The Greatest of These

fullsizeoutput_2c7

I sat in a hotel room in Nashville lamenting the previous six weeks to one that was much wiser than I. My grandmother had died, my man had changed jobs and my daughter had gone completely rogue…all in the course of about ten days. This was the fall that fell.

You’ve got to find a way through this. Your daughter needs you right now. You have to see past your own hurt and anger. I know it’s hard but she needs you to love her.

 Surely she didn’t hear what I had said. Love her? After the stunt she was pulling? Are you kidding me!

Fast forward several weeks and many arguments, groundings, things taken away and tears. I asked an acquaintance of mine who was a former addict but was now in social work what her mom had done during her most difficult days. Her answer? She loved me through it. Even on my ugliest of days my mom saw in me what I could not and she showed me by loving me.

 Did I listen? No. How could I? I was so very angry. My heels were dug in. She WOULD listen to me OR ELSE! Loving her was the last thing I wanted to do.

Two more times from two different people came the advice to love her.

Sometimes the very thing you refuse to do is the exact thing God will ask of you.

We were having another shouting match. I followed her to the bathroom (the bathroom for Pete’s sake!) and was screaming (not for the first time), Your behavior is bullshit! You are tearing this family apart!

 (I’ve never pretended to be a “shiny” Christian on here, only real. I wish my real was prettier and wrapped with a big bow but this was my reality for many months.) Until….

My daughter turned on a dime, looked me square in the face and said, You are being exactly like the very people you are trying to protect me from. You are no different.

If words could leave a handprint, surely I would have had marks across my face. The truth to her words shocked me to silence. She was absolutely right. I had become a venom vomiting, maniacal mom who was bitter not brave, hateful from hurt not helpful, unforgiving, unloving, angry and afraid.

Was she rebelling? Yes. But this isn’t about her. It’s about my response to her….which completely sucked.

Dr. Luke shared these words of Jesus, The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NIV bold is mine)

My mouth was pumping out what was in my heart which was full of anger, hurt, bitterness and fear and was a reflection of the words I spoke (screamed.)

Grace could not be heard over the volume of my voice and the wound of my words.

We both retreated to our rooms that night and I knew what I had to do. The next morning after she left for school, I went into her room, got down on my knees like I had done so many times during this storm but instead of praying for her to change, I confessed….

I poured out my anger, bitterness, fear and hurt. I confided in my Father my inability to see the girl he gave me through the fog of fear, the inability to love her like I should because of my own anger and hurt. But that I knew he could love her through me and I was willing for him to do that. I asked him to change me, to create in me a clean heart.

I got up off my knees that day with a peace like I’d not known for many weeks. My situation was no different but I was. (You can read more about that day here… https://kimwrightwrites.com/2016/10/06/saving-face-or-amazing-grace/ )

Things slowly began to change between us. She began to confide in me more and I began to be able to see her with compassion and love once again. I could see that she was hurting and confused. I don’t want this to sound prettier than it was. It took a lot of conversations, counseling and God interventions to heal but heal we have.

Paul says in 1Corinthians 13:13, But for right now…we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (The Message)

 I can have all the faith and hope in the world but if I can’t love someone who’s actions are unlovable, what’s the point?

The Message says it this way, If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. (1Corinthians 13:2)

 In other words I can teach a Bible study, attend church, listen to Christian music, be faith full but if I can’t love my neighbor who may be different than me, believe different than me, act different than me, look different than me…What. Is. The. Point?

Why share this now? I can’t help but look around and see the venomous vitriol being spewed from every single direction. Name calling, hurtful words, anger, hatred. I get it. I really do. You want more than anything for people to listen. You want them to see your side of things. So you speak louder. But learn from my experience: screaming that someone’s behavior is bull crap or following them around (literally or via the internet) roaring your opinion does not change anyone.

Only love does that.

Love allows for grace to be given and truth to be spoken. Love allows for safe places and soft landings even when we don’t always agree. Love allows for difficult conversations and differences of opinions. Love allows for change to happen. It’s the greatest of these.

And it starts with me.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You End Up in the Ditch

IMG_3876
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.

IMG_3861
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!

IMG_3881
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

 

 

Crying Harder Than It Hurt

IMG_3835
Ironweed closeup.

I’m not sure what happened. One minute I was reaching to turn the garage light on and the next minute I’m bouncing my way down the wooden steps, making sure to hit all four of them with my rear before landing on the concrete floor.

