Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pressing In and Moving Forward


"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

Desperate for His touch, I run into His presence. My heart seeks peace, heavenly shalom, but life (and the woofy neighbor-dog) gropes, pokes, prods, plays tug-o'-war for my attention until I beg, "Stop!" But that stubborn dog continues his baritone chorus. Undermining his concert I repeat, "Silence that dog. Silence that dog. Silence. That. Dog!" He quiets.

The atmosphere shifts. He's here. God's broken through my screaming world. Like a child on her daddy's lap, I press in and listen to His heart. It beats slow, steady, sure-a confident, reassuring rhythm.  Shallow breaths calm, lengthen. In silence, I rest. He lingers.

He shoulders my weight, all my doubts, and insecurities. I press in closer because He speaks what I need to hear - the language of hope. I can't afford to miss a word. There's no great assignment, no reminder of my Kingdom purpose, no ominous, foreign liturgy - only love. I linger.

This uninterrupted, inexplicable  time together ends with an incoming phone call - an invitation into my passion, marked with God's fingerprints. He's moving me forward.

Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). As Christ-followers, we're not immune to trouble, but we do have a way out, if we want it. Jesus said it - he has over come the world (and all it's trouble). He is the Way, the Truth, the Life (John14:6) and the only way to the Father. But, we have to press in - invite His presence. It's there we experience God's break through, healing, and restoration. And then? He moves us forward.

Are you ready? Press in. Move forward.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Humble Pie X 2


Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty right hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1Peter 5:6

Fresh, Maine blueberry pie is my favorite dessert. Add a dab of sweet whipped cream and it's heaven in my mouth. But lately, humble pie's been the only thing on the menu. It's rather bitter and hard to swallow regardless of how it's served.

Avoidance is my first instinct even when it's served steaming hot on a cool plate right there in front of me. Walking away seems easier, but when I circle back,  it's still sitting there. Digging into a  cold, stale piece of humble pie is worse than choking it down all hot and steamy.

Hot or cold, it's never easy, but this time I got served a double portion.

I picked up my fork and cut into the first piece. It held a hint of sweetener and a pinch of hope and with a comforting cup of hot coffee and a few encouraging words it slid down rather easily. The second piece? Not so much.

Still digesting my first humble piece, the second portion came by surprise and yet, by my own hand. My selfish pride spoke out of turn and careless words served hot off my tongue landed heavy on my sister's heart. When she served up my second piece, I heaved a heavy sigh, realizing what I'd done. My stomach churned.

Laced with pride, I hesitated cutting into this piece. Pride always tastes bitter no matter how much sweetener it holds. It's goal is right-ness even when you're wrong and I wanted to be right even with that second piece of truth sitting right there in front of me. The longer I avoided truth, the more unhappy, anxious and bitter I became.

I finally invited her to sit with me while I choked down my pride. I admitted my
wrong-ness, begged her forgiveness and she offered me grace. That made all the difference, like a dab of sweet whipped cream.


Monday, May 28, 2012

We Will Never Forget




We will never forget
all the battles fought
for those you've never met.

We will never forget
all freedoms wrought
by blood spilled, tears wept.

We will never forget
glory never sought
only country's honor kept.

We will never forget.

Thank-you to all our United States service men and women and their families for their many sacrifices and brave deeds performed on behalf of their fellow countrymen.

Today, as we gather with our families and neighbors in celebration of our liberties, please know this:

We will never forget.

Memorial Day 2012









Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Livin' The Sweet Life




But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children —Psalm 103:17

Glammed out in her Hello Kitty glitter shoes, matching lip gloss ring, and purple headband, Little Miss celebrates her fourth birthday lickin' lolly pops with Baby Brother and livin' the sweet life! And all this partying? It happens before 10 am! Oh, yes it does and I enjoy every minute cuz I'm Grams.

This was just a private little party, a prelude to her bigger weekend party when extended family and friends join in the fun. It's where she gets my undivided attention and I get to whisper, "I love you" in her ear. It's her real birthday. The one day that's all her own.

But, with God? It's a never-ending, private birthday party! He celebrates our birth 24:7:365. Oh yes, he does. He whispers "I love yous" in our ears, dances and sings and leaps with joy over the very thought of us, even when we're not paying attention. He sees His reflection in our faces, recognizes our great potential - the same way we do with our own children and grandchildren - and rejoices because he knows all things are possible.

