28 11 2014

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” ~Robert Caspar Lintner 

The seasons have already switched. The dishes are barely done. There are still leftovers in the fridge. Kids aren’t back in school yet, but we have moved on. Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas season has already been launched. Our national attention to gratitude is ushered out by pre-dawn sales and the rush to make the most out of the next holiday.

Don’t let Thanksgiving go so easily. Hold onto the beauty of a day spent resting in your blessings. Hang onto the contentment you felt in the company of family and friends. Soak in the awareness of God’s hand on your life, His grace on your soul, and His love filling your heart.

Too many times, I flip the pages of my calendar and forget that thankfulness is supposed to be the defining characteristic of a life infused with Christ. Thanksgiving helps me see His fingerprints on my days. Gratitude is the best way to experience the fullness of His presence because it makes my heart tender to His nearness and aware of His gentle tug at my soul.

I am good at counting my problems, naming my burdens, grumbling about my grievances, whining about my work, fretting about my family, fuming at my friends, and cataloguing the circumstances that seem to be against me. Thankfulness is the tool God uses to turn me inside out. Joy flows from discovering the reasons to be grateful in the moment I am in. Love breaks through to my heart when I pause and say thanks. Peace moves in when I turn my eyes from my troubles to His tenderness.

My Jesus Resolution today is to stretch Thanksgiving out. I am going to make it a 365 day event. No, there won’t be turkey every day, but there will be gratitude. I want thankfulness to define the way I see my world. I want it to be evident in the way I treat others, the choices I make, the way I speak, and even the way I celebrate the next holiday on the calendar. Thanksgiving was never meant to be confined to a single day. Be full of thanks and let it overflow into every day.


26 11 2014

The jagged pieces of our brokenness startled us as we watched it play across the television. Reporters stared at burning buildings in disbelief as first responders were forced to retreat at the sound of gunfire. Armored cars rolled through the streets in what looked more like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie script than the actual events in an American city. In the end, no matter your perspective, a young man is dead, a family is shattered, a community is reeling, a police officer is vilified, and a country is divided. Our brokenness lies open, its gaping wound evident across the landscape of our national consciousness.

Normally, we do a pretty good job of camouflaging our brokenness. We cover it up, ignore it, or manage it so that we can pretend that we have it under control. The truth is that sin has so deeply wounded us, infected us, and twisted us that broken is our default. We are so used to broken that we accept it as normal, except on those days when its intense ugliness rears up and demands our attention. Hearts ache and hopelessness swells even as brave talk swirls about changing the conversation and affecting a real change. The reality is that the world holds no answers for what is broken deep down in our souls.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5a) New. There is the word that speaks to the ache within us. It brings with it pictures of fresh opportunities, new beginnings, and soaring hope. The truth is that Jesus is the only answer for what is so badly broken within us. New can only be realized within the power of His love.

My Jesus Resolution today is to proclaim God’s answer to our brokenness. Today is the day for those of us who are Christians to turn off the news and start sharing the Good News. Today is the day to rise as ambassadors of reconciliation and extend the invitation of peace to all hearts. Today is the day to pray – pray for broken families, broken communities, broken hearts, and broken dreams to find a new hope in the One who is able to heal all hurts. Today is the day to raise our hands and our voices and lift a cross up before the world, declaring the truth that He was broken so that we can be whole.

A Letter to My Younger Self

24 11 2014

I have reached “that” age when I catch myself wishing that I knew then what I know now. I look back at myself as a young mom and, more often than not, see someone who was worried, stressed, and always in a hurry. Today I would love to be able to go back, put my arm around that young woman, and remind her to breathe. You are going to make it. It is all going to be okay.

Here are ten things I would tell that young mom.

  1. Memories are more important than the mess.
  2. Teaching them manners is worth the trouble.
  3. We all need grace. It is okay to give it, and even better to receive it.
  4. Consistency is one of your most important parenting tools.
  5. Make listening your default.
  6. Be silly. Life is too short to be serious all the time.
  7. Never underestimate your child’s ability to experience God.
  8. Invest big in your relationship with your spouse. Your children learn more about love, life, and making it last from the two of you than anyone else.
  9. Pray for your kids and with your kids…every day.
  10. Teaching them to look like Jesus begins in the mirror.

My Jesus Resolution today is to breathe, smile, and do. When I read back through this list, I realize that I can still bring these things to life in my family. I may not be a young mom anymore, but my children still need a happy, confident, Christ-focused woman in their lives. We all need memories, silliness, consistency, and grace. Most importantly, I can celebrate the Christ-forming transformation that is taking shape in all of us as we grow and learn how to walk with Him together.

Squeals of Joy

21 11 2014

She sat quietly in the teacher’s meeting. When it came her time to share what was happening in her Bible class, her face lit up. Her smile stretched across her face, a twinkle danced in her eyes, and passion filled her voice. She teaches our babies, and couldn’t wait to tell us about her class.

