Love is . . .

1peter48Love is not reserved for just some people. Love is for everyone. Oftentimes society tells us we are only valued if someone values us. Valentine’s Day is one of those days that is hardest for people who don’t feel loved, don’t feel attached to anyone, who don’t understand her value doesn’t lie in how the rest of the world perceives her worth.

We are all loved. How would the world change if we didn’t focus on only those people we care about, but the world?Every person we see, talk to, or experience across the globe. We share the love we feel everyday with those who never do.

That is what we are called into this life for, that is what we were built for. To love unconditionally and recklessly without care of how it is returned to those the rest of the world ignores.

That’s a Valentine’s Day message I want to spread. To live. To feel.

Today, go out and love someone who doesn’t know they are cared for. Spread your circle of love wide. That is what this life is about. That is what we were made for. Now go out and live into your calling.

Spread-your-circle-of

 

 

 

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Friday Encouragement

Who-am-I-that-I-shouldWhat do you think you are not enough for today? Where does your heart tug you and what keeps you from leaning into that call?

Who am I?

Those words fell from my lips yesterday. In fact they fall from my lips every time I sit at the computer to write, every time I dream big, every time I ask what if?

Who am I?

The point isn’t who I am, but who is with me. I can, because I am not alone. Nor will I ever be alone.

I can, because I am known, loved, chosen.

So every time I heart that inner critic, the accuser who asks, “Who are you?”

I will simply say “His.”

What is your dream? What is your calling? Where does your heart, hands, or voice lead you? Do you ask yourself, “Who am I?” Who am I to do this thing. I don’t have a story, I am not a leader, I am not an eloquent person. That’s fine, you don’t have to be. But you have been called out of the ordinary to do extraordinary things. You are not alone. You are known. You are loved. You are chosen to do great things.

Who am I?

The answer isn’t credentials or proof. The answer is I am God’s.

Go out with strength and courage today. You will do extraordinary things no matter what they are. Tell that accuser inside today, “I am God’s.”

I-am-known-I-am-loved-I

 

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Hold on to love

HenriNouwen

 

The world changes with love, right? The more you feel loved the more love you give. It is just the way of love. So often our hearts can’t take hold of love so we fill it with things that don’t matter and can’t ever sustain us.

  • Jobs
  • Kids
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Clothes
  • Sports
  • Busyness
  • Experiences
  • Entertainment

None of these things are bad in small quantities, but when you use them to fill yourself they will never be enough. No matter how much you consume, no matter how much you grab hold, they are never enough. Instead of sustaining you they slowly eat you away.

But love, the one thing that carries us forward, is the one thing we often think we don’t deserve or can’t have. And therefore we don’t take hold of it.

It’s appropriate on this Valentine’s Weekend to remember that love comes from within. There is a source we tap into that is always there. Always inside us. Always guiding us. All we have to do is lean into it.

Lean into God.

Rest there. Believe it is for you and let that love transform your life.

We will only become our truest selves without fear when we hold on to love.

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Church Is . . .

All-around-you-peopleclaiborne

There are three books that I have read in the past year and a half that have wrecked my life.

In a good way. And if you want to wreck your own view of faith, I encourage you to read.

Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks your comfortable Christianity. By Jen Hatmaker.

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God when Sparkly Faith is No Longer Enough. By Kristin Welch (Also of blog fame, WE ARE THAT FAMILY)

Irresistable Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. By Shane Claiborne

These books make me wrestle with my beliefs and what it means to be a Christian. To be completely authentic I can’t finish Claiborne’s book because every time I pick it up I feel like the rich young ruler who walks away from discipleship in Christ. These people live such authentic Christian walks my heart aches for what they have.

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Because you see, in all of their lives, Church is a group of people living out Christ’s mission. Not a fancy service that you sip your mocha to.

The point isn’t CHURCH, the point is living love.

There are a lot of days I don’t want my name associated with the brand of Christianity going on in this country. It is often short sighted, angry and creates despair instead of being the antidote to it. How did we Christians get so far from the hope the church is supposed to be?

KristinWelch

Church isn’t destination of faith, it is a gateway to true transformation.

Church isn’t a place to go, it is a people living love out loud.

Church isn’t a place where people are judged, it is a jumping off point for reconciliation and redemption.

Church isn’t a building, it isn’t a program, and it isn’t a committee meeting, it is a called people leaning in to God’s love.

So why do Christians focus so much on a place, time and people, instead of going out into the world and loving the way they were shown through Christ’s life?

This might be too preachy for a Wednesday afternoon.

I am really torn right now. I feel a lot of tension every Sunday walking into the building. If you go to my church you might see that look on my face and mistaken it for indigestion. And it is, it is just indigestion of the soul.

I want the people I interact with to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is he who takes refuge in him.”- Psalm 34:8.

But can that happen when our services are about consuming God? Or filling ourselves up? Can we really keep such love tucked away in a building, hidden from people who need light?

