In Between the Before and After

We have been busy around here! Lots of pictures to share and of course a thought or two about some life applications. I am loving the new look. We went from dark earthy tones to a light bright farmhouse feel. It was a ton of work but very worth it. Makeovers usually are.

One comment on social media was that they didn’t think our “before” looked bad. And I suppose it didn’t but it was time for a change, an overhaul, a new do.

Funny thing though when you start moving things around and getting ready for something new, you find out exactly where you don’t clean much! You also don’t realize all the things you had let go through the years and had simply become used to seeing them.

You discover cobwebs and dust bunnies (and stink bug shells!) you didn’t know were there. We had to tear things out, rip things up, mud and smooth out some areas, move furniture from one room to the other and back again.

We ate on the couches that were in the kitchen while we were waiting for the carpet in the family room. Then we had to eat in the family room when we had the kitchen/dining area torn up.

We don’t want to talk about the messy middle though do we? We want this…

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Family room before
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Family room after. The curtains were a DIY using drop clothes from Home Depot! #likelinen
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Sitting area before
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Sitting area after
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Dining/kitchen area before
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Dining/kitchen area after
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Kitchen area before
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Kitchen after
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Dining area before
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Dining area after

Without seeing this…

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We kept stacking stuff in the music room that will need to be put away too!

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But it doesn’t work that way.

Life is like that too. You aren’t doing too bad. Your “before” looks okay but you’re ready for a change. Then the moment you start in, you realize that one thing leads to another that leads to ripping out something over here and tearing up something over there. Then there’s mudding the holes left behind and smoothing them out.

We want a rock star body with no sweat equity. We want peace from our past without dealing with it. We want to kick a habit without it being hard. We want to start standing up for ourselves without hurting anyone’s feelings. We want to be different but don’t want to have to change anything. We want an “after” without the messy middle. It’s not possible.

My friend Terra says it this way, What I’ve learned from intense transformations of both places and people: the before is rough, the after is beautiful, but the place in between…that’s when it’s ugly.

This place was a fiasco for a while. I was so ready to get things put back in order and looking good. More than once I wanted to quit because I was tired but I had to keep going, keep working at it and not give up in the middle of the messy. Today, I’m sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace as I type. And it feels so good!

Don’t you give up either! Your “after” is going to look fabulous!!

Fiercely for you!!

kw

My Iris Rogue

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Apparently there is some confusion around here about what season it is. I have an Iris that’s blooming. It’s fall in Ohio which is not her normal bloom time of spring. But there she stands, in the weeds, at the wrong time of year, petals blowing in the crisp fall air, being gorgeous. My Iris has gone rogue.

To “go rogue” means to cease to follow orders; to act on one’s own, usually against expectation or instruction

Not to be confused with an Irish Rogue which, according to Urban Dictionary means: The act of giving the finger to anyone who has ticked you off. ( I won’t give you the example they used. Let’s just say it had to do with road rage.)

We live in an Irish Rogue world right now. Flipping the bird (yelling, screaming, name-calling, road rage, social media shaming etc) has become every day conversation for a lot of people. Right, left, conservative, liberal, believer, unbeliever…doesn’t matter…we have all sunk to the Irish Rogue method of communication.

Since this seems to be the norm, let’s go rogue…Iris Rogue. Let’s cease to follow orders of this world, which has become ugly and speak words of encouragement instead of words of strife and conflict. This Iris didn’t listen to the “rules”, she busted out a bloom in her off season.

If you are a believer in Jesus, the Bible says some things about “out of season” answers:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1Peter 3:15 NIV bold is mine)

 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season: correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2Timothy 4:2 NIV bold is mine)

What does it matter if I can answer all my Bible study homework questions while sitting in class (in season) but then go out into the world and be harsh with my answers and tone (out of season)?

We have a reason for our hope but no one will listen if we go Irish Rogue.

Be a bloom, not a butt.

If going rogue means acting on one’s own, usually against expectation or instruction and the common comeback is laced with sarcasm and cynicism, going Iris Rogue means being the one who stays calm, cool and collected in a conversation….

