The Miracle of Love

The last month, and especially the last week, we have been bombarded with heavy “LOVE” messages. Heck, WalMart literally had their Valentine’s aisle halfway complete before Christmas Day…December 23rd, to be exact (I have photo proof if you want it).

Pinkness and redness have been nauseatingly displayed in every form: cards, flowers, candies, sweaters, cereal, sunglasses, mugs, etc. You couldn’t “swing a dead cat” (David’s altered metaphor) without hitting a lovey Valentines thingy. (And today they’re all on clearance for 50% off)

So many people (mostly guys) don’t like Valentine’s Day. They claim that you shouldn’t just show your loved ones your love one day a year. And they’re absolutely right. You shouldn’t. My mom, especially, always made Valentines Day something fun and celebratory, yet I felt her love and my family’s love 24/7/365. But February 14 was a day of special celebration. I look at it as a day to remind us of the importance and celebration of the privilege of sharing and showing love.

Sometimes I wonder if men wave the “Valentines-Day-is-unnecessary” flag because they just don’t want to feel the pressure…they don’t want to have to go stand with 10 other men at the greeting card display, looking for that one card that remotely says what they maybe kinda feel…which doesn’t exist…and costs as much as 3 trips to Starbucks. They don’t want to run last minute to the flower cooler at the grocery store, looking for the perfect flower arrangement (“Wait…does she like roses or daisies? and what the heck is a baby’s breath??”) It’s confounding, confusing and contrary to their makeup (well, for most men anyway.)

I am blessed with a husband that shows me his love all year long. This year, he started with a miniature, simple but so-cute card on the bathroom counter, sending me on a treasure hunt. That led me to finding a hand-made card in the pantry with some amazing chocolates attached, then on to a beautifully wrapped box in our entertainment center that held another Willow Tree Angel, the ones I collect. It was a girl holding up a bunch of yellow flowers in her skirt. Her name is Sunshine…and David told me it was because I love yellow flowers and that I was his sunshine.


My love language is gifts…not big expensive fancy gifts…to be honest, I prefer small, thought-through, unique, even hand-made gifts, with me specifically in mind. This is not “natural” for David. And I would venture a guess that it’s not natural to most men…and this has taken me a long time to get over lol Years ago, when I read a statistic or fact or whatever that most men don’t actually like buying greeting cards, but that they do it anyway because they know their wives/girlfriends/mothers/daughters like getting them, that broke my little heart. I thought, “He doesn’t WANT to get me a card? He’s FORCED to because he knows it’s the way to make me happy? He does it because i “expect” it? You mean to tell me he’s standing there at the Hallmark store, muttering like Dastardly Dog under his breath (‘sassenfraschentasschen’) because he feels as if he’s put out about getting me a little card?” Yes…to all of the above. But he has LEARNED my love language. And I would say, most of the time, he gets it right.

But love isn’t just buying the right card, choosing the right bouquet of roses, going out to the right restaurant…love is so much deeper than that. Love is so much broader and stronger and louder than that. True love involves some kind of sacrifice.

I read a story once by one of my favorite authors that touched me in the deepest part of my heart and has stuck with me ever since I read it. It was about a family in the local Buddhist community. A three year old girl in the next town over was diagnosed with leukemia. She needed a massive blood transfusion or she would die. Everyone in her family was tested to see who would be the best blood donor. It was her ten year old brother. Their parents asked him if he was willing to do this. He said he needed some time to think. A full day later, he said yes, he would do it.

At some time later, he was hospitalized, prepped, and lay on a gurney, hooked up to the blood donor equipment. His blood filled a liter bag. He was very pale. The nurse bent over him, and asked if he was okay. He said, “Yes.” Then he asked quietly, “How soon until I start to die?

Just let that sink in for a minute…………….


We get to choose to love like that every single day, We get to practice stepping out of our comfort zone, reaching down deep into our hearts and pulling out sacrificial love. We were made FROM love. We are made OF love. We are made FOR love. God made sure when he made us that we had plenty of that kind of love to pull from.

There are lots of stories of love and sacrifice that defy explanation. You’ve probably heard many of your own. And maybe one of those stories happened to you. Maybe not that someone risked their life to save yours, but just some amazing, sacrificial act of love that makes your jaw drop and your heart swell.

