Wildfires and Politics

My world is on fire. Literally. Every ridge surrounding our city has a wildfire burning on top of it, and the smoke is settling on the streets of Chattanooga. It’s suffocating and headache-inducing. As I write (and as I dread going back to editing that Greek exegesis waiting on my desk) the pain in and behind my eyes is intense.

Our figurative world is burning these days too. If you found this post because of a social media link, then you’ve also read posts and articles all about how America is going down in flames if Candidate X is elected. Maybe you’ve even shared a few stories, commented on a few others.

My Granny would have been right there with you. Back when there was an alarmingly high number of cable channels–50, as I remember–she watched just CNN. It was on 24 hours a day. She listened to talk radio and wrote letters to our congressmen. She spent hours in AOL politics-themed chat rooms every night. She was the most informed woman I’ve ever known, and some of her passion “caught fire” in me.

So people who have known me longest may be surprised that I’ve stayed out of all the political squabbling. In fact, I’ve been avoiding Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else for the last six months. (Though to be honest, I started to pull away well over a year ago. Social media blurs the lines between opinion and truth, and the older I get the less willing I am to put up with that.)

The election has only fired up the animosity that pervades our society, so once we’ve all cast our votes tomorrow, the arguing won’t end. Why? Because we’re all so selfish.  We vote for who we think will improve our own lives, regardless of how others may be impacted.

If we are all going to live with each other after tomorrow, then we need to stop trying to change others’ opinions and start changing our own actions toward others.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Luke lately (thanks to that exegesis weighing down my desk right now). In chapter 10, a scholar tries to trick Jesus into contradicting the Hebrew scriptures when he asks how one can attain eternal life. He answers his own question:

You shall love—“love the Eternal One your God with everything you have: all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind”—and “love your neighbor as yourself (v. 27, The Voice).

And who is that “neighbor”? Jesus answers with a story:

This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by. Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance. Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him. The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night.

The next day, the Samaritan took out some money—two days’ wages to be exact—and paid the innkeeper, saying, “Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll repay you next time I pass through.” (Luke 10:30-35, The Voice)

The neighbor is “the one who showed mercy” (v. 37). Not the priest and Levite who were literal neighbors–presumably sharing the victim’s Jewish faith and living in his community–but the Samaritan. He would have believed and worshiped and lived differently than the victim. Regardless of all his social differences, his actions made him the true neighbor. The one we are commanded to love as ourselves.

On Wednesday morning, I hope the election won’t have left you feeling as if you’ve been “mugged” and left “in critical condition”; but it looks like about half the country will feel that way.

It is time for us to start loving each other, regardless of our social differences. It is time for us to stop thinking so highly of ourselves and our own opinions that we can justify our disregard of others, or worse, we can justify attacking and hating others. Not just during election season–when America is on fire–but every day of our lives.

No matter what happens in the next 48 hours, let’s go out into our smoke-filled streets and AOL chat rooms and show some mercy.

Truth Will Set You Free

I first studied philosophy in high school English. We read L’Etranger and No Exit, and we memorized the principles of relativism and existentialism and other long-forgotten-by-me -isms. I remember one thing well: I don’t enjoy philosophy.

Twenty years later, philosophy penetrates my life and yours. Take a look at your social media feeds. What are most people posting about? Their perceptions of politics. And many are ready to have knock-down drag-out fights to prove to everyone else that their perceptions are right. And factual. And true.

Every knock-down drag-out my husband, David, and I have ever had resulted from differing perspectives of truth.

My best friend, Melinda, likes to say that David and I are a psychology experiment–the one where two people watch a video of the same car crash but have completely different recollections of what happened: “The car was blue.” “No, the car was green.” That’s us, and those different perceptions of truth make for heated but pointless arguments. How relieved we both are when we can find the truth by rewatching the car crash: The car was actually red. We can stop arguing now.

Rarely our arguments result from actual untruth…meaning one of us has lied. Those are the conversations that both begin and end with pain, because a lie is a betrayal. You can’t rewatch a video or Google the truth to settle a lie-spawned argument once and for all. Feelings have been hurt, and the relationship needs time to mend.

