Monday, December 19, 2016


We've come to the fourth week of Advent.


We've all heard this story thousands of times. I'm afraid it often becomes just words on a page or noise in our ears, but this week, let's slow down still more.


The God of the universe  became one of us. 
The Word became flesh.

Maker of all things. 
Comes to us. 
He's a baby. 
Tiny, helpless, weak, dependent. 

God entrusts a teenage mother and her very puzzled husband to raise this baby. 

Leaving a throne - Heaven - He lives humbly, simply, poor, quietly and without fanfare, among us. Not with the royal, the rich or the powerful, but with us.

He works hard, he lives humbly, he loves deeply, he struggles as we do, he is tempted as we are, he rejoices as we do, he mourns as one of us.

He sets aside His kingship to live as man. He shows us what God looks like, in ways we can understand.
See. Feel. Touch. Hear. Taste. Smell. 

And then He dies. He pays our sin debt. He forsakes all, for us.
But this is not all - He rises again and offers forgiveness. Life. Abundance. 

This is love. 

Take time to mediate on love this week.

Extravagant love. 

Then pass it on. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016


Today marks the beginning of Week 3 of Advent - Joy.

We've walked through Hope.... and as I've come to define it, my faith, anchored in a God that keeps His promises and in the working out of my faith because I believe those promises will come to pass. I can both work and rest because I believe Him - that all things will be restored, that He desires reconciliation, justice, and mercy. I can live those things out, even when it doesn't look hopeful in the moment.

We've walked through Peace... I can have peace in a seasons of turmoil, in season of grief, in seasons of confusion. Peace does not come from an absence of any of those things - it comes from what is within me - God With Us. Emmanuel.

And now we walk through Joy. When I have a firm understanding of where my hope lies, of where my peace comes from, then Joy flows out of that. Once again, Joy does not come from the superficial things happening to or around me. Joy does not rest in who sits in seats of power, how my children are behaving, if I am healthy, how much money I have in the bank, or how much I love my job. My Joy is in Christ. Because He is my anchor (my Hope), because He is my Peace, I can have Joy.  So, as I've mused on Joy, I've tried to think of ways I've been able to find Joy in the difficulties, in the grief, in the confusion, in the doubt, in the turmoil. It's pretty easy to find Joy in the good times...this week, let's look for it in the heavy times.

Here are some of mine:

  • In the pain and loss of leaving Cornerstone. This pain is not gone - let me be clear on that. But in the midst of, I've been brought to times of remembrance - once again, to relationships. This is what matters. Our relationship with God and with others. The structures will morph and change. We find Joy in relationship. We had lunch this week with a group of people we know because of our years at Cornerstone. Everyone now lives in different towns, attends different churches, has different jobs than the years we were all together...yet, the love is still there. We love, we remember, we grow and we move forward - yet relationship remains. There has been great pain in the growing, but yet, Joy is in this.
  • In the pain of raising children. If you're a parent, you're familiar. Along with the "normal" (whatever the heck that is) drama, pain and frustration of raising kids, we've dealt with heartbreak, clinical depression, widely diverging beliefs, many nights' sleep lost in worry and fear, and at times, rebellion and estrangement. Yet, in the midst of that, we are family. I have beautiful relationships with all four of my children, even in the midst of the struggles. They've taught me, even when I've wanted to choke them. I've learned from them, even as I was frustrated that they didn't seem to be learning from us. Erin teaches me steadfastness and pursuit of excellence. Luke teaches me independence, uniqueness and loyalty. Dylan teaches me perseverance and hope in the midst of overwhelming sadness. Thomas teaches me forgiveness, new starts and the love of our Father for His kids. They all teach me of God's infinite capacity to love all of us - no matter what. So much Joy here.
  • Joy in the simple and mundane. These things are true no matter how tumultuous life becomes: a hot cup of cinnamon tea; sharing a bowl of popcorn with my husband at the end of a long day; weekend meals with our extended families - the laughter and love there; sharing the Lord's Table each Sunday with others that follow Christ along with us; running with my dog; holding Brian's hand, in the dark, as we fall asleep each night; a glass of wine and fellowship around our fire pit; decorating the Christmas tree with my kids; reading a good book; work that sharpens my mind and fulfills me; a place to call home when I'm working in the city, where I'm always loved and treated like family; taking my kids out to eat, one-on-one (that they are all my friend is one of the the greatest of Joys).
This list is endless, when I'm willing to look up from the chaos and see the Joy.

