Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How To...Be An Older Brother

 Here we are! My older brother Ethan & myself. I'm so excited that Ethan agreed to be a guest blogger for this weeks "How To..." post. He is an amazing brother, a dear friend and one of the funniest people I know. Sorry, if you have trouble leaving comments...you can always do it on Facebook if you want! Enjoy!

How To Be An Older Brother

Most people probably think that an Older Brother is simply the eldest child in a family's sibling hierarchy, but most people are wrong. Older Brother (henceforth to be referred to as "OB") is a title that must be earned. As an OB myself, I'd like to educate you on OBs by listing out a couple of things I believe are important for any OB to know & follow. (*Legal disclaimer- The items discussed in this blog are hypothetical examples of what one might do if one had a younger sister. They are not intended to seriously injure or maim the hypothetical sister, and I hereby absolve myself from any legal action taken against me by the readers of this blog)

#1 Responsibility of an OB
Younger siblings are yours to teach, guide, and, naturally, misguide. OBs usually view them as their own personal guinea pigs or crash-test dummies. The sibling's level of gullibility directly correlates to their level of participation in the OB's schemes, so it is up to the OB to test their younger siblings to see what they are capable of (read: what they will fall for).

Fantasy World
Younger sisters live in a fantasy world almost 24 hours out of the day: it's a proven fact* (*documentation available upon request). They are not on the same wavelength as normal, logical, human beings. As an OB who grew up with a younger sister, I can attest that she was rarely (if ever) in touch with reality. When we were growing up I couldn't relate to her delusional life of fantasy because, as a spy, I was firmly grounded in the real world of international clandestine operations. In the world I lived in (the real world), life & death often hung in the balance and it was up to me to make the world a safer place.

For example, I would be out on a top-secret mission, well-hidden behind the corner of our neighbor's house (also known as the Communist Embassy), spying on the bad guys. Just when the bad guys were about to hand over the documents to their undercover agent, my younger sister & some of her friends would come parading in  out of nowhere, riding their imaginary ponies through the imaginary pioneer town to the imaginary general store to buy some imaginary bonnets or something. Her fantasies were completely ridiculous and they almost always blew my secret missions. But, as an OB, I had to learn to look past the perpetual hallucination my sister lived in & remain focused on the mission at hand.

Thou Shalt Prank
Pulling pranks on your younger sister is a sacred part of your role as an OB, and you must devote time and effort to it in order to hone and perfect your craft. OBs need to be creative and share knowledge with other OBs, cousins, and friends. They must collaborate, for two heads are better than one and if something goes awry, it's better for two people to share the punishment than for one to shoulder it alone. Here are some of my personal favorites.
  • Locked in the Bedroom
    • As any OB knows, bedroom doors open inward so it is quite easy to lock your siblings in their room by simply tying a rope from their doorknob to another doorknob across the hall. Easy as pie and very effective!
  • Pennies on the Fan
    • A classic! Go into you sibling's room and put 4-5 pennies on each of the blades of their ceiling fan ( if I need to explain to you that the fan needs to be turned off before doing this prank, just stop reading and go do something else). When your sibling turns on their fan, pennies will start flying all over the room.
  • Rubber band on the sink sprayer
    • No explanation needed for this one. Every half-brained goober in the world knows about this.
  • Heads up!
    • Close your sibling's door until there's a 3-4 inch crack at the top. Next, get a bunch of random stuff that doesn't weigh very much (empty soda cans, shoes, sticks of deodorant, etc) and gently stand it on top of the door, leaning it against the doorjamb above. When your sibling walks through the door it will all come raining down on top of their head.
  • If you have woods near your house, these are my two favorites:
    • Pitfalls
      • Dig a 6-8 inch-deep hole on a path in the woods and lay a few sticks over the top of it. Cover the sticks with dead leaves, making it invisible to anyone walking down the path, and you're done! Pitfalls work extremely well until someone twists their ankle.
    • Tripwires (always a classic)
      • Tie a wire about ankle-high between two trees on opposite sides of a path in the woods (heavy fishing line works best because it's almost invisible). Works like a charm.
    • Important note - Most of the above pranks work equally well on parents & friends, however pitfalls & tripwires should NOT be used on parents, or else you will be in "Big Trouble".
When you are an OB, you are admonished by your parents to protect your sibling(s) but, interestingly enough, its something that's already in your nature. Even if you are not an especially huge fan of your younger sibling (like when you are younger), you still have the instinct to stand up for them & protect them. As a child, it may be something as simple as making sure they're included in whatever games the other kids are playing. When you get older the instinct is stronger, such as when you what to break some guy's face for saying something ugly to your little sister. So no matter how old you get, protecting  your younger sibling is part of who you are as an OB.

Now if you will excuse me, I've just been called away on a top-secret mission...

Monday, May 30, 2011

All Stars...This Is How We Do It

I have gotten several emails lately asking 'How do you do it all." I have kids, I'm adopting, I am involved in church planting, I write for several blogs, I am developing several projects, and I am attempting to keep a clean house...How DO I do it all? The answer is quite simply actually. I don't do it all. Not even a tiny bit. No way do all of those things happen within the same week. At least not for me.

Sometimes I feel like I should be able to. I mean with the internet shouldn't we all run our own little businesses, teach our kids several languages during their preschool years, and go to school via-internet at night? Not sure about you, but it seems as if so much is expected these days.

So, to dispel any false ideas...I don't do it all. I have tons of dreams in my heart, and sure I can do them all. Just not at the same time. I will probably write more on this later, especially geared for the mom readers, but to some extent all of us feel a bit baffled at trying to figure out what we should be doing in any given season of our lives. Here are a few thoughts on how I decide what I am giving myself to.

1. What do I have to do? I would like to think that I don't have to organize toys, clean the bathrooms or fold the laundry...but I do. There are the daily things all of us have to do. Maybe it is work an 8-5 job to provide, or change diapers and pick up half chewed crayons all day. Whatever your life looks like, your 'daily' has to happen. Don't be irresponsible.

2. What are my vision & values? I use this lens all the time. What things do I want my life to be about & how can I flesh that out in my daily life. I have tons of ideas and other things presented to me. But, will they distract from things I know I am called to do? And does it serve the values I want my life to be about? If I only have an hour to give this week, what is going to be the best long term investment for what I want to build into. Even the little things we take on shape the life we are creating for ourselves. I want to build my house, even if it is one little stone at a time. I have to be fine with saying 'no'. No, I can't disciple 20 girls each week in my living room, and no I can't start a non-profit for stray cats. Just because it is a great idea doesn't mean it is a great idea for me.

3. Fun is not an option. It HAS to happen. Life should have very fun moments. The kind that you laugh so hard you can't catch your breath. It should have conversations that leave you dreaming and wondering...if you are too busy, or too heavy all the time for relationships and experiences that are fun, then you are too busy. And you are probably a bit boring. This isn't good & it isn't what you were made for. Lighten up & you can carry more.

4. Can I put my head on the pillow at night and rest? If I lay in bed and think about all that didn't get done that day or if I find myself anxious about how I am going to get things done tomorrow...it's a red flag. I am either doing too much, or being a bit of a performer. Either way, it means that my expectations are too high. I'm not going to get everything done. Some weeks the laundry will be behind, but Sophie has mastered her alphabet. Other weeks each sock is folded in a drawer, but I didn't write much on my blog. Either is okay. If I am doing my best to be faithful to what God has set before me, He will make up for every place I have lack.

