The Beauty of White-Haired Worshippers

Yesterday I had the complete delight of singing on the worship team of Fuse Church. As I stood on the stage, I realized I had the best seat in the house. From that vantage point, I could see God’s people, all shapes and sizes, all ages and stages of faith, coming together for one common purpose — to love on Jesus.

It was beautiful to witness the Holy Spirit woo us into worship and then our adoring response. I was nearly out of my skin.  And one woman on the front row took my breath away. I have no idea her age but her hair was white, her back slightly bent. She was alone and yet so very connected to her King. Her arms, thin and shaking, kept lifting in praise.  Over and over my gaze would land on her frail body and strong spirit.

I could see she was praying, and worshiping, and being loved on by her Father. Priceless.

Try to hear my heart as I recount this.  I was so moved by her apparent age and obvious heart for God that I uttered a cry:  “Lord, let this be me till the end.”

I don’t know her story. But I see that at the end of her life, she has found the answer to her questions and it is Jesus. I want to fight the good fight. I want to run the race to the end.  When all else fades: beauty, money, strength, reputation, good works, even relationships — I pray my hands will still be lifted in praise to my King. I want the worship of God to be my legacy regardless of the length or status of my life or color of my hair.

How about you? Whose footsteps are you following in? Who are the white-haired worshipers in your life?  Who has gone before you and led the way in worshiping God through the seasons of life?

Give me a quick response. And let’s thank God for using these people to “spur us on to good works.”

I’ll go first. My mom is 83 and still plays the piano at her church. Even arthritis doesn’t stop her white-haired worship. And my dad at 85 can still sing some Gaither hymns like you’ve never heard.  Your turn. Go.





Class 2 of Saying Yes to God: Walking with God doesn’t have to be hard.

Walking with God doesn’t have to be hard.  (Click on link to view video.)

We spent this class looking at Ephesians 2 and Enoch.  We did two exercises that I encourage you to do also. The first  one was completing a maze and paying attention to the mental chatter and method of trying to find your way. The second was a listening to God exercise. Please take a few moments to soak him in.

God is Not Ashamed of You…Part 1

“God is not ashamed of you.” Ryan Wyatt said at Fuse Church on Sunday. The comment hung in the air — as if suspended by our deep longing and yet our persistent unbelief — as if we all collectively held our breath at the boldness of the notion.  He repeated the phrase. This time a declaration.  “God is. Not ashamed. Of you.” 

You could tangibly feel the relief. We exhaled our corporate breath and Truth laid over the congregation like a warm blanket, comforting and covering us all.

God really is not ashamed of you. Nor is He disgusted, disappointed, embarrassed, or fretting over you.  Imagine it. God in heaven wringing His hands over your latest goof up, saying, ‘Oh my, oh my, what ever will I, the God of all creation, do about this creature of mine?”

Get it? Not gonna happen. Ever. Infinity.

If you think you have that much cosmic power, you might need a bigger God. I’m just saying.

I want to belabor this point.  It applies to all: the couple living together, the businesswoman who cheats on a deal, the unfaithful husband, the screaming mom, the binging teenager, the person who swears to do better with his selfishness and yet repeats it daily…God is not ashamed to call all of us His children. How can it be?

It’s called the grace factor. While we are made in His image, there is a huge difference in God’s emotional capacity and ours. Thank you God. ThIMG_4791is is really good news for people who are still running from God, or holding Him at arms length, or won’t look Him in the eyes.

Perhaps, you are afraid He will act like you act. Or how your mom, dad, pastor, friend, or spouse acted.  Perhaps, you are afraid of the expression on His face.  You think He is thinking about your sin and you want to hide from Him. But this is one of the greatest deceptions in the Christian life.

If you belong to God in the name of Jesus, then your sin is gone. Period. It’s paid for. It’s not that God is in denial. But that He lives in fulfillment.  The law has been satisfied. Death for sin.  Jesus for you. Done. You now live in a too-good-to-be-true-but-is-true reality of Grace.

Which brings us to a much bigger and better conversation.  If God is not ashamed of you, and He is not talking about your sin, then what IS He talking about?  What IS the expression on His face?

