Is God Always the Hard Choice?

It’s One Word Friday!

Ok, so I’m not sure how I got there, but after becoming a Christian in my teens, I fell into a default mode that always assumed that God’s will must be the hardest, and most painful choice I was faced with.

Broccoli or brownie?  Broccoli must be more holy.

Cat or dog?  God surely hates cats so He must want to refine my character by inflicting a cat on me (if this is true, I’m not committed enough to be a disciple) Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

Happy One Word Friday!  I think some of the ways we “Choose Life” (my two words) are by choosing truth, choosing grace, and choosing to delight in the gifts of God.  I thought I’d share some of those gifts that have been delighting me lately.  What about you?  Share what’s delighted you lately in the comments! Continue reading

About Ellen and Giant Space Acorns and Choosing Life

It’s One Word Friday!  How’s it been going for you?  Has your word changed your life or do you have a hard time remembering what it is?  Here are some of my recent thoughts on Choose Life.

Text message convo with daughter Maggie…

Me: Guess who I just ran into at the pool??!!!

Maggie: Ellen???!!

Me: Close, but no.  Not this time.

Maggie and I love Ellen (Degeneres) and are pretty sure she wants to meet us and be best friends.  We also made it to the finals auditioning for the Amazing Race as a team.                        And we’ve visited the giant space acorn (which is probably on your bucket list too).

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All that to say, we set our sites pretty high.  No halfway stuff for us.

I figure, in John 10:10 Jesus didn’t say, “I have come so that your life might be kind of okay.”

Then the other day I was having a conversation with my husband (small caveat: it may have been 6 am and he may still have been half-asleep when we had this conversation).

Me: Honey, Light of my Life, what are some exciting things you’d like to do in the next 10 years?

Husband: “Road trips.  Like up the coast of Oregon and Washington State.”

Me: Road trips???!!  NOOOOOOO!  Wrong answer!  (You think you know a person!)

Husband:  What are some exciting things YOU’D like to do in the next 10 years?

Me: Hike Machu Pichu, teach with you in Africa, hang glide in Switzerland, are the first things that come to mind.

Husband:  Well, whatever you die of it won’t be boredom.

True, but as I look back over my “high expectations” I think, how many of them are eternal?  How many of them reaaaaallly matter?

When we “choose Life” we’re choosing to live into all of God’s abundance, but He also warns us about investing in what won’t last.  And then there’s that whole annoying thing about losing our life in order to gain it.  And the reminder to “live a life worthy of our calling.”

I love it when choosing life includes my passport, or chocolate, or doing anything outside preferably with really exciting people.  But what about when choosing life means choosing inconvenience or grace, or discipline or service?

When I’m not sure, this reminder helps:

Choosing life will always be consistent with choosing love.

Choose life = Choose love.

So today I’m thinking about the “Life” I’m choosing.   What about you?  How’s it going?

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Changing the To Do List to Choose Life

The other morning I was up early, before husband John (as usual), but no worries.  Did I wake him?  No, that would be sooooo inconsiderate!  Instead I left him a note in the bathroom.  It read something like this:

Sweet Baboo (NOTE: I did not say “baboon”),

I woke up remembering…

And could you please…

And while you’re at it…

And don’t forget to buy….

love,

your adoring, romantic, AWAKE wife

Upon reflection, I write a lot of these notes which reinforce the business of marriage much more than the delight.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.  So these were my notes this morning: Continue reading

Living Instead of Liking a Better Story

First, let me say loud and clear: I LOVE the ministry of Jen Hatmaker!  I think she is an amazing, funny, inspiring, kingdom-loving mom and leader.  If you’ve been following this blog long you’ll remember when we did our own “experimental mutiny against excess” motivated by her book, 7, so clearly she’s been influential.  If you haven’t read her stuff, you should!

But the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across this:

photo-8The rest of the update reads: “…minutes past Remy’s bedtime. Tra la la.”

So I’m looking at this and thinking, “Oh, that’s nice.  Family.  Beginning of summer.  Building good memories.”

I’m happy she could post that, but it’s not a big deal, right?  It’s not like her kids won American Idol or converted Kanye West.  I would hope many of you could post some nice slice of a pre-bedtime moment if you have kids, or a nice pic of you and friends relaxing on your deck if you don’t, right?

What baffles me is what’s under the update.  4,700 people “liked” this, and 138 people commented!

I showed husband John and asked him why he thought so many people engaged with a simple picture of someone’s kids playing in their back yard.  He said something which I thought was brilliant (I think most of what he says is pretty brilliant though).  He said: Continue reading

Choosing Life When All We Can See is Death

It’s “spring” in Minnesota which means when I woke up this morning and it was gray and cold my first thought was, “Thank God it’s not snowing or raining again.”

Spring in Minnesota looks like a boat-load of ugly.

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Yes, this is the mountain of soot-covered snow still in our parking lot.  We’re thinking we could raise money for missions if we take bets on the date it will finally be gone (and 4th of July is not out of the question).

It does NOT seem like an easy time to choose life.  Or to remember that life is there, beneath the surface, hidden in the ugliness of brown dirt.  It’s hard to remember that God WILL actually transform that ugliness at some point in the near future.

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It’s much the same with seasons, or days of our life.  We can recite “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.” but we think, “HOW in the WORLD is God going to change this mistake, this sin, this pain, this relationship and bring LIFE and Beauty from it???  How will God redeem it at all?” Continue reading

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?

 

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.”

And then there’s Jen Hatmaker who writes, “At some point, the church stopped living the Bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts.  We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming.”

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?

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

Learning From Those Who are Dying and Those Who Are Living

On Tuesday some dear friends welcomed their first baby, Nel.  New life, greeted with great joy.IMG_5900

This morning, Wednesday, we got word that a 93 year old friend had entered the kingdom of heaven overnight.  He had a mind as sharp as our polar vortex wind, but the body of a helpless infant.  The last time we visited him he had been in hospice at home for over a month and when we saw him he felt like he was just. done.  He was ready to greet death with great joy.

Upon Dallas Willard’s death, John Ortberg wrote of him:

“He (Dallas) said that a person is a series of conscious experiences, and that for the one who trusts and follows Jesus, death itself has no power to interrupt this life, for Jesus said that the one who trusts in him will not taste death.  Dallas died on May 8, 2013. I’m not sure if anyone has told him yet.” Continue reading