In the Cocoon

By JMathis

Lately, I have been feeling stuck. Not stuck in a rut, but definitely stuck in a holding pattern. It’s as if I have purchased my plane ticket to the lush forests of Costa Rica, packed my belongings, boarded the plane, but now am just sitting on the runway waiting to takeoff.

Mind you, a few years ago, I hadn’t even purchased a “plane ticket”.

Now that was a rut in every sense of the word.

I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t even know if I was meant to go some place. I just knew that I was sitting in my Flintstones-era car, trying to foot-pedal as fast as I could, to somewhere, to anywhere, but was stuck in a pile of pre-historic mud.

That was me, manufacturing the terms of my relationship with the Lord. Trying to kick-start things in my own way, but failing miserably. All because I was too busy to hear Him. Too restless to find Him.

Now, God and I are cool. Really cool. I really do weep now every time I think about Him and all that He means to me. Literally, weep.

This may sound super-spiritual, but in real life, it’s actually quite embarrassing and strange. I’ll be in the middle of grocery shopping, or out with friends, and puddles of tears and snot just start streaming down my face. My heart may be bursting with excitement at the thought that He is near, but meanwhile, I actually look like some hound dog frothing at the mouth.

So, yes, it is embarrassing and strange, but hey, I’m totally digging this place where my Creator has led me.

He even spoke to me in April and told me to be a writer. Yes! I have direction in my life for the first time ever!! Woohoo! I was finally going places! I was elated. There I was, sitting in this serious state of prayer and meditation, and I felt every fiber within me being re-born to write volumes, pages and books about His goodness.

And, then, as clearly as I heard Him, I stopped writing.

Not due to lack of desire, not due to a lack of time. But, I was simply struck speechless. There I was, without a single word left in me.

This chick, who always had something to say, who often could never shut up, was being rendered mute from a writing perspective.

It’s as if the Lord clearly manifested Himself to me and told me to be a writer, and then proceeded to take my pen away upon that very same revelation.

I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this.” Psalms 39:9

So, here I sit stuck. Stuck with inexpressible emotions of joy and gratitude. Stuck in an ocean of grace and purpose. Stuck with plane tickets to a glorious destination.

Stuck without words.

Call it writer’s block, call it a rut. But, deep down, I know it’s neither.

It’s as if I’m a vending machine, being filled up daily with all sorts of goodies, but unable to dispense a single piece of candy.

More precisely, I’m in the cocoon.

I’m not the caterpillar I was, but I’m also not yet the butterfly I am called to be. I’m something unrecognizable to me, but nonetheless, still brimming with endless hope and potential.

I am learning how to be mute, how not to be me, so that His words alone can speak. So that His words can burst through my cocoon and pour out words of healing, help and restoration.

Volumes, pages and books. All unsaid in the cocoon, just waiting to be spoken.

See you on the other side.

Being Strong in Your Broken Places

By JMathis

The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places…” Ernest Hemingway

The broken places are scattered across your dreams.

Your dreams of becoming an artist.

You’re not good enough.

Your dreams of a happy marriage.

You’re not good enough.

Your dreams of being fit, fierce and fabulous.

You’re not good enough.

The artist has surrendered to a mortgage. The happy marriage sacrificed for a 62″ television set. The sexiness buried under yet another night of pizza and ice cream.    

Reality replaces fantasy, and life swaps your upbeat soundtrack for an insidious, new mantra:

You’re not good enough.

The broken places become permanent refuge for insecurity, insanity, infertility, indifference, insincerity, inactivity, ineffectiveness, indecision, invisibility, ingratitude and infirmity.

Each taking root within you, inside of you. Each chanting:

You’re not good enough.

Before it is too late, before time forgets you, before your purpose is forever lost, perhaps it is time for an intervention.

Perhaps it is time to finally be YOU.

You, as God intended; you, as God envisioned; you, as God desires.

Rise up and innovate.

Stand up and inspire.

It is time to become strong in all of your broken places, for there is work to be done.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Champagne Problems

By JMathis

It’s that time of year where I’m blowing the dust off of my holiday cookbooks, putting on my army fatigues and war-paint, and getting ready for the Thanksgiving week cook-a-thon.

Do I want to go funky or traditional this year? Challenge my diners, or, give into their plebian whims? Maple-glazed sweet potatoes with tender chunks of pineapple and apricots?  Or, the classic casserole option that everyone loves to eat, but brings tears to my eyes from a culinary perspective: sweet potato mush meets indiscernible coating of marshmallow fluff and caramelized brown sugar?

