A New Resource For Encouragement

Am I crazy or does it seem like there are more people than ever hurting, struggling, wounded, waiting and praying for healing, new life, a meaningful job, or direction…?

At different moments we are either in a barren, thirsty, get-me-the-heck-out-of-this- desert time or walking alongside someone who is.

As hard as it is to be the one in it, the walking alongside role is also challenging.  We want so much to say the “right thing”, DO anything to fix the situation or alleviate the pain.

I’ve written before about my deficiencies in the mercy department, but I’ve learned some by being on the receiving end of thoughtful expressions of love when I was at my lowest.

Of course I was grateful for faithful friends who would call and just listen.  I needed safe people with whom I could process all my crap with ugly cries.  But there were also those who gave me meaningful pictures of their hope for me.

One of those was a pot of rocks with a bulb planted in it.  The note said “I know this looks really barren and ugly right now, a little like a picture of how your life feels.  But I’m trusting God to do a new thing…to transform this hard thing into one of beauty.  I pray as this bulb starts to grow and flower it will be a reminder of the beauty God wants to bring out of your ashes.”  This was visible hope and it strengthened me.

Another friend, made a soft prayer shawl for me, saying that she had prayed as she knit it and hoped I would wrap it around me on cold evenings as a reminder that I was surrounded with God’s love.

My friend, Lee (who’s written here before), is creating a company with a new product that I think may provide another picture of hope, or joy, or encouragement for others.  It’s a workout clothing company, but NOT one of those cheesy, obnoxious “Jesus is my wingman” in big block letters on your chest kind.  It’s called Branded By J. Otto, and they are beginning a Kickstarter campaign.

Here’s how their idea works.  You hop on their website and shop by theme. The themes are printed on the outside of the garment and represent life events we all have in common.Screen-Shot-2015-01-04-at-3.00.35-PM-580x362Scripture has been carefully matched with the appropriate theme. They have something fitting for any situation.  The scripture is on the inside of the article.Screen-Shot-2015-01-04-at-3.00.47-PM-580x362You have a chance to include a personal message. The recipient will also receive a link to an inspirational video explaining the verse on their garment. Screen-Shot-2015-01-04-at-2.47.37-PM-580x363The person you want to encourage will have a reminder of God’s care and yours each time they wear the clothing.Screen-Shot-2015-01-04-at-2.47.10-PM-580x363Lee writes:

I think what we have created is worth sharing. I think what we have created will meet people where they are and help them take their next step of faith. I think what we have created comes from a deep place in our souls.

You might want to check out this link to back their Kickstarter campaign.  I’ve donated and I look forward to seeing how God may use this to bless others.

An Autumnal Sabbath

Since Sunday is kind of a “work day” for us, Saturday is often our Sabbath day.  Mark Buchanan in his book, The Rest of God, writes:

“Cease from what is necessary. Embrace that which gives life.  Those two things, taken together, make up Sabbath’s golden rule….Sabbath imparts the rest of God – actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God – the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.”

For you, Sabbath may include a run (a big “WOOHOO!” for those running the TC marathon today!), a bike ride, a game of Monopoly, or a meal with a friend, but yesterday was a particularly delightful Sabbath day for us (note John’s caveat at the end of this post), so I thought I’d share some of it with you… Continue reading

On How I was Afraid of Being Labeled a Feminist

Here’s the pile of “serious” books I’ve been working my way through lately.photo-171Honestly, the fiction (not pictured) – Charles Martin’s new book A Life Intercepted, and Jan Karon’s new book, Somewhere Safe, with Somebody Good  have been more fun (I am so totally savoring being back in “Mitford”!), but a girl’s gotta go for a little substance too.  Thus the pile.

Confession: I picked up Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist only because I felt I had to.  She was coming to speak at our church, and the women I walk alongside mostly (twenty-somethings) seemed to feel like she was speaking their language and saying something important.

I started reading with a bad attitude for three reasons: Continue reading

Hospitality: Ideas For those Who are Hospi-phobic and Those Who are Fearless Too

It’s One Word Friday!

Like I wrote recently, part of “Choose Life” means choosing to exercise our gifts.

And you’ve got ‘em!  You’re talented and capable and you’re gamers.