Christ is come. This is past, present and future.

This is Joy.


I am certain that your list of Joys are different from mine. I would love to hear yours. What brings you Joy, even in the midst of turmoil? What quickens your heart toward God, even in seasons of doubt? Tell me...

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I don't think I've ever been more ready to see a calendar year in the rear view mirror. 


It's just been ridiculously difficult. From the big things out in the world - conflict, war, abuse, pain, death, natural disaster - the pain never seems to end. Watching the news is overwhelming. And this election season? Suffice to say, enough is enough. No matter where you stood politically, I'd guess you're sick of all of it, so I'll just leave that right here. I watch people I care for deeply in great personal pain and do not understand why God does not deliver. There have been so many things happen personally that we just, honestly, did not see coming, were not prepared for. We've watched long held dreams go up in flames - and today they sit, in ashes, around our weary feet.

You too?

Week Two of Advent focuses on Peace. So, I've been focusing my musing on this word. What does it look like to have peace in this heap of rubble that surrounds us?


I decorated the house this week for Christmas. That involves unpacking boxes and boxes of decorations. Several of those boxes are Nativity Scenes that I've collected over the years. I have, I don't know, maybe 10 or 12 different ones, each with a different look, made from different cultures, different materials, colors, styles, etc. In the Advent tradition, I put the baby Jesus away - hidden - throughout these weeks leading up to Christmas day, and then we set him out Christmas eve on our way to bed, to make his appearance Christmas morning. This year, as I was setting them up in various places around the house, I began to try to put myself in the place of those people, waiting for the Christ child. They had no idea when their salvation would come, what it would look like when it did arrive. And certainly, none of them imagined it unfolding as it actually did - in a humble stable, surrounded by dirt, animals (and all their accompanying smells), poverty, plans gone seemingly awry, far from anything royal or victorious.

Imagine with me for a moment: A promise was given hundreds and hundreds of year before. Each generation, for those hundreds of years since that delivered promise, believed the time of their salvation was imminent. When the Christ finally appeared on the scene, who knew? It's a short list: Mary, Joseph, an aunt, a few shepherds, and within a few days/weeks, a few wise men, a priest, a prophetess. What was everyone else doing as that baby was born, grew, went to school, learned to be a carpenter, worked, lived, prepared? They still did not know. They were still toiling away in their pain, their loneliness, oppression, trials. They had no idea that Hope was growing in a stable. That Victory was being raised in a modest home in Nazareth, that Salvation was working as a carpenter. They didn't know, yet God was working, nonetheless.

Once Jesus did, finally, step onto the public stage, here's one of the things He said...

"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.”

And what were "these things"? He spent considerable time telling them of grief, pain, sorrow to come. Not a maybe - a certainty. A promise. Life would be hard. It would be unfair and scary. They would feel like their dreams were dying. And they did, didn't they?

  • as they saw Him laid in a tomb and a stone rolled over their dreams of a Messiah that would save.
  • as they later sat in prisons for their refusal to stop proclaiming His life and resurrection.
  • as succeeding generations of the faithful stood in coliseums or hung on crosses, for their refusal to deny their faith in Him.

But... BUT...

"Take heart! I have overcome the world!"  He is with us. He is active - even when we cannot see. He is working for our good. It may be in the background, it may yet be years, or Heaven even, before we see what He has done. But He is working on my behalf - on your behalf.

As I hid those baby Jesus figurines this last week, that was my thought. God is working. I cannot see it, here, in the ash of lost dreams, but He is working to fulfill His promises.

This is my peace.

Emmanuel - God With Us.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Hope: You Keep Using That Word

I hope it doesn't rain this weekend.

I hope the party next week is fun.

I hope this head cold doesn't ruin our plans.

I hope my kids are safe.

I hope I get that raise.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride 


If you're unfamiliar with Advent, it is the four-ish weeks leading up to Christmas, and it began this last Sunday. It is reminiscent of the waiting of Israel, as they longed for the coming of their Messiah - the Christ. The One. He would be their Deliverer. He would defeat their enemies. The first week is marked by Hope, so I've been thinking a lot on this word - Hope.

