Thursday, March 31, 2011

standing in front of the near-naked woman

We finished our trip to the grocery store in record time, without any potty breaks. Which, by the way, is a pure miracle. I wrestled the over sized, impossible-to-turn, racecar-cart into the check-out aisle, and there she stood.

Gorgeous. Curvy. Seductive. Near-naked. Air-brushed. Right at eye-level with my two young boys and my one impressionable girl--all three actively working-out "beauty" in their hearts and minds.

I had a mental moment imagining myself in slow motion diving over the cart obstrocity into the magazine stand speaking in a deep, slow voice, "nooooooo," in efforts to protect their precious eyes from images too mature.

I quickly snapped back into reality. And I breathed prayer to Him, "Father, guard their hearts. Blind their eyes to unnecessary things." Then I repositioned myself in front of her voluptuousness.

I think that's part of our call as parents. To be a buffer. To stand in the gap. To pray for their protection from falsity.

But then our call is to rest in the love of our great God.

Faith will be our place of victory. Trusting Him to be moving on behalf of His own, forever reigning over the details. Even in the grocery store check-out.

He is greater than any magazine cover. He is greater than any perversion that enters their sweet lives. He is worthy of our trust.

Bringing it home...

How have you seen the battle to keep your children "innocent" play out in your own life?

How goes your trust in your sovereign God?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I let them color on the floor.

I let them color on the subfloor.

Cause sometimes I just need to play.

Rather than put out "fires," trying to control the fold.

And maybe, just maybe...

something I say...

is starting to stick.

To all you mamas and papas: keep on. Keep teaching. Keep sowing the seeds of faith--passing that baton to the next generation. Eventually, the seeds take root.

"These words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, and when you rise up."

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Bringing it home...

Like me, do you have days where you wonder if anything is sinking in?

Will you share a time when you saw the "fruit of your labor" reflecting in your kids?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

when bitter steals love

Bitter steals love. It can settle on my tongue so quick until all I taste is ill-will. It infiltrates my thoughts before I notice. And with that, love is stolen.

Forgiving is hard. Let's be honest. My rights stand up big when my toes are crushed. My heart secretly insists that the pain be acknowledged and the broken mended with groveling.

But that is not how He works. That is not how He loves me. Instead He intercedes for His enemies--those hammering Him to a cross and denying His name.

He isn't weak. Or frail. Or dumb. Or delirious. He simply lives in perfect oneness with the Father. His love is not threatened by the actions of man.

I push Him away when I slather my ungrace and my unmercy all over those beside me. But who am I to demand anything?

Me. The one who has slapped my Lord in the face with disrespectful rebellion over the years. The one who adulterates my own soul with idols of this world.

My freedom call is to love. To love is to forgive. To forgive is to release others from my selfish wrath, choosing to remember the offense no more. Choosing to take each thought captive to love rather than to bitter.

Only by His grace. Only in the power of His Spirit.

Bringing it home...

Do you have a story of forgiveness?
How can we practically dig up a bitter root?

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Monday, March 28, 2011

dare I take Him at His word?

Something in me wants to hold back a piece of my life for the things that I want to do. As if my plan is best and His...sub par.

But what if His words are true. What if His plans are intended to prosper me and to give me a hope. What if He really is working for my good, even if things appear to be straying away from my plans for this day. What if.

Dare I trust? Dare I lay every single thing down and rest in His vision for my tomorrow? Dare I believe with a radical faith, giving Him all of my desires, opening my clinched fists and letting go? Dare I?

His ways are not mine. He looks at the heart and desires my freedom. He knows that best sometimes means He says, "No, my child. Not today." His love precedes His movement. His love covers my day.

What if I actually took Him at His word?

"Blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
which spreads out its roots by the river,
and will not fear when heat comes;
but its leaf will be green,
and will not be anxious in the year of drought,
nor will cease from yielding fruit."

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Bringing it home...

What does it mean to you that we can be like a fruit-bearing-tree in a drought if our hope is the Lord? If we take Him at His word?

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Friday, March 25, 2011

heading to Richmond, VA

Heading to Richmond, VA today to do a one-day conference with singer-songwriter (and friend) Abby Sutton. So excited to worship with these ladies! Expecting God to speak and move and be mighty among us.

St. Matthews Episcopal Church
1101 Forest Avenue
Richmond, VA
Saturday, 9:30am-2:30pm

Would love to see you there!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

vlog number 2...and the box dance

His Word is alive, my friends. Seriously. It speaks to our individual hearts, ministers in our darkest hour, and pierces the hardest of rebels. If we allow it. It breathes. And by His grace, I've been marinating in it.

A number of weeks back I posted my first vlog in which I recited Philippians chapter 1 after taking on Katie's challenge over at "Do Not Depart." Since then I have been working on Philippians chapter 2 (a natural progression). So here it is, my attempt at reciting the next chapter.

Click here to see Lara reciting Philippians 2 from Lara Williams.

Bringing it home...

How has He proven His word powerful in your own life?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

if only He would hurry up

I like things to happen when I think they should happen. Let's just be honest. If God followed my timeline, then He would have fulfilled all of my valid desires yesterday. Or the day before.

Sadly I watch my three-year-old writhe on the floor--an emotional wreck--and I see me. Granted I hide the temper tantrums better than he, but my mind can easily throw a fit demanding my way. Demanding He hurry up.

But "He does not make haste." Another wise word from the woman I want to be like when I grow up.

His movement is precise and timely. He waits until every single piece of the puzzle lines up exactly as He desires. All the while He actively cultivates the ground of our hearts, building character and faith. And once we finally settle, resting in His Father hands, the rains begin to fall.

The promised flowers birth.

He has not forgotten. Those desires He buries within us will indeed make their way into our days. In His time. However He redeems our moments. Even the "waiting" is purpose-filled, intended for our good and His ultimate glory.

He does not make haste.

Bringing it home...

Are you waiting on Him to move?

How do these wise words from this precious woman encourage your own heart?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

wrestling against fear

Fear came for a visit this weekend, like an enemy with whom I had severed all ties--unwanted and unexpected.

My man had taken my two boys on their first camping trip, complete with tent and sleeping bags. And no cell service.

Just as dark covered my bedroom windows, my mind began feasting on "what-ifs." At first the fears were subtle, like a distant, undefinable hum. But as the evening passed they became more pronounced. More visual.

And I felt trapped in a paralyzing web.

I tried to break free with distractions like food and email. But the fears haunted.

Then wisdom hit. I got low before my Lord and laid each thought before Him. I named the fears, out-loud, one-by-one, until they all hovered in the air of our conversation. Confession, for He commands "fear not."

I then spoke His truth. I chose the truth of His character as my place of meditation and slowly my heart believed. Slowly. But certainly.

Dare my night be stolen by fear.

Soon after, my mind rested. My eyes closed. And in a moment, morning came. And all my boys? They arrived later that day with campfire memories.

Bringing it home...

Are you battling any fears?

What truths of His character could bring comfort to your "what-ifs"?

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

a semi-embarrassing fact on a Saturday

Question: What does Milli Vanilli, Elton John, Def Leppard, and Debbie Gibson have in common?

Dun, dun, duuuuuuuunn.

Answer: I went to all of these concerts in the late 80's or early 90's--willingly and happily.

There is zero spiritual value in me telling you this wretched piece of information. I just thought you should know who you were dealing with. And how much God can redeem.

I'll be back on Monday with something more nourishing.

Bringing it home...

You tell me.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

finding renewal in the midst of a mess

Sometimes we need to step away from the mess to gain perspective.

Our house is a mess right now. Literally. The other morning I got up for a moment of quiet before life began. And I was met with the distant sound of rushing waters.

I ran down the stairs and flipped on the light to find water shooting out from behind the refrigerator, hitting the ceiling, and running down the wall. It had formed a pool in the kitchen and soggy carpet in the adjacent rooms. I pulled out the fridge and turned off the geyser then stood there dripping. Thinking.

My man and I quickly shifted into clean-up mode, with my hair now frizzing from the unexpected shower. Insurance was called. Floors were ripped up. Duct work was replaced. And now we live in a wind tunnel waiting for everything to dry.

Life gets messy--physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally. Some messes are monumental--like Japan's current devastation. Humbling. Some messes are just slight annoyances. But all tempt our focus. All lure us towards distraction and discontentment.

In the midst of the mess we have choice. We can choose our mind's meditation. We can choose what our hearts will believe. We can choose to see His gifts.

Sometimes we need to step away from the mess to gain perspective. To walk out onto the front porch, listen to the birds singing for spring, feel the warm sun blanket our skin, and meet Him in all His splendor. Breathing. Believing.

In that quiet space I listen to my thoughts. I take each one and compare it to His voice. If they conflict, I replace my own with Truth. I choose His perspective. I stand on His promised character. And slowly, His undefinable, unexplainable peace arises. What amazing grace.

Those who wait upon the Lord--binding to Him in faith--
will be renewed.

Isaiah 40:31 (expanded)

Bringing it home...

Where do you go to gain perspective?

How do you find His renewal in the midst of a mess?

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

dropping the stones of judgment

Depravity surrounds us, dripping. We cannot escape it. We cannot deny it. Those we love and admire fall into pits of consequential sin.

The news tugs on my curiosity with its proclamations. The magazines entice my eyes to linger on the lies and hurt. Even the church pews are filled. We whisper and point...and blog. Yet only by His grace, it's not me. Not today, anyway.

Jesus teaches us love. When the mob picked up stones to strike the adulterous woman, He bent down and spoke words that caused rocks to drop from their clinched fists. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

May my feet follow after His, proclaiming forgiveness rather than binding with chains of proud judgement. People fail. We break promises and hurt those we love. But He calls us to unity. He commands us to forgive.

One day He will rise from His throne and say, "It's time!" The horse will be beckoned. The gates will fling open. Nothing will hold Him back. May I be found praising, forgiving, and loving--working the ministry of reconciliation. By Your great grace, o Lord.

Bringing it home...

How do we "drop the stones" when someone close breaks our hearts?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

choosing to thank Him in the messy

It feels like my complaints are justified at times. My "rights" are trampled and I want. I need. But Paul says to do all things without complaining. Which I am certain implies that we take all things without complaining. Hmm.

I read chapter seven of Ann's book the other night and she called me out. She set me straight with one heavy word written in such poetic beauty. Blasphemer. Blasphemer? Me?

If God is sovereign, which He is. If He relentlessly loves His own, which He does. If nothing can enter my day apart from His will, which it can't. Then complaining reveals my unbelief. I don't believe that He is giving me good gifts. And I blaspheme His name.

That thought overwhelms me a bit. I need to sit down.

Choosing to see His good even in the mess will be the place of victory. Choosing to search out the gift from His hands of love leads to contentment's waters from which joy erupts.

Easier said than done.

We are human. We feel and respond. I feel and respond. I overreact to my kids. I mumble under my breath. I hold the moment in my hands and scrutinize, criticizing Him with my frown. But He gives good gifts.

Oh to see as He sees. To bless Him with thankful lips, even in the hard. Especially in the hard.

Bringing it home...

Does this thought overwhelm you like it did me? What are you thinking?

How do we do this on Monday or Tuesday? How do we choose to thank instead of complain, when the messy is so obvious?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

how to advise the broken-hearted

The phone rings just as my teabag hits the hot water to steep. I answer and hear weeping. There's a gash on her heart. She explains the pain. The reality seems more than any human should bear.

I am left speechless while the clock ticks slow. I absorb her ache. It becomes a part of me.

Lord, give me the words to say.

I remember the three friends who spoke with such confidence regarding Job's painful suffering--defining God from the earthly perspective, limited and hindered. Eventually the Sovereign chastens their poor reflection.

So I pray. God fill me. Dare I speak words that falsely portray Your face.

Then I ask to pray with her--to take her hand and lead her to the only knowing One. We approach His throne bold because of Christ. Clothed in righteousness. And His words become my own. Graciously.

Truth flows out and fills our hearing. Our faith increases as we remind our souls of who He is. Her faith increases. Her head lifts. Her tears dry. He spoke and comforted.

He spoke. Not me.

Bringing it home...

How can we be wise in our advising of others?

Linking up with sweet Rebecca at...

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Monday, March 14, 2011

sifting through the advice of onlookers

I wrote this post in response to my time in the book of Job.
I was not referring to any of the precious people that God uses to
speak words of wisdom and edification into my own personal life.

People mean well. They do. They hear of our lot and have an opinion. They speak out of love or concern... or fear. They hold views based upon experience, pressuring with "shoulds" that ultimately birth from the need to control.

They mean well. They do.

But I ultimately want my God's opinion. I want to follow His lead no matter how radical that path may seem. I want to walk by faith and not by sight. I long to hear Him and then obey with my next step.

So I take the opinions of those-who-mean-well to His throne room. I lay them down and ask Him if the "shoulds" are the best. And I wait there--believing Him to guide.

I don't want to be one who responds hastily to the pressures of life. I don't like who I am when I make choices out of unstable emotions. I desire to live thoughtfully. Prayerfully.

He is on His throne. He knows the beginning from the end. He sees my momentary decisions. And He shepherds His sheep. I choose to wait on Him.

Bringing it home...

How do you handle the myriad advice from others?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

comparing my to-do list with His

I hold up my list up next to the clock and it seems impossible. How can I possibly check everything off before the sun sets?

People need loving. Stuff needs cleaning. Errands need running. People need loving. But I don't think I can do it all. And I'm not supposed to.

Tasks often make it to my list that He never intended for my today. In an effort towards external perfection I cram line items onto the page. And it quickly becomes my list. Not His.

We each have enough time to do everything He intends. The key is in the listening--hearing His promptings in the moments of my day.

When I follow His lead, the walk is quieter. The pace is slower. The love is heavier.

His list is best.

Bringing it home...

How have you seen this play out with your own "to-dos"?
How can we know and follow His "list" for this day?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

believing Him active when it feels He must be static

He is moving. He is active. He is never static. Someone needs to hear that.

There have been seasons in my life--too many seasons--where I have doubted his movement. Times when I defined my God through the situations in which my feet appeared stuck. And it felt as if he had stepped off of his throne for a bit.

But our faith is the victory. Believing him to be who he has declared himself to be, regardless of what our eyes may see in the finite, brings freedom.

I have written a book--well, most of a book. An unpublished book. I know he led me to write its pages. I know it will be published one day. Yet, I wait. And wait. And I have choice in the waiting.

I could sulk and whine and demand, causing my soul to live under the pains of anxiety. Or I can believe him to be working. I can walk through the doors he opens and trust his timing to be absolutely perfect, allowing his peace to be my guard.

Faith is the victory. Believing him to be God. Mighty. Faithful. Love. Sufficient. Good. Active. Holy. True. Able. Beyond me.

Bringing it home...

Practically speaking, HOW can we choose to believe him? What does it look like in the day-to-day?

I would love for you to join me over at the MODsquad today where I ponder prayer by asking, "Do I truly want to pray away possible circumstances that are meant to strengthen and develop faith in the Almighty?"

Click here to

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

pornography. a door leading to soul-death.

It now saturates the church pews, suffocating the minds and homes of too many to count.

Pornography. There. I said it.

It takes men and women captive through empty promises of satisfaction. Lies defining sex as external and simplistic, something to be bought and sold and hidden.

But the lies eat away at one's soul.

He created sex. He designed it in all of its glory and mystery. Denying Him centrality in its discussion leaves sexuality as a mere facade. Apart from His voice, we miss the fullness.

Yet too many are bound--seduced. And I find myself burdened for my own children. Burdened for my own boys.

If left unaddressed, one taste can lead to a feasting which can lead to an addiction which can lead to soul destruction.

So how can we help others battle against the deception? How can we equip our kids to fight for purity?

Here are four very basic ideas--very basic ideas. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, as situations can get very sticky and multi-dimensional.

  1. Pray. Commune with the Lord. If we are concerned for someone, then the place to begin is on our knees before the Holy One. Asking for His vision. Asking for His strength. Asking for His wisdom. Asking for His timing.

  2. Confront. With unconditional love at the core, desiring to see the other live free from lies, approach with the utmost humility. Remember that apart from His great grace, it would be me still bound by chains.

  3. Equip. Especially with regard to our children, may we teach them to "sharpen their swords." Show them from the word God's instruction and design. Teach them how to meditate on truth and take captive their lustful thoughts.

  4. Wait. Allow God some space to move around. Allow others some time to respond. In the meantime, love.

Bringing it home...

As I said above this is not a comprehensive list. What would you add?

How are you equipping your own children to battle against lust?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

priceless art

The canvas awakens my morning eyes.
Truth swirled into this moment of time with purpose.
Hues my eyes cannot fully define.
One glance and my spirit dances--free.

I pause as the relevant graces the page.
Taking it in slow, I encamp over His word.
It whispers my name.
It's here, I'm known.

This quiet moment created for me,
Or maybe I for this moment,
To behold the glory and splendor--speechless.
It enters my marrow. It alters my plans.

Fascination, nondiscrimination...Revelation--
Given to all who seek.
As bread it feeds my soul-hunger.
As water it quenches the dry.


The Creator holds the paintbrush.
His love drips from the bristles, crimson red,
In fierce pursuit of my wayward heart.

Bringing it home...

How has he proven his word to be priceless art in your own life?

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Friday, March 4, 2011

these are the things that ignite my flesh

I have triggers--circumstances that ignite a flesh response. They hold with them the potential of sending me into slight freak-out mode. And it ain't pretty.

I read the words of Paul describing the flesh--envy grouped together with murder--and I am reminded of my absolute depravity before a holy God. My flesh depravity. Galatians 5:16-25

No "work of the flesh" is more detestable than another. All point to selfish intents. All reveal a heart in pursuit of "me."

But He is teaching me to identify the things that trigger my flesh. And as my awareness grows, I am more prepared to put out a spark before it starts a roaring fire.

So here are three of my personal triggers and some basics to my "fiery flesh prevention."

  1. The Clock

    When I have to race the clock to get somewhere on time--with three young kids in tow--my blood pressure rises.

    Practical solution for me: Begin transitions earlier, like loading the car fifteen minutes before I actually want to pull out of the driveway. Or abbreviating my morning mommy tasks by preparing some things the night before.

  2. The Whining

    When my kids enter into whiny-mode, my ears ache. Literally. It gets into my brain and eats away any remnants of sanity. (OK, I jest a bit.)

    Practical solution for me: Flee. But if I cannot flee due to obvious reasons, then I stop and breathe and pray. I remind that "mommy does not understand whiny voices." And I teach (again) that whiny words reveal a whiny heart. “Let’s each name three things for which we are thankful.”

  3. The Mess

    When my house is a cluttered mess
    , I can get tunnel vision. I focus on the stuff instead of the little ones who need me to be fully present.

    Practical solution for me: Along with encouraging our kids to put away what they get out, I do a 20-minute clean sweep through the house each day. I start in the laundry room and fly through the house at unmentionable speeds putting away the strays.

Situations will arise that can easily ignite our flesh responses. But in Christ we do not have to live enslaved to the flesh. That's why He died. And rose. And sealed us with His Spirit.

The only fire escape is through His power, His wisdom, and His filling.

{P.S. My firefighter man will be so proud of my fire analogies.}

Bringing it home...

Have you identified any of your flesh triggers?

Are you willing {and brave enough} to share?

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the choice we have in every single moment

"We remember what we rehearse," words of wisdom yet again from this precious soul. Say them, slow and purposed.

If we rehearse in our minds the insults from another, then the wound stays open, soon to be infected with bitter.

If we rehearse in our hearts the lies successfully sold to this world, then all Christ died to give is stolen and replaced with despair.

The choice is in the rehearsing. The repeating.

If we rehearse blessings and intercessions, handing life to another, then love creeps up and out and onto those walking beside us.

If we rehearse Truths revealed by the Maker's tender will, then our sword becomes sharp in preparation for the faith battle.

The choice is in the rehearsing. The repeating.

The choice is in the moments of this day.

Bringing it home...

What are you rehearsing?

Practically speaking, how can we change what we rehearse?

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the idea is just too wonderful

The thought that He desires to be my friend, humbles. That He invites me to walk beside and commune, to share the hidden things. The idea is too wonderful.

It makes me ask. Am I his friend? Are you?

{Written in response to my time in John 15:11-17. }

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