I think we as a society have largely lost the ability to distinguish between perception and truth, and that is one of the reasons politics are so ugly–particularly in 2016. My opinion about a candidate or a policy is not truth, so people who disagree with me aren’t technically wrong (even though I think they are!) or lying.

Many philosophies, and most of this postmodern secular society, state that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Christianity disagrees. In the gospel of John, Jesus talks a lot about truth, and it pretty much boils down to this:

I tell you the truth, anyone who hears My voice and keeps My word will never experience death. (John 8:51, The Voice)

If you are a Christian, then you believe one absolute truth: Jesus is the Savior of humanity. It is rare (though not unattested) that I see knock-down drag-out fights over that statement.

If you follow a philosophy that declares there is no absolute truth, then your perception becomes your truth. So when someone else disagrees with that perception, then you feel personally affronted. A “car-crash argument” becomes a “lie-spawned argument,” a betrayal.

We should follow Jesus’ example in John. When He declared truth and others disagreed, He countered by speaking the same truth in different ways. In that conversation, He did not back down. But when He encountered people who behaved or believed differently or even incorrectly (as in, Romans and Samaritans), He always responded the same way: by revealing the truth in love. He didn’t argue over the semantics of where the temple should be (John 4) or even about the punishment for adultery (John 8:1-11).

We would rather argue over the semantics. In a climate where opinions and perceptions are elevated and advertised on social media, Christians need to remember that there is only one absolute truth–that Jesus is the Savior of humanity–and that all Christians, by definition, agree on it.

Then we need to respond to disagreements as Jesus did: in love and with the one absolute truth. For if we show love, the world will see the absolute truth.

Kaleidoscope of Life

David and I just got back from our first vacation since 2011. That year we used our first Southwest points to visit San Diego for our 8th wedding anniversary. This year we used our last Southwest points to fly to a Coldplay concert in Boston, where we lived right after we married.

Ignoring for the moment the most awesome concert I’ve ever attended, this trip “home” was both surreal and affirmative.

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Cambridge is sporting new-to-us dedicated bike lanes (like those coming to on our own Bailey Avenue in the spring) and beautifully renovated housing.

We rode and drove and walked the areas we knew…but most of our favorite businesses have been replaced. Even the Harvard Shirt Shop, that had the cheapest apparel in town, was gone from Harvard Square. As were all of our friends. Sure, there were still thousands of people milling around, but no one we recognized. We don’t know anyone who lives in Cambridge anymore. In short, nothing we loved there was eagerly awaiting our return as we had been eagerly awaiting this trip.

Not only did we notice what was missing from Cambridge, but we found bits and pieces of our new home. There are bright green bike lanes at Central Square (like those CDOT is planning for our city), and the houses surrounding our other-side-of-the-tracks apartment are now up-and-coming (much like our current neighborhood). Riding the T–dark and dusty in the bowels of the city–made us dream about the Chattanooga Light Rail that is a real possibility for clean mass transportation in our city. In all the things we loved about Boston, we saw shades of Chattanooga. It was as if Boston was telling us, “Everything you love about me is coming to your new city. Enjoy it all–minus the inflated housing prices!”

Who doesn’t love subtle confirmation that you are where you’re supposed to be?  After years of feeling displaced, we are so happy to be home. Probably the biggest reason we know this is home is the church we’ve adopted. You don’t officially “join” our church because it is, as our pastor likes to say, “La Familia.” We are family. We serve and love one another and our community because we know God’s love and want the Holy Spirit to work through us. We were never able to find the right church in Denver, and our home church in Murfreesboro has evolved without us. It’s wonderful to visit, but they aren’t our church family anymore. And that’s a good thing!

So back to Coldplay. The primary artwork for this amazing concert series is a kaleidoscope, and it speaks to me. As you turn a kaleidoscope, the view changes but every shiny bit and piece still has its place. That’s kind of how I see our adult life so far. Just when I think we’re perfectly settled, God flips something around to give us a new and more beautiful view of the life He’s created. We love what we’re seeing from Chattanooga, and we are excited to experience His changes that are ahead.

