No More Excuses, Y’all

No More Excuses, Y’all

Ain’t nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down.

I discovered this small slice of practical advice plastered on every electronic safety billboard hovering over this stretch of interstate in Tennessee. I’d love to shake the hand of the person who typed that little nugget of truth into the state system. Bravo, my friend. Your humor is on point.

My family of four is currently 1,000 miles into a 6,700-mile road trip home to Anchorage. Our journey began in South Louisiana. Yes. We’re crazy adventurous. Especially considering this is our third drive up to Alaska. I think we’ll end up logging over 120 hours on the road by the time we make it home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited. We all are. We get to see parts of the Lower 48 we have yet to experience. San Francisco. The Redwood Forest. The Oregon coast. (I am fully prepared to blow up Facebook and Instagram with pictures.) But no matter how thrilled I am over the next two weeks of adventure, I’m a realist. Long car trips tend to bring out my worst.

You too?

Man. Exhaustion and boredom are never a good combination. Mix in that super fun heated moment(s) between the brother and the sister. Short tempers blamed on hunger, thirst, traffic, my primal need for coffee or these cramped quarters. My desire for personal space leaves me desperate. Where’s a girl to hide in a fifteen passenger transit van full of luggage and family? Snarky comebacks and sarcasm are not appreciated when you’re running on fumes.

Ain’t nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down. As I pass Exit 374 outside the Knoxville area, I need this reminder. Slow it down, Dana. Chill out. Temper your frustration. Drop the attitude. Your words hold the power to sabotage this time with your family.

Why do I lose it so quickly? Sometimes I sense this nasty beast of annoyance that’s churning in my gut is going to burst forth from my lips whether I want it to or not. Shoving it down and preventing its release pushes my blood pressure to a full-on boil. But blowing my top and letting lose are not an option anymore. You won’t find it on the Christian checklist entitled “Best Ways to Respond to Pressure.”

I have a love/tolerate relationship with my friend James. There are days I eagerly embrace his writings, “I agree, my brother. Preach it.” However, most days when I’m reminded of these words, I’m left squelching an urge to hurl my copy of God’s Word across the room. “Surely You didn’t mean I have to curb my tongue in this situation, Lord. Come ON. Tell me You didn’t catch what he just said.”

Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:12-20

Sigh. Here’s where I typically hang my head in shame. But my buddy James doesn’t stop there. (Give me a break, man. Sheesh.) He lets loose in chapter three.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds or reptiles and creatures of the sea is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:5-8

Well. That’s encouraging. What do I do with this? How do I tame this restless evil that’s full of deadly poison? Simple. I wrestle and dive deeper into the Word.

Grace and peace by multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3

So aside from offering His Son as payment for our sin, what else did God grant us? Read it again. He gave us everything; He left us His Word and the Holy Spirit.

But I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I (Jesus) go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16: 7-8

Jesus departed this world, left the disciples without His physical presence, so that they, that we, could experience the gift of the Holy Spirit, the One who dwells within us. It was good that He go. My mind is blown. And you know what? The Holy Spirit bears fruit, you guys. Fruit. And He will bear it in us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

Jesus left us with everything we need for life and godliness. We’ve got the Word training us in righteousness. (Check out 2 Timothy 3:16.) We’ve got the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who bears the fruit of patience and gentleness, along with that sticky one we label the hardest one, self-control.

You know what this means, don’t you? Those excuses we love to dish out? We don’t have any, y’all. None. As a follower of Christ, there is no lacking of any fruit of the Spirit. I don’t lose my self-control. It’s not a matter of needing more self-control. You don’t run out of it like you do eggs and sugar and gasoline.

I just choose not to practice it.

What did that sign say again? Ain’t nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down. I needed this reminder today. I didn’t feel like being nice to my man or my kids. I wasn’t eager to be kind and gentle and soft and loving. Bleh. It took everything in me to resist vomiting all the frustration and disgust and fury bubbling up in my soul. I might have experienced some inner relief from my hot tantrum, but it would have deeply wounded my family. It would have been one nasty collision. Who would have thought a highway sign could pack a spiritual punch.

So I’m gonna slow it down, ladies. No more excuses. I’ve got to choose to practice self-control. We all do, even in the most challenging situations. After all, we have everything we need for life and godliness.

I wonder what other lessons He has waiting for me on this 6,700-mile journey?

So I don’t like writing bios. These things give me hives. How can I possibly describe the core of who I am in 200 words or less? I’d rather talk about Fixer Upper. I may need Benadryl after this. Here goes. I’m a flip-flop loving southern lady, homegrown in Cajun country, but transplanted to the frigid mountains of Alaska. Sadly, I can now only wear flip-flops two months out of the year. Thus, don’t ask me to show off my pedicure until closer to June. I’m a huge fan of coffee, Rocketdogs, and Noonday, and despite several attempts, my disgust for Brussel sprouts and beef tongue remains solid. (Don’t ask.) I protect my sanity by running, reading, writing, and staying connected to Jesus, my best friends, and my family. What brought me to Alaska? Jesus. My family serves as missionaries in Anchorage, working with college students on the campus of the University of Alaska. My high-volume family of five consists of one handsome beard-loving Steelers football obsessed husband, one teenage son with the loudest laugh and love for all things Lecrae, one tender-hearted rock climbing artistic daughter, and one Boston Terrier, who would rather be a cat. My daughter, Ruthie, and I just embarked on a super fun partnership as Noonday Collection Ambassadors. And we’re homeschoolers. Yeah, our life is never dull. My mama taught me early on always to be real with people. Maybe that’s why plastic Christianity drives me mad. Writing allows me to flush out truth from fiction, and it helps me clear my head and heart. In fact, my favorite thing to write about is Jesus and what He’s teaching me. I’m always thrilled (and a bit nervous) to share about my crazy, messed-up life and how the Lord still chooses to use me. So whatever wisdom and knowledge He shares with me, I’ll pass on to you. No sense in keeping it to myself.

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