One Way You (YES, YOU) Can Make the World Better Today

If I may, first…this post is about taking time to care about people, not a persuasion piece against boundaries/saying no or intended to guilt recovering people pleasers into regret over necessary life adjustments they have made. If you struggle with boundaries, please read Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend and deal with that important issue, first. I do not suggest now or ever that people substitute in my assessment from a blog post for their personal heart convictions. My goal is to help us see things in a way we haven’t seen them before…consider important things we may need to change. Honestly: I just want to help us and point this world to The Hope. p.s. I love you.

Image-1My best friend, Colleen, tells me something over the phone last week – about how her pastor-husband does a funeral for a man and only 5 people show up. I hear this, and I feel sad. (Remember this for later.)

Just a few days after that, my in-laws drive in from the beach where they live, almost 4 hours away, and we arrange to meet them for frozen yogurt, so they can see the kids on their way back home.

7 Whittles, all sitting around 2 tables, yogurt piled high in cups, toppings of choice sitting proudly on top. What was the reason for your quick trip, again? I ask my father-in-law, sharing the table with my husband and me. I know he had just gotten home a little more than 24 hours before after being gone all week. I also know they had driven nearly 4 hours…to just a few short hours later, turn around and drive home. I hadn’t yet asked them about the why behind it. Surely they have a very good reason for this kind of trip.

Our pastor’s grandmother died and we came for her funeral, he says between bites, like it’s the most normal thing in the world. I repeat this for clarification, thinking surely I heard wrong. Your pastor’s grandmother? I ask, with the emphasis on grandmother. I know it can’t beLots of people won’t drive across town for someone’s funeral, let alone drive 8 hours (roundtrip) in one day for one.

Umm-hmm, he says, casually. It is clear the yogurt is more interesting to him than the topic of conversation. Did you know her? I ask, guessing it will be a yes. Nope, he says, matter-of-factly and digs his spoon back into his cup.

My husband and I sideways glance but save our words to each other for later. That’s pretty incredible, I say back, and I mean it. I’m honestly floored and don’t know what else to say. I know my in-laws to jump in the car and drive hours to be at my children’s birthday parties. That sort of thing has been happening for years, and what a blessing it’s been to my kids. But to do the same for a stranger, even if the grandson of the decreased is your pastor and you love him deeply? I’m in awe.

I struggle to make it to birthday parties 10 miles down the road for kids my kids grew up with and have half lived in my home.

I only attend funerals for people I really know and have meant something pretty significant to my life. Otherwise, I don’t even think twice about staying home.

It could be just me, but I don’t think so. Lots of people I know who care about my son didn’t come to his graduation party. They were busy, I knew. It’s not like I’ve kept mental track in my head of who was invited but wasn’t there and been upset about it. But some that meant a lot to him didn’t come, for whatever reason, and I think this is not unusual.

Only 5 people showed up to that guy’s funeral my friend’s husband did. (Remember…the start of this post?) No matter the why, it’s still a tough reality. Surely he had other people who had known and cared for him in his 60 something years of life. Were they busy mowing their lawn that day? Were they too tired to mess with going? Would that have been me, too, if he were someone I knew?

I hope not. But I must be honest. We all have a million excuses for why we matter to ourselves more than other people. We don’t say that, but it’s true. Just look at our mostly me-focused calendars.

And I think about how we are all so ridiculously busy that we don’t even have time to call our mother to ask how she is many days, let alone take a day out to drive hours to a funeral for a person we do not even know. And how we don’t go to parties and things like that anymore for someone else because they don’t fit into our pre-planned agenda. We don’t want to do something? We don’t. Edit, edit, edit until all that’s left are mostly my things.

I can’t help but wonder if in all our necessary life edit, important as it is, we’ve edited out showing up for people. Could it be that in all our life de-cluttering we have begun to see people as clutter, too, and thrown them right out like those spoons in the kitchen taking up too much space?

I must be the first to confess it: this is sometimes, me.

Self-care is a yes. People-care is a yes, too. Our problem is we typically choose one or the other when both are what makes our heart truly happy and the world a better place, in the end. (God, for the win, with the balance.)

