Run To Be Shade

I love to run! I know, I’m one of those people. But, I really do love it. Not because it comes super easy, but because I’ve learned how. I started running when I joined my high school cross country team. In the beginning, I hated it. But, as I learned how and got stronger, I eventually began to love it. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to a runners high. So much about running translates into my walk with Jesus too. Anyone can run. And, anyone can run a hill. But, the ones who are steady on the uphills are the ones who pick up their feet, pump their arms and dig in on the way up. This is painful to admit, but my uphill season right now is choosing to love others. Real love. As in Jesus love. Not the fake, Sunday morning “look like we love each other” love. I’m talking about the kind of love that responds lovingly even when my son is throwing a massive fit. Or when someone doesn’t act or respond the way I want them to. Or my plans for life don’t play out the way I envisioned them. Or someone else’s poor choices start affecting my life. Meaning: acting and responding in love in the imperfect moments of life. Romans 12:9, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them” This verse stings. Because, if I’m really honest with myself, my struggle to love others is hindered by me. My needs, my wants, my rights. And this me-centeredness can’t reside in the life of a believer. So when life is hard and children throw...

Ditch the Labels

        You are irreplaceable. One in a hundred billion. * The only you. Unique in design. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15 (NASB)   Designed by the Master Designer. Embroidered by God who lovingly chose each color. Your exclusive design and life experiences cannot be duplicated.   So let’s stop using labels to put people in groups.   A label only tells us one small part of who a person is. I’m an introvert but still different from every other introvert. I’m a white female but that doesn’t fully define who I am. I’m American but that doesn’t reveal my soul. Because I vote a certain way doesn’t mean I’m like all others who vote that way. To say someone is OCD, autistic, ugly or beautiful doesn’t tell me who he or she is. We are individuals. One of a kind souls wrapped in bodies unlike any other. Each of us is a wonderful miracle. Assigning you a label doesn’t mean I know you. To know each other we must communicate, listen, understand and love. We need to look for the exquisite colors He put in each soul. Some of us hide them well: we need to be willing to take as long as we need to see. Father, please help...

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...

No Ordinary Love

Matthew 27:45-46, 51-53 From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I began the week wading in thoughts of the selfless love of Christ on the cross. The time between the famous “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” and his last mortal breaths was where I dropped anchor. I pondered the suspension. It is a picture of unprecedented darkness. A place where God seemingly abandons his son by placing humanity’s plight on his back to burrow. The darkest of dark. Abject abandonment and withdrawal of God from earth.  As I sipped my morning coffee, I let it sink in. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people. A probing question circled up from my warm cup: “Why did Christ (who was above reproach) at the stygian hour continue forward in what must have been a most unusual experience for the Trinity— something completely unnatural— an unbearable separation?” As the only place in scripture where Christ’s words imply triune separation, I imagine it was a new experience for the Godhead. And I presume no person since has experienced that kind of complete withdrawal of God on earth. Hebrews 13:5b And God has said, “Never will I leave...

They Will Know That We are Christians by Our Love

READ ON TO GET YOUR FREE FEBRUARY PRAYER PROMPT CALENDAR DOWNLOAD! February is arriving at the perfect time—we all need a little more love in our lives. Maybe you’ve been disillusioned by the meanness on Facebook lately, or disappointed when people in your lives seem to be showing their true colors (and they’re not very pretty). Maybe you keep hearing about hate and want to be intentional about choosing love. Perhaps you’ve even wondered how on earth we’ll ever convince another person to want to embrace Christianity when the image put out there by so many doesn’t look like the Christ we’re proclaiming. I hear ya. Unfortunately, I’m right there with you. And now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Normally I groan a little on the inside at that. I have a wonderful husband but this holiday has always felt like one geared more towards infatuation than permanence, so it hasn’t meant a lot to me (and as a redhead, I’ve never been a big fan of red or pink). But LOVE? Now that is something I can celebrate. And so it’s an easy step to turn this holiday into one that’s not about two people—but about our True Soul Mate. It’s about God, who taught us about love, practiced love, advocated love, and IS love. Because one thing I believe is that love is always the answer. I’d rather err on the side of love—give too much rather than not enough. Welcome everyone in and let God change their hearts, not me. The other thing is that people do watch us to see how we treat people and whether we live...

