Here's the simple truth: I'm a busy mom who tries to carve out space first thing in the morning to spend time with the Lord. And I want my time with Him, at the break of day, to transform the way I parent the rest of the day. Pure and simple — I want my time in the Word to work like manna from heaven. If I gather a little or I gather a lot, I want it to be enough to get me through each hectic, mothering day. Trouble is, most of the time it isn't and it doesn't. And maybe it shouldn't.Read More
I was silent on social media yesterday because the world is such a sad place some days and I don't have more than one healing word. More like a Name than a word, come to think of it.
Jesus. Oh, Jesus.
I guess that's two words. Or a sad groan that finds its rest in the One who is the Word. That word, that name, was the only one that felt secure in the face of human suffering yesterday...and many days.Read More
The dashboard read a steady 108 degrees nearly all the way up the mountain. Had anyone else been in the car with me last Sunday, I would have had the windows rolled up tight and the AC pumping recycled air over coolant. But I was alone on the road, so the windows were down, the air conditioner off. Hot wind whipped through my suburban, through my hair, a trickle of sweat ran down the nape of my neck, with the music turned up loud. I was alone in the car, with my family all together back down the hill at church.Read More
Each new year brings a new slate. We say it, hope it, believe it. Yet circumstances can be like well worn ruts that well-intentioned resolutions simply can't wish us out of. Family dynamics, parenting pitfalls, unhealthy habits - they don't change because the clock strikes midnight.
There's no magic there. Still we hope. We kiss and clap and make noise like a victory's been won, but it's still you and me waking up the next morning, groggy.
I know it down deep that nothing's going to change in my heart and home in 2016 because of one magical resolution.
Instead, here's what I'm learning: change isn't starting over, it's moving forward from one day to the next. One day that crosses us over into a new year.
True change embraces the reality of today and the good already woven into the heart, home, and heavenly blessings that are ours. Today. Right where we are. Here with our people, flawed as we all are.
Change comes in embracing what has already begun. Change doesn't undo the step we're on, the day that's passed, to make it better.
Though there's still a heap of growing up to do, I don't want to stop being me at last year's end in order to be entirely a different brand of me, albeit better. I just want to keep on keeping on in my pursuit of Christ and who I am in Him - day by day and step by step.
But the questions is: how do I want these steps to look, as I stride and stretch into this new year?
This year I've chosen a word to represent my hopes and dreams that may seem external, but can only be accomplished by the fire-starting Holy Spirit stirring things up from within.
My one word for 2016 is SHINE.
My overarching hope for this next circle around the sun, is that I too would revolve around the Son. Ever focused, ever facing, ever fettered to the One whose Light penetrated my darkness so completely that I'll live for all eternity in the Kingdom of Light.
[Tweet "Let's testify to His light shining in, by the way He's shining out of us. "]
Of course it's hard, all of it, in light of today's body politic, terror causing aching hearts around the globe, the whispers of self-loathing pressing in, the hard work of parenting, the prowling one who seeks to destroy the light of the World which managed like a miracle to take up residency in me. It's hard to muscle through and SHINE in my own battery-powered might. So, again I say, I'm fixing' to cling and to sing in the year ahead. Cling to The Light of the World, because there can't be shining without abiding. Which, ironically, or not so much, was my word for 2015. Yes, it makes sense that after a year of abiding I'm hell-bent on shining. Because that's the fruit that's promised. Right where I am, who I am, with whom I am... shining. Stretching more into me, with the ones I love, right where we live. Shining in the simple everyday-ness of it all.
And from there out into the world.
I screwed up a lot in 2015. Made lots of mistakes, needed great gobs of grace, extended it too. And I'm ready like the rest of you for a new year.
But it's so good for me to remember that God doesn't want to trash the learning and the growing, and the family life that's been lived here in our homes to start all over again - with a new devotional, new diet, new workout plan, new chore charts and character building memory verses for my kids. He wants to build upon last year and the year before. And more importantly, He's building upon the foundation, the rock Himself, in our lives - your life, my life. The foundation has already laid through faith. And more so in 2015 then ever. I've been laid down in 2015, but I've been built up too; a perpetually His laid down, built up woman. His. Abiding. Woman.
He doesn't want to start again in me because I've been a woman who's failed. He wants to keep me going growing - abiding and shining - because I've been a woman who's failed and found grace. That's right, he's been growing me from December 31st into January 1st, and there are 365 days of refining sunlight ahead. And some of it's going to hurt, as His Light continues to burn the dross right out of me. But that heat, that face to face abiding sunlight is going to not only shine into me this year, it's going to shine out too!
So it's simply this, my friends. SHINE. Abide and Shine.
And once you have done everything to shine, keep shining. Not by your own shiny might, but by His Light shining power and presence! Reflecting like holy Shekinah glory.
