Thursday, May 31, 2007


I was driving home the other day and started to think of an old friend of mine. We’re still in touch, but don’t see each other more than once a year or so. I was smiling broadly and may have even laughed a bit at the thought of how fun it would be to see my friend again. I’ve known her since I was thirteen or so – we go back a long way, and we know each other very well. Yet, I still agonize over what to wear, how to do my hair, losing ten pounds – essentially, giving my real self a good scrub and polish – every time we get together.
I started to wonder about this. My mind likes to wonder about this sort of thing. I am always put perfectly together by the time we meet. But, by the end of the evening (we usually go out for dinner), my lipstick is gone and my drug-store eye shadow has settled into the creases of my lids, my mascara has sprinkled little black flecks on my cheeks, and there’s probably food in my teeth.
I suddenly remembered that last year, after returning to the car from dinner, I pulled down the passenger-side visor to re-apply some lipstick in the mirror. She asked me why I was doing that. I think I said I just wanted to look nice, or something else just as lame as that. Why was I doing that? She likes me just as much after all the polish has worn away. Probably even a little bit better.
So, why are we compelled to keep our real selves secret?
The self I presented to the world when I was young is very different from the self I am today. I was congratulating myself on that fact as I continued to drive home, when it occurred to me that it may not be something worth congratulating.
When I was young, I wore my faith on my sleeve. All of my innocent dogma and all of my self-righteousness were on display right alongside it. I considered those things part of my faith at the time. Aside from that, though, I kept my opinions largely to myself. I kept my talents hidden, just in case I wasn’t as good as the next guy. I didn’t laugh as loudly as I wanted to, either. I had my clutch of friends who were close enough to know who I really was, but they numbered in the single digits.
As I have grown, I have gained confidence in the fact that people like to know what I think about. I have learned that it’s okay to be the loud one at a party. It’s okay to laugh so hard that you snort a little bit, even in front of strangers. It’s endearing to wear a toothy grin when you walk around by yourself. So, I taught myself to put my big heart on display – even if it gets hurt sometimes. I taught myself to vocalize my opinions, but in a soft, non-threatening way. I share with others through the talents and gifts that I was born with. My husband says I’m saving the world one cake at a time. That makes me proud. A homemade cake is no small thing!
But it occurred to me that I haven’t opened the door to myself wider, really. I just got braver about sharing some things and less brave about sharing others. My faith? It’s now well-protected. I don’t proclaim it as loudly and boldly as I did when I was younger. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t all good either.
I’d like to hide behind the modern notion of relational evangelism, but for me, I think that it’s easy to use that as an excuse not to share something that I am no longer bold enough to share.
Maybe I have merely polished my self instead of growing as a person. Maybe I was just trying to scrub the religion out of my heart so that I would look better. Maybe I was trying to hide the parts of me that aren’t as good as the next guy’s. I am not the type of person that you would meet and suspect as being a private or quiet individual. I haven’t been since I was, say, nine or ten years old. But the truth is, I am picky about what I will put out there, and much of who I am when I am around others cleverly detracts attention from what I don’t want people to know about me.
So, my secrets have just traded places. Now, the old secrets are on display and the old display items have been locked away inside.
No, I don’t think that’s something to feel self-congratulatory about at all. Why am I always compelled to keep parts of my self hidden? Wouldn’t people like me better without the pretentious polish?
I have the gift of many friendships now, but there is still only a small clutch of people who have seen all of me and know my heart. I consider it a badge of honor when a friend trusts me enough to come to me crying an ugly cry and not wearing any makeup. Nothing makes me feel more worthy than being shown the deep secrets in the heart of a friend. Why is it so hard for me to honor my friends in kind?
It’s so scary to risk. And, in a reciprocal friendship, we risk so much. Friendships aren’t like family – they are not bound by blood or by law. Friends can move away. Friends can fight and don’t have to forgive before the next holiday gathering.
But, I think that the beauty is in the risk.

