Monday, February 20, 2017

Swapping Goodness


I learned so many things when I moved to Florida. First of all, it IS kind of weird. Have you ever noticed that 99.99% of the weird and bizarre news stories take place in Florida? I think there have been actual studies done. So, yes, I fit right in, thank you. Also, it is paradise. For me. Maybe your paradise is the mountaintop in Colorado or the desert in Arizona. Aren’t you glad God made us so different? Cause it would be really hard to fit us all in here at the beach.

I don’t know if you have ever moved from one kind of place to another kind of place, but if you have you have probably experienced culture shock. Our family totally did. In so many ways. We learned all kinds of things the first bit of time here. We learned the language of surfers: things are sooooooo goooooood. We learned to surf. Okay, okay. The rest of my family learned to surf. But I learned to paddle really, really well. I tell people that I paddle and they say, “Oh, you mean paddleboard!” No. No, I do not. I paddle. I can paddle my surfboard out, I can paddle my surfboard in. Don’t judge me.

I like to think I brought a little bit of culture here as well. If you are from any part of the south you know what Rotel is. NO ONE HERE KNEW WHAT ROTEL WAS. I’m sorry I had to shout that at you, but it is so shocking that I needed you to feel the full emotion of it. Everyone who came to my house—and there were lots of folks since we were starting an actual church in our house—came hoping for “that dip”. People—it is just a block of Velveeta and two cans of Rotel tomatoes. No secret sauce here. Did they believe that? No. They thought I must mix in some Tennessee magic to make it addictive. I tried to tell them it was just that good old pasteurized cheese that kept them coming back for more. To this day, 10 years later, people come over and ask if I will make that “cowboy dip”. Just stop and think about that, please.

So, Florida, you are welcome. How you existed on this planet without Rotel is beyond me, but I’m glad to be using my gifts.

I learned so much more from my new culture, of course. Deeper things like just because it's sunny and 80 doesn’t mean life is grand. Just because you have a great tan and a bikini and a convertible doesn’t mean you are happy. Conversely, I have learned that sometimes beautiful days are just a God-invitation to go to the beach and enjoy His world. And life doesn’t always have to be so serious all the time.

It is my deep hope that I have taught some things as well. That my Savior Jesus is so awesome and you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about Him—you can know Him for your very own self in the Bible. That there is a Love that is truly unconditional and perfect and it is for you.

What a great exchange of ideas we can have if we are open to it.

A friend told me the other day about a couple of friends of hers whose business and personal relationship broke up because of the election. Man. That is just too bad. And sad. Too sad. I’m sure there were different opinions, I’m sure they were both passionate about their opinions, I’m sure they felt they just couldn’t go on with the relationship due to such stark differences. I don’t know them, but I feel this had to be the case since they were closing such a meaningful chapter in their lives because of disagreement.

I don’t know that I have ever met anyone I completely agree with. I have been married for nearly 22 years, and Jason and I most certainly do not agree on everything. My daughter is my best friend and she and I openly disagree on many issues. My son is the most fun and funniest person I know, yet he and I have very different views on several things. And these are the people I am closest to!! I am so thankful we don’t let these things define our relationship. I’m so grateful we talk, we listen, and sometimes we just leave it at that. Life doesn’t become consumed by proving we are right and they are wrong.

I’ve learned a lot from my family. They will tell you they have learned a lot from me. And here we go, walking through life, far from perfect, far from identical, just learning and going and growing.


I hope you take time to learn from someone today. Many times, time isn’t exactly what it takes, it takes a lowering of the pride guard. I hope you lower the pride guard enough to learn today. I hope you listen. The Bible speaks to this in James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Goodness. If we would all follow just that one maybe our world could change for the better.


I hope you exchange some goodness today. And if someone gives you nastiness instead, that’s okay. Let them keep your goodness anyway.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pretending


I have a unicorn mask. I was in Books-A-Million one day, being all bookish, when I rounded the corner to a stand of hats. In the midst of all the hats, there it was—this magical unicorn mask. I could not believe no one bought it. How does something this fantastic stay unsold? I can’t answer all the questions of the universe for you. I bought it.

