Monday, February 28, 2011

news that steals away our breath

Some days are heavy. Devastating news comes unexpected and we stand with a fractured heart that aches. Gaps that want filling. Gashes that question the Maker's hands...and His purpose.

So we weep. And with those who weep, we weep some more.

We take the broken pieces to the only One able to soothe and uphold. We lay the shards at His feet and then fall down weary from the crawl.

The clock slowly begins to move forward. People go to the store to buy milk and they laugh about the mundane. But for us, life stopped. It stopped when the darkness fell.

And we wonder if feeling will ever return to the numb places.

It's there we wait, at the only place where hope glimmers faint in the far distance. We wait in the embrace of His arms, as a Father who lifts up his child when she fears the night.

And He holds tight until we are ready to walk again.

Written in remembrance of Drew Dennison. Praying for his grieving family.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

I should be dead in more ways than one.

I should be dead. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Literally. But God. Heartbreak, addictions, and loss have at times sent me spirally into valleys. But God.

By his immeasurable grace I live. I rejoice. I overcome. I stand firm. I fight the fight of faith. I run the race. I fly with new wings touched by his beauty.

Today I am sharing {an abridged version of} my grace story with my sweet blogger friend Stacey over at 29 Lincoln Avenue. Click here to stop by. I would love to "see" you.

Oh and, have I told you lately that he thinks you are precious? He does!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

calling all couponing-divas for such a cause as this

On Tuesday I posted about my trite need for recipes when the world is dying of hunger. It was a sobering day. But a dear friend commented about her wise use of coupons and it got me thinking.

She coupons in order to stock pile items so that her family can give those things to people in need. Brilliant, huh?! And maybe enough motivation to get me back on the coupon wagon.

I am the worst at couponing. In grocery store visits of old, I have fumbled around with slippery 50-cent-off coupons while my kids grew ever-impatient, nearly scaling the dairy case. So I gave it all up. The reason to coupon was not worth the hassle of carrying it out.

But, if I had some tips on how to coupon quickly and easily for such a cause as this, I may be able to follow through. And I bet others may be inspired as well.

So we coupon-drop-outs need you money-saving-divas. Either leave a comment with your amazingly easy ideas or link up one of your own blog posts that inspires and equips.

Come on girls. I know you are out there.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the secret to peace when others are living your desires

We spoke on the phone and she said it in passing. Without any loud to-do. But it stuck with me. Her wise word, laced with grace and humility, hung in the air of my days.

I introduced you to this precious jewel last week. She has walked through some rough terrain that could easily tear open our fragile soles. Yet her word to me was contentment.

Contentment. The secret.

"Lara, I have learned to be content. My God only gives His children what is ultimately best. So I trust Him fully, come what may."

I felt that lump in my throat. I want to commune with Him like that, wholly content with the hand I have been given. Rain. Or shine.

Discontentment declares of my Lord, "You do not know what I need. You must not love me as much. You surely have forsaken." All lies.

The cure: inhaling trust and truth, exhaling fear and envy. Knowing that where He has me today is ultimately for His greatest glory and my greatest good.


"For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound...

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:11-13

Bringing it home...

How have you struggled with discontentment?

What truths about our God empower us to rest where we are today, contented?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

my "need" was so trite in comparison

I was originally going to post today about my need for new recipes. How I was in a meal rut, preparing the same three dinners for my sweet family each week, while then grazing on the leftovers.

Then I picked up Compassion's Winter magazine. And the original post felt so trite.

"The world's greatest health risk: Hunger." Hunger. Sometimes I just need a shake back into reality. While I moan over eating a big plate of hot spaghetti...again...billions are starving. While our nation consumes more calories than any other, most scrounge for a bite.

To be honest, I read these statistics and I am left paralyzed on my soft couch in hopelessness. The task appears daunting. The numbers overwhelming.

So I ask His opinion.

I think our call is simple as the Maker's children. First, let's not forget. Let us not grow blind to the great need "out there." Let us remember a world desperate for the basics.

And second, let's do something. Anything. As an individual we may not be able to save the whole world, but we can help one. Or two. Or five. We can ask Him to open a door where our excess can be shared with another. Locally or globally.

So I am not going to whine about eating the same thing again tonight. I lift up thanks and ask that our fill be used to bless another.

Bringing it home...

How about you? What do these statistics do to your own heart?

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Monday, February 21, 2011

their little feet follow wherever mine go

The dentist stirred up a fire in my 6 year old daughter. After he visited her classroom talking about cavities and proper dental care, my girl jumped into the car after school and began quizzing us on our flossing regimen.

So I had to admit it. I'm a sporadic floss-er. There, I said it. I typically floss on an as-needed basis. Well, that and a two-week intensive prior to my next dental appointment for fear of the hygienist's judgment.