The Bible says many are the ways in a man's heart, but it is the Lord who directs their steps. He has your back. Do your best, but don't try to do it all. At least not at the same time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Where The Water Runs Red

I wrote a poem in high school once. It was titled 'Where The Water Runs Red'. It was about a young soldier who lay dying in a river. The long battle had gone through the night. Morning was beginning to break & he watched what he knew would be his last sunrise. His breath was shallow and the wounds were deep. A few tears escaped his eyes thinking of the woman he never loved and the child he never had. Dreams that would die with him this day. As he laid there he thought about what he was dying for. Freedom. Hope. A dream of justice for humanity. He knew no one would even know his name. Or what his last few minutes of life had been like. His heart was a little sad at the thought, but he looked around and saw hundreds of others dying a similar death. They were all just snapshots of a greater portrait. As his vision faded, he watched as his blood swirled with the chilly, pure water of the river... And thats how my poem ended.

It is one of my favorite things I have ever written. I bawled when I wrote it. Literally, I couldn't stop crying. I just thought of all the people who have died similar deaths throughout history. Lonely, painful, yet deeply meaningful. They died not just to win a war, but to promote something greater than themselves.

In history class I would always think about my dad or brother when we studied battles. Imagining them in that place. I envisioned my brother when I wrote the poem in high school. They were all someone's son or brother.

I love Memorial Day. What a powerful time to remember the genuine sacrifice of men, women and their families. Of generations. Heros no one ever knew the name of. Sometimes I wish that I could sit next to a dying soldier. Like the soldier I wrote about, and look him in the eyes. Tell him what a difference he made. I would want him to know that people may not know his name, but they will always remember his cause. Freedom. It's a battle cry that will never die within the hearts of men.

I can't visit the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC , or The Battle of Normandy in June of 1944. But I can remember the cause of freedom which they all fought for. I can carry it in my heart as well. Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I will remember. I will probably cry thinking of the sacrifice of others. Most of all I will honor those who fought with courage. Those who gave their lives for something greater. And I will pray. I will pray that God will give me the courage to live my life for something greater than myself.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stronger or Half Dead

We all know the phrase "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger". I think that it should be "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger...or leaves you half dead". These are my kids. When you are in labor you think it will kill you. Then you realize you are able to handle it and you have another kid.

It is great when things work like that. You are faced with a painful and seemingly impossible circumstance. You go through something that takes all but the last drops of your strength and life from you. Once you get to the other side the life grows back stronger, deeper, and full of confidence. The old analogy of the broken bone that actually is stronger after it mends itself from a break.

Great story. But sometimes it doesn't work like that. Sometimes situations and trials leave us laying on our backs staring blankly into the sky. There is no way we could ever survive that again. It hurt too much. Part of my heart died. Hope left and numbness set it. You survive but only to limp along half dead.

You risk everything only to loose it all. You thought you had your eating disorder under control and then all the old thoughts started to come back. You felt so betrayed and then your marriage fell apart. Your children walk through tragedy while you watch. You work two jobs to get food into your families mouths...just to go hungry again next month. You get the courage to open up and it is met with ridicule and judgment. A lonely life eager for a partner...just to be passed over again. Sometimes you survive but barely. Sure God is good and all that, but you aren't going to go through that again. You can't handle it.

So, instead of getting stronger, you live half dead. You smile on cue and say the right things about how God is good. We have all done this from time to time. Some people feel it so bad they do wish the situation had killed them.

There have been situations in my life where Jady and I have literally laid on the floor and cried to God because it felt so impossible. The need was too great and my strength was too small.

So, what makes the difference between getting stronger or walking half-dead? When you cling to the truth that the cross is enough, you get stronger. What Jesus did on the cross is enough to meet you in your place of need. Your personal mistake, the pain caused by another, wandering hopelessly waiting for more pain to hit...Jesus breaks in there. He died to bring breakthrough. Not just eternal life. But life abundantly. In that place that seems like a time-bomb inside waiting to go off. He comes and brings life to half dead places.

Sometimes its things that happened years ago, we just shut off and figured the pain of feeling nothing is better than the pain of feeling another blow. When you find yourself walking around anxiously trying to avoid anything that could crack the your fragile heart, risk on the cross again. Risk on Jesus. Grieve disappointment with Him. He can handle it. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, remember? You weren't made to walk around half dead. So dream again. Get stronger. Risk on God. It is always worth it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How To...Survive In Retail

This is the first of my "How To..." posts which will be posted every Wednesday. I realized that I know lots of interesting people who know lots of interesting things...so I asked different ones to share with us. Kicking us off is Kendall Hopkins. She makes her living selling dresses at a high end department store. Many of us have worked in retail at one point, but Kendall is good at it. So, I asked her to share her insights. Enjoy! :

To say I am good at selling dresses is an understatement. Fantastic. Exceptional. Lucrative? I could keep going...but I won't. I'll spare you. And practice humility.

I sold $1,400 worth of dresses to a lady...then turned around to sell another $800 to a different lady. This is just the tip of the iceberg for a Tuesday. You should see me on a Saturday.

Why am I good? Not sure. Perhaps it's the lineage of salesmen blood in my veins. Or my thick skin I developed from evangelistic endeavors gone awkward. Or the years I spent cheerleading?

Who cares why I'm good? What a waste of time in over analyzing my greatness in this area...

The Basics of Being a Baller Dress Seller:

1. MOVE IT OR LOOSE IT SISTER. If you're not moving you're loosing. Stay busy. I move around. I never stand still and twiddle my thumbs. Leaning on the counter or fixing your pony tail in the mirror makes you look lazy, unapproachable, and inexpert-like. Customers will ask the girl for help that looks helpful. Not the girl who is standing around chatting it up about how she and her boyfriend got in the worst fight over his cat Trickles. My co-workers would get mad at me because I would have 3 customers and then get 2 more. It was not because I wanted to help them...but really they wanted me to help them. They saw I was busy and that looked better than the girls that were not. Perhaps this is why talented people get more talented...

2. POUNCE ON IT. You must be the first to initiate. Say hello. But hello is boring and so last year. Comment on their Venti Starbucks. Large chubby kid in the stroller with fantastic eyes and drool down the chin. Bracelet that you wish you could afford. Anything. Comment & greet.

3. MOVE IN FOR THE KILL. Cut straight to the chase. None of this dancing around business. I have no time for that. I never say "Are you looking for a dress?" That my friend. Is Stupid. Of course she is looking for a dress. She is standing in the middle of the dress department. I start asking questions..."Why are you looking for a dress?" Then I listen. And look at her closely. To whatever she has to say. And pay close attention. Not to just what she says. But how she says it. Her body language. Her eyes. Did they light up? Or look dreary? Was her voice timid or tenacious? Was her answer short and abrupt or long with way too much detail. Depending on this...Leads me into number 4...

4. SERVE WHILE SERVING DIFFERENTLY. You have to be good at reading people. If you're not. Give up. Do something else. Depending on how a person is...is how you sell to them. Some people want you to wait on them hand and foot...others want to be left alone. Your job...is to give them the kind of service in the manner they want it. Those that want to be left alone...leave them alone. Those that want your suggestions, feedback, encouragement, opinion...give it to them. And be ready to run around...

5. WRAP BACON AROUND A VITAMIN AND FEED IT TO THE DOG. You must master the art of telling ladies the truth. If it looks bad. It does. And let's not lie for money. That is greed. And makes the world a less attractive place. The last thing we need is women showing up to places looking silly. Shoot them straight. When you tell them the truth about something that looks bad, they will believe you more when you tell them that something looks good. You must be kind in doing so. How you word it matters.