The truth is, we don’t have the power to solve everything, but we can do one by one things. If we don’t like the way the world treats its people, may we start a new trend. Rest assured…one day, in one way or another, we will need the people to show up for us, too.

When we show up for people we chip away at the climate of selfishness in our own lives. (Which, by the way, FEELS GOOD.)

When we show up for people we make the world better, even in just one kind act.

We are all half sad and crazy, walking around here on earth, everyday, wondering what in the world to do to help all the madness go away.

I think showing up for people is a good place to start.

Announcing: My Next 3 Projects!

I’m so excited…in a grateful, honored, still pinch myself that this is what I get to do with my life kind of way.

(p.s.Sometimes writing books still seems like a dream I fell into rather than dreamed up (well, because it was) – one others may be more qualified for but none more passionate about, I can promise you that.)

I’m releasing 3 new books/projects with Harvest House Publishers in 2017, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

 

IMG_1635Currently, I’m in the midst of writing my forthcoming book: Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and For All. In case you haven’t noticed, the world is in kind of a mess. I have been praying and thinking long and hard (like it keeps me up at night sometimes) about how to live in the mess better, and I believe God has given me the how-to. Put Your Warrior Boots On is an equipping and strength-inducing book. It is a what-do-we-do-right-now book. It is a book to help we, the followers of Jesus, live with a better strategy – not one of reaction and hopelessness and fear, but one of real, true strength. I want us to be steady, ready and sure as we walk in this world gone crazy. (p.s. Yes, we can be.) I want us to stop trying to brave ourselves into it. (Seriously can’t wait to talk to you more about THIS and share what I’ve learned about it because I think the shift in perspective may help you as it has me.) I want us to be consistent in our relationship with God instead of riding the spiritual roller coaster, once and for all. I want us to walk in His authority like He’s told us to do – with effectiveness in the world and tunnel vision on heaven. We are here and the world is not getting better and we can’t keep wishing things were different – we have to change up how we live to be solid and sturdy, no matter what comes our way. We need this, right? Man, how we need it.

I want you to know: it is with the softest of hearts and the deepest of love and the strongest of speech I write it. It is proving to be very much like writing I Want God, in the sense that the urgency is a second skin I’m wearing, the revelations from God are swift and piercing, and I find myself eager to hear what He has to tell me, every time I sit down to type. I cannot wait to share more as the release date approaches, as I believe there has never been a more important time to release a book like this. Release date: April 1, 2017

 

IMG_1638My second book is a different kind of book for me, and I’m so excited about it, too. It’s called 5 Word Prayers: A 40-day Devotional, to help kick start our prayer life in a way that is both doable and powerful. (We don’t need to talk about how ABSOLUTELY VITAL prayer is, especially right now in this crazy world, right? Like…prayer is everything. For real.) For years people have been asking me if I would write a devotional book, and for years I’ve thought about it but never moved forward. I’ve long believed that with our prayers, it’s not about word count but about heart intent. The documented prayers of Jesus are short. The older I get the more I realize that prayer is not me saying as many words as I can but listening and being with Him in communion, where our hearts unite. For this reason, this devotional book. This book will not only provide daily 5 word prayers, but it will also include a short devotional written about each prayer to help it really seep down deep. I have lots of love and belief in this book, and I hope you will be as excited as I am about it. Release Date: Fall of 2017

 

IMG_1644And last but absolutely not least…with the release of 5 Word Prayers will be the release of a super fun companion adult coloring book by the same name. I know ya’ll love these things. I know they are flying off the shelves like crazy. And I believe in this case, each coloring page and accompanying prayer will be something not only you can fly your creative flag with, but also meditate on and maybe even frame and hang on your wall as art or give as a gift to someone else. You should know I’m hardcore committed to these coloring pages being beautifully and meaningfully graphic. So I hired the absolute best, most talented freelance artist to draw the sketches. She just so happens to be my baby sister, so she shares my DNA. I still can’t even believe I was able to hire her – she works in an art gallery and draws sketches all day FOR A LIVING, and I begged her to squeeze me in. (Family has its privileges.) So you know…this project is going to be fantastic and is truly a labor of love. Go ahead and plan on it being one of your Christmas gifts for someone in 2017. Release Date: Fall of 2017.

