Let God Speak


Claim the God

Claim the God in you. We are all divine, aren’t we? How the world changes if we all believed God was inside us always.

If we are divine, if God abides in us:

Then how do you treat your neighbor?

How do you love your sister?

How do you discipline your children?

How do you react when faced with hatred, injustice, hurt?

Nouwen says, when we claim God inside, we let him speak, instead of the wounded places. Our sadness, hurt, bitterness and anger don’t sharpen the edge of our tongue. God speaks. His love shines through our broken vessel and touches the person next to us.

His love touches the neighbor we struggle to love.

The sister we argue with.

The children we can’t discipline without spewing hurt.

His love touches the hard part of our heart that refuses to let go of a grudge.

I want to claim the God in me, and no matter what happens, I don’t want the words that come out of my mouth to be anything but from God.

I want His love, His hope, His forgiveness, His redemption to pour out of me. I don’t want to keep any of that inside myself. I want every person I meet to know they are loved from the deepest part of me.

Even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it hurts to let go of what I thought I needed.

It isn’t always easy to claim God inside, but he’s always there. Even when we make the wrong choice and let our bitterness speak first. Claim him. He’s there and it is never too late.

What can you change today by claiming the God inside you?

drop me in the water

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Please buy The Mom Quilt today. Read about the project I’m a part of here. Support women brave enough to tell their stories and support mothers whose story is just beginning.

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Forgivness and Peacemaking

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Forgiveness is hard. I stopped demanding my kids say sorry or I forgive you a while ago, because forgiveness is a battle within a person I can’t force. It requires us to give up some version of the way we thought life should be and let it be what it is. Messy, imperfect, and utterly human. It isn’t natural for us to go to forgiveness when another person messes up. We want justice, we want vengence, we want what we want, and if we forgive them it’s like we say it is okay to ruin our plans.

It’s  the only answer that will bring peace to our lives, but we can’t demand it from another person. It opens the door into reconciliation and restoration of relationship, but it is locked tight with anger, hurt, betrayal, spite and bitterness.

The only way the world will be set right lies within our own hearts, but most days we refuse to open it.

I have been reading the beatitudes this summer.  I just finished the beatitude on being a peacemaker.

Blessed-are-theAnd all week I thought about what it means to be a peacemaker. A peacemaker works for reconciliation, restoration and justice. And we are all children of God.

At the heart of peacemaking is forgiveness. Forgiving and loving ourselves so we can extend that love to the neighbor we aren’t so fond of. And this is a lesson we don’t go through just once in our life, but every single day.

Forgiveness requires us to look inside and pull out the spite we cling to with a death grip. The part of ourselves that clutches  anger like it is a life preserver. The part of ourselves that doesn’t want to let go of the world we demand.

In order to move forward we have to let go or like Buechner says, we will end up devouring ourselves.

If we can extract that anger, then we can look our neighbor in the eye and recall how hard it was to let go of spite, anger, and bitterness. We can see the conflict bouncing around in their own eyes. Then we see the battle we just faced, taking place inside them at that moment and how hard it is to win.

Win the fight for them, so they don’t have to.

Forgive them.

They probably won’t even know what happened, but right then, the earth shifted. Peacemaking happened and the kingdom of God broke through. The relationship might not have been completely restored, but you can breathe better can’t you?

Forgivness is the key that allows you to open the door to reconciliation that you had triple deadbolted. Once you step through that door restoration is within reach. If you keep forgiving yourself and every person you meet this world changes.

It becomes the kingdom of God on earth.

 

 

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Please buy The Mom Quilt today. Read about the project I’m a part of here. Support women brave enough to tell their stories and support mothers whose story is just beginning.

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Friday Encouragement: When gladness and hunger meet

The-place-God-calls-you

I know I have used this quote before on the blog, but it has to be my all time favorite quote by Buechner. Although everything he says I want to jot down on a post it and stick above my writing desk.

He sees truth like no one else does.

Where does your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet? I have spent a lot of years trying to figure this out for myself. And then one day I started typing on the computer and I realized it was, for me, opening my head and putting down some of what swirls around in there on a blog.

Never did I imagine my love for writing would ever be able to help people, but it has. This week a book I contributed to has raised over 3000 dollars for a maternity house in Kenya. To bring not just physical water to these women, but hope.

My deep gladness and the world’s hunger met, and it feels really good.

All of us, every single person, is called into the world. And when we act on that calling, lives change.

The kingdom of God comes here to earth. In your heart and in the heart of those around you.

Live this truth today and change the world.

 

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Please buy The Mom Quilt today. Read about the project I’m a part of here. Support women brave enough to tell their stories and support mothers whose story is just beginning.

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The hardest Part

 

Momquiltquote

The hardest part of writing is promotion, which is weird, because the whole point of writing is so someone else can read it. Do you know how weird it is to say, “Hey, buy my book?”

