Forcing the Pieces

God promises Abraham kids and Abraham believed God would give him kids. So simple…God answers prayers. (Journal entry/January 16th/Genesis 12-15 )

I wish I could say I was like Abraham who trusted God to do what He said He would do, what He promised him He would do. No matter how long it took. Abraham set out on an adventure not knowing what the whole picture looked like, not knowing the when’s, why’s and where’s but knowing the One who was sending him. His journey of faith was simple: Abraham believed the Lord. (Genesis 15:6NIV). Period.

I fear I’m more like Abraham’s wife Sarah who got ahead of God. You see God had promised this couple children so they waited. And waited. And waited. It sure seemed like God forgot or was asleep or just didn’t care. Maybe, just maybe, she was supposed to do something, take action, to get this as-many-stars-in-the-sky-so-shall-your-offspring-be party started. After all, “God helps those who help themselves” right? (Anybody else use this line of thinking while telling yourself it sure sounds like a Proverb so it must be so? It’s not.)

The very next day, January 17thmy journal entry looked like this: Nothing good comes from getting ahead of God’s plan. Trust Him…even when it doesn’t look promising. 

Sarah ended up “helping the Lord” by having Abraham sleep with her maidservant. While we may look at this and think to ourselves wow! I would never ho my man out to another woman, which is probably true for the majority of us but what would you do/have you done when you’ve taken matters into your own hands? 

I liken all of this to putting a puzzle together. It’s a process to go from 2000 pieces dumped on the table to finding and assembling the edges, giving you a frame from which to work, to the buildings coming together to people’s faces and animals becoming whole to the field of grass and wildflowers making sense. 

Watching, waiting and walking away. 

My man stands in awe and wonder 🙂 of my puzzle putting together ability, as he does not have the patience for it. Every now and again he will try and then get frustrated. How can you sit there and look and look then pick up a piece and it fits? 

There are clues in the pieces but you have to be patient. A little piece of a foot here, a bit of flower there and the shape all matter but you have to look carefully. God gives us hints of hope in our situations too but we must be always aware, ever mindful and looking for Him. 

Sometimes when I can’t see it coming together I need to walk away for a little while. When I come back, it’s fascinating what I now see that I couldn’t before. Giving your mind a rest can be just what you need in order to see that God is working. 

We have what I call a “waiting well” issue in our culture today. Our attention spans demand instant gratification, quick points to an article, faster internet speeds, quicker service, microwave meals, instant replies on text messages, articles instead of books, okay Google information, short conversations and drive-through answers to prayer. We do not like to wait so we…

Force the pieces together. 

My four-year-old grandson was helping me put a puzzle together one Sunday but soon got discouraged at such a big endeavor so he tried this: 

Obviously this would make quite a different picture than the one on the front of the box.

Forcing the pieces together skews the bigger picture of God’s plan. I am in a current season of waiting on an answer to prayer and I want so badly to make something (anything!) happen. Desperate decisions don’t make for a pretty picture so I remind myself that God’s ways are not mine and He is working this thing out. I have to constantly…

Look at the bigger picture. 

I keep the lid to the puzzle box right next to me so I can look at it as I try to decipher where the different pieces go. I need that to be my guide especially in the beginning when I’m looking at a mound of pieces with no direction. 

We’ve got to be in His word, studying, learning and getting to know the character of the One who puts the pieces together. Praying to Him, yes but also listening for Him to speak to us. We can rest in Him, trust Him and put our faith in the process He sees fit for our situation. Being still and watching or moving forward with pieces as He sees fit. 

So how did Sarah’s story end? Was God angry with her for forcing the lineage He had promised to Abraham? There were consequences and it was a bit messier because of the move made too early but…

…the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. (Genesis 21:1NIV)

He is faithful. He sees you. He hears you. He will put the pieces together. 

kw

Women of Means

Platforms, performance and purpose. Competition, comparison and cattiness. We wonder. We work. We worry. 

Bigger is better. Faster is more fun. We fight our way to the top, scratching and clawing anything or anyone that gets in the way. That ladder of success is no longer just in the work world either.

We compare ministries, Mom styles and our mayhem. We compete with Pinterest perfect parties. Our purpose becomes all about virtual friends, follows, likes and heart emoji’s. Busy is a badge of honor.

