Keeping Kinship @ Joy of It

Our phones these days hold many clues about our lives.

But the simple group text in my messages labeled BFFs tells you nothing of the foundation of love that led to its treasured existence. There are three of us closely connected, and we couldn’t tell you how exactly it happened if you asked.

We didn’t have traveling pants or an important quest to destroy a ring that cultivated this closeness. We did risk the voyage through the hormonal halls of junior high, high school, and what waited on the other side of childhood. We learned to simply be with each other as we grew and the bonds that wove through days that would become the past, cemented our places in each other’s futures.

Together we have bled, wept, and laughed until the snorting became unbearable.

We witnessed terrible choices and wise moves. We threw down and forgave. And we turned our backs on God, then lived in hope as we set our eyes on Him and His mercy again. We belong to one another and always will; we are indelibly written into one another’s memories, affixed to the emotions of the moments that propelled those memories into existence. We didn’t know it at the time, but what we were developing was kinship.

Yes, time has progressed and life has led us to new places. We each have developed beautiful connections with other people, but each relationship shines its own kind of light. These seem to shine like an eternal flame — reliable, steadfast, constantly offering its warmth when the world feels cold.

We are keepers of one another…

Read the rest over at Joy of It

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Hope in the Face of Death @ Joy of It

I grew up surrounded by my Grandfather’s bookshelves. Stacked high with the Romantics, Victorians, and Transcendentalists, myriads of voices lined up in rows, classics which birthed my love for the written word. Sitting beneath these towers of authors’ musings intensified all the world’s beauty. So it only felt right that I read a sonnet from his treasure trove at my Grandfather’s graveside service.

Looking back, it wasn’t so much a reading as a declaration of my animosity with death.

I was in the anger stage of grief, because I felt like life had been stolen, his body had been taken; the gentle father-figure who had always, always offered security could no longer provide sanctuary. I was furious with Satan and his destruction, with Adam and Eve and their thirst to be like God, and at the sin present in my own self. Why must the wages of sin be death? How could we fail so fatally that death and disease had enough cunning to rob the earth of someone as true as he?

That day, I hated death, so John Donne’s poem Death Be Not Proud offered words to my lament. I read through stanzas that threatened to choke me, and my pulse danced with the rhyme scheme as tears fell. Through gritted teeth I hit the last line and with ardent finality the conclusion left my cracking lips:…continute reading at Joy of It.

Four Questions to Ask When Complacency Calls @Christianity Today’s Women Leaders

My husband recently teased, “What are you freedom fighting this week?” I snickered, because we both know how my empathetic tendencies get ignited when bedlam wreaks havoc on our broken world, and within the people to which we minister. I want to always be ready to battle for hurting people while pointing them to the God who heals. But too often lately, I find myself struggling to find a place to stand. The politicking, protesting, and terrorizing has just become too much; I am tempted to retreat. Apathy seems like the safest option when day after day our people and world are reeling from the latest disaster, but the desire to hide emotionally is a dangerous state to dwell in especially when trying to lead, counsel, and encourage others. Unfortunately, I feel it pulsing through me with each heartbeat.

I joke about our first world problems as hashtags trend about the latest atrocity and navigate away from Twitter, clicking my way to the more serene Instagram. I catch myself scrolling away from the links, and sometimes Scripture that promise to challenge, because I am seeking the lies of ignorance’s bliss. All of this indicates to me that the time has come, again, to fight for my own soul. I lift my heavy head, taking my eyes off myself and fixing them on Jesus who offers rest to the weary soul (Matthew 11:28–30).

I know I am not alone in my temptation to be complacent and turn inward even while living outwardly in ministry, but I must be willing to take a personal inventory of what is making the shadows of comfort so alluring. These four questions help with self-assessment.

Am I Embracing the Loveliness of Lament?

When the news is filled with horror and tragedy, the leader in me impulsively turns to crafting words in an attempt to make sense of things. But I find it is often not my words that are needed, but my broken heart. This frequently shocks me silent; emotions swell high, and the flood leaves me quiet.

I have to learn to lament, and let go of the pressure to always guide. If I cannot listen, learn, and lean into the depth of the hurt, how will I ever help? Would I really risk being so arrogant that I would attempt telling people how to fix their problems without first trying to understand them? Coming alongside others means I must be willing to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

I cannot be afraid to vulnerably experience how shared sorrow makes us stronger, and I cannot ignore the fright woven into this fallen world. As Esther Fleece says, “Lamenting is an essential spiritual discipline that we cannot forsake on this side of the Fall, because it offers us a way to keep the conversation going with the only One who can save us when life gets hard.”…

…Keep reading at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders

Raising Wonder Women: Parenting Lessons from DC’s Latest Blockbuster

I have a special affinity for superhero films, but my anticipation for Warner Bros. Studio’s “Wonder Woman” has been unique. I remember watching reruns of Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince that hit the 1970’s with supernatural strength; her lasso of truth, indestructible bracelets, and invisible airplane beat the heck out of any accessories Barbie could offer. Now, as the mother of three girls I was hoping director Patty Jenkins and DC would offer the Princess of Themyscria her own slice of blockbuster justice. I clicked over to my favorite flick checker Kids in Mind and determined that at least my oldest could see it. The verdict is in: DC has (finally) succeeded, and Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior made it happen.

