When Jesus wants us to act like a three year old.

15042066_10207827088740744_4896527235319668019_o

What a tender picture of these preschoolers laying a hand on their Operation Christmas Child box and praying for the child who will receive it.

One little girl chose to give her very first baby doll. An adorable doll with a yellow gingham dress with lace trim. Like cutey patootey put-in-the-cedar-box-and-save-for-your-great-Granddaughter cuteness. Mama was struggling about this one because it’s a bit of a keepsake (you know how we Mama’s are about the firsts). It would be easier and less heavy on the heart to just go buy a brand new one like all the other items being boxed up. But the three year old wanted another little girl to have her favorite baby doll.

I love that this Mama’s heart was trumped by her heart for God. She wanted her little girl to walk in that love and give selflessly. Who are we to mess with what God is doing in our kids hearts?

Have you been there before? We talk to our kids about loving God and others and how we should pray for the homeless man we see out our window and then our kids come back with, “Oh, I know what we should do Mama. We should invite him to come home with us!”

Errrr, well……and a slight laugh of “bless him he doesn’t know any better.”

My good friend had that conversation with her son last week. The three year old wanted the homeless man to come over to their house. The Mama’s heart has been burdened for this man for a long time. They see him on the streets all the time.

What do you even do with that?

I’m the first to say that fear would keep me from having a complete stranger in my home. I’m more street wise than that.

I regret not letting Sophie give ALL her money one time as a gift to someone. She was so little and didn’t understand the value of money but her heart is so very generous and I snuffed out her desired act of radical generosity because it didn’t make sense to me.  You don’t give ALL of it. Be generous but with limits. Be a wise steward which means it needs to make sense on paper and always leaving money left over.

You give a baby doll but not the one that means a lot to you. That’s too special to give to someone you don’t even know.

Sadly this is my thinking at times and when I say it out loud it makes me cringe and sick to my stomach because I know it’s not the perspective our God has on things. I don’t want this to be my earthly vision of things.  I want to have a three year old’s perspective when it comes to loving others. Perhaps this is what  Jesus was talking about when he tells his followers to become like a child.

I don’t know what it always looks like and I don’t always do it well but I’m learning and watching the radical generosity and love of our God through the Bible. And I love it. I want to extend this kind of love to others.

So the next time someone accuses you of acting childish – don’t necessarily take offense to it. Unless you like stuck your tongue out at someone or fell down on the ground and threw a temper tantrum in the church aisle because they didn’t use the hymnal or something. Yeah that’s not cool childish behavior.

Well, I’m off to go play in the sandbox.

Ya’ll have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner Parties & Alcohol – “you asked”

Occasionally I’ll get an email from someone asking me to address a particular topic on my blog and recently I received this question:

“What to do when you’re invited to a gathering you know alcohol will be served at?” 

The person who asked this question doesn’t drink alcohol and is feeling the tension of wanting to reach out to people but not wanting to be around the alcohol. The particular event this person is talking about is not a wild & crazy party but a simple gathering of adults and some of them drink. So your basic adult gathering with alcohol being served.

This is a very personal issue and I can’t answer for anyone but myself but maybe I can give some food for thought based on personal experience and observations from scripture.

We actually experienced this exact scenario recently. We were invited to a cocktail party for a new neighbor. New gay neighbors. We don’t drink. And we don’t condone homosexual lifestyles. But we want to love our neighbors well and it starts by getting to know them. So we went. Most everyone drank but us. Was it awkward? No, it really wasn’t. We didn’t make a big deal out of it and neither did they. They asked if we wanted something to drink and we declined. That simple.

We’ve been to a few other neighborhood type events where alcohol was served and we were the only ones not drinking. The first time it was a bit awkward for us just because we felt kind of out of place but walking home that night it just felt right. I can’t explain it other than we knew we were doing what Jesus would do – he would totally spend time with his neighbors. Right where they were. In their homes.

In order to be a light in our world, in our communities and in our neighborhoods we have to get on other people’s turf. And their turf isn’t going to always look like ours. And that’s okay. It will involve being uncomfortable sometimes. That’s also okay.