Buying into today’s culture that screams “MORE” makes us manic with panic and may I go as far as to say..mean? There is nothing worse than a worn out woman whose worth is wrapped up in what she does rather than what’s already been done. 

It’s rather exhausting isn’t it? 

There is a different way. 

The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. (Luke 8:1-3a)s

I love this group of women who follow after Jesus!

There’s Mary Magdalene who has a past spent with seven demons. Seven is a complete number in the Bible and some scholars suggest she was wholly possessed. While you and I may not be possessed or never have had demons come out of us, there are a few of us with a bit of a, shall we say sordid, former life. She was no longer that person because of Jesus and neither are we. 

Joanna was the wife of a highly placed official in the court of Herod Anitpas. She knew people and inside scoops. I image there were dinner parties, dances and functions that kept her in societies eye. Once she knew Jesus, the rest faded away. The power and prestige paled in her pursuit for her Savior. There are those of you who relate to Joanna, knowing people in high places (maybe even being those in high places) but recognizing where real worth comes from…being a Jesus follower. 

Susanna is a bit of a mystery. Mentioned here and no other place in all of Scripture the one thing we know about her is she is a part of Jesus’ ministry and had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Maybe you are Susanna. Ever grateful of what Jesus did for you and in quiet adoration you follow and serve him. 

And many others…I wonder who among you reading this feel as though you don’t have a “big story” to tell so you don’t tell your story at all? You aren’t Mary M. with seven demons or high in the social scene or even mysterious but you adore Jesus and follow him with everything you’ve got. You count too you know. Your story with the Savior is a beautiful one. 

Why do I love this group of women? They are all so different and yet the same because they all recognize their need of Someone bigger than themselves. Each one brought something unique to the table. 

These women were helping to support them out of their own means. 

(Luke 8:3bNIV)

What if this was a group of mean girls instead of women with means? Mary wouldn’t have been allowed in for fear of what others would say about her shameful past. After all, Jesus doesn’t need that sort of reputation! Joanna would never “lower herself” to serve others nor wish to be seen with such people. Susanna would have nothing much to offer so nope, no average folks allowed. 

What a difference that would have made! How much would they have missed out on? 

Thankfully they were women of means and not mean women. They each brought their “something” to support the Savior so he could further his message of hope. 

What if we weren’t meant to be mean women but women of means? Women coming together with all manner of gifts and talents, backgrounds and family histories, stories of healing and adoration for the Healer. We would follow the One we love instead of loving the number of followers we have. We would cheer each other on and be the loudest clapper in the crowd. We would celebrate what has been done so we could stop chasing after do. All for the glory of God.

What if the world saw us women of faith rise up and become women of means? Just imagine it. What if…

kw

From Where I Stood

The view from my daughter’s house in New Mexico

What are you up to Lord? Ever asked yourself that question? Ever wondered how he would work all things for the good when all seemed lost? (Romans 8:28NIV)

That’s where I found myself a couple years back when a friendship was severed like an amputated limb. Hacked off. Gone. Replaced with phantom pains and confusion. 

From where I stood, I thought for sure God was messing up somehow or angry, trying to isolate me and take away things (and people) I thought was good for me. All I could see was destruction. All I could feel was hurt and heartache.

From where I stood the mountain seemed too steep, too rocky, too unapproachable, too desolate, too lonely. I was in need of too much faith to maneuver. I was all out of mustard seeds. 

North Crest Trail, New Mexico

From where I stood, the trail back to who he would have me be meant an uphill climb. Sometimes the path twisted in ways I didn’t want to go and seemed impossible to walk on. Tree roots tripping, forks on the path, rock-slides, thinner air. 

From where I stood I had to learn (again). Rest here. Walk this way. Be still. Listen. Trust me. One step forward. Inhale him. Exhale grace. Don’t look back. Look up child!

You see, God’s view is different. He can see further ahead because he can see from on high the mountaintop. Past the pain, the hurt, the heartache. He sees into the future, my future, and knows exactly what I need (or don’t need.)  

He is the Maker and the Shaker of every mountain that’s in front of us. He is the God of impossible climbs when we cling to him for our next step, our next breath, our next direction. 

He alone is trustworthy. 

I’m learning.