I want to take a few blogs and talk about living from the look on Jesus’s face. Selah.  Living from…the look on His Face…

But for today, will you take a moment just to still your heart, and your world?

Let your spirit see the expression on Jesus’s face. Even now, close your eyes. Take a deep breath and just look and listen for Him.

I trust once you let him remove the veil of shame from your eyes, you will see something, Someone, better than you expected.

More to come.
“My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”  Your face, Lord I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 


Photography by Salem Spicka, “Veiled Woman” from Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Bikinis, Boys and Tan Lines…Oh My!

I recently posted a very articulate video on the origin of the bikini and its less than desired result for empowering women. (Jessica Rey and the Evolution of the Bikini. ) The bikini’s history and the current status of billions of dollars in sales is astounding. Confronting. Worthy of consideration. And yet, I must confess, while I loved her thoughts and challenges—uhm,  I hated her modest swimsuits. At least for me. Why? Because I hate tan lines.

It’s crazy, I know. Don’t judge me.  Most of my friends have no issue with tan lines. But alas, I do. Joie de vivre. Right?

But tan lines or not, there remains this nagging issue of whether our girls are being told the truth about their exposure. And I’m not talking about sun screen.IMG_4974

Before I begin let’s clarify. I am not the bathing suit police. I have my own contradictions to wrestle, as you will soon see.  Yet, here are some  thoughts about the bikini’s affect on young women, and men.

I vividly remember being in Florida in my twenties. I was by myself, so no peer pressure, and I was there for one purpose, tanning.  I was also in the best shape of my life. So my itsy, bitsy bikini, consisting of approximately four triangles and some string, was simply functional for me. Not tempting, not immoral, just functional. Until.

Until I went to the snack bar without putting on a cover up. I was suddenly conscious of eyes on me. A lot of eyes. Men’s eyes ravaged my body, and women’s eyes sneered in distaste. It wasn’t that I was so captivating, but that I was so BARE.

I had not seen myself the way I was now being seen—nearly naked.

It took me years of studying male-female reactions, a relationship with Jesus, and having daughters of my own to understand what happened that day. The short version? The female form carries a lot of power. It’s a God thing and a good thing. And it’s under attack.

As Ms. Rey stated, women have the power to be treated as objects or to the power to reveal their dignity. This is an all but lost notion among mothers as well as daughters. She also went on to explain that OUR choices affect men negatively, which causes a chain reaction of men viewing us negatively.  The bikini is a big factor in this dance.

For some girls, bikinis start young. “They are just little girls, it doesn’t matter” I often hear moms say. Their logic is little girls have no breasts, no awareness of their future allure, so their  bodies are in neutral. However, the reality is year after year they teach little girls that it is normal to be nearly naked in public. This normal produces a cluelessness about their personal power and a lack of knowledge of  how to protect it when breasts and hips do arrive on the scene.

For some girls, moving into a bikini is a sign of maturity. For me as a preteen, the mark of becoming a woman was wearing a bikini and filling it out. As women floated past in their lycra underwear, my friends and I understood it to be a rite of passage. A next level. A mark of beauty.

What’s even more disturbing was the unspoken female agreement:  fat women don’t wear bikinis. Thin women do. The problem was (and is), how thin do you have to be to be in a bikini?  The following years for us as blossoming women were filled with striving and shame over wanting minimal tan lines but still needing to have the “right size” to wear a bikini. This thought lingers on.

Fast forward to some much needed maturity, (whew), some new perspectives on beauty, and the dawning revelation of the power of a woman’s body.

Over time I realized that the cute girl in the bikini was not just getting the admiration of her guy friends, she was also getting gawked by every male she passed. Eeww. She either didn’t know it, or fed off of the buzz of male attention.  But I began to question, is this the sum total of her beauty? To have a guy consume her visually?

My last beach trip made me sick.  The new ‘brazilian’ bikini bottom made its debut. So while the lovely woman posed casually with her friends, half of her arse hanging out of her suit, the bar full of men nearby were crudely discussing the need for additional Viagra pills.

Is this the empowered woman we are all working so hard for?

Who is the culprit? The men who treat her as a sex object? Or the woman for presenting herself as one?

