A letter to the enemy regarding Las Vegas…

To the enemy,

My country wants answers. We are angry and sad and tired of violence and cruelty and evil acts. We want a person to blame. We have a person in our sights. But I know there’s more to the story. Satan, I know you are real and I know you are such a coward that you hide behind men and twist their hearts to bend to your evil will.

And I am done with it.

I am done giving you what you want when you do awful things like the mass shootings in Las Vegas. I’m done listening to your lies when I know that my Father tells the truth.

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I know you want God’s people to feel lost and wonder where He is and why He would let such a horrible thing happen.

Truth: I know exactly where my God is. He is on the throne. And He is alive in His people through His Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples who He was leaving in this world, “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matthew28:20 NIV). And he meant it, for all of us.

He gave us His Holy Spirit as our guarantee that He would keep that promise. Our God never promised we would have a pain-free life because we live in a place where you, Satan, still exist. But God DID promise He would never leave us alone with you. That He would always be with us as we walk through your flaming arrows. And I believe Him.

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I also know you want us to think our God is not powerful enough to stop you because the things you do seem so big and horrible. You want us to feel small and overwhelmed.

Truth: Jesus said, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33 NIV) and I trust that Jesus already did triumph over you. Even if you are causing pain, Jesus has already pinned you down and I can rest knowing that somehow it can work together for His glory and our good. I believe in that.

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I know that you want to silence us — to cut us off from relationship with our God. You want us to feel like our God doesn’t hear our prayers.

Truth: “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’” (Matthew 26:36 NIV) Scripture is full of examples of Jesus praying to His Father, sometimes in thankfulness and sometimes in sorrow and need. In His darkest moment of despair before crucifixion, Jesus prayed. He prayed because He knew the Father is ever present, ever listening, ever loving and ever faithful. I believe we too can trust God with our prayers as we cry out in despair and confusion.

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I know that you want to corrupt our hearts with hatred and anger. And you want God’s people to divide and lash out at each other as we try to understand such awful things. You want us to split into pro- or anti-gun camps instead of standing firm in the love of God and giving grace to each other as we grieve and pray.

Truth: But Scripture says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21 NIV). So I will stand next to my brothers and sisters in faith no matter their political opinion and I will love them and give them grace when I disagree during hard times because we are Christ’s ambassadors to the world and God’s family needs to love each other, especially in times of grief.

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Lastly, I know you want our faith to waiver. You want us to wonder if we matter to God and if He is still with us and loves us.

Truth:  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35 NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (vs. 8:37-39 NIV)

Enemy, you may have cut us deeply, but nothing you do on this earth can ever take away the love the Father has for us. It is already finished.

Signed,

A Daughter of the King

Your kitchen is a mission field

7,665 meals. That’s about how many I’ve served and cleaned up in the past seven years for my family. But that doesn’t count all the breast milk bottles I pumped or afternoon applesauce snacks. Somedays I feel like I live in my kitchen. So I have to decide, will that 12 by 12 space be a jail cell or a mission field.

“I’m hungry!!” My 2 year old yells from the living room. But I just fed him 20 minutes ago.

“The kitchen’s closed until lunch, bud. Sorry.” I say, and then end up getting him a cup of water to tide him off. Not so closed after all.

It’s easy for resentful thoughts to slide in throughout the day when we can’t sit down or have a thought without a little person dragging us back to the kitchen to meet their needs. But that’s not going to change anytime soon, and really if I think about it, I don’t want it to change.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; … if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)

Motherhood has taught me how to be a servant — a lesson my heart needed to learn. I needed to put others needs before my own, to be patient and generous with my time, and to learn how to work for the Lord instead of my ego. So that even if no one in the world sees how much I do to serve others, it’s enough to know that God sees my service and he thinks it is good.

I love that passage from Romans because it levels the field and says that serving the Lord doesn’t have to be something grand. It may look big or small to the world, but to God, it’s all the same. There is not small act of love. So serve no matter where you are with a happy heart — even if it’s your kitchen.

