The Cookie Tin


Every week my mom made a tin of chocolate chip cookies. The tin was kept in a cabinet by the stove, middle shelf.  It never changed.  She always used to say it had to last through the week.  It rarely did because the cookies came out when friends came over.

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The cookies were always a hit.  I’m not sure if it was because they tasted so good or if it was because it was part of the experience coming to the Perez home.  Everyone knew where the cookie tin was.  Everyone was welcome to grab a cookie. Mom had a way of making sure they knew that.  But that was part of her charm.

My friends loved coming to my house because of my mom.  She was (and still is) this warm, inviting and attentive presence.  Never intrusive, demanding or loud, just always there with a smile, hug and kind conversation.  The cookie tin was evidence of the hospitality in her heart.

Hospitality is the art of welcoming others.

People are drawn to hospitality.

Hospitality says you belong. 

It puts people at ease and allows their guard to come down. There is a feeling of acceptance when hospitality is extended. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t need to feel this way.

It’s not always something that comes easily. If we don’t feel welcomed or a sense of belonging in our own world it feels difficult to offer it to someone else. But that’s where we get things backwards.  We recoil when what we need most is to move towards. Hospitality multiplies a sense of belonging and love in us when we give it to others.  Our tank fills up when we lean into hospitality. Just because we haven’t received it does NOT disable us from giving it. It does not take much to let someone else know you welcome and invite their presence with you. To show that you are aware of others around you and are interested.  To notice and acknowledge another is one of the greatest expressions of kindness. This is one of the best ways to be a human.

This cookie tin memory has me thinking about the ways I welcome others in my life. The ways that I can be hospitable.  I may not have a tin of cookies to offer. But ..

  • I can offer a warm smile or the gift of attention.
  • I can be diligent in keeping my house as presentable as possible so that it’s inviting, ready and unencumbered when unexpected friends come.
  • I can engage with others. Learning the art of asking questions to so I can better see into their world.
  • I can make a bedroom comfortable and pleasant when a someone stays the night.
  • I can choose to not be on my phone in a store so that I’m giving attention to the strangers around me as I shop. For even the stranger needs to be noticed and acknowledged.
  • I can stop what I’m doing and look my husband in the eye as we reconnect at the end of the day.
  • I can give faithful greetings to those whom I see every day and show interest in their life.
  • I can invite others to my home for a meal. Just because being together matters.

Hospitality is a gift that is opens us up beautifully.

It’s easier sometimes to avoid contact with others but hospitality reminds us that it is much better to belong than it is to be alone. We can all use a little more hospitality, don’t you think?

What is your tin of cookies?

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I Love You

Three very simple words that possess the power to literally change everything.
We’ve heard them so may times we don’t always realize their full implication.
If we don’t hear them, it has a profoundly negative impact on our life.
If we don’t say them, it has a profoundly negative impact on our life.

But what if that’s all you could say? -Continue Reading

When Nothing Changes and Nothing Stays the Same

There are some people in my family who have been wearing certain clothing items for a long, L-O-N-G, time.  These clothes are allegedly, ahem, “broken in” and so comfy that they just a can’t seem to get rid of them or not wear them.

Are you like this?


I’m not.

I can’t fill the Goodwill bag fast enough.  My motto is if you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re not ever going to wear it again.  Get rid of it.  But that’s me. I like to make room for change.  I like to see what else I can find.  -Continue Reading

Diamonds and Other Precious Things

I’m just going to be real honest here.  I love treasure hunting. Not in the way you’re probably thinking.  I’m not talking about garage sale-ing or shopping for clearance.  I’m talking hard core treasure hunting; like searching for gold, buried treasure and stuff like that.

Now another confession moment, I’ve never actually been on a treasure hunt, unless you consider an afternoon on the beach with a less than cooperative metal detector, or riffling through old houses at an estate sale.  But I really want to go on one.  It’s a bucket list kind of a thing.

I recently discovered a state park in Arkansas where you can actually search for diamonds in the rubble of a diamond bearing volcanic crater.  If you find a diamond,  you can keep it.


You can find a diamond and take it home.

