About lauracrosby

I'm a follower of Jesus trying to pay attention to the story God desires to write with my life. I love creating all kinds of things, including a welcoming place in our home where there’s good food and lively conversation. I’m a friend to twenty-somethings journeying with Jesus (and mother to two of them). I’m a walker and a Starbucks groupie. This blog is about creative discipleship and reflections on leadership from my perspective as a friend, wife, leader, mom, daughter, mentor. As I write, the people I have in mind are the young leaders my husband and I are privileged to call friends, but I hope anyone who stumbles across this blog will go away encouraged.

How Do You Picture Choosing Life?

As I’ve been traveling I’ve not been able to post very consistently and I’ve really dropped the ball on our One Word Fridays.  Sorry about that.

Like I wrote the other day, it’s been a week of living back into real life.  And part of that has been letting my heart and mind catch up with the rest of me.  Doing a kind of  Examen.  Celebrating places of Life, and mourning places of Death.

The main thing that drives me to write this blog is the conviction that we don’t just drift into becoming more like Jesus.  We have to pay attention.  When we do, maybe we end up saying with Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

So…today I’m paying attention to the “patches of God-light” or instances from the past two months that shouted, “This is what it looks like to choose LIFE!”.  Here are 6 of them:

1.  Hospitality  We had the delightful privilege of staying at the guest cottage belonging to some friends in Charlotte NC while we met with some mentors.  We had dinner with our friends and some different topics of interest came up in our conversation.  The next morning (one when rain was predicted), here’s what our hostess left outside our door.  The books are about the topics we had discussed the night before.

Choosing life = paying attention to the way I can serve others.

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2. Relationships  A week in one of my favorite cities, reconnecting with friends in ministry at National Community Church and spending time with daughter Katy!

Choosing life = learning from everyone everywhere.

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3. Travel in Israel/Palestine, Telos Conversations and at the International Justice Mission Global Prayer Gathering

Choosing life = partnering with God in His work of bringing justice around the world.

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4. Creation Life emerging from death, even in Minnesota!

Choosing life = noticing the smallest gifts.

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 5. Words

Choosing life = choosing to share life-giving words that build up rather than tear down.

Bob Goff (@bobgoff)
God doesn’t look for typos in our lives; He’s a creator, not an editor. We’re all rough drafts of who we’re becoming.

6. Random Acts of Kindness Twice in the past two months – once here and once in Florida, people have surprised us, paying for our dinner!

Choosing Life = looking for opportunities to delight others.

photo-102What are some places you’ve experienced Life over the past two months?

 

Easter and a Lunch in Jerusalem

It’s Easter week and I do NOT have the gift of evangelism.  Easter delights me.  Evangelism…well, not so much.

Can you relate?

I was part of a Christian organization in college that taught us to “share our faith” (read: tell people how messed up they are and scare the Hell out of them.  Literally).  We had to go out and practice “sharing” the 4 Spiritual Laws with people (read: random, confused strangers).

It may have scarred me for life – not the tract, the way of “sharing”.

Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse.  I have nothing against the 4 Spiritual Laws as a resource.  Ironically it is how I came to faith in Jesus.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was sitting around a table in Jerusalem eating lunch with a very diverse group of people.

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There were other Jesus-followers like me (you know, kind, sensitive, careful to not offend).

And there was our host, who pastors a church of mostly Messianic Jews.  He is passionate about bringing Jews into a relationship with Jesus – accepting Him as their Messiah.

Lastly there was a Jewish couple at the table who do not buy the Jesus as Messiah line.

I sat in the middle of the table with the “Burdened pastor guy” at one end, and the Jewish couple at the other.

What if the Jewish couple felt offended, uncomfortable, or judged?

What if the pastor “preached” at them (or served pork?).

What if my friend Matt Moberg asked a question that stepped on someone’s toes somewhere at the table and they slammed down their fork and stormed out?

I know that the Gospel can be offensive even if we don’t make it offensive with our delivery. (1 Cor. 1:23, Romans 9:33)

But it didn’t happen.  What also didn’t happen was an honest conversation where real questions were asked respectfully from both ends of the table.

