Calling Friends

30 09 2011

I picked him up from school on a sunny afternoon. We walked hand-in-hand to the car, talking about the day and all the fun we were going to have. Balls needed to be bounced, tackles needed to be executed, and cookies needed to be made. Our afternoons with our little friend are an oasis of joy.

He climbed into his car seat while I tossed his backpack into the van. I reached in to buckle him up and he was ready with his request. Can I call my big friends now? Two of his big friends (my two oldest children) are away at college. Being out of sight, however, does not mean that they are out of his mind. He loves to call them on the phone and tell them about his day. Today, he didn’t want to wait. He wanted to call, and he wanted to call now.

I got out my phone. It makes me smile that he loves to stay connected to his big friends. We called my son, and grins and giggles poured through the conversation. Our little friend had stories to tell about having a super day, eating grapes for lunch, counting bugs on the playground, and running faster than any girl in his class. He patiently explained the fun that we were planning for the afternoon, and got a little quiet when he realized again that college was very far away.

It is in his insistence about calling and calling now that God quietly spoke to my heart. Our little friend couldn’t wait to talk to the ones he loves. He needed to touch base, tell them about his day, and just hear those familiar voices. God wants me to be as excited about talking to Him as our little one was about talking on the phone. We don’t have to wait until there is a crisis. No need to make an appointment. No reason to be formal or wait for an invitation. Just pray, just because.

My Jesus Resolution is to touch base with God. Today I am going to be conversational in my prayer time with the Lord. I am going to tell Him about my day – the good, the bad, the silly, and the serious. I am going to listen as He speaks to my heart and enfolds me in His love. I am going to talk to God in the same way my little friend talked to his big friends – with anticipation, excitement, transparency, and joy.

Socks Redux

28 09 2011

Do you remember the story about the little girl who wanted to wear dirty socks to school? Her mom sat outside begging, cajoling, ordering, and pleading with her to go put socks on before school. The little girl swung on her swing, explaining to her mother that she didn’t want to wear anything but her favorite blue (but very dirty) socks. Their conversation caught my attention, but there is more to the story.

As the exchange went on between mother and daughter, there came a moment when the little girl stopped her mom (and me) in our tracks. After once again stating that her blue socks were filthy, the mom explained to her daughter about why it was so important for her to go put socks on. “Your feet will get cold, and without socks there is nothing to protect your toes and keep them safe. You really need to go inside right now and put on some socks.”

The little girl tilted her head until her brown hair hung down around her elbow. “Then why don’t you have socks on?” Mom looked at her flip-flop clad feet and couldn’t think of a thing to say.

I don’t know whether the little girl put socks on that day or not. I do know that God used her question to remind me of another important truth. If I want others to be clothed with Christ, I need to check the mirror first.

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” – I John 2:6

My Jesus Resolution today is to look in the mirror. It is easy to look at others and criticize how well they are reflecting Jesus in their actions, words, attitudes, and priorities. But growing into Christlikeness always begins by holding my own heart up in the light of God’s glory first. Before I complain, I need to confess. Before I exclaim, I need to examine. Before I rebuke, I need to repent. Before I judge, I just need to look at my own feet.

Dirty Socks

26 09 2011

She was twirling on the swing in her front yard. Her long brown hair blew in the wind, and she giggled as she looked at the world through upside-down eyes. Nearby, her mother sat on a bench, exasperated. I walked by, and couldn’t help but hear their conversation.

“You need to go put on socks,” mom said. “No. I don’t want to wear socks,” said the little girl. “You really need to wear socks,” said mom. “I only want to wear the blue socks,” stated the girl. “But the blue socks are dirty.” “I don’t care. I like the blue socks. They are the only ones I want to wear.”

Back and forth they went. After smiling at the exchange, I realized that the little girl’s words were a mirror of my own heart. Too often, I am willing to wear dirty socks – stinky attitudes, poor perspectives, misaligned priorities, and bad habits – rather than change into something clean and new. I like what I like. I favor what is comfortable. The familiar appeals to me more than stepping into something different, even if it is what is best for me.