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)

…especially when gentle answers are a rare find these days.

Words matter. People matter. The words we say to people matter. We have an opportunity to rise above the weeds, to bring beauty to the boorish, hope to the hurting, and peace to pain. But we can’t do that if we’re shouting to be seen.

Going Iris Rogue is listening more than needing to be heard. Seeing more than needing to be seen. It is practicing the art of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 NIV) Not everyone needs our opinion.

Go rogue…ask them to tell you more. Find out why they think or believe what they do. Instead of you’re an idiot! try that’s interesting. Instead of reacting with anger (the expected reaction) respect their opinion. After all, it is just that, an opinion. And it’s theirs.

No one has persuaded anyone of anything with harsh words. We want to attract, not attack. Heck, they may even ask you the reason for your hope. The reason why you reacted differently. The reason why you listened without becoming angry. What an opportunity!

Be a bloom not a brute.

In a world gone Irish Rogue, be an Iris.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Naked Man…

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While this quote makes me smile for some reason, it’s so obvious that a naked man offering an item of clothing is ridiculous. You can’t offer what you don’t have. Neither can you trust someone who does so.

Social Media perfection is much like this African proverb because you can’t be what you aren’t which is perfect. If she sounds too good to be real, she probably is. If he sounds fake, he probably is. Everyone you see as you scroll through social media wakes up with stinky breath and struggles with something.

While we certainly don’t want to air our own or see everyone’s dirty laundry, this obsession for perfection is sending us down a path that is harmful.

The Direction of Perfection

The perfect picture. The perfect post. The perfect persona. The perfect plate. Pinterest perfection. We have become a culture that is consumed with the appearance of perfect.

The direction perfection sends us down is the slippery slope of self-absorption. Perfection, or the appearance of, becomes the idol we chase after. An idol is anything that either disproportionately consumes your thoughts, actions or resources, or that take your eyes off of God.

If we’ve set our eyes on the prize of perfection, constantly hustling for picture perfect, are we really winning anything? Or have we lost our way?

Beware the naked man who offers directions for he has no place in which to keep a compass.

The Deflection of Perfection

My three-year-old grandson has the art of deflection down to a science. He gets in trouble for something or is being asked to do something he doesn’t necessarily want to do and he immediately changes the subject or diverts attention to something else.

To deflect is to bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or straight line. It is a coping mechanism people use when not wanting to reflect on the reality of something. It’s used as a shield so others will not see one’s true nature.

The deflection of perfection is seen when we draw attention to the good and wonderful things we are doing while never acknowledging any bad behavior. If I can get you to stay focused over here, you won’t pay attention to what is going on over there.

Be wary of anyone who is always put together, always very spiritual sounding, always talking about the good things they do. It could be the right hand is distracting from what the left hand is doing. No one is perfect.

Don’t buy a shirt from the naked man.

The Deception of Perfection

Somewhere along the way we’ve exchanged the idea of striving for excellence with having to be perfect. Excellence leads to great and honorable things. Perfectionism leads to fear of making mistakes, paralysis of analysis, and feeling judged.

One energizes. The other criticizes.

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The one who masquerades as an angel of light has invited us to dance with him at the ball of perfection. We waltz with worry over others liking the real us. We foxtrot with fear that others will find out what frauds we are. We do the hustle to be heard and the salsa to be seen.

But at the end of the night, we’re exhausted. Our feet hurt from shoes we never should have worn and our mascara has run under the mask we’ve put on to hide our true identities.

Beware the naked man who asks you to dance because, well, that’s nasty.

When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver. (Brene’ Brown)

Either get in the driver’s seat or get out of the car but let’s stop driving down the destructive path of perfectionism by being brave enough to simply be ourselves.

Fiercely for you!

kw

When You End Up in the Ditch

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The Cup Plant known to collect rain water in her “cups” that can be used for drinking water in emergencies. She can be found in ditches along roadsides, offering us a cool drink perhaps?

I had been asking Mom for gas money for several days. While I had been watching the needle move towards E, it didn’t really dawn on me that I would run out of gas…oh to be 16 again…until my car sputtered to a halt on my way to school one morning. My sister and I were able to push it off the country road enough to not get hit.

