Thursday, March 29, 2012

You are about to fly!

for the Essentials In Spiritual Formation Certificate Course with Dan Wilt

"We want transformation, but without cost.
We want to become who we were designed to be, but without long processes and enduring hardship.
We want the dream of being formed into Christ's likeness yesterday,
And that dream to be mingled with tangible successes in other spheres of life today."
~Dan Wilt [1]

I remember being an exchange student, longing to instantly speak Spanish so I could communicate.  I wanted the gift of tongues and I wanted it stat. 

It wasn't that I hadn't studied Spanish or that I wasn't trying.  I had studied, for three years, and I was trying, desperately.  But God chose to not subvert the process of language learning for me, and I went through not a few grueling weeks and months struggling to learn to understand and speak a foreign language.

I always look back to that experience as an exchange student as the hardest and most life-transforming things I have ever experienced in a year.  I've lived quite a bit since then, but that year served to set some pivotal things in motion in my life that forever changed me.

Spiritual formation is a lot like that. 

I want it yesterday, to be like Christ, to speak the language of the Kingdom effortlessly...I've been at if for nigh on 35 years, now.

But there is this process...

Bill Johnson says, "God is looking for a people willing to embrace the process."

Am I?

Most of the time.

There are days, though when I wonder if this process isn't about over.  Dan says it this way:
"Your dream is an ache inside you, demanding that you stay still and present long enough for the wings to fully form and the colors to become vibrant like a fine wine becomes mature...You consider 'self-sabotage,' putting your dream on pause and taking the easy way out..."

How often have I longed to take the easy way out by turning away from my dreams, abandoning the process?  Too many.  The wait seems long, the pain too great, the dream dims and I wonder what I was thinking anyway.

But Dan says, "You are about to fly, my friend.  Don't give up now!" [2]

This thing called spiritual formation is costly, but the alternative, I've come to believe, is far more costly still.  You see, I've been uniquely given something to do that shows who God is [3], that reveals an aspect of His character to the world around me, impacting it for eternity.

I must fly because it is who I am.  To not fly is to not live.  And to not live is not an option, not since I've chosen, and been chosen, to walk in the Kingdom of light.  Already there are too many of us out there who have forgotten who we are, Whose we are.  We've lost sight of the fact that submitting, even embracing, the process of spiritual formation, while costly, is so totally and completely worth it.

To do otherwise means to live a dull life, with muted color and lack-luster hues and dissonant notes.

And I don't know how long this process is or when my dream will come to fruition or even if I'm dreaming the right dream, but that's ok because the Dream-Maker has my dream in His hand and He values me and loves me and is even now working in this process, to make me more like Him.

And you, what dreams is He forming you for?  Have you lost sight of them?  Has the pain become too great, the road too long, the fire too hot, the flames too cold?  We need you to remember them.  We need you to re-engage with the process.  You, my friend, are about to fly!

"Your life is a gift to the rest of us.  You were designed to live in your element, in that unique way that only you can live in this world.

When you live in your element, the rest of us are impacted - we're grounded, we're inspired, we're empowered, and we're connected to one another.  We are the richer for you allowing yourself to be spiritually formed by God into the amazing creature he gave you to us to be; but we are all poorer when you withhold your permission for God to conform your life to the life of His Son." [4]

Will you give Him permission?  We need you to fly.  You need you to fly.  God needs you to fly.

1 Dan Wilt, elemental*life: The Formation of the Creative Soul, digital book, 3
2 ibid, 6
3 ibid, 8
4 ibid, 7

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Useless Beauty

Beauty for beauty's sake
Not because it's useful
Not because it serves a purpose
Beauty just because...

Like the zucchini I chop for dinner...deep green speckled skin splits apart to reveal creamy crisp interior with myriad hues of yellow...

What's the use of that?

It could just as well be gray...solid, no variation...with all vitamins and minerals and fiber wrapped up in gray.  Why the color?  Why the contrast?  Why the crisp and soft and crunch?

Why go to the trouble of rough stem and smooth skin?

What use is there in that?

Maybe it's just because.
And maybe because He loves
And maybe because He creates
And maybe because beauty just is

but not necessarily

Does usefulness determine the worth and importance of the beauty of the zucchini?

Useless beauty found in zucchini
Makes me think
And ponder
Perhaps even meditate on
Everyday moments
Where beauty is present
For no particular reason.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This thing called freedom

It totally rocks.

I can see it coming...sometimes a mile away....sometimes not until it's under my nose.

But when it happens, when the lie is revealed, the wound is healed, and God's truth is restored...well, let's just say there's nothing quite like it.

I love it when it happens for/to me.

I double, no, triple love it when it happens for/to someone else.

The look on the face...from dark to light, burdened to light-as-air, fear to love...oh, there's just not much else that is sweeter.

So many testimonies, so many restored, hope renewed, strength found...

Life IS hard.  It has trouble and pain and sorrow and grief.  And the enemy just loves to take us when we're down and throw a handful or two of seeds of lies on our hurting hearts.  And sometimes those seeds take root and sometimes they grow for a time and fill our lives with prickly, pokey, painful thorns.

But then God comes. 

He shines His light and those thorns can't stand it.  And sometimes I can't stand it either because, like it or not, I've grown used to those thorns...might have named one or two...maybe I've come to even think of  them as friends.

