Sunday, August 30, 2015

We're All Broken

Whether we admit it or not, we're all broken in some way or another. We live in a society where we're taught not to admit this. Appearing to be strong and have it all together is how we learn to live.

And this sometimes works well - for a season. We can keep it all together for a time - keep everything looking good to the world around us.

But, this is fragile. Often just one more thing happening away from our perfect picture being shattered and our true brokenness revealed.

We dread this moment. We try to avoid it. We'll do almost anything to keep it from happening.

Yet, when the moment comes when our true brokenness is revealed there's a sense of relief that comes alongside the fear of being exposed. Trying to hide what's really going on is exhausting, so deep down we're relieved when  we no longer have to try to hide.

The truth is, it's in our brokenness that we find true community. It's when we allow people to see what's the facade that we form real relationships.

The thing in life we're all longing for and searching for comes from the one thing we try to avoid . . . vulnerability.

Admitting our brokenness, allowing others to see it, makes us vulnerable. So we run from it, as long as we're able, only to discover, in the end, it's what we needed all along.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm Out Alone & I'm Okay With It

This post isn't directed at any one person or a specific time. It's a reflection of some thoughts I've had as I've watched different peoples' reactions to my going to restaurants alone over the last few years. Some of the words are things I wish I'd had the opportunity and/or courage to say to people.

To All who have looked on me with pity when I sat and ate alone in a restaurant,

I saw the look you gave as the hostess led me to my seat and left me with only one menu. The moment you realized I was eating out alone. The pity that seemed to come because I was out alone.

I'm pretty sure you didn't realize you were doing it. That you didn't mean anything by it. That you would be shocked to know that was your reaction. But, I did notice it, because I've seen it often.

I'm not sure when it became strange or something to be pitied to be alone in a restaurant. Not so much when I'm grabbing lunch during a workday, that seems to be seen as okay. But in the evenings and on the weekends, the way people look at me seems to change. I don't know why there is a difference.

Yes, I'm out for supper alone. And you know what, I wouldn't be if I wasn't okay with that. It may look lonely to you, but that evening for me is fine. If I wasn't okay with being out alone and surrounded by couples or families that evening, I would have stayed home.

You see, I'm not married. I'm not dating. I don't have kids. I'm single and most of the time I'm okay with that fact.

I have good friends and a great family. I go out with them too sometimes. I don't always go out alone. But, when I do, it's because I feel like going out rather than cooking at home. Sometimes I just need to get out of the house.

I'll be honest . . . sometimes I'm not okay with being single, not okay with going out alone. Those times, I stay home. Or I phone a friend or a family member, and make plans with them.

It took me a while to get the point of being okay with going out alone. I didn't for a lot of years, and the first few times I did, I was incredibly self-conscious of the fact. But, the more I went out, the more comfortable I became with it. Now it doesn't bother me anymore.

Being okay with going out for dinner alone, doesn't mean I don't want to one day be out as a couple, or with a family of my own. I do. And hopefully, one day, that will be the case.

But, that hope and desire doesn't mean my life is on hold right now. I'm living my life to the fullness of what God has for me in this season of my life. And, more days than I'm not, I'm enjoying my life as it is. God has blessed me in more ways than I could ever imagine. While I don't have all I hope for, I still have a life that I love and really can't complain about.

Next time you see me eating alone in a restaurant, remember it's not a big deal to me. I'm okay with that tonight. I'm glad you're out with your husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, kids, or friends. Enjoy your evening and I'll enjoy mine too.

The single person sitting at the table next to you

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Marks of a Follower of God

As a kid at summer camp, we used to sing a lot of songs that were passages of Scripture.One these songs came from Micah 6:8, which says,

          "He has shown you, O Man, what is good.
               And what does the Lord require of you?
         To act justly and to love mercy
               and to walk humbly with your God."

Every time I read that verse, the song from summer camp starts in my head again. It's definitely helped me to remember this one.

When I read this verse in Micah recently, I started thinking about what it says. Thirty-one words that contain some simple truths about how we should live as Christians today. Three phrases that define what we should be about.

Act justly.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with God.

Much of the detail of what we do flows out of these three things. No, they're not exhaustive, but if we did these three things, we'd be living lives that were in greater alignment with the life Jesus calls His followers to, than if we're always trying to do it on our own.

Act Justly

We live in a world filled with injustice, but in the midst of it we're told to act justly. If we want to change the injustices of our world, it begins with us and with the things we do everyday.

We should be fair and honest in all our interactions. We should be willing to speak up on behalf of those being treated unjustly, who often cannot speak for themselves.

Love Mercy

Mercy means that we haven't received what we deserved for what we did. Jesus showed us mercy when He took the punishment for our sin instead of us.

It's pretty easy to love mercy when we're on the receiving end of it. But, that's only a partial picture of what it means to love mercy. When we love mercy, we also show it to others. As we have received mercy, we need to give it to others.

Walk Humbly with God

We need to follow where God leads us. That means we need to have the humility to admit we don't know it all ourselves. We have to admit that God knows best and following Him is our best choice.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Cold and dark
What a transformation
It have once been
Warm and bright
A fire burning with passion
Only coals remained

No light to shine
Warmth only with a touch
What happened to the flame?
What happened to the passion?

Life got in the way
Always running
Always hurrying
The fire never tended

Slowly it went out
The flame died away
With nothing left to burn
It doesn't have
To stay that way

If we feed it
It will burn again
The passion will return
With attention and time
The flame will burn again
Warm and bright 
What a transformation
It is no longer 
Cold and dark

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time for Rest

Usually I try 
To avoid them
I don't want to know
The thoughts
Swirling in my head

My companions
I don't hear
The voices in my head
I'm not listening
To the things that challenge me

There's beauty
In these things
Without them
I don't function well

Eventually destroy
Leave me wanting
Looking for more
If I survive
On them alone

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Far-Reaching Cost of Disobedience

Jonah was told by God to go to Ninevah. He refused and went the other way. Jonah was thrown overboard in a storm and spent three days in a fish. Then he was spit back up on land and finally went to Ninevah.

I heard that story countless times in Sunday School growing up. When you hear something often enough you begin to assume you know the whole thing. For a long time I would skim the book of Jonah rather than read it, relying on my memory from Sunday School to fill in the details.

I recently sat down and decided to slowly and carefully read it again. I was only five verses in when I was struck by the cost of Jonah's disobedience and the cost wasn't just limited to him.

Jonah is on a boat going away from Ninevah. He's running from God. Jonah 1:4-5 says:
"Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried to his own god. And they threw cargo into the dea to lighten the ship."

Reread that last sentence again.

This cargo, part of the sailor's income, was thrown into the sea because of the storm that was sent because of Jonah's actions. Jonah's disobedience had a cost for other people too. His choice had far-reaching effects.

The same is true for us. Our choices don't just affect us - they also affect those around us. Even those we might not know very well.

The sailors didn't know Jonah, yet they paid a price for his choice. I don't think Jonah intended for them to pay it, but they did.

When we choose to disobey God, we're not usually intending to make others pay a price, but the truth is they may.

How often do we think that what we do or don't do doesn't affect anyone but ourselves?

The truth is, if we stopped to think about it, we would realize that other people are affected by our choice when we choose to disobey.

I don't know about you, but looking at it that way makes me think again about some things. If my disobedience is going to affect others, especially those I love, then maybe it's not worth it afterall.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Used by God

Most Christians I know want to be used by God for something. They’re hoping for, looking for, and dreaming about the ways that God can use them for His purposes.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but I think we run into problems with it sometimes because of how we go about waiting for God to use us. We want to be used by God, but until we hear from Him about how He wants to use us we don’t do anything. We sit back and wait for the specific direction.

As I was reading the Old Testament prophet Amos recently, I was struck by what Amos said. In Amos 7, the king of Israel is telling Amos to leave because he doesn’t like Amos’ message. Amos’ response is what struck me. Verses 14-15 say this:
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel'.”

Amos was looking after sheep and trees when God called him to be a prophet and gave him a message. He wasn’t sitting back and doing nothing while he waited for God to give him something to do. He was working at what he had to do at that time.

As I started to think about this more, I began to wonder if God isn’t looking for us to be faithful in serving Him in our day-to-day activities. All those things we do that don’t seem significant, that may not even seem like they’re making a difference for God. When we faithfully serve in those, God is using us for His purposes – even when we can’t see that.

Each day can be filled with divine appointments. Moments where we can point the people we are interacting with to God through our actions and through our words. All these moments are then us being used by God for His purposes, and we didn’t have to sit and wait for Him to tell us what to do. We chose to serve faithfully in our jobs, in our schoolwork, in our interactions with friends and family, in our interactions with those providing services for us.

I believe that being used by God begins with us being faithful in the mundane, every-day tasks and relationships. That’s where we begin.