Saturday, January 9, 2016

On his birthday....Heaven Came down to Serve

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I get excited to get out my tree put up the lights and dream about all the fun parties and concerts this time of year.

I love an excuse to have a party, in fact, when I enter the pearly gates I could only dream that perhaps that will be one of my jobs for eternity... to be the party planner of heaven.
Now what kind of awesome gig would that be?!

But there is one party that I got anxious over, sometimes very upset about and just trouble in general figuring out how to deal with... It comes the same time every year exactly one week into the New Year.
 It's my Birthday.
I've tried to analyze it though the years. I've wondered why I dread it.
Most years it's just another birthday and I'm not all that bothered about saying I'm another year older. I'm just happy to be alive.
But there was always something I couldn't put my finger on that nagged at my belly as my day of birth approached. I'd hold my breath and try to ignore the 24 hours in which I had to endure this day.
It was weird. I thought maybe I need professional help. Which, let's face it, I probably do.

And then one year it hit me.
It's because I like to plan the party.
 I plan everyone's party in our home. I make the cake. And serve their favorite food. I listen throughout the year to Make sure they have the gift(or cash) they wanted on that special day. And then around the table, early in the morning, with eyes half open we always give the gift of encouragement, telling the birthday boy or girl what quality we really like about them. Sometimes there are tears and often laughter as we pour praise over the person in the special chair of honor.
But on my birthday I had never given myself permission to plan the party.

So, because of my strong belief that on their birthday everyone should have their cake and eat it too, I started buying myself my favorite cake. Usually that's Red Velvet. Sometimes Cheesecake. And I've even already bought a DQ ice cream cake. :)

But really it's not  about the cake, it was about a deeper need I have to serve.
 And often When it comes to a birthday there is all this pressure to "Be Served".

People ask "Did you do anything special for your birthday"?
And usually as adults we do really Amazing things on our birthdays like... go to work.
Or change the diapers, just like every other day.

 And sometimes we  may begin to wonder.... Why Don't I get a celebration?
Perhaps we are tempted to believe our life doesn't matter or that our people don't really care that we made it another year!

But when I started asking myself what would fulfill me most I instantly knew the answer.
Shopping? A day of pampering? People throwing me a huge party?
I love those things. I really do. But I have been there done that and I can't say that it brought me lasting and deep satisfaction.

No, I knew that on my birthday I would intentionally plan my own party by doing this one thing.
Now, sometimes I can be a late bloomer so maybe this is the secret that others knew all along but for me it was like the lights came on and I started making my party plan.  I decided that On my day of birth I will celebrate by serving.  This would make me look forward to this day instead of dread it.
Because honestly The joy I get when I do for someone else no amount of self indulgent spending can match.

Heaven came down as a baby to serve. His birth, his life, his death.
He washed feet, and reached out for the lowest and least of mankind to demonstrate the greatest of love.
That's what I celebrate at Christmas time.
A king who bent low to serve the very ones he had created.

What an example he left for us.
Celebrations have their place.
But expecting to Be Served will most often lead to disappointment.

So when people ask me what I did for my birthday now I tell them it was a great day.
But it's not because of big ticket gifts, parties with balloons or dream vacations.

It is intentionally using the life and breath we have been given to celebrate life by pouring into another person.
One more year on this earth we've been given.
And  celebrating  that  the best gift of all  was one who came and served so we can live forever even after we leave this shell we call home.
Oh my!
It truly is a wonderful life.

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many". Mark 10:45

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A love like that

It's the same story over and over.
Oh it looks a little different.
Different players, different city, different job, but other than that it's pretty much the same.
Single female, often with kids, or Single dad, sometimes with kids, meet, make a connection, say sweet things to each other, have a big fight, often over a misunderstanding or withheld truth, and in the last five minutes find out the truth, Kiss and make up as the movie wraps up and another one begins.
It's like mushy sentimental sap overload this time of year!

Oh you know exactly what I'm talking about by now don't you?

That's right... Tis the season for Hallmark Movies.

