Tag: gifts (page 1 of 2)

3 Crucial Questions Elizabeth May Have Asked

The sun is setting outside the sanctuary windows. I work hard to be present – to continue listening as a friend in the pew speaks to me before evening worship starts. I pray silently that she doesn’t see the tears that threaten to expose my emotional response to what she is saying. It’s stupid.

“I’m over this,” I scold myself. “I’ve been over this for years!”. The little stab of pain surprises me in the way a driver cutting you off in traffic catches you off guard.

My friend is rhapsodizing about another woman. A wonderful, talented, godly, beautiful woman who I too, cheer for. Over and over, my friend says, “She’s just SO GOOD! She’s just SO GIFTED!”

99% of the time I would just happily agree, but this evening, in this setting, where others are validated with titles and pay-checks, the Evil One translates “good” and “gifted” to “chosen where you’re not good enough”, “important where you’re not“. The words aren’t true, but they bump into a wound that makes them feel true. The wound has healed over with much prayer and attention, but there’s a scar, and in the right circumstances it can surprise me with a leftover ache.

I’m still trying to brush away the feelings of inadequacy as we sing the opening praise song. “Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide.”

Yes, Lord, help me to hide in You, in Your place for me, in Your words about me, in Your story.

Can any of you relate to this? Are there times when emotion – pain, fear, envy, resentment – knock you upside the head without warning?

This morning I was reading Luke 1… about Elizabeth, who, with a wound of infertility, accepted her supporting role for other characters who in turn pointed to Jesus as the main character. She was a cheerleader for Mary – the one who got pregnant with the Messiah without even trying. And mother to John the Baptist, odd desert-dweller, announcing the main event.

Maybe Satan whispered in Elizabeth’s ear,  You’re not important like her! Child-bearing came easy for her because she’s SPECIAL and you’re not! You’re just an ‘also ran’. Her kid will be perfect. Yours just a bug-eater”

And yet Elizabeth was humble and affirming of Mary.

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true! Luke 1:42-45

Maybe there were times when Elizabeth’s scar ached in Mary’s presence. But I think it was because she knew it wasn’t about her OR about Mary that she had this godly perspective. It’s about Jesus. Always about Jesus.

It’s not about you. Or me.

But I wonder, did Elizabeth ever need to step back, be still, and ask:

  • Where is this pain coming from?
  • What is true? What does GOD say?
  • Who’s the hero of my story?

God’s provision is often different from what we envision. Sometimes we forget the most important thing – He’s the author and main character in the Grand Story of redemption.

Today, can we be thankful we get to be supporting characters?

5 Tips I’ve Learned From Great Gift-Givers

This post may be a little untimely. After all, you’re probably not thinking about Christmas shopping for next year.

But maybe you have friend with a birthday coming up and who doesn’t love giving and receiving gifts just because it’s Monday, right?

Or maybe you’re an employer who can’t give your team a raise, but wants to encourage and acknowledge their hard work.

I’m super easy to buy for because so much delights me! Give me a copy of Country Living UK to lose myself in and I’m as happy as if you had given me a car. (I’m really not a car person, so that’s probably not a fair comparison.) But not all people are so easy.

Anyway, whether you’re easy or not, don’t you know people who are just awesome gift-givers? I want to learn from them, so this past Christmas I paid close attention to gifts that particularly delighted me and made some notes.

Here’s are 5 things I came up with:

Continue reading

The Perfect Monday Gift

It’s Monday morning, less than 2 weeks before Christmas. If you’ve even taken the time to open this post, you are probably skimming it just to see if there is any nugget to help you get through a day of deadlines, carpool lines, headlines, and metro lines.

You may be preoccupied with the gifts you need to still need to buy. But what about the gifts that you need today?

As I reflect on the people of the Bible, so often it seems they didn’t get what they asked for, but they always got what they needed. It wasn’t usually comfortable, or predictable, but it was always good.

The Jews expected a military leader but they got a Savior who offered the gift of a forgiven eternal life with God.

The Magi were used to getting honor and awe, but received a humbling before the true King.

The shepherds were expecting a quiet night of sheep-keeping, but received an adventure and introduction of epic proportions.

Mary and Joseph didn’t expect to have to flee Herod as refugees after Jesus was born, but the Magi brought gifts that financed this detour.

You may not find the present you’re looking for, but you will have God’s presence. You may receive a deeper sense of your identity as a beloved child of His. You may grow in patience and peace.

His gifts may be beauty, or the delight of a child’s face, or an unexpected act of kindness.

Today, this ordinary Monday, may God give you the gifts you need in the exact moments you need them.

“The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts.” John 3:34

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Soul Food – Gifts for Christmas

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Twinkle lights are starting to appear and Peppermint Mochas are available. I’ve started playing Christmas music and praying about how God might use these posts to bring life and peace this Advent.

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One of the huge stressors of the season is the gift giving. Can I get an “AMEN”?!! The financial strain, the time crunch, the emotional stress of trying to find Just The Right Thing. We want it to be delightful and natural and sometimes it is, but others times…

Can I make a few suggestions (especially if you have young kids)? Note: everyone is different! Maybe these aren’t right for you. Continue reading

5 Reminders For Your Heart

We’ve been in San Francisco over the weekend for Maggie’s graduation with her Masters from Berkley.  This is that time of year – one of graduations and weddings and new ventures and births of every kind. It’s a season of marking moments. Looking back and looking forward. As I was reflecting on this I thought it’s a time when maybe our heart needs reminding of some things.

So, today, a list of 5 Reminders your heart needs as you launch into whatever new things God has for you: Continue reading

#nofailchristmas

Merry Christmas Eve Morning!  I’m guessing if you’re reading this either you’re ahead of the game with ALL OF THE THINGS done and the Hallelujah Chorus playing on Spotify, candles lit, and presents perfect, or you’re hiding in the bathroom binging on Christmas cookies, reading this and pretending you don’t hear your kids fighting outside the door.

For us it has been a delightful week of having both our daughters in town with lots of hugs, and catching up, laughter, and a Christmas before Christmas brunch with Maggie who headed to Texas yesterday to be with her husband and in-laws.

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But lest you picture our lives as a Norman Rockwell painting, let me just share a few other snapshots. Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!

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So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  

 

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

Carry-Ons and What You’re Reading

It’s Fearless Friday, but I don’t feel like writing about fear. 🙂   

John and I are leaving today for a couple of weeks in Zambia and Tanzania with our church and World Vision.  Not to be braggy, but we kind of pride ourselves on our ability to travel light.  We rarely check bags, but always use carry-ons.

The one place this proves problematic for me is with books.  Now when the Kindle came out I was thrilled because I knew it would be a great resource, at least when we travel. Think of all the space we could save!  157 books in the size of less-than-one!  Never mind the fact that it takes me 39 days to read just one.  I’m an optimist.

John has adapted well to the Kindle and uses it all the time, but me?  Well, I’m too tactile, too visual, and maybe just too remedial.  I need to be able to flip back and forth, to review what I’ve read and quotes I’ve underlined.  I also have this weird thing about wanting my full sized Bible with me that has all my notes and dates and underlines.  I just seem to “know” it better than other Bibles.  We’re old friends.

Bottom line?  I just hate using the Kindle and only submit when absolutely necessary.

Which brings us to this trip.  I have so many books right now that I’m excited about reading!!  Here are a few that I’ve finished and some I’m looking forward to. Continue reading

Maui

Some sacred spaces are easier to recognize than others.  Some gifts are easier to accept than others.

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It’s March in Minneapolis.  The cruelest month I think, although it vies with April.  In March we about despair that we’ll ever see any color other than white and gray again.  But then as we slog through the cinder/slush of March and April every once in awhile there’s a teaser.  A mini thaw, and you start to think maybe you’ve heard a birdsong or that your eyes aren’t deceiving you and maybe that’s a tiny bud there on the tree…but no, then it snows again and your hopes are buried just like your car under another monstrous white dump.

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It’s been in this cruel month that we’ve been blessed to spend two whole weeks in Hawaii, one of them with our daughters – our last family vacation before Maggie gets married and everything changes.  And on top of everything this trip was a gift.  That’s right, a gift from some generous friends.  I’m embarrassed to say it out loud.

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It’s a gift we don’t deserve.  We didn’t earn.  We didn’t ask for.  It’s lavish and over-the-top and we feel spoiled rotten.  And so for the first few days we were here all I felt was guilt. I thought, I shouldn’t let myself enjoy this.  I thought of many other people who work so hard and would love to be here too.

And then God whispered “Grace.”

Continue reading

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