And when you get to the top. My, my, my, such a show off. 

On a plane in Utah

Sometimes he allows you to see that the purpose in the pain was for your protection. Not to harm you but to help you. Not to isolate you but to draw you closer to him. He showed me that recently on this particular adventure. What a different view than the one I had at the beginning of the climb. 

Three Guns Trail, New Mexico

Moses knew a thing or two about climbing and trusting, even when (especially when?) he could not see. One such time, the air was alive with thunder and lightning, the mountain was covered in a thick smoke. Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21) and climbed.

If the mountain before you is clouded over with darkness, maybe it’s to show you things he wants no one else to see. For you to walk by faith with your hand on his shoulder, keeping pace with his pace, trusting each step of the path like never before. 

He is there, in the darkest of places. He will teach you what you need to know. Trust him. 

I’m still learning.

I can’t help but think that each mountain is a preparation for the next one. As long as there are people involved, there will always be more mountains to climb because we are human. Frail, fallible and forever in need of a Savior.

From where I stood, the mountain seemed un-climbable. From where God stands, the view is spectacular. Trust him on the climb. He’s got this. 

My Man and middle daughter on the top of Sandia Peak, New Mexico

kw

The Grumpy Gardener

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It’s January 2ndand I’m already done with winter BUT I’m on track with reading the Bible through in a year. (Celebrate the successes, even if it’s only the second day!)

Day 2 was kind of brutal. Anytime God shows us the ugly in us it’s rough. My journal looked like this:

Read Genesis 4-7 God favored Abel over Cain and Cain killed Abel. Cain, the gardener, felt slighted, jealous(?) and perhaps not good enough. He wandered restlessly, apart from God. The familiarity is haunting. I am Cain and I don’t like it.

Things I’m thankful for 4. Revelation 5. Admission 6. Forgiveness

Anger. It can get the best of us, can’t it? Have you ever been there? I have. Dang, I hate being like Cain. But I’m grateful for this…

A Warning and a Way

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:6-7NIV)

Why are you angry? Great question God!

There can be so many reasons (excuses?) to the question God asks. Some may even seem justified. I can be angry if I’m wronged or feel like I got screwed out of something that should have been mine. Anger can bubble just below the surface as a secondary emotion of hurt, confusion, rejection, insecurities, or insufficiencies.

I asked my man if maybe Cain felt the above things like hurt and rejection. His reply? He’s a dude. He’s pissed he didn’t get picked. So maybe you came out of the womb with a chip on your shoulder.

No matter the reason, when left unchecked it can cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do; behave in ways we wouldn’t normally behave. React impulsively and lash out with no take backs available.

I know how restless I can be when all I want is to get my hands in the dirt but there’s another polar vortex in the forecast and spring seems years away. Maybe Cain was experiencing an extra long winter and he was just a grumpy gardener. Probably not.

It leaves us as a restless wanderer on the earth. (Genesis 4:12NIV)

God doesn’t tell Cain to not be angry but to check it before it gets the better of him. According to Carolyn Custis James, anger is a symptom not of how wrong God has gotten things but of our need to know him better. (When Life and Beliefs Collide pg 65)

 When we believe He is for us and not against us, when we know His character and the love He has for us then we can trust that He will work things out for our good and His glory.

The warning: check yourself before you wreck yourself. (Don’t even open the door a crack!)

The way: master your anger by getting to know Him better.

Giving In and Getting Even

Did Cain listen? Nope.

The very next verse tells us that Cain took him out to the field and attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:8NIV)

He opened the door wide and allowed the enemy to waltz right in. I would love to tell you I have nothing in common with Cain and that God got it wrong that morning he opened my eyes to being just like him. But I can’t.

No, I haven’t killed anyone in a fit of rage but boy have I let my words wound out of anger. I’ve allowed anger to rise above my covered up hurt and insecurities to treat others poorly. I choose to hold back (love, writing, kind words, sympathy, forgiveness…) out of resentment. I’ve even done a couple of I’ll-show-them things; things I cannot take back and the damage is done.

Lord help me.

Mercy’s Mark and Grace Given

Cain recognized his punishment of being banished as too hard to bear on his own and is afraid for his own life so he cries out to the Lord. God put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:15NIV)

That’s the mark of mercy. Cain did not get what he deserved. Grace was given.