This beauty things keeps rearing its ugly head (no pun intended). And it’s not a quick answer. With friends at the pool the other day we did a highly UN-scientific survey. We looked at several females in bikinis and noticed a striking difference in our reactions. From flat line to wow factor.

Fit mom in bikini running after two kids. No problem. Not much excitement.

Sort of fit sixty year old in modest bikini. Nada.

Overweight teenager in a bikini with lots of belly and thigh action. Not so much.

But the off-duty svelte lifeguard, bronzed and firm,  flashing her tini-kini? Yep the whole audience, male, female, young and old watched her as she strolled by.

What is that? Brainwashing? Years of telling us what beauty is, or is not? Maybe. But it is Reality for sure.

So what the heck am I saying? Here comes the hard part for me personally. I don’t like how I view bikinis based on beauty. I hate it, in fact. The rules seem different depending age and stage of life. They seem more dangerous when the woman is using her body to say, “I am so available.”

When I go to the beach, surrounded by strangers,  I find I have disqualified myself so I think I can wear whatever, within reason, as long as I am sitting down and not parading the shoreline.  Yes I am beautiful, but I have no pressure, or desire, to gather attention. Great. Happy tanning for me.

What about my beautiful daughters? The developed one, and the one on the way?
Do I want a boy, man, male lusting after my daughters? No. (God help these men…)

I started my girls out in one pieces. And now, they wear one pieces by choice. I’m glad for that. They will have to navigate this as they get older. But for now, it seems “unnatural” for them to go out in public in less clothes than their underwear, which they rightly hide in behind closed doors. My daughters are more modest, and self- honoring that I was.  I’m glad for that too.

Here is the crux of the issue.  Our bodies are the temple of God. They are to bring HIM glory.  Not a cheap thrill.

If a woman wants a man to take her seriously, maybe she should start with herself? Does she take herself seriously? Does she own and value the beauty she carries? Does she honor herself in a way that is not easy pickings?

Moms are we teaching this to our daughters?

Just because guys like to look, doesn’t mean they get a free peep show.

And what about the responsibility we have to our brothers of all ages?  Do women understand how  and why to honor them with what we wear?

It seems to me that while we are busy criticizing the men for being animals, we might want to see who is hanging the fresh meat in front of their faces…

Let’s help our daughters become more than bait.


The Oil of Intimacy

Oswald Chambers once wrote that some things revealed in the spirit are difficult to convey in words. As I write this sentence this morning, I see now I why God told me to create a picture.  The revelation He gave is a rich reality not intended to be easily digested, or dismissed. It is so profound that He wanted me to experience the supernatural moment, but also to fully appreciate the sensation in the natural. And, he wanted me to take a picture so that I could remember it, and share it. Why?  Because this truth is for us all.  So allow me to create the backdrop of the Masterpiece.

I was lost in worship at church. It was one of those surreal moments when His presence was so strong that people responded by singing, crying, sitting or standing with outstretched arms. It was heavy, soaking, glorious. In a word, we were undone. As I sang, I realized that I kept rubbing my fingers across my forehead. Suddenly aware of how foolish it seemed, I asked the Lord, “Why am I doing this?”

The verse out of Revelation came to my spirit about his name being written on our foreheads. I laughed in my heart and told Him I was rubbing in the name that he had written on my forehead so it wouldn’t fade away.  “What would it say anyway? Jeee-sus?” I asked in a silly sort of way.

“No, that’s my name. That’s not my name for you.” His penetrating response shook off my childishness in an instant.

Now I have a long history with God about names. All through scripture, and today, we see God changing people’s names. He gives us new names, even pet names, to show us our destiny or to strengthen our confidence in Him. It is a huge jump in affection when we faith Him to tell us our names, we receive that name and eventually agree with His new name — his idea of who we are becoming, not what we currently see.

That being said, I asked Him if it was my “new name” written on my forehead?

“No, today it’s different,” He said. So I waited in worship.

Then I saw myself standing in front of Him, my head bowed, a smile on my face, and the word “Beloved” written on my forehead.