Well, there it is. These are my new projects. I hope you are as eager to get them as I am to get them to you.

So many of you have spread the word about I Want God and as a result, helped change lives. (For real. You should hear the stories.)

So many of you are faithful readers to the messages God has put on my heart to share. I wish you knew how humbling this feels and how much responsibility it brings to my heart, and how seriously I take it.

I think you and I are on the exact same page. I believe we share the same heart.

If you, like me, want to live with a better strategy, want to walk Jesus strong instead of walking tentative, defensive and reactionary, want to be the steady and sure believer of Jesus that He can use in this world in these crazy days to influence the rest of the world…if you, like me, sometimes feel like prayer books make me feel more intimidated about my prayer life, like I don’t measure up, love the idea of 5 powerful prayer words to pray every day for 40 days to better communicate with God…and if sometimes you just like to be a little artsy but are intimidated by Pinterest :)…these books are for you.

Can’t wait to share them.

Love you.

Mean it.

Thanks for letting me share my new projects…and my life…with you.

For When You’re Struggling Through an Imperfect Life

IMG_0700Struggling through an imperfect life. Doing great things. Doing hard things. Doing things we aren’t proud of and some we really, really are.

Loving people well. Treating people less than. Losing our temper, forgetting to take hold of the battle for our mind and watching it slip from us.

Food that makes us happy. Weight that makes us sad. Community over the table, which is the forgotten best thing.

And oh, those consuming cell phones. 

Broken relationships, friends who just know and make us feel loved. Sometimes, getting the flowers or the the card or the text, just in time.

Making progress…falling back and feeling worse. Crazy broken everyday but still, hope in our core.

Doing well with God. Leaving God out of things, completely. Praying like mad or days without prayer, at all.

Crying because we are sad, crying because it’s better than we hoped. Laughing over nothing and everything and the funniest things.

Pets we love and gardens we tend and places we drive and meals we cook and laundry we do and those jobs in nice clothes, too.

People we hug and private pains in our heart, over loves who’ve gone to heaven and people who hurt us here, on earth.

Weak bodies, strong bodies, old bodies we don’t recognize anymore.

Winning things, losing things, holding onto things too long and letting go of things too soon or sometimes, right on time.

Worries, so many, even when we know we shouldn’t. Bursts of faith that surprise us but give us proof we truly can believe with all our heart.

All I know, today, is that we are all human and doing all of these things, no matter what pictures on social media we see or ones we dream up in our minds. We are beautiful people and difficult people, all at the same time, none who will ever be perfect.

And I’m just really grateful for Jesus.

One day we will start our real best life and all get better.

That’s honestly it.

P.S. Press on. I will, too. I love you.

‪#‎alwaysGodonlyGod‬ ‪#‎presson‬ ‪#‎weareallhuman‬

Real Love Is Careful

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In this day of I will only invest in you if you have something I want, I am more than ever grateful for God.

Because the hard truth is, most of us are not careful with people.

If those around us need Jesus and we have even noticed, we will silently hope for the opportunity to fall in our lap, for them to ask what is different about you, for an extra 10 minutes in our schedule that never appears where we can do about 80 down the Romans Road and then at the end, brakes slammed, screeching halt and all, we will have done our job to tell them about Christ.

Even in Christian circles, where we say we hate celebrity yet it often still reigns, our culture says: don’t mess with people who can offer you nothing.

But Jesus says something very different:

be careful with my kids.

practice loving people without an agenda.

when you have the least to gain and you invest anyway, you touch my heart.

savor people, for I love them, each one.

Friends, God didn’t create us to be the means to each other’s selfish end.  He didn’t intend for us to look through each other like we are invisible when we aren’t what the world says is important.

Real love doesn’t bypass.  It doesn’t calculate.  It doesn’t say I don’t need to care about you because you are no one and can do nothing for me.

Real love pauses, takes people in with both hands and heart.