For example:
I never say "Your butt looks horrible...I can see all your flab."
But I do sat..."I love that blue on you. It brings out your eyes. All you need is Spanx to make it more seamless."

Seamless vs. fat butt. I was getting to the same point...but one goes over way better. There is an art to this. One must figure it out. It does wonders to one's success.

6. GET EXCITED. You must get excited about their life...the backstory. Why are they buying the dress? Where are they going tonight? When did they get engaged? How long have the boy and you been together? How many kids do you have? Why are you going to the south of France? What kind of law do you practice? Get excited about the clothes...but more importantly get excited on where they are wearing the clothes...

People like going to the sales person who knows their backstory. That cares about their backstory. Like a person who does set designs for movies. Set designers have to read the script. They know where the move started and where it needs to end up.

That my friends is how you survive in retail.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Worst Song Lyrics Ever

I'm not a poet, nor a musician. No, really, I'm not. But, sometimes I catch myself singing along to a song & I think "wait? What? That doesn't make any sense..." I thought tonight I would jot down a few lyrics I have heard recently that cause me to question the intelligence of the music industry. Not some weird obscure song, but mainstream songs we have all heard. It was hard to narrow it down, but here are the finalists.

"Coast to Coast
L.A. to Chicago "
- Sade 'Smooth Operator'

Hmm...yeah, not quite. Keep going east just a big further.

"I don't like cities, but I like New York
Other places make me feel like a dork."
- Madonna "I love New York"

Well, it rhymes I suppose.

"There were plants , and birds, and rocks, and things.."
- America 'Horse with no name'

Things??? How about coyotes, snakes, sand...I dunno, but things??? No wonder your horse doesn't have a name.

"If I was a sculptor , but then again, no. "
- Elton John "Your Song'

I had an Elton John's Greatest Hits CD in high school. (I will pause while you laugh and
jest at my expense) This song always bothered me. If "no" then why mention it at all.
Just delete the line.

"She's a brick house. She's the one, the only one built like an amazon."
- The Commodores 'Brick House'

It's not only the lyrics I wonder about...but why do white people still dance to this at

"I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did...As long as you love me."
- Backstreet Boys

Set the standard a bit higher boys. Its lyrics like this that caused me to go to the
NSync concert instead of the Backstreet Boys. Oh, yeah. American Airlines Center in
Dallas. Spring of 2000...I was there.

"If I was invisible, I would be the smartest man."
- Clay Aiken 'Invisible'

I'm really trying...no, I don't get it.

"I'm turning Japanese , I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so."
-The Vapors 'Turning Japanese'

No, no you're not. You aren't turning Japanese. Stop saying it.

"MmmBop. Bop. Bop. MmmBop. Dibby Dop Dop. MmmBop..."
-Hanson 'MmmBop"

If you can pronounce the lyrics of a song without needing any teeth, it's probably not
the best idea.

"Your lipstick stains, on the front lobe of my left side brains..."
- Train 'Hey Soul Sister'

I don't actually hate this song, but left side brains... you lost me there.

"You love me for who I am, like the stars hold the moon."
-Miley Cyrus 'When I look at you'

The stars don't hold the moon...which means that he doesn't love her for who she is?
Kinda looses the effect there.

"You look so deep, you know that it humbles me."
-Justin Bieber 'One Time'

Oh, the Biebs...I actually do like Justin Bieber, but this line...This line does not give
me the fever of the Bieber. (pop culture analogy if you don't know)

I'm not saying that these people are idiots, they just had a bit of a lapse of judgement in choosing lyrics. Goodness knows I have said plenty of stupid things. Thankfully they aren't in the heads of millions of people. Goodnight & share in the comments any other bad lyrics you can think of!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture, Doomsday, End of the World, May 21st - My Thoughts

I'm sure you have all heard that the world is ending tomorrow. Millions of people are anxious - if that is you, please keep reading. Everyone is laughing nervously and making jokes...but I'm sure it is making people think. People will put their heads on their pillows saying that it is ridiculous, but they are a bit fearful anyway. Especially considering what a crazy year it has been. Earthquakes, nuclear leaks, flooding and all...

People have been selling rapture insurance. It's all over the news. You can buy a special rapture insurance so that if you get raptured people will come & place your pets in a new home. I think that of all the people left behind, I wouldn't be so concerned about my pets...but then again I didn't buy the insurance.

The topic of the world ending is out there. Amazing the conversation that one man can start. There are two people I want to talk to tonight. I know from looking at my stats that there are people who find my posts through random google searches. Many I assume do not know Jesus. The second are regular readers, most but not all of whom are Christians.

Some of you are finding yourself searching for answers tonight. Pushing through fear and uncertainty to explore the question of the earth's destiny & yours. If that is you, please know that Jesus loves you very much. His desire for you is that you would be in a relationship with Him. In Jesus there is complete peace, fullness of joy, acceptance like you never imagined and freedom that will make you cry. He has plans and purposes for your life. God made you with a beautiful plan in mind. He is extending His hand to you tonight. I don't think that the rapture is tomorrow, but God is still pursuing you. You can choose to follow Jesus right now. Tell Him that you are an imperfect, broken & sinful person (God loves those by the way). Tell God that you receive the salvation that Jesus paid for on the Cross & then ask Jesus to come into your life and fill you. Then listen. Sit still and listen because God wants to talk to you. You can email me at the email listed in the "about lark & bloom section". I'd love to hear from you and answer your questions.

For the rest of you...The whole world is talking about the return of Jesus...lets talk about it with them. I know we are all annoyed by the doomsday prophets. What if we were just as loud as they were? Prophesying hope, joy, salvation and freedom. Take advantage of this global conversation to portray the heart of God. The world is awake to the Gospel this weekend. Participate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Courage Like Lady Gaga

The obvious choice of photo for this post would be a picture of Lady Gaga herself. However, I couldn't get any to load ( tech support please ). So, I choose a picture of Sophie dressed in a ridiculous outfit, much like Lady Gaga does.

I have been thinking about courage lately and why it is so necessary in our lives. Some of you hate Lady Gaga, maybe some like her. I'm not endorsing her lifestyle or her music. Personally, I am not a fan of hers. But, the woman has some courage. Forbes magazine just ranked her the #1 most influential celebrity. She beat Oprah...OPRAH. No one beats Oprah...except Gaga. But, don't worry. This isn't a story about Lady Gaga.

I simply mention her because she is a girl who was rejected most of her life. But, she was fearless and kept moving forward the dreams in her heart. She had some serious courage. She wore an egg costume to the Grammys. C-O-U-R-A-G-E. And this courage has brought her amazing influence. I follow Jesus. He has my back. Surely, with Him I can have more courage than Lady Gaga.

Personally, I believe that God has big dreams for each of us. We don't all need to be famous or do outlandish things...just have the courage to do what God has put in our heart. We are courageous because God is with us. He is in us. Being famous or influential doesn't necessarily take courage. Life does though.

Life should take courage. If you aren't repeatedly hitting a place that you have to dig up more courage in the Spirit, then you probably aren't going anywhere. Maintaining the status quo isn't difficult. We are made to do things. Big things. Historic things. Life should take courage.

We think courage is only needed for leaders or people who God has asked to do risky things. It's just not true. Anything that causes us to step out of our control of a situation and rely on God to come through is significant, a momentum builder and takes... yes, courage.

