After Easter

Good morning!  So many of you are new to this blog that I decided to re-post an offering from last year about this time.  I pray it is encouraging to you today!

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused... Continue reading

When is Your Zero Dark Thirty?

This morning I walked outside in the winter cold at zero dark thirty and looked up to see a partial moon and a few fragile stars clinging to the night.  It struck me that looking up is always the holiest part of my day.  I spend so much time looking down, mired in the minutia, pondering problems without the perspective of Power.  Looking up reminds me to bow down.  It made me think of this post from last year…

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding? Continue reading

The Words you Hear

This past weekend my husband John and I preached together at our church.  It’s always such an overwhelming and…sobering (?), scary (?) privilege to preach and ask for God’s voice to drown out anything of “us” that might distract.

We spoke on Mary and finding joy in the midst of any circumstances.  That was all fine, but then God totally messed with me.

In our sermon I shared about an experience I had had the night before.  I went to a dinner celebrating the birthday and an anniversary of sorts for a dear friend of mine.  Each of us gathered there brought a word or words to share that communicated some of the incredible value our friend has brought into our lives.  As we shared, our words were written in gold marker on a glass hurricane with a candle inside to be a reminder to her when she lights it, that words like beautiful, effervescent, intentional, and wise advisor describe how God is using her in the world.  It was a privilege to speak these words of truth to my friend.

In our sermon I said that most people don’t get to hear words of value and affirmation spoken over them by friends like that, but God desires to whisper His words of love to us every minute.  Mary’s joy and peace came from the fact that she knew who she was and whose she was.

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Pregnant, part 3

This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas.  You can read the first in the series here  and here if you want.

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding?

Continue reading

Pregnant, part 2

This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas.  You can read the first in the series here if you want.

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As I write this I’m in a lovely setting, looking out over our snowy Minnesota – an outward picture of peace and calm that is definitely not what I’m feeling inside.  In my fingers and toes and stomach is… fear – that indefinable tingly, insufficient, I can’t get it done emotion.  I need to do, to create, to produce and I don’t have it in me.  I’m not enough.

Is that feeling more common at Christmas than at other times of the year?

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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.

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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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On Mary and Getting Ready

It’s coming on christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace.

Joni Mitchell’s been singing those lyrics in my brain today.

It’s coming on Christmas…

and we’re in “getting ready mode”.

John’s been gone at meetings in Houston so I’ve been using the time to get the house ready for Christmas.

And, as I wrote last week, our daughter Maggie got engaged and would like an early summer wedding, so we’re getting ready for that which means constant g-chats and texts with the girls in D.C., and phone calls to check dates with…well, everyone.

And then over the weekend the “to do’s” of Christmas hit me.  You know, like when you’ve noticed that it started snowing but then you don’t look outside for awhile and when you look again you can’t believe how it’s piled up.  There’s a lot that I’ve promised to do that has snuck up on me like a silent snow drift.

And I’m grateful for a full life, but I need to get ready for all of it.

This morning, in between doing all this getting ready stuff there were several distinct moments of silence and solitude when it felt like God said, “Hold it.  Shhhh.  I’m here.”

And in those moments I wondered what getting ready for Christmas really looks like.

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What do you do with Easter after Easter?

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused...

She’s so wrapped up in her own despair she doesn’t recognize Jesus.  And He’s RIGHT THERE! With her.  But at first her grief is larger than her God.  It’s all she can see.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

And Jesus asks her “Why are you crying?

I imagine a gentle tone and understanding in His eyes.  And I think, “What would Mary have answered?”

“I’m wrecked.  I’m disillusioned.  I’m lonely.  I’m afraid.  I don’t know what to do.”?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

And then Jesus says her name.  “Mary.”  And I imagine it like a parent would softly say the name of a distraught toddler as they tried to soothe away their tears.

In that one word it seems Jesus is telling Mary, and us, so many things.

I’m here.  And it will be ok because I’m here.  I see you.  I understand your pain.  I hurt with you. Just a few days ago I was the one saying “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  So I get it.  Really.

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you.  I have summoned you by name.  You are mine.”

So for Joyce and Katie and Sue and Nikki, and so many others I pray that you might sense Jesus turning to you and asking “Why are you crying?”  That you might sense Him truly enter into your pain and gently say your name.

Sometimes I guess I just need to be reminded that Easter isn’t just about Easter.  It’s about all those days after Easter when we cry or feel desperate or disappointed or alone and it seems like Jesus has left the building.  But He hasn’t.  So maybe I’ll leave the Easter decorations up another week.

Canceling Church, part 2

Merry day after Christmas!  I hope you had a lovely day, fully present to Jesus and loved ones around you.  

Friday I posted on different attitudes towards canceling church on Christmas day, including my own whine well reasoned argument against John signing our family up to lead in worship.  Well the troops rallied and it was a delightful day.  Since I’m following the advice of my blog “mentor”, Jon Acuff and taking a little break this week, I thought I’d just post what I shared in church yesterday. 

Twenty-six years ago this past week John and I were waiting for a baby to arrive.  It was Advent so we were waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  But we were also expecting our first baby.

I was 8 months pregnant and like all expectant parents we were discussing names.   We couldn’t agree, but it wasn’t for lack of resources.

We had a baby book with the meanings of names.

And even a Christian version with Bible verses for each name’s meaning.

And then we had, you know… the whole BIBLE, with all those holy names to choose from.  But…we had…issues.

I had been an elementary school teacher which meant we had to nix any names that had belonged to problem kids I had had in class.  I used to love the name Jeremy until I had a third grade “Jeremy” who was worse than Dennis the Menace and Osama bin Laden.  So Jeremy was out.  And so was Alex.  And Michael.

Then we had trouble agreeing on the type of name.  I like unusual names, and would have no problem naming a child Zechariah (my cousin has kids named Cosmo and Zappa so he’d feel right at home).  But John likes the classics (and the name “John” in particular), so there was no way we could agree on a boy’s name that was acceptable.  It’s a good thing we had a girl.

When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph didn’t have to have the “What shall we name him” conversation fraught with the potential disagreements.  I know there are a lot of downsides, to being the parents of the Messiah, but this is a perk.  They had an ANGEL show up and say, “Here’s the deal.  You’re gonna have a baby and I want you to name Him Jesus.  Got that?  Jesus.   Not Joe.”  

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Christmas Card Fail

One of the casualties of the Holiday Ham meltdown ’11 was our family Christmas card and letter.  We’re not going to do one this year to save some money.  As the Christmas Queen who wants to do everything Christmas, and who’s dream is to be a snowflake in the Holidazzle parade, you can bet this wasn’t my vote.  I’m really into tradition.  We even have a book where we keep all our family Christmas cards through the years.

But maybe it’s better this way.  I received a link to The Best of the Worst Holiday Cards yesterday and I’m thinking some of ours might make the cut.  We were really into holiday sweaters.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking…What if Mary and Joseph wrote a Christmas letter a couple of years after Jesus was born?  It might have begun like ours did in 1987, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”?

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