You know, love is so very important to God. And, as this author also said, it’s all we take with us when we cross over to the other side of eternity…the love we give and the love we receive.

That little 10-year-old boy’s love for his sister was a miracle. Love is a miracle. Loving sacrificially…loving with abandon…loving to the point that we are willing to spend our time, share our treasure, even lose our lives to love someone else…loving with no expectation of anything good in return…except the knowledge that we did exactly what we were created to do. Miracle!

It Was His Idea

Today in my Bible reading, I read the story at the end of Mark 4 – the story about Jesus calming the wind and the waves. If you’ve been in church 10 minutes in your life, you’ve probably heard that story. It’s a popular story, especially for little kids, because it’s fun to tell the story. It’s dramatic to make the wind noises and splashy sounds of the water hitting the boat. And we’ve all been scared at one time or another. Itty-bitties especially get scared about certain things in their little worlds and this is a comforting story; to know that Jesus will take care of them and protect them.

Sometimes as we get older, the stories can get old. We get jaded by their familiarity. I know that I do. I’ve been taught these stories for years…and I’ve taught them for years. It’s so easy to just rattle them off by memory, not even thinking any more about the significance. Or to hear them with, “Yeah, I’ve heard this one…and the disciples freaked out…and Jesus was asleep…and yada yada etc” ringing in our brains. Familiarity may breed contempt, but in this case, it breeds complacency.

As long as I’ve known David, he has said, especially when it comes to reading and studying the Bible, “Don’t skip over the little words.” And he is so right. Little words, short phrases, things we would often see but not really read, can make a boat-load of difference when it comes to understanding not only the story itself, but the meaning and heart behind it.

Today when I was reading in Mark 4, there was a phrase that jumped out at me that I’ve read before, many times, but when I thought of it in the context of the whole story, it meant so much more to me. I decided not to skip over these little words; not to ignore this relatively short phrase at the beginning of the story. The beginnings of stories are so important! But the beginning of this story hollered at me today. Mark 4:35 says that after preaching by the sea of Galilee, Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side.” Of the sea of Galilee, that is. And of course, by boat.

In a few hours, this sea, this sea of Galilee, was going to be hit by a monster storm. A monster storm that Jesus knew was coming…he was God, after all. The Master of the sea. The Orchestrator of the weather and the waves. And yet, it was His idea to cross the sea. The Sea of Galilee is known for its violent storms, which can come up unexpectedly and be life-threatening for anyone in a boat. Jesus knew that. Yet he said, “Hey guys…let’s get in one of these fishing boats and go across to the other side.”

We all know what a storm feels like. We’ve been in them, literally and figuratively. Maybe you’re in one right now. You feel out of control. You feel overwhelmed. None of your efforts to fix it, work it out, perfect it, smile in spite of it, try harder, master, get over or get through it are working. You’re just there in your little boat, scared out of your knickers and shaking Jesus to wake up, notice what you’re going through and do something about it.

But remember this…it was Jesus’ idea to cross this sea. He decided to cross this sea, knowing a storm was coming. He knew it was time for us to cross this sea, that a storm would meet us somewhere out in the dark, nasty middle of it, and he had every intention from the get-go to be there in it with us. He didn’t suddenly disappear when the storm came and then sneak back in when things started calming down. He sticks around through the sucky, scary part.

So whatever your storm may be today, this week, this year, He is in the storm with you. The trip was his idea. And if he said go, and you went, then you can rest assured that He’s there with you…and eventually the storm will subside. And the next time He says, “Let’s go to the other side,” you’ll be ready.

Time is Short

Four years ago today, I may have died…for a minute. I was awfully close if I didn’t.

I was on my 7th day of heavy sedation, in a coma, after being admitted to the hospital a week before for double pneumonia that went south very, very rapidly. One day I’ll write a complete story about all my experiences and you can read all the gory details, if you don’t know them already. But February 5th, 2011, was a dark day for me, even though I was in la-la land and had no idea what was happening. But it was a double-dark day for David and the rest of my family. On that day, the doctor told David he wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

I was in what David calls the “Red Zone”…I was alive, but just barely. And the various means of monitoring my health gave no indication that I was ever going to get better. He was told that I was experiencing ARDS — Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (and that diagnosis came after LOTS of trial and error to figure out the cause of my downward spiral).

