Strength vs. Lava

The “Floor is Lava” is a children’s game when the object of the game is to move from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor. You use tables, chairs counters and any available structure to survive because the universal understanding is that if you touch the lava floor you “die” because it is a vat of Lava and nothing can live in Lava. We have use many variations of the game in youth ministry for years.

As I was studying this morning I thought about this simple childhood game as I read this scripture.

They go from strength to strength; each appears before God in Zion.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

This life has many trials. We all know that. To those of us who call Jesus, Savior, this verse and so many others promise us that God will give us the strength to make it through this life. “Strength to strength”. Just like a child playing the lava game moves from one object to the next, God gives us the strength for that day, that moment and we can rest in that strength until we are safe to move on to the next part of our journey.

Just like the player has confidence that the chair, desk or table will protect her from the burning lava, we have faith that our God will protect, teach us and guide us all the way home.


September 1, 1998

It was one of those rare early Fall days.  We had survived another hot east Texas summer which was made more difficult by my third pregnancy.  As was true with my other pregnancies, I was very ill. Hyperemesis had once again taken over my body, and I was throwing up almost from the time the pink line showed up on the pregnancy test stick.

This was one of those perfect days. The weather had turned cool, the sky was bright, and I had started feeling better. I was excited about this day. Randy and I were going to be able to spend the day together, Kid free.  Kegan was 5 and Ari was 2 1/2.

The day started with us getting dressed up, I wore a dress and Randy a coat and tie, to attend a Youth Pastor Luncheon at the Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Oldest town in Texas was about a 45-minute drive from our house, and this allowed Randy and I more time just to chat and reconnect.  I don’t remember the food or what the speakers’ points were that day.  I don’t know why Randy and I were so moved,  but after the meeting was over, we took the time to walk hand-in hard around the beautiful grounds of the Hotel. We eventually sat down together on a low stone and brick wall, where with our heads bowed and hands clasped we committed ourselves once again to God, to each other and to student-ministry.   It was a profound spiritual moment. We walked hand in hand to the car. Our love for God and for each other deepened by the experience.

Our next stop was a funeral.  Such is the life of a minister.  Our Pastor, Dale, had asked us to stop by while in Nacogdoches if we had time.  Since we had time before our third appointment of the day…we went. The Funeral was for a man neither Randy nor I had ever met.  He had been ill the entire time we had been at First Baptist Huntington. However, we knew several family members, and he had grandkids that were in our youth ministry.  During the service, we quickly realized how beloved this man was.  Person after person stood up to tell about the impact this man had made in their lives.  How he had shared food, shelter, clothing and most importantly Jesus with them.  His was indeed a life of servanthood and devotion. A life well lived for his Savior. These were the very things that Randy and I had re-committed ourselves to, sitting on that stone wall a few hours before.  For the second time that day as we clasped hands and looked and each other with tears in our eyes we knew that we were following the path that God desired of us. As we walked to the car, Randy said, “That’s how I want people to talk about me at my funeral.” (They, did, baby, they did…and more.)

In typical form, we were running late for our third appointment.  I called to let them know, and they said that they would wait for us. So we hurried back to Lufkin, Texas for a routine 20-week pregnancy visit. We already knew we were having a boy and Randy had already chosen the name Kieron, which somehow had something to do with comics. ( A favorite writer, I believe, something to do with Robin). Just as we had with our other children, we prayed for him each night, and Randy fell asleep with his hand on my belly waiting for Kieron to kick. This was a routine visit. Pee in a cup. No need for a gown.  Hose off, dress up and a sheet for modesty so we could hear Kieron’s heartbeat.  We would even make pick up for the other kids up from Parent’s Day Out. The end to a perfect day.  Right?

As an OB nurse, I knew right away that something was wrong.  Very, wrong. The nurse could not find Kieron’s heart tones.  I offered, and I turned to my side as she tried to keep a cheerful, nonchalant demeanor and continued to search for a heartbeat.