I sat there in disbelief for a few seconds. After doing a quick inventory to make sure everything was still connected and not broken, I curled up in the fetal position on the dirty garage floor and cried. Sobbed really.

I was crying way harder than it hurt. Oh sure, my butt was going to have some serious bruises but for a woman who has gone through natural childbirth not once but four (out of five) times this seemed a bit extreme.

Yet I laid there. In the dark. On the cold floor. All alone. And I wailed.

It wasn’t the bruises on my bum but the hurt in my heart that was causing this wave of emotion. The previous 18 months had demanded that I be brave. Commanded some colossal courage. Life can take you through those seasons sometimes, can’t it?

So often during that year and a half, I had held back tears and choked back any real emotion because there simply was no time for it. They came out that day…spilling over into the dust of the garage floor….

Job change, a renegade kid, death, loss of friendships, moves, being alone, loneliness, grieving what was, facing the unknown…bullying me, taunting me, daring me to give up. Whispering to me that only the weak cry uncle, only the weak cry at all.

Such a lie.

Somewhere along the way we (Wildflower Warriors) have convinced ourselves that we are invincible. Until we’re not. Then we wonder where it went wrong.

King David was a slayer of lions, bears and giants. He fought battles like a boss, killing tens of thousands of his enemy. He was confidently courageous, powerfully potent, gallantly gritty, undaunted, unafraid and handsome to boot.

Until you read the Psalms….

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 4:1)

The daring distress.

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2)

Sighing: to let out one’s breath audibly, as from sorrow, weariness or relief.

Warriors weary.

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:6)

 Warriors weep.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1-2)

 Warriors feel forgotten.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

 Warriors feel fear.

That’s just five verses from five different chapters. All throughout the Psalms David emotes. Unabashedly. And it’s okay. In fact it’s more than okay. It’s necessary! Otherwise you end up crying harder than it hurt.

In those times of demanding distress, weariness and weeping, feeling forgotten and being afraid, David is honest about how he’s feeling. He goes to the One who can make a difference. That’s what fierce warriors do.

Courage can be found when I cry out to God from a cold concrete floor. He can take the mud I made from the dust and the tears and give me eyes to see healing in the hurt, goodness in the grief and hope in my heart. (John 9)

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

It Starts With Me

21273330_1712081348804032_231857248842301293_o

Are you okay? I asked the woman as I approached her.

Yeah! I was already having a bad day. Then THIS happened!

My man and me were headed out for a matinee when we rounded a curve to find a woman standing in the ditch crying, her hoopty of a car obviously broken with the tire pointing 90 degrees in the opposite direction of which she was headed.

She was beside herself sobbing so I did the only thing I knew to do in the moment…I asked her her name then gave her a hug.

I pieced bits of Nikki’s story together in between the Lucille Ball like sobs and stutter breathing. I began to see that her car wasn’t the only thing broken. She had just dropped her boyfriend off at work when she got a call from her daughter that the daughters boyfriend had stranded her in a parking lot in Sharonville with her one year old who hadn’t eaten yet and was crying because he was hungry. Mom can you please come pick us up?

She didn’t have the money for gas to drive all the way over there but you can’t let your kid be stranded. What else could she do but go pick her up and try to figure out how to get some food for the baby. And then this happened. She started sobbing again.

 She had called her Dad who was mad that she was driving to Sharonville. She called her brother who was trying to get over to help but wasn’t sure when he could leave work. She couldn’t call her boyfriend because he would go back to jail…(I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to know.)

Her husband had left her nine months ago for another woman and had accused her of doing drugs. She assured me she wasn’t and even showed me her arms…see, I don’t have any needle marks.

 She didn’t know where they would stay tonight because not only was this her mode of transportation, it was her home when work was scarce and dresser for all she owned.

My man was standing in the background, taking it all in, letting me do what I do…listen and soothe, comfort and calm. He is a fixer of things not necessarily people so his mind went immediately to what it would take to get her car fixed.

I know what some of you are thinking. I had those thoughts too. This woman was a hot mess of broken down and busted up. Her life was a domino of poor choices. She fit such stereotypical molds that it would have been easy to tell her to get her act together and walk away shaking my head in disgust. To say, You made this bed…

 As her story continued, I prayed Lord let me see her as you do…. made in Your image.

