Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

If You Give This Girl a Cookie

I’m sure you know the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It tells the story of a sweet little mouse who is hopelessly trapped in a circular tale of desire. He gets the cookie and realizes he wants milk. The milk makes him need napkin. The napkin reminds him that he wants to color. Coloring reminds him that he’s hungry. And so it goes… A couple of months ago, I re-read this book inside Minneapolis’ Wild Rumpus Bookstore for Children. As a chicken ran around my feet and a cat nuzzled my leg, I was struck by this bedtime story’s similarity to my twenty-something life. Then again, isn’t that often how it goes with things that were meant for little ones? Because, for as far as I’d like to imagine that I’ve come, I’m really no better than the mouse. Except we’ve swapped cookies and coloring for larger circumstances, life-related answers, and more adult-sized longings: If the Lord gives Maddie a cookie, she’ll probably wonder where she’s going to eat the cookie. When the Lord tells her where she can eat the cookie, she’ll probably wonder who she can share the cookie with. When the Lord tells her that the people she will share the cookie with aren’t here yet, she’ll probably wonder when they will show up. In waiting for them to show up, she’ll probably realize she wants some milk to go along with the cookie. So she’ll start praying for milk. When the Lord gives her a glass of milk, she’ll drink it (probably forgetting to say “thank you”) and then ask for a napkin to wipe her face with....

The Lie We Have Believed

You and I have bought into a lie. It was not intentional, on your part or mine. Slowly but surely, we have fallen deeper and deeper into its grasp. This lie has invaded our communities, our culture, and even our churches. I do not believe this lie was meant to harm us. No, the harm came when we took hold of it and ran away with it. We gave it more meaning than it was ever meant to have. We are the ones who gave it the wings now beating us senseless. What is the lie you and I have bought into? We are enough. I know: I am as shocked as you are. We are going to have to do some exploring to discover why the “you are enough” mantra is a lie. We are going to have to be honest. Yes, we are going to have to take a good, honest look at what those three little words mean, and at our own selves (gulp). But, we are women who desire freedom. There is no freedom in lies. We long to walk in truth because truth sets us free. You are enough. We read it, and we see it splashed across social media. How desperately we want to believe we are good, that we do not need to compare ourselves to others any longer. In our comparisons, we have begun to feel less than, and we are tired of it. Enough is enough because I am enough, we declare! We raise our fists and dare anyone to defy us. But sister, can I tell you what I...

The First

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Some firsts are exciting. 1st day of kindergarten. (I really liked my pink pleated skirt!) 1st paycheck. (Even if I got sun poisoning lifeguarding that summer.) 1st dorm room. (Cleaning the floor with furniture polish was not a great idea.) 1st plane ride. (And the grandest view of a sunset in my life.) 1st cell phone. (Even if it didn’t fit in my pocket!) Some firsts aren’t so exciting. 1st speeding ticket. 1st overdraft notice. 1st surgery. 1st perm. My first date was boring. My first kiss was sloppy. My first bridesmaid dress was hideous. Firsts can be thrilling, frightening, or disastrous. The first is always a beginning. We don’t stay in the first. We grow from it. We shouldn’t steep in it; we should step out of it. It’s a journey. You experience a first every day of your life. You have a choice to live today in a way that sets the foundation for tomorrow. Hopefully, many of the days leading up to this one have set firm foundations on which you’re now building. The firsts of today set the pace and priorities of tomorrow. You can wait until tomorrow’s today to make changes, but why waste today? I remember the “today” I decided to live all other todays of my life for God. I appreciate the memory of that day, but I’m not going to reside in it. I don’t want to lose today and the opportunity to choose to live for God in the details of my new today. I haven’t filled every today...

Be the Right Kind of Warrior

Instinctively, I am one who loves to fight back. I resurrect walls to keep others from hurting me. I walk with a shield to keep things from getting past me. I respond with defensiveness to make sure the fortress stays secure. I grab my weapons so others know that I am a well-protected woman. Bottom line, I am a fighter. I am a regular defender of my own causes. But God is calling me to surrender. He is calling me to wave my white flag. To lay it all down. It’s not so much that he doesn’t want me to be a warrior, but that I have been going about it the wrong way. While I have thought arm up, he says, “Lay it down.” While I have thought keep safe, he says, “Go risky.” While I have thought protect, he says, “Let me be the protector.” He requests one position of me that is the ultimate military gambit.  It is one condition that changes the whole battlefield. He calls me to it. Will I lay down my plans, my armors to make this change? Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.  (2 Kings 22:19) What is this condition the Lord desires? It is an open, vulnerable, humbled and receptive heart. It is a heart where walls are down,  weapons are abandoned and doors lay wide open so the Lord can...

