Identity Thief: Don't Protect Yourself

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

I usually don't dress in costume on October 31st. I make some lame remark to my kids, accompanied by an uncomfortable chuckle, about my being dressed as a mom. Truth is I just don't want one more thing to do in my week.

But I got inspired by this blog to dress up this an identity thief. At first it was just a fun, inexpensive way to give my family and friends a grin but as I thought about it, I realized it was a part of who I've allowed myself to be.

That teenage girl who lived a double life to please both her parents and her friends.

The young wife who cooked, cleaned, washed and worked to win her husband's approval.

The older mom who worries and stresses over meeting the demands of four daughters.

I let accomplishments and approval define who I am but Jesus came to be my identity thief. He took all names I would call myself and all the lame attempts at who I would try to be apart from Him to the cross. 

He assured me that there was one who came to steal but He had come to give me abundant life.

I capture the abundance He freely offers when I open my ears to His voice. He gently calls me a new name - 

Apple of His Eye
Dearly Loved

Will you continue to protect yourself? Or will you let the Identity Thief tell you who He truly created you to be?

Dressed for Success

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, 
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

The last few weeks have been all about costumes at our house. The two youngest celebrated five days dedicated to saying no to drugs last week. They wore all red, dressed in 1950s inspired garb and donned crazy socks, pajamas and tie dye on various days. My second oldest's school is doing the same this week. Saturday was my oldest daughter's choir dessert show with wardrobe changes symbolizing ancient Greece, modern Africa, a day at the beach and Mary Poppins. And of course Wednesday is the fall holiday dedicated to dress up. Tomorrow night my girls will be Princess Jasmine, a butterfly, Minnie Mouse and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

When you wear a costume, more than your outfit is changed. Your ensemble is accessorized with inner qualities. Something about dressing up calls the deep parts of heart. 

And this phenomenon isn't limited to women and little girls.

Little boys are braver when dressed as a super hero.

Young men hit the ball farther, tackle harder and run faster in their uniforms.

Men are more confident when wearing a suit.

But even better than a costume, athletic gear or fine clothes is wearing the qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. When I wear the clothes of God's choosing...

My marriage is richer.

My parenting is smoother.

My relationships are deeper.

Following closely after God's heart makes us dressed for success.

What quality do your loved one's most need you to wear today - compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness or patience?

Everything: The Difference Between Wasting & Investing Time

Whatever you dodo it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

I imagine if an efficiency expert spent a week with me their report would recount many "wasted" hours in my week.

Mornings spent on my bed snuggling a blond-topped bundle of love and watching a show I find surprisingly entertaining.

Afternoons spent ambling through a store with a teenager who looks good in everything she tries on, I request a private fashion show.

Evenings spent holding a hand stronger than mine, peering into eyes pooled with wisdom but yet discussing nothing in particular.

But is this time spent or time invested?

I once would have agreed this was wasted time but I recently read a book that helped shape my perspective on time management. Everything by Mary DeMuth challenged me to surrender my life - heart, head and hands to Jesus. Just as time spent with Him is never wasted, a life centered on Him won't be either.

Photo Credit:
As I've learned to center my heart on Jesus one conversation, one smile, one ordinary moment at a time, He slowly becomes my everything. Making Him everything means evaluating my time and priorities differently. It means letting Him be master of my minutes - even if spending them as He directs looks like squandered time.

What would making Jesus everything look like for you? Are you willing to "waste" your life for Him?

Find out more about Everything here - You can purchase it at your favorite retailer in person or online.

Our Rock Whose Ageless

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, 
my shield and the horn of my salvation. 
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior.
2 Samuel 22:3

In just over a week our country will elect the next President of the United States. Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is chosen, he will be the most powerful man in the world. He will carry the burdens, well-being and future of his people for the next four years. The weight will take a toll.

Only God knows the outcome of the votes but with certainty I know the impact of the election on whomever is selected. Every man who's taken office in my lifetime has aged considerably during his term. The load of 300 million people is too much for any one man no matter how well prepared he is. 

These are pictures of our last three presidents comparing how they looked when they took office to when they left or to today in the case of our current president.

Without exception the man on the right looks far older than the man on the left. I appreciate every one of these men for the sacrifice and service they have given their country. They each, along with every president who's served, wear the marks of their service on their face and hair.