What dilemmas.

As my husband tells me all of the time: “You and your champagne problems…”

Me and my champagne problems.

Sadly, those champagne problems threaten to plague me throughout this week, until I collapse into my bed on Thanksgiving night.

Meanwhile, my friend is hours away from filing divorce; another friend just miscarried her baby; and yet another friend lost her job last week.

Ugh. Yes, it has been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where it appears that the enemy has won.

So what I am to do with my champagne problems in light of the realities and hardships that swirl around me? Quit cooking? Keep cooking and act oblivious?

While the Bible doesn’t give me clear directive over whether I should quit preparing my feast, Ephesians 1:16 helps me to put my champagne problems into perspective this week:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

This is a verse I have glossed over a million times, always thinking of it as one of those Christian platitudes that have very little meaning. For some reason, though, it gives me instruction today on what I should be doing this week–whether on my lunch break, while driving in my car, or even while making sweet potatoes.

Leigh: I want you to know that I thank God for you. I thank God for the way you make me laugh, the way you put me in my place, the way you always know how to center me. I pray that in the midst of your divorce, I will be the friend that you have always been to me. I pray healing for your heart, restoration for your soul, and for God’s warm embrace to shield you from pain.

Melanie: I thank God for bringing you into my life. Seeing your smile makes me joyful and always puts an extra spring into my step. I’m so grateful for the joy you have given me over the years, and I pray that it be returned to you a hundred-fold, even a thousand-fold. I pray that you experience strength in knowing that your baby is lovingly being cared for by her Heavenly Father.  

Danielle: Thank You, God, for my friend who always checks in on me. Rain or shine, you are a faithful friend who is loyal to the end. Lord, I haven’t always returned the favor, and so I ask You that You teach me to be a friend like Danielle. Teach me to reach out to her, while she is going through this difficult time. Build up her confidence and her faith, Lord, and help her to rise up from this setback even stronger, braver and wiser.

Ladies, take the time to really thank God for your friends this week. Encourage them, share with them, express your gratitude to them.  

Lift them up in prayer when you get overwhelmed with your champagne problems. Intercede for them and with them, so that their burdens are removed and cast far into the sea of God’s forgetfulness.

Today, may your champagne problems fall off like scales from your eyes, with true perspective and meaning in this week of Thanksgiving.

Delving Into Relationship

By JMathis

We live in a web of interconnected relationships.

Relationships with significant others. Relationships with co-workers. Relationships with friends. Relationships with family.

In the unavoidability of relationships, there is conflict.

Conflict with significant others. Conflict with co-workers. Conflict with friends. Conflict with family.

With conflict comes tension, and tension demands a response.

The problem is, our tendency is to either run from giving a response (“What’s the point of working this out with him? I’m just going to shut up–again–and bury it deep down inside.”), or run too quickly to respond (“I just can’t wait to give her a piece of my mind! She is such an idiot!”).

In both cases, we fall short.

In the world’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships (defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness, self-righteousness, anger and blame), we inflict upon ourselves a slow death by a million paper-cuts.

Paper cuts from significant others. Paper cuts from co-workers. Paper cuts from friends. Paper cuts from family.

If all of this bleeding is inevitable, why even bother with relationships? After all, isn’t life too short? Too short to be jabbed time and again by a million paper-cuts?

Because in relationships, there is life.

Because in relationships, there is love.

Because in relationships, there is growth.

Because in relationships, there is God.

In God’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships, you still have to confront and respond to tension and conflict. After all, tension and conflict are natural by-products of living in earthly relationships.

But in God’s way of responding to tension and conflict, you confront and respond:

• without condemning

• with love and respect

• through the eyes of faith

The eyes of faith can’t see the other’s faults and weaknesses. The eyes of faith can only see what God sees. And all God sees is a child of God, worthy of love and respect, brimming with all of God’s potential and righteousness.

Delve into relationships. Delve into the tension. Delve into the conflict.

But in all things, delve in with God.

For where there is God, there is life, love and growth. For where there is God, there is relationship.

Delve in. Paper cuts and all.


When you last confronted tension and conflict in your relationship, how did you respond? In anger and blame? Or, love and respect? When you last responded to tension and conflict, was it in sorrow and repentance, or defensiveness and passive-aggressiveness? Are too many of your relationships simmering in past regrets, rather than restoration and healing? What could you have done differently in your last experience with tension and conflict?