I had also developed septic shock…my internal organs were on red alert and any or all of them could begin failing at any moment. My lungs were becoming “stiff” and “brittle” and weren’t accepting the oxygen being pumped into them. But thank God, the next day was the “turnaround” everyone was hoping and praying for…and I’ve never looked back.

Have you ever been that close to death? Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes? (I still experience that from time to time while riding in the car with David.) As I said, I didn’t KNOW I was close to death, but I’ve been told about it enough to feel like I actually experienced it.

It’s an eye-opening experience. To know that God’s not finished with you yet. That His “big picture” has you in it. That He still has a reason for you to sit up, take nourishment and breathe in and out. Some days, I still wonder what that reason is for me. And on others, I know exactly why He let me stay around at least four more years.

Every day is a gift. That’s not a cliche. That’s a fact, Jack! We are all, every one of us, living on borrowed time. Or as I’d rather say it, we are all living on gifted time. Every moment of restful sleep: a gift. Every full, deep breath: a gift. Every mile traveled: a gift. Every bite of food: a gift. Every minute of physical activity: a gift. Every step: a gift. Every, every, every thing: a gift.

We take these things for granted. Not on purpose. We’re not mean. We are just forgetful, us human earth people. We forget that life is fragile; that it is a mere vapor, like the fog of our breath on a window on a cold winter day. It’s there; then it’s gone. No matter if we live to be 99, or 49.

I love the way the Message Paraphrase words Psalm 144:3-4…I wonder why you care, Godwhy do you bother with us at all? All we are is a puff of air; we’re like shadows in a campfire.”

God does care. Oh, my…so much. He memorizes every breath we take…after all, he is the One giving them to us. He knows every line on our face. Every scar on our body. He counts every beat of our heart. He knows how many hairs are on our head. He watches every step we take. He catches every tear we cry in a bottle.

In our lowest of low moments, when we are feeling sorry for ourselves, or we are feeling down on ourselves, we wonder if anyone really cares. God does. My God was there with me in those lowest moments when I was near death. I know He was.

My sister wrote little letters to me while I was “away” and on that fateful February 5th day, she wrote something that has stuck with me. When wondering about my asleepness, she wrote:

“I wonder if you hear stuff around you. Will you know we’re there? Mom said you’d be mortified to know that a male nurse is bathing you. I told her, if he’s handsome, you’ll be mortified that you’re missing it. 🙂

“What goes through your mind? Are you in a deep dream? Feel like a hallucination? I pray that God is ministering to you and that He is spending sweet time with you.”

I believe with all my heart, beyond the shadow of a doubt, He was. I believe in my darkest moment, God was right there with me. He loved me. He knew me.He knew where I was and what I was going through. He looked into my past 49+ years and saw the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the good, the bad, the ugly. The loves, the fears, the wins, the losses. The laughs and the cries. The strengths and the weaknesses. But I also believe He looked into my future “however-many” years, and saw all the same things. And he said, “Yeah…I’m not done with you yet, LeeLee”.

And on Valentines Day of 2011, I woke up. And lived. And to this day, I still am. I am grateful for the time I have, however long that may be. I have things to do, y’all. And so do you. So let’s get to doing them. Time is short.

“Here Come Da Judge”

Anyone younger than me probably doesn’t recognize that title…because I know I was just a wee baby when Flip Wilson made that line popular (hehe)…..

For the last three Wednesday nights at Inside/Out, our weekly gathering of teenagers at Rock Springs Church, we’ve been studying the idea of judgment. “Judgment Call” The first two weeks were focused on judging others as worse or better than ourselves based on “_________________” (fill in the blank with your own criteria)…learning how to withhold judgment and instead to feed encouraging words into a person, whether they are like us or are not. We looked at the reasons that we make some type of judgment call, good or bad, toward other people; finding out why we assume someone will “make it” in this world or “amount to something someday” based on their present looks, behaviors, beliefs, intelligence, etc. It’s a dangerous road to traverse, yet we all do it. Teenagers do it. Adults do it. And sadly, even younger children do it…sometimes learned behavior from those around them and sometimes simply because of our sinful nature into which we are born.