Facing Favoritism

On February 24, 2016, I lost my Granduncle Fred. He was nearly 88 years old, lived more than 500 miles away for my entire life, and saw me twice per year (when I was lucky). Based on those facts alone, you wouldn’t think I’d be close to him. But he was and remains one of my favorite men of all time.

He and my Aunt Dare never had children of their own. For that reason, they were more involved with my father’s family than most aunts and uncles are with their nieces and nephews.

Growing up I took for granted that I had a third set of grandparents. Once I discovered that, like them, my only “children” would be future nieces and nephews and godkids, I finally appreciated all the years of love they’d poured into me.

I think that I was closer to my Uncle Fred than my cousins were. I hazard to think that I was his favorite. He never made differences between us–gifts were always equal, and that’s how a kid knows who loves her best–but I always felt closer to him. Probably because I got to see him every summer, which my cousins did not. Maybe because he expected children to be tiny adults, and I was “born 30” according to everyone who knew me. Since before I was able to sit still insomuch as a church service, he loved to show the same bazillion slides every summer when my parents and I would visit Richmond. I happily listened to his narrations of Bermuda during the Korean War, Aunt Dare’s parents’ store, and Daddy’s gangling childhood. By the time I was 16, I could have done the narrations myself.

I don’t know why some families have favorites while others don’t. Someone once asked my father-in-law, “Anna is your favorite child, isn’t she?” He was mortified by the thought. They equally love their children (and children-in-law, as it turns out). Truly.

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David, Copper, and me on our way to visit Aunt Dare and buy Uncle Fred’s truck over Easter Weekend. I am now the proud driver of his 2000 Ford Ranger–with only 50,000 miles on it!

I grew up with both “sides” of that favoritism coin. On one side, I had a grandmother who had favorites. I knew I wasn’t it because my Christmas gifts were always noticeably cheaper. She also sent something called “birthday dollars” to my cousins that I never received. Granny would send a dollar bill for every year of life in the birthday card. As an adult I found out about them, but I was about 5 years old when my mother found out about them. As she told her own mother what was happening, Grandma was so incensed by the situation that she decided to put 5 dollar bills in my birthday card that next year. Now, I have no doubt that my other cousins on that side also received an extra $5 that year. Because this grandmother made no differences–every Christmas one or two of us would have a couple of quarters taped to the top of our presents because she had accidentally spent just 50 cents more on one grandchild!

So why have these joys and wounds of my childhood been dredged up by Uncle Fred’s death? Because just 3 weeks earlier, I became an aunt with 2 nieces. And I don’t want to have a favorite. (The same goes for my 2 godsons, who are brothers.)

I never thought showing favoritism would be an issue for me because I know how psychologically damaging it is to feel less loved than those around you. I have felt it myself, and I have watched other not-favorites experience it. But I worry that my physical proximity to one niece may mean I am naturally closer to her than I am to her cousin who lives 2 hours away. Will I love one more than the other? No way. But will I know one better than the other? Maybe. And will that make the girls think that I favor one over the other? I fear the answer is yes.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Dare filled a gap for me. There was something intangible about the way they loved me that made me feel better about not being my grandparents’ favorite. I am eternally thankful.

I want to be a gap-filler, too, not a gap-maker. I know we won’t be filling love-gaps for the kiddos because their parents won’t pick favorites. Instead David and I want to be the cool aunt and uncle who take all the kids on adventures and have an awesome play area on “the kids'” as-yet-unfinished third floor of our house. We want to give them things they wouldn’t have otherwise. And we would love nothing more than for all of them to think of us as second parents–as I thought of Uncle Fred as my third grandfather.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

How many times do you use the word grace in a day?

I have asked publishing editors to “give me grace” anytime I send them a rough draft that I know still needs work. I think, Just call me “Grace”, every time I slam my shoulder into a door frame or trip over my basset hound. And I’ll guess that a full 80 percent of my friends have used Grace as a middle name for their daughters.

Colloquially grace (when used by just about anyone other than a prima ballerina) has become synonymous with forgiveness and acceptance, but that’s not quite right.