2 Corinthians 7: 2-16 (The Message):

…Don’t think I’m finding fault with you. I told you earlier that I’m with you all the way, no matter what. I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles…

I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out…Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.

And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great…

Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you…

When Guilt, Pain and Stress Come Knocking…

By JMathis

There is guilt in my parenting. (“Mommy, how come I’m the last one to be picked up from school?”)

There is pain in my marriage. (“Why would he bring that up when he knows how much it hurts me?”)

There is stress at my workplace. (“For once, I would love to walk into a Monday where I don’t have a gnawing pit in my stomach from the night before.”)

When I was young and full of ambitions and dreams, there was never even the slightest inkling of guilt, pain or stress in my future.

Yet, there they are, faithful to the end–in good times and bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health: guilt, pain and stress.

What’s the point of being a Christian if all that follows me is guilt, pain and stress? What is the purpose of taking up His cross when I never seem to get rid of this guilt, pain and stress? Why is guilt, pain and stress the defining cornerstone of so many days of my existence here on earth?

Because I’m forgetting. And, Lord, forgive me for always forgetting, but I find again that I am forgetting.

Forgetting who I am.

Forgetting whose I am.

I look to the Word for answers, and I come face-to-face with Paul.

Ahh, Paul. Have I ever told you how much Paul annoys me? Not quite my nemesis, but definitely someone I don’t want crashing my dinner party.

Give me my Abraham, David and Peter—my fallen heroes who are human, just like me. But Paul, Lord? He’s always so sanctimonious and self-righteous, Lord! Why Paul, Lord?

Really, Lord, really?

Yes, really.

Because all that seemed to follow him was guilt, pain and stress.

Guilt over the murder of thousands of Christians before his conversion:

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” 1 Corinthians 15:9

Pain over the fact that the church he first built now insulted him and questioned his authority:

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you”. 2 Corinthians 2:4

Stress over constant persecution, imprisonment and torture:

“…We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are  perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

All that followed Paul was guilt, pain and stress.

But the difference between him and me is that he never forgot.

Never forgot who he was.

Never forgot whose he was.

When you forget your New Covenant that you entered into with Christ:

1)      You forget how to walk through life boldly and confidently. (“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12)

2)      You forget how to experience intimacy with your Creator. (“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

3)      You forget that life is not about jumping from difficulty to difficulty, but being changed more and more into His likeness. (“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Isn’t it time you stopped forgetting, and started remembering?

Isn’t it time to live life passionately, intimately and continuously refreshed?

I’m ready. Are you?


When was the last time you experienced any of guilt, pain or stress?

Do you ever feel that life is about moving from one hardship to the next?

When was the last time you walked through life boldly and confidently?

When was the last time you experienced intimacy with your Creator?

When was the last time you felt transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit?


This week, write down a scripture on a notecard that renews your spirit. Turn to it each time you are chased down by guilt, pain or stress. Meditate on the scripture when the darkness tries to overtake you, and believe in faith that your situation is being transformed–that your life is being changed for the better.

The Big Reveal

By JMathis

Today is a day of reveling.

Reveling in the art of relaxation.

Reveling in acts of celebration, friendship and laughter.

Reveling in putting the letter ‘b” in the word “labor” to very good uses: Barbeques, Beer, Beach Balls, Bubble Baths.

Reveling in your officially sanctioned day of rest. Why, thank you, Federal Government. Glad you noticed how hard I was working.

Today is not a day for revealing.

Nope, not today. Today is your day off.

Today is not a day for revealing that you are deceitful.

Today is not a day for revealing that you are inauthentic.

Today is not a day for revealing that you are a big, fat phony.

Okay, maybe today is not the day, but unfortunately, I’m looking at your upcoming schedule, and you seem pretty booked for the rest of the year. Can you clue me in on when you will actually have time to launch your Big Reveal?

You know, the Big Reveal.

The day you tell God that you’re a two-faced hypocrite?

Yes, I’m talking to you. Mainly to me, but also to you. Don’t look so shocked.

Do you think He doesn’t know the real reason why you raise your hands to worship in church? Is it because that’s what everyone else is doing? Or, is it because you’re so self-righteous, that you need to show everyone else what a model churchgoer should look like?

