I Have an Early Christmas Gift for YOU!

A week from Thanksgiving, I can feel the pressure of the Christmas season bearing down on us.

Our family is 2 adults, 3 kids, 5 sets of grandparents, and more cousins than I can count, scattered over 6 states. Like yours, my Christmas involves lists and recipes and travel and gift wrap and parties, and perhaps more festivity than one woman can handle.

It’s easy for me to lose Jesus in the middle of all of that.

I learned a long time ago that I need to set aside time in December to sit still. To be quiet. To make space for my soul, to reserve some of my attention for prayer, journaling, God’s Word.

My celebration of Jesus on December 25th is so much richer and more meaningful when I make room, daily, to turn my eyes to Jesus throughout the month of December.

Would you like to join me in observing Advent this year? I  invite you to clear some space in your December to listen, to be quiet, to turn your eyes to Jesus. Come, celebrate Advent with me?

Traditionally, the Christian Church has observed Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Remembering the years humanity spent waiting for the Messiah King. Reminding ourselves that we wait still, for Jesus to fulfill His Kingdom and redeem and restore this earth and His people.

With that in mind, I’ve written an Advent study exploring different aspects of Waiting On God.

“Waiting on God: A 4 Week Advent Devotional” will walk us through the weeks leading up to Christmas, inviting us to sit with Jesus, to welcome Him into our Christmas preparations, allowing us to make space to listen to Him and respond.

AVAILABLE NOW:

Sign up here to receive Waiting on God: An Advent Devotional for free. From Monday 11/27 through Monday 12/25, you’ll receive an email with that day’s devotional. Each will include a scripture to meditate on, my devotional thoughts, and journaling prompts to lead you deeper into your own experience of waiting on God through the advent season.

COMING SOON:

I am making the entire study available for sale as a PDF download,  for those of you who prefer a study that you can hold in your hands.

I have loved putting this together for you – I hope you’ll join me!

 

Waiting on God Advent Devotional (Insta)

Where Am I Looking for Security?

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

I love the picture in this verse of the one who is LOVED by the Lord, living in safety, shielded by the Lord, resting between His shoulders. But all too often, my life is not reflective of this picture of security – I don’t live this truth.

Too often my experience is insecurity.

A few years ago, the Lord had me on a journey finally really doing battle for security. It lasted months, and in many ways I am still learning. I’ve found the roots of insecurity in my search for validation of my worth and value from the world and those around me. I want acceptance, so I think I need to earn it.

I know I am not alone in this. From childhood we learn expect the world outside us to reflect security, value, worth back to us.

If I’m looking to something for my value, my worth, my identity, I’d better make sure it’s something that’s going to accurately reflect where my security comes from.

I am learning that Jesus (who He is and what He says about me) is the only safe place for me to look for my value, worth and identity. Jesus is the only accurate reflection, the only source of security I can trust.

One thing I’ve learned in the search for security: Our focus on externals is a big trap.

HOW HAS FOCUS ON EXTERNAL THINGS CREATED AREAS OF INSECURITY FOR YOU?

I think you can begin to see some of these things by thinking about what you were complimented or criticized for when you were a child.

If you were criticized for something as a child, it makes sense that you’d grow up with that as an area of insecurity – something that makes you feel bad about yourself.

What areas did you feel criticized for, things about you that didn’t measure up? For me, this was my appearance (no one in my immediate family ever said this, but I grew up feeling like my sister was “the pretty one” and I was “the smart one.” Unfair to both of us.) Also, my weight – looking back, I was not overweight, but I was the biggest member of my family, built curvier and sturdier than my mom, stepmom or sisters. Add to that the fact that my mom, stepmom, and sisters were all chronic dieters and it was a recipe for insecurity.

Does it seem strange to you that we might develop insecurity about things we’re complimented for? Sometimes the areas we receive positive feedback about can become needs and feed drives. Little girls who receive a lot of attention for being pretty can begin to believe their appearance is the most important thing about them, and can become unhealthy in areas related to their bodies and appearance. Children who are complimented for their grades and achievements can become unhealthily driven to succeed.

What are the areas you were complimented on as a child, areas where you learned to find security? For me, this was being obedient, a good girl. Being a good student, an achiever, a pleaser – I did what was expected of me, and to this day the feeling of being “unapproved” by authority figures is a giant insecurity trigger.