<3 Christy

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Funny how life plays tricks on ya sometimes. I'm writing a funny, satirical book about being a minister's wife. Only right now, there isn't anything funny about being a minister's wife. From where I am now, I'm trying to remember if there ever was. Ah well, talk to me another day and maybe I'll remember. Or maybe my current cynicism will lend itself to some witty sarcasm in my writing. For now, I'm just sad. Sad that the secular business world has provided more acceptance, grace, and support than the church for me and my family. Sad that I found more true friends in the insurance business.

Not that I regret those friends. Not at all. After all, they never cared how clean my house or desk was. They never cared how my kids behaved or if I got all the notes right. And... wonder of wonders, they knew how to congratulate hard work and that positive reinforcement goes way further than criticism. I suppose the truth is, that I'm blessed to have experienced relationships with people I can wholeheartedly trust at all. And I'm grateful. I just found those authentic relationships in a different place than I had hoped. The insurance business of all places. I miss you tonight, Smith and Thomas Insurance!!!

That's what the edge is all about. Being real. Guess I'm just ranting that it's so darn difficult to be real, most of all with those who are supposed to care for you. But maybe I've expected too much. Matter of fact, I'm sure I have. And down goes disappointment's bitter pill as I realize that my rose colored glasses are shattered, and the people around me are as flawed as I.

So why should pain surprise me? It really shouldn't. Truthfully, I've been hurt several times before, and I've hurt other people. Everyone can say the same, with one hundred percent agreement. So the odds that even the best of us will eventually cause pain are inevitable. It's not if, it's when. It's high time I accept pain from other people as an inevitable part of living. Especially of living on the edge, where I love without holding back, where I embrace passion with all my might, where I steel myself for whatever may come my way and fight my battles with the heart of a warrior.

And in the spirit of raw honesty, I open my heart this night. I expose my weakness and pain. To God, and to you, reader. How can I be a woman on the edge if I didn't? This night, living on the edge as a follower of Jesus finds me on my knees with my heart in pieces. Nope. Being a Christian ain't all roses, honey. Being a Christian simply gives me a relationship of love with the One who already bore the thorns. Thank God.

Friday, May 25, 2007


We made the Baptist Press!!!! Yeah!

Check it out: Baptist Press

Man, I needed this happy news today! Thankya Jesus!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've been spending a lot of time over the last couple of years really learning and processing God's gift of grace. I've learned that the legalism I once prided myself on, the rule following that helped me feel like I was a success at the "God game" is the very thing that distracted me from really getting into gratitude for the magnificent gift of God's love and His only Son.

Remember the Smurfs? I used to love that show. One of my favorite toys was a Smurfette doll. I mean, who wouldn't want to be Smurfette? Until..... One day we heard that the Smurfs were VERY BAD due to the evil person, Gargamel that was constantly chasing the poor little blue guys. I don't know the creator of Smurfs, and it probably wasn't the cream of the childhood television crop, but my point is that the church people around me had taken their eyes off of the prize: the good news of God's love, and for some reason felt the need to spend time addressing a cartoon of blue people who lived under mushrooms. Hmmm....

Take it from a former Smurf-hater: Let's STOP enforcing rules that only help us feel better than other people who don't follow said rules quite as closely. Let's focus on the amazing love poured out on us all in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Why continue to fuel a side show of legalism that only takes away from the Main Event? I wish I could tell you the difference, the leaps I've made toward Jesus once I realized that I no longer needed the rules. I need HIM! And I have Him! Thank God, I have Him.

I don't mean to preach, but dontcha think it's... well, SMURFY!!!??

Other random craziness:

Congratulations Jordin Sparks. Ya done good, girl. I never voted for you, but well... I know you will bear with grace the amazing things handed to you at the tender age of 17. I bawled watching your proud mom and dad celebrate. For now, I think I've had enough of Idol. I'm not sure I'll be as gung-ho next year. We got Carrie Underwood, why not quit while we're ahead?

Kelly Clarkson totally rocked on the show. LOVED HER!! Hate to remind her, but... Never say "never," honey.

OK, I got a lovely gift today. A WHOLE BOX of dark chocolate candies with orange fluffy stuff inside. ALL MY OWN!!!! Don't tell anyone, ok?