Creation wonders filled the sky. Noah brought animals two by two. Baby Jesus makes a quiet, awe-inspiring appearance in a manger. The little ones absorb every song and hang on every story. Her delight, however, magnified when she talked about the moment when squeals of joy are heard around the table. The children are most excited when she passes out the Bible for them to hold and touch. “Bible! Bible!” she told us they squeal. Giggles and grins literally fill the room when these little ones get to hold a Bible.

I smiled. I am so thankful for her commitment and passion to teach these youngest and most precious of hearts the value and joy of God’s Word. Their squeals, however, also served as a mirror for my soul. When was the last time my heart sped up with excitement when I picked up my Bible? Do I anticipate His presence with that much enthusiasm? Is reading His Word the best part of my day?

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my Bible differently. I want to see it through the eyes of a child. It is a book that tells me how much I am loved, how special I am to the Lord, and how amazing His works are on my behalf. I want to pause before opening my Bible, letting the anticipation build as I prepare to enter His presence. I want to humble my heart in the face of His wisdom, surrender before His sovereignty, and expect to be changed by His power. I might even squeal.

Don’t Lose Heart

19 11 2014

This morning it’s the quiet, solid, determined words of Paul that are speaking perspective and strength into my soul. Listen. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Do you hear it? Paul looks at his struggles, his hardships, his brokenness, and his heartaches and sees God at work in them all. God doesn’t waste anything. He takes every tear, every prayer, and every pain, covering them with mercy and faithfulness. He uses every moment to draw us deeper into His purpose and more tightly into His love. Grace has the power to weave its way into our desperateness and change our souls. It can be slow. It can be hard. But Paul reminds us that because of Jesus, what seems like a disaster can be a door deeper into His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to not lose heart. I know. The burden is heavy, but God is using every turn, every tear, and every trial to teach me about His glory. Each time I choose surrender over sulking, faith over fear, or worship instead of worry I open my heart to renewal. My circumstances may not change, but a changed perspective allows me to hope and not lose heart.


17 11 2014

She walks on the fringes of the crowd. Her desperation is written vividly on her face, but no one notices. Invisible, she presses on through the throngs of people hoping to get a little closer. Just the hem of His garment….

For twelve years, she has suffered with an issue of blood. Life drains out of her, leaving her sapped, weary, and weak. Her heart has suffered as much as her body. Hope leaks out with each day. Joy seeps away. Peace ebbs, but never seems to flow back in. The knowledge that she is unclean defines more than her physical state. Her soul feels dirty.

Used up, unwanted, and unseen. Ever felt like that? We all have issues. Issues that impoverish us, isolate us, empty us, shame us, make us invisible, exhaust us, and leave us hopeless. What issue is making you feel vulnerable, alone, and desperate?

The end of the story is the just the beginning. She moves through the crowd and reaches out, not for His hand, His attention, or His face. Just the hem of His garment. Stooping toward the ground, her fingers graze the rough cloth. Power is unleashed. Hope becomes a tidal wave. The issue that had defined her for so long is redefined by His presence.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” – Matthew 9:22

My Jesus Resolution today is to take my issues to Him. Too many times, I try to find my own solutions, come up with my own answers, or settle for living on the fringes of His presence. I may feel unworthy to seek His face, but Jesus sees me. I may be weak and used up, but Jesus is willing to pour His strength into my broken heart. I may be willing to settle for the hem of His garment, but Christ wants to give me His heart, and in the light of His glory, my issues become pathways for praise.

Almost Everything

14 11 2014

I love the honesty and transparency of children. They humble me with their ability to speak truth and show me my heart.

Sitting down to eat dinner with friends, the little boy at the table was called on to bless our food and lead us in prayer. He praised God for His love and faithfulness, remembered someone who is sick, asked for blessings on his class, and then there was a pause. He hesitated long enough that I opened my eyes for a peek. I saw him staring down at his food, and just when I was wondering what was going through his mind, he wrapped his prayer up with the following words. “And thank you God…for almost everything.”

His mother and I grinned, but truth be told, his words have stuck in my head and tapped on a hard place in my heart. Some days, I am thankful…for almost everything. There are sometimes people I want to cross off the list, stresses that have made the day hard, disappointments that have been discouraging, unexpected pressures that ate my time, and things I just didn’t like that came across my plate. I am okay with being thankful for the pleasant, happy, comfortable parts of my day, but the less than fun stuff is easy to push into the ‘almost everything’ pile.

God, however, calls us to be thankful in all circumstances. He longs for me to slow down and look for the ways that His presence is infused in my day. His fingerprints touch my moments, His love enfolds my path, His grace stretches out before me, and His purpose is shaping even the ‘almost everything’ pieces of my life.

