Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Family That Forgot How to Laugh {This Day Thursday:Laughter}

Once upon a time a man and a woman fell in love. They were married. And that is where most fairytales end.

But this is no fairytale. This is real life.

The man and the woman got on swimmingly, believing each other to be just the most awesome person in the world. An opinion that would not, and did not, change.

In fact, they were both so terribly convinced the other person was fantastic that they decided to replicate each other to the best of their ability. They did what many other happily married couples do- they had children.

Of course the beginning was hard. And the middle as well. The parenting thing was, as all good parents soon discover, hard. So they tried and prayed and… laughed. Each morning, the Mr. and Mrs. dressed for battle with the day, always sure to clothe their feet with the socks of humor before donning the shoes made ready by the gospel of peace.

But here is where the story turns grim. While the socks of humor always managed to warm their bodies and turn the odor of life into a laughing gas of sorts, there came a day when the Mrs. was tired, just soooo tired. Too tired to concern herself with footwear. So she made a choice. She padded around the house barefoot.

The Mr. noticed. (Right, I know I said it wasn’t a fairytale. Sometimes men do notice the things their wives change.) Maybe this is the thing now, he mused. And like all good husbands do when their wives change something, he waited to see if this was a permanent alteration or just the temporary result of a monthly catalyst.

Each day the Mr. noted his wife’s feet (a blessing to her since her exhaustion also forced her to neglect readying her face with the makeup of effort) and for several days he observed the bare skin of her soles along the hard and dirty floors of her life.

Convinced that this was now how they were doing things, he also removed his humor and peace, and treaded the world on naked feet.

It wasn’t comfortable. It was life raw and cold with all the crumbs of spilled cereal sticking to it. But you know the old saying, “If mama don’t think it’s funny, ain’t nobody supposed to think it’s funny.”

It didn’t take long and the kids followed suit. Each morning they would pack for school in their shivering feet, snapping at each other in their discomfort. Then when they were ready to step out on their way, they would pull on their humor socks, their peace shoes, and walk out the door. They would return hours later, remove their socks and shoes, and live life raw. Humorless.

Each day the same. Each family member dressing in humor and peace for the outside world, then shedding both upon entering their “home”.

No one knows to this day exactly when they all realized this was the wrong way of doing things. 
Maybe it was when the Mrs. walked too long on heels too raw and figured perhaps it was just best to amputate the feet altogether. Maybe it was when the Mr. stood helpless, barking at children that were too noisy in their own complaints to hear his message of love and respect.

All the same, it happened. Divine Intervention no doubt.

The Mrs. knocked and the door was opened and she received help. Her calloused and bleeding soles nurtured and mended by the words of love and the hands of healing.  (And the acupuncture of attention.) In a short time she could wake and her heart throbbed because her feet didn’t.

She turned to the Mr. who was still just so awesomely awesome to her and he could see it too. And together they mended his feet. Followed by those of their children.

But they knew that if this healing was to continue, they would need to make an effort to protect it. So they resolved to clothe their feet. They searched under their bed, in their closet. They dumped out their drawers, but their socks of humor were as elusive as their children when it was time to empty the dishwasher.

To wear peace alone would be enough they concurred. So they picked up their shoes, slowly slipped in their soft toes, and felt it. There, hidden in the peace, was their humor.

They laughed. Really laughed. After all, it was funny how they turned their lives upside down looking for something that was exactly where it was supposed to be all along. (Admittedly, it is less funny, but just as relieving, when the items in question are the car keys. Or the cell phone. Or the wedding rings…)

That laughter was a miracle. A contagious, infectious, healing miracle.

The children caught on and laughed too. The Mr. and Mrs. smiled. Their resolve to clothe their stinky lives in humor and peace was strengthened by the soul relief that would otherwise become bitter, hard, cemented in life’s grime.

To this day they wake (many days they awaken exhausted) and sometimes the humor socks seem heavy and out of reach, but they put them on anyway. Because making merry makes all the difference when making life.

When was the last time you decided to meet the day with some humor? 
What makes you laugh?
Is there a connection in your life between your humor and your peace?

I'd love to hear from you! And stay with me this month for my next big giveaway! Monica won "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker and I am thrilled to include you in my next giveaway. Just as soon as I know what it is ;)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Comparing Grapefruits and Oranges {Messy Monday and a GIVEAWAY!!!}

I have a thing for oranges. By definition that's not an unhealthy thing. And I can stop anytime I want. And before I go on confessing, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm talking to you, Orange Hoarder. Come into the light. This is a safe space here.

My orange infatuation has doubtless been passed on to the next generation either by nurture or nature, I don't care which. They love the citrus too.

So you can imagine my shock the other day when I cut into a fresh orange, delighted to share the aroma and sweetness with my own preschool sweet girl. It was an awesome thing, but the girl didn't agree. He cringed, recoiled at the sight of it.

"Blech! I'm not eating that!" She was emphatic and dramatic.

"What? Why not? You haven't even tried it! It's so good!" I insisted, but the girl dug her heels in. The more I coaxed the more she resisted. She wasn't going there.

Then there it was- the light bulb. Weeks beforehand my parents came to visit. My mom bought a bounty of grapefruit and offered it to my kids. They tried eagerly. So trusting. Suckers. They were repulsed.

Now I like grapefruit, but that was not always the case. And even you grapefruit enthusiasts out there must admit that they are an acquired taste. And they're not for everyone.

Apparently my preschooler learned this the hard way, so when she saw the pink fruit of the Cara Cara orange her defenses went up.

Remind anyone of Christianity?

Ever heard this Ghandi quote? "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." (Ouch. Not the promising endorsement you like to hear from a world-renowned humanitarian.)

We are doling (get it, Dole-ing? Ha!) out the sweet promises of Christ and the world recoils at the threat of a tart, even bitter, Christianity.

