How are you doing?

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Last week I backed off of writing because faking it isn’t my deal.

God didn’t call me to set up camp here in this little slice of the internet to give you all anything but exactly what the focus of this blog is about…

sharing my journey with you…

the crazy and fun stuff….

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the “trying to figure out and find the way” stuff…

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the snarky perspectives on the goofiness of humanity,

including and especially that of your’s truly…

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All of it…the good, the bad and the ugly.

But sometimes the bad and ugly build up something fierce, and finally they got me.

I was not blessed with a poker face, and while I can truthfully say the Lord has delivered me from a propensity to bouts with depression…the only picture I could think of to describe how I was feeling was the scene in the Lion King when young Simba is baking on the cracked floor of the desert while vultures make their descent onto his lifeless form.

So I retreated to the place and the One that knows my heart, knows exactly how much I can take.

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Instead of writing, I read…

I read His Word directly from my Bible…but I also read anything I could get my hands on that teaches ABOUT His Word…

and one of those books I burned through is Fervent by Priscilla Shirer; which exposes the dirty, behind-the-“seen’s” efforts of the enemy to shut us down and render us helpless and ineffective.

Now I am studying through the chapters with pen and journal in my prayer closet;

doing the “work” of the teaching instead of just saying…

“Great book….now onto the next one…”

We need to not just learn God’s Word….we must APPLY it…

I look at the news this week:

Devastations from earthquakes and tornadoes

More upheaval in the on-going conflicts of nations

Political murkiness of our own nation

Heart-wrenching rips in families near and dear to my heart

Health issues, relationship issues, discouragement, defeat, betrayal..

So this morning, I want to share with you the prayer God inspired in my heart after meditating on how I have let the enemy…

(WITH my full cooperation, mind you!!)…

do some serious damage to  my PASSION in prayer, in serving Christ, and in living.

Priscilla teaches that as we pray for spiritual things, we must include repentance and praise along with our petitions for the greater gifts of faith…and so I took that to heart as I wrote out my prayer.

Keep that in mind when you read…that my actual prayer starting out was for God to restore my PASSION for HIM….

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Heavenly Father God, I look back and I see You – Your faithful Hand -every age and every stage.

In the midst of dark times, I couldn’t always see it; I couldn’t always feel it.

Sometimes  glimpses; sometimes nothing and yet…

OH! When I look back, my life is absolutely and beautifully and faithfully covered with Your fingerprints.

I have failed You

hid You away

ignored You

tried to manipulate You

rebelled against You

betrayed You

mocked You

even blamed You and used Your name to curse my circumstances.

And I have seen You look down through eyes blurred by the blood seeping from each one of those thorns You wore for me…

and I have heard You breathe out with painful, final gasps….

Father,

forgive her.

She doesn’t know,

doesn’t REALLY know,

what she is doing.

I praise You that because You forgave me, I have run to You.

Hidden my sorry self IN You.

I have laughed with You and wept with You.

I have felt Your love wrap tightly around my heart when I thought it would shatter into a million, billion pieces…crushed so fine that it could never be healed. 

You have gathered up every shard and held it in Your nail-scarred Hands until it could beat again.

And I have felt You pry the steel cold fetters of unforgiveness off my hardened heart so that life could course once again through my weary body.

I have felt Your Peace in situations where I looked around with surreal wonder that I was not coming undone, but was, indeed, making it through.

I have heard Your voice call my name,

my actual NAME….

Laura…

and when you said it

and the way you said it…

it was like You were looking out over some grand vista of Creation and You were inviting me to come and see it with You.

All full of delight, as if You couldn’t wait for me to see what You were seeing up ahead.

And now, Lord, I just realized that I started out this  prayer with the intent of asking that You would gift me again with Passion to pray..

and as my pen has scrawled out the meditations of my soul to first address Repentance and Praise…

You have gone on ahead of me and answered the prayer of my heart.

I am renewed with such great love for You.

But Lord, I know it is early in the day and I am in this safe place with You.

The stuff of life is out there, so I ask You, believing and receiving, that You would continue to restore Your Passion in me for prayer.

