How To Change the World This Thanksgiving With Pumpkin Pie

One thing you might not know about me is that I spent 7 years working in residential property management. A season in my early adult life that I regard with great fondness. It was hard work. But I was young and ambitious and a single mom with a mouth to feed. I climbed the ladder in a few short years and acquired the management position to lead a new development project – 130 units in the suburbs of Minneapolis. While the property was high-end luxury, a certain percentage of the units were reserved for low income families. The model was a relatively new [at the time] tax incentive for development investors. In reality it was a co-mingling of social and economic classes. A test, of sorts. And my property would be a guinea pig.

The year was 2000. I scrambled all year long to market, promote and lease up those apartment units. I even picked one for myself [and my daughter] and moved in. By the end of August we neared 100% occupancy. The low-income units, mostly three bedrooms to accommodate larger families, were the first to get gobbled up. Somehow, in the rapid lease-up process, a large community of Somalian refugees learned of our availability, applied for housing, and settled for a beautiful, brand new apartment in the burbs. I was pleased with the success of that work and was ready to get into the groove of more normal managerial duties.

Not so.

As the first of September rolled around, I received a slightly panicked phone call. It was the elementary school’s principle. In two short weeks over 100 children, new to the district, registered for class. Most of the students were of Somalian decent, and the school was not prepared to offer ESL to this many students mere days before the start of a new school year.

This launched a completely new and unexpected campaign, for me. I called it the The Foundation.  [Because one night I was awoken from my sleep, deeply moved with a thought or dream or vision that had me huddled on the bathroom floor with my Bible. There was a terrible impression that I was being asked to “build a foundation for the children.” This, of course, was well before I really understood the way in which God can and does speak through dreams. All I knew was that I needed to put a plan into action.] So, the very next day, I began. To my surprise all these civic and religious groups came out of the woodwork with resources and programs and money. The school district, the city, the police department and two local churches. We collaborated and united for the children. Before long a full running after school program was in place. The children, many of whom had stolen my heart, were happy.

Little did I know, at the time, the ripple effect this little lease up project would have on an entire city.

Then, 9/11. 

The atmosphere changed in a blink. So much fear. So much uncertainty. So much grief. So much anger. Suddenly, our quaint community filled with a rainbow of nations, colors, and classes seemed to echo the same question-cry through untold, glossy eyed stares: Are we safe here?

In the weeks that followed, putting on a confident smile was like worming into a pair of jeans with wet legs. Not easy. Everyone who lived in the apartments felt like an extended family member, to me. I cared deeply for all of them. And I wanted to reassure all of them that we were going to be ok.

 

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The week of Thanksgiving, 2001 was special, for so many reasons. America was grieving. And yet there was more unity than ever before. On the eve of Thanksgiving I remember preparing several pies to bring to my family gathering a few hours away. As I mixed the ingredients and poured batter into formed shells, one family, a single woman with five children kept coming to mind. She lived down the hall from me. She was a Somalian refuge, and someone I’d felt a special tug to nurture during her cultural transition. My heart had come to adore each of her bright smiling children. As I placed each pie into the oven I thought about the recent events in my nation and wondered too about the events she’d witnessed in her own.

In a blink I felt so much connection. So much love. I knew just what to do.

“Thankfulness is not some magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately…” -Sarah Young

I rose early the next morning and delivered one Pumpkin pie with a note that read, “Happy Thanksgiving!” And something about America and you are welcome and blessed to be here.

When I returned to my office the following week I found one empty pie plate, traced with a few crumbs, sitting on my desk. Perfectly empty. I smiled.

Empty never felt so full.~

 

[Note: I’ve always wondered what ever happened to The Foundation. Do they still offer programs for the children? Two years ago, while traveling through these old stomping grounds, curiosity got the best of me and I stopped in at the rental office. I introduced myself to the manager and asked about the program. “Oh yes,” she said “the program is very much still running.” ]
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One Idea That Trumps Fear & Moving On

I made a terrible mistake. I realize it now. But November 9th got the best of me. While I wanted to remain silent, barring the frenzy which took to the streets of social media, the encourager in me felt the dire need to just say something. So, less than 12 hours after the official declaration of America’s next President I posted this:

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I do believe that most people live in dark places…hurting places, hard places, stuck places. And I do believe that those who carry the torch of God’s love and light have a responsibility to use it wisely, be bold, and pass it on. Now more than ever.