 It’s easy isn’t it? It’s easy to let skepticism replace compassion, to let animosity blind our humanity. Cynicism crowds out sympathy. Indifference becomes our go to instead of grace. This world is wearying with want. It’s easy to allow our hearts to harden.

Compassion…a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering…has to start somewhere.

I could get on my soapbox and get all up in your grill here…guilting you…I mean…

We could talk about how many times Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw people hungry and sick. How he fed and healed them without asking how in the heck they got there.

We could talk about how Jesus met the woman at the well and saw more than someone who had been married five times plus a live in. Or how Jesus stood in the middle of the circle of Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery daring the elites to throw the first stone.

We could talk about Jesus explaining to the disciples that when you feed, clothe, care for and visit the least of these, you are feeding, clothing, caring for and visiting Jesus himself.

We could. But I don’t want to sound preachy and I sure as heck don’t have my act all together. Compassion is a condition of the heart and Lord knows my heart is deceitful on the best of days.

It IS hard. We AREN’T Jesus. People ARE a mess. This world IS broken.

But it has to start somewhere.

I believe the timing was divine. We were given an opportunity to choose: the gavel of judge and jury or the cloak of care and compassion. We may not always get it right but we chose the latter this time.

Todd looked at me and I at him, knowing we were supposed to help her get her car fixed. So he did what he does best and started making calls to some of his connections (my man knows people…)

I gave her another hug and whispered in her ear, We may not be able to fix everything that’s broken but we can at least help you get your car fixed.

The look of disbelief and relief was worth the cost of the repair. I have no idea what will happen to Nikki, if she will continue to tip over the domino of poor decisions. But I do know this, she needed someone to cut her a break not cut her down.

No. I can’t fix everything but I can do this one thing. I can show compassion.

It starts with me.

Fiercely for you!

kw

PS Ironically we missed the movie we were supposed to see. The Glass Castle is a true story about a family who moved often because of bill collectors, lived in their car when necessary and struggled to survive. We traded reel life for real life that day.

Simple. Powerful. Prayer.

pray-chalk-skinny

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.

20170902_135609.jpg

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

Don’t Fall for Cute

20170626_092334

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

The Mimic of the Mockingbird

monday-mindset-april-20-2015-the-earth-has-music

There’s nothing quite like sitting out back in the stillness of the morning, coffee in hand, Bible open, being still and watching the variety of birds come in for their breakfast.

Flight patterns and personalities emerge, some cling to the feeder to eat, some scratch at the food on the ground. Some don’t mind the company of other types of birds. Some prefer to eat alone…good morning Mr. Redheaded Woodpecker. Some are bullies…I’m thinking of you Mr. Blue Jay. Some make messes…that would be the Blackbirds whether it’s the Cowbird, Crow or Red winged variety.

There’s Bluebirds, Towhees, Chickadees, Juncos, Goldfinches, Robins, Nuthatches, Titmice, Turtledoves, Catbirds, Redbirds, Sparrows, Thrashers, Orioles, Indigo Buntings, just to name a few, that we’ve seen on the feeders. All of them have a very distinct call and if you listen long enough you can distinguish who’s who.

Until you hear this guy…

Mimus_polyglottos1

Meet the Mockingbird. He can mimic any and all of the above, plus some, I’m sure. He’s really good too. He rattles off his repertoire as I’m going about doing my outside chores. My girls joke that he follows me around. It could be.

I believe the Creator of all things teaches us many things through the simplicity of nature. We just have to listen with our ears open and our hearts willing to learn. As I listen to the mockingbird mimic his fellow aviaries it reminds me that we, too, are to be mimickers. Paul tells us to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1)

 How do we do that? Just like the mockingbird does every single day, we practice until we perfect it so that no one can tell the difference.

We practice the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

 We practice thinking upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…and excellent. (Philippians 4:8)

 We practice the art of loving each other with grace and truth. Not one or the other but both because that’s how much we care about our fellow people.

We practice the cunning of the catbird’s call and the tenderness of the mourning dove’s coo. Because we are being sent out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

 We won’t always get it right. I’ve heard the mockingbird hit a sour note or two. It didn’t stop him from continuing his ballad. We mustn’t stop either. People are in desperate need to see us be imitators of Jesus. The real One, not the one clothed in a Pharisaic robe standing all-righteous above others. The real One, who gets down in the dirt face to face with an adulterous woman and dares the others to judge her. The real One who would rather have dinner with sinners than rub elbows with the saints. The real One, the rebel with a cause. The One who can see a person’s potential even though they have a past. The real One who sees beauty in someones broken and purpose in their pain.

