The Wrong Rug

It was 2014. There were protests in the Ukraine. There were bombings in Russia ahead of the Olympics. A chemical spill in West Virginia caused a water ban and President Obama was in office. While the world was raging with chaos my little part of the world seemed to humming right along. My daughter was getting married! The house was full of wedding chatter and every conversation was consumed with the details. My father, who was a pastor, was going to be marrying her just as he did my sister and me and the legacy seemed pretty well set. But, as the wedding date approached we realized that something just wasn’t right. Daddy didn’t seem well. The wedding went off without a hitch and my daughter and her new husband started their lives. And, then the world changed.

Daddy’s doctor appointments were numerous and long and as the year progressed we learned he had cancer. There wasn’t anything anyone could do and it was just a matter of time. Everyone’s minds shifted to making the most out of the days we had left and while I would love to sit here and say I remember every single moment and every single detail I can’t. It’s all a blur. But, I do remember him laughing and enjoying all the attention. I remember his words of wisdom that he tried to pour out on every person he saw. And, then, October came. It was his time and he was ushered from this world to heaven in the most precious, sweetest, beautiful way possible. The chaos stopped for one brief moment.

The next day my sister and I noticed Momma didn’t seem right. She seemed to struggle to breathe. I called the doctor, made an appointment and sat completely stunned as I heard the doctor tell me her lungs were full of fluid.

One massive decision after the other led us to a long hospital stay with no answers and many procedures. The chaos was worse than before and seemed to be never ending. Someone told me that when you’re grieving you shouldn’t make life changing decisions but it seemed those were the only decisions I was being forced to make. Wind and rain, lightening and thunder roared every way we turned.

And, then, we sat in yet another doctor’s office to only be told Momma too had cancer. However, there was a chance, a small one, and we took it. And, God, in his divine wisdom, saw fit to heal my Momma this side of heaven.

I wish I could tell you how strong my faith was during that tornado of a year. I wish I could tell you that I walked so closely with Jesus in 2014 that my face shone with his glory. But, I can’t. I struggled. I struggled to get out of bed every day. I struggled to make sense of the chaos around me. I was angry. My son was a senior in high school and I was missing those milestone events. My daughter was a newlywed who needed her momma to lean on and I was absent.

A friend saw me drowning and took me to dinner. We sat there while I cried and poured out the deep, dark, ugly truths of my heart. I told her that my life had never been easy, but it had never been like this. I tried to paint a picture for her of the ache that was within me and I said “The rug…it was just pulled out from under me and I am falling.” She patiently listened, never interrupting. She handed me napkins for my tears and reached across the table a few times. And, when I finally took a breath and she knew I had reached the end of all of my words she said, “Lori, you’ve been standing on the wrong rug.” Y’all, I felt like the air had been sucked out of the room as she continued to explain to me that all this time, all these years, I had been standing on the comfort of things I could see. Everything I held so tightly was tangible. I had never trusted God enough to say that no matter what happened, no matter what storm brewed in my life I would know that I was firmly planted on the solid rock. I knew my salvation was secure, but in that moment I also knew that I had built my house on the sand and had built my life standing on the wrong rug.

It’s 2022 now and life has been a little challenging, but nothing like 2014. Life has thrown me some curve balls and some days I’ve stared in the mirror and asked myself which rug I’m standing on. I’ve had to pick myself up, dust myself off and remind myself who I belong to many times over. Each time I stand back up I’m reminded that God is the best foundation. He’s a foundation that never cracks and one that can never be pulled out from under me. So, sister, if you’re feeling a little shaky, stand up! Dust those feet off and plant them firmly on the rug that never moves!

God is so good. He reminds me of His promises in the coolest ways possible, and I share them all on my personal blog Twenty-Nine Thirteen. I would love for you to join the journey! You can find me at and on Facebook @twentynine13.


When my family and I visited the Great Smokey Mountains we took a fun little hike to Abram’s Falls in Cades Cove. As a writer, when I think of that hike I can’t help but make some analogies.

What is life like in a literal valley? How does that enlighten us as we travel through the valleys of life? What can we learn here?

Some valleys offer a path. Our Abram’s Falls trek did. It was a well-worn path. Many of the valleys we face in life will be well traveled paths worn down by many others who have made the same trek. We can gather a small amount of comfort from the fact that we are not the only ones who have faced, or are facing this particular valley. In fact, many of the valleys we face have a trail that was blazed by our Savior Himself. The valleys of persecution, personal loss, betrayal, ostracism, loss of a family member, loneliness, being abandoned by friends, facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and the valley of the shadow of death. To know that The One sho loves us so has cleared the way gives us courage to keep walking the path before us.