It is not quick and consuming.

Real love takes its time, is careful with people, savors their worth.

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*Conversation: Have you ever thought about this idea of “being careful with people?” How does this measurement of love change things?

The World Doesn’t Need Any More Experts

The experts of this world make money, become known, wear titles…

but crack just the same when life steps out of the textbook and becomes real.

Because hard things don’t respect degrees, Twitter followers, money, status, or applause. They sweep in with the intent to bring even strong people to their knees.

And in such moments when life hits us like a tsunami on crack, the last thing we want is a lecture from a commentator who thinks they know our life.

We don’t want people to tell us what they know.  We’d rather have them tell us what they don’t know and hold our hand or cry hot tears with us because that feels real.

It is, my friends, true community – not the kind with fans and followers where lines can become blurred and people are worshipped and it becomes about gain…but flesh meeting flesh and walking this life out, together.

I don’t want to know, expert, how much you know about the Bible.  I want to know what you don’t know but are willing to stake your life on in faith, anyway.

I don’t want to hear your well-crafted speech; expert…I want to know how you struggled 5 minutes before you walked onto the stage.

I don’t want to know why you think my friend has cancer, expert.  I want you to tell me you are sorry and don’t understand it either but still trust God, too.

I don’t want your perfect and smart and put together and superior.

I want your open and vulnerable and raw and hard and ugly.

I will respect what you don’t know more than what you do because that makes me feel like my lack doesn’t keep us from traveling, together.

Friends, the world doesn’t need any more experts.  We have a lot of those.

The world needs hand holders, quiet listeners, truth tellers who speak mostly through his or her life.

And though there is value in wisdom and input and experience from another…

…there is sometimes greater value in diving into the mysteries of life and God, together…

bonding over what all He knows that we don’t.

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*Conversation: Do you agree with this post? Let’s talk!

 

We Start by Telling the Truth

I walk to the small stage beneath the big cross with the words I AM next to it in brassy gold letters.  It is my first time to speak at a rehab center.

I’m nervous, but I can’t tell them.  They see me as the teacher.

The men sit to my left, in a kaleidoscope of varying team t-shirts and eyes that tell of experiences I do not know.  The women are to my right, some could be my daughters.  The face of one sticks in my mind, she wears the pain on skin.

I am humbled at our brokenness and the thought of the Healer.  I feel at home in a place I’ve never been.

And as I speak the words of John 5 and wholeness, I feel hopeful…for I know that healing begins with the willingness to stop running from truth.

It is where these, my new friends who were once enslaved by the bottle, the drugs, the men, the street life…and this PK enslaved by an empty faith connect.  We aren’t afraid of our truth anymore and we come now, opening the heart. Each with our own struggle, we have a shot a wellness.

I fly home to an online interview with my good friend {and Barna Group President}, David Kinnaman, where I am asked to weigh in on some of the Barna statistics for my new book, {w}hole.  They come from women who go to church, asked tough questions and given the opportunity to tell the truth about the struggles, and I reminded of why the statistics made me sad.

We gave good answers — good, churchy answers that could not have been completely honest.

I sound like I judge, and maybe I do.  But I know too much to think our lives so pretty.  Brave people everywhere come up to me and tell me pieces of their story, and it’s often the same — the tentacles of porn and how it’s squeezed pure out of their mind, the raging jealousy of their friend with money that causes them to walk through life dissatisfied, the desire to control so they stick their finger down their throat every night after dinner to throw up, praying to stay skinny.  Many of them, women.

And I remember what it takes to be well and I want desperately to send us — church people with good answers that are not completely honest — to spiritual rehab.

So we can see the cross, remember the great I AM, realize how brokenness is beautiful and honesty is freeing and healing is found when we start by simply telling the truth.

God, help us all.

**You can read more on these statistics and the specifics of the questions and how they were answered by polled women {what we say is our #1 sin and if we feel the media effects us}, as well as my response on David’s site HERE.  {Be warned: I am brutally honest.}

Conversation: Do you agree that healing starts when we tell the truth about our life? Do you think the church could do a better job at this? Let’s talk!