front porch:

Day 10 – Today, I am thankful for my nieces and nephew! Gracious! I love those PUNKIN HEADS! And… I now know that “aunthood” is just one small step below “grandmotherhood”: sugar ’em up, spoil ’em rotten and send ’em back to Mommy! JoJo loves you bunches and bunches Berkeley, Avery, Annabelle and Liam! XO

Day 11 – I am thankful for this phrase in scripture: “But He gives us more grace. (James 4:6a)” Greater than our sin. More times than we fall. More often than we ask. More than we will ever need. Thank you, God, for grace upon grace upon grace.
Day 12 – Super thankful for the “catastro-tunity” Kep and I had getting her new glasses. It was an unexpected detour that turned into a great little “Girl’s Day”! Love that Chick!
Day 13 – Thankful that we get to CHOOSE! We get to choose to do right, respond rather than react, and extend grace rather than anger. We get to choose to believe the truth rather than our sometimes erroneous emotions – and we get to choose when we go with our hearts over our minds. I don’t always make the right choices, but I am thankful that I GET TO CHOOSE. AND that I get to choose differently next time if I get it wrong THIS time!
Day 14 – Thankful that I have a fun sister who loves me and understands certain aspects of my “CRAZY” like no one else really can! She is brilliant, beautiful, talented and a super-fabulous Aunt to my Kiddos! Even though we are years and miles apart, we somehow manage to have fun and stay connected via phone, text messages and Facebook! Looking forward to “in person” fun over Thanksgiving break! Love you , Baby Sister!


Day 15 – Thankful for long-standing family traditions, great memories and the thought that my “Babies” have a pretty neat little heritage. Our family is not perfect, but we do all right and it is clear to me that God is working and blessing!

Day 16 – Thankful for full days and all the friends that I have made along the way! From high school and college friends that turned into “life-long” friends, to my extended family, in-laws and their in-laws, to my brothers & sisters in Christ, Bible study Peeps and Playground Moms! You know who you are and I am VERY Thankful for you!
Day 17 – Thankful for a WONDERFUL day at Williams-Brice with lots of family and friends! And almost just as thankful that I am now in my jammies hitting the hay!
Day 18 – Thankful for great church friends that let us camp out at their house and share in their family time when we’re “workin’ for The Lord” in Blythewood. Thank you so much! We had a great time!
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” ― Jean Baptiste Massieu
My heart is so full of wonderful memories. So many good things, innumerable blessings and cherished memories to be grateful for on this 19th day of November.
 Day 20 – Thankful for my Maddy Girl and Horace. I sometimes fussed about Maddy and get frustrated with Horace, but I wouldn’t trade those 4-legged “babies” for anything. I love having a Pupper underfoot!

Day 21 – Thankful that the Pre-Christmas decorating is done, my family is on the way, Grandma Corn is prepped, collards are cooking and we are in the home stretch!!

Day 22 – A heart overflowing with gratitude on this official day of Thanksgiving… for all the things I’ve pondered this month and a million little moments of grace, love, and fun that I know I take for granted all the time. I am a blessed Girl. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Day 23 – Thankful for my whole CRAZY family!  (And the picture below isn’t even ALL on them!  And I’m not even counting the Mulligan side!)

Day 24 – Thankful for more family time, my college alma mater and a win over Clemson!  I know… I know… maybe I shouldn’t bring up the Clemson/Carolina Game, but we Gamecocks still have all long way to go until we surpass Clemson in total rivalry wins.  So, I gotta cock-a-doodle-doo when I can!

Day 25 – Thankful that my brother and his family did not have to head straight back home after Thanksgiving this year!  I use the term loosely, but it will be nice to have some “normal” time with them now that the holiday craziness has subsided a bit!

Day 26 – Thankful for both of my wonderful, talented, FABULOUS sisters-in-law and the friendships I have with both of them.  Jason and Michael, you made good choices!

Day 27 – Thankful for the warm home, reliable vehicles, clothing on my back and food in the refrigerator that I am blessed to have.  I so take the little things for granted, but today I am looking at the ordinary with a truly grateful heart.

Day 28 – So thankful for the opportunity I am having this week to build relationships with my Munford nieces.  I don’t see them often, but we are forming a sweet little bond this week that I love… singing, playing, snuggling, laughing and doing all the daily things that carve out spots in each others’ hearts.  It is going to be hard to say goodbye on Saturday.

Day 29 – Thankful that changes in the plan can still yield great times!

Day 30 – On my last official day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I took the time to ponder all the people, memories, circumstances and things God has used to bless me.  In every case, being with my friends and family, making the memories, finding joy in the circumstances and appreciating the things has been heart-warming.  The practice of noticing each of them everyday this month has increased my gratitude and makes me cherish more all the parts that make up the whole.

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers.  I pray that a grateful heart will be yours through Advent, Christmas and into 2013.