Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brace For Impact (Three Word Wednesday)

She looks at me, eyes smiling as she clutches her crackers. She has chubby cheeks and curly hair, so utterly different than every other child of mine.

But her playfulness is the same as that of any other happy toddler.

I send her the sternest look I can muster in the face of those ringlets, cheeks, blue eyes, and electric smile. My index finger firmly pets the air upward, coding the urgent message: come here.

She knows what that means. I know she knows what that means because she smiles wider, scrunches her nose, and hightails it the other way.

I have no other choice. I have to go after her.

So, as my daughter climbs the scarlet stairs up to the altar, and her father delivers an impassioned sermon about one of the "Unusual Suspects" Christ called to be a fisher of men, I cast my line. She knows I've almost got her, so she does what she always does. She stops, squeezes her eyes shut, pulls her arms to her chest, her hands to her neck, and laughs. She braces herself for impact. I haul in a whopper of a girl. And I want to be mad, I really do. I just can't.

Sometimes in the waiting, we want to brace ourselves for impact- for whatever God has planned for us. And that really is so good. Except, we forget Who we're dealing with. God is mighty, sure. But God is also love.

So, we picture God's big plan as rocking our world. Entering earth's atmosphere.

We see the hard, and miss the heart.

We forget. God's biggest impact is always always always made by love.

That's how He created us. That's how He saved us. Every single time, God impacts us with His love, in His love.

Bracing is a natural instinct of ours to prepare for what's to come, so what if we prepared to be loved in a big way? I mean, a really big way. Today.

Would it open our eyes to the love impacts He makes on us every moment, every breath of our day, until even our breaths are blaring testimonies to the love of our Great God?

His love is amazing, persistent, gritty, beautiful, constant, and it is with you now. It isn't just a feeling. It's a guarantee that the Lord will work in your life in a way that is consistent with His character. Will it be hard? Probably.

But hard is bearable when His heart is what's bearing you up.

We've read the lines. Heard them sung and spoken. But what if we heard and saw 1st Corinthians 13:4-10 in action today? As God speaking them to us...

I am patient and kind to you, Beloved.
I will not compare you to others, or wish you to be more like them.
I will not belittle you or make you feel worthless in my sight.
I am God over all, but I say and do nothing out of cruelty toward you.
My plan is right, but that doesn't mean I am closed off to hearing your plans and pleas in prayer. Talk to me!
My anger is always just, and always aimed at that which is separating my children from me-
You won't find Me to just be cranky like a human. 
I don't hold grudges. When I say you are forgiven- You are forgiven.
I find no delight in the sins of man. The things that have hurt you- I've seen them all and they do not please Me.
I rejoice with all the heavenly host when one sinner repents, and comes to the truth.
That includes you.
There is nothing you can you do, say, or endure that I cannot bear, and will not bear, for you.
Just look at the cross.
I know for a fact the power within My grasp, so when I tell you that all things work together for the good of those who love Me- believe it. Put your hope in me. No matter what you endure. I'm there with you throughout it all.
I will never, ever stop working on your behalf. I will never stop showing you love. When the days get long and things get too hard- remember that all of this will be gone someday soon. The good stuff and the bad. What will remain is our love forever. When you cling to My love, you cling to something eternal- doesn't that reveal just how much stronger it is than your present circumstances?

Praying God impacts you with His love today. The love that created the world. The love that traded His robe of glory for human flesh. The love that nailed Him to the cross and kept Him there until it was finished. The love that resurrected that third day and reigns in your heart.

Brace yourself. He's about to make an impact:)

I would love to hear how God has impacted your day, and your life in real ways! It is always so exciting to see how personally He chooses to relate His love to each one of us. The magnitude and creativity of our loving God is just amazing!