At first you might feel like you have to defend yourself and explain yourself – for instance, “No, I wouldn’t care for anything to drink because………”  But you don’t have to do that. Don’t make a deal out of it. If someone asks you why you don’t drink that’s one thing. Everyone has their right to drink or not to drink. If they ask, tell them why but try not to get into a debate about it. This isn’t your chance to turn people away from drinking. It’s your chance as a Christian to love people where they are. And that starts by simply getting to know them. Even when they have a drink in their hand. And it’s important to remember nobody is “better” or  “more free in Christ” because they do or don’t drink.

The other thing you might be worrying about is what other people will think if you attend a party with alcohol. What if someone sees you there or finds out you went and they don’t know you didn’t have a drink. What if you’re at the company party where there’s a lot of drinking and someone see you there and your testimony is ruined.

When we feel the need to put disclaimers out when coming along side people it tells us we’re more concerned with what other people think about us, our image, and our reputation instead of loving people right where they are. If we’re concerned about what other people think of us then we’re missing the point of reaching out.

I used to walk in fear of what others would think when they saw me with a neighbor who was having a glass of wine while we ate lunch in a public place. But it didn’t take long for me to shed that fear when I heard stories of women just like me in need of a Savior. They poured their hearts out and felt comfortable being themselves. Some of these women would later come to know Christ and some of them didn’t. One woman sat in our living room and cussed confidently in the middle of Bible study because she just didn’t know any better. A few months later on her self made prayer list was “help me not to cuss.” Had anyone asked her to stop? Yes. But it’s not what you think. It wasn’t me. And it wasn’t the ladies in our Bible study. But the Holy Spirit put that on her heart as she grew in her new walk with Jesus. And that stuff really happens when we simply love people the way Jesus loved.  And it’s beautiful. Messy sometimes but really beautiful.

When we look at Jesus in the Bible we will see that he didn’t care what other people thought about his testimony. If he did he wouldn’t have shown compassion towards prostitutes. He would have avoided the tax collectors house instead of partying there. We don’t even see him explaining himself to his disciples or religious leaders in these situations. It was through and through love for these people.

And if we can remember that we are “these people” then loving others in this way will come easier. You might not have had 5 husbands but the sin you were born into is the sin that Jesus died for out of his love for you. We all have the same universal problem – sin. And we all have access to the One who can redeem us from this problem. But some people don’t know this. Some of your neighbors haven’t heard. And how will they know unless we tell them? Are we seriously going to wait until they “stop drinking” or “start looking like us”?  I pray not.

So I would say to the Christian adult who doesn’t drink to still go to the party where alcohol is served. Go with the purpose of getting to know people who may not know the Good News. And by all means look for opportunities to love your neighbor well. They’re just like you – in need of the love of Jesus Christ.

Have a question or topic you’d like to see addressed on LIABOW? Shoot me an email. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I’ll share what I’ve learned if I’ve learned anything at all. 

 

 

 

 

How the church can walk beside recovering addicts

I am learning from a new friend who is serving God by showing up weekly and walking beside women recovering from various addictions. Our conversation started with a few questions about how to help those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. What started as a conversation ended in this blog post. Thank you, Sally, for writing this so that we can all have a better understanding of how to help others. My prayer is that God will keep using you and us to love each other well. 

Those People: How the church can walk beside recovering addicts

If it’s Wednesday, I’m in rehab.

I don’t go alone. A bookkeeper, a housekeeper, a horse trainer, and a nurse go with me. Usually we drive separately, then meet in the dark dirt lot in front of the sun-weary blue flat-roofed building so we can enter together. One of us grabs the clipboard from the nail on the wall to sign all of us in. (For some reason, we sign in, but don’t sign out.)

Inside the room to left  are two sets of  bunk beds. A menagerie of bedding and personal items clutter the space. (But, the rules state to keep personal space clean and tidy, or something like that.) There’s another sleeping room, then on the right is the meeting room, or the Black Sofa Room, as I call it. Six 8-foot long sink-in-deep black pleather (plastic leather) couches surround the room, like they’re guarding the walls. They’re cold in the winter and slippery in the summer.

There’s no carpet.