This is why it is so remarkable to me that we have a king who is the King of kings and who carries the burdens of not 300 million but 7 billion people and all those who both proceed and follow us. 

He never grays with worry.
His face doesn't wrinkle with angst.
But He does bear the marks of His service on His feet and His hands.

He invites those who are willing to follow Him and find peace for their hearts and rest for their souls. 

In the midst of an election it tempting to look at all that is wrong or could be made better and lose sight of the incredible blessing of walking with the One who ordains every leader. 

What is your greatest concern about the upcoming election? Have you taken it the One who is actually big enough to handle it?

Workout Your Emotions

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul 
and with all your strength and with all your mind.
Luke 10:27

Athletic is not a word ever used to describe me. In fact from time to time my family will toss me something for the sure pleasure of watching me struggle to catch said item. I was never picked first for teams in PE. The way I recall it they even selected the kids in casts before making their way to my name. Not that I blame them, mind you . Sports was just not my thing. If you have any doubt about my lack of athletic prowess, can I tell you my first B in college was in...Badminton?

So how will a girl that uncoordinated, that lacking in natural ability run a marathon in a little over a month?

I'll take the first step.

We're continuing our series on emotional well-being today with the 4th component - getting moving. Have you ever wondered why God instructed us to love Him with all our strength along with our heart, soul and mind? I think it's because our Creator understands better than we do, the inherent connection between our hearts, souls, minds and bodies.

When we get moving, a noticeable improvement in our moods, our ability to cope and stress management follows. 

That first run was far from a victory. I was a sweaty mess and out of breath about step 3 but I kept moving. I tried again in a few days. As I continued to workout, I worked out my emotions. 

Ready to take your next step toward emotional well-being? Get moving.

Do you workout? How does it impact your mood and emotions?

A Limited Word Count

The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, 
and he let none of his words fall to the ground.
1 Samuel 3:19

A blanket of ginger-hued leaves blanketed my lawn that just the evening before was summer green. It was as if they made a pact with one another to fall on the same night. When one fell, all the rest followed.

Talking to my teens can be like that. As my parenting daylight gets shorter, I communicate with greater urgency. My intention is good but sometimes I allow a whole pile of words to fall, when a few would be sufficient. I need a reminder that...

When words are many, sin is not absent.
Proverbs 10:19

Just as God made Samuel's words count, I need to trust Him to make mine count in the hearts and lives of my children. 

Do you ever find yourself saying more than is necessary? How do you keep a limited word count?

Chasing Satis-Fiction Instead of Satisfaction

Satisfaction can be elusive like chasing a jack rabbit through a thicket on a foggy morning. We are told we can find it in a multitude of places but where is it really found? Today I'm writing about this very topic. Read about it here:

Standing Room Only

Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
"It will not take place, it will not happen."
Isaiah 7:7

I lost it. Completely, utterly and without warning. Even now I don't know how my morning snuck up on me and enticed me to come undone. 

I do know that lately I've been feeling like God had me so far out of my comfort zone that I can't even see it from here. I dare to dream with Him about all He will do in and through me but it's all at once awe-inspiring and terrifying. I think I just wanted something in my life to seem safe and within the bounds of my control. So when my younger two blatantly disobeyed not once but twice this morning something came unhinged. 

After I dropped them off at school, I came crawling to the arms of God, reminded afresh how desperately I need Him every hour, every minute of my day. I have God-sized dreams tucked inside and I believe every person does. We can make big plans for our day, our week or even our lives based on those God-sized dreams but ultimately God is in control. It will not take place or happen if God does not ordain it. 

Later in Isaiah 7, it says, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." (Verse 9) That's part of what happened to me this morning. I hadn't spent time alone with God. I rushed into my day without Him. Clearly I can't handle life on my own. 

If I'm not standing on Him, I can't stand at all.

Do you have a big dream?

Perhaps you're dreaming this morning of a child who returns to the faith or a godly marriage. Maybe you're believing you can impact the inner city or an overseas orphanage. Your big dream will not unfold if God isn't in it. Too often though I forget it also won't unfold if I'm not standing firm in my faith. If I want my big dream to come to fruition, my life has to be standing room only...

