Get Back Up

It’s unfortunate. It’s painful. It’s lousy. It hurts.

Life knocks you down.

You know what I mean?

The thing happens that you were praying wouldn’t.

Those words are said and they cut you so deep your heart physically hurts for a while.

He is sick or she is sick or you are sick and it is scary and it is hard and it hurts.

You’re forced to say goodbye way before you expected, and you just weren’t ready.

One way or another, one cause or another, sometimes you’re on your back, looking at the ceiling. And sometimes, you’re not even completely sure how you got there.


At first, it hurts to be on the floor. It hurts to be down. It hurts to be laid low, and it hurts to feel it affect how you live. The light in your eyes is gone. The joie de vivre is missing. Your hope grew feathers and flew away without you.

After a while, you wonder how long you can stay down. And, sometimes, you think… maybe I should just stay down. Big dreams end with big heartache, so I’m staying small, you think. It’s not so bad laying low, being close to the ground. Less likely getting hurt down here anyway.

You’re still breathing, sure, but sometimes, you kind of stop living.

A few decades late to the punch, I devoured the Rocky films a few years ago. I loved the portrayal of the inner fight so much more than anything happening in the ring. The story (in Rocky I) of somebody who felt like a nobody pouring every ounce of himself into a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change his destiny — it was a story about heart that someone who didn’t care an ounce for boxing could still relate to.

We’ve all at some stage felt like a nobody who believed they had more inside of them to live for and to give to the world, than just this.

But the most compelling aspect of the story (for me) at nearly every turn, was watching Rocky’s decision to get back up.

When he faced a super-trained Soviet giant, (Rocky IV) and all the odds were against him, and he was outmatched in size and strength and he had nothing but his own determination to avenge the death of an old friend, he got in the ring. He took the hits that came his way, and sure, steady, consistently, he fought round after round after round, winning a crowd who began the match completely against him — simply because they were amazed by how he fought with heart. How he got back up.

What compelled him to get up again and again, what compelled him to keep going, every time he was clocked or decked or nearly knocked out?

I can only think that he kept getting back up because he still believed he had a chance at victory. He fought to win. And he always fought with everything he had in him.

We get knocked to the mat in life, too. And it can feel like we’ve got an opponent standing over us, willing us to stay down.

And the truth is, we do.

Paul warned the Corinthians — Our enemy will try to take advantage of us. We cannot afford to be ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

It would suit our enemy well for us to get knocked down and to stay down.

To choose safe over brave.

To choose comfortable over purposeful.

To choose to keep breathing, but to kind of stop living.

But what a wild thought is this: could the victory be the thing that gets us off the mat?

Could hope be the thing that challenges us to forsake safe and dare to be dangerous?

And don’t we have the victory already?

It was two years ago today, when I said that hard goodbye to my Dad — a heart-heavy see you on the other side.

And I remember the haunting words of that song about Home — the ones that felt like a God-whisper:

The trouble, it might drag you down,
if you get lost, you can always be found…

And I see fresh truth: the troubles we experience in this life can literally drag us down. Pin us to the mat. Convince us it’s okay to stop living and just keep breathing.

I’ve walked that road a time or two.

We can get lost, wandering through those troubles. Grief, and hurt, and heartache — they can be winding paths that feel like labyrinths we can’t find a way out of.

Sometimes the decision not to cry anymore is also a decision not to laugh anymore. Numb is the easy route.

But friends, there is always hope. With God, nothing is impossible. Do you believe that deep down, in your soul?

When the odds seemed completely stacked against us, when the Saviour of the World was crucified, dead and laid in a tomb, when anyone who believed would’ve been sure the Light of the World had been extinguished — and when it seemed like hope was completely foolish — by the power of God, the Spirit of God brought about a Resurrection.


“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” {Romans 8:11}

There is a power at work in us — there is a hope that we can hold onto. Because we are not just the servants of the Crucified King — we are also those who worship the Risen Lord.

There is nothing too hard for God and there is no reason for His children to live pinned to the mat.