Will I be ok without them, I wonder.

But then God comes.

And with His light He pours out hope and love and peace and joy, o so much joy, and He offers to come stand in and be the friend that the thorn had been, only much better.

Do you want to be free?  Are you ready for His light to shine on the thorns of your life?  Or maybe you don't have thorns.  Maybe you have gaping open wounds or maybe your wounds are buried so deep you don't even remember they're there...most of the time, until someone or something hits you "just right" and you react way out of proportion to what actually just happened...

Is that you?

You can be free. 

It is for freedom that He has set us free.


Sozo Healing Prayer Ministry

Monday, March 26, 2012

Omelet in Salzburg

“We feast like Sabbath-keepers most days, indiscriminately, and so feasting on the Sabbath has lost much of its richness.  It’s just one more big meal.” Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, 163.

I find myself wondering why I limit my children’s intake of certain foods and activities.  I question why…thinking that if I have the ability, the resources, shouldn’t I be free and generous with all things?

Except I notice that the more I give my kids, the more they expect and the more they take for granted and the more they think it’s their right.  They are somehow entitled, and it no longer brings joy to be generous.

I’m the same way.  I feast daily on the bounty the Lord gives me.  I eat and play as if every day were Sabbath-feast day, but this lifestyle leaves me un-full-filled.  Not filled.  Not full.

I feel lacking and in need of something more when in reality there is abundance on my plate every day.

"Without a fast, it's hard to recognize a feast" ~Dorothy Bass

If I’m lacking anything, I’m lacking the fast.

A fast simplifies and cleanses the palette.  It forces me to slow down and think before I do.  I’m required to enter into a disciplined lifestyle in order to maintain a fast, and in the fasting, the Lord cuts away the old-woman nature that’s reattached to me in this indiscriminate Sabbath-feasting.

The fast pulls me back and centers me and reminds me that abundance is a blessing, not a right.  It makes a feast “feel like gifts again, not rights.” 164.

“Be careful when you eat well…lest you come to expect it.  Be careful when those days of testing and refining and humbling and disciplining that hunger brings are long forgotten.  I don’t know how else the memory of hunger can be kept alive except by sometimes being hungry. ” 165.

“Some quality of life should mark the difference between our days of rest and celebration and our days of toil and production.  Times of indulgence mean nothing if all times are that: always eating, never feasting.  But if we reserve our feasting for a few occasions, …for times set apart, then each acquires a richer luster, a purer and sweeter tone.”165.

The summer of my 20th year, I went back to Europe to travel on a 3-month, 10-trip Eurorail pass with my fellow-exchange student and friend, Jill.  Jill and I had met as exchange students in Palencia, Spain – she a California girl and I a Texas gal.  When our exchanges ended, we vowed to return one day to travel together.

And we did, two short years later.  She met me in Amsterdam and from there we traveled to Koln>Passau>Bad Griesbach>Munich, Germany to Salzburg>Vienna , Austria to Venice, Italy to Nice, France to Monaco to Barcelona>Palencia>Madrid, Spain.  A whirlwind 2-week adventure where we lived mostly on bread and cheese and yogurt.

In Salzburg we stayed at a youth hotel (not hostel - not sure the difference.)  Everything in Salzburg closed down by 9 p.m.  But not the youth hotel.  Heavy draperies covered the windows as the music was turned up and people from all walks of life and countries continued interacting…playing cards, eating, drinking and dancing, sometimes on tables.

Someday I want to tell all about Jill and Heather’s Bodacious Adventures.  Today, though, the reason I’m bringing up Salzburg is to tell you about the most amazing omelet I had there.  Simply delicious, decadent, divine…my mouth waters still at the thought of it.

Why was this omelet so incredibly scrumptious?  It was eggs and cheese and veggies, just like the omelets down at my local IHop.

It was wonderful because, granted, I was eating it in Salzburg, but it was also my first hot meal in a few days and it was a feast compared to the bread and cheese I had been eating.

I’ve had many omelets since, but none compare in flavor or in memory to that one.

The fast prepared me for the feast.

I, I need to live life like that…with an intentionality during the week of getting by with less, of fasting, so that I can enjoy and savor and remember the Sabbath-feast, a feast that doesn’t get lost amidst the abundance in everyday life, but, rather stands out in my memory like that mouth-watering omelet in Salzburg.

Tomorrow I will talk about this with my kids, explaining to them that the reason we fast, the reason we limit their consumption of good things (food, toys, electronics, etc.) is because we want to instill in them the blessing of enjoying, and recognizing, a feast.

We fast to feast.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 10-14
2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Something other

Sometimes, actually it's closer to all the time, I think there's just something "other" I need to be doing, something that is somehow better than what I am doing now.

Sometimes I don't do anything because I can't figure out what would be "best."

Other times, I think of all the "best" tasks and then get quickly discouraged because the tasks take too long or require too many decisions on my part or simply overwhelm me for no good reason.

I'm ready to be done with perfectionism.

I'm ready to feel safe enough to just be.

That day is coming.  I can feel it.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

For the sheer joy of it...

I got out of bed this morning, as I do most mornings, out of sheer discipline.  I have to make myself push back the covers and start my day.