My Jesus Resolution today is to choose gratitude instead of grumbling. Being grateful requires me to have open eyes and a clear vision of my Savior. Walking in His steps plants my feet on holy ground and sets my heart on a path of amazement. Grumbling turns my eyes inward and makes it all about me. Searching for His fingerprints means I need a transformed heart and a humble spirit. Today I am thankful that He used a little boy to remind me to seek Him out in everything.

The Ant Pile

12 11 2014

He was maybe twelve years old. Stuck in a line of traffic, I watched him walk through the grass, shoulders heavy with a backpack and books. He kicked the dirt, watching leaves and sticks go flying. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry. A boy exploring on his way home.

I knew the moment when he found it. The ant pile beckoned with mystery and adventure. His attention became focused, his eyes fixed on the ground. His feet couldn’t quite decide what to do. First, he gently poked a toe right at the edge of the pile. The ants kept on with their work, his curiosity growing. You could see the wheels turning in his mind. His toes began to dig in deeper. He didn’t jump back the second time quite as quickly as he had at first. He got bolder, determined to leave his mark on the ant pile.

I whispered to myself, “Don’t do it, kid.” Finally, he stepped too far. His brave move was replaced by hopping, swatting, shaking, and grimaces. The ants had swarmed up his pant legs. Covered in ants, he endured their bites as he tried frantically to brush them off. Dejected, he looked back at the ants that had left more marks on him than he did on their pile.

What is your ant pile?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

My Jesus Resolution today is to step around the ant pile. I have them. So do you. Places that challenge us to dive in rather than walk away. For a while, it seems brave, daring, risky, and powerful to challenge the ant pile. But in the end, I always get bitten. I end up hurting, wishing I had listened to the voice that said, “Don’t do it, my child.” God has so many wonders in store for me, I don’t need to make up my own. It may be tempting to kick the ant pile, but real adventure comes from walking with God.

To A Young Mom

10 11 2014

Dear young mother,

I watched you today in worship. You spent the hour doling out cheerios, retrieving toys, quieting babies, and dealing with a tantrum. You looked around a little embarrassed, hoping, but not believing, that no one noticed the mess surrounding your pew. You shook your head, whispering that maybe it just isn’t worth it right now. Maybe when they are older or you have it more together, you can make it all work.

Please look in my eyes and hear this truth. I watched you in worship today and praised God for you. I thanked God for your commitment to bring your children into God’s presence and introduce them to worship. You inspired me, challenged me, stretched me, and humbled me with your deep love and searching heart. You reminded me of Jesus’ love for children and His command that my faith needs to find its mirror in the face of your little ones.

I know these days are hard. You spend more time walking in and out than sitting and listening. Worship days mess up their schedule, interfere with bedtimes, and make for cranky Mondays. Please believe me when I tell you that what you are doing is so worth the investment. You may not see it in the midst of disrupted naps and lost shoes, but every time you faithfully make worship a priority, you are writing His glory into the story of your children’s lives. You are giving them a foundation that will not be easily broken, a framework that will help them build a faith that will stand for a lifetime.

My Jesus Resolution today is to cheer on a young mom. Little ones grow up so fast, and it doesn’t take long to forget the courage and commitment it requires to get small children to church. I want to slow down, hug a young mom, and whisper to her heart that God sees, knows, and is blessing her efforts. I want to be able to listen to a baby’s fussing and hear faith growing. I want you to know, young mom, that you are doing great. The seeds you are planting today will someday bloom into something that will take your breath away as you watch them grow up to look like Jesus.

Sing Loud

7 11 2014

It is one of my earliest memories. I was four years old. My little sister had taken a tumble and broken her arm. My mom carried two little girls to the doctor’s office. I’m sure she was frazzled and worried. My sister was crying and in pain. I was wide-eyed and trying to be a helper. Finally, they called my sister’s name. While we would never dream of doing this today, I was told that I had to sit in the waiting room while my mom took my sister back to see the doctor.

Suddenly, the waiting room seemed very big. I was just a little girl trying to hold it together, scared about sitting by myself in a room full of strangers. I sat in the big, plastic chair, not moving because I was obeying my mom’s instructions to sit still. As my nerves increased, I began to do the only thing I could think of to calm my heart. I began to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ At first, I whispered the words, but as the familiar tune washed over me, I began to sing louder. Pretty soon, the entire waiting room echoed with the voice of a little girl reminding herself that ‘Jesus loves me, this I know…’

I don’t know what is scaring you today or making your heart pound with fear or twisting your insides into knots. Maybe you can see it coming. Perhaps it will take you by surprise. Whatever happens, a four year old’s wisdom might be the best answer to face your fear head on, and remind your heart of the truth it most needs to hear – Jesus loves me, this I know…

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing. I want to be as brave as my four year old self. I want to sing at the top of my lungs as I face my fear. I want to forget fretting and focus on simply being faithful. I want the truth of God’s love to fill me up and overflow into the space and people around me. All it takes is the courage to sing, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know…’