Friday, November 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Flying First Class

On Fridays I (sometimes) link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is fly.

Sometimes you have to let go of some baggage before you can learn to fly, and for me that was a long journey. My fears were many and often revolved around being away from my children. I used them as my security blanket. I was excited to travel the world with my sweet husband, but only as long as our children were along as my insurance. I know. This is some weird (il)logic, but there it is.

The funny thing is that last month I was on ten planes in fourteen days and never was it with my children. They are, after all, living lives of their own now at ages 24 and 19.

Learning to fly looks different for all of us. My fears are not your fears and your fears are not mine. My fears controlled me to an extreme that kept me from leaving home alone. My leap into flight didn’t come overnight. It was a gradual climb, occurring only after crash landing in a pit of anxiety and depression. My leap included years of study and prayer with God, a kind therapist, a vigilant and loving husband and children who never judged me for my weaknesses.

If you’re still tied to the ground, my heart is tender for you. I have felt your pain. Your path to flight will not look like mine, but it is there. Let go of what holds you down. Let go and fly, because on this flight we all fly First Class.

Monday, November 18, 2013

But I Know He Loves Me

We get ourselves in trouble when we think we have all the answers. And since I am not a fan of trouble, I'm just going to confess right now that I don't have many answers.

I spend a lot of time with God in study, in prayer, in nature, in listening. Yet I recognize so much about God is bigger than my mind can grasp. I don't know all things. In fact, I don't know most things, but I get what God means when he says to love. Love Him. Love you. Love myself. This I understand. So in every decision of every day, I want to choose love. I may not be able to interpret the book of Revelation or explain exactly what Paul meant in all of his writings (I'm thinking more punctuation could have helped there), but I understand well enough that I can never go wrong when I choose to love.

I have come to understand that my loving well can only come when I rest in God's love for me. Until I grab hold of God's love for me, I won't be able to share it, because it won't be in me.

God loves.  He asks me to do the same. Love him.  Love you.  Love myself. I don't always do it well but I want to.

Of these things I am sure:  God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is creator of all things, me included.  God's power and promises are believable. On my own I am a mess, sinful and self-centered, but with Christ I can do all things. God's love, the saving blood of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit living in me, make me whole, perfect and valuable to God, worthy of His love. God wants me. He wants my attention, my love, my whole self and not just a piece. I give this to Him through worship and prayer and what I choose to give my heart to each day.

I don't know much, but I know God loves me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Good Goodbye

Fear is not a good friend. I dream of doing so many things, and I can say it is lack of time that holds me back but, honestly, it is fear more than anything that keeps me from my dreams. I dream of writing three or four blog articles a week, but while I am busy and the travel we love keeps me in a perpetual game of catch up, I know that if I really wanted to – if I was really brave enough to write more of my heart - I would be writing three or four times a week.

The past three years have seen me let go of a lot of fear. God has healed me in ways I hadn’t seen coming. And while I still hold on to some fear, I live braver today than I have in all my life. I am so grateful. Grateful that while my son is a member of the U.S. Army, I don't lie awake at night afraid of what his future holds. Fear does not grip me and that is a flat out miracle. I am grateful that when it came time to let my daughter go away to college, I was not gripped by fear. Fear that she would be lonely or scared or someone would hurt her, and I wouldn’t be there to make it right (that's what mom's do, right!). I walked that road when my son went away to college, and it wasn't good. Most of the time my imagination is a bigger enemy to me than anything real. I sabotage my own peace of mind. I am grateful for the healing of my mind, especially a healing that results from a reining in of my overactive imagination.

This has been a year of living bravely. A year of learning and growing. A year of new friends from distant countries. A year of navigating social services on behalf of refugees. A year of meetings with social workers and aid workers and doctors and planning a funeral, assisting in a birth, and meeting with caseworkers and school counselors and midnight emergency room visits. A year of saying goodbye to my son again and to my daughter for the first time. All because in January I told God I would like to live bravely.

Today I’m looking for a home for my friend who has been approved for permanent housing through the City of Boise’s housing program for the poor. We’ve been looking since August without success. It’s not easy finding a landlord who will rent to the poor. This is frustrating and could be scary, but I know God has a home for my friend and her children. A good home. A home where they will know joy and security.