Fortunately for my siblings and me, my then boyfriend, now husband (awww…insert heart emoji’s here) took the same route to school, saw us stranded and pulled over to pick us up. There’s nothing quite like piling in to a ’67 VW with rusted floorboards. But at least his tank was full.

Later that day, I got scolded pretty good by my stepfather for parking in the ditch at the wrong angle. Wait. What? I guess gas couldn’t get to the carburetor because of the angle of the car….or something like that. (To this day I have no knowledge of any of this…I couldn’t even spell carburetor just now!)

I wish I could tell you this was the last time I ended up in a ditch. But, well, life happens, tanks run out, and there you are, parked at a wonky angle in the ditch. I’ve learned a few things through the years….

When you’re running towards E you have to go to a resource that can help you. The logical place to go for gas money was my Mom. This is usually true. What I didn’t know is she couldn’t give me what she herself didn’t have…money for gas. I kept waiting. She kept putting it off. I ended up in the ditch.

Sometimes the actions (or inaction) of others are what put you in the ditch. Had I realized there was no money for gas, I could have caught a ride to school with said hunk of a boy mentioned above.

How many times have I gone to someone who simply did not have the know- how or wherewithal to give me what I needed to prevent me from ending up in the ditch.

I just kept driving.

When you’re running towards E you have to pay attention to the signs. It was naïve (foolish?) of me to think I could just keep going and going and never run out of gas. There were red flags…like the needle that kept creeping closer to empty. My truck today has a signal that lets me know when I’m 50 miles or less to empty. (And believe me, I head to the nearest gas station because that beep makes me panic a little!)

How many times have I ignored signs and red flags and beeps and just kept going? Oh, hello, Mr. Ditch. We must stop meeting like this. I had no clue we’d be together again so soon. Oh wait. Yes I did. I chose to ignore them!

 I just kept driving.

When you’re running on E you don’t get to choose where you park, you just land where you run out of gas. It’s almost always not in a convenient spot…

Sometimes it’s in the hospital because you’ve ignored your body’s symptoms. Sometimes it’s with a counselor because you’ve ignored your feelings and thoughts. Sometimes it’s in divorce court because you’ve ignored warning signs in your marriage. Sometimes it’s because of someone else’s actions or lack thereof. Sometimes it’s in the middle of a store and you start crying for not any one thing but a million.  And you can’t stop.

We just keep driving.

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The Bull Thistle…completely dried up…just like us when we “bull” our way through and keep driving.

No matter the reason, no matter the how, no matter the why, we have a Rescuer. He doesn’t look at us and think You idiot. (Though he may shake his head on occasion…) He looks at his children with compassion. He doesn’t ignore our cries from the ditch…no matter how we ran out of gas, no matter what angle we “parked” the car…he hears us…

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

 Oh. My. Soul!

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Chicory coming up THROUGH a crack in the road. 

He is the Resource that never runs out. He is the One with all the answers. He is the Fuel that fills my tank. He is the Nemesis to my enemy. He is the Light that shows the way. He is Breath when I cannot breathe. He is.

He is the Lifter of my head when I’m weary. He is the Hearer of my heart. He is the collector of my tears. He is the Helper in times of trouble. He is Firmness under my feet. He is the Rock on which I stand. He is.

He Rescues. Redeems. Restores. Amen.

#ezerstrong

kw

 

 

Simple. Powerful. Prayer.

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God have mercy on me, a sinner. (Luke 18:13NIV)

I am a word junky. I am a woman. I love to talk. I love to write. Sometimes I have word gusts of tornado like proportions. Sometimes I think I wear God’s (and Todd’s) ears out with my ramblings and meanderings. I want to make sure he understands what I’m asking. I want to dot every “i” and cross every “t” so there are no mistakes. Anybody else?

But what if I don’t know exactly? What if I haven’t a clue the details of what I really need? Or want? Or desire? There are times when elaborate just isn’t in my vocabulary.

Simple prayer is still powerful prayer.