We practice so we have the courage to show kindness to those who are crippled, to those who cannot stand for themselves…even when it may get us in trouble. (Acts 4:8-9)

We practice so that when others realize we are but unschooled, ordinary people, they will be astonished and will take note that these people have been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

We can be imitators of Christ by having spent time with him, getting to know him, learning from him, and listening to him.

I want nothing more than for each person I meet to take note that I have been with Jesus. To be astonished at how I acted and reacted. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of the One with whom I’ve hung.

Now excuse me. I have some mimicking to practice and a song to sing.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

Who Set the Wild Donkey Free?

IMG_5014
Donkeys pulling a loaded cart in Zimbabwe, Africa

It’s no coincidence that this is July 4th and I just started studying Galatians 5 which starts out saying It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. An oxymoron for many who think being a person of faith shackles you, not sets you free.

Paul writes to the people of Galatia because there were some folks in the church who were distorting the gospel, the good news of Jesus. They, the agitators, were telling the church that if they truly wanted to be a Christ follower they would have to be circumcised and eat certain foods, just like the Jews had done for centuries.

Paul was explicit in his reply that this was not the case and these people were trying to confuse the true gospel message: Jesus rescued us from the law because the law had gotten out of hand, added to by the Pharisees and was completely unattainable. God recognized this and sent his One and Only to die for us. That’s called grace.

We aren’t much different today are we? Oh, it may not be that our men must be circumcised or that we must eat certain foods but we have our list of things that we think we have to check off to be considered good enough to be good Jesus chicks. Having a daily quiet time. Praying for 15 or 30 minutes every day. No cussing. No smoking. Be kind. Do this but don’t do that. It’s an endless list really. And is upside down grace.

Jesus died not because of anything good I did (or now do.) He died because I can never do enough to be good enough. He died because he saw the shackles of shame, sin and the severity of a law that I could never live by…no matter how hard I try. That’s the Grace of salvation.

There is such freedom in grace. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from having to try hard to be good enough. Freedom from trying to be something I’m not. Freedom to let you be you and me be me. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom from the agitators who are still trying to distort the gospel message today.

I can stand firm in that freedom and not let myself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I am called to be free. But to not use my freedom to indulge in a sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

For some reason I was reading in the book of Job the other day. I mean, who does that? It’s quite depressing in many ways: Job is a great and godly guy who loses everything, including his family, except for his wife who, along with three of Job’s friends, are vying for the prestigious how-can-we-make-Job-feel-worse-about-himself award.

Job’s buddies were having a back and forth with him about why this was happening and what he had done to provoke God when in chapter 38 it says, Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.

 Oh man. ‘Cause you know it’s coming.

God proceeds to ask Job a very long series of questions (four long chapters worth!) that can ONLY be answered in the most humble way, You did LORD.

 This one question made me smile and resonated with my wild and free heart:

Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. (Job 39:5-8)

 God saw the donkey harnessed to a cart, pulling a load he did not want to pull and set him free.

You did, Lord.

God saw this wild donkey of a woman harnessed to sin and shame, carrying a load she wasn’t meant to carry, full of legalism and distortion and he set her free.

You did that, LORD!

I am forever thankful and forever free. I can laugh at Satan, the driver of my former cart because I don’t have to listen to his shouts any more!

Happy Independence Day my wild and free donkey friends!!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

It’s Time to Take a TB

648e5d9bad89501750b9c6bddc2310d4

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us… (Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities)

 If I didn’t know better, my thesbian self would think Charles was talking about today, specifically technology. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love that we can Skype my kids who are living life far away. I love that I can stay connected to so many friends via Facebook. I love that, at the touch of an on button, we have a plethora of information at our fingertips. These are the best of times.

However there’s always a ying to the yang….the worst of times. While there may be more, I chose the following five problems I see with technology, particularly with social media.

  1. It can be time consuming…

I did it again. I “ran out of time” to write. Actually, I ran out of time before I even opened up a word document to start. How does one do this? One takes a “quick look” at Facebook and the next thing you know it’s an hour (or two) later and I have to get the rest of my day started. Because it’s not just Facebook anymore….there’s Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to name a few.

That doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with every once in awhile that turns into more often than not that becomes every day. It’s that easy really. Time is a precious commodity and it flies faster the older I get. The good news is I can pilot those minutes and steer them to do good things, wise things, helpful things, encouraging things and not waste them scrolling through other people’s lives.

Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves. (Lord Chesterfield)

  1. It can be deceptive…

Picture me this: you are at dinner for a GNO (girls night out for those of you from my generation or above…smile) you are now on your 16th group selfie because everyone wants to get their best side or best smile or whatever. Your face hurts from trying hard to smile and give the illusion that this is so much fun!! Dinner comes and as you pick up your fork because you are ravished from all the picture taking, someone grabs your arm and stops you because oh my gosh that looks amazing. Let me take a picture and post it!

 By the end of the night no real conversation took place (too much hair fussing, lip gloss applying and filter choosing for that), there was no real catching up and my dinner was cold. Do people really give a rats behind if my best side was showing or what my food looked like?

Or there’s this one: you get picked up by a couple of gf’s because there’s been a bit of a rift between you and it needs ironed out so you head to the nearest restaurant/bar to talk. Instead, selfies ensued with a picture upload that looks like you’re having a beer and a blast instead of a very hard conversation. (On a side note: there was some concern about which picture to post due to the fact that I did not lean in properly or look like I was having much fun…sigh…because I wasn’t…)

I sure sound like I’m grumpy and old. I certainly don’t mean to but must we document every single little thing and make it look like it’s the most amazing thing?

I’m guilty too.

You see we live in an age where I want you to see this:

20170703_111303
Beautiful daisies just coming into bloom up front.

 

And not this:

20170703_111012
My garden of good intentions. What’s a girl to do?

I want to give the illusion that everything is wonderful and beautiful and weed free. In reality it’s not. This doesn’t mean I want to hear about all your business or for you to hear all about mine but that’s a story for another day.

Go have dinner, be with your friends, laugh, cry, cut up, catch up, be real and keep your dang phone in your purse. I’ll do the same.

  1. It can enslave us…

Ding means emails.

Buzz means text message.

A certain ringtone means a Facebook notification.

Turn down the sound, the lights flash or the table vibrates.

Light blue is email or text message.

Darker blue is Facebook.

Green means a message.

Why do I often feel the need to respond immediately to see who’s emailing me (it could be a publisher dying to publish my works!), texting me, messaging me? How many times have I stopped whatever it was I doing, even a conversation I was having, to check my phone?!?

It got to be out of control! Anything that is out of control has control over you for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2Peter 2:19) I need(ed) to rein it in. Big time.

In today’s technology age we are on and available 24/7. There is no down time for our brains. In her book Your Brain on Nature, Dr. Eva M. Selhub writes, Overstimulation breeds fatigue in an immediate way by taxing the brain and indirectly by reducing sleep quantity and quality.

 We are exhausted and don’t know why.

 She goes on to say, Although not official diagnoses yet, “Internet addiction” and “digital-device addiction” are terms batted around by the medical community. Currently 42% of Americans flat-out agree with the statement that they “cannot live without” their mobile phone, and more than half of adults also state that both they and their kids spend too much time online.

 I’d say we have a problem. So what can we do? I’m not sure of all the answers but here are a couple of simple things:

~ leave your phone in another room at night when you’re sleeping.

~ don’t have all the social media apps on your phone. I took Facebook off of mine which makes it harder for me to access.

~ limit your time/designate a time to check emails, social media etc.

~ go outside, take a walk, breathe in fresh air, be still, work in the dirt, volunteer

  1. It can keep you from real life and real conversations…

 Texting had just become a thing when my older girls were in high school. At first it was a great way to keep in contact with their friends. Until it wasn’t. I began to notice that even when they had friends over for dinner or a sleepover everyone was on their phones “conversing” with other people and missing out on face to face conversations with those they were actually sitting with. And don’t ever have a hard conversation over text. No breaking up with a boy. No arguing with your friends.

It’s only gotten worse. Don’t allow texting, Facebook messaging to be the only form of communication. Get together with your friends, put your phones away and be in the moment with each other. You can’t give a much-needed hug over text or have that hard conversation and truly hear someone’s heart and feelings through typed out words.

