Monday, November 30, 2009
That's right, who doesn't love the turkey sandwiches following Thanksgiving? There's nothing better than turkey, light miracle whip, mustard and some bread and butter pickles on wheat bread. But really...
How fortunate and blessed are we that we not only spend the week of Thanksgiving feasting, but we have leftovers to boot? It reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with 2 fish and 3 loaves of bread and then having the disciples collect the leftovers. Our God is a God of leftovers - how sweet is that?! Paul says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)
1. Jesus does "immeasurably more than all", that means leftovers to share
2. Jesus does it - to him be the glory. I heard countless people, including myself, make statements last week starting with "I'm thankful for...," but I wonder if we say that casually and forget to whom we're directing our thanks. The very idea of thankfulness implies a giver.
In the weeks to come, let me encourage you to take some time to think back over this year and remember all you've been given. And at the risk of being corny, maybe even write a thank you note to God. And if you really get rolling, take time to write a thank you note to the person(s) who led you to Christ.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
My Favorite Part....the Stuffing
Yesterday I talked about the not-so-obvious things I'm thankful for, so today as I'm preparing to head north for Thanksgiving I thought I would quickly mention the obvious:
1. Jacob. I know, you're shocked, but I did tell you these were the obvious. This year, Clark and I became parents of the most beautiful baby boy. Jacob has brought joy to our lives that we never imagined possible. I'm thankful everyday for his health, his smile, and his innocent love of life. He reaches for people he's never met without question and he loves without reserve.
2. Clark. I'm not perfect and neither is Clark, but somehow in the midst of our imperfection, God has made us perfect for each other. I'm thankful to have Clark beside me when I go to bed at night and there in the morning when I wake up. I'm thankful that Clark loves our baby boy and there's nothing better than coming home and seeing Jacob in Clark's lap reading Dr. Seuss.
3. Family. My parents rock! My sister is a rock star w/ world-class dad for a husband and the three cutest kids you've ever seen (except Jacob, of course, but they are related after all :). I've been blessed mightily in the in-law department, including a new sister-in-law in October who's fabulous. It makes a big difference to walk through life from distances far and wide with people who love you and are looking out for you.
4. Friends. New and old, I'm so thankful for top-notch friends. For some reason, I didn't make many lifelong friends in high school, college or seminary, but I can name at least one from each who know me and love me despite my many failings. However, God's timing is always extraordinary and now, for perhaps the first time, I have a strong handful of incredible friends who fill my life with joy, laughter and excitement for what's going on around us every day.
5. Jamin - that's right, buddy, you get your own shout-out. Jamin and I make-up the staff for ARC (along w/ our honorary staff members who don't like titles and therefore prefer to remain un-named :). Perhaps the most encouraging step forward so far with Ashley Ridge has been God's gift to us in Jamin. I'm thankful for his heart, his gifts, his friendship and his commitment. I've always been big on team ministry, so thanks to Jamin for putting up with me and allowing ARC to hit the ground running as a team.
6. ARC and the most amazing launch team every composed!!! I've said it and I'll say it again- God is about to blow our minds with what He will do in us, through us and in our midst. Your faith and your pioneer spirit and your passion to serve God by serving others encourages me every day!
Check back tomorrow as you prepare for the feasting...to whom do we give thanks and how do we say it and show it?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Let There Be Turkey
There are other blogs out there in South Carolina land focusing their attention all week to a certain football game happening on Saturday, but I thought I might be a little more "on the nose" and focus this week on being thankful.
Paul said to "give thanks in all circumstances," which means we need to be thankful for the tough stuff as well as the good stuff. Check back later this week for some of my reflections on the "good" stuff I'm thankful for. Today, let me throw a bit of the not-so-obvious out there:
1. I'm thankful for the current recession. No, I'm not thankful that people don't have jobs and I have a great deal of compassion for the many families who are in difficult circumstances. However, I think most of us needed a reality check on what we consider needs and what we consider wants. Yea, we can't go out to dinner as often, but I know I haven't gone without any meals, good ones at that. Sure, Christmas will be more conservative this year, but, well, it should be. If you're like me you have boxes of "stuff" sitting in attics and closets. I have an embarrassingly big clothes closet and jewelry that won't fit in the beautiful wooden jewelry box Clark made for me two years ago. I'll not continue on this tangent, but please take time to check out the Advent Conspiracy. And just a reminder, if your family (not just you personally), but if your family has an income higher than $40,000/yr you are wealthier than almost 99% of people on the planet.
2. I'm thankful that some things in my life have not gone well lately. Have you noticed how we can get so busy that we get lazy with the relationships in our life that matter most? For me, that amounts to not taking the time to share with others how I'm really feeling and what I'm thinking. And then, somethings happens and WHAMO, the world explodes. In my life, it often takes God's 2x4 approach to force me to deal with things and not simply brush them aside. And so, I'm thankful for the tough stuff that has forced me to look in the mirror and be honest with myself and, ultimately honest with God and others.
3. I'm thankful for my dog who hasn't stopped barking and demanding attention since we brought Jacob home from the hospital. Most nights, I want to wring Auburn's neck, but then God uses him as a basic reminder that life isn't all about me and I need to expend my energy caring for others. Often people aren't as vocal and so it's easy to sweep them aside and focus on me, myself and I. My dog, on the other hand, won't stand for it. Should he bark incessantly? No. But is he really wrong for speaking up about his need to be noticed? No.
4. I'm thankful I lost brain cells when I became a mom. I used to fancy myself extremely reliable, self-sufficient and 100% capable of handling everything on my own w/o writing a single reminder note. Not anymore (any mom's or dad's want to add an amen?). Jacob has added a dimension to my life that keeps me from remembering everything I hear and getting everything done right in the moment. I've learned some hard lessons since February and I've let some people down, forgetting details and not following through on what I said I would do. It's been humbling, but oh so good to truly realize I'm only part of the body and not the whole enchilada.
