5 Questions About…Mentoring

Do you have friends who you look forward to spending time with because they are just. so. much. FUN?  Heather is one of those people in my life.  I know whenever we get together the ideas will be exploding like confetti and laughter will punctuate our conversation.   She is the discipleship pastor at the National Community Church in D.C. – one of the most vibrant and innovative faith communities I know.  Heather has also written two books, Community is Messy (about small group ministry) and Amazed and Confused (about Habbakuk).  You should check them out!

HZ.20131.  One of the things I admire about you is the way you build into others around you.  How did that come to be a value in your ministry?

I don’t think there was one catalytic moment; it was just a slow process of recognizing the way that God was working in my life and taking note of where I was feeling most fulfilled, seeing the most fruit, and having the most fun. I was captivated by 2 Timothy 2:2, realizing that the only investments we can make that truly last are the investments we make in other people.  Growing people grow people. I’d rather grow people than manage programs.

2.  Can you tell about an experience you have had with someone who built into you and what you learned from it? Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!


So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  


What Hagar Taught me About Peace, part 2

 I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the second.

Some things are just tough.

Like figuring out why people are fascinated with Snooki, or how to fold fitted sheets, or what makes some people able to eat a kabillion Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and not gain a pound.

Or, you know…how to achieve peace between all the people in all the places.

When it comes to the Middle East I keep wanting to say, “Lord I’m a bear of Very Little Brain” like Winnie the Pooh.

I have a long way to go, but God is patient and often a theme gradually emerges.  Yesterday I wrote

The truest thing I’m learning about peace is that keeping people at a distance makes it easy to demonize them.

But coming close topples the walls of misunderstanding.

This morning God reinforced this as I re-read the story of when God comes close to Hagar. Continue reading

Three Scathingly Brilliant Ideas and Two Words

My nickname in our family is “Idea Woman”.  Often I am mocked with the refrain “God loves you and Laura has a wonderful plan for your life.”

It’s ok.  I’ll own it.  I can’t help the way my mind works.  Ideas just kind of spurt out like fireworks.

While they were growing up, the girls and I used to watch the old movie “The Trouble with Angels” about Haley Mills causing mischief in a catholic boarding school.  We often repeat her line, “I have a scathingly brilliant idea! with a gleam in our eyes.

All that to say, in the past couple years I’ve been struck by three things that friends have done that seem scathingly brilliant and I want to share them with you.  These are not my ideas.  I just wish I had thought of them! 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

Who’s at Your Table? Really

Last week we gathered some couples in our home for a casual dinner of chicken chili and ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce.  We lit candles, and a fire in the fireplace and it snowed outside.  The house was almost all decorated for Christmas except our tree wasn’t up yet.  It felt cozy and I loved getting to know these folks better, connecting them to each other.

One thing we often do when we have new friends over is to ask each person to write down a little known fact or hobby, or experience, or accomplishment.  We fold the papers, put them in a bowl and draw them out one at a time.  As we read them, we try to guess who wrote each one.

Afterwards, here’s a picture I posted on Instagram.


Continue reading

Two Questions to Consider Every Day

This week is the one year anniversary of the start of this little blog.

A year ago about this time I had nothing.

Ok, that’s “a lie from the pit of hell“, as daughter Maggie would say.  I “had” a lot of things.  A lovely home, and delightful family and friendships I treasured.  But it felt like I had nothing partly because I didn’t have an impressive job title.  Actually I didn’t have any job title.

I felt like an untethered space station floating in the inky cosmos.

We had just returned from a five month sabbatical and I was clueless about how the next season of my life would look.  What was my “place“?  Who was my “tribe“?  Was there anywhere God could use me to add value?

The answers seemed to be “nowhere”, “no-one”, and “nowhere” (again).

Maybe your circumstances are different, but you can relate.  You’re “in transition” (that horrible euphemism for “in a place that feels scary and directionless“). Or maybe you’re just feeling unsettled and under-utilized.

Continue reading

The Question that Fear Asks

Monday I wrote about fear (and btw have you seen those scary Orkin commercials about bed bugs??!!) and (more seriously) following a God who doesn’t fit our formulas.

As I’ve been facing my own fear at following Jesus I keep thinking about this story I heard a million years ago about a little boy trapped in the bedroom of his home which was on fire.

He was at the window, the home swallowed up in flames, no way out.  Smoke everywhere.

Below, a fireman called up to him, “Jump son!  I’ll catch you!  I’m here!”

The little boy screamed “No!  I can’t SEE you!!!”

“I know,” yelled the fireman, “but I can see YOU!  Jump!”

Cheesy story?  Maybe.  But it makes me think about the question fear asks of God.

The underlying question in the little boy’s heart was the question that fear asks:

What if…?

What if you don’t see me?

What if you miss?

What if you’re not strong enough?

What if I get hurt?

What if I look silly?

What if You catch me but it’s not a soft fall, or it isn’t the exact scenario I would like?

Sometimes I can’t see God.  And I’m afraid to jump.

Lord are You there?  Do You see me?  Are you big enough, strong enough…and do You love me enough to catch me?

(again, John, not me, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia)

What does Love ask of you today that’s scary?

To go someplace uncomfortable?  Talk to someone uncomfortable?  Serve in way that’s uncomfortable?

Quit a job, or stay in a job that’s hard?  Give something away?  Build a bridge, or shake the dust off your feet?

Are you afraid to jump?  I am.  And I’m thinking about the lyrics from this Nicole Nordeman song:

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What are you afraid of?

My Most Important Question

I’ve never been comfortable with questions, and gray, and lack of resolution.

Questions scared me.  Because, well…what if God, you know…wasn’t big enough?

I’m not by nature a doubter, but life has led me through gray, led me through “no answers”, through pound-on-the-floor dark frustration, and although I may have faltered, God hasn’t.

Continue reading

The Question to ask this Christmas Season

Most of us, full of Thanksgiving turkey, football, family fun (if you have a healthy family) or family angst (if yours is more dysfunctional) are ready to glide into the Christmas season like Santa on a sleigh filled with toys.

We’re also ready to ask the crucial questions of the season:

  • Is it really “Christian” to say “Happy Holidays”?  Is “Merry Christmas” in the Bible?
  • Is Santa a bad idea and what about that pesky new interloper, “Elf on the Shelf”? What’s a parent to do?
  • What’s the best way to manage the animals in a live nativity? (wrangling a camel is no small feat)
  • And along those same lines, is it appropriate to approach a pregnant woman in October or November and call dibs on her baby for the creche?
  • What’s the proper etiquette for Christmas Eve candle lighting?  Who tips and who holds their candle upright so there is no wax leakage or hair flameouts?
  • Is it legal to roll out ready-made Pilsbury sugar cookie dough for cutouts and pass them off as homemade?

I was thinking about this this morning as I was making my 18-foot long “to do” list.  I love to do lists!  I love EVERYTHING about Christmas!  But, like I wrote last week, I think that the activity of Christmas can hinder the activity of God in my life.  So while the questions above may be critical for some, the one question I want to ask myself daily this Advent season is,

“Will Christmas still come if I don’t do this one thing?”

If I say “no” to this invitation?

If I don’t make this gift?

If I don’t have this new decoration?

If I’m not the one to host?

What’s the one thing it would be a good idea to put on your “don’t do” list this season?  Really.  I’d love to hear.

I woke up this morning thinking of something John Ortberg once said, “Sometimes sleep is the most spiritual thing you can do.”