And if I look through my day at my routine and those things that I do just because or out of a need, I see the force of "discipline."  It's there in almost everything I do.

If I don't do something that I know needs doing (like folding laundry - down to 2 clean baskets of unfolded clothes! - or straightening my office or grading papers or housework), I think I must be feeling lazy or that I might actually be lazy.

Today I'm wondering if, perhaps, I'm just lacking joy.

I may be lazy sometimes, and I'm not against discipline.  I value it.  I practice spiritual, emotional, and physical disciplines, though never as many as I think I ought.  Much gets done because of discipline and much doesn't get done, or at least this has been my thinking, because of lack of discipline.

But is that how God intended life to go?  That we should do everything out of discipline?

I wonder today what it would be like to do more out of joy.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:2

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Rom 14:17-18

There's joy to be had in the kingdom of God, and I think Jesus lived a lifestyle of righteousness, peace, and joy.  I think He was disciplined, yes, but out of that discipline a deep-seated joy was abiding, a joy so deep that He went through a most excruciating death without complaint.

And I want that.  I want to do things more from "sheer joy" than from "sheer discipline."  And I think that's perhaps where thanksgiving comes in. 

This discipline of giving thanks in all things has the potential to cultivate joy as my eyes are continually opened to the good gifts from this good God whose Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy is mine to dwell in.

And there's that other verse about the joy of the Lord being my strength...

I'm looking forward to the day when I wake out of joy, fold laundry out of joy, straighten my house out of joy, fix meals out of joy...

...through the strength of the Lord which is joy

... living in His Kingdom where joy abounds with righteousness and peace

...seeing the joy set before me which enables me to have a disciplined life with deep grooves of thanksgiving that always lead to joy and more joy

...and being child-like - like a 2 year old bounding out of bed just because the day holds so much wonder and excitement...

Here's to more joy!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just being honest...

Last November I had the immense privilege of attending a symposium of like-minded worship artisans from around the US, Australia and Canada with my friend Erin.  It was such a joy for me to get to meet Dan Wilt  face-to-face, my online instructor in these rich courses I've been moving through on worship theology and history and spiritual formation.  If you've been reading my blog for long, you know how much they have impacted me and how highly I recommend them.  You can't go wrong in signing up for these courses.  Go to to find out more.

Anyway, so I got to meet Dan in person and a myriad of other amazingly beautiful and talented people.  I came away with heart full and a slew of new forever-friends.

It was not without its challenges however.

Ever been in a room full of people who you feel are way better than you could ever hope to be?

That's a bit what it was like for me.  I haven't said this out loud here before, but there were more than a few moments where I felt a tad intimidated.

I guess God prepared me for that moment by living with Lee, the most humble, talented person on the planet.  That's what these folks are like: humble and talented.

It's the humble that kept me there, pressing in, instead of withdrawing into a cave of insecurity.

There was a moment when all of this amazing music was swirling around me by these amazing singer/songwriter/recording artists (among other things, but this was the talent that was surfacing in the moment), and I could feel myself sliding into a dark-ish place of discouragement and insignificance as I looked at the joy on their faces as they expressed their God-given artistic expression with abandon...wishing I could jump in and join with as much confidence and joy.

And I knew then, as I know now, that any offering I might choose to bring to the party would be welcomed and embraced.  And I knew that all I had to do was stand up and offer something, but in that moment, I couldn't break through the overwhelming thought that my offering was too paltry to express in that moment.  I just didn't feel talented enough or gifted enough.

But really, my heart didn't feel loved enough.

There, I said it.

Let me reiterate: it wasn't because the love wasn't in the room or hadn't been generously expressed.

It was because my fear and insecurities kept my heart small and unable to receive that love, acceptance, and encouragement that would have propelled me to open my heart and share.

In those moments of feeling small and insignificant and insecure, God and I often have a conversation that goes something like this:

Him: What's going on?
Me: Um, nothing.
Him: Why aren't you moving out in your giftings?
Me: They're so much better than I am.
Him: Didn't I tell you to be obedient with your stick figures? 
Me: (Sigh) Yes.  But it's so hard when there are all these masterpieces all around me. 

As long as I can remember I've wanted to be an artist, both in the visual arts as well as the music arts.  Several years ago, while reading Waking the Dead by John Eldridge, God opened my eyes to see that desire as being a desire He had placed in my heart.  And He nudged me into the process whereby I began taking art lessons and accruing adequate art supplies and attending art conferences which has more recently broadened to include guitar lessons and worship/songwriting courses and going to this symposium.

He told me to hone my craft and then began to highlight which craft.  He keeps telling me over and over and over what He's created me for.  And with the telling and the re-telling, I get more freedom and more expression and more courage.  It's a journey, a step-by-step process in which I hold onto His hand and He leads.

And last November, He landed me in a room of people so full of talent any concert venue would not have done justice to the hearts and lives lived out in integrity through their craft.  And He wanted to see what I would do, how I would react or, rather, respond.

I didn't hide, so I guess I passed the "test."  I didn't jump out there either, evidence that I need more healing in my heart so I can grown in confidence in being all that God has created me to be.  I need Him to show me where this lie of insignificance and intimidation is rooted.

I want to be free to offer up my expression in whatever form it might take no matter what the talent-level in the room might be.

