When You Feel Like an Angry Toddler

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

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Standing in worship, it felt like I was singing through gritted teeth.

The words were there, but not the heart.

I was having a toddler moment a few weeks ago – frustrated, confused and metaphorically crossing my arms, and stamping my foot with cries of “LORD! I. DON’T. GET. IT!!”

There was a moment in church when we were praying for someone with cancer, and my gut response was “WHY?? Why the heck should I pray? Why should think You’re going to heal anyone else if You didn’t heal my wonderful brother?”

And like I did many times with my kids as toddlers who didn’t understand why we had to say “no” or “wait” and they dissolved into tears, my loving Father just skooched into the pew and snuggled up close to me where I sat and whispered, “I know, I know.”

I thought of my Grams who used to pat-pat my hand with the gentlest touch, her wise wrinkled one covering my unlined one. Just softly present.

And Jesus pat-patted and whispered to me,

“I KNOW what it feels like because I’ve been there. I wanted the plan to be anything other than what it was and I asked my Father to change it if possible.”

And I KNOW the whys and whats and wherevers because I know everything even though it is too much for you to take in.”

“Trust Me. I know. And that needs to be enough for now.”

Jesus knows and He KNOWS.

He knows what it feels like and He knows more than we know.

 We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. Hebrews 14:15

So maybe some words are hard to sing with conviction, but others are reminders that we have a loving parent who holds us even when we can’t understand.

There is a strength that rises up in me
To know that You’ve been here be – fore me
A strength beyond what I can see
Jesus, Your lo – o – ove
Je – sus, Your love

I’ve shared this before, but it’s worth posting again.

 

Soul Food for Super Bowl Weekend

Yay Weekend!  I know these Friday posts are such a hodgepodge, but I hope you each find something to delight, inspire, or motivate you.

Some of you will be into the Super Bowl, some not, but I pray this weekend God will meet you and refresh you in ways that only He can.

First, a quote from my friend, Sharol Hayner. Her husband, and our friend, Steve, died just over a year ago.

As for us with my brother’s death, this has been a year of absorbing the reality of loss and trying to choose joy, and envision life again.

Sharol sent an update this past week which included this reflection. Her image has been one that has rolled around in my head all week. It is beautiful and hopeful and maybe as helpful to you as it’s been for me.

Grief is like living in a house with many rooms, each with a different name: sadness, anger, fear, celebration, remembering, joy, gratitude.  A friend suggested that the key to abiding in this house is to leave the door to each room unlocked and even opened. I frequently visit these rooms and will occasionally get stuck in one of them. I’ve learned that I must keep the door open so that I can get out. This has been helpful when a room overwhelms me and I am tempted to lock the door from the outside and never enter or lock the door from the inside and never leave. I will always live in this house as it is God’s place for me. But the house itself isn’t named Grief. It is named Life.  There will be new rooms in time. Gratefully, I don’t live there alone. God is always there, ready to meet me and walk with me into each room. Many of you are there with me as well.

Along those same lines…If everything in your life feels broken, this may be the song you need today.

Any I have to share my favorite picture of the week – Muslim girls waiting to fist-bump the president, taken after Obama gave a speech in Baltimore against anti-muslim rhetoric.

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(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“There are voices who are constantly claiming you have to choose between your identities. … Do not believe them. … You fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too…You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American. And don’t grow cynical.”

On my nightstand…The Art of MemoirYou guys! Oh my goodness, this book! It has me obsessed. Each sentence feels like I need to chew it like a cow chewing her cud, squeezing every bit of flavor and nutrition out of it.

And there is so much there to absorb! It is fascinating whether you’re an aspiring writer or a reader. One of the reviewers wrote: “…Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again.”

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Here’s a sample…

“That’s the quality I’ve found most consistently in those life-story writers I’ve met. Truth is not their enemy. It’s the bannister they grab of when feeling around on the dark cellar stairs…”

I took this book out of the library but it’s all I can do not to grab a pen and underline huge chunks of it!

Lastly…For those Super Bowl party goers or watchers...I tried this recipe recently (the easy version) and had people ask for the recipe so I thought I’d share it here as an option for a Super Bowl party this weekend. Enjoy!