And I am not afraid.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind."
1 Timothy 1:7

Friday, November 8, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

On Fridays I (sometimes) link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is truth.

Last weekend Rebecca and I attended our first ever Women of Faith conference in Tacoma, Washington. It was a crazy travel time for me. Ten planes in fourteen days. Two continents and a lot of jet lag. But none of that could keep me from a long planned weekend with my girl at a conference where all our favorites would be - Jen Hatmaker! Christine Caine! Kari Jobe! No way was I letting a little jet lag keep me away.

Here are a few beautiful truths we heard:

"Freedom is available to each one of us today if we choose to grab on to it.  Most Christians settle for deliverance and not freedom. Christians that are bound don't like Christians that are free. I am not going to live delivered when I can live free." Christine Caine

"Stop defending the gospel all the time like we are protectors of the kingdom of God. Like everyone out there is our enemy. Jesus told us he needs us to represent the kingdom. Not defend it. We serve a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Nobody can take from us what Jesus has won for us. We need to be people that make the gospel real for people." Jen Hatmaker

"We are the most resourced, educated advantaged women on earth. Can you imagine what we can do. We can be a people who say here we are. Send us." Jen Hatmaker

"If you believe there is anything you can do to make God love you more, you're saying the cross was not enough. You are redeemed. You are holy. You are righteous. He doesn't care about what you've done or even what you're going to do. All he cares about is you because you're his. There's no loop hole. There's no expiration on Christ.  Take a breath and remind yourself there's nothing you can do to mess this up." Mercy Me

"We should be identifying ourselves like John did in the Bible as the one Jesus loves. Hi, I'm _______, the one Jesus loves. The theme of my life should not be my love for God but his love for me." Judah Smith

This is truth, and I choose to walk in it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Beautiful Cities and Books That Come Alive

Kevin and I just returned from a business trip to Norway and Sweden (and by "returned" I mean we have been traveling for 20 hours and are in Seattle waiting to board our final flight home). Once I finished my work each day, I was free to roam the city far and wide while Kevin remained tied up speaking the language of mobile technology.

I love the freedom of wandering a new city on my own. While I love, love, love traveling with my family, there is something especially delicious when every choice is my own. Want to walk to the other side of Oslo (even though there is a perfectly good tram) and see the sculpture garden? Done. Want to pop into every church along the way? Done. Want to sit in a cafe people watching for an hour? Done. But my favorite is the opportunity these solo days give me to read. I can sit in a new cafe every day, or twice a day for that matter, mixing all those things I love, caf├ęs, people watching and reading. All in a gorgeous Scandinavian city in a cafe filled with super polite people who look an awful lot like me. Except that they're all taller than me but I've forgiven them that.

On this particular trip I was reading Walter Wangerin's novel, The Book of God. The author writes the Bible in a story format, and I was captivated. I loved that the book made the Old Testament clearer to me in terms of chronology, although reading Jeremiah's sad life was hard on my heart. The New Testament, in particular, was so real the people and events seemed to jump off the page and into my own life. I was completely drawn into the story and sometimes found myself crying. In a cafe. In Oslo. I finished the book in the middle of our trip and for days afterwards found myself missing Jesus. I felt so much a part of his every day life as I was reading, that I was lonely for him when the book ended. I've never experienced that before with a book. I'm pretty sure that, in spite of its 634 pages, this is one book I'll be reading again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Together We Change the World

On Fridays I (sometimes) link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is together. 

For an introvert I'm pretty fond of "together." For as much as I love a solitary run or my quiet time in the morning, I know we are better when we come together.

A week ago Kevin and I left Boise for twelve days of travel. I love to travel but as we have become more and more involved with our community, leaving has become hard. Saying goodbye to the ones we love and take care of is not easy.

In the midst of packing and preparing, I received phone calls, texts, and emails about the various needs of our friends: transportation needs, housing needs, medical needs, etc.  All of this tugs at me to stay, and yet together we can see to all of these needs even when one of us is far from home. A text or an email sent from another continent, a quick message to friends who walk with me in this community assures these needs are met whether I am in Boise or Oslo.

If you are thinking about jumping into the real and messy life in your community, jump all in. Don't think you must meet every need or have an answer to every problem. We do this together, and where I lack you fill the gap. Where you lack I fill the gap.

Together we love.