I lay awake with anticipation of a meeting taking place the next morning. I had many things to share but also wanted to be concise, professional and heard. And so I prayed this every time I woke up, Lord, don’t let me word vomit at tomorrow’s meeting.

 He answered!

I have a friend who recently moved away. She is in the process of getting her family settled in to a new home and new schools as well as trying to make connections herself. She texted a couple of us to be praying about a get together of some ladies from a church she has been attending. She shared her fears and anticipations. Our big bold prayer for her was this: Dear God, please don’t let it be awful.

 He answered!

This is a note I ran across (and kept) from many years ago. It’s from my youngest daughter who was 7 ish and is now 19 and in college.

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He has been answering this prayer ever since.

In Luke 18 we see two different styles:

The Pharisee with his Glamour Shot style of look-at-me-and-my-fancy-prayer-life.

The tax collector who simply asks for mercy because he is sinner.

Jesus’ response? Old fancy pants got scolded for being too full of himself. While the tax collector’s humility was recognized.

Simple, humble prayers can sometimes be the most effective ones. Jesus doesn’t ask us to be fancy. Just honest.

Simple, humble prayers leave my needs in the hands of a Father who knows way better than I what the answer should look like.

Simple, humble prayers can be bold and brave, brazen and beautiful.

Can we be specific? Absolutely! But sometimes my laundry list of laments limit my ability to see God working when his answer didn’t fit in the labyrinth of detail I laid out for him.

There is somehow a sweet relief to not have to worry about the how’s and trust God to work it out for our good. Because we can trust him. He hears us. He loves us. He wants the best for us.

In the words of the Psalmist we can bring our simple requests before him each morning. We can pray to not word vomit or not let it be awful or help me or have mercy and then wait expectantly for him to answer

Because he will.

Simple. Powerful. Prayer.

Fiercely for you!

kw

Meditation is Not a Dirty Word

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I’m so worried about my daughter. I talked to her the other day and found out she’s meditating. I pray she’s not getting caught up in some other religion or cult or something.

 I meditate.

 You DO?? But we are Christians. Isn’t that what other religions do?

This was the gist of a conversation I had recently with the Mom of a college student. To answer her questions: Yes I do. And yes, I suppose other religions practice meditation but it is not solely an “other religion” thing.

So let’s talk about that and a couple other reasons why meditation is thought to be a dirty word for so many.

1.) Because it’s an eastern religion or hippy/vegan thing to do.

Isaac did it: He went out to the field one evening to meditate. (Genesis 24:63)

 David did it. A lot. All throughout the Psalms he meditates on God’s unfailing love, God’s works and wonders, his law, precepts and promises.

If the above two Bible giants didn’t convince you, check this out…

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:17-19 bold is mine)

Mary, the very mother of Jesus did it. She pondered, meditated, thought about, reflected on all she had seen and heard.

So why have we allowed this very biblical practice to become something that only “others” do?

2.) People don’t know how to meditate or what meditation really is.

Maybe you think you have to sit cross legged on the floor, wrists on your knees, middle finger touching the thumb, eyes closed in preparation to “ohm it out.”

Meditation is a continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation. It’s a stilling of the mind, body and soul, thinking upon or pondering of something.

Not a dirty word.

There are several apps you can download that will walk you through a session. I happen to use one called Headspace. He talks you through breathing, being aware of surrounding sounds, being aware of how your body feels, what thoughts you’re thinking, visualization. No ohms required. (Plus his accent is very soothing. Smile.)

I will often meditate after I’ve had my quiet time, which gives me ample things to ponder.

Give it a try. Ten minutes a day for ten days. That’s it.

3.) People don’t have time or won’t take the time.

In the movie Eat, Pray, Love, Julia Roberts’ character travels abroad because life went wonky for her. One of her challenges along the way was to meditate. It shows her sitting in the typical meditative position, but fidgeting like crazy, wondering how much time has gone by. She finally opens her eyes to find that one whole minute had passed.

Can you relate?

We live in a culture where busy is given a badge of honor and being still is a foreign concept. When I said give it ten minutes for ten days, I could here some of you prickle and wonder where in the world you would find that much time in your day to sit and do nothing. And for TEN whole days! Seriously? Yep.