I also moved into a new purse today. I don't know how long this little number will last for me, but it felt really cute anyway.

Rain. I forgot how much pleasure there was in rain. Today I took off my shoes and made a run for it in the pouring rain. mmmm...

I'm worn out for now, so I'm off to smurf myself right into bed. 'Night!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sweet Home Alabama

Had SUCH a wonderful time in Birmingham. I visited with my editor and my publisher, plus I got to see the WMU headquarters (which is really cool for a card carryin' baptist like me!) I wasn't sure going in just exactly what to expect. In fact, I was a bit worried that a "woman on the edge" like me isn't quite what they had in mind. But I met some amazing women on the edge that are working on my book. So that was an awesome relief! Plus it was a blast to have Mackenzie with me and so she got to experience it right along with me.

Then, I sat on a swing, ate lunch out on a front porch, and visited southern-style with some of the most beautiful people I've ever met. Kendra, Brandy, and all the girls at Haig Baptist in Birmingham were gracious hostesses, and are now dear friends. We laughed and cried and prayed and worshiped and studied, and I left exhausted but elated. There's something about the slow, sweet way of life among those ladies that just brings back the sweetness of where I grew up. Reminds me of my mom, my granny, and the love with which I was raised.

Speaking of nostalgia, I'm sitting here bawling watching Johnny Cash at San Quentin. One troubled soul singing out of compassion to hundreds more troubled souls. Bringing smiles to hard, hollow faces. A bright moment in the years of gray days captured on camera. You can see it in their eyes, and the appreciative smiles and enthusiastic applause. They were soaking in every wonderful moment. A superstar showing them companionship and understanding. How come nobody does that these days?

I have to think, had Johnny Cash been a religious leader, he would have reshaped the way we do things. God, give the church a crazy Johnny Cash. Or make me one.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I spent today out of my comfort zone. I got a good look at just how entrenched I am in the "Christian Ghetto" as Christy so aptly calls it. Oh sure, I spend a lot of time having unconventional conversation with unconventional women, but lots of that takes place on my turf: the campus of a church or the confines of a women's retreat. It's a challenge to go from feeling very at home and in charge (how I feel most of the time) to feeling unsure how I fit in and how someone else with different beliefs will relate to me. Interesting.

I'm far from finished thinking this through, but for now I'm exhausted. One thing I'll say: I learned today that God is plenty capable of speaking for me and through me, in ANY situation, and sometimes.... well, sometimes He wants me to be quiet. Hmmm...

In other random thoughts...

Goodbye to an icon of that Christian Ghetto, Dr. Jerry Falwell. Goodbye for now, anyway. Since he is now seeing the face of God and no longer gives a flying flip what is going on down here, I know it doesn't matter to him, but thanks anyway, Dr. Falwell, for being a pioneer. Sure, you were controversial at times, way over the top to some people, but no doubt you made a difference for Christians everywhere. You were a brave warrior. Kiss the King for me, and I'll see ya when I get there.

Goodbye to Melinda Doolittle, obviously the best singer on American Idol this season. You had my vote every time... obviously teenage girls are more adept at texting than those of my age, or else you would be winner.

Goodbye Norma Jean...

Heading to Birmingham, AL this weekend. Pray for me and for the group to which I'll be speaking. Their leader broke her leg last weekend, so challenges abound in pulling off this event.
I'm off to more adventures...


Monday, May 14, 2007

Recap, Report, and REST!

Happy Monday! It's my favorite day again. Deep breaths and moments of recovery after the activities of the past week and weekend.

SPA DAY GETAWAY was a smashing success!! Our last number of total attendance was 70 women! We turned the Baptist Building into a high end spa for a day. The pastors that meet there each week wouldn't have recognized the place. Nor would they have been terribly comfortable with the nail polishing, hand massaging, and all around femininity that abounded, I imagine! Only one man was brave enough to enter the Spa Day, our own Dr. Joe came by around lunchtime and read a beautiful poem he picked out for the ladies. A tender moment indeed, and one that revealed Dr. Joe's compassionate heart for the things these ladies face.