My daughter Ari loved music. She always was humming or singing. Curiously, when she was in trouble or anxious, she would sing louder. During this time in her young life her favorite song was “God, You’re So Good.”

There we were, in the doctor’s office. The nurse at my bedside with a doppler in her hand; my pregnant belly smeared with ultrasound gel and the love of my life squeezing my hand even tighter as his face becomes desperate to hear just one little sound. It is a moment etched in time. This could not be happening. This was a day of promise, of worship and spiritual renewal, of recommitment and of love. As I was having these thoughts, I felt evil and heard a voice with hatred and malice say. “So what are you going to do about this now, how can you possibly feel the same way?” His question demanded a response. As tears filled my eyes and my husband’s broken heart showed on his face, I could plainly hear Ari signing, “God is so good…God is so good…God is so good…to me.”   In my head, I started singing with her. And the darkness fled.

The next few days were filled with sorrow and fear.  The ultrasound showed that not only had Kieron had died, but that there was a distinct possibility of a placenta abruption which also put my life in danger.  Preparation for surgery began, Randy never left my side. Sharon came to help. While I was on strict bed rest, we watched two of the worse movies ever made, The Postman and Titanic. Surgery was Friday. We never found a reason for Kieron’s death. He weighed under 500 gms, and I have always regretted not being able to bury him. But, I have never forgotten him.

Each year, Randy made a point of doing something special to let me know that he knew I was sad and he was too.  We would make a point to talk about Kieron and say his name. We would remind each other of the commitments of that day and the love we shared even in sorrow. We would always hold each other and share God’s comfort and speak of the reality of meeting Kieron one day in heaven.

That was 20 years ago today.

Kieron, I remember you.

I love you.

I said your name.

I thanked God for you.

Hug your dad and Ari for me.

I am still singing…

“God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me.”




“It Is Time”


My Dearest Brianna,

It is time.”

These three words are spoken at important, memorable, life-altering times. The moment before the laboring mom takes that deep breath to begin to push to bring her child into the world or that brief moment before the doors of the church are opened to allow the bride to walk down the aisle to meet her groom they hear, “It is time.”

Just hearing those words, you know you are about to take a step into a new and different reality.  All the prayers, hopes and dreams, all the sweat and tears, and all the hours of prep work and personal growth lead to this moment.

It is time.”

At that moment you understand that the very next step you take will lead you where you have never gone before. Fear, doubt, anxiety,  excitement and anticipation flood your mind and you embrace the new reality and take that step into your new reality.

Bri, “It is time.

It is time for you to take that deep breath and step into your new life, your college life and embrace it and live it with all the energy, faith and joy that you can. To find your God-given purpose just as you have done every other season in your life. Remember that just as Esther was in the Palace to fulfill her “for just such a time as this”moment; you also have been placed on the campus of Southern Mississippi University to achieve your divine purpose. (Esther 4).

I can’t wait to see where God leads you and I am praying for you every step of the way.

I love you.

Chicken Day 2017

It’s been 31 years since we walked into that KFC in Hammond, Louisiana. 31 years since I fell in love with you and this is the third “Chicken Day” I have spent without you.  I love you still and I miss you. Still.

This chicken day was different from the last two because I could not make it to a KFC to celebrate and cry.  

I miss you…

There was this hurricane named Nate and he runnied my “Chicken Day” plans. But, Tracy, Jennifer, Bri and Kara conspired with Nick (You would really like him, he reminds me of you, a wayward son,) to bring me chicken from KFC.

So I sit in the living room of a house you never lived in trying to eat chicken to honor and remember you, and maybe I won’t miss you so much…or maybe I will just cry a lot and the grief, pain and loneliness will spill out just enough to make life bearable for a while longer.  Maybe that’s why God designed tears and why they are so special that he collects them.

I love you…

And…I want you to know that if I could have seen the path our lives would take that day in October, I would still walk in that door. I cherish every moment I shared with you.

Happy Chicken Day.