There is another who, on a cross, bore mercy’s mark on His hands and feet, who keeps me from being destroyed by my enemy, who forgives my sins, who sees me, knows me and loves me in spite of myself. He provides a way so I don’t have to wander restlessly, apart from Him. Now that’s Grace.

Oh to know Him more and more so when anger rears it’s ugly head I can check to see where my theology is lacking, then thank Him for mercy’s mark and grace given.

I am Cain. I am forgiven.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let There Be…Night

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Beautiful moon photo is courtesy of the gorgeous Dianna Dickson

Show me what I need to see today Lord.

This simple prayer is how I’ve started each morning since January 1st. It’s something I’ve never done…reading this ancient script in it’s entirety over the course of one year. Just me and Thee. Bible and heart open. Pen and journal in hand. (I say this with some sarcasm because, while this sounds uber spiritual, I’ve already thrown a couple fits, not liked what he’s shown me, and well, I’m getting ahead of myself…)

I’m 20+ days in and He has yet to disappoint. Granted I’ve not made it as far as Numbers and read those long genealogies but still. Some days there are more questions than answers but that’s okay. I’m finding the joy (?) of trusting that He will show me what I need to see today.

Take for instance the first few verses of Genesis 1….

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4 NIV)

 My journal entry looked like this:

January 1, 2019

Read Genesis 1-3 God separated light from darkness right away. *Live as Light*

  1. Coffee
  2. Quiet
  3. Rose Bowl win for the Buckeyes

I closed my Bible and my journal satisfied that Day One was in the books. The message was to shine bright…after another cup of coffee of course…because he saw that the light was good. So light=good, darkness=bad. Right?

Not so much. But we often equate it that way. Maybe it’s because we can’t see as well at night. Maybe it’s because as soon as our head hits the pillow our brains have nothing else to occupy the thoughts we’ve been too busy to think about all day. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid. Maybe it’s because the moment we’re still, grief pours down over us.

He could have made the sun to always shine but instead gave us night with a dimmer light to lead the way. Often times when life is all sunshine I have a tendency to think I know where I’m going and get completely lost. My arrogance leads me down a path I wasn’t meant to take. Once again I’m reliant on the Maker of both day and night to put me back on the right road.

God shows us things at night.

Take Abram for example. He was discouraged in his inability to produce offspring and was talking to the Lord about it. So God took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:1-5NIV)

This offspring thing kept Abram up at night. God didn’t wait to address his concerns until the sun came up the next day. No. He showed Abram the stars so when the darkness of doubt set in again, Abram could simply look up and be reminded that the God who put the stars in the sky does what He says He will do. He was right there with him. And he’s right there with you and me. In the night. When the doubt creeps in like the shadow of death.

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Photo courtesy of Dianna Dickson

God likes to wrestle at night.

In Genesis 32 we see Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau. Esau is the brother from whom Jacob stole his birthright. They haven’t seen each other in years and Jacob is a bit…nervous shall we say. Jacob sends his family on ahead and…

a man wrestled him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Then a few wrestle moves and a name change later the man…blessed him there. (Genesis 32:22-29NIV)

I’m not sure what all Jacob was wrestling with God about but I do know it was night once again. That time when you lay your head on the pillow, exhausted from a full day of running, working, kids, husband, appointments. You can’t wait to fall into the bliss of sweet dreams…

Instead you start thinking about running, working, kids, husband, appointments. Worry, doubts, wonder, fear…

But instead of grappling with God we grab our phones and Crush some Candy or scroll through social media and wonder why everyone else has it better than you do. Other people’s families don’t seem to be falling apart. What will the test come back as? The list goes on and we get angry at God but we don’t engage with him. Our noses get out of joint instead of our hips.

Could it be that we miss the blessing because we run from the wrestling?

Living a life of faith is not lived in the light but discovered in the dark. While I don’t want to live in utter darkness all the time, I also don’t want to fear it. What can light mean if we never experience dark?

I do want to live as light like I wrote in my journal. But that may mean allowing Him to show me things by way of moonlight and stars with just enough light for the step I’m on. My light may shine brighter only after I grapple with God for the blessing in the darkest of night.

There was evening and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:5 NIV)

And what a day it was too!