“Your name is Beloved,” He whispered so tenderly and then He kissed my forehead.IMG_3499

Tears rolled down my cheek in the natural as I experienced this holy picture in my spirit. I am, we are, Beloved.  Known intimately and received completely by Jesus. Not collectively, but individually.  He holds nothing back from us. He calls each one of us, writes on each of our foreheads His distinctive declaration.  Not a number. But a name, a lovely, awe-inspiring, worship-invoking name.  Beloved. His Beloved.

And then. Then came the oil. After the kiss, I saw the Lord pour oil on my head and I heard, “I anoint your head with oil. The oil of gladness.”


To say I was wiped out would be an understatement.  I could hardly speak the rest of the night. The next day I could think of little else as I thanked the Lord for his beauty, nearness, and desire. But He wasn’t done with me yet. He kept reminding me that He wanted me to create a picture. I wanted to protest, but how could I refuse Him?

So I asked the girls to help me follow through on something the Lord had told me to do, even though it sounded crazy! Salem wrote on my forehead and Charis poured oil while Salem took pictures. Can you even imagine the expressions on their faces? But we did it all together. And as I relived in the physical world what I had experienced in the heavenly one, even more love exploded in my heart and spirit.

Can you see this word on your forehead? It is there. Written by Jesus himself.

Now let me show you the verses in their fullness and colorful beauty.

The River of Life
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city;
also, on either side of the river, the tree of life
with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
No longer will there be anything accursed,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22: 1-5

To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Is 61:3

God has used both of these passages in my own life to reveal hope and healing and destiny. But He has also purposefully planted these promises in me so I can give them to others.  It is His heart is for His people. He gives us these truths so that we can walk, no run, no DANCE in the joy of Being His.

After this all happened I was reading a new book and saw the phrase, the Oil of Intimacy. I had to put the book down.

That was it. Precisely.  He pours on me, you, us, the oil of intimacy.

Oil. Produced by crushing and refining. A product for softening, nourishing and healing. A product for burning, lighting, or scenting — anointing.

Intimacy. A result of two hearts connecting in deepest places. The two becoming one flesh. In-to-me-you-see. To know and be known, to love and be loved. Be loved. Beloved.

Can I get an Amen?

I can hardly contain all this as it is…but this morning He reveals two more pieces.  First, this revelation comes on the heels of an encounter that had come the week before where I was left with a hard question of “who will you become?”  He had shown me three different pictures going from devotion to distraction. I have wrangled over the answer and He himself answered His question. I am His Beloved. I am His.

And second, as incredible as it sounds, my friend Chelsi sends me a link to a song this morning. It’s name?  “Healing Oil” by Kim Walker.  Think He is wanting me, wanting us, to soak in His goodness?

So what to do with all this?  Maybe you should have someone write the word Beloved on your forehead and take your picture.  It is very sobering.

Maybe you should pour oil over your hands, or head if you dare. Feel the sensation of the richness, let your spirit and your body agree…His has anointed us with the oil of gladness. It is ours for the taking.

Maybe you should sit in quiet or worship and eagerly desire the presence of God.  He inhabits the praises of His people. So He is eager to be with you as well.

Maybe you should just thank Him. Thank Him for calling you Beloved.

We are His beloved.  Let Him write on you. Let Him pour oil on you. Let Him love you.

The Four Letter Word We All Fear: R-E-S-T

IMG_5601My friend Kate looked kindly at me. “Rest is a good thing. God has created all of creation to rest. Day and Night. Seasons. Even the human body needs sleep every day. It’s God’s idea. His design,” she said.

“I know but it feels like I’m doing something wrong if I can’t do all I am supposed to do.” I said, my eyes stinging with tears.

“All I am supposed to do… Hmmm. Says who?” she said with a smile.

This conversation took place a couple of months ago. It became a catalyst for a life altering revelation from the Lord. What’s ironic is that He started the Rest conversation probably three years ago. I see now it is a growth area that He simply won’t stop talking about. Which means it is really, really important to Him, which means it is really, really important to us.

Lesson One: Years ago, a group of older women were laying hands on me and praying.  Two of them kept saying that I didn’t know how to rest. In my highly spiritual state, I got offended.

