Living Small and Unnoticed

The other day I sit down at Starbucks feeling a tad sorry for myself, because I’m not  with the cool kids talking about all the important things.  Flashbacks to the Jr. High lunchroom.  Are you with me?

I’m feeling a little jealous of all of those “living large and loud”, being seen and heard and achieving the big stuff.  Heck, let’s call it what it really is: self-absorption.

I’m journalling.  Talking to the Story-writer of my life, asking for a CLIMACTIC EVENT, when I look  down and see the pen that I’m using.  It is from a training center in Bethlehem, inscribed in English and Arabic.  And I stop.  So…convicted. Continue reading

After Valentine’s Day

We’re all in different relationships where we want to love and be loved well – friends, or spouses, daughters or colleagues.

A couple weeks ago was Valentines Day.

The first year we were married my husband took me to a car wash on Valentine’s Day.  One where you have to do the washing yourself.  Ahem… We’ve both learned a lot since then.

This year, John, who is the best anywhere, delivered flowers and donuts to me at Starbucks. He’s getting better at my love languages, although I’m multi-lingual so it’s pretty easy.  I just don’t understand “car wash-ese”.


But I can speak it so I tried to communicate in his dialect by washing his car and buying him mocha chip ice cream.

It was a good day.  But I’m not crazy about the idea that there’s this one 24 hour period of grand romantic gestures with a lot of bling and pizzazz. Continue reading

What do you do with Jesus on the Corner, part 2

I think we’ve been getting better these days at being honest about the ugliness and selfishness and failures in our lives.  We call it authenticity and we put a high value on it.

In the past we’ve been better at just showing our shiny side and talking a good game.  So now we make a big deal about how much we fall short.  And it’s really good that we know that we’re all in this screw up boat together.

I’m comfortable sharing my failures.  There’s a lot of material there!  But I think we also need to be honest about those tiny moments of grace and small wins.  We need to say “Look!  With God’s help we can do this!”

Wednesday I shared my recent experience driving by a homeless woman and the fears that went through my head as I did.  I didn’t stop.  I want to be honest about the many times I’ve let Jesus down.

But last winter there was a different Jesus on the corner.  I was in Florida and it was early morning.  I was riding my bike to Starbucks as the sun came up pink over the palms and the boats moored in the harbor.

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What do you do with Jesus on the Corner?

I caught just a glimpse of Jesus as I turned right from the exit ramp off the highway and onto Excelsior Boulevard Sunday afternoon.

But He looked like a she.  She was young and round and sweating in the hot summer sun; holding a sign that said “Pregnant and Homeless”.

Only, apparently she hadn’t taken “Homelessness 101” because she wasn’t standing in the “right” spot where homeless  folks camp – the spot where cars have to stop and it’s easy to hand something out the window.

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A Near Death Experience

There’s a prerequisite for heaven.  It’s called death.

You remember that line from the movie, Princess Bride?  “There’s dead and then there’s mostly dead.”

The other day I realized I was only mostly dead.  Or even less than that.  Maybe just a smidge dead.

But I wanted to be SEEN as totally dead.  Dead to self.  To selfishness.  To self-centeredness.

Several times in the course of two days I gave time and effort and gave up comfort to go out of my way and serve someone.

And you know what?  It didn’t seem to matter at all.  No one said “thanks”, much less threw a parade.

The kid I tutor was rude and uncooperative.  The meal I made for someone didn’t fit their dietary restrictions.  And, and, and…

And my bratty 13-year-old self, wanted a high five or at least a little “Woohoo!” from Jesus.  And by that I mean from everyone around me.

The main person I really wanted to serve was myself.

I wanted the image of serving others, and the perk of being noticed and admired.

I wanted it to look like I had a shiny outside but my inside was pretty gross…maggoty in fact.

Have you ever recognized this in yourself?  Maybe once?

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A Conversation about Flour and Oil

Monday I wrote about how God has used the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath to teach me.  Did it sound like a piece of cake?

Not so much.

Here’s an honest conversation I had with the Lord recently.

Me: Lord, I’m ticked…really disappointed and discouraged.  I kind of want to throw my handful of flour back in your face and call it a day.

Honestly, Lord??  What I REALLY want is for You to take my flour and oil and make a ginormous fancy-shmancy cake worthy of the Cake Boss, that people will “ooh” and “aahh” over.

But instead it seems like my flour and oil concoction usually turns out looking more like an ordinary, boring tortilla.

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How Fluent are You?

I like to say I’m multi-lingual.  I don’t speak Chinese, or even Spanish, but when it comes to love languages I’m fluent.  Or at least “fluid” as my husband would say.  And even then I’m afraid it’s often a one-sided conversation.  

You know the  5 love language idea that Gary Chapman popularized… How each of us have a primary way we feel most loved – through words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch, or acts of service.  These are ways we express and interpret love.

The thing is I love them all.  I’m not picky.  I love receiving love in ALL these ways!

I came home the other day and my husband John had taken down both Christmas trees and TOTALLY cleaned out and reorganized our storage room.  I thought, “Boy, do I have an ear attuned to the love language of service!”  Best Christmas present EVER!!

I SO wish I had a “before” picture so you could appreciate the enormity of this gift!

It got me to thinking though…You know how when you know a little of a foreign language it’s easier to understand what people are saying than it is to actually speak the language?  That’s kind of how I feel.  I have a lot more receptive language than expressive language.

How does anyone become more fluent in a foreign language?  Practice, and spending time with those who speak it well, right?

What would happen if we practiced speaking the love language of those closest to us today?  What if we paid more attention to the people around us who speak “love” most fluently and learned from them?  Like learning in “Love Immersion School”.

How do you like to be loved?  What love language are you trying to become more fluent in speaking?  I’m going to try to work on the love language of service today.

God of Inconvenience

Don’t you just hate it when God shows up and inconveniences you?

Yesterday I gave out my last McDonald’s gift card to a homeless person begging at a traffic light.  I’ve wrestled with this before.  (That’s not the inconvenient part)

As I gave out my last card and asked the man his name I thought, “Wow, it seems like there are more homeless people than ever.  Lord, what else can be done?  Better go get some more gift cards.”

And then I opened my email (this is the inconvenient part).  In the past I’ve volunteered at an event called Project Homeless Connect. It’s a one-stop shop for delivering services to people experiencing homelessness.  They gather housing providers, employment specialists, doctors, nurses, mental health care providers, optomitrists, barbers, people providing transportation assistance, food and clothing…  All under one roof.  The Minneapolis convention center.  And then they round up all the homeless people they can find and bring them in for a day of receiving, being cared for, getting assistance…

So I get this email.  They need more volunteers for December 12th.

Here’s the deal.  I asked.  God answered.  I don’t want to do it.  Not only is it a hassle, but I have something else planned that day that I was looking forward to and can’t be moved.  But… There’s a need.  There’s an invitation.  There’s an answer from God to the question I asked.  

You ever encounter situations like this?  We say we want to change the world.  God gives an opening.  But it’s…inconvenient.  Uncomfortable.  Doesn’t fit with our plans for the day.  It made me think of this powerful video made by my friends John Hoel and Max Fitzgerald.

So we have to decide.  Are we fools to think we can change the world or is it just too inconvenient?  What do you think?