If we believed this reality - that we are full of potential and with God, all things are possible - nothing could stop us from living to our fullest potential. If we grasped that each new day God greets us with our own private birthday party, would we not leap out of bed celebrating - ready to unwrap His gifts?

What stops us? We all have our own answers, our own stories of brokenness, loss, and lies authored by our Enemy, the devil.

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." 1Peter 5:8b-9a

But Jesus came to redeem - to set all things right - and restore all creation (including us) back to its original potential.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14

I want to freeze this moment in time - where innocence and great potential linger. So, Little Miss and Baby Brother pose, indulge me just this once as I capture them livin' their sticky-faced, lollypop-lickin', sweet life. {Click}

Dear Lord,
Help us live this sweet life - where we reflect your image - realize our great potential and believe that in you, all things are possible. Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Heaven's Math: God's Work + Our Story = Kingdom Growth

"And because of his words many more became believers."
John 4: 41

Caught between honor and truth, an aspiring writer leans toward silence and blank pages. Poised across the desk, her emotional heart throbs while images toss and turn in her mind, threatening to scatter across the blank page for all to see. But her hands won't move, fearful of painting such an honest picture. So, her mind plays ping pong with two simple questions: "What will they think?" and "Who cares about my story, anyway?" Stuck in fear, she pounds out ineffective stories.

Familiar with this battle - the one where love and honor weigh heavy with hearts battling truth - I offer her my best advice: Tell the truth. Write, anyway. But it sounds so cliche, even though I know it's true.

I spend days fidgeting at my own computer and skirting around the truth out of fear or doubtful purpose. But God reminds me - He's rescued me from my greatest pain, restored my heart, and released my writing passion for the sake of telling His redemptive story. Why?  To build a common denominator so others might see Him.

{God's Work + Our Story = Kingdom Growth}

Jesus worked under this equation throughout his ministry. We see this especially in his encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42). Jesus knew her sordid story - how she'd married and divorced five times and now lived with another - and told it to her. Yet, despite her dirty little secrets, he offered her forgiveness, redemption, and acceptance. And what did she do? She told her story and brought more people to see Jesus.

"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him [Jesus] because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of His words many more became believers" (John 4:39-41).

Our stories matter! They build common denominators and multiply God's purpose and cause Kingdom growth.

So what's your story? How has God asked you to share His redemptive work with others? What is your biggest struggle in moving forward?



Monday, May 21, 2012

Hidden Beauty in Tangled Messes

"So, from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view."
2 Corinthians 5:16

My neighbor hides. He climbs out from behind the wheel of his clutter-filled car each night and scrambles between tall grasses reaching sanctuary behind his faded back door. He lives behind sooted windows and torn curtains in a once pristine home now covered by overgrown branches and climbing weeds. Although it sits on a busy corner on Main Street, USA it's barely recognizable - distorted by unmown grasses five years tall and a maple tree border sown by spring winds. 

Surrounding neighbors complain, including yours truly. Fines pile up. Yet, nothing changes. Years ago we offered help. He refused. Pride, maybe? So, the trees between our properties grow taller and he continues seeking refuge behind that faded back door.

Each spring, if you squint, distort your vision just a bit, you'll catch a glimpse of beauty - pink cherry blossoms amongst the bramble, wild purple violets framing tree trunks, and yellow daffodils lining the moss covered sidewalk. This hidden beauty carries hope in the midst of all the tangled mess.

Others see it, too - offer a fair price - with dreams of restoration. He refuses every offer or simply ignores their calling card.

I wonder about him - start squinting, distorting my vision - watch him crawl out of his car and into his house. I'm ashamed to say I hardly know him and only catch bits and pieces of his story from life-long neighbors. On the outside, he's an immovable, miserable, muddled mystery, but the fact remains, he carries God's image. It's just hard to find.

Paul instructs us in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 "So, from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

I've stopped complaining about my neighbor; resolved to report only things that pose a danger to himself or the public. Instead, God's changed my perspective and asked me to look for the hidden beauty that carries His hope, amongst the tangled mess of my neighbor's life.

Paul continues, "...through Christ {God} gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world, to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

What that looks like in this neighborly situation, I'm not sure, especially when he's refused all offers of help. But, this I know: God always sees beauty through the messes - regardless how miserable, muddled, or mysterious. He doesn't count these things against us (or my  neighbor), but desires our partnership in the ministry of reconciling and restoring his creation.