Ding. First sign you are a performance junkie is to get defensive when someone tells you are too busy.  I complained to the Lord as they were praying, “God I am trying to do all you have called me to. Are you mad at me? Is this not enough? Am I not doing it right?”

His response was to teach me how to “rest in the presence of the Lord.”

Revelation One: Rest means there is a confidence deep in our soul that God is with us, hears us, responds to us, loves us. This “resting place” becomes our starting point. Ground Zero. We build life on this foundation. All that happens good or bad begins with this one truth: God loves me completely all the time. When we settle this issue, what follows is a quiet assurance, a resting, in the our spirit. Otherwise we strive, worry, defend, blame, or run from God.  Rest means we can’t run from Him. We are built on Him.

Lesson Two: Two years ago I was at the beach soaking in His presence. I asked God how I could maintain the richness of our connection once I got home to routines and demands.
“You must reorder your life,” He said, plain as day.

This comment created an awareness of how a) my stuff owns me, b) my to-do list, email, FB, and pleasing others is more of a priority than my God connection and c) my Drive-thru Christianity could not satisfy the deeper hunger in  my spirit.

His response was to teach me how to surrender my ways to His ways.

Revelation Two: Rest requires, no demands, a deeper understanding of God. I like to think of myself as a God lover. But when God told me to reorder, I saw how Un-Jesus my life really looked. So reordering meant saying no to doing a 1000 things at once, purging possessions, risking reputation, forcing my schedule to serve me, instead of me being a slave to my calendar.  Rest has meant truly “seeking first the Kingdom of God” and all the other things have been added. Or not.

I don’t want to blow past this.  The Roman Empire was as busy as the American Empire is but Jesus maintained His peace and joy.  He invites us into the same kind of God Life as we live our lives.  We don’t get bonus point for being exhausted, nasty, booked-up believers.  What pleases the Father is when we look like His Son.  Period.


Lesson Three: All this brings me to a couple of months ago when I had lunch with my friend Kate and then dinner with my friend Dana. I told each of them about my exhaustion, my lack of motivation, even to be candid, my irritation. I didn’t understand what was happening in my heart although I had gone through this reorder and focus on the Lord. Thank God for godly friends. Through them, I saw that I had just completed one of the most outpouring seasons of my life. It was all done by God, for God and in God. But now it was time to… Really? They both said the “R” word.

Again?  Still? I am still working on Rest?   I saw that I had made great progress.

Resting place? Check.

Reorder? Check.

Replenish? Uh, say what? I still had missing pieces.

His response was to teach me that rest is about starting, not just stopping.

Revelation Three: Rest isn’t just not doing things that cause stress or fatigue. It is about adding in those things that feed our heart, soul, mind and spirit.  The word Sabbath came up in a brand new way. Not the living under the law kind of Sabbath.  But a God-given breather, mini-vacation, refresher kind of Sabbath.

Let me ask you these questions. Try to write out your answers.

What do you do that makes your heart soar?

What brings joy to your soul?

What delights you?

What do you do that’s fun?

If you are like me, you might be staring dumbly into space.  I had to discover these answers. But let’s suppose you can actually formulate answers, so let me ask you this. Do you do any of these on a scheduled, committed basis? Rest comes when these things are in place.  Don’t have time? Then reorder.

Joy, delight, fun are kingdom words. They are child-like words. We don’t get points for being grown ups all the time.  Jesus called us to become like little children. To laugh, to play, to enjoy, to be excited over the smallest things. This may be our greatest act of worship.  Maybe that is why rest is so important to God.  And to us.


Summertime…the Rest of the Story

IMG_5630It is too many thoughts to pack into a couple of paragraphs. But one word worthy of sharing is…rest.  I used to be woefully bad at it. I was formerly ignorant of its meaning. But all that is changing. Let me just say that I have read three novels, have a book called “Play” on my bedside table, and I have already been in the pool playing with my kids.

Rest is a holy word.

It is rich with meaning and it actually implies action. Replenish. Delight. Release. Trust. Enjoy. Stop.  All these are actions that come from rest.