Linking up with Simply Beth at Three Word Wednesday today! For more posts on three incredible words, just click the button and get reading. Or think of your own three words and link up with us!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Call Me "Repurposed" (Messy Monday)

I did some Christmas shopping the other day. Right, it's not Halloween yet. And please don't think I'm on the ball. I'm just a survivalist. Last Christmas nearly killed me from stress, so I've tried to get a few things done before my brain fills up with extras and explodes in cranky words and unrealistic expectations.
So, I went shopping last week! And in an effort to do good while we shop, a dear friend and I traveled a little ways to Earthings, a cute Fair Trade Shop tucked snugly in Storm Lake, Iowa. We spent an hour and a half in that store. And it's no Wal-Mart. No huge warehouse, no burning calories pushing a 100 pound cart half a mile to get to the dairy section. A shop. Oh, right, and I had a toddler with me.
I bought a few things, some of which are Christmas gifts, so their pictures are omitted. (Sorry, Readers. Haha, Family.) But being a Fair Trade store, every piece had a story. Three of which have described me so often.
And maybe you too?
1. The "angels with attitude." For if you feel like you're nothing special.
Crafted by orphaned students in Northern Zululand, Africa as part of an "extra-mural activity." The proceeds from each angel go to support the students directly.
Now pop cans are valuable in Iowa. So valuable you have to pay a 5 cent deposit just to get one because the state would like them back when you are done, thank you. But really, they're nothing special. You find them everywhere. Most look exactly like thousands or millions of others.
And I get that. Feeling like one of a million. Instead of one in a million. Like nothing special- just like all the other mom bloggers, pastors' wives, moms.
But this angel. It was crafted with care. And so are you.
We are all made of the same material. Dust crafted, shaped, formed into unique gifts. Gifts that serve a purpose. Gifts that bring hope, nourishment, love to those around us. Nothing special? You are handmade, one of a kind. Priceless.
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16
2. The Haitian Oil Drum Art. (Not pictured.) For if you feel like you've outlived your usefulness.
Craftsmen in Haiti acquire used oil drums and use their hand tools to craft the coolest art you have ever seen. Too bad I can't show it to you. Yet. Wait til January;)
So clear at times, our purpose is a driving force in our ability to face the day, love the people.
Then it changes. Life. Kids grow. Jobs change. We move. Or we just stay put, and things change around us. That friend doesn't need us. Someone else steps into our position.
Purposes change. They don't die. You live and breathe on purpose, for purpose. Maybe your purpose comes with more hanging out and being there for others, than heavy lifting like it used to be, but it is beautiful what God does in you. Beautiful and so soooo cool. And He chose you to do it.
3. (Perhaps my favorite.) Mr. Ellie Poo*. For when you feel like a steaming pile.
You're either going to think this is really gross, or really cool. But seeing as I'm unsure as to how anyone would receive a gift of stationary made from elephant dung, I declined buying it for Christmas presents, and here is a little picture of my new notepad:

It's one enormous story of redemption, this one. Just how absolutely like our salvation!
A worthless pile of poop, a stinking testimony to indiscretions that ultimately lead to death (the elephants ate the farmland, so the farmers shot and killed them).
And yet, someone saw the value of that poop. They cleaned it up. Boiled it, pressed it, and ultimately repurposed it. (And made it quite cute, might I add.)
Did it take some imagination and hard work? You bet. But they put in the time and energy, because that meant life. It put a stop to the carnage.
Not too hard to see that connection. I look at my notepad, and I treasure it. Partly because it cost so much (I use every millimeter front and back).
Partly because it is a reminder to me that there is nothing so horrid that God cannot use it for His purposes.
I cannot sin so greatly that I am deemed useless to my Maker. Boiled, pressed, repurposed for His purpose. So He can write His story and His glory all over me. All over every precious millimeter of my soul that cost Him so much. So He could stop the death. The carnage. And bring life.
So when people see my life, I can tell them honestly that I was such a piece of poop, and the only way I am here and in this condition of joy is because of the love, imagination, care, hard work, persistence, artistry, and determination of my God to bring life. Because He saw beyond the crap. He saw more. And I am so thankful that He continues to see more, because that crap is a daily battle.
What a gift, right? Makes you want to go buy some elephant dung paper? :) I certainly hope so! It's so rad!
Praying God opens your eyes to the little reminders of His unending love and faithfulness today.
What items in your life remind you of God's faithfulness?
How can you tackle the lies of being just like everyone else,
or uselessness,
or beyond love today?
*Want to know the full scoop on how Mr. Ellie Poo came to be? (Heehee.) Click here.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Sometimes it is hard to remember, when you are in the good times.
When the world is your playground.
When blessings crowd your feet like leaves fallen on an October day.
You only need to bend down to pick them up.

