God Is Interested In You

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When I was growing up I often heard the phrase “God loves you” at the youth group I attended. It was always said in such a way that left me feeling as if it was the most profound thing in life.  Maybe it is but I didn’t connect to it.

Although it felt right to hear it didn’t have a lot of meaning for me because I didn’t know what it meant, like grandparents that you never see or talk to write “I love you” in a card. You know it’s true and you’re glad about it but it doesn’t feel personal. You really don’t know one another.  You are drawn to this vague statement of love but don’t know why because it doesn’t really affect your life.

I wish someone would have said to me:

God is interested in you.

This makes more sense to me.  It personalizes God in a way that makes me curious.

Why is He interested in me?  

How is He interested in me?  

How do I know He’s interested in me?

It has only been in recent years that I have come to embrace the idea that God is interested in me.  Maybe you are in a place where you too need to consider it?  Here is some evidence from scripture that leads me to believe this.

  1. He knows your name.  (Isaiah 45:3)
  2. He’s familiar with your hair style. (Matthew 10:30)
  3. He is impressed with your work.  (Ephesians 2:10)
  4. He wants to hang out with you. (John 17:24)
  5. He gets it there are things about you that need improvement. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  6. He knows you like good things. (Psalm 103:5)
  7. He knew you would love His creation so He gave it to you. (Genesis 1:29)
  8. He cries when you cry. (Psalm 145:9)
  9. He understands that life often doesn’t make sense to you. (Isaiah 55:8)
  10. He has made up a room in his house just for you. (John 14:2-4)

This is just a small list. God thinks about you and is interested in you in more ways.

Next time you hear “God loves you” add the phrase “… God is interested in you” on the end of it.

Remembering Glass
Remembering Glass

It makes a whole lot more sense.

Marriage in the Thick-Of-Things

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I’ve been married to this guy for a long time.

John and Randi

I can honestly say that we now have the friendship that I thought we were having years ago. We weren’t. The friendship we have now came from stepping into the thick-of-things.

Our friendship is filled with moments of great connection and misfire. It’s real and we both like it.

After the early years of marriage are over some of us get in the thick-of-things. Our true selves are featured and the scent of decay begins to waft. Something is dying. I know this is not true for every marriage, but it’s been pretty accurate in describing mine. I didn’t recognize the smell of decay at first. Disappointment is a misleading symptom. But the stench was decay.

Something must die. Our pride, our selfishness, our ignorance….

  • Control
  • Impatience
  • Anger
  • Pretending
  • Addictions
  • Resentment
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Wrong perceptions
  • Laziness
  • Fear
  • Unwillingness to grow, accept, learn and communicate

Many of these things had to die in my marriage in order to find the friend I married.

This is where love becomes true. The thick-of-things is like a dense and dangerous forest. Ugliness gets exposed and we have to stop being shocked by this. Both people have to be willing to go in order to survive.

Forest

A word of encouragement for the weary soul who feels like they are losing the relationship battle.

LEARN. Learn is just a cool word that means: be willing and teachable.

  1. Be a student of God.
  2. Be a student of yourself.
  3. Be a student of your spouse.

When we smell decay, when we realize that this isn’t the marriage we envisioned, we become raw. Vulnerability is the kneading board of learning.

I don’t want to sound over simplistic. Issues are real, misunderstood and exhausting. Problems can be dangerous to body and soul. Some marriages end because there just doesn’t seem to be any other way.   In the thick-of-things every exit looks appealing. Going through is much harder than going around.

Also, I don’t want to pretend that if you do A-B-C everything will be great.

My marriage is not settled completely, but we’ve entered the thick-of-things enough times to know that it didn’t kill us. We discovered we could be a better us and by default, a better me.

Arm yourself with Godly people to pray and listen, counselors to help unravel, and the Holy Spirit to guide and keep you through it all. Prepare to change.  You do have to change. You don’t find yourself at the edge of the thick-of-things for no reason.  Something wasn’t working.

So let some thing’s die. I pray it’s not your marriage. I pray your find the friendship you thought you had from the start.

Blood Moon

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I went outside yesterday morning to have a look at the “Blood Moon” as it’s called.  The technical term is a Lunar Eclipse.

Eclipse:  an obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it [and the observer or between it] and its source of illumination

The earth stood between the sun and the moon.  Because of it’s precise location and timing the rays of light that were cast around the earth caused the mood to appear red and it looked altogether different and strange and mysterious.

Sometimes it takes something to stand in between in order for us to observe a new reality.

The Lunar Eclipse is a sign that there is a party going on 24/7 in the heavens.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

I think the lunar fireball I saw yesterday morning was an invitation to participate.

Thank you Blood Moon, I accept.

Getting Buzzed

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Last week I went on a tour in part of Detroit.  I’ll be honest.  I’ve only been to Detroit to see a football game and I can only remember Ford Field. But that was a long time ago.