Sometimes, when we enter the “sofa room”, women are gathered in the room already. Sometimes, we sit alone, waiting to see who will join us. Through the picture frame windows we watch the people traffic pass by and by. Will they come in?

In time, the door will open. One will come in. Another will follow. Another will follow.

Introductions.

Handshakes.

Hugs.

They’re hungry and thirsty, so we start.

But, first we open in a thanksgiving prayer to Jesus for making a way for my friends and I to bring a study of God’s Word into this house, to nourish those who come to be fed.

I Don’t Know What to Do Either

Wednesday night is Bible Study Night in this home to women residing here temporarily while they work to overcome their addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. Some come here from jail. Some are brought here. Some walk many miles to get here. All are here by choice. They have a lot on the line: their lives, their children, their marriages, their jobs, their homes….That perspective makes it pretty easy for my ministry partners and I to give an hour or two of our time each week to bring hope to those who are searching for it. What we do is not a big deal, really. But, I’ve learned some people (Christians, mostly) think it is.

My ears have caught cast-out comments like:

“I wouldn’t know what to do,”

“That’s quite a ministry you have” and

“I’m glad you are reaching out to those people,”

Is there an invisible barrier between “us and them”? I wonder, is there a wall that separates “Christians” from “those people”?

Those People

Those people? Naively, I never considered the women (and young children) living at the home as different from me. I never considered that stepping into their lives would draw attention–or not. All I knew when I joined 3 other women was that those struggling to overcome addictions are

Someone’s daughter

Someone’s mother

Someone’s wife

Someone’s sister

Someone’s granddaughter

Someone’s friend

They’re hurting

They’re lonely

They’re scared

They’re lost

That’s about all we know when we show up on Wednesday night. That’s really all I need to know because God knows and He says He equips us for what He calls us to. I believe that. Do you?

My only hope in writing this post is that I am able to give you just enough courage to reach out to women just like you who got hurt, then got lost. This is not a how-to post; it’s more about bringing some understanding to who “those people” are so you can ask God what, if anything, He asks of you.

Let me share insights I’ve gleaned over the years of walking beside women in recovery, working to overcome addictions:

Be A Safe Person

Trust is earned and addicts trust slowly because they’ve been burned by so many. Remember we’re all wounded; some of us just show it more than others. Maybe you can relate. But, you do not need to know what to do or say in every situation. Just let them know (by showing not telling) that you’re a safe person so they can be honest with you.

Practice listening and reserve judgement.

Be Available.

This doesn’t mean you need to meet every single request yourself. (Read ahead to the part about boundaries.) A little goes a long way. There are several little things you can do to help women in recovery build a bridge back into mainstream life:

  • Invite her to church, if she doesn’t have transportation or doesn’t want to go alone. Encourage her into a safe body of believers where she can enter into a supportive community and find fellowship. (We all need that.)
  • Invite her to an event.
  • Ask casually if she needs anything. (Anything practical!)
  • Always pray with her and for her.

Walk with Her

Bringing a new friend with you to church or an event attracts attention. Trust me. People are curious and they want to know who’s with you. When asked, I try to help her protect her privacy by simply saying “this is my friend so-and-so (first name only).” I think it’s important that each woman is seen as my “friend” and not labeled as a resident of the local drug and alcohol recovery facility. If they want to volunteer that information, they can.

Keep Clearly Defined Boundaries

Just so you know, addicts usually don’t have clear boundaries, particularly if they were born into a family of addicts where there were no boundaries. So you need to establish a few, in love. There’s nothing fancy needed here, simply “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Keep roles and responsibilities defined. You’re the grown up in the relationship. It’s OK to say no.

One word of caution: If you’re a people-pleaser, rescuer, co-dependent or enabler personality, you may want to support a recovering addict from a distance. The path in and out of addiction is often writhe with lies and manipulation. If you have trouble with boundaries you might get tangled in a web of manipulation while thinking you’re just being helpful. Know thyself.

Speak the Truth in Love

No matter the conversation or situation, love conquerors all. Speak the truth in love. Addicts have lived a life of lies. They need Truth and they need Love. Just like all of us. Bring strength, not pity. Bring encouragement, not condemnation. Be supportive, not enabling.

Keep It Simple

Our human nature is to complicate things. But, God’s way is simple

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)]

I know God cares deeply for the the lost and hurting and He rejoices when we care too. So, as you’re praying about what God is calling you to do, please pray about:

Who is God to you?

How does God see “those people”?

Then you will know what to do.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends.

Disclaimer: I am a layperson. I do not have a formal theological degree or training, I’m not a counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or ‘ologist of any kind. I am not a specialist or have any formal training about drug and alcohol addiction. This post is written from my personal experience and insights. Nothing more.

Sally Olson is a writer, blogger, wife, and battle-­proven homeschooling mom to sons. God, good words, good coffee and honest country living refresh her soul. She blogs about apples and country life at Garden Valley Homestead.

 

31 Days: Day 9 – When the mundane turns divine

When you’re entrenched in churchy activities where you’re constantly surrounded by other Christians it means we need to be that much more prayerfully aware of our surroundings in the world through the little things. Our trips to the bank, the grocery store, the office at work, fill in the ___________. It means the mundane becomes the divine and sometimes when we least expect it and in ways we never would’ve dreamed. I’ll never forget an experience I had like that.

I was looking out the kitchen window as I prepared chicken salad sandwiches for me and Randy. I happened to notice an older black gentleman sitting on the steps down the sidewalk from our house. The scene was familiar. Old man with an old bike parked in the same spot and he was resting in the shade. We had never spoken but I’d seen him at this same resting spot before. I very much sensed in my heart that God was telling me to share a few of these sandwiches with that man. I said, “You have got to be kidding, God! That is a man and I’m a woman and you really want me to walk down two sandwiches to him?”

And He would not let up.

I argued for at least 20 minutes but couldn’t get away from it. So here I go walking down Main St. at Noon to give this elderly man a sandwich. I hid the sandwiches in my Grandmother’s egg basket in case someone thought I was a nut case. When I got to him I was rather shocked by his piercing blue eyes and said, “Sir, please don’t think this is weird because I know it really is but would you like a homemade chicken salad sandwich and a bottle of water?” He said, “I aint got no money.” I was so taken back by that and said, “Oh No,Sir, it’s free!” He started laughing and told me his name and said, “You made that for me?” I said, “Well, not really Sir but I want you to have them if you’d like.”

He snatched those two sandwiches up and grabbed my arm to pull me closer and that’s when I said real fast, “Hope you enjoy!” and I ran ALL the way home. Yeah, I mean ALLLLL the way home I ran.

And I still have no idea why God had me do that. But I know He put it on my heart. And I trust He had a reason even if it was just to see if I’d obey Him. I don’t always respond in obedience. Many times I don’t. But my deepest desire is to venture into the awkward, or whatever it is He calls me to, for the sake of loving others like He loves me. And I’ll leave the results up to Him.

So I say all that to say…..as we pray and ask God to show us how He wants us to serve and love others expect Him to do it. And be prepared that often times it’s not in a nice, tidy package like we have pictured in our heads. It can seem awkward, uncomfortable and maybe even weird. But I want to challenge all of us to dare to ask God to speak into our hearts and then to follow through with what He tells us. It will be a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ working in such a way that we say, “Oh, that had to be God!”

Looking back on this now that its been a long time I see things differently. At the time I was mortified, argumentative and scared to death. I don’t claim to have handled the situation perfectly or with ease. I was more annoyed by the simple calling than grateful. But I’m in a different place now. I look back on the sandwich man scenario and see that God spoke to me in the midst of the mundane. It was just a regular day in the kitchen at lunch time. And He spoke into my heart. What makes this divine is not necessarily the gift of the sandwiches because I have no idea what those sandwiches meant for that man. But the communion between a girl interested in her own agenda for the day being interrupted by God is what’s divine. God using us when we don’t have anything to offer except what He does in and through us is divine.

I pray that this post doesn’t seem arrogant. God knows my heart in this and it’s to praise Him for giving us chances to show His love. For equipping us to do what He has called us to do even when we think it’s impossible. To praise Him for answering prayer and for giving courage that isn’t within us. That is my heart in this post. It’s to encourage us all to listen to Him and to respond and to look back at the grace involved in Him using us. And what about Him still using us as even after we stumble the entire way down the street out of pure awkwardness? Yeah, I’d call that something divine.

Just when I was starting to stress about how many church and  Christian school things I’m doing and how I don’t have time to be with the people in my community that need to know God, God brings the sandwich man to mind. And He whispers to me, “Keep doing the church stuff and keep listening and be ready for the next mundane turned divine.”

And I’m left wondering if next time I’ll not run away from sandwich man but instead use more words to communicate the love of Christ.

Linking with Barbie today

31 Days: Day 7 – When outreach doesn’t go like you expected

I shared a story a week ago about a visit to the nursing home. One in which changed my outlook significantly and kept a visual in my mind daily for several weeks. I was so excited to come back here and share the results of my follow-up visit with Ms. Linda.

I envisioned she would be so totally excited about the verse of scripture I had written out for her on the beautifully handmade card. I figured we might even have a good cry together while hugging. Who knows, maybe she’d even pin it on her bulletin board to remind her of God’s love for her.

With a skip in my step I found Ms. Linda and wheeled her into the activity room where I showed her the card and read it to her. When I was done reading I handed her the card with a twinkle in my eye and a huge smile on my face.

And with absolutely no expression whatsoever on her face she handed the card right back to me.

I thought maybe she didn’t understand it was for her so I said, “Ms. Linda, I made this just for you to keep if you’d like it.”

And she handed it back to me again.

I was trying hard to figure out if I should cry or laugh. I’ve never claimed to be a great card maker or artist but was it really that bad?! I knew God put it on my heart to go see her. And I felt like He had showed me those verses about Him singing over us so I could share that with her. But maybe I missed it completely. Possibly I heard wrong??

I tried one more time to give the card to Ms. Linda but she just politely handed it back. So I changed the subject. We talked about her upcoming Dr’s appointment and I asked her if she went to the Valentine Party that day. And then I decided I would be funny (or stubborn?) and hide the card in her wheelchair for a nice surprise later. Surely I would see it in her room at some point. We said our goodbyes and I was still mystified by the whole giving back of the card.

Apparently Ms. Linda found the card later and ditched it because when the kids and I went to deliver Valentine cards a few days later the verse card was no where to be seen.

I introduced her to my kids. Mitchell looked at me and whispered, “Do I give her a Valentine Card?” I subtlety shook my head No. It wasn’t that I was mad at her. I just knew we had other people we could give cards to that would keep them. Ms. Linda didn’t talk much. She smiled at the kids and they told her God loved her very much. She stared out her window and kept looking quietly. We said our goodbyes and on the way out the door she shocked me with these words…..

“Thank you for that card the other day.”

What? Are you serious? I was so confused.

But I just waved goodbye and said, “You’re welcome. He’s still singing over you Ms. Linda.”

What God showed me later in the middle of the night – seriously woke me up to impress this on my heart…. is this: I must be very careful to test my motives when I am reaching out to people in the so called name of Jesus. Because if I’m not doing it solely for Jesus alone and instead am looking for a desired or expected response that makes me feel good or makes me look good or anything other than “Because of Him” then it’s done in vain. It might serve a good purpose and it could still even meet a need but it doesn’t have any eternal value. I was humbled at several things that the Holy Spirit pointed out to me through that visit. He began to pull back layers for me to see my pride in serving Him. He wants nothing to do with that and neither do I. I am so thankful for His revelation and his forgiveness. It’s not fun seeing and confessing these things but it’s necessary for true growth.

So no, I’m not mad at Ms. Linda for handing that card back to me. How could I? God keeps using Ms. Linda to teach me more lessons about Him. About me and my need for his love and His singing over my own self. And I thought I was the one reaching out to Ms. Linda. She has taught me more than she’ll ever know and I’ve just met her this month.

31 Days: Day 5 – 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Church Outreach

Church outreach is so important because people need to know about our Jesus and how he can change lives. If all we do is stay huddled in our awesome Bible teaching churches and keep to our cozy small groups then we’ll have a hard time accomplishing the great commission. We must get out into our communities and reach people where they are. This means we set aside some things we’re used to or accustomed to for the purpose of welcoming all kinds of people.

Remembering where we came from will help us tremendously in reaching out to unchurched or unbelieving friends. We are all born into this world with the same exact need for Jesus. As believers we came to Christ in just as much desperate need as our coworker, friend, neighbor, or family member who needs Jesus. As we approach and engage our communities with this thought it will help us reserve judgement and allow us to see people with eyes of grace instead of condemnation and arrogance.

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Church Outreach:

  1. Do hold back the church lingo and Christianese. They don’t know it and they don’t care about the 6 points of Calvinism or the hypostatic union. Save that convo for your apologetics class.
  2. Do discipline yourself to not sit with all your besties at the next church cookout. Sit with someone you’ve never met before and get to know them.
  3.  Don’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians.
  4. Don’t freak out when someone drops the f-bomb or other inappropriate words in your conversation. Do know outreach will be messy and uncomfortable at times.
  5. Don’t expect your community to come to your church for everything. Take your church to your community for some things. Of course it’s easier to have everyone come to us but if we can reach more people by going to them let’s do it on some occasions. It’s worth the extra work.

I freaked out and told him he should’ve married someone else.

It was a fabulous Missions Conference at our church this past week. I love it so much every year. And every year I say it’s the best one. This year we decided to have the small group of Missionaries and  pastoral staff over to our house for lunch.

So fifteen minutes before the Missionaries get to our house for lunch I exclaimed to my husband who was frantically helping me get the porches cleaned off and the house picked up, “You should’ve married someone else. I can’t do this. I suck at this!”

No lie.

We both laughed and soon enough I was over my freak out moment. It was the first time I had bought most of the food for our guests. I’ve always prided myself in making the food. It’s what my Mom and Mother-in-law always did. It’s what I want to do for our guests because we all know homemade food tastes better than store bought food. But this time around because of unexpected circumstances and being out of town four days prior to our Missions Conference I was way behind in things.

I knew if we kept our lunch plans I would have to buy the food even though several people had offered to help. I turned it down because I still thought I could swing it myself. See why I have to pray for humility? This.right.here.

I reached out to a new friend who is helping me through her book and blog. She gave me some great ideas and tips which helped a lot.

Sue asked me for an update on how things went. I shared the truth about the pre-company freak out moment but how once they got there we had such a great time together and how awesome it was. How we loved sitting on the front porch hearing stories of how God was working in their countries.

IMG_2534

She asked me these 3 questions:

What did you learn about hospitality? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? 

I’ve been thinking about these things ever since. As I read her book I realize I’ve been missing some major pieces to understanding true hospitality. But don’t worry – this isn’t the kind of book that makes you go away feeling like a heap of condemnation just came barreling down on you. Quite the contrary. It makes me jump at the thought of doing this hospitality thing with different eyes.

I’ll talk more about her book in another post. I’m going to be giving away her book and another book that I’m digging right now and want you to dig with me. So check back soon for the giveaways!

Have a great week!

 

Signs of a bad week

You know it’s been a bad week when……

  • You call your child a butt and then realize he’s most likely going to go to school and tell all his teachers and friends that his Mom called him a butt. Then they won’t believe him and he’ll keep arguing until he gets a detention. I should write a book called, “If you call your child a butt he’ll ask for prayer at school.” And by the way he cracked up laughing when it came out of my mouth because honestly it shocked all of us. And I apologized and he wouldn’t accept because he thought it was hilarious and he knew it was true.
  • Your daughter overhears a phone conversation about having a routine mammogram and laughs hysterically making mammogram squashing machine noises with hand motions. As if that’ not enough she graciously says she’ll request prayer for me in her class.
  • You make your entire family late for school all because of greasy hair. I should’ve just let teenage britches go with greasy day 2 unwashed hair but like a refined Southern Mama I made him go up and take a shower in 5 minutes knowing that was impossible. It was just plain stupid. And the whole family came unglued. I’m wearing a sign on my forehead that says, “I’m a butt.”

Other than that we are just having a peachy kind of a week. In a few days I get to attend a prayer conference in which I talk about how I pray over my kids – after I call them a butt. The process of refinement and humility is not easy I say.

When all hell breaks loose on Sunday morning

You are not the only one whose household can go haywire on Sunday morning before leaving church. I promise. There will be time that if it can go wrong it will go wrong on Sunday – either before you get to church or on the way to church. I’m not gloom and doom girl speaking I’m just the voice of reality.

So when you show up to church and the older lady in her perfectly pressed Sunday clothes hugs you and asks how you are doing it’s okay to tell her what just went down. Because she was most likely a Mother of mayhem on Sunday mornings as well. Not that every Sunday is like that but for the ones that do come our way don’t think you’re the only one.

Knocked over cereal bowls, lost shoes, holes in panthose, church clothes getting dirty right before leaving, siblings yelling – heck, Mom yelling – over the K-Love station in the background of course. And then showing up to teach Sunday School. Double sigh.

I’ll never forget showing up to a morning prayer time after such a morning. I had responded extremely impatiently and was in the wrong towards one of my kids. And just ten minutes later was leading our time of praise with a group of prayer warriors. And then we got to the silent confession time. I would have been so relieved it was SILENT confession except for the fact that the Holy Spirit trumped that part and put it on my heart to move me into public confession during that time. I confessed my stinky attitude and need for forgiveness. And this is when I found out I wasn’t the only one who needed forgiveness for such things on such a morning. The rest of the group – the entire group in fact – one by one confessed their faults to the Lord audibly and something broke loose that morning in our group. It was different from all other times.

So frazzled Mom, when you show up to church after having a rough morning it’s okay to say so. Say it to God and feel free to say it to your bros and sisters. Chances are that person had a doozie of a Sunday last week or will the next. We’re all in this thing together and we need to be real with each other. When life hurts let’s not be afraid to say it out loud. Because thats then we can actually do life together. Pray for each other. Care for one another the way God designed the church to do.

Happy Sunday morning and may your frosted flakes be in their rightful place, your babies diaper clean and your boys britches not ripped. But hey, if they are…….it’s okay. Just go with it. We’ve all been there.

 

A powerful question that can change the way you look at scripture

I love Margaret Feinberg because she always challenges me and stretches me in great ways through her articles, books and bible studies. A question she challenged people to ask in their personal time of Bible study back in February has been transforming my own personal study. It’s pretty simple but extremely probing and revealing. So here’s the question:

What do you most need to read that you least want to hear? 

Pretty simple sounding. But when you get in there and read scripture and then ask yourself this question it’s really amazing at what the Holy Spirit reveals. I’ve never thought to ask myself this question in relation to scripture.

Today I read Psalm 13 because I’m working through the Psalms while I’m down with my leg. Verse 2 says, “How long will I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” David asks God to give light to his eyes. Later on David says, and I can’t help but note his situation has not changed, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.”

In my journal I have the question “What do I most need to read that I least want to hear?” based on these verses and my heart this is my answer:

God allows sorrow to remain in our lives sometimes. 

I also noted that David’s response was that he still asked God to take the sorrow away and then he ended his plea with a contented trust in the goodness of God – even when God didn’t take the sorrow away immediately.

I want to be like David and ask God to take away my sorrows and I want to be like David and trust God even when He doesn’t take them away knowing that His salvation and goodness is all I need.

So maybe you want to try asking yourself this same question as you read the Bible. I am finding it extremely practical. Of course there is no right or wrong answer. God’s word stands true and our response to it with the Holy Spirit’s leading is what brings growth and maturity. What you want to “hear least” might be very different than what I want to hear least right now.

**P. S. A quick leg update and anxiety update: God has blessed us with four great nights of sleep. We are praising Him for it! The anxiety seems to be gone. My pain is under control so my pain meds are further apart. Every single day is better with more strength and energy although it’s still hard to walk across the room without being exhausted. I know that will change with each day and week and month. I will say that my heart is more empathetic to people who have anxiety attacks than ever before. I’ve never understood this before. Never experienced it before coming home from the hospital. It is so real and it’s a horrible feeling. I cannot help but think God will use this experience for me to be able to intercede on behalf of others during their times of anxiety. I pray he spares me from ever having to deal with it again but should it come my way again I praise God that I have an army of godly men and women who are willing to stand in the gap for me and pray over me.

Linking with Holley and Kristin today.