Sometimes "small" things take huge amounts of courage. Forgiveness takes courage. It is risky to live in community with vulnerability. But when we risk, community is nurtured, and a group of people living in Biblical community will change the world. It always has.

Maybe you need courage to start a relationship. Or to end a relationship. You need courage to be honest and confident about who God has made you. Not living to please people, but living to accomplish the call of God on your life.

God's Kingdom is advanced when we respond to who He has called us to be. David didn't defeat giants fighting as Saul. He fought as himself. With a sling, rocks, and no armor. He fought as himself and he won. He had courage.

I got a lot of feedback from my last post. The stories of injustice stir us all and cause most of us to be overwhelmed. Many of you felt inadequate and incompetent to make a difference. But you are not. You won't be Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, or Mother Theresa. You certainly won't be Jesus. But you are called to risk and rise up in courage. As yourself. With the weapons, personality, gifting and history that you have. When you fight as yourself, you win your battles.

We walk out in courage knowing that we are not alone. You aren't the only teacher believing for his students to be changed. You aren't the only doctor believing for your patients to be healed. Not the only barista dreaming of being a CEO and funding HIV prevention in Africa. You are not the only mother of a child with special needs contending for your son or daughter. You are not alone. You are a part of an Army. A great company of men and women. A giant, loud roar of God's people crying out for more.

When we each fix our eyes on the larger picture happening we are no longer paralyzed with our inability. We walk in confidence and courage to take hold of the promise. Risking in our little area makes big impact when we all do it together. That is the glory of the Church.

When we walk in courage God is glorified. And isn't that the point?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Speck and The Plank

Today, I would like to re-tell the tale of the speck and the plank. If you have ever been in Sunday school you have heard it many times. The story comes out of Matthew 7. I'll summarize it for you now. There are two men. Each have a foreign object in their eye. The first man throws a fit about the other guy's eye problem and is trying to fix it for him. Jesus then says at the end of the story that it is hypocritical to try and fix the other person's problem without addressing the issue with your own eye.

Why in the world am I telling you this? Well, here is the rough part. Rough, but real. Happening now. Before I go further, here are some things I think you should know:

* More than 2 million children are exploited by sex trafficking each year
* On the planet today 27 million people are slaves.
* 1 in 5 women today are victims of rape or attempted rape
* 1 in 3 women today have been beaten or violently abused in some way.
* The market value of the sex trade is estimated at over $32 billion dollars.
* If you adjust the price of a slave in the 1850s it would be $40,000 in today's money. Right now in the world the average slave costs $90.
* Many slaves are "paid" only enough rice to keep them alive and able to work.
* Due to all of the advances in today's technology, transportation and international relationships people are much easier to exploit. It is easier to gain access to the poor and vulnerable, making people more 'disposable'.

The roots of these injustices are control and an overall belief that another human doesn't hold the same value...pride at it's grandest.

These facts enrage me. I want to walk into a brothel and declare their freedom. Find the lonely child making bricks and carry him away. We were made to execute justice. Part of the Church's calling is to right that which is wrong. To bring order to God's earth.

So, why the Sunday School lesson at the beginning? Well, if we are going to be effective at winning this battle with injustice we better get our planks & specks out. Sure, we don't have slaves. We aren't engaging in sexual exploitation...I have never beaten anyone & most of you haven't either.

But, I have snubbed my nose at the homeless person annoying me with their requests for money. I have gossiped and said things which abused the emotions of others. I have controlled people through manipulated words.

Control, abuse, thinking I am better than the poor... Perhaps I am a slaveholder in my own right? Perhaps you are too? It seems like much easier offenses to overlook. But they are the same root problems. Yes, its big scale vs small scale. A speck vs. a plank.

The passage ends with these words "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." As followers of Jesus, we need to address the "planks" and injust actions of others. Millions of people's lives are counting on our action.

But, it isn't only signing petitions, giving money, and serving in various capacities. We have to fight this war. According to this passage, the key to doing so effectively lies in getting rid of the enemy's desception in our own lives.

Injustice must stop. Slaves must be freed and the broken are destined to be made whole. That is how Jesus works. Lets do it with Matthew 7 strategy. Let's remove the speck from our brother's eye but only after tending to our own. Love people today. It's part of the battle. An Epic Battle.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Things That Do Not Go Together

There are some things in life that simply don't go together. This is a picture of Jady in Paris. Jady and Paris do not go well together. Here are a few things I have experienced do not go well with each other.

* Late nights & hair color
* Sarah Oliver & hair color - love you Sarah, but it turned out peach.
* Hiccups and liquid eyeliner
* Librarys and headphones - because I sing along outloud forgetting people can hear
* Bare feet and dog poop
* Tires and nails
* Godzilla and Tokyo
* Brushing your teeth and sneezing ( dad mentioned this the other day )
* Contact lenses and the beach
* Dresses and floor vents
* Toyota and Detroit
* Time with Jesus and laying down
* Camping and Myself
* My brother and hipsters
* Boredom and cars full of gas - I once drove to Louisiana with a friend late one night because
we were bored...quite a story. I'll save it for another day. And we forgot to
bring money. Oops.
* Prom and using money wisely - why did we spend SO much money on that event? Anyone still talk
to your prom date? Me neither.

Well, that's all I have this morning. What can you come up with?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Things I Forget To Remember.

This is me. I know I may not look it from this picture, but I consider myself fairly intelligent. I'm no magna cum-laude , but I'm not stupid either. If you ask me where Genghis Kahn is from, I would tell you Mongolia. Ask me which nations are the permanent members of the UN Security Council. US, UK, Russia, China, and France. It is unfortunate that no one asks me these questions. However, there are some things that I NEVER remember. No matter how hard I try and how frustrated I am about forgetting them again...they DO NOT stay in my brain. Here are the annoying details I always forget in life.

1. Throw out empty bottles in the shower. I'm not really sure why I have all the bottles of soap, face wash, conditioner, shampoo, hair masks, face masks...on and one. And whenever they get empty I never remember to throw them out. I just put the new one in the shower next to the empty one. I'm working on this, but progress is slow.

2. My system of organization. I can create amazing organizational systems. Files, boxes, charts, graphs, you name it. But I can't ever remember what they are. Where did I decide I was putting the kids crafts to save? Where did I put that bag of things to take to goodwill? What was the plan for thank you cards? I have a massive attention span for projects. But if things don't change often (e.g. cleaning schedules) I loose interest and block them out of my mind.

3. Paint my toe nails. I have a massive selection of polish. If I have a little spending money I love to go get a new color. I've done that since 8th grade. But then I completely forget to actually paint my nails. I usually don't notice this oversight until I'm out and about in sandals when it is too late.

4. Emailing my mom back. Sorry mom! I don't know why I always seem to forget to return her emails...but I do. Maybe because I know that I will talk to her on the phone later??? I don't know. Grace mom, grace.

5. Lettuce. I can never remember if I need a head of lettuce or not when I am grocery shopping. I stand there holding it, squinting my eyes really hard...trying to remember. "Am I out of lettuce?" I always throw it in my cart under the assumption that its better safe than sorry. Although I'm not sure how lettuce would keep me safe. This is how I end up with LOTS of lettuce in my fridge. The best part is that I don't ever use lettuce. Oh, well.

6. Water Plants. Give me a class in botany & I will study all night. Ask me to water a plant for a week...forget it. Not going to happen. Tuck it in your brain now. If you ask me to water your flowers for you while you are away, I will eagerly say 'yes!' and mention how much I love flowers. But they will be dead when you get home. Don't ask me.