Some valleys are dense, dark thickets in which we feel lost. These valleys seem to have no path. Walking through them we seem to wake up and find ourselves surrounded by dense dark forest, brush and high undergrowth.

It’s not that others haven’t walked them, but they are overgrown with decisions, confusion, chaos. The darkness that surrounds us can overwhelm. We feel lost. We grope around for a way out. There seems to be no direction on which way to proceed. After days and weeks of wandering we begin to wonder if we are getting anywhere or just going in circles.

Orienting by the sun. In our life struggles we may feel like aimless wanderers with no idea of which way to turn. At these times what can keep us going in the right direction? The only way is to look up to the Son. Just as seafarers and explorers of old used the sun for orienteering, we orient ourselves by the Son. We can’t look around us. It is useless. Looking at those circumstances and obstacles keeps us blinded to what we really need to do and to what we need to focus on.

Sometimes it seems dark in a literal valley. Things tower over us and blot out the sun, threatening to discourage us with their gloom and causing us to lose our way. In figurative valleys we must go into survival mode at times like that, following the Son every time we catch a glimpse of Him. Then we rest in the “shadow of the Almighty” whenever we can’t see the way to climb out or don’t have the strength to go any further.

Our compass, map, and guide. God’s Word to us becomes our compass to find direction and a way out of the valley. His words point us in the right direction and we follow in faith however dark the valley may be. Jesus’ life becomes a map as we follow the paths He would have traveled. The One who created this earth and this very valley and terrain we find ourselves lost in is the One who will be our guide back to the mountain. A mountaintop always follows a valley, you know!

The One who holds our future in His hands, holds our hands as we walk through the valley. With our compass aimed at True North we will find ourselves heading east toward the Risen Son.

Happy Easter!

As you gather with family for a meal or traditional children’s festivities on this day, do not neglect to pause and ponder the truth of why we are celebrating.

Mourn His death.

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:32-34

Be thankful for His willing sacrifice.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” Matthew 27:54

Rejoice in the miracle of that first Resurrection morning.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:15-18

Know the truth of what His resurrection means for you!

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-7

Unconventional Passover Practices

At Sundown on Passover if the weather is stable enough for the Patriarch to participate the Martin 5 will be celebrating. I want the Martin 3 to grow into adulthood understanding clearly the foreshadowing of Who was to come. 

It’s always a little weird and a ton of awkward, but it paints a clearer picture. I’m figuring out when you walk closely with the King there is often a little weird and substantial amounts of awkwardness. 

On Passover at sundown we step outside under the big full moon and we will blow the family shofar. Then we partake in an abbreviated sedar meal, we will read through our coffee company complimentary copy of our Haggadah and hang a red ribbon over the door frame of our home.

The Martin 3 will find the hidden afikomen that has the middle matzah that has been broken and hidden away and the finder will win a prize. It’s usually chocolate in nature.

It’s not the typical Jewish way of doing it, nor is it the norm, but it’s our way of connecting that Scarlet Thread that runs throughout the King’s Book. The old and the new. 

A couple of years ago as I made preparations for the meal I had asked Charlotte to remind me of a particular Hebrew word, she had the Google translate at her disposal and I knew she’d be able to correctly interpret. 

As I handed her the object with the Hebrew word, I said, “I think it just says Passover.” The Word Passover always looks to me like GOD written in backward (or frontwards if you’re a legit Hebrew scholar) in English. 

In a matter of moments she confirmed my suspicion and handed it back to me to continue with my preparations. 

The evening meandered on and just before bed, in her typical way she came to see me, tell me goodnight, snuggle a bit, and she handed me a drawing she had been working on since her impromptu interpretation session. It simply said “Passover” in Hebrew and she had added some floral accents.

She smiled as she handed it to me, pleased with her work and with pleasing me. Beauty at its best. A pureness of heart, a gift given with nothing expected in return, a beautiful and accurate depiction of what my King prepared to do this very week so long ago. 

A Chag Pesach Sameach indeed!!!

Easter Emotions

If I’d’ve been one of those gals at the cross with Baby Boy Beloved John I’d’ve been ticked! 

I’m talking so mad you can’t say anything except, “I’m too mad to talk to you right now so you best get outta my face” mad. 

That Mama kind of mad that I doubt Daddies can fully understand, the kind of mad that you’d kill for your kid and lose sight of everything in the periphery kind of mad. The kind of mad that can only come from believing one set of circumstances and expectations only for those to be shot to heck-n-back and the reality is almost unbelievable except there you are smack dab in the middle of them. 

Some of y’all have no idea what that’s like, for that I am grateful.  I do know that kind of mad and I can tell you some days even decades later I still ain’t all the way finished getting mad over some things. It’ll just hit me and all the sudden I’m ready to slash tires or walk on coals or some other nonsense in order to make sense of those unexpected, blinding circumstances and experiences. 