Things are different now.  Much different.

My husband works in the outlying Detroit area.  He is not downtown but rather in one of the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area.  He took me on a tour of the neighborhood where he works and and we slowly made our way downtown.

I was not prepared for what I saw.

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Vacancy on all fronts.  Homes, buildings, streets empty and crumbling.  The landscape was wide, plenty of space for a lot of people.  But nobody was there.  Okay there were some people milling around.  But not enough to fill the space called Detroit.

As we traveled down the road I saw house after house, building after building boarded up, windows and doors kicked out, garbage, furniture, appliances, you name it, strewn all over the place.  Buildings were literally falling apart from the inside out.  I was speechless.  Yea, it’s not a safe place at times.  There is reason for caution, my husband has heard enough from people who live there to verify this.  But it’s not the case for most people.  He was comfortable, I was more cautious.  I kept thinking. This is an American city, how can this be?

And then, I had to go.  You know…I had to take care of a few things. We had finished dinner earlier and I didn’t take care of business before I left.  We were in the thick of the neighborhood and turning around meant a 25 minute back which would have cut into our schedule.  Suddenly a magical yellow sign appeared.  Ah, yes, a McDonalds stood all alone on the next corner. (You have to keep in mind, there aren’t businesses or gas stations in amply supply, it’s desolate there.)

I’ll be totally honest.  I wasn’t too thrilled about getting out of the car at this point.  But I had to do what I had to do.  When we pulled in the parking lot we parked next to a car that had a club on their steering wheel.  (A device to keep people from stealing the car.)  I was not amused.

I went in the door and immediately walked toward the bathrooms.  A young woman was sitting at a table with headphones and a lap top busy working on something.  She was dressed like a male rapper that you see on MTV.  Her eyes looked up at me and without moving she said,

“You need to be buzzed in.”

“Excuse me.”  I looked back puzzled.

“To use the bathroom you have to be buzzed in.” Still not moving a muscle.

Grrr.

“Thanks”  I said.

I went up to the counter, waiting behind others ordering their dinner.  Finally it’s my turn.

The clerk buzzed me in and I was in the bathroom.  Now I didn’t know whether to feel safe or scared being locked in?  I decided that I was uncomfortable at best and worked quickly to get out.  I noticed that the bathroom was a little messy.  Toilet paper knocked down and paper towels on the floor.  But I didn’t stay long.  I thanked the girl who informed me about the buzzing when I walked out and I was safely back the car to continue our tour.

As we drove around the question that kept coming to me was. What can I do?  How could I make a difference?  Witnessing the discouraged communities made my heart ache to help, to bring hope, to comfort to make something better for someone else.

Vacant places calls something deep inside of me.

I wrestled with this the rest of our ride.  It was just about the time we arrived back to our hotel that a realization hit me between my eyes.

I could have picked up the garbage off the bathroom floor!

That’s what I could have done.  The mess was right in front of me and I could have done something and I didn’t.  I was too concerned about getting out of the mess that it never occurred to me to stop and clean things up for the next person who had to be buzzed in.

Isn’t that the way it goes though.  We see the mess and we are in a hurry to get away from it or we like to pick and choose which mess we are willing to clean up.   I’m guilting of thinking:   I didn’t create this mess, why should I clean it up?  It’s true, we can’t put blame on ourselves for others’ mistakes, but we can bring something good into it when given the opportunity.

I was given an opportunity and I missed it.

Bringing good is often small and unseen.  It doesn’t boast.  It just cleans up the place for somebody else from time to time.  It’s not concerned about getting noticed. It says, I didn’t make this mess but I can help in this one way, albeit small, to make things better for someone else.

My heart sunk when I fully realized what happened.

A friend shared with me once a long time ago that his goal is to always leave places and people in better shape than when he found them.

I think that’s a good motto to live by.  Hopefully getting buzzed at McDonalds last week will help me remember it!

Leaking People

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I just finished watching the most hilarious video of a kid who had his wisdom teeth removed.  For some reason he responded in a humorous way to the anesthesia that was used.  He was hysterical.  You’ve probably seen a similar video floating around the internet in recent years.  Several times he stopped his random ranting to say “Mom, my eyes are leaking!  Why are my eyes leaking?”  He was crying about everything and in his interpretation he thought he was leaking.

People leak in all kinds of ways.  Tears are only one way.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that people leak all the time.  They leak just about everywhere they go.

Now before you go thinking I’m being crass let me assure you I’m not, well maybe just a little bit.

Leaking people are those who have a leak in their internal plumbing system and cant keep it from spilling out onto anybody near by.  Just like a leaking pipe drips on the nearest surface, a leaking individual drips on the nearest person. Things that are best dealt with “inside the pipe” now are flowing “outside the pipe” and the result is that everyone gets wet.