What would it look like for us to let go of everything for which we are criticized and complimented? What if instead of looking to the world to affirm our worth or value, we looked to the one who made us?

What if we began to listen to His whisper to each of us that we are beloved of the Lord? Can you see yourself resting between His shoulders?

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

 

 

Photo used in title image by Rab Fyfe on Unsplash

 

The hardest part of parenting, #13: Letting Kids Learn From Their Mistakes

I chatted with a friend last week who is pretty sure she is not going to survive middle school with her daughter. As I listened, I found myself thinking and saying, “Isn’t that just the hardest thing about being a parent?” Except there wasn’t just one hardest thing, there were maybe 7, in that one conversation, with one friend.

There is way more than ONE hardest part of parenting. So I decided to write a (periodic and probably sporadic) series on the 26 hardest parts of parenting.*

The hardest part of parenting, #13: Letting Kids Learn From Their Mistakes

I am not naturally a helicopter mom, or prone to hovering, but just typing “let them learn from their mistakes” makes me feel anxious. I believe in natural consequences, and I think all kids learn better from experience than from words or lectures.

But the older my kids get, the harder I feel the temptation to rescue them from their mistakes. I think about the hard lessons I learned, socially and personally, and I don’t want my boys to have to learn the hard way.

When my kids were young, I did need to rescue them (sometimes). And when they didn’t know how to do something (or were doing it in a way that would harm themselves and others), it was my actual job to put my hands on theirs and show them how to do it, literally and figuratively.

But now that they are getting older, I know I need to take my hands off. If not immediately and all at once, then slowly and progressively as they approach the teenage years and adulthood.

The Selfie Podcast last week** had a great conversation about the healthy practice of detachment (which I was only vaguely familiar with.) The counselor they interviewed encouraged parents to provide their kids with a safe place to make mistakes and to fall. She talked about toddlers learning to walk: We remember that moment when our little one first took her hand off the coffee table. Not one of us steps in and shouts, “Don’t let go! You might fall!” We hold out our hands to them, inviting them to step away from safety, knowing they will fall. But knowing as well that falling is a natural part of learning to walk.

That is so easy and natural with toddlers learning to walk. But with school aged kids learning to make friends? With middle schoolers learning to take care of their bodies and responsibilities? With high schoolers applying to college and negotiating romantic relationships?

I seriously do not love that falling is part of learning to walk. I don’t love that failure is a necessary part of learning to be an adult.

Nearly every really important life lesson I’ve ever learned had to be learned the hard way. Why am I so driven to protect my children from “the hard way”?

I have to ask myself:

Where is the line between being a coach and a consultant, and being a nag, a helicopter parent, a rescuer?

Where does my son need a reminder to fulfill his responsibilities, and where am I acting like it is my homework, my test grade, my future on the line?

Where can I coach and help my boys learn about relationships, appropriate ways to treat  and value people? And where am I trying to shield and protect them from my own regrets and hardest lessons?

How can I provide a safe, loving, accepting environment for these precious future adults to learn from their mistakes?

How can I provide a soft place to land now, so that they can enter the wider world not afraid of making mistakes?

 

 

* I’m not sure there will actually be 26, but can’t rule it out. And I chose to start with 13 because #1 seems like it should be for real the hardest thing, and I’m not sure what I think that is yet.

** Selfie is a great podcast, but in this particular episode you need to know that before you get to the amazing self-care and parenting conversation on detachment, they have 30 minutes on pubic hair. Yep, you read that correctly. So if you’re not interested in the care and keeping of your nether regions (or if, like me, you never considered anything beyond going ahem au naturel, so you don’t want to think about wax or laser removal or clippers down there), skip to the 28 minute mark.

 

Photo in images by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Insiders and Outsiders, in need of Grace {A Devotional on Jesus and the Pharisees in Luke 11}

I wandered into the Church when I was 19, an outsider in every sense and found grace and love and Jesus. I was one of the sinners Jesus welcomed, not at all like the Pharisees He condemned.

But it wasn’t long before I became an insider. And I like being an insider. I like clear lines between who’s in and who’s out, between who’s wrong and who’s right.

Somewhere along the way, I became less like the sinners Jesus welcomed, and more like the Pharisees He rebuked.