Israel had waited for untold generations.  They had been through seasons of victory and peace, of defeat and slavery, of glory and humiliation. There were times that many gave up, began to look for other ways to get what they wanted. They gave up on God, they looked to man. Yet, man did not come through...still never does.

Others held out. They believed. They longed for His appearing. Yet, they still waited. They were weary, oppressed, lonely. When it seemed all hope was lost, they still hoped. What did that look like? To hope when all seemed hopeless? 

For us now, it is also a time of waiting, groaning, longing, missing that which we desperately want and believe will one day be. We relive the groaning of those who waited for His first appearing. We long for His second appearing - when He will, finally, once and for all time, set all things right. We long in other ways as well, in our individual lives.

This has been a tough year. A difficult one to keep hope held high. Many just want to see it in the rear view mirror and pray 2017 brings better things. Sometimes it feels all hope is lost. What does that look like today? To hope when all seems hopeless...

I think we first need to know what hope actually means. Depending on what translation you use, "Hope" is used some 130 times in the Bible. In most of those instances, it is used much differently than we generally understand and use the word hope today. My opening is a list of some of our more common uses... we tend to use it passively, right? What can I do about the weather? Or whether someone else's party will be fun, or how bad my head cold is? Basically, we're just sitting, fingers-crossed that things go our way. That's not what is meant in scripture with this word. In scripture, hope has an anchor that is strongly connected both to God (His ability and desire to keep His promises) and our action.

When I hope for His soon return, it is a sure belief that God promises and is faithful. He WILL one day make all things new. That's His part. What's my part? I live like it's true. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, He tells us what He's expecting to see when He comes - am I living like I believe that day is coming? Feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the prisoner... am I? If I am not, then I'm not living in hope.

We see it in Hebrews 11 in each of the 'Hall of Faith" members mentioned. They lived through hopeless situations, with hope. They lived like it was true, even when it didn't feel true. They worked toward that truth, even when it seemed ludicrous to keep going. Look at the father in Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son. Jesus said he saw his son returning from far off and ran to him. How did he know? He hoped. He believed. He watched ... actively. And when he saw him, he ran. My gosh, I love that story.

As I've lived through much pain this year, I've meditated on this - what it means to have hope in the midst of the seemingly hopeless. This is what I'm coming to... I live like I believe it. 

If I have hope that Jesus is returning to make all things right, then I will act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God. I will do what He has called me to be here. Now.

If I have hope that a Prodigal will return, I'm going to work towards reconciliation, I'm going to watch, expectantly, I'm going to have my running shoes on!

If I have hope that God's will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven, then I will work to see justice and mercy lived out in our world - no matter who's sitting in the political power seats.

Hope is active. And it is anchored in a big, big God.

He came once. 

He is coming again.

So, this Advent, sit in the waiting for a bit. Imagine what it was like to wait for the coming of the Christ Child. 

Then groan, long for, wait, for the Second Coming of the Christ. 

Acknowledge your longing for things to be different. But, also?


Monday, November 14, 2016

In the Wake of Election 2016

Donald Trump has  become the face of Christian Evangelicals.

Maybe you cheered loud and long in support of him before, during and after you cast your vote.

Maybe  you held your breath and threw up a little in your mouth while you cast your vote for him.

Maybe you weighed your options, prayed, and chose to vote for Clinton.

Maybe you, as I did, cast your vote for a third party candidate, knowing you would be on the losing team, rather than one of the two "winnable" options.

Whether you like it or you don't...

We, the evangelical Church, (in the eyes of the world), are the reason he won. A few of us can say we weren't a part, but if we identify as evangelical, we are lumped into this group. 

And now, here's where we sit -  so what do we do?

The refugee down the block, the immigrant that you work with, the young black man you go to school with, the abused young woman thinking of coming to your church for help and solace, the LGBT friend you have coffee with, the Muslim you do volunteer work with... Many of them, when they think of Evangelical Christians, for longer than any of us want to consider, will remember.

They will remember that American Christianity chose power over integrity. They chose a platform over character. They chose the promise of a conservative Supreme Court over standing arm in arm with the hurting and dying and marginalized. You do not have to believe these things to be true to recognize it as looking/feeling like the truth to a lot of people in this country. You may be ministering into the margins as an individual (and that is as it should be), but this vote, as a whole, spoke an entirely different narrative than what was perhaps intended.