The ministers' wives who attended enjoyed the day so much. I could watch as their precious faces relaxed, some of the tension melted away, and they started to really enjoy themselves.

The Spa Day idea was born months ago, and lots of hard work and prayer went into the day. Many individuals from four different states and many different churches pitched in to make the day a wonderful treat for some ministry wives who have been through the wringer. The Arkansas Baptists donated funds that made the day possible. Fairview Heights Baptist Church in VA sent lots of fun spa stuff for the ladies to play with and take home. Celebration Church provided encouragers, a worship leader, and professional counselor. A massage therapist volunteered her time and worked NONSTOP throughout the day to give the ministry wives some meaningful and therapeutic touch. Riverside Church provided a talented lady who designed the menu and prepared the food, and several other women to make the food and spa treatments a success. Metairie Baptist loaned decorations, as did Riverside and Celebration.

Of course, Christy Sallee's line of spa products, "Kiki's Suds" was a big treat! Each attendee recieved her own "vacation in a box" that we used throughout the day. As we were planning Spa Day Getaway, we wanted to provide spa treatments for the ladies, but we wanted something more special than what they could get themselves at any store. So I called my friend Christy and asked if she was interested in dreaming something up for these ladies. Of course she was. Kiki's Suds has been a longtime dream of hers. She agreed to create some products especially for us. A few weeks ago, as I was in Florida, I stopped by Christy's house in the middle of the night (as is our custom) and we played with the products she was making. She told me the name "Kiki" means "home" in another language. We all had tears as we realized the spa products named "home" would be used for the first time by women who perhaps have not felt at home in a long time. Another special blessing from God for our day.

As the women arrived, they were greeted with snacks and coffee. We could see they weren't quite sure what to expect, but as the day got underway, they relaxed more and more. Laughter, tears, hugs, and smiles were abundant. Some of them hadn't seen one another in a long time. Woman after woman approached me to gush a thank you, telling me how much she needed this day.

Katie Boudreaux led off with worship, including a special theme song for the day "Do Not Fear" taken directly out of Zephaniah 3:14
Sing, O Daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem!

15 The LORD has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.

16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
"Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.

17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Then Kathy performed her first character, Betty Lou Macaunahey, Pastor's Wife at 1950's Baptist Church, complete with pillbox hat and matching purse. Kathy did a character for each session, including Liz, a resentful music minister's wife who dropped all her cares at Spa Day, and Consuela Maria Chiquita Hernandez Gonzalez, a well-meaning but slightly misdirected minister's wife. Our three sessions were: REST, where we discussed Letting ourselves rest, Laying down our burdens, and Leaving it there, or living a life of rest in God. REJUVENATE, where we discussed the rejuvenating benefits of Relationships, Rejoicing, and Reality. And RECOVER, where we discussed the healing qualities of Facing up to our hurts, Forgiveness, and Flaunting the treasures God brings about in our lives through painful experiences. At the end of each session, the ladies spent time in discussion around their tables.

Throughout the day, ladies spent time in the spa room, where they could recieve a massage, an encouraging prayer time, and a hand treatment. They also had access to Michelle, a counselor and pastor's wife, who could provide professional advice for any major hurts the ladies were carrying. We wrapped up the day with a quiet reflection as Katie sang our theme song again, some special moments of prayer, and then more hugs and tears as we said goodbye.

Terry Dickson was graciously present and available for the ladies. We now have a working database of contact information for Terry to work with for future events. Terry also designed the beautiful invitations for the day and kept track of RSVP's.

As Kathy, Terry, and I were finishing the cleanup and loading up our vehicles, we were exhausted and SO pleased with the day. We left with the peaceful joy of knowing God had touched the ministry wives in a special way. Knowing their lives were made a bit brighter and their burdens a bit lighter was worth every effort we put into the day. Just as the wife often sets the tone of a home, the ministers' wives can have great influence over the atmosphere at a church. We know the peace and relaxation given to these ministry wives will spill over to those who are looking to them as examples in the church.

