Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What If I Stumble—And Fall?

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

I did something embarrassing Sunday afternoon. Something I haven’t done since I was about five years old. I tripped and fell. In public. Where everyone could see.

We were at the dirtbike track where Josh rides. Maybe my baseline frayed dirtbike nerves had gotten the better of me since two riders had already gone down with broken bones. Not a typical Sunday afternoon at the track. Sure, wrecks happen. But this was a first. While EMS attended to a kid with a broken ankle, another guy crashed into a downed rider and fractured his femur.
Josh getting air

So, I guess it’s easy to understand how I wasn’t on top of my game after holding an IV bag and offering encouraging words to a boy and his dad while EMS did their thing. Another mother prayed while the boy clutched her hands and cried as workers removed his boot to look at his twisted, broken ankle. It comforts me to know if I’m ever absent when my child really needs me, other mothers would step in and do their best.

The injured were transported to the hospital via ambulance, and riders returned to the track. I’d caught my breath, or so I thought, and continued to pray for the remaining riders. (I get serious prayer time in at the track!) J

Two days later
I turned to step onto a wooden platform and tripped. I couldn’t just take a step to regain my balance like I could on a level surface. I stopped abruptly with my shins pinned against the platform while my upper body kept going. I went straight down, landing hard on my hands and knees. I felt my right shoulder give, but thankfully, it didn’t dislocate. Then I did what everyone does when they fall. I jumped up and acted like I wasn’t hurt. LOL. Like my mom always says, my dignity hurt worse than anything else. I’m sore now, of course, but I’m very thankful I didn’t break or dislocate anything.

The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. Isaiah 26:7-8

Wow! What a tremendous thought. The path is level for the righteous. Cool. That means as a Christian, I don’t have to worry about spiritually stumbling and falling. Right?

Sadly, no.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t be righteous. We’re going to stumble spiritually and take falls, sometimes hard falls. Self-imposed falls. Public and embarrassing falls. Hidden falls where only our hearts sustain the pain.

Other times, life just reaches up and grabs us by the ankle and brings us to our knees.

The good news is—Jesus’ blood cleanses our unrighteousness. God’s comforting hand rests on our shoulder when we’re lying on the ground, with skinned knees, a busted shoulder, or a broken heart. Then He reaches for our hand and lifts us back up onto a level, smooth path. His path. A solid path. As Isaiah proclaimed, He is the “Rock eternal.”

I pray that if you haven’t done so, you’ll embrace the One True God and His Son, Jesus, who died that you might be righteous in God’s sight. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who live in Christ Jesus. What a tremendous promise to claim!

What rough path have you traveled recently? If you’d like prayer, please leave a comment so others can pray. You can do so anonymously if you prefer, or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you.

Would you take a moment to pray for Hunter, a 10-year-old boy bitten in the face by his own dog a few weeks ago? The bite took half his face off. By the grace of God, the tear duct and nasal passage were intact, and doctors were able to re-attach his face. Over 2000 stitches. This little boy and his family desperately need our prayers as he goes through a difficult healing process!

May God richly bless each of you as you seek to discover His path for your life.


©Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who Said Transition Is Easy?

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life...So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-11, 20

Do you have days like Hannah? Where you pray for God to look on your misery and remember you?

I wouldn’t describe today like that, but it was the first day of college for my youngest, Josh. Many words come to mind to describe how I felt as I watched him drive down the road toward his newest endeavor. Bittersweet. Proud. Sad. Happy. So many mixed emotions. When I logged onto Facebook, this picture was one of the first I saw.

Kind of describes how I felt. I know many other mothers are going through this right now, also. I’m fortunate Josh will live at home while attending college, at least this semester. I remember a mother sharing with me once that she cried harder when her baby went off to college than when her older son joined the military. There’s something about an empty nest that shows the hands of time and pushes you into the next stage of parenthood whether you’re ready or not.

As I drove by TL Hanna High School this morning on the way to the gym, I didn’t see Josh’s truck in the parking lot as in years past and know he was inside the school. Instead, he was thirty miles away at Greenville Tech. I’m thrilled he’s on his way to becoming a full-time paid firefighter after three years of volunteering. Yet, the bittersweet feelings crept in as I realized for the first time in twenty-five years I don’t have a child in elementary, middle, or high school. Twenty-five years gone in the snap of a finger. Or so it felt.