You may not see it that way and I guess I get that. I've heard your arguments. I understand why they make sense to you, but I am saying, that's not how the wounded see it. They are not considering the "but Hillary" that is freely cast about. We went far beyond single issue voting this time around. If we are going to heal, as a nation, and be, as the Church, a city on a hill, a sweet aroma to God, we must face what electing a man like Donald Trump has meant to many, many people in our nation.

I've stayed off Facebook since the election. I'm not reading the feed at all - I just can't hear it right now. But even without Facebook, here's some of what I've heard --

We need to put our differences aside and support our new President. The negative talk and protests will only harm our country. Really? Eight years ago, after President Obama won his first Presidential election, I heard some of the worst name-calling and protesting and out-right lies I have ever heard in my life cast at this man... by conservatives (and this has continued throughout his eight years in office).  I do not personally know of a single strongly conservative person that seems to have given five minutes of their time to "giving him a chance to prove himself". I am horrified at what respectable, "Christian" people will say about another person made in the image and likeness of God.  But those hurt by Mr. Trump are not allowed the same now? They have immediately been lectured with the need to accept the democratic process and give Trump time. I don't blame them for being angry or afraid. A few of the stories may border on what we consider silly, but their feelings are real - their fear is legitimate. He has said, and done, some awful, horrible things. It's real. Asking them to sweep it all under a rug, to pretend his actions and words have no affect on his leadership, for the sake of unity is hypocritical and unloving.

God used horrible, vile leaders in this world's history to bring about His will - He can use Trump. We must trust that God is in control. Please just stop saying this. Yes - He did and yes, He is. But Christ-followers did not vote them into office. They quietly and simply followed God and continued to live out the Kingdom and love as Christ loves, in difficult circumstances, under evil rulers. There is a big difference. The fact that Daniel served graciously and honorably under Nebuchadnezzar, that Christ fulfilled his mission here on earth under Roman oppression, that Christianity grew under Nero, does not make it okay to elect someone seriously deficient in moral character and integrity. 

Most of the people that voted for Trump are not racists, or bullies, or sexists. I think I believe this. I know many people that I love and respect who voted for him - because they feared Clinton more than they disliked Trump. But... and here's the truth - many are racists, bullies and sexists. And those people have now been emboldened by this election - by this man that will now be our next President. We need to face that as well. 

We need to admit that we, by a vote, have given a voice to the worst parts of ourselves. We've allowed people to shout in the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, (and it's not just media hype - I KNOW teachers, right here in the buckle of the Bible belt, that are having to deal with horrible, racist, things being said by our children. Where do you suppose they heard such things?) -- words that were only said in dark corners and privately in homes until recently.

The day after the election I had to travel out of town and ended up eating lunch alone. At a table near me, four upper-middle-age men sat, discussing the election. I could not hear specifics of their conversation - could not make out complete sentences, but one phrase I heard with great clarity was "those knuckle-draggers". This problem is REAL and it's part of where we live. Our future President made it feel okay for them to say these things out loud. It is not. And I believe most of you believe it is not okay. But we've elected someone that apparently does think it's okay to hate and spew hate at others - or at a minimum, believes that saying such things was justified because it got him elected (and this is no better).

I realize most of us have despised every second of this election season. We have hated the choices we were left with. We are fearful for the future of our country. But we need to face the fact that the stakes are much higher for those in the margins. A huge segment of our society has been deeply wounded in this process. As the Church, we should be reaching out to these people right now, not dismissing them. And we need to realize that, like it or not, casting a vote for Trump spoke something to them that we likely did not intend for it to speak and has consequences that will reverberate for years to come.

I have always considered myself an Evangelical Christian. Today, I am not proud of that label. In the strictest definition of the words, I still am. But as America has made it to be - I no longer want to be identified in this way.

Years ago, the conservative religious community railed about Bill Clinton and his horrible example as a leader, without character or integrity - we said that our personal choices matter - that what we choose in private affects how we lead in public. He was very nearly crucified.

But he was a political liberal. 

We now have someone who not only makes many of the same abhorrent choices, but he has stacked on a few more and proudly flaunts it, writes about it in books, as well as stirring up hatred and racism in his speeches.
But he "says" he is a political conservative, that he will give us conservative Justices. 