This last Wednesday night we narrowed it down and focused on judging ourselves. That’s a whole new ball of yarn. I lead the high school girls group, and during our discussion, after a few of the questions, several said to me, “Man, it’s getting deep tonight!” Why? Why would looking at the idea of judging ourselves seem so much a deeper subject than judging others?

It was getting deep because we are hard on ourselves. Yes, we’re hard on others, but we’re especially hard on ourselves. We bounce back and forth between feeling like we don’t measure up to others’ expectations and not measuring up to our own expectations. It stinks. Because wherever we go, there we are. We can’t get away from ourselves, nor our own self-talk. We are very judgmental and condemning of ourselves in our thought life, especially.

“I’m so clumsy.”

“I hate that I’m not more like my mom.”

“I can’t believe how disorganized I am.”

“I knew I wouldn’t pass that test.”

“I’m just a big fat idiot.”

“I’m so stupid.”

That, and MANY MORE self-talk statements go through our minds on a minute-by-minute basis. We can’t get away from it because we are always with us. You are always with you. I am always with me. I will always remind myself of what I don’t like about myself; about what I should change about myself; about how I should be/act/talk/sing/draw/write/etc. better. It’s vicious and cruel, to be honest.

But then what happens? We assume God feels that same way about us. “You’re so clumsy.” “I hate that you’re not more like your mom.” “I can’t believe how disorganized you are.” “I knew you wouldn’t pass that test.” “You’re just a big fat idiot.” “You’re so stupid.”

God DOES NOT think those things. Yes, He is disappointed with and sad about us when we stray away…when we don’t live up to our potential…when we forget our true purpose and wander through our lives aimlessly…when we forget that we belong to him and he loves us beyond measure.

But even when we fail, God is still for us. When we are disobedient, unloving, impatient, disorganized, clumsy, short-tempered, lazy, materialistic, mean, annoying, selfish, complaining, dumb, hurtful…God is still for us. I may not be for me, but God is. And He always will be.

Two of the girls…sisters…in our group Wednesday night were talking about when the younger sister calls the older sister with a predicament and says, “Please help…” that she (older sister) will let out a disgusted puff of breath into the phone, as if to say “not again,” or a facetious “wow, what a surprise!” and hang up. Funny as that may be (and yes they were laughing about it), she also admitted that that’s how she thinks God may be with her. And don’t we all? That we’ve done that one thing one more time, and God lets out a disgusted puff of breath and says “I think I’m gonna have a heart attack and die from that surprise!” (thank you to Iago from Aladdin)…and virtually hangs up on us?

Another girl said that she imagines God following her around in her life, “pulling his hair out,” as her mother does when reacting to her behavior. Again, maybe that’s how you see God…pulling his hair out (“Does God have hair?” that same girl asked.)

As earthly earth-people, we are limited in our patience and our tolerance and our kindness and our love toward others, and most especially toward ourselves. But God has unlimited patience, tolerance, kindness and love. He doesn’t view us through the lens of frustration, anger and fed-up-ness.

He wants us to believe the best about others and ourselves, just like He does. Not easy, but so definitely worth it.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you?” (Romans 2:4 NLT)

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” (Romans 5:20 NLT)

“When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.” (Romans 5:21 MES)

My Two Dads

Yesterday, David’s message at church was on the “…Father…” part of the Disciple’s prayer…The Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13)

The word “father” brings up emotions in me that I can neither control nor explain…at least not in the way my heart truly feels.

Fifty-something and some years ago, I was born to a young dad. Without going into lots of details, let me just say that I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy to be a daughter to. All of my life, from as far back as I can remember to this very day, he has protected without being over-protective, provided without spoiling (well, maybe a little), advised without being annoying, instructed without making me feel dumb, encouraged without being imposing, and trusted without question. Three words pop out: I AM BLESSED. I’ve never known a man, or really almost anyone, who has loved so unconditionally. Don’t get me wrong…my dad doesn’t overlook the shortcomings in someone else’s life…but he loves them anyway, hoping and trusting for the best in that person, no matter what. He is, and always has been, a picture of Jesus..of God the Father…in my life. I have no problem seeing God as a good Abba Daddy…because I’ve known one all my life.

