Pinch Me

So excited to share my friend’s very first blog from the Mercy Ship. She’s really there, really making a difference, really touching lives, really reminding us that #dreamsreallydocometrue

Brenda Braxton


For years I’ve thought about it, dreamed about it, prayed about it, and planned for it. I’ve gazed at pictures online of crew members standing in front of the ship and wondered if I would ever be one of them. And now there I am, in a picture of a group of nurses standing on the dock in front of the Africa Mercy! Pinch me. Is this real?

I wasn’t so naïve that I thought this would be glamorous. I knew there would be difficulties, and there are: cramped living quarters, limited food choices, missing my family, and an illness that landed me two nights in my own hospital. I knew it would be hard, and it is: working various shifts, doing things I’ve never done before, the difficulty of sleeping through “ship noises”, stairs, stairs, and more stairs.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives! There are people here…

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That Can’t Be All

Can you do more? Can you #DoSomething ?
Your actions, your efforts, your words can shift the future.

Stephanie Rodda

This week I read a number of articles. Among others I read about the plight of children and sex-trafficking, the effect on children’s brains who spend their first years in institutions, the results of poverty on children’s educations and the issues that could accompany trans-racial adoption of children.

I found myself wondering if people will ever understand that our children are worthy of our best resources because they ARE our best resources. And when I say ‘our’ children I mean the children of your community, your city, your county, your state, your country, your world. They are all OUR children.

Throughout history and unfortunately still in modern times children are exploited, under-valued and over-looked. They are often mistreated, neglected and abused. Instead of being treasured they are considered disposable trash.

This is a cycle, an ugly, hungry, devastating, cruel cycle that continues generation after generation unless we intervene, unless we…

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What Really Matters

In a time of hurried chaotic living, we may forget what really matters.
“People matter because people are forever.”

Stephanie Rodda

I think if I could time travel to the past and talk to my younger self concerning life, I would likely tell myself to make sure my time and energies were spent on what really matters. Then, I’d explain further that what really matters are eternal matters. Finally I’d point out that what really matters is people because people are forever.

I’m not sure how my younger self might respond or if a much younger me could really comprehend the truth behind what was being said. But, still, I’d try to convince and explain as best as I could because it is so important.

I can’t travel back in time. I can’t change a thing about choices that have already been made, words already spoken and deeds done. But, I do have the opportunity to speak now to myself and my children and those who care to hear (read) my…

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What time is it?

Oh friends, my heart is tender this morning as I’ve been praying about so many matters. As I read this post, I knew I needed to share it with y’all so that you too could be reminded as I was, that there is a time for everything but that does not mean the time for everything is now. If you’re having to wait, if you feel your dreams are delayed, if your faith is wavering #takecourage. This post and this song strengthened my resolve this morning. I hope they do the same for you.

Stephanie Rodda

Time marches forward and regardless of what some of our favorite science-fiction shows tell us, it only goes forward. This means, subsequently, that we are in a state of constant change even when it feels as if we are in a rut.

Ages change, children grow from infants to toddlers to teens. Stages change, from single to married to single again to grandparents. Relationships change from intimate to distant and from acquaintance to dearest of friends. Seasons change from scorching heat of summer to cool breezes of fall.

In Ecclesiastes we find a thought-provoking passage concerning time. I want to look at that with you today and consider the words carefully. I want us to contemplate that what has always worked in the past may not be the best choices for today. Times have changed and maybe we should follow suit.

“For everything there is a season, a time for…

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Contusion Confusion

Has life left you bruised and tender? Are you trying to help another wounded soul? Does healing seem impossible?

Stephanie Rodda

Several weeks ago I was reaching above my head for a can of vegetables and it fell out of the cabinet. I tried to dance my feet out of the way and even attempted to grab/slap it. I think I made the impact worse. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I yelled so loudly that I startled my children. They helped me hobble to a chair and get an ice pack on it. The edge of the can hit right above my inside ankle bone and an immediate knot and bruise appeared. In medical terms that is referred to as a contusion. Over the next few days I had moments of seriously wondering if I had broken my foot. But, then I would rest it, ice it and take ibuprofen for the swelling and pain. It would feel a bit better and I’d soon be about my business until I’d step in just…

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I Didn’t Sign Up For This – Did You?

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and catching us unaware. When that happens we sometimes  think ‘Whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!’  What we mean of course, is things aren’t turning out like we hoped. The wonderful expectations we had suddenly crash with reality and the result isn’t something we recognize much less something we hoped for. 

Sometimes the crash with reality is so jarring that we lose our balance and become confused as to what exactly went wrong and what exactly it was we were trying to do anyway. ‘How’d I get myself in this mess?’ You may be thinking. 

This disappointment could be a dead-end job, a poor business venture, the purchase of a money-pit house, a bad investment and other wrong choices. Financial hardship is tough, but it can be overcome with better choices. 

I think what really throws us into a dizzying downward spiral is when relationships disappoint us. People that we care about, people we trust, people that matter to us can betray, deceive and generally let us down. When this happens emotions swell and our opinion of self shrinks. After all, ‘What WAS I thinking?’