Now we say "he's just a flawed man - and aren't we all?"  Pastors and teachers that, up until this election cycle, I have respected for my entire life, went public to speak in favor of him - encouraged us to vote for him, tried to make the things he's said, done and written seem less despicable than they are...outright dismissed his treatment of women as "locker room talk" rather than what it truly is: the words are bad enough, but those aren't just words - they are words rooted in real actions - against real women. 

Liberal is the new unpardonable sin. Adultery, bigotry, bullying, violence against women, slander...these are not nearly as offensive.

The conservative right can no longer take the "high, moral ground". It was voted away in 2016.

How do we stand in our pulpits, sit around our dinner tables, sit in our Sunday School classes, and teach our kids that integrity is more important than winning, that character is more important than power? That blessed are the poor, the meek, the hungry?...  I'm afraid the right to say this with any sort of authority was voted away too.

We can try - but who's gonna listen now?

I will pray for Donald Trump. That he will learn humility and kindness. That he will learn to truly respect women. That he will see his need for forgiveness. That he will admit and turn from his racism, bullying and slander. That he will be surrounded by, and actually listen to, wise counsel. That he will admit the anger, racism and hate he has stirred up and seek to reconcile with those hurt in this process. (And this is going to take a lot more than words. A quick, "Hey, let's all come together now" isn't going to convince anyone.) That he will learn to deal with people and countries with maturity and true leadership, rather than how we've seen him deal with conflict so far.

I will pray for those who are frightened today. Because whether we want to admit it or not, we have elected a man whose very character and campaign tactics have stirred up hate and anger like we haven't seen in decades. Hatred is fashionable again. As a white, middle class, straight, Christian woman, I am pretty safe from the likes of the hate this has stirred up. But many people are not... and they are afraid today. They believe - and I think I believe with them, that "Make America Great Again" means getting rid of them. We should care about that.

I will pray for us as a Church - that we will find unity and healing somewhere at the end of this national nightmare. We have ripped one another to shreds over things of this world. We have forgotten that our battles are against principalities, against world forces - not against people. Our battles are spiritual and we've forgotten why we're here. We are so overwhelmed, so fearful of losing our "rights", and so full of distrust that we've forgotten love. I understand those feelings, but they do not ever negate our responsibility to be the Church, first and foremost. I understand that many feel dismissed, ignored and stripped of their rights over the last eight years. And whether this is true or not, the answer is not to retaliate in kind.

We follow a different kind of King.

  • "Turn to him the other cheek also." -- This does not sound like He is all about winning. 
  • Our Kingdom is not of this world. -- No earthly government is the answer.
  • They will know us by our love. -- Not our ability to win a fight.

THESE are the words of Jesus.

I will pray that we will become loud, clear voices that will speak up when we see injustice, when we see hate, when we see racism and abuse. And that we will demand the same of our leaders. If we choose to sit quietly, waiting for "unity" to just happen, we've forgotten who we follow. If we look the other way while people, individually and as whole people groups, are torn apart and kicked to the side, what good is our faith, really? No platform, no Supreme Court Justice, no law, is as important as the One Law we've been commissioned with. We've been called to love people, to love God, to do good.

I will strive to spend the next four years,  and I hope you will too, doing what God calls us to do - no matter who is in power. Honestly listen to people in the margins. Help the widow and the orphan. Feed the poor. Minister to the prisoner. Heal the sick. Love all. TRY to show the people that have been wounded in this horrific season, with my life and service, that this man does not represent me or Christ or His Church. (No man, and no government does, actually.) No person, no government, no law, can stop us from living this out.

I will pray that God will help me to respect the office of President and our government, even as I am losing hope for our country. I will pray that I, that all of us, can show respect while, at the same time, continuing to speak up against prejudice, hate and injustice - at every level. We must not be silent.

I am afraid that in our thirst to protect ourselves and our rights, we have destroyed our testimony.

I will pray that I am wrong.


Why we did or did not vote for Trump does not matter at this point. What matters now, is what are we going to do from here. What kind of people are we going to be? Any comments stirring up an argument will be deleted. I enjoy vigorous, healthy debate and discussion, but I rarely see it handled that way on Facebook. If you'd like to debate or discuss something with me, call or message - we can do so privately, and face-to-face if at all possible. I believe that's how important conversations should be held. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's 8:00 a.m. What is Your Millennial Doing?