You forget the scramble. The times when blessings seemed harder to come by. When you chased them falling as the wind blew them back, forth, just out of reach.

These are the times when living is in the listening. Because the scrambling is still happening. If not you, then someone near. Someone near is waiting to catch a blessing.
And that blessing could just be you.
Because we are all of us broken. And the decisions I see played out in my life and the lives of others makes me wonder, "What is wrong with us?"
We are broken together.
Broken people bumping into broken people. Sometimes breaking people.
But there is beauty in the broken together because God uses broken vessels to leak out the love He pours into us until we burst. Broken as He was, so we could be put together- into the people we are in Him alone.  Into people who are blessed and blessings because we are together with Him.
Who will catch you today?


Today's post links up with the writers over at Five Minute Friday! Join us for 5 minutes of writing, and reading, and encouraging with today's prompt: Together! I confess- I have absolutely no idea how much time today's post took, or if it even makes sense... Blessed interruptions...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Doesn't Matter

This is not a side note. It's a for-real point I am making: I'm reading Renegade, by Vince Antonucci. I'm reading it faster than pretty much any other non-fiction book on the Christian life that I have ever read.

You should read it. Vince is to discipleship what Ann Voskamp is to gratitude. His humor on par with her poetry. Seriously, put on a diaper before you read it, just in case. He's hilarious. He's also real. He doesn't deny the scariness of discipleship. He calls a spade a spade, a pimp a pimp. (Literally, "But you know what momma always said: a pimp is a pimp is a pimp.") Oh, and he started a church plant on the Las Vegas Strip. Crazy, inspiring, and liberating. His honesty freaks you out, and frees you too. His words hold your hands and guide your mind towards a wholly holy new point of view- right to Jesus. We have so. much. freedom. And I can't wait to share with you all my renegade stories as I embark on some deliberate loving of the lost.

Last night, I read of a sermon he gave that rocked a pimp's world. "It Doesn't Matter."

"It doesn't matter who you are; God still loves you. It doesn't matter why you left; God is still pursuing you, just like the shepherd pursued the one lost sheep. It doesn't matter where you've been or what you've done; God will still take you back, just like the father took back the prodigal son." (Chapter 14)

It doesn't matter.

And I just want to be clear, "it doesn't matter," doesn't equal, "God doesn't care." The hairs on your head answer to God's roll call. Every little part of your life matters to Him, but when it comes to His love for you- all those sins cannot keep Him away. You cannot disgust Him so much that He doesn't desire you by His side forever.

But they matter to us- our sins. They don't keep Him from pursuing us, they keep us from pursuing Him. They keep us from pursuing others. If we, who have the knowledge of a loving God can still feel so unworthy of His love, how much more so do the lost feel it? If we are broken by our sin, and healed in intimate times of prayer with a close Father, how broken are those who receive no healing?

It's a question worthy of an answer. Not because the law requires we convince people, because we have been loved, and can love, with supernatural power. God's love for you, and in you, is so much more powerful than the sinful choices you have made.

So, if you are struggling with the sins that hold you back, take a gander at the sinful woman in Matthew 26 (or Luke 7, which is slightly different, but sooo awesome). After this incredibly sinful woman (whom I now picture as a hooker on the Strip) anointed Christ's feet, the disciples get their linens in a wad over the cash she just flushed down the... whatever facilities they used in those days.

"But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, 'Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.' " (v. 10)

I'm sorry- but I've just trained myself to believe that those devotions to God, which seem to cost me so much, are incredibly insignificant in the big scheme of things. But Jesus says something different, They are beautiful. Done in love, they are memorable. In Luke 7, Jesus says,

"Therefore, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (v.47)

I've been forgiven much. We all have. May our love reflect that today in our real lives. God so values tangible love. That's why Thomas (the doubting one) got to touch Jesus' wounds. He loves us tangibly. Praying His wounds, His resurrection, His love, hold undeniable sway in your life today.

Linking up for Three Word Wednesday today with Simply Beth. Come join in and read some wonderful writing by beloved and gifted believers!