Super Bowl Sunday Hot Corn Dip Recipe

So there are two ways to do this – the easy way is by using this or any similar corn salsa you like:

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If you use a bottled corn salsa just skip down to the mayo part :)

You really can totally play with this, but here’s the “real” recipe:

2 TB butter

3 1/2 cups corn kernels (can use corn from 4 ears of white or yellow corn or use canned mixture)

1/2 ts. salt

1 cup finely chopped yellow onions

1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)

1 jalapeño seeded and minced (I’d omit)

1 tsp minced garlic (I’d use more)

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup (4 oz) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup (4 oz.) Sharp cheddar cheese shredded

Tortilla scoops or Frito scoops for dipping

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt 1 TB butter in leg heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 min. Transfer to bowl
  • Melt remaining TB of butter in the skillet. Add the yellow onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the green onions, jalapeño and garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, or until veggies are softened.
  • Transfer to the bowl with corn.
  • Add mayo and 1/2 of Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 of Cheddar cheese, mixing well.
  • Pour into 8 inch square baking dish (or whatever).
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake until bubbly and golden brown – 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 6 cups of dip. 12-18 servings.

That’s it for me. What has been delighting, inspiring, or motivating you this week?

Mamas in Pajamas Who Wannabe Wave-Walkers

“Adventurously expectant”  is my “one” word for 2016. As I sit here in my pajamas I don’t look or feel it.

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I wrote earlier that this year I am going putting some practices into my life to help me pay better attention to what God might want to teach me through this “one word”.

One practice is looking at places in Scripture where these words are fleshed out. Peter is certainly one I think of as “adventurously expectant”. i can’t picture him sitting around in his pajamas, so I decided to look at one of his “moments”.

When I look at a passage, I always try to look for (at least) 2 things:

  1. What I can learn about Jesus/God and
  2. What I might learn about myself.

What do you see here?

Matthew 14: 22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

32-33 The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

Oh my gosh! There is just SO MUCH here! I’m sure you can add your own, but here are a few of the things I notice or have read about being “adventurously expectant”:

Jesus

  • Jesus sends the disciples on ahead (and hightails it to the hills for some alone time). He KNOWS He’s sending them into a wave-battering. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s not of God. Sometimes we create our own “storms”, but maybe God sends us into storms (i.e. “adventures”) to teach us dependence.
  • We expect Jesus/God to come to us in a comfortable or predictable way, or through blessing, but do we recognize Him in the wave-battering? Do I recognize Him in the middle of an adventure of stepping out in faith when things aren’t going as I planned?
  • When Jesus says, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” He says it when they are alone on the water, before they get into the boat with the others. John Ortberg has written, “It may be that Jesus – like any good mentor – did not want to embarrass Peter in front of the other disciples. So in the privacy and safer of His strong right hand, he gently helps Peter locate the source of his problem.”
  • This passage is about the size of Peter’s faith, but maybe even more about God’s greater grace. Jesus reached out and caught Peter – like a harness on a ropes course catches us.
  • When Jesus wants us to grow, maybe He doesn’t give us answers, but instead He gives us problems.

Us

  • Does my adventurous expectation also come with strings attached? Dale Bruner writes, “It is important to see that Peter did not ask Jesus for a promise – e.g., ‘Lord, promise me I won’t sink’ – but specifically for a command: ‘Lord, if it is You, command me.”
  • Which is going to have more power in my life – the wave, or the Word that says Jesus can be trusted no matter what? Where is my primary focus?
  • John doesn’t have this in his gospel. He was in the boat. I don’t want to have a second-hand faith, but an intimate adventure with Jesus no matter what.

Again, I’m sitting here in my pajamas in front of the fire. Do you ever notice how much easier it is to get excited about wave-walking in the abstract than to actually get dressed and get out there? I’m just saying…

What about you? Do you have a word? Or thoughts on being “adventurously expectant”?

What Katy, the Samaritan Woman, & We, Have in Common

Dear Precious Katy,

Today you start your new job – a big, important change-the-world job, and we’re so proud of you!

I know your kindness and competence will win the day, but I also know that as you carefully choose your professional outfit this morning, the “hyper-responsible you” will be worried.

You know there will be days when you mess up, or there’s a misunderstanding, or you have to say hard words, or ask forgiveness in your job, just like in all of life.

And you may feel like you did when you were 5 years old and wrote this sign, taping it to your bedroom door.

“Do not come in!  P.S. I will be under the covers.”

