Pausing

This morning I’m pausing to say thank you.   I wonder how many times I’ve driven past sunsets I didn’t watch or sat in the car looking my phone and ignored the gifts He gives just because I didn’t take the time to pay attention.

IMG_1226

Vacation has a way of making me slow down to look around.   This photo certainly displays the beauty of what God created.   Look at those colors.

IMG_1296

My kids make me slow down.   My daughter picked these on a walk around our neighboorhood from a bush in an empty lot.  Sweet.

IMG_1304

Difficulties can slow me down.  Sometimes in a good way.

One of my former co-workers walked into my office yesterday and handed me this note and a donation.    It made me think about the fact that our lives entertwine with others.  I haven’t seen her in a long time.  And yet, when she heard about the arson at our church this week she acted and gave encouragement and grace.      Made me cry.  It also made me want to pause and touch other people in their pain.   Made me grateful.

How about you?   What causes you to pause and notice?   What makes you grateful?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Family, Travel

Take Heart! 

Oh my church family.   I’m just going to put this here because I can’t hug you all the morning.  I’m sure you heard our building was attacked last night.  Fire.  Arson. Thank Jesus for sprinklers.  Water damage.   Thankful no one was hurt.   

And this is what I’m reading – 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”John 16:33

And this. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:18, 28, 35, 38-39‬ 

So dear family. Don’t forget the truth that the arsonist does not know.    The church is not the building.  May we shine brightly.   Love you. 

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Whatcha lookin’ at?

I have a character flaw.  Well, I have lots actually but I have one that I have accepted.   I don’t excercise unless I have a deadline staring me down. 

I understand that excercise is good for me.  In fact, two massive studies were released this week which indicate that excercise can even prevent cancer. (Read here).    I know I feel better, look better, have more energy and properly inspire my kids when I’m modeling good excercise habits.  

You’d think that would be enough to get me moving.   But no.   Only thing that works is to sign up for some crazy event and then blog about it.    It’s the fear of total humiliation that gets me out of bed and off the couch.  

Maybe the health benefits are what make me actually sign up for the crazy event knowing it’ll force my hand.   Or my feet. 

Whatever.  I signed up this year to do the Portland to Coast. I’ve done it a couple times before. (Read here).  But this time we decided to pair the team down to 8 people which means we are all doing three turns and we don’t stop to sleep.   Crazy. 

Worst part it’s in three months and I didn’t move at all in the last six months.  

So tonight to officially kick off training my eldest and I went for a brisk mile and a half walk. I’m lying. It was slow. We took photos.


California Lilac.  I have these in my yard as well.   They grow. Fast.  The ten year old likes to pull s branch back and let go. It rains purple fluff. 


This is why I love living in the Pacific Northwest.  Those big beautiful trees. 


How fun is this?!  Go Clark County Rotaty.  I may have to go donate some copies of books I want my neighbors to read.  


Anyone know what this is named?   We want one in our yard. So cheerful. 


Prickly weed. 

We also saw a wild naked two year old running down the street.  We paused at a safe distance to make sure his parents noticed he was outside naked before we continued on.  

My point here is that on our walk we saw beauty and ugly and crazy and fun.  We got to choose what we focused on.    Some people only focus on the weeds.   They lose a lot on the walk. 

And perhaps this summer I’ll try focusing on the benefits of training rather than just thinking about avoiding embarrassment.   How about you?  Whatcha lookin’ at? 

8 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Running

Befriending Hemingway

The sermon at church this morning was about who Jesus selected as his friends.   He shocked the religous leaders by eating with the sinning, cussing, drunk and cheating crowd.   He chose smelly fisherman, unethical tax collectors, crazy rebels and prostitutes as the leaders of his ministry team.  Jesus makes me grin.  Sounds like fun.

IMG_1189

One of the stops on our recent trip was to Key West.  I was the only one in our traveling party who was excited about the fact that Key West is home to the Hemingway House and Museaum.  I so love Hemingway.   He was a complete mess.  Married four times.  Violent and drunk.  Suicide.  But oh my.   He could write.

IMG_1204

I paid the $12 to tour the Hemingway house, my husband and friends chose to pass.  I wandered the grounds and listened to the slightly drunk tour guide.   Seemed sadly fitting.  I took obligitory pictures of the six toed cats.  I wandered through the house and peered into where he wrote, looked through the titles in his private library and I bought one of his books in the gift shop.   Had a mojito in the bar next door.