May 2016 be the year we face Him perpetually, like a full moon, full-faced, full-on, nothing between Him and us. Soaking Him up and reflecting Him back. Soaking Him up, and then lighting up our little slices of the earth. Reflecting Him, shining His Light upon the ones we love and live with, and out into the world.
2016 - Here's to abiding, that we might SHINE.
Happy New Year.
I wish that today's guest could actually be sitting beside me on that orange couch. She is my most favorite person in this world to pray with. When she leaves my home, she leaves a crackling trail of holy embers in her wake. She prays in the Spirit - as I imagine the earliest Christians did in the ancient faith. She lays hands and lifts hands, speaks of visions and prophesies in tongues. Since I was raised in a Presbyterian church, this was all a bit akward at the start. And then the Lord met me profoundly during one of my prayer times with this woman. This woman.
That's all I can call her today, online, in public, because she is a missionary in a country hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each Summer she and her husband and their children travel "home" to the United States to connect with family and friends. We are blessed to be counted among those who get to enjoy them during their furlough. Late into the night we sit together. Another friend joins us with her gaggle of kiddos, and the three of us pray as our nine collective kids swim in the dark, eat too many toasted marshmallows, then watch a movie together so that the moms don't have to rush their Amen.
I learn so much from this woman - when we pray and when we break bread, and even when she sends out her ministry reports. As a matter of fact, what I'm sharing with you here is one such divine email update. I can't help but marvel over how we are on opposite sides of the world, each learning such similar lessons.
"Last night we had some family friends over for dinner. I wanted to make a special dinner for them. I made pizza, lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and even a cheesecake for dessert because I know it’s their favorite. Then, when they showed up, one of the 3 friends didn’t come. Honestly, I was mostly thinking of him when I was preparing the food, going the extra mile. And he just didn’t come. Said he was too tired and had too much work to do. Didn’t even come by the door to say hi. Just dropped off the two other friends and took off to do other tasks. I was so hurt. I had a hard time covering up my hurt feelings. I kind of let it out – letting those who came know I was disappointed and hurt that he would just walk on my graciousness and kindness towards him. That all my preparations meant nothing to him. I was hurt that he felt like his “to do list” and his “tiredness” was more significant than my work. That I was not worth it to him. I was hurt. I actually surprised myself with my reaction. Where did this come from? I mean, I could have just sat back and thought “well, more food for us! Less cooking for me!” But I didn’t. I was hurt.
This morning I sat and pondered and chided myself for being so rash and emotional. For letting my hurt be expressed. I brought it to the Lord and asked for forgiveness. He reminded me of the passage in Luke 14 about the wedding feast. About how the master had prepared a feast and invited guests. Even though the feast stood ready to eat, fatted calf killed, all the preparations made, the guests all came up with one silly excuse after another for why they couldn’t come enjoy the food and the party the master had prepared. The master’s reaction? He was angry. He was downright mad. Hurt that these silly people could just ignore all of his work for their trivial issues. He decided to invite others to enjoy his celebration – even those he didn’t know. Bums, homeless, the like. Anyone who would eat the food he’d prepared.
After the Lord brought this to my mind, I sort of sat back a bit smugly and thought, "Well, there now, see? I was righteous in my anger towards this friend. Just like the master. I was not crazy to be upset. I was justified. I felt the same way God feels towards people who don’t accept his invitation. My disappointment, hurt, discouragement were all validated in that scripture."
Then a few minutes later the Lord said to me, oh so quietly, “I prepare a feast for you every morning….but you often don’t come.”
Warm tears started choking up in my throat. Then they started cascading down my face, and before I could think another thought I was face down on my floor sobbing and telling him how sorry I am. How sorry I am for missing the feast. How sorry I am for how often I walk by our special chair, our meeting place, and plow into my list of to dos for the day. Or how I wake up too late because I’m so tired. Or how I say, "Just let me do this one thing and then I’ll come sit with you. Really, I promise." And then all of the things that grab a homeschooling mom’s attention in the early morning race in and that’s it. The reasoning and the reasons continue, "Lord, let me just check my email and get this quick text out and then I’ll come sit with you… Oh my, look at the time now! Well, it will have to wait until later."
But by later, the food is cold and has lost its flavor. The banquet can be “reheated” but it’s not as good as when it’s freshly prepared."
Sweet friends, this woman lives on the underbelly of the globe, serving the least and the lost, and yet she struggles with the same issues you and I do in the midst of first-world lives. She passes by her chair, passes by communion, passes by the feast in the busyness of family life. Just last week I wept my way through this post - because I'm tempted to miss the feast too.
Let us learn together to cease from the constant striving pace and practice stillness in His Presence. Lest we miss the feast. And we don't want to do that, for He is the feast.
He is the feast.
"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
I am currently reading Bob Sorge's Secrets of the Secret Place.
It has given shape to my private abiding moments with the Lord.
And I cannot recommend it enough.
Each short chapter is an absolute