After he was weaned, she [Hannah] took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli [the priest], and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Every time I read Hannah’s story in the Bible, I admire her faithfulness. People often beg for things from God and make promises in return. Sometimes the promises are big. Hannah’s sacrifice seems huge from my perspective as a mother. Yet, God calls us to raise godly children and then send them out into the world to live for Him. It doesn’t always turn out this way, but that’s the goal.

If you’re a mother (or father) who’s had a difficult week moving your child into a college dorm or just waving good-bye from the driveway as they leave for that first day of class, you’re in my prayers. I know what a comfort God’s peace can be during this transition.

Whether you’re going through a major transition, experiencing deep anguish as Hannah did, or just need to feel God’s grace in your life, maybe you’ll find comfort in worshipping with our heavenly Father through this song, “Busted Heart (Hold Onto Me)” by For King and Country.

Praise Report:
Emily had good results from her blood work and scans last week. Her family thanks everyone for their faithful and continued prayers as she battles Osteosarcoma.

Prayer Requests:
From Janey: Please pray for my husband [Darren] and the Northside Baptist team in Greece. This email greeted me when I awoke:  Just in case my connection fails later I love you. We have a group of Russian Muslims (300 or so) that have figured out what is going on. Making things interesting. Not really sure how to expand on that just that we are moving some things around to try and stay out of their way as much as we can.

If you have a prayer need, please share it in the comments or e-mail me confidential requests. Our prayer list is located at the top of the blog along with info on Sgt. Jesse McCart, an American soldier injured by an IED in Afghanistan. Would you take a few moments to pray for these folks, as well as those who leave comments today? Thanks!


©Laura Hodges Poole


My friend & fellow Christian writer, Cindy O’Brien, writes an encouraging blog, "My Little Corner." Take a moment to check it out. You’ll be blessed by her posts.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Addiction

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

I’m thrilled today to welcome my friend and fellow Christian writer, TC Avey, as a guest blogger. She shares about her addiction—one that most of us can relate to—and how she overcame it. 

Worry and anxiety
Late last year, I lost my father-in-law to lung cancer. This year, my husband’s aunt is battling stage four lung cancer. Both were life-long smokers. This has led me to pray about addictions. There are many types, some more obvious—like smoking, drinking, gambling, or overeating. Some are easier to hide—like pride, perfectionism, control, possessions/lust, and greed.

I want to take you through some truth journaling I’ve done about my own addiction. I pray it helps you identify your addictions and begin working through them with the help of Christ (Phil.1:6).

My addiction: Worry.

My anxiety masks itself in controlling behaviors. Feeling in control eases my fears and gives me a semblance of power in this crazy and unpredictable world.

What do I fear?

I fear not having enough food for my family, so when I see a “good deal,” I buy extra. Then having it neatly organized adds to my sense of control and gives me pride in a job well done (Matt 6:19-21).

I fear someone will unexpectedly drop by my house, so I clean it almost daily. I can’t have them think I’m a bad housekeeper. I must be a good steward of the possessions God has blessed me with…so I clean, clean, clean!

I have fears I cover up by trying to control my environment and be as perfect as I possibly can.

I fear…well, you get the picture.

Where did these fears come from?

Not from God. That’s certain (Romans 8:15, 2 Tim 1:7).

Many of my fears came from my childhood. My dad owned his own business, and he lived by the motto “better to give than receive.” On more than one occasion, that meant the homeless man on the street got my dad's last $20, while his family had to pawn something in order to eat.

As I grew up, I let insecurities about possessions rule my life. I realized I had this sinful habit, but it wasn’t until I began asking God to help me understand why people have such a hard time overcoming addictions that He revealed the true depth of my own.

Now, I know why the smoker can’t “just quit.”

Before the smoker can stop the addiction, they must realize why they began it. Otherwise, they will just pick up a new addiction to help ease the underlying issue.

I thought I was in control, but really my fears/insecurities controlled me. When God showed me where my fears stemmed from, I began asking Him to help me view my fears through His eyes, so I could live victoriously over them and not allow them to control me (Phil. 4:13, Romans 6:16).

Next God showed me all the times my family “almost” went without. Could my dad have used more discretion on giving? Maybe. If I look with human eyes.