I immediately sent a picture of it to my children. They both agreed that, of course, I had to buy the mask. It could not not be done. I have had great fun with this mask. I sneak up on my dog with it. I scare my husband by popping out from an unexpected place as—surprise!—a unicorn. If you were wondering, yes. It was well worth the money.

I was writing a lesson this week on how we are all so tempted to pretend. Wherever you may live, whatever walk of life you are in, whether you work or don’t, mother or don’t, wife or don’t, we are all tempted to be something…else. Something that fits in better. Something that elevates others’ opinions of us. Something that shows off something we don’t have but wish we did.

I want to live as me, I try to live as me, but I do catch myself pretending from time to time. It’s a hard habit to break. Especially when you’re surrounded by so many people doing so much pretending. But I always come back to this thought: whatever I feel I “need” to pretend to be, that I am not, that I am called to be, that I do not even wish to be—that magical elusive thing will change. That’s the way of culture. It changes. You know the ways. One day, one body type is in and next year it's something else. This type of mothering is in this season, the next it's on to a different type of mothering. One store is THE STORE and then it's not, cause THE NEXT STORE has opened. Colors of the year. Hairstyles. Design. Even Heidi Klum reminds us: “in fashion, one day you are in and the next you are out”. (Note to reader: if you do not recognize that quote,  you need to stop reading this RIGHT NOW and find Project Runway and watch them all. THEM ALL.)

So I have found that I can work myself into a complete frenzy becoming something so not me only to find once I feel comfortable in that pretend role, everyone has moved on to something else. Well poop. And it begins again.

What an exhausting way to live. God knew it would be. That is why He told us in Romans 12:2 not to copy the “patterns” of this world. I’m not to lay out whatever is culturally cool/cool/hip/admirable/praiseworthy and pattern my life after that. I’m to seek Him and let Him change the way I think so I’ll be really and truly me. The me that isn’t exhausting to be. The me that is patterned after my Creator, so is totally possible to be. The classic me. The one that never goes out of style.


Now, where did I put that unicorn mask?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thriving


I had lunch with a friend the other day where we talked about our dreams for the year. She has hers, I have mine. It was nice to share and be encouraged. Even though we are different, have different jobs, and live different lives, we can identify with the sparkle in each other’s eyes, the hope of something we dream coming to pass, excitement.

That led into a discussion about having a particular word for the year. I have never done this with any consistency. I think it’s a great idea—I absolutely love Debbie Macomber’s book on this, “One Perfect Word”. Maybe my problem is that I have too many words. Maybe I should belong to the word of the month club, instead of the word of the year club. Regardless, I do have a word rattling around in my brain for 2017—nourished. I want to nourish and be nourished, in my marriage, in my family, in my spiritual life, in my ministry. You get the idea. We’ll see if it sticks, or if it was inspiration for the moment I needed it. A good thing, either way.

My friend told me a lot of people she knew had the word “Thrive” for their 2016 word of the year. Well. I totally missed the boat on that one. For some reason, we thought this was hilarious and went on to detail how we did not, in fact, thrive in 2016. Hey—at least we can laugh about it. I love how humor so often allows us to let down our guards. We did as we talked about how the non-thriving-ness was just okay. We are still living and breathing right now in 2017. So we missed out on all the wild, rampant thriving that was happening in 2016. We get this year, this month, this day to have another go at it. You don’t know us.

Maybe “thrive” was your word for 2016 and you also, in fact, did not. I would like to tell you that is okay. I would like to tell you God is here, now, and still has amazing plans for you, no matter the lack of thriving that occurred last year, or the year before that, or the year before that. Oh, those new mercies (See Lamentations 3:22-23). They keep popping up every sunrise. And aren’t we grateful? I am.

I don’t know what your word of the year is, if you even have one. If you do, or if one popped into your head as you read this, I hope it is dramatically fantastic. I hope it lives up to the big, big dreams God has for your year. I hope you see it in lights in your mind’s eye. I hope it is based on God’s Promises for you—because they are absolutely true and faithful.