Monday, October 21, 2013

5 Ways to Keep Your Joy When the World is Falling Apart (Messy Monday)

It's a season of preparation around here. Preparing for what, I'm not sure, but the lack of drama and trauma in our personal lives is a welcome gift. Some may call it a season of peace, and I wouldn't disagree with that (those who know the insanity of our house, feel free to chuckle at that). Still, preparation implies expectancy and readiness, and I've lived long enough to see the seasons change. It's a time to prepare.
That's not to say there's not some serious soul-shaking circumstances going on in the lives of those close to me. There's a time for everything. We've read Ecclesiastes. Sung with The Byrds. Wept, laughed, mourned, danced. So, even in my season of relative peace, I still manage to fret. To get bogged down with multitudes of crazy and overwhelming issues around me.
In all those seasons, sometimes I forget that there's one season that remains constant:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Phil 4:4
It's time to fight for joy.
In the face of persecution, bride burning, divorce, human trafficking, death, that attitude doesn't just happen. It takes some deliberate effort. It is a gift of the Lord to be sure, and He equips us to receive it. But it's like exercise- if you don't use it, you lose it.
So, if you are looking for some exercises to help strengthen your joy muscles, here are five ways to seek joy where it may be found:
1. Read. I know- bo-ring. There are some totally rad Christian authors out there that just rock. I yell "yes!" when I read them. Underline like a madwoman. Still, it ain't nothing compared to the Bible. Having a hard time finding joy and needing a place to start? Here is a handful of passages:
Phil 3-4; 2 Corinthians 5; John 14-17; Psalm 18; Psalm 138.
2. Pray. Right- I'm sure this is another shocker for you. C'mon, Lauren. Read the Bible and pray. Surely you can come up with something more exciting. Actually, no. You can read and pray standing on your head if you want to make it more demanding, but you won't find anything as effective as talking with the Lord and hearing His Word.
I had a friend ask me once, "How do you know when you have prayed for something long enough? When do you just need to let it go?" Well, it's different for everyone and every circumstance, but Luke 18:1-8 gives us a pretty clear answer:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Pray with open eyes. He will deliver you.
If you have a hard time remembering to pray- give yourself a visual or audial aid. A clock chiming. Stopping at a red light. A text message notice. A song. When you hear or see your cue, start praying.
3. Let go and LOVE- Of course taking time to think of others takes your mind off your own problems, but this is more than that. So often we are afraid to love others because we don't think it will make a difference, or we will look foolish. Or there is this pressure to somehow win them to Christ. Here' the deal: Christ didn't command us to win anyone. He commanded us to love everyone. He alone is the winner of souls, and that frees us up to love.
Imagine just showing someone love without strings attached. No worries over reputation. No pressure. Just a plate of cookies and a smile. Brainstorm ways to love a new person in a new way. You can't solve every world problem, but you can love another person.
4. Get Creative- David wrote psalms, rain or shine. We each have a deep-seeded creativity planted by the Master Creator. It's cathartic. Turn on the music. Sing. Dance. Even if you're horrible at them. Bake or cook. Invent. Draw. Write. Photograph. And give it as a gift to God. This is for you, Lord. It's not much. But it's Yours.

5. Praise. Praise. Praise.- Pause and remember the good things God has done, is doing. And praise Him for it. Out loud. Really. Say it out loud. May be awkward. You might want to put in your earbuds and do it so people will think you are just singing along with the music. Vocalize it. Take it from your head and put it in your whole body. Write it down. Share it. Check out Phil 3-4 again. Give thanks all the time.
And when all this seems like a bit too much to chew, the struggle for joy is just too hard, Phil 4:4-9- the Rejoice in the Lord Always passage- gets that, and gives us three promises to cling to. Hold fast to them and know you are never alone.
The Lord is at hand. (v. 5)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (v. 7)
The God of peace will be with you. (v. 9)


Friday, October 18, 2013


Can anyone please tell me when laundry made it to the list of credentials for a good mom? Like there is some weekly diagnostic test as to the efficacy of my mommy-hood, and laundry is right there at the top.

Sister, I fail.

And I have half a mind to crawl into a little fuel-efficient time machine and do a little rewriting of history.