Have you let a place in your soul give up and lay down?

Get Back Up.

Have you decided to stick with safe at the expense of stupendous, stellar, spectacular?

Get Back Up.

Is there any place in your heart that has been given to despair?  Or just quietly resigned to the fact that “this is how I’m always gonna feel, and this is how it’s always gonna be?”

Get. Back. Up.

It’s written in Black & White: If His Spirit lives in you, He can give you LIFE.

He came to give you LIFE, and give it to you MORE ABUNDANTLY.

And? He is the way, the truth, and the LIFE.

Troubles might drag you down, but if you get lost, you can ALWAYS be FOUND.

Because you can never be separated from the love of God, poured out for us in Christ Jesus.

Find yourself in Him today, and there you will find the strength — no matter what — to get back up.



— For Missy

When Theology Meets Reality, Part II

This is the second post of a wee series discussing the recent loss of my Dad. You can read the first post here.

I’ll be honest with you. The unexpected loss of my Dad felt like a suckerpunch to the gut. I was looking the other way. I didn’t know I was in the ring. I didn’t know I was in a fight.


And grief is this spiraling, strange whirlwind of the mind. You begin to feel a little better, and then you feel bad for feeling better. You aren’t sure which emotions are valid, you aren’t sure where irrational departs from rational. You secretly want to punch people for telling you they know exactly how you feel, but you’re not a violent person.

And yet, death has this way of making your entire life seem clear as an empty wine glass — even just for a moment.

Do you know that moment, when you walk on the beach, and past a pier? You look out towards the ocean while you’re under the pier and all the pilings line up, and the moment seems clear. Everything makes sense.

This is why we left South Africa sooner than we thought we should have. 

This is why the gift of our third child being born right when she was makes so much sense.

And wow, when she arrived, my Dad was several states away — he returned to visit his birthplace for the first time in his life. A few months before he died.

What a gift that our finances were so tight, and we were offered this place to stay in Washington, and we didn’t decide to move to Greenville. Wow, wow, wow.


Life lines up, and there’s a lot of stuff you just ‘get.’ Instantly, you see the wisdom, the structure, the logic. It builds your faith and gives you hope.

But the grief journey continues. When you walk out from under the pier, the pilings don’t look perfectly organized anymore. The waves are crashing, surfers are scattered about, dropping in on each other’s waves. Seagulls are squawking. The glare from the sun is bright. You’re squinting, wondering, wishing, thinking.

If I’d really, really made a big deal out of the fact that he needed to go to the doctor, would it have made a difference?

Why couldn’t we have come back sooner? 

Why did I say “no” so many times when Dad asked me something? Let’s garden together… Let’s decorate the tree at my house… Should we do twice-baked potatoes?

You struggle to form complete sentences in your own thoughts. You absent-mindedly stare into the distance. You get into your Dad’s car, and the smell reminds you of him. You listen to the voicemails he left you last month.

You cry. At the drop of a hat.

That’s the journey. Those are the cards in my hand.

I’m going to do my best to explain how I’m making sense of all this in my mind, how I’m dealing with it. Because I think it matters.

Even if it doesn’t matter to you, per se, it is an exercise in processing through grief for me. When I have little else, most times, I still have words.

And I want you folks, new and old, who read here to know that I stand on the other side, more confident than ever that what I’ve been saying about this Jesus guy is true.

I’m certain God is good. I’m certain there is hope, there is good ahead of me.

And I’m certain, thanking Jesus as I type, I will see my Dad again.

More soon…


Have you ever had a pier moment? Are you trying to make some life-sized decisions and struggling to figure them out? Try thinking about what would be most important to you if you lost someone close to you today. Death has an amazing way of putting life into better perspective.



Never Underestimate the Power of Reasonable Expectations

That was a really long title. But I just couldn’t leave any of it out. For the past week or ten, I’ve been talking about a few different things. I’ve been talking about faith, thankfulness, and how lots of Australians seem to visit this site but don’t comment.