And I hope that, no matter what happens or does not happen, you live into each new day. Because missing the boat on one thing isn’t the end of the journey. More often than not, it just gets us right where we need to be right when we need to be there. And isn’t that just like God?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Baby Inspiration


Look at that face! What word do you think of? Fun? Excitement? Carefree? Dirty filthy sandy?! Ha! All those and more come to my mind! I love love love to hang out with Jack. He teaches me.

This is the look of someone living life! At what age do we unlearn this, do you think? At what age do we feel the need to be “dignified” or “in control” or “perfectly polished”? I certainly don’t know the mind of this baby, but it appears to me he was happy to be with his people, wherever his people took him. He was enjoying the moment. He was learning—“What is this ‘sand’? Hmmm. Better touch it. Better dig into it. Better taste it.”

Man. I wish I did that every day. Wherever my Heavenly Father has me that day—wish I was happy there. I’m told to be. Did you know that? “Always be joyful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Not a lot of wiggle room there, with that pesky “always” thrown in.

I wish I would learn to live like that. What is this amazing day You have made, Lord? Hmmm. Better touch it—better put my whole heart into it and get fully involved in it. Better dig into it—better pay attention and actually experience it instead of rushing into the next to do list item or appointment or meeting. Better taste it—“taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8), after all. Better test Him out, experience His goodness for myself, better just dive right into all of this life He’s given me today.


I love how we are taught in the Bible to receive the Kingdom of God like a child. So we can totally learn from the lives of children. Their openness and honesty and zest and excitement over little things. The Kingdom of God has a lot to offer. I want to be more like Jack and get my hands into it and experience it for myself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Running Father


We talked in Glow this week about the story Jesus told in Luke 15:11-32 about the prodigal son. I love that many people call it The Story of the Running Father! Because this story is truly an illustration of the extravagant love of Father God. Your Father. My Father. How He seeks us out, no matter what. We see the father in Jesus’ story looking for the homecoming of the younger son. We see him running—running!—to the one who left him on purpose. We see him seeking out the older son when he didn’t show up for the party. I love that Jesus painted such a beautiful word picture of the undeserved grace, mercy, and forgiveness that our Heavenly Father offers each of us.

And because Jesus is such an amazing Storyteller, Picture-Giver, we can catch a glimpse of ourselves in this family drama, too. Maybe you see yourself in the prodigal—the younger son running away from the Father, seeking extravagance, when extravagant love was all the while right in front of him at home, with his father. Or maybe you struggle with receiving that extravagant love now, even though you came home long ago. Maybe you see yourself in the older brother—unable to join the party because you can only focus on what you didn’t get, what you don’t have.

First and foremost, if you’ve run away from God, the Good Father, for any reason at all—run back! He is your home. He is where you belong. He awaits your homecoming. Not with crossed arms and punishment—no, your punishment has already been doled out. Don’t take my word for it--
1 Peter 2:24 “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross”

He awaits you with arms wide open. Full of love and forgiveness.

Back home, but having trouble accepting that forgiveness? You must. Hear me—you must. Accepting the love and forgiveness of the Father isn’t simply a thread of Christianity. It’s the whole thing. If we don’t believe God can forgive us, we don’t believe Him at all. When I have struggled with this, Isaiah 53:5 has given me such hope: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” So much promise is one passage. The price for my peace was upon Him. He paid it. Already. I know you may think you don’t deserve peace, but that is irrelevant, really. He has already paid the price for it! So accept the gift that has already been purchased. Receive forgiveness. And if God offers it to you, who are you to withhold it from yourself?

Maybe you recognize yourself in the older brother. Bitter. Resentful. Don’t be that way—listen to what the father told him: “Everything I have is yours”, Luke 15:31. Isn’t all He has yours? What does it cost you to rejoice with those who rejoice? You’re only hurting yourself when you refuse to join the party the Father is throwing.

The Super Bowl reminded me how many of us become the older brother in the first place. Did you see all those fans shouting from the sidelines?! “I know a better way!” “Do this!” Listen—I know nothing about football. I come for the snacks. So when I begin shouting from the sidelines, you can’t really listen to me.