You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.       Psalm 56:8


My kids and I just finished a trek through the Psalms. We started last summer and took one psalm a night (we split Psalm 119 into Hebrew alphabet parts, one each night). It was really fun and challenging.  We asked each other some of the following questions:

-What is the writer saying about God?

-What is the writer saying about people and life? (Usually that people were horrible, and life was tough).

-What actions did the writer/singer take?

-How does each of these action relate to us today?

-How do we change our actions and attitudes based on the Psalm we read.

Hint…talking to God and praising him always makes things better.  

Also, David tattled on people all the time to God…but he always left their lives in God’s hands.

A Tale As Old As Time…

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast
“A tale as old as time…”
Yes, the song is referring to a boy and girl falling in love, but there are so many other stories to take away from this Movie.

We all have a need for redemption.

 It is ok to be the “peculiar” girl with “her nose stuck in a book”.

 We all need people to encourage us.

When we make decisions, either bad or good, they effect everyone around us.

As a parent, or other significant adult in a child’s life, we need to be teaching what God’s word has to say about each of these themes in this or any movie, TV show, song or story. By discussing them we are teaching our ever growing children how to later make their own decisions in regard to what movies they see, books they read, music they listen to, or shows they watch.

Belle is the odd girl out. She is clearly different from every person in the village. The village scene reminds me of walking in the hall of middle school or high school or, sadly, the playground at a elementary school. 

 Good questions to ask here may be…

  Do you ever feel different or odd at school?

  Do people ever treat you like Belle? How and When?

 Things to remind your child…

  They are a unique and amazing individual created by God with a purpose.

  Psalm 139 is a great place to start.

The Beast, Gaston and others in the story make poor decisions that effect everyone around them. Much of the movie revolves around trying to fix the consequences of those decisions.

 Questions to ask your child…

  What decisions did each character make?

  What were the consequences of those decisions?


The prince was unkind and selfish which led him to being cursed.

    Gaston was vain and selfish which caused him to treat people poorly, which led to his death.

Belle persevered under hard circumstances which led to eventual freedom for a lot of people.

Things to remind your child…

Their decisions and attitudes matter. Proverbs 20:11

We all mess up. Romans 3:23

Jesus is there to save us when we mess up. John 3:16

There are so many more teaching moments in this movie. Ask God to give you wisdom to impart these things to you children. Deuteronomy 11:19

The Movie is beautifully crafted. The music is familiar and well performed. It is a faithful re-telling of the original. It is everything you want in a fairy tale and in a princess story. 

 My 17 year old immediately bought the sound track. (Well, as soon as she could talk me out of an iTunes card.)

The fighting scenes are intense, especially since they are live action (real people) not animated and may be too intense for younger children. There is also the aspect of the larger-than-life feel that comes with a movie on the big screen.

 (Spoiler Alert) One particular intense scene is when the personified objects “die” and become just objects. The Beast is shot and maimed. Gaston falls to his death.

 We both cried a few times. 

To speak to the homosexual reference question. There are two moments that could be taken as a nod to same sex relations. They are discussed in the Plugged-in review that can be found here:

You need to be ready to answer questions associated with these moments, if the kids ask or take the initiative to explain what is going on and give your views. 

So… all that said, would I take my elementary aged kids to see this movie? Yes. 

 The wonder and excitement they will have will be priceless and memorable. Also, stories of love and sacrifice prepare their hearts to receive and believe the greatest story of true love and sacrifice ever told…That of Jesus and his bride.

You are so loved…

(Pictures were taken during Bri’s 16th birthday trip to Walt Disney World) 

The Great Flood of 2016

Today my elderly parents closed the door to the house they had lived in for nearly 30 years and along with their granddaughter, my brother, his wife and their four kids, stepped into the quickly rising flood waters.  The dirty water swirling at their feet washed away any hope that they would be able to stay. They were not alone. This was repeated thousands of times across South Lousiana. People closed doors and left behind more memories and memotoes than monetary goods. People agonized over decisions of where to go and when to go and what to bring and what gets left behind. Parents looked at their children and wondered, “How will they ever survive this?”. Mothers left their home clutching birth certificates and a few hastily chosen pictures. Congregations watched as their churchs, despite their best efforts, filled with water.