I am helping lead a Bible study this Fall for a precious community of women who are studying the table scenes in the book of Luke, looking at the way Jesus treated and interacted with people. I love how this study is allowing us to focus on passages and conversations that don’t always make the Sunday School Top 10. For example: That time a Pharisee invited Jesus to lunch, and He spent the meal rebuking his host and his host’s friends. #awkward

I learned a LOT from my study of the Pharisees, and the drift toward phariseeism in my own life. I think this is the natural drift of humanity, the pull toward being a religious insider. And I want to take this seriously, learn from this passage and respond the Jesus’ rebuke.

What does Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for in this awkward lunch?

Cleaning up the outside while letting the inside grow rot.

Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. (Luke 11:39-41)

This metaphor is such a compelling image. Imagine coming over to my house and admiring my beautiful dishes, shiny and sparkling, and then finding maggoty food inside them.

When I was first making notes on this passage, one of my take aways was “inside > outside”. And if you stick with the metaphor, it is more important for the inside of the cup to be clean. But the point here is that God made the WHOLE CUP! My outward actions AND my inward heart are God’s, and I want to care for both. I need the blood of Christ for BOTH.

The outside is what people see, so the outside is what the world cares about, and it’s easy for the outside (my appearance and actions) to become my focus. But the whole cup is God’s.

My questions for myself, for us in response to this idea of making sure we’re not valuing outsides over insides:

  • On a very basic, surface level: How much time do I spend on my appearance v. my character? How much time do I spend on Jesus-oriented or Christian activities that people see compared to invisible things, caring for my heart, character, soul?
  •  Do I talk ABOUT God more than I talk TO God?
  •  As a parent (UGH.): To what extent am I driven in my parenting by what people think of ME? Do I have success as a Christian parent wrapped up in my children’s behavior?

Jesus also rebukes the Pharisees for

Pride.

“You love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places…” (Luke 11:43)

 Pride tends to make us into nonlisteners. We can speak, but we cannot hear. We think no one has anything to tell us. If so, we are slipping into a legalistic, prideful mind-set, which is death to genuine spirituality.  (NIVAC)

 This one is the most convicting to me. Pride is such a danger to our souls, particularly in matters of faith and religion.

Pride puts me at the center of the universe. Pride can twist even the most spiritual, holy behavior, and make it about me.

I look like I’m serving others, I’m serving God. But if it’s rooted in pride – in being important, in getting titles or positions, or even just the lovely important feeling of being needed and necessary – then it’s for me, not for you or for God. GROSS. Lord Jesus, save us from the temptation to “preen ourselves in the radiance of public flattery.”

So I ask myself, and I ask you:

  • With every action, choice, habit, especially those others see: Who is this FOR? What is my WHY? And I try to answer honestly…
  • When I’m not thanked or appreciated or noticed, how do I respond? And what does that tell me about my motivations?
  •  My God, whom I love and follow, had no place to lay His head. He was a homeless itinerant. He had no material possessions, and walked the road to the cross, laying down His life. Am I using Him to advance my own fame, my own reputation?

 

The Pharisees in Luke 11 do not respond well to Jesus’ rebuke. I believe He spoke in love for them, as He speaks in love for me.

Am I humble enough to hear Jesus, even if He’s revealing things I don’t want to see?

 

Photo in my image by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

What I’m Reading: October Book Reviews

October Book Reviews: Jayber Crow, The Four Tendencies, Young Jane Young, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, First Frost, As You Wish, Someone Else's Love Story

I am in the middle of about 6 books right now. Seriously, I need to stick with one at a time. But I’m usually listening to one, and reading a fiction and a non-fiction. At the moment I had so many non-fiction books I want to read I started a bunch and read whatever I feel like in the moment.

When I realized it was time for my October books post, I thought I might just have one or two books to talk about, since I’m in the middle of so many. I was happy to see I managed to read SEVEN in October. Not counting the six I started and haven’t finished yet. Yay for good books!

Unfortunately not all of my October reads were actually good books, I struggled to get through a couple of these but there were also some real winners, including one I’m all but bullying other people into reading.

I only finished two non-fiction books this month, both on audio, and both of which I enjoyed and can’t really name a favorite because they are so different from each other.

For my fiction winner, I have to go with my first Wendell Berry book. I am still starry eyed about his writing, and this story.

Read on for more good books!

Continue reading

Why is it so hard to be still?