To add to the amazing blessing of having an amazing Christ-like birth father, almost 36 years ago I was introduced to the man who would become my other dad…my father-in-law, my father-in-love. I married his son 3 years after that. Not only did I marry his son, but I married his family…because I moved straight from my home into a relationship with three people: David and his parents. Nay, five…add his paternal grandparents to that. We traveled together, we vacationed together, we went to movies together, we ate together, we rode together, we ministered together. We laughed, we loved, we talked, we cried, we fought, we everythinged. Those first years were tough, no doubt. We found out how much we could handle living in such close proximity and under the stress of traveling from one church to another over 40 weeks of the year…spending nearly every waking moment together.

To skip all the details of the in-between years, I’ll bring you up to the last 4-5 specifically. My father-in-law truly became my other dad. He didn’t replace my birth dad, but he complemented him. I’ve always loved him undeniably, and honored and respected him, but over the past years of the trying times of my cancer and literally moments from death at one point, our relationship concreted like I believe it never would have otherwise.

He became my #1 cheerleader. I don’t care what I cooked for a family meal, it was “the best meal I’ve [he’d] ever had!” I don’t care what I wore to church on any given Sunday, I looked “prettier than I’d ever looked.” I don’t care what I sang or played during any service, it was “the best I’d ever done.”

He wasn’t buttering me up. He wasn’t blowing smoke. My father-in-law was the Master Encourager. He made me feel like not only his “favorite daughter-in-law” (I was his ONLY daughter-in-law)…but he made me feel like the most important girl in the room. And in his later years, which were far too few, he realized the treasure of family and friend more than he ever had. When I lost him, I lost a large part of me. When David spoke yesterday of the kind of father Brad had been to him, I wept bitter tears, fighting the temptation to ask God “Whyyyy!?” one more time.

As David said yesterday, when many people hear the word “father,” the most negative of thoughts accompany it. Sadly, more than ever in today’s time, a large majority of people grew up or are growing up with an absent, abusive or apathetic father. Fathers who, not only do not lead their family spiritually, but don’t lead their families at all. Who are unpredictable or uncaring at best. I work with our teenagers on Wednesday nights and there are many, especially young boys, who do not have a strong loving father figure in their life. So to these boys, and many, many other people, God being our “father” is scary. Fearful. Boring. Or “big whoop.”

But God is the good dad. He’s the Dad that every dad should aspire to be like. David gave us two things about the character of God the Father yesterday: 

1) He is a caring father and…

2) He is a consistent father.

These two things alone should be enough to turn 180 degrees toward his arms. My two dads were BOTH caring and consistent. I’m also married to a dad who is caring and consistent. I have many friends who are married to and who have fathers who are caring and consistent. I pray that I raised a son that will also be that kind of father one day.

But if you were not blessed to be raised by a dad like that, to be married to a dad like that, to have a father-in-law/love like that, you have the greatest invite and do-over in the history of humankind…to be in a close and loving relationship as the son or daughter of the God of the universe…the perfect father…the good father…THE caring and consistent father of all time. The Daddy who will be to you all that a Daddy should be.

I am so looking forward to next week to find out the next character traits of God…”Our Father”………

Lessons from the DMV

Ok, so…I had to go to the DMV today. (And anyone who is a writer just HAS to write about the experience if they’ve been.)

I’d almost rather go to the dentist or the gynecologist or the proctologist before going to the DMV. But I had to renew my driver’s license. And yes, I could have done it online…if i hadn’t let the expiration go for 4 months nearly (yes, I did.) So, I stood in line behind about 8 people, each with differing weightiness to their tasks. Each facing their responsibilities with different levels of happiness…or lack thereof.

The man in front of me was rather pleasant…once we’d been in line for 5 minutes or so. When I first walked in, thinking I was supposed to take a number (like the sign said), I walked up sort of between two people already in line to grab one (a number, not a person…) One lady near the number roll said no one was taking numbers (go figure…any other day). So, I turned to head to the end of the line. I’m not sure I would have known where the end was had it not been for the older, white-haired, pony-tailed, Ducky-Dynasty-bearded man saying, “The line ends here. Thank God I’m not the last one in line any more.” Wait…what? lol

After a few minutes, and him making some under-the-breath comments like “I hope they take a credit card, because I don’t carry cash since I was mugged and stabbed 14 times in Nashville” and “Guess I better comb my hair if they’re gonna take my picture” (after which he pulled a brush from his “satchel” and proceeded)…to “Man it’s getting hot in here”…we finally started having a relatively decent conversation. I found out he’s a truck driver that grew up in Madison, Tennessee, just north of Nashville. We talked about my college days there at Belmont and that his nephew graduated from there; how everything has changed so much since then; how in his early 20’s, he worked for the construction company that poured the concrete and erected the steel beams that help support and make up Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital; how he was transferring his CDL license from Tennessee to Colorado.

