Birthdays, Feeling the Awesomeness, and a Spiritual Practice

A little re-post from a couple years ago…Have a happy Monday and remember you’re awesome! (even without a hat)


Here’s an email one of our daughters sent to friends recently, asking them to save October 15th.  Why that day?   Here’s what she wrote:

“Because it’s magical.  Because it’s the day of my birth!  And I demand that you all celebrate with me.  I don’t have an exact plan yet, but you can assume that it will involve you all, celebratory beverages, and you all telling me how glad you are that I was born.

I love it!  Now of course she was writing that tongue in cheek.  She’s not at all arrogant, but unlike most of us, she does have a pretty healthy self-image. 

I, on the other hand, am more like the rest of the world, and deal with insecurity in varying degrees depending on how many cookies I’ve eaten, a song I heard on the radio, and the barometric pressure that day.

I love Mark Batterson’s thought: “Our focus determines our reality.”

Am I focusing on ME and how I stack up compared to everyone else?  Or am I focusing on GOD and the truth that I am a beloved child of His and He delights in me? Continue reading

2 Questions, 2 Truths

When you I write a blog post I rarely never have the time to find all the scrumptious words or present my offering with the “voila!” of someone serving a gourmet feast at Thanksgiving.

But this morning, more than most, I feel like I’m serving up “bare naked chicken” – just a couple of things I’ve been thinking about that seem to go together.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a sermon podcast by Craig Groeschel and honestly I can’t remember the point of the sermon because as an aside (not having to do with the message at all), he said his counselor had asked him two questions.

Those two questions are what my mind keeps returning to.  Here’s what they are: Continue reading

What to do When You Don’t Have X-Ray Vision

I played a tennis match awhile ago against an amazon-like woman who wore her anger like the too-tight tennis dress she had on.

I tried to talk friendly. “Wow it looks like you’ve been somewhere warm!” I said admiring her tan.

She glared at me. “No.  No place,” she said emphatically.  “I just do this for tennis.” indicating a self-tanner.

“Have you played long?”

“Awhile.” Scowl.

We played.  She scowled more.  Gave terse answers to my attempts to get to know her.  Told me I was flat-out wrong on a line call.  She got mean.

She scared me.  Honestly!

I started praying while I played “Lord what is going on with this woman?”  This is crazy.  This is stupid soccer mom tennis, not Wimbledon.”

“Hurting people hurt people.” I heard in my head.  Then I realized it wasn’t anger she was wearing, but shame.  And sadness.

After the match I tried once again.  It turned out she was just back after maternity leave.  I’m sure she had been up with a baby and was sleep-deprived.  It became clear she was feeling fat and ugly and not at all “herself”.

I remember those hard-to-feel-beloved-when-you’re-so-cross-eyed-tired-and-barely-have-time-to-shower days.

It made me wonder how often we mistake shame for anger. We see the battle fatigues someone is wearing and miss the tattered t-shirt of pain hiding beneath.

Continue reading

The One that Jesus Loves (More than Me)

Confession:  Every once in awhile (read: way too often), I look at ______, or _______, or _______  and I compare myself and come up short and decide I’m going to throw in the towel.

No, nothing drastic, but just I’m just going to quit “showing up”.

Jesus clearly has gifted “them” more, is using “them” more powerfully, loves “them” more.

I decide, yep, I’m going to give up writing or parenting, or setting goals, or mentoring or exercising or speaking or being available, or risking…

This has prompted me to question, “What is it that inhibits and what is it that inspires us to live our unique story?”

What motivates you to become a better version of yourself?  To celebrate the work God wants to do uniquely through you?

And conversely, What is destructive to your true self – the self that finds meaning in being a beloved child of God?

This is not a new struggle and I know I’m not alone. Can I get an “Amen!”?

As I’ve been talking with God about this yelling “Lord help me figure this out! Now!”  He brought to mind this little exchange in John 21 (remember John is writing):

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them…When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”  Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”


You know how John has that irritating way of referring to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved”?  I wonder how that made Peter feel.  Was he tempted to buy into the lie that John was the ONE (the only one) Jesus loved?  More than anyone else?  Was he tempted to compare and be blinded to the ways that Jesus loved him and wanted to use his unique gifts, temperament and experience?

Jesus basically says, “Quit looking at his his life, his “likes”, invitations, followers, hits, gifts, retweets, his family, his successes or failures and look at Me.

Because I have a story I want to write through you that I can’t write through him.”

I believe Jesus says that to us too.

And so we can say: “I’m the one that Jesus loves.  And so is he.  Or she.