At various times in my life I have called the affected area, “Home”. From Lafayette to Hammond and points between, all “Home”. Amazing, wonderful, caring, giving, resilient people live there. Today, true to the heart of the people who live there, Good Samaritans in boats rescued people and their pets. Food was shared. Provisions given. Homes were shared. Friends became family and strangers became friends. Too many have suffered though this a first day of heartache, loss and despair. 

 Would you please pray for the people of South Louisiana? 

Would you pray for safety for those who are still stranded. Would you pray comfort for the children who witnessed their stuffed menagerie and toys floating away? Pray for the people who no longer have a bed of their own or a place to call home? Would you pray for provision for the heartbroken parents who left with very little and know that their bank account is not prepared for this emergency? Would you please pray for peace for those who are grieving? Would you pray for wisdom as people have many difficult decisions to make. So many people live far away from their loved ones; would you pray that their faith would be strengthen and their worry would turn into prayer.  Pray for the church, for those who call Jesus, Savior; that we would weep with the people of South Louisiana (Romans 12:15), and that this weeping would turn to joy (Psalm 30:5) as we seek to minister to the flood victims. Pray for yourself. Take a moment, or many, to ask God to show you how this catastrophic event can change you. Be brave and ask Him how he can use you to change these lives. He has an answer. (Romans 12:5 & Matthew 25:35-40).

“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You? ’ “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:35-40‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Wedding Day Lost…

My precious girl…today, May 14, 2016 was to be your wedding day.

But it was not. 17 months ago your young bearded groom lost his flower-child bride in a tragic accident

Today was to be a day of joy and celebrating. A small picture of how Jesus feels about the church.  “Like a bride waiting for her groom, we will be a church waiting for you.” 

“What kind of dress do you want?” I once asked. “Something old, I think. I want to be married outside, barefooted, with flowers in my hair.”   I know time passes differently for you now…but

Do you have flowers in your hair?

I have had the extreme prividgle of praying with many brides before they walked down the aside.  Today was the day that I would have held your hand, clasped the pearls your dad gave me around your neck; touched your cheek and cried a river of happy tears as I prayed a blessing over you and Josh moments before you walked out to meet your groom. 

You were always so beautiful. But on this day, with your eyes sparkling, as they always did when you spoke about Josh, would have been lit with joy, love and anticipation. Like a bride adorned, waiting for her groom.

You told Josh and Bri that you did not want your Dad to perform the ceremony.  That you wanted him to “just be your dad on your wedding day”. I would have done my best to see that happen.

  For him to walk you to Josh. 

For him to clasp your hands together.

“Her mother and I”

And to stand by me and hold my hand.

He would have cried.

He would have been barefoot too, wearing a superhero shirt under whatever dressy shirt you made him wear.

After the I do’s were spoken…there would have been celebration.


We tried to make today a normal day.  

Josh went to work. Erica came over to the house. Kara, Kegan and I traveled to a soccer tournament. Bri went to a birthday party for  a friend.  But it was not a normal day.

We missed you. We missed celebrating with you.

Kara played soccer today, but spent the last game wiping tears from her eyes.

At the birthday party, Bri watched a Disney movie where they sent lanterns off into the sky and remembered your wish to do the same on  your wedding day. 

Kegan was extra manic as he looked for attention at the soccer games.

Josh wrote a simple Facebook post that spoke volumes.  

And I have tried to keep everyone together, but I am sitting in a hotel room at 2:30am writing and crying; missing you and your dad more than ever.

And then I remember…

 “I heard a voice thunder from the Throne:

 “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.””‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Precious Ari, we will one day celebrate with you.  I love you.  