I am an introvert. That’s no secret. I don’t usually initiate conversations with other people in a DMV line…or any other line. I stand to the side at gatherings of more than 4 people (especially people I don’t know…and sometimes people I do). I observe. I watch. I listen. But invariably, God will put me behind or in front of someone who is a chatterbox. Who feels like they need to share many varied intimate details about their life and love and whatevs with me. And I listen. And I comment and converse appropriately. God knows this makes me uncomfortable. God knows that I want to make a new exit or run out and come back later when the line is shorter…or non-existent. (Or get David to go do it for me lol)

Even at the DMV, there are several life lessons that I learned:

1. I can be patient.

Never once did I roll my eyes or breathe hard. I know…it’s hard to believe. But I just kept the big picture in mind. It may be a while, but this WILL be over with before dinner (for one thing, they close at 5:00) and then I won’t have to do it again for years. I remembered that there was much more to my life than the experience at the DMV. And if I displayed patience, maybe it would spill out onto other people and they’d breathe deeper as well. I certainly wouldn’t have made matters worse, anyways.

David has said many, many times, and as recently as last Sunday, “Don’t EVER pray for patience. If you definitely want a prayer answered, that’s the prayer to pray.” But I have found that you don’t even have to pray for patience; just go to the DMV…or the bank…or to renew your license tags at the courthouse…or Walmart on payday. No prayer necessary. It’ll be hot. It’ll be boring. There will be one lady working behind the desk. The line will move slower than a sloth. There will be a toddler building a fort out of chairs. There will be a lady standing behind you talking loud on her cell phone. There will be someone somewhere in the near vicinity that will reek of body odor. P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E.

Also, keep in mind that the people around you probably don’t want to be there any more than you do. They didn’t wake up this morning excited about and anticipating the possibility and experience of standing in an endless, boring, uncomfortable line somewhere. But I bet any of them would rather be there than in the best ICU in the country.

God love her, but that one-and-only DMV worker there today was being very patient. Not overly friendly, but not unfriendly by any means. Just very matter-of-fact. I know that job is like one of the armpit jobs of government positions. There was even a sign on the wall that said something to the effect of “no firearms allowed inside the DMV” and “anyone using violence or foul language or exhibiting threatening behavior will be escorted off the premises.” You don’t put signs up like that if you don’t expect to have a problem with it.

2. It’s ok to freak out a little bit.

Having said all that, it’s important to know that freak outs do happen. But it’s best to save them for the parking lot later. The lady about four people in front of me had recently married and moved, so not only had her name changed, but so had her address. She found out that there were about 3-4 other things she should have brought with her or should have done before she even walked in there. She handled it pretty well, actually, but if it had been me, I’m afraid I may have pouted like a five year old: “But whyyyy?” Maybe even stomped my foot a little. Ok, there’s no maybe about any of that.

It’s best to smile politely at the employee and go to the car and whine and feel sorry for yourself there. We all need to give into our emotions at times in a safe place. But WE need to control them and not let them control us. And we certainly don’t need to spew that all over everyone around us. Get hold of it…then let it go.

3. It’s ok to connect with strangers.

I could easily go about my life interacting with only certain people. Our everyday walking around lives…work or coffee shop or other social activities might not expose us to a diversity of ages, races, personal hygiene, etc. But government offices give us that chance. Everybody has to come to the DMV. Where else does a group of strangers from every walk of life pile in a room and really have nothing to do for about an hour? What better place to engage with someone new? Learn something new? Make a brand new connection with someone who may be quite interesting?

4. Don’t forget to celebrate the victory.

When it was all over, I threw a mini party! I let out a “Yesss” under my breath. I did a little victory dance right out there on the parking lot next to the car. I had my afternoon back! I texted David right away and said “I’m done!!” I rejoiced in the fact that I could drive without guilt or fear of getting pulled over for a simple reason and they find my license expired. After going through that even mildly stressful time, I could let go. So I went and treated myself with a big iced tea from Maverick and sang loud with the radio!