God has given me a unique voice and a valuable story.

And God has given them a different voice and different valuable story.”

You have gifts and relationships and experiences and a platform that I don’t have.  That no one else has in the exact same combination.

I pray you’ll move into this Monday celebrating that you’re the one Jesus loves and is using in a way that He can use no one else.

What’s one thing you can celebrate about your unique voice today?

The Voice of Fear on Fearless Friday

I do not think of myself at an insecure person.  So writing these next sentences feels a little like Lance Armstrong must have felt coming clean with Oprah.  Except for the fact that I don’t have millions to lose and I’ve never won a bike race and I’m not a guy. Ok, it’s totally different, but here’s my confession.

I’ve been decidedly daunted this week.  Perfectly paralyzed. Buffeted by the winds of self-doubt and discouragement.

This seemed to come out of nowhere, but when I stopped to pray and reflect I can trace the beginnings to a Tweet.  Yep, it took just 140 insensitive characters to take me down.  “Really?”  you’re saying.  Really?

And then there was a post by someone who made me furious and jealous at the same time.

And a word here or the lack of a word there…

Holy Buckets!  Just days ago I was undaunted…bullet-proof, regardless of any spitballs that might be spat my way!  And now the spiral into the comparison trap that left me in a heap of ” Not good enough.  Not good enough.”

Ever end up there?  Maybe by a different road, but still?

Who or What is it in your life that brings up those feelings of fear or insecurity?

Recently I read this quote by Rick Warren that made me respond “Yes!”:

“Insecurity is an internal alarm that says you’re trusting in something that could be taken from you instead of [trusting in] Christ.”  

So I’ve been stewing and praying (sometimes the two look a lot alike) about how to deal with this.  It’s messy and it’s a process and it’s not easy.  Here are a few of the things I’ve been trying.

1.  Identify the voice. When you feel angry, or fearful, or jealous, or small, do you stop and think “Where is that coming from? Just who or what is really saying that to me?”  Why am I giving it such power in my life?  Why does it bring up this strong emotion in me?  Does it tap into a past wound that I need to address?

2.  Challenge the voice with the truth.  “Bring every thought captive to Christ.”  What would Jesus say in response to this narrative?   If the story in your head says anything other than that you are gifted by God, fearfully and wonderfully made, cherished by Him, created for good works that He has for you, it’s a lie and you need to tell it to shut up. (I know, easier said than done!)

3.  Manage what or who you’re allowing to get in your head.  For me this means ruthlessly putting up some boundaries.  Fasting from some social media, and un-following some people who are wonderful but bring out my worst self.  It may be totally different for you.  It might involve the people you spend time with or the shows you watch or where you go or whatever…

Why is this so important?

Because if we listen to the voice of fear and insecurity when God calls us to go, we’ll stay.

When He calls us to stay the course, we’ll run away.

When He calls us to speak, we’ll remain silent.  And I truly believe that all of our voices are valuable and needed in the kingdom.

Those are a few of my strategies.  What helps you?

P.S.  I wrote this and afterwards I saw this great image posted by John Acuff.  Happy Friday!



How to Make the Top 10 List

I read another list last week.  Twenty Women Leaders Under 40 You should Know.

There are so many of these lists it’s hard to keep them straight.  But in case you’re wondering, I’m not on this list and you probably aren’t either.  Especially if you’re a guy.

I’m not under 40.  I don’t speak to thousands of people.  I’m not beautiful or edgy or cool or a dynamic leader.  I don’t have hordes of “followers”.  I don’t belong on the list.  I had no remote expectation or even awareness that there WAS a list til I stumbled across it.  But still…I felt less than when I read it.  Can you relate?

There are some great women on that list!  Some of them I consider to be friends and I’m thrilled that they are being affirmed, but still…after I felt “small” in comparison, I got angry.  I got angry and I considered titling this post, “Lists are from the Devil”.  But then I thought that was a tad dramatic and would make me sound like one of those crazy “fundies”.  Honestly though, I think that title would be pretty accurate.

What do lists like this accomplish?  Twenty women feel special and important and the millions of people not on THE LIST who are making small courageous, sacrificial choices, sometimes just “showing up” each day, are tempted to believe the lie that Satan loves to whisper.

YOU know the whisper: “They matter, but you don’t.”

So, I’m publishing my own list.  My list is made up of the 7 billion people in the world who will never be on a list that is Tweeted about or written up in a newspaper or magazine.  My list is The Top 7 Billion People You Should Know About.

