Fathers and God

Happy Father’s Day!  It’s raining here in Minnesota and our church picnic has been moved inside for later.  As I sat down and started writing this morning, considering people reading this in different places, I wondered what you might be thinking and feeling.

Some people have a really hard time thinking of God as their heavenly “Father”, because their experience of a father has been less than heavenly.  The fathers in their lives have been absent or abusive, or untrustworthy, or controlling.  So to call God “father” is not helpful.  I get that.  You may be more comfortable with an image of God as a mother, or a shepherd or a place of refuge. Great, go for it.

I understand too, that on Father’s Day there may be tangled hot mess of regret, anger, and confusion.  About Dads and God and longing to feel loved in ways you haven’t experienced, and trying to forgive hurts you don’t deserve.

There are many dad’s who don’t live into the name well.  Just like there are Christians who are hypocritical and mean-spirited and don’t live into the name well.

But not all dads disappoint all the time.  I’ve been privileged to know many extraordinary dads throughout my family.  My own dad, my grandfather, my brothers, and my husband… None of them perfect, but all of them remarkable men who each have modeled different godly characteristics that have enriched my understanding of God. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About God at Halloween

This is a re-post from two years ago.  I hope it’s an encouraging reminder this Halloween.

I think that Halloween is my husband’s favorite day of the year.  Odd, I know for a pastor.  The pc answer should be Easter,right?  But honestly, I think he likes Halloween best because there’s not much that brings him as much joy as handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single kid’s costume.  He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

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On Being Found

We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary today which brought to mind this post from last year.  For those of you newer to this blog, my hope is that it is encouraging to you today.

This is a story about me.  But it’s also about you.  Whether you’re married or single, read on.

Today is our 29th wedding anniversary.  And 28 years ago today was a bad day.

Our one year anniversary.

We were with family and friends at a cabin, high on a pine-filled shore overlooking a pristine lake in northern Wisconsin.

Cannon balls into the icy cold crystal blue.  Double tubing wars bumping  over the waves and plumpy only-in-the-summertime-at-the-cabin clouds overhead.  It seemed like a good day.

And it was.

Until husband John took his wedding ring off to ski and put it on the pier, asking our friend to watch it.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?  (And by the way, WHO takes their wedding ring off to ski???)

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When You Feel Like You’re Losing Yourself

“We are all so ruined, so loved, and in charge of so little.” Anne Lamott

Our daughter Maggie is getting married in 46 days.


When she got engaged in November many people asked with concern in their voices “How are you doing?”

“Great!” I responded.  “Austin (her fiancé) is terrific and I’m excited for them!”

And then, last week, driving down highway 100 at 4:00 in the afternoon, thinking of the possibility that Maggie and Austin may move to California (you know, like, at the opposite end of the world, and a continent away from daughter Katy), I found myself sobbing and thinking “I’m NOT ok!  I’m losing my baby!  I’m losing my family!  I’m losing my identity! I hate change!”

I. Am. Out. Of. Control.

Yes, I was a tad over-dramatic, but give me my moment.

Everything feels like it’s slipping, slipping, slipping out of my hands, out of my control, like the gooey “gak” I used to make with the kids when they were little.

Change.  Loss.  New beginnings.

I’m not the only one.  I have young friends who are graduating, some going back to school, and others who are moving, some taking big new risks.  My sister-in-law after much prayer, just resigned from a job she’s loved for years.

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Pregnant, part 1

Good morning!

As we move closer to Christmas it’s easy to let the busyness of preparation hijack my attention and ability to be present to God, so I thought I’d share posts this week that will each focus on a different spiritual practice that might be helpful.  It’s important for me as a spiritual ADD girl for sure, and I hope helpful for you too.

peace,                                                                                                                            Laura

I love Mary (as in mother of Jesus Mary).  Which is a little weird cuz I really bristle at some of what sometimes feels like the overboard Catholic put-her-on-a-pedestal-next-to-Jesus stuff.


She’s no shiny white above-the-fray-bullet-proof other-worldly woman.

But still.  I think she’s amazing and I’m fascinated with her.

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Olympic Parents and God

Watching the Olympics this week I’ve been struck by the parents of the athletes.  Invested, hopeful, prayerful, committed, passionate are just a few of the words that come to mind.

What a contrast to the image of God I think many of us carry around – the distant, more concerned-with-global-chaos or, out-of-touch-with-what-it’s-really-like “Being” who kind of nods or frowns or raises His eyebrows from afar.

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What Formed You in 2011?

Tuesday night was daughter Maggie’s last night at home and I asked the family what they felt had been the most formative relationship, experience or spiritual practice for each of them this past year.  Like, what has God used to mold us into people who are hopefully more like Him?

I’m thankful they’re a patient, gracious bunch and they humor me when I pose these questions from time to time (As a side note however, we have totally bombed at the Crosby family Scripture memory challenge, but that’s another story).  In answer to the formation question, what the two girls shared was related to a spiritual practice.  For my husband, John it was an experience.  How would you answer that question?