I am a big sucker for those cheesy, relatively clean, everything works out in the end story lines.
 Just so you know when I poke fun I am poking fun at myself.
I think my kind in general, seem to have more of a love for this channel than our male counterparts. I'm sure there are exceptions in both camps. :)

As I was talking to someone  the other day about which movies she had seen over the weekend we laughed about the predictability of the plot, twist and conclusion.
In the process of our chatter about it I confessed something like this..
"I have to be careful how much I let these stories drive my contentedness(or lack of) in my real life relationships."
And she concurred that she too has thought of how she may have higher expectations as she memorizes her screen each evening in November and December.

I began to wonder if maybe there are a few others out there.

Either those who don't have one of those better  than average looking actors to take home to mother's house for Thanksgiving
Maybe you have someone but you wonder if you drew the short stick after watching the slick one liners or the passion as the boy pursues the girl. It  makes your heart melt and head swim at how perfect the whole scene turns out.
But here's the deal...
The story always ends,
Right where most of ours began.

You know when the reality of waking up beside that person for the past 25 years is no longer just what old people do  but it's actually your story.

And you've been through some stuff. You know real stuff. Hard knocks. Good times. You may have raised a few kids together, which, who cares about the Academy's? People who survive raising kids? Now there should be an Oscar for that category!
There are nights you'd rather forget. And regrets about serious walls that were created. And forgiveness. And Sorry. And more Forgiveness.

Maybe those belly flop emotions aren't as strong anymore And as you look in the mirror  you wonder what someone did with your face and honestly what on earth happened to your neck?

But it's the life we all live In our shells we call bodies.
Hallmark probably wouldn't be as alluring if they showed all of that, because truly we can just wake up look around and see our messy reality.

It's really easy for two people to fall in love.
All you need is a pulse and a willing partner.
But staying in love?
Now that is a real love story.

Not just surviving each other. But real love.

A love story like our Father has for us.
He  loved us when we didn't even know or care about him.
Isn't that amazing?!
Before we can truly love anyone deeply and fully we need to accept that we are loved unconditionally. No strings attached.

And out of our own story of love we love other people.

Did you know that when he tells us to love others that should include the people we live with?
I mean it seems simple but really sometimes we can be so nice to that random person on the phone and hang up and just forget the whole love thing.

 " We love each other because he loved us first" ~1 John 4:19 NLT

Love becomes a verb.
Which means I have to actually DO something in order to keep this story alive and healthy and fluid.
 It means I have to go first at initiating a loving gesture even when I know it's their turn.
Sometimes It means I have to choose to overlook the offense.
Or love sometimes requires I call out the sin.
But still in love.
At times it means keeping our mouth shut (Maybe we could  call that a Christmas Miracle.:)

Hallmark movies are flashy and sparkly and fun. They sweep us off our feet, touch us and make us cry and carry us to fantasy island but at the end of the day I want an abiding love, the kind of love that endures and stands the test of time.
 A love I already have experienced in the ONE who knows me inside and out. And in an amazing transforming  process He changes my heart from requiring another to love me as I wish into one who loves others as he has loved me.
 More fully. Without strings. A Love without boarders.
Yes I want to love like that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

They will know who we follow by our love

One of my favorite New Testament Bible Stories is Found in Luke 7.
I have parts of it memorized, I have taught out of it.  I even wrote a song from the text.
It's the story of the sinful woman anointing Jesus' feet.
It's a powerful story for me. Mostly because I can see myself as that sinful woman who was forgiven of much.
I am One who would be totally lost and utterly broken in pieces if I wouldn't have met Jesus.
 I love him and am not ashamed to let people know it. He reached out and grabbed me when He could've let me fall. He's real to me and I know that he paid the price for my sins once and for all.

So why is it that sometimes I act like the Religious Pharisee  from the story who was  self righteous and  quick to draw conclusions about the short comings or sin of others?
How is it that I can be like that man Simon, who had a cold heart toward others not like him, even though I know that I too have been forgiven.

Several weeks back  our family took a road trip to Iowa.
We had stopped at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast.
There's just something about taking a trip that requires at least one stop at a Cracker Barrel.