The pastor shared his prayer – that the Jews would come to know Jesus as their savior.

The Jews at the table did not fall to their knees and “pray the prayer of salvation”.  Everyone was respectful and no blood was shed.

Afterwards it prompted several conversations in our group about our posture towards non-believers in Jesus, or explorers, or people of other faiths.

Augustine said “Preach the gospel everywhere. If necessary use words.”  Most of us, I think, have decided that words are really never necessary.

Are we actually denying our faith by our uber-sensitive silence?

I’ve been thinking…What if we, as Christians, saw ourselves as hosts at a luncheon, around a table with guests of varying experiences, just like the one I attended in Jerusalem?  Maybe we’d prioritize

  • People over projects.  If you’re getting to know someone, you want to KNOW about them and have them know about you…authentically.  Build on what you have in common, but be honest about where you have different perspectives or experience.
  • Love language over foreign language.  Genuinely care for the other.  Ask yourself  if you’re speaking a “language” they’ll relate to.
  • Conversation over conversion (which means more asking than telling)
  • Appetizers over All-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet. Offer tiny bites (like those mini desserts in shot glasses they have now).  Don’t try to cram a whole meal down someone’s throat.

Like I said, I’m really not good at this, so I’m trying to learn.  Are there experiences or thoughts you can share?

“But in your hears revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect…”  1 Peter 3:15

 

 

What I’m Not Reading

I’m home.  Home to my little house in my “Mayberry” neighborhood and my community filled with people who cheer and frustrate, and are broken and in the process of being put back together just like me.

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The past two months have been rich and stimulating and very, very full.  Full of new relationships and places and ideas, and stories and prayers and intense conversations.  It’s been wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.  And not the norm.

I love variety and travel and learning new things.  It’s a blessing.  But I need to get back to living my real life.

So…this is the pile of books I’m not reading.

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Don’t get me wrong.  They look really good and I’m excited about digging into them, but here’s where I’ve felt a pinch in the butt by the Holy Spirit.

I’m getting fat.

It’s crazy wonderful to be exposed to stimulating relationships and new information and great books, but the danger is we become obese – filled up with all of the deliciousness and getting no exercise.  Processing and applying nothing.  A holy hoarder if you will.

I think…”Oh that’s such a great IDEA!!  I should tell someone and they should DO it!”

“I will think more about _______________(insert anything I hear that I’m convicted or excited about) and how real that can be real in my life…someday.”

“I’m gonna Tweet that quote!”

We consume more, tweet more, Instagram more than we live into.

These days I need to do more living into.

I have a friend who used to say, “Start reading Jesus’ words in the New Testament and when you get to a command, stop, and don’t read further until you do it.”

I’ll get around to reading these books and be glad I did, but not today.

Today I need to write a note of encouragement, take a walk and pray present, do laundry, and forgive that person who dinged me.  I need to create stuff and breathe deep and serve others in my real-life community.

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For you the challenge may be the opposite.  Maybe you need to stop doing and be still.  Or maybe you’re starving for more sustenance and need to fill up with inspiration from God’s Word and information about the needs in His world.

What are you living into today?

Changing the Hashtag

Is it just me or does it seem like Christians have been acting a little meaner lately?

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.

My mom was one of those who said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  And mostly, my tribe has lived by that.  Certainly you who read this blog are in that camp.

But, it turns out that church world can be a pretty darn ugly place.  Especially in social mediaville.  Go figure.

World Vision is a vibrant, effective, non-profit organization that exists to serve the poorest of the poor in Jesus‘ name. We believe the work they do, with extraordinary commitment and love, is amazing.

Two weeks ago the leadership and board of World Vision made a series of mistakes. Mistakes they are heart-sick about.

Mistakes that have undercut the trust of supporters, and deeply wounded gay people who are beloved children of God.