Mine was an experience too.  For me, processing loss  that I’ve experienced on a bunch of different fronts over the past few years, was what I felt God used to form a deeper understanding of His character resulting in greater peace.

As I processed the losses I struggled to trust that God was still at work on my behalf for His glory.  At one point this year I was riding my bike and in my spirit I ranted, “God I keep showing up, but it sure doesn’t feel like You are!”

And quietly, gently, I sensed the Holy Spirit respond, “Oh yes I am.”

And in that moment I realized that I was equating “showing up” with ACTION.  My way.  My time! (like immediately).

After that little interaction, God kept bringing to mind example after example to correct my misperception.

“You may have experienced loss, but…

I am at work in unseen ways like with Elisha, surrounding him with horses and chariots (2 Kings 6:15-17)

I am never late.  I have a plan like with Lazarus (John 11)

I hear and respond whether you see it right away or not like with Daniel (Daniel 10:12-13).”

“God is a God who sometimes hides Himself but never a God who absents Himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.”  Matthew Henry

We’re all works in process, right?  We’ve never arrived.  But I think my answer to “What has formed you?” would be wrestling with God in loss.  And what He seems to be forming is trust and peace.  Slowly but surely.  What about you?

As you look back on 2011 what has been the most formative relationship, experience, or spiritual practice in your life?  What do you think God desires to form in you through it?

Come Holy Spirit

I was maneuvering laboriously, with stops and starts, through the parking lot at Costco yesterday, thinking for the millionth time that the Costco parking lot is either an outer ring of hell or a brilliant opportunity for spiritual formation.  

As I dodged runaway giant shopping carts,

and waited for pedestrians absorbed in studying their shopping lists wandering blindly in the middle of the row,

and backed up for cars in front of me that slammed on their brakes upon spying the tell-tale white reverse lights of a car vacating a parking place they could nab

I thought of a spiritual practice a friend of mine has been advocating.  The simple practice of saying “Come Holy Spirit” throughout the day in situations like this that require patience, understanding, and discipline beyond me.

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Hormones and Ham, Messes and Mis-understanding

One of us in our family had a meltdown Friday night.  It might have included an ugly cry and talk about budgets, Christmas cards, ham, and insensitive comments.

My husband and I both worked really hard to understand each other, but OK, honestly John worked at it a lot harder than I did because, well, not to be sexist, but I’m a girl.  And he feels really bad when I cry.

On this night our discussion was kind of like a Christmas movie marathon that seems to go on forever and eventually the stories seem to start blurring together and you get really tired.  But John persisted and kept asking questions and listening until he finally said something and I grabbed him and yelled with great joy, “YOU SAID IT RIGHT THAT TIME!”

I felt like he finally got it.  He understood.  And he felt like he had vanquished the Abominable Snow Monster, guided Santa’s sleigh through the blizzard, and saved Christmas in that moment.  He was my hero again.

It made me think of what Joseph must have gone through with Mary.  I mean really.  Jesus was fully human AND fully God, but Mary was just human!  She was hormonal, and still in her teens, and unmarried and poor.  And an angel had beamed down to have a chat with and her fiance.

Think of the conversations Mary and Joseph must have had as they navigated this crazy journey of morning sickness, and gossipy friends, and a long “road” trip without McDonald’s bathrooms!  There must have been tears and confusion.  Trying to understand what each other was feeling.  Trying to support each other.

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Three words from the heart of God

I love biking and walking the paths we have in abundance here in Minnesota.  While I prefer the 5 months of the year when we get beauty and color and warmth, and have been begging the trees to hold onto their leaves, I’ll walk in basically any weather conditions.  As I walk or ride around our lakes, I notice that there are always stretches that are my favorite – the lush, wooded shady parts.

But there are also barren stretches that I’d really rather skip.  Very much like the seasons of my life I’d rather fast-forward through.  Thistly and ugly.

The other day I was riding my bike and there was such a stiff headwind that it was really difficult to move forward.  Struggling against brisk gales, I rode along a stretch where I had never been before.  A dead and ugly stretch.  But then

I noticed something odd and seemingly out of place in the dull brown grasses.  It was a bench with “Come to me and I will give you rest” etched on it.  And next to it, someone had left a pair of sneakers.

An old friend of mine, Billy Sprague once wrote a song called Press On.  Part of the lyrics go like this:                                              I was down in the valley of the shadow of death,                                                                    Where the passion for life drained like blood from my chest,                                               And it took more than my will just to take a step and the compass of hope was gone…   Some days I found faith meant just tying my shoes and it was all I could do to press on.

It made me think about the invitation to rest, and the words “I will give.” spoken by God

I will give you a new heart, I will give you the bread of life.  I will give you a new name. I will give you words and wisdom.  I will give you abundant life.  I will give you a place.

I will give my life for you.

The other day I rode by again.  The bench was there.  The shoes were gone.  I like to think that someone leaned into what Jesus had to give and found there the strength to tie their shoes and press on once again.

What do you need most for God to give you today?  What words do you most need to hear?