Heroes & Villains

There’s running banter betweeen DC & Marvel fans about which brand of hero entertainment is better.  Each side seems to have it’s own strengths & shortfalls, each hero having a fatal flaw:  Superman has his kryptonite & Ironman has his arrogance (or whatever you deem to be his weakness).  And that’s the rub with the human race – we can have our moments of glory & splendor with dark quagmires nipping the heels of grandeur.

Enter Jesus who is the ultimate flawless superhero.  Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and present everywhere.  If Jesus has any weak spot, it would be His affection and devotion to you and me.  Jesus continues to go to inexplainable extremes to keep us reconciled to Himself, infused with genuine love.  Let’s be committed to worshipping the real hero of the human race:  Jesus Christ!

Skin Doctor

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body?  This morning I had an appointment with the skin doctor to look at a spot that was suspicious. My dad had super fair skin, which I inherited, so I’m trying to pay attention to my skin & avoid bad stuff. 

The whole skin thing is yet another example of God’s grandeur & intricacy. Not only does God make our bodies with massive complexity, filled with elaborate parts & pieces all working together with symphonic elegance, but then all that sophistication gets squeezed into skin.  And skin is easily overlooked. 

Feel free to sit in the reality that you are fearfully & wonderfully made by your attentive & loving Heavenly Father! 

Unable But Yielded

I’ve never had a day Ike today, feeling overwhelmed & inadequate to everything around me. I visited one of our malnutrition clinics here in Angola & when we landed this morning, there were 98 babies who were being looked after for malnutrition. That’s a HEAP OF BABIES & I’ve never experienced malnutrition in such high numbers. So walking around the buildings this morning, I seeing babies at various severities of malnutrition, this was definitely challenging. And I don’t find myself numb from the sheer numbers of babies. I’m able to recognize the distended bellies, stringy arms, knobby knees, glassy eyes, xylophone ribs, lightened hair . . . . I know the symptoms & it’s difficult to see each baby struggling to survive, along w each mom, abundantly stretched with worry & care from looking after their baby whom they deeply love. 

By the time we left this afternoon, the clinic had 125 babies & everyone was trying to figure out where to let everyone settle for some space & hopeful rest / recovery. 

When I’m past my breaking point, it helps me remember that whatever we do to the least, we do to Jesus. So let’s love well, no matter where we are nor what’s happening around us. 

Avoiding Tough

I’m flying to Angola today, where we have 6 malnutrition clinics to save babies & toddlers. I haven’t been in Angola for 3years because of various technicalities. And Saving Moses has these malnutrition clinics in Angola, because of such a high infant mortality rate.  Angola is the country where I first experienced the realities of emaciated babies with xylophone ribcages, hallow eyes & labored breathing. I have yet to experience anything in my life that compares with holding a baby who is feather light with fleeting breathes from being malnourished. So this is a tough trip. 

I like to avoid tough & embrace comfort, reject inconvenient but welcome smoothy groovy. 

But genuine love steps into things that are tough, heartbreaking & impossible, even though I drag my feet. Choose genuine love with me 🙂

Let’s Be Guilty

Recently, I acquired a traffic ticket for not having a license plate on my front bumper. As much as I’d like to argue the stupidity of such a fine, an administrative detail to fund the tax base from trivial oversights, I’m guilty. So I paid the fine. 

Hopefully, you & I are guilty of more important things such as:

  • Sincere compliments,
  • inexplainable generosity,
  • gentle & constructive truth,
  • extravagant forgiveness,
  • supernatural patience &
  • divine wisdom

Take a quick moment now to text someone a sincere complement so that we’re both guilty of living out genuine love. 

And I now have a license plate on my front bumper 🙂

Loving Well

I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!  I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love! 
  • Post some kind words in a friends FB wall. 
  • Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
  • Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
  • Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
  • Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like). 

Let’s love well today!!

Logic Defying Love

Here’s the honest truth: I’m a college basketball fanatic & in my opinion, the most wonderful time of the year is March Madness when 68 of the best college teams compete in a huge tournament that lasts almost three weeks. I’ve been watching March Madness tournaments for decades & my husband proposed to me during half time of a March Madness game.
Through a miraculous series of “coincidences”, I was able to go to the Final Four & championship game this weekend. And it was nothing less than THOROUGHLY EPIC!!!
What continues to astound me is the extravagant & logic defying love of God to me for getting to go to this event. March Madness has nothing to do with the Bible, nor helping babies whose moms are prostitutes or doing some kind of ministry. I thoroughly enjoy college basketball & getting to attend these games was entirely over the top – a massive expressions of genuine love to me that I didn’t earn, or deserve. And that’s how God loves us, full stop. We don’t deserve nor can we earn this love & yet God loves us with an extravagance & opulence that defies explanation. And all I can say is, “Thank You!”
God loves you w the same quality of extravagance & opulence, full stop 🙂

 

Helping Our Friends

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a wonderful epiphany: letting my friends help me! I just had a friend text me about some ideas to help me with some sleep challenges. Then, I’ve had another friend help me with writing stuff & another friend has given me super helpful input with communicating! While you might think this is normal, for me it’s been a new experience because of my hyper independence. And then I read an interesting verse in Psalm 118:7a, “The Lord is for me among those who help me; . . . . “
So let’s be the friend who helps others! A few ways to help would include: encouraging words, gentle truth, practical wisdom & maybe even some errands! And on the other side, let’s be sure that we let our friends help us & that we express gratitude to & for our friends!!

Quick to Love

We are quick to love stuff that’s easy:  people who are nice to us, soft blankets, space heaters in Winter, chocolate, snowboarding, etc.  But when we see people who different, let’s pre-decide to be loving.  For example, you might prefer a more polished or professional appearance and thereby find the people with the same image easier to love.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Maybe you’re less polished and only match or when there’s a solar eclipse.  So maybe you find it easier to love people who have a more “eclectic” approach to their image or style.

And I’d say for all of us, it’s much easier to love people who are kind, respectful and gracious.  Those individuals who are sullen, grumpy, surly & even combative can be tricky to navigate.  So let’s not make Valentine’s Day a once a year holiday to celebrate love.  Let’s decide that everyday is our day to love, because we are loving people, regardless of who the recipient may be!

Celebrating LOVE!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Maybe you like the chocolate that is often associated with this day, or the candy hearts with little messages on them, or perhaps the romance possibility is appealing for you today.  On the flip side, for many people, Valentine’s Day can be a discouraging reminder of an unfulfilled or broken relationship.

Regardless of your feelings about this day, let’s choose together to celebrate genuine love!!  And maybe today can be more about genuine love than about the romance, cards, candy, chocolate or flowers.  Maybe we can choose to make today about expressing genuine love not only to people that we know & love, but also to the people we don’t know or maybe don’t love so much.  I’m learning an interesting lesson with genuine love:  the more I genuinely love, the more I feel genuinely loved 🙂

Feel free to send this to your friends and family today, as you celebrate genuine love!!

Un-Conditioning

Conditioning has lots of different usages such as: air conditioning, conditioning for health purposes and conditioning to acclimate to various climates or humidities, to name a few.  But I think we should also consider that we have been conditioned through the human experience to think of love in very transactional ways.  In our childhood, it’s likely that you received positive affirmation for good behavior & achievements and negative feedback for things you did that weren’t so whippy.  Maybe such inputs have shaped your perceptions of what love is & is not.  While cause and affect are definitely part of the human experience, I think we should sit and think about God’s “unconditional” love for us.

There’s a good possibility that we both struggle to receive and sit in unconditional love, given the conditioning we have lived in through human transactions.  Let’s take some time this weekend to reflect on God’s unconditional love for us, appreciating that this genuine love can never be increased or decreased by our behaviors 🙂

Inseparable

In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂

Love Finds a Way

Genuine love seeps through the edges. It finds a way to be expressed, when it’s difficult & even unwelcome. I say this, having read Jesus’ Prodigal Son parable this morning. Despite the behavior of the riotous & righteous sons, the father’s actions were the same with each one – going out to reconcile & connect. Both sons had different reactions, but genuine love finds a way to express itself in ways that would be meaningful & transformational to the recipient.
So, will you let God love you today? Will you be available to experience God’s Love however God would choose to express this genuine love?
We are all prodigals in various ways, but genuine love seeps through the cracks & soaks into the hard spots because that’s what love does!

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

Was Jesus Cranky?

““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂

Love Well

I have lots of people in my life who are very different from me. I have friends who are professional, starched, button-down, pressed & who have life wrapped around their little finger mostly. I have other friends who are a little more like me, less polished & borderline bohemian.
But loving well is the bridge that connects me with people regardless of our differences. And here’s the truth that needs to reside in the marrow of our bones: people don’t have to be like us to be loved by us. Indeed, Jesus loved a wide spectrum of people, including cheats, hustlers, liars, whimps & wannabes. Loving people is an internal decision & this doesn’t need to be dependent on who they are, what they do or how they behave. Let’s be committed to loving well!

Jesus Was an Infant Refugee

Presently, I’m in Bangledesh & getting ready to visit the refugee camps of the Rohingya for my work with Saving Moses. These refugees were recently displaced from their homes across the border in Burma & there are almost a million refugees, of whom more than 10% are under the age of 5. So I’m keen to visit these camps & see what we can do to help.
I️ find it interesting, at this time, to think about Jesus’ birth & His subsequent flight to avoid the bloodbath Herod demanded when he couldn’t find Jesus.
This is my first time to experience real time the crises & traumas associated with being a refugee, so I️ welcome you to come along with me through my blog & pictures.
Let’s consider Christmas from a different point of view 🙂

The Crazy Guy

Jesus left a crowd of people where He was appreciated and valued so He could help a raving lunatic.  In Mark 5:1-20, we read about a man who was completely undone and thoroughly tormented by loads of demons.  He was demon possessed and was living a very tortured, painful and isolated life.  When he was described in these verses, I was deeply moved by his tragic existence.  He would roam the tombs & mountains with no human contact, gashing himself, screaming and unclothed with no hope of reprieve or help – until Jesus came.

When we come across people in our lives who are broken, hurting, dysfunctional, crazy, hostile, erratic and even barbaric, let’s be willing to see past these descriptions and difficulties to see a human in need of love and redemption.  Let’s remember that the enemy of humanity is seeking to torture, deceive and destroy humans in any way possible.  On the other side, Jesus wants to work through us to bring love, healing and redemption!  Let’s make sure we stay on Jesus’ side 🙂

X-ray Vision

“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b

I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!