Author: lauracrosby (page 1 of 46)

What Are Your Monuments?

As I write this John and I are in Washington D.C. for a few days of meetings and a chance to see our daughter and friends. Here, I am surrounded by monuments meant to remind us of the freedom we enjoy and the ways it was purchased at a high cost.

We lived here for a couple of years and are back frequently. Every time we come back we do new things, but we also return to visit the monuments we know.

Monuments help us remember our roots.

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Returning to these and remembering their significance brought to mind a time when God prompted me to go back to another kind of monument. Continue reading

Right-sizing

It seems like spiritual formation often involves right-sizing.

There are times when we feel too small, sinful, irredeemable, insignificant, and God reminds us that we are beloved.  We matter.  His strength is perfected in our weakness.

But there are other times (many of them), when we get too full of ourselves.  We imagine ourselves the center of the universe, the masters of control and destiny.  And then, again, we need to be right-sized – to be reminded that we are a small part of God’s large story.  But this in itself is a glorious thing!

“To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.” E. M. Forster” Continue reading

The Prayer I Resist Praying

I was g-chatting with daughter Katy yesterday morning.  This is how it went…

Katy: Thanks for sending your Zambia itinerary! Turns out I may be traveling at the same time for work.

Me: Oh! Fun!  Where?

Katy: Kabul.

Me: WHATTTT????!!!  As in Kabul Afghanistan?

Katy: And this is why I told you over g-chat…to preserve my ear-drums.

We’ve made a boat-load of mistakes as parents.  Big ones, little ones, and ones we laugh at in retrospect, like the time John accidentally gave Maggie Ipecac instead of cough medicine in the middle of the night and wondered why she kept throwing up.

But one that looms large in my mind was when we let our then eighteen year old daughter, Maggie, graduate early from high school and go to live with a mission organization in Kibera – a terrible slum in Nairobi.

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We went to visit her in the rainy season of mud which just added to the despair.

There was someone stoned outside where she was living.

She told us of coming upon a toddler sitting alone in the dirt, chewing on a used condom.

What kind of terrible parent lets their child go live in such a place???

Well, apparently this one.

It’s a parenting choice that I’ve been tempted to regret, but one that God has used.

Today I was reading Acts 4:23-31.  Peter and John have just been released from the religious officials who were totally ticked off because they had healed a lame beggar and preached some crazy stuff about the power of Jesus and Him being the only way.  They come back to their friends and tell them everything that has happened.

And then they pray for a hedge of protection.

NOT.

They thank God and pray for BOLDNESS!  Not the go-plan I naturally gravitate towards for our family!

Note to self:  This does not say they prayed to have an EQ lobotomy or to be offensive for Jesus, but Peter and John have me thinking…

Does the kingdom advance without boldness?  Without taking the love of Jesus into dark places, trusting that He will be our light and our shield?

Holy buckets!  What does this mean for me, for you?  Boldness may not mean taking the light of Jesus half-way around the world, but just across town or into relationships that require supernatural love, or perseverance, or hard truth.

It has me praying with open hands, saying,

“We are yours.  Help us to be bold and brave and humble in carrying the light of your love into dark places.  Do what only You can do in us and through us.”

Is it hard for you, like Peter and John, to pray for boldness for yourself or your children?  How might God ask you to take His light into a dark place today?

 

One Way to Shake up Your Devotional Life

Let’s face it, we all get into spiritual ruts when it feels like we’ve been on a diet of gluten-free for days on end.  We don’t really taste or see what we’re eating. It’s boring. We don’t pay attention to the experience of eating.

I love what Mark Batterson writes about this:

“The key to spiritual growth is developing healthy and holy routines. They are called spiritual disciplines. But once the routine becomes routine, you need to disrupt the routine via a change of pace or change of place. Why? Because sacred routines can become empty rituals if you forget why you started doing them in the first place.”

Continue reading

Longings, Set-backs, and 3 Keys to Small Victories

When you wake up each morning, what is it that you long for?  After getting your teeth brushed and perhaps a lunch or two packed, and checking your to-do list, what do you want?  REALLY?

You might answer that a lot of different ways, but I’m betting on one thing.  You long to know that you’re achieving something significant.  I’m with you.

Maybe there’s a goal you’ve gone public with, or one that you’re afraid to say out loud.  It may be big and long-term (like starting your own business with kingdom values, or becoming a lawyer who will help advocate for the least and the left-behind, or raising godly kids.)  Or it may be smaller, but still valuable and significant to you (like losing weight or hitting a certain score on the GRE)

Big or small, overtly spiritual or not, our goals and longings can be used by God in eternal ways.  Our dreams are tools He can use to form our character.

Most of you remember that I had a goal last year to run a half marathon with Team World Vision in order to draw attention to the need for clean water around the world and raise money to dig a well in Zambia.  I’m so grateful that I was able to accomplish this (praise Jesus!).

But in the process I got injured and have been dealing with various forms of tendonitis ever since.  SOOOOO FRUSTRATING!!  What about all the “next things”?? The “GREATER THINGS”?

Have you ever had a set-back in a goal or something you’re longing for?  And you want to say,  “JESUS!!! Come ON!!

Well, running is just a tiny example in my life.  As hard as it was, it gave me great joy.  It helped me achieve something for a greater good (clean water).  It gave me a sense of accomplishment.  And the experience taught me a lot about spiritual formation.

So this year-long set-back has been maddening. I’ve worked hard.  I’ve been to the dr. and physical therapist a bazilliionty times.  I’ve had some false starts as impatience got the best of me, but my goal was to begin again September 1st.

September dawned beautiful, dry, and 75 degrees.  I had no excuses, but I confess,  I was scared.  I was back at square one. Have you been there?photo-167

The “what if’s” plagued me, not just about this little run, but about All Of The Things.

What if I’m just not good enough, healthy enough, strong enough, determined enough to achieve __________________?(fill in your own dream)

Well, it was ugly and painful, short and slow, but I finished and I cried with joy and texted my wonderful running partner (daughter Katy) as I stumbled home.

Confession:  I wanted to quit after ONE BLOCK.  How the heck did I go from running 13.1 miles a year ago to wanting to stop after one block?!!

My little starting-over run doesn’t matter so much but I share it because of how God used it to remind me of some stuff when it comes to our dreams and discouragement.  I’m “preaching” to myself here!  There are other goals I have right now where I’m super discouraged and it’s hard to stay motivated, so here are three things I’m trying to do:

1.  Set new goals. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations.  Sometimes God is doing a different work in you than you want.  I hated continually adapting and down-sizing my goals as I tried to heal, but even that was formative.  Now my goal is just to run a 5 mile Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving.  That’s MY goal, but I need to keep being open to God’s refinement. What new goals might you set? Which ones might need to prayerfully be tweaked?

2.  Do the next thing.  The finish line isn’t the victory, the next thing is.  What’s the one next thing that you can do?  That’s a victory to celebrate today.  What’s that one next thing you can do?

3.  Your playlist matters.  Honestly, I think we underestimate the power of what plays in our head.  At the end of a recent run I was totally ready to throw in the towel, but then I put on my running playlist and “Can you Do This?” and “Roar” propelled me forward.  Do you have a theme song for your dream?

Beyond the music that motivates you, think of the voices that keep you putting one foot in front of another.  Who’s a partner in your dream who you can count on to encourage you?  This response from Katy will keep me going for awhile.  Find someone to cheer you on.

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What’s one longing or goal you want to pursue?  How can you apply one of the 3 things above to get on track?  Let’s encourage each other! 

 

 

What to do With the Catchy Tune, “Not Good Enough”

The other day ended up being one when the refrain “not good enough” drowned out any other tune.  Like a pop song on the radio you can’t get out of your head, the words persisted.

They were magnified through headphones of my experience throughout the day.  They were the  filter through which I heard the well-meaning words of my husband.

I couldn’t fix a problem.  “Not good enough.”

My idea wasn’t taken into account. “Not good enough.”

Someone was chosen over me.  “Not good enough.”

I didn’t win. “Not good enough.”

“Every single thing you’re doing in your life, someone else is doing a better version of it!”

This has never happened to you, right?

Or maybe, just maybe… Continue reading

Reflections on Being Thirteen in Minnesota and Uganda

You know this blog is about the relationships, experiences and practices God uses to form us, right?  Well, today I’m putting up a guest post from our daughter, Maggie.  Most of you remember she worked in Northern Uganda this summer, doing an internship for her Masters in Public Health.  Her experiences with the poor, and particularly with women, have formed in her, a heart for justice – the justice I believe is in God’s heart too.   I’m sharing this as a little background before I post an update on the ways you have made a difference, joining in her work there.

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When I was 13 years old and growing up in Eden Prairie Minnesota, my most pressing concerns included: getting the braces off my teeth as soon as humanly possible, convincing my mother to allow me to wear a two-piece bathing suit (or get my cartilage pierced – I varied my advocacy agenda to better my odds), and counting down the days until I would finally get my first period. I was in a big hurry to grow up and these experiences seemed like pivotal pieces of my maturation strategy. Continue reading

What to do When You Want to Flip off the Other Guy

I was stuck in a single lane of traffic, late for a meeting, with a car in front of me from Rhode Island and a driver who couldn’t decide which way she wanted to turn (bless her heart).  AAARRRRGGHHH!  I found myself, once again bemoaning the fact that Christians don’t seem to have acceptable hand gestures for situations like this.

My road rage was just one of the times recently that I’ve noticed an increase in irritability, and impatience.  My “one word” for this year is “choose life”, but recently I started to notice a pattern of “not life” and needed to address it.

Like my friend says, I’m more of a “jet fuel drinker” than a “candle-lighter”.  I realized that in a summer of activity I had abandoned some of the spiritual practices that feed my soul.  I naturally resist the slower more contemplative disciplines of life with Jesus, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Continue reading

When You’re on the Receiving End of a “Crucial Conversation”

I wrote Monday about the most impactful message we heard when we went to Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this summer.    I came home from the summit inspired, informed, and motivated to apply all of the things.

However I wasn’t expecting for anyone to apply anythings to, well… ME!  Within 24 hours of our return, not one, but two different friends individually decided they needed to have a “crucial conversation” with me. Continue reading

How to Have a Crucial Conversation

Recently we met for dinner with a young couple we love whose marriage is in crisis.

Another friend’s teenage son entered rehab.

Two had to fire employees.

One needs to break up with her boyfriend.

AAAAARRRGGGHHH!  For the love of world peace!

In each of these situations a crucial conversation (or series of them) was called for.  Conversations where emotions ran high.  Sometimes there was a difference of opinion.   Perhaps there was hard truth that needed to be clearly, but gently communicated.

John and I often repeat something our friend Nancy Beach once said: “Leadership is a series of hard conversations.”  I think that might as well be “LIFE is a series of hard conversations.”

In August we took a large group from our church to the annual Leadership Summit at Willow Creek.  The most pertinent talk for many of us was called “Crucial Conversations” by Joseph Grenny.

He said, any time you find yourself stuck, there are crucial conversations you’re not having, or not having well. Continue reading

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