My list includes Betsy who has MS, but painfully crawls out of bed each day with the help of a caregiver and prays for others in our church.

And Eric who is 12 and moved here from another country, with English as his 4th language, trying to ignore the taunts of other adolescent boys as he struggles to learn to read.

Rhonda is on my list.  A young woman who moved to Indonesia 20 years ago with her husband and eventually, kids, living sacrificially to serve the Muslim people with the love of Jesus.

And Loveness, Givison, Michael, and Sakina, our World Vision sponsored children in remote parts of the world for whom each day is a mountain of poverty to climb.

There’s Christopher too.  A young man with a good heart who’s stumbling through life, grasping, searching for God though he doesn’t know it.

And you.  You are on my list because wherever you are in the world you need to know you matter.

You may have wounds that no one knows about and challenges that no one sees and you’ll make brave choices and small sacrifices today. You’ll make mistakes too and you’ll fall down and stub your toe but you’ll get back up and keep going.

Yes, keep going.

Bottom line?  I don’t think God is a god of lists (at least not this kind).  Lists seem to be too much like assigning “places of honor at the table”…not exactly a kingdom deal.  So it really it’s no biggie that you’re on “my” list, but maybe the this will make a difference…

“You have searched me, Lord, and you Know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Ps. 139:1-5.

If God has a list, you’re on it.  How do you make it?  Just breathe.  And know that you matter.  You are loved.

A Blog, a Bomb, and a Book

As I write this we’re on vacation in my happiest place.  A place of fresh cut grass and warm breezes and colorful flowers and sand-between-my-toes that we’ve been blessed to enjoy for years thanks to some hospitable and gracious friends.

Anyway, vacation is a great time for me to catch up on podcasts and reading along with the fun of activity with great friends.  It’s Spirit Stretch Friday so I thought I’d share a few resources I’ve enjoyed this week.  Actually, maybe “enjoyed” isn’t entirely accurate.  In some cases “convicted” might be more accurate.  As I look at them they’re all kind of about coming up short. Maybe you’ll be able to relate.

The first is a fantastic blog post from Steven Furtick.  If you struggle with insecurity and doubts about yourself (and I think if you’re breathing you probably do), take a look at this and finish the devil’s sermons.

Along those same lines, Andy Stanley preached a great sermon titled, The Comparison Trap.  He talks about the land of “er” and “est” where when we compare and don’t measure up we either hate the other person or hate ourselves.  Toward the end he asked a question that shook me to my core (That was the “bomb” of the post title.  More on that later).  Take a listen.

The last resource is a book I’ve been reading called Flunking Sainthood (A year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving my Neighbor).  This is a memoir by Jana Riess who writes about her year-long experiment of trying twelve spiritual practices – one a month.  I’m still in the middle of this and am not sure what I think about it as a whole, but Riess writes with delightful humor and some interesting insights.  While experimenting with Lectio Divina she reads all of the book of Mark all month because she doesn’t want to turn “Eat This Book  [Eugene Peterson’s book on Bible reading] into Eat This, Not That, picking and choosing only the loveliest passages that fit with my existing understanding of faith.”

Hope you find some good reminder from God in one of these and have a delightful weekend!

Birthdays and feeling the Awesomeness

Here’s an email one of our daughters sent to friends recently, asking them to save October 15th.  Why that day?   Here’s what she wrote:

“Because it’s magical.  Because it’s the day of my birth!  And I demand that you all celebrate with me.  I don’t have an exact plan yet, but you can assume that it will involve you all, celebratory beverages, and you all telling me how glad you are that I was born. “

I love it!  Now of course she was writing that tongue in cheek.  She’s not at all arrogant, but unlike most of us, she does have a pretty healthy self-image. 

I, on the other hand, am more like the rest of the world, and deal with insecurity in varying degrees depending on how many cookies I’ve eaten, a song I heard on the radio, and the barometric pressure that day.

I LOVE Mark Batterson’s thought: “Our focus determines our reality.”

Am I focusing on ME and how I stack up compared to everyone else?  Or am I focusing on GOD and the truth that I am a beloved child of His and He delights in me?

That’s is why this little exercise I read in a Beth Moore study has been really helpful.  Thought I’d share it for Spirit Stretch Friday.

Personalize Romans 8 by filling in the blanks.

“I am convinced that neither _____________nor _________________will be able to separate [me] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Your first thought might be, “Oh that’s nice”, but really think about it! What would YOU put in the blanks today?   Is it a person who’s been critical, a loss, a failure, ?

Do you struggle with insecurity?  How do you deal with it?  If you’re a man is it different for you?