So thanks to my Wild Pear Creative buddies for being who God has created you to be and for allowing Him to use you to sharpen those around you.  You inspire, challenge, and maybe intimidate me just a little bit ;-)

And here's a special treat so you can hear what I'm talking about...head over to noisetrade for a free download.


some links for you to peruse and perhaps you might find a new favorite artist...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Judge or Love?

"We are not satisfied being God-like in our capacity to love; we also want to become God-like in our capacity to judge, which is how the serpent tempts us.  but in aspiring toward the atter, we lose our capacity for the former, for unlike God, we cannot judge and love at the same time." 

Gregory Boyd, Repenting of Religion, 68.

How this quote comes back to me time and time and time again. 

I was not created to bear the weight of judge and yet how often do I take it on, subtly at times, more blatant at others.  This is wrong.  That is right.  This is good.  That is evil.

And I know that I have to make that decision for myself and guide my children in the way they should go.  But when I enter into that with others, particularly in my head, the root cause is usually I'm feeling a little insignificant and, somehow, finding something "wrong" with someone else, makes me not feel so "wrong" about myself.

The problem is - and it is huge, huge, huge - is that I cannot, completely am not capable, of judging and loving at the same time.  I was not given that capacity.  It's either one or the other.

God gave me the job to love.  Love as He has loved me.  Love as I love myself.  Love so that those who don't yet know Him take notice and wonder what's up.

One day at Six Flags a couple of years ago, I was waiting for my family at the end of a ride.  Watching people, it took a few minutes before I caught my thoughts and took them captive.  But here's the essence of what was in my head:

"top too revealing"
"shorts too short"
"I can't believe her parents let her out of the house like that"
"such inappropriate behavior"

And on and on until I realized I was judging.  Sad thing is at that time in my life, that was my auto-pilot.

Sad. sad. sad.

Glad, though, that I had heard a teaching or maybe even been reading in this book I quoted above because I stopped myself and said, I wonder what would happen if instead I thought/spoke blessing over each person as they pass in front of me...

Radical change.  I'm talking the atmosphere in my head shifted dramatically and instead of judgements filling my head and heart, I felt love and life and joy begin to well up within me as I began to bless each person and then get the heart of the Father for them and in an instant I began to see them, if only in part, as God does.

Judge or love?

I know from far too many experiences that judging just does not bring life.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Love, however, while costly and oftentimes painful, is life-giving and redemptive and partners with God in the way He originally intended humanity to interact with each other and all of creation. 

It's baby steps.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Peace to a stormy heart

I wake with heart stormy like the gathering clouds.  I ask the Lord if this is what it’s supposed to be like after a weekend at a prayer retreat.  He gently responds that He has given me a tool and I need to use it.


Why am I so slow to remember?  These are not hard circumstances, just busy and a bit chaotic.  I must get this discipline grooved deeper in my life. 

It has to become my default mode else more mornings will be like this one with short tongue and critical eye and tone fighting to stay civil and not unleash the turbulence rolling inside.

Yes, they could be neater.  And, yes, they could be more respectful, and, yes, they could be more…perfect…but in allowing turbulence to define my perspective I am losing the pleasing aspects so evident in each one if I would but take a moment to pause and look.

Sparkling blue eyes, quick smile, tender heart this gentle giant of mine.

Creativity manifest, steadfast heart, diligent hands this my oldest child.

Bubbling joy, desire to please, loves to organize this my messy one.

Open smile, bright eyes, love of learning this the youngest girl.

Fashionista, artistic eye, teachable teacher my number three.

Disciplined, determined, deep my fourth born.

Then there’s my husband…who took on kids and schedules and rides and produce so I could go away for weekend and then helped with smoothie-making this morning and silly me had to fight to see what had happened (which was plenty) instead of what hadn’t.

And my heart settles and the inconvenient messes fade to the background as I swell with love thankfulness for these precious gifts I could hardly see before for all the noise inside.

Thanksgiving has quieted that raucous clamor that vied to keep my eyes on what wasn’t happening instead of what was.

This continual focus on lack is a deep groove in my life and it is causing me to MISS OUT on so much goodness God is pouring out right before my eyes.  He doesn’t want me to miss it.  He knows if I slow down to see, really see, my heart will calm and the Reality of His Presence will take its proper place next to the reality of my circumstances. 

As messy as they may seem, they are nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing…not even the size and substance of a speck of dust, next to the tiniest drop of God’s goodness in my life.

And I have way more than a drop.

God is good…all the time.  Go check out Ann Voskamp’s blog for ideas of what 3 gifts you can be on the lookout for each day in March.  And read today's post over there while you're at it.  She's taught me so much about this need to see and looks like she's blogging about it today too ...


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Perfect vs. Pleasing

"It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to please God."  ~woman at Summit Church

Such a simple two sentences, and yet truth so profound it catches me, giving me pause.

So many things to juggle.  Almost ceaseless activity and noise.  Quiet hours are few, and I'm sleeping most of those.

And this new way of living life is hard, and I'm bent towards perfection.

But He is straightening me out, vertebrae by vertebrae, until I stand erect, free, unemcumbered by the weight of doing something perfectly. arbitrary measure when all the measure I need is His pleasure.

He's pointing me towards a lifestyle directed completely by His Jesus, you know. 

