Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I wanted to talk to you about something special and important today. Valentine’s Day is HERE!!! When I think of Valentine’s Day

I think of the heart

Doesn’t the heart of every woman want to feel cherished, valued, and deeply loved? Don’t you want to know, without a doubt, that your husband thinks you are beautiful?

For many woman, Valentine’s Day is a day of dashing hopes, disappointed hearts and broken expectations.  Here in Boonsville, we are always calving when Valentine’s Day comes. This means we can’t leave the ranch and we’ve been up several times in the night, for weeks already. We’re exhausted.  There is no energy for romance.

For many years it was a long fall from my expectations on Valentine’s Day, to reality.

I began to pray

I prayed that God would reveal  romance to me. I prayed that He would show me the heart of my husband.

My mind went back to the day I was hurriedly cooking supper, which was late. The kids were hungry, the house was in disarray.  In walked my husband after a refreshing walk, with one single flower in hand. It was a Lady’s Slipper, a delicate orchid like flower that grows on the forest floor…named for its appearance.  This delicate flower looks like the slipper of a tiny forest princess.  Exasperated and harried, I put it in water and set it on the counter.

A whispering breeze…You are beautiful

 

Now I thought back to the time I was busy with schooling the children. Desperately concentrating on the mathematical mayhem before me, frustration building…

“Want to go for a walk?” he asks. “The sun is shining.” He smiles at me.

A loving hug, a warm whisper…You are my sun.
You are worthy of my time. I adore you.

 

I remembered the day I was picking up socks and gathering laundry when he gave me the smile; and shut the bedroom door.  Thinking to myself (but thankfully not speaking it), “ARE you kidding? Have you seen the pile of laundry out there?!”

A sweet embrace…I am enraptured by your love, entranced by your beauty.

 

Sometimes we miss the romance in the busy-ness of our day as Wife and Mom. Supper can wait. Math won’t go away. Laundry will still be there.
The world won’t fall.

Take the time to embrace those moments.
Appreciate the romance in them.
Pray to hear the heart of your love.

My husband is sweet and thoughtful and thinks of all kinds of little details everyday to make me feel loved.  Don’t allow expectations to steal your joy on February 14th. It is not about the day.

It’s about the heart

I know that in my husband’s eyes, I am beautiful, valuable, and worthy of his time and affections…that he is enraptured with my love.

Solomon 1:14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms

In the vineyards of En Gedi

I know that my husband’s heart walks with mine

So, From My Heart To Yours – everyday, may the heart of romance wrap around you, and your marriage, like the gardens of En Gedi.

You might also like today’s post on Valentine’s Day over at Evangel Chapel’s site…go check it out!~

Through the Eyes of Whom?

On the cusp of the previous post, I AM NOT AN EVANGELIST…I have been thinking. In fact, God’s been pouring stuff into my heart at such a rate, I can barely process it all. Aren’t we saying something about God every minute of everyday?  I mean whether we are purposeful about it or not!  Again I think I have a unique vantage point because Mr. Handsome isn’t a believer so I see from both sides of the coin – I know that he watches every move of every person who claims to have Christ in their heart. You might not notice his gaze, but it’s there, quiet and strong. He also watches those who make no claim.

I have been writing a lot lately and I asked a dear friend if I could interview him – I am interested in his perspective as an unbeliever married to a believer.  His response intrigued me and challenged me all at once.  My friend said that more often than not, Christians hide themselves behind “serving others” or the fact that because they have Christ in their hearts, they don’t sin anymore.  He he has felt the judgement of Christians and it doesn’t leave him with invitations or more questions, it leaves him with a sour taste in his mouth.

Jesus came to show us the WAY to live…I wonder if sometimes we’re so busy trying to “figure it out” and “do it right” that we forget what LIFE is all about. Life is for the living, it’s about living. I think about all the ways I’ve messed up in the past, how many times I’ve shown, not Christ in my behavior, but myself. My weaknesses. My ugliness. It happens. It will happen again. There will be people who are watching me, because of my claims, and who will pounce and say, “SEE! I knew it!” …hopefully they will offer me grace and forgiveness. Hopefully I can offer the same thing to them. Just like every culture – there are good people and bad people.  Let’s be honest. There are good people who aren’t believers. There are bad people who are. I guess if we are really being honest, is there such a thing as good or bad – is that it easy? Or is it more complicated?