7. My in-laws address. I can never remember this. It's not hard, but I can't. I write it down, and then can't find it. So I email my mom or my brother in law. They text me back with it. I write it down again. Next month I can't remember it or find it. I direct your attention to statement # 2.

8. Returning library books or movies. You would be embarrassed for me if you know how late I was returning movies. I think Hollywood Video had me on speed dial in high school. They wanted their movies back. I probably could have funded a small mining venture with all the late fees I paid out to them. Thank you God for Netflix.

9. Online Accounts. Uuggh...not only do I have several email accounts, I have to remember which one I used for various purposes. What is my amazon account? Do I have one? If so, which password did I use??? So, I end up opening multiple accounts for Amazon, Paypal, Etsy...this just compounds the problem.

10. People can still hear me when I am wearing headphones. As a little girl on road trips I would turn my walkman on and sing along loudly to Amy Grant and Sandi Patty...forgetting that my family could hear me. Fast forward to this morning when I was sitting in the DMV waiting for my number to come up. Listening to a podcast, I realized I was saying "Amen!" loudly. And everyone could hear...just because I can't hear them doesn't mean they can't hear me. Please brain remember this one!

Okay, those are my top. Remember, don't let me water your plants.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

God doesn't do cover songs.

This is Darren. He lives in Seattle and he will probably be mortified that I used this picture. Darren is also a Canadian...he would want me to mention that. For his birthday he got this amazing guitar cup with a straw. It's really cool...unless you want to actually play music. After this picture was taken, people did karaoke.

Cover songs are interesting things. For those of you who are not as schooled as I am in the ways of music, when you "cover" a song it means you sing someone else's song. Now that we are clear on that...I think Christians listen to too many "cover" songs. Where in the world am I going with this, eh? ( Darren, that 'eh' was for you. Go Canada )

So many people I have encountered are surrounded by Christian things. All the books, the music, endless conferences and podcasts...and yet they feel stuck. Can't seem to get over the hump. Stuck in patterns of fear, doubt, insecurity, addiction...take your pick. If truth sets us free, why are we still trapped?

You may have heard a great band with a great voice singing 'Yesterday'. It was the Beatle's lyrics and notes...but you didn't hear the Beatles. You just heard their music. It isn't the same thing. If you go to a show & hear Paul McCartney sing 'Yesterday' ...then you have heard The Beatles. Their performance of the song is so genuine, powerful and mesmerizing...not like the cover band, no matter how good they were. Just because the same music was sung it didn't come from the same source. And it didn't have the same effect.

I love worship music. I love conferences. I love podcasts and books that unwrap revelation. But they don't set me free. They don't break the patterns in my life. Their purpose is to point me to the Source. Listening to a pastor tell you what the Bible says, isn't the same as knowing what the Bible says. Just like listening to someone sing 'Blackbird' at a karaoke bar isn't the same as the Beatles.

We had a meeting yesterday and someone said that speaking truth was like throwing a speedboat in front of you and then the momentum from the boat pulls you along behind it. That's how Truth propels us and gets us un-stuck. When we sing someone elses song there is no speedboat. Just a big wake. It moves us and rocks us...but it doesn't take us anywhere. And in a few minutes everything is back just as it was, and you have to wait for another wake to come by.

That's not how we were meant to live. We are supposed to be pulled by a speed boat, not waiting around for a wake. If you want to move into the next place God has for you, you better attach yourself to the speedboat. God Himself. Fresh Revelation. The Original Source. Listen to cover songs along the way to encourage you holding onto the line...but don't let go of your rope trying to grab onto a cover band along the way.

You were not made to be moved by something. You were made to move things.

Monday, May 9, 2011

There is a God...so, you never know...

There is a God...so, you never know. You could do a human pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris with a few friends...and your baby...You just never know.

Here is what brings this post about. Tonight at dinner Jady and I were talking about how we are 30 (I'm 29 but its the same thing) and we are in the middle of this great adventure where anything could happen at any moment. After dinner we were watching this video on Martin Smith & Delirious. They were this little nobody band who used to just play in schools. Then they got an invited to play at a prayer conference & God launched them into being a massively influential band. Fast forward a few hours...I was watching a Hillsong promo for a conference (shocker) and one of the guys said " I don't think I can make it, but there is a God so, you never know."

Hmm...I thought. So very true. We really never know. Anything can happen with God. At any time. I loved living in Seattle and the thought of leaving Mosaic had me crying for a year and a half. God had amazing things for me there and there are still amazing things continuing to happen. But now I am here. In a field where God can plant anything. Although the season of transition was so painful, God had things for me in a new season. In Seattle, I was too busy to write. Now I have time & I'm really enjoying it...and people read it...who knew. Other things are starting to emerge that didn't have room before. There is a God, so I just never know.

If you ached on Mother's Day because you long for children. There is a God...so, you never know.

You have a heart for reforming education, but you have taught the same first grade class for 20 years now. Maybe one of the kids you invested in will go on to become the Secretary of Education . There is a God, so you never know.

You lost your job, and can't seem to get another one. Could be that God wants to take you in a completely new direction. There is a whole new arena you never thought you could enter with your life, but He is about to invite you in. You never know.

You follow God to a remote place. Nothing seems to be there. But He is about to plant a garden in a desert. And He wanted you to have a front row seat. What seemed like exile is now honor. There is a God, so you never know.

Keep hope fresh. Keep dreams alive. And keep your soul full.
There is a God...so, you never know...He may surprise you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Grandma's Wisdom - Doris Lorentzen

Happy Mother's Day! This week I have featured a different mother each day. Finishing up today is the Mother of All Mothers...well, really she is just the mother of my mother. Her name is Doris Lorentzen. She is one of the classiest, funniest, most lively ladies I know. Absolutely fabulous. She tried to help out with the war effort by knitting socks for the soldiers in World War II. When she went with her friends to drop off their handiwork, the army wouldn't take hers...they were that bad. I'm not joking. Her conversations are full of magnificent stories like that. She personifies beauty in every way. Grandma won the love of an amazing man & he loved her with all his heart. She is the mother of 3, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 6. I knew she would have a thing or two to share. This is her wisdom.

Reading the previous posts reminds me that styles of mothering are as diverse as the mothers themselves. Each child is unique with his own talents, needs and personality. So just as there are no cookie-cutter mothers and no cookie-cutter children, there is no one-way-fits-all way to motherhood. Here are some thoughts on needs that children have.

Love and acceptance: Children need to be loved and accepted for who they are, not what we want them to be. Our grandson Ethan was tall and we were all sure he would play basketball. He prefers to hunt, fish and golf...so his parents let him. He is much happier that way. Our son Jim played the trumpet when he was younger and we encouraged that. He played in various bands, but eventually decided to pack it away. And we let him. Now he plays it sometimes in his church ensemble. Our daughters, however, have never forgiven us for forcing them to take piano lessons!!! :)

Security: Children need to know home is a place where they are loved, protected, and secure. It will then become a place where they want to bring their friends. Welcome that development. When our kids were in high school, it was not unusual for one of them to call at 5:00 on Sunday afternoon asking if the youth group could come over after the evening service for a fellowship. My husband would make a run to the store, I would get out the paper plates and cups, and a few hours later our house would be invaded by a large group of active teenagers. Those teenagers are grown now, but when I see one of them I'm always told how much they enjoyed those evenings. They don't tell me they remember how tidy the house was or how nice the freshly vacuumed rug was. They remember how they felt being there. Put away the breakables and let the kids in!