I will unpack all this later, but for today, I just wanted to give you a head’s up that Jana, and WGR for that matter, is going to look a little different. Cooking videos are coming. Why? Just because they are fun. Blogs are coming just because God is bubbling up in me. Worship is coming because  at our core that is the point of this whole thing called life.

So watch for us and watch out for change….It’s gonna be great.

When a Virgin Asks about Not Being One…

“From what I hear it sounds pretty great,” said this beautiful teenager.  She was talking about some of her friends who had already taken the plunge into having sex. “It is the social norm, you know” she said plainly.

My mind exploded with images, stories, statistics. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a sexual minefield and this young woman was standing on the opposite side. Somehow,  somehow, my job was to tell her how and why to walk through this minefield without blowing herself up.

“It is great, perhaps for the moment,” I said, recalling the rush of his attention, the allure of the distorted desire.  “But there is more, so much more.”

Here are some of the thoughts we kicked around. I pray it will be a worthy guide for this wIMG_3141oman but also for her scores of sisters, and brothers, yet to walk through the minefield.

For those of us who didn’t wait, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”  However. If we are deep down honest, now we know  the truth. So we dare not water down the truth to assuage our own disappointing choices.

Wise not Happy
A lot of girls give in to sex to “be happy.” They think it will make them happy. But more often it is about making someone else happy. Happiness via sex is like the crocodile in Peter Pan—once the taste is awakened, there is a hunger for more. And more. We are not shooting for happy right now in this moment. We are shooting for wise, which is a much harder but a much greater goal. We ask much harder questions:

Is this surrender of control over my own body wise?
Does this advance MY goals, not the guy’s wants, or my friends’ pressure?

I told this young woman, “in all my work with women I have never met a woman who didn’t regret giving her virginity away for nothing.”  There is a really high cost and a really high risk.

Whether we like it or not, the woman bears the brunt of sex. Whether through loss of reputation, getting a disease, losing scholarships due to pregnancy, or facing single parenting, adoption (or even abortion), the woman has the most to lose. She must be the wise one to rise up and protect her heart and future.

Trading a $1 for a Million Bucks
“Sex is a trusting God issue,” I explained.  She looked at me with a shocked expression. When we give into some temptation outside of God’s design, we are settling for the lesser payoff. For example,  let’s say sex now is worth a dollar and in marriage worth a million dollars.  That one dollar bill right now looks good. And so we think, “Hey, one dollar now is better than nothing.”  But there is the lie.  It’s not nothing, it’s just  later on.

God has promised abundance and favor when we do things His way. He promises a million bucks of freedom, hope and connection in marriage.  Do we trust that He will really come through? Do we trust that God has good for us, later on? Can we trust God to satisfy our desire, right now in the waiting?  One dollar vs. one million.

Hanging around
Sex with others doesn’t just go away.  The memories can hurt for a long time, even the good memories.  How many women, and men, have found themselves unable to be truly intimate with their spouse because of past sexual encounters? By truly intimate I mean God-powered, heart-connected, physically-abandoned sex.  Spirit, emotion and body sex—this is what God has in mind.  Our choices to gratify ourselves for the moment really distract from the longer sexual journey inside marriage. It takes a lot of work to get rid of the memories, comparisons, and shame once we finally meet our husbands.

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
As my mind  flashed around memories, and even scanned the hard journey of my own marriage, I found I didn’t know how to express one thing: the regret.  I took a deep breath and began.

“I don’t know that you can hear this, but there comes a moment after you meet the man of your heart. It may be right away, or sometime later, for me it was after I became a Christian, but this wave comes over you and you realize that this is God man’s for you. In that moment, you look at the ones who have gone before. They took what rightfully belonged to your husband.  There are all these ‘one and only first times.’ And you realize, you gave those to someone else. It really breaks your heart. Can you see why wise now is better than happy now?”

Enjoy the best of Jesus
I asked this young Christian if she knew there is an anointing on the present generations  for increased power and worship? She said yes she did and so did her friends.

I think the enemy knows that too. That’s why he is unleashing his greatest tactics to keep young women and men preoccupied by all the sexual stimulation, disconnected from true relationships by their devices and deceived into thinking they can have the best of heaven and the best of the world.