There are wounded people.

Some hide it better than others – sometimes it makes good people do bad things.

When I begin to focus on the believers vs. unbelievers – a certain level of panic rises within me…what if I do it wrong?  What if they see me at my worst? What if they realize I am a sinner? What if they are there in that one moment when an ugly word slips out of my mouth or that moment when I snap at my child in frustration?! What if…what if…what if…

Let me alleviate all doubt – I am a sinner. I am wounded. I am broken. I make mistakes. I am not perfect.

I am also a daughter to the King of Kings. I am created with purpose, with passion, with love. I can be silly. I love to laugh. I sing at the top of my lungs when I bake, sometimes I even dance around the kitchen. I love to serve people. I love to listen. I love to share. I love good coffee and better friendship. I cry, sometimes because I’m sad and sometimes because I’m happy.

If I fret over all of the eyes that look at me and just how they see me – I’ll be in a never ending cycle of doubt and even fear and I’ll always be searching for a way to make them see me better!

Here’s the truth. Here is the only answer I can give to my friend, or anyone else who asks the question…

How have I been impacted by Christ in my life?

Well before I gave Him the Great Invitation – the weight of the world fell on my shoulders. Performance. Perfectionism. Money. Materialism. Work. To me, understanding what it is to be the child of God changed (changes) me in a way I could never have dreamed or ask and in ways I never want to go back. When you know what it is to be an adopted child, loved like nothing you’ve ever known on earth, it changes your perspective. When you truly understand that you are worth, literally worth dying for; it changes the way you look at yourself.  When you know that even though you have done the things you have and you should be dead (or worse), you are loved beyond measure…loved enough that He would watch His own son be tortured on the cross to pay for your sins, it changes the way you love others. When you know that no matter what you do or don’t do, he will keep loving you, forgiving you and offering you grace; it changes the way you offer forgiveness and grace to others.

That isn’t a promise from me to you. It’s still your choice. You can be a Christian and not think about any of those things. You can give the Great Invitation and choose to allow none of these things to shape your heart. You may ask yourself, what’s the point of it all, church, Bible study?  Well if what you just read isn’t the impact God is having on you – then maybe you’re missing the point.  Maybe you’re so busy looking at yourself through the eyes of others – others who, no matter how much they love you, will fail you, will hurt you, will miss you at times…

Try looking at yourself through the eyes of the
Father who longs to know you.

That is all He really cares about is your heart and relationship with Him.
There is no mold. There is no MUST DO list.
Just love and relationship with someone who loves you so much,
he died for you.

I am NOT an EVANGELIST

God’s been asking me lately who I am.  I have given him lots of answers, good one too; I have a huge heart to counsel, to listen, to vulnerably share my heart and my story with others.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a mentor.  He keeps asking so there must be more answers I haven’t tapped into yet…

Our church is in the midst of a HUGE transition. We’ve just moved out of our long time home, a tiny little building that has been my home (on and off) for over 30 years. Oh I love that little house. I love the people in it.  For the next 3 months or so, we’re going mobile. We’ll be hosted by a variety of school gyms and buildings around our city until our new home is ready for move in!  I know it’s going to be a lot of work but I think our dedicated Evangelites are up to the task…

It’s also going to be a time of preparing.

Our new building has a history of her own. It’s been a long time commercial building and has been home to a host of stores over my lifetime.  It rests deep in the core of our downtown center.  Wouldn’t it be neat to see through her eyes, all the changes that have taken place in our city – she’s been privy to it all! Our leadership has been busy planning for longer than I am even aware, I’m sure. Now they are knee deep, maybe neck deep in the thick of renovating and seeing the fruition of a vision and dream God has given to each of them, in their own unique ways. I appreciate the pastor and leadership teams and all they have put into this move.