So there we are with our kids in tow browsing the shop waiting for our name to be called when out the window we observe 4 men walking to the front door. But these men were not dressed in suits or Jeans and tee's. Instead They were dressed in Drag. All in dresses. Some were obviously new to heels. Several were balding. With their heels on they were extremely tall and completely out of place. And what was super intriguing was that they were holding hands with their significant other, which were women. Several children followed behind.

I was shocked. And wanted to stare. I'm from small town, Mayberry. I had never seen anything like this before. I was troubled at the idea that they may try to use my restroom. And frankly I was upset  that I was forced to have  conversations with my children about such non traditional broken people, including our 12 year old. I didn't want to talk about this particular topic on this lazy, Sunny Sunday Morning. I just wanted my pecan pancakes and grits.

And then as quickly as those thoughts passed through my head. The Spirit that dwells in me whispered..... "And Jesus looked over the crowd and had compassion on them."
I instantly repented from my Simon spirit and felt sad for these men.
And the old questions were replaced with new.
What Must their journey look like? How confused they must feel. What triggered this behavior? I wonder what Jesus would do if he were here?

See so often it's easy to think if we have compassion it means we okay any and all  behavior. But the other ditch Jumps straight to judgment and disgust, instead of mercy. It's easy to convince ourselves that it  somehow justifies our own lack of love. And maybe we feel a little better about our own secret sin when we can point out another's obvious one.
Sinful outward behavior is always just a sign of inward brokenness.
And that's the heart of the matter.

I can't fix the brokenhearted but I know someone who can. And my pharisaical attitude will never draw anyone to the healer.  

We live in a time when we will be faced with things that disturb us. They may take us off guard at times.
And Sometimes we may be asked to say things that people don't like to hear. But lets always say it in humility and with love. Always with the remembrance that we too are forgiven of much.

Living with a heart like Jesus, who looked on the broken with love, is our calling.
And Not just to the lost but to our brothers and sisters who claim the same Savior.
We need to encourage each other to take off that baggage heaped on stooped and crooked backs and lay it at the Masters Feet.... The one who says, "Come to me all who are heavy laden.... And I will give you rest".
Rest from the running.
Rest from Fear.
Rest from the hiding.
Rest from the guilt.
Rest from the heavy load.

No political ruling. No taking down flags.  No amount of waving Signs saying what we are for or against. No amount of arguing will change hearts.

Now is the time to fall on our knees and pray for one another.
Now is the time to love like we have never loved.
Now is the time to carry the fallen to the one who remains faithful.
Now is the time for the Church to arise with love.

And they will know we are his followers by our love.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chickens 101

We got chickens.
I've wanted chickens for close to a decade. And then out of the blue my friend sent me a text and said... "I've got 9 laying hens for you if you want them".
And after we stressed for a few days about where the chickens would sleep (the camper seemed like an idea although not an exceptional one, but the only thing we had available).
So Jason, being the builder of all things, started dreaming up ideas for this coop.
Within 24 hours he started building a house for our chickens.
After some late nights and stressful moments of trying to get the Residence Inn ready he produced a pretty sweet looking coop.
Making the Mrs. happy.

Since their arrival we have been watching their peculiar ways.
I've never been around chickens before and they fascinate me tremendously!
Like the fact that the first night they all slept under the stars while their new Straw filled  home sat empty because they were too afraid to go up inside. (it was late and we were tired so we just let them stay in the pen. ((Stupid Chickens))
Or the fact that there is a bully in the bunch who makes all the chickens do what she says or she pecks them until they bleed. And the word "Henpecked" all of a sudden made more sense.

Today the Coop builder and I were talking about how this cluster of hens is so much like other social groups.  For Starters,
1. People that are in confined spaces for any length of time can start peckin' at each other. Maybe because they're the group bully or maybe they are just bored and need something to do. Perhaps they see the person beside them as an easy target, So they pick at the weaker one until at times they wound them and draw blood.
2. Competition exists among hens just like humans. It's called the "pecking order". Who goes up the ramp first. Who gets the best roosting spot. Who gets to eat first.. At times 2 fight for the position with the show of  flapping of feathers and squawking until one has declared herself the winner. Without fail there are always  2 left outside the coop alone wondering around. Poor Agnes and Gerty!
3. Chickens are really fearful. That's all I need to say about that.
4. We have been told that the happier chickens are the more eggs they produce. Which again is not unlike us. We produce best when we are in jobs and ministries and homes where there is peace, love  joy and encouragement. (Along with plenty of food):)

Who knew We could find so many parallels between us and chickens?