But I’m thinking, maybe the biggest mistake the leadership of World Vision made was to drastically over-estimate the ability of Christian brothers and sisters to live in unity and love while not agreeing on everything.

Sadly, it seemed to me that many in the evangelical world responded with swords of self-righteousness drawn, marking battle lines.  It felt like everything was end-of-the-world-dramatic and horrible.

As I read the comments and tweets and posts I thought about our two daughters who are very different from each other.

One is an introvert – strong, with brown hair…wicked smart and a runner. The other is petite, blonde-haired, creative and committed to social justice. She does yoga.

Both are followers of Jesus.

They are beloved children of ours.                                                                                                                                     They are beloved children of God.

They are different from each other, and different from us and (surprise surprise), we don’t agree on everything. But…

We wouldn’t say to either of them, “You can’t possibly love Jesus or spend eternity with Him or do good in the world because you disagree with us on gay marriage.”

But that, essentially, is what many in the church did in response to an HR decision that was trying to love employees well and fairly, and recognize that although World Vision as an organization doesn’t endorse gay marriage, not all Christians agree with them.

It’s like the church people with the loudest voices were shouting with hashtags like #WHOSINANDWHOSOUT.

I confess that there have been times when that has been me.

The thing is, I don’t see anyplace in my Bible where, because someone didn’t agree with Jesus, He said, “Nope, that’s it!  Not gonna love you anymore.”#REJECT.

I don’t know that He’d be a hashtag kind of guy, but if He was I’m guessing it might be different than some of the ones I’m tempted to use.

In spite of the loud, pharisaical voices the world hears and has come to equate with “evangelicalism” – I am encouraged by some gentle-strong voices of friends who are saying with humility and grace, “We may disagree, on some things, but we both love Jesus and are trying to be kind and brave and love like He would.”

I believe there are many who would like to model a different kind of love to the world.  I believe there are many who, even if they disagree about some of the things, would unite around the Main Thing.  

I believe many who love Jesus would like to encourage one another under a new hashtag.

What if Christian organizations and churches and leaders united around the love that Jesus modeled?  What if we flooded social media with words of compassion and life and encouragement?  

Maybe we could talk to each other about the places we disagree face to face, where there’s room for nuance and expression and deeper understanding.

Will you join me in changing the hashtag?

#LOVEGODLOVEPEOPLE

When Mistakes Have Been Made and You Want to Hide

I’ve titled this series “When Mistakes Have Been Made”, but I’m thinking that may minimize what we’re talking about and what many of us experience.  Maybe the title should be something more like “When you’ve messed up messier than Lindsay Lohan.” or “When your sin seems like a toxic waste dump”.

The problem is most people are doing the best they can.  They’re trying really hard to do the right thing.

Sometimes as a leader you make an error in judgement that hurts many like friendly fire.  Other times you feel like you’re walking through a land mine of personal sin. But you long to do better.

Whether it’s your personal choices, or identifying with a community that has behaved badly, sometimes you just want to hide. I’ve written about silence and lament, but clearly there’s more.

When I make mistakes I think I want to hide, but I realize I really want something else.

This is a note I framed that Katy wrote when she was about 4 or 5 years old.

IMG_3323 In case you can’t decipher it it says,

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

In other words, I’m hiding, but I really want to be found. I want you to find me and love me no matter what I’ve done or how bad I’ve messed up. 

Isn’t there a part of all of us that feels that way? A desire to be known. Found. Accepted no matter how big the mistake. No matter how “not good enough” we feel.

I’ve been thinking lately that I should hang another picture underneath this note.

picture of the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman trying to hide in plain sight, going to the well in the middle of the day – like an obese person shopping at Walmart at midnight – so she wouldn’t be shamed by critics.

It struck me recently when I was teaching on this passage… What is it that she runs back and tells everyone after her encounter with Jesus? What impacted her the most? “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” (John 4:29 MSG). He saw her and He still accepted her. She mattered to Jesus.

Just a reminder. In case you’re feeling like you’re under the covers and no one knows, you’re wrong. God knows. He sees. He loves you. No matter how “not good enough” you are.

