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Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

Oct

03

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 | 2 comments

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, how about today?

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Our world is reeling these days, isn’t it?

Collectively, we feel the tragic news out of Las Vegas, horrified that one man could rob so many of so much; for too many, their lives.  I can only imagine that those who are directly affected wonder how anyone can go on in a world gone mad?

There’s no reconciling the absurd.

There are times when faith comes easy. This isn’t one of them for a lot of folks.

I know all the Christian platitudes, the things we say at times like this. But I can’t bring myself to say any of those things out loud – even if they are true – because sometimes the loudest lament is silence.

 

God hears the cry of the broken ones, and he alone offers hope during obsidian days.

 

So, we mourn with those who mourn. We ask a lot of questions. Yes, we want answers, but the truth is we’ll never be able to make sense of it.

This world we find ourselves in is still spinning, sun and moon nudging us into the next day and the one after that.

 

And, here’s the important thing to remember: even in the darkness there are beacons.

 

We need light to guide us to where we are going, yes? We need light to show us the way.

Months ago (a year ago?) the date was set for A Moment to Breathe to release. No one could have anticipated the timing, that this collection of “365 devotions to meet you in your everyday mess” would launch right after the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.  Eighty authors, inspired by scripture and for the glory of God, poured their hearts and lives into its pages, hoping it would bring light into the lives of those hopeful or desperate to find a beacon.

 

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I’m proud of this book, thrilled and honored to have seven devotions included. There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being happy when so many of our neighbors have suffered unimaginable loss – before Las Vegas, the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those awful west coast wildfires. Unresolved racial tensions and political discord add to our collective grief. And beyond these national tragedies and disasters are countless more personal tragedies and disasters. Every day our neighbors are facing financial ruin, infidelity, addiction, illness, difficulty with children, debilitating accident, death…. Maybe you are the neighbor.

Here’s the beautiful, liberating thing: humans are a complex and multi-dimensional creation, capable of simultaneous, opposing emotions. (Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.) In other words, the “guilt” I’m feeling is a false guilt, the kind the enemy of my heart loves because it has the potential to defeat, paralyze, or confuse me (sometimes all three). False guilt materializes in a thousand different ways, and often it’s rooted in comparison; for me, at least.

 

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With all tenderness for those who are suffering, I can still celebrate the happy and good things happening in my world (if you need permission, I’m extending it to you, too, because sometimes we just need someone else to tell us so). It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s essential to have compassion for those in pain, to pray for, help and support those who’ve suffered loss. It’s also important be light for those walking in darkness (Matthew 5:16).

A Moment to Breathe is a disco ball of light.

You will find it to be a lovely, hardback devotional, rooted in scripture and the stories the authors first lived before sharing, with prayers and calls to action. It can be found at any bookstore that sells Christian books, or here are a few links (including affiliate):

For fun, Sarah Mae and I talk through the question,“What does ‘a moment to breathe’ mean to you?” (Why didn’t anyone tell me to smush my shirt down in front so my stomach didn’t look so poofy??) 

 

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The Panhandler’s Breath

Mar

26

Posted by on Mar 26, 2017 |

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He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to a meeting; he pressed the “5” without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame.

His stealth entry stiffened the hairs on the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of rowdy teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away where the downtown electric shuttle picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting his next prey.

The four of us were sealed in a four-by-six-foot metal tomb. Tomb — that thought really muscled its way into my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his pocket. I wanted to protect my son.

Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there was nowhere to run.

 

A true story, the kind that reveals so much. Hope you click through to read
The Panhandler’s Breath over at incourage and
then share your own thoughts in response

(the last line still rattles me….).

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Wisdom You Can Count On – (Word Writers ~ James 3:17-18)

Mar

13

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 |

DAY 16 JAMES

Used to be I was a Bible study snob.

 

If it wasn’t long and so deep it took me hours to complete, if it didn’t quote Lewis or Piper or Spurgeon or their ilk, if it didn’t use big words I recognized but didn’t necessarily understand, it wasn’t worthy. In this ridiculous, pretentious economy, Level of Difficulty = A “Good” Bible Study.

 

 

It’d be laughable if it wasn’t true.

 

These days I’m thankful for studies I can digest, writers who provide margin to think, linger, and engage the Word. And complete, finishing each lesson is important, too.

 

This is why Denise Hughes’ Word Writers series hit the sweet spot for me; she’s written studies for Philippians, Ephesians, and now James, and they’ve filled a void I didn’t even realize I had. Without overpowering you with heavy reading and complex  hermeneutics, she’s created accessible studies that lead you to Jesus and leave room for you to know Him better.

 

She invited me to take part in an online Deeper Waters blog series for her newly-released James study, and today I’ve written a brief devotion inspired by James 3:17-18. Please take just a few minutes to read the devotion, share your thoughts, and maybe even follow the rest of the devotions in this series.

 

(affiliate links used)

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Presents or Presence (The Difference in Listening Well)

Dec

24

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 |

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”
(John 3:16)

 

You can’t fool her, you know.

Two pudgy hands cup your cheeks to turn your face, demanding your eyes look deep into her own.

“Mama, you’re not listening!” You can almost feel her heart stomping its tiny imaginary foot to accentuate the point.

Of course, you’re right when you insist, “Yes I am, honey, I can just do two things at once.” You did hear her, after all.

But she’s right (more right?) because you weren’t listening.

Hearing requires only ears. Listening demands ears, eyes, mind, and maybe most important, heart.

The difference matters. A lot. Here’s why:

Your children don’t just notice the difference between hearing and listening, they understand the difference:

Something else is more important than them in that moment.

O u c h!

This isn’t confined to children; don’t we all hate it when we know someone is only half engaged in conversation? Present in body but absent in thought?


I grow weary from all the admonitions to focus on Christ during the Christmas season, to resist holiday busyness. Please don’t get me wrong — I agree — but then I see a believing people tangled and lifeless in sticky-webs of shopping, baking, parties, and school or church programs.

We are distracted.

Everyone is working extra hard to pay for All The Things.

And though our homes have never looked more lovely or smelled more delicious . . .

Our actions are speaking loudly, and they don’t always match up to our words.

Can I get an “Amen!”?

 

Please click to continue reading Presents/Presence for incourage. Promise:
if you’ll follow this friendly advice this Christmas season,
you’ll be  giving and receiving something precious.

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If / Then

Nov

13

Posted by on Nov 13, 2016 | 1 comment

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If believers will:

  • humble ourselves
  • pray
  • seek God
  • repent

then God will:

  • hear
  • forgive our sin
  • heal our land

2 Chronicles 7:14, a promise with condition, seeds hope for the faithful.

 

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DaySpring Advent Sale
Special savings on meaningful gifts.
{Including >40% off Ann Voskamp’s
The Greatest Gift ornament set!}

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God-winks

Oct

21

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 |

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)

Have you ever found yourself wishing, “If God would just SHOW ME A SIGN…” you would know what to do or whether or not you’re headed in the right direction?

Haven’t we all?

Just once, wouldn’t it be nice to look up and see writing in the sky?

Though answers rarely come as a flashing neon sign – call me crazy – sometimes I sense God’s favor in what others may dismiss as coincidence. Maybe nothing as dramatic as a thunder clap or lightning strike or a rainbow sent right to your front yard, but a kind of mini-miracle that speaks right to the heart of whatever is going on in your life rightnow….

Hold tight to what we’re promised in scripture: God has gifted us with not some, but every, spiritual blessing. In the passage from 1st Ephesians, we learn that in Christ, we are

chosen,

holy,

blameless,

family,

receivers of grace,

redeemed,

forgiven,

and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

God’s generosity knows no bound. 

He is a giver of good and perfect gifts, and what He gave because He loved us (Who He gave)? Should compel us to boundless gratitude. Lord, may I never cease to be thankful, humbled by, and astonished at the wonder, beauty, and cost of the cross.

Last week I was sitting at my kitchen table with two friends. I had invited them over to begin putting flesh on the bones of an idea birthed in my heart a while back. They weren’t the first people I had approached about joining me in this new thing; but after arm-twisting another friend without success for over two years, it finally occurred to me that maybe she wasn’t the one to help.

Sometimes earnestly seeking the Lord means letting go of preconceived plans and ideals. 

This is a lesson on repeat for me, something I’ve been slow to learn.

We began to sense God’s presence in our gathering, oddly enough, in a color scheme. It started with Hannah and Tracey noticing my journal, pen, and espresso cup perfectly coordinating. (How much do I love that friends picked up on such a tiny detail? It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m prone to notice.)

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Intent in our conversation, all three of us jumped when Hannah noticed the shadow of a man at my front door, followed quickly by a sharp knock. I knew what they didn’t–it was simply a package delivery. Our front door is within arm’s reach of our kitchen table, and they aren’t accustomed to that proximity.

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Why, yes, we may look like tears were involved…. <3

I opened the door to pick up my package, and immediately realized what it was: an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement. Since you’re obviously an (in)courage reader (smile), you might have seen recent images and teasers about Craving Connections. What makes this book extra special is that it is a first from (in)courage and features 30 authors from both the (in)courage team and community at large. Through scripture exploration, personal testimony, and prayer, the 30-day devotional asks the question, “How could your life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community?” (If you’re interested, subscribe to my very occasional blogposts, I’ll let you know when Craving Connections is available!)

I quickly explained what it was to my friends, who remembered me working on my chapter, A Safe Harbor, at the first of the year. As quickly as I placed the book on the table to continue our conversation, we noticed–

Everything was color coordinated….

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We couldn’t miss it, and we didn’t want to dismiss it as coincidence. It felt like a God-wink, a conduit of God’s pleasure with our plans.

Please click to continue God-winks at (in)courage!!

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