Happy wedding day!

Happy Birthday…

Twenty years ago, I was also awake in the middle of the night.  

I was in the hospital in Nacogdoches, Texas, watching a fetal heart monitor for any signs of distress.  Just a few hours earlier I had started hemorraging at 36 weeks.  I was carrying our second child, a girl whom we had decided to name Ariana Mikal. Her name means, chaste, holy and pure, who is like the Lord.  I was so frightened. The East Texas Size Thunderstorm I could see out the window, reflected the storm in my heart.  

As an OB nurse, I knew that this was a terrible situation.  I could calculate all the possibilities and outcomes.  I knew that we would only have minutes to save Ariana if her heart rate dropped or stopped.   My life was also in danger and the possibility losing both of us was real. 

I laid in that bed in fear and anguish, watching numbers that gave an indication of life and whispered hope, and held so tightly to two things I knew for certainty.

One, I was not alone. There was a man with his eyes closed on a hospital cot across the room, pretending to sleep, but was praying, pleading for God to spare my life and Ariana’s life. During our less than 10 years of marriage, we had already learned that clinging to each other was the way to survive difficult times. 

Two, I was not alone.  There was a God in heaven in whom I had learned to trust and cling to, especially during the difficult times.  Less than three years previously, in a different hospital room in a different state, our first born son arrived with a diagnosis that changed our world. Though the tears, pain, questions and uncertainty I learned to say “Though he slay me…I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15). I knew I could and I would trust my God, my savior, with my life and with the life of my child.

The sun rose and the the decision to deliver Ariana right away was made. Soon I was holding my tiny 5 pound, 5 ounce, 18 inch screaming baby girl. We placed our hands on her tiny body and dedicated her back to God.  We played that she would come to know Jesus early in her life. She did at age three.  We prayed that God would use her life and unique personality to draw people to Him. She did, shyly at first, and then with boldness that was always greater than her years. We prayed that she would know the wonder of God. She experienced Him in dance, books, music, theater, worship, friendships, writing, drawing and in love.  

The sun will rise in a few hours. It will be Ari’s 20th birthday.  It will also be 463 days since she died and went to heaven to worship our God and Savior in a way that we can only imagine. 

Ari, I miss you every day. I am sad often…

But I know two things.

One, I am so glad God gave you to me to be my little girl…

Two, I am not alone.

“Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 HCSB 


Jesus is my savior, and I love Him too.


This is a picture of my daughter at Passion 2014, Atlanta.  She is standing, saying “Yes, God, I will go, I will serve, I will pour out my life to tell people about Jesus”. This was in response to Pastor John Piper’s challenge to students who were willing to go to the mission field, even if it cost them their lives. She was 17 at the time.

Her heart was already in South Africa where she spent the previous summer serving and loving children. Her college plans, and her summer plans centered on going back to South Africa to tell people there about Jesus, and His love. Meanwhile, she was content to tell the people of South Mississippi and South Louisiana about her Savior.

She was killed in a senseless, tragic multi-car accident on December 13, 2014.

Her father, youth pastor, and my husband, Randy, was also killed in the same accident.

You see, it was not an accident that she was willing to give her life for Jesus.  The act of serving others was lived out before her, her entire life.

Randy was a Youth Pastor for almost 30 years.  For nearly 30 years, he poured his life into students. Leading them to Jesus. Small churches, large churches, individuals, or groups, he loved students and wanted them to know Jesus. He was amazing.  And how he loved Jesus.

So now, I have faith in the God I love that he will raise up students to fill the ministry void their deaths have created.

I know that there will be someone willing to go to South Africa to work in orphanages and tell special needs students about Jesus.

I know that there are college students that feel the call to “Just love students, and tell them about Jesus”.

I know that the section of the wall that Randy and Ari were building will be completed by others.  I know that others will persevere in the job of being a watchman, and speaking God’s truth.

How do I know this?


Jesus is my savior, and I love Him too.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the lord;

Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:13-14