To be fair, I just ate a sweet sweet grapefruit, but to be sure if you are wanting an orange and getting a grapefruit you are going to feel cheated.

And I'm not going to get into whose "fault" all this is. Sinful humanity- that's who is at fault. Maybe it's the hypocritical Pharisee Christians, maybe its the blind stubbornness in unbelievers. Chances are it is both.

The point is the Gospel is becoming an "eventually" good message, you know what I mean? "Taste and see that the Lord is good" eventually- you'll acquire a taste for Him after you do this. After you give up smoking and drinking. After you stop spending your money on tattoos and lottery tickets. 

But here's the real deal- taste and see that the Lord is good is a right now message. We may need some more mature palates to catch all the subtle nuances and depth of flavor, but He's no grapefruit. The Gospel is sweet and juicy. It might sting the wounds of a life worn raw, but it is nourishment to the soul, blessing the mouths that are open to receive.

Now if you are thinking you haven't done a bang up job of presenting the Gospel, if you are concerned that you are hocking grapefruits instead of oranges, hear this: I'm not saying fake it. I'm not saying stand on the corner and pelt oranges at poor passersby. I'm saying it again- this time to you-

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." 
Psalm 34:8

You may taste the Lord is mighty.
You may see the Lord is merciful.

Those are true, but not the big picture. Those things play into the bigger picture- The Lord is Good.

Once you taste that, the rest starts falling into place. No kiosks and banners needed. Just talking with your neighbor and an invitation to "try this, It is so good."

That's what gets the listener. Genuine testimony to the goodness of God. No bait-and-switch. No eventually. Right now. The gift is mine and yours.

Are you needing a reminder that the Lord is good? Who will you share that message with today?


56. New pictures in frames
57. After-school hugs
58. The winter sun emerging


Need a reminder of the Lord's goodness? How about a book to revolutionize and jump start a life of giving to the "least of these"? Then leave a comment here on the blog, or here on my Facebook page (heck, you can even private message me) and let me know one gift God has given you to reveal to you His goodness. In other words- a little grace you are thankful for. On Valentine's Day one randomly selected name from all who comment will receive their choice of either One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp, OR Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker. (And if you already own both of those books, but still want to enter then have no fear- we can work something out. This is so fun!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When To Go With The Flow {Three Word Wednesday: Flow and Follow} (And A Brand New Giveaway for You!!!)

I enter haltingly into a change in my life.

I suppose that is what happens when you read One Thousand Gifts and Interrupted
simultaneously. Both very good books by extremely gifted authors who change the way you look at the gifts around you from a profoundly Biblical standpoint.

And I see a flow to all of this.

While reading (listening to) It Starts With Food I marveled at how God created our bodies to work. Without our knowledge, the body is in a constant state of give and take. One organ uses this nutrient to fuel this activity, which produces this component that tells this organ to do that. Its complex and my brain cannot hold all the information.

So when I put down It Starts With Food and picked up One Thousand Gifts and Interrupted, I seemed to be changing gears altogether. Only my journey just continued.Because this body is not our only body. This life is not our only life.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, 
though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… 
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 
1 Corinthians 12:12, 27

In previous readings of that passage my brain used macro illustrations to visualize the metaphor. The eye, the hand. You lose one sense, other senses heighten. You stub your toe, the eyes close, muscles constrict, nerves fire up.

But in these past weeks, it’s the micro that has gotten the play.

There is a flow to how the human body works, and there is no difference in the living, breathing, body of the church.

So when our cellular selves were ushered into the Body by Grace, we became a part of God’s processes and purposes in a very intentional way. I picture the writers of the epistles taking us on a "Magic Schoolbus" tour, “You are new here, so let me show you how all this works.’

Ann Voskamp sees the flow in the simple, "God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy."

Jen Hatmaker in the stewardship, "Hey, here's something crazy: In the Word, poverty, widows, hunger- these are not metaphors. There are billions of lambs that literally need to be fed. With food."

And then so many of us are tempted to get tripped up by the Gospel. In truth it’s the imitation gospel. The free gift of salvation becomes the free pass to consumption. It is what has so many churchgoers sitting on their hands in warm buildings for 1 hour, then ignoring their neighbors in need for the remainder of the week. It is what leaves us discontent and blinded to the small graces God gives us every day that we are too busy to unwrap in thanksgiving.

Because, after all, we don’t have to do anything because we are saved by grace through faith- not by works.

Have we forgotten the word follow?

When we end the story there our lives are at best average, at worst destructive. The flow is disrupted. The cells in the body are plagued by selfish cancer and free-resentful-radicals cause unspeakable damage. Discontent ushers death.

That is where the beauty of the Law, the absolute gorgeous power of the Law steps in.

This is how it works… it’s not a suggestion. It’s a fact. Just as solid as gas in your fuel tank works better than vegetable oil. Thanksgiving fuels joy, and vice versa. Love fuels service, and the reverse.
Taking the time to receive, acknowledge the gifts, and return thanks- those aren’t suggestions. They are medicine to heal our souls and strengthen the Body.

So what is the next step? I will be recording thanksgiving on these pages. Perhaps you would record your own as well. Or pray that God would open your eyes to the needs of those around you. 

#48.  Soft blanket paths on the floor
# 49. Tea party with Belle and Tinkerbell
# 50. Songs before the meal.

And I will be giving gifts as well!


How do you receive? Simply leave a comment here on the blog or on my Facebook page with something for which you are thankful. You may even private message me. One name will be randomly drawn and I will contact you to inquire which book you would like to receive, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity or One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and you will receive it in the mail! Yay!!!

The "contest" will end on Valentine's Day. Love love love.

Sharing with Kristin for Three Word Wednesday!