Empower and enable me to take this moment of fullness in You and begin to pray Your Kingdom Come into the pain, sorrow and brokeness of our world.

I ask in Jesus’ Name <3

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May God truly refresh and bless each one of you today in whatever you are facing.

He IS mighty to save <3

His GRACE and MERCY are amazing <3

Jeremiah 29:12-14The Message (MSG)

 When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. God’s Decree.

I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you—God’s Decree—bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

 

 

 

When you think you know it all….

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Recently I purchased a new face cleaning gizmo from the cosmetic counter at our local department store.

I have one that runs on batteries; but since I already feel I have contributed several acres of landfill to these toxic marvels of modern society, my ears perked up as the consultant gave her sales pitch to the lady in front of me about how this one runs from a charger.

Sold.

She gave me a brisk run down on how easy it was, blah, blah, blah.

So I brought it home, plugged it in to start charging and stuck the directions in the drawer.

Didn’t need them, you know, because I ….

A. already HAVE a face cleaning thingy and…

B. she had given me an overview so …done and done

That night I went to use it and shortly into my cleaning foray, the thing shut off.

Hmmmmm….I thought maybe I had somehow hit the power button so I turned it on again and it ran a bit but then…off.

I pulled out the instructions and scanned them quickly and sure enough, it said you need to charge a full 24 hours before use.

Ah…details…

I plugged it back in and fulfilled the charging requirement.

Fully charged now, I put the cleanser on and revved the motor on my new gadget.

It worked great …. for a little bit and then it shut off.

My mind immediately jumped to gathering all the boxes and innards and planning when I was going to take this back to the store and get one that worked, but I thought I would also look at the directions one more time for troubleshooting tips.

And as I read the full directions, I found out that it … gulp…blush….automatically shuts off after 30 seconds to eliminate overuse on the skin.

Oh.

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I see a correlation here with how we approach God’s Word.

(Tell me you didn’t see this coming…)

We THINK we know what God’s Word says.

The more familiar a passage of Scripture is, the more likely we are to tune out any teachings on it…

yeah, yeah…I know that one…big whale swallows runaway prophet…Ninevah…yawn…

David and the sling shot…giant falls to the ground…got it….

ok..Prodigal Son….wandered and squandered and came home…fatted calf – check, best robe – check, jealous brother – check….

or we skip over the lists of names or the laws because…

Really???

What does a bunch of people traipsing across dry river beds have to do with ME and MY life?

And we go on trying to fix ourselves or others…

solve our problems or their’s.

Without reading….

really reading…

the Directions.

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So we need to get into the Word of God ourselves AND we need to study the Word of God in community….learning from others and sharing what we have learned.

Starting September 10/11: our church, along with at least 17 other congregations in the area, will begin a series called “Finding Your Way Back to God”.

While it is based on the Prodigal Son parable of Luke 15, it isn’t just about the one big return after the one big mess up…

it’s about some key patterns that ALL believers meander through in the course of their faith journey.

I am excited about the opportunity to participate in the teachings gleaned by the authors of this material…both in our corporate worship AND in our small group settings.

You can join us for the study on line at http://firstdecatur.org/sermons or check out the website for the series at http://yourwayback.church.

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Whatever you do with what we are doing at FCC, don’t miss out on studying God’s Word right where you are.

Read it…study it…apply it…on your own and with others.

It’s really the map for us as we…..

Journey Onward <3

I’m not sure what you’re saying there….

IMG_4445Well, as I have mentioned we have had an unusual amount of travel this summer and the trips can start to run together…

but the stories just bubble up in my head so here’s one for today.

As Russ was processing our check out in one hotel lobby one early morning of a departure day, I sensed someone had come up behind me so I turned around and there was a lady that appeared to be a tad older than me.

She looked a bit sleepy still, tho she was dressed for the day, and her t-shirt caught my eye because..

well…shiny things and Jesus.

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In sparkly sequenced lettering splashed across a black background were the beautifully scripted words…

I love Jesus …

which made me feel all close in connection to her.

But when I smiled into her eyes, I got kind of a hard stare.