Lord, thank you for your endless grace and mercy in our lives that sees the beauty amidst our tangled messes. Distort our vision so that we can see your hidden beauty in others; may we see them from your perspective and not our worldly view. Move us {move me} to accept this mysterious partnership with you, through Christ, and carry your message of hope and reconciliation to whomever you place in our lives.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When We Forget Who We Really Are

 
















My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king.
Psalm 45:1a

They charge through the back door wearing their toothy smiles and holding out their arms, ready for great big hugs from this Grams. For a moment, while I inhale their youth, I catch a glimpse of their father - a slight resemblance - in the shape of her face and in his silly, boyish smile. How marvelous!

Wriggling out of my arms they dive into the toy box and Sister quickly emerges with a noble theme. She proudly dons a princess crown, happily announcing her royal presence throughout the kingdom. Suddenly, Brother yanks the sparkling royalty from her head. Arms flail, tears flow, and the little prince and princess misplace their own identities.

There's times we misplace our identities, too. Maybe someone yanks our rightful place out from under us or someone steels our innocence and then walks away. Sometimes though, we're our own worst enemy - adopting those labels others slap on our backs - until we forget who we are and whose we are.

We need reminding that we are sons and daughters of the King in need of a great rescue.
The King rescues his children

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesisans 1:5

Throwing colored paper, stickers, and magic markers on the table, Mother and I rescue the moment by transforming the dining room into the Royal Crown Factory. Their eyes fix on my hands as I trace and cut out two pointy, cut-out paper crowns. Busy hands and active imaginations quickly transform these plain shapes into sparkling creations. Smiles reappear across their little royal faces as they once again crown themselves prince and princess.

Restoring our identity as sons and daughters of [God] the King takes more effort than simply donning a cut-out paper crown. But, when we allow God healing access to our hearts, he restores completely.  

The King restores our hearts 

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...
Isaiah 61:1b

So, how do we tap into God's restorative power? I love how author, Madeleine L'Engle puts it in Walking On Water, "...there is a time in which to be, simply be, that time in which God quietly tell us who we are and who he wants us to be. It is then God can take our emptiness and fill it up with what he wants."

When we quietly empty ourselves, surrender everything at God's throne, that's where He restores. That's where God whispers our true identity into our souls and we remember our place as His prince and princess - heirs of His Kingdom.
 
As we know God's full, heart restoration we experience freedom in the release of our true identity in Christ.  

The King releases our true identity
 
...to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1b

Are we ready for a great rescue, today? Instead of groping at our heart wounds, let's lay them down and let God transform them - transform us - into all He intended us to be. Let's find some time where we can get honest with God, weep and throw our temper tantrums then, settle down and listen for His heart whisper.

As we daily surrender ourselves to God, maybe we'll catch a glimpse of our Father in our faces as He restores us and we experience life in our true, Kingdom identity as God's prince and princess. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tell Me That Old, Old Story

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4


Everything was set and ready for my author visit the next morning. At least that's what I thought until I ran through my familiar story using brand new props.

After reciting the first few lines my mind went blank. I started and stumbled again and again like it was the first time I’d ever read the book. Since I was the author, you’d think I’d memorized the words by now, but like any other book read sparingly, we stumble over the details.

Click HERE while I share the rest of the story at Christian Children's Authors. And when you're done? Won't you drop in on my fellow colleagues? They're such talented authors and offer many Christian children's resources.
 
See you all back here tomorrow
at
Dawn's New Day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quieted With Love


"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great pleasure in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17


A medley of hymns from my childhood rings clearly in my heart when I close my eyes and listen, even today. Completely separate tunes until my mother gathered me in her arms and strung them together as one. It's impossible to count how often she sung over me but this I know: every time, it comforted me.

Countless times I've gathered my own children in my arms and rocked away the nights in darkened rooms gently whispering that same strung-together-medley: "Jesus loves me this I know...Oh how he loves you and me...Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There's just something about that name...On a hill far away, stood and old rugged cross...Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord." Every time I sung over them in love. Every time, it comforted them.

Two decades have passed since I comforted my children this way. I miss those lingering moments of new sleep when I sat studing their little faces, smelled their clean baby hair and rejoiced that they were part of me.

But now, I gather their children into my arms when they need the comfort of that old familiar stringed medley. Mostly I just gather them up in sheer delight and love on 'em, take pleasure in them and rejoice over them with the songs in my heart.


