i love her.

Once I met a man on a flight from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. who shared three unforgettable words with me. He never spoke them, actually, but they’ve captivated me even still.

I remember driving to the airport that morning while the sky was still black, sipping from my mug of coffee, still black. In the midst of quiet and calm I felt God whisper in my spirit to take notice for the person I was assigned to sit next to was assigned indeed.

I boarded the plane and took my seat, exchanging a curious smile with the man next to me. I was paying attention. As the plane departed we started a conversation, discovering we had a lot of similarities, including our age. He loved his family, his eyes smiled when he spoke about his wife, his passion for playing music was high and he was a devoted follower of Jesus. For the entire flight, we talked, leaving little margin for silence.

But there was one moment, mid-way through the flight, where I happened to glance down at his forearm: slightly turned, sleeve pushed up, the palm of his hand exposed. I saw three words, I hadn’t noticed before, permanently scripted in simple ink so bold.

I love her.

I think my mouth dropped. Because those three words, tattooed to his body, told me more about the depth of his character, than anything spoken ever could. Sure, he said loving things about his beloved and I ventured he pretty much loved her, but this…it felt like another level.

 

This was a pure statement.

This was his platform.

This was permanent.

I know there was a story. His story. But those three words said more than a mouthful ever could.

Unspoken expressions emboss the purest statement of who we are and what we stand for. May the notion give you pause. Today everyone is talking, saying something. The world is loudly screaming that we must LOVE out loud. The chatter is a great and mighty force. Yet, I’m convinced there is movement in the breeze, a language buried deep in our flesh that will speak out through unconventional platforms…if we so choose. We’re told that if we stay silent, for such a time as this…then we’re not taking a stand. But what if silence isn’t what we once thought? What if silence and spoken words are not two opposing parallels? What if quiet can play its part too?

What if proclaiming our views, our thoughts, and our ideas to make the world great again might be as simple as doing it differently. Finding a unique platform. And doing the silent work that causes heads to cock because it’s so gloriously silent, and so wonderfully profound, and so mysteriously filled with love.

What if today we stay still, palm up, skin exposed, and simply let the words we’ve got tattooed on our body, heart and soul showcase love on a new level? Make a statement without saying a word. It might be the purest platform around.
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The Secret to Satisfying Your 2017 Life Goals [with God]

I received a new pair of running shoes for Christmas. Not the cheapos– the certifiable kind from an authentic running store for athletes. Game on, 2017! The truth is I’ve been running for years. I’ve trained and ran races, mostly with ease, until last year. My last race was less than desirable. And I had a hunch it was time to consider good, quality shoes to accommodate my stAGE of life.

The gym is crazy cakes these days. Open treadmill’s are few and far between. I get it though. It’s a new year and everyone’s got the resolve to make a change, do things different…probably due to that stAGE of life thing. I’m with ya. Gonna try some new running goals, change it up a bit.

It’s no secret I’m also running this fierce race of life with a different set of achievement in mind. We can talk running races on dirt and pavement and mills all day long, but really, truth is, my heart and mind and soul are running for a way different prize. And it’s all about intimacy with God. My life’s race is really about cultivating a deeper, stronger relationship with God.

This is my goal. The prize is contentment.

I think a few of you want this too. A real certifiable relationship with God. And you’d like to start running the fierce race of life equipped with the quality of God by your side. Hear my heart and understand that I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT BEING A RELIGIOUS PERSON [a common misconception when the world sees someone crazy cakes about the things of God] — the notion that we “do” all the right things; be kind, love a little, go to church because of a duty to follow these so called rules. But that is NOT what I’m talking about. I’m talking about igniting your personal desire to know God more. This is about finding food that will satisfy every single one of your resolutions – a daily nourishment for our soul that only God can provide. Something I believe can only be found by devoting ourselves to a secret life with God. It’s about forming a habit each day to live worshipfully before God, reading the stories contained in the Word, and praying fervently.

