my earning potential is ZERO

So, I got a text from a friend this past weekend.  It said…..

“please call me A.S.A.P.”

my first thought was…

“oh sh*t, who died?”

(just being real here.  I try not to cuss in front of my child, but let’s be honest, inside my head…yup, I did use those words and it would be dishonest to tell you otherwise.)

So I clicked on her number.  This friend, let’s call her SB, is someone I don’t talk to often.  Like once every 5 or 10 YEARS.  But we have mutual friends that she would get news about faster than me if something bad had happened.  So I sat there, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, listening to the dial tone and the ringing with my heart pounding.

She answered, and was so cheerful I knew at once that nothing like *that* had happened.  Now I’m curious, what on earth was so important that she needed to reach out to me on a Saturday morning with that urgent message?  I wasn’t upset, just puzzled.

Turns out she was worried about something she had seen on my Facebook feed.  Something that was innocent on my end, but might lead people to believe that I endorse or approve of a particular person who has strong connections to Satanists, Nihilists and other agents of chaos.

Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.

Think of the courage and compassion it took to see someone in error and literally call them on it.

SB didn’t judge me.  She skipped over that and went straight to the heart of the matter – concern for her fellow Christians.  She wasn’t concerned about me.  She knows me well enough to know that I’m not personally heading down a negative path, but she was concerned for my witness and for people who might be confused by seeing links to such things on the Facebook feed of a professing Christian.

“But be careful with your freedom. 
Your freedom may cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin. 
I Corinthians 8:9″

Funny how Paul is so relevant, even today.  He was talking about the right to eat anything, but that could just as easily apply to my right to read (or mentally consume) anything.  It doesn’t give me the right to put potentially dangerous meat out there for others to consume.

I explained to SB the reason that person was even on my friends list.  A person from my childhood that I care deeply for, pray for and treasure.  We discussed ways to keep my friendship with this person intact and still guard against spreading or appearing to endorse beliefs and practices so counter to my own.

Message spoken. Message received.

It was a wide ranging conversation.  We discussed raising of our kids, our fitness agendas (or lack of them in my case) and our past friends and connections.  We even discussed the fact that she was nervous about calling me.  Which I find hysterical. She said she felt like she was calling someone famous !!!!!  On the flip side, I still get a HUGE kick out of the fact that this person who I hero worshiped when I was an underclassmen and she was a ultra-cool upper-classman is actually a fan of my writing !  So it was kind of a mutual admiration society there for a minute, which was fun.

Deirdre, get to the point.

okay. okay.

As the conversation was starting to wrap up we wandered back to the original topic of friends and acquaintances who we need to keep as friends and show them love, while still not approving of their choices.  I then made the comment that I wished my brother Stephen had made better choices and that I wished I could believe that he was in heaven.  He was such a devout Christian as a kid.  He would witness to literally anyone.  He really loved Jesus.  His faith was so strong.  God was always his first thought.  Prayer was his first answer to anything.  But then he hit the teenage years and started questioning everything.  He headed down some dark paths and he never looked back.

So when he died a couple of years ago, I started struggling with a question that troubles many people…….

“can you lose your salvation?”

I wanted so much for Stephen to be safely in heaven, that I convinced myself that I wanted it too much.  It was comfortable to think that he was in heaven, so therefore it couldn’t possibly be true.  So often in our Christian walk, Truth is difficult.  So if I believed something simple and comfortable, it had to be wrong.  Get it?  See the trap I was falling into?

Then SB said something that rocked my world.

“IF you could lose your salvation,
that would imply you could have earned it to begin with.
So,  NO.
You cannot lose your salvation”

That pulled me up short.

Most of us are pretty clear on the straightforward reading of Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…
Ephesians 2: 8-10”

We can’t earn salvation.  Got it.  No intellectual problems with that.

Sometimes I still try to earn it though.  I beat myself up for my sins.  Current ones (see cussing, above) and past mistakes (divorce, lies, greed, gluttony the list goes on and on and it’s not something I should share anyway).  Anyway, I fall prey All. The. Time. to the LIE that I have to be good enough to earn God’s favor.

But Guess what?


I have absolutely ZERO earning potential when it comes to saving my soul.

But turning this verse on it’s head, essentially doing the math and realizing that if I can’t EARN salvation, then I can’t UN-EARN it either is something I had never really processed.