Life is full, and this is a busy season. I am a full time mom, I have a part time job, and several ministry commitments that I love, which bring me life and relationship and value. I am a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, welcomer, teacher, advisor, mentor, hostess, includer, helper, and when I feel like it, housekeeper. All of those things take time and energy, each with their own separate to-do list.

It’s so easy to run from the moment I wake up until I finally get to fall back into bed at night. So tempting to be moving, thinking, planning, checking things off those lists from morning until night. And y’all? I love checking things off of a list.

But when do I breathe? When do I think? When do I rest? When is it enough just to be, rather than always to doing, doing, doing?

What would happen if I slowed down, if I stopped? What would happen if I chose to be still?

And what does it say about me when I can’t?

 “Be still, and know that I am God…”

I hear the call, the invitation to stillness, but how do I practice this?

I’ve been doing (mostly) daily “quiet time” for nearly my entire adult life. I love devotional practices, I love reading and studying God’s Word, journaling, praying words. But even this “quiet time” tends toward rather than stillness.

Over the past year or so I’ve been experimenting with something called “contemplative prayer.” That means sitting in stillness, just being with God. It’s practiced in a variety of ways, though to be honest, none of them have “worked” for me. It is hard to quiet my mind, to be still. But more and more I am realizing that stillness is something I need, something worth practicing.

And I remember that “Be still, and know that I am God…” is only the beginning of the invitation. Be still and know is just one phrase from a verse, separated from the end of the sentence, from the rest of the Psalm.

So each morning, I try again. I sit down. I empty my hands. I quiet my mind (as much as possible.) I let go of all my to do lists, my agenda, my requests and plans and words. I sit still.

And I know that God is God. And I know that He will be exalted among the nations and He will be exalted in the earth. He is my refuge and strength, ever present to help me.

Whether I am still or busy. Whether I succeed or fail. Whether I can or I can’t. Whether I’m enough or not. Whether things work out as I hope and plan, or not.

I can let go of my to do lists, my agendas, my need to be busy. Because I have a God. I have a refuge. I have a source of safety and strength, even of gladness.

I can rest – even just for a moment – because I know He is God. He will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted on the earth.

 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)

 

 

Store Bought Halloween Costumes are not a Mom Fail.

I got married and became a mom at the same time, to a 5 year old. For Luke’s first birthday (with me as his mom), I hosted an elaborate Pirate party for all the boys in his kindergarten class. It was at our house and featured an amazing homemade cake that looked like a pirate ship. I don’t remember how I managed that. I do remember that the activities I planned to fill our 2 hour party time took 30 minutes, and that I decided never to host a kid party at our house again.

T was my first (and only) baby, and for his first birthday party we had designer invitations, and a cowboy theme that included a horse costume for him. It was adorable and probably way over the top, considering he doesn’t remember it at all.

The first birthday we celebrated for my youngest (who joined our family at 2) was his 3rd. He was obsessed with horses, so we re-used much of what we’d used for T’s 1st, and I threw a bunch of plastic horses on a Texas Sheet Cake. He was delighted.

******

We had a mini-party when Luke lost his firth tooth, then celebrated again when he woke up the next morning with quarters under his pillow.

My youngest wakes me up with the wail, “THE TOOTH FAIRY DIDN’T COME!!”

That *&%$ Tooth Fairy! A friend said she tells her kids the tooth fairy left their money in Mommy’s purse…

*****

When the kids were younger, I put a lot of thought (and influence) into their costumes. One year I made homemade Angry Bird Costumes. I like themed costumes, so we’ve also had Luke and T as a knight and dragon (that is my favorite to this day) and Shaggy and Scooby Doo. Once we grew to a family of 5, I settled for T and M as store bought Mario and Luigi one year, and Captain America and Ironman another.

Last year I took my younger two to Target on the day after Halloween, and they picked their own costumes. M is delighted to be dressing up as Black Panther (we got a great deal on the helmet, then paid full price for the rest of the outfit this month because I guess that discount helmet committed me?) T is  dressing as this random pirate ghost thing with a pumping heart. Luke is on his own (I think he and his girlfriend should dress us as Westley and Buttercup from the Princess Bride, but I’m not financing or supplying any of that, so we’ll see.)

*****

Some years, for some holidays, for some of my kids, I’ve gone way over the top. I love parties, I love costumes, I love celebrating milestones. I loved those years, and I treasure those memories.