What about us? The body. What is our part? I keep hearing Him whisper…I keep feeling Him nudge.

Who are you Laurel?

I’ve had some deep, meaningful conversations with some of my Evangel family (my E-family) over the past few months.  Some are excited about it, some are distressed and some aren’t thinking about it at all – but one thing is clear, change is coming.  God doesn’t plunk us downtown city center and expect things to stay the same!  We’re going to have a lot of new faces and people who want to come out and see what we’re all about. What are we going to do with all those people? We’d best get ready!

A friend gave me the book Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels. If you aren’t one who likes a good challenge, best steer clear of this one!  Right now I’m more than half way through and his challenge is to write out your story, how your life was impacted by Christ in a before and after caption, in 100 words or less.  Has anyone ever asked you why you are so fired up about God or who this GOD is anyway?!  Have you thought about how you would answer if they did?  Friends you can bet when the move happens, you’re going to hear that question.  In fact if we’re living the Jesus Way – I would hope that inspires others to ask this question on a frequent basis!  God’s preparing us, all in our own ways, to answer that question.  Since my beloved is an unbeliever, he’s asked me this question many times.  I’m grateful for a God who gives me more than one opportunity to answer – I hope I’m getting better at it! I challenge you to think about what your answer would be. This book says we have 3 minutes tops to tell our story to those who are far from God in a way that keeps them engaged and leaves them with more questions!

We have to start somewhere, I wonder if maybe we have to ask ourselves what it means to be a Christian? What does that look like as a body, but also as an individual. Sometimes it’s a nudge to befriend someone who is hard to love, or commit to praying for someone for 365 days. Sometimes it’s taking our busy neighbor’s dog for a walk or just being there for someone, no strings attached; sometimes it’s as easy as getting up and walking across the room.

As I was typing this out, it really struck me how our name, Evangel Chapel, is the beginning of EVANGEList.  If you are wondering, if you are saying I am NOT an Evangelist – if you are a Christ-follower, that IS who you are! …and if you want to talk more about it, contact me and let’s arrange coffee.

“I know who you are Laurel, and I want to tell others…invite others. Don’t be scared.” He says.

Hello, my name is Laurel.

Just leave the rest to Him…let God do His thing!

The Mischief of Elves

This is a RE-post from days gone by…it’s just SO much fun I want to share it again 🙂

I’ve mentioned in other posts some of the fun things we do in December (see 25 days of snowflakes) as well as reading our advent.  We found a series of great advents, there are three books and even though our kids are older now – they still love it when I read to them.  There is Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels (the one we’re reading now) and Bartholomew’s Passage; they are written by Arnold Ytreeide. Just to warn you parents with little ones, they do have scary events in them so pre-read before sharing with littles.

I wanted to share a few really fun ideas/things we do with our kids.  Every year we decorate the house for Christmas on December 1st; we put up the snowflakes in the window and our little Christmas village.  As soon as the village is set up,

the elves begin to make mischief!

We have a little skating rink that we made out of blue foil, the kids have made little benches out of popsicle sticks over the years and we got some cute figurines of people skating.  The elves love to fool with the village and often we wake up to find that the dog is on top of the chimney on the old bakery!  At times we’ve found that the tractor which goes in the barn is hanging from the bridge!  Every now and again our elves get so busy making mischief that they forget a piece of clothing. One year I made the tiniest little felt elf shoes.  Another year I made a lovely fleece cloak for one of the lil girl elves with a little tiny braided scarf and a small little hat.  When the elves leave these items, they often need repair of some sort so I get the kids to stitch them together or mend a hole – the elves are so grateful when they return that they leave small gifts (often a Christmas movie).  Sometimes Songbird and I sew tiny little dresses or vests as gifts for the elves.  Oh it’s so much fun!!

