Tag: courage (page 1 of 2)

Authenticity and Telling a Better Story

Recently I did something I rarely do. I got 250 pages into a book and quit.

I had invested a lot of time, but I just couldn’t finish.

It was well written, compelling historical fiction about the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, but I could tell where the story was heading and I just couldn’t take any more narrative about bad, sad choices, no matter how factual the research was.

Do you ever feel weary of authentically depressing news? Disappointed or dismayed over person after person modeling less than noble behavior?

Over the past ten years we have put an increasingly high value on “authenticity”. We want speakers, leaders, pastors, writers who tell us the whole messy truth. We want vulnerability and  transparency. No plastic saints thank you ma’am. This is a good thing.! A great thing even!

Scripture says,

“Confess your sins one to another…” (James 5:16)

“The truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)

But the stories we’re telling aren’t the only stories to be told.

There are true accounts of courage and sacrifice and service.

Stories can be authentic, but also good and inspiring. Not perfect or formulaic, but capable of lifting our eyes and motivating us to become our better selves.

This past weekend John and I were at an event hosted by Opportunity International – an organization that gives micro-loans to the poor to start small businesses, lifting them out of poverty.

The CEO of Opportunity shared this story:

Arles Mina is a client of Opportunity who now makes cheese curds and sells them from a hole-in-the-wall storefront in Bogota, Colombia.

However, there’s more to the story.

A young loan officer found Arles on the streets of Bogota. He was a drug runner for Pablo Escobar and was high on drugs when they met. The loan officer told Arles that he had a future and insisted he take a loan to start a formal business so he could earn a living and work his way off the streets.

Now, Arles says, “Opportunity has made me who I am.”

Arles received a loan from Opportunity. He repaid it and got another loan, and another, and another, expanding his business. Now he employs 3 women.

3 widows.

3 widows whose husbands were killed by the drug cartel he used to serve.

This is an authentic story. A story of redemption.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Yes, we should be informed, and the truth can be ugly, but what if we major on the kingdom stories of restoration, reconciliation and redemption so we may “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24)?

When You Don’t Feel Strong or Courageous

Dear Baby David,

I know you’re with Jesus, but does that mean you know what’s going on here? How the heck does that work? I want to know.

I’m back in Glen Ellyn staying with our precious Susan for a couple of days. You’ve been gone from us for two months, and the season has changed from Summer to Officially Fall. Continue reading

Brave Knights, and a Trustworthy King (for young parents)

Not infrequently, husband John and I will be part of conversations with our daughters like the following one.  It’s about Maggie’s summer internship in Northern Uganda where the Lord’s Resistance Army has forced children to be soldiers.  She’ll be working with those who have been brutalized but have escaped…
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The other day after he read this husband John asked me (rhetorically), “How does this keep HAPPENING??!”

Others also ask us this too (although it sounds more like: “How did you raise your daughters?”)  The primary answer is: “With a LOT of mistakes and loads of God’s GRACE.”

Both our daughters, and we, will continue to mess up as we try to follow Jesus, but we also trust that God will pick us up when we stumble,  Here’s what we tried to teach them as they were growing up… Continue reading

Dear Movies About All of the Things in the Real World,

Dear Movies About All of The Things in the “Real” world,

I’m writing you to put you on notice.

I’m taking away your stars and giving you a rotten tomato.  You may get critical blah blah  for being “authentically raw”, but so what?  It’s too easy.  It’s like saying we need to hear Lindsay Lohan is behaving badly.  Again.

I don’t think so.

UnknownYou’re down and dirty, but I’m gonna take you out with a Ninja kick to your mojo and call your bluff.  Your world is not all there is.

Reality without redemption, you are dead to me.

Greed, sex, drugs, lies, betrayal, selfishness?  I know you’re everywhere, not just in the kingdom of Wall Street. I don’t need to be reminded.

I need instead, to see glimpses of another kingdom. Continue reading

One Thing it Takes to Overcome Fear

I watched this video a week or so ago and thought, “What if…?”

What if Christopher Maloney didn’t have his mom cheering for him?

What if he hadn’t had one person who believed in him?

What if he had let the voices of his detractors drown out the one voice that said, “You are talented.  You’ve got this.”?

We all need a champion, a cheerleader, an encourager in our corner.  Not someone to give us false hope or shield us from the truth, but someone who sees the gifts we have to offer the world and wants the world to have the joy of receiving them.

Who believes in you?  Make sure to thank them.  Who are you championing?  Make sure they know it.

Tucking in Courage

“She tucked belief right into me.”

A few years ago I read this lovely line written by Ann Voskamp who was talking about a grandmother who called out gifts in her that she was afraid to believe.

In my life, belief has been a synonym for courage.  Like a toddler at night, with Mama tucking covers tight, I’ve had many snug courage right into me and our family.

When our youngest daughter, Maggie, graduated from college she accepted an internship with the International Justice Mission.  She prepared to leave home and live in Guatemala City for a year.

The transition between college and “the real world” is a scary one.  Like jumping off a cliff and hoping you hit the water and remember how to swim.  A time of hard decisions and what-if-I-don’t-make-it fears.

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To launch Maggie into this new season, we invited a group of women for brunch.  Women who had loved her, and prayed for her, and poured into her for many years.

I asked each of them to bring a word for Maggie, accompanied by a blessing, a prayer, encouragement, or advice. Continue reading

Resource Christmas in August

I’m honored to be live blogging this week at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for Engage International which is part of the Willow Creek Association.   I’ve also been facilitating on line classes for the WCA called LIFT (Leadership Institute For Transformation).  I’d encourage you to check out all the resources Engage and the WCA provide here!

Here’s the beginning of my post for the first session of the Summit…

Every year my husband John and I would say the best two weeks of our summer are the ones in August when we bring a large group of staff and lay leaders from our church to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, and afterwards go on a staff family retreat in northern Minnesota.

We show up expectant, thinking, “What will God do this time?”

And every year after Bill Hybels’ opening talk, without fail, John says, “Well, I can go home now!”  He’s filled up and recharged, but is always glad we stay around for the “B team”. 🙂

Bill’s talk is always a combination jolt of Red Bull, and a Brave Heart “Get off your butt” rallying cry.

Which is great if you’re a senior leader like my husband.  But I also try to listen through the filter of the young mom, and the staff administrator, and the librarian, and the retired radiologist elder we’ve brought with us.  You know, ordinary folks with ordinary lives who are definitely leaders of their family, or PTA, or church committee, or office staff, but may think “Is this really for me?.”

You can read the rest here!

On Slaying Dragons and Whistling

It’s Fearless Friday and one of my favorite people in the world graciously agreed to guest post!  I know you’ll be blessed by these thoughts from my talented friend Sharon Sampson.  She’s the Director of Communications at our church (Christ Presbyterian Church, Edina) and this year has started her own consulting business called Open Book Communications 

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There’s an old Stephen Sondheim song I like called “Anyone Can Whistle” because it points to how fear tends to work its way into my life. In the song, a seemingly strong, capable woman sings this:

“Anyone can whistle,

That’s what they say — easy.

Anyone can whistle

Any old day — easy.

It’s all so simple:

Relax, let go, let fly.

So someone tell me why

Can’t I?”

Continue reading

At the Top of God’s “Do Not” List

It’s Fearless Friday!

Our family is one of list-makers.  We love them.  To-do lists of course, but also pro/con lists, goal lists, grocery lists…

And I’m thinking a “Do not fear” list would be a good one.

The list of verses in the Bible that have the phrase, “Do not fear…” is a long one. The longest in fact.

But so what?

The important part is what comes next.  Why in the world should we just obey that command willy nilly?

God is with you.

God is with you.

God is with you!

But who is the God who is with us?

A.W. Tozer writes,
“What comes to mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

Sprinkles and Naming Stuff

It’s Fearless Friday!  I hope you’ll join us on our One Word adventure this year.

Recently I was with two different friends, at different times, in different places who, with hesitation and eyes cast down, admitted their dreams to me.

You know,the big dreams of what they’d really like to do and be. They were afraid to say them out loud.  Afraid they’d seem too…big.  Too crazy.

But they were brave and told the truth.  And it made me think of this video I saw recently.

I watch this and I think, aren’t we all just like this little guy with evidence smeared all over, afraid of admitting to God what He already knows?

Afraid to name either the smelly garbage or the shiny brilliant hopes that seem crazy, but that are as clear to Him as the sprinkles on our face.

What is it that you’re afraid to name?

It’s not like God doesn’t know, but still He graciously asks us the same the questions He’s been asking for centuries.

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)

“Why are you here?” (1 Kings 19:9)

And maybe most importantly, “Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40)

You know what terrible thing happened when my friends shared what was in their hearts with me?

Absolutely nothing.  They didn’t implode and disintegrate.  Bob Costas didn’t come on T.V. and broadcast the ridiculous news that two idiots had said some wacko stuff.

When they told me I was delighted!  I was excited for them and I wanted to enter in and roll up my sleeves and help.  And with my response, there was, on their faces this look of relief…and almost wonder that they had named this big thing and were still there and it was ok and not so scary after all.

Could it be that even though God sees all of our sprinkles – the evidence of every hope and fear, every dream and sin and wound – He invites us with His questions to come to Him and name it all so that we see that it’s not so powerful or scary after all.

And then He brushes the sprinkles off our face and says, “Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it!”

And so begins His work of refining and redeeming, equipping, and guiding.

What is something you’ve been afraid to talk to God about – a crazy dream, a deep wound, a secret sin, a profound desire – and what’s happened when you’ve named it with Him?

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