We think EVERY woman should experience a Spa Day Getaway!! Pray that God will open those doors. Ya never know, a Spa Day Getaway may be headed your way soon!

For now, I have a satisfied smile, sort of like the cat that ate the canary. I am overjoyed at the privilege I had of speaking to these women, looking in their beautiful, sometimes teary eyes, and cheering them on. I know well the burdens they carry and it is wonderfully satisfying to know that Jesus loved on them through me and Kathy and Terry, and all the women who were there to minister to those who usually DO the ministering.

Happy Monday indeed. I'm off to tie up leftover loose ends and begin preparing for a trip to Birmingham this weekend. OH! And to drink some tea from the lovely tea set I got for Mother's day. There's a scripture printed on it, incredibly appropriate for this weekend's experience, I think. Hebrews 4:9-11

9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday Medicine

Monday was good medicine for me. I had a very productive day. Kathy and I were able to square away all the financials, and accomplish several errands for the Spa Day Getaway conference this weekend. I'm getting excited about the day... and a little nervous! So much to accomplish this week, a final exam, polishing the messages for Saturday, making sure everything is in place as it should be.

But Monday. Ahhh... Monday is always a clean slate. A new week. Sunday is over (anyone in ministry will understand that statement) and it's time to begin again. And to have an extremely productive Monday, full of accomplishment, well... that's just about as good as it gets. So the high of productivity carries over to Tuesday... or maybe the high is from the Pine Sol I mopped my house with Sunday night. Either way, I'll take it!

Wanna know what's psycho about me? It's my personality pendulum of extremes. I'm my own worst enemy. I'm already spread a bit too thin. Perfect example being that even yesterday, my Magic Monday of Mind-Blowing Productivity, I didn't get everywhere I needed to be. I just couldn't get to everything and ended up letting people down in the midst of that. oooo.... Failure. God, I hate that feeling. So here I sit, rejoicing in the accomplishment and despising the failure. All at the same time. And yet, my mind swirls and whirls with ideas and shoulds and coulds and things I wanna do. Left unchecked, I tell you, I would probably run myself completely out of my mind.

Oh, I know I have to limit myself. This seems like a perfectly sensible answer. Say no. Set up boundaries. Make myself rest. Very nice ideas indeed. So here is my problem. (Ask my mom and dad and they'll tell you I was born with this problem) I HATE LIMITS! Tell me I can't, and I will say "Watch me!" Convince me to follow a rule and I will not only follow, but I will be the BEST at following it. Give me an obstacle and I will not only face it, I will beat it to a pulp and stomp it into the ground and cut off its head and do a victory parade David and Goliath style. And thank God for that fire, because without it my marriage would be dead and I'd be a single mom complacently selling insurance to tightwad pastors in Florida. Only drawback is that the limits I set just call out to me. "Defy me! Defy me!" they say. The fire just burns me up inside. And so sadly, I end up either high on accomplishment, or low on failure, feeling like I could tell everything and everyone to go to... well, you know.

So I find myself in Balance Boot Camp. Me and God, and somehow He is going to show me what I am supposed to do with this drive. How to use it properly and wisely without killing myself or ruining my kids or otherwise allowing it to run rampant and do damage to my life. Ya'll better pray.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Meandering About my Mind...

There's something comforting about processing thoughts in a blog. I like it. I've always loved journaling, and I guess this form of cyber journaling is fun for me. Truth be told, I'm a jumble of swirling thoughts at this moment. Blogging is a nice outlet.

As I'm learning along the way, stress is a trigger for depression. With all the stress of late in my life, I'm struggling against the blackness again. Frustrating, but not scary since I knew to expect this possibility, and know just what to do to cope with it. Extra rest, a good book, and patience with myself. The old feelings are familiar. Intense desire to be left alone, not looking forward to things I normally enjoy, loss of appetite or increase (as is usually my symptom), waking up with a desire to stay asleep. The encouraging part is that though I wish this heaviness would go away, I know I still have hope. I know it will lessen and I'll feel like breathing again soon. Oooo sorry for the downer, but hey, I'm just keepin it real here!