But I am a part of a book. A dream I have cultivated for years actually happening. It’s incredible. It is awesome. Someone besides my husband and critique partners will read my words.

People who aren’t a part of my church will hear my story.

And my hope above all of it is, that some women out there will hear my story and feel the weight of guilt drop off her shoulders so she can wrap her arms around her family without the burden of self-doubt.

Today I am not ashamed to promote, because if you buy this book, you support my writing, the writing of 59 other writers and bloggers, but most important, a mission in Kenya that brings new life to young women who in their short years have experienced a lifetime of pain.

So when I ask you to buy this book, I am asking you to bring hope to the women of Mercy House. Who are making beauty from ashes. Women who want to change their family tree.

It’s not just what you can do for these women, but also for the women who poured out their hearts on the pages of this book. No woman’s story is the same. We all look different, parent different, and face different challenges. Regardless, we said yes, when someone asked us to share our story.

We did it to change lives.

 

All proceeds from book sales go to Mercy House Kenya to purchase a well. The goal is to raise $40,000 dollars. The book is only in e-book format in order to ensure ALL funds go to Mercy House. Thank you for your support!

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Our Stories

When I became pregnant with my first child every mother I met wanted to give me advice. Not much has changed in 12 years. Every mother still wants to tell me how she got through the long days and short years of parenthood. She tells me what worked and what didn’t. Her regrets, her successes, and her failures. It’s natural after living through something to want to share what happened with another person.

And while I appreciate the advice, what I really want when I talk to another mother is her story.

Because stories have arcs. Stories move us from who we were into who we were created to be. It tells me about the hard places that changed a person. Where everything seemed lost, but there’s still a way out. Advice is something I can read in a parenting book, but the stories I hear remind me we are all connected, we all struggle, and we all want to do better.

It is so easy to slip into advice mode. I see a new mother struggling with an issue that I’m familiar with, like sleepless nights. And on my tongue is the sentence, “You know what I did when. . . .” And I can see the new mother’s eyes glaze over and whether or not my intention is to judge, what she hears is, “I’m not good enough.” Because my words are advice and not my story.

Advice separates us while stories unite us. Stories are told around dinner tables, over cups of coffee and on sidewalks. Advice is whispered behind a hand, or told with an elbow in the side, or with a roll of the eye. It says, I am already past you and I never want to go back.

But a story, we get to sit with the person right where they are.

And remember.

Remember what it was like to be scared, angry, or tired. So tired you couldn’t think straight. The number of times I started coffee without remembering to put the pot underneath, and I would walk into the kitchen dreaming about the steam rolling around my face as I took the first sip of the morning. And then jolted out of my dream when I stepped into a cooling pool of coffee.

Do you remember being that tired?

Or the time I got cancer, and I had to take radioactive iodine and couldn’t be within 6 feet of any person. My body was lit up on the inside like a Christmas tree, and my hugs could actually hurt a person. A woman in my bible study sat next to me and told me about the time she also had radioactive iodine. And how hard it was to be going through the most difficult thing in your life and not be able to touch another person. To not get a hug. A kiss from your spouse. A hand on your shoulder.

It was hard for my friends and family to understand what I felt, but she, that wonderful woman, sat with me in my hurt. She didn’t tell me what to do, she simply said this is what happened to me when I swallowed that life saving, but deadly pill.

Your story matters and needs to be told to someone else.

There is so much advice out there for moms, and it’s mainly well intentioned, but what I want, crave and desire more than anything is the story of the person I am with. I want to see that mother’s arc, because then I know it will be okay. No matter what I face today, I will change, grow and learn.

The mom quiltThis summer I get to tell my story with 60 other bloggers and writers in the ebook, The Mother Quilt60 women tell their stories to bring us all together. To tell another woman, it’s all going to be okay. Because once upon a time this happened.

Through our stories we can even change the world. When you purchase a copy of the book, not only do you get to sit down with mother’s all over the country and share in the crazy journey, you also get to share with mother’s across the world.

All proceeds go to support Mercy House Kenya. A house that brings new mothers together and helps them live their story arc in a new and dramatic way. The goal is to raise 40,000 dollars to provide clean water on the campus.

And if more is raised, then more good is done.

Picture courtesy of Mercy House Kenya

Picture courtesy of Mercy House Kenya

I am so glad I get to add this chapter to my story. That when I sit down with a new mom, I can say, “Once upon a time, I didn’t think I had anything to say, and then this happened.”

I love stories, and you’ve read mine on this blog since March 2012. Over 500 entries since then.

All those stories.

Do me a favor. Purchase a copy of the book here: THE MOM QUILT

You can also receive updates about the project here:



Once you purchase the book, please share on facebook where you bought it, and then share a story on Facebook. Someone out there on the interwebs needs to hear it. Be a little vulnerable, be humble, and be confident that your story is one worth sharing.

