Jan 14, 2016

Closing Time...

Hey Friends! 
It seems it's closing time, or rather moving time so join me at my new address...


yup... just one d.
it's okay. 

Forgive Me...

  January arrived and I had no word... which was so fine. The world would continue if I failed to find a word for the year.
I didn't really want a word anyway. I was tired of words... a couple years of words and I was like... this is too hard, first I have to remember the word, then I have to pursue the word and then I have to live it.
 Exhausting, also the whole point of the word.
I'm jesting of course, but not really.

Last year I chose Be and I got busy... weird, right?
See?! Stop picking words... they make no sense.
Somehow it worked.
I did stop more often to breathe, smell the flowers, coffee, whatever they say we should smell.

When you choose a word the opposite of action, be prepared to breathe it in and wait on God. To be  honest, it was a struggle.

Good things came from Be. Known Nashville was born. 
Now bursting at the seams finding it's purpose, gathering women to come close, grow community... through our monthly gathering, dinners, coffee, book clubs and small groups that begin this month.

It's nothing and everything I imagined!
I did not put walls around it, instead held it up to God and said.. "Here you go."
Of course He handed it to us first, His creation.... we simply hold it loosely and yet
desire, pray and beg it to go deep in joy, laughter, praise and desire for Him.

Along the way, there were bruises, mostly to the heart. If you want to see your faults, weakness, the ugly you try to cover up, start a ministry. I'm grateful because it forced me to look in the mirror. I had to choose grace and humility... daily.
Surprise... not my natural go to.
Yet, it was an intentional, wonderful place to grow. Proof that we never stop learning or making mistakes.
You learn to forgive yourself and move on.
That is hard for me. I beat myself up daily. Hmm, I bet you can relate to that.
Let's just stop right here, prick our fingers, become blood sisters and quit it!
You are forgiven! I love you! You are amazing!
Really, I would say that to you if you were sitting here with me at my kitchen table.
A complicated word that requires a simple choice. 

  Forgiveness offered to me, from God... and because of His forgiveness, we in turn offer it to others with open hands and not, "but you, did, said, caused, felt, made, you get the idea... and I'll never forget it even though I forgive you (kinda, sorta)!"

Good Lord, we can at least try to forget. 
God tells us He does exactly that in Hebrews 10:17, Micah 7:19, Jeremiah 31:34 and Isaiah 43:25.
There are probably more verses, knock yourself out.

This week provided two conversations with women, one in her late 70's, the other early 80's.
Seriously, they can take all of us down.
They were bad asses in Bobbie socks in their day.
They are also proof of Dave Kraft's words, in Leaders Who Last. He says you hit your spiritual prime in your 70's.
I imagine there are a few per-requisite courses to be taken before arrival into prime time. 
 Grace 101, Forgiveness 101, Mercy 101...
and a few others.
Like the N.Y. lottery touts, You have to be in it, to win it.
These babes been in it for awhile.
They got it locked down.

It's not a test in the Biblical knowledge you take in... it's how much Jesus you pour out.  
These two can pour like Niagara Falls after a spring rain.

They are vibrant, outgoing, intentional and wise. Both active in their communities, volunteering wherever they see a need.
 Both have experienced great loss.
They do not know each other.
One is my mom. 
The other ... "the mom in love" of a sweet friend.

Words to me went like this...
"Remember this.... The will of man can delay God's purpose, but it can never defeat it."
Preach it sista!

She followed it up with,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Peace.... Sign me up sista!

Intentional words passed on to me, wrapped in wisdom, for a purpose.
Words from women who have walked hard paths, and leaned in to their God. 
Because of their faithfulness, I can rub against their aged, yet broad shoulders, and lean in.

My challenge to you and me this year.... look at the people we do life with. What do they look like when you think of grace, forgiveness, kindness, generosity, compassion?
Maybe another word for this year is - WHO.
Who builds you up, shares truth, challenges you, forgives you?
Do they do the same for all others, no matter the bruise received?

If you want to know who you are becoming, look at the people around you. 
Who do you Forgive?
Who Forgives You?

Choose well. Choose forgiveness. Choose who.
It's your choice.

Dec 17, 2015

The Power of Words, Stepping up, Stopping Evil...

 Anti-Bullying Blog Quotes of the day ~ The Anti-Bully Blog

The other night I was part of a panel discussion for Known_Nashville. A gathering of beautiful   whole hearted women.
One of the questions was, What breaks your heart?
My first thought was bullying, yet that was not my answer. The question for that answer would have to be, "What pisses me off more than anything?!
Bullying. Bullies. Hateful people.

My first memory of being involved in this was the school bus in elementary school. My brother a year older, and taller, found himself in the middle of the aisle, face to face with a punk. I have no recollection of the kid or reason they were about to go at it, but I remember inserting myself in the middle and telling him in 1970's lingo, "To step off!"
He did... or maybe it was our stop. 

From an early age I stood up for the underdog. I had been the underdog a couple of times and I remember how lonely it felt. I didn't want others to feel that way. Simple.