It's a little more than sobering that far too often we, like chickens, spend time being negative and picking on each other, sometimes until the person beside us is bleeding, yet we keep peckin', peckin', peckin'. How about we  give it a rest.
While it's easy for us to remember that we are on a journey that isn't complete, let's not forget that the one traveling beside us is on his own journey and may need encouragement more than an ongoing peck on the neck.

Or maybe we like to be the bully hen who lets the other hens know we are the most important one, pushing others out of our way in our zeal to climb our way to the top. Making sure we are taken care of with no thought of others around us.
How about we intentionally begin to look to the weak ones. The children, the Elderly, the ones with no voice. The loner who stands in the corner and needs a smile or a hand to lift them. The stranger who needs a friend.

Perhaps we are filled with fear, even when we don't need to be. We think everyone is out to hurt us or we run away from anyone we fear could wrong us, because we've already decided in our mind they can not be trusted and will eventually hurt us.
Maybe we could reach out when we feel like pulling away. Giving love instead of hiding. A spirit of adventure and Whimsy that makes life full of flavor and excitement seems like a better way to live out our days than one that is tied up with imaging the "what if's" and "I cant's.

Chickens seem pretty dumb.

I don't want to be like the chicken.
Afraid. Mean Spirited. Small brained. Cowardly. Squawky. Smelly. Peckin'.

I bet you don't either.
I think I'm going to stick to just liking them for their eggs and maybe try to be a little more intentional about not following their bad habits and chicken behavior.

And now you have my  chickenology for today.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Everything is not always as it seems

I love this time of year.
I love opening up the windows and letting the breeze join us on the inside.
 I love the  blooming trees and flowers and how The sun is warming up the dirt and I am plowing through it like a child in a sandbox.
The smell of freshly cut hay and grass sends me to another time and place when I was just a girl.

I was never a farm girl but I did grow up on a country road without a television, Ipad or Smart Phone, so the great outdoors always has been my friend and I have never outgrown it.

Digging in the dirt is like therapy to me. My creative juices start to flow and I have all kinds of ideas about where I want to move that now overgrown perennial or how I could make gardening seem like fun even in July when it's hot, hard work.
So you would think by now I would have gardening things figured out. I ask a lot of questions to other gardeners and have picked up tips though the years but I still have a lot to learn.

Last year I bought a small azalea bush. I was so excited to get it in the ground and watch it grow.
But this spring while everything else was greening up around that bush, there was no sign of azalea life happening.
I have been eyeing it daily for about a month and decided last weekend to start wrapping my mind around the fact that I was going to have to dig it up and replace it. Stink.
It not only had cost me money but I had high hopes for that little bush.
I had strategically placed it so the beautiful blooms would be seen up front and center.
I was inwardly grieving my little bush.

And then this morning as I was working out in my flower bed I looked over and saw this.

That's right tiny green buds are peeking though.
There is hope for this little budding bush after all!!

Everything was not as it seemed.
I thought it was dead. From every appearance it was showing me death... but underneath there was life!
Things were happening even though I couldn't see it.

God used that little bush to remind me of this...

You can still Hope When all looks Hopeless.

Just like my dead looking bush sometimes we view our situation to be hopeless, lost, dead, over.
We may wonder what's the point of hope, or prayer, or optimism.
It may even take us down a road of cynicism, anxiety or depression.

The temptation I often have is to sweep it away or try to fix the problem, then we can all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya"!
 But the older I get the more I realize there are tons of things that I can never fix. And sweeping it away often makes me miss the opportunities for deep growth in the pain.(recognizing my issues is at least a start right?)

Whether it's the death of a dream, a relationship or a vision, sometimes we are ready to just cut our losses and move on but in our haste to get past the dead or the pain we remove the bush too quickly instead of waiting for the healing and new growth that can take place inside.

We forget that in the waiting God is doing something underneath. 
A greater work that no one may be able to see and perhaps we may not even recognize is happening until all of a sudden one day we wake up and we see some green shoots springing forth.