I made the post and moved #onward.

At least I tried. But I didn’t get very far because the cries of nation in mourning are like a baby wailing in the night. It’s not long before exhaustion sets in and the hunger for an ounce of peace and quiet cause normal people to do crazy things. So, I’ve stayed awake, vigilant, listening to broken hearts, terror filled lungs screaming bloody murder, seething anger, and bitter mockery. I rock in my chair, hoping for peace and calm, but the cries don’t cease.

Over the weekend it hit me!

This is full onset grief.

OUR NATION IS LARGELY GRIEVING.

Grief; a familiar cousin, a business partner. I know this grief well. I’ve observed it, studied it, and held its firm hand. But somehow, perhaps due to its seismic proportions (too grand), I missed seeing it for what it truly has become. Which is why, now, I’m regretting the notion that moving #onward was / is appropriate for such a time as this.

It’s a classic response to someone in pain: Move on!

Who tells the young widow in her grief to move on?

Who tells the parent of a wayward child to move on?

Who tells the African American in their frustration to just move on?

It’s a horrible response to someone in pain. And I know better. I’m sorry.

For reasons I’ll explain I have somehow remained quite calm during this election cycle. Mostly unshaken. Not unlike previous elections where my emotional thermometer has spiked record highs. It’s odd to me, this state I’m in. I’ve spent some time internalizing why it’s different for me this time and I’ve concluded the following:

I chose to unplug. Long ago I disconnected from the barrage of media. That’s not to say I’ve been living with my head under a rock. It’s only to say that I choose when and where to gather my information (and please, for those who care, it is my strong opinion that information gathering ought to be sought from multiple sources; leaning and swaying, including and opposing my internal beliefs. Why? Because balance is best obtained when both sides of the scale have been put under pressure.)

I chose to go inward. For me, I need to turn my mind and my spirit inward otherwise fear and anxiety will tear me apart. I’ve learned that if there is fear or anger or hatred beneath my chest, I must discover the root. Meditation on God’s word is where I choose to bring those fleshly battles.

Meditation; the art of reading, speaking out loud, and reflecting upon written love and law quips my heart with a hope on things eternal.

Inward is becoming a lost art in our busy, media laden world. I know, I know that we ought to use our voices to speak out against the injustices of the world. Wholeheartedly, yes! But not without proper preparation. Would you want a med student with a desire and passion to heal heart disease without any training or first hand guidance to perform your heart surgery? Heck no! If we want to see peace come to pass out there…we must come to first discover it within.

There will come a time for each one of us to move #onward.  

Suggesting movement is natural. Especially when get too close to another person’s raw pain. We want an exit plan…and fast. So we push and hustle to hurry things along. But that’s not how it works. Grief is mysterious, taking on a life of it’s own. Time can heal. But my time is mine. Your time is yours. If God is working everything out for good in each one of us…then we must let go of our agenda and timetable and only trust that he is working it all out for each one of us uniquely.

But first we must move #inward.

Let us fight to find a quiet place today. Turn off the radio. Buckle ourself into contemplation and listen, really listen. Write out those fears. Write and write until the ink runs dry. Pour it all out. Weep and weep and pour it all out. Stay here for as long as it takes. Don’t take to the streets. Stay here, just stay here ’till the preparation of peace has been placed upon our feet.

Then, my friend, may we consider a posture of compassion. Then, my friend, may we rise. Straight. Equipped to bear another’s burden. A posture of no fear. A trembling in our core that the heartbeat of hope is still very much alive.

 
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Remembering Who You Are

Behind a stack of books on the shelf, hidden from plain view, I found an old book I once read. I wiggled it free, dusted it off and began re-reading my favorite parts. It was the kind of book I’d scribbled in the margins, leaving clues as to my whereabouts in life. Dated: September, 2008.

As I perused the notes, my mind took a sharp detour down Painful Past road. Thankfully the road doesn’t jar me like it once did. All the mines have been detonated. The worry, fear and angst that were once associated with a trip down memory lane are now held in monument regard. It’s like, ‘hey, wow, there was a great and ferocious battle here. Loss of life, bloody. But oh, sweet victory, the battle was won.’ I look around. The ground is holy. I remember and I’ll never forget. Today I see flowers blooming out of the ruins and I smile in awe and great thanks.

This great and terrible time I’m referring to is when God, by His hand, finally took the last drink from my cup. It’s a story of deliverance from the grip of generational alcoholism. It’s a story of flesh eating sin sickness. Death. And life born, anew.

Something I still celebrate today.

A miracle, yes! And yet, I sit and recall the cycle of events post miracle. A time of transformation. Here’s the thing: transformational things in life, those ordained by God, take time to work themselves out. The aftermath of any battle leaves gapping wounds in our heart, mind and spirit for a season or three. It’s here, in THE INBEWTEEN, that the TRUTH of who we are and our real identity is most vulnerable to lies.

It’s here, we must understand:

  • The truth about God’s character. (Psalm 18:31-32)
  • The truth about the Voice of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • The truth about our identity in Jesus. (Romans 8:17)

In the months leading up to the epic battle to save me from myself God was hugely at work in my life. For the first time in 30 years I’d been given a very clear calling on my life. Specifically, God said, “Rachel, you are my Ambassador.” And I knew in my heart that He was calling me to be His Ambassador through public speaking.

But after the battle, when my wounds were exposed, and I grappled with the question ‘who am I really?’, another voice began to rise up. Except this voice was in opposition to the One I’d first heard. I was confused. The strange, new voice made me believe that my work was to be done silently. And in that season every time I had thoughts about standing before others to encourage them in the faith, the voice whispered in my ear, “This is NOT who you really are!”

For eight years I helped to organize an annual Christian music festival called Livestock supporting World Vision’s gift catalog. One time, in the midst of this season of transformation (and confusion) one of the musicians asked me if I would join him on stage to share a story about the good work were doing. Without hesitation I laughed and spouted, “Naw, I’m not your girl for that sorta thing!” The words tasted like sour milk.

I believed the lie.

But only for so long, because I believe Truth always wins. The Truth buried deep within me, began to emerge over time. As I pressed into the Word of God I found confirmation to the call on my life in 2 Corinthians 5:20 (“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors…”). Turning my heart towards Him, He cleaned up the old ruins, replacing lies with Rock solid Truth. So that, eventually, I could discern His voice from the one who was trying to steel me away from my purpose.

Today I’ve stepped fully into that call. Without hesitation I can declare that by God’s grace I will speak (publicly) to the witness of his work in my life, through the power of the work done on my behalf on the cross.

I want to encourage you today to remember who you are in Christ. Are you in the season of IN BETWEEN? Can you remember the things He once called you to? Does His Word confirm it?  May this image be a helpful guide to you as you discern the One True Voice.

 

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Blessings and peace as you step into all He has ordained for your life.

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A Balloon Story on a Windy Day

Once there was a young 10 year old English girl named Laura Buxton who had an idea. One day she wrote her name and address upon a small piece of paper, rolled it up, tucked it into a pink balloon and filled it with helium. Then she waited for the most perfect windy day. When the day came she walked onto her driveway and released her pink balloon.

Some time and distance passed. Nearly 140 miles away in a remote countryside village another young English girl discovered the pink balloon and penned Miss Laura Buxton a note.

Upon receiving the note, Laura Buxton was shocked to discover that the recipient of her balloon was the exact same age as herself, and, most awesomely, shared the exact same name, Laura Buxton! The two became fast friends. When they eventually met they were amazed, yet again, at their similarities; both of the girls looked so much alike. And also, they discovered that they each owned pet Guinea Pigs, which, you guessed it, shared similar markings.

The marvel of this story is how a single pink balloon could bring two people together and create such a profound sense of awe and wonder and inspiration. A single balloon: carrying a simple girl’s idea. Imagine the loss of friendship and all the wonder Laura Buxton would have missed if she never released her idea into the world.

Many of you are walking around with a balloon in our pocket. You’ve tucked it away. One day, some day, you’ll be brave enough to do the work of blowing it up and letting it go. But first you need a circumstance to change or life to settle down or that winning lottery ticket.

May I encourage you with a thought: I believe the pink (or any color for that matter) balloon you are holding was one sent to you by God; a transcendent idea, released into the metaphorical sky, which has landed upon the soil of your heart. The purpose, of course, is to grow a deep and lasting friendship between the Creator and it’s Recipient, but too, I believe, the goal is to take the balloon He’s given you and do the thing He’s purposefully placed in your path.

In essence: all you need to do is be obedient.

“Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” – Madeleine L’ Engle

 

Obedience: It’s the only thing your balloon (your calling, your art) requires of you, to be faithfully obedient to it…and usually that means doing the work of blowing it up, tying it tight and letting it go.

Note: It’s the most beautiful, perfect windy day. The timing sure feels right.



When Suffering Makes No Sense *Giveaway: Invisible Wounds Book*

I recently went for a long run with my sister-in-law. It’s one of our favorite things to do. And since we’re both training for a half marathon we figure we’re better together. During our run we talked about many things, but one newsworthy topic paved the way: Jacob Wetterling.

You know the story. The way it changed a generation of kids, and parents too. There was no more riding my bike to the candy store, alone, among many other things. I was a tween when Jacob was abducted. In fact, Jacob was my exact age. Dad worked for the newspaper in St. Cloud, Minnesota, close to the Wetterling home. And one day he came home with a handful of buttons: JACOB’S HOPE  written in bold, arched the famous, smiling boy’s picture. Jacob’s face covered every mind and every newsstand in America. I took the pins, handed them out to friends, and stuck one on my jean jacket. It was a constant reminder of Jacob, yes, but also, something deeper…a statement of belief in good and justice and impossible trust.

when-suffering-makes-no-senseI didn’t understand a lot about Hope back in the day. But I felt the collective ache, the longing for a happy ending.

Well, here we are, we have an ending…or so it seems. It didn’t turn out the way anyone hoped. Far worse. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. The great, black, terrible. The earthquaking stuff that causes cracks in faith.

Why pain?

Why suffering?

Why death?

Why, God, why?

“Sometimes our pain is the the result of living in a broken, fallen world. This isn’t how He intended life to be. Yet God allows tragedy or suffering in our lives for some reason or reasons we can’t always grasp.” – Melinda Means, Invisible Wounds

There is no applaudable application here. I mean there is nothing we ‘ought to do in order to set it right. To solemnly embrace our loss (and the pain of others near and dear) is to sit and hold it and feel and question and grieve. Sure, there are a host of theological answers. I’ve got a few sorted and stowed. But that’s not the purpose of this post. The purpose is to point to the future. 

Remember the button’s bold, overarching typeface: Jacob’s Hope.

Hope.

It’s a wonder.

I’ve talked about this subject a lot over the years. I’ve wrote about the difference between small (h) hope and big (H) Hope.  I love the phrase that says, “Hope: Look to the future and trust God with all of it.” I believe in it so much that I renamed my blog to Stories of Hope. I believe in it so much because, for me, when uncertainty shakes the ground I walk on I know I can depend on a Certain hiding place: It’s my house full of promises, a place called Hope.

Hope is much like a bunker house. It’s deep, hidden from the elements of the outside world. The construct is made up of an underground tunnel system. God’s promises remove barriers and clear the dark path into this vast space that is host to a starry spectacle of awe. It’s a wonder. It’s a place few find.

“God is confirmed in our experience – when He meets us powerfully and sweetly in the midst of our suffering.” -Melinda Means, Invisible Wounds

Those God confirmed experiences develop the impossible trust believers need so survive the chaos.  That His promises are good and true. Who holds all the answers? Who will stand up for true and lasting justice once and for all? Only one. So, when we wonder why He continues to allow the pain and suffering of this world to grope for us in the night we grab ahold of this great futuristic promise:

“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever… Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5)

The relief from suffering is coming – soon. Our happy ending will come, if not here and now, it is our destiny. Let us hold the promise as we stand under the stars…and wait.

**GIVEAWAY**

TODAY I AM GIVING AWAY A HARD COPY OF INVISIBLE WOUNDS BY MELINDA MEANS. TO ENTER TO WIN: SIGN UP HERE.

ONE RANDOM WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN & ANNOUNCED ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH.

Wipe Your “But” & Say Your Prayers

Two nights ago I awoke in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back to sleep. This is not unusual. As I laid there, I had a waterbed moment. You remember the waterbed, right? Fall into one and it’s delightful, at first. Then, strangely, it transforms, and the fluffy rolling turns thick and heavy, like quick sand. The more you squirm the more it pulls you down. When you determine you want to get out, prepare to fight. It’s a strenuous exercise. That’s how my mind works on nights like these. It rolls over a thought, fine at first, but soon the thought is replaced by a worry and whoosh, waterbed moment.

I’ll be candid. I was worrying about my oldest chickling. It’s a regular thing for us parents; to worry, to obsess, to fight fears with swords. But something happened this past year that sent this mama’s worrymometer skyrocketing into the red zone. And ever since, sleeplessness is my pal. Here’s the scoop: the chickling spread her wings and flew the coop. This is great, you might say, the natural order of things. Except, it wasn’t that great for me. She left before I hoped. All the things I dreamed we would share during her final year at home were suddenly gone. She left before the smoke dissipated from the candles on her 18th birthday cake. That was 10 months ago.

All year long I’ve been peeking between two fingers at parents of chicklings ruffling their feathers. I’ve watched them prepping to reach the blessed Day of Pinnacle and send their precious cherubs into the world. I’ve watched many put their basket (baby) in the water and send them off. Although I hoped to put my basket in at the same time, that’s not how it worked out.

This is a tiny glimpse of my story this year. I wonder about your story this year. At some point, now or later, our hopes get dashed. Although my deferred hope might look different than yours I’m certain the feeling is pretty mutual. It hurts. Maybe you’ve found yourself peeking between two fingers too.  We all have unfulfilled longings:

The happy marriage

The healthy body.

The successful business.

The popular person.

The beautiful new baby.

The privileged countryman.

We tend to peek at the world through our lens of hope. We desire. We dream. We pray. And when our hearts ache with longing we peek with wonder as we wait for the passing, the healing, the fulfillment.

Perhaps someday I’ll draft a fancy blog post title like Five Lessons I Learned on Parenting a Prodigal. Maybe not. All I really know, for today, is that this little midnight story is one I should share.

So, it’s the middle of the night and I’m laying in bed worrying. I’m talking to God. This is not unusual. It’s conversational. I keep rewording my worry in new and different ways. It feels as though I’m shouting into the Grand Canyon and I can hear my voice echo, reverberating against the Rock. It’s not very quiet in my head. And I find myself responding to each echo with “But what if…”

But what if…

But what if…

But what if…

I’ve created a chorus in the canyon. A crescendo. Then clear as a Sunday morning church bell I hear God say, “Wipe your but.”

Huh?

I stop thrashing in my waterbed. Everything stills. Wipe: Get rid of, remove it, cleanse and dispose.

Oh.

I roll over in bed. The bathroom’s night light filters into my room through the darkness. I stare at the particles of light that fall like dust upon the fixtures in my room. Everything looks different, darkly. I see my shadowy lamp and the light transforms the image…these birds…and the Voice reminds me,

“Look at the birds, see how I take care of them…you’re worth way more!” 

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The reminder is a promise. And I think I understand what I’m supposed to do. Stop worrying. Keep praying. Recycle each and every “But what if…” with a promise. It’s an exchange, of sorts. As I lay there I begin to think of other promises:

For I know the plans I have for your chickling, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans of hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 paraphrased)

Seek God first and then he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 paraphrased)

You are chosen and belong. (1 Peter 2:9 paraphrased)

This I know: I am not a daughter with out hope. My God sees all, knows all, and loves more fully than I can comprehend. Heart sickness may hurt for a while. But “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” I believe it. Do you?

So, for today: Relinquish the worry. Replace with a promise. Wipe your “but” & say your prayers.



Stop fighting. Be happy. #thehappinessdare

I made tomato soup for my son. It was the only thing he could eat since acquiring a shiny new smile. Aka: braces. As he sat with his belly pressed up to the kitchen counter, dunking one Saltine after another, we started talking about the school year ahead. I can hardly believe he is a 7th grader. A teenager: who still thinks his mom is worth listening to. (Man, I’m grateful.) During our lunch together I shared a story, telling him about a few poor choices I made during my teenage years. The story evolved. He didn’t blink much. I captivated him. Finally, silence.  He concluded, “So…it’s like you were in a tug of war,” I watch as he takes his stubby finger and draws an imaginary line across the counter. “You wanted to go one way, but we’re pulled another direction.” My son flashes a smile. I feel my heart leap. He gets it! And I am so happy.

I wonder about these teeny-tiny life moments that spark happiness. I wonder because at times it seems like the eye-popping, heart pounding fireworks show, brilliant with glorious happy, poofs into thin air before taking our next breath. Next: My mouth feels dry and I wonder why.

I have a confession: I’m not always happy.

In fact, I’ve really wrestled over the years with a deep, inner-seed of angst or irritability (sometimes it feels like anger). It’s true. And it doesn’t make sense. I have all the things. My health. My kids. My marriage. My dream job. I find myself fighting in my mind over the have nots, the rejection, and all the uncontrolled chaos. Tell me I’m not the only one. I am happy, truly-truly, most of the time. I suppose you might see that happy person, in me. Someone always smiling, always passionate, and always pursuing….and while, in fact, this is the real me, you need to know that so often I wake to a much different reality. A tug of war. A fight to find some peace from the Eeyore within.

This week my respected friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee is launching her new book called The Happiness Dare. To be honest, I’ve resisted opening the cover. Not because I don’t want to be happy. Duh. It’s in our DNA. Who doesn’t want to be happy? We’ll maybe the old lady in the pink house down the street. But seriously. Anywho, I did it anyway. I opened the cover, devoured the first several chapters, and there it was, in words as plain as butter on toast…

“We are highly suspicious of happiness. We really do want to be happy – secretly of course – but we’ll tell everyone else it’s joy we want. Because isn’t joy the holier aim? Isn’t happiness against the rules? … Yes, you read that right: happiness. Not the reverse of joy. Not the opposite of holiness. But authentic happiness, found in Jesus.”

This I know: the presence of Jesus lives in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of this reality I have the favor of God. Period.

I’m learning that the real problem isn’t my unhappiness, but rather my resistance towards the favor of God to become more filled with the fruits of the Spirit – those gifts that inhibit the happy factor. The truth I need to remember is that God is joyfully making war on all my negativity.

“Jesus first miracle wasn’t at a gravesite. It was at a party… Jesus gladdened a wedding. Jesus was the life of the party, and if you belong to Jesus, the life of the party lives in you.” -Jennifer Dukes Lee

Now more than ever we need to equip ourselves with happiness. Stop fighting and be happy. Why? Because, as the world around us continues to darken, it will be our shining smile to light the way. I’m taking the #HappinessDare. Will you join me? This is an invitation to revolutionize your inner world, so that, together we can revolutionize the world around us. Imagine I’m drawing a line across the counter. It’s like tug of war, indeed. Let’s do this happy thing.

To pre-order Jennifer’s book (releasing August 2nd) click here. 

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Book Lovers: My Top Reads for Summer

I’m on a summer reading adventure. This season it’s all about Memoir, for me. Here’s my stack, recently checked out from the library. If you need me, I’ll be reading (among other things).

 

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Memoirs I’m Reading

 

Summer is a wonderful haven for book lovers. But no two readers are alike. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. First, my fiction list. These are a sampling of novels that stole my heart in some way, shape or form. Among this list you’ll find romance, historical, triller, biblical (yes, it’s a thing), and young adult.

 

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My Fave Fiction Titles

 

And now, here’s a stack of some non-fiction loves. Some are newer than others. Each have inspired me during different seasons of life. I hope you find one that meets you in your place, too.

 

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My Inspiring Non-Fiction Picks

 

Aside from reading, I’ll be writing. I’m spending time on crafting something new. So, I’m going to give this blog space a little vaca break…for the summer.

Love to you, enjoy a good book. xo



Fooled by hope. Let go & live!

First, there is hope.