To be continued…

kw

PS Disclaimer: the darkness I am talking about here is things that trouble or scare you or refers to a trial or hard time you are going through. I am NOT talking about the darkness of depression or other mental illnesses. Please seek professional counseling and take any prescribed medicine to help you. I have and there’s no shame in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Life Hijacks Your Joy

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Can I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes I overcomplicate things. I think too hard, wonder too long, analyze to the point of paralyze and run a million rabbits of what-if. At the end of all those thoughts, wonderings and trails are holes that lead to nowhere but tired. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes it leads to empty places, dark spaces that need Light.

This is where I found myself at the tail end of last year. Life had somehow hijacked my joy. Instead of an attitude of gratitude, I found myself wound up with worry. Oh, maybe not on the outside because I wouldn’t want the world to see my faith fading into fear like an ombre highlight at the salon…the subtleness soft, hardly noticeable until you take a step back and see the light to dark difference.

Even my word for this year is complicated. I had thoughts of Joy (the word, not my look on life at the moment) but it seemed inadequate. Gratitude seemed, I don’t know, lame (and so worn out with use. Really?) So in God’s witty humor he knew Eucharisteo was the other three-in-one I needed to get me out of this funk.

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them…(Luke 22:19)

In the original Greek language, he gave thanks, is the word eucharisteo. The root word is charis which means grace. Jesus takes the bread and sees it as grace,  a gift from above….even in the knowing of what was to be.

This word eucharisteo, giving thanks, wraps itself around the Greek word for grace, charis but also holds within it the Greek word chara,meaning joy.

 Chara. Joy.

 James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2NIV)

I hate tests. Pop quizzes are even worse! It exposes any lack of preparedness. (Amen?!) Gracious sakes how can you be fully prepared for what life can throw at you?  So this recent testing of my faith had me mad at the Teacher, the One who did the testing. But the test allowed me to see areas where my faith is weak and trust is timid.

Pure joy can be found in (not because of) trials. I’m learning.

 Charis. Grace.

Sharing my story, my thoughts and lessons I’m learning as this year of practicing Eucharisteo unfolds, reveals the certainty of the grace of God…how good he is, not how bad I am.

Grace, that unmerited favor, something we hoard and crave is often difficult to give and sometimes even harder to receive. Grace, at times, is challenging to recognize, clouded by our own thoughts and ideas of what life should look like or what the outcomes should be.

All is grace. I’m still learning.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Deep joy, chara and grace, charis begin at the table of thanksgiving, eucharisteo.

 And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19NIV)

He gave thanks before the trial of all trials that would send him to the cross.

For you. For me.

He calls us to remember…

By giving thanks I am remembering what he did for me. Remembering what he did for me reminds me that I can place all my thoughts, wonderings, what-if’s, empty spaces and dark places, fragile faith and wearied soul before him with thanks giving.

It’s that simple. And that hard.

Joy, Grace and Thanksgiving…EUCHARISTEO…a beautiful word called to live out in a brutal world.

To be continued…

kw

Rebuilding a Nation

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I have a friend who posted an article from Psychology Today on social media titled Politics and the Catastrophe of Us and Them. I’m giving you the link to the article but that wasn’t what caught my eye. This comment did: This is going to need to start at the top, with our leadership, as the article points out. I hope we can find a leader who sets a tone of unity in 2020.

I agree with the need for unity (or at the very least kindness in our differences). I disagree that it needs to start at the top or that we should have to wait until the next election that is almost two years away. Can you imagine what this nation will be like if everyone waits to see who the next president will be before we treat each other with some manner of dignity? Can you imagine if we all lived our lives based solely on the behavior of those in government? God help us.

So if not from the top, then where?

Got a mirror? Look in it. Right there is where it starts.

Do Your Part

Nehemiah shows us a little about how to rebuild a nation that was in great trouble and disgrace, a nation that was broken down. (Nehemiah 1:3NIV) After weeping, praying and fasting for the city of Jerusalem (there’s a whole lesson just in that) he travels there to help them get back on their feet. In fact, not only did he help them rebuild the entire wall around Jerusalem, he did it in 52 days. (Nehemiah 6:15) What a monumental task to perform and in such a short order!