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I leafed through my grandma’s old cookbook the other day. One that is dated back to 1953 called “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.” It was interesting to read through the old pages that taught on how to decorate your table so the dishes wouldn’t clang, and how to properly nourish your family with three balanced meals a day. There were charts to learn about vitamins and creeds to learn about serving your family.

It may sound old-fashioned, but to me it was beautiful. Women used to take such pride in  homemaking because they saw it as important. Like they were working for the Lord, not for social media likes.

I found the page I was looking for — grandma’s recipe for peanut butter cookies — something I haven’t had since she died last year.

Funny how something like a cookie can make you feel loved. I remember my  mom making those same cookies and letting me dunk mine in her afternoon coffee. And something in my heart wanted to be that person for my kids too.

So My daughter stayed up for nap time and we headed back to the kitchen. We measured and poured and giggled as the mixer went fast. She licked the sugar off the counter and smiled.

That time in the kitchen was good. It was mission field work. It was love.

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I am thankful for the hours my grandma and my mother stood at their kitchen sinks preparing meals and washing dishes. I’m thankful for the memories and joy and love they spread out on their tables. And that night when I was packing my dishwasher with little pink plates and dinosaur forks, I was thankful that I got to serve my people.

We need to believe that our time serving, cleaning, wiping, helping, and tying is important to God. Because it is.

That night as I filled bowls of popcorn for movie time I finally sat down on the couch to snuggle. And my sweet girl said…

“Don’t sit down yet, I need a cup of water.”

 

 

Football Mom

I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school. More of an orchestra nerd. But now I could totally make the cut. I’m a football mom and cheering is what I do. I’m learning it’s one of the most important things I will ever do as a mom.

The other day at Luke’s first practice, I was yelling positivity and throwing my thumbs up from my folding chair after every play. My husband tried to shush me. But my cheer voice has no filter. I will not be shushed.

Granted my little guy is only in second grade and playing flag football, but all the more reason to cheer. This is his first taste of the game. His first time wearing a mouth guard. His first time running routes and yelling “Down, set, HIKE!”

And he’s little.

I mean he got the short end of the gene stick. (pun intended) Poor kid. He has a mom who is 5’1 and a dad who…. well… isn’t a basketball player.

But Luke has heart and excitement. He got that from me.

And he has guts and speed. Got that from my dad.

Little man is super competitive. That’s from my husband.

But also really hard on himself when he fails. We all pass a little of that down, don’t we?

That last one gets me every time. I know as he gets older his mind will be filled with self-doubt and discouragement. I know that as he makes his way to adulthood he will sometimes feel…

too short

too small

too … much

not smart enough

not good enough

not ….enough

So now, while I have him and while I’m sitting on my lawn chair at his flag football practice, I will be cheering– no, yelling– that he’s…

AWESOME!

SO FAST!

LUKE THE JUKE!

KEEP TRYING!

YOU GOT IT!

And you know what? After practice, my little boy came over and said with a big smile, “Thanks for cheering for me, mom.”

Mamas. Keep cheering hard for your kids. They hear you. And it matters. At home. At school. At flag football. At orchestra concerts. Cheer loud and proud.

Cheer so that when they are someday outside of our earshot — when they make mistakes and feel down — our belief will still be ringing loud in their ears.

And they will get back up.

You’ve got the wrong girl

Me? Are you sure about this, God? But what about A,B,C and X,Y,Z?? When God calls us to step out in faith for his kingdom’s sake, many of us start battling two lies.  1. We think we are unqualified and he’s got the wrong person. 2. We think it’s our battle to fight. Both of which are untrue when God tells us to move.

You are the right person. Yes, you! You are chosen by God to do big things for his kingdom.

My bible falls open to Jeremiah a lot. Like many other servants we read about in the bible, God told Jeremiah to get to work. But Jeremiah’s response was classic. He basically said, Lord, I can’t do what you’re asking. I’m a nobody.

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah 1:5-6

Sound familiar? Why do we shrink away when God asks us to do his good work? I think the answer is because we think we have to do it alone. And alone we know we are not enough. But here’s the thing, time and time again, God shows up and makes his people victorious despite of themselves.