A few years back, I read a well-meaning blog post from a young mother who really insisted that cleanliness and laundry be at the top of our list of things to do because that was good stewardship. It revealed to the Lord, and everyone else, just how thankful and grateful we are to God for His good gifts. Really, she meant well. We should appreciate His gifts- we really should.

But thankfully, my young mommy self puzzled and stewed and ranted, and finally read and prayed enough to know that not all gifts are created equal.

I simply cannot put clothes on par with kids. And if you want to know my real reason for the epic disaster that is my laundry-littered basement, it's those kids. And the laundry genie I ordered a few months ago still hasn't arrived...

First things first. Priorities. Lessons from motherhood. Laundry shouldn't be its own circle of hell. Laundry doesn't need to be the cruel tyrant in the kingdom that is my life. God is the only Lord I have, thank you. So, if you happen to have to wade through the ocean of clean or dirty clothes in my basement, or smell my shirt and realize I really should have just cleaned it again after I wasn't sure if it sat too long in its own wet after being washed, here is a good idea of the things I was doing instead of watching the washer.

Feeding kids. I do this a lot. Like, every five minutes it seems.
Reading to kids.
Talking to kids
Playing with kids.
Reading to me.
Talking to my husband.
Shopping for groceries.
Shopping for us.
Quiet time.
Talking to sister friends.

To get to laundry would take a five minutes all its own. In the meantime, I'm extending grace. To you. To me.
Today's post is part of a series called Five Minute Friday, hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker over at the Gypsy Mama. A ton of rad writers take her prompts and, for five minutes- or thereabouts- patch an amazing global quilt of God-glorifying blog posts. Click on the Five Minute Friday button and join us! I feel like I should also give a shout-out to the awesome gift that is my husband. I don't raise these kids or do this laundry without a partner in crime- you rock, Scott!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not An Underdog

You know, I can go a whole week with about 6 three-word sequences bouncing around in my brain, confident that all of them are "the one," and then it gets to Wednesday morning and I am stumped. Then this morning, I rebelled against the little voice that told me, "Don't do it. Don't check Facebook first thing in the morning. Never a good idea. Don't do it!"

I checked Facebook.

And read something just totally perfect for today!

In your FACE, little voice!

Here's the disclaimer, though: It starts off talking about baseball. Chances are, if you are anything like me, you are now debating whether or not it is worth it to read through whole post because you don't really care about baseball. I like baseball, but I totally tune out on things I don't get or care about. Like, math. But it is TOTALLY worth it, so keep reading. It is totally going to revolutionize how I live this day, and I hope it does the same for you, so stick with it.

I'm a St. Louis Cardinals Fan. I embraced it pretty much as soon as I met my husband, and I haven't regretted it since. They are good. But here's the thing- when they manage to make it into the post-season, on their way to the World Series, they are often ranked last, or thereabouts. Not always, but often. The teams they play just have more going for them than we do. But we still manage to pull out wins and leave a trail of confused and dejected "better" teams in our wake.

Now I have some friends who, well, I won't say hate, but they have a vehement dislike for my Cardinals. And that's fine, especially because my team is in the National League Championship Series, and theirs, well, aren't.

And since Facebook is just about the easiest, and most public, medium on which to vent our most impassioned opinions, they voice theirs quite often. I get it, and I am totally cool with it. This morning, one anti-Cardinal friend of mine (and I say "friend," because he is indeed a friend, and team affiliation is pretty low on my "friendship deal-breakers list") made sure us Cards fans were put in our place: "You're not an underdog, you're not the little engine that no one believed in, you're just a good team that has a lot of good players."

Listen up, Christians! Because the message is the same for us!

You are not an underdog.

We all like the Cinderella stories because something deep down inside convinces us that we are the Cinderella too, but the Bible has a different message for us believers.

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

The "him who loved us," that's Jesus. And I'm pretty sure people thought He was the underdog too. I mean, look at Him. A man v. death. We've seen that about a billion times, and death always wins out.

Only, not with Jesus. He's clutch. Not only did He resurrect others- He was resurrected HIMSELF. Death is just an impotent bumblebee without his stinger.