I realized this a few months ago when I was asked to do a theological review of another author’s book. The argument was being made that a certain biblical character was “full of grace” toward another person, but I didn’t see that perspective from the Scripture. For the first time, I did an in-depth study of grace as it appears in the Bible. I learned that grace is an action of God–not of humans.

Jesus personified grace while He was on earth: “At first everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus’ lips. Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed that He could say these things.” (Luke 4:22)

And because of Him, we have been offered God’s grace: “You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth.” (John 1:17)

Paul has a lot to say about grace, especially in his letter to the Romans. As a former hunter of Jesus-followers who had accepted God’s grace, he knew better than anyone the transforming power of God’s grace.

The only time we are ever told to demonstrate grace to other humans is in Colossians 4:5-6:

Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter. When you speak the word, speak it gracefully (as if seasoned with salt), so you will know how to respond to everyone rightly (The Voice).

But even here, Paul is telling his readers to use their words to advertise God’s grace, not to exercise their own versions of grace on others.

When we use words incorrectly, we rob them of their meaning. Consider the classic example of this: love. Because we claim to “love” french fries, Coldplay concerts, and Netflix binges, our “loved ones” may sometimes feel more valued than McDonald’s but receive less attention than Stranger Things. The incorrect use of love has changed its meaning and application in society.

We don’t want to similarly water-down the concept of God’s grace by equating it with forgiveness and acceptance, by looking to receive it from others, or by thinking we can extend it ourselves. Grace that reconciles sinners with God is wholly divine.

And that is why Grace is such a great name! We hope that our daughters will fully know God’s grace, and that others will recognize Him in them. Not because we expect them to be the next Misty Copeland.

Surviving Mother’s Day…at Church

When David and I still lived in Middle Tennessee, we were super-involved with our church. We assumed (and assumed others assumed about us) that since we didn’t have children, we had more time to do stuff for the body. If we heard of a need somewhere, we did our best to help. That’s how we ended up hosting a Life Group, prepping Communion every Sunday, and basically being available to do whatever whenever. And we loved (almost) every minute of it.

About five years ago, those responsibilities dovetailed just before a Mother’s Day service. While I was pouring juice into hundreds of tiny cups, one of my LG friends told me she was miscarrying. Because my David was away for work and her husband was serving elsewhere in the building that morning, I sat with my friend and saw the Mother’s Day service through her eyes:

Opening Scripture: Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5; and every other “womb” verse you can think of
Praise Song: “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord (You Give and Take Away)”
Interlude: 10,000 baby dedications
Teaching: “Born of Flesh and Spirit”
Closing: Standing ovation for all the moms

I don’t remember the exact details of the service. I do remember how that Mother’s Day felt in light of the pain in my friend’s posture and face.

Survival Tip 4: Know the Best Place to Worship

Why do we join church families? Just to have somewhere to go on Sunday morning?

God wants us to worship in a community because we learn and grow better when we are together. We should be each other’s supporters, challengers, cheerleaders, and keepers. And we need to recognize when each role is appropriate.

Mother’s Day is one of those Sundays we choose to cheer for moms and the hard work they do all year. Certainly they deserve the praise! But we also need to be cognizant of our sisters who need support those same days.

One great thing about moms is that they don’t want to hurt others. By nature they are nurturers. I bet they’d be just as content with a subtle “you’re awesome!” from the pulpit, knowing the traditional fireworks display is hurting their infertile sisters.

Besides, it’s their kiddos’ drawings and husbands’ breakfasts that they look forward to and remember, right?

So I say, hey Sunday-morning service organizers: dial it back a notch. Save the baby dedications and emotional songs for another day.

(And kudos to our old church for doing just that in the following years!)

My anecdote tells the stories of two women: one who is miscarrying (my friend) and one who has accepted God’s plan for her not to have children (me). I was at the place spiritually and emotionally where I could honestly sing, “You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, ‘Lord, blessed be Your Name.'” My friend was NOT. She needed support (which I hope I offered) and the love and healing only God could give to her.