Do you think He doesn’t hear you harping on and on to others about the importance of reading the Bible and praying everyday, when you haven’t even picked up a Bible in months? When you haven’t had a real conversation with Him in years?

Do you think He doesn’t see right through your Church Lady act, where you show up every Sunday at 10am on the dot, with your perfect GQ husband, your 2.5 kids who quote scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, and your glittery red pen that you use to sign up to volunteer for Youth Group Wednesdays, Prayer Team Thursdays, Feeding the Homeless Fridays and Women’s Potluck Saturdays?

You do know that He doesn’t care about all of this stuff, right?

You do know that He only wants you, right?


By yourself. Without interruptions. Without distractions. Without anyone else or anything.

Not you, as your big, bad self, but you, as a child of God, lying prostrate on the floor, crying out in the stillness of the night.

Crying out for forgiveness. Crying out for His touch. Crying out until you hear answers.

Crying out to be rid of your bleeding, busted, messed-up life.

When will you make time to show Him your Big Reveal? When will you make time to come before Him broken, contrite, repentant and ready for Him to fill you? When will you make time to come before Him stripped of your airs, your pride and your holier-than-thou pretentiousness?

When will you stop reveling behind the arrogance of your big, bad self?

When will you start revealing to Him that you are lost? That you are desperate? That you are hurting? That you are struggling? That you are hanging on by a thread and barely making it?

When will you start revealing that you are nothing without His grace, mercy and salvation?

When do you stop wearing your mask in front of others?

When do you stop wearing your mask in front of Him?

Today is the day.

Today is the day.

Today is your day.

Me-Too Moments

By JMathis

It’s always nerve-wracking when you walk into a women’s group.

What do I wear? Why did I have to break out today? What if they’re a bunch of freaks? What if everyone is dull as a doorknob?

You sign up hoping, just hoping you’ll have a somewhat pleasant experience, but just in case, why come in expecting too much? Just temper those expectations, honey, because meeting new people, especially other women, is never better than the way you imagined it in your head.

After all, in your head, there’s always a ton of laughter, good food, and most of all, a chorus of Me-Too Moments.

Who likes Indian food? Me too, me too! Who loves the beach, but hates South Florida drivers? Me too, me too! Whose husband always leaves the toilet seat up? Me too, me too! Who’s dying to see The Help this weekend? Me too, me too!

Well, my Saturday was full of Me-Too Moments.

It began in the morning when AbbyA called me to tell me that she had a nightmare that this women’s group was going to be a total bust. Me too, me too! No, seriously—Me too, me too! I had a dream that instead of eating sushi and Thai at a great restaurant, women were packed into a classroom, starving, impatient, yelling, kvetching and trash-talking each other. In one word: chaos.

Yes, this is what we should expect today. Cattiness, egos and perfectly manicured she-devils.

Imagine our surprise, when we walked into this women’s group to experience what we had secretly hoped for all along: a ton of laughter, good food, and most of all, a chorus of Me-Too Moments. With creative, beautiful and delightfully engaging women, to boot.

Who loves chocolate? Me too, me too! Who sucks at cooking? Me too, me too! Who thinks men are insane? Me too, me too! Who wants to go shopping afterwards? Me too, me too!

Imagine our surprise, when the Me-Too Moments also hit upon mutual pain and loss.

I was diagnosed with cancer. Me too, me too! I’m contemplating divorce. Me too, me too! He cheated on me. Me too, me too! My dad died recently. Me too, me too! I’m having a hard time making friends and being able to trust anyone again. Me too, me too! I just lost my house and my business. Me too, me too!

Imagine our surprise, when the Me-Too Moments began to take a life of their own, and started to radiate with shared strength, courage and conviction.

You’ll get through this.

I want to pray with you.

I can help.

You’re not alone.

Call me.

I think that’s when it hit us. Friendship is a divinely inspired collection of Me-Too Moments that is fragile, not easily found, but so worth the exhausting hunt. The friendships we form on earth are simply types and shadows of what our Creator wants from us, desires from us, needs from us. Friendships provide a mere taste, a slight glimpse into the very best God has specifically and uniquely designed for me and you.

I just want to hear your voice, He says.

I just want to spend time with you, He says.

I just want to love you, He says.

Me too, Father.

Me too.

Ladies, keep searching for your Me-Too Moments. They’re out there. Once you find them, savor them and nurture them as gifts from your Creator.

They’re simply worth the wait.