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discipline, featured, fortitude, hope, soul care, strength, trust

Who’s your hero?

January 31, 2015

The Father's Love cannot be explained, only Experienced.

His little legs tottered, yet he knew where he was going. In perseverance, he kept his heart aligned with the greatest hero he knew, fueled by love. He watched…studied him with diligence and the fortitude needed to overcome personal roadblocks, striving to imitate the man he saw with limitless potential and tremendous integrity. He stepped where he stepped and followed every motion, simply to stay in cadence with the man he adored: his daddy.

By age five our son Connor, born with low muscle tone, loose ligaments and a chromosomal anomaly, had only been walking just beyond a year. Until then he sat at his dad’s feet, and with smiling eyes sparkling, he tracked every move, listened to every word, mimicked gestures, facial expressions, and scooted after him as he could. The capacity of a boundless love tore down the barriers of his physical and cognitive limitations to become just like his father.

When his legs and core grew steady and stronger, he followed…tiny steps…colossal determination…to mimic my husband’s stride. No job was too big, nor personal agenda too important to stand in the way of being with his dad. Connor longed to be just like Chris and desired to show him the overflowing love and admiration he had for his father. When meals were served, Connor always invited his daddy to take the first and best “love bite” from his plate, innately understanding that giving back to his father was the greatest blessing he could grant…a generous gesture from a generous heart.

As I looked through a box of old photographs recently, I fumbled upon sweet memories of five-year-old Connor with my husband Chris. Connor, having an ardent love for his dad, exemplified the most beautiful example of what it means to follow Jesus. He put his daddy in his rightful place, dad was the father, he, the son. He watched what daddy did and then followed. In return, he experienced blessing.

In our faith journey, we’re not much unlike Connor. We arrive at the foot of the cross with so many of our own limitations, weak areas and even cognitive impairments (Isaiah 55:8-9.) Yet, as we sit at the feet of Jesus, watch what He does, and step where He steps, we begin to see the greater reflection of who we are in the Father (John 5:19)…our loving Dad. All propelled by trust and love.

What might the Chrisitanity look like if we intentionally pursued to love the Father in order to experience His love?

  • What if we put self-sufficiency aside and let Jesus walk in front of us?
  • What if we loved with an unabandoned child-like trust in God?
  • What if we hoped with unpretentious confidence?
  • What if we sat at His feet for hours, even years and soaked in His words?
  • What if we didn’t take our eyes off Jesus, hesitant to miss something/anything, He wanted to show us?
  • What if our conversations were seasoned only with the language He taught us and not the words and thoughts that the world shouts?
  • What if we jumped at every opportunity to go and be where He was working, just to be a helper, serve and bless Him?
  • What if we willingly and joyfully gave Him our “love bites”… the first taste of every blessing we received?
faith, featured, fortitude, strength, trust, truth

2015: what’s your word / theme?

December 31, 2014

STAND FIRM: Ephesians 6:14-15

Leading into each new year, I ask God to prepare me for what’s ahead at the close of the last, and He faithfully provides me a word, a theme, and most often a verse from which it emerged. Sometimes His response surprised, and others left me trepidatious. This year I’m encouraged with His two words for 2015:

STAND FIRM

If not for the boldness I shot towards heaven seven years ago, one year after uprooting the family and moving 725 miles west of where I ever thought I’d be…if not for the assurance of why we relocated to begin new lives…if not for the syllabus of the past few years that have fed into my challenge to God, I just might be shaken. I dared Him: Bring it on. And if we attempt to live a life that’s brazen enough to dare heaven, the decibels in His response seem to reverberate louder, clearer, stronger…quaking the comfortable, shaking the predictable, forsaking the pragmatic. But…

bring it on also meant I picked a fight.

Yep, with the devil.
And seven years later, I’m wondering if that creep just upped his game.

But God says: STAND FIRM.

Vanilla faith always appears blessed, right? When it all goes right and falls into place we receive it as reward. But if the forces of heaven are prepared to unleash a little bit more of the holy on an earth that the enemy prowls and preys on through my three short words…well then my Lord’s voice got louder this past month, “Stand Firm”. Ephesians 6 is rightly clear when Paul reminds me that I won’t be wrestling people and problems, but against powers and spiritual wickedness.

Roadblocks ahead? Stand firm.
Betrayal and cheating? Stand firm.
Discouragement? Stand firm.
Conflicts? Stand firm.
Temptations? Stand firm.
And when all seems right and blessed I will stand firm knowing the belt of truth surrounds me and God and His righteousness goes before me.

I “get” that there’s a battle, but
I will not be fighting people. I will not be fighting circumstances. I will not be fighting emotions. But I will fight.

I will stand firm against the munitions fired by dark forces with Truth. His Word, His truth will go securely in front of me, and His righteousness will be my protection. My feet are prepared to stand my ground for His glory. It’s His battle and He wins.

I will stand firm.
Ephesians 6:14-15


Have you asked God what your word or theme is for 2015? Be encouraged, it’s His blessing!

community, featured, hope, transformation

our beautiful messes

November 30, 2014

perfect isn't the plan

There’s creation and life going on. My kids are home!

We’ve been kicking up the dust that settled since summer, when job commitments and school hushed the household and our “planned” lives resumed.

The long Thanksgiving weekend has brought chaos, messes and activity…projects and pranks, dog hair flying, continuous cycles of dirty and clean dishes, wet towels, art assignments, shifting cars in the driveway, furniture rearranged and fullness in my heart. It’s a mess here, a beautiful mess.