Together we meet needs.

Together we create beauty.

Together we heal.

Together we change the world.

"The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now." Rick Warren

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: More Ordinary Please

On Fridays I (sometimes) link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is ordinary.

I’d like a little more ordinary in my life. Not in all the parts of my life. I like the wow factor as much as anybody, but I’d like to get a better handle on my spoken words. You know, those words blurted out, the ones you wish you could rewind. I look forward to days when it is ordinary for the words I speak to be consistently kind and meant to build up. You might think this isn’t an issue for me but check out the Bible verses I’ve chosen to memorize for 2013. I'm no analyst but there appears to be a pattern.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Colossians 4:6 “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”

Romans 14:13 “Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead, decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother or sister's way.”

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called, in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”

That last verse says it all for me, “control your hearts.” As I walk each day with my Lord, I want my heart to be all in for him.

Let this be ordinary for me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When It's Not About Me

Last week my daughter Rebecca introduced me to the author John Stott. How could I have missed his writings? Two of his books have now been added to the growing stack on the floor by my desk. I fear Rebecca's Theology major and my book addiction will not be kind to my wallet.

In his book The Incomparable Christ John Stott writes, "Only if we serve, will we experience freedom. Only if we lose ourselves in loving, will we find ourselves. Only if we die to our own self-centeredness, will we begin to live."

Did he write this just for me?! Over and over in my own life this has been proven. Only when I serve others, do I stop thinking about myself: Am I happy or sad, has someone offended me, was the sermon fulfilling enough, am I lonely, have my family and friends been attentive enough this week and on and on until I am a mess of self focus and just - yuk!

Kevin and I returned Monday from a weekend in Austin, Texas where we attended Idea Camp - Human Care. We heard ordinary people speak about living bravely in a scary world.

We think of lives lived in service for others as sacrifice, and yes it is difficult and different and sometimes scary. But I wonder if it isn't so much better than a life lived comfortably at home. I struggle each day to "die to self," praying it would be easier to look away from my selfish and prideful desires and instead, look only to loving others well. Why is this so hard? The only antidote I have found to selfishness and pride is helping others. When I am loving and caring for others, I forget myself. I forget my desire to get my own way, my desire to be the center of attention. I forget even my own self-focus. This is the only way I know to let go of me.

Brandon Hatmaker, author of The Barefoot Church (seriously, do not read his book unless you're ready to live a far less sedentary life!), was the first speaker at Idea Camp. He said part of our goal in being the hands and feet of Jesus must be sharing that experience with others. For me that means sharing the amazing feeling I get in helping and loving those in need. So here I am saying, if you want more joy in your life and less focus on your own messy self, help others. If you want to go to bed at night exhausted but content, serve others. Sometimes you'll go to bed confused and discouraged and wondering if you're helping or hurting, because this is real life and serving others is always messy, but it is always, always better.

See the need around you and grab onto it. It's right there in the person next to you at Starbucks, at the bus stop, on your morning run, in the house across the street, across the aisle at your church. Be a difference.

If you want more joy in your life, serve others.

If you want more peace in your life, serve others.

If you want more hope in your life, serve others.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love Is a Daughter


When your youngest child is leaving for college in a few short days, you will do almost anything she wants. Like a dinner of only ice cream or a last minute dash to Goldy's (Boise's best breakfast).

Two nights ago our sweet girl lay between her parents in bed laughing and hogging our space, lying sideways and pretending to be three years old again. I wanted to freeze those moments in my memory. I wonder does she realize how big my love for her is? The joy that is mine because I am her mom? Does she grasp that I delight in her mere existence?

In this last week before college life begins, Rebecca has received a lot of advice and wisdom from those who love her. I shared this with her:  Don't think you can only share the good parts of life with us. Share the hard stuff too. Share your mistakes. Share your fears. Your worries. True relationship only exists when we are real with each other. And for real - our lives are often messy.

I wonder how differently our lives would be if we lived each day believing God loves us in just this “filled with delight” way.  God loves me bigger and more beautifully than I could ever love my sweet girl. If I never, ever forgot this, what would my life look like? If in every moment of every mistake I get myself into, I believed He loves me just as I am, how much bigger, how much braver would my life be?