It awes me to know God looks at us the same way. I wonder how many lingering moments-when our hearts are quieted by His love-He rejoices over us with singing?

Monday, May 14, 2012

{Almost} Drowning In Mud

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God..."
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

I'm not a fan of hanging out during those DIY house projects, especially the ones that involve demolition, rewiring, or digging large holes. I'm a supportive wife, really I am. I willingly roll up my sleeves and work alongside my husband from beginning to end in many instances, but when I know he's tackling something outside his comfort zone, I try and escape until it's done.

Friday was one of those days, so I went shopping.

My husband and his contractor friend were simply demo-ing our dilapidated, 75-year-old, shed-turned-pool-house. Grateful for the skilled help, I breathed a bit easier and confidently left them to their work while I escaped for a couple of hours of shopping therapy.

An hour later, heading into the last grocery store, my cell phone rang. My husband's desperate voice met me on the other end asking, "Where's the duct tape? I'm all alone now, covered in mud, I can't stop the water, and I'm drowning in the wet niche!"

My feet stopped short but my mind raced ahead trying to picture this whole scene. First of all, I don't use the duct tape, so it's wherever he left it? Secondly, why was he covered in mud? Thirdly, what the heck is a wet niche and why was he drowning in it?" I thought he was just knocking down walls. Where did the water come from?! (The short answer? They snapped the conduit for our pool's underwater spotlight-the infamous wet niche-which was attached to the shed. Gravity forced pool water through the broken conduit and it could potentially empty 2k-3k gallons of water into our yard and those of our surrounding neighbors. But thankfully, it was a steady leak not a geyser-gushing water spout.)

Quickly assessing that this situation was beyond my expertise, I arrived home forty-five minutes later hoping the problem resolved itself. But, there he was, face-down in mud, shaking, exhausted, and totally discouraged. As a professional, intelligent problem solver, he knew exactly how to fix this broken conduit, if only he could stop the relentless river of water. His one brief call to the pool company got him nowhere. Their advice? "Stop the water from running and we'll be out sometime next week."

I slipped inside to call our plumber only to hear he had no clue how to stop this muddy river, either. The clock ticked past 3:45 pm. Fifteen minutes before the weekend began, so I made one more desperate plea to the pool company. Their repairman "happened" to be working close by and would swing over before he clocked out for the day. Whew! Thank you, Lord.

Returning pool-side I found my husband sitting quietly in a deck chair and the abandoned wet niche steadily spewing water into a hole two feet wide and one foot deep. "What made you abandon the mud hole?" I asked hesitantly. "I don't know how to stop the water. It's beyond me, so I decided to walk away. There's nothing more I can do."

Paul faced many horrible situations throughout his ministry, well beyond his abilities . (Some he admitted, he'd rather have died than endure.) But, says Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:9, "this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God..." and v. 10 "On {God} we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us...." 

These wise words were far from my lips, but at least my mustard seed faith allowed me to swallow my own pride and worry and speak this, "God loves us and knows our situation, right? He knows this is beyond our ability and it's stretching us financially, so let's trust God to handle this, okay? There's nothing more we can do. "

And isn't that exactly where God wants us - totally dependent on him? Oh yes, because it's only when we're helpless, at the end of our resources that God's glory shines bright.

Praise God, within an hour (late on a Friday afternoon, which is a miracle), the pool company easily mended our wet niche and minimally charged us for the repair (about one week's groceries).

Have you ever faced situations beyond your abilities where God intervened? Won't you encourage us, help build our faith and share below how God showed up?

Heavenly Father, forgive us of pride and self reliance. When situations arise beyond our control (no matter how small or insurmountable), when we feel like we're drowning in mud, may we remember to rely on you--the One who supplies all of our needs according to your GREAT riches in heaven. To you be all glory and power. Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Motherhood: Partnership with God's Creative Process

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13-14




Before anything existed you knew us, called us by name.
From nothing you formed us, knit us together
deep inside our mother’s womb.

Created in your image,
fashioned in your likeness;
we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your eyes search the universe and you call it good,
but nothing compares to your sons
and your daughters.

We are the crown of all creation;
the ones in whom you
take great delight.

Partners in creation, you entrust us with your children;
precious ones molded by your very hands
and Kingdom-purposed.

May we as mothers, revel in this miraculous deed;
marvel at the sight of your great work,
recognize your image
in their faces.

Today, and every day, may we
honor and esteem the very hands
that raised and nurtured us.