Mortally Wounded Hearts

Recently, while running, I came upon an older gentleman with hat on that said “Army Vet.” I was immediately prompted to thank him for his service because I’ve lived through sending a brother off to war. I’ve wrestled with not knowing if he would return alive. I’ve heard his stories. The sacrifice is real. Immediately, he told me his name was Joe and explained he was an Army medic. It was a pretty surface conversation initially. Joe went on to tell me how he was shot while saving a fellow soldier on the battlefield. Right then, Holy Spirit prompted me, “ask Him about Jesus.” I don’t like that I’m always hesitant in sharing Jesus. I love Jesus and I want to share His life-giving power, but I find myself doubting my words so much that oftentimes I shy away from it. But, hesitantly I asked, “did you come to know Jesus during this time?” Naively, I thought I would share Jesus with Joe, but the truth is he already radiated Jesus from head to toe. For three miles we walked together and he shared Jesus story after Jesus story of God’s faithfulness in his life. Being shot at 18 years old, 13 major surgeries, twice having open heart surgery, battling cancer, having three girls(two adopted), losing his wife unexpectedly to cancer … the stories went on and on and on. Yet, of all the stories he told, one stuck with me. “One day,  I went out to save a soldier and I was also shot. Right here.” Lifting his shirt, Joe revealed a scar on the right side of...

In silence, God’s love still remains

One of the reasons I love the Psalms is because of their raw, poetic emotion. The writer David laments, sings for joy, prays openly against his enemies, and confesses his sins all in back-to-back chapters. It’s good material for a TV mini-series; and I guess, with a heart fraught by important sentiments during middle school, it resonated deeply with me. It was during this time in life that I understood writing as a practice of authenticity. Today, I see a comrade spirit in the Psalter, one whose reactions are real, strong, and sometimes manic. David’s expressions of justice, assistance, praise, and regret are validated by a God who calls David “a man after His own heart.” Raw responses. Real questions. Battlefield praise. Authentic worship. Often vocalizing an uncomfortable faith, the Davidic heart is known by God and deeply loved through its courageous emotional investigations. Because of the writer’s open relationship with God, he does not parse words. David knows God can take his direct and unabashed communication. In the 22nd Psalm, David’s cries typify a common theme of God’s silence found throughout the book. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. If the first part of this Psalm sounds familiar, it should. These exact words were spoken by Christ in his dying moments. God’s own son, on the cross, cried out to his father in a way that indicated he felt abandoned by...

I don’t need a cheerleader

Around every corner, the messages are shouted. You are enough. BeYOUtiful. You are strong. Just be you. You’ve got this. You are beautiful. These well meaning sentiments are splashed across social media pages and in the pages of magazines. May I be honest with you? I am tired of them: all of them. I have grown weary of the “I am woman, hear me roar!” anthem. Many days, I just want the pom-poms to be laid down. All these fancy, pretty posts telling me how strong and wonderful I am are utter fallacy. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy  4:2, NIV) I know myself. At forty-one years old, I can own up to my flaws. I wear makeup to hide and cover up facial features, and I select clothes to hide areas of my body. Honestly, I would prefer to not “just be me.” In a moment of “just being me,” I yelled at my daughter in the middle of Disney World. The harshness of my tone caused her eyes to fill with tears and her lip to tremble. Strong? Nope: not me, not then. I was tired, stressed over the rapid fire questions I was being asked, and completely incapable of handling it. In the crowd, in the constant motion and noise, I lost my mind. Seeing both my daughter’s reaction and the look of surprise on my husband’s face was enough for me to know I don’t got this. I don’t need a cheerleader to fill me with feel good messages....

when you really thought you knew how to do this thing

My oldest daughter saved up money for months. She read countless articles online, visited the library for how-to books on raising puppies, and made notes in her special notebook. She deliberated over the perfect doggie name and analyzed hundreds of breeders to find the perfect fit. And, we let her handle it. She had begged us for her own puppy, so we let her take on this responsibility, armed with months of learning and notes. Her puppy turned out to be in every way, a real, live puppy – unlike the still pictures online or the excerpts in the books. Each day became a growing tension between what she expected and what was actually happening – the nights, the walks, the potty training, the obedience training. And then, one day, her confidence tumbled. Her sweet little friend had barked at her through a string of nights, had worms, and was not potty-training according to schedule. Broken, with mop in hand and puddle on the floor, she cried. “You know the worst part, Mom?” she asked. “It’s that I thought I knew how to do this. I really did.” All I could do was open my arms, let her rest her tired head on my shoulder, and welcome her into the world of grown-ups – where we prepare ourselves, take lots of notes, and plan hard, only to face days of total vulnerability and lack of control. If only this thing called Life were conquered by reading a few books, making some notes, and doing some research. But, what happens when it doesn’t happen? How do we cope when our...

Stuck in My Own Little World

 I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6b NIV Stuck. In the same car line. In the same seats at church. In my own little world. Over the last few weeks, God has really been nudging at my heart to start looking at what He has really called me to do. I mean…really nudging me. So much so that I had to mentally pull off the side of the road and throw my hands up in the air with a “what gives?” reply. I serve your people at church. I support, love and encourage my husband and kids. I lead the Kids and Women’s ministries at our church. I run… I… I… I… Herein lies the problem. In laying out all the things I was doing for God, I realized that this is not actually what He has called me to. The light bulb finally come on and God showed me that I have been stuck in my own little world for far too long. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 ESV It is right there in Scripture. We call it the Great Commission and if you wanted to peel everything...