God will find you, no matter where you choose to worship Him on Mother’s Day. If you look at your church’s order of service and think, “I can’t do this,” then find a place and a way to honor Him privately. Tell Him about your pain and fear. Ask Him to heal your spirit. Then commit to living your life according to His plan for you.

That private worship time will honor God and bless you better than any corporate service where you spend 90 minutes fighting back tears.

So how do you worship God on Mother’s Day? Comment below with your stories or tips, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Barren among the Fruitful and a “Be Hopeful” necklace!

Surviving Mother’s Day…with Family

David and I had been married for five years: the point when people stop asking “when will you” and start asking “why haven’t you had children?” We had just started treatments, and neither of us were ready to talk about our situation with anyone. (We weren’t even talking about it with each other very much!)

At a child’s birthday party, David and I were pleasantly laughing as the kiddo struggled to open my too-well-taped present when we heard an extended family member stage-whisper, “Look at Amanda smiling at the baby. Maybe she’ll let David have children after all.” I fought back tears as David made a quick goodbye to the parents, and we left.

Ah, family. Why do some of us think it is okay to check our tact at the door? Why do we assume we know everything about others’ lives? Family probably doesn’t need a special occasion to get into your business, but Mother’s Day will give the inconsiderate an extra-special license. Parenting is the theme of the day, so if you are present and married, they’ll be wondering why you aren’t diving into the festivities.

Survival Tip 3: Start Telling Your Story

A few years into our fertility adventure, I realized that the best way to interact with everyone I knew was with the truth. My silence only bred more questions in others.

But when you’re still working through the immediate pain of losing a child or not conceiving one, inconsiderate comments and questions hurt (no matter who says them) and can force you out of a cheerful child’s birthday party in a fit of tears and trembling.

So know where you are in your healing process. Surround yourself with your closest, most trusted family members, and make sure they know your situation. No one will protect you better than your favorite aunt or loving mom. They can watch out for you at events, advise you how to react, and tell you it is okay not to attend this birthday party or that holiday luncheon when you are at your lowest.

As you heal, you’ll find it is easier to tell everyone what is happening in your life, and I’d bet the inconsiderate comments cease. Knowledge can produce understanding, and understanding can yield love. And fertility patients need all the love and support they can get, especially from those who’ve known them all their lives.

So how do you prepare to face questions at holiday get-togethers? Comment below with your stories or tips, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Barren among the Fruitful and a “Be Hopeful” necklace!

New Year, New Commitment…to Healthy Relationships

Little known fact: I am a sorority alumna. I wasn’t your stereotypical sorority girl, however. I got super-involved in the Panhellenic (governing) side of Greek life, and I am so thankful for the leadership skills I developed. I got to have regular meetings with university administration (which was great), and I was the one who got the 3 a.m. phone call from the hospital when an Animal House-er had alcohol poisoning (which was not-so-great).

It’s those Animal House moments that Greeks are famous for, and that’s a shame. Most of the women and men I knew in the Greek system were doggedly committed to philanthropy. My sorority was constantly hosting fundraisers for the American Juvenile Arthritis Foundation, donating platelets at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and giving time to countless Memphis charities.

Philanthropy was part of my life. And then I graduated.

How many of us adults leave the heavy lifting of helping others to college students, children’s organizations (e.g. Girls Scouts and schools), or the government? How many of us think our tax dollars and tithe money exempt us from “doing what is good and right before our Lord”?

Make no mistake: God can’t be mocked. What you give is what you get. What you sow, you harvest. Those who sow seeds into their flesh will only harvest destruction from their sinful nature. But those who sow seeds into the Spirit shall harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist. So seize any opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family (Galatians 6:7-10, The Voice).

Excepting his closing remarks, Paul ends his letter to the Galatian Christians by reminding them that “we reap where we sow.” If a Christian spends all of her time and resources achieving her selfish desires, then her life will yield sin. But if she invests time and resources “doing what is good and right before our Lord,” then she will be a part of God’s plan that “harvest(s) everlasting life from the Spirit” in those around her.