As my oldest daughter and I drove home, the car was filled with life lessons gleaned from watching Wonder Woman on the big screen. Whether you see the movie or not, these six lessons can be a great help in raising our own women of wonder:

1. When there is no War: Rest and Prepare

Education is a high-priority in our household, and so is joy. We are using this short season of childhood to prepare them for the life to come. This means they must be ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead, and they must also know how to value rest, so that they are not swept into meaningless business. While they may not venture off to end mythological rivalries, the world holds enough war that at some point it will be their time to stand. We arm them: mind, body, and soul by teaching them not to waste time, and a balance must be struck between rest and preparation.

2. Be Willing to Fight for Those Who Cannot Fight For Themselves

I will teach my children to resist the temptation to be that person who sees injustice and does nothing. Whether it is wielding a sword, words, or hope, in me may they find a cheerleader and someone willing to do the same. It will always be my encouragement to do something. That they would find where their strength comes from, and live boldly…

…Continue Reading at The Portland Moms Blog.

“Working with a Team Means Better Care” @ Christianity Today’s Women Leaders

“‘It’s weird.’ These were not the words I wanted to hear from my son’s pediatrician.

For weeks the good doctor had been trying to diagnose what was going on with my son. Lab tests, examinations, ultrasounds; my five-year-old had been given the full work-up. Now, as I sat on the phone in the corner of the gym I took notes on scrap paper, the doctor relayed his surprise—what we thought was improving had suddenly gotten worse.

I was not comforted by his confusion, but took solace when he stated without shame, ‘I am sending this over to the kidney specialist.’ After meeting him years before in the hospital, four kids, and countless visits, I have learned to trust his skill and capability in caring for my children. So my confidence in him was bolstered, not diminished when he confessed his need for help beyond his expertise.

My doctor did not hide behind a façade when he didn’t have the answer. My child’s welfare was his priority, not his ego. When he could no longer help, he did what was needed to find someone who could; he knew the limits of his knowledge, and invited greater knowledge to weigh in.

As we minister to the hurting and deal with the heavy issues weighing on the hearts of those God loves, we must develop the humility to know when we are in over our heads. Their welfare must be a priority over our own pride. A leader who thinks she can answer every question, meet every need, and care for everyone that requires counsel or intervention is not long a leader…” Continue Reading at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders.

A 30 Second Chat to Turn Fights Between Sisters into a Foundation for Friendship @Huffington Post

Hey, hey, HEY! What is going on in here? In this house we don’t fight with our sister, we fight for her.”

The Fights

This seems to be a common refrain for me these days, as I seek to break through the chattering cacophony of little girl voices seeking to be the most strident, shrewdest and scrupulous of them all. I have three daughters, and as their legs get longer so does the resolve to fight for their ground, their wants and their rights.

But you know what? They are 11, 8 and 6, so their ideas of what this means are seriously flawed, and I blame it on their underdeveloped brains. Someday they will be adults and see that it didn’t really matter where Barbie slept in her dream house, they should have let it go when someone was wearing their socks and it’s okay to sit up so that everyone can share the couch. But, alas, today is not that day.

Ultimately, I love watching my little ladies grow. I try to teach them the balance between being gutsy and gentle, and am impressed by the ways they are willing to take on the world at such young ages. Part of that has to do with the fact that they have been willing to go toe-to-toe with each other, so I better mom-up and take the time to coach them well.

This is their training ground. Here among sisters, I am determined to do my best to help them learn how we maintain unity, keep a bond of peace and forgive one another. They get to test out how to apologize, and unfortunately get to witness the pain they inflict upon each other. For the burden of a sister is that she is always beside you, but this becomes beautiful if you learn what a blessing a sister can be.

The Foundation

Look, I am not saying that I enjoy the disquietude that sometimes blows through my house like a prepubescent hurricane of hormones, but I am glad they have each other. It gives me great hope for their futures. So although the bickering is brutal, to see them standing together sings peace into my soul. My hopes for them is that they know what I have known. A sister means you have a friend for life….

Find the rest of this conversation over at the Huffington Post.

Extraordinary Life Isn’t Found in Carpe Diem @ (in)courage

My high school English teacher showed Dead Poets Society at the end of every fall semester. As trees grew bare, Robin Williams inspired our impressionable young minds as John Keating by getting on top of his desk, reciting poetry, and encouraging his students to write their verse. My worldview shifted, though not for the better, when Keating pulled his class out into the hall to look at photos of generations past and remind them of the fragility of life.

“Carpe . . . carpe diem,” Keating whispered. “Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Yes! Yes! Something awoke within me. Let us make our lives extraordinary!

I ran with it — full tilt; Carpe Diem felt like the key to unlocking all my dreams. I felt like a philosophical genius pulling this Latin phrase out as my life motto, its sophistication far outweighing that of today’s YOLO declarations.

I let carpe diem guide my steps for years and learned the hard way that while the phrase works as a momentary encouragement or a yearbook quote, as a way of life, it fails.

If we jump, move, and boldly pursue whatever we crave because tomorrow we may die, we sacrifice wisdom for desire. The urgency of the moment hijacks our tomorrows, and though another day is not guaranteed, chances are it will come….

Continue Reading at (in)courage…

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