Busy isn’t bad…until busy keeps you from being able to still your mind enough to concentrate or be engaged in the moment or sleep. There are so many benefits to meditation, which leads me to the next reason why people don’t/won’t do it.

4.) People don’t value it.

 If there’s really nothing in it for you, why do it? After all, we ARE busy people. Time IS precious. So what are the benefits exactly? Here are some that have been scientifically proven…

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Where there is peace and meditation there is neither anxiety or doubt.

(St. Francis de Sales)

5.) We live in a TLDR society.

 A what? That was my question as well when one of my daughters said this is why she thinks people don’t meditate. It stands for Too Long, Didn’t Read. We are quickly becoming a scan-and-go society that gets bored very easily. There is an article in the Washington post that talks about people not being able to read longer, more involved books because our minds are becoming accustomed to quick hits of information.

We are becoming less and less able to concentrate for longer periods of time. So for me to ask you to sit and be still for ten minutes…I may as well be asking you to sit for eternity.

Meditation helps. It helps to rewire our overstressed brain to concentrate more, to slow down and absorb our surroundings, to think clearer.

I love the verse, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) There will be no meditations of my heart, no pondering what’s in there, if I don’t meditate.

Why is that so important? Because out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)

So, I’m taking back the practice of meditation. I’m taking back the art of being still, quieting my mind, listening to my surroundings and my body. I’m taking back the call to Be still and know (Psalm 46:10) by being still and knowing!

No. Meditation is not a dirty word!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

 

 

 

Sunrises and Salutations

 

20170721_060414The hour was early. The predawn light lit our way as we walked the stairs leading to the beach where a few others sacrificed sleep for scenery. We sat on the sand, waiting, watching. Would she come? Would she rise?

We stared off just beyond the horizon, knowing in our minds and hoping in our hearts. All was quiet except for the waves rolling in and out…each person silent to their own thoughts as the anticipation was building.

Then just like that, there she was peeking at us where water meets the sky…

20170721_060553A new day had begun.

As I sat there marveling at the beauty before me, thanking the Lord for this spectacular view, I was reminded of several reasons why sunrises are so vital to me. A sunrise means a new day. A new day means…

New Mercy

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

A new day means a do-over. Messed up yesterday? No problem! Today is a chance to restore, redeem and re-do. Because of the Lord’s love for us, his compassion towards us, the sun will rise bringing with it new hope and a second chance.

We can ‘fess up our mess up and move on because God is faithful to bring us another sunrise, another day dawning bright with promise and expectancy. Great is your faithfulness Lord, even when ours ebbs and flows like the waves of the sea.

On those days when life is all consuming, our troubles seem endless, our sorrow too great to bear…let the sunrise remind you, his love is great, his compassion is unfailing.

A new day means…

20170721_061027New Joy

…weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Many of my friends are experiencing grief. Not just from death but from a myriad of other things too. Loss of relationships, friendships, divorce, moving away, other people’s poor decisions, change, kid trouble, a job….so much to weep for, to grieve over.

The dark of night lays heavy, trying to suffocate the very last breath from us. We cry oceans of tears, emotion crashing in like a tidal wave. We fear trusting the ebb and flow of life…we don’t want to feel the hurt, pain and anguish that the dark can bring. We worry we will feel the heavy forever. We wonder when. When will it get better? When will this darkness lift?

IMG_20170720_060711629_HDRThen there’s a peek of promise on the horizon as the sun rises, bringing with her a new dawn, a new hope, a new joy. It may not happen overnight but it will happen. The sunrise tells us so. It may not look like what you thought it would because it’s a new day.

A new normal. A new routine. A new experience. A new dream. A new day.

We can trust the One who sets the moon and sun in place, who determines night and day. Genesis 8:22 tells us…

As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.

Hang in there. The darkness will not last forever. Morning will come and with it sweet joy.

20170721_061939A new day means…

New strength

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Day by day. We want to know if things are going to be okay tomorrow or next week, month or year. We want to know if we’ll have the strength to endure what might be and all the what if’s life can bring. We do lose heart if we think too far ahead. It wears us out, mind, body and soul.

God gives us renewed strength for this day and this day only. Worry taps into fear instead of faith. Worry weakens our spiritual muscles, leaving us vulnerable.

Trust tells fear to take a giant leap. Trust tells those doubts about the future that you believe in the faithfulness of your Father. You trust him to provide exactly what you need for today. Renewed strength to see you through whatever it is you may be facing, whatever mountain you are climbing, whatever valley you are walking, whatever.

All of these thoughts as the sun peeks over the horizon where water meets sky. You can do this. Morning will come and with it new mercies, new joy and renewed strength. Just like the sun, so shall you rise with the courage to do hard things.

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Fiercely for YOU!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no substitute…

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An evening walk on the beach.

I was putting together a DIY liquid fabric softener last week, which consisted of water, baking soda, vinegar and essential oils. If you remember back to your high school science days adding vinegar to baking soda causes a reaction of bubbles so you have to add it very slowly. VERY sloowwwly.

As I was adding the baking soda to the vinegar and carefully watching the bubbles foam up then recede down I noticed the sound it made…if you closed your eyes you could almost hear the ocean. Almost.

As I am writing this, I am sitting on the third floor deck of a beach house, preparing to go spend the day at the beach, listening to the sound of the ocean, watching the waves as they ebb and flow, feeling the sand between my toes and salt water wind in my hair.

Somehow, the sounds of my DIY fabric softener fall short. Way short. There is no substitute for the real thing. I mean…

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Not our beach house but that sky though! (Photo cred Jimmy C.)

Nothing replaces the sites, sounds and smells of actually being on the beach, seeing the vastness of the ocean, hearing the waves as they roll in, smelling the saltwater, feeling the wind, watching dolphins gracefully swim in the distance or being still as the sun peeks her rays over the horizon in a good morning salutation…

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Early morning sunrise…beach view. (Photo cred to Jimmy C.)

No sound machine. No app. No nothing.

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Early morning sunrise…deck view.
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Moon jellyfish.

It had been a year since we’d been to the beach so my little DIY project certainly helped me “hear the ocean” in a pinch but it sure seems like life has become a DIY project. Substituting almost for real.

There are apps for anything…dating, exercising, meditating, communicating, games, maps, food, Bible (study), shopping…I’ll admit I use a few myself but it cannot replace the real things.

Take social media for example. In many ways, it has replaced the need for real relationships. We stay “connected” by scrolling through pictures that often times do not truly represent a person’s life. We throw out a “congratulations” or “so sorry for your loss” or “I’ll pray for you” often times without a second thought.

Don’t get me wrong, social media definitely allows for us to know what is going on in each others lives but we mustn’t let it replace the real thing. We’ve somehow become a culture that will post pictures of our favorite foods but not fix a meal for someone. We say we’re so sorry for someone’s loss rather than walk with them through their grief. We can judge each other harshly with the simple tapping of some keys without ever looking into a person’s eyes or having a conversation with them.

There is no substitute for being with each other, looking at someone’s facial expression, seeing the tears roll down their face, hearing the tone of their voice…the agony, anger or angst, the energy, excitement, and elation. There is no substitute for hugging someone who is grieving or high-fiving someone who is celebrating.

There is no text message that can replace having coffee or dinner with a friend and hearing about what they’ve been up to or what’s going on with them, their family, and loved ones. It’s one thing to get a text from someone saying I’m struggling. It’s a whole different story when they’re sitting on my front porch swinging, sobbing and sharing their heart.

Why? Why have we allowed social media to replace real relationships?

Because it’s hard.

It’s hard to find the time in our hustle-bustle lives. It’s much easier to type out a few words and be on our busy way. It sure makes us feel better…at least we acknowledged whatever it was.

It’s hard to invest ourselves emotionally and for the long haul in an instant gratification culture.

It’s hard to have difficult conversations with real people face to face. It’s easier to shoot someone a text because then you can really give them a piece of your mind, hit send and have no idea the reaction or consequences of your written words.

Shoot, forget the difficult conversation, we’ve become a generation that can’t have even a simple conversation. Look around when you go out sometime. People have their heads down, earphones in and phones on. We’re so connected to technology that it’s disconnecting us from our immediate surroundings.

I love the fact that I can skype my family who lives out of town or text someone something encouraging or post my thoughts on social media but it cannot and does not replace the real thing. Real relationships, real conversations, real hugs, real tears, real laughter and real happy dances.

Don’t be fooled, there is no substitute for the real thing.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Fall for Cute

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That’s Rosie, my oldest daughter’s one-year-old boxer puppy and that other creature is a temptress and destroyer disguised as a sweet innocent chipmunk. Do not be deceived by its cuteness!

I started noticing small holes all throughout my flowerbeds, then soil on top of the fresh layer of mulch, then dirt all over the back patio and front porch from the pots of tomatoes and flowers. Then a full scale city just under the ground as tunnels started appearing from one end of the bed, under the patio and coming out on the other side to the far end of the bed. What in the world?

We started noticing cute, little chipmunks zipping around about the same time some ladies on my golf league asked if anyone else had a chipmunk problem. They went on to say how destructive these little buggers were and how to get rid of them. So that’s what is going on!

How could such a tiny little thing wreak so much havoc? Not to mention the trouble it got poor Rosie in as she chased after it a time or two, not realizing the damage she caused in the pursuit. She fell for it every time too. The cuteness, the tempting, the taunting…

So do we. It’s called sin.

It often starts out small. A little hole. A bit of dirt on the floor. We think we’re getting away with it, that no one will notice or catch us so we don’t say anything to anyone…even (especially?) not to God. Next thing you know there’s a whole secret village underground that slowly makes its way to the surface. You are in so deep and it has caused such mayhem in its wake.

God knew the destructive nature of sin and that it crouches at our door; desiring to have us, but we have to master it. (Genesis 4:7)

 We HAVE to master it. But how?

First by acknowledging we messed up. We built those underground tunnels of lies and deception. We made holes with our poor decisions. We uprooted the system. Sin crouched and we flung wide the door.

Mahatma Gandhi says, Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.

 

I would have to agree. Secrets are crippling. And exhausting. Confessing the moment we are aware of an error certainly makes for less sweeping too.

James tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (5:16) And John tells us if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…(1John 1:8-9)

Be accountable to and for each other. Everyone needs someone to speak truth into their lives. My best friends are not those who let me do whatever I darn well please. No. My best friends tell me when they see me off track. They tell me what I NEED to hear, not what I want to hear.

Second, we can’t be drawn in by cute. I couldn’t believe such a sweet little creature could cause that much damage….until I saw it in action. I would not be fooled by its cuteness again!

Satan doesn’t show himself in a red suit with horns, tail and pitchfork. Nope. He masquerades himself as an angel of light. (2Corinthians 11:14) He masks sin as fun and flirtatious or innocent enough or not so bad or shall I say delicious like a piece of fruit and before we know it not only have we have flung open the door, we’ve invited him in for supper.

Don’t be deceived by cute.

Third, we have to flee. In the words of Jenny we have to Run Forest! Run! at the first sighting of temptation.

The moment I opened the back door Rosie chased after that chipmunk fast and hard. She allowed that chipmunk to lure her in and in the process of the chase, more flowers were destroyed, she didn’t listen at all and got into even more trouble. Had she simply walked away from the back door and not paid any attention to the tawdry attempts of this tiny tempter, she would have faired much better.

I know this is a boxer and chipmunk but are we really much different? I wish I could say I have never been lured into or caught chasing the chipmunk in its devil suit. I wish I could say I have always run but I can’t. You should see the tiny pitchfork this little guy was carrying, it was adorable! (Smile)

Paul gives us a couple things to run from:

Flee from sexual immorality. (1Corinthians 6:18)

 Therefore, my dear friends flee from idolatry. (1Corinthians 10:14)

 Flee from the evil desires of youth… (2Timothy 2:22)

This certainly hits a broad spectrum doesn’t it? Paul may as well be writing to us today. Not much has changed through the years or culture. We still struggle to run from all of these things. We still stand at the back door whining to be let out so we can chase after what’s not good for us, things that will only get us in trouble.

Stop. Just stop.

Confess. Don’t be deceived. Flee.

We (and Rosie) will be much better for it.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

Who Covered Up Your Joy?

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It was the Fourth of July holiday, my man was out of town and all the older kids were either out of town, working or doing other things. That left me and my youngest, a teenage boy who, well, is typical…let’s leave it at that.

I knew the day was going to be a quiet one and rather than feel sorry for myself, I was determined to make the best of it. I cranked up my essential oils diffuser because nothing screams party animal louder than that, right? I chose a combination of Joy and Tangerine partly due to the fact that I wanted to in-joy the day and partly because I read somewhere that if you thought Joy smelled bad (which I did) it was because you needed more of it in your life (which I do…always.)

Carson, this teenage boy of mine, emerged from his cave and came downstairs, which is a good indication it’s time for food. He rummaged around the kitchen for a few minutes then came in to see what I was up to. He bent down to give me a hug (don’t go feeling too mushy here…you’ll see in a minute) and as he did, I noticed the strong smell of freshly sprayed cologne.

Wow! Did you just put on some Axe?

 No. I don’t have anything on. I just came down to get a snack. And he walked back upstairs with the most sheepish of grins plastered on his face.

As I sat there reading, I couldn’t help but notice the scent of his spray cologne getting stronger so I walked out into the kitchen area where I was knocked over by the straight up junior high boys locker room smell of Axe. I yelled for Carson to come down and asked him what the heck he had done. He may have sprayed a bunch of Axe in a glass and poured it in to the diffuser.

Oh my word! Diffuser is scrubbed out, ceiling fans are on high and there is still just a hint of stinky boy wafting around here!

Anybody else ever have someone’s Axe cover up your Joy? Anybody?

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You all know I’m studying the book of Galatians and it just so happened that I read a question Paul posed to the people of Galatia…

What has happened to all your joy?

 You see, there were these people called agitators that were infiltrating the church and telling them their salvation was only valid if they followed some of the Mosaic laws of their ancestors, laws that were impossible to follow completely and the very reason why a Savior was needed. These party poopers were spraying Axe all over the Good News of the saving Grace of God.

Unfortunately not much has changed. We still have party poopers in the church who like to rain on people’s joy in the Lord. People who say you have to DO this in order to be fully accepted or in order to be considered good enough. Instead of For God so loved the world he gave his One and Only Son, we start to believe the whispers of the agitators: For God to really love you, you must ______. For the church of Galatia it was be circumcised and eat certain foods.

What is it for us? For me? For you?

Maybe it’s having a set quiet time. Praying for a certain amount of time. Not drinking, smoking, cussing, dancing, wearing skirts only or your hair a certain way. Maybe it’s serving on every committee or going to church a certain number of times a week. Never getting angry again. There are a million and one things!

Then. Maybe then. I will be good enough.

Joy suckers, stand at the baptismal ready to hand you a list of do’s and don’ts and suck the ab-soul-lute joy out of what is suppose to be a celebration. Heck, our hair’s not even dry before they’re telling you everything you now have to do (or not do) to be a good Jesus girl. (Can’t we in-joy this moment??)

We can never outdo what has already been done. God saw us in our messed up brokenness and came down. He didn’t come because we had every duck lined up or every T crossed and I dotted.

Tim Keller says it this way, If you add anything to Christ as a requirement for acceptance with God—if you start to say: To be saved I need the grace of Christ plus something else—you completely reverse the “order” of the gospel and make it null and void. (Galatians for You)

So stop it. Just stop it.

We are all works in progress. It’s because of the joy of the Lord that I want to be more like him. It’s because of what he did for me, his love for me, that I strive to be a better person today than I was yesterday. It’s because of my love for him that I want to know him more and more. Not because of some list the church lady hands me.

Will I fail? Every. Single. Day.

Will he love me any less? Never.

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12NIV) (Paul’s words, not mine. I kind of like this guy though.)

 Don’t let anyone’s Axe cover up your joy!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw