All posts by laura

Being in the right place <3

Do you ever run into themes in your days? 

If it was all based on current sermon series and articles going around, I could blame it on some kind of “trending” thing within the church culture, but currently I am reading a book written in 2016, listened to teaching from a seminar held in 2012, heard a couple of podcast sermons from this summer, the sermon at our own church last Sunday and have been hit numerous times with the same message from devotionals that were gleaned from the writings of people long gone and all of them are referring to “rhythms of grace.”

And all of these use the example of Jesus, who moved continuously between opportunities of intense hands on ministry and quiet places of solitude. 

The teaching pastor last Sunday was Brian Talty and he talked about how Jesus left places of successful preaching, teaching and healing because of obedience. He referenced it as the “I must…” and it resonates with other things I am reading and ways God has spoken to me in my own life. 

Though people begged Him to stay in places, He would move according to the direction of His Father saying, “I must….”

During a season when I was pulled between the care of elderly parents and children still at home, I would often feel torn as there seemed to be many places where I was needed. 

I developed a simple test to determine which place I was supposed to be that day or time. 

I would remind myself that I can only be in one place at one time, so what was the ONE place and ONE task only I could fill?

Sometimes I was the only parent available for some event where we had determined as a family a parent needed to be. This would mean someone else took another child to a practice and nurses attended to the needs of my parents so I could be the present parent for someone. 

Other times, I was the only child my father had for the Father’s Day breakfast at the nursing home or the Christmas party with the Elvis impersonator, sugar cookies and 7Up with a maraschino cherry in it. 

So I missed the concert that Russ could attend and I went and sat next to my dad, praying fervently the guy with wavy black hair and sequins galore would NOT come and kneel down in front of me and sing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” in my face. 

It meant I had to face some humbling…sometimes I need to be needed more than I need to fill the needs of someone else.

Sometimes I serve selfishly…choosing the ways I serve because of how they make me feel and look. 

Sometimes the best way to serve the people who need me is to rest and get some refreshing so I am not serving out of depletion. 

We live in a hectic world and we probably all want to do the best and the most we can for the people we love. 

What a great reminder that Jesus only served in obedience to His Father by taking time, frequently, to check in and pray and seek guidance and direction. 

Be blessed today as you seek wise counsel from the One who made you and all those people you are trying so hard to love and serve. 

I pray we all have obedient hearts to hear and offer our gifts, talents and resources in the way God intended and trust Him to cover the other needs of our loved ones through others who also desire to serve well <3

A post on a post-it note…kind of <3

I have been gifted a lot of really nice bookmarks over the years, but typically my pages are kept for my next reading with some scrap of paper or note I have written. 

I have one of my morning devotions bookmarked with a page torn off of a St. Jude’s notepad with these words written on it:

“Sat – Monday would work – she can make reservation if you would prefer – she doesn’t mind odd hours + will work to make arrangements or you can” 

I also have another note, also in my handwriting but different mood with an arrow pointing to the memo above and it says:

“I have no idea what this note means”

I hang on to it in case, some day, I am asked about what time frame would work for some unknown woman’s schedule so I can let her know if we found odd or regular hours for the reservation to whatever event and then we can determine who will be making the arrangements. 

Sometimes I wonder how Russ lives with me and doesn’t lose his sanity.

But on a more serious level, I have another page marker (also on a St. Jude’s notepad sheet….what would I do without all the free notepads and address labels?) in a different devotion and I read this one and pray it every morning. 

On this paper I have jotted a prayer. 

I don’t remember if I wrote this particular prayer, and since I haven’t given any credit to anyone as a quote, I am assuming I did…but then again…I can’t remember why I wrote the other note and if some female friend or relative is sitting by her phone waiting for me to text back with the plan for making reservations…so maybe I did read it somewhere.