 

When Mistakes Have Been Made and You Don’t Know What to Do

I vividly remember the second time I ever saw my husband, John.

He was up in front of the congregation at the church I was attending. He was the youth pastor, fresh out of seminary and it was his first time preaching. He was leading the congregation in reading the morning Scripture passage responsively – him one verse, us the next. The problem was he was reading from one Psalm and the congregation was reading from another – the correct one – the one printed in the bulletin.

After a few awkward, “off” responses that left people confused, he stopped and said, “Have you ever made a really big mistake in front of a lot of people?”

I may have fallen in love with him at that moment. A leader who can own his mistakes and move on is rare.

But some mistakes are much bigger than others.  Sometimes owning our mistakes is complicated and the consequential damage can seem irreparable. Continue reading

When Mistakes Have Been Made and You Don’t Know What to Say

Hmmm… Well…Ahem…(Can you picture me looking down and scuffling the dirt with the toe of my shoe?)  A lot going on this past week on so many fronts…

Mistakes have been made.

I’ve made them, you’ve made them, we all have.

Some have bigger consequences than others.

Ironically, part of the text for John’s sermon yesterday included these words about Peter on the Mt. of Transfiguration “He did not know what to say…”  This comes right after “Peter said…” (Mark 9) Continue reading

6 Sentences Jesus Followers Need to Learn to Say in the Midst of Controversy

It’s an unusually cool morning in Florida and the wind is blowing.  As I rode my bike to Starbucks I thought of one day when Katy was little and came in from outside.  She said, “Mommy, the wind struggles me!”

Yep, Katester, the wind has been struggling us this week.  Winds of uncertainty and criticism and emotion and drama all stirred up out of a desire to serve God well and make wise choices that honor Him in a complex world.

Wind-struggling weeks (that we all have) are made more difficult when the decisions we’re making are public and impact thousands of people, like the one the World Vision Board announced this week. The stakes go up and it seems that no one wants to let any critical thought go un-tweeted or un-commented or un-updated.  Even the headline of a balanced article is mis-leading and inflammatory.

We, as Jesus followers, love (I love!) black and white.  We love clear-cut, “thus sayeth the Lord”, and “Bam! Take that you spawn of Satan!”  Ok, maybe not the last, but some responses feel that way – gleeful in their self-righteous put-downs.  And is this what Jesus desires of someone following Him?

This morning Michael Hyatt had an excellent post on 5 difficult sentences leaders need to learn to say.  It made me think that there are several sentences we Jesus-followers need to learn to say in the midst of controversial conversations (what the Bible calls “disputable matters”). Continue reading

Putting us Back Together

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend who is fighting a hard battle.  She looks fragile, but she is scrappy.

Prayerful.

And resolved.

She is grieving loss and pain and trauma, but also celebrating the simple fact that she is alive.  And alive is good.

Alive is something. Continue reading

Dear Birthday Girl

Dear Birthday Girl,

Happy 2nd anniversary of your 29th birthday!  I am celebrating you with confetti and streamers, drums and kazoos and baton twirling! (Can you see it?)

You, however, may be waking up this morning wishing you had a husband and kids bringing you a tray of burnt toast, sloshing orange juice on you as they tumble into bed with you.  It’s a nice picture and it may be your picture someday, but today God has given you a different photograph.

When I look at the snapshots of you – not Instagram with fancy filters, but the candid shots when you think others aren’t looking – I see someone who is beautiful and brave, but not afraid to admit when she’s unsure.  I see a leader impacting scores of young women with the courage to speak uncomfortable truth, but the grace to hang in with them when they mess up.  I see someone who isn’t timid to ask questions and one who sets the bar high for herself.  Someone asking Jesus when to wait and when to jump.

I know people say unhelpful things like “Jesus was single.” or “God is larger in your picture because He’s all you have.”  And you want to punch them in the face. (you have my permission).  You are amazing and strong.

In you I see a unique picture, but also one with something in common with everyone everywhere. Continue reading