Church has to change, and I respect people like the Hatmakers, Kristin Welch, and Shane Claiborne who live an authentic Christian life. Each of them have started movements that change lives. They focus on God’s love in themselves and then spreading that love to the person next to them.

That is what I want church to be because that is who I am called to be. I have such hope for the church of the future because I see my generation rising up and saying the status quo is too restrictive. I see such love being spread in this world and I want to be a part of it.

Do you?

Church is

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Worth: is it as easy as believing?

This weekend I sat with teens and talked about worth. Worth is a funny subject in the church. We are often reminded of how unworthy we are and then are expected to feel worthy of God’s love.

Why do churches start with sin instead of love?

As we delved deeper into the conversation it occurred to me what happens when I don’t want to feel unworthy is I start grading sin. I only did this, but that person did this. I only lied, I didn’t steal. I only yelled, I didn’t murder. I am worthy, they are not.

Judgement happens when we point out someone else’s sin in order to improve our own worth.

The problem is, we all have worth. All of us. There is no difference between you and the person next to you. We make different choices and have different consequences but we all have worth.

Luke127The more the teens and I spoke about worth the more I understood how radical Jesus was. We often read him as saying the poor or sick have more worth than the Pharisees or the rich and blessed people. But Jesus really meant every single person is worthy of God’s love. It is all the same in God’s eyes.

Rich, poor, sick, healthy, corrupt politician or law abiding citizen all are accepted, all are loved, all are welcomed back into God’s arms.

The problem is us humans have a hard time viewing life that way.

What would happen if we looked at every person we see with value. The homeless person and the CEO of a fortune 500 company. The person we pass on the sidewalk and the family member at our side. What would happen if we didn’t immediately glean our differences, but saw each person with worthiness. With love.

MotherteresaquotloveWhat would happen if you loved the next person you saw? Without judgement, without pity but focusing on their worth. I believe that is kingdom changing. Jesus came not to show us how terrible we are but to show us how loved we are.

Jesus came to show us how loved we are.

It doesn’t change our responsibilities or the consequences for our actions, but it changes our hearts. And when our hearts are changed so is our worth and the worth of the person standing next to us. Whoever they are.

The person who cut us off while driving.

The person who took our parking spot.

The person who doesn’t look or sound like you.

The person who answered you with anger.

The person who doesn’t believe.

There person who believes too hard.

All of them, all of us, have worth. And the world would change if we all went home and loved our family. Then loved our friends. Then loved our neighbors. Then loved our church. Then loved our community.

And then loved the world.

Jesus didn’t come to point out how bad we are. He came live love out loud. When we start with that space of love then every single one of us can change the world.

Start today by realizing you have worth. The person next to you has worth. Not one single person walks this earth without worth. There is no difference between us in God’s eyes.

We are all loved.

How can you live love out loud today? How will you love the person next to you?

 

 

 

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A letter to my kids

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Dear Kids,

Before I say anything, I want you to know I love God. It’s important for me to say that straight out. I love God and because of that love, I’m able to love everything around me. Most of the time, I don’t like what is around me, but I love it just the same. Because as a wise woman said, we need to see the God in everyone. And I’m trying to do just that.

But right now, I think I’m failing you. I want you three to also love God the way I do. So I take you to church, we read devotions, and we pray together. Every week I drop you off at Sunday School, so you can develop a relationship with God. We go to church as a family every Sunday. And although I know I’m making you guys great churchgoers, I’m afraid I’m not making you very good Christ followers.

The scales lifted recently from my own eyes. I have been a faithful church goer since I was born. Except in college, because I loved sleeping in more. But in my adult life, I attend, I tithe, discuss the bible, and I pray with people. Every week I meet with an accountability group and I like to think occasionally I break through my resolve and connect with God.

But all I am is a churchgoer. And I want to be so much more than that.

The current state of Christianity in the US is not something I’m proud of. I don’t believe that if the apostles came back today they would recognize the faith they fought so hard to spread.

The faith they gave their lives for, so we could have true life.

So although I do all the right Christian things for you, I am starting to feel like I am back behind the cloth with the wizard keeping the mirage going. Because what I am learning to see, and what I feel, is that being a Christ follower has little to do with what Church has become.

Church isn’t the music we listen to.

Or the sermon we hear

Or the prayers we say

Or the liturgy we follow

It isn’t a set of rules we vote on

It isn’t a place where we surround ourselves with people just like us

Church isn’t a place.

What I have learned from people like Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Kristin Welch, Shane Claiborne, Mother Teresa, Glennon Doyle Melton and so many others, is loving God and following Christ is so simple, but so very hard. It’s more than showing up on a Sunday. More than a worship experience. More than serving. More than following rules. The Church is the entire world and we experience God by living life with him.

True faith causes us to self-reflect a lot. And through that reflection, change. And that change will cause us to go into the uncomfortable area of loving so hard that people can’t help but love us back.

Be a witness of Gods’ love to people, not a hammer.

