Tuesday, November 10, 2015


  As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am
want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Choose Wisely

I crawl into bed. Norse is already asleep. He has been crashed for over an hour. That’s the downside of starting your day before 5:00 AM.  I grab my current read on the nightstand and finish another chapter. I click off the light.

It’s then that I quiet my heart and listen. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the kids, thankful for this chaotic, imperfect, messy, beautiful life of mine.  I’m thankful for my husband.


There it is, that stirring in my heart. I just want to hug him, to be held by him, to feel close. Do I drift off to sleep or do I roll over and nudge him?

Photo Source
I am realizing more and more that marriage is a constant making of choices. Do I choose to move closer to my spouse or do I choose to take the easy route? A local pastor recently talked about the importance of keeping your marriage strong, using the common illustration of a fire. A fire, without fuel, will burn out. All these little choices, they are the kindling. They are the logs that need to be continually added to the embers to keep a marriage fire burning.  Some days we add to the fire, some days I feel like we are too tired to go to the woodpile.

Norse is a good man. He excels at doing the practical things that make our marriage better. He unloads the dishwasher. He goes to work everyday to provide for our family.  He is on bedtime duty every night, because nice mom clocks out around 7:00 PM (Can I get an 'Amen'?). Those things come fairly naturally to him, but over the years he has learned to choose to do the little things that matter to me. He sends me texts. He reassures me when I feel insecure. He listens to my ramblings when I’m a wreck. He shows me grace.

I’m not as good at the practical things. I would rather buy Norse gifts and write him sappy love letters. Instead I have to choose to do his laundry and cook him good, nourishing food. I have to choose to clean the house and give him a resting place at home, a sanctuary. I have to choose to show my love in tangible ways, not because I want to be Martha Stewart or because it brings me great personal fulfillment (if you wondered, it does not), but I do it because I love him. 

I am becoming more aware that many choices aren’t always as hard as we make them out to be. For example, my son hates homework. HATES it. The kid has no idea how easy his life is. He often feels so overwhelmed, he melts down because of something that will take him less than 5 minutes to accomplish.

I think I know where he gets it.

These little choices seem so hard, especially when our marriage is in a rough patch. I don’t want to choose to add wood to the fire. It’s too much work, especially if I feel like he isn’t adding any firewood either.

But is it really that hard to do the things that make my spouse feel loved?  Is it that difficult to choose the things that bring us closer instead of the easiest path?

Not usually.

Perhaps the most significant additions we make to the health of our marriages are found in choosing those little things that probably will take less than 5 minutes. Well, except for maybe choosing to roll over and cuddle, because we all know where that could lead.

Choose wisely friends.

****Disclaimer: Every time I blog about marriage, I want to let you know that I am writing as someone who is fortunate to be in a healthy marriage. If your marriage is struggling or abusive, know that my words are not meant to bring you any guilt, hurt, or discouragement. Get the help you need, and be safe. Marriage is hard, but it should never be destructive. ***

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Another Brick in the Wall

photo from stocksnap
First week of school.
Cute new outfits.
Smiling kids.
Eager anticipation of all the great things that will happen at school.
Joyful choosing of school supplies.
Prayers for another great year.

Yaaaaaaaaaaa, that’s not us...

We are the ones that start the pep talk beginning in late July.
We are the ones whose kid could care less about the school supply shopping. (I do it alone with just a couple suggestions – Lego’s or Star Wars)
We fight and there are tears over learning to tie shoes.  In my mind, it’s a necessary life skill.
We think of ways we can help get through just the first week.
We write incentives on the chore chart, because yes, we bribe our kid to do homework and have a good attitude when rolling out of bed and into the car.

I’ve sat on the couch weeping, knowing the struggles of another school year. Trying to shed myself of the guilt that comes from feeling like I’ve somehow let my child down.  I feel like I have failed him because he hates school.

How can he be the only one? How can we be the only ones that dread school?

I don’t think we really are.

So mom, the one who’s child just threw a huge fit in his kindergarten classroom. It’s ok.
Mom, the one who just lost it on the way to school. It’s ok.

Even when everyone else seems to eat rainbows for breakfast every school morning, it’s not true.
Even when you hear, “It gets better”, but it still hasn’t. You can still do this.
Even when you are not sure you are going to make it and you are trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. It’s probably nothing.

Whether it is homeschool, public, or private school – some kids just don’t like school.  Maybe they struggle socially or academically.  Maybe it just doesn’t fit their personality. Perhaps we should just face it, school is basically their job, and how many of us love our jobs every single day?  (Are those crickets chirping?)

For my child there are several reasons I can see, when I step out of my own head and quit blaming myself. He is very introverted (not shy, mind you – intoverted), so everyday with people, all day, is exhausting.He is like his father and I.  He doesn’t like being told what to do – which makes things hard when you are in 2nd grade. He hates repetition and timed testing – which are foundational teaching tools for math and reading skills.

I'm just here to remind you today: 
It might not get better – at least not for a few years.  But we can do hard things.
It’s usually not your fault. We are a relatively kind, loving, affirming family. 
It’s usually not the teacher’s fault. We KNOW they work their buns off for these kids and certainly aren't in it for the large salary. 