The pain lasted only twenty-four hours; slow and steady, beginning with a dull ache, increasing with time towards a series of sharp, breathless exchanges. I pushed hard for nine minutes. Only nine. Then, there was love. A bundle of new life; not my own, swaddled, purposely placed upon my chest, flesh upon flesh. My own; but not my own.

Visions of glory cyclone like a wand of colorful ribbons. In the beginning I can only imagine glory to glory to glory for this flesh upon my flesh. The years drop like rain, passing quickly. I’ve seen other visions through the years too; from the corner of my eye some come darkly. And when they do I draw my sword, I swoop, and I slay. For that is what I must do, my duty to keep the love alive.

A million little hopes have lolled in my mind, through the years, with these little loves. Oh, small “h” hope, I’ve learned so much from you. What shall I tell the wise world about you? Things I now know: That you are an imposter, fooling around. That you are but a leaky cistern. That your un-fulfillment hurts like hell. That though I’ve rather enjoyed looking to you for oh-so-many-things, you are now becoming dead to me. Small “h” hope cannot hold my love, no more.

 

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Then, there is Hope.

That’s right. Two kinds: One is proper, the other is not. Both are like mirrors reflecting light, but neither are the same. One is everlasting, the other is not. Capital “H” Hope is living and active and without end. It is Rock solid trust in an honest God. A house unmovable where disappoint and disillusion and cultural approval shall not enter. Capital “H” Hope is for holy things; set apart from the temporal, circumstantial, and systemic flow.

Man alive; coming to terms, defining these Hope filled and hope fueled worlds have cost me something greatly. Pain galore. But I am grateful. Because now I know. I look down and see my feet, dry. I’ve crossed over Jordan, the cut -it burns- so I’ll wait… and heal. Hallelujah. The Promise is still alive, I see it glimmer on the horizon. The manna is gone. It’s only produce from here on out. Stepping out and moving on, keeping Hope alive.**[Joshua 3 – 5]

Take it from little me, I pray you’ll see…

Let go of dashed hopes – set them free.

Choose the bigger Hope – and live.  



Open Letter to the Woman Hearing Voices

Dear Sweet Starbucks Lady,

I accidentally overheard your conversation with a friend at Starbucks: the one about your marriage. I didn’t want to listen, but there was so much trouble quaking from your voice that the fingers of my spirit wouldn’t uncurl themselves from your tiny square table. I successfully looked away. But my ears did not. It seemed there was trouble in Candy Land. He was no longer the person you’d married oh-so-long-ago. The children infused distance. The job cultivated tired bones. Oh, and the money too. He was no longer the same person. You are trying, though. The both of you: counseling, is what you said.

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Still, I was listening without looking.

Then your voice shifted to low tones, just as your chair shifted against the floor. You told your friend that you’ve been hearing voices: A word, actually. This one word: Divorce. At first, it was just playing in your head like a record stuck on the same song. But then, the other day you said you heard it quite audibly. Loud. Distinct. Real. Two times you said you heard the words, “Divorce. Divorce.”

I am now listening and looking.

I watched you inch closer to your friend, you shake your head and your eyes slant in confusion. You said, “I’m not making this $*!T up!”

I felt the current of something mystical fill the air. And my stomach flips. I want to pull up a chair and tell you that you’re not crazy. Despite your friend’s advice to consider the prompting of this pushy word and move toward embracing divorce, I might lovingly encourage you to consider a few other thoughts:

  • Is the voice speaking life or death?
  • What seeds will be produced by the outcome of listening to the voice?
  • Can the Living Word back up this counsel?

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I want to encourage you, sweet Starbucks lady, that you are not alone. We all live in this world that is both physical and spiritual. And in the invisible realm there are forces of light and forces of darkness. Always at work in our lives because they have a plan. One is to bring death and destruction and confusion. The other is to bring life and fruit and freedom. If you’re feeling confused about the voice, just look at the fruit it will produce.

I pray that you will open your eyes and gain clarity, turn your head towards God and really gaze, then, listen for His voice to lead you.

Peace and Blessings,

Your Fellow Coffee Drinker

[Note: I know first hand the death of divorce. It is from this painful past that I lovingly write this letter.]