I know that mad and I get why those gals got up so early that Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming over the horizon, chill in the air, ragged from crying for three days. I get why they made their way to that tomb to finish the burial job the men had started before Passover. 

Their beloved Boy was gone. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. How was this the magnificent plan?

I imagine on the way they rehearsed what they would say to the posted guards and if I’d’ve been there I can guarantee you I’d’ve been a little bit ghetto and prolly said something along the lines of, “ I dare those sons-a-bananas to forbid me…” any number of made up angry imaginary arguments. All’s I know is I’d’ve been wagging my tongue and still tryna make sense of what had taken place on that cross outside the hill. I’d’ve been angry that I’d’ve had to observe Passover despite my hurt of losing my Boy.

I said that out loud as I drove home with Shelton and Charlotte last night. I said out loud the part about being so angry. They both looked around trying to discern who actually had ticked me off. I explained and their answers to me  fit their Bethany 3 personalities perfectly. 

Charlotte  said, “Mama it had to be done, it was an act of love.” She’s a Mary.

She is right of course I know that, but did they? Did those gals know? 

Shel said, “That’s a stage of grief. Anger. You’d just be grieving over death.” He is a Lazarus. 

But that Sunday morning those stages of grief would’ve come to a screeching halt for on that Sunday morning the King conquered death by death!

He is no longer dead, He is alive and ain’t no need to be angry anymore.

Borrowed Tools and Tombs

“Why you gonna buy a tomb when you can just borrow one?” 

He, like most Alabamians, pronounced borrow, “bar-ee.” 

He was speaking of the King’s tomb, the beautiful limestone one belonging to Joseph of Aramethia. It was brand new and had never been used. Joseph had prepared his final resting place, but on that dark day Jesus was the dead man in need of it. 

The Preacher Man had acknowledged that the tomb hadn’t been intended for the One who was going to be using it. He communicated that the tomb was to be used by Jesus.  He noted that sometimes it’s better to borrow something than to outright buy it. 

The Preacher Man used to be in the plumbing business and every now and again his old trade makes its way into his sermons. 

“Some-a y’all are that way about tools. You’d rather bar-ee ‘em then buy ‘em.” 

He chuckled  and I got tickled. I knew just what he was implying, some folks borrow things and they don’t return them. Sometimes some folks, well-intentioned or not, borrow things and just fail to give them back.

 Truth is, I am notorious for it. 

I’ll have really good intentions when I borrow stuff but the truth is I’m forgetful and I mislay things or I put it in a place so I won’t forget and I inevitably forget where that place is. Just a week or so ago I borrowed a book from a friend and had she not texted asking for it, it would have likely made its way into my collection. I will often find things months after I’ve intended to return them and by that time I am embarrassed to admit I have had the item for so long. Case in point, I presently have a Dolla-Store storage container awaiting return to its owner. It came to me filled with a half-dozen of the world’s best peanut butter cookies made by my friend Erica. It’s been sitting in the same spot in my laundry room for about six months. 

As the Preacher Man made the statement about the borrowed tools and the borrowed tomb my imagination took me to the place in the garden that dusky evening, His lifeless body removed from the cross needing a final resting place.

I imagined Joseph and Nicodemus making their way to what would be a borrowed tomb. I wondered if Joseph knew that the tomb would only be needed for a couple of days. I imagined Nicodemus carrying the excessive amount of burial spices he’d brought over his shoulder like some men carry animal feed or dog food. 

That night wasn’t Nicodemus’ first night encounter with Jesus. I wonder if he even gave it much thought as they prepared Jesus’ body for burial, or if it was one of those things he thought about with the hindsight of processing such major events. 

Jesus didn’t take much from this life, from the world, instead He gave and He gave. 

He gave love when He was handed hate. He gave forgiveness when faced with the unforgivable. He gave Grace in the face of adversity. He gives forgiveness when it is undeserved, and on that Sunday morning some two thousand years ago He gave back that borrowed tomb as He was raised from the dead and He didn’t need it anymore. 

The Nudge

My little black fur ball is the joy of my empty nest! His endearing antics are never-ending. Bringing toys and dropping them at our feet to play; loudly alerting us to every postman, garbage truck, or delivery to our door; spinning in circles to go outside. These are lively additions to our household routine, but my favorite one is The Nudge.

Poppy is my shadow and will lay down at my side within seconds whenever I sit down. The problem is in my goal verses his. I sit down to work on the computer, read, handle business and so forth. He assumes I have perched there to pet him. I usually pet him for a few minutes whenever I sit down in hopes of putting money in the bank with him where he’ll doze off and let me accomplish my tasks. But alas, His goals are more grand than that. Within seconds after I stop stroking his fur and return my hands to the keyboard, I get The Nudge.