I've noticed a disturbing trend on social media of late.

As we discuss (and I use that word loosely, since we have almost completely lost the art of civil discourse) various topics, opinions, current events, on and around social media, huge sections of our populations are being disparaged, mocked, stereotyped, dismissed. I don't want to lay them all out. They are endless. Suffice to say, they are rooted in "other" - those different  from us. Some of these I don't even begin to feel adequate to address because my life is so far removed from their experience. I can be compassionate, I can learn from them, I can listen, and hopefully my world will get a little bigger because of what this dismissed group has to teach us - if we'll listen. We should listen.

But there is one I'd like to go out on a limb and speak to... How we speak to and about the Millennials in our lives.

I understand that every generation is critical of the generation that follows them, as well as the generation that precedes them. It seems to be almost the natural order of things. 

Perhaps it seems worse to me right now because of social media and the overpowering need we have to type and post every thought/opinion that runs through our head - often without considering the ramifications of what we've said on the hearts and lives of others. (Here's a freebie - you don't have to pay for this one: We don't have to say everything we think. Also? Y'all should be exceedingly grateful that I don't. 😉 ) I see it every day - on personal posts, in comments, in news articles and "funny" videos - they're an easy target. And I'll give you - sometimes, they ARE an easy target. They are summarily dismissed when disagreed with, because Millennials. That's all the reason needed.

And perhaps it seems worse because I have a whole brood of Millennials that I love more than life itself.

Here's some of what I hear:

They're selfish.
They're entitled.
They're godless.
They're lazy.
They're disrespectful.
They need to be coddled.
They have no work ethic.
They're brash and opinionated.
And the tattoos? Good Lord! The tattoos!

And yes, this is true - of some of them. 

Also true? Those things are true of many of us old farts too. And we've had waaaaaaay more years to figure this out and get over ourselves than they have.

Also? Also true? We raised these kids. So while we're wailing on them, let's remember that they are they way they are, in large part, because of our parenting strategies and the world WE created for them to live in.

Also? Also?

Some of them are amazing.

My Millennials? As I hit publish at 8:00 a.m., three of my Millennials have already been at work 2 or 3 hours. They will do this 5-6 days a week. They open their stores, supervise other employees, manage crazy rush hours, smile and treat with respect some of the rudest, most entitled 50-somethings to ever ask for a cup of coffee and a scone. They do all of this without the help, encouragement, coddling or shoring up of a Baby Boomer. Two other of my Millennials are just arriving to work, but will work hard all day - again, just like you and I do. One is working hard to help the other finish up a Master's Degree without debt, the other will stay late almost every day (long after pay stops covering her work), grading papers, calling parents, decorating, doing paperwork, and a hundred other things we'll never know about. Three of them graduated from college without debt, working to help support themselves the entire time.

They pay their bills, they do not mooch off their parents, they vote, they pay taxes, they went and are still going to school. They grow and learn in their trades and careers.

Yes, they disagree with us.
Yes, they can be abrasive.
Yes, they often think we're out of touch.
Yes, they have kept us up all night, crazy with worry.
Yes, they make foolish, rash decisions.
Yes, they often follow a "career path" or plot their future very differently than the way we would want. 

(I'd wager that many of us were guilty of these same things two (or three...or four) decades ago.)

And yes, they LOVE tattoos.

But Millennials - yours and mine - are engaging in their culture, learning the workings of their government, volunteering in record numbers, giving to charities and churches, fighting against injustice, loving in hard places, fostering, mentoring, adopting. They are funny and smart.

They will figure this out - with or without our help. 

I believe they'll figure it out faster if they feel respected and heard by the generation preceding them... if they aren't disparaged at every turn because it's different than how we've always done it... if they feel respected and safe to come to us when they're ready to ask for help...if we work together.

I also believe we'll figure out a few things in that process as well.  I've learned so much from my Millennials. 

They're going to be feeding us with a spoon and tucking us into bed before it's all over...

Let's encourage them. Let's teach them. Let's learn from them.  

Most of them, tattoos and all, are pretty awesome.


I'd love to hear what cool/challenging/ridiculously risky, but awesome thing YOUR Millennial is doing.

Friday, September 30, 2016

That One Prayer

You know that prayer? The hard one, the one you're afraid to voice and, when you do, it comes out weak and kinda squeaky because it seems like it's too much, too hard? It would require too many people to care about the outcome, who don't care at. all. about the outcome, for that thing to happen? The one you voice with, "Lord, I do believe - help my unbelief"? The one voiced in the midst of what feels like a long, long, dry, desert season of wondering if God is still listening, if He's watching, if He cares about this particular problem? 

That one.

Keep praying. Keep voicing, even when it's weak and squeaky, even when you're not sure you still believe, even when there's a long list of prayers He hasn't answered yet.

Because He does care. I don't understand why sometimes He does not answer, why sometimes He does not heal, why sometimes He does not intervene, or He does not move unwilling hearts. He CAN. But He does not. It is maddening.

This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Job asked it several millennia ago - and we're still asking. Still getting a lot of questions in "response" - and the answer?

What I've come to believe (and you don't have to agree with me - I'm okay with that) is that most of the time, He is going to let things unfold as they will. He gave us free will. We like that plan, personally, (when we get to do whatever we want), but do not like the pain it creates for this world, and us individually, when everyone gets it... But, unfortunately, you don't get one without the other, we don't get to escape the tragedy of our world-wide, corporate free will failures.

So... We get our self-made messes, natural disasters, illness, the prodigal child, the failed marriage, fractured relationships, the unjust and the unfair. Often times, it just is. I've quoted him before and likely will again, but in the words of famed theologian the Dread Pirate Roberts, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

But. And it's a big but...

Here is the answer -- He is with us. In and throughout all of it. 

Sometimes we are to BE the answer for the unjust and the unfair. The hands and feet of Jesus and all that...The child abused, the hungry families, the war torn refugee, the marginalized, the prisoner, the homeless forgotten, the desperately lonely - WE are supposed to be their answer. So, if we're praying for those people, but not taking action to be part of the answer, it ain't God's fault that it's not better.

But He is there. He hurts with us. He sits with us in the messes of our own making and gives us the strength to learn and do better. He holds us through debilitating illness and death. He is with that prodigal child when we cannot be. He holds our wounded hearts when people cannot be trusted... But He often does not intervene in the ways we hope and pray.

A few things...

~ Even when I'm too weak to keep believing, He is still there and He is still good.

~ He sees what I cannot. The unanswered prayers should still be prayed. He is trustworthy, even in His silence.

~ Praying the unanswered prayer is changing me. So I keep praying.

So...You know that prayer? The hard one, the one you're afraid to voice and, when you do, it comes out weak and kinda squeaky because it seems like it's too much, too hard? It would require too many people to care about the outcome, who don't care at. all. about the outcome, for that thing to happen? The one you voice with, "Lord, I do believe - help my unbelief"? The one voiced in the midst of what feels like a long, long, dry, desert season of wondering if God is still listening, if He's watching, if He cares about this particular problem?  

Sometimes He does answer - in big, astounding, blow-your-socks-off, only-God-could-do-that, mind-blowing ways - just to remind us that He's still here, still with us, still loving.  And this time? For us? He did.

He's such a show-off sometimes.

Be strong and of good courage.
He is with us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Do Choose

For quite some time now, I've been reading off and on from the Book of Common Prayer. More recently, it's been more on than off. I have found it helpful during those "spiritual desert" seasons. It has helped to guide me into prayer when I cannot even find words. It has helped me voice thanksgiving and praise, when I'm angry at God and then moves me out of that anger. It has given voice to prayers for others, when I would rather just not like them, moving me back to love of my neighbor. I have found peace in the words of prayers voiced in concert with thousands of others over hundreds and hundreds of years. I know some of you do not find peace in this, and that's okay. God speaks to us in different ways in different seasons. This is where I am.

If you are unfamiliar with the readings, each day has a reading from: the Old Testament, Psalms, the New Testament and the Gospels. A portion of today's gospel:

Image result for Jesus touches the leper"Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.' Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, 'I do choose. Be made clean.' Immediately the leprosy left him." ~ Luke 5:12-26 (italics are mine)

Our world is increasingly frightening. I am often overwhelmed. There are opportunities every single day that feel like I will be putting myself, and perhaps those around me, at great risk if I step into those opportunities. Some of those have hurt. Some of those have felt like failure - crushing failure. Jesus did not call me to be safe. He did not call me to live risk-free. He did not call me to live in protection-mode. He did not call me to be a success. He called me to reach out - to touch- the hurting, the people that have been deemed too far gone, or unsafe, or beyond help. This is scary. I'm certain I will be hurt, feel failure, in some of these opportunities. 

