Monthly Archives: October 2015

Savoring the Simple

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Just this week I went into a purgative mode…facing our home office with incredible fervor. It had become a strong case against evolution. I began the purge with persistence! Pitching and heaving and reevaluating “former treasures”. Sometimes I think in our quest to purge assets our souls are really crying out to purge our insides….to have our Father create in us a clean heart. It was one of those days. I had gotten to the part where I was filing photos into photo boxes (now there’s an original thought!) …and I had made a pact with myself not to linger…but to quickly grab the photos, shove them into the box, and my only goal was to get them all in the same direction. I promised myself I would sort and file someday in the distant future. For real. It was going along smoothly and every once in a while I would come across a greeting card or a baby announcement or an occasional artifact of memory but I tried my best to stay focused…stuff and shove and sift and stack but DON’T LOOK WHATEVER YOU DO. I knew it would derail my endeavor…I would end up AWOL at the end of the day with nothing to show for my time. But God is trying to teach me to slow down, to savor, and to steady my heart over life’s moments. I was about midway through my “project” when the letter fell out of a clump of photos. It was a tri-folded letter written on college ruled paper …it caught my eye. It became like a burning bush in the desert. I felt like God was calling me to turn aside…to notice something valuable. He was asking me to revisit the past so that I could experience the present with a greater depth of appreciation. Truthfully the letter should never have been in that plastic bucket…it was completely out of place. Imagine that!

imageIt was the ONLY letter I found that day. The outside of the envelopeless letter read this: MOM. All caps. I opened it up slowly and I felt my heart begin to race a few beats faster with each line. It was from our oldest son …dated May 11, 2008. It was Mother’s Day. But when a 19 year old boy turned man writes you it doesn’t really matter if there is a reason or not, only that you get the privilege of hearing his heart. It was hand written, a full page, and I felt like it was brand new all over again.

This is some of what it read:

“Dear Mom,
As you know I’m not good at writing letters. But I would like to tell you how much I appreciate you. Words can’t express my gratefulness for all you have done for me. I always enjoy sitting and talking with you. I know having nine kids is not easy but we all love you for all your sacrifice for us….you are truly a Proverbs 31 woman . May we both be blessed as we grow together in the years to come. May I find a wife like you. So Happy Mother’s Day. Loving you always.”

For some reason the words “may I find a wife like you” felt audible to me. I could hear his voice and the print seemed to leap from the page…
I immediately texted him a photo of my archived trophy…with a sincere notation telling him he got an even better wife! God answered the sincere prayer of a nineteen year old young man. And how in the world did he ever get the notion that he wasn’t a good writer?

The very next day he called to ask me if I could drive him from the bean field back to his truck. He is a farmer now. All grown up and learning to stretch with the pulls of His Maker. I watched him climb out of his John Deere tractor with those thermal overalls….ball cap all dirty from miles it had seen and his boots all caked with mud…his gate was rugged yet worn. As he pulled himself into our 15 passenger van I recalled earlier days when he rode bikes and made forts and wore a cowboy hat two sizes too big. But I feel even more excited to be his mama today then I did then. He has come a long way from a peanut butter and jelly eating boy to the steak growing in the back yard man he is today…but I am most impressed with how God chooses hard things to soften us. The farmers life is a life of faith. It’s best lived with an open hand and a hopeful heart. Tight fisted, self sufficient men might farm fields but they miss out on eternal harvesting. It might take a lot of bushels of crop to figure that out but it’s worth finding solace in the Rulership of God than in hands waxed feeble with pride. This farmer will turn 26 in a few days.

imageWhere did those seven years go? How did I race through them so quickly and forget to go slow and savor? How did I get so rushed that I missed the marinade of life? I was probably taking snap shots and forgot to pause for life moments. God help me to freeze the frame and focus on the faces right before me. Slow my moments so that I can turn living each day into loving each day. Let me lose myself in buckets of memories instead of focusing on neatly lined boxes of photographs of the past. Make me fully alive to the now. Slow. Steady. Purposeful. Intentional. Purged from my hurry to enjoy the heart of right now.

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Beautifully Different

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“But do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may be prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2, NKJV (emphasis mine)

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Let’s face it girls. We all like to be “in the club”. No one likes to be the odd ball…to stick out or be different than the crowd. We are a culture of sameness. People don’t want to stand out. We all want to blend into our favorite click and be like everybody else. We want to look like, talk like, and be like whatever person is currently the image. We enjoy our clicks.

It’s sad really. We feel like if we can hide in the sea of normality that it’s better for us. It’s safer. Less dangerous.

Now I’m not a Bible scholar…but I do love the Word of God. It is hope and healing and redemption when our world is painfully short of these things. I’ve found my only solace in the pages of Scripture and in this amazing JESUS I’ve come to know and love…but…nowhere in the Bible can I find where God tells us to fit in. Actually I find the complete opposite.

Now before you click off this page and start looking for something else to read, let me give you some clarification here. I’m NOT saying that you need to purposely go in every opposite direction that the crowd is going. I’m NOT saying you need to dress wild and weird just because you want to be different. I’m NOT encouraging you to be rebellious or to act strange and justify it according to Scripture. What I am talking about here is the heart…and that will affect every area of your life.

You see, being a Christian is more than going to church and having John 3:16 memorized…and those are wonderful things. Being a Christian means you are a “Christ-follower” and that means you are to be set apart for His purposes. Jesus repeatedly tells you and I in Scripture to “take up your cross and follow Me”. Crosses are heavy. They are abnormal. If you carry a cross you are definitely different from the average Joe. Who wants to be uncomfortable, right? We’re all about being cozy…and carrying a cross is everything BUT cozy.