Ephesians 4:22-24 reminds us, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to take off the dirty socks. There are habits I am hanging on to which need to go. There are attitudes and ways of thinking that need to be renewed and changed by His Spirit. I need to take off the old, filthy, smelly socks and allow myself to be clothed with Christ. It will mean giving up my will, surrendering my way of doing things, and letting God direct and guide how I get dressed every day.


23 09 2011

He was running late. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but this morning his tardiness disrupted three schedules. An extra hit on the snooze alarm, a few minutes of moving slower than he should, and he missed both his ride and the bus.

I tried not to be frustrated. I cut my walk short, and headed home. There he stood on the corner, backpack in hand, the only teenager still left on the street. I grabbed my keys and pointed the car towards the school. I gave him the required mom lecture about being responsible, told him I loved him, and dropped him off.

I have been thinking about our morning all day. It isn’t the specifics of the events that bother me so much, as the lesson they highlight about my own actions. What I do impacts others. My choices, my attitudes, and my behavior affect those around me – many times in ways that I do not plan or consider. A small move of selfishness has ripples that move beyond myself.

Our world sells the idea that we can make whatever choices we want to and the consequences and aftermath will be minimal and only touch my own heart. The truth is that our actions, attitudes, choices, and focus – for good or for bad – have a profound influence on those around us. Those closest to us will feel its fullest effect. But the ripples spread out in directions and go distances beyond what we can see or feel.

My Jesus Resolution today is carry a pebble in my pocket. I want to have it close by so that I can remind myself today that we are connected. My choices make a bigger difference than I realize. I might not see the full impact of how my choices to look like Jesus or walk in my own way will have on those around me, and even those I don’t see or notice, but the truth is that they do. I want the pebble to help me see the ripples that flow from my surrender or my selfishness. Jesus moved a stone and the ripples of grace are still being felt today. I want the ripples from my pebble to point others to Him.

Collecting Prayers

21 09 2011

They come to her desk every Wednesday, bringing prayer requests and reaching for the hem of His garment. Her transparency shows them the way to Jesus.

It all started with a request from her boss. Can you work late on Wednesday night? “No,” she replied, “I go to Bible study on Wednesday nights.” She could have just let it go at that. She could have stopped, content that she had guarded her time with God from an intrusion by the world. But she didn’t. She took another step, and invited them into His presence.

She told her coworkers that this group of Christians prays together on Wednesday nights. Did anybody have anything for which they would like for them to pray? Notes were pressed into her hand. Messages were left on her desk. And God began to work.

Every Wednesday, this special Christian lady collects prayers. She gathers hurts, struggles, heartaches, and tears and carries them from her office to a group of believers committed to taking them to the throne of God. In her office, she is known as the prayer lady. Her compassion and love have given the people in her office a way to trace the hand of God on their lives. The faithfulness of these praying Christians provides a powerful testimony about the faithfulness of God, pointing these hearts to Jesus every time they fold their hands and bow their heads.

My Jesus Resolution today is to take the extra step. I am going to look for an opportunity to invite someone to walk with me into the presence of God. Maybe it will be a chance to bestow a blessing on someone’s day. Perhaps it will be a moment to show someone the power of prayer. I am going to watch for an open door to open the Bible, mention the name of Jesus, or extend grace in a way that points someone to the cross. Jesus went out of His way to show God to those around Him. I want to be like my friend. I want to be like Jesus. I want people to know that when they come to me, I will take them to Him.


19 09 2011

I was out of my element. I sat under the pile of blankets, trying to keep warm. My teeth chattered. I was shaking under three layers of clothes, and my toes were numb in my boots. To say I was cold was an understatement.