Do you ever wonder what if? I guess in my darker mood, I'm experiencing that question. What if I'd gone to college instead of marrying so young? What if I'd read more and socialized less? What if I could have been a lawyer or a politician? What if I could have written three or four books by now? Really, I know this is sick. I am thoroughly and wonderfully blessed. I've experienced marriage, an insurance career, motherhood, moves, ministry, and now I'm working on a seminary degree and the career of my dreams. I've got it all. So now, if nothing else, you have proof that even someone who has the best of the best, someone like me, has the occasional longing or strange sense of dissatisfaction. Evidence, in my opinion, of humanity. Evidence of my own desperate need of Christ's peaceful presence to calm my crazy thoughts. Evidence that the "wretch like me" applies to me above all and that I am hopeless without the Amazing Grace offered to me by Jesus.

Good thing that I don't have to be without it.

I miss my mom. If she were here, we'd go off for dinner, just us two. Or we'd take a ride around to nowhere and talk it all out. We'd laugh and she'd understand.

Today I read Jan Karon's Light from Heaven. Again. I love that book. Pure relaxation and peace in the pages. Tears flow at the same old places I've read over and over. Here's one of my favorite parts, a poem she uses in the book:

Let the stable still astonish
Straw---dirt floor, dull eyes.
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the Child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said: "Yes.
Let the God of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place."
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, "Yes.
Let the God of heaven and Earth
Be born here--
In this place."

My own heart is indeed much fouler and darker than the pitiful stable where Jesus made His entrance into the world. Even tonight it is so. Yet, He remains in spite of my darkness. A blessed Light, a Ray of Hope, a Glorious Peace.

God help me and my wandering thoughts. Hope it hasn't been too terribly confusing to meander along the winding paths with me. Tomorrow I'll show up at church with my game face on. You won't let on you know how nutso I really am, will ya? Aw, really I don't care if you do. Truth is, all the other game faces have some nutso underneath them, too. 'Bout time somebody admitted it. It's part of our common bond. Jesus and craziness! The Jesus part we don't mind, but the craziness we like to hide. Funny, isn't it? We're all looking for the Answer while pretending we have no question. Good grief.

If I had a rocking chair at home, I'd be in it right now. I love rocking chairs for the comforting sensation they bring. For now, there's a comforting sensation in the fresh sheets on my bed and the blue flowers printed on them. The same color blue as the hydrangeas at my Granny's house when I was a kid. Same color blue as the bedroom where I slept at her house. Same color blue as the bedspread she gave me from that room that I covered up with at home while I listened to my mom and dad getting ready for dad to leave on his truck in the middle of the night. I always used to find such comfort in them being awake when I was asleep. Sweet memories! I think I'll take those to sleep with me tonight and savor them for a while.

So here you have it. Raw, unedited ramblings from the mind of a slightly strange, moderately crazy, well meaning, very real woman. Signing off for now...


Friday, May 04, 2007

Makin' a Baby

Just another snippet of four-year-old wisdom. In Levi's words, here's how you make a baby:

"Mom, you want me to tell you how to make a baby?" "Uh, sure," I reply incredulously. "Ok, you eat and eat and eat and eat everything on your plate. Then you go to the doctor and it makes a baby."

At Levi's preschool, there is at least one pregnant teacher at this time. I suppose in seeing the big belly, Levi deduced that the pregnant lady must have simply eaten and eaten until there was enough food in her belly for the doctor to work with.

When Mackenzie was his age, I got pregnant with him. She wasn't concerned about where he was coming from, she wanted to know how he was going to get out. "How will the baby get out of your tummy?" she asked... repeatedly. I told her God had given mommies a special place where the babies come out. I expected this to be sufficient information. But no. Her reply? "Show me." Talk about painting yourself into a corner!!

With the medical difficulties I've had of late, the doc says there shouldn't be any more Hughes babies. And that's ok with me. There is no woman more blessed than me with the two kids I have. I love being their mommy. (Plus it's quite an education, don't you agree?)