Were some of the things I did a little Extra? Maybe. But I get to be Extra sometimes with the home made costumes and elaborate party planning, or anything else I want to be Extra about.

Some years, for some holidays, for some of my kids, I’ve thrown things together at the last minute. Some years I had neither the time not the creative energy for home made anything.

And you know what? I love the pictures of those parties, those Halloweens, those memories, just as much. And my kids are healthy, happy, and ready for their “whatever you want” costumes this year.

*****

A sweet young mom friend recently shared on Facebook that she’s feeling guilty all the time, like sort of a failure as a mom, especially about Halloween.

There’s nothing I can do to make it easier for any mom to be away from her kids. The only thing I can say to mom guilt is “Me too.” And “You’re a great mom, your kid is lucky to have you!”

But I would like to shout down the voice that tells her (or any of us) that buying a last minute, store bought Halloween Costume, is a mom-fail.

Nope.

Let’s give ourselves permission to do Halloween (and every day of the year) in whatever way works for our family this year.

Feeling Extra this year? Go for it!

Feeling extra tired this year? Wrap that child in aluminum foil and call them Chipotle.

Sometimes we’re getting it right and sometimes we’re getting it wrong, and we won’t really know how much therapy our kids are going to need for 20 years or so. But the wrong parts? Probably aren’t going to be “My mom didn’t hand make my Halloween Costume.”

Happy Halloween 🙂

Photo in images is by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Why is it so hard to slow down?

I’ve suspected for a while now that hurry injures my soul (and I know for sure it hurts my kids, plus rushing children is nearly always counter-productive.) But still I find myself double tasking from morning to night. And while my love for podcasts and audiobooks is well documented (and probably not going away), I do wonder if living my days with constant background noise is my best choice.

I could blame this tendency to rush from one thing to another on the busy work season I’m just finishing, but let’s be honest: Too often this is how I choose to live my life. And all my seasons are busy seasons.

I don’t love being busy, but it feels productive, it feels right to be busy.

Busy people are wanted, necessary, popular. Busy people are important. Busy people aren’t sitting home waiting for life to happen to them. But do busy people have time for real relationships? Are busy people rested, awake, aware? I want my family and friends to know they are welcome and loved, but I can’t think of a single person who’s made me feel welcomed and loved while also appearing busy.

A certain level of busy comes with the territory in my current stage of life. But how much busy am I signing up for, voluntarily, and to my own harm?

I don’t like being distracted, but if I’m being real, I like distraction. I like having too much going on to deal with what’s really going on.

I like rolling out of bed to scroll mindlessly through other people’s social lives rather than being present to my own life, my body and my soul. I like listening to other people’s thoughts rather than being alone with my own. It is more fun for me to handle other people’s problems than to face my own. And I like the superhuman feeling of cooking dinner while watching a show on Netflix and also helping with homework and keeping all the plates spinning. Even when the superhero cape slips and I know I’m irritable and snappish because there’s just more noise and chaos than I can handle, I like being busy.

And I hear the gentle voice of my Father calling,

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

Thanks to technology and one thousand labor saving devices, men and women of our generation are more connected and can get more done than anyone who came before us.  But does the fact that we can mean that we should?

I am feeling the call to SLOW DOWN.

I am trying to answer. I answer the call to slow down with the daily practice of stillness, and by asking myself a series of questions about my day to day life.

With all the things I feel I have to do, or should do, what is really mine, and mine alone?

Where could I ask for help, or say no, or let my people take care of themselves?

And if I can’t (or won’t) ask for help, or say no, or let people take care of themselves…. Why not?

What would happen if I stopped multi-tasking? Would life stop, would my family fall apart if I did one thing at a time?

What would it look like to give each thing I do, each person to come across my path, my full attention?

Life comes with built in slowness: Whether they are expected or come as a surprise, we all face delays and waiting in our days. Stoplights. Bathroom breaks. Waiting for the toast to brown, or the water to boil, or the kids to come running out of the school.

What would it be like to receive those delays, those waiting times with patience, as a gift? What if those waiting times were my reminder to breathe, to be still, to slow down?

Relationships (with God and our fellow men) require time and attention. It is so tempting to rush through all my time and never giving anything or any one my full attention. What am I missing?