Happy Mother’s Day

Love,
Dawn

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dot-to-Dot

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Psalm 16:9 

Life surprises us and sometimes makes it difficult to stay-the-course or see which direction to go. Our heart pleads we go one way, but our mind begs the question "should I?" because it knows the heart deceives.

Holding our breath, eyes peeking between open fingers, we wobble forward wishing God's heavenly spotlight would shed some light in our direction. When that doesn't happen we pray something like, "God, would you give me a little clue or maybe a map? Heck, I'd even settle for a dot-to-dot and a #2 pencil! Something? Anything?"

Okay, maybe we don't use those words exactly, but if we were honest, in the midst of life's not-so-little surprises, that's what our hearts are saying, isn't it?

Instead, why don't we work out our faith by doing a few calisthenics? (I agree, I never liked gym class either. I'd much rather sit in the corner with my #2 pencil and follow the dot-to-dot's in my coloring book. There, I'm safe, comfortable and quite happy with my dot-to-dot's, but they'll never make me stronger, except at counting.) But....difficult situations require strong faith muscles. 

So, what strengthens our faith muscles?

Prayer - personal, honest, and unmasked conversations with God.

Jesus regularly went off alone to pray to his Father, especially when faced with difficult situations. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed" (Mark 1:35). 

Intercession - others praying for you and on your behalf, including the Holy Spirit
 
When we lack the words, the physical or emotional strength or even the clarity to know the words to pray, Scripture says the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. "And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will" (Romans 8:27).
There's also power in the collective prayers of other believers. They not only to encourage our heart by their willingness to carry our burden, but they carry wisdom otherwise missed by ourselves. God moves mightily when his children unite in love and concern for one another.

     Reading Scripture - yes, cracking open and reading a Bible.

God speaks directly through his Word. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Not only does he speak to us directly, but we receive encouragement by witnessing God's record of faithfulness throughout time.

     Waiting- actively waiting to hear from God.

Waiting isn't a sin, but rather a sign of wisdom. If possible, take a few hours, days, weeks before making a rash decision. And, while waiting keep praying, reading, listening for God's still voice to shed some light on your situation. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

If you're struggling with one of life's little or not-so-little surprises today, why not exercise some faith muscles? You don't have to go it alone, or pray the right words, or read the right Scripture. Let someone help you carry your burden, pray with you and when words escape you, know that God's Holy Spirit already knows your heart and prays to the Father on your behalf. Be encouraged. And Wait.

God's picture will be much finer than your little dot-to-dot traced in your #2 pencil!

Monday, May 7, 2012

God Can't Resist Blowing Bubbles


"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy."
1Peter 1:8

Perch a little kid above a tall glass of cold milk with a straw and what comes next? An irresistible urge to blow bubbles!

He heaves a tiny breath and blows gently. Blub.

Again. Blub, blub. A giggle escapes.

He blows a bit harder. Blub, blub, blub.  Joy overwhelms him.

He can't resist watching those bubbles rise so he blows harder. Blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub.

Bubbles rise and fill and spill, filling him with uncontrollable laughter, until Mom walks in and says, "Mop up that mess!"

He sucks down those milk-fed bubbles and sops up all the joy he can--still giggling--savoring the fullness of the moment that carries him through his day.

Entering God's presence is like placing a glass of milk and a straw in front of a child--God can't resist blowing bubbles. The more we focus on his goodness, sing praises to his name the more his Holy Spirit rises within us, filling us with heaven's joy. And the more God hears us giggle the harder he blows, filling us with more and more of his Spirit until our joy rises and fills and spills.

I use to think God's joy eluded me. Try as I might to fill myself with God's joy, I always came up lacking. Reread that statement. We cannot experience heaven's joy simply by wishing or willing. Rather, joy comes only as an overflow of God's presence in our lives--not by his choice because God is a gentleman--never forcing himself on us. Rather, he simply knocks, waits for an invitation and an open door.

And when we let him in? When he sits at our table? He's like a little boy perched above that cold glass of milk with a straw! All darkness dissipates and the room fills with his light, his joy, his laughter. And laughter is contagious.

Today, I experienced true laughter--just me and God--alone in His presence. It shocked me at first. I felt like a crazy woman laughing at nothing. But I'm not crazy and I'm not alone. Peter said, "even though you do not see {Jesus} now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8). And when we are filled with God's Holy Spirit there is freedom--freedom that bubbles and fills and spills over with laughter!