How did he do it? He had people be responsible to repair the rubble that was immediately in front of them, everyone doing their small part. (Nehemiah 3) While the task of repairing a whole nation in ruins may seem insurmountable, what if we focused on repairing what was in our reach, our scope of vision?

What if we had conversations instead of arguments? Even if we don’t agree. What if we put aside that feud we’ve had with a church member, family member, coworker or friend for the greater good? Even if we think we’re right. What if we truly treated our neighbor as ourselves? Even if our neighbor isn’t like us.

You may not be able to vote on a bill on Capital Hill but you can treat Bill with kindness and respect. Right?

The Blame Game

Finger pointing is the oldest game in the Book, going all the way back to the garden of Eden when God asked Adam if he’d eaten the only tree that was forbidden and his reply was yeah but the woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it. To which Eve responded, yeah but the serpent deceived me and I ate. (Genesis 3).

Yeah but…seems to be our mantra as well.

Maybe we should take a lesson from Rep-elect Dan Crenshaw when he took the high road after being on the butt end of a bad Saturday Night Live joke because of an eye patch he wears due to an injury sustained while in combat. He could have easily started a different kind of war; one no one would win in the end. Yeah but could have been his ammo if questioned about his battle tactic. Instead he accepted an apology from SNL and wants to work towards restoring civility.

I’d say he helped build up what was torn down directly in front of him. He did his part in responding with grace.

What about you? If you find yourself saying yeah but, maybe you are part of the problem.

Worry About Yourself

This leads right into a great story found in John 21:15-23 where Jesus is talking with Peter about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. (v19). It was going to be a brutal one (v18). Peter, in turn, looks around, spots John and asks, what about him? (v21) Jesus replies, what is that to you? (v22, 23)

In essence, worry ‘bout yo-self!

At the end of the day we are responsible for our own selves. Our actions. Our words. Our responses. Our reparations. Our part in unifying. When we meet our Maker He will not ask us about somebody else’s choices. Only our own.

I don’t know about you but I want to be found on my part of the wall, not in 2020, not waiting for the next election cycle but today, right now, repairing and rebuilding, connecting and correcting, balancing and bettering not just for the good of this nation but for the glory of the God I serve.

Brick by brick.

kw

 

 

Election Hangover Elixir

It’s the day after Election Day. My phone has not blown up with texts and voicemails telling me who to vote for. My mailbox has normal mail in it…I’ve never been so happy to see junk mail that was fliers from stores and not a politician. Anybody else ready to see a couple sitting in bathtubs on a beach talking about ED rather than all the politicians bashing each other?

Some of you went to bed last night with a renewed spirit and some of you woke up this morning thinking Jesus was going to be coming back today because surely this is it.

I spent half the day at the salon doing something new….

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I am no longer a “foil virgin”…whoa Nellie was this a process!

The timing was unplanned perfection and it gave me time to start reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. Oh man! I was only eleven pages in and she said this one sentence that wrapped up my million thoughts…

The loudest revolutions often begin so quietly, so unassumingly near the ground that most don’t bother to notice. I won’t speak for you, but surrounded by cynics, worrywarts, doomsday prophets, and Facebook apologists with their lofty solutions, I’d rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 All day long, you guys. All the dang day long.

I don’t want to be a cynical, worrier who walks around with Eyore as her closest compadre and who thinks she has simple answers to complex issues. Nope. But as a believer I am never without hope. It’s my election hangover elixir.

As I was covered in tin foil and cooking in some new color, I thought about what a holder of hope looks like. I came up with this little acronym…

Heart. As in check it before you wreck it. This election cycle has done much to plant seeds of bitterness and hatred. Make sure your heart hasn’t become fertile ground to grow both. Harvesters of hope start with their own hearts first, tiling the ground, weeding the unwanted and planting seeds of grace and goodness.

Opportunities are everywhere! Don’t hold back doling out doses to everyone you meet! You don’t have to look far to see someone without hope or who is discouraged, down, and distraught. Let’s be known as the cocktail doctor of all things good and kind and patient and loving and…well, you get the picture.

Pray. For those who agree with us. And those who do not. For those who are our friends. And those who are not. For those we voted for. And those we did not.  If for every time we felt the need to put someone down, trash talk or say awful things about people, what if we lifted them in prayer? Instead of searching for a mean meme, what if we bend the knee? Whoa. Game changing stuff right there.

