"You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch! You're the king of sinful sots!"

He was a mistake from the very beginning. Brought about by a wrong wind...


A mistake, but he didn't start out bad.

He started out innocent, but different.

Nobody starts out evil.

He was just like all the other Whos in Whoville...he just looked a little different.

An eight-year-old with a beard.

An outcast.

Nobody liked him. They couldn't handle his differences.

So he lived up to their expectations...

...they expected him to be a freak.

A weirdo.

A loser.

You nauseate me, Mr. GrinchWith a nauseous super-nausYou're a crooked jerky jockey, and you drive a crooked hoss,Mr. Gri-inch! Your soul is an appalling dump-heapOverflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!

Remember in the Jim Carrey version, when he comes to school with a bag over his head?

How many people do we pass on the street, or sit next to at work or school who wish they could walk around with a bag over their head?

How many folks do you and I come in contact with on a daily basis, who wish they could go on a Grinch-like rampage, run away, and live in a cave in Mt. Crumpit?

Who do you know that just lives up to the terrible expectations that people have placed on them for years? People who have never given them a second glance...

...or a second chance?

What if we were all like little Cindy, who was determined to bring the Grinch into the Whobilation?

What if our anthem was like Cindy's, "nobody should be alone on Christmas"?

Nobody should be alone...ever.

Cindy wouldn't give up on the Grinch, and when he finally realized the true Spirit of Christmas...

And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!

And the Narrator closes the classic Christmas movie with this quote:

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near.Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp.Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we.Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.





Broken Is Better

Lilli held her freebie coloring book and box of 5 crayons she had gotten yesterday from the grocery store. “Do you want to color with me?” she asked. Of course I did. She opened to a double page that had not yet been colored. “This side is mine, this side is yours, Mommy.” Lilli shook the crayons from the box. There were only three. She chose the red, I chose orange, and we began coloring our respective sides. “It doesn’t matter if things are the right color.” She said. “Where are the other 2 crayons?” I asked, wondering if I needed to go search the car since cheap-o crayons melt very easily.

“They broke so I threw them away.” She answered.


There were two pieces of the red one in Lilli’s hand. She groaned “Not again!”

“You don’t have to throw it away just because it broke. You can still color with it.”

“I don’t like the broken ones. I like the big ones.”

“Sometimes the broken ones are better.”


I challenged Lilli. “Draw a really skinny line with a whole one.”

She drew a line the width of the rounded tip of the crayon. I took a broken half of the red.

“Look at mine.” I said as I drew a fine line using the sharp edge.

“Wait- let me try again.” She doesn't like to be beat.

She drew several lines and so did I – with mine being skinnier every single time. “See?" I said,

"The broken one can do something the whole one can’t do.”

Then I thought about how that is true with each of us - and God. God is able to use us to accomplish things we would not be able to do had we never been broken. Can you truly console a person who has just lost a parent when both of your parents are still alive? Can you offer wise words to a boy about growing up fatherless if you are a girl who’s daddy is wrapped around her little finger? Can you empathize with a person who has been molested when you have never experienced such abuse? We are supposed to love, of course. You can love by being a friend no matter what your past experience. Love is ALWAYS the good and right choice. But often the love we can give after we have been broken is better.

I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice. Psalm 51:17 The Message

How has God used the broken places in your life?


Fatherless, Fragile, and Faithful (Part Two)

We bailed.
The only place to go? Back to her parent's house.
We stayed 2 weeks until the pastor of the church we attended agreed for us to stay in the church basement if Mom would help clean the building. More hours to her week, but it meant safety. She took it.

Months and several fights later, a divorce was finalized.

Mom graduated from nurses training, now an RN. We were six, five and and almost four.  As our new normal was working itself out, the child support price and supervised visitation was determined. That proved to be more drama. As far as the child support went, he didn't have the job to generate the money. Mom lowered it, three times. His visits were often missed entirely, wrong time/right date or vice-versa.

It was tough.