Then call up a friend and share the book with them. Or invite a whole group of women over and sit at a table and tell your own story out loud.

Advice can be given by anyone, but your story can only be told by you.

 

Spread the word about the ebook, THE MOM QUILT. It will be released Monday, August 10th and all proceeds, 100%, will go to raise money for Mercy House Kenya. And if the goal is met, the money will go on to fund more projects. Thank you for your support.

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A Plot Twist

There is more than one ending to a story. When I was a kid, Choose Your Own adventure books fascinated me. The writing was so-so, but I loved that a character wasn’t locked in to a storyline. It recognized human nature is nuanced. A character could make so many decisions. The plot twist changed depending on the choices and actions of the characters. No matter what course I chose for the main character, there was always a plot twist. Always the moment where everything seemed lost, dark and unavoidable. There was never an option where the character went through the days from point A to point B without anything ever happening. Authors recognized the characters could make any decision and there would be consequences for that decision, and they weren’t afraid of that.

It is the story that most mirrors life, even if we don’t like it.

We like our fiction to be dark and filled with the lost night of the soul, because the redemption that comes at the end is freeing. But in our lives? We want the nice happy, apple pie, no fuss ending. We want to wake up and go to sleep without our stories being interrupted.

But there’s no plot twist in that, is there? And if there is no plot twist, there are no consequences, and if there are no consequences, how do we ever embrace life?

I am reading a really difficult book right now. A really difficult, beautiful, joy filled book. It is written by a woman, just a few years older than I, who faced a cancer journey I can’t even fathom. Aggressive breast cancer that took over her body.

But didn’t overtake her heart.

Karatippetts

The thing about a plot twist is it propels a character into action. The story has changed and the lay of the land is no longer what is expected. A character cannot roll up into a ball and not do anything.

With a plot twist, decisions have to be made and consequences will follow, good or bad. What we want, or what we don’t want. And those consequences cause us to make other decisions. And that is what living life is.

The only certainty is that inaction isn’t a possibility anymore. We are going to grow and change from that hard, difficult moment. And that is pure beauty.

Kara, in her plot twist, chose joy not regret. Love not bitterness. Hope not fear. What a story. What an ending. Even in her last days she exuded a peace that still brings me comfort.

The consequence of her decision? A joy filled ending to a story cut short too soon. She is a strong example of how to live when the plot twist happens.

My own plot twist came at age 28. Just a short ten years ago. My life wasn’t the picture of rainbows and unicorns I expected when I was a little girl. It brushed up against the heartbreak of disease that Kara mentioned. And in that moment, before I ever read the words of this woman, I chose joy.

At my plot twist, I chose to live with the unshakeable belief that I was not alone, nor would I ever be alone. No matter what happened in my story. That decision had consequences.

It changed my life.

I became stronger. I stopped being afraid. I started dreaming again. It taught me that hard things can be good. Beauty can come from ashes.

I made it through radiation. Three anxiety inducing scans. I ran a marathon. A half dozen half marathons. I lost 42 pounds. I wrote two books.

It isn’t the life I thought I’d live at the beginning of my life.

But I’m so glad it is the life I’m living now.

And the plot twist could have been anything, the important part is what I did in that darkest spot, when I thought life was over.

Today, think about your own plot twist. Or maybe, you are teetering on the edge of a new plot twist. Remember, there are so many paths you can choose. There isn’t just one story and one ending.

You. You get to pick what happens next.

And regardless of what happens, there will be redemption of your story.

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Friday Encouragement: Inhale joy

IFbeatitudemourning

My life is in a season of transition. Isn’t everyone’s? When it gets down to it I avoid change because it means I am saying goodbye to something, even if the thing I am saying goodbye to is something I’m ready to give up.

This week as I studied the beatitude above, I started to think of change as something worth mourning. Every resurrection comes from a death. Whether it is a death of relationship, a death of career, death of a dream, or death of a vision. These are things that need to be grieved in order to accept the resurrection that follows.

But our culture avoids mourning, and when it avoids mourning it bypasses the comfort that comes with it. When we exhale our pain, loss, grief we allow space for God to be on His knees with us. In that space God’s comfort is with us in the next inhalation.

Let God mourn with you

Mourning  is a place we resurrect. Where whatever we were, or were a part of dies, but is also the jumping off point for joy. Mourning is a rhythm of life that we can’t ignore. When we ignore it, we can’t accept the comfort that comes with it.

Exhale loss and breathe in joy

Today, name the places of mourning in your own life. Write them down. Say a prayer. Invite God to come next to you and sit in that space of loss. Even as you speak the words a resurrection occurs. The new can’t be contained in the old. So breathe out your loss and breathe in joy. Allow God to take the ashes of what was, almost and could have been and let him weave it into joy, beauty, mystery.

Believe that blessed are those who mourn;

For they shall be comforted.

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