I mean, I had a lot of opinions about the Super Bowl. But you can’t listen to any of them. I’m shouting from the sidelines. I haven’t spent untold hours practicing, lifting weights, learning plays, watching film. I’m just shouting from the sidelines. I don’t know what it feels like in the heat of the moment with the roar of the crowd and an adversary staring at me through his helmet. I’m just shouting from the sidelines. I don’t know what it's like to catch the football and in a split second have to change the play because an opponent is upon me. I’m just shouting from the sidelines.

How insane would it be for Tom Brady to listen to me?! “Time out, guys. There’s this lady over here who is giving me some instructions.”
And yet. We tend to listen to those on the sidelines in our lives. Probably in an attempt to prove them wrong, or to show we know more, or to please. Whatever it is, its wrong.  They’re just shouting from the sidelines.

Don’t shout from the sidelines. How do you do this, or not do this? Get involved in your own life. Run your own race. It's much more fun, much more fulfilling, believe me. Don’t live life from the sidelines looking into others’ lives and shouting your “expert” opinion.


If you are fully engaged with the life God has given you—seeking Him for help, living for Him, being the best mom or wife or friend or woman you can be, then you won’t feel the need to live someone else’s life for them. You’ll simply be too busy, too full. And when you do shout from the sidelines, it will sound more like this—“You can do it! You can make it! Keep going! Look to Jesus—He is the Author and Finisher of your faith! If you don’t quit, you can’t lose!”

These are just my thoughts on this story. I encourage you to read it for yourself today. God’s Word is so dynamic—we are told it is living and active!—and He has things for you in there for wherever you are on your journey. Whether you’re separated from Him, whether you’re struggling with guilt, whether you’re struggling with bitterness, whether you are safely and securely and blissfully in His arms. He’s in this life FOR you. Let Him guide you! He does that through His Word.

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you end the day closer to God than when you began it. Love you all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy February!


Happy February! I love this month. Who am I kidding, I love every month! They are all so exciting, so full of possibility as you turn that calendar page or see that “1” on the front page of your iPhone. A whole month ahead!

My daughter gave me a calendar last Christmas that proved to be a year round joy. Every month has brand new pictures of our dog, a big black lab named Goose. Now, Goose is hilarious. Therefore, his pictures are hilarious. See above for his summer look. You’re welcome.

If your February had a picture on top, what would it be? No, no, no. Don’t think back to last February, or the one before that. TODAY! This month! It’s a brand new month, people! Make up your own picture! You don’t have to share it with anyone else. It's your month in your life—how do you want it to look?! Got it in your head?

Now hurry and write down what kind of things can make it that way. They don’t have to be earth shattering things. Some months I have wanted to feel tropical (July), or cozy (October), or sparkly (December). So many possibilities!!! But I would take that thought—a word or a sentence or a picture—and I would think how to do that. Tropical—have my quiet time at the beach, or by the pool, dress in insanely bright maxi-dresses, light a pineapple candle, invite people over for a luau. You get the idea.

This is not super spiritual. I get that. But what happens as you do things like this is you get to know yourself. The you that God made you to be. Your true colors begin to reveal themselves and shine. And anytime you shine the real you, you’re bringing light to the world.


And goodness knows our world needs all the light it can get. So shine, girl, shine! You have this month to shine like only you can! And never forget that as you are shining, not only are you brightening the world of others, you are brightening YOUR world!

We’re given these instructions in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So many times we get stuck on what isn’t true, or lovely. All the non-excellent and grouch-worthy things get lodged in our brains and won’t leave! So use every weapon in your arsenal to have a mind-shift!

Yes, there are traditionally spiritual ways to do this: Pick a Bible Verse to meditate on each day or week. Focus on God’s goodness instead of the hardness of this world. Turn some praise music on and jam out in your kitchen.

And also, there are some not necessarily traditional “spiritual” ways to do this: plopping a pineapple on the side of your glass as you watch the beauty of His sunset and thank Him for a very tropical day. In my mind, anything that grows your roots deeper in Him, anything that lifts your eyes to God and causes you to praise Him and this wonderful tropical, cozy, and sparkly life He has given you is a good, good thing. And before you know it, there your mind goes, thinking on whatsoever things are good.

It’s a beautiful way to live, and it’s kind of a simple way to set your mind on God and His Goodness. And don’t we need all the ways we can get?!

Put joy in your everyday life this month!


Happy February!!