Later, in my twenties, I was in a bar with my brother and a similar instance occurred. I again inserted myself in between the two men and repeated in 1980's lingo to "Step off!"
I have no idea what my brother thought either time, he is very chill. Clearly I am not. 
I also drink the sibling juice of, I can talk any &%#@ I want about my brother, but you, young buck cannot!

Last summer, there was an incident on the fourth of July. This one included some extremely inebriated people who did not want us to park on the public street, because they were setting off fireworks in the public street. First we ignored them, but when the rockets started to red glare at the bumper of our car, we turned around to face the music drunks.

Quickly, ugly words flew from their mouths towards my son, and fists were raised. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911 and guess what... Yes, I inserted myself between said drunk and my son.
 I told him in direct words, "Enough! Step Off!"
It was a thing.
My main concern was protecting my 21 yr old son from any type of incident that could harm him.
My son, stood tall, face to face with drunken man, yet never uttered an ugly word or raised a hand. 
I was proud of him and somewhat amused that I still had it and would go the distance with the drunken woman in the mismatched Hee Haw outfit.
Luckily the always fabulous Metro PD arrived and we moved on.

My track record shows I do not back down from a bully. Yet these are harmless bullies. They are not IN your life, but merely a temporary inconvenience.

This fall my husband walked (true story) six miles from his hotel to a work meeting held simultaneously with the Kansas City World Series parade! This moment was hard enough for my husband, a Mets fan. But to be physically inserted in the hundreds of thousands of fans, trying to arrive at his meeting, suit jacket over shoulder, drenched in sweat with a blistered heal.  

He shared with me a couple comments people made to him as he was maneuvering the crowd. They assumed he was trying to get in front of them as they were mapping out their spots. They assumed he had bad intentions.
In fact, he was trying to weave through the madness to arrive on the other side, where his meeting would take place. 
Uber, you really let us down.

Sometimes people don't want you to arrive on the other side. They just want you out. So they scream lies to stop your progress.
They are bullies.
Sometimes you cannot escape them because they live on your street, go to your school, work in the cubicle next to you or even... go to church with you. 

Adult bullies usually bully with their mouth.
They puff up their chests and they spew.
They spew hatred, half truths and innuendo, hoping some of it will stick.
So what do we do?
As adults, we usually look on, mouths agape. 
But mostly we do what kids do. Nothing.
We watch. Sometimes we hope for the best, but always protecting ourselves first.  
This is natural and wise. 

But I can't buy into that.
 I don't believe we were made to be bystanders, rubberneckers of disaster. We are called to be First Responders, defenders, protectors... friend.

When I was asked that question, What breaks your heart"... my answer was, People living in fear. Afraid of relationships, new ideas, jobs, adventures.
People afraid to live.
I wear a key around my neck that shouts, Fearless.
Does this mean I am immune to fear?! 
No. A solid no... but, I do not stay there. I do not live in fear.
 I live in freedom.

It means this...
I trust in the One who created me out of the dust. The One who holds my hand when the bully comes after me or mine. 
The One I can trust with my future because He has protected me in the past and His track record is stellar. 
When I walk through the dark valley and the path is rocky and unfamiliar,  I know He is with me, sharpening me, and will bring me forth as gold. 

So today, what breaks your heart? What makes you so mad that you YOU are willing to stand up and say,
 "No more!?" 

Use your words, your freedom of fear, your power that comes from good, what breaks your heart...
  go make a difference for someone or something that matters today.
He's got this!
And I will always have your back!
Now, go kick some bully %$#!

Nov 21, 2015

Be Radical... in Peace.

I love my family, my country, my neighbors... but I cannot live in fear. Jesus tells us 365 times in His Word "Fear not". A word for each day. 

"I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble. But be brave! I have defeated the world!"  John 16:33

Be Brave - Fear Not.

My worst fear is not a radical attacking me or persecuting me. 
My worst fear is me not showing the radical love of Jesus to my neighbors. 

Who are my neighbors?
This feels like a moment of decision. Am I a Christ follower first or an American?
This is not my home.

Nov 18, 2015

What Is Your Harvest This Fall?


Growing up in New York State, within a stones throw of New Jersey, I should have pondered harvest. The word harvest conjured up pilgrims in my head. Really.
We were physically close to that history so it was a big deal... regardless of truth or fiction.
These two beautiful states rank in the top six in the country for corn, dairy, and tomato production. 
They celebrate harvest. 

There is nothing like an ear of buttery Jersey corn, or a slice of sweet, ripe tomato from same soil. 
People unfamiliar with New Jersey think of Housewives and those shore people. They are real... for sure, but it's also called the Garden State. 

When we moved our young family to Champaign, Illinois I thought we hit the motherlode of corn.  We did in many ways...  corn not being one of them. 
Illinois corn is mainly feed corn. That fact ended summers filled with corn on the cob, tomatoes and New York pizza, but that is another story. 
We grew tomatoes, but they never seemed quite as sweet as back east. 
Maybe it was the memories of my grandparents garden or my husband planting sixty tomato plants, from seeds, the year we married... and my grandmother walking the rows, shaking her head. 
The harvest would not be good without the thinning of the sprouting shoots. 
It was a bumper crop (farmer talk) that year and I asked that same sweet grandmother to teach me to can. 
Sixty quarts of tomatoes were "put up" (canned) that fall. 
I learned what Harvest felt like when I got my hands dirty in the soil, warmed from the prepared canning jars, my face often times splattered with bubbling tomatoes.

