It’s all about Timing.

Sometimes we wonder why things seem bland. Why words that seem to inspire others just seem flat when we read them.

I write knowing deeply that if the timing isn’t right for you, my saying these things will be just as flat. Just as uninspiring.

And yet (what a beautiful word- yet), it may be your timing.

Read John 2.

What do you see?

Do you see two or three stories that may or may not be chronological? Or do you see an example of the beauty of God’s timing, of Jesus’s gentlemanliness, and of our own choices?

I used to see two stories and a weird conclusion that just felt a bit disjointed. I knew that chapters and verses weren’t numbered in the original book so I always assumed that the person who numbered it all just counted out enough lines to make it seem chapter-ish.

Oh, but see. Look and see. There is a beauty in the way these stories connect- and even the conclusion brings the final piece into focus.

The thread running through the whole chapter is a thread of timely obedience. In the first story, we see the immediate and unquestioning obedience of the servants. The request was strange, and yet- in the action of carrying it out, the miracle begins. Jesus could have made it happen all by himself, but by their obedience the servants were able to share in the work of producing the first miracle in Cana.

The next story has been told so many ways, and much can be made of it on its own, but only in counterpoint to the first story, it caries forward the thread. Over time the priests had forgotten to be obedient. Instead of the order of purification and readiness represented by the whole process of offering sacrifices, they focused on convenience. Instead of relying on God to provide their portion, they became usurpers and defiled, degraded, and denied the true work of the cleansing process to themselves and to the people. Jesus actions were not an outraged overreaction, as I have heard some suppose, but a purification of the purification process itself.

The strange conclusion in verses 23-25 tells us the midpoint on the continuum of timely obedience. These are the fence sitters, the ones who live on the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They see with their eyes and believe in their minds. But they are not ready. Not ready to get close enough to build a relationship. Not ready to immediately obey. Not ready to do much but think about what they saw.

They saw Jesus take action and they were glad someone finally did something. But that was all. No true response of the heart. They believed- truly they believed. But only in their head- not their hearts.

Jesus will not commit himself to them because he knows that what is in their hearts is closer to disobedience than obedience.

I’ve heard it said that Jesus respects us enough that he refuses to force us- into salvation, into relationship, into anything we aren’t ready to obey him in. Jesus was aware that the people believed, but he also knew the timing of obedience was not in their hearts.

So the thread now comes to us. The final beauty of John 2 is in our choice. Will we, like the servants, obey? Will be, like the observers, think about obeying? Or will we, like the priests distort and twist our purpose into disobedience? Jesus is ready for you. He will straighten out your disobedience if it defiles or confuses others about him; he will wait if you aren’t quite sure; and he will welcome you into the beauty of the blessing if you obey.

Are you ready yet?


My Journey as an Exchange Parent – Not Quite the Beginning

I spoke to my new, albeit temporary, daughter for the first time today. She will arrive in only a couple of weeks and this was the first time we have heard each other’s voices. I wondered if she was her mother at first- she sounded, mature, confident, a bit nervous about clothing expectations, and otherwise excited.

She wondered how long dresses should be and I explained the concept of finger-tip length.

She wondered whether earrings- perhaps other piercings (?)- were allowed in our home. A picture of my real daughter with all manner of holes in her head flashed through my mind- audibly I relayed what was allowed at school.

She wondered about a SIM card for her phone and the wisdom of bringing her computer. I assured her both would be useful.

I asked her if she was excited about being here earlier than expected (the school district elected to try out a year-round approach and is starting in July). She said the sooner the better.

I asked if her real parents were nervous for her. She said her mom just cries and cries but her father encourages her to try new things and to be independent.

I asked if there were any foods I should keep for her. She said oh that wasn’t an issue. Again my vegan daughter came to mind and I wondered if this new child really understands how far I will go to be sure people enjoy meals around here.

My husband asked if she thought her country’s football team would win their upcoming game. She laughed and said of course they would and that she was excited for them.

It was an unusual conversation. It’s an unusual prospect- bringing an unknown person into your home to be your child for an entire school year. I told her I thought she was very brave.

I didn’t tell her the stories I’ve heard of exchange students being used as cheap baby-sitters for younger children, or crammed in bunches into too small homes that were less than well kept. That will not be her experience.

Our empty nest has been scrubbed and polished and new furniture may or may not arrive before she does. I hope she finds a home with us and not only a landing platform by which to launch herself into American teen culture. I hope she finds something useful in us. I know that right now, she may just see us as people offering a place to stay- awkward AirBNB owners who stay in the house with you. But I hope she will see us as more than that and will understand what we hope to offer. I pray for her safety, her journey, her learning, and for her heart. I pray for her mom and dad and her little brothers who will surely miss her. I pray that our home will provide peace, comfort, and room to grow, and that we can be a second family for her.

You’re Delusional

Isaiah 63 and beyond are so beautiful. A conversation between God and Isaiah- but also perhaps The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – a memory walk of good and bad times with the Israelites. It shifts from good old days to current bad days and then turns again to seek the hope of future days- foreshadowing a ministry beyond those times, saying that the Lord will “call his servants by another name.”(65:15)

It goes through the blessings to be received by those who call upon him, and the curses that befall those who reject him.