Jesus had a choice. He leaves us with a choice everyday. 

What will I choose? Will I choose to reach out to the broken, the hurting, the abandoned?

I pray I will choose as He did - as He does.

It is easier to circle the wagons and keep ourselves "safe", but this is not the way of our Jesus.

And this is scary. So, today I pray for courage.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

At Least I'm Not Sad

If, in November, you check your box, punch your card, pull your lever, for Hillary Clinton - who are you voting for? You are voting for Hillary Clinton.

If, in November, you check your box, punch your card, pull your lever, for Donald Trump - who are you voting for? You are voting for Donald Trump.

If, in November, you check your box, punch your card, pull your lever, for Gary Johnson - who are you voting for? YOU ARE VOTING FOR GARY JOHNSON!!!!!!

If, in November, you stay at home, or go to work, or ride your bike and choose to abstain from voting - who are you voting for? NONE OF THEM!!!!!!

I am full-up with hearing that a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Hillary OR a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Trump. 

No. No it is not.

I had someone tell me recently that if I wasn't going to vote for Trump, I should "at least just be honest and vote for Hillary" - REALLY?!

This is America. Granted, it's going to hell in a hand basket, but it's STILL America. We get to vote - or not vote - for whoever (whomever?) we please.

Not all, but most of the people I know in this hand-crafted world are Christ-followers. Many of them are my friends in real life as well. We interact, we laugh, cry, live, eat, run, ride, work together. Some of them have prayed, researched, given thoughtful consideration to this - and they're voting for Hillary.  I do not understand it. But it's their right - I expect them to vote their conviction.

Some of them have prayed, researched, given thoughtful consideration to this - and they're voting for Trump. I do not understand it. But, again - I expect them to vote their conviction.

Some have done all of the above, and they're voting for Gary Johnson. Or maybe they've decided to not vote at all this year. I get both of these. I waffle between these two alternatives pretty regularly. But here's the deal, guys... They should get to cast their vote (or not) without someone telling them they are making a vile, irresponsible decision! It's their decision! They have to look themselves in the mirror for the next four years. 

But here's what I REALLY don't get... people that are voting for one the candidates, not because they believe in their character, or their political ideologies or their worldview - but because they believe it's the candidate that will give their "people" the most power, or the best positioning in congress or in the courts.

We are not to be a people seeking earthly power.

Find me one verse. One. that will support this.  We are to be a peculiar people. We are told, as Christ-followers, to expect to be in the minority, to be persecuted, to stand alone for what is right.

This world is not our home. We are not to be jockeying for power - to "take America back" - to win at all costs - to show the rest of the world who's boss - to "kick 'em out and take our country back".

We serve a King and a Kingdom. And this ain't it.

We have collectively lost our minds. We've forgotten where we belong.

Stop it. Please. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Learning to Lean

Sometimes there is simply no good to find in the loss,
but there is still good in spite of the loss.

Sometimes there is no comfort in the pain,
but there is comfort in the God that sits with us in the pain.

No one will convince me that God wants this - that He wills what is happening right now,
but He is still present, (in the midst of), the very thing He does not want.

I do not believe in a God that would cause this to be,
but I do believe in a God that aches for restoration, alongside me.

He can bring beauty from the ashes,
but He did not cause these ashes.

He can bring strength from the suffering,
but He weeps with us in that suffering.

There is still good, still beauty, still purpose.
I believe He grieves with us in these times.

God brought water to an overwhelmed and dejected Elijah,
A vine to shade a selfish and mean-spirited Jonah,
He brought comfort to childless Hannah,
Forgiveness to Peter, in his betrayal,

He brought companionship to a lonely Zacchaeus,
He wept with Mary and Martha,
He brought forgiveness to His enemies,
Himself - to us all.

I believe, if we will let Him, He will wipe away our tears,
He will infuse us with Hope. 
With Joy. 

In spite of...

He saves our tears.
We are precious to Him.
This is the God I am learning to lean on.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Ps. 56:8