“But the LORD said to me, “Do  not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:7-8

Let that sink in. God says, don’t say you can’t do it because it’s not you who’s going to make it happen! Go where I tell you to go. Do what I tell you to do. And do it in confidence– not confidence in yourself, but confidence in the God who is sending you! Because the God that is sending you will also be right there with you to ensure you are victorious on your quest not for your benefit, but for the glory of the Lord and his kingdom.

It’s not about you. It’s about God. It’s not you going alone, it’s God leading you and making a way through you for his purposes. And that takes some serious pressure off. It lets us step out, connect, serve, and speak in confidence when he tells us to do so.

I think of Joshua, who God called to lead the Israelites across the Jordan after the death of Moses. God didn’t just tell Joshua to lead and say “good luck!” no, he gave Joshua his hope and confidence.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right of to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go….meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9

Be strong and courageous my friends knowing that God is with you when you step out to do his work.

He’s with you when you pray because you are unsure of yourself.

He’s with you when you think the task is too big and you are too small.

He’s with you and will answer you when you meditate on his word trying to make sense of things.

Rest easy in his peace because He’s with you wherever you go. And even if you are unsure of your abilities, you can be sure of the one who sent you.

Jesus is not afraid of the dark

I look at the pictures of white supremacists and their hate scares my soul. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how that much hate can live inside a person, inside a group of people.

My defense is to say nothing. Because the problem seems too big and I am not an expert. But there is no option of saying nothing if you love Jesus. 

We are called to “…shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 4:15-16. But you can’t shine light in the darkness and hold out the word of life if you are silent.

So here’s what I know on my heart to be truth: God is love. We as his people are to be the face of love in the middle of hate and terrorism, and a voice of justice ringing out for those who are voiceless. So my friends who are targeted by hate groups… God is for you. He loves you. You are his. And your brothers and sisters in Christ see you and we are with you. The acts of violence and hatred against you are against the whole body of Christ and we will not have it. We are praying for ways that we can lift you up in his strength and peace.

And finally, I know that even if mere pictures of a hate group make my skin crawl in disgust and fear, Our God is not afraid for one second. He has already conquered the real enemy at the core of that group when Jesus died on the cross. So when we lift up our prayers asking God to wipe out racism, bigotry, and hate in our communities we can be sure he hears us. And we can be sure that his compassion, wisdom, and light will be poured out on his people as we move with him… and with him we will be a thousand times stronger than any hate group.

Let’s be reminded that the God of David the psalmist is still the God of today. His power has not diminished by an ounce. We can be sure that he will be victorious if we cry out to him for help. We will stand with the Lord against hatred. And we will not be afraid.

 

Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,

when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. (vs. 1-3)

…Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path

because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this;

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.” (vs. 11-14)

 

Your Job in this World

You’re a bad mom. You’re a neglectful friend. Your house is a disaster and looks like it threw up toys. Why are you always so stressed? You should be able to deal with this. You should be stronger by now. Why can’t you keep it all together??…The lies of the enemy ring strong if we let them.

“Keep me safe, O God,

for in you I take refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:1-2

I sat across from a doctor telling her my story.  All that has happened in the last seven years. Almost losing my first son at birth. Losing babies to miscarriage. Leaving my profession to stay home and raise three kids. All the sleep deprived nights. Being attacked by a rottweiller. Building a house. Losing my people to death… How all the good things in life didn’t even seem good anymore.

The list is probably a lot like your story. Maybe in your list there’s depression, anxiety, loneliness, addiction, fear or failure. Our lives are a beautiful mess of God’s greatness and our brokenness– of love, loss, stress, work, life– yet there’s a hole. There’s a better version of you somewhere in there. There’s a joyful, peaceful, loving, excited one in there. But she’s trapped under the world and doesn’t know how to get through all the muck.

So I told the doctor, “I feel like I should be able to hold it all together and be enough for my people. But I’m never enough.”

Looking over her notes she smiled. “Why would you think that? I don’t think anyone could be enough for all of this.”

I need to tattoo that on my forehead. Deep down I knew it already, but I needed someone to say it out loud, even though God has whispered it on my heart so many times. And maybe you need to hear it today too.

So let me say it to you.

