Living the Lord’s Prayer: An Invitation to Community

I grew up never knowing who I might sit by for Thanksgiving lunch. The table was open for anyone we knew of who had no other table to sit at. Often this meant friends of my dad or brother who needed a place to land.


gather together

We all need landing places in the hearts of others…in our own time.

When I married a pastor in love with the Lord’s Supper, I began to take it more frequently on holidays, in a warm home, passing the cup round the family table, the heavenly bread going deep down.

There is just something about a table and some bread that can bring us all together. The daily sustenance becoming our common ground. Yeah, Christ knew what He was doing, sitting at that table, lifting the bread, uniting the brothers in the most basic of foods turned miraculous.

“My body, broken for you.”

You – a plural pronoun here. The restoration of us – to God and one another. The table invites the most broken because He was broken for all. We check our hearts, not the heart of the other.

My husband, he says to cup your hands as if to receive. Because you can’t earn this kind of love gift. You come open, empty-handed. We are all empty-handed at the cross. No economics here.

Sara Miles, she claimed “the bread, at the core of Christianity could speak to people whose doctrines ostensibly divided them.” She would know. The crumbly bread touched her atheist lips for the first time and Jesus happened.

I still can’t explain my first communion. It made no sense. I was in tears and physically unbalanced: I felt as if I had just stepped off a curb or been knocked over, painlessly, from behind. The disconnect between what I thought was happening – the piece of bread was the ‘body of Christ,’ a patently untrue or at best metaphorical statement; and what I knew was happening – God, named ‘Christ’ or ‘Jesus” was real, and in my mouth-  utterly short-circuited my ability to do anything but cry.”

This realness we feast on can destroy boundaries we don’t even see. And those we do. Even the boundary of the deepest doubt.

Much like the prayer we’ve voiced for centuries. Monks in soft whispers walk to their rooms at evening time, carrying the words tenderly. Families of cancer patients bond over the pain and these few words, waiting, waiting for some kind of news.

Just about the whole world round knows the words of the only real teaching model Christ every provided. He didn’t teach how to preach or disciple or build mega-churches.

Only this…………….”After this manner therefore, pray ye…”

“Our Father…”

By coming into the family of God, we enter fellowship one with another. We get the whole package. The in-laws and outlaws and every cousin in between. Yeah, every family is a little quirky.

Family. What if we really felt that way…that way about every child of God? That feeling you get when you walk in your own front door and know you are home. Disagreement doesn’t change the family name. You keep coming home to each other.

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Then Ann, she comes alongside that statement and says, “the world needs us to belong to each other.”

Yeah, a lot – SO MANY people today feel like they don’t belong. Or that we think they don’t. People in Ferguson and across the street where you and I live. People in my own circles. And sometimes, we have decided who belongs and who really doesn’t.

A girl asked me recently how to know if someone will ever really love her.

We want to be loved. To be liked. We need to belong.

We were made for community.


When Shane Claiborne addresses the question, “Is it Okay for Christians to be Rich?“, he notes the importance of the wording “our daily bread.” He references the early Christian church when he writes,

“Until everyone could eat, no one would eat. In fact, it was the ethic of the early Christians that no one has a right to more than they need while others have less. Vincent de Paul demonstrates this ethic well when he suggests that when we give food to the hungry, our posture should be to get on our knees and ask forgiveness, for we are only returning what is rightfully theirs. “

The idea of unity did not originate with man. The most beautiful manifestation of community is found in the Trinity, and it is through the Trinity that the church is being unified. We forget that. We forget that the best ideas really are not ours. We forget the strength is not really in our committee meetings or the wit and wisdom of our words.

The Spirit is doing what He has done since the days of that early church: empowering and teaching and guiding us into a unity in Christ that seems (in my spirit) to look much different than man can construct.

On the other side of Unity is a joy we have yet to know and feel and live inside.

I had a dream recently. From Him. In it, the peace and joy I felt as I walked towards Him created this space in which I knew with complete assurance that all things were being made right. It’s what changes cities and restores families and gives us the courage to forgive – the peace and love of God, revealed through His Spirit….touching our deepest places.

I have another dream in my own spirit as I’ve listened and read His Word. Dreams form hopes and when voiced, hope ———> it just might spread.

I dream of a day when…

All evangelism meetings involve every church in the community – because the gospel is central and kingdom soul winning trumps church roll membership.

When vision is city-wide instead of church-wide.

When denominations hold hands across the states in prayer walks through the city.

When churches share the cost of a tent for medical care in town and offer free hair cuts just to love people – no agenda, no flyer to visit “my” church.

When every city offers communion in the public square for all people of every race and creed and class in the hopes of just one soul believing afresh at the moment the bread touches the lips.

When churches are actually less frequented because the members are crowding the parks and laundry mats and yes, bars to seek and save the lost. Yeah, I know a guy who led so many men in a bar to Christ that he caused the bar to shut down.

When gathering as a whole town or city to worship on Christmas Eve by candlelight isn’t just a Hallmark movie. When we find the time to be together, invest together and serve together in the midst of our mess.

When church services never get to the program, because there are too many healings taking place.

When time stops (or we choose to let it) and Fire from heaven determines our Sunday and Monday and Wednesday schedule.

When children are seen and heard and given voice to lead us in worship.