Monday night I was invited to and attended a meeting of Chattanooga’s Junior League. I’m sure some people call it an overgrown sorority and assume it’s a bunch of wealthy women comparing the lengths of their pearl strands. Those people could not be more wrong.

All the Junior League does is raise money for various charities in their community. These women dedicate tons of time (and not necessarily money) to fund special projects in public classrooms, eliminate food deserts in low-income areas, and educate children about nutrition.

Do they have fun running the marathons, organizing the Christmas home tours, and publishing the cookbooks that raise that money? Yep! Do they enjoy watching their labors produce smarter and healthier communities? You know it! And do the many Christians in their ranks thank God for the opportunity to “do good and be a blessing to everyone,” in the neighborhoods where they work and where His grace is so badly needed?

Absolutely.

This new year, let’s not forget the joy of giving that characterizes the Christmas season. Let’s do ourselves a favor and put action behind our dollars. Serve in the nursery of the church where you tithe. Help collect and deliver resources for those affected by the next natural disaster. Become a Big Sister to a child living in government housing.

Let’s put faces to the names of the hungry and hurting. Hopefully we’ll see those faces again when we enter into the everlasting life granted by His grace.

New Year, New City

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a type-A personality. I like calendars and schedules and 401(k) plans. I bristle at change and uncertainty. I’m a control freak responsible adult.

I first realized my control problem when David and I were unable to have children. It took seven years for me to “give” my supposed control of our family to God.

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David’s birthday party at our church with friends and family.

In 2013 we refinanced our house and committed to serve God from our small home in Murfreesboro, TN. We abandoned thoughts of moving to East Nashville and buying a bigger house to fill with kiddos. We decided we could survive in the suburbs long term (although we are both “city people” who prefer mass transit to long commutes and next-door watering holes to chain restaurants). We found ourselves saying it would take “an act of God” for us to ever leave our church family whom we loved dearly and served faithfully and who edified us consistently. We had found unexpected contentment.

Two months later David’s job required us to leave that house and spend the balance of the year living in hotels in the Rocky Mountains. And while we were gone, the fabric of our Murfreesboro life frayed. God “sent out” our Life Group members: all but 2 families have moved to other time zones. Our church split. We had deaths in our families, cancer scares, and even watched an innocent man go to prison. We wondered why God had chosen that time to take us away when we thought we could have been so much help to everyone we loved had we lived in Tennessee.

In 2014 we made the move to Denver. We love Denver. We love the low humidity, absence of mosquitoes, Mountain time zone, 300 days of sunshine, organic lifestyle, and Broncos football (mostly because Peyton Manning “followed us there”). And the mountains–oh, the mountains! Our time here has been restorative. Colorado has quickly become home, and there is no place we’d rather be than here.

It may be new to us, but this beauty was built in 1906!

But we are leaving. Today is our last day in our condo. Today we are packing up everything the movers won’t take, and tomorrow we start the 18-hour drive to Chattanooga, TN, where David has accepted a new job. In Chattanooga we will be fulfilling our pre-2013 dream. We’ve purchased a 100-year-old house in a transitional downtown neighborhood. I’ll go back to my homemaker ways (cooking, gardening, volunteering, ladies-lunch-ing). We’re even growing our family! A basset hound puppy will join our party on January 31 when he’s 8 weeks old.

So I think I’m finally done with making plans and trying to control our future. We are starting to see our Denver years as God’s way of preparing us for this move to Chattanooga. What else could it be? No human would move 1.5 hours down I-24 from Murfreesboro to Chattanooga by way of Colorado.

Meet Copper the basset hound. He has “copper pennies” for eyebrows!

God has used our time in Denver to further strengthen our marriage and to solidify our priorities. We haven’t really put down roots here. We own no property. We were never able to “get plugged in” to a church for various reasons. When we leave, no one will miss us. And strangely enough that’s a very good thing.

We enter Chattanooga with renewed priorities. We look forward to becoming part of a community and having a healthy faith, healthy home, healthy food, healthy finances, and healthy relationships. We give control of it all to God, knowing He has an unfathomable plan when we let go of our own lives.

But I’ll be hiring the mosquito-control company myself next summer. It’s already on my calendar.