Last week, this Texas girl made a trip to Maine. When I left the airport, Houston was on its way to another 100+ day. While Texas is still in the grip of its hottest summer on record, Maine is already enjoying the first taste of fall. Cold temperatures left frost on the ground and New Englanders reaching for their coats and scarves.

The cold days and colder nights highlighted the fact that I don’t live in this area. I belong somewhere else. The ladies I was with wereincredibly compassionate, sharing their blankets, sweaters, gloves, and kind hearts with me, but even layered in five shirts, I couldn’t get warm.

Being so cold provided me with a blessing. We are to live our lives remembering this is not where we belong. We have another home. There is beauty to behold in this world, people to love, lessons to learn, and blessings to enjoy, but we are not supposed to be entirely comfortable here. The hardships and struggles hold the potential to remind us of home. To help us remember that there is another place for our hearts.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful for a struggle. My faith is grounded in the reality that there is more than this life to live for. I am going to let the difficult things in my day point my heart to heaven. I am going to see God working in my present circumstances, preparing me for the time when I will celebrate being fully in His presence. It was obvious to everyone that I wasn’t used to the cold weather. That is a good thing. People should be able to look at me in every circumstance and be able to see that this isn’t really where I belong. I was made for another place. I was made to look like Jesus.

What Are You Good At?

16 09 2011

It was the neatest moment. I was sitting in a room filled with people, watching a little girl snuggle in with a woman she clearly adored. The woman wasn’t her mom, or an aunt, or a relative, just a friend from church who had invested her heart in this little girl.

The little girl curled her legs around her friend and settled in with a book in her lap. They spent a few minutes reading and talking, playing and tickling. The woman kissed her brown hair, telling the little girl that she was very good at recognizing her colors and numbers. The little one looked straight into the eyes of her friend and said, “You are very good at loving.”

Being very good at loving is one of the best compliments I have ever heard. This little one looked at her friend and didn’t remark about her ability to cook, clean, or be creative. She didn’t comment on her clothes, her car, or her possessions. She didn’t make a note about how hard she works or how pretty her hair is. She looked at her heart and spotlighted her love.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

If there is anything in the world that Christians should be good at, it should be loving. Love should define us – our actions, our words, our motives, our perspective, and our priorities. Love should shape us. It should influence every step we take, dictate the direction of our eyes, and overflow from the core of our souls. If the world can see nothing else, it should be able to look at a Christian and say, “You are very good at loving.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to be deliberate about being loving. I am going to make being loving my number one priority. I am not going to rush through it, be distracted from it, forget to do it, or worry around it. I am going to love boldly, purposefully, openly, and joyfully. Being loving aligns my heart with Jesus. It opens my life to His power, and draws me deeper into His will. I want to be very good at loving. What are you good at?


14 09 2011

Two numbers are all it takes to remind our hearts. On September 11, 2001, terrorists took our country by surprise. I was driving my son to school when I heard the first reports. One of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane. Confusion and speculation followed as we tried to wrap our minds around the tragedy. Then the other tower fell, and the fearful knowledge that we were under attack began to sink in.

Reports followed from Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. In total, 2,966 people died that day. Stories of heroism, courage, and faith began to filter through the fear. First responders walked into the terror and saved lives. Families grieved and raised flags. Churches overflowed and prayers were lifted. And in the end, terror didn’t win. Faith did.

I recently visited the site of the attack in New York City. A giant hole in the ground marks the place where the heart of America was changed forever. But it was the people who showed me the impact 9-11 had on our collective soul.

Helpful, loving, gentle, and kind, the people of New York shared their hearts. They talked about where they were, the devastation, the loss, and the deep wound evil had left in their city. But they also talked about hope, faith, and repeatedly pointed us to the cross raised above the wreckage of the twin towers. That, they said, is what the world needs to see.

They are right. Evil is going to swing its wrecking ball at our lives. Planting the cross firmly in our hearts points us to the deepest truth of all. God has overcome. He offers victory in the face of defeat. He holds out goodness in the presence of evil. He provides peace in the midst of brokenness and suffering.

