What’s That In Your Hands?

Back in the day when I was a teenager I spent my summers working multiple jobs. By morning I was a camp counselor, by day a lifeguard, and I moonlighted as a Barista at a local coffee shop. One day I was life guarding and a bunch of kids from camp were hanging out at the pool. The girls followed me around as I waded in the shallow end sporting my mirrored glasses and clumsy fisherman’s hat. The boys from camp were showing off, splashing the girls, and tossing each other around. I of course was staying completely focused on the safety of the dear patrons at our community pool

At one point Miguel, one of the cockier boys from camp, approached me and told me there was something at the bottom of the pool that he thought I should investigate. I walked with him to the object in question and could not make out the dark form sitting four feet under. I looked at Miguel and impressed my need for him to help me to get to the bottom of this mystery. He readily took on the mission of diving to the bottom to see what the object was. As Miguel emerged from the water and looked at the object in his hand, he immediately threw it high in the air and yelled, “It’s Shit!!!!”

Now when I tell you EVERY person in that pool flew away like shrapnel I am not exaggerating. Not a single person was left in the water. Of course all the kids had a hay day with young Miguel for tossing the poop into the air. I imagine that is a day he has never forgotten.

Many times in life I have found myself preoccupied with things that did not matter. I rushed around doing stuff that was not very important. In the story about Mary and Martha we often indentify with the way Martha rushes around trying to make everything perfect for Jesus. We even understand her frustration with Mary for not helping. Yet Jesus praised Mary for sitting at His feet saying to Martha, “You worry about many things but Mary has chosen the better part.”

As we slow down in our lives and notice what is important we may become aware that there are things in our life that have kept us from focusing on the One who is important. As we stare down at those things that distract us we may realize as Miguel did that they are simply pieces of crap in our hands. Just like Miguel I hope we have the courage to chuck that shit as far away as we can and run with zeal to the One who is important.

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Namaste…

Namaste… The God in me bows to the God in you. When I think about God I think of this colossal being that uses Earth as His footstool. We are like blades of grass to Him. We are finite and He is infinite. As a child you hear about asking Jesus into your heart and you think, “How does God fit in there!” I mean human hearts are cool and all but no way does the God of the universe fit in there. It is just not possible.

Yet Jesus refers to us as temples of the living God. The Holy of Holies that once resided in a single Jewish Temple now resides deep within us. How can we take note of something so incomprehensible? Perhaps every part of our DNA, every molecule, every drop of blood is a reflection of His Holiness within. The Imago Dei, the image of God within us. How many of us marvel at the many natural wonders of the world and think, “Yes! There must be a God.” Yet every day we interact with all sorts of humans and we fail to notice one of God’s most intricate and unique creations. We have become desensitized to what God deems worthy of His magnificent love and the honor of being made in His likeness

Imagine spending the day noticing the particular way God created each person that crosses your path. Allow yourself to be aware of His presence in them even if they too are oblivious to attend to His dwelling. I am curious to know how our world would shift if people started exploring the possibility of Jesus’ presence in each other. What if we gently bow to the people we meet stating, “Namaste,” knowing that we are really bowing to our Almighty Lord Jesus, Creator of someone beautiful.

Namaste, my dear friends.

Mrs. Pike

Mrs. Pike was about five foot two, with short gray hair, a quick wit, and an unbelievable faith journey. I met Mrs. Pike at a retirement community near my University when I was a freshman. This ninety something year old woman had been the hall mom for third Crawford for many decades. She was one of the loveliest and wisest women I had ever met. When our hall would visit Mrs. Pike she would offer us Peanut M&M’s out of a round crystal candy dish and ask about what God was doing at our school. I don’t remember many of those conversations but there are several moments I do remember.

When I was a junior I was the R.A. for 3rd Crawford and in charge of coordinating visits to the retirement community. A few weeks after school started I had a voicemail from Mrs. Pike, “School started over two weeks ago and I need to hear from somebody down there!” After that I straightened up, got my act together, and set up regular visits to see Mrs. Pike. During that year Mrs. Pike told us about her life. We heard stories of waiting to be married until she was in her forties, teaching students on the piano, a wonderful husband, and devoted step-children. We also heard about her service to the church, our school, and most importantly her Jesus.

One day I asked Mrs. Pike what the secret to prayer was. She looked at me in a matter of fact way and said, “First you must pray to your Lord in the morning, and then you must pray to Him in the afternoon, and finally pray to Him in the evening. If you do this He will become known to you.” So simple I thought. I wanted to question her because it seemed too easy but I dare not knowing she was a great prayer warrior. As the winter wore on Mrs. Pike started talking about wanting to go home. She said she was ready to spend her eternity in the Kingdom. She was so sure and would talk about dying without an ounce of fear. I really admired that.

On Easter day that year Mrs. Pike joined the ranks of many saints gone before her and was forever united with her King. As we mourned Mrs. Pike I was at peace knowing she was exactly where she wanted to be. I was overjoyed by the Lord’s grace to allow Mrs. Pike to join Him on resurrection Sunday, which happened to be her favorite holiday. Her memorial service played out more like a celebration and reunion of friends, which is exactly what Mrs. Pike requested. Without a doubt she was the type of woman that lived the life God called her to and did not let anything get in the way.

God’s calling on our life can be tricky or it can be simple. Paul encourages us in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It’s those darn hindrances that many of us need to remove from our lives but the question is how? For every obstacle you face it may look different than the one you discarded before it. As a trained counselor and woman with her own obstacles this is by no means an easy task. What I do wonder is if as a first step we followed Mrs. Pike’s advice? Would we find freedom from our burdens? Could it be that simple? Could her words of wisdom lead the way to live an extraordinary and unhindered life? Perhaps it is worth a try. “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17)

Big and Little

Passion Ministries used to periodically lead an event called One Day. Basically it is a Woodstock like event with more Jesus and worship and less weed and Hendrix. Some friends and I made the trek out to Texas to volunteer at One Day and I was going with youthful anticipation. I just knew that God was going to show up and in a big way. Every day we were there leading up to the big day I would pray that God would do something miraculous, that He would show Himself in a really tangible way.

Now if you haven’t heard Jesus did not physically manifest Himself that day and walk around the crowds. At least I am not aware of that happening. What I really wonder is did He manifest Himself in people’s hearts and lives? What changed? Did people choose different career paths? Are they walking a different path than they would have if they had never gone to One Day? Have more people been impacted by God’s love as a result?

Now my answer to these questions is really simple. I do not know. I imagine if all the people that were at that event could be pulled together we would hear some stories. I want to believe that God showed up big and changed people’s lives forever. I want to believe that people were healed and propelled into a new way of living that touched others. I want to believe that God revealed Himself in such a way that people’s lives will never be the same. Yet here I sit not really knowing.

I have been to a lot of Christian events that inspire and evoke all kinds of emotions. Those experiences have been an important part of my faith walk and story. When I look back I realize what has really drawn me closer to Jesus has been the little things. Creating a daily practice of looking for God in everything and anything has been a rewarding challenge. When we evaluate whether we are captivated by His presence we are challenged to look at the little mundane things that happen throughout a day. Rather than noticing the big events that changed our lives look at the days, months, and years after the event. What changed? How is He interacting with you daily? How has that impacted your interactions with others? My prayer is that people pursuing Jesus will get to experience a Big God in every little and big part of their lives.

Sopa Jesus!

After I had left college I had the opportunity to go to Kenya on a Missions trip. One of my favorite experiences was working with the Maasai Tribe. They are an amazing group of people that live very simply off the land God gave them. We spent a lot of time with Maasai children on that trip. It seemed like wherever we went they were following us. When Maasai children approach adults they bow their heads and wait for the adult to place their hand on their heads and say “sopa.” Sopa literally translates to welcome and the cultural practice is seen as a way for adults to bless children.

One day this little guy in a tattered green shirt was following me around with his head bowed. I did not notice him and kept about my business. As I walked to and fro this young man (about 5 years of age) followed with his head always bowed. Finally one of the locals stopped me and pointed at the boy and said, “He is waiting for you to bless him!” A little embarrassed that I had put the kid in the position of following me around like that I quickly placed my hand on his head and said, “Sopa.” He beamed up at me with sparkling brown eyes and threw his arms around me. Needless to say I had a beautiful shadow for the rest of the week.

That night as I was praying God reminded of the verse that says, “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”(Mt.25:40 NLT). My Jesus showed me He was like that little boy following me around waiting for me to bless Him! I could not fathom that. What right do I have to bless Jesus?

Humbled by this revelation my perspective on this young boy changed. What if Jesus has been following me around waiting for me to notice Him? As I say that now I know with all my heart that Jesus is with us everywhere waiting for us to turn to Him. He is waiting on us to acknowledge Him and to welcome Him into our daily living. It is not my belief that He ever leaves us, in fact I believe that in quiet anticipation He is waiting for us to notice His presence. The visual that continually flashes through my mind is that small Maasai boy smiling up at me once I welcomed him and blessed him. I imagine Jesus smiling at us when we take note of Him throughout the day and I imagine Him throwing His magnificent arms around us in a loving embrace. Once I was aware of the boy following me around my heart was full of joy and love. When we become aware of God’s presence around us our whole nature changes and is filled with His presence. In the moment we say, “Sopa Jesus.” He welcomes us into Kingdom living and offers us unending grace and blessings.

The Birds and the Wood Bees

A few years ago I was entrenched in a battle against the Wood Bees. Two Wood Bees (also known as carpenter bees) had set up shop in a wooden garden shelf I had in my backyard. Now if you don’t know what a Wood Bee is simply think of a huge Bumble Bee that eats wood. Now truthfully if that is all that was happening I might have let it go, but every time I went in my backyard to grill out or lay in my hammock the bee would dive bomb me! I’ll admit that I was terrified but not ready to surrender.

One hot summer day I was in my yard when the bee started at it. I decided the war was on and no way was the bee going to win! I got out my water hose and began spraying the Wood Bee. Although he valiantly tried to fight against the torrent he eventually drowned. After I was convinced that he was in fact dead I turned off the hose and watched what I assumed was his mate hover over his body.

For several days I would look outside to see the female Wood Bee hovering over his corpse. Something about that started to tear at my heart strings. I decided to do a little research. I found an article on Wood Bees mating practices and was immediately engrossed by their world. The first thing I learned was that the males are usually aggressive but do not possess a stinger. On the other hand the female Wood Bee does have a stinger but tends to be more docile rarely using her built in weapon. I guess I didn’t have much to fear when it came to my dive bombing friend. As I read on I found myself in a pool of tears. I learned that Wood Bees generally will only mate with one other Wood Bee for their life. It’s like they get married for better or for worse. In the case of my back yard Wood Bees it was for worse.

So here we are a couple years later and I still feel guilty about killing that darn Wood Bee. What the heck! I was talking to Jesus about it wondering why I still cared so much. He gently reminded me that He cares about all of His creation. As I listened I realized the part of me that cared represented Jesus’ heart in me. As I marveled at how much He cared about me I was reminded of the passage in Matthew 6 that tells us not to worry. If He provides for the birds (and even the bees) each day how much more will my Father in Heaven provide for me?

It is so easy to be anxious about everything. How will I pay my bills? What should I wear tomorrow? What if I lose my job? What if he/she leaves me? What should I eat? What if someone I love dies? Many of us spend our days worrying about things that have not happened. We focus our hearts on a future that does not exist yet. Jesus is trying to draw us in to tell us that He loves us so much we will have everything that we need. Now He does not promise us that we won’t hurt but in expressing His love He promises to provide more for us than the birds. Our challenge in Matthew 6 is to focus on today and to allow tomorrow to worry for itself. His answer for us is to be present in whatever challenges or joys you are facing today.

Today I was sitting on my front porch watching two pairs of Wood Bees chasing each other around. I imagined that the male Wood Bees were flirting with the ladies hoping to capture their heart for life. I smiled as I thought about God’s pursuit of us and His desire to spend an eternity in love with us. As He provides for the birds and the Wood Bees our heavenly Father’s profound love for us offers us a peace and security that no other being could provide.

Wood Bee

The Me in the Mirror

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The other night I was out with some dear friends for dinner. As we were laughing and chattering, as women do, one of my friends looked to her right and noted the attractive woman that looked kind of like her. That’s when we confiscated her wine and informed her she was looking in the mirror. Raucous laughter ensued and the joke carried on throughout the night.

Women spend a lot of time staring at mirrors. Guys I’m not really sure what you’re doing in there…flexing muscles maybe? Anyways women are looking to see if we have gained weight, lost weight, what wrinkles are forming, how to remove hair that just shouldn’t grow there, and finding every flaw possible. Our goal? Perhaps to be beautiful, attractive, accepted, and captivating. We spend hours of our lives creating the best version we can muster in front of that mirror, and there are some of us that spend hours loathing the hideous creature that stares back at us.
Unfortunately too many women see the hideous creature; she transforms herself right in front of our eyes. Just add one hundred pounds, a scraggly mustache, beady read eyes, and hair made of straw going in every direction. That woman is our nightmare and often makes us wonder why anyone would want to spend time with us.

When our friend noticed herself in the mirror I smiled as all the women at the table looked at themselves noting how they looked or not saying anything at all. As the evening wore on not once did I think about what my friends were wearing, their level of exterior beauty, or the food flung in their hair (actually I might have thought about that a little 😉 What I thought about was how much I loved each one of them. I thought about how they had impacted my life with their wisdom and humility. I thought about my deep kindred connection to them and my hopes for their future. I thought about these strong women that are shaping other people’s lives. I was captivated by them.

What if when I looked at the me in the mirror I had those thoughts? What if you were able to look at yourself with great compassion and admiration for the woman you are, the woman you have been, and the woman you are becoming. Something about embracing all that we are and all that we have to offer the world today creates a beauty that is incomparable. It frees us from the hideous monster and allows us to fully live out of our strengths, our desires, and our passions. The me in the mirror is exactly who she was created to be.