Who doesn’t want to do that?  Well, ok, so maybe that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine but it does mine.  I have something in me that wants to push through the dirt, rubble and obstacles to find something of great worth.

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When I looked at the pictures of the diamonds people were finding in the park I was surprised. They didn’t look like what I thought they would. I didn’t know they came in so many colors

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The diamonds I have mainly seen are white.  These seem to be the gem of choice for jewelry.  Diamonds typically have been a symbol of wealth and status, opulence and beauty.  Many women prefer a diamond for an engagement ring because it reflects that she has been valued beyond the worlds most desirable gemstone.

But looking at the diamonds from the Arkansas park opens up an entirely new conversation. Does a diamond in the rough have the same value as those that have been polished and cut? Are they not just as much of a diamond?  Is a rough diamond as worthy of a pursuit as a perfectly crafted one?

It seems the diamond of great popularity is the perfectly crafted stone displayed in all its’ glory.  The image of beauty and distinction. Anything less won’t do.

We are all diamonds.

Oh, I would like to reflect the most desirable diamond, however. The one that is cut at the right angle to complement my shape.  The one that fits perfectly into a setting that sparkles and catches everyones admiring eye.  I don’t want to be the diamond of many colors, sizes or shapes.  I don’t want to be clear on one side and cloudy on the other as many diamonds are.

Truth be told, I am that diamond. I have many facets to my personality, experiences, preferences and presence.  You do too.  But why is it that we only find a certain attribute, a perfectly cut diamond, to be the one we want to be esteemed above all else?  Why are we afraid? Why are we uncomfortable with ourselves?  Why is it that we feel an image is something we have to “keep up”?

We are so much more than an image.

Jesus met a woman once while traveling. (Check out John 4) This woman had an image.  It was the only image that fit her at the time and she wore it well. She was a woman who appeared to not be very well liked, to have made mistakes and perhaps gotten herself into situations that she was being judged for.  She couldn’t keep up with images of the honorable women of her day so she succumbed to pressure by staying away from her community. She had no choice but to embrace being a woman with the image of dishonor. An image that wasn’t truly who she was. In feeling unworthy, I wonder if the colors, shapes and cloudiness of her life seemed to disqualify her from being loved and accepted?

We are afraid of being disqualified.

Holding up an image always put us on the defensive, never knowing if someone will pull back the curtain and see the real us is something we protect ourselves against.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes the real us isn’t what the world wants to see anyway.  At times, it’s not what our closest loved one wants to see. They want the perfectly shaped and cut diamond. They don’t want the one that takes the work.  Ouch, but true.

I wonder how often I disqualify the ones that I love because they aren’t as I want them to be or even as I need them to be?

Am I willing to accept the uncut diamonds for their implicit value not for the value of what they bring once they are all fixed up?

Jesus didn’t buy into what the woman was selling. He begins to talk to her not as the devalued, disavowed woman that she believes herself to be, but as a person of worth.  He starts out simple.  He asks her for a drink of water.

Jesus always starts out simple.

He pursues conversation. One of the purest ways to value another human being is to simple engage.  Jesus gives her His time. She is caught off guard by this. No one wants to talk to her but Jesus does. Oh He sees that she isn’t like the other women.  She has taken an alternative path in life, one that has probably come with heartache, disdain and conflict but this doesn’t disqualify her. There are not limits to unconditional love. There are no social, political or religious positions to defend with Jesus. He’s not trying to convince her of anything.  He’s just being Jesus, loving Lord.

Jesus shows there is more than meets the eye.

As their conversation unfolds it’s obvious that this woman is informed and smart.  Jesus has a way of revealing our intelligence to us when we didn’t think we had any. They discuss spiritual matters. Then they discuss real world matters.  It’s obvious that this woman is raw but brave.  Jesus has a way of revealing our bravery to us when we didn’t think have courage. He shows her who she is, not who she has believed herself to be, not as who she wanted the world to see her as, albeit a controversial or cast off.

She is a diamond in the rough and Jesus loves her for it.

There is so much more to people than meet the eye.  Too often I allow boundary lines, color lines, preference lines and battle lines keep me from seeing the diamonds in my midst.

I am guilty. I often only see what people aren’t not what they are.