As I sat marveling at the grace and mercy of God, continuing to read, I found Isaiah 66:4 and it’s one of the most beautiful verses to me…

I will also choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called none did answer; when I spake they did not hear: but they did evil before my eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

When we choose to do wrong, or to turn from those things God has given us to do for our benefit- it doesn’t mean we excuse ourselves from his order. We aren’t excused from his design just because we choose to deny it exists.

He chooses our delusions. Do you see that? Right there in black and white- “I will also choose their delusions…”.

I don’t believe that means he randomly selects people to inflict or punish- or that he’s being mean. It means, that even in our rebellion, God understands the workings of the mind- the natural things we will certainly encounter when we choose to deny the truth.

Choices have logical (to God if not to our poor thinking) consequences. When we are turned over to a reprobate mind- it doesn’t mean we are outside of God’s order- just the opposite- we are still right where his order says we must be.

God loves us so much that he allows us to disagree. He allows us to live how we choose. He even allows us to deny him.

But denying the truth doesn’t make it untrue. Truth still exists right we’re it was. A delusion is defined as

A belief or altered reality that is persistently held despite evidence or agreement to the contrary, generally in reference to a mental disorder.

By definition a delusion is a disagreement with Truth. The part of the whole that we choose to disagree with determines the consequences we experience.

Now – that definition also includes reference to mental disorders– which typically brings to mind a serious medical problem. But- think a moment- isn’t our mind somewhat dis-ordered any time we don’t understand something fully? Don’t you enjoy those aha! moments? Those moments where an unclear situation suddenly becomes clear? Don’t you feel more at ease and relaxed when your mind is put in order in that aha! moment?

I’m not trying to diminish true mental illnesses by any means- but simply to point out that order is preferable to disorder. (Even those of us who love to make creative messes enjoy having things back where we can get to them again once we are finished.)

The point really is that He knows the order. He understands where our mind goes when we deny the truth. He knows the path to where we are, because he created the path. He created the mind. He can find us wherever we are– even if that place is a hidden place inside our own thinking.

You don’t have to be deluded. Turn to him and ask him to help you find the path through your tangled mind. Ask him to keep you from drowning in your troubled thoughts. He’s walked on water before. He knows the way. He is the way, the Truth, and the Life.

I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

John 10:10

Psalm 145

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

Everyday I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.

I confess that sometimes, when reading passages, my eyes see the words and my mind skims though them without much consideration.

That happened the first time I read the first two verses of Psalm 145 this morning. My brain caught up with itself when it come to the second occurrence of the phrase “forever and ever.” I though- wait, didn’t I just read that?

So I consciously made a decision to attend to each word and quickly realized that- as many of us who read well will do- I had never stopped to learn the definition of a word I thought I knew because I always accepted the contextual understanding.

Not only that, but I was intrigued by the pattern of the language: extol, bless; bless, praise. Noticing the pattern made me realize that these words- extol, bless, praise- were not merely synonymous, but had distinct meanings.

The word extol specifically has deeper meaning than I expected. It means lavish praise with the added element of expressing heroic virtue (not deeds- virtue). In Latin it comes from ex– outward and tollare– to uplift.

So- a different quality of praise for a specific purpose.

The word bless also has more meaning than simply speaking nice things about something. It means to confer divine favor or endow with a cherished attribute.

(I love graduations, so the word confer really spoke to me. My favorite part of the ceremony is the conferral of degrees when candidates are granted the status of graduate “with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining.”).

So- more than nice words- a blessing comes with the rights and privileges conferred upon the person being blessed according to their station.

Praise also- doesn’t just mean- I think you are the coolest!- it means an offering of grateful homage, and agreement with a judgement of righteousness.

So- I agree that the one I praise has the right to my gratitude.

Such simple words that we use all the time, but they aren’t simple at all- they are burgeoning with the overflow of our hearts in response to God.

God my hero, who has the right to my favor and gratitude.

Lord, I commit in my heart to always remember the deeper meaning of these familiar yet mysterious words. I too will extol your virtue and bless you forever and ever and praise you everyday forever and ever.

Summer Programs for Gifted Children and Leadership Studies at Southern Miss’s renowned Karnes Center

The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies welcomes students from all states to join us this summer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. More information available from our site:

Day Program for Young Gifted Children: (PK4-3rd grades) June 10-14; $200- eligibility requirements: 90th percentile on IQ or nationally normed achievement test

Leadership Studies Program: (6th-11th grades) June 17-22; $675- open to all interested students

Summer Gifted Studies Program: (4th-8th grades) June 23-28; $675- eligibility requirements (90th percentile on IQ or nationally normed achievement test)

Summer Program for Academically Talented Youth (SPATY) in collaboration with Duke TIP: (7th-11th grades) July 7-26; $2700

All programs have a non-refundable $30 application fee. Course descriptions available at Please share this information. Applications must be started by May 15 (or June 15 for SPATY).

