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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Why I’m Glad My Kid Doesn’t Believe in Santa @ Huffington Post Parents

My bouncy-haired daughter ran up to me more excitedly than usual, tightly hugged my legs, and with eyes shrink-wrapped in tears declared, “I told them you weren’t dead!” Wait, what?! I had just arrived at her preschool after trying to teach hormone-saturated junior high students all day. My mind was not prepared for that deeply relieved, but curiously arresting greeting.

She explained, “I told my friends that Santa was dead, and they told me you were dead.”

Who knew 3-year-olds could retaliate with such malice? These tots weren’t messing around when it came to Santa. I bent down, pulled her into my arms, and asked her why she thought Santa was dead. She explained that she figured it out the night before when we told her the story of St. Nicholas. We told her when, where, and how he lived, and SHE deduced that if he lived centuries ago, then he must be dead now. I was impressed. That was some high-level reasoning for my not-quite-4-year-old. I was also wondering if I would be receiving phone calls from the irate parents of the children who would rather see ME dead, than Santa.

Our first of four kids and precocious to boot, we were still working out how exactly to handle the Santa mythos. It seemed she had decided for us. So, I began the conversation I’ve had with her every year since her revelation. “Sweetheart, yes, Santa is a fictional representation of a real man who loved people well. Yes, there are a lot of legends that surround his iconic character, but we let other parents explain that to their children. Did you hear me? It would be better for you to let other parents teach their kids about Santa.”

To which she usually looked incredulously at me and said, “But… He is NOT ALIVE anymore.”

After years of conversations like this, with me staring at her blankly and muttering, “I know, but still… I don’t know what to tell you. Let their parents handle it.” I’ve decided I’m done. While I will continue advising her to be wise about who and how she shares this with, I walk away feeling foolish when I tell her DO NOT. I wonder whether I should silence a child who is passionate about authenticity, and fear what I might be teaching her by doing so… Continue reading at Huffington Post Parents

 

I Will Not Fear the Election This November

My husband and I recently escaped cloud-covered Oregon for a quick anniversary trip to the middle of the desert. We had plans to stay in Las Vegas, with a day’s trip to the Grand Canyon. In the middle of the dry and the desolate, man has crafted a place where lights and golden-gilding cover luxurious arch ways ushering people into glossy portrayals of Dante’s nine circles.

In timeless, windowless, oxygen-infused casinos where multisensory stimulation waits around every corner, it is easy to forget both sun and moon, and just keep going, eyes wide, watching the continuous show. One night, we stepped out onto the Stratosphere’s balcony and took the whole scene in from a bird’s eye view. Standing tall in the skyline among the other pleasure palaces was a white and gold tower with one of the two leading Presidential candidates emblazoned upon it. We watched as a bungee jumper took her place on a platform and threw herself off the side of Vegas’ highest tower, trusting that the cords would do their job….Read more at Venn Magazine.