It just blows sometimes.

At one time or another, our children will probably struggle at something.  I’m learning during these early years that I need to continue to lay down my expectations, my worries, my fears. I’m learning that I need to give him room to struggle. I need to let my child fail. I need to recognize that he isn’t me.  I know that only through challenges do we develop character – so it is his turn to become more of the person God created him to be.

Do I secretly wish it were different ? Yes.
I do think it might be getting better for us (in 2nd grade). 

Is my child excited to go to school in the mornings? No. 
Is he learning to do it anyway, without a scene? Yes.

Do I need to continue to check my attitude and lighten up? Every. Single. Day.

Do I need to remember to set the tone? Yes. If I am stressed, frantic, and grouchy – what makes me think that will be a good start to the day for anyone?

Do I need to be consistent with the house rules that seem to be making things a little easier and not fizzle out after the 2nd week of school? Probably. Dang it.

So, mom of the child that hates school. You are not alone.

Let’s lift each other up and lift our children up. Let's not suffer in silence because we are embarrassed, afraid of what others might think, or overwhelmed with guilt. Who knows what the next 12 years of school will look like, but let’s pray wholeheartedly for this hard work of growing up and encouraging our children in whatever struggles might come their way. From mean girls to multiplication  - school really isn’t easy. Let’s stop pretending that it is. Press on in love and trust in the sufficient grace of God – for ourselves and our kids.  As cliché as it sounds, I’m learning it really is the only way to survive this parenting gig.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Rainy Day Rambling - Christianity, Culture, & Conservatives Edition

"So we come to a decision, draw a line in the sand.We stand on different sides and I reach out for your hand." The Habit-LissieAnother line has been drawn in the sand. Another marker of how loving you are versus how “Christian” you are. It reminds me of the time Jesus drew in the sand. I wonder what he would say if he were walking the earth in this generation. I wonder if he would be drawing lines and taking up arms? I doubt it. He was not much for drawing lines for the masses.  He certainly drew lines for the religious elite though, didn’t he?  He was quick to remind us about our greed, our hypocrisy, our lying lips and uncaring actions.  

Does sin, should sin, matter to a Christian? Yes.  It should. It should be the glaring reason that we come, crawling to Jesus, with the weight of all our failings on our backs, begging for Him to forgive, redeem and restore us through the free gift of Salvation. It should also matter, because it never leaves us, and while all we have done or will do has been paid for, by His great Work on the cross, we can not deny that the scars of sin, still linger in our lives. We fail, daily.  So does everyone else. Does knowing my debt is paid create in me a spirit of pride or humility? For many it seems like being redeemed has bestowed such hubris that they rally about everyone else’s shortcomings, with little regard to their own.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t. As we look at the hot button topics of our day, most revolve around GLBT rights and marriage. (I wrote about my stance here, and it is still the same.) I know that because I haven’t made a public cry for the sanctity of marriage (along with being vocal about some unpopular racism discussions) many of my conservative friends have assumed I’ve gone to the liberal side of the gamut. Most of them won’t admit it, but I know they are likely disappointed in me.  However, I can’t say I’ve ever been one to side with either of the political leanings of the church. Frankly, when asked in my church foyer several years ago to sign a petition about a pro-life amendment I almost lost it.  Not because I am a fan of abortion, but because how bold to assume things about me, and not even know my story. Who might they have approached who had come to find healing from the loss of abortion from the only one who can bring it, Jesus, and be met with a political rally?  But, I guess that’s another post for another day.

Church and politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to see who loves Jesus more than they love the USA. How did we get here? When did we start believing that the way to change the world for the better is through legislation, lobbying, and getting the right candidate in the right position instead of doing the hard work of following Jesus into real life, messy situations, and staying off our high horses? When did we decide it was better to be offensive to the world, just so no one would mistake us as being human?

In many ways I recognize the generational gap. It seems that many who are so vehement about “defending” their cause in the name of Jesus (By the way where did he ask us to do that?) are older than I.  Those of my peers that feel that same need have been raised conservatively and follow the training of their youth. In no way do I want to minimize the wisdom of those who have MUCH more experience than I do in this life. I will admit, I may indeed be the frog that will boil in the proverbial pot. Time will tell.

 I wonder though, if it is just a culture shift that is difficult to navigate.  The previous generation of Christians, lived through wars, sexual revolutions, civil uprisings, but generally, the moral law of the country remained the same. It remained, relatively, Judeo-Christian. However, in the last few decades there has been a significant veer away from that moral code, to a more humanistic approach to law. I don’t think many will disagree that we are in a Post-Christian era. From my perspective this is the difference – the generations that grew up in the years of Christian influence, are really struggling with how to live in a world that doesn’t agree. For those of us, like myself that are pretty used to that it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It just is the world we live in. Does that make me naïve? Probably, but I’ve said it before, I’d rather be naïve than fearful, angry, or cynical.  