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." ~Jesus

This undoing of lists and routines and schedules and this developing of new patterns and disciplines is hard.  It has the potential to unleash great amounts of anxiety within me...but only if I strive for perfection instead of moving to please Him.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
The pattern of this world spins frenzy and panic as if they were the drugs of choice, creating an atmosphere of frantic activity where we compare lists and events and activities as if we have no choice and we sigh and we moan and we curse the busyness as if it had control over us and not us over it.

But I do.  Have a choice, I mean.  I can choose transformation through getting God's thoughts about me and my life instead of drinking the world's koolaid and obsessing over the perfect _________ (you fill in the blank) where my thoughts get tied up in wondering if it really is "good enough" instead of asking Him if it's pleasing.

He says that He has life for me, not just any life, but abundant full of joy and peace and love and righteousness and everything He is.

So how do I do His good, pleasing and perfect will?

Good question.  I'm working on it.  Don't have it all figured out.  Won't have it all figured out, but one thing I do know is that it pleases Him when I trust Him.  It pleases Him when I listen to Him.  It pleases Him when I turn over all my anxiety and cares and worries to Him. It pleases Him when I believe what He says about me and what He says about Himself.  It pleases Him when I rest.

It pleases Him when I speak to my children in kind and gentle tone and give hugs and correct gently and love generously and live abundantly.  It pleases Him when I give thanks and when I worship and when I spend time with Him just because.

Does it please Him when I fold the laundry?  I don't think He cares WHAT I'm doing it as much as He cares HOW I'm doing it.

I jokingly told my friend the other day that she could send her mother-in-law over to my house and then maybe I would have motivation to get it clean.  She laughed and said, "Oh no!  There's so much freedom here."

Freedom.  That's it right there.

Free to be.  Free to live.  Free to love.

Free to not do anything perfectly or to even try to get it perfectly. 

I just get to please Him.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men."  Romans 14:17-18


Saturday, March 17, 2012


You are not insignificant.  Or better said...

You ARE significant.  Everything you do is.  Everything you are is.  Everything about you is.


If for no other reason, it is because you bear the image of the God of the universe.

You bear His seal, His stamp of approval, His "Yep, that one over there, see her?  I made her.  Isn't she amazing?  And that one sitting there?  Him too. I made him.  Isn't he wonderful?  Oh...oh...that one...see that one running back behind that bush?  Yep...My creation.  Marvelously, wonderfully made.  All these folks you see around you here and there and over there...everyone...guess what?  Fearfully made.  Like, I took serious time with each one and thought about each unique characteristic that each would bear and how they would reflect Me and make creation sing with joy and abandon.  I put all this potential in each one.  There is nothing more valuable in all of creation to Me."

So,  next time that dark whisper mocks you and tells you that what you do or who you are isn't significant, tell it to go to hell, back where it belongs.

Because you, my friend, are full of God amazing goodness just waiting to burst out on the scene and transform the world.



Friday, March 16, 2012


One of my greatest struggles as a parent is not rescuing my children from consequences.

I want them to be happy.

I want them to be able to do the fun thing we had planned today.

But, yesterday, I set the expectation of what would have to happen in order for fun thing to happen.  Some worked hard, stayed on task, and got 'er dun.  Some did not.

Those that did fortunately include the one child with driver's license who is able to take those who did to do fun thing.  Those that did not get to stay home with mom.

Sad day.

I wanted to say, oh well, you can just finish this afternoon.

And then everyone would be happy and go have fun, but then what have I actually done for the long run?


So this morning, I did the hard thing and let consequences happen, and tears are falling (yes, even mine), but maybe next time (since this time the hard, but necessary happened) we'll all get to go have some fun because, instead of short-circuiting the discipline process, I leaned in and let it run its course.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11


Thursday, March 15, 2012

"1st World" Problems

I know that's all I have.  Unfolded clean laundry in laundry baskets washed by a washing machine is definitely a "1st world" problem.  And, truthfully, it is not really a problem.  More along the lines of an inconvenience.

My daughter was in a play "Everything I Learned I Learned in Kindergarten," and one of the sketches portrayed a young man working the night shift with an older gentleman who had survived the holocaust.

The young man was complaining ad nauseum about the cafeteria food and how the cost was being taken out of his paycheck and on and on and on.  The older gentleman finally stopped him and essentially said: You need to learn the difference between inconvenience and problem.  They are not one and the same.

Me too.

There's this sense of entitlement in my life that says that I am "owed" a certain level of living and if I don't get that level of living then my rights are being violated and, by golly, somebody is going to pay (or get sued since that seems to be the route to go these days).

In my sister's Starbuck days, she told a story of a woman who ordered a hot drink, went to her Mercedes, spilled it, and then came in and yelled at my sister.  What?

And I point to that woman and say to myself, Who does she think she is anyway?  And there I've gone and judged her for what I, mostly subconsciously, do everyday...think that somebody must owe me for the trouble I go through...somebody is to blame (not me).

Trouble?  Do I really have that much trouble in my life?

If I had the extra time I'd scoot over to Merriam Webster's site and get the definition and show the difference between trouble and inconvenience, but I get what I mean and hopefully you will too.