Now on our forum for wives, we share ideas and I’ve been given permission to share a few here with you!  One of our gals used cotton to make a snow drift on the kitchen table. Here in Northern Canada, we can just do this for real outside… as it happened, just as the elves were coming to deliver a load of chocolate candy kisses, their Lego truck got stuck in the drift. You can imagine they had to unload the kisses in an attempt to free themselves…but to no avail.  They had to abandon the mission.  Tiny little footprints (using icing sugar) showed their trail as they attached a rope to the truck and scuffled down from the table, out the backdoor.

In another family, the elves left Rudolf noses one evening.  They also left Mr. Pauper’s Penguins as well as some popcorn one night. Sometimes the elves leave supplies for Christmas crafts or if they’re feeling naughty, they may rearrange the nativity set!

There have been times when Mom has been too busy to set up the village and the elves  ‘toilet paper’ed’ our living room and left a little tiny note saying that they came to visit and play in the village but it wasn’t set up yet!

Our children are 16, 14 and 9 and they know the real reason for the season…but oh how they love the silliness of the elves!  Enjoy some of our pictures of past elf adventures!

DSC_0176

One time the elves made the TINIEST little gingerbread cookies EVER and had to tow them behind the sleigh…each kid got a little sleigh full with a TINY note (above).Elf scarf and hat DSC_0164-2 DSC_01662 Lady elf cloths DSC_0162-2

This is a picture of all of the cloths we’ve made for the elves and the notes they’ve left for us.
We made an outfit for one of the young elf men and to the left of that is a TINY little baby elf vest.  Of course the lady’s dress with hat, scarf and cloak to the right of that.

Where ever you are at, I hope the elves are making mischief at your house and that the season finds you tucked in close with family and friends! I’m looking forward to some special times of our own this Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you!

Truth & Grace

 grace-truth

I’m sitting here this morning wondering what truth really is…does it change according to custom or culture? Is it different in each unique circumstance?  Can it be taken out of context and used as a weapon?

There is but one truth and one way. It is JESUS. He is love. Grace. Mercy. Hope. TRUTH.

Truth can be all of the things I described above. It can change according to culture, it can be applied differently according to circumstance as well as the one who speaks it, and it can be used a weapon…because truth without grace is subjective.

Grace is unmerited divine assistance.  We talk about it; we can fall from grace, give a grace period, be graceful, sing about grace in church…We can understand it but can we really grasp it?!

Max Lucado says

“God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A whitewater, riptide, turn-you-upside downness about it. Grace comes after you…”

What is truth?

Truth is that I am a daughter to Christ. I am loved. Cherished. Talented. Blessed.  I am a citizen of heaven. I am His.  That doesn’t change with the culture or with the circumstance and no can change it with how
they speak to or about me.

What is grace?

Grace is the unmerited divine assistance in calling us to change and giving us the power to pull it off!

It’s the knowing that I am known and heard and seen by the ONE who never shames, never turns his back, never throws a stone.

But in all of this, life happens.  We get hurt. We hurt others.
Where does truth and grace fit into that?
Where does God fit into that?

Truth without grace is harsh and does nothing but beat us down.
It’s religiousness in the worst sense.

Grace without truth compromises and gives us a false sense of being built up, held up. It’s a foundation of untruth when it stands alone.

But              Truth + Grace   = Healing
Time

Truth plus grace, over time, equals healing.  That is the equation which is drenched in God’s truth and grace, love, forgiveness, mercy and hope; wild and untamed. Without that we have no chance of being a body. Without that, the arm tries to walk and the eye tries to hear.  We’ll never get it right until we understand that equation and begin to practice it in our daily lives.

Grace isn’t necessarily for or about the one to whom you offer it, it’s ALL about the One who gives you the strength to offer it!  Is grace coming after you? You bet He is…Because He is a God that pursues our hearts and our lives; individually and as a body (1 Corinthians 12).
He calls us to change and He gives us the power to pull it off!

THAT is truth!

Knowing vs. Being Known

to be known

WOW God has me on a fantastic journey of learning and growing in understanding as I study His word but also as I study to continue my education in counselling.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. “Psalm 139:13-16, 23

There is something so deeply touching about being known. We are all created for connection – we long from the time we are formed, to be known.