So I want to go to Arkansas.  I want to go on my treasure hunt.  I want to find diamonds, all kinds of them.  I need to go.  I need to see diamonds as they really are, not as I want them to be.

I want to be a treasure hunter, like Jesus. He helps me know that a diamond in the rough is worth digging for. He would  know.

When someone you love hurts…

What do you do when someone you love is hurting?

What do you say?

When a loved one is hurting emotionally, physically, financially, professionally or relationally how do you respond?


At first I imagine most of us react the same way.  We are quick to call, text or email.  We show up with visits to the hospital and bring meals to the home.  We listen, empathize and pray.  We offer to babysit, make a phone call, do some networking or meet for lunch. We send encouraging notes that are tucked with verses of victory and strength.  We cheerlead, motivate and preach.  We repair stuff, help interpret diagnosis’s and research helpful articles. We do anything to help take away the pain so hope can thrive.

But what about when things don’t get better after a week, or two or seven? When weeks turn into months and months into years? How do you handle it then?

People I love have experienced significant hurt, long term hurt, no easy answers kind of hurt. Dear souls tangled in painful scenarios that just won’t go away.  It’s impossible to not be affected.  It hurts to journey with someone whose hurt goes on. Once you’ve emptied yourself of every encouraging deed and word you can think of you eventually collide with their pain. Now you both hurt.

Mom and Jake

So what do you do when you begin to feel their pain because things just aren’t getting better?

Do you run out of things to say?  Do you stop asking because you don’t want to make it harder?  Do your emails and calls slow or stop all together?  Do you still come over for visits like in the beginning?  Do you avoid them because it’s too hard? Do you think about them?

We had a long season of hurt in our home. For the first time ever we experienced long term unemployment during the recession.  For a while it seemed as if the entire state was unemployed.  People were wonderful to us.  So much care, encouragement and support. But as weeks turned into months, which turned into years, things got quiet. Really quiet. I don’t think for minute that people didn’t care.  I think people just didn’t know how to care anymore.

When relief and answers don’t come for our loved ones what exactly are we supposed to do?

There were a few people who were constant. We treasured their presence. One friend called weekly, without fail. She listened for countless hours to my dialog that never seemed to change. Her prayers, unwavering and undying. Another friend invited my husband to lunch.  Every week.  Without fail. There they talked about everything or nothing. He simply showed up. A beautiful couple never gave up hope that God would help us. At the most unexpected and poignant times they were His messengers of aid to us. It was uncanny.  All of their gentle kindnesses pierced our darkness.  None of them had answers or remedies, only their presence.

They hurt with us. They felt the pain of silence and loss along side us.  They wrestled with their own expectations for God and people as they watched us slide deeper into hurt. They let themselves be hurt by our pain.

Sometimes you cannot do anything for others.

Sometimes you can only be with others.

A friend who enters the hurt of another.

Friends who risk being clumsy.

When we are willing to hurt with those who hurt we offer friendship in the lowest of places.  The place where hurt persists and relief is out of sight.

These low places are the most desperate places of our soul, the place where fear rumbles and frightens. No one can ignore vulnerability here.  Going into these low places, even for the sake of a loved one, means dealing with our own frailties, uncertainties, doubts and vulnerabilities. Everything that doesn’t get answered the way we want becomes front and center. I think this is why people don’t know what to do when the hurting goes on and on. They aren’t prepared to go that low. But love reaches deep.  It gets muddy. It enters doubt.

Something unusual also happens when you go to the low places with a hurting loved one. Light begins to shine. It’s not like a brilliant full moon that illuminates the darkness.  It’s more like a sky full of stars. Tiny dots of lights. Every hurting moment shared a new light pokes through the darkness. The starry night, a thing of beauty. The weathered soul in a weary place accompanied by the presence of loving friendship, a thing of beauty. I wonder if this is one of the greatest gifts we can give the world? To go into the lowest places with our loved ones, acknowledge their pain, let it rub against us? What if we don’t leave them alone? I wonder what good would come if we learned how to care for others when our encouraging ideas end and the hurt goes on? I wonder what would change if we learned how to get better at being “with” others?   What if we were more like stars than the moon?

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The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.  Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. ~Psalm 19:1-4