Hospitality seems to be one of mine, (although it’s easy to see how others are doing it so much better).  Some of you may have this gift too.  I hope you’ll add your ideas in the comments.

For others the thought of guests ringing your doorbell makes you want to hide under your bed.

Whether hospitality is one of your gifts or not, it’s a reflection of God’s welcoming heart that we’re all called to live out.  I hope this post will give you some resources and encouragement!

4 Suggestions if you’re new to opening your home: Continue reading

How Jen Hatmaker Interrupted my Perfectly Lovely Summer (and may wreck yours too)

It was the beginning of June and the whole summer stretched gloriously before me.  Oh the dreams I’d dream, the goals I’d achieve, the books I’d not only read, but remember and apply to EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE!  I was especially excited to get my grubby little hands on the new edition of Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted.

I pounced on the opportunity to get an advance copy in order to link up and post on it.  After all, my merry little band of spiritual misfits had joyfully jumped into “7” and experienced our own mutiny against excess a couple of summers ago.  I figured we were game for something new.

But here’s the thing…I missed some “fine” print.

Ok, it might not have been so “fine”, but I definitely missed two important details.

First?  The subtitle: When Jesus Wrecks your Comfortable Christianity.  WHY in the name of sweet baby Jesus would I want to read THAT??  If I’m comfortable with my Christian life (and I definitely am!), why would I want to be wrecked?

Note to marketing department: No one who actually reads the subtitle of this book is going to want to buy it.  “Wrecking” is not a selling point. Continue reading

Why Underwear is Important

Did you know that the average American woman owns approximately 21 pairs of underwear? About 10% of women own over 35 pairs.

Did you know underwear can mean the difference between a girl who’s educated with a chance for a bright future, and one who’s not?

Sometimes it just blows my mind how much I don’t know.  Recently I learned some not-fun facts about the challenges facing women in Uganda, including the challenge of underwear.  But I also learned something I can do about it.  And boy that feels good.

I’ve written before that our daughter Maggie is working in Northern Uganda this summer at Pader Girls’ Academy.  They teach and give vocational training to girls, many who have escaped the Lords’ Resistance Army, but can’t return to their communities.  They have become outcasts because of the stigma of being raped by soldiers or having babies out of wedlock.

But even after they have a tiny glimpse of hope for the future through education, there are still hurdles.  For example, I learned that girls often miss about 5 days of school a month when they have their period because they don’t have sanitary pads.  Or underwear.

Are you freaking kidding me? Continue reading

Is God Always the Hard Choice?

It’s One Word Friday!

Ok, so I’m not sure how I got there, but after becoming a Christian in my teens, I fell into a default mode that always assumed that God’s will must be the hardest, and most painful choice I was faced with.

Broccoli or brownie?  Broccoli must be more holy.

Cat or dog?  God surely hates cats so He must want to refine my character by inflicting a cat on me (if this is true, I’m not committed enough to be a disciple) Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

Happy One Word Friday!  I think some of the ways we “Choose Life” (my two words) are by choosing truth, choosing grace, and choosing to delight in the gifts of God.  I thought I’d share some of those gifts that have been delighting me lately.  What about you?  Share what’s delighted you lately in the comments! Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!

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So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  

 

Is there Room in Your Chariot?

This past summer at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to live blog for Engage Churches, a part of the Willow Creek Association.  I was blown away listening to the teaching of Chris Brown, a pastor at North Coast Church in California.  Here’s some of what I wrote that day…

This afternoon, Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown, a different Chris Brown) started with the story of a man approaching a campfire.  Creeping forward, and then walking back into the shadows while others by the campfire gossip about his failed leadership around the issue of a certain giant named Goliath.

The man is King Saul.  For over a month Saul has been called out and he knows he doesn’t have what it takes.  His ministry is  paralyzed.  His leadership is paralyzed.  He’s a leader in trouble who is bailed out by a kid named David.

And then it goes out on Twitter (as it were).  1 Sam. 18:5-9 “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his ten thousands.”

Huh??  Big gasp.  How is Saul going to react?

“From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

Saul didn’t have room in his chariot for David, the young twerp who bested him.

Leaders struggle with jealousy and comparison.  Pride and ego.  It’s in the Bible.  A lot. Continue reading