A huge thanks to our new enrollment partners, CampDoc.

Thank you bloggers for sharing and supporting our efforts to reach students and families who benefit from the academic and social-emotional support we offer.

Anxious for nothing… part 1🦖

My day had already begun, but just as it was taking off a message from a friend let me know she was feeling anxious. She had intended to do something- or maybe avoided doing it, and thought it would cause someone else to worry. That someone was me by the way– I assured her it just wasn’t the case.

Anxious- for nothing.

Later a former student wandered into my office to share her thoughts with me. She very uncharacteristically started crying because she noticed something in herself that she felt was perhaps a flaw in her ability to do something she had been trusted to do. Concern for the limitations that flaw might place on her life was evident in her tears. Then she suddenly seemed to remember that although she had this task currently, it wasn’t something she really valued or wanted in her life beyond this temporary tasking- it only bothered her because it somehow marred a life otherwise marked by her free spirited motion and energy.

Anxious – for nothing.

Late tonight as I drove home, the truck suddenly started making an awful scraping noise. I was sure the engine had fallen out and I was dragging some important part under me. Or maybe one of the feral cats that inhabit the university campus had gotten into the engine to avoid the chill and I was mutilating it as I drove. I pulled over as soon as I could- opened the hood, saw nothing. Bent down to look at the bottom of the truck and found that I had somehow driven over a cardboard box that was stuck under there- it was being scraped along the road and it’s open end was acting as a microphone- shouting its presence there. I very easily removed it without even having to touch the ground.

Anxious- for nothing.

What’s the point? Anxiety is a real occurrence- it causes us to panic, to hide, to fear fear itself- but it’s a lie. Anxiety will lie to you – tell you you are powerless, alone, weak, useless, unnecessary, worthless, your efforts are wasted or worse that they are harmful, or any number of things that just do not align with reality or truth. It’s a lie that is easy to believe because it tries to tie itself to our hopes- to the purpose we hope we are living- and tell us to forget them because we aren’t enough. It attacks our identity by telling us not only are we not who we want to be, we aren’t even who we think we are right now, and we weren’t even who we thought we were in the past.

Anxiety is a liar. It is a thief- stealing truth from our hearts and minds. We are not made to be anxious, we are not made to panic, not made to doubt, not made to fear.

My favorite book to share with middle schoolers puts it something like this,

“The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn’t change what was.”

Truth is what is there even when we aren’t aware of it. We cannot change it, deny it, shape it, or move it.

Anxiety makes us think truth has moved without us knowing it, without our permission, without our control. Which embeds another lie- that truth depended on us in the first place- it doesn’t.

Yes, we all have our own reality- the set of daily circumstances we exist within. That personal reality may shift continuously- but our realities are not truth. Anxiety wants us to believe they are- and it teams up with pride to make us feel that we have the authority to tell other people what “our truth” is. And that pride teams up with angst and tells us we have the right to be angry at those who don’t share “our reality” that we’ve started to call truth. And soon we are passing our anxiety off as truth for others to partake of- inviting them to have the same doubts, fears, and worries that we do.

Don’t believe anxiety’s lies. Be confident that truth doesn’t change.

“If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not.”

Weeks, S. (2004). So B. It. Scholastic: NewYork, NY. pg. 4.

November Walk Around My Yard

While some states have already experienced frost or even snow, here in the deep south, fall takes a little longer to arrive. And even then we typically progress from humid swelter to frozen sog with little in between.

This year has been a bit different and I’ve truly enjoyed the difference- we’ve actually had slightly dropping temperatures that have made it lovely to be outside. Bright cool days perfect for small backyard fires and lunches on the back porch. (Contrary to what some may believe it’s usually just too hot in the summer to enjoy the back porch at all.)

We’ve been busy with school activities, conferences, and open houses and such, and I’m thankful to have a restful weekend to mosey around the yard enjoying its fall offerings. While I’ve got some pruning that never quite got finished, some of my heat-withered plants have decided to give it another try and I just didn’t have the heart to tell them no.

Hope you enjoy these never-give-up flowers as much as I have today.

If anyone is a tweeter, you can find me at Serendipity Sings. I usually share the songs I wake up singing each day.

Fred Rogers looked so much like my Granddaddy – they could have been brothers; so watching this show was always like spending time with Granddaddy too. I really needed this today. To simply be reminded that people can like me just the way I am.

I wish more people had grown up with Mr. Rogers – because some people that are the right age – didn’t get to; and because people who aren’t the right age – are surely missing out on the completely unconditional love that was offered.

My worth comes from the fact that God made me – nothing more.  God trusts me to live out what he puts in my heart and shows mercy when I fail and grace when I don’t measure up.

Not my job.

Not my kids.

Not my church.

Not even my husband.

Just God.

He is the only one with authority to tell me whether I’m deserving of love or not.  And He says I am.

Thank you, Fred Rogers, for extending His love to generations of children.  You always seem to show up at the right moments.

Matthew 22: 39

The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.