If so – many thanks to whoever wrote it originally – it sounds better than what I could write so I must have gotten it somewhere.… and if you know who wrote it, let me know so I can give him/her credit…or make a reservation Saturday – Monday, even if it’s odd hours…

The words I wrote on down are:

“Prayer for us when we are hurt:

God, keep my anger from becoming meaness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind. Amen”

I love that prayer even though it means a lot of surrender each and every day. 

Fiercely kind is something that takes guts in this day and age. 

I have always been hyper-sensitive; which is great when compassion is needed and well-received, but it means a lot of bumps and bruises when you are out there in the trenches and dealing with people who like to play rough. 

It means learning how to put up healthy boundaries without building walls. 

It involves a determined effort to let God heal and console when knocked down and then sucking it up and getting back in the game. 

It requires an understanding that God wired me to notice things others don’t, not so I can be in the know but so I can be on my knees. 

It asks me to be vulnerable enough let my heart get broken, but to never give up on making it available to help others.

It remembers the example of Christ who extended forgiveness to those who didn’t even know to ask for it.

It means feeling alone a lot, and odd, and misunderstood; so that God can work empathy into my interactions with others who seem so different from me, but are really just trying to make it through the stuff of life on planet earth

How about you? 

I hope you are doing well at getting up when you are knocked down.

I hope you are developing some healthy boundaries so you can operate well in the gifts and callings God has given you. 

I hope your heart is staying soft and your anger is turned to justice and that you are remembering that it is love that covers over a multitude of sin.

God’s love, on the Cross…where Christ forgave us and died for us, who didn’t deserve it one little bit…that kind of love…covers over a multitude of sins and it is available to those who have received His salvation…so that we can be….fiercely kind <3

No sour grapes…or milk <3

I have already been to the grocery this morning, have dinner in the crock pot and need to be in my car and headed north in 15 minutes…20 if I want to grab a coffee on my way through the small town 8 miles north of here. 

And I do. 

I very much want to do that. 

So here is the thought o’the day.

I don’t know if I can credit my mom, my dad or both of them or some comedian my mom heard and retold the story enough that I thought it was hers. 

But she would laugh at the concept of the way we react to milk being possibly sour. 

The joke goes that someone takes a drink of milk and then hands the glass to someone they love saying, “I think this has gone bad. Taste it.”

At our house we were all like…yeah, no. I’m good. If you think it’s sour, let’s go with that as our truth. 

It occurred to me recently that a similar thing happens in my conversations. 

Someone does something kind of rude to me or hurts my feelings and my first response is to tell someone else what happened as if to get a second opinion on the validation of my feelings. 

I am not saying we don’t need to share our feelings with others, but asking them to taste the raw bitterness so we can feel justified in our assessment of what happened is not fair to that unsuspecting friend or family member. 

God is teaching me as I age, and hopefully gain some wisdom, that He is really the only one I should take the first full cup of sour milk to and ask what just happened. 

Evaluating the situation and processing my response in His presence FIRST is a much better plan. 

It seems when I take this approach, we either work things out in a holy space and I can leave it there, or He raises up the right friend at the right time in the right way so that with a right heart, I can share my struggle without excessively maligning or highlighting someone else’s error. 

Just a thought and now I must be on my way! 

A late start…but it is Monday <3

I am moving a bit slow this morning due to a new kind of head cold that seems to have snuck up on the scene where I thought I was turning the corner on a cough that has persisted through the holidays. 

It is discouraging to say the least. I was hoping to attack today with renewed energy. Instead, I have lingered over my quiet time and even taken a nap. 

So in my foggy state, I am sharing two separate thoughts that I hope somehow tie together in your mind as well as they do mine. 

Because one of the things I find every time I do a complete read-through of the Bible is that I discover some new things about God and His character that call me to live differently in this world.

Invariably, I am also given an even deeper understanding of how I am called to be a follower by dying to myself and living for God’s purposes in ways that stretch me as layers of selfishness continue to be peeled away. 

My Genesis reading this morning covered chapters 22-25 and my first thought is from the account of Abraham’s servant traveling back to his home land to find a wife for his son Isaac from among his family who remained back there. 