Truth is this: God delights in the mere fact that I am his daughter. I do nothing and He loves me still. Delights in me still. There is nothing more. There is nothing less. God demonstrated this to me in how he loved his son Jesus.

“And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." Matthew 3:17

"When God called Jesus His beloved, Jesus did something truly remarkable: He believed Him. And He lived every moment of His life fully convinced of His identity." Jonathan Martin, Prototype

I am loved. You are loved. Simply because we are.

Wise Women

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Here I Am in This Day

On Fridays I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is in between.

In between is a place I had to learn to be comfortable with. I remember those long ago in betweens, back when the children were little. It seemed I was always looking ahead to the next big event in their lives, the ability to sit up, walk, brush their own teeth, manage their homework independently, drive (gulp!).

For so long I was uncomfortable with being in between. I was always looking to the next thing. I welcomed change and became really good at moving on.

I have learned, however slowly, to be content where I am. To soak in the joy this particular day brings. I want to find joy right here in the in between and not always be searching for it in tomorrow. This has been a hard lesson, but it is better. Life is better. Joy is more easily found when I'm looking for it where I am and not only where I'm going.

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ....get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

Monday, June 24, 2013

When Your Daughter is the Teacher

Last month our sweet baby girl graduated from high school. We spent the month of May in a whirl of senior thesis defense, final exams, baccalaureate, senior breakfast, many, many parties and oh yes, graduation.
the sweet baby girl
and her family
At the baccalaureate service parents were asked to write a tribute to their graduate. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Sweet Girl - You know that question we get in women's Bible study sometimes, "Name the woman who has most influenced your life?" I know that question is meant to call to mind an older wiser woman, but for me that woman is you. From the three old little girl teaching me to be open with my feelings, "Mommy, I'm mad at you." "Mommy, you hurt my feelings." "Mommy, I'm sorry."  "Mommy, I'm sad." To the young woman of faith you have become, I have learned more from you than any other female in my life. Your example has made me kinder, more forgiving, more honest, has changed my faith walk, has increased my commitment to God and has changed how I see God and how I see myself.  Today, I make you the promise that as you grow, I will grow with you and remain teachable.

If I had to choose one word for what I've learned most from my children, I would say Caleb taught me to be brave and you taught me to be kind.  And I am so grateful.

You know that argument we have, "I love you more." "No, I love YOU more." Well, when you become a mom, you'll understand that I'll be winning that argument all your life.

If you're a mom (or dad!) and you've got it in your head that you'll teach more than learn as you parent, I just might have to disagree. Soak it in and grow with your sweet ones. It is the best thing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Didn't Know What Was Missing

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"  Henry David Thoreau

Kevin, Rebecca and I gave the sermon (I use that term loosely) recently at our church. Rather than a sermon, we talked about our friends who have joined us from Africa. Kevin started us off by inviting one of our Congolese friends to join him up front, and they talked about his family’s story. Why they fled Congo, how they made their way to a refugee camp in Rwanda and then how they eventually made their way to Boise. Their story is not for the faint of heart. Their father was killed, their mother fled in the night with all five of her children, and another on the way. They spent 15 years in the Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda, living in tiny homes with tent like roofs, dirt floors, no running water, and no cooking facilities. It is simply a miracle they are living safely in the U.S. today.

Rebecca followed with a Biblical view of refugees. She highlighted those characters in the Bible who were refugees, the Israelites (famine) and even Jesus himself (persecution).

I was the caboose. My part of our presentation consisted of a series of Tweets - insightful thoughts about life - gleaned from those I follow on Twitter. This is apparently what you do when you have no profound original thoughts.

Here are a few of my very favorite Tweets.

My desire was to show the heart I believe Jesus wants us to have for those in our world who suffer. I wanted not only to introduce empathy but to fuel action. I talked about our increasing involvement in the lives of the refugees who attend our church. These dear friends who have grabbed hold of our hearts with no sign of ever letting go.

While I spoke I wanted to share how much greater the reward is than what we give. It is little trouble to drive my friend to an appointment and babysit her sweet children. How could I do otherwise when I know her alternative is a lengthy bus ride with a two year old on her back and a five year old in hand? This, while she is just weeks from delivering her fourth child. To sit comfortably at home knowing this seems unconscionable.