My Jesus Resolution today is to raise the cross. I am going to root it in my heart and let it guide my eyes. I want it to remind me of sacrifice, love, mercy, and triumph. I long for it to be a beacon of hope for others who are hurting. I am determined that I won’t forget that when the cross defines the moment, evil never wins.

Smoke and Fire

12 09 2011

The black smoked hung in the air like a giant burnt marshmallow. Traffic slowed as the smudge on the horizon grew bigger. Fire trucks sped by, sirens wailed, and blue and red lights flashed their warnings. My heart sank as I realized that another fire was blazing through the drought-devastated landscape.

There is an interesting old adage that proved true today – “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” I didn’t actually see any flames. No inferno raced across my path. I didn’t jump back from the heat, but I knew that there was a fire. The smoke provided evidence of its existence. It pointed to its source, gave testimony to the destruction fire was leaving in its wake, and alerted others to the danger. Smoke points to the truth that somewhere a fire is burning.

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” – I Thessalonians 5:19

Many times throughout the Bible, God uses fire as evidence of His presence and protection. The Israelites walk under a pillar of fire at night as they travel in the wilderness. Fire comes down from heaven, consuming sacrifices, and acknowledging God’s delight in the wholehearted surrender of His people. Tongues of fire rest on the heads of the apostles on Pentecost. The Hebrew writer reminds us that our God is a consuming fire. Paul instructs us not to quench the presence and power of the Spirit in our lives.

If God’s fire is burning in our lives, where is the smoke? What evidence do others see that God is ablaze in you? Can others see His presence in us as clearly as we see the smoke of the wildfires hanging in the air? Our lives should be surrounded by billows of mercy, pillars of peace, great piles of grace, and plumes of joy. The aroma of His fire should perfume the air so that others catch His scent on the wind. People should be able to look across the horizon and know, without a doubt, that a fire is burning in me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to send a smoke signal. Too many times, I want to manage the Spirit’s fire in my life. I want it to burn bright enough to keep me warm and give enough light to chase away my shadows, but I don’t want any smoke. Smoke alerts others to the presence of fire. Smoke tells a story about the way fire is reshaping what it touches. Smoke is evidence that a fire is burning, and I want Jesus to be ablaze in my life.

Giving It Away

9 09 2011

Homemade bread is a regular treat at our house. I enjoy the process of mixing flour, yeast, molasses, and water together, kneading it, and then watching it rise and change into something delicious. About once a week, you can catch the aroma of freshly baking bread drifting through our house.

Today was bread baking day. I decided to try a new twist. I rolled out the yeasty mix, rubbing spices into the dough. It rose up beautifully in the pan and the smell of cinnamon bread invited us to the dinner table.

We ate our supper, and my son especially enjoyed the cinnamon bread. “Mom,” he said. “If heaven had a taste, this would be it.” I laughed. I had never really thought about heaven having a taste, but I like the idea that it might be like cinnamon bread.

I wrapped up the other half of the loaf to share with some friends. Desire and panic crowded my son’s face. “You are going to give it away?” he asked. I told him not to worry. I know how to make more.

I caught a reflection of my own heart in his eyes. God pours blessings, opportunities, provision, and grace into every one of my days. And so many times, He calls me to pack some of them up and share them with others. My tendency is to want to hang onto all of it. I like it. I enjoy it. It is “mine.” God gives me the same answer that I gave my son. He tells me not to worry. He has an inexhaustible supply of grace, an ocean’s depth full of love, an unending supply of power and purpose, and a limitless storehouse of blessings. All for me.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work with us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that I can’t out give God. Giving it away is a demonstration of trust – trust that He is faithful, that He cares, and that He will always provide exactly what I need when I need it. Every time that I share one of His blessings with someone else, He is able to use my gift in two ways. He begins to work through the gift in the lives of those who receive it. He also uses the act of giving to shape my heart to look a little more like Jesus.