Time for School. Let’s go back to Algebra for a second here.  Math.  Yes I’m quoting math.  Never thought THAT would happen…

Properties of Zero

0 added or subtracted to anything equals itself

0 multiplied by anything equals 0

0 divided by anything equals 0

We cannot divide by 0


So take “a” as GRACE or Salvation.

God has declared that I can literally not add one single thing to my salvation.  That means I am the ZERO in this equation.

ZERO literally does NOTHING to the equation. Zero can’t add anything to the value.  Zero can’t remove anything from the value. Zero can’t multiply or divide the initial value.

GRACE is completely UNCHANGED by anything the ZERO (me) can attempt to do to it.

just dwell on that for a minute.


not to be trite, but


So now I know.

My brother Stephen is in heaven.  I know this to be true, because I know my salvation is true.  I can’t earn it.  And Stephen couldn’t UN-EARN it. No matter how hard he tried.


you have no idea what a blessing that surety is for me.

So thank you SB.  Thank you for reading my stuff.  Thank you for pestering me into writing again.  Thank you for seeing God in at least some of what I write.  and Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and reaching out to me to deliver TWO messages from God this past weekend. I am humbled and honored to be cared for by someone like you.

and I’m ever so glad to have ZERO earning potential.


hello, my name is mud.

hello, my name is mud.

I realized something today about humanity…..and by extension, myself.

I am mud. We are all dirt. (it’s an analogy, work with me here, okay?)

God gives rain.  (“bad times” negative experiences etc…)

God brings sunshine. (good times, successes, mountain top experiences)

Seeds are planted in our lives by encounters with others and by reading God’s Word and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

But those seeds need rain and sunshine to enable them to flourish.

If not for the rain, nothing would grow.

That growth has to happen for anything good to come of us.

We are the dirt.

We are not the plant. God planted the plant in us, the dirt men and mud women.

Nothing we do, nothing we are, is any good without God. This gets really simple to understand when we fully realize our dirt-ness.

Have you ever managed to make anything nutritious or yummy out of dirt?

Nope, I didn’t think so.

You can make good things GROW in dirt, but the dirt itself is not yummy.

Not. One. Thing that I do has any value apart from God.

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There is nothing I as a dirt-woman can accomplish that has any value. But the plants, the seeds, the rains, the sunshine, the growth….these CAN Bless others and be used for God’s glory.


don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.


A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness


How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE



Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.




plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.



shocking isn’t it?

shocking isn’t it?

If you have known me at all in the last 5 years you know that I identify as a Figure Skater.

I’m a mommy, and a wife and a Christian, but my major identifier has been “figure skater”

It’s different.  It’s something you don’t run into very often.    I skated as a kid for 8 years, took a 28 year break from the ice and I’ve been back in competition for 5 years now and it’s been great. When he heard my story, Scott Hamilton hugged me once and said “Welcome home!”  He is right,  I feel like the rink is home.  All it takes is to walk in and breathe in the myriad scents of the ice and I feel better instantly.

spiral in color


Yes, that’s me.  I’m rather proud of that spiral actually at age 45 (or 46, I forget when this was taken) decent height and form.

That all changed at the end of May, 2016.

We finally took a good hard look at the budget and realized something had to give.  Ice skating is expensive so, skating, for both myself and my husband had to go.  We let Ginny finish her semester and then she had to quit too.  It was a very sad moment.  Ginny has gotten a lot out of skating.

ginny at magnolia


She has learned so much control, both of her emotions and of her body.  People are constantly remarking on it.  Seriously, strangers come up to us in a Starbucks and ask if she is in ballet or gymnastics because she is so poised.  And frankly I enjoyed having all of us involved in skating.

family of skaters


It’s been two months now.  I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and come out of the dumps about it and now I’m about to say something shocking…..

I don’t miss it.

I do miss the FEEL of skating.  I miss the physical challenge.

hangtime magnolia

I miss my friends (both locally and at the national level).


I ache for the feeling of flying across the ice, and Lord knows I miss performing ! Skating has awoken the utter HAM in me and I’ve got to find an outlet for that off-ice….

light 20

BUT, I don’t miss the space it was taking up in my life.

It was a HUGE drain.

  • on my energy level
  • on my schedule
  • on my mental energy
  • on my families schedule
  • on our vacation time
  • on my interactions with my family

The freedom to have an entire, uninterrupted weekend with Ginny & Martin is fantastic.  It almost makes each and every weekend feel like a mini vacation.  We get so much done!  Playing, cleaning, laughing, eating, cooking, hanging out with the neighbors without having to watch the clock and go to bed at 8 p.m.  There is also more space in my car!  Three Zuca’s can take up a lot of space people !