I think what you meant (what all of us often mean) is: Continue reading

Soul Food When You’re Stuck Indoors

This is the time of year when the weather just starts getting…well, old. Gray seems grayer and soot seems sootier.

January 29th is about the date when it’s crucial to recount all the things we’re thankful for:  Downton Abbey, a warm fire, the beauty of a fresh coat of snow, and the fact that it can’t last forever.

We “do” winter here in Minnesota, but this month I’ve been stuck inside healing from some minor knee surgery instead of cross-country skiing, so this weekend I’m focusing on resources that have delighted or inspired me that can be done indoors. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Continue reading

Invited, Part 1

One of my favorite times is in the hours before guests arrive at our front door and shed their hats and boots.

Some are nervously wary, like deer in the woods, others eagerly expectant, diving into hugs and conversation like happy golden retrievers.

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Before they arrive, I love the prep, the anticipation – the chopping of veggies and lighting of candles, the prayer that each person would feel our delight in them, the strategy considering flow and food.

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Hospitality is a gift I relish. I love connecting people around a table with thoughtful questions and laughter and meaningful conversation.

But whether the idea of opening your home makes you want to do a jig, or curl up in a fetal ball and hide, it’s still a spiritual practice.

We practice inviting because Jesus invites us.

As we include and gather and host, we mirror the image of God in us, welcoming all around His table.

Recently at a prayer gathering, we did this exercise. Continue reading

When Jesus Doesn’t Show up and Something Dies

Years ago I had a dream I believed was from God. There was a quiet Holy Spirit whisper.

I trusted Him (I thought).

I worked hard. I asked the right questions. I got the right permissions.

I was affirmed for my gifts in the area of my dream. I won awards.

And then, painfully, my dream was demolished by a series of choices outside my control.

A friend said it was like I walked out into an intersection I had been told was safe and was run over by a mack truck being driven by people I trusted.

I waited expectantly for God to swoop in and fix everything.

But God was silent.

He didn’t right the wrongs. He didn’t correct the injustices. I was left with the death of illusions, trust, and my dream.

Jesus lingered “somewhere else” and didn’t show up in time.

Like in Monday’s post, God didn’t make sense to me.

I think all of us have times when God has seemed inattentive, uncooperative, or late. What do we do when Jesus doesn’t show up and something dies? Continue reading

Soul Food to Lift Your Spirits

Some weeks are just so…weekly aren’t they? I hope something from this post today will lift your spirits, inspire, or encourage you. Have a great weekend! Continue reading

Three Questions to Ask When God Doesn’t Make Sense

It was January cold. I was 14-years-old and a brand new Christian, bravely bubbling over with faith and excitement about Jesus, reading my cool Bible and believing and praying.

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My friends were new to this Jesus too. Together faith was a daily adventure of new discoveries.

One frigid Friday night, we were bouncing along on a yellow school bus with our youth group down dark rural roads  heading to a ski weekend on the slopes of what pass for “mountains” in northern Wisconsin.

Jostling, laughing, gossiping, singing in the back of the bus, we were having a great time til someone bumped into me and a contact popped out of my eye onto the dark, sooty grit below our feet.

This is not a crisis except if you’re a teenage girl who wouldn’t be caught dead in glasses. (Plus, contacts all those years ago were darn expensive)

Everyone dropped to their knees, scouring the gross, wet rubber floor for the tiny piece of clear plastic.

We. Looked. Forever.

Nothing.

Still on our knees, we were ready to give up when one of my fellow newbies ventured, “You guys…What if… we pray???!!! Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”

We closed our eyes, and my friend said, “Lord we can’t find this contact. You know where it is. Please help us.”

I literally opened my eyes, looked down, and astonished, picked up the lost contact.

We were ecstatic.

The creator of the universe – God Himself! – heard and responded to a few teenage girls with a little faith.

To this day I have no doubt that God graciously intervened on our behalf.

Fast forward to last year at this time. My brother David was diagnosed with Melanoma. Continue reading

Soul Food Friday

It’s Friday! You’ve made it!

If you’re anything like the folks around me, it’s time to celebrate the small victories of the week –

that time you took a brave step even when you were afraid,

the time you prayed first,

the time you forgave when you wanted to lash out,

the time you listened when you wanted to scream…

For me it’s been a week of abundance, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Hope you enjoy some of these morsels that have delighted, inspired, or motivated me this week. Continue reading

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