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

Lost In Soweto and Bethlehem

“Let us drown out the howling nonsense of Gomorrah with the melodies of the New Jerusalem.” – Spurgeon

In 1996, shortly after the Rwandan genocide, just when AIDS was gaining attention, not many years after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, we got lost in Soweto.

There were six of us, white americans crammed in a car, driving around in circles until we stumbled upon the place where Nelson Mandela came and spoke after his release from prison. As I remember, it it was large and cavernous.  We walked inside, the only ones there.

In the silence, our friend started singing in a crystal clear voice, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

The notes softly bounced off the ceiling, the floor, the walls.  It was a holy moment.  We let it wash over us.  It was a melody of the New Jerusalem.

Many years later I walked into the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, crowded with tourists, wanting a piece of Jesus, but not necessarily wanting the sacrifice necessary for Peace. Continue reading

Peace in the Middle East and at Starbucks, the Sequel

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
Orson Welles 

I shared the beginning of a story last week and today, the tide of the war has turned once more.  This morning usurper guy was back in “my” spot.  I think he may have looked a tad guilty as I walked by.

photo-58

John says he thinks it’s more like an illegal immigrant situation than a land fight in the Middle East.  He blames our friend Cory, the barista, or “border guard” for letting usurper guy slip through.  Cory says he just turned his back for a minute…took a break.  He doesn’t want to take responsibility for losing ground on his watch.

I sit at my “less than best” table and look longingly at what I’ve lost.  But then I screw up my courage, walk over, introduce myself.  I try to make small talk. Continue reading

The Story God’s Given You on Fearless Friday

I had a great phone conversation recently with a high capacity leader on the other side of the country.  She is confident, bold, and faithful in using the gifts God has given her.  She inspired me, and challenged me. I walked away from our conversation encouraged…with renewed passion.

Usually I love to read how God is at work in the lives of others!  I love to ask people where they’re noticing the work of God.  Love to hear stories of big faith and audacious prayers.

Conversations like I had with my leader friend are an important part of living into community.  But if that’s all I’ve got, that’s not enough.  We can’t just live off of someone else’s story.  We each need a first-hand experience of God.  I love the way Mark Batterson says this.  “God’s dream for you is bigger than a second-hand faith.”

Sometimes, though, we’re tempted to settle for second-hand.  Easier to cheer from the sidelines than get in the race because…you know…

Continue reading