To know is not enough.

What are some things you think of when you think of the word “knowledge” or “to know”?  People who have knowledge are influential, superior, powerful, they can be advocates if they choose.  Knowledge somehow makes us believe we are secure, possibly safe, no longer vulnerable and maybe even in charge. But there are some things knowledge does not assure us of; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Don’t we all long to live lives that exhibit the fruit of the spirit?  As believers, shouldn’t these attributes come to us as easily as breathing?  Ppfftt!  The truth is, all too often the absence of this fruit in our lives often suffocates us with shame and disappointment. We’re left wondering why our relationships with God, and with others, are so shallow.

Could it be the difference between
knowing and being known?

To be known is to be pursued, vulnerable, examined, exposed and even shaken. That doesn’t sound very inviting. It is to allow others to assess your value, to react to you, to affect you and allow yourself to be affected by them. It is to grant others to option to love you or reject you. It requires trust. To be known, truly known, is to be loved, encouraged, forgiven…isn’t that the highest call of humanity?  I think being known is a process and we have to invite the experience.

I always tell my children that in order to know someone, you have to have a relationship with them. You can’t have a relationship with someone you never talk to or spend time with. Knowing a lot about God really isn’t enough. We can know Him and still be empty, lonely and isolated.  In fact we can’t know God if we don’t experience being known by Him to some degree…otherwise these are just facts and the heart is not involved.  The degree to which you know Him will directly reflect your experience of being known by Him. I could take this further to say that the degree by which you are known by God is reflected by the degree with which you are known by others.  In other words, your relationship with God is a direct reflection of the depth of your relationship with others.  They cannot be separated. You can know God and not make any effort to know others; but you cannot be truly known by God and not long to truly know others.  If you are experiencing this – then I encourage you to ask yourself if you know or are known. There is a difference.

Another thing I tell my children is that when you have a relationship with someone, you care about their feelings. If you know that something will hurt their feelings and make them cry, you are careful not to do that because you know that your actions impact that person. See we can know God and never impact Him or be impacted by Him. If we are known by Him, and He is known by us, then we impact one another….and because of this we are thoughtful of the things we do and don’t do.  Because of this we move towards the fruit of the spirit with hope and longing.

I’ve discovered something with my experience in counselling. All of us long deeply to be known, loved, encouraged and forgiven.  But when life beats us down we are willing to sacrifice being loved, encouraged and forgiven for being seen.  We are willing to be seen above being known.

Did you know that when you share your stories with one another (your lives), when you are truly heard and understood, both the sharer and the listener undergo actual changes in the brain circuitry?!  It actually changes the composition of part of the brain that allows for compassion for others. You both feel a greater sense of connectedness that decreases anxiety and depression.

To know or to be known.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Do not sacrifice being known for being seen. Don’t let your need to know, to be right, allow you to lose focus on being loved or loving others.
You impact God. Your choices, your brokenness, your victories – you impact Him.

Maybe you have no idea where to start, how to go about renewing your mind. Maybe you are tired of knowing and longing to be known. Back to the highest call of humanity and God’s law to love well – shouldn’t we as believers slip our hand into the hands of our neighbors and walk along-side them when they struggle?  Shouldn’t we tell our stories and listen to the stories of others?  That is literally where the transforming of our minds takes flight, like a butterfly who is released from the captivity of their cocoon…

Every story is worth hearing. Every hand is worth taking…

Faith Journey

I could tell something had been coming for a while now. Something was changing.  These things are always visible to a Mama’s eye.  We were on a long walk, talking, and with every word, he became more animated and the tone of voice began to fill with contempt. I noticed within too, that my own heart began to tighten and anxiousness rose in my throat like a scream fighting to escape. The stench of fear permeated the air and stung my nostrils. He was questioning faith, questioning God and questioning me.  As I listened I had to force myself to be quiet. I remembered Zephaniah 3:7 and asked the Lord to quiet me with His love.  Every now and again I would interject with a question to direct his thoughts or clear a path for something else I knew needed to come out. By now he was angry, I could feel his anger rush over me in waves.  We walked and talked for hours.  He hugged me and thanked me for listening. Heavy hearted I retreated to my sanctuary to lay it all at the foot of the cross. I won’t lie. I was scared. I cried. I thought about when he was a baby and his questions used to be about bugs and butterflies. I mourned the innocence that was lost and I got on my knees and stormed the gates for my man-child and his journey. I went to my husband who held me and whispered assurances in my ears and reminded me that our 16 year old was talking! My heart slowed as he whispered and together we began to celebrate that he’s talking and sharing his heart.

Months passed but I never stopped praying.  In the dim light of the night I prayed for him. This is what it is to be a Mama.  I think this is part of the meaning of sacrificial love.  This is one of the ways that the Father teaches me the meaning of His love for me as His child and what He has sacrificed for me.

…Deep in thought I can see, he comes to me again.  Now I have prepared my heart, girded my mind with the Word and with His promises for my beloved son. He brings up some huge points, hard questions. I can see him wrestling with his faith. “Mom sometimes I’m so angry at the injustice of how Christians treat others and the lies they often spew, lies that break the hearts of the young people and turn them away from God…sometimes I’m so angry it scares me. I know it’s wrong. I just don’t know what to do with it!  I don’t know if I can do this whole faith thing if this is what faith looks like!”  Oh that one stung. The old stench of fear began to rise up again…and my throat closed…and I gasped for air! We are not made with a spirit of fear…be still and know that I am God…my heart slowed. I took a breath. I quietly prayed. I listened. I could almost see his body tremble with anger and confusion as all of this battled truth.

I said, “Son this is all normal. It’s part of your faith journey.  Let’s look at this way: say you and I live together on a beautiful island sanctuary. We are free to go anywhere together. Then one day while you are exploring, you notice a crack in the ground. It appears to be growing day by day.  As a boy you love the challenge of jumping across it just to see if you can.  As you grow, you see that crack is growing too.  At one point you put a log across and you can still get to the other side, if you balance yourself right.  As the crack grows into a chasm you have had to come up with a new bridge of sticks and rope. Now you notice that you are on one side and I am on the other.  We can’t be together in the same ways we have always been able to. You’ll have to decide now if that bridge is trustworthy. Will it be enough to just come to the opening of the bridge and wave at me every day or will you cross it and embrace me? The only way you will be able to truly trust that bridge is to test it. You can believe it will hold you but until you test it, you won’t know for sure. Believing isn’t enough. You’ll have to take action. That is what faith is, it’s action on what you believe. It’s ok to wrestle with God. Your dad and I raised you to ask questions. We raised you to stand up for what is right and to be a voice to those who have none. We raised you not to follow someone just because they’re leading. I have had questions, I’ve doubted. I’ll be honest, there have been times when I’ve been really confused. I have had times when the struggle to trust almost overwhelmed me in my faith journey….we all have.  This is part of your journey in choosing faith for yourself, walking out from under the shelter of my faith and into the boldness of your own!!! God can take your questions. He can even take your anger!  Nothing you do or don’t do will change God’s love for you.  He already knows your heart so no matter what you share with Him, it won’t surprise or scare Him…and it won’t make Him reject you.”

Our boy has given me permission to share this story…which touches my heart pretty deeply.  His willingness to share his struggles may give courage to others who struggles this way too (1 Peter 5:9)…when we’re willing to bring light into darkness/struggle – the Kingdom of God is glorified!  Sharing it will let others know they aren’t alone.  His courage inspires me and brings me to my knees.

There have been times when I’ve stood at the opening to that bridge – and I was too scared to test it. In the same way that it breaks my heart to watch my son struggle in his journey – God’s heart has broken to watch me struggle in my own.  God is impacted by my struggle, by the journey of faith I’ve chosen. When we share in that journey it becomes a celebration.