What dream are you standing on today? Is faith standing with you?

Manage Your Emotions

Today we continue our series on the path to emotional well-being with our third step - learning to manage our emotions.

I didn’t cry. It was a rule and I kept it. Crying was for wimpy women who were desperate and needy not for strong, independent women like me. At least this is what I told myself.

The reality was my emotions were stuffed so deep inside, I was completely out of touch with myself. All this changed as one millennium passed to another. In August 2000 I lost a stone out of my wedding ring. My modern design was such that I could not wear either my wedding band or my engagement ring.

My marriage was distant and somehow the loss of this symbol took on gargantuan significance for me. I found my voice and asked my husband to get my ring repaired. As Christmas approached I was certain what I’d find under the tree. I unwrapped several thoughtful gifts but no ring.

I didn’t worry too much though. I simply again expressed my need and waited for the Valentine’s present I knew would come. February brought another round of considerate items but no ring. The foundation of my emotions broke like the dam of a river at flood stage. My emotions came rushing out in a tangled mess of hysteria.

Unleashed, I couldn’t rebuild my dam. I cried at movies, at the slightest insult and I felt everything. I felt too deeply.

Neither of those extremes leads to emotional well-being. As I journeyed toward emotional health, I learned to manage my emotions. To do so I follow the Acknowledge, Analyze, Express cycle. I equate this to having company over for dinner.

Acknowledge – Today allow myself to feel a full spectrum of emotions. When one comes, I first take a moment to mentally acknowledge its presence. This is the point in your dinner party when you greet your guest at the door. Anger, apathy or elation has rung the doorbell of your heart but to actually greet our guest we have to move from the heart of our home to the door of our intellect. Welcome the emotion by opening the door.

Analyze – After acknowledging its presence, I give my emotion a name. This requires engaging both my heart and my mind. I think about what I’m feeling and address it by name. When guests come for dinner, it would be totally rude to leave them on the doorstep. You must invite them in, greet them and make them feel comfortable. You ask them questions to further the relationship. In this step, we do the same with feelings, we invite them in and get to know them until we know who and what they are.

Express – Once I know what my emotion is I choose a response. Whether my emotion is the gateway to a deeper problem or an indicator of long-term unaddressed issue, I choose how to respond. Do I need to verbally express my thoughts to someone? Do I need to pray? I choose my response. Every good dinner party ends in dessert. You eventually move to the door and choose. Will you have a future gathering? Will you pursue deeper relationship or move on? Do the same with your emotion. Choose the future your emotions will take.

I manage my emotions so they don’t manage me. Yes I still cry at movies. I even get unnecessarily huffy with my hubby from time to time but rather than swinging on the pendulum on my emotions, I let them guide me to the path of emotional well-being.

Do you ride on the tide of your emotions? What would happen if you managed them instead?

Presence of Mind

"Wherever you are be all there."
~ Jim Elliott

"Mom, you're such a goody goody."

This was the rebuttal to my refusal to allow my daughter to read the cliff notes version of her book report novel. What she doesn't realize is I'm less concerned about the number of pages she reads and more concerned with her getting the whole experience.

I don't want the cliff notes version of life; I want to savor every page.

Scott and I were talking with friends last night about the power of presence. Our friends, families and communities desperately need the power of our presence. They need us to open all we are. To bring the power of presence we need to be...

Fully alive. 
Fully aware. 
Fully engaged.

But others can't experience the power of our presence, if we don't experience the power of His. 

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, 
who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
Psalm 89:15

I'll be honest, my mind wanders when I should be listening to my husband or kids. At times, worry robs me of sleep and makes me sluggish the next day. And I sometimes focus my mind on temporary difficulties that steal my heart from the lasting impression of my full engagement would make.

If I want to be fully present, I have to fight for it.

I need His presence so I can have presence of mind.

What steals your mind away from being fully present? How can His presence refocus yours?

Flying on the Winds of Authenticity

How priceless is your unfailing love! 
Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7

Time held its breath as water skipped down Spring Creek and chipmunks danced across my path. Thee Cabin, built by the generation who survived the Great Depression and named as a tribute to our Quaker roots, shadowed my childhood with simplicity's rapture. In the most magical of moments there, beauty wafted from the sky and lighted on a stick I held. One side of my new monarch butterfly friend was unblemished; the other shredded like the petals of a daisy. 