Spilled coffee in a car, unfolded clean laundry, house not picked up because we own too much STUFF, frayed vacuum belt, broken bowl, children crying, interruptions, etc...I can't even think of what I might have on a normal basis that would even come close to being a problem in the real sense of the word.

Now, I'm not belittling how I feel about these things.  God doesn't weigh my angst against someone else's who has literal war going on all around them.  He sees and cares about my individual needs and circumstances as He sees and cares about those of someone living in a war-torn country.

But there's no guarantee that I'll always just have inconveniences.  In fact, there is the reality that I will have trouble at some point...(and I have had trouble, just not today and not really daily for quite some time now).

I better stop wasting time.  I better take advantage of this time to get thanksgiving as a lifestyle ingrained within me so that when true trouble shows up in my day, I'm not scrambling.  Well, I may scramble, but if I've worn the groove of thanksgiving deep enough, I will, hopefully...eventually, fall into that groove.

Just to be clear, I'm not afraid of the future (mostly).  I'm not thinking that trouble is just around the corner, but since Jesus said that in this life I will have trouble, I do know it is going to happen.

And I won't be surprised when it comes.  I won't be unprepared because today and tomorrow and then next day I am going to continue to practice this discipline of giving thanks in everything, albeit somewhat imperfectly.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not again!

First of all, I'd like to report that I still have four (count them 1..2..3..4) baskets of clean laundry sitting on my floor.  Yesterday, when I asked Him if I could fold it yet, He told me to go out and pull weeds while the ground was still soft from recent rains.

Dirt under my nails vs. clean folded laundry.  The ground will dry and harden, and weed pulling will be much more difficult.  The clean laundry isn't going anywhere.  I pulled weeds.

Today in my Bible reading, 1 Peter 4:12 jumped out at me:

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."

Anyone else do that?  Trial comes and the first words out of your mouth or into your mind are words of surprise and disbelief.

It's not like Jesus didn't warn us or anything:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have a short memory.

Something goes awry in my day, and I act surprised and sometimes even offended and there might just be a thought that goes something like: "God, how could You?" as if He owes me a problem-free day.

They are just going to happen.  It's guaranteed.  Jesus warned us.  Peter reminds us not to be surprised.

So, then, why am I?

I don't know.

But I do get surprised and I do get offended and I do allow unbelief in the utter goodness of God to cloud my senses and totally disrupt my day and in comes the stinky attitude of "why me?!?"

What if I tried something different?  What if next time a problem arises I try a different question?  What if I try asking "Why not me?"  I mean, is there something special about me that says that I should be precluded from problems?

As I am extrapolating my thinking process here, I quickly realize that my reaction to problems in my day reveals a self-centered mindset that causes them to grow bigger-than-life and my view of God to shrink in size.

That doesn't change who God is, but it does screw with my attitude.

Reading (and re-reading) 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp has radically shifted my perspective and highlighted my great need to develop the discipline of thanksgiving. 

After I read it the first time, I remember talking to my sister, and she said: "I decided to stop doing it.  It's just hard."  And I laughed and she laughed because we both knew that neither of us really wanted to give up the habit of thanksgiving.

It's just that the habit of "oh, no!" and "not again!" is so much more familiar and, well, comfortable.  New paths are hard to carve out.  It's so easy to slip back into old patterns.

But God IS good and His grace IS plentiful and He IS strong when I am weak.

He can take any mess, any interruption, any problem, any catastrophe and give me peace.  He can and He does.  And I must increase in awareness of His work going on all around me to take everything and work it for my good because I'm called according to His purposes, and He uses it all to rub off rough patches and reshape twisted places and mold soft parts and soften hard ones so I can look like He created me to look ...more like Him - a glorious human being created in His image.

It's getting better and I have so far to go and He is so faithful.

That's where I land today.  On His faithfulness.  He is faithful even when I am not, even when I am surprised and offended by trouble that comes my way. 

He gently picks me up, tilts my chin up to meet His gaze, looks me in the eye, and says in voice so tender and true:

"Hey, you.  Remember Me?  I have overcome the world.  Here, have some peace instead.  I'll take that worry and stress and selfishness and stubbornness and weakness and infuse it all with strength and beauty.  I'll be Me in this situation, and you can just sit back and watch and be amazed at My goodness.  Because I am, you know.  Good.  Really, really, really good.  You are weak.  I am strong.  You're in me, so guess what, I'm strong for you." 

Deep breath.  Big sigh.  Relief floods my being as I am recentered on what is true about God and suddenly here He is big and tall and enough while my problems shink to their true size, just a tiny drop in the palm of His hand.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Peace and PacMan

If you want the peace that surpasses understanding, you have to give up the right to understand. - Bill Johnson

Don't you know that's what it is that hinders my peace the most.  The need to understand. 

It's the wrangling and the wrestling and the attempts to understand why this is that and that is this and why this doesn't look like that or that like this.

And my mind goes round and round and round with peace gobbled up like dots on PacMan except in this game I want the peace to line my path, saturate my path, flat-out overtake my path.

Not get eaten up in a mindless, or, rather, mind-full attempt to get some understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

So, I keep asking Him...can I fold the laundry now?

And He says, Not yet.

I say, Why not.

He says, Just trust.

Just trust?  Just trust when to get the laundry folded?  How does that work?