This is the secret to a satisfying 2017. A good goal, in my opinion, to running a good race. A different race.

And don’t think the world won’t notice. The transformation comes…in time. If you want to go out and change the world, you’ve got to devote yourself to the inner life, first. How can we expect to export life giving resources if there’s no import?

Don’t know where to start? The book Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge paired with the Bible (I read from the New International Version and The Message version) and a little quiet time is my recommendation. Sorge’s devotional book has 52 chapters (one per week) and is a great guide to get you going. You can get a copy here. 

Game on, 2017!

When Joy Feels Like You Nailed It, Again!

Have you ever attempted one of those Pinterest prized creations? You just saw the most awesome creation, it looks super easy, your confidence soars to great heights, you tackle the task…and then there’s a moment (perhaps a blackout) when you suddenly realize that your great elaborate plan of Pinterest perfection has completely failed. You don’t know how you got here but your huddled in the corner covered in flour, burned from the glue gun or bandaging a wound.

 

 

Nailed it, again!

I’m convinced Joy is a lot like a Pinterest prized creation. We can see it, oh yes, in all it’s prize and glory. But whenever we set out to make it our own something usually goes terribly wrong, another failed attempt.

Before we head for the lofty hills of attaining Joy, once again, let us consider a few of these truths:

The truth about Joy is that it’s a gift from God. It was already created (whew, pressures off) and yeah, it’s pretty much already perfect. While this Joy gift in all its 100% perfection remains in Heaven, we can still receive it here on earth because the Father gives good gifts to his children. Namely, Jesus, the reason for the season. A gift to us. He came and died and rose again so that because of our connection (belief) in Him and all things eternal we too can have full access to Pinterest parade of Joy.

But first we need to receive it and say thanks for the gift of Joy. Think of it as being placed on your tongue like a piece of dark chocolate, let it coat your insides and satisfy your belly.

Now I know what your thinking. Ha. That’s real nice. I get it. Yeah, I’ll receive it but the second I turn around, bam! The irritating circumstance or the pain of loss or the fear of what’s ahead…none of that has changed. How can I keep the Joy in my heart when it constantly feels like its being ripped away from me?

Here’s the thing: the tension of fully receiving Joy is a beneath the soil understanding that it’s possible to have both (joy and sorrow) at the same time. It’s possible because the Bible tells us so. He (Jesus, the Joy giver) was a man of many sorrows, familiar with suffering, but because of the Joy set before him he endured the cross.

“Joy is a function of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of perspective. You only begin to change your life when you begin to change the way you see it.” -Ann Voskamp

See the gift. Receive it and say thanks. Breathe, believe and live.

5 Great Books to Boost Your Spiritual Energy This Christmas

Waiting is hard, especially when we are in a hurry. It feels like we’re always scrambling, especially during the Christmas season. We often feel more depleted, tired and totally worn out.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

I’ve discovered that one of the greatest resources of replenishment is a few moments of quiet each day. A hard habit to form, indeed, but once you’ve pushed through the threshold of resistance…the rewards are spectacular, full of life renewed.

So, do yourself a favor this Christmas and give yourself the gift of quiet time, space to remember and dwell on God’s goodness to YOU. Reflecting, thanking and laying low are wholesome ingredients. Some of the best gifts are worth fighting for, doncha’ know!

This Advent, as you prepare to give yourself the gift of solitude, consider one of these 5 great books to help you boost your spiritual energy.

 

5-great-books

I’ve listed them for your personal preview. Click on the links below to preview and order the book that best suits you. Blessings & peace this holiday season. xo

1.) Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting by Kris Camely

2.) A Moment of Christmas: Devotions for Time-strapped Moms by Anna Rendell

3.) The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

4.) 25 Days of Christmas: A Devotional for Incredibly Busy People by Ray Hollenbach

5.) 10 Days of Christmas: A Baker’s Advent Devotional by Rachel Britz

 

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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