  1. It can be like liquid courage…

I am appalled at some of the ballsy things people say on social media. I know I sound like Dayna Carver’s church lady (although she would never say ballsy or rats behind…) but for pity’s sake people do we forget these are human beings we are bashing?

Have we become so cold that we forget how are hard it is to keep a toddler in check at the zoo? Or that parents are grieving the loss of a son or daughter to a drug overdose? Or that it doesn’t matter rather a young man should or should not have gone to a foreign country…his parents are grieving his death.

Sit, not in judgment, but actually with a friend whose son just came out or whose daughter has ran away in rebellion and is now in the sex trafficking industry. Have a conversation with an actual addict who got hooked through prescription pain meds. Talk with a homeless man who has an education but made some poor choices and lost everything.

It changes your perspective.

We’ve become a people who would rather scroll through social media and give our liquid courage answers than connect with real people. We would rather spout off some black and white opinion than see people loved by and created in the image of God.

For the love of humanity, stop it!

I certainly went past my normal word count for this one. I guess I had a lot more to say than I originally thought. My initial intent was simply to say I need to take a TB…a technology break for the month of July to spend time with my family, rest my brain from being “always on” and writing without “running out of time.”

I won’t say I’ll never be on social media this month but sometimes you just need a break from overstimulation. I may check in occasionally. I will still be posting blogs throughout the month but can upload those from my blog site so there’s no need to jump on all the sites.

I’ll be reading about my brain on nature and studying the book of Galatians for a Bible study I’m writing. It will do me good to “get away” for a bit. Maybe you could use a bit of a hiatus too? (Hopefully not from me after reading this!) Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

 

 

 

Simple Splendor

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

 Lilies to the left of me, lilies to the right. Lilies in front of me and in the far corner of the fence. Lilies in the front and as you pull in the driveway. I hadn’t realized the variations of lilies I had tucked in various places on my little farm.

 They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with different leaves and different bloom times. All unique, all beautiful, with wide varieties and yet the same genus or family…liliaceae.

 Do consider how the lilies grow…

IMG_3815

 They do not labor or spin…

IMG_3826
My Cala Lilies are gorgeous this year. I do NOTHING with them!

 

 IMG_3827

Yet no one is dressed like these…

IMG_3820

 Some are in full bloom…

 

 

 

 

 Some not quite yet…

IMG_3828.JPG

 Some have to lean for the sun in order to stay blooming…

lilies toward the sun
Bea the Bull Mastiff is like Ferdinand the Bull…she loves flowers!

 

 Then it dawned on me…we are like these lilies, only much, much more! We too come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. We are all unique and beautiful, blooming at different times. There is a wide variety of us and yet we are all the same genus/family…imago Dei. 

IMG_4962
From my trip to Zimbabwe
IMG_1272
My daughter (on the right) during her trip to the Dominican Republic

When we look at each other we should celebrate the beauty of our uniqueness because we are all made in the image of God. We shouldn’t look at each other and be envious or hateful. We shouldn’t look down on one group or wish we were another.

Homeless
A homeless man my man offered to buy breakfast for in LA

The lilies don’t look at one another and try to be like each other. They simply enjoy the splendor of their individuality by dancing in the breeze and soaking up the sun. They don’t have to do. They just be. 

 We need to stop trying to be like everybody else and embrace who the Creator has created us to be. Luke goes on to say, If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  (Luke 12:28 MSG)

 You don’t even have to try to be showy to be seen because he already sees you! No matter what!

 What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. (Luke 12:29-30 MSG)

 I love that Luke included these words of Jesus! Stop trying so hard to be something you are not, somebody else you weren’t designed to be…it’s exhausting work…and the only thing you’ll get is tired! Respond to the gift of being uniquely you. The quirks he gave you. The nose, eye color, build, gifts, personality, voice, lips, hair (or no hair)…all of the things that make you you and me me.

 Let’s stop looking at each other and thinking, If only I could be like…

 You were meant to be here exactly like YOU!

 Luke continues the words of Jesus, Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

 When the world and others are shouting be like me! Lean your lily toward the Son! You’ll soon not be worried about being like someone else and receive the gift of enjoying YOU! We won’t be afraid of missing out because Jesus is our dearest friend.

 So go now my sweet friends, relax in the splendor of simply being YOU!

 Fiercely for you!

kim