But when I look through the eyes of God, I see my dad’s heart was in the right place. Our possessions aren’t ours to keep. They’re ours to bless others with. Not only that, God is our provider (Psalm 54:4, Matt 6:25-34).

Not once did God not provide.

On the issue of cleaning: My mom always kept a tidy house. So did I get a cleaning obsession from that?

No, God showed me it came from me not wanting to be judged by others.

I allowed what others thought of me to dictate my days. Over the years, I can count on one hand the number of times someone “unexpectedly” stopped by. So why I possessed this irrational desire to keep my house super clean is beyond me.

When I boiled down all these fears and control issues, I found the real culprit: Lack of faith and trust in God.


My addictions existed because I didn’t TRUST God. I thought I had to take care of everything. I had to be worthy in others' eyes. I justified it by saying I was being a good steward of the things God had given me (1 John 5:21).

I never realized they held me captive (John 8:34).

Now that I know what fuels my worry, I’m ready to break free.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

This doesn’t mean I’m going to become a lousy housekeeper. No, I must be a good steward. But I do it now with the right heart and mindset (Col 3:23). I also keep my priorities in line, and spending time with family trumps picking up toys. I'm even getting better at buying only what we need now, instead of purchasing ahead.

Questions for reflection:

What are your addictions?

Do you know what fuels them?

Are you ready to ask God to help you break free?

TC Avey is a Christian author devoted to God, family, friends, and nation. She blogs regularly at "Wisdom of a Fool." 

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Prayer Requests:
Emily, who is battling osteosarcoma, will have her three-month follow-up scans and doctor’s appointment on Thursday. Family shares, “As always, we could use prayers and positive thoughts on Emily’s behalf to be free of cancer and treatment side-effects.” 

Erica will have knee surgery Wednesday (today). Please praise for her surgeons, as well as for a good outcome.

Praise Report:
Courtney's MRI came back clean again. Her doctor plans an MRI and a PET scan in October. If they are clear, another chemo med will be dropped. The plan is to eventually stop all chemo in the next six months since she has been on it continuous for two years. Her body needs a rest.

From her Caring Bridge site:

As you might imagine, Courtney's health and recovery is a work in progress. We respectfully ask for continued prayer on her behalf as she fights this mighty battle and the victories that we have and will see along the way. Hopefully we will get good news from her endocrinologist in the coming weeks and should anything else be amiss besides the thyroid, we will be able to begin a treatment program to address those issues and get Courtney to feeling stronger with less fatigue… Thank you so much for all of you who prayed special prayers for Courtney yesterday [last Wednesday]. God certainly heard and answered yours and ours! After seeing once again so many people yesterday at the Duke Cancer Center, we know that God must be hearing from so many other families and their loved ones pleading for help and healing like we have so many times. We just praise God for His continued walk with us and the wonderful way He is carrying Courtney through this journey.

If you have a prayer need, please share it in the comments or e-mail me confidential requests. Would you take a moment to pray for those who leave comments and those on the prayer list at the top of the blog? Thanks!

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Monday, August 12, 2013

Deciphering The PC Alphabet

A brouhaha ensued recently over celebrity chef Paula Deen’s use of the N-word decades ago which caused her subsequent fall from grace. Her reputation sullied, she lost millions of dollars and her cooking show because of her honesty about using the word and her Southern upbringing in the 1960s. Last week, we witnessed the annihilation of Riley Cooper, football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, for using the same word.

While their actions required apologies and forgiveness, I began to notice a double standard by the politically correct talking heads who have more than a vested interest in stirring the race pot. Some have made their living doing so while attacking other ethnic and orientation groups themselves. This is too short of a forum to explore that angle, but the evidence is out there for consumption, if you choose to look for it.

This isn’t the only offensive word referred to by a single letter. As I explored the dynamics involved in which words are offensive and which ones aren’t, a few things became apparent. So I thought I’d discuss the PC alphabet today in reverse order.

Obviously, the N-word pretty much speaks for itself. What troubles me is the resurgence of this word in modern society. Growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s in a rural Southern town, we didn’t use this word. We were taught it was offensive and disrespectful. But what I’ve discovered behind this current resurgence is the use of a slight variation of the N-word. Change the –er at the end to –a, and it no longer is considered offensive by some of the younger generation.

Case in point: I discovered a teenage relative had used this variation on a social media website in reference to her young African-American male friend. Shocked and hurt, I began to reflect on the fact that my family has been friends with this young man’s family for four generations. I wondered what the fallout would be. Would our friendship be damaged over this bonehead teenage mistake? In expressing my outrage, I was quickly "straightened out" that this new N-word doesn’t carry racial connotations, rather it’s like calling each other "homey" or some other slang reference to a friend.

I’d heard from media and other high school kids that some African-American kids do indeed call each other this, which is shocking enough, but I was surprised by its blasé use between the races. And the friend in question didn’t appear to have a problem with it.

No harm, no foul. Right?

It’s no wonder when Paula Deen was asked by Today show host Matt Lauer if she thought the African-American community still found the word offensive, she said she didn’t know. After all, her young black kitchen employees call each other that.

When researching songs by popular rappers like Jay-Z, it turned my stomach to read the foul language, which includes this word, our youth listen to and emulate. And yet our nation’s leader readily welcomes this rapper into the White House then laments race relations out the other side of his mouth.

One thing I found interesting, though, as I talked to folks, is the lack of acceptance for this new fangled N-word among some who use other slang-offensive words. That tells me some racial connotation, despite the insistence otherwise, is still attached to the word.

But the use of this word made me think. Is it a reflection of race relations further progressed than some purport or representative of our degrading society? If I were a betting person, I’d put money on the latter.

So it’s not a huge leap that a young adult like Riley Cooper, only a few years removed from the college scene, would allow the “wrong” N-word to roll off his tongue so easily. Especially while intoxicated.

The same could be said for the F-word. When I was a teen, it was the MF-word and only the “bad” kids used it. If caught saying it, you’d be suspended from school or your parents would give you a whipping—or both. Now it’s shortened to just the F-word and used for all parts of speech. One of the many reasons I don’t watch R-rated movies is the repeated use of the word. I’d like to send this generation of kids and the movie producers to the chalkboard like in the old days and ask them to diagram their sentences. It’d be interesting.

Then there’s the C-word. Actually, I never hear anyone refer to it this way. People just say “cracker.” Yes, for some reason, this word is politically correct to just say. Recently, in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida where he was accused of killing a black teenager, a witness for the prosecution used the term very casually in referring to Mr. Zimmerman. When some cried foul, the PC pundits defended her, stating that within the context of her life and culture, the use of the word was authentic.


Am I the only one who found this explanation incredulous? I must be in the minority because New York Democrat Charlie Rangel also felt free to use the C-word recently:

Rangel made the "cracker" comment in an interview last week with the Daily Beast, referring to the tea party as "the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police." (
Not a single PC pundit, that I know of, took Rangel to task for his language. The race activists and those who typically have loud viewpoints on this subject were eerily quiet.

Then there’s the B-word. It’s been around as long as the others but for some reason seems to still be socially acceptable. I mused aloud one day in the presence of a male (not my husband, in case you’re wondering) that if Riley Cooper had used the B-word instead of the N-word, would he be in as much trouble? The response: No, because women haven’t been as oppressed as blacks.

If my head had been anatomically able to spin on my shoulders, it would’ve. It’s only been in the last hundred years that American women have gained the right to vote and married women could own property. And we’ve still not achieved equal pay for equal work.

Consider these additional facts:

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. (DomesticViolenceStatistics.Org)
In many third world countries, females are considered property, receive less education than males, are forced into pre-adolescent marriage, and have virtually no rights of their own.

More than 70% of human trafficking victims worldwide are female. The average cost of a slave is $90. (DoSomething.Org) 
According to UNAIDS, young women ages 15 to 24 in sub-Saharan Africa, the region hardest hit by the epidemic, are up to 8 times more likely than young men to be living with HIV…In various regions of the world, rural women often tend to crops that are used to nourish their families or sell in the marketplace. Yet just 1 percent of the world’s women own land. 
Physical, sexual and psychological violence strikes women in epidemic proportions worldwide. It crosses every social and economic class, every religion, race and ethnicity. From domestic abuse to rape as a weapon of war, violence against women is a gross violation of their human rights. Not only does it threaten women's health and their social and economic well-being, violence also thwarts global efforts to reduce poverty. (ICRW.Org)
No doubt, standards are hypocritically applied to certain words in our culture. In the future, before the PC pundits decide which alphabet violators should be punished and to what degree, perhaps they’d be wise to look inside their own hearts and lives and consider Jesus’ philosophy:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” John 8:7b

Because real change in any culture begins in the heart of the individual and in the willingness to confront the true underlying reasons for disenfranchisement. Not in dissecting each other’s language.

My two cents, for what it’s worth.

© Laura Hodges Poole

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Facing Persecution

Have you ever been just minding your own business when, suddenly, you’re startled by something so heinous, you don’t know how to react? Yesterday on Twitter, I came across a link referencing the torture of a Saudi man caught reading a Bible. Yes, I clicked on the link, but I shouldn’t have. I wasn’t prepared for the graphic horror of the torture. Shaken and sickened, I attempted to research the origin and authenticity of the photo. After a few minutes of research, I let it go. Every time the image flashes in my mind, my stomach roils.

Whether the photo depicted a man punished for his Christian faith or a horrible, tragic accident, it brought to mind the persecution facing Christians in the world today. According to statistics:

More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. 171,000 Christians were martyred in 2005 [Int. Journal of Missionary Research] (
American Christians have been in the enviable position of not worrying about martyrdom within our shores, and until recently, haven’t really felt the sting of persecution. With our current political environment, Christian persecution and marginality has become more commonplace in America. Even in the U.S. military, Christian soldiers are threatened with court martial if they share their faith. 

While the potential exists for increasing tribulation, many American Christians, and perhaps others worldwide, believe we will not face the ultimate tribulation described in Revelation. Instead, Christians will be raptured prior to these events. Some Biblical scholars disagree with this philosophy. Both sides have compelling arguments.

I’m not writing to espouse argument or take sides on this issue while our brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted and martyred. It really doesn’t matter how we, as American Christians, choose to comfort ourselves with our beliefs on future events.

What matters is what’s happening now. Bringing unbelievers to the saving grace of Christ, despite personal cost, has to be foremost in the life of a Christian. Saying it is one thing, but living it is another.

Have you ever stopped to consider why the persecuted, mostly from impoverished or oppressed countries, are willing to give their lives for their faith?

Could it be because God is the most important thing in their lives? Christianity trumps their very existence.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Pakistani mother has been sentenced to death for “blasphemy,” due to her Christian faith.
Recently, a large church in Iran was shut down and its pastor imprisoned.
Christians in Sudan face escalating persecution for their faith.

Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in the infamous Evin Prison, considered the worst in Iran, for over a year. He was building a government approved orphanage but was arrested due to his Christian faith.
For more examples and up-to-date information on the persecuted, visit Voice of the Martyrs.
Regardless of how we choose to live our Christian faith, two overriding tenets should form the basis for our character and action.

From the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3


Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

When the Christian life is viewed through the lenses of these tenets, the willingness of our brothers and sisters to risk persecution becomes clearer. And then the question becomes: To what degree is God the only god in our lives, and do our lives reflect total love for Him? 

Please join me in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters living in restricted and oppressed nations.

Other Prayer Requests:
From Courtney: I'm asking for special prayers today as I head up to Duke [for 2-month follow-up brain MRI]. I am praying for a clear report and safe travels. Thank you very much!

From Misty, Erica’s mom: Erica's knee surgery next Wed. It's called medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction.

From Janey: My husband leaves for a missions trip to Greece August 16-26. My prayer request is multifaceted: protection for him traveling an in country; peace in our home as I single parent and homeschool our four children; and God to accomplish all He desires in Darren, the other mission participants, and the pastors, children, and families to whom they'll be ministering. Thanks.

From Laura H: Tim Fryman family... Tim was 20 years old and died of an aneurysm. His funeral is today. He was friends with my son, and I can imagine the pain the family is facing right now.

A lady asks for prayer for her brother and mother in regards to mental health and safety issues. 

Our regular prayer list is located at the top of the blog along with info on Sgt. Jesse McCart, an American soldier injured by an IED in Afghanistan.

Also, the Mission page has info on my Christian brother, Pastor Mike Gonzalez, as he has led a mission team into South Sudan this week. They will also be ministering in Kenya. I just learned this morning of a devastating fire at Kenya's main airport the mission team flew into and have flights planned four times through the duration of the trip. This airport is the gateway for travel in Africa.  

Prayers for all these folks would be greatly appreciated!

If you have a prayer need, please feel free to share it in the comments so others may pray for you, or e-mail me confidential requests. J


©Laura Hodges Poole