Living in this world is where God has placed us.  It will likely be a season of refining within the church. Instead of a social club or networking opportunity, it might actually start to cost you something to be a disciple of Jesus. It might mean that instead of sitting on our rumps and expecting the world to come to us for some savin’, that we will actually have to go and BE the church outside of the four walls of the building. That instead of poaching bodies from other churches to sit in our pews, that we will actually have to live lives that give glory to God, that show His redeeming work, that compel us to fight for what is actually important, to stand up for the widow and the orphan, to love justice and do mercy. We might actually have to love God and love our (gay, transgender, homeless, black, white, illegal, confederate flag waving, marijuana smoking, Muslim, or Christian) neighbor. Do we have to agree with our neighbors? No.  Sheesh! How boring would life be if I agreed with everyone about every thing? How would I grow in humility, grace, and compassion? Can I rejoice with them about the good things in their life? Yes. Can I mourn with them? Yes. Can I recognize that we all have our demons?  That we all screw up? That maybe everything I believe isn’t the 100% rightest thing ever? My faith looks different than it did at 19 years old, and I am so glad. If I would have stayed convinced of all I believed back then, I never would have understood the Father love of God, or the way grace washes over a person like new life, or how friendship is God’s presence on earth in my life. 

Do I still hold to the foundations of Christianity, you betcha. Do I read my Bible as a compass for truth? Yep.  Is it the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of their need for a savior? Yessiree. Am I living my life in the power of the Gospel? I hope so. For now that is enough. For now, I’m just gonna try to be kind and if that disappoints people, I’m hoping they’ll show me a little grace, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why We Shouldn't Throw the Church Under the Bus

A pastor friend chatted with me recently about how it seems like there is a lot of church bashing going around right now. I agreed, expressing my thankfulness for all our church leaders do. FB and twitter are full of quick links to articles about why people are leaving the church and why women’s ministries are lame. I admit, I read the posts and agree for the most part.  I even share them, because they are thought provoking. 8 out of 10 times talks of building projects make me want to puke (NOT this one)  and guys, there is really never a time when the "worship" time needs to involve a smoke machine. I get it, sometimes church looks a lot more like a show or keeping up with the Jones’ or just another social club. But, when we throw the church under the bus - I think we are missing the proverbial boat in many ways.

We forget that God did not forsake the church. (Hebrews 10:25)

We forget that we are the church. 

When we think of church – we think of our respective denominations and our pastors and leaders. So, when the murmurings begin, the blame is likely put upon and felt most by our pastors and leaders. This is incredibly unfair to them. I have worked in non-profit and lay ministry positions my entire Christian life.  I have met together, planned together, prayed with, and cried with many a man and woman at the helm of a ministry. I have yet to meet one that is in it for the money, glory, or celebrity. These are some of the most humble, compassionate, conflicted people I know. They pray and fast and give so much as they follow the call set before them. They deserve honor. I know they get a bad rap, and YES there are douche-bag church leaders, but I have been fortunate to be in the company of true blue, Jesus following, glory to God giving people. So, let’s cut them a little slack and start being mindful of where we place the blame. More often than not our church looks like WE want it to. We give our money to the things WE want to happen. We give our time to the things WE deem important. Maybe we need to start evaluating ourselves, before we start criticizing our people.

Are you aware that good things STILL happen in the church

My pastor friend, Randy, reminded me of this, just the other day. Perhaps we grow cynical because we stop seeing the good things that God is doing through the church. An esteemed therapist I know recently spoke to our group on depression and specifically mentioned how one of the signs of depression is an outlook filled with “awful-isms”. We see the needs, how we wish church was different and we forget that people are coming to know Jesus. People are taking care of widows and orphans. Food pantries are being filled. People are finding grace and healing and hope because of God’s people – because of God’s work through His people – including organized church. Maybe if we can look beyond our doomsday prophesying and wishing for Jesus to come overthrow the tables of the foyer, we can start looking for the beautiful ways he is already there.

Here’s the kicker – WE ARE THE CHURCH

We are a body. When we start our disappointed diatribe on the state of the church, we should be looking in the mirror. I am becoming more and more convinced that if I see something that needs a fixin’ – I need to go to my leaders and ask to be part of the solution. Sometimes, that just means calling and talking to someone about a need or concern. Sometimes it means saying yes to a leadership role because it is the open door to affect change in your church. Maybe it means putting aside church obligations to focus on being the Church (the one with the capital C).  If you aren’t part of the solution, you should probably be shutting your big fat mouth. Practice what you preach goes both ways. I can bemoan the waste of time that a fu-fu women’s tea can be, but unless I am willing to go and engage in one – I’m just as big of a hypocrite as the next gal. If I am bummed because no-one is connecting with me, maybe I should start connecting with others. Maybe if I want to see more service and less sitting on our butts, I should be leading the charge. If anything, I should at least talk to someone about doing it and being a part of it, instead of stewing like a human crockpot until my heart is all burnt and crusty around the edges.  

That analogy about us being the body - it’s true. We cannot do church well if some of us are sitting on our hands while the rest of us try to fill every spot. You want the church to look differently, be perceived differently, engage the world differently? Before we throw our church under the bus, maybe you better see if YOU look like the Church you want to be a part of.

 I will if you will.