And get this, He gives His victory to us-

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:12
Now I'm not saying it's all lollipops and lemon drops for Jesus-lovers, but we aren't doomed. Not sure how it's all going to go down, but the Bible gives us the best spoiler alert E-VER.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
What does that mean for us when life today could be better? It means we face our struggles with an attitude of victory. Because those things don't own us, God does. And when those problems are nothing but dust flying into oblivion behind us on our road of life, we are the ones who are going to last forever.
In short, we are more than conquerors.
We aren't just people who know someday we will be with Jesus. We are people who live that out today. We're not going to wait for the joy and hope. We are conquerors right this very second. Because, after all, the story isn't really about us anyway. It's about Him.
Today's post was a part of a series through Simply Beth, called Three Word Wednesday. Come join us!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thank God It's Monday: Here's to the Rebounds!

"He missed the shot! But he got the rebound!"
He played the commentator and baller simultaneously- announcing his own moves aloud as I watched.
"And another rebound! And another! Another rebound!"
Who knows just how many shots he missed before his rebound paid off in the currency of a basket, but that wasn't going to bother him. At all. Because look at all those rebounds!
It's the ability to recognize the failures, yet dwell on the good that comes from it, and it's a perspective that eludes all of us at times. Maybe that's why I started this "Thank God It's Monday" segment to supplement the Messy Mondays. We get used to going with the flow, however negative it may be, and sometimes we need to step out of the stream and change course.
Psalm 77 does just that. Asaph cries aloud to God, his soul refuses to be comforted.

"Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" (v. 9)

Then he steps out of the stream.

"Then I said, 'I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old." (vs. 10-11)

The law needs to work on our hearts to humble us, but when we let him work overtime, he gets a little power-hungry. He tries to take over. To become our god.

So let the law work, but when his job is over, put him back in his place.

Because dwelling on your shortcomings can be an idol too. And it robs the resurrection of its power.

Step out of the stream, off the court, and recalibrate, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. And live in His joy.

If you are looking for scriptures in which you may ponder the mighty deeds of the Lord, look at these passages throughout your week!
  • Psalm 16
  • 1Thessalonians 5:9-24
  • Colossians 2:6-15
  • Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Ephesians 2:1-10
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

 Praying for recalibration in your days ahead; the strength, courage, and wisdom to step outside of your circumstances and prison of sin and live in the grace of a God who loves you so so so much!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, October 11, 2013


“It never failed to amaze me how the most ordinary day could be catapulted 
into the extraordinary in the blink of an eye.” 
― Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care
She sprawls, eyes wide and smiling. One foot, then the next. A little cotton sock, flowered pink, stretched over five chubby toes, the ball, the heel, the foot. She wriggles, all smiles. I take my index finger, gently stroke it down the center of her sole. And in return, her squeals stroke my soul as well.
Best. job. ever.
So ordinary, yet I wonder at how her laughter lifts me so, and if God perchance feels that delight when we laugh at His playfulness. At His gifts of joy.
More time. More day. More ordinary. Lunch at school. 6 year old fingers clutch my sleeve tightly as he smiles and points to his friends, "She's here! My mom is here!" All that time that has flown by in a gust of ordinary, but I'm given the gift of stopping, sharing, eating beef and bean nachos with some of the most remarkable kindergarteners in the world. Time for recess. Oh I miss that! Watching the boy play soccer, the girl play basketball, and the hordes of children not from my womb, yet in whose world I get to play a part. Even just a smile.
The weather is not ordinary. Warm for October. So we take advantage of a night when everyone is home, and resolve to play basketball at the church.
Lost shoes. Lost balls. Lost minds. Lost time. But we are out the door, and within 15 minutes every single child has cried, except one. The toddler, for whom crying is the primary language, is the only one who doesn't bawl about something, or everything.

The crying is sprinkled with intermittent laughter, berry picking, applause.

We travel home in the sunset...

She's three, but she sees my phone and hears the clicks and understands. Her perspective just slightly off from mine, she sees what I miss.
"Are you taking a picture of the heart tree, Mom?"
I am now.
And as we race back to the house, over the cracked sidewalk, hampered by tiny toddling feet and clutching fingers, I carry the balls and the little one up the driveway, and I see that the preschooler must have been too spent from the evening's recreation to carry her doll all the way inside.
Or even to keep her completely dressed.