How do they fight then?  Their best weapon is a true and real intimacy with God.  There is no better lover than Jesus.  No greater romantic, protector, or satisfier.  We must continue to call them to the love of the Father. They will follow where we are going. So we must ask, are we as adults enjoying the best of Jesus? Are we showing them the God they need for staying power through the minefield?

How would you feel?
The question jumped in my throat.  She was asking, without asking, would you still love me if I had sex? I took another deep breath, shot up an arrow prayer and replied:

“This is your choice to make. I had my choices and I have to live with them.  I have tried to tell you the truth best I can—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Now you have to decide what you are worth, what you are willing to fight for.  My strong desire is that you wait. Wait on God. Wait for God. Wait in God. But my love for you is not determined by  your choices. I choose to love you. No matter what.”

God we pray your covering over the younger generations. Give us boldness to speak and to stand. Give them wisdom and courage beyond their years. Satisfy us with your love dear Jesus. Amen


What I Gave Myself for Mother’s Day 2013

This is not for the faint of heart. And if you can’t relate, please…spare me the correction. The voices in my head are loud enough without your “I can’t relate” voice singing harmony. Heck, it’s taken me this long to process all that God downloaded, and even still, I was typing through tears. Hopefully, some of you moms will appreciate my gift and want to get it too.

The morning of Mother’s day rolled around and I got snuggles from both my girls and the cats, home-made cards, coffee in bed from Chuck, and all is well. Until. Until Chuck sweetly and innocently asked, “What do you love best about being a mom?”

I started bawling…IMG_1082

Chuck’s utter shock and dismay was equaled only by my own shock over the breach in my bastion of emotions.  “What’s. The. Matter?” he said wide eyed. Like a crack in a dyke that has been  ramrodded one too many times, the dam broke.

“I can’t think about what I love best about being a mom because I have just been sitting for the last two weeks examining all the places I have failed.  I see all these wounds in my girls and I know I did that.  I see my own selfishness, stubbornness, and being controlling.  I hear them being unkind and angry to each other and I know they learned that from me.  I love being a mom more then I ever thought possible but it is the most painful thing I have every experienced.  I know I have done some things right but to love someone so much and still hurt them—it’s more than I can bear sometimes,” I said in a rush between sobs.

I pulled my bedspread over my face and wept.  Chuck carefully came over and held me, trying to comfort his neurotic wife. Inside I was thinking, “Idiot. Why did you let that out in the open?” But deeper inside, I heard the Spirit say, “We will talk about this later.”  So I had a good cry, got my face back on, Chuck took a deep breath, and we were back to normal.

Until. Until I got to church. And the conversation continued.

For several years, my family has celebrated Father’s day by blessing Chuck with things we appreciate about him. We have then taken time to tell God the things we love about Him being our Father. It’s been so rich and powerful to sit in Him enjoying us as we enjoyed Him. However, I have never done that on Mother’s Day.  I don’t know why. It’s as if somehow the male mantra of doctrine never prompted us  to consider God as a great Mother, although the Bible is full of “mothering” names and actions. This was the day to break that barrier.  I began listing all the ways that God had been a nurturing, faithful, and tender Mother to me.

I said out loud, “You alone are the role model for Mother and Father.”  The loving correction I received next could only have come from a  Parent who is fully invested in me walking in fullness and freedom.

“There is no room for weakness in your parenting,” He said.

“I know,” I said, and began to cry again. “I want to be a perfect parent, and I can’t be.”

“That’s My job” he said ever so tenderly. “You are trying to be perfect, instead of embracing your weakness— for My glory.”

I had to just sit in that.  How do I embrace my weakness? How do I resist the urge  to immediately create a 1-2-3 Fix-it Plan?  How do I resist the temptation to 1) beat myself up for all my mistakes, 2) blame others for what I am alone responsible for, or, 3) live in some watered-down denial that ‘I did the best I could do’?

God interrupted. “Not denial. But Grief. Acceptance. Grace.”