Encourage each other. Our words matter. Both written and verbal. The next time you post something or say something ask yourself: does it lift up or tear down. Does it heal or hurt? Does it mend or maim? Am I posting on social media to simply start a fire or to soothe a soul? Is it helpful to a cause or cause a fight? Am I hearing what you’re saying or preparing my retort?

Holders of hope don’t hoard. They don’t stand with fists clinched. Their hands and hearts are open wide offering optimism in the face of pessimism, faith in the face of fear, love in the face of hate, light in the face of darkness. Because as believers….

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

Maybe it’s the tin foil talking or the heat of the dryer but I want to be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 How about you?

Thank you Shannan Martin for that one little sentence on page eleven and thank you Dawn for my new do…

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Back to my original color. 🙂

kw

I Loathe Blanket Statements

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When my kiddos were younger we had a rule that we weren’t to use the words never or always. As in you never let me do anything or you always take his side. While it may seem that way sometimes, very rarely are never/always statements true. In fact they can be suffocating, taking the oxygen right out of a conversation.

A close cousin to always and never is “all.” It is precarious to make blanket statements using the word all like an umbrella that neatly fits everyone under one space. Here are a couple I’ve seen floating around…

All Women Should Automatically Be Believed

Before your panties get all wadded up, hear me out. I am an advocate for women. I want to see women succeed. I want to see women heard. I want no woman to be abused or neglected or made to feel unloved, incompetent or undeserving.

But it’s a dangerous thing to say that someone should be believed simply based on her gender alone. As if women are not capable of lying. That’s a slippery slope on a road to no good. Every single one of us (male and female) has within them the ability to lie.

It’s a tale as old as time. Potiphar’s wife lied when Joseph refused to sleep with her. (Genesis 39) Moses’ family did it to keep him alive. (Exodus 2) Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews in her home to keep them from being sent to horrific concentration camps. There have been court cases that have made national news of women who have lied about being assaulted (think Duke lacrosse.) I have seen firsthand the destruction caused by fabricated stories.

Whatever the reason (either for the saving of some or the destruction of others) the point here is that women had and will continue to have the capability to lie. We are broken people living in a fallen world. So to say women are to be believed simply because they are women is unhealthy and unwise.

All Men are Pigs

I get it. I really do. We are bombarded with news of more women coming forward with stories of abuse. It’s horrendous and I hate it. I have my own story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of as well. That’s why I understand how easy it is for the pendulum to swing towards this blanket statement.

It took me many years to not see a white man with a God awful tight perm and assume he was a child molester. For a very long time cigar smoke made me go into fight or flightmode. But not every man who smokes a cigar abuses women.

There are kind men in the world. Decent men, who respect women and who are just as abhorred at the thought of women being abused, neglected and treated unfairly. They just don’t usually make the evening news because kindness doesn’t get ratings.

I’ve seen much name calling on social media feeds. Women who hate being called names but who in turn name call. Doesn’t that make you the very thing you are shouting out against…a name caller?

My grandsons play that game. One calls one a bozo so the other one shouts back that they are not a bozo and proceeds to call the original name caller a poopy-faced bozo. Take that why don’t ya! Things quickly spiral out of control and they both get in trouble while continuing to finger point and name call all the way to time out.

Are we not more mature than four and five year olds?

Sigh…

What are we to do?

First, avoid using blanket statements. Nothing snuffs out a conversation like using the words always, never and all. It will put defenses up and walls built. (We don’t need a president to build the walls, we are doing a great job at building them ourselves and keeping each other out.)

Second, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16NLT) That is to say be prudent yet straightforward. Jesus prefaced that with, Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through the wolf pack…(Matthew 10:16 MSG) Man did he know what he was talking about!

Third, stop with the tit for tat. Choose to rise above the noise and go do something for someone who needs hope in humanity. Show someone love and respect and kindness.

Want to really hurt your (perceived) enemy? Feed him if he’s hungry. Give him a drink if he’s thirsty. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Today. Do it today.

(Is that the smell of singed hair from burning coals of kindness? Yes and amen!!)

kw

 

 

Not Your Standard Measure

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When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw