So you want to hide away?

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My daughter tried a stealth move.

I set my cup down on the floor next to the sofa where I was sitting.

She crawled over and paused.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her glance my way without fully turning her head, just flitting her eyes up to see if I was watching.

The she made her move.  She swooped down, sucked on the straw and gulped down my drink.

And….

She grimaced.  Her whole body bounced back as she crawled to the other side of the room with a combination look of utter confusion and a little disgust.

She didn’t know I’ve been drinking green tea instead of Cherry Coke recently.

“Didn’t expect that, did ya?” I teased her and she laughs because she knows she deserved that little shock to her palate.

Since then, she’s been asking me, “Mom is that water in your cup or is it the other stuff?

She was surprised by what she found in my tumbler that day, and she doesn’t want it to happen again.

Her little encounter with my green tea has me thinking:

Others might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes.

We might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes, too.

We think we’ll find fresh water, and it’s something gross instead.

We think it’ll be a delight, and instead it’s disgust.

Not God, though.  God is never surprised by what He finds within our hearts and lives.

He knows.

Psalm 139:1 says:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  (ESV).

Some part of me wants to hide from that.

God, please don’t see the worst in me. 

I don’t want Him to see the mixed motives or the idolatry, the way I fight with perfectionism and feeling not-enough.

I don’t want Him to see me lose my temper or get annoyed or feel like giving up.

I want to bury that jealousy or coveting and hope he doesn’t notice the bump in my backyard.

I want to cover over the mistakes and mess-ups or fatigue or worry, the bad moments and the bad days.

If God sees my worst, surely He’ll give up on me.  He’ll use someone better, call someone purer, bless someone holier, because I’m such a broken vessel.

Then I think of Nathanael.

When Jesus called out to Peter, James, John and Andrew, they were hauling nets along the sea, just another day of work.  He said, “Follow me,” and they dropped the fishing gear and stepped into discipleship.

Jesus called Matthew and immediately the tax collector hopped up from his papers and pencils and followed.

It’s such a beautiful calling.  It’s the calling of the willing and the obedient, the receptive and ready.

Then there’s Nathanael.

When Philip saw Nathanael that day, he told his friend all about how they had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Nathaniel mocked the thought.  It was a joke, surely.  He asked:

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46 ESV

It wasn’t a beautiful moment of faith or instant belief.  He didn’t seem receptive or ready.  He was doubtful and disdainful.

Then Jesus came along, saw Nathanael and said:

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:47-49 ESV).

How do you know me?

That’s what Nathanael asked.

Then, realizing that Jesus did in fact see into his very heart, Nathanael confessed faith.  He worshiped.

He followed Christ and became one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.

Even now, the Armenian church claims Nathanael as their founder.  Church tradition says he preached as far as India and was martyred there.

He became sold out for Jesus.

But here’s what I love.

Jesus knew everything about him right from the beginning, the skeptical side, his mocking jest with Philip, and still called him and commissioned him.

There are days when I’m surprised myself at the sin still clogging up my heart.

But not Jesus.

And then that shame ensnares me.  I think I need to clean myself up and fix myself and get to work on my sin problem before God could bless any offering I bring.

But that’s not what God says.

That’s not what Jesus does.

JESUS BIDS US COME AND FOLLOW HERE AND NOW, JUST AS WE ARE, NOT AS WE OUGHT TO BE.

He loves me now, the imperfect me, the me that wants to be like Jesus but isn’t there yet.

Jesus doesn’t know you and reject you or set you aside.

HE KNOWS YOU.

AND HE LOVES YOU.

HE KNOWS YOU.

AND HE CALLS YOU.

Originally posted February 24, 2016

I’m giving up on perfect and just doing some good

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Shhhh…don’t tell my daughter, but I let her down in January.

She just doesn’t know it.

Six years ago, I committed to having lunch at the school with each of my daughters every single month.

Pretty soon, I had three girls in elementary school,:that’s three lunches a month or 27 lunches a year, plus an occasional extra lunch thrown in for a birthday or other special occasion.

My kids are typically on top of this, too.  If I haven’t had lunch with my youngest daughter within the first week of a new month, she starts nudging.

Mom, you know you haven’t had lunch with me this month, right?  When are you coming?

But January zipped right past me with days off school, half days with weird schedules, and what felt like endless doctor’s appointments.

My husband says—You’re eating lunch with them at home on the days off.  Doesn’t that count?

No.  That does not count.

Finally, on the last day of January I resigned myself to the truth:  I’d failed: A five year streak of faithfulness broken by a wacky school schedule and a packed calendar.

 

At the beginning of this year, I set some goals in four areas of my life:  Marriage, Parenting, Ministry, and Self-Care.

I’ve been replacing soda with water or green tea.

I’ve been exercising and listening to podcasts while packing my kids’ school lunches.

But there’s one that’s harder to do. It’s not a box to check off or a physical habit to create.

IT’S THIS:  CHOOSE TO BE GENTLE WITH MYSELF.

It means not letting Mom Guilt terrorize my like the tyrant it is.

It means not listening to my self-criticizing internal dialogue.

It means putting a Lunchable in my kids’ lunch box every once in a while.

It means not beating myself up if I occasionally have to order pizza for dinner or go for the quick-fix like boxed macaroni and cheese.

It means laughing instead of berating myself if I forget, and cutting myself off from chores in the evenings so I can spend some time with a cup of hot tea and a book.

AND YES.  THE STRUGGLE IS REAL TO LET GO AND CHOOSE GRACE.

I still have this nagging sense of guilt that I didn’t make it to the school for those lunches in January.  It’ll probably plague me for a long time because I can’t go back and fix it. I can’t make it all perfect.

Then I read what the Psalmist said:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
(Psalm 37:3-5 ESV).

Trust Him and do good. That’s what it says.

It seems I spend a whole lot of time and effort trying to “do perfect” or “do all.”

But that’s not what God asks of any of us.

God doesn’t expect perfection because He knows we’re imperfect.

He simply asks us to trust Him, “do good” and keep doing good.  Choose the right things.  Show up day after day.  Be faithful.

Even more than that, don’t try to figure it all out or make it all work.

He’s not going to give us the desires of our heart because we worked like mad-women to make them happen.

HE GIVES US THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART WHEN OUR GREATEST DESIRE IS FOR HIM.

And after Jesus, what is it that my heart desires?  It’s to love my kids to Christ.  One missed lunch isn’t going to change that.

You cannot be perfect today.  Neither can I.

But we can trust God and do good and leave everything in His hands.

AND WE CAN CHOOSE TO BE A LITTLE GENTLE WITH OURSELVES TODAY.

SHRUG OFF SOME SHAME AND STEP INTO SOME GRACE.

LET GO OF SOME EXPECTATIONS AND CLING TO THE FREEDOM CHRIST OFFERS.

Originally published February 26, 2016

You Think You’ll Remember

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I stopped scrapbooking years ago.

They say you stop with your third baby just because you’re so busy or somehow you’re over all that new-momma pride.

But that’s not what did it for me.  It’s that I had never scrapbooked because I’m crafty or creative, in love with paper and colors, a fan of stickers and shaping scissors, or content to spend a few hours (or days) cropping photos and writing in the margins with a gel pen.

I scrapbooked because that’s what moms do.

“Good moms” anyway.

But I found out it had become a dreaded chore, the dragging out of the massive Rubbermaid container, the aching back after hours of gluesticks and paper cutouts, the stressing over straight lines and paper scraps.

Mostly, though, it was the clean-up afterward that did me in.  I may have time to make the albums (maybe?), but who has time to clean up project mess?

Perhaps if I had an entire room hidden away somewhere where everything could be spread out and left there over time instead of interrupting my whole house with clutter, then crafts and creativity would be fun.

Life’s not like that, though.  Mess needs to be stashed away.  It takes time to set up and time to clean up, so mostly I just leave the project alone before I begin.

After years of collecting keepsakes and mementos, my containers, boxes, plastic buckets, and piles grew to mountainous proportions, though.

Sometimes I’d at least remember to label the photos I printed or the pictures my little artists drew before tucking them away for safe-keeping.033

But not always, and that was my mistake.

You think you’ll remember every detail of the who and when and what.  You think you’ll remember the stories, the firsts, every reason behind the paper that sits stacked in a cardboard box in your closet.

Sometimes I do remember.

And sometimes I don’t.

Recently, I dragged boxes out from various corners and hidden places and sorted through the papers and photos. My kids pestered me with questions:

Who drew this, Mom?  Who is this, Mom?  What does this paper mean, Mom?

They wanted to hear the details of the story and at times I struggled to remember which one of them had drawn that detailed picture of stick people with fingers sticking out of their arms like twigs or written me that note:  I luv mom.

How forgetful I am.  Life pushes me faster and faster, rushing through this day and the next, and even those moments you most expect to remember blur into the fog of it all.

Memory isn’t passive, not the way we expect it to be.

No, remembrance is an active discipline, a choosing not to forget despite our humanness, our busyness, and our distracted minds.

We’re not alone in this.

In Matthew 14, we read how Jesus fed the five thousand with a handful of loaves and fish.

In Matthew 15, he did it again, feeding over 4000 with some bread and some more fish.

Then, in Matthew 16, the disciples forget to bring some bread along on yet another daytrip.  When Jesus started teaching them about yeast and Pharisees and Sadducees, the twelve didn’t get it.  They missed the point completely and thought he was chastising them for forgetting lunch.

They couldn’t focus on His spiritual teaching because they were hyper-focused on their physical need.

Jesus said,

O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?  ….Do  you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? (Matthew 16:8-11 ESV).

Oh those disciples, sometimes I marvel at their block-headedness and sometimes I just want to put my arm around their shoulders and say, “I get it.  I’m right there with you guys.”

We think we’ll remember the miracles and how God delivered us or how He spoke so clearly, cutting right through the noise of our lives to make Himself evident.

Then we forget after all .  Two chapters later in our own story, we’re still fretting over how much bread we have in our lunchbox even though Jesus is so able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3).

I want to be a historian, a keeper of memories, a relater of miracles and testimonies of  His goodness so that I won’t forget.

He’s done it before.  He’ll do it again.

So I can rest and trust and even wait with expectation and anticipation to see all that God will do.

 

Doing Small Things for the People Near to Us

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In the Sunday morning rush, we have eaten and dressed.  We have brushed teeth and brushed hair.  We have found missing shoes and sent children one by one into their room to collect their Bibles.

When they were younger, my kids needed help with every… little…thing in the morning routine. Now, at least, I am primarily keeper of the clock and pourer of the milk for those too little to do so without spilling.

Finally, with all the children fed and clothed, I retreat to my bedroom for my own prep time.   I’m brushing my own teeth while hunting in the closet for my other shoe and watching the clock out of the corner of my eye.

Time’s up.  We head out the door to load up the minivan.

That’s when I see the two freshly filled water bottles on the counter.

One is my husband’s.

The other is mine.

This is his Sunday morning gift to me.  Almost every week while I’m showering and dressing, my husband retrieves my near-empty plastic bottle from my nightstand and he fills it up with fresh water while he is filling up his own.

It’s the tiniest act of kindness, and yet it means a great deal.

This is a little self-sacrificial thoughtfulness, a gesture of remembering and of noticing my need, an offer of help without even asking.

I feel loved and cared for.

Yes, by this simple thing, the refilling of water, I am refreshed with love.

There are other acts of kindness, of course, and hopefully they go both ways.  Me serving him.  Him serving me.  Secretly filled gas tanks.  A milkshake after a long day.  Trash taken out.  Cards hidden.  Lunches made.

Love thrives on the simplest, most daily acts of consideration and thoughtfulness.  That’s because it’s far more natural to slip, slip, slip into forgetting, and selfishness, and taking for granted.

I wait until we arrive at church, and then I halt our dash into the brick building with four kids in tow for just a moment to say, “Thanks.  Thanks for filling my water bottle.”

Because kindness deserves noticing.  Kindness deserves gratitude.

In Acts 9, widows crowded around Peter to tell him of their sorrow.  Their dear friend, Tabitha (also known as Dorcas), had died, and they missed her.

Scripture says she was “full of good works and acts of charity”  (Acts 9:36 ESV).  The widows “stood beside him (Peter) weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them” (verse 39).

Maybe it seemed like such a small thing when she was alive:  A garment here, a tunic there.  Dorcas spent time sewing and then gave her gifts to the widows, the poorest around her.  She didn’t give millions of dollars.  She didn’t run a charity house for the destitute or organize a worldwide effort against poverty.

Tabitha did small things for the people near to her.  She served God in the way that she could.

Her kindness was her legacy.  It was the evidence the widows offered to Peter for why he should raise her from the dead—and that’s the miracle that happened that day.

Robert Morgan wrote:

The little things we do are bigger than the great things we do; and how wonderful to learn the importance of the sacred ordinary (All to Jesus).

I read this morning about a family’s wild jaunt of a day filled with random acts of kindness.  They carried flowers to nursing home residents and paid for strangers’ groceries and left dollars on the dollar store shelves.

They had the best time spreading kindness like a million tiny seeds all over their small town and then letting it grow and bloom into kindness in others.

What a glorious thing.

But I’m reminded today that random acts of kindness aren’t just for strangers or neighbors.  Too often we forget the “random acts of kindness” we can offer within our own families.

Maybe for some of us, bitterness, anger, and hurt over ingratitude make kindness feel like an impossible challenge, a chasm we just can’t cross.  But that is when the kindness is the hardest sacrifice we could offer.

This is the offering we give.  We take the time to notice a need.  We make an effort to reach outside of ourselves to help another.  We put aside our agenda in order to love people first and foremost.

Along the way, we rediscover how truly kind God is to us even when we ourselves didn’t deserve it:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5 ESV).

We’re Singing Star Wars in the Supermarket

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One of my son’s favorite shopping activities is singing the Imperial March from Star Wars while stomping down the aisles.

Dum Dum da-dum da-da-Dum Dum da-Dum

For a three-year-old, my son is remarkably good at singing this while swinging an imaginary light saber.   Even the frozen food employee is impressed.  He always stops to chat with us about the latest Star Wars movie.

This is, of course, not my son’s only grocery shopping habit.

There is also pretending to fly like an airplane and also making superhero fighting noises while acting out an epic battle.

We have rules, of course.

Star Wars singing and marching is okay.

So is superhero pretend and airplane flying .

Crawling on the nasty floor like a puppy dog, however, is not acceptable.

Also on the Not Allowed List:  Walking directly in front of the cart and stopping every two inches or so….touching everything we see….putting things in the cart without Mommy knowing….and running too far ahead or lagging too far behind outside of Mommy’s line of vision.

So, I do a lot of guiding in the store, holding his hand sometimes.  Or guiding him with my hand on his back because he’s too engrossed in his superhero game to actually walk forward.

And almost 100% of the time you can hear me narrating our adventure: “Okay, now we need to go to the cereal aisle.  We need to stop here for  a minute and look.  Alright, let’s get going, go all the way to the end of the aisle without stopping.  Let’s go faster.  Let’s slow down.”

These are my Mom-skills, my guidance techniques to keep us both on the same page in terms of purpose, direction, and timing.

We are imperfect.

Some days we ace this and I’m tempted to pat myself on the back as if I’ve got it all together and have finally (after four kids) figured this whole deal out.

But inevitably the next time we shop, we forget something, or we take forever, or I lose my temper, or there is a tantrum.

So, we go with grace.

I’m so thankful for such grace.

I’m thankful for something else, too, because I know what it’s like as a parent to lovingly guide  and direct.  I know what it’s like to be listened to and what it’s like to be ignored.

I know what it’s like to “know best….” and to understand the grand scheme of things:  the meal plan, the budget, the true needs versus the cavernous wants.

Maybe these weekly shopping excursions are a little hint of God’s heart for us.

He knows the big plan:  the layout of the store, the timing, the provision, the needs.

Sometimes He says, “no,” even when we really want to hear “yes.”  Sometimes he hurries us past aisles where we want to linger.  Sometimes he slows us down for the opportunity to consider.

Sometimes He lets us dance in the aisles and sing our hearts out right there in the middle of the bread because He’s so crazy about us and we bring him such joy.

But I can be so wayward.

I can try to rush ahead one day and drag my feet the next.  I can try to sneak things into the cart and perhaps I even throw a tantrum every once in a while.

I’ve been reading in Exodus about Israel’s long and winding trek through the wilderness, and how God guided them every step of the way, providing for their needs with manna and quail even when they longed for the food in Egypt.

What would have happened if the Israelites had pushed on ahead of the cloud that God used to guide them by day?   What if they guessed at God’s potential direction, balked at His delays, and set out on their own?

What if I do the same, trusting in my own wisdom and strength rather than in God’s?

We are all simply lost without Him.

So I’m trying to trust Him and trust His heart, even when there are diversions and delays, even when there are annoyances and “no’s” and restrictions.

In Exodus, God actually gives Israel a glimpse into His heart:

 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.  Exodus 23:29-30.

Conquering the Promised Land wouldn’t be some quick and painless affair, which is probably what they wanted.

But God’s purpose was for their protection.  His timing was for their good.

He promises us this, as well:

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you (Psalm 32:8 NLT).

Return, O My Soul, To Your Rest

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My daughter and I settled  onto the bus for our overnight trip to New York City.

We each pulled out our books and book lights and enjoyed some reading time as we pulled away from the parking lot and headed out onto the road for our grand adventure.

About an hour into the trip, I pulled out my blanket and little travel pillow and asked my daughter to do the same.  We were, after all, supposed to be sleeping on this bus and we were certainly going to need that sleep since we were hitting the streets of New York City by 6 a.m.

Only, she hadn’t brought her pillow.  She’d left it back at the house.

Oops!

So, I handed mine over (because I love her and I’m her mom) and tried to sleep without it.

Now, I do not sleep in moving vehicles, and this night the odds were particularly against me.

I was in a completely, wonderfully comfortable bus for daytime travel.   Nevertheless, I was still mostly upright, with highway noise for my soundtrack, surrounded by 50 people, and without a pillow.

We shuffled this way and that through the night.  None of us on the bus slept more than an hour or two , and even that was in fits and starts.

At 3:40 that morning, the bus lights flicked on to full strength and we pulled into the New Jersey rest stop where we were scheduled to start the day.  Everyone filed out to use the bathrooms, change our clothes, brush our teeth, and buy coffee (or tea!) from the 24-hour Starbucks.

From then on, it was go, go, go.  Drive around the city.  Eat breakfast at the diner.  Walk through Central Park.  Stroll through the Museum of Art.  Subway back to our bus for lunch and the ride to the hotel.  Quick showers and changes.  Back onto the bus for the ride to the Lincoln Center for a ballet performance.

We had the best time!

Finally, we settled back at the hotel around midnight after being awake for about 35 hours of the last 36 hours.

A bed never felt so good.  The pillows were luxury and the sheets were heaven.

Normally, I hate sleeping away from home and restlessly fidget all night long.

Not that night.  I slept the deep sleep of the truly exhausted.

That same weekend, I read this verse from the Psalmist:

Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you (Psalm 116:7 ESV).

Return to rest.

Right there when I was pushed to the max physically, I needed to know that rest doesn’t entirely depend on circumstances.

Some seasons are stressful and full of huge crises or petty daily annoyances.  Life demands so much of us–sleepless nights while we rock the baby, or work the job, or care for the loved one, or nurse the sick, or more.

Our hearts can be tumbled into pits of anxiety with one phone call, one nasty email, one ridiculous Facebook post, one bank statement or unexpected bill.

Maybe we’re running at full-speed because of blessing and not burden.   We’re packing for the big move or working hard on the big project.

Rest can seem elusive until we remember the truth:

Our rest isn’t in peaceful circumstances or ideal conditions; our rest is in Jesus.

He doesn’t just bring us peace; He is our Peace.

Like the dove that Noah sent out from the ark, we can seek rest in so many places in the big wide world but never find it.  The dove searched throughout the earth for a dry place to set down and only found water, water, and more water.

The bird only found rest when it returned to Noah.

The same is true for us, as well.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:

Noah’s dove found no rest outside the ark, so she returned to it.  In a similar way, my soul has learned today, more fully than ever, that there is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things–only God can give rest to my spirit…they cannot fulfill the desires of my immortal spirit” (Morning and Evening, January 29th).

We may search and search, looking for rest and finding only stormy seas.

Ultimately, we truly find rest by returning not just to the ark, but to our Master.  We return to Jesus.

Like the dove,  we can’t face the night on our own, flapping our wings in the darkness until we’re exhausted.  On our own strength, we’ll drown.

When night looms, when we’re deeply tired, when we realize that nothing else satisfies, we stop trying so hard on our own and release control into His hands.  That is the rest our weary souls need—trusting Jesus because He is so trustworthy.

Bible Verses About Awe

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  • Exodus 15:11 ESV
  • “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
  • Deuteronomy 7:21 ESV
    You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.
  • Deuteronomy 10:17 ESV
    For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
  • Nehemiah 1:5 ESV
    And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments
  • Job 37:22 ESV
    Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty.
  • Psalm 22:23 ESV
    You who fear the Lord, praise him!
        All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
        and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
  • Psalm 33:8 ESV
    Let all the earth fear the Lord;
        let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
  • Psalm 65:8 ESV
    so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
    You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
  • Psalm 66:3 ESV
    Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
  • Psalm 68:35 ESV
    Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
  • Acts 2:43 ESV
    And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

How I Tried Not To Look Like a Tourist (and probably failed)

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My husband told me, “try not to look like a tourist.”

That was the advice I tucked away for my recent trip to New York City.

I feel pretty comfortable in Washington, DC, but I know nothing about the Big Apple.

So I bought a laminated map the week before my trip and then I spent an afternoon on my comfy blue sofa with a cup of tea, my map, my itinerary, and my good friend:  Google.

Then I wrote it all down, every bit of it.  What subway stations to use.  How many stops there were between places.  How much tickets would cost.

This is  my modus operandi: intense preparation before any action.

Eventually, though, you just have to do it.  You have to step off the tour bus into the city and make your way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with nothing but a map, your notes, scattered street signs, and some friends.  Plus you need to do it without looking like a tourist, which probably means not pulling out the map and pointing at landmarks in the middle of Central Park (I failed).

Somehow my friends and I found our way, partly because of my advanced preparations, partly because we  got lost and learned from our mistakes, and mostly because we asked questions.

“If I’m on seventh avenue, which way do I need to go to 8th avenue?”

“Am I headed in the right direction for the art museum?”

“Are the subways on this level going  the direction we want to go?”

I asked the lady pushing her stroller through Central Park, the security guard walking down 42nd street, and the guy adding money to his frequent user subway card. I asked questions all over New York City.

As long as someone looked like they were friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable, they were fair game for one of my questions.

I’m a question-asking girl.  I even wrote a whole book about asking questions (Ask Me Anything, Lord), so this is who I am and how I navigate the big, wide world.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

In life, we can try our best to seek our own answers or wrestle with guidebooks and Google-searches in hope of making good choices.

Or we can make mistakes and then learn from them.

But it’s often much easier and far less painful just to ask.

Ask a friend for help.  Ask someone we respect for advice.  Ask a mentor for prayer.  Ask an expert for some input.

Being willing to seek advice with a humble heart opens us up to wisdom.

Proverbs tells us:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice (Proverbs 12:15 ESV).

We don’t just ask any random person, of course.

We ask those we respect, those who have already “been there,” those who are prayerful and those who live with godliness.

More than all of that, though, we can bring our question-filled hearts to God Himself.

Jesus told us to ask (Matthew 7:7).  He gave us permission to come to Him with questions and requests, and He even praised those who sought His help when they needed it.

Of course, it’s deeply humbling to confess the truth: “I don’t know all the answers.”

But this is what we need, to recognize what we don’t know…to trample over our own pride and admit our deficiency.  This is what allows God to teach us and to guide us.

Moses stood barefoot in front of the burning bush and dared to ask the big question:

 “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13 ESV). 

He said to God, “Who are you?!”

No pretending like he had it all together or knew everything or was so capable all on his own.

He asked.

And God answered:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). 

Moses’s question led to revelation, God telling His very holy name: I AM.

One of the deepest moments of divine revelation in the entirety of Scripture came because Moses dared to ask a question.

It takes  time to ask and listen for the answer.

It takes humility to lay aside our own opinion and agenda and seek God’s thoughts and plans.

It takes a teachable heart to seek advice from a respected friend.

But we’ll learn more, make fewer mistakes, and get a little less lost in this life if we embrace humility and learn the art of asking questions.

12 Bible Verses about Trusting God’s Timing

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  • Psalm 31:15 ESV
    My times are in your hand;
        rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV
    He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
  • Ecclesiastes 8:6 ESV
    For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble[a] lies heavy on him.
  • Isaiah 40:31 ESV
    but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
        they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
        they shall walk and not faint.
  • Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV
    The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
        to the soul who seeks him.
    26 It is good that one should wait quietly
        for the salvation of the Lord.
  • Habakkuk 2:3 ESV
    For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
        it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
    If it seems slow, wait for it;
        it will surely come; it will not delay.
  • Acts 1:7 ESV
    He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
  • Romans 5:6 ESV
    For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
  • Galatians 4:4 ESV
    But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
  • Galatians 6:9 ESV
    And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
  • 2 Peter 3:8 ESV
    But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

How Mourning Changes our Worship

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Just a few months after my dad died, we toted our 6-month old baby to a huge outdoor Christian concert where the Newsboys sang.  I still remember them performing one particular song  that night:

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name….

You give and take away,
You give and take away,
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, Blessed be your name. (Blessed Be the Name  of the Lord).

By that point in the concert, it was evening, and the darkness skirted the edge of the crowds  where the huge lights didn’t quite reach.

We had brought my mom along with us, a new widow after my dad’s cancer fight, and I looked through the dimness to see how she was handling that song.  It could have been a tough one.

She was worshiping, though.  I mean all-out worshiping, hands held high to God, singing away.

I’ve been thinking about that moment recently because mourning impacts our worship.  It has to.  We can’t come to God quite the same way after such loss.

There are choices to be made.

Do we clutch our hurt to our own chests and try to hide away?  Do we allow bitterness to creep in and put this safe distance between us and the God who didn’t intervene or heal or rescue?

Or do we bring that same hurt right to Jesus?  Do we lay our brokenness out where He can see it and collapse into His arms and still sing because we’re thankful that He’s there for us and thankful He’s strong enough to carry us?

I find my worship changing these days.  My friend died on December 26th after her own bout with cancer.

We sang together in the praise team and choir for a little more than 12 years, so it’s acutely painful at times to sing praises to God and tangibly know that she is missing.

Those notes she used to sing…her notes….the ones she always sang to harmonize with the notes I always sang…..they aren’t there.  The chord is stripped a bit bare.

It’s not her voice I miss most, of course, it’s her joyful, sweet presence.  Her encouraging kindness, her humor, and her easygoing humility—that willingness to always sing or do whatever we needed sung or done.

I miss her.

The music just reminds me of the loss.

So, there I am playing on the piano, singing the same worship songs, but singing them differently now.

The worship is a little more tender because my heart is softened and aches a bit, like the music is stepping on a bruise that hasn’t healed yet.

The worship is also a little more vulnerable because there’s a rawness and a brokenness I can’t quite hide.  The emotions refuse to be tamped down and kept under control at all times.

And the worship is  now a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).  I’m not bringing Him what’s easy; I’m bringing Him a costly offering, praise when I’m sad and worship when I’m hurting.

Mourning changes our worship because it brings Him near. The barriers are down.  The need is evident; we’re so truly dependent on Him.

The Psalmist said:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

The Bible also promises us that:

He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3 ESV).

In order for Him to wrap those bandages around our hearts, He has to come close. He doesn’t just fling the healing in our direction; He reaches out to heal us with His own hands.

We also know Him in a new way.  We may have known Him as God our Provider, or The Lord our Shepherd.  The names of God reflect His character.

And now, in our sadness, we know Him as “The God of all Comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

That is the name I’ve been using in my prayers and in my songs.  Not only is this who He is, it’s a promise of what He does.

Jesus said,

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4 ESV).

And when we sorrow, we live this out.  It’s no longer theory, it’s experienced fact.

God comforts us . We personally know His compassion.

Instead of being a distant God, an unfeeling judge or cold overseer, Jesus:

 has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4a).

Worshiping in our mourning allows Jesus to carry us, carry our sorrows, bear our griefs.  He did it on the cross.  He does it now.

Need some more reminders from God’s Word?
Here are Bible Verses for Those Who Mourn