When Ethan and Elizabeth were in high school, one summer they brought 6 of their friends to stay at our house for the weekend while they visited a local state park. I didn't mind the sleeping bags everywhere and the late-night chatter. I loved having them there. They must have loved it too, because they all came back the following summer.

These days it is my four year old granddaughter Bella comes to my house and asks to 'play' my piano and "Do you have a popsicle in your freezer?"

Time: Your children need YOUR time. They need to know you're spending time with them because there is nothing else you would rather be doing. It doesn't have to be a special trip or even cost money. My husband was a doctor and Kathy was very close to him. She loved going to the hospital along with her dad. She would sit in the doctor's lounge while he dictated from the charts. Often she asked to go on house calls with him & she would sit in the car while he went inside to treat the patient. ( this was a small town in the 50s - it was safe!) Who knew something so simple could become such a special memory for her?

When Elizabeth was in high school an I came to Waco to visit, we would go to coffee and chat the afternoon away. I was sure once she became a busy college student it would all change. However on my first visit to Waco once she was a freshman at Baylor, she took me to Common Grounds. Those visits became routine throughout her college career. One afternoon a man interrupted us and said, " I've been sitting there watching you for quite some time. I've never seen two generations enjoying each other so much." Enjoy each other.

Young mothers, be encouraged. Like all families we had problems, but we worked through those. It takes time, patience, love and prayer. You do the best you know how and trust God.

When our family is gathered around the table during holidays the conversation consists of memories we of things we did and times spent together as a family. At age 87 I sit there and see love and laughter embrace 4 generations and I am a blessed woman.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Bravest Woman Of Them All - Marcia Griffin

If any of you have met my husband Jady, you have thought the same thing I thought. "Lord bless the woman that had to raise this man." Jady is fabulous, but was quite the handful growing up. Not only that, but he has two younger brothers. I have heard loads of stories about them growing up. Jumping off roofs into pools, lighting things on fire and attempting to ride bikes through it, climbing up telephone poles and hanging things on the wires... I know for a fact that in heaven her house will be bigger than mine. Perhaps, with a pool. Not only did everyone survive these developmental years, Marcia went to school at nights to pursue her dream of being a teacher. All three of her boys are men. Not simply adults, but men. So, here's to the woman who raised my man.

How do you define motherhood?

Motherhood is among the highest honors given by God. It is a lifestyle dedicated to building the best in others. I suppose if I were interviewing for the job of motherhood, the interviewer would ask about my experience, organizational skills, multi-tasking abilities, commitment, and level of patience; but actually the most important piece to motherhood is my relationship with Jesus. The amount of time, energy, patience, wisdom, compassion, etc needed is in the realm of the impossible without the fuel of the Holy Spirit. (This is Liz, and I would like to interject an "amen")

What are a few of the key principles you held to while raising these three men?

* I consistently prayed they would be followers of God and leaders of men.
* I prayed they would have strong legs to stand when others might be tempted to fall.
* I prayed they would have the favor of God upon them.
* I prayed God would give me wisdom, discernment and boldness to lead, correct and encourage.
* I realized early on that I could not and should not try and protect them from life and the
bumps and bruises they would encounter. I tried to accept and truly believe in the
sovereignty of God. I would fight to hang onto the truth that God is good and His love for
them was much greater than I could ever imagine. When it seemed as though God may have
abandoned them or surely was not looking their way, I would repent of my lack of faith and
ask for God to fill me with His peace as I trust Him with their lives.

You were not able to finish college before your boys were born, but you knew you wanted to become a teacher. So you were a stay at home mom during the day, and went to school in the
evenings often doing homework well into the early morning. How did you do that?

I did attend college in the evenings when the boys were young and this would not have been possible without the love and support of my husband and family. I cared for the boys during the day and Greg would take care of them in the evenings. God's grace and mercy was abundant during that time. I was blessed to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream of being an educator and a full time mom. My boys were always supportive and I am forever thankful to them and Greg for the opportunity.

Any other advice you would give to moms?

The only advice I would offer is to listen more to the voice of the Holy Spirit than to words of any author or book, other than the Bible. I think reading about discipline and raising families is important and I did quite a bit of reading during those years; however, one of my biggest regrets is following the advice of a book over the whisper of the Holy Spirit when my boys were young. If I could rewind those years, I would still read books for helpful ideas, but the ideas would never be allowed to supersede that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. As the boys entered teen years, I had learned that lesson and discovered that God guided me in the right direction every time, even when it seemed contrary to what others were advising. The Holy Spirit knows the interworking of those young men and sees the completed picture. How foolish of me to even think that I could direct their lives with my limited knowledge.

One thing that Marcia has done so well with her boys is distinguish who each one is. They were all raised under the same banner of values, but she left room for them to be different from each other. Jady, Jake & Lucas weren't pushed into a "Griffin" mold, but rather given the room to expand into the personality God had created within them. She was a magnificent developer of the gifts within...she still is. I love you Marcia!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Beautiful Soul - Cara Key

In case you haven't noticed...all my posts this week are paying tribute to Mother's Day and feature a different mom each day. I'm loving hearing each of their perspectives and journeys. Today is no different. I have gotten to know Cara over the past few years and she is amazing. She has faced some real hardships in this area of motherhood and has come through as one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met. I'm so thankful she is just as addicted to Facebook as I am...

1. How do you define motherhood?

To me, motherhood is taking a nurturing, discipleship role in someone's life, however that comes about and at whatever age. So far for me, it's come with biological children.

2. What does motherhood look like for you?
I have 5 kids here on earth with me, one with Jesus, and one due at the end of September ( so, I guess I have 6 here with me, already, since that one's definitely with me all the time ;-) . This school year, we're in the States, but for the past 12 years, we've lived in the Middle East, and we're returning there at the end of June. When we're overseas, my daily life consists of homeschooling, training/discipling kiddos, visiting local friends, hanging with ex-pat friends, and getting time with my husband ( hopefully not in that order).

3. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a mother?

I think the loss of our second son at 7 weeks old was an obvious blow. We were living overseas at the time, returned to the US for a service and burial, and I had emergency gall bladder surgery the night after the burial. That, combined with hurrying to return overseas and trying to visit friends and family while we were in the US, effectively cut off our grieving process. Not a good thing. Around two years later, we realized we were in a very bad place emotionally and finally got some counseling and healing. One of my big soap boxes now is taking time to grieve. We still deal with the consequences of those two, numb years.

Also, two of our kids are on the autism spectrum. Our 5 1/2 year old was primarily non-verbal until about 18 months ago, so he requires some extra attention. We have worked hard to hear the Lord as to how to meet his needs, whether overseas or taking time in the US and are seeing miracles with how the Lord has laid things out.

4. What has motherhood taught you?

Probably the biggest lesson has been how imperfect and sinful I am. I had a pretty good facade going before I had kids (just not with anyone who had to live with me; I'm still working on housekeeping). Now, the kids are around 24/7, and I've had to face a lot of my shortcomings. They see everything, and I want to be so much better to be a good example for them. Striving hasn't worked out so well for me, so I'm looking into some more options.

Seriously, I've never needed my time with Jesus more than since I've had kids, especially as they get older. Wisdom, Lord!

Motherhood's also taught me how many different right ways there are to do things, particularly parenting. People truly seek the Lord and get totally opposite answers as to how to raise their kids. And that's okay. Really. As long as we all seek the Lord in the first place.

5. What advice do you have for other moms?

It sounds simple, but the most basic piece of advice I have is, "Don't say no, if you don't mean it." I would say that's somewhere around 50% of parenting. Because, if your child knows you mean it when you say no, that's a huge step to imparting more important lessons to them.

Seek the Lord as to what your child needs. And pray for them daily.

When you read parenting books, seek the Lord as to what applies to your family and chunk the rest. No matter what they say, they are not the whole and complete answer for every family.

Call it when you see it: "Honey, you are trying to manipulate Mommy. That's not the way we get what we want. We honor people. Instead, you can say..." It may sound silly, but it lays the foundation for good relational patterns and builds their vocabulary and understanding of what is appropriate and what is not.

See??? I told you she was a beautiful soul. I got some great take aways and I hope you did too. Thanks for reading! Tomorrow is a day for the boys...raising boys that is...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stephanie Johnson Koegh

For those of you who know Stephanie, she is not announcing a pregnancy by writing on motherhood! I wanted to provide a variety of views from a variety of women. Stephanie is a newlywed with no children. However, she is a mother to many. Hundreds of people have been cared for and unconditionally loved by her. She has an amazing capacity to carry people in her heart. She also sees motherhood a bit different than others because of her personal experiences. I asked her to be honest and share her observations on being a mom. You may not be used to hearing this perspective, but I have known her for years and she has a heart of gold. Here is her insight:


I am 34 and not a mom. At all. Recently my husband had surgery on his nose, which required that we set an alarm for every three hours to take his pain medication. I slept the entire next weekend. I thought I might die. I am pretty sure I am not made for babies.

I don't actually like children. I love them, and I think they are lovely magical little beings, but I find them loud, messy, unpredictable and unruly. Actually that part doesn't bother me. The part that bothers me is that they are not mine and since parents have a sundry of techniques they use to parent { the hands off, the iron fist, the baby/toddler wise, the baby/toddler whisperer, growing kids (insert name of deity)'s way and so on and so forth} I cannot say, "Hey kid, pipe down you're bugging everyone." Or "Get you little hands of my black label J Crew white spring coat." I guess really, the kids are fine, their parents parenting techniques are the minefield.

And that's really it isn't it? It kind of all goes back to our parents.

Motherhood probably looks a little bit different to me. My mom plays Tetris, watches Nascar and likes to sway to records of John Lennon while sitting cross legged on the floor burning incense, she's 61. She has been this way for as long as I can remember, and I have to say that if ever a child was raised by the village (or maybe wolves) it's me. Motherhood. This word always really offered me a gut-blow. I wanted a traditional mother, and other people wanted to be adoptive mothers to me, but in the end, I didn't have a traditional mother and they couldn't really be my stand-ins. However, with some ferocious fighting and committed relationship my Aunt (and Uncle) gave me a key to her house and her heart and over the years we forged a mother-daughter bond deeper than I could have dreamed. Motherhood is nothing beyond making REAL room in your heart to care for and nurture another soul. This may happen for moments, days, weeks or years, but it happens by choice not by blood relationship. I know that I know that I know Motherhood is a choice and not genetic. I wish more people believed that.

Motherhood looks funny in my life. Despite my distain for little people, they surround me. But I kind of moved backward. I started by mothering my mother. Then I moved to the guys in the dorm, they were easy; Orange slices and encouraging words did it for them. Then it was youth at Highland Baptist Church; They were more dramatic, but kind of the same, Marble Slab and public affirmation. After that I moved on to college kids and frat boys. They required the same thing, but with later nights and an elevated tendency for emotional drama. The food ante was upped as well; This was often King Ranch Casserole and notes left on cars. Then I moved overseas and did this for people there...Re-enter the little people though, there were 7 children on my team. Back to oranges and encouraging words. So for me it's been full circle. And you know what , I've learn a few things over the years. Mainly that food covers a multitude of sins...Kidding. Ish. Ok, not really at all. It's hard to be mad at someone who feeds you delicious food. But really - here are my main three thoughts:

There is no right way.I started really black and white. There was right and wrong. My way or wrong. Err, God's way, as I saw it, or wrong. The way of the last impacting book I read or wrong...lots of 'this way' or wrong. Life is not so luxuriously easy. Children and adults should know that in a polarized world there are shades of grey and love is full of empathetic grace. We cannot get it wrong. We can only make a decision, if it's the wrong one, then it is. We're not stuck, we just have to make a new decision and start moving in the right direction. Making things right or wrong, good or evil was never part of the original intent. The goal was always to learn and listen and intuit what was good, better or best. Sometimes, we may not pick best, but then we learn. We simply cannot choose a wrong direction, we must move with the rhythm of Spirit who says, "Whether you step to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is My way, walk in it." That voice is the only way.

Children and people need a lot less than we think they do. I nanny for this family, and one of the children thinks everything is BORING. I could put the kid on the moon and he would tell me how boring the ride there was. However, he entertains himself for hours with a cardboard cutout of snakes & ladders from the inside of a Puffins cereal box. Brown and black, he can't read and has no real way to play the game. Toys, technology and hovering attention leads to distracted lives and people who cannot live with the quiet and stillness of their own soul. If the voice of the Eternal is still and small it seems logical that we would need to have simple lives, free from noise and distraction to hear. There is no guide to this and you cannot make television or technology the enemy. We, as mothers, simply must identify the noise in our own lives and help those we love learn to identify it in their own lives. Empower people, don't enable their dependency on you ( we often resent them for it in the end.) And everyone loves a kid who plays quietly in a corner...I think every kid loves a mom who will go do the same.

You as a mother are not the center of the universe and you cannot do any extensive damage that a good counselor can't help undo. Seriously. I used to whine and complain about not being allowed to ride in first class with my Aunt and Uncle, or stay out until 11:30 my senior year, or be exonerated from wrongful accusations of overdramatic reactions to menial situations (as if I EVER would.) They would frequently promise to promptly place $25 in my counseling fund and then they would move on (as I suffered.) We're going to totally screw it up. Seriously. BIG TIME. But the truth is, kids, friends, children, spouses require a few simple things to feel loved. (Orange slices) Time, encouragement and sincere apologies are all that are really needed. Think about it...Successful grown ups are constantly giving the glory God and their mamma who was always there believing in them (and feeding them, but they don't say this.) They never mentioned when she totally flipped her lid because they spilled glitter on the brand new rug, lip glossed the car's interior or tugged on her pants and asked "Mom?" at just the wrong time. Those aren't the things that stick in the minds of our "kids", mostly because they are too busy thinking about themselves or how you are going to need to put some money in their counseling fund or offering them an orange slice. Though you are not the center of their universe, you will (no matter how grouchy you were) always get credit for the consistent love, time and encouragement you provided. Any Heissman Trophy or Nobel Prize winner can attest to that. In their speech they're just going to give God all the glory anyway, so why worry about it?

In the end I have little, that you don't innately know, to offer. I am not a mom. I don't know that I ever will be. I love my friends' children, but I would raise all of them a different way (silently, with no sticky food and strict orders to not make ANY messes.) I have deeply hurt or failed most of the people I loved and anyone I haven't I probably just haven't known long enough. This is what makes me human. All I know is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to Motherhood. There is only a sincere and humble heart, surrendered and committed to wanting the best for the ones they love, whatever that may look like for them. Failure is as certain as death and taxes. So don't waste your time beating yourself up over it, Lord knows you're going to need that energy for peeling oranges, encouragement and "being there." Just remember the last commencement speech, MVP or Grammy speech you heard, "First I want to thank God (for making me better than everyone else?), I also want to thank my momma for loving me, being there for me and always believing in me." Seriously, how can you go wrong?"

Stephanie is 34 years old. She lives in Boston with her husband, fish Arli and their newly planted garden. She has returned to school after a 15-year hiatus and wants to encourage all young people to stay in school (your brain starts falling out of your ears after 24). She nannies in her free time, 4 children, 2 different families, and adores her friends' children the rest of the time. She would like to thank God for the opportunity to write this blog, and her Aunt for the money for counseling. The counseling was free, Stephanie bought Big-0's of Shiner with that money.

Kathy Mulkey - A Mother's Perspective Day 2

How do I even introduce my amazing, incredible mother??? She is truly too beautiful for words. The example she has shown matches and exceeds these words of wisdom she is sharing today. There was never a moment that I felt I couldn't conquer the world...thanks to this lady. Childhood was so fun with her as my mother. I know you will enjoy what she has to say!

How do you define motherhood?
- It is realizing you're not just raising a child, you're shaping a life. It's knowing that you've been given the awesome responsibility of caring for an eternal being. Jobs, relationships, etc. will pass away but this child is for eternity. Wanna go to the mission field? There's one right at your feet.

What advice do you have for moms of young children, teenagers, and adult children?

*** Young children - By default, young children are very time-consuming. Don't try to do it all. Cut yourself some slack. I tried to have the perfect house, perfect meals, perfect children...and I almost went perfectly insane. Other people may be able to do it. I couldn't. So I chose. I chose to let some of the housework go in order to invest more in my children. (Yes, there were actually days Danny wouldn't walk into the kitchen barefooted) Admit your mistakes. If you lose your temper, admit it. Don't be too proud to ask for forgiveness. It sets an example for them. And let your children know they are more important to you than any worldly thing. Choose to wipe away the tears before wiping up the spilled milk.

***Teenagers - These were great years and I absolutely loved them. I asked our youth director what he saw was the most influential in the your people's lives and he said without a doubt it was the friends they chose. So we made sure our home was a place where our kids' friends were welcomed. I often would cook extra in case a friend wanted to stay for dinner. I kept extra toothbrushes and contact cases in case someone ended up spending the night. And if a friend wasn't exactly of our choosing, we wanted them at our house in hopes of influencing their lives. It's also a time of transferring more responsibility to your children and relaxing some of the controls. Yeah, it's hard. You don't want to see your children make poor decisions. But there's value in a poor decision if the child learns from it. They can be stepping stones towards maturity. And when a child makes wise decisions he/she gains confidence. After years of training, praying and guiding, the later teenage years are when you step aside and let the youth walk into adulthood.

*** Adult children - I heard these words in a song one time, "I'll have tears when you take off, but cheer when you fly!" This is where I am now. I've experienced the tears and sadness of my children leaving home but also the joy of watching them find their own way and succeed in life. Now I fill the role of friend more often than mom, but it's a wonderful new relationship level and I love it.

How do you cultivate a good relationship with your kids?

- Let them know you are proud of them not because of what they've done but because they're yours...period. Be their biggest cheerleader. Spend time with them and really listen to what they're saying. When they make mistakes, don't condemn, but help them see why it happened and what would prevent it from happening again. Don't dismiss any aspiration or dream they have. You never know what will rise to the surface. (writing a blog, for instance) Enjoy every day with them, even the difficult ones. They need to know you're there for them no matter what. Relax, let some things go and enjoy the uniqueness of each child.

When raising children, the days are long but the years are short.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Becky Weatherly - A Mother's Perspective

It's Mother's Day week!!! If you know me well, you know that I love women. Mother's Day is the perfect holiday for me. I thought that this week I would do an interview with a different mom each day. Mothers in all different stages and situations...even one without children! I hope you enjoy their perspective! If you are a guy, you will glean something good from these I am sure.

The first mom is Becky Weatherly. I have known her since I was born...or at least really little. I played a lot at her house when I was a kid. She is a mother of six. Yes, six. And now she has two grandbabies. Becky lives in Waco, Texas. Here is what she has to say.

How do you define motherhood?
- Laying down your life 24/7/365 for a child who will not realize or appreciate your sacrifice until that child is a parent too...and knowing you would do it all over again.

What does "mothering" look like in your season of life now that your children are grown?
- Mothering now is being a friend and mentor to my adult children and enjoying seeing what amazing people they've become. I'm also reveling in my grandchildren. What a sweet surprise they are!

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a mom?
- For me one of the biggest challenges as my children got older was seeing them hurt and not being able to fix it and make it better the way I could when they were young. I think of watching one son, an outstanding athlete, miss much of his athletic career because of injury, and seeing another go through the hard emotional pain of watching his best friend die in his arms. Also, seeing your child make mistakes, as they all do, and having to stand back and let them, knowing the consequences can be grave. I learned, through God's grace and wise counsel, to let them grow through their struggles and to entrust God with their lives. If we try to play God in our children's lives by fixing everything for them, they don't learn to trust Him. We really do grow the most in our Christian walks when we go through trials. Getting out of God's way and allowing Him to have His way with my children was definitely a challenge, but I've watched God be faithful with each one.

What has motherhood taught you?
- Motherhood has taught me humility in a way nothing else has. I think most of us start out as parents believing that if we do A, B, and C, read all the right books and try our best, our children will grow up perfect and make us so proud. What we learn is that dispite our best efforts, our children are human, bent toward sin, and they learn, just as we did, by making mistakes, sometimes embarrassingly public mistakes. Our egos may take a beating, but our job as mothers is to continue to love our children unconditionally, to let them know we are always proud they belong to us, and to not give up on them. If you are one of those blessed parents whose children don't hit these bumps and who sail through adolescence, teenage years and young adults with grace, hallelujah. For the rest of us, the challenge is REALLY trusting God's promises regarding our children, and believing that He will be faithful. As a mother of six grown children - a mother who made lots of mistakes- I can say God IS faithful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on Bin Laden

When I heard the news of Bin Laden's death I was hit with lots of emotions. He did horrible things. In a moment he changed the way our world works. All nations lived in fear of him and his abilities. For ten years men and women sacrificed so that this moment could happen. They deserve a standing ovation for all the ways they protect our country. I'm glad that families who needed closure after loosing loved ones in 9/11 got closure.

The interesting thing is that this wasn't what God had planned for his life. God loved Osama bin Laden. Just like He loves you. Just like He loves me. Can you imagine the calling of influence, the pursuit of justice and the promotion of holiness that God had for him to walk in? Instead he chose to influence the world through terror, the justice that he pursued was perverted and the holiness he promoted was just an empty shell in the end. I believe that Jesus pursued him till his death.

We all have different views on what is or isn't appropriate in moments like this. Should we kill someone? Who gets credit? Are they going to retaliate? How much celebrating should be done? ... The reality is that no matter where you land on these issues, it is a significant moment for the world. In all spheres. What I'd like to comment on isn't about where we should land on the questions above.

What I want to say is about the strongest emotion that I felt. Compassion for people. "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood...but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph. 6:12

As a Church lets not just stop at the death of a man. Lets pursue Justice in this moment. The Justice that died on a cross years ago to bring redemption to broken people. People in the middle east are living in great amount of uncertainty. Governments are falling and forces such as Al Qaeda are being broken down. Lets pray that in this pivotal moment they would meet Justice himself. Lets pray that people would live in fear and oppression no more. Cry out to God that His dreams for these nations would come to pass. That is the opportunity in front of the church in moments like these.

The security that the world is looking for isn't found in the absence of Bin Laden, but in the presence of Jesus.