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So I finished reading the shirt, and it said…

….but I drink a little.

Hmmmmm…..

So I looked at her again and I smiled an even more sisterly smile and …

yeah…

nothing.

And I have been thinking about the whole thing and to be honest, I have had several thoughts.

I know you all are just sitting there with your coffee waiting on the edge of your seat so here are a few of them…

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First, if you are going to wear a t-shirt with sparkly letters declaring your love for Jesus, you need to fix your face and look happy when people smile at you,

because…

He is WORTH it!

Second, why the “but”?

Is it because ….

“I love Jesus, but I do something I think I shouldn’t be doing?”

or…

“I love Jesus, but I think YOU might think that people who do what I do don’t really love Him so….take THAT!”

or….

“I love Jesus, but I also love some other stuff that is equally important, and so I am going to list those things right up there with Him.”

Personally, I just feel like “I Love Jesus” is enough.

Or if you are wordy and have a lot of sequence to bedazzle a shirt with,

you could say…

I love Jesus …

AND….

then you could list all the other things that you want people to know about you.

Because I am pretty sure the whole point of loving Jesus is that He covered all of our…wait for it….

“but’s”

(puns might be my love language)

If you feel like you need to explain yourself…

which the last time I checked we don’t have to do because…..

you know….

G.R.A.C.E.

you might just try living your life by being salt and light and doing everything for the glory of God and let Him be your defense.

Because we all fall short and Jesus paid for all of it….ALL of it <3

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And maybe you would realize that you don’t need to justify yourself because,

once again…

hello…

G.R.A.C.E.

YOU have already been justified <3

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So if you have one of these t-shirts, don’t get all upset with me and defensive, puh-leeeeze.

But if you do, and you are wearing it out in public; if somebody smiles at you…

smile back for crying out loud!

People who love Jesus should be the happiest people around.

And even if you don’t have one and you love Jesus then….

in the words of the folks in Toontown…

(which by the way I love Jesus AND I do quote random songs and movie lines…)

Smile …darn ya….Smile!

 

 

 

Fools dive in where angels fear to tread…

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This one has been rambling around in my brain for several days and it leaked out a little on our class Sunday morning…so my apologies up front to any of you all who were in there and now are reading.

I have watched a couple of interviews and read one news article related to the Olympic Diver Fiasco, but I have stayed away from commentaries and opinion articles.

I am sure there are plenty of thoughts flying around along with tweets and posts and however else people express themselves…and I hesitate adding mine.

I tend to stay away from news items that are getting bombarded with commentary because who needs one more thought…but this one is burning in my heart so I am breaking policy here.

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Unless you have been under a rock for the duration of the Olympics, you know that four members of the United States swim team got themselves in a bit of trouble in Rio…outside the pool.

It’s not like I am a rocket scientist but…as a mom and someone who has taught in schools, I could have told you in his first interview their ring leader was lying.

He looked about as convincing as Emmett does when he tells me he hasn’t touched his monitor…

and it’s blasting static right next to his bed…

and it was on when I left the room…

and now it is clearly off…

and the way he’s stammering around and avoiding my eyes and mixing up the story…

yep…

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busted.

So the fact that he lied was never a shock.

What is shocking is how shocked everyone is that this young man has evidently taken to heart that whole “no absolute truth” mantra of our culture and is grasping it as firmly as he did his gold medal.

As I listened to the interview, where a seemingly baffled reporter tried to get him to say that the statement “we were robbed” is a lie, Ryan continued to repeat that it was whatever you wanted to call it.

So he called it “robbery” or “extortion” whereas the reporter wanted to call it, “paying for damages incurred during an act of drunken vandalism.”

And the reporter just kept plugging away, incredulous that the man would not admit any wrong-doing and instead claimed to be a victim.

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You could feel the anguish of the whole country because the total lack of scruples and integrity is just blatantly obvious to many of us.

I would assume that most people are treating the whole thing as an embarrassment.

The quick withdrawal of endorsements would suggest that on this issue, there is still some kind of consensus on what is a “truth” and what is a “lie.”