My hope for you and I as we travel this road is that we can truly learn to trust and wait on the one who gives hope to the hopeless, strength to the weary, sight to the blind, healing for the broken, and new life to the dead.

Today Maybe you need this reminder along with me,

I will Keep waiting in eager expectation, continuing to hope and pray for that day when life will shoot forth from the dead, The old will pass away and a new day will come.

Friday, March 20, 2015


When my children were little we read many books. They each had a favorite and we would read it over and over and over again. In fact they memorized that favorite book of theirs so they could "read" it back to us.
One of those favorites was "God made me Special".

The book speaks of our thumb prints and how amazing it is that everybody has a unique print.
I loved this book for one reason in particular....because I have an agenda like most parents do.
It's no big secret because I say phrases often like this to them.
"You are super special". "Above Average". "A star to me". "Called with a particular purpose". "Designed uniquely". "I'm so glad I get to be your mom". "I believe in you".
I say it with complete honesty! I am biased about my own. I am not afraid to admit it.

I have never told them... "You are pretty much just average. Don't worry about doing your best. Or, I want you to just be like everyone else".

I want them to be raised with the understanding that I believe they have purpose, significance,  and meaning.

However, In raising them one of the phrases I often hear back is...
"But mom, Everyone else is doing it, has it, goes there, wears that, says that"...

And I respond with...
Who here wants to be average?
Just like everyone else.

No way!
We all want significance. We want to know we matter. Even if it's just to one other person, like our mom or our "significant" other.

It's in the heart of every man, woman and child.

Recently In my prayers I was calling out to my maker to change me. To heal my heart. To remove the cancer in me of the wound that plagues me. I think its all healed up and then someone or something bumps it and WOW it opens up and I need to deal with it again.
In that prayer I asked him if he thinks I'm significant.
And I so clearly heard his voice respond to my heart.

"Rose, Do you think I'm significant"?

I said, "well yes of course I do".
And he replied (not audibly but in my heart)
"Then let's dwell on that".

All the lights in the room came on for me.
In order to heal and feel like we are worthy, we need to dwell less on our own significance and More on his. He doesn't tell me to dwell on his significance because he's arrogant, he has me do it because he knows it's what brings lasting significance.

If you are his you aren't average.
Did you know you have a heavenly parent who is biased about his own as well?
He stands in heaven saying, "See that one? That's my son. My daughter."

You are chosen.

But if our focus is on what we don't have. What someone else has or How we must be better in order to be significant we will never be enough! Not ever enough.

Significance comes when we dwell on  who he is and what he can do in and through us.
In order to do this I have to know him.
To immerse myself in him. To spend time with him reading about who he is.

Whatever is wise in me is  from him.

Whatever love I have for someone who has been unkind is totally him.
Whatever Grace I have to offer comes only because I have accepted his grace for me.
Whatever gift I have received is not mine alone.

When you see these things it is he who should receive credit.
He is the significant one.
And as he chooses to use this heart of clay I give him honor.

Trusting and knowing His significance is The key to feeling our own significance.

If you have a moment take time to turn on the music on the link below and spend time asking your Father to fill you with the power and knowledge of who he is as you worship him.

I have prayed over the reader of this post that He would fill you with significance as you see him for who he is.

The King of Kings longs for you to make him Significant in your own life and then out of that  let him flow and move and be seen in order that many more would put their trust in the only one who can give true Significance.

Our Focus becomes more on the potter and less on the clay.

He  is Significant and sufficient for me.
I will dwell on that today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Does He Make you Happy?

"How did you know it was love?
Was it Love at first sight?
Is there only one person out there for you?"

It's not even Light out yet as I'm shuttling my first child to practice, and the deep and probing questions are coming fast. I have approximately 7 minutes to give insightful answers that can and may be held against me in a future conversation. So I try to consider carefully my answers which sound like a stall tactic to him and which also makes him doubt the validity of my answers.
And then he asks...
"Does he make you happy"?
And without missing a beat I say....
"Not Always".
He gasps.
 I continue.
"And I don't always make him happy. And By the way, you don't always make me happy. Nor are you always happy with me."
He seems to be settled in on this topic as I keep expressing my heart and deep concern for the change of terms that seems to dominate our culture.
"Don't let the world define marriage for you. We get confused because people tell us that we need to be happy in our relationship and if we aren't it's fine to leave. While I agree that relationships are most fulfilling when we feel satisfaction and at times happy we must never confuse love and happy."
He seems to get it, especially when I say.
"You don't make me happy everyday but I would never think of leaving you Because I love you and my expectation as your mom is not that you would make me happy in order to love you. But when we marry we have been told and too often have embraced this terrible lie that we should be happy all the time or That we will live happily ever after. When it doesn't happen ( it never does) we think we must have missed the mark and we never loved this person at all Or we claim, We simply fell out of love".

Maybe We just stopped loving  Or perhaps we never really knew what love requires of us.

I'm no expert on marriage but being married for 21 years means I have lived this thing a little while.

When I was 16 I thought I was in love because there is actually a mechanism in our brain that triggers when we are attracted to someone. Scientists call this dopamine and it has the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine.  Your senses are heightened. You can go on little food and sleep as you ride the dopamine wave. You are tricked by your own brain into thinking you are in love.

Serotonin  is also released and is the reason you can't think or talk of anything else but your new love. You are blind to their faults and magnify their strengths.
And you go through your day feeling intensely happy.
In the middle of all the buzz you get confused by the terms  love and happy.
So you tell your new friend, "I love you".
When you really meant to say,
 "You make me really, really, happy. And I love the feelings going on inside my body. And I feel like I could conquer the world and not sleep or eat for days and still accomplish it".
You become ridiculous and can't stop smiling or daydreaming.
It's all part of the process. And it's a fun ride.
But it's not really love. Not long sustaining love anyway.

We say we love all kinds of things... Like our favorite Movie, drink, sport, food, book, jeans, song, ice cream, etc..
But we are basically just saying these things make the top of our HAPPY list.

That sounds like I'm old and  a little cynical and hard core and non romantic to a teenagers ears.
I know because that's what I used to think. But as I have seen couples fall off into ditches, and I hear the mantra repeated ... "Make sure you are happy. Life is too short to live any other way." I cringe. It's very American to think we should always look out for #1. But it is not the way of true Love.

I look over at my son, now that we have driven up to the school doors.
"I don't stay married to your dad because I'm riding on dopamine... I stay married to him because I told him I would. And more important I told God I would. I want to be faithful to that. What he does is up to him. But I don't stay in this relationship because he makes me happy every day. Sometimes people have no choice... the person who promised they'd stay walks away from the marriage and the one left is faced with the heartbreaking reality that the picture and the  dreams for their life have been torn to shreds and they're looking at something they never thought they would have to. Please Don't confuse Happy and Love, it can hurt a lot of people when we do."

I'm a follower of Jesus. That means I try to follow his teachings and live them out. Some days I fail miserably. And I'm so very thankful for his great grace!
But my goal is to obey  his teachings more completely everyday and search to find out what he says true love looks like.
When he speaks of love it looks completely different than pop culture and love songs that are written.

He says,
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end." I Corinthians13 (The Message)

Love is active. So when I say "I Love You", It must mean I am actively living out a dying to myself and sacrificing for the sake of you. The above list is something that will take me a life time to continuously improve on. Maybe this could be the key to our true joy and carefree living when we learn to love like this. This requires a great deal of calling on his strength and power in the hard struggle of dealing with difficult, and broken people.

I am thankful that my Groom of 21 years still makes me happy and we still have a ton of fun together. It makes loving easier. But it should never be the reason I love.

I love out of a devotion to a greater force. I love because I have been loved. I love because he loves through me when I don't feel like it. I love because it is certainly required of me.

I love because I said I would.

I do love you baby!  And I do want to make you happy!   As our Anniversary approaches I am thankful that you chose to stay when you could have left. Having you in my life has sharpened me and made me better. I love you even on those days you don't feel like facing the world. I'm glad you return that favor. I am blessed because God gave me this wonderful gift of living life with you by my side. Growing old together is becoming more of a reality with each passing day. My heart is certainly wrapped up in yours. I remain Forever your biggest Fan!