His cold little black nose bumps me under my elbow. (And yes, I’ve sloshed coffee and tea on myself more than once.) The Nudge is patient, but it is never a one-and-done situation. He’ll nudge, wait a few seconds for my hand to resume it’s stroking, and if that doesn’t happen The Nudge comes again. If he still gets no immediate reaction, the nudges continue to come at a quickening pace until I’m left with two choices, stop what I’m doing and dedicate myself to this little canine who adores me or turn away from him with gruffness of words that causes him to leave my side and search for affection, or a nap, elsewhere.

I realized recently that God often uses The Nudge on me as well. It’s not a cold nose under my elbow, but he will use something to nudge me: a person that keeps coming to mind, a subject that pops up everywhere I look, a person who keeps randomly being put in my path, the same suggestion from three different people, a particular scripture passage that is brought to my attention in my personal Bible time, a lesson, a sermon, a podcast all within a week’s time. Do you get those God-Nudges as well? I’m assuming we all do.

And when we get The Nudge from Him we have two choices just like with my little buddy. We can stop what we’re doing and dedicate ourselves to The One who adores us, or we can turn away from Him with gruffness and self-interest which puts distance between us and the Father. I’m too busy God. Not Now. I really don’t want to have to deal with that.

In my early years I often ignored The Nudge and would look back later and realize I’d missed a God-ordained opportunity. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to respond more appropriately to the The Nudge from God. I’ve learned to recognize it as a nudge from Him. And I’ve learned to obey The Nudge. I often dread what I’ve been nudged to do before I do it, but once it’s behind me I’ve never regretted obeying even one of God’s holy nudges.

So I challenge you – look for The Nudge from your Abba and readily obey!

It Wasn’t That Big of a Deal

“By love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

It’s been 22 years since it happened and to be honest I really have very little recollection of it, yet every single time since that moment, that one act, I am reminded by the recipient. 

“You cleaned my house for me.”

I woke up to the TV news playing, it was that early in the morning news and while it was the beginning of a hot August day, I was still groggy when I heard what I thought was a dream. A loved one had died, I was still in the in between when the news registered in my groggy brain. I clarified. What? How? He was perfectly healthy a week ago wasn’t he? My Mama said she didn’t know details but did suggest we head over to the deceased man’s home. His wife was there, mama had just gotten off the phone with her and while she’d said she didn’t need anything, my Mama knew better.

We arrived and the house was still and quiet. The grass was overgrown, her husband was going to cut it the following weekend, he would’ve done it the previous one but he had chosen to do something else instead. His choice had made for a memory, Good choice! I thought at the time. The house was an old house, the century-old kind with a big broad front porch and two porch swings. The screen door seemed as tall and as wide as the downtown buildings you could see from it. They had no central air conditioning as the house was literally over a hundred years old and hadn’t been retrofitted. All the windows were open and cross-ventilation was the method of cooling, although on a sweltering humid Alabama August day, cross-ventilation is hardly recognizable. A single fan stirred the air and the house was slightly in disarray.

They, like many people, lived in their house, so clothes were strewn about, dishes from the night before piled high, papers and such laying about. It wasn’t a dirty house but given the fact that it would soon be filled with people it could use some attention. My sister and I got right to work. We straightened and cleaned, wiped the visible dust away, swept and cleaned the original hardwood floors that were worn smooth and dipped where hundreds of thousands of feet had trod. We cleaned toilets and changed out towels, washed dishes and stacked up papers neatly and placed them in a basket. We took out trash and my husband mowed the grass. We finished everything is an hour’s time or so and then moved on to whatever task was needed next. Mama directed us, she comforted her friend and would tell us what what was needed, “They’re going to need some paper products, for when people come. Amy, you run down to the store and get those. While you’re out, run by the post office.” I was handed a letter to mail.

The things we did that August morning, before the hustle and bustle that comes when a dearly loved one passes weren’t really a big deal, not to us anyway. I never even gave it a second thought really until later, when the calm began to set in after her husband had been laid to rest and the real grieving began. 

“You cleaned my house for me. Thank you.”

Those were her words to me. What she had remembered, what had mattered. 

It had been no deal to me. I hadn’t over extended myself. It hadn’t cost me a dime. I’d only done what needed doing in the moment, yet that small act had meant so very much to her. 

She still reminds me of that when I see her, she’s long since moved away from the grand old house in the city. She’s moved on in life and in love, yet that 22 year old act of kindness she still remembers. I can hardly recall it, and it certainly doesn’t even cross my mind when I think of her or her late husband but that is what she remembers in those first days of grief.

As I’ve traversed life I’ve come to realize oftentimes it’s the not big things that are most impactful. Those moments when we are unaware of their significance that turn out to be a really big deal. 

The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11