I laugh, head shaking. Completely tickled.

Tickling, that sensitivity to touch, it's not just physical.
When I am overcome by the grumps and growls of life, I have lost touch with my Maker. Become blind and calloused to His presence in the day to day. To be sensitive to the One who touches us in the ordinary is a gift, and an everyday goal.
Today I am praying you will see and feel Him- especially in your ordinary.
Joining Lisa-Jo Baker, and other brave and brilliant writers, today for Five Minute Friday. Though I confess, this took a bit longer than 5 minutes... If you'd like to read other perspectives on the prompt "Ordinary," or want to join us in the fun, just click on the button to the bottom right!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

If You Can

 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 

Talk about drama. We all like a little drama in our lives, preferably in a book or on TV- nothing that directly affects us, of course. But man, does my heart break for this dad in Mark 9.
 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him."

I have four perfectly healthy children. The terror and struggle that gripped this poor man's life are beyond my comprehension. Still, I can think of more than one time I have thought something similar to his next statement: 

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

If you can.

Now, a good Christian girl like me would probably not dare to say it in those words exactly, but with the despair I have felt in my soul over the plight of others, or hopelessness that has hung about my neck in the face of guilt and unbelief, I might as well have said it verbatim. In straight-up fear, I have asked...

"If you can."

As if I didn't call upon the One who makes all things new. The One who moves mountains, and removes hearts of stone to replace them with living, beating hearts of flesh.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 

This is no prosperity gospel. No "have more faith and you can do whatever you put your mind to."

No. But it is truth. I have seen it on the faces of the strongest women I know. The ones who have gone through unspeakable horrors and been refined by the fires of grief, and come out on the other side with a faith stronger than I can describe.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

It is a desperate thing to call out to the Lord when there are simply no other options left, because you know you have tried them all. But that doesn't keep the Lord from helping you. So often our last resort, when He should be our go-to guy, yet He works in us all the same.

And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

If you are struggling with whether or not God can remedy your circumstance, let me tell you- He can.

If you are struggling because you know God can, you just don't know if He will, take heart. God is not unsympathetic, and His is not far off. In fact, He is just the opposite:

 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

We do not have a God who sits on His throne making arbitrary decisions about whether or not to please us. We are dearly beloved children of the Great Physician, who works on our broken selves and whispers in our aching ears, "Just keep watching, and wait. It is going to be so worth it."

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:16-18
If you would like to join in Three Word Wednesday, or just look to see what three words other writers are proclaiming from their rafters, simply click on the Three Word Wednesday button on the bottom right!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Messy Monday: Tired, Touched

It's always encouraging to see examples of good parenting in the Bible. Like those dear mothers and fathers who followed Jesus around, bringing Him their kiddos, so that He would touch them.

His touches, unnecessary graces. Grace gifts that awaken senses when nothing makes sense.

The Five Love Languages of Children was wandering wild in my mind too awake late Saturday night. When my joints were achy and I forgot to take my medicine (again), and all those wonderings cropped up in my forest of future, trees I have yet to climb and yet I still can't see past them.

The medicines I will not take- refuse to. Praise God I am in the position to make those decisions.

The tears of frustration wondering when will it be again like it was then?

When I didn't have to worry about the food I ate. Or the workouts I did. Or how I spent my time and money. Or whether or not my wrists would buckle under the weight of the chunkiest gift of squishy-love I'd ever received. I just needed a God-sized hug for my heart-sized fatigue. So. tired.

I pondered those good parents- the ones who brought their children face to face with Jesus. Close enough to touch, and not just on Sundays.

And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 8:16

It's a love language, physical touch. Jesus knew- He invented it.

It's why a handshake indicates its master's demeanor. It's what makes hugs warm and welcomed, or just... awkward.

And He didn't have to do it. In fact, Jesus didn't really have to touch anyone. People were healed just by touching His cloak (Matthew 9:20, 14:36; Mark 5:27-31, 6:56; Luke 8:44-47). He could raise the dead with just a word (Luke 7:14).