And in trying to wrestle with my own thoughts and limited understanding to try to grasp this bigger-than-me plan, I whiz by peace and pick up worry and stress and anxiety.


That's what PacMan is eating.  That's what feeds the frenzy and the panic and the irritation and the shortness and the wild-eyed momma that sometimes appears at the slightest provocation.  He's not eating peace: life-giving, abundant, protective, warrior-like peace that God has designed to stand guard over my heart and mind.

I, in my own effort to run from the "ghosts" (or gobble them up if I've eaten a really big dot that makes me momentarily invincible), am trying to hurry and scurry and get it all done so I can...what? Clear the board and go to the next round?  Isn't that an endless path to only more to do?  Where's the life in that?

Obviously, God is not against me folding my clean laundry, but He is teaching me about a pace of life that sees, truly sees, what is really important.  I still have children at home.  I can, right now, avoid a large trunk-full of remorse and regret if I grasp this concept sooner rather than later...if I can hand over to God my right to understand so that, instead, I can be guarded and enveloped by His peace.

Peace that says that today I hear the birdsong and see the sky-tinged pink in early morning hours and chat with friend and stop and hold my littles and connect with my olders and realize that what I'm doing in this moment is where I am and to be fully present right here right now, not rushing and missing all this life that surrounds me.

"Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in wake of all the rushing...Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away." ~Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Your Sabbath, 45.
No advantage at all. 

So, I'm dumping this PacMan game, this "right to understand."  I'm giving that up to God.  No more going after the high score of achievements and successes measured in clean floors, laundry folded, and lessons planned, my life measured by some arbitrary yard stick of things done instead of people loved.

Want to join me?

Father God, I hand to You this right to understand, this need to know what all of this means before I can trust You.  What do You have for me in return?

(I know what He told me, but what did He show you?)

And, God, can I go fold my laundry now? ;-)


Monday, March 12, 2012

One of those days

Actually, this could more accurately be titled: Every day seems like one of "those" days.

I'm hopefully growing more in thanksgiving because God told me a while back that it would be what would get me through this season.  He's giving me a chance or two or three every day.

Some days are more of a struggle than others, particularly those days when I am almost falling asleep on my walk because I'm in a season of not as much sleep as maybe I would like.

Be thankful, I remind myself, be thankful.

And today, I have much to be thankful for as I do on every other day if only I can get past the mantra in my head: I just want to go back to sleep for just a little while...

So, I'm off to the kitchen to fix some hot tea and my super healthy smoothie and then maybe I'll stand on my head to get all of the blood flowing there.  I might then try putting on some Gypsy Kings and jumping on my rebounder to, literally, jump start this day.

Because today I cannot go back to bed.  It is my son's 10th birthday and there's lots to do and lots to celebrate.  This boy who ate blueberries until his fingers bore an almost permanent stain and tells jokes at the most opportune times and runs 10Ks like they were nothing...this boy will fuel my thanksgiving list today as I reflect back on his life and the myriad of ways he brings us so. much. joy.

I love you, little man.  You rock!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I can trust Him

As if there were any question
As if
So why do I go there
With my doubts and fears
And wonderings of what if
Instead of as if
And then when I find
The fears empty of reason
My heart sighs so deeply
Another test season
But each time
It's true
I go less to doubt
And more often to trust
So progress is made
Trust grows
Hope blooms
Faith strengthens
Mind renews
To ever increasing goodness
And glory
And life in abundance
With relationship forming
My heart now knowing
That even this mess
This pile on the floor
Or pile in my head
Quite over my head really
Is working for me
A good plan to refine
To bring me closer
To complete wholeness
In Him.

Friday, March 9, 2012



It's the never-ending chore.  It's the one thing that, unless we run around naked for a day, I can never FULLY complete.  I can have all of the laundry washed, folded and put away, but as soon as someone gets undressed for the night, the dirty laundry that was there all along on his/her body now shows up in the once-empty laundry basket.

You know the drill.  It's just always in process.  And I'm not even talking about the 1 sock that didn't get thrown in or the dirty shirt underneath someone's bed.  Laundry just can't be done...perfectly.

There's that word again. 

Perfect must've come into existence once Adam and Eve decided God was indeed holding out on them by prohibiting the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden.  What a rude awakening it was for them to realize that stepping past the No Trespassing sign meant taking on a burden of responsibility they/humans were never intended to endure.

Perfection is measured in right and wrong ways of doing things, a certain standard that sometimes feels quite arbitrary, but most definitely always whispers, even to the most perfect of us: "That wasn't quite good enough."

Perfection is never satisfied.  It creates an atmosphere of unrest and discontent like little else will.  It drives me to distraction and sometimes hopelessness because, after all, why even try if it's never going to be good enough.

Laundry is a good lesson for me, one being worked out within me even as I type and so I'm not fully able to articulate it yet.  But it goes something like this: it is enough that the clothes are washed and dried.  The fact that there are loads of clean laundry still sitting in baskets two weeks later isn't a big deal, nothing I need to strive to fix or beat myself up over. 

Yet, I do.   It's in the back of my mind all day long, and then when I go upstairs there are the baskets reminding me what a failure I am for not getting the laundry folded days ago.  I mean, how hard can it be? goes the conversation in my head.

Perfection and shame are a split second apart.  I think the correct order is shame whispers and perfection slides in on the whisper, closely followed by despair: will I ever get this laundry folded???