The other day as I walked my youngest two from the car to the park's playground equipment, the brightest blue morpho butterfly I've ever seen fluttered in front of me. As Clara and Carynne ran ahead to jockey for the choicest monkey bar, I stood still to see where my new azure friend would fly. He flew directly in front of me only to land on a steaming pile of dog excrement. 

Some of us are monarchs; others are blue morphos.

Monarchs' scars are out in the open. Their wounds are evident. There is no mistaking their messy lives but they still think they have everyone fooled. They try to show the world their good side, their whole side never realizing the shredded parts of their past and present peak through anyway.

Morphos mask their imperfection with right words and flawless presentation. They've walked plenty of dirty paths but they've worked tirelessly to cover their tracks. You'd never know their life stunk unless you got down and sniffed their feet. 

I wonder what or who has blemished your beauty. 

Are the wings of your life painted with unforgiveness?

Are your antennae constantly evaluating, judging trying to keep you from getting hurt?

Do you fly safely above the surface afraid to ever really land and develop deep, abiding relationships?

When that monarch flew into my life, I spent three days watching, hoping, nudging and nursing. Beauty died anyway. 

Whether we tend to deal with our unsavory parts like a monarch or a morpho, one thing is certain, beauty will die anyway unless we flutter under His wing. The shadow of His wing restores. The safety of His wing repairs. From the cocoon of His care we can emerge as a new creation whose blemishes are marks of His grace. 

Take a moment and consider how you hide. Are you masked as a monarch or a morpho? Do you dare to fly on the winds of authenticity instead?

Counting...on God

She skips over plush carpet and past the collection of spoons gathered from travels worldwide. The almost irresistible urge to strum them like wind chimes passes over her but self-preservation glues her arms southward. She's on a mission to impress her grandparents. 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5...97, 98, 100. 

The memory of myself so excited to exhibit my counting talent is burned on my brain as if this scene unfolded three days instead of over three decades ago. I was nearly eight on my way from Seattle to Wichita and also embarking on a trip from one label to another. In Seattle they thought me slow and I think had I been on the assessment team I would have agreed. At five, the same roll call tumbles off Carynne's tongue like the names of old friends. 

But something shifted when my feet danced onto Kansas soil. Like wheat shooting out of the plains as a rocket, my new teacher saw different seeds planted in the soul of my mind. She donned me gifted instead. 

What a difference a summer makes.

This morning I returned from a week's vacation at the beach. Someone in the family was sick every day of our trip. I finished the half marathon I ran there in more time and with less energy than I'd planned. I fell far short of my reading goal. I wanted to label my trip failure.

But something shifted when I sifted my trip through God's hands. Like corrective lenses He infused my perspective with gratitude. Illness required me to rest all week and just be with the ones I love. Reaching the finish line on four hours of sleep and while running a fever, gave me a wider peak at accomplishing the impossible by relying on God. Falling short of my goals reminded me of my absolute dependence on God. My vacation was a stunning success.

What a difference a few moments with God makes.

As I think about counting and about the power of gratitude I wonder. 

What would happen in our lives if we counted on God and His faithfulness more than our ability or accomplishments?

How would our lives change if we named 100 of His kindnesses instead of even 1 of our problems?

What are you counting on today? How would this day be different if you counted on God instead?

Moving From Maybe

Has God called you to do something beyond yourself? If you are married, a parent, a student or anyone seeking God with your whole heart this is likely true for you. How then can you move beyond a maybe a experience courage from the King of Kings? 

I'm still wrapping up a week with rest with my family but I'm writing about the very topic today at Whether or not you're an aspiring author, I invite you to move with me beyond your maybe...

Select Your Conflict

"You're a Meanie Geanie!" It was the ultimate insult hurled across the room when my brother and I were mad at each other. I don't even remember the three other names but I remember there were a total of four classifications for unacceptable sibling behavior. Meanie Geanie was reserved for the most despicable.

Clearly I did not grow up in a house of fighters. We are stuffers. We are card carrying members of the Conflict Avoider Club. We sweep issues behind large pieces of furniture where they are safely hidden with dust bunnies and can't be seen or discussed.

Whether we lock it under the key of our heart or blab about it on aisle three of the local supermarket, we all have stuff. Whether we avoid it like an IRS audit or post it proudly on our front door, we all have stuff. For years we’ve either fought or fled.

Fight or flight. Science will tell us those are the only options. I flee conflict like it’s the bubonic plague. Others get in there are fight to the death. What if there was a third option? Engagement.

No I’m not talking about the flowery kind that ends with a ring on your hand that reflects light around your car and screams, “He loves me!” I’m referring to engaging your heart and mind in the midst of conflict.

Hope for the “Flight Attendant”

Those of us whose natural inclination is to avoid conflict at all costs I call flight attendants. The moment we sense a conversation or situation beyond our control we disengage. We offer our opponent their choice of coffee, tea or milk – whatever is required to settle the situation and return to peace.

To engage, the Flight Attendant must make a conscious choice to stay and decide to love their opponent enough to speak what dwells in the cavern of the heart. Those words won’t come easily but the choice to speak will take your friendship, marriage or family relationship to a deeper level than we dreamed possible.

Hope for the “Bookie”

Some of us revel in conflict. We enjoy a good fight so much we’ll even take bets on it. We bet on ourselves to win every time. Whether our war is words or wounds we dish out the worst. Instead of being engaged, we become enraged.

To engage, the Bookie must throttle back the emotion and see the person before them through the filter of love. With love in the forefront, the Bookie must choose to stop talking, listen and draw out the depth of the other. In the end we will “win” as we see our relationships enriched.

What about you? Are you a Flight Attendant, a Bookie or a concoction of the two? Wherever we currently land, we can choose a new conflict style – engagement. No longer will we lay awake at night and stew of the conflict not taken. No longer will we live with the regret of reckless words. Instead our emotional well-being will blossom as our relationships become deeper, richer, meaningful.

Sometimes I Say Yes By Saying No

As I continue this week of saying yes to my family, yes to rest and rest to getting recharged, I've also been spending some time at Encouragement Cafe. Sometimes saying yes to God requires us to first say no. My no becomes His yes. Read more here:

Lessons Learned on the Road - Don't Run to Train...Run to Know

Today is the final edition of Lessons Learned on the Road. Today's guest is the ultimate finish line banquet - Mary DeMuth. After you drink in the refreshment of her wisdom today, you should hop over next Monday to your favorite retailer to buy her newest book, Everything. Everything is a an invitation to let go of the try-harder Christian life and to truly experience the richness of life that comes when we make Jesus our Everything. Watch the book trailer now: & don't forget to order her book next week!

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 
1 Corinthians 10:41, NLT

On my run a few weeks ago, training for a half marathon using this plan, the Lord spoke so plainly, I wondered if He ran nearby. He said, "Don't run to train, run to know."
I felt near elation in the mention because, of course, He was right (again).

I should not jog to train for this half marathon. I should hit the road because it's a perfect time for me to reacquaint myself with the Almighty.

You can also substitute a few words and personalize it for you.

How about:
  • Don't work to get ahead, as you work, discover Jesus.
  • Don't create art to produce something, create to grow closer to the Creator.
  • Don't sing to impress, sing to understand your heart before Jesus.
  • Don't check off your to do list to feel satisfaction, check it off while thanking Jesus for the ability to do so.
We can turn everything around in our hearts and minds when we refocus on Jesus. Then life becomes a surprising adventure, full of hushed discoveries of our amazing God.

When I run, I hear God.

When I jog through my neighborhood park, ideas pop into my head that I hadn't had before. It's like a laboratory for ideas, and often those ideas come from Jesus. While it is super fun to get in shape and accomplish a goal, inevitably, it's even more fun to feel like I've communed with Jesus during all that sweat and gore (if you watched me run, you'd understand this; and perhaps "run" isn't the right word.)

So whatever you do today, don't just do it to do it. Do it for the glory of God, to know Him, to find Him, to be near Him.

What activity do you do today where you could refocus on Jesus?

I'm a Basket Case

This is my view today...
I'm on vacation with my family this week. In an attempt to be less of a basket case, I'm spending most of this week offline. But today you can find me at where I'm sharing how God's Word has to be more than a basket case for me. Curious? Click over and get encouraged...

How to Put the Less in Selfless

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, 
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

In a few hours I will crawl into a mid-size SUV with one hubby, four kiddos and enough Vera Bradley duffel bags to sew a king-size quilt. Vacation comes at no small cost to the mom. Anytime we travel, I start my trip short on sleep.

Sometimes I just want someone to notice the bags under my eyes or the way I juggle emotions and schedules like a circus clown. Then I'm reminded of my friend Kelli Wommack and the way she gently encourages me to live for the only One who matters even when my life is crowded.

I want so desperately to put the less in selfless...but how?

It's not a diet.

When you go on a diet you restrict your calories. Being selfless isn't about being less of me but more of Him. I don't need to restrict my diet of me...I need to increase my consumption of Him.

It's not a budget.

My hubby and I live on a cash budget. When the money runs out, we don't spend again until there's more cash. Being selfless isn't like this either.

It doesn't mean giving of me until I'm depleted. Instead I need to crawl into His lap daily so I'll never run out of Him.

Becoming selfless isn't about somehow starving myself of the essence of whom God created me to be and it surely isn't about managing myself like a line item on a spreadsheet. Turns out I can pack my car full of sunscreen and snacks and still pack some less in selfless too. Right here in my ordinary day by connecting my everyday activities with the greatness of God. 

I can view lack of sleep as an opportunity to rely on God's strength.

I can see unnoticed labor as a chance to whisper secrets into the ear of my Creator.

I can count a long to do list as that many more reasons to acknowledge my need of Him.

The One who lives, breathes and originates love, puts the less in selfless when I...

Everything Though

What in your life do you need to see through Love's filter today?

Feed Your Mind

Today I am introducing a new 8 week series on emotional well being. My personal journey to emotional well-being was a long one with many side trips and double-backs. In all there were 8 major components and I want to explore them one by one with you over the next 8 weeks. Here is Step 1 - Feed Your Mind.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29

“I’m hungry.” I hear this declaration multiple times a day from my four kids. With almost equal frequency I hear a complaint about a school or reading assignment. Why is it we humans are so eager to feed our bodies but not our minds?

As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a stand-up comedian. To make a room full of people laugh was the highest achievement my elementary sized brain could imagine. In the fullness of time, I realized that seed of a dream would sprout into a desire to speak and write.

In today’s fast paced, high tech world, however, the profession of writer and speaker requires much more of me than those two tasks. In the last few years I’ve learned to program a website, utilize social media and produce an abundance of print materials.

Each of these tasks daunted my soul. They seemed beyond me; more than I could do. I was forced to learn new skills and put them into practice.

What I didn’t know is that the process of learning would add life and health to my soul. When we learn we become more than we envision. When we explore unknown truths we expand the boundaries of who we are. Feeding your mind provides much needed nutrients to our inner self.

One of the keys to emotional well-being is plugging sustenance into our intellect not just our bellies.

Do you have a secret interest in learning calligraphy? Take a class at your local college.

Do you wish you had the fashion sense of a celebrity? Find a blog about fashion basics and read it every day for a week.

Do you have a dream that seems beyond you? Learn just one skill required to make that dream a reality.

When we expand our emotional waistlines by feeding our minds, we become infinitely more attractive not only to ourselves but to those who occupy our corner. Dare to feed your mind. Your emotions will thank you!

Maximizing Mundane Mashed Potato Moments

Family Dinner - 6:00. It was right there in my calendar but everything was working against me. One of my kids wanted to skip family dinner and go to a ballgame. Another was running late. My husband was tied up at work. Two of my kids were generally cranky after a long day. I was missing an ingredient for the main course.

Gathering around the table is a priority for Scott and I. Even with two teens we try to meet there several nights a week. The table is where we connect. It's where we talk about our lives and God's work in them. And it's where we open God's word and apply it to our everyday lives. Even though everything was working against me, I stood my ground.

Since our evening was off to a late start, we decided to combine our family devotion with dining. With chicken on our chins, we invited our daughters to share a scripture God was using to impacting their life.

Starting with the youngest we read, talked and listened. The last scripture mentioned was one of redemption. As my hubby began to teach about Jesus' substitution for us on the cross, a hand shot in the air.

"I want that."

Instead of walking the aisle, she walked the length of a farmhouse table into her Daddy's lap. As she repeated the prayer after Him, God welcomed her into His.

What mundane, mashed potato moment could invite God's presence into today? 

Lessons Learned on the Road - Sometimes You Need to Run Against Traffic

This is our second to last week in this series. How can 9 weeks vanish so quickly? When I first signed up for the St. Jude Marathon, it was 6 months away. I thought I had so much time to train, I wanted to nickname myself Caboose. (Instead that will likely be an apt name for my finish position in the race...)

So far I have run about 350 miles in my training and by December 1st I will run over 200 more. I have coursed uneven trails, quiet streets and congested hills. But some of the most rewarding have been the ones I ran against traffic.

Last Saturday I set out to run a mere 9 miles. A half mile in I was dripping sweat from my breathless face. Nine miles might as well have been 90 miles. I decided to modify and run 6. It was the hardest Saturday run of my training thusfar. 

Maybe it was because I was alone.

Perhaps it was because the cool weather I'd longed for came but difficulty didn't go.

Regardless I found myself in a tough place, running against traffic and out of energy.

I was questioning my ability and even my desire when I saw her. There was no mistaking her identity. I know no one else whose smile electrifies, whose energy emanates like Bobbi. One friendly wave swiped away my doubt. Her presence intersecting with mine shot my heart full of encouragement. This run would not defeat me. I could finish.

Most people choose to run with traffic. But when you run the same direction as everyone else, you never get to encounter. Your interaction is with one more bumper, another set of heels or even another caboose.

Sometimes an encounter requires I give.

Other times an encounter allows me to receive. 

Both require me to run against traffic.

What do risk not giving and not receiving by running the same direction as everyone else? Is there an area of your life where you need to run against traffic? 

Where Will Your Pain Float You?

The LORD is great and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
Psalm 116:5

Stretched. Strained. Challenged. Expanded. 

I spent the last week reading Jeff Goin's Wrecked. His book wrecked me. Wrecked dares us to live bigger, love wider and splash our world with a typhoon of compassion-fueled action. 

Frankly it's easy for me to sit in suburbia, nod my head toward suffering with a donation, a remembrance of bygone mission trips and a mention of my church's work in the inner city. It's so safe here our realtor left his BMW running in the driveway when he went in to show us houses. I'm insulated from shock.
Shock can stun you so badly that you don't do anything. Or it can be used to help. But eventually, the shock goes away, and what remains is what we choose to do with the pain that lingers. ~Jeff Goins in Wrecked
 I looked particularly good the February day life shocked me. My hair had been expertly cut and highlighted. My soul had been saturated with scripture. My heart floated above me with exhilaration. A brownie was the punctuation mark on my perfect day.

I settled my two toddlers down for a nap and slid into the kitchen on the wheel of anticipation. A serrated kitchen knife willed my brownie from its comfortable spot in the pan.  It landed in my palm instead.

I had seen enough CSI to know blood squirting out of my hand wasn't good. I wrapped my hand in a red towel to calm my head from my hand's flow. I applied pressure to my gaping wound and left myself with no hands to dial or drive.

Mercifully I found the neighbor's two doors down home. She stayed with my children as he drove me to the hospital. About halfway from my door to the ER, shock melded with reality and pain slammed into my hand like a brick wall crushing my resolve. 

Two hours later I was stitched, wrapped like I was ready for Halloween and enjoying my meds. Four years later my hand is whole but it still hurts. This is the kind of shock Jeff's referring to. We can be shocked by poverty, brokenness and needs but if we don't let shock fade to pain, we have no incentive to keep going.

Loving others is hard. It's costly. It hurts and is rarely comfortable. That day in my kitchen I gave far more of myself to my day then I intended. It cost me and I was never the same.

Today I want to throttle the BMW of my heart where it isn't safe. Where loving might just not cost me something but everything. Where getting involved means giving more of me then I intend. With certainty, I will never be the same again.

Have you been wrecked? Will you wash up onto the shore of compassion-fueled action or let the pain that lingers float you toward futility?

Do you want to know more about Wrecked? Visit Jeff's website at to explore the book and Jeff's writing.