Tough to be promised one thing and have no follow through. Ruth had blow ups often. It wasn't a temper tantrum, she was just missing the parent she was closest to. Mom fed up, emotionally exhausted and getting some courage; said she'd be willing to go down to $15 a week, $5 per kid, just to show he cared.  But he must come when he said he'd come or stop promising to. We were left with several large gifts of china dolls on the porch visitation day and no dad. That was the last we saw of him. Mom could have taken him to court, but didn't have the funds or the will to do so.

So, we're left without.

Ruth missing the dad she loves, Adam hurting, and me left with very few memories of him and just a few pictures. Mom broken-hearted and financially stretched past the limit. Life moves on. We learned to get by like a lot of families. Clothes shopping was donation barrels at church and on special occasions Goodwill until Mom moved up in the world of nursing, later on.

I was pretty jaded.

Looking back, I never kept friends that had close relationships with their fathers. I hated seeing any girl being held or played with by her dad. I was broken, bitter, hurting, scared and feeling completely robbed. I closed my heart off and learned to be the caretaker. I made it my duty to make sure that everyone was as happy and content as I could possibly make them. I craved peace. I desperately wanted everyone to be alright. I told myself that if they were ok, I'd be ok. I sucked my thumb until an impossibly old age, feeling like that "since it's literally attached, no one can take it and it's never going to walk away."  Dumb, I know, but that thumb became my safe place. It'd also be a large part of me having speech therapy for eons.

Looking back, a lot of time is blocked out.

It never ceases to amaze me how big a deal a dad is in a kid's life. Doesn't matter your gender, a man, your dad, fulfills a role that no one else does or can. A part of me, has known this my entire life. I found myself trying to get that in just about every older guy relationship that was available while growing up. Epic, epic fail. I'm not sure if I have words to express that kind of shit...it's pain, rejection, denial, abandonment, forgotten, unloved, not needed, replaced, unknown. That's where the forcing myself to numb out would come into play.

Now, the Sarah in her late twenties..


Well, I've learned something through all of this. God has an inherent way of showing up and loving you in that Dad kind of way that your heart needs. Being the jealous kind of Lover He is; He wouldn't allow that spot, His spot, to be filled by anyone else.  I have found this fact to be in parts amazing and crazy annoying about Him.

Do I still walk around feeling shafted some days?

Yeah, I look back on all the "never's and no's" (never called, no birthdays/graduation, never showing up, never being there, never knowing him, no knowing me...) and get a little, ok, a lot, overwhelmed. But, I find that my safe spot, the spot that never changes and no one's going to leave, is always as I leave it.

It's up to me now to go to that place, talk with my Dad.

I'm told emphatically and sometimes multiple times a day, He is the Father to the fatherless and He "never leaves or forsakes us"...

So far, He's proven to be a pretty good promise keeper--I'm holding Him to it.

In that place I have peace, I'm utterly loved, chosen, wanted, cherished.

I don't intend to walk away.

Fatherless, Fragile, and Faithful (Part One)

To really understand my story, you need to know a little of Mom's.

Mom is the second of four kids: two girls, two boys. Her biological mother died of cancer when she was four, her sister was six, her brothers two and newborn. My grandfather, devastated to have the love of his life die and leave him with four young kids, freaked out. He sent the three youngest to live with their grandparents, four hours away and kept Mom's sister with him. Mom had a great relationship there: felt loved and accepted..but, there was always an undercurrent of "when is dad coming to get us? How long will this last? Why isn't Melissa here?"
They remained a few years, then was brought back. Being back was scary. They didn't know when their dad would yell, cry, abuse...something didn't seem right.

His anger was frequent and explosive.


Eventually, my grandpa remarried a nice lady named Kay when Mom was a sixth grader. Kay became sick and died two years later. After that, the kids were virtually alone. He'd be gone for weeks, months sometimes and leave a little grocery money for them and be off again.  When he did come home, well, there's a lot of scars from those visits; mostly unseen. Finally, when Mom was a senior in high school, he remarried again. This time to a widow named Shirley, she's my Gram today. With her came five kids, all between the ages of 16-23.  It was nothing personal to the new additions, Mom just needed to leave. She did.

In the crazy up-bringing she had, she learned what true sexist religion is: no pants, no makeup,  no jewelry...no pretty. For the first time ever, she could do what she wanted to do. Mom, being the obedient, sweet person she was, didn't go buck wild herself, she just found the man who did it all for her. I hear my dad was a charmer. He apparently could schmooze better than any car sales man around. He was sophisticated, cool and didn't care what anyone else thought. Mom fell hard and fast. She called home from a pay phone after they got married by a justice of the peace.  Need more of a picture? His was the kinda redneck family that made extra dough by selling the moonshine that was cooked up in the bathtub. Classy.
Mom always wanted to be what her mom was: a nurse. She started nursing school. Dad had issues that deterred from the whole bread-winning idea. Most of that was the whiskey he drank in excess. Because of that, he'd start a new job and get fired easily. So, Mom held it down. This carried on throughout and up til delivery of her three pregnancies. Ruth was first. Since Dad didn't have a job, he was her primary caretaker. She learned that Mommy's name was B*tch and Daddy's was God. Yeah, you just read that correctly. She bonded with him easily since Mom was always working. Adam followed 13 months after Ruth.

"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

Mom really didn't love this arrangement, she was exhausted due to working 55-60 hour weeks. She started to speak up about it. She'd get a few punches and learn to stay quiet. Her thought, "I have to make this work. If he hurts me a little, I'll be fine. If he ever hurts my kids, THEN I'll leave." So, she put her head down, she worked. She loved us. She tried to love him into being a good guy, that never seemed to pan out all that great. Really, all she really wanted was a man to love her.

I was born 13 months after Adam.

So, it was kinda crazy. Three kids, just over a year apart from each other, talk about a zoo! It was loud and financially VERY tight: it was years of therapy in the making. Dad's drinking increased. Adam, sick one evening with a temperature, was whiny, inconsolable. Dad told him to hush, he didn't. So he was picked up by a leg and thrown against a wall. Adam still has a little 'x' scar above his lip to commemorate that moment.

This was the beginning of the end.

To be continued...

She Can't Hide This - the rest of the story

Click here to read Part 1 from yesterday.... My fear was becoming a reality. My heart was in my throat. John 8:3-5 NCV says “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They forced her to stand before the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this….””

“I cannot speak for the rest of the church,

but my wife and I rejoice for her.”

That is what Dr. Anthony said to the pastor, from his seat in the pew, in front of the whole church! And what did the rest of the church do? They applauded!!

A family was visiting for the first time that morning. Imagine! The mom looked at Laurie and said “Do you know her? I have to talk to her.” “Of course I know Genia.” Standing outside at the base of the steps after church was finished, Laurie introduced me to Theresa. This first time visitor stood holding the shoulders of her pre-teen daughter while two pre-schoolers played on the sidewalk behind her. She looked me fiercely in the eye and said

“What you have is a blessing. THIS is my blessing.”

Two different families asked me out to lunch. I went with one family that day, and the other a couple days later. These were beautiful, perfect, mommy/daddy, two/or/three/kids and a dog kind of families. Pillars of the church. At EACH lunch meeting, the momma sat across the table from me crying and confessing “I was in your shoes. I chose the other option. I live with that regret EVERY SINGLE DAY.”

While I was perched on the stool at Java, Jeans, at Jesus, my “Blessing” was a pre-schooler playing down the hall in the nursery. I looked out at the coffee drinkers and asked

“What would you have done with the stone that is in your hand?”

Lynette and Carl had just made their way fromNew Orleans that night. They were Hurricane Katrina refugees. Our church had remodeled what used to be the church office into a little apartment and the couple was going to start life again there. After the service, Lynette came to me saying “We were really worried about being the only black people here. But if they can love you, then I know they will love us. InNew Orleans I know plenty of churches that would have nothing to do with an unwed pregnant woman.”

Chapter 3 God Isn’t Finished

My Blessing is now a teenager.

We had a funny church schedule where we attended one church on Sunday mornings and a different church on Wednesday nights. One Sunday morning, we happened to be at the Wednesday night church. My Blessing was sitting on the opposite side of the church with some friends. A couple had come to the pastor asking for prayer because their daughter was pregnant and not married, but planning to get married. This momma, who was going to be a grandmother before she was a mother-in-law, was crying. Ashamed. And sitting right behind my child. After the service, I rushed over, grabbed my child by the shoulders, shared a bit of my story and said to this woman with tears in my eyes “What you have is a blessing. THIS is my blessing.”

Chapter 4 God Isn’t Finished

Youth Sunday was wonderful. Tiny church of about 75 people. My Blessing had written a song that was sung by the praise team and she shared her testimony. The youth pastor’s sermon was from Hosea and the crux of the message is that God bought you with a price- even though he knew all of your dirt. I had worked with the youth on making little wooden blocks with the word “Bought” burned in them. The blocks were a reminder of the auction block where Hosea rescued his love, Gomer, and to symbolize the auction block of the world where God rescues us. There were two baskets of blocks, and 4 youth planned to hand out the blocks during the altar call. I told my story at the end of the sermon, and then the pastor gave the altar call. Two youth with a basket over there, but only one youth with the basket over here. Where did the other kid go? I stayed up front to help hand out blocks and hold the basket- I thought. As people lined up to take a block, they shared their stories with me. One sweet momma shared through her tears that she “had been in my shoes and chose the other option.” A daddy, a rock in this church, took a block and said with a smile, “My Blessing’s name is Ashley.” Another momma, with the beautiful perfect family, stood sobbing and we were hugging as she was talking. All I know is that the words were pouring out with the tears. It’s alright that I couldn’t understand her story- God does. Six people- four women and two men- in that tiny church shared with me. Seven if you count the old man on his walker who looked at me as he took a block and said “It’s alright. You’re still purdy to me.”

Chapter 5 God Isn’t Finished

As I was driving to work the week after youth Sunday, my friend called. He heard on the radio that Susan Moore was killed in a car accident- could it be our mutual friend? I told him I had seen a post from her mom on Facebook that morning, so surely it was someone different. Our families have been friends for over 25 years, beginning when Susan was not much more than one. I used to drive her to school when I was in college and she was an elementary student. She was a favorite of my daddy. And now we worked at the same school. So I made a point to visit Susan that morning, because knowing is different than KNOWING. It just so happened that her students were gone to art, so I sat down to chat. She said she was glad I stopped by – she had been thinking of me recently. I told her about the youth Sunday experience and she began asking questions- How did I tell the principal? How did I face the people in my life? What did I tell the students? She confessed that the reason I was on her mind is because she was in the same situation- a grown up, a teacher, INVOLVED in church, pregnant, and not planning a wedding. At that time only her parents knew. The baby is not yet born. People know, and most everyone has shown her the love of Jesus. I am glad to be holding my friend’s hand. Glad that she can look at my Blessing and know that things will be alright. Glad that she knows my story and knows God will use her story too. Glad that I am able to tell her what she has is a Blessing.

Chapter 6 God Isn’t Finished

At Java, Jeans, and Jesus we sang one of my favorite choruses. The basis of the chorus is in Psalm 51- after David’s affair with Bathsheba. David asks for a clean heart to be created in him, and promises to teach others about his sin. Led by an acoustic guitar we sang “Create in me a clean heart O God, that I might be renewed, Create in me a clean heart O God, that I might serve you.”

Getting pregnant outside of marriage is not something I suggest. Understand that sex outside of marriage is the sin, not the pregnancy- the world gets that confused sometimes. Know that God will shape you through your mistakes if you allow Him. He will use your story if you hand it over to Him. If you would like to add a chapter to my story, or use my story as a chapter in yours, just let me know. He uses all things for His purpose.

She Can't Hide This

This is a living story. Every time I tell this story, a new chapter is added. I will start with the first time I told it…

Chapter 2 God Isn’t Finished (With Chapter 1 tucked inside.)

My church was growing like crazy because the area around us was growing like crazy. Our new members were mostly church transfers who moved into one of the surrounding new subdivisions. While there is nothing wrong with that, our church was alive and real and relevant- and wanted to reach un-churched and church-is-not-for-me families. But we were a white building with a steeple and UMC on the sign- which carries a very traditional feel and that can be a turn off if you are not comfortable with church. So we created Java, Jeans, and Jesus: a contemporary, casual worship service on Saturday nights with a band, a coffee bar and a speaker who is NOT a pastor. This was my night.

After Chapel Road finished playing, I perched on a stool on the platform stage and held a microphone to tell my story to a room full of coffee drinkers seated at round tables with white cloths. The centerpieces that night were big denim squares, white pillar candles in glass hurricanes, and river rocks scattered around the glass. I know because the table decorations were my job at each Java, Jeans, and Jesus.

The story goes like this: I was 27 years old. I had been divorced from my high school sweetheart for a little over a year- a relationship that had lasted ten years. I had moved away after the divorce and was teaching high school. I found Pierce Chapel, UMC and found my place in the children’s ministry. I loved those children and they loved me. I was friends with their parents. I baby sat for many of them. It was a good fit.

Outside of church, I had met a man and we began what became a very worldly relationship. Society doesn’t bat an eye when two adults are having consensual sex. But society feels very differently about an unwed pregnant woman. And that’s what I was. A series of events made me know marriage was not a solution. So I was a single, pregnant, high school teacher with lots of decisions to make.

And then there was church.

I made an appointment with Howard, my pastor, and Lynn, his wife. Howard was calm and kind. Innocently and brutally honest. A thinker. A teacher. A rock. Lynn was an ordained minister with a position in the church. She was also my friend. Talented and loving. Intuitive and brilliant. Passionate. A heart for Jesus. We sat in their living room and I told them. Howard said “I think you should go in front of the church.” I wanted to hurl. Lynn was indignant and spoke to Howard as if I was not there. “Why does she have to go in front of the church to confess her sins when nobody else does!?” Howard replied in calm truth,

“Because she can’t hide this.”

Silence. He was right. Lynn looked at my face and said “Genia, I don’t know if I could do it if I were you. But if you decide to do it, I will stand with you.” My friend.

Remember the children? I didn’t just ATTEND church on Sundays. I was INVOLVED. Involved with the children in church and in their lives outside of church. I told Howard and Lynn I wanted to speak personally with some families first. If they were uncomfortable with me being around their children, I would go somewhere else. And I certainly wouldn’t blame them. I am putting these parents in a position to explain things to their children that they otherwise wouldn’t have to know. I could imagine them asking, "How is there a baby without a daddy?" Things that children shouldn’t have to know when they are so little.

Family number one hugged me and loved me. Family number two hugged me and loved me and gave me maternity clothes. I was staying.

Now on to the rest of the church.

The Sunday was chosen for Howard to make the announcement. It was decided that I didn’t need to actually stand in the front. The Friday and Saturday before was the annual women’s retreat. Lynn told the group of women about her sister getting pregnant in high school and giving the baby up for adoption. Then she told them about me. They stood in line to hug me.

At Java, Jeans, and Jesus I asked everyone to choose a stone from the centerpiece. One that fit nicely in their palm. I asked them to hold this stone as I told the next part of my story.

That Sunday morning I sat in the pew, sobbing. Humiliated. Ashamed. Howard announced from the pulpit that I was pregnant, not planning on getting married, and he was adding my name to the expectant mother’s list to be prayed for. To my left, a man raised his hand and spoke out “Excuse, me Pastor.”

My fear was becoming a reality. My heart was in my throat. John 8:3-5 NCV says “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They forced her to stand before the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this….””

“I cannot speak for the rest of the church, but my wife and I ….

To be continued.

Lindsey's Story: A Beautiful Exchange

I was raised in Bradenton, Florida, just south of Tampa and moved to Alabaster in 2002 to attend Birmingham Metro Master’s Commission (where Steve and I met). Steve and I have been married for 4 years.

Growing up, I lived with my Mom and Dad and my sister Heather, who is 3 years older than me. Heather and I were good kids, always involved in extra curricular activities. When I was 14 years old my parents separated. My Dad worked out-of-town all week, and toward the end of their marriage my parents fought with each other every weekend. When they divorced, I couldn’t help but think it was my fault. For a while I was embarrassed to go to school and sports practices, I felt like everyone knew.

I was always a happy kid, never struggled with depression but during the separation I had many days when depressing thoughts overwhelmed me. One day a friend suggested that the answer to my emotional problems was taking the drug "ecstasy". He promised that it would not harm me and I would be able to “escape” my situation for a while. I was so nervous, but it was just like swallowing Tylenol. He was right; I escaped from my pain, but only for a moment. The reality was that I exchanged one kind of pain for another. When I would come off a high I felt even more hopeless than before. There were mornings that I woke up in unfamiliar places and had no clue what I had submitted my body to the night before. The new pattern of my life was school and normal activities during the week and “escaping” every weekend, it was the only way I knew how to get by. My parents would normally be the ones I would discuss any problems with, but suddenly I felt like I was a possession they were arguing over.

Near the beginning of my sophomore year I got very sick and was out of school for two weeks. I was living with my Dad at the time. One day I asked him to take me to the beach at sunset because I really needed to get out of the house. While standing on the shore, sick and brokenhearted, I knew that God loved me even more than the beauty of his creation. I asked my Dad if he would consider going to church with me. That Sunday morning in September 2000 Dad and I sat on the back row and listened to a sermon about God calming the storms of life. We both cried because we needed some calming. That day we both responded to the altar call. The pastor’s wife stood in front of me and said “I see pain in your eyes that is beyond your years.” I broke down and told her everything. She was not shocked or disgusted; instead she led me in a prayer of repentance and talked with me about the changes that happened in my heart.


I would like to tell you that changing my lifestyle was easy, but that was not the case. After feeling the overwhelming love of Jesus I was thankful and scared. Thankful that He loved me even in the condition I was in, and scared of what this new life with Him would require from me. I quickly fell back into the routine of destructive habits.

The bed of a scandalous lover was “safer” than the embrace of Jesus simply because I knew what was required of me.

I remember the day that it all came crashing down, in my junior year of high school. I was in a relationship with a guy named Kyle who attended a different high school. I thought I could do some “missionary dating,” Kyle attended the youth group because of me so it looked like I was a good influence on him. However, a guy that is interested in a physical relationship will do what it takes to look like he is satisfying a girl’s emotional need. The relationship quickly became physical and the depth of conversation switched from “What are your future plans and dreams?” to “When will you be here?”

As much as I hated myself for what was happening, I didn’t know how to stop it. I was a leader in my youth group, I couldn’t ask for help with this situation.

It took public humiliation to make me realize that I was just a pawn of the enemy.

I was at a school event where I knew Kyle would be as well. I was giddy just thinking about seeing him and introducing my friends. I spotted him across the gym and took my friend Jessica with me to meet him. Kyle turned toward us holding the hand of a beautiful blonde girl. He proceeded to introduce me as “Courtney’s friend Lindsey” to his girlfriend of 3 years. I stood frozen until Jessica led me away. Jesus could only heal the wound that I received that day.


I began to seek after Jesus for inner healing, not just for appearance sake. I knew the changes I needed to make had to be eternal and not temporary. Ten years later I am still seeking eternal change. The temptations I face may be different, but the radical grace I received as a promiscuous teen still covers me today.

I would like to conclude with a passage of scripture that means so much to me. The story takes place when a sinful woman barges into the house of a self-righteous religious leader. Luke 7: 41-43 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back. So he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had a bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly.” Jesus said.”

Even if your life story is nothing like mine, we all have a debt of sin that we can never pay back! Whether you have gossiped about a friend or given into sexual temptation and drugs, you are in need of Jesus to cancel your debt!

Recovery from Sexual Abuse and Porn Addiction

By the age of twenty, my feet had touched the soil of three foreign countries to share the Gospel with lost souls, not even realizing that I was just as lost as every barefoot foreigner I had witnessed to.

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