IMG_1206

I read through my new book on the deck of the ship and thought about why I love Hemingway.   He wrote tightly and truthfully.   I hurt for his characters and wonder at his talent.  I read Hemingway because I know people like him and his books help me see the world from their eyes.  And his flaws and pain don’t make his value less.  I feel about Hemingway how I feel about Van Gogh.   (Read about it here).  Amazed at what they created.  Sad at what they lost.  I  would have loved to be friends with either.

Seems like sometimes its easier to look past flaws in famous people but not in our peers.   Our society has forgotten how to be friends with people who are not like us.  It’s easy to value someone just like you.   But it’s vibrant and exciting and challenging and fun to befriend someone who is totally different.   It does not diminish your faith or your politial affiliation or your sports team to be friends with the opposing side.   You are not a traiter to your cause because you are nice to someone who disagrees.   Here’s a little lesson I’m trying to drill into my kids –   You don’t have to agree with someone to be their friend.

There are some things you do have to do to be a good friend.

Listen.

Be nice.

Hurt when they hurt.

Cheer when they have joy.

Give grace when you don’t agree.

Eat food together.

Seriously.  Food is part of the friendship equation.   Over food you  can better see the humanness and heart of your companions.  Maybe its because food makes us slow down.   Or perhaps because eating requires putting your phone down. Don’t believe me?  Try it – make dinner and invite someone over who votes differently or sins differently than you.   You’ll be surprised.  My guess is you’ll have a great time.

At any rate, Jesus shocked the temple leaders and ate with sinners.  And they left everything to follow Him.   In our friendships,  occasionally you can persuade change in your friends because trust and understanding have blossomed.   And better yet, sometimes your friends change you.

I’m grateful Jesus befriended me.  Bet it would have shocked some.    I believe that Jesus loves everyone.   Me.  Hemingway.  You.    And He built us all with beauty inside.  Sometimes it is corrupted and scared.  We all lose our way.   We can all use a friend.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

T-shirt Preaching

My daughter is listening. 

We spend a lot of time at home and at church and in conversations in the car talking about Jesus.   We also talk about Star Wars and the Seahawks and Beanie Babies and track and why socks disappear in the laundry.   But Jesus typically shows up in conversation daily.  We talk about how He loves us.   About how He wants us to love Him. We talk about how our job in this world is to shine and love and pray and care.  To be present in people’s pain.  We talk about how it is not our job to post a list of rules.   We talk about how shame and guilt are not our job or our burden.   That God is big enough to worry about other people’s junk. That loving Jesus and loving others is enough.  We talk a lot.
So I should not be shocked that my daughter is growing into a lovely human being who loves Jesus.   I am overwhelmed with gratitude that she’s learning about grace and love.   But last night I had a bit of a panic attack.

Last night my ten year old informed me that she was going to tell her friends at school about Jesus.  I gulped.  She discussed the options open for evangelism in fourth grade.  Her ideas included handing out notes, invitations to VBS, starting conversations and t-shirts.   And she decided that today she would start by wearing a t-shirt with a bible verse on it.   The back has an amazing promise.


So why am I scared?  Because she had decided to share her faith with friends?   I should be happy.   But I’m confessing to you that I’m scared. I’m worried she’ll get it wrong and the other kids will feel she’s too preachy.   I’m scared that she’ll be overheard by a teacher and told to shush.   I’m scared that I’m going to get an email or a text or a Facebook message from another parent telling us to keep our nosy religious opinions to ourselves.  I’m scared that some kid is going to laugh and bully and bruise my fledgling missionary.  I’m scared that she’ll carry the stigma of a goody two shoes and somewhere in high school we’ll be sitting with her crying because she doesn’t have a date to prom because in fourth grade she decided to be brave and tell people that Jesus loves them.   

See.  Scared.  And also disgusted with myself.  Those Bible verses about how if we deny Christ to people he won’t claim us with the Father are running through my head.  And the verses about rejoicing if people hate you or ridicule you are not providing any comfort.   Truly a proud, conflicted, scared, disgusted mess.

That was last night.   This morning my kiddo put on her shirt.  


And the Bible story Mark 9:23-24  Ran through my head.   You know the story? The desperate dad takes his child to Jesus.   And Jesus tells him his son can get help if only the dad will believe.  

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

That mirrors my soul.

You see my Jesus gets that I’m a mess.   He understands I can’t do it alone.  And He accepts my pitiful prayer of “I believe….help me with my unbelief.”   Both in one sentence.