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2Corinthians 3:17

Are you searching for true joy in your own strength and coming up empty? Won't you find a quiet spot and set a table for two? Just you and God. Put on some soft music and fill the room with praise and thanksgiving. Then open the door and invite him in--trust in his goodness and let his Spirit fill and rise and spill over you.

God can't resist blowing bubbles!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Holy Ground

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5

My parents never enforced a “no shoes in the house” rule, but I do recall the households that did.


Grammy had a shoe rule even though Grampy ignored it. She had rules for just about everything: no eating in the living room, no sitting on the bare furniture, and no putting your feet up on the couch. This baffled me because plastic covered everything from chairs to lamp shades. Why, the rugs were even covered by plastic runners! With all that plastic, the shoe rule seemed unnecessary. Maybe Grampy thought so, too.


My aunt has a shoe rule. She greets you with, "Hi there. Take your shoes off and c'mon in." Her house is more inviting with the absence of plastic.


Most Eastern countries like Japan, Korea, Turkey and Sweden, hold fast to a shoe rule. In these countries, besides the practical means of keeping the house dirt and bacteria-free, going shoeless is a gesture of respect and politeness.

God had a shoe rule...

(Won't you tip-toe over to Encouragement Cafe and linger awhile? At least long enough to hear the rest of the story?)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Caring for the Widows


"The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help." 1Timothy 5:5

She sits lonely in her wheelchair by the window; broken leg propped up, whole leg dangling down ̶ the one who shares her birthday with my granddaughter.


Lungs inhale the lifeless scent of age, deep. Lips force a smile for the sake of one whose robust life once brimmed full with joy. Her eyes meet familiar faces and she brightens ̶ invites us to sit down and share life.

Share life? Life when death is so close? How do you share life with one who's nearly done living?

She cheerfully rambles about doctor reports, kind nurses, and thirty-year-old (sometimes older) memories. I listen and place clean clothes in drawers, throw out worn stockings, shoes, and slippers.

(Still got your slippers on? Why not scuffle over to Encouragement Cafe with me this morning where I tell the whole story? See you there!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Refrigerator Rites

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

Our downstairs reeked of sweaty boys, Mountain Dew, pizza, and Doritos from their all-night LAN party--the male version of a slumber party where they eat, belch, pass gas, laugh, cheer, scream, and play online computer games until dawn. Our dining room looked like NASA's control room, (thanks to my techie husband), where testosterone-driven boys, connected by power cords and flashing screens, fixed their eyes on other-world action and threw themselves into the game.

We only had four rules:
  1. Wear headphones after midnight
  2. Keep the noise to a dull roar
  3. No one leaves the house except with a parent
  4. Help yourselves to anything in the refrigerator
Believe it or not, the last rule was the hardest for them to follow. To some, refrigerator rites were almost as personal as snooping through someones dresser drawers; you just didn't rummage around another person's refrigerator and help yourself to their food. But, this rite served two purposes in our home, and we enforced it: First, it relieved me from hostess duty. Second, and most important, it made the boys feel comfortable, like they were at home.

A few of these guys grew up fatherless and I knew what that felt like. I knew how important it was to have a safe place to escape the stress of a broken home--even if it was just for a few hours; a place where they could participate in a whole and healthy family--where two parents lived happily under one roof. Refrigerator rites declare "You're part of the family, part of the whole."

God offers us refrigerator rites, too. He adopts us as his own children (purchased by the blood of Jesus) and says, "You're part of the family. What's mine is yours. Help yourselves." But how many of us shy away, feel like we're eating a piece of forbidden fruit if we take anything from God's refrigerator? Maybe growing up without a daddy makes it awkward at first? We might need more time growing comfortable sharing the same bag of chips before we help ourselves to the last bagel without asking.

One morning after seven years of all-night LAN parties, I found a dollar and a note pinned to my 'frige. It read, "Dear Mrs. Aaron's Mom, Sorry, I ate your last bagel. Here's a dollar. Ben." I chuckled and gave him back the dollar.

Maybe we're like Ben, uncomfortable taking something from God without offering payment, knowing the value of what God's offering. 

Lord, 
Help us to simply accept our place in your family through the blood of your Son, Jesus. May we learn that there is no other payment necessary to find a place around your table. Help us to spend more time with you so until sitting in your presence feels like home--enough like home that we can help ourselves to anything in your refrigerator. Amen.