I think you understand this better than you’d admit.

Let’s be honest, we all deal with the person in the store who is irritable and intrusive.  They are irate at being inconvenienced and don’t hesitate to take it out on the nearest sales clerk.  We’ve seen this.  (Maybe we’ve been that leaky person?)  How about the co-worker who is deeply defensive and having a conversation with them turns into some sort of competition where they have to be declared the winner of the most recent dialog.  There are those in our lives who make family gatherings or parties, well, let’s say…like a game.  You try to avoid them because everything topic of conversation or issue of the moment revolves around them or keeping them happy.  This is just a sampling of leaky people.

In life we are all on our own journey to…wherever it is we think we want to go.  What do we do when someone else’s journey intersects with our own and they leak all over us?  How do we handle it when other people who spill out unresolved relational, physical, emotional or spiritual issues all over us?  I know you know what I’m talking about now.

Surely, you’ve said a time or two, “I can’t stand that person.” or “I just want to get away from him.” or “I seriously couldn’t take another moment with her, she is exhausting.”  Other peoples’ leaks keep us from having peaceful homes, job environments, neighborhoods, churches, social gatherings and schools. Leaky people tend to get us all worked up reveal our own plumbing issues.

Here’s the most important thing to remember when dealing with a leaky person:   You leak too.

We are all leaky pipes in the plumbing of society.  You may be more aware of your leak and are diligently trying fix your plumbing, but you too have done your share of leaking.

Here’s the second thing to remember when dealing with a leaky person:     Try to leak something good on them.

We all have a choice of how we respond when faced with leaky people. What will your attitude be?  Find the most radical way to leak something good on others who don’t seem to deserve it.  It might surprise you.

Making eye contact with one who is constantly invasive.  Listening completely to discern the real complaint of a negative person and seek to resolve to underlying issue instead of avoiding them.  Telling someone the truth, candid and beneficial honesty, to a destructive soul who wreaks havoc can be the most good they’ve received in a long time. Doing a kind deed in an unexpected way for the most un-admired person. Face conflict with humility and gentleness when dealing with a demanding personality instead of hiding, especially when the overall good of others is at stake.  Pray for reckless and self seeker in quiet and unknown ways.  You get the idea.

Find radical ways to leak something good. Remember, you leak too.

 

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all the wrongs. ~ Proverbs 10:12

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The Mother Load

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So here’s how the latest conversation with my son goes:

Jake, your feet smell.  Get them out of my face.

Mom, you’re supposed to love me no matter what.

I do love you but your feet still stink and I can’t take it.

But mom you’re supposed to accept me no matter how bad I smell.

Why is he not repulsed by the smell?  Why can’t he put his dishes in the dishwasher?  Why does he think it’s ok to torment his sister to the point where she is squealing like a pig?

These are among some of the great mysteries of motherhood.  These are the things you don’t know about when you first get that baby in your arms or when you are chasing after your toddler. They smell, but it’s a tolerable smell…almost a cute baby like smell.  But you have control.  You bathe them and boom…all clean smelling.  When they are young they are a different kind of mystery. But it amazes you just the same.

In the span of motherhood (or parenthood) you become accustomed to being baffled.

Baffled by the amount of diapers they go through when they are babies.

Baffled by the amount of toilet paper a house goes through in a week.

Baffled by the amount of times Mom is yelled.

Baffled by the realization that you may very well have lost a few marbles along the way.

Oh the Mother Load. The weighty job of being a mother.

All that comes with motherhood that you never knew about.  The things that your own mother couldn’t describe and decided it was best for you to just learn for yourself.  The on-the-job moments that turn you into a gorilla, a negotiator, a banker, a clown, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a dictator and a punching bag.

You become someone you never knew you could be.  Sometimes you like that person and sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes you feel independent and  fresh and then the check out clerk at the store calls you Ma’am and suddenly you realize you must look mature and you remember you are responsible for more than just you.

You are a mother.

You carry the Mother Load.

But underneath the weight of what you carry lies a gift that  you were given from the start. This gift stays with you if you remain open to receiving it but it gets lost if you ignore it.  It shows up in the most unlikely places and unsuspecting of times.

It’s the gift of mystery.

When that baby is handed to you, you marvel at the tiny little features and perfection of it all. As time marches, our backs begin to ache and our feet get sore and we no longer live in the mystery of life.  But our children bring it to us each and every day.

It comes when they suddenly need braces because their teeth have grown crooked.

They grew! What a profound mystery.

It comes when they ride a two wheeler or a motor cycle for the first time.  When they figure out how to tie their shoe or negotiate an IPad. When they can read and actually understand what they’ve read. When their hair changes color or textures because of hormones.  When they make dinner without your help. When they laugh at Jimmy Fallen or sing Disney songs…just because they’re so much fun. When they strive for a new goal or make a new friend.  When they choose to be with you over someone else and wave their smelly feet in front of you.