Grief. He was calling me to grieve the mistakes. Don’t blame, deny or gloss over. Just grieve. Yes I blew that. Yes I missed that. Yes I chose poorly there. Yes I hurt you and I hurt me too. Yes I am sad about this. Really sad about the loss of time and opportunity. But I can’t live there forever. Right on the heels of a true grieving is an acceptance that we are all learning all the time.

Acceptance. Raising little humans is hard.  I’ve never been a parent before.  I have permission to learn. I tell my girls that “failing is part of the process just learn from it. True failure is when you quit trying.” I have to believe my own counsel. I have to keep learning and failure is a great teacher. I have to accept that God will carry my girls through my failures and successes.

Grace. Did I believe that God was big enough and strong enough to wash over my girls’ wounds and my wounds with His grace? Did I believe that God could restore, redeem, or resurrect these stages of childhood that are ever fleeting?

That morning He brought this verse to mind: “He fills everything in every way.” And then these words flooded through my soul like windows thrown open to let fresh spring breezes clear the stagnant air:
God’s grace fills every thing I missed.
God’s love fills every thing I broke.
God heals every thing I wounded.

He showed me that one of the best things I could share with my children is how God shows up strong in my weakness. But first, I had to admit to God, to myself and to my kids that I have weaknesses.

How would they ever learn to rely on God’s help in their weaknesses, if they have never seen Chuck and I own our weaknesses and  seen God shine through them? Wow. What a concept. Instead of shame and condemnation for not being a perfect mom, I could experience compassion and grace for myself. In greater dependence on the Spirit and far less pressure to perform, I could learn to love these children as much as I can, shepherd them in Jesus with as much wisdom as I can, and trust God to fill in all the gaps.

What I gave myself for Mother’s Day was a Grace Reality Check.  There is a perfect Parent. And it’s not me. Can’t be me. Was never meant to be me. But I am a well loved child who has the Perfect Parent. And THIS is what I can teach to my children: the fullness of Jesus made known through our weakness.

Thank you God for being such a great Mom.

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22-23

A Cry for Humanity

It was a convergence of wrenching heart moments. First came two hard movies within days of each other: The Impossible which is the the miraculous true story of an entire family who survived the tsnumami; and Hotel Rwanda which depicts the incredible true story of a man who saved 1268 Africans during the genocide in Rwanda. Next came this “ah-ha” revelation as I spent the day at Dollywood with my girls and some friends, only to come home to the horror of the death and destruction caused by the Oklahoma tornado.IMG_1050

How does the human soul carry such deep and diverse emotions? How do we celebrate the small victories when the devastation is so great. One family was reunited when 150,000 families had loved ones swept away by the sea. One hotel served as a haven to 1268 Hutus and Tutsi when one million corpses were left after the murderers were driven out of Rwanda.

Dazed and terrified children were pulled alive from school debris while other parents waited and searched in anguish for their child’s dead body to be discovered.

In light of this, my “ah-ha” at Dollywood seems so small now.

But perhaps as I connect all these emotional dots it is bigger than I realized. For the first time, as I entered into the mass of humanity that Dollywood attracts, my eyes and heart were seeing people.

Real people. Not the classes or the accents, not the perfect flesh or flawed flesh, not the beliefs and attitudes expressed through clothing, tattoos, or language, but I saw real people.  The flawless, fake “image” of beauty had no place here. What was real and true and honest was the weary but willing parents holding the hands of elated children. It was the mentally handicapped man who could not stop laughing and clapping his hands because he was so excited. It was the fit and obese, the rich and poor, the educated and hicks, the blasphemers and believers, all standing in line together, screaming together on rides, enjoying their loved ones, enjoying…life.

Enjoying. Life. Together.

If we truly are but dust, a flower that rises and falls, a vapor that appears for a moment then vanishes, if we truly are to savor every moment…then all these real life stories of great loss must prompt us to ask…are we? Am I? Are we seeing the beauty of God, the gift of life, the sufficiency of Grace, the overwhelming presence of the Spirit in our daily lives?

Because I am concerned, stirred and agitated that if I do not, will not savor it in times of blessing and peace, will I have the stamina and practice to rely on it when the my world spins out of my control?

Thank God today. For your life. For your loved ones. For His Life and Love.

“You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake” Psalm 23