Unfortunately, I suffer from an odd condition with no scientific name. It's symptoms are this: many times (okay every time) when I try to speak of things of great beauty or sadness or anything that tugs at my heart, tears come. There it is. I am a crier. My friends all know this. I can barely read the grocery list tear-free.

What I wanted to say last week was this. To be included in the lives of our new friends is like nothing I've known. It is new and beautiful and full of surprises and sometimes confusing and just - full. Last night, I drove my sweet friend and her children from her brothers' and sister's apartment back to the homeless shelter where they have been living since January. When I arrived at the apartment, I was greeted with enthusiasm. Each family member came out of whatever room they happened to be in to greet me, shake hands with me, and as they always, always do ask, "How is Kevin? How is Rebecca? How is your day?" The full house, the barely controlled chaos - I love it all. This. This is what I wanted to say last week when I stood before my church family and made a feeble attempt at saying just this - When you open your life to the refugees living in your community, they will fill your heart with something you didn't know was missing. That you didn't even know existed.

Jesus, please help me see the face of God in each of us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Am Believing God

Last month my husband and I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with our daughter, Rebecca, at Whitworth University. Rebecca will be a freshman at Whitworth this fall. While there we attended Parent College, which was amazing. We listened to two lectures, one from Professor Patricia Bruininks, a psychology professor who did her thesis work on - wait for it - hope! I want to go back to college, please.

We then heard from theology professor Gerald Sittser. Professor Sittser shared that Whitworth doesn't require its faculty to sign any statement of faith. Instead, each applicant submits their own statement of faith, one they have written personally. I loved this and immediately started wondering what my own personal statement of faith would look like (I did hear the remainder of his lecture - I promise).

The idea sounded so great I assigned it as homework to the friends who gather with us each week in our home for Bible study. And they did it! Not only did they complete their homework, they loved it - and so did I. If you had been in our home Wednesday night, you would have seen a diverse group of Jesus followers, scattered around our living room listening intently as we each read aloud our personal beliefs about God. It was, indeed, a fantastic evening, and I am grateful.

Here is my own personal statement of belief, long thought over, prayed about and years in the making.

  • I believe in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of all things, me included.  God is all powerful and keeps His promises to me.
  • I believe on my own I am a mess, sinful and selfish, but with Christ I can do all things. God's love, the saving blood of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit living in me, make me whole, perfect and valuable to God, worthy of His love.
  • I believe in God's holy word, and that it is alive and active in me.
  • I believe God wants me. He wants my attention, my love, my whole self and not just a piece of me. I give this to Him through worship and prayer and what I choose to give my heart to each day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Chasing Rest

On Fridays I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is rest.

Rest is elusive. I chase rest and don't always catch it. As a family, we have been purposeful in trying to live a peace filled life. By that I mean keeping the crazy out as much as possible - you can judge how we're doing with that one.

For me rest is more than a good sleep. Rest is peace. Rest is "shalom" - completeness, wholeness, peace, soundness, tranquility, fullness, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Rest is being okay with who I am.

Rest is turning off all that noise - television, laptop, phone, the task list I keep in my brain, the expectations I have for myself - all of those things that keep my mind spinning. Rest is not pulling out my iPhone to check my email in the doctor's waiting room but taking a page from those olden days when instead I would simply observe my surroundings. Rest is taking those few spare minutes to sit down and close my eyes instead of picking up my book or the newspaper. Rest is not making a To Do list, even though checking off those tasks is so very satisfying to me.

Rest is being quiet and listening to my heart, to what God is sharing with me today.

Jesus says, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves." Matthew 11:28-29

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday - I Remember Ordinary

On Fridays I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is ordinary.

I remember ordinary but faintly. Ordinary was a few months ago. Ordinary was restful. It was, well orderly. An early morning coffee during my quiet study time, then a run along the river, no rushing about but just a slow ease into the day.

I haven't enjoyed ordinary in a while now, not since my family began helping our friend from Congo and her three young children after they moved into the homeless shelter for women and children. Now my mornings and days are filled with transportation needs, babysitting, legos strewn about, changing of diapers (it's been a while!) laughter, and sweet hugs.

This week has been even less ordinary than my new normal, as we walked with our friend through the hospitalization and death of her mom. Three young children overnight, bath time, school schedules and quite a bit less sleep.