They’ll know we are Christians by our love

READ ON TO GET YOUR FREE FEBRUARY PRAYER PROMPT CALENDAR DOWNLOAD! February is arriving at the perfect time—we all need a little more love in our lives. Maybe you’ve been disillusioned by the meanness on Facebook lately, or disappointed when people in your lives seem to be showing their true colors (and they’re not very pretty). Maybe you keep hearing about hate and want to be intentional about choosing love. Perhaps you’ve even wondered how on earth we’ll ever convince another person to want to embrace Christianity when the image put out there by so many doesn’t look like the Christ we’re proclaiming. I hear ya. Unfortunately, I’m right there with you. And now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Normally I groan a little on the inside at that. I have a wonderful husband but this holiday has always felt like one geared more towards infatuation than permanence, so it hasn’t meant a lot to me (and as a redhead, I’ve never been a big fan of red or pink). But LOVE? Now that is something I can celebrate. And so it’s an easy step to turn this holiday into one that’s not about two people—but about our True Soul Mate. It’s about God, who taught us about love, practiced love, advocated love, and IS love. Because one thing I believe is that love is always the answer. I’d rather err on the side of love—give too much rather than not enough. Welcome everyone in and let God change their hearts, not me. The other thing is that people do watch us to see how we treat people and whether we live...

A Call to Love

I am very intuitive. I can usually read people really well. I can often feel their hurts, pain, and joy. It is the way The Lord designed me so that I can show compassion and love to His people. Yesterday, I was at a restaurant having lunch and our waiter (now be patient with me; I am totally stereotyping here) seemed to be a homosexual. Throughout our conversation I dropped the “J bomb.” When the word Jesus spilled from my lips I could see enormous pain well up in his eyes. The word Jesus means so much to me. Healer. Deliverer. Friend. The name Jesus obviously meant something very different to him. Again, I am making a guess here, but the word Jesus seemed to be affiliated with: Hurt. Pain. Judgement. Shame. We carried on with our meal and we were demonstrated kindness, love and we left a BIG tip. No other words were spoken about Jesus or Christianity for that matter, we just tried to SHOW this man love. I went to bed thinking of him…and the look in his eyes. The way he froze when I said the word Jesus. The way he quickly looked to his feet with what seemed like a veil of shame covering his face. How a heaviness came over him that did not leave for the rest of our meal. Every time he came back to our table he did so timidly, not boldly, like he did before I dropped the “J bomb.” My heart aches for him and so many like him. Now I am not talking about homosexuals here, although...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Are We Known by Our LOVE?

I find myself in a weird space right now. My heart is a little broken. My stomach has been doing that ugly twisting thing it does when life is upside down. I love writing each month for The Internet Café but this month it feels painful. I thought I would just wait until after the election to tackle my November submission (knowing it would be a little late) but then the election happened… and I. have. No. words. I have been in this weird space for a while. First, this election cycle has been a special kind of BRUTAL. So many lines have been drawn in the sand. Everyone is taking sides. If you are not on their side then you are obviously wrong. Then, Jen Hatmaker’s interview with Jonathan Merritt hit the social media air waves and a special kind of hate rose up in people everywhere. Then there was last Tuesday. Then Wednesday morning. Then every day since. My social media newsfeeds have been filled with hate, judgment, fear, and my beautiful friends have aligned themselves with it fully. This is not about your politics. This is not about the way you feel about Jen & Brandon Hatmaker. This is about YOUR response. This is about MY response. This is about the body of Christ and how painfully divided it has become. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 My heart aches for the people that are searching for God in this broken world. How will they find Him? The body of Christ is...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...