What I want you to see in me is love. Spreading love so far and so wide to so many people that the kingdom of heaven is no longer a place that keeps people out, but welcomes them in. Because God includes everyone, even if the church doesn’t.

Following Christ is being in relationship with God, so we can be in relationship with the world. It isn’t following the right rules or saying the best prayer. Following Christ is always letting forgiveness trump the rule. (Thank you Momastery)

Sometimes I think we hide behind our church buildings because we are afraid of the cost it would take to make the world our family. The church tells the people what they should believe, and then expect them to come storming through the doors.

And are surprised when no one comes.

If you learn anything from  your parents, I want you to learn this one thing. Jesus didn’t sit in a church on Sunday morning waiting to be entertained.

Jesus spoke against the status quo in the temple and then went out into the world spreading love to those the faithful ignored. He let the kingdom of God shine through his actions to those who needed it most. He loves everyone.

Everyone.

He didn’t do good things because he had to. He did good things because he loved God and therefore loved people.

All of them. Even the Pharisees.

To be honest kids, I want to leave the church some days.

I want to go out into the world and show Christ’s love. That no matter how lost we think we are, there is always a path home.

And most important, I want you three, my children, who have the capacity for such great love, not to lose it because I taught you to become a churchgoer.

Instead of a Christ Follower.

You have heard me rail a lot against the Church recently, and I’m sorry. I don’t want you to ever think I have given up on God. Because I believe that God breathed new life into me. He took a broken 28 year old and worked on her heart until her dry bones began to feel again. He taught me that no matter how hard life is, it is incredibly beautiful. And because of that gift, I can’t sit back and watch it wither in other people.

But where we are right now in the church, I can’t understand how anything new will grow from infertile soil. I have to admit, I’m a little scared.

I want the church to go out into the world and love so hard, that people will want to find our source of strength and life.

I don’t believe there is one church out there who gets it right, but I hope one day all of them will. And they can if each one of us remembers what it means to be with God. Churches don’t make disciples.

God does. He calls each one of us, individually where we are. He calls each one of us differently and uniquely. There is not one size fits all when it comes to kingdom work. Every creation is handcrafted. Every life divinely lived. Every life precious, loved and cared for.

Don’t forget that.

I don’t want you, my children, to be church goers.

I want you to follow Christ.

Be-a-witness-of-Gods

 

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An announcement of sorts

 

You may have noticed that my posts aren’t really about the kids anymore. I have to admit it, they are growing up. The long days aren’t so long anymore, but the years sure are getting shorter.

Because the kids are mainly in school, I don’t have the great stories I used to. We spend our days apart, and although they say some great one liners for Facebook it is hard to develop a post about it.

That is part of why I don’t write about them as much.

The second part is as they get older, their life should be their life. My oldest is getting to an age where she doesn’t necessarily want her stories told online. Isaac and Margo love seeing their name in print, but it isn’t too far off that they will want more privacy.

The last part is a big one. My interests have changed. A lot of my parent blogging was me trying to figure out the parent I want to be. Of course I don’t think my parenting journey is done by a long shot, but it has evolved. And now I find myself drawn more to the essentials of faith and how to live as a Christian in everyday life. Which of course impacts how I parent, how I relate to people, and how I love my husband.

So my blog is gonna change. It’s a hard decision. I know some of my readers come for the parenting stories and they aren’t particularly drawn to the religious. But honestly I have struggled to write when I try to come up with a new twist on a parenting problem that has been blogged to death. Just like my children are growing and maturing, I feel like my writing life is growing and maturing. So it is time to move on and write about where my heart is, and right now it is with the spiritual.

I will still talk about parenting, but it’s not going to be about the long days. That’s just not where I am in my life anymore. For the last elevenish years my life has revolved around parenting littles and my littles aren’t so small anymore. I am entering a new phase and I can either embrace it or run from it.

I guess I’m getting my arms at the ready, because my feet are tired from running.

I hope you keep reading and living life with me. I hope my dive into the more spiritual doesn’t scare you off but becomes a departure point for great dialogue. I feel there is a great tension right now in the church. Faith is no longer about going once a week. There are people out there yearning for more.

I am yearning for more. And just like I blogged to try and work out the parent I wanted to be, I will embark on a journey to figure out the person I want to be. How I can live out my life in faith, not just be a churchgoer.

I’m not doing this to win people to Jesus, I’m doing this because  I’m trying to figure out how to live into God while handling modern problems in the church.

So if you have struggled with the tension between faith and church; faith and society; faith and family; faith and anything, I hope this is a safe place for us to discuss our hopes, dreams, and disappointments.

The great thing about life is we are always changing; always growing. And I love that about life. It makes it hard and beautiful. Messy but graceful. (Don’t you just love the Momastery)

We always have the chance to be greater while still loving who we were.

Stick with me. I know change is hard. I spent the first 30 years of my life avoiding it, but now that my eyes are open to its possibility I am excited and hopeful for the future.

What about you?

 

 

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