When every building of faith holds a picture of heaven – every nation, every race, every language – and we finally know what beauty is.

Psalm 133

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Oh Spirit, we surrender to your love. May we walk or faint, march or kneel to your orders. May your dew fall upon Mount Zion and run all over your people. Your oil, oh Spirit, brings life. We look expectantly for the unity of the body to the glory of Jesus, who is the Christ. May we be one as YOU are one.  In agreement with the prayer of our Lord, Amen.


Linking up today with Meredith & Jennifer & Holley. Blessings!

Remembering the Hungry in a Week of Bounty

The man had the usual cardboard sign and I had the usual problem: I never carry cash. I try to keep a stash in the sunglass pocket of my car – just for this reason, but I’m bad about replacing it.

My four-year-old son, he asked why. Why does that man stand there with that sign? I told him some people are hungry.

“Why,” he repeated. It’s the hourly word in our home.

“Well, you know how I told you we get money by working. Some people don’t have work, so they have no money. They can’t buy food.”

He was quiet for a few minutes before he used the skill he’s been showing off ever since he climbed a toy car and undid the bolt on our back door to get outside at the age of one: problem-solving.

“Mama’s house! Lots of food at Mama’s house. Lot’s of people come!”

Me: “Yeah, we should have them over, huh?”

Josh: “Pleeease. All hungy people.” (I spelled it right. Again, he’s four.)

He just may save the world yet.


The results are in for the latest Feeding America study, and the news is not good. From surveying thousands of clients and food partner agencies, Feeding America has found that:

  • 89% of households with children are food insecure
  • 69% of households had to choose between utility bills and food this past year

My state, the state of Oklahoma is in the top ten states with the highest hunger rates. According to a Gallup report in 2012, 21.2 percent of people in Okla. reported that there was at least one time in the past year that they could not afford to buy food.

I overheard one of those families excited about splitting a hamburger four ways. One burger. Four people.

I’ve been writing about prayer lately. Here’s the deal about prayer: it seems to be the catalyst to obedience in all the hard places. The eye opener to what real justice looks like.

Prayer is the connecting line between the God we love and the people He loves. When we really commune with God, we can’t miss His heart for the broken and needy.

And I just plain can’t seem to miss that the Jesus I’m talking to made it pretty clear about the poor and the hungry. I just can’t seem to say that softly to the lady struggling with giving the man five dollars in the parking lot, so I just keep my mouth shut. She says she doesn’t know how he will spend it.

It’s true. We never do.

So we keep trying to control how and when and to whom we give.

A truck passed me yesterday advertising a business. The slogan read: Designing the Bathroom of Your Dreams.

What I may not have thought twice about before made my stomach turn. We pay more for tile in the U.S. than it costs to feed a family for a year in Tanzania.

Tile. We walk all over it.

I grew up quite privileged. I’ve had it quite well. Yeah, they run baths for you at the Ritz in Boston with rose petals. They serve champagne to you on a silver platter in the Olympic Restaurant of the Celebrity Millennium. I like nice things.

Then over the years, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, the Word began to mess with my life. Designer bags bothered me. Not other people having them. Just me. See because when God messes with you, it’s not about judgment. You just realize you really do want more. Something deeper, more real and lasting. The comfort doesn’t feel so good anymore. Most of my nice things now are gifts, and I appreciate them.

I also find myself asking every single Christmas how much every family could change the world if we redirected our spending and found joy in just being together. The great thing is so many loving people are making a difference.

The painful truth is that so many are still hungry and homeless and alone this Thanksgiving week. What I think really matters is this: will our empathy give birth to action?

There are a million different needs out there. But there are also millions who can help. If every one does ONE thing to love ONE person or ONE family – we really can make a difference, together.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Prov. 19:17






A Prophet, A Widow and a God Revealed

She bends down to pick it up with a smirk. Eyes big….grinning, she hands it to me.

Mischief is all over this kid of mine.

Its crumpled in a ball. I unravel it. It’s a page from 1 Kings. She ripped it right out of the old bread and butter copy. The red-leather book of life I’ve poured over in the dark nights and feasted on as the sun rises.

bible page

Didn’t take much though; page was holding on by a little shred and some hope. I’d been reading about that widow again. Poor woman. She’s in all kinds of drought – for food and supply and some kind of reason to keep on living. She’s planning her last meal, because she’s just given up. Sound like anyone you know? Discouragement befriends depression and they gang up all around.

The prophet, he finds her. We all want to be found…and seen.

He gives her a promise. And for no other reason than she has nothing else to do – she chooses to believe just enough to act on it. Divine supply follows her act of faith.

Then her son dies.

In the midst of obedience and evidence of the divine, real life and real hurt still happens. Obedience does not beget the easy life. Nothing really does.

So she begs, yells really, I’m sure. Angry, blaming …the very prophet who once saved her. And this is when it gets really interesting…to me. The prophet doesn’t scold her. He doesn’t defend himself. He doesn’t ignore her. He takes her pain into himself and chooses to pray as if the child were his very own.

And if….if every single story in the Word of God fits together like a string of pearls connecting us to one bigger story – yeah, WHO GOD IS – then this story is one of my very favorite keyhole squints into a very large character description.

————————-> God is not like us.


And though I would