There has been nothing ordinary this week. I have seen what I didn't know was possible, that there can be beauty in death. Beauty in this love I have seen, a whole mountain of it. Beauty in seeing a daughter care for her mom in her last hours and afterwards. Beauty in the heart-wrenching grief displayed without embarrassment or care for who sees, for this grief honors one so greatly loved. Beauty in the dozens of friends and family streaming into the hospital room to say goodbye and just be present.

I am grateful, so very grateful to have been a part of this not so ordinary week.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Poor Me

I like to read. That's no surprise if you've known me for five minutes. I read mostly nonfiction because it's what I like and I don't like how so often fiction is, well can I just say, depressing. I find real life hard enough without being depressed for the sake of entertainment. But I digress. If you look at my reading list, you'll see a wide range of books, from Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler to A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit.

Last summer I read the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and my heart broke. My heart broke for the millions of women and girls for whom violence and rape are common place. My heart broke for these girls and women who don't know they are valuable and important, treasured and deserving of love and security.

My heart also broke for the millions of us living a better life who choose not to be aware of what is happening in this world. We all live on the same planet, and I'm ashamed so many of us choose to look the other way because we might be inconvenienced or feel guilty for doing nothing. These same traumatized girls and women could be us if we were simply born into a different place.

A new point of view
A walk in your shoes
I wish I could get inside your head
To see what you see
When you look at me
'Cause I could've lived your life instead
Instead by Stacie Orrico

Today, I watched this short video featuring the actress Eva Mendes and her involvement with Half the Sky. It made me sad and not for the reason you might think. I was sad that it is seemingly so easy for a person like Ms. Mendes to be a change for good in the world. Most of us can't jump on a plane to Africa so easily and likely wouldn't be as welcomed upon arrival.

But these feelings are selfish. Honestly, this is just a "poor me" moment (ironic, huh!). The truth is there is tremendous need all around me - all around you. All I (all you) need do is open my eyes, open my heart and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those standing right in front of me.

I'm ready Jesus. Let's go.

Wondering where you can go to be the hands and feet of Jesus? In your own community, look for these organizations:

Center for refugees
Homeless shelter
English language center
Boys and Girls Club
Your local elementary school
Food bank

In Idaho:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Am Not Letting Go

I was running last week and listening to music when these words filled me.

Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
Alone is the street where you found me
Scared of what's behind
You always scared of what's in front
Live with what you have
And make the best of what's to come

Tell me a story long and true
We are what we say we are what we do
Just pieces of a puzzle to find where we stand just confused
So you are the moon that pulls me through the night
Tell Me a Story by Phillip Phillips

The words spoke to me so clearly that I stopped running. In that moment I understood that for so long I didn't allow myself to grab onto hope, that I lived for years with a fear of what was to come - a fear of what life would be like when my sweet children grew into lives of their own and were no longer a part of my moment by moment life. Would I still have purpose? Would I still be valuable? Lovable?

I realized I hadn't given myself permission to feel hope because I didn't really believe  God loves me just as I am.  Oh, but he does.  The Bible says I am wholly and dearly loved, a saint, a child of God, blameless, chosen, God's special possession, a priest, righteous, faithful.

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us. . .  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Ephesians 5:1-2 & 8

Today I grab onto hope, knowing it is indestructible. Hope grabs onto light and does not let go. I see hope, and I am not afraid.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: They Are All Beloved

Today's writing prompt: BELOVED (A person who is dearly loved)

At 15 my beloved and I found each other.
Not the norm we know!

At 22 this beloved came into my life.

At 27 God gave me this beloved.

My life is more than I dreamed. So much more. And I know it. Every. Single. Day.

I desire that God open my heart to a bigger concept of beloved. That those who aren't as visible become visible and beloved to me. To all of us.

Today, these sweet ones are also beloved.

God, please open my heart so that each face is beloved to me. Just as each face is beloved to you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Peace of Christ

Today, Kevin and I were blessed to attend church in Utrecht, Holland at St. Martin's Cathedral, or Domkerk as it is known locally.

The church is beautiful and as you can imagine we don't normally worship in such a setting, living as we do in Boise, Idaho. In fact, our home city goes for a much simpler worship style and one that suits us well on a regular basis. Today's worship, though, was special.

The choir in their long red robes filling the church with ancient song, the sounds rich and full in the stone church.