3 zucas


The one who always had to go to bed early was me by the way.  I had to get up at 4 a.m., so going to bed late was not an option.

but it is now!

There is so much free space, emotionaly, logistically and mentally. So, as much as I miss skating…..I’m actually okay with the net effect of walking away from it.

shocking, isn’t it?








examining anger and freedom

anger stems from a sense of personal entitlement.

“I have the right….”

  • to keep my schedule
  • to be heard
  • to get my own way
  • to be understood
  • to have my life plan work out the way I want


The real, ugly, horrifying truth is that I have no rights at all…..

……… except to be condemned to burn.

By birth, as a human being it is my birthright to be damned.

Read that again.

My only birthright as a human being is to be damned.

my HUMAN inheritance is damnation.

However it is my JOY to be forgiven through Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. and there was not one blasted thing I could do to earn it. Not one.

my SPIRITUAL inheritance, through Christ Jesus is the inexpressible Joy of Forgiveness.

When we understand that concept, fully, personally and completely…..

When we understand that we have been  freely forgiven of our very humanity,

THEN, and only then, we will be able to reach out from a place of love and be able to offer loving forgiveness to others.


be free. my friends.



did the world just end?

did the world just end?

My mother and I had an actual conversation about politics last night.

We spoke to each other about who we will each be voting for in the presidential race and why.  No, it is none of your business who is voting for whom, and it’s not really germane to this post.

Here is what is germane:

  • We actually listened to each other.
  • no one yelled.
  • no one vowed to pray the other around to a right way of thinking.
  • no one said anything insulting.

Obviously we are on opposite side of the voting question.  Basically if you put us in one car to go to the polls we may as well go shopping, because we cancel each other out.


From a family dynamics perspective this conversation itself was a miracle.

and I’ve been happy about it for a little over 12 hours now.


Neither one of us is overly thrilled with our own choices.  Both of us feel we are choosing the lesser of two evils. Even though we disagree about which candidate is the lesser evil.   We each acknowledge the flaws in our chosen candidate, but choose to ignore them because we see something bigger and ickier in the other candidate.   And we each see the flaws in the other candidate as being too big to ignore.

Our reasons for our choices are basically identical.  Reasoned out logically and thoughtfully stated.

But we came to exactly opposite conclusions.

I find that troubling, but not for the reason you may assume.

It is far too easy to think of people who are on the opposite side of the political fence (or any other fence actually) from you as “ravening hordes” “masses of ill-informed cretins” “unthinking persons swept up in a near religious fervor” etc…. but this my own mother.  And her mind, though approaching elderly, is pretty dang sharp.

No, I’m not re-thinking my political choice based on her stated position. What I am  getting to is this:

We all desperately need to re-think how we paint those who disagree with us. 

Life is not about “US vs THEM”  I’ve been guilty of this far too often.  So, for my own benefit, and perhaps my one or two readers, I’m going to spell it out:

Painting ANY group or person with a broad brush is NEVER going to produce TRUTH.

  • women are not all excessively emotional
  • black people are not looking for trouble
  • gay people are not twisted sickos out to harm kids
  • men are not all cheaters
  • rich people don’t all spend loads of time and energy avoiding taxes
  • poor people are not looking for a handout
  • teenagers are not making your life difficult on purpose
  • democrats are not trying to destroy this country
  • republicans are not trying to destroy this country

If we stopped having such sloppy thinking, a whole lot of the problems of this society would evaporate.

Look at it this way….if  you hired a portrait artiste to paint your portrait you would have certain expectations.

They will show up with paints, canvas and brushes.  The brushes will be varied in size, but will typically include some small enough to do justice to the details of you.

If instead the artiste shows up with one color and a single large house sized paint roller you would dismiss him, right?  He can’t adequately convey the complexity of you using only one color and a paint roller bigger than your head !!!

How would he capture your smile? the light in your eyes when you are about to get creative? the tiny, barely visible scar from that time you and your best friend decided to play super heroes and you learned that you don’t really know how to fly?

Do you see what I’m saying?


So put down the paint rollers people.

Instead, pick up a palate with a full rainbow of colors to work from and for the simple love of accuracy (if nothing higher) please learn to look for the details and use a smaller brush to paint the truth about each individual in your life.
Lets commit to see, and create, works of, Human, Earthly, ART.