I’ve also spoken about parenting. And if you’re the observant kind, you’ve probably noticed that I feel like I’m struggling in it. It’s everybody’s story, perhaps, but right now it’s mine.

The older one is cheeky and I lack the energy to reel him in.

The younger one is teething and, well, not sleeping in a manner conducive to me getting reasonable amounts of sleep many nights.

{This morning’s pajama dance party with DJ Jazzy Tank.}

And somehow in the back of my mind, thoughts from posts like this one or this one, are whispering in my ear: You’re not savoring enough! You’re not enjoying enough! You’re not smiling and laughing and taking snapshots with your mind enough!

Exactly as this brilliant woman described it in an article in the Huffington Post, the well-meaning voices of ladies who were once in this stage are echoing these exclamations: It goes by so fast! Enjoy every minute! Are you loving every. single. minute. of mothering? You should! Cuz it’ll be gone before you know it!

But at the end of many-a-day, just like Melton described it in her article, I am often just glad my boys are asleep with all of their fingers and toes still attached to their bodies.

The truth is, the goal of enjoying every. single. moment. of parenting can leave you feeling like you’ve fallen off a wagon you never knew how to ride.

And why, oh why, even after realizing it before, does it suddenly occur to me: I feel like I’m failing because I’m using the wrong measuring stick.

Enjoy. Every. Last. Stinking. Minute. is not a reasonable expectation. Not for marriage. Not for motherhood. Not for just about anything except a roller coaster ride or a brief video on youtube.

It’s only natural that the peaks and troughs will come — the lower the troughs, the higher the peaks feel.

I’ve been doing a bit of informal research as to how Christians feel about dating. Specifically, I’ve been asking why does Christian dating often feel so awkward? (Feel free to comment with your opinions — anonymously, if necessary!)

One of the common threads I’ve seen has everything to do with expectations. Expectations on the part of brothers and sisters in the Church that feel entitled to know every. last. stinking. detail. about a couple’s relationship as it unfolds. Expectations on the part of the girl or the guy that the one the Lord has for me will be like this and like this and like this but not like this or this or that or that or that.

There are often mutually unrealized expectations about how a relationship should unfold, and that sure does seem to make things messy.

It is a necessary part of life, our beautiful ability to think about what we’re thinking about. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to think about it a little more. I think.

Sewiously, there is great value in taking the time to ask if you’re feeling guilty about something you’ve done or left undone, when the only person you’d ever expect to achieve that goal is you. Are you expecting yourself to be an everything home-cooked, always under budget, kids always tidy, smiling through every circumstance, always on time, don’t worry I’ve got it together Mamacita?

Is that a Reasonable, Realistic goal? For this season of your life? In these circumstances?

If you are the kind of person who wants to beat yourself up for sinning and falling short, even though you know it’s forgiven and long-gone and the Lord has removed it as far as the East is from the West, you are probably the kind of person that has high expectations for yourself. And that’s not always a good thing.

Leave some room for Grace!

In addition to a little introspection, it ain’t a bad idea to put your hand on your chin like the Thinker and consider the expectations you’ve set for who other people are, who they should be, and what they should be doing.

Do you mayhaps have unrealistic expectations for your spouse? Your best friend? Your second cousin’s third grade teacher? Your pastor?

Are you hanging up an unfair measuring stick for you, or somebody else?

A friend of mine read the article I linked to above and said she felt like God had lifted a weight off her shoulders when she read it. Why? Because she’s probably like me. I’m freaked out by the fact that the childhood of our children goes by very quickly, and I’m often worried that I’m going to have regrets at the end of it because I didn’t hold on to enough. Somehow.

I needed someone to say: It is okay not to enjoy every minute of it. Yes, some of it is just plain hard. Just savor the good stuff. Enjoy what you can when you can. And everything’s gonna be alright… everything gonna be alright hey… no woman no cry… hey no woman… no..

Sorry I’m back.

Give your expectations a little thought when you get a second. It might take a load off your back, or somebody else’s — I {hesistantly} expect it’ll be a healthy exercise for you, too.