If I let them, the thoughts spiral on down to the complete irrational as perfection gets completely wrapped up in a basket of clean laundry.

And how on earth can a basket of clean laundry cause all of those negative emotions?

I don't know, exactly, but I'm going to let them surface and let the Lord teach me a better way. 

So, while there are many legitimate reasons the laundry goes unfolded, today it may just go unfolded on purpose while I let God sort through these ways of thinking that need His healing touch.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Present and Awake

This morning, I got up and out of bed when really all I wanted to do was sleep in.

Rainy days are good for that.

I'm on the go so much that it's more than the rain that makes today seem like a good day for staying in bed.  There are six other reasons I have, though, that remind me that it's probably better to go ahead and get up.

So I did, and here I am, and today I want to live vigorously, joyfully, present in each moment with a thankful heart.

My littlest comes to me with a paper where she's making a list of activities like piano lessons, games, dancing, singing, cooking, arts and crafts, and exercising.  She's six, and she'll likely be a program director of some sort.

She started this last night and had us each sign up beside an activity or two or three or four.  Before the evening was over, she had most of us involved in a short game of Twister (who knew how much core strength that game requires!!!) and then she and I played two rounds of Master Mind before we settled in to watch the rest of the episode of Mission Impossible.

She's growing up.  At our Monday co-op she has ballet.  Our routine involves going to the basement to the bathroom with a lounge where she can change into her ballet clothes.  Then we go sit outside her classroom, and she draws in my journal, continuing her drawing from the week before.

Used to, I never let my children draw in my journals.  It was mine and my special place to write down my thoughts.  I would usually find them their own notebook or scrap of paper from my purse to draw on.  That is until I realized that I like looking back in my journals and seeing drawings and doodles from kids now grown.

Now I turn to a blank page and hand over pen and markers and pencils, and she draws and colors and creates until time for class.  I kiss her and hug her and watch her go in.

But last Monday, she tells me that now she'd like to walk herself to her class.  All alone.  I can walk her to the basement, but I must stop at the bottom of the stairs and allow her to walk on unassisted to ballet.

I asked her what about drawing and sitting together before class.

She replies that, well, she'd just like to go by herself.

So I smile and comply and watch this big 6 year old walk herself to class, so grateful that I didn't hold my journal too tightly those Mondays before.  That season is over already and I didn't even see the end coming until it was there and done.

What moment am I living in today that may be near its end?  I'm here and present and awake and accounted for and aware, oh so aware right now, that these fleeting moments are gifts to be savored and treasured and...

What's that?  Time for my piano lesson I signed up for? 

Gotta run.  Here's a moment to savor presenting itself.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Imperfect blogging

It's better than no blogging.  Or maybe no blogging is better.

Whatever the opinion is, I'd rather get back to it. It makes me happy, even if no one ever reads what's here. 

I write in my head all the time.  If someone created an accessible device that turned thought into written word, I'd be golden.  As it is, those blogs float in the stratosphere of thoughts.

What keeps me from blogging (or doing anything, really, that I'd like to do)?


I have to find the perfect moment with the perfect amount of silence with the perfect amount of time and the perfect words to create the perfect thought.


And I thought I was done with it.

I don't even fold my laundry these days because there's no perfect time to do it.  I might get a pair of socks folded before I get interrupted or distracted or need to leave or have to check email and Facebook.  And one pair of folded socks a perfectly folded basket of laundry does not make.

Probably, if I sat and folded for every minute I spend on email or Facebook, I'd have been done and then some days ago.  As it is, the clean unfolded laundry sits in baskets for going on two weeks now.

But I have cooked dinner and I have played games and I have done something fun like take kids to see a movie one Saturday afternoon.  I've hugged and kissed children small and not-so-small.  I've made bread and granola (I'm really proud of that one for some reason).  I got our newest vehicle aquisition inspected.  I've attended skits and played Twister and watched Mission Impossible (the original series).  I've procrastinated more times than I'd like to admit over cleaning off  my desk and writing a 1000 word essay that was "due" last year (or maybe the year before?).

There's something the Lord is doing here, though, and I try not to miss it, try not to look so much at what I haven't done and see what I have...however small...however insignificant.  Because for so long, I only saw what I didn't get done and, invariably, carried along with me an underlying feeling of failure.  And I've tried to use "not going to fail again today" as a motivator for getting stuf done.  It may work for a while, but it's not working for me now.

Only makes me want to go back to bed.

So God's been working on me to talk about what I have done and trust that what I haven't done or the messes that still sit messy can be worked out for my good by the only One who really knows what good is.

I'm trusting that somewhere in these messes that I can't seem to get to and these ideas that I can't nail down and the hard drive crashing and backlog of projects and decisions left hanging and papers that need grading and new things that still keep coming that want or need my attention...Somewhere in all of this unorganized meandering that has become my life, God is setting me free and recalibrating my default mode and teaching me about being over doing.

Being over doing.  Loving over judging.  Laughing over correcting.  Smiling over stern face.  Talking in unhurried tone, communicating love and grace instead of demanding control and a perfect existence for things to be ok.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the knots are unraveling and freedom is resting and new life is happening...

And so maybe blogging will too.

Not sure about the laundry.