“Be still, and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

 

Questions to help me slow down

 

Image used in photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Surprised by Jesus

I spent the last 5 days with 124 amazing students, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, talking about meeting God in ordinary and surprising ways. I got to lead a meditation on one of my favorite Bible stories…about a woman who went looking for Jesus but was still surprised by Him.

But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. (Luke 8:43-44)

In her culture, this woman would have been unclean, untouchable. I imagine she was lonely, and I am sure she dealt with shame.  In Mark’s account of this interaction, he adds the detail: “she had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse…”

Lonely, ashamed, exhausted. Helpless and hopeless, she goes looking for Jesus.

And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.

Matthew’s account tells us she thought to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be healed.” Helpless and hopeless, she goes looking for Jesus, hoping, expecting to be healed.

By Jewish law her uncleanness made her untouchable, but still she entered this pressing crowd (I picture it like leaving a Husker game where you’re pressed together like slowing moving sardines. By pressing in with the crowd, she made them all ceremonially unclean, something they surely would have resented.

This was a brave act, but she was desperate.

Where is the surprise in our story? She went into the crowd expecting that if she could just get near enough to Jesus she would be healed and she was. No surprise. Yet.

And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” (Luke 8:45)

Peter basically says, “Dude, everyone is touching you!”

But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.”

When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. (Luke 8:46-47)

This bleeding woman expected to touch Jesus and be healed.

But she WASN’T expecting to be noticed by Him.

She wasn’t expecting a personal encounter.

This woman wanted what Jesus had for her. But she wasn’t expecting Jesus to see her. She wasn’t expecting to be noticed.

She wasn’t expecting to have to tell her story. And she tells it publicly, in front all those people she made unclean. What is it about Jesus that made her brave enough to do that?

I don’t know for sure, but I do know what He said to her:

And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

 

Can you put yourself in this woman’s place? Picture yourself, wading into a crowd of people around Jesus.

This woman had a hemorrhage, a 12 year health problem that had exhausted all of her resources. A great shame. Think of your own greatest shame. Your greatest need for healing. What do you want from Jesus?

Are you brave enough to push into the crowd around Jesus? Do you believe that He has what you need?

What do you need from Jesus? Picture yourself reaching out to touch Him, asking, needing, wanting.

Are you surprised that He sees you?

And friend, He DOES see you. You have not escaped His notice.

Picture Him, seeing you. Searching all the crowd for yours.

Are you afraid?

The woman was afraid, she came forward, trembling. I think she was terrified. She came trembling and fell down before Him.

Picture the expression on Jesus’ face as He looked down on her. What do you think she found in His eyes? Judgement? Condemnation? Disgust?

Or mercy? Kindness? Love.

To the woman’s great surprise, He called her daughter. DAUGHTER.

Picture yourself, trembling and terrified, bringing your shame, your hurt, your need before Jesus.

What do you see in His eyes, as He sees you? What does He say to you?

Can you hear Him calling you daughter? Son?

Jesus sees you. He calls you son, He calls you daughter.

Are you surprised?

Surprised by Jesus: A Devotional Meditation on Luke 8:43-48

 

Photo in my images by John Price on Unsplash

A Beginner’s Guide to the Enneagram (Tips for Getting Started)

I’ve been nerding out over the Enneagram for about 3 years now.

I love personality and personality typing tools, so when the word “enneagram” showed up in several different areas of my life within a few weeks (a book, a blog post, a podcast…) I was *shocked* to learn that there was a personality framework that I wasn’t familiar with. I looked it up and I was HOOKED.

I took a test, I listened to podcasts, I read books, I talked with friends. I began to dig into issues that have plagued me for as long as I can remember, name things I’d much rather ignore, deal with parts of me I pretend aren’t under the surface. It hasn’t been fun, but it has been GOOD. Like therapy, good.

Over the past year, I’ve been excited to see the Enneagram blow up as more and more people discover it, many of them joining me in finding it gross and terrible and quite helpful to their personal and spiritual growth.

Each time the Enneagram shows up on Facebook (through a new app, a new podcast, Jen Hatmaker posting about it) I get a slew of questions and see quite a bit of misunderstanding.

Are you new to the Enneagram? Would you like to know a little more before you jump in? Have you taken a test, but don’t understand what the big deal is?

Click through for a quick summary of what I’ve learned about the Enneagram, and  5 tips for Enneagram beginners.  Continue reading