Living in the fertile midwest, I learned to appreciate the harvest in a literal way, often reminded of the fragility of our food sources dependence on weather.

I've watched Harvest many times since then, in the flowers we would choose carefully, planting, feeding, watering and then waiting. In friendships, neighborhoods, churches. In my children growing from little ones whom I read Sam I Am, and Little House, Big Woods, to adults who create and accomplish beautiful things... a rich harvest.  
I missed moments of harvest, too busy to see. 
Sometimes my harvest was rich, other times I watched it wither on the vine, unable to feed or water it enough to regain its life. Then winter would arrive, the crop dead. Thankfully spring always returned with new opportunities to begin again.

Last week I was invited to Creative Lectio. Nita Andrews is the beautiful woman who created this space. She opened by sharing her words of the The Harvest.
If these words were all I heard Friday morning, it would have been enough. 
My heart was calmed, my soul rested in that time. It had been a hard week. When we take the time to be still... lean in and listen, beautiful things grow inside our souls.

"A day’s harvest
A season’s harvest
The harvest of your life

Harvest is a state of mind as much as it is a literal field that you planted two seasons prior and must gather in.

Harvest is being conscious of where you are making purchase. Purchase of seeds, purchase of resources like sun, nutrients, and then collecting water.   Harvest is making purchase of a field one yard at a time. Slowly and deliberately. 
Harvest is stopping in the whirlwind of growth and asking:
Is this the crop I intended? 
Is this the yield I expected? 
Is this bringing the joy of hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Harvest is taking stock of the larder for the winter.
 Harvest is naming your surplus and sharing it with the needy. 
Harvest is leaving the corners of your acre untouched so the needy can nobly and anonymously be fed.   
Harvest is
a mindset.
Therefore, Harvest can happen at 10 pm for ten minutes (the conscious examen of your day)
on Sunday during the Prayers of the People
at midnight on New Year’s Eve
on April 15th as you hit send on your tax return.

Harvest is every graduation.
Harvest is every new birth and baby shower.

Harvest is a first cousin to regret and gritty trust. Harvest is being out of control regarding weathers.
Harvest is rejoicing and bringing in the sheaves.

Harvest is Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as he stood on the Mt. of Olives— because the harvest was in ruins. 
(an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin).
Harvest is Jesus saying, “Today you will be with me in paradise” to a thief.
Harvest is John being commissioned to care for Mary at the foot of the cross. 
Harvest is the big catch of fish after zero on your own.
Harvest is your tears kept in a bottle and your songs being recorded.

Harvest is standing in a field of stunted and dried out corn stalks as far as the eye can see.
 Harvest is stopping with a plan to see the field. To see what's there.
Harvest is seeing pew after pew full of worshipping families.
Harvest is seeing pew after pew of empty seats. Harvest is stopping with a plan to see the pews. To see what's there.

Harvest is the day the papers are served.
Harvest is the day you celebrate the 40 years of being married.
 A harvester is not made by John Deere, It is a man or woman made in God’s image that is willing to ask a question.
A question that requires courage.
What am I making with the raw materials I have been given?

Harvest is about something much bigger than numbers.
It is stories told around campfires of what life became because you were here and naming the ways life would have 
been impoverished if you hadn’t been here.

Harvest is giving alms in secret and knowing a private harvest of hope that erupted from your heart.

Harvest is an exhausted parent reading to a child at nine o'clock at night.
Harvest is writing till your vision blurs--Planting and plucking words until the lines sing
with the beauty of language.

Harvest is putting your thoughts in an envelope with a stamp to say you remember gifts given.
Harvest is having an abundance for October and canning a portion of it for February. 

Harvest is when you pop the waxed seal open in February and say “thank you”

Harvest is building relational capital and keeping it secure before you leave your day job.
Harvest is bringing all of your friends up on stage with you.
Harvest is weeping over the fullness of ice wine.
Harvest is saying, “next year” when the birds ate every grape in your vineyard. 
Harvest is saying. We will rebuild."  after a flood
Harvest is a photo album of 12 years of school pictures.
Harvest is complex management of faith, fear, risk and generosity.
Wealth management can be harvestbut most of the time, it is a fear-based clutching of bottom line number 
 socked away and out of sight for a rainy day.

Harvest stands in the rain and laughs."

Nita's words hit me deep.
Friday got harder and darker as the day went on. Tragedy struck our world again. Truth is, tragedy strikes daily in our world, but this happened in a country we were willing to pay attention to. One that mattered.
The opportunities for harvest are all around us...
 I have a choice as to who my harvest will embrace. So do you. So does the world. What will we sow? What will we harvest? Who will we embrace and who will we say no to?

I want to stand in the rain and laugh, fearless because I know Who holds me and calls me by name. My desire is for a rich Harvest, bountiful, overflowing with goodness and mercy.