The kindness of the elderly Dutch gentleman sitting next to me, guiding me through the Dutch prayer book, pointing to each song and prayer and probably wincing inwardly at my botching of the Dutch language.

The female priest.

The story of Peter and the overflowing net of fish which I could make out even in Dutch.

The communion. Oh, the communion. I loved it. The lining up, altogether, sharing a cup, thanking my Lord for what he's given me.

And my favorite, greeting each other with the words, "the Peace of Christ," said by some in Dutch, others in English.

Indeed, today I am blessed.

Vrede van Christus.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My First Five Minute Friday - BARE!

Today's writing prompt: BARE

Ready, Set Write!

Bare is a scary word. It's a word I came late to living. In the last year I have come to embrace this word, which to me means being vulnerable, being authentic, being my true self - even if that self isn't as acceptable to those around me as my cleaned up cheerful self.

I credit much of this new way of life to the writings of Brene Brown. When I read her book, The Gift of Imperfection, my world was rocked. I read the book in one sitting - on a drive home to Boise from Portland, Oregon (my husband was driving!). I think I read half the book aloud to him with each segment starting on a gasp of discovery. 

I next read Brene's book Daring Greatly, and learned how much of who I am is influenced by the shame I feel. I so wish I could have read something like this when my children were young, so if you're a parent of young children, please grab onto this book!

For me living vulnerably is summed up so well, in the words of Carl Medearis, "I know the one place I can't go wrong is the place where Jesus is.  I can be weak, sinful, foolish, and even rebellious.  I can fail others, ruin ministries, fumble my work, and still, I cannot go wrong when I stand with fear and trembling, knowing only Jesus."

Bare - It's not so scary after all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Always Hope - Always Always Always Hope!

Are you ever amazed at the themes different stages of life bring? I am. For a while now it seems everywhere I turn I hear the word hope. In music, sermons, and scripture hope seems to be a hot topic. This word hope has a special hold of my heart. If my children allowed it, I'd have the words Always Hope tattooed on my wrist.  For me hope is intensely personal. After a long walk in the darkness of a deep depression, I emerged in May 2010 into a world of hope. Hope that light will outshine darkness every day. My journey out of darkness was long and hard fought. It included a great deal of love and never-waivering support from my husband, and the guidance of a gifted therapist. One day I'll share more of that journey but for now, here are some words of hope I love.

But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice and always put your hope in God. Hosea 12:6

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

For God has not given us a spirit of fear: but of power and of love and of sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

They say you'll find yourself one of these days
As if they know I'm lost and could never be saved
A gamble is what I'll take trading ashes for gold, hoping life will give its sake
Life is too short to stop and stare at the blank page that tells your way
Hold On by Phillip Phillips

In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all-in-all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ Alone by Keith Getty

"If you will trust God with your anguish it will birth something precious to you. It will birth something that you will not trade back." Beth Moore

And so I will always hope.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Five Months Gone

It's been five speedy months since I last wrote, Maybe We've Forgotten How to be Nice, from the stifling heat of an August day in Georgia. Today, it is a crisp 7 degrees, and snow blankets our hometown of Boise. It is not for want of writing or lack of subject matter that this blog has gone quiet; but merely the pace of life. Here are a few things that can keep one from writing regularly.

Welcoming home a dearly loved
son from Army OCS.

Launching a sweet daughter into
her senior year of high school.

Moving into a new home a mere three days before my dear husband flew to New Zealand and Australia for two weeks of work. (No photo can do justice to the crazy of this life event!)

Traveling with the sweet daughter and her
senior class to Europe for ten
fun-filled, sleep deprived days.

Traveling to Washington with both of my dear 
children to tour a potential college for the sweet girl.
Note big brother's Boise State hat. Loyal alumnus he is.

Hosting 15 dear ones for Thanksgiving.
Hosting a small group Bible study/missional community in our home each week.

Reading, studying and learning how to live wholeheartedly, with honesty and vulnerability. 

Growing ever closer to the sweet love Jesus pours out on us all, and seeing that love pour out of myself, my precious family and our small group friends as we jumped feet first into service for our refugee friends who are learning and adapting to life in the United States.

"I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. . . It's the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day."  Bob Goff

Thank you Jesus. I accept.