You were not meant to be enough for everyone’s needs in your life. You were not even meant to be enough for your own needs.  That’s why Jesus died on the cross! Nor are you meant to know right from left on your own in this crazy maze of life. That is not your job on this earth. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit working in you. You are only meant to look to the one who does know the way. Ask for his wisdom. And follow him out. Because God is more than enough for all of our stuff we are holding on to. 

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:7-8

I don’t want to be shaken anymore. I will not be shaken anymore. I don’t want to strive and come up short at the end of the day. I want God to do work in me, through me, so I can live my life big for him– loving myself and my people with the strength he loans me through his Holy Spirit.

This happens through reading the living word of God in the bible to learn his truths and apply them to our lives in every situation. Praying as many times a day as it takes, talking, pleading, asking God for help and leadership in our doubt and weakness. Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit on our heart as we pray, as he instructs us  and reminds us of God’s will for our lives. And obeying even when it’s hard.

So yes, we do have a job in this life. Our role is to take it all to God through his Holy Spirit and let our actions reflect the wisdom he is spilling into our hearts. I think of my three young children who ask me about 500 thousand questions a day. Why? Who? Can I…? Can we go? When?… They ask me about every tiny decision– from which sock to wear to if they can go to the park alone. They ask. I answer. They listen. They act accordingly. That’s our job as God’s people. To ask. To listen. To act in obedience. 

There’s freedom in giving up the fight to be faultless, freedom in opening our hands to the one who really can do the work and change our hearts and lives. There’s peace knowing I’m not in it alone. There’s joy knowing I’m loved and forgiven even on hard days. And excitement in the fact that we’re in this for something bigger than ourselves. We are in this for God’s glory and his kingdom.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue

rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

because you will not abandon me to the

grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:9-11

Our work on earth is eternal. The love we pour out here will not be forgotten. It will live on through generations til we are together with God. It is cause for gladness and crazy rejoicing that we are not forgotten by the God of the universe. He will not leave us to drown in this world if we take up his invitation to be filled with his Holy Spirit.

So, the time to start living with God is now. We can’t wait our whole lives for heaven to experience the presence of God. He is here. He is alive inside you through the Holy Spirit if you believe in Christ. He’s ready to lift us up and be our best friend, counselor, helper, confidant, protector, and guide. Not just for our own sake, but for the sake of his kingdom.

Our people and the world need us to stop drowning and start being a greater force of love; one that can only be lived out with the power of God in us. Our earthly minds may never entirely comprehend all there is to know about the Holy Spirit, but we ask him to come into our lives anyway. We ask him daily to guide us so we can live out his flawless love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We can take a breath now. We can take our burdens off our shoulders pound by pound and rest them at God’s feet as we walk with him. We can stop the rat race of working more and trying harder to change our hearts– and let the Holy Spirit do his job as we come to him trusting him to lead us.

The Lord truly is our only good thing. Let’s let go of our grip on life and cling to him with all we’ve got. Because with God’s power and presence in our lives through his Spirit, we can more fiercely and faithfully do our job of loving and serving our people. Becoming ever more fruitful women of God.

A Slave Set Free– Sara’s Story

Three months ago Sara Henderson’s hair was dyed fiery red– well she calls it magenta. For Mother’s Day, though, she brought it back to a chocolatey brown with the help of some friends from church.

This would be the first time she would see her three children in over two years– and her oldest son, Noah, wanted his mom’s hair brown like it was before. So Sara drove her new ‘do four hours to North Platte on a whim on Mother’s Day this year, not knowing if her own mother would let her in the house. Last time she tried to come home it didn’t work out well. But this time was different. This time she prayed for God’s help. And he had not failed her yet.

When Sara went to prison in York, Nebraska in August 2015 for distribution of drugs and burglary, she prayed. She prayed not for herself, but for her kids to find refuge with their grandmother instead of being sent back to live with an abusive father addicted to cocaine. God answered. Her kids were safe with grandma.

Over a year later, Sara was released from prison on parole and sent to the Lydia House at the Open Door Mission in Omaha. Truth be told, at first she didn’t want to be there. The New Life Recovery Program would mean another six months away from her kids. But it was there at the Lydia House that Sara decided once and for all to trust her life to Jesus Christ. She met with Michelle Hurt from Chariots4Hope and read Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

She rested in that verse one day at the Lydia house and prayed for God’s will to be done in her life.

“I surrendered to him,” Sara said.

From there, God answered more of Sara’s prayers and built up a support group around her at her new church, CityLight Church. He answered prayers for a good job, a safe place to live, and then some reliable wheels in the form of a surprise car from Chariots4Hope.

“That transportation was the link to my kids,” she said.

Most importantly to Sara, God has shown up in big ways by restoring and healing her most precious relationships that addiction had stolen. Her three kids didn’t really know her anymore and Noah, the oldest, wouldn’t talk to her on the phone. So Sara prayed for God to soften their hearts toward her.

This year on Mother’s Day, Sara drove four and a half hours to North Platte– praying for a chance to see her kids. Praying to be allowed in the front door to her mother’s house.

She pulled up to the house with her brown hair and God answered– the front door was wide open. She walked in wondering if her baby, Asia, would remember her at all.

“Hey! That’s my mama!” Asia pointed to Sara.

Noah hugged her. Isaiah, her middle son, warmed up to her after a bit of talking things out. And After awhile, her mom and sister accepted her and trusted her again, too. Sara’s still waiting on her dad to forgive her and accept her– but she has hope that God will hear those prayers, too.

In the meantime, she’s focusing on moving forward in her new life with God– getting ready to be baptized on August 6th. She wants to publicly acknowledge Jesus for all that he has done in her life.

“I was a slave to addiction and Christ set me free,” she said. “I see Jesus as this big open heart with his arms out. I used to have a hole and I tried to fill it with a bad marriage, addiction, even kids, …But he said, “You don’t need all that outside stuff. I’m all you need.”

In a few months, Sara will be off parole. She’s not going to make a big fuss over it, just keep moving forward. Maybe apply for a grant and take some classes. But for sure drive west to see her kids as much as possible.

“I’m going to keep talking to them, keep loving them.”

 

Jeremiah 29:11-14

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “the plans to prosper you and not harm you, the plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back from captivity…”

Being Built

Building our house seemed to take forever. We would come out and have a picnic on the sidewalk each week watching all the machines digging the earth and moving dirt out to lay the foundation. But no matter how hard they worked, at the end of the day the pile of dirt looked about the same.

One of my new favorite verses is Ephesians 2:22, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Mostly I like it for its verb tense — the present continuous– “are being built.” You are being built, I am being built. We are not finished yet. Some of us are just laying foundation. Some of us are hanging dry wall. And some are decorating and touching up the paint.

Whatever stage, journeying with God is a lifelong process of being built. This one little point that Paul made gives us freedom to forgive ourselves when we are not perfect and hope that someday in Christ we will be the person we were meant to be.

That’s the second key, the passive voice in the passage tells us we are being built in him. What it DOES NOT say is that we are building ourselves. Strangely, trying to build myself into something better has been one of the biggest and most stressful stumbling blocks. But we were never meant to be the architect.

Don’t get me wrong, we still take up our hammer and get to work– but it is not our blueprint. As we live dependently on the Spirit of God to direct our efforts he will build us into what he desires– and you can bet the house he builds will be strong.

Jesus told his disciples, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

Everyday we have to choose to dig out the dirt of ourselves and lay our foundation in Christ if we want to stay standing. Where he tells us to hammer in love, we do. Where he tells us to hang up silence and mercy, we do. When he tells us to dig out bitterness and anger, we do. When he tells us to bring in forgiveness and peace, we do. And where he tells us to lay down trust and joy, we do.

I want my house to stand. I want to lay down the foundation of God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I’m tired of building. I want to be built.

 

Love Never Dies

Early in the morning when the sky was still black, my four year old insomniac tiptoed to my bed.

“What’sa matter sweetie? You can’t sleep?”

She shook her head, climbed up in bed, snuggled in the covers, and turned on her tummy.

“Tickle my back, mommy.”

I danced my fingers up and down, side to side, and around her back in circles til she was calm and ready to go back to bed.

But then, of course, I was wide awake– thinking of the one who used to do the same for me.

When I would sit on my grandma’s gold davenport next to her, I would snuggle into her and then sit up so she could run her fingertips up and down, side to side, and swirling all around. It was so simple, it was nothing really, but it also made me feel loved and special. I could sit there forever and be with her, but of course she would have to get up sometime and pull something out of the oven.

I miss her. But I think of her when I soothe my anxious child the way my grandma taught me. And I wonder who taught her. Did her mother sweetly tickle her back when she couldn’t sleep at night? And her mother before her? I wonder how far back such a simple love of a mother or grandmother started.

It gives me hope. No matter how much we think we mess up as mothers, our little acts of love are what will be remembered and passed down through generations.

And I wonder if someday in the quiet of the night, my daughter will have a little person crawl up next to her and make the request…

“Tickle my back, mama.”

Singin’ in the…bathroom??

Imagine me dressed up in my grey slacks and white blouse ready to teach a college class. A picture of conformed professionalism. I walk into the bathroom before class and something makes me halt.

A woman was singing her little heart out in the bathroom. I mean this was not humming. This was full-out belting her favorite song in a bathroom stall.

That takes guts. That takes a different kind of person … most likely not one in dress slacks.

I stood there and listened for a while. I wanted to figure this lady out. Who was she?? A music major? Did she have a vocal audition today? Or did she truly just like to sing and didn’t care where she was and who heard?

One thing’s for sure. She was not like 99.9% of the rest of the people who would walk in that bathroom today. She was obviously different– in a courageous, quirky, and free kind of way.

Now I don’t know if I will be singing in any public bathrooms, but I do want to be different. I want to be more courageous and free. I want to live life to the beat of Jesus’ drum instead of the pounding drum of the world. I want to sing loudly to him and for him with my life and not care what other people think or say.

I think if we really did sing our lives for Jesus we would start looking quite different than the world — maybe even different than we ourselves look now.

In the book of Colossians the apostle Paul is in prison for his faith in Christ. He was probably very hungry, dirty, hurt, and had no freedom in his immediate future. What was striking to me this time as I read, was how many times he urged the church to be thankful. Every hardship the world could throw at this guy, he had endured not only without complaining, but full of thankfulness and joy. Now that is different. 

Meditate on God’s word for a minute…

“…since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:9-12

Paul was a good example of his words. He was able to bear fruit because he himself had been filled with the knowledge of God’s will through prayer and faith in Christ. He knew that God’s wisdom and strength were the only things that could show us how to be thankful and joyful and do good works even in the midst of deep sorrow or discouragement or loneliness or pain or judgement or stress. With God’s wisdom we can get through this world looking a little different — looking more like Jesus. 

I sped through the last two verses of Colossians and had to stop myself and read them again.

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col. 4:17-18)

Then I read it again as if he were talking about me. “Tell Andrea Chatelain: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ …Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

I remember the suffering and imprisonment Paul endured so that I, Andrea Chatelain, would have this bible sitting on my desk. So that I would know who Jesus is and would even be given the privilege of doing his work. Remembering the struggle of Christians before us, and the sacrifice of the cross, that were done with willingness, love, endurance, and thankfulness…makes me pause and evaluate who I am in Christ and who I want to be.

I want to be different not to gain favor, not to be better…but because I am loved by the God of the universe and I am so thankful for his nearness. Thankful that he saved me. Thankful that he is teaching me. Thankful that he hears me when I pray. Thankful that he is working in me through the Holy Spirit to make me different. Just thankful that I am his and not the world’s. 

I want to speak differently. Using words of encouragement and peace in a world of comparison and negativity.

I want to hear differently. Letting others words wash through me in a filter of grace and mercy.

I want to see differently. Focusing on what is eternal instead of what is grabbing for my attention in this temporal world.

I want to love differently. Being patient and kind and forgiving even when it is completely undeserved.

I want to take off all the broken, bitter, self-serving parts of myself and put on Jesus’ love and righteousness through the Holy Spirit when I know my own will never be enough.

And I want all this so that somehow I can just like Archippus, “complete the work I’ve been given in the Lord.” — the work to love my people well.

So yeah. I guess I do want to sing in the bathrooms of life. You?

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