Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Tis the season - you know, the season of stress, anxiety, over-eating, etc.

Wow, that sounds really Bah Humbug. I assure that's not what I mean. I love Christmas. I'm one of those people who decorates the day after Thanksgiving and watches as many sappy, cheesy Christmas movies as possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Nevertheless, along with the Christmas fun, comes a month often overshadowed by shopping, cooking and busyness that can make the most enthusiastic elf weary.

So much of our preparation has to do with shopping for the perfect gifts, preparing for the perfect parties, decorating so as not to be outdone by the neighbors. We prepare in order to manage and control the craziness.

But, what if Christmas isn't at all about peace, control and perfection. As I read the Christmas story this year, I'm increasingly aware of all the disruptions going on in people's lives. Take Mary, for example, she was getting ready for a wedding, transitioning from childhood to a home of her own when all of a sudden Gabriel shows up, scares her to death and then proceeds to tell her she's going to have a baby, and not just any baby, the Messiah they'd been waiting for for so long.

Mary's response: "Not possible." (Luke 1:34)

All of Mary's preparation went out the window - "Holy Disruption, Batman!" was more the order of the day.

Jesus' arrival at the first Christmas was anything but planned and organized, it was a total disruption to all of the immediate players (we'll talk about more of these stories in the coming weeks).

And so, here's the question: what are you preparing for this Christmas? Are you preparing for parties and celebration? I hope so, there's much to celebrate. But, are you also preparing for the complete and total disruption of a Jesus who comes to change your world and your life?

I don't always welcome it with open arms, but I know there are things in my life that need to change. The question is am I willing? Willing to change? Willing to grow? Willing to be disrupted by the greatest gift ever given in Jesus Christ?

Tell me about your Christmas preparations.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Real Life Radicals

Yesterday in my message I mentioned this blog about a girl named Katie - please follow her and pray for her.

I stumbled on Katie's blog in my reading last week and it blew me away. Katie is living the kind of life Francis Chan talked about in "Crazy Love," the kind of radical love Mother Teresa demonstrated for the world, and more importantly, the life Jesus talked about when he said , "Take up your cross and follow me."

Not all of us are called to leave everything behind, move to Uganda, adopt 14 children, run a feeding ministry that provides food for 1,200 people and spend our free time running a makeshift medical clinic out of the back of our van. However, all of us are called to live a life of sacrifice, a life fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.

I hope Katie's story inspires you to do what God is asking you to do. If you already know what that is, please share b/c the Courtyard family would love to pray for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Okay, so my luggage was found and returned after its long voyage coast-to-coast and back again. But then this morning I went out to my car to leave for work and I discovered the contents of my glove compartment all over the front seat.

(Not my week, friends, not my week.)

I calmly walked back inside the house and asked my husband if he had been in my glove compartment. He said no and together we walked back outside to the driveway to discover that both of our cars had, in fact, been broken into during the night. Interestingly, the only thing taken was my husband's GPS. They bypassed the Kohl's shopping bag on my floor, Clark's sirius radio, my iPhone to sound system connector, cd's and more. (Can't figure out why they wouldn't have wanted Jacob's new bibs or the box of diapers in the back :).

Surprisingly, the whole event didn't unnerve me all that much. My family was safe and all was okay. Then I got in my car and started to drive away and all of a sudden the eerie feeling went through my head, heart and stomach that someone had been in my car. Someone had invaded my space.

Now I realize there are lots of people who have experienced what I'm talking about in far more invasive ways. This isn't even on the playing field with people who've experienced personal injury, people whose homes have been broken into, property destroyed and more. But, I think I got a taste of what it feels like when something gets stolen.

I've never before questioned the safety of me and my family in our home. I've never truly considered that something I left in my car wouldn't be there when I got back. That innocence is gone. Stolen.

What has been stolen from you that changed the way you function and think?

Monday, November 15, 2010


So, yesterday I flew from Pennsylvania to DC to Charleston, SC. Meanwhile, my luggage flew from Pennsylvania to Chicago to Portland and back to Chicago, hmm... (please say a prayer it makes it from Chicago to Charleston to my house this afternoon).

It's frustrating to be somewhere, but feel like you're not all there. It's downright terrifying to feel like you have no idea where you are at all. I remember watching the movie, American Tale, as a kid and having nightmares for months about not being able to find my parents. The panic of not knowing where you are, where to go next, what to do or who you can turn to. Lost.

As adults, being lost is almost never geographical, but let's play out the geography anyway. I talk to people all the time who tell me, "I feel lost. I don't know how I got here." You see, they thought they were heading to Charleston too, but somehow they ended up in Portland. Maybe it was a foolish decision that seemed inconsequential at the time - they just weren't paying enough attention. Maybe it was a rational decision they thought they could control to go to Chicago but never go the whole way to Portland before coming home, but once they got to Chicago they just couldn't stop, they couldn't get off the train so to speak.

I'm talking about so many things here - addictions, affairs and so much more. We all get lost at various points in our life. We don't set out to get lost, but it happens just the same. We're imperfect, we're human. The question is, how do we keep it from happening again and, if we're currently lost, how do we get back?

A few suggestions:

1. We need people in our life to hold us accountable - people who are going to check in with us and ask the hard questions. These people have to be people we can trust and people who share our faith. They also have to be people who love us enough to not lie to us when we're wrong. Who are the 1-2 people in your life who fit this description?

2. We need the understand the Principle of the Path - enough said, read the book and it will all make sense. It's well worth the time (even better, Ashley Ridge people, join a small group and read it together :). If I have one book I've read in the last year to recommend to anyone and everyone, it's this one.

3. Finally, and most importantly, we need to stay connected to the One who found us when we were lost and made it possible for us to come back. Yes, I'm talking about Jesus. How do you stay connected to Him?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Time I Always Waste and the Time I Never Waste

Time I Always Waste:
1. Time spent worrying
2. Time spent critiquing other people so I feel better about myself
3. Time spent playing solitaire to turn my brain off (there has to be a better way)
4. Time spent watching excess television

Time I Never Waste:
1. Time spent praying
2. Time spent reading my Bible
3. Time spent getting dirty and out-of-breath playing with my 20-month old
4. Time spent on a date with my husband or cooking dinner for us to eat together at home

How about you? What time do you waste and what time do you spend well? Which area are you currently spending more time on?
After the Message
(Relationships Part 2: "I Do")

Two truths: God created relationships, relationships are not easy

Last week - dating

I like you becomes I do (whole different message on that transition, today we’re


What is marriage? What does it look like? What does it mean?

Marriage was God’s idea (Genesis 2:24)

A Numbers Issuewhen we talk about marriage, we talk about 2s and 1s (and in the south 20s if we include the whole wedding party)

Two sinks vs. One sink

One bed, two sides

Two ways to do things – my way, your way or right way, wrong way

Marriage License reads as a Two-Party Contractcouldn’t be more mis-leading

Marriage God’s Way: A 3-party covenant

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

Three instead of Two

Covenant instead of Contract

When's the last time you invited Jesus into your marriage? He's our foundation. He's our hope. He's our forever.