The servant takes an oath to find a wife for Isaac and bring her back with him. He would only be free to go if she refused to leave that land and come with him. 

Here are the aspects of this story that particularly touched my heart this morning as they have in past reading. 

The servant prays a pray asking for God to act in a clear and miraculous way, but it is not out of selfish motives. 

The prayer is not a prayer for HIM to succeed, but for God to show kindness “to my master Abraham.” (vv. 12 and 27)

This morning, it occurs to me that this servant’s testimony and joy regarding God’s faithfulness and kindness was in what He did for someone else. 

Think about that while I share my second thought.

In a book I am reading entitled Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke by Bill Gaultiere, the author shares a story he heard once of a Quaker named John Woolman who worked as a tailor many centuries ago.

Because of his hard work and skill at his craft, he developed a good reputation and a growing list of clients and prosperous shop.  

But he realized that to continue to take on more clients and have to hire workers and expand his business would mean less and less time to also develop his relationship with Christ. 

He did the unthinkable in a capitalist world…he did not worry about losing money or work and instead he accepted the work he could manage and sent the overflow to other tailors who also needed business. 

 How different are these two mind-sets to us, even us who walk with Christ and seek to learn His ways? 

As I read Scripture, I am reminded how much of my thinking is shaped and etched with the culture I live in and the mindset of my here and now, of my own experiences and my own perspectives. 

It is refreshing to me to let God speak to me about the better way as I meditate on His Word and the examples of those, both in Scripture and through the generations, who have chosen to walk in step with Jesus instead of the world. 

What if the joy of my testimony was about how God showed faithfulness and kindness to those He calls me to serve?

What if I had the courage to turn down any good thing that keeps me from the best thing

Interesting thoughts to ponder, right? 

Have a good Monday and I will check in with you tomorrow…hopefully rested and on the mend! 

One more “New Year” post and then we are moving on <3

Post holiday greetings to each of you! 

At work we are doing inventory and I have to say as much as I love the holidays and especially white lights everywhere, there is something therapeutic about fresh starts. 

I know some people charge into January all full of goals and purpose but I tend to enjoy a week or two of looking back and evaluating. 

By flipping through our calendar, I can see various events that marked our year.

There are the big events like vacations and visits with our family and friends, but there are all the little things that made up the moments of 2019. 

Ball games and watching the Fab Four dots many of the pages as do visits to John and Sarah’s homes. These all involve travel and even as I reflect on the time spent with the people, I can log the miles of driving and flying as time spent listening to podcasts, music or just turning off the noise and muddling through the excess information that is constantly accumulating in my head. 

We are blessed to live in a day and age where our computers and phones catalog various photos that captured the stuff of life for us. I love to look back at the photos I took and marvel at how we laughed and the beauty that God put for me to see along the way as I passed through ordinary days.

One thing I started doing a number of years ago was to record books I finished reading on the back pages of our calendar. It is always interesting to look back over that list and it definitely inspires me to challenge myself to more disciplined reading of quality material. I have stacks of books yet to read and when I see the list for 2019, I feel good about what I was able to absorb and yet want to enter 2020 with a plan for more intentional times of reading. 

I also left some baggage I had been toting around for a while back along the way of this past year. And I am traveling lighter.

It was hard to let go of some of it, but by taking it before God and telling Him how hard it was for me I found He was so gentle and kind. He seemed to sit with me and hold me until I could let go.

He helped me to see that the good parts will not be taken and the ugly is washed away by His grace and mercy.

He understands how hard it is for me and He doesn’t judge that part of my makeup and He is a safe place to work through those things that are common to all of us and yet we feel we are alone in. 

How do you process the passing of the year and the transition to the new? 

Can I invite you to at least scroll through your photos that were important enough to capture with a click of your phone or simply turn back through the pages of your calendar and remember the year that was? 

Take a breath and lift it all to the One who knows your yesterdays, today and tomorrows. 

He is a good, good Father and you, my friend, are precious to Him.

Happy New Year! 

And let’s keep this journey going … onward <3