So the next time you find yourself in a high-stress situation, that you’d rather not be in, remember to find the good in it. Remember to concentrate on the positive and eliminate the negative. Because it certainly doesn’t make the line move any faster.

I Quit!!

Don’t worry…I’m not quitting blogging. I’m only just beginning.

“Quit.” It’s not a popular word. Or idea. Or concept. (Ok, I’ll “quit” finding synonyms.)

We don’t like to quit. We label ourselves quitters or failures…or we’re afraid someone else will. No one wants to be a quitter.

But so often, we find ourselves stuck in that little hamster wheel, continuing to boogity-boogity along, thinking the wheel will stop on its own. It won’t. I promise. It will only stop when we quit boogity-boogitying.

One of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, quits something every Thursday. Most of the time it’s small stuff, like biting his nails and stuff. But sometimes its big stuff. I read that he actually resigned from a board because it was a Thursday.

The idea is twofold:

1. Get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be in your life.

2. Realize you don’t have to be stuck in the hamster wheel.

Warren Buffet says the secret to successful people is that they have learned to say no to almost everything.

I’m not big on resolutions. For one thing, I don’t follow through. Well, rarely. And maybe you feel the same way. But 2015 can be the year of quitting. Maybe it’s something big like quitting a job or a sucky relationship. Maybe it’s biting your nails or eating donuts or self-condemnation or comparing or complaining or procrastinating or running away from God or playing Despicable Me: Minion Rush all the time (ok, that’s just me). You know what you need to quit; you’re thinking of it right now. I don’t really have to suggest anything because we all wake up every morning wishing something was different. Wishing we could stop something or quit something. And believe me, I could make a very long list of those things, but that’s my list. You have yours.

We can live exciting, fun, successful lives. We weren’t created to be born, to be bored and then to be buried. We can invest our lives in things that bring life, that bring breaths of fresh air, that make us want to get up in the morning. And we can quit the things that don’t. What if by the end of 2015, you could look back and say, “Yes, that’s better.” What if?

Oh The Places We’ll Go

We’re leaving in about 7 hours to head south for Christmas. I’ve been spending the evening up to now making sure clothes were washed and dishes were put away and the table clear of wrapping and tissue paper (to keep our cat Lucy from being tempted to play and shred too much in our absence)…packing a bag of snacks to carry since NOTHING is open on Christmas Day but gas stations (if we’re lucky)…double-checking that all presents are accounted for and wrapped, getting the coffee maker loaded and ready to spill out liquid energy when we wake. “Busy, busy, busy” (said in the voice of Professor Hinkle in the animated Frosty the Snowman.)

Holiday time is highway time. Ever since Joseph and Mary packed their bags for Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus has caused people to hit the road. Interestingly, the Christmas trips we take have a lot in common with the maiden voyage of Jesus’ folks. We don’t see shepherds in the middle of the night, but we have been known to bump into an in-law on the way to the bathroom. We don’t sleep in stables, but a living room full of sleeping-bagged cousins might smell like one. And we don’t ride donkeys, but 6 hours in a minivan with four kids might make some moms wish they had one.

“Tis the season to be traveling.” Nothing reveals the true character of family members like a long road trip. Dads have a need for speed, traveling far and fast, stopping for nothing but gasoline and a Slim Jim. Moms know the exact reason dads want to be the ones driving: the civil war in the backseat. And kids become wolfmen: fangs, growls, claws all come out. Common courtesies disappear into the same black hole as dropped French fries. Siblings are totally incapable of normal human conversation.

Christmas traveling isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t easy. So why do we do it? Why stuff the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer: We love to be with the ones we love.

So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between Him and us, there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So He did something about it.

“Christ…gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined He would do such a thing? What a world He left! He became like us. Just look at the places He was willing to go: feed troughs, carpentry shops, badlands, and cemeteries. The places He went to reach us show how far He will go to touch us. To be with us. He loves to be with the ones He loves. Just like us.

So if you are traveling today…whether its 25 minutes or 9 hours…through rain or snow or sleet or hail or wind, to get to the ones you love, remember what Christ did over 2000 years ago to be with you. He did it because He loves you. He loves me. And He gave up everything to get to us. Thank Him. Today and every day.