Yes friends, deep within the Mother Load of your job as mom lies the gift of mystery.

Grab hold…..

….p.s. I had to open the window while writing because the smell was really that bad! I’m serious…his feet stink.


The Kidsp.s.s.…as I hit publish on this post I heard the bathroom door open upstairs where my daughter was taking a shower.  Suddenly the upstairs will filled with the sounds of the Disney music she was singing…how can you not love that?…….wonder never ceases to amaze me….

 

Have You Heard the One About Bunnies Birds and Bears?

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I went for a walk the other day.  As I rounded a corner by an open field I notice a black crow flying very low to the ground.  Right on it’s tail was a bunny running as fast as it could after it.

I have never seen that before in my life!

A bunny chasing a crow?  Seriously, what in the world was it trying to do? Did it really think it could catch a bird twice its’ size? And what was going to happen if the bunny caught up to it?

The bird flew up and the bunny stopped chasing it.  Then I saw it.  It was so small I could barely make it out. A tiny baby bunny was furiously hopping back in the direction the larger bunny had taken off from.  It was her baby.  The bird dropped the baby bunny and it was making haste back to its’ hole while the mother stood guard in case the crow came back.

She was defending her baby.

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Yesterday I was cutting my grass.  When I got to the backyard a small swallow circled me the entire time.  It swooped in and around me to the point I thought it was going to fly into me.  I got the distinct impression it was trying to intimidate me. I remember reading somewhere that swallows are fiercely protective over their nests where their young are. She thought I was a predator seeking harm.

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She was defending her baby.

It is quite remarkable that a bunny and a bird took on enemies that could easily defeat them.  It seemed like a David and Goliath situation.  What fascinated me was that these small creatures thought nothing of taking on monsters too big for them to defend their young and secure the safety of the defenseless. Talk about a momma bear….

That got me thinking. Who is it that needs defending?  Am I someones momma bear.  Often I cower.  I feel small too do anything to make a difference.  The bunny and the bird helped me realize that potential to be a difference maker doesn’t lie in size (i.e. capability) but rather in intent (i.e. just do something….anything).

A momma bear dwells inside all of us when we assume responsibility for the defenseless.

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There are some people in my life who are defending children with the vigor of a momma bear.

My brother Tom operates a non profit called The Epik Project.  It is an organization designed to battle the sex trafficking disaster.  His passion is to challenge men to take responsibility for this situation.  He believes men drive the demand for sex trafficking. Therefore, he wants to inspire men to defend the children who suffer at the hands of evil. You can read more about it at his website.

Then there is my friend Annette.  She works for an organization called Kids Hope USA.  This is an organization seeks to mentor young students who are falling through the cracks of society.  Kids who don’t have positive adult role models or support.  Annette recruits adults from local churches to participate in a weekly mentor relationship with grade school kids.  The hope is that each child will feel affirmed, cared for and empowered. They are trying to pull them up from the cracks of society. You can read more about it at the Kids Hope USA website.

You are probably thinking, these people work for these organizations, I have a job and family, I can’t devote that kind of time. Well, you are right. But you can do something.  Each one of us can.  Each one of us has a momma bear waiting to pounce.

Here’s some idea starters:

  1. Look around.  Find the needs of children in your neighborhood and town.
  2. Drop off groceries monthly to your local food pantry.  Most of the people who use these are families with children who need nutrition.
  3. Do a fund raiser to give toward a children’s charity of your choice.
  4. Do your homework, find a charity either in the U.S. or abroad that participates in defending children on some level, and give to it monthly.
  5. Take time for children in your sphere of influence.  Do you have a neighbor, niece, nephew, grandchild who needs an invested adult in their life?  Step up and find ways to build that connection.
  6. Pray.  No prayer is ever wasted.  Develop a list of children and/or causes that you commit to weekly prayer.
  7. Do you know a single parent?  Offer to baby sit for free.  Bring a meal over on a regular basis to help out.  Make yourself available to help with car pools and home projects.  Help the single moms and dads defend their kids through serving them in practical ways.

Hopefully this list has got you thinking.

Last week a young neighbor boy came to my house.  He’s no older than 10.  He and his friend were taking orders for baked goods.  He was raising money to buy two goats for a family in Haiti.  This family needs help and goats are a source of provision for a poor family.  So he was making cakes and cookies to raise funds.  He needed $150.  He was small and $150 is a lot of money, but it didn’t stop him from trying.

I asked him what made him want to do this.  He said he saw poor children in Haiti in a magazine and he thought, I can do something, so he came up with this idea.  The momma bear inside him was rallying…and he’s only a boy.

We all can learn from the boy, bunny and the bird…we can do something to defend the needs of the innocent, defenseless and unprotected children.

Think about it.

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. ~ Psalm 82:3