So today I choose to plant my feet with my kiddo.   I choose to hold on the promises in the Bible.   And I cling desperately to Jesus who is the only reason it will work.   And He is patient with me and helps even when what I need help with is being His friend.   That’s what grace looks like.    

I really never heard of anyone growing in their faith because of a t-shirt.   But today I did.   My daughter is teaching. 

How about you?  Do you struggle with this too?   

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family

Itsy Bitsy

The resident chef and I just got home from a much appreciated vacation. Oh what a joy to eat dinner without having to take anyone to the bathroom.  We read.  We talked. We ate.  We slept.  I feel much better.

About a month ago I had this idea in my head that I was going on a cruise to the Bahamas with my spouse and so darn it I was going to do my hair and makeup and dress up and remind him why he married me.  And I was going to buy a bikini.   This was a completely odd thought that should have warned me I was stressed and tired and not thinking clearly.

So I made the rounds of the dressing rooms of all the big box stores in the area. And shock to my system but this 40 year old doesn’t look like Jennifer Anistan in a bikini.   I finally gave up when my sister and my two daughters were in the dressing room with me and they all were talking about the merits of the one piece swimsuit.

We traveled with friends of ours.  The I knew you when you were three and you were in my wedding kind of friends.   The four of us decided to spend our day in Nassau at a resort on the beach.    We got off the ship.  Paid for a taxi to the other side of the island.   Got our nifty wristband and headed to the bathrooms to change clothes for a fun day swimming and eating and lounging lazy.

And in the bathroom I realized I left my lovely one piece swimsuit on the ship.    Told my travel partners I would go buy a suit and be right back.   They looked worried.

I walked into the hotel gift shop and asked if they sold swimsuits.     The twenty something tan supermodel working the desk paused.   She looked me up and down.

“We don’t sell one pieces”

Oh snarky miss.  I wish on you age and motherhood.  Where are your other options?

Ah.   Bikinis.  In all sizes too small.   Life is fun when you get what you want.   Sigh. I stood in that changing room and cringed and wondered if I really wanted to strut this beach and scare the locals.   And my friends. And my husband.

And you know what.   I bought the bikini. And a coverup.   Slathered on sunscreen on skin that has never seen the light of day and hauled out to the beach.

Got a raging sunburn.   The pink stripes matched my hot pink cocktail dress that night.

God has a sense of humor.   But I learned something. I think perhaps why my husband married me has very little to do with how I look.   I think it has more to do with that I make him laugh.   But part of why I love him is that when he saw the bikini the corners of his eyes crinkled and I knew he was laughing inside.    And he invited me to swim.

So girls.  This message has been written a million times more succinctly by much better authors.    But may I remind you this morning that joy and laughter and kindness are what make us attractive?  That clothing and size and labels are all cons by marketers and the one who hates our soul.  He thinks if he can make us hate our body he can win.

Don’t let him win.  Get in the water!

Anyone else have a dressing room survival story?

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunshine Jane

My little one recently chose a book to keep from Grandma’s collection.   It is a charming hardback called Sunshine Jane which was published in 1916.   The new owner likes to carry it around with her and periodically read passages to anyone listening.  She can’t yet read of course but we listened attentively anyway. 

 After a few weeks of this I asked if I could have a turn to read her book.  She consented and so we started in on this sweet story from a century past. 

I love this book.   It is happy and thoughtful and challenging.  My eldest thought bits were boring (no light sabers or iPods or dragons). To be fair it does have some rather extensive inner dialogue chapters. Apparently people thought more 100 years ago.  Shocker.  But even my ten year old was surprised at the ending and asked questions and we all pondered deeper ideas than whatever new song kidsbop is currently pushing.  

I read frequently on various electronic devices.  I read fast and move on.  Not as much fun as a real book.  Certainly not the same as this thick paper, velum pictures, think binding, big vocabulary, book. 


CS Lewiw claims we all should read old book.   “Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books…. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.” 


As we worked our way slowly through Sunshine Jane I thought about what she got right and what we blunder daily in our plugged in too fast too much too early society.   Jane was fighting cynicism and debt and despair and general crankiness.   Her weapons were joy and smiles and hope and kindness.   Seems pretty much the same as now. 


My favorite quote in the book made me pause. I took a photo.  I read it again.  It comforted my soul.  

“We hear much of the downfall of love and the downfall of religion in these days, but no one even stops to realize that religion and love cannot possibly even shake on their thrones. Their counterfeits may crumble and tumble, but real truth can never fail”. 

Beautiful book.  Good choice little one. 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Uncategorized