So is the community of God.

From the Old Testament to New, God’s people are just plain messy. But it’s in the messes that God does beautiful work. I have to recognize that the more people I allow in my life, the ratio for potential mess is elevated…and that’s good. Because the greater the messes, the greater evidence of His activity and hand, as I (we) allow God to work through the messiness.

So why do we cover up our messes or the messes of others and sweep them under the rug or into a drawer when someone enters our “house”? What would community look like if we all allowed the Spirit of God to hover over our chaos…and we acknowledged that together, our messes foster environments that bring new creation and transformation?

Small groups are the best entry into “real” community and foster ideal climates for beauty and growth. They’re also the backdrop for navigating the messes that bring transformation. Small groups make our calendars messy,  inboxes messy and texts messy and sometimes our houses messy.

Messes are not something to be avoided, but embraced.

Messes are the environments that grow relationships, where the creativity of God and discipleship happens – where beauty emerges in the grace of it all.

 

community, featured, soul care

laugh out loud

July 25, 2014

What feeds your soul?

Letting go…

diving deep…

trusting what you don’t see…

free falling into the arms of Jesus…

How about throwing back your head and laughing…

in the midst of friends who mirror love?

laugh out loud: Psalm 126.2

My heart measures the depths of friendship in the pains that billow from belly laughs. I believe that closest friends and heart connections are glued in moments of deep-seated silliness and the eruption of laughter…in friends who let down their guard in the face of what ever goodness or adversity life brings, and open up their hands and hearts to laugh loud together.

Laughter is true community to me, it is nourishment to my soul. Radical loving is radical living, and laughter and joy are its byproducts.

Share love and laugh today. It’s good for the soul.


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featured, gratitude

to my friends

December 31, 2012

a blessing over you,

You are loved.

Truly loved.

By your Creator. And yes, by me.

You are valuable and of great worth.

Not for what you have done, but for who you are. Not through your calling, your accomplishments, your status, your labels, who your friends are, who your friends are not, nor your choices.

Some, I stand in awe of your strength and dignity. Some of you, be reminded, there is no shame in this space. Breathe in the grace.

In the unlimited name and mighty power of Jesus, lift up your chin, dear Friend. He calls you saint. Live free.

Let the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Live in that hope. Joy is calling. Can you hear the laughter? It’s your voice, dear friend. Laugh loud.

Look around you. You are exactly where you are because God trusts you there. Today, may you sense your calling to be a minister in that space. Coffee shop, shelter, office, church, the projects, hospital room, gym, airport, grocery shopping…kitchen table or laundry room. Surrounded in diapers or crusty noses…teenage rebellion…aging parents flipping roles with you…empty souls from lost hope, leather hearts thickened with scorn, comfortable lives who don’t see their own need.  This is your space, your calling, your purpose. Whether it is one soul or thousands, He is calling you disciple. This is what your sacred looks like. Pass on the goodness and use your gifts.

Please my friend, don’t ever overlook your Heavenly Father smiling on you. He more than loves you…He likes you.

As I do.

Let God settle you in your skin. Today I pray for discipline and fortitude over you. I pray you embrace your justification and glory. I pray that the breath of the Holy Spirit stirs up zephyrs in arid moments and gale forces in your apathy. I pray for goodness and mercy to envelop you: wake you in the morning and tuck you in at night. I pray too my friend, for inconvenience in your life. May you comfort the grieving, serve meals to the sick, give generously to those in need and understand what it means to contribute from your own brokenness and poverty…to experience true joy in Jesus. In the dark night of your soul, may He be your strength, and I pray the Jesus community walks alongside you. I pray for opportunity to turn the other cheek. I pray for singing, belly laughter, pure silliness and childlike faith. I pray for strong health. I pray for bucketloads of grace, for wisdom in you and knowledge too.

May I hear you laughing at the future. [That’s a prayer for me.]

Grace and peace to you dear friend. In 2013 and evermore.

 

community, featured, soul care, transformation

we gather in poverty

January 12, 2012

Holy Wednesdays, we gather. A cold café on dark winter nights unhurriedly percolates with a steady trickle of women. Lights flicker on and love pours into styrofoam cups…hot, steaming coffee flows with bold grace from broken vessels.

We bring curiosity and questions…

many, many questions.

We bring doubts and fears, laughter and pain,

pasts and presents, loves and losses.

One by one, we wrap ourselves around an altar of thrift-store tables muscled together in a broken town, our weary walks trussed by threads of hope.

Holy Spirit we invite You.

We are a puzzle that doesn’t quite fit. Jesus fills in the gaps. Young and not, from corporate and non-profit careers, homemakers, fast-food workers, supermarket checkers, counseling professionals, government employees, healthcare workers, teachers, unemployed and retired…

multi-colors, single and married, rich and poor, strong and weak, happy and sad…

we gather in poverty.

Some of us, we come with fullness: of closets and bellies and bank accounts.

Some of us, we come with emptiness: of housing and paychecks and love.

Each of us: we gather in hunger.

Holy Spirit, we invite You.

Weekly…ready or not, rich and poor, in joy and brokenness, Jesus peers into the poverty of our lives offering lavish grace.

Because that’s the kind of place it is…a cold café on dark winter nights in a broken town hemmed in bridges of Hope. Streams of Living Water overflow the riverbanks in a community divided by internal and external poverty. We receive mercy and find grace as God’s Word fills our hearts and lives.

Extravagance converges on poverty. Every Wednesday. It’s all grace.