And His eyes say it all. "Who looks on the earth and it trembles..." Psalm 104:32

Still, He touched them. Because He loved them. The children. The leper (Matthew 8:1). The servant of the high priest in the garden. "And he touched his ear and healed him." Luke 22:51 No words of healing, no faith lecture, no snazzy point-and-shoot move with an ear tacked on like a tracking dart. Something tells me that touch said all that ear ever needed to hear.

I needed to hear it too. To look forward to the day when the faith meets the physical. When the cross I bear will be traded for a crown I wear, a crown He will place there. Not because He has to, because He wants to. When the only language will be love, and the embrace everlasting. When the pauper will become the princess by the providence of the King, and the only buckling will be the knees of the saved under the weight of the glory and joy and adoration of the Most High, the  Lord who saves us.

One day we will all be touched by Jesus, really touched. Healed. I can't wait. Until then, those unnecessary graces come other tangible forms. Today I pray He gives me the eyes to see, ears to hear, and love to spread the grace around. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Out-Write the Wrongs

Tell truth, and shame the devil. – Jonathan Swift

It was a precaution. Extra security for the website. With the increase in hostility toward Christianity, extra measures were taken to make our organization more secure.

Tell that to my insecurity.

A brief surge of self-preservation and lack of faith posed the question within, "Are you sure it’s actually worth it?"

A flood of worst-case scenarios raged through my mind. After all, what would the world really lose if one blogger, just like every other blogger out there, shut down her computer in the best interests of protecting her family?

Lies, all of it. Shutting down a computer could be harmless. Could be. But not here.

Here, this is where I write. And in a battle fought not with swords and spears, but with words and messages, the world needs our message. It needs God’s message. When the enemy rages, firing lies and insecurities, and doubts; every voice of hope, truth, and love in the name of Christ is a blow to Satan’s forces.

Could be a public blog, a card, a text. Just pick up your sword and Write.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 


Today's post was part of a series called Five Minute Friday hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker, a gifted writer and encourager. Writers all over the world tune in to her blog to join in the fun. To read more wonderful writing on today's prompt, Write, just click on the button on the Five Minute Friday on the right!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Call Me "Weirdo"

Jesus has been exercising my heart lately- my love muscle, that is.

Because the world can throw all the four-letter-words it wants, but I have one that beats 'em all.


Probably the most abused and misused word in our language, and perhaps that is fitting because Love is amidst the abused and misused, tending in the dark places.

"For your steadfast love is before my eyes..." Psalm 26:13

The easiest word to conjure, but the hardest action to commit.

For Love draws us out of ourselves, and into another person.

So easy to teach and preach- just words, but what about when the walk must accompany the talk?

What about when the object of our love acts just so... unlovable?

That's when our heavenly Father taps us on the shoulder (none too lightly), His words resounding in the air, "I believe you are sitting in My chair." Climbing off a throne that high can be a humbling experience.

We discussed one of the most famous Love passages at Bible study the other night. Luke 6:27-36.

Jesus must have known the "But, what if..." questioners in the crowd, because He left no loopholes:

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

But what if they say mean things to me or about me?
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

But what if they hurt more than my feelings?
29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also,

But what if they take advantage of me?
and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.

But what if I don't know how to love them?
31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Then the part of the passage we skipped in the study, but I find so interesting:

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

In other words, what good is it to love like everyone else? Then you'll just look like everyone else.

Why not love differently?

Love until your enemies think you are just weird.

Love your enemies until everyone else agrees, you are weird.

Love like a weirdo.

The more eloquent way to encapsulate that love would be to compel you to, "love so that the glory of God is revealed."  But honestly, in the moment, that is usually a bit too lofty for me to grasp.

Love like a Jesus weirdo.

Need something a bit more concrete? Need some extra motivation to get your mind and actions to cooperate? Verse 36...

36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Jesus' instruction- take a long look in the mirror: Romans 5...

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
He loved and loves me at my most unlovable- never wavering. Never ever.
God grant me strength to love others the same way.
So to all the unbelievers out there:
Go ahead, call me "Weirdo."
I join many brave and beautiful writers over at Simply Beth's Three Word Wednesday.
Come join us!