But I think to myself,  what we see here is a young man who has learned the language and customs of his culture well.

Increasingly we have been told that truth is what you believe.

Your truth…my truth…there is no absolute TRUTH.

And so we redefine things and values and standards to fit our own truth.

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We have so many areas where this can apply, but let’s pick something even more controversial than this matter.

How about the sanctity of life…and how we define that ..

For instance, one person might call it “choice” or “dying with dignity”; whereas another might call it “taking the life of an unborn child” or “taking your own life to avoid the natural path of death”

Does that make you cringe?

Me too.

But does it sound familiar?

That example is glaringly obvious and there are others I could drag out, but I am more concerned with this…

some are so subtle they have slithered into the very hearts of homes and churches of those who have TRUTH-fully committed themselves to follow Christ.

I dislike leaving you without encouragement, but sometimes I think we need to take a good hard look at the stuff that is becoming the fodder of the late night monologue and stop laughing about the shameful fruit of deception.

I urge you to be cautious about rolling your eyes and joining in the jokes about these kinds of moral breakdowns that are bound to happen when a nation turns away from God.

When we all “do what is right in our own eyes”, it isn’t long before chaos ensues.

There is only one position for the people of God in such times and that is on our knees praying for God to open blind eyes.

Renaming sin and relabeling evil leaves us no need for a Savior.

If it’s all how WE view it, we have no need to repent …

no need for His cleansing Blood…

no need to be covered in His righteousness.

We truly must ask for His mercy and grace to be poured out not only on this country but around the world.

It is only His hand that can remove the veil and reveal truth, because He is TRUTH.

May God bless you as you navigate the slippery slopes of life in 2016… be encouraged…our God IS with us! Our God IS for us! Our God is…

the WAY…

the TRUTH…

the LIFE…. <3

 

 

 

Good Monday Morning to you <3

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With the breath of cooler weather and lower humidity…

corn stalks that may still sport quite a bit of green but surely are making their way to harvest time…

and maybe just a few hot days left to wilt us…

Fall is tiptoeing its way into the year.

And I am ready for it.

We have had a busy summer that involved more travel than usual and it has been fun but the house needs some TLC…

if not a wrecking crew…

I need a little more order to my days and weeks, and even though we no longer send little ones or big ones off to school, there is a rhythm to the year and this season is one that helps me reset and adjust.

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I love the crispness of Fall…anything pumpkin…having the windows open again…sweaters and jeans…it is the most energizing season to me.

As one by one we watched members of our tribe move out of academics and into the “real world”, it seemed we were a tiny bit displaced when the school year rolled around.

But Russ rescued us by introducing the idea of going to random high school football games.

Since he played football, he actually understands the game and likes to watch it.

I enjoy trying the various sandwiches** and comparing them from town to town, the people watching and the band.

**(Head’s up, the Clinton Maroons had the BEST rib eye sandwiches EVER last year…and Arthur Pork Chop Supper for Homecoming….ahhhh-mazing…not that I have been thinking about that or anything…)

We usually end up seeing people we know which is fun and since we don’t have a dog in the race, so to speak, we don’t get all caught up in the drama and we can leave when we want to.

Plus it is just a fun way to feel connected to the communities surrounding our burg <3

Win-win

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It is a new tradition of Fall that I have come to enjoy and look forward to.

Last week I talked a bit about the difficulty of change, and while I do believe we need to take time to grieve we also need to embrace new opportunities and yes…even…gulp…embrace…change…

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And so, I am excited for a new series our church, along with at least 17 others in the community will be doing this September…

if you live around here, you may start seeing signs pop up in yards….

all the way up to where they have those yummy steak sandwiches….

It’s called Finding Your Way Back to God….and while it is a five week study based on Luke 15 parable of the Prodigal Son, I have some insider tip that it will address not just our big God-leavings…but the recurring cycles we will encounter as followers of Christ throughout our journey with Him on planet Earth.

I am looking forward to joining this study and will be sharing some gleanings with a new category called FYWBTG. 

So for now….have a great start to your week and may all your latte’s be pumpkin…

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