I was thinking about this whole concept of fitting in one day as I was driving to a meeting. The topic of standing up, standing alone and standing out was rolling around in my mind. It’s something that I deal with on a personal level but also as I talk to young ladies everywhere. It’s a common thread in all circles…fitting in is just the thing to do, or at least try to do.

I take the back roads when I’m going places because I Iove this beautiful time of year. As I turned one corner on this particular morning, I noticed that a corn field had recently been harvested and a fence row of trees now stood in full view. My jaw dropped open. I stopped my car.

There in front of me was a huge row of brown, crusty trees, dead from the autumn wind and mostly barren of leaves. Directly in the center was a big, beautiful tree in full color. It stared at me. It was so different from the others. So beautiful. It seemed to beckon me.

Sitting there on the side of the road, it was as if God spoke to my heart as I stared in disbelief at the beautiful sight.

Being different for the right reasons can be incredibly beautiful.

I sat there and thanked God for a word picture. (I really need those sometimes!) Suddenly, being different didn’t look so scary or weird…it looked beautifully alive and strangely wonderful. You see, our lives are to be so radically different that it beckons our dying world to take a look at our JESUS! We should look different so that those we come in contact with cannot help but hunger for the Bread of Life. We should make people thirst for the Living Water as we live purposely set apart.

When we follow Jesus fully, our lives are different…but they are beautifully so.

What does that look like…to be set apart from the world. We want to be in the world, but not of it….so (practically speaking) what does that look like?

Let me ask you- does your facebook look any different than your non Christian friends? Is it selfie-focused or others-oriented? No…I’m not saying you can only post Bible verses and sermon videos! I’m saying…does it speak of your different-ness? What about presenting an accurate picture of who you are…not always making your life seem like a fairy tale and stretching the truth to seem more glamorous. Everybody knows it’s not girls, you live in a broken world like the rest of us…so just be honest. If you don’t have something nice to say on there…don’t say anything! Do you partake in gossip and slanderous talk or do you speak with kindness and make them wonder about your JESUS?

What about your speech? Do you talk with the same language that everyone else uses? Do you refrain from profanity, or do you struggle to not fit in…so maybe you curse sometimes to be cool?

Do you do things and go places that you know you shouldn’t, but it just feels awkward to go against the flow so you do it anyway?

Do you only choose to befriend people who are like you or do you have lots of age groups and personalities in your circles? Look at people through Jesus’s eyes…It’s different, but it’s beautiful.

What about the way you look…the way you carry yourself…your attitude…how you treat your parents and siblings…what activities you spend your free time on? Being different is our call to bring others to the Cross…because let’s get real…who wants to follow Jesus when there’s nothing different about His followers?

I think about that big, bold and beautiful autumn tree a lot. That’s what I want to look like. I’m a tree…a person like everyone else…but what’s inside of me is what changes how I look, act and speak. I do stick out from some of my fellow trees…but I hope and pray it’s the kind of difference that makes people long for my JESUS. I want my life to beckon others to look toward the God of the universe and be willing to follow Him as well. I want to be Beautifully Different.

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What about you? I’d love to hear from you, friend. What are some ways you can be Beautifully Different and reflect JESUS in your daily life? Leave your comments below or shoot me an email!

Thoughts from Lauri’s Porch

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I pour a cup of hot coffee…swirl in the cream and the stevia…stir until it is the perfect shade of blond…it’s for the fifteen year old who is painting our front porch steps. It’s his favorite treat…piping hot coffee. It’s the least I can offer for this son who does so much to make our family work well. I sit on the porch and watch him work that brush back and forth. These steps he paints have been in our minds eye for ten years now….long ago we built that enormous wrap around porch but never made it assessable from the front. Seems rather inhospitable to say the least. Like saying we are here but we aren’t wanting anyone to invade our out of reach spaces. Which is really not our heart at all. So when we finally built them a couple of weeks ago we built them long and wide and now our young man paints them bright white.

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They stream from the edge of the porch clear out to the sidewalk…to scream the one true message “come, please, anyone, interrupt us with your need”. As I sit here and chat casually with my resident painter I realize that he too needs to see us welcome the stranger…he needs desperately to know that neighbors are treasured gifts given to us for such a short time for the purpose of transporting the Gospel of Hope from one family to another. It’s a generational effort. He does well, this amateur painter…filling in all the cracks and crevices and carefully covering all the wood to look like an invitation to know our God. For as long as we have lived here our porch has been filled with children…our own…and a great host of others…there have been summer tea parties here…music and singing and laughter …Bible studies …and all manner of little people pretending going on! But as we have lived here, have we really loved here? Today we paint a statement of welcome. Finally there is a royal invitation. There’s nothing really majestic about our southern style porch…no elaborate outdoor furniture or matching chair sets…not even a wreath on the front door…but I sit here and pray that for as long as we end up living here we might communicate His grace filled love here. That this strapping strong fifteen year old lad will look forward to the day that he can build a front porch that will welcome strangers. That he will catch the spirit of hospitality to neighbors…that he will know all his neighbors by name …that he will know how they take their coffee or if they like pumpkin pie or if they prefer apple better. I pray he exceeds us in the ability to make someone feel comfortable and loved and needed. Oh that he would purpose in his heart today that his neighbors are worth investing in…in sacrificing for …and in communicating Christ to as an act of true worship. It’s not about the size or the stateliness of your home entrance…it’s about what that welcoming spot communicates. It’s more about how the door swings open all friendly and how your heart begins to look for ways to welcome whoever you might find there. Eternity steps…that’s what I hope our son is painting in his heart today. A place to visit the Redeemer without fear of rejection. A place where our neighbors can experience the only Jesus they might ever know on earth. God help us trade the temporal for lasting treasures not touched by human hands.