I could go on. What are the not-so-obvious things in your life you need to be thankful for?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
What I'm Reading
I would like to thank all of you who take the time to read my blog. I hope it is helpful/useful in some way; and, if not, thanks for just reading it (Mom). I've always been a reader and I continue to be amazed at how much I learn and grow from books and just how much they expand my worldview. As they say, "leaders are readers." I also realize how much I am influenced by the things I read, so I try to keep a diverse reading list. And so, for those of you who read what I write, I thought you might like to know what I've read lately and what I'm currently reading:
Books I've Read Recently:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - this is a book about the occupation of the British isles during WWII written from the perspective of an endearing collection of characters from the island of Guernsey and a quirky London author, easily one of the best books I've read this year
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - a book for book-lovers, you'll also enjoy it if you like well-told stories full of suspense
Church Unique by Will Mancini - great book for church leaders, a new spin on generating vision and finding your own church unique, i.e. what kind of church is God uniquely calling you to plant/lead?
Crazy Love by Francis Chan - a must-read when it comes to discipleship and moving from being lukewarm to being obsessed with Jesus in a way that changes your life, your family, your community and the world
Books I'm Currently Reading:
World Without End by Ken Follett - a follow-up to his incredible book Pillars of the Earth, I'm not big on reading things from medieval times (gross and crude lifestyle) but these books are amazing, definitely read with a friend so you can discuss (or call me to discuss!)
Going Rogue by Sarah Palin - my copy came today and I can't wait to get started (in fact, I'm going to do that as soon as I finish this post). I know she's a controversial character so I won't say more other than to say that I'm fascinated by Sarah Palin and the role she has taken on in American politics
And, in case you're wondering, I started a year-long trek through the Bible in August with a group of friends that has us reading a couple of chapters a day. We are currently finishing the book of Joshua. I'm blown away by the grace of God and also the passion of God sometimes expressed in uncomfortable ways. God was determined to have a holy people through whom He could bless the world, which meant serious laws and consequences, but underneath those things we can't lose sight of God's desperation to know us and reclaim us.
That's it for now. Go read something better than my ramblings...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Life, Lemons and What-Not
So, the expression goes, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." What happens when life doesn't give you lemons but a swift kick in the gut? What do you make/do then?
I'm not an expert on this, but I do have a few thoughts about what to do and what not to do...
What not to do:
1. confide only in the people who will tell you what you want to hear
2. confide in no one, keep everything deep inside and enjoy the resulting isolation and ulcer
3. quit exercising and eat a lot of comfort food (notice I said "a lot," I highly encourage a little dark chocolate at life's toughest moments)
What to do:
1. get on your knees and tell God everything, ask for help, ask for grace, ask for wisdom
2. find a few of your closest friends and let them know how you're feeling, make sure your friends include those who will tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear
3. be honest with yourself
4. don't react hastily or in anger
The truth is if you have a pulse then you're going to get kicked in the gut every now and then. A cheery disposition and a lemon strainer won't make everything okay, but how you deal with it will say a lot about your faith and integrity.
And a personal note: thank you to the people in my life who refuse to let me brush things under the table and lie to myself about how I'm feeling. And most especially, thank you for pointing me to my knees - only God can truly heal our deepest hurts.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Brothers and Sisters
With some degree of embarrassment, I admit to the blogosphere that I am a regular watcher of the tv show Brothers and Sisters. I say this with some trepidation because I do not recommend and stand by many of the morals, decisions and lifestyle choices lifted up in the show. So, you ask, why then do you watch it? It's simple, I watch it and it reminds me how much we need each other.
The show makes me thankful for my family, and not just my biological family. It also reminds me that I have a fierce independent streak that rarely serves me well. Fact: God created us as relational beings - we need God and we need each other. We were never meant to live life alone, and none of us was made with super human strength that exempts us from needing to lean on our friends from time to time.
I am the biggest hypocrite around when it comes to this topic and I acknowledge that. So, I'm stepping up to the plate and taking the lead. I am intentionally cultivating deeper friendships with some of my girlfriends. I'm 28 years old and for the first time since elementary school I'm opening doors with my parents to admit I need to do some leaning. And so now, I get to ask all of you, who are you leaning on? Are you leaning on Jesus every day for your life's breath and move? Are you leaning on some friends who can give you a hand and also a push when you need it? If your answers are no, don't waste any time remedying the situation. We all need a little help from our brothers and sisters.
Monday, November 02, 2009
On Halloween, Santa Claus and Harry Potter
I think the Harry Potter books are the greatest literary achievement of our time. I believe in Santa Claus (that is, the spirit of giving and care for others that was exemplified in Saint Nicholas as he went around collecting and distributing gifts to children). And, I think Halloween is a fun day that allows us to laugh squarely in the face of evil and at all the things that scare us because our hope and faith is grounded firmly in Jesus Christ. But that's just me...
I wonder if perhaps we wouldn't be so afraid of things as harmless as Harry Potter and the Santa Claus tradition if we knew we were doing everything possible to teach our kids about Jesus in what we say and what we do. I wonder if we would have to spend less time opposing culture if we were spending more time creating culture. I wonder if people would be more willing to give church a try if "church-people" weren't constantly confusing what church is all about. But that's just me...
It's time to be bold. It's time to be vocal- not about what we oppose, but what we believe - Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, our hope forever, and the reason we step completely out of our comfort zones to share the crazy, relentless love of God to friends, co-workers, family, and strangers. Today, don't waste your breath on what you don't believe, share what you do believe.