Self-doubt can be a result of broken relationships, dreams turned into nightmares and disappointment. Before long we may be asking ourselves, ‘What’s the point?’

A struggling or failed marriage is one sure example. No one marries with the intent to divorce. Yet, divorces happen every day. One or both spouses break covenant and the relationship dissolves. 

A distressed parent wonders what they did wrong. Guilt weighs them down as they decide they have somehow failed. Shame attempts to bind them until they feel powerless. 

An abandoned friend can’t comprehend that the person they trusted wasn’t the person they thought they were after all. They feel foolish for not seeing the truth. 

To these examples I want to speak a few words of encouragement. Your situation of disappointment may be slightly or vastly different, but I believe you too can take courage from what I am going to say. 

1- We can not control other people and in the end, we are not responsible for the decisions they make. We can love them, pray for them, forgive them, encourage them, attempt to teach them, guide them and advise them. But we can not make their choices for them. 

2- People make mistakes and we are people too. We need to forgive others and we need to forgive ourselves. Human beings are notorious for being hasty  and not thinking things through. They are sometimes reckless, impulsive, thoughtless and down-right mean. But that’s not all they are; it’s not all we are. A mistake is something we have done. It is not who we are. It is not who they are either. 

3- Make every effort to learn to trust again. Forgive, let it go, shake the dust off your sandals, see a counselor, take it to the altar, whatever it takes, find your courage to trust again. If you don’t, life will be lonely, your heart will be bitter, your future will be dismal. You can do it, it won’t be easy and yes, if you trust again, you can be hurt again. There is risk involved in every worthy venture. 

4- Find your courage to dream again, new dreams. Believe things can be better and different the next time you try, the next time you give your heart away. Make plans and develop goals and anticipate a better tomorrow. Remind yourself that no matter what is happening right now, it is only one chapter in a book of a lifetime. This isn’t the end of the story. 

5- Finally, sometimes you just have to accept things as they are even if you hope this isn’t how it will always be. I have a personal little beatitude that I often say to myself as a reminder when things aren’t going as planned. ‘Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.’

Look, I don’t know if your marriage has suddenly ended or if your beloved child has landed themself in jail. I don’t know if your friend threw you under the train or your parent has rejected you. I don’t know if a church leader betrayed your trust or if a family member deceived you. I don’t know if your plans and dreams are piled in a heap of brokenness at your feet. 

What I do know is there is hope for today and yes, even tomorrow. What I do know is you can try again. What I do know is circumstances can change. What I do know is that different can sometimes be better. Don’t be afraid. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take one tiny but brave step forward and then one more and then another. 

Boundary Busters

“Only a fool plays a game with no rules.” 

A friend and fellow author posted this earlier today and it set me to thinking. Does that ever happen to you? Someone says something and it’s like a switch has been flipped and your mind starts whirring and the gears of your mind start grinding. Because of that very thing, I have a few things to say this morning about boundaries. 

It seems to me that I’m hearing an awful lot about boundary busters here lately. A boundary is a dividing line, the proverbial line in the sand, sometimes unspoken and invisible, but nevertheless firm and real. Boundaries are necessary. Boundaries in relationships are absolutely essential. I think boundaries are a sign of respect, respect for other people and respect for ourselves. 

As life progresses and situations change, boundaries must be adjusted accordingly. If you refuse to adhere to boundaries, trouble is bound to follow swiftly behind. 

Some boundaries are so firm that they are laws of the land. No matter how much you admire it and want it, it is not okay to steal what belongs to another person, for instance. 

Some boundaries are of a spiritual nature and they are spiritual laws (found in the Bible). No matter how wronged you have been and are offended, it is not okay to walk in unforgiveness, for instance. 

Some boundaries are expected to be respected at places of employments, dress codes, professional conduct and punctuality for instance. You want to keep the job, be considered for promotions and earn raises then you must abide by the boundaries. 

The boundary busting I have been witnessing lately are relationship boundaries. So, here is what I want to clarify and I don’t intend to be gentle. 

1- If you are married, you are no longer single. Seems obvious? Well, not to some people. They want to be married but act single. 

2- If you are a parent, you are responsible for taking care of your children. Surely people know that? Well, not some people. They don’t have time to be bothered with the welfare of their children. 

3- If you are a Christian, you are accountable to God for your actions, your words and your attitudes (heart condition). Surely that’s a given? Well, not for many people. They are constantly justifying what they know is wrong, determined to make it right. 

Look, y’all, these are things that should not need saying. These are things that should be clearly understood. But you know what? We’ve got a whole bunch of folks with broken thinking. 

In a day and age where everyone wants to live with no limits and no one wants to be held accountable for the actions they take, we are spiraling downward into a state of chaos. Chaos can be a bit exhilarating at first. But in the end, it is a very lonely place to be. 

You see, boundaries don’t only prevent you from mistreating others, they prevent others from mistreating you. Boundaries hold us responsible and they protect us from unfair expectations.Boundaries are good for those we love and good for us too.