I know that flossing is important. But the head knowledge does not affect my typical daily habit. So I live in shame.

photo credit - timfotography

My kids follow my lead. In fact, my daughter's flossing passion has waned since that dentist's frightful visit. As I failed to enforce the floss, she has failed to make it a habit.

They do reflect more ways than just flossing.

If I truly love the unlovely, then they will learn love. If I feed the hungry or visit the lonely, then they will more likely do the same. If I apply the Word to my dailiness, then they will be prone to follow suit.

Their feet are following mine. So I want my toes pointing towards the Lover of their little souls.

Bringing it home...

How have you seen your own kids reflecting your heart convictions? Positive or negative.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

learning to love regardless

I recently spoke to a group of moms in Knoxville, TN. A precious woman said something afterwards that stuck with me.

{And I paraphrase.} "When we stand before our God we cannot point the finger at others in defense of our unforgiving, ungracious, unlovely behavior. It is me before my Lord. I want to be found faithful to love, regardless."

Is that not great?! Too often we get hung up on rights or demands, yet His burden is light. Our freedom call is to love. Just love.

Unforgiveness and bitterness steal the joy He died to give us. They bind us with chains and place our focus within this earthly realm. We miss His blessings when we choose to wear the Avenger's cloak.

He is teaching me--this slow learner that I am.

Each day it is simply me before my Lord--you before your Lord. He promises His strength when our weaknesses overtake us, if we humbly believe.

If you are having trouble truly loving another, begin here:

  1. Repent. Confess your insufficiencies out-loud before the Lord. He is faithful to cleanse all unrighteousness. Revival always begins with repentance.

  2. Ask Him to love through you. Cry out with all your heart. He alone enables us to love our "enemies," as Christ commands. Unless He fills and spills, we will be left with spinning wheels. {Hey, I'm rhyming.}

  3. Follow His promptings to practically love. We love in the moments of our day. Ask Him to show you practical ways to love the other. Listen to His promptings and then obey.

Blessing follows obedience. It's how He works. Our souls He will bless as we choose the way of love, regardless of the other.

Bringing it home...

How have you struggled to love your "enemies"?

What practical advice do you have for others?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

staying on schedule in our very scheduled world

The lady at the pharmacy asks in such a benign way, and I feel my face get red.

I know this. Don't panic. Just think slowly and calmly.

"December 31st, 2007," I say with partial confidence and only a moment's hesitation. You would think that the date of my third child's birth would be more firm in my mind. But I have calendar issues.

photo credit

I recently missed an appointment...again. So after a talk with my God, I implemented some practical things to do so I can stay on schedule in our very scheduled world.

I figure there have to be others like me--those with calendar deficiencies. So this is for you, three quick calendar tips to help our kind.

  1. Keep an up-to-date calendar. Google calendar has become my friend. It allows you to easily enter recurring events, like birthdays and work schedules. And you can access it from anywhere.

  2. Refer to it every morning. You would think this is a no-brainer, but I have to make a conscious effort to look at my calendar every morning. I told you: issues.

  3. Do not talk about dates unless you are looking at your calendar. I get into trouble if I discuss dates without actually having my calendar in front of me. Do not commit unless you have confirmed it first.

Missing important dates can hurt those around me. I want to be a blessing.

Bringing it home...

What other calendar tips have worked for you? Come on, friends, I need help.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I want to be like her when I grow up

I want to be like her when I grow up--because she looks so much like Him. I told her that yesterday. We met on an ordinary Sunday just after I stood at the podium humbled to think that I could teach her anything from the Word.

She reminded me of my own grandmother.

After my teaching, she came over and smiled. She grabbed my hand tight, then spoke a word of blessing. It left me near speechless.

He is knitting her onto my heart. What a gift.

She speaks and I want to sit low and listen. She shares pieces of her life--even those severed pieces--and I am awed at her solid faith. She reads books of heavy theology, knows Him deep, and spreads grace. And pours me a cup of hot tea.

I want to be like her when I grow up--because she looks so much like Him.

We need the wisdom of those older in the faith. In a world that races by, treasure lies in their stories of knowing Him.

If you don't already, ask Him to bring someone into your life who is years beyond you in faith. Then take the time to listen to their stories. Let them affect you.

I plan on telling you more of this precious jewel...

Bringing it home...

Do you have someone like her in your own life? How have they blessed you beyond words?

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am a {recovering} control-freak

Hi my name is Lara and I am a {recovering} control-freak.

Sometimes I need a strong dose of His sovereignty.

photo credit - picturen8

When people or situations jump out of my box of control, the old me--we'll call her Wilma--is tempted to arise, surfacing as fear or angst or frustration. And I can allow the momentary struggle to steal the joy and peace rightfully mine in the Lord. Rightful through His sacrifice.

It's then I have some choices to make.

I can set my eyes on the thing happening, or the person disappointing, and define my God through my circumstance. {He must not love. He must not see. He must not be able to rescue.}

Or I can define the moment through the character of my God.

He does not say "oops" or "I did not expect that one." No sin or disease confounds him. No man can take his scepter. No storm sends rain apart from his word.

To Wilma I say, "Believe him! He loves. He remembers. He sees. He works. He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love him. He will guide. Abide there. Rest. there."

I twist and squirm as the truth tries to settle down into my spirit. I fight it for a time, questioning in disbelief. But ever-so-slowly, I allow His covering. And His incomprehensible peace soothes and mends.

And Wilma soon retreats.

Sometimes I just need a good talkin' to. {And for those who are wondering...I don't really talk to Wilma. No need for an intervention.}

Bringing it home...

How does life tempt you to believe that He has lost control?

How can we actively choose to stand on His character and promises regardless of our circumstance?

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Monday, February 14, 2011

what Janet Jackson taught me about love {or not}

I am a product of Janet Jackson's 1986 hit, "What have you done for me lately." {uh uh uh uh uh, oooh oooh oooh, yeah.}

Seven years after its release, I graduated from high school defining "love" with similar sentiments.

photo credit - nicole pierce

For most of my life I wrestled with this little word love. I wanted the Cinderella story complete with gown and horse-drawn buggy. I wanted the "happily ever after" while gazing longingly into my man's eyes.

But our love story has been more of a Lifetime drama.

My man and I have walked through deep valleys with tough choices. We have questioned the plan and left wounds on the other. We have pointed fingers and miscommunicated.

But here we are...loving.

In these wife-years I have learned some things about love. True love--the Maker's love--chooses to pour out rather than demand.

It lifts and waits and gives. It fights for truth and destroys the list of wrongs. It suffers long and believes when hope hides. It is not based on the actions of the other.

How I want to love as my Lord so graciously loves me.

Sweet Janet Jackson, I enjoyed jamming to your songs. I forgive you for feeding into my confusion.

And to my man, I. love. you.

Bringing it home...

How has true love been proven in your own life?

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

when exactly did I become a woman?

Someone recently referred to me as a woman {which is better, I suppose, than her referring to me as a man}. But the word sat on me funny. Woman.

I tried to remember when I crossed over to that woman side, leaving the girl behind. Granted I am thirty-something, driving the Bling, with three kids needing my constant provision. But woman?

I'm not so sure if I can find the tune for such a song.

photo credit - M. Angel Herrero

I think I know me too well. I know my childlike need to learn the same truths again and again and again. I see Him clearly as Father, but to think He might define me as His woman-daughter causes my voice to crack a bit off key.


I guess we all struggle to truly hear. He defines us one way and we wrestle to believe.

He declares us forgiven, yet we drag around those rusty chains of condemnation. He describes us as new, yet we live under the bondage of old strongholds. He covers us with freedom words, yet the slave clothes fit comfortable and worn.

Why do we do that?

I want to believe what He says about me. To learn the notes of this--His--song. I am His woman-daughter, maturing and growing ever-more confident as I walk equipped and empowered by His great grace to sing.

OK. Maybe I can play this song as I keep my eyes set on the Composer-Director.

Bringing it home...

How do you struggle to believe what He declares about you?

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

having eyes for her tomorrow

I watch her direct her brothers, reacting to their faults, and I see me. I see the weaknesses in me that I want to change. Or don’t want to change, so I sit paralyzed in ungratefulness or oversensitivity or control. Me.

But focusing upon her imperfections entangles. And his burden is light. My call is not to “fix” the waywardness. My mommy-call has always been the same--to train, to guide, and to love. Just as my Lord so tenderly raises me.

When my Father-Maker looks patiently upon his daughter, he does not glare at the unfinished product irritated by it’s slow coming. He sees my tomorrow transformation and builds towards it.

He smiles...

Today I am posting over at the ModSquad.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

my vlog premier...and yes, I danced

I vlogged for the first time. And for those who are looking at the word with confusion, vlog=video blog. And...I'm a little nervous thinking about your viewing eyes.

"Why vlog?" you ask. Well, hopefully to encourage you. As 2010 came to a close, I joined Katie Orr over at Do Not Depart in the challenge to memorize the entire book of Philippians.

By His great grace I am remembering His word. {OK, mostly remembering His word.}

So this is me--with very little make-up--reciting chapter one of Philippians.

Oh, and, I do a happy praise dance when I finish to which my son asked, "Who's birthday is it mommy?" I don't know. :-/

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Friday, February 4, 2011

what I DON'T do so I can do what I

The other day I spent some time with my sweet friend Emily from Chatting at the Sky. (Doesn't she just rock?!) Anyway, through our kid-free conversation we found ourselves in a discussion over the things that we DON'T do.

I figure the list just needs to be blogged. So here goes. Ten things I don't do so I can do the things I

  1. I don't bake {often}. Unless you count slice and bake.

  2. I don't scrapbook, sew, or knit. In fact, the stack of idealistic cutesy papers and supplies in my hall closet haunts me.

  3. (Martha would be so disappointed.)

  4. I don't {formally} homeschool. I say formally because I don't have official desks. Though we as believers should all be homeschooling to some extent. Read this excellent post from "Motherhood Your Way".

  5. I don't dust, mop, and/or vacuum my house every single week. Learning to be OK with dust at the top of my door frames.

  6. I don't watch {much} TV. I can't find much that impresses me.

  7. I don't nap...except on Sundays. Lovin' the Sunday nap.

  8. I don't regularly re-decorate my home. In fact I still have some blank walls that cry out for a covering.

  9. I don't talk long on the phone. Unless my children are all strapped into their car seats.

  10. I don't spend hours on social media. I try to remain purposeful and remember my "why" and my "how long."

  11. I don't sleep late. Though one day when the kids are away at college, I hope to stay in bed until at least seven. {wink}

I want to do most of those things. I enjoy having fresh muffins for my kids and seeing my walls full of up-to-date photographs. I love to sleep in and engage the social media outlets. But to do what He has for me this day, I simply have to lay some things down.

He gives the same amount of time to each of us. Twenty-four hours per day. No more, no less. We have the time to do all that He has called us to do. The key is seeking Him in the moments to know exactly how He desires we spend that time. No other life fulfills.

So there you have it. Ten things I don't do, so that I can do the things I

Bringing it home...

What don't you do so that you have time to do the things He has called you to do in this season of your life?

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

nearing day 40 of my fast {and chocolate}

I have purposefully avoided blogging too often about my fast these past four weeks, so as not to seem...whatever. But as I enter the final 7 days I wanted to take a moment to share how He has faithfully rained down and what He has taught in the process.

photo credit - HDC Photography

  1. Fasting affects things. Not in the sense that fasting manipulates our God into action. That would be ridiculous. But fasting, combined with the intentional seeking of His will, affects--probably my own wayward heart. When we lay down things of the flesh in pursuit of the ultimate Bread, He fills. He rains.

  2. He has specific plans for His children. He is Father. When He designed you and me, He did so with purpose. And He desires that we know those plans through intimacy with Him. As we His children look up to Him for direction, pressing into Him for wisdom, He bends down and answers.

  3. He makes hearts tender. He has been transforming mine. He has given me clearer vision to see and understand those next to me. He has knit a deeper love for my man and my kids in the quiet places of my own heart. And He has stirred an unexplainable longing for those I do not even personally know, but am blessed to minister to.

  4. He may impress upon you to do something seemingly crazy-radical. My advice? Just do it. Walls may fall down.

  5. He is bound to His promises. If He said it, then it will come to pass. By His very nature He is bound by His words. When He speaks a promise, our victory in the waiting comes in believing with fervency that one day that thing will happen.

  6. (Most of all) HE IS GRACE. He is grace. There have been days that I have not been as purposeful, where I did not set aside that specific time to pray in the afternoon. (GASP!) But our God remembers we are dust. He sees us perfectly and responds to the ultimate desire of our heart to honor Him.

  7. Lastly, chocolate must be a gift from Him. Yes, it's true. I am looking forward to that handful of M&M's. I may even put them on top of a huge, cheesy slice of pizza.

If He leads you to do something that seems odd or insane in the eyes of the world, run fast after Him. He is always working, friend. Always. Faith leads to great reward in Him.

Bringing it home...

Has He ever led you to do something that may have sounded crazy in human terms? If you followed through, what was the result?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

remaining purposeful in cyber-space

A small piece of me longs for simpler days. When phones hung on walls and information waited to be discovered in libraries. Instead I wake to my cell vibrating on the nightstand with messages that have streamed in while I slept.

photo credit - flickr D. Bjorn

We live in a noisy, cyber world that can easily consume us. And though the Internet is not satan's spawn nor does Twitter plot evil against mere humans, I have a deep craving that beckons from within.

A cry for His still, small voice to guide me.

Yesterday I shared how my morning quiet before the Lord proves vital in facing these busy days. But once those morning minutes tick away, life awaits. And I want Him to meet me in its midst.

One way I stay focused in our cyber-culture is by determining my "why" and my "how long." Why am I here? And, how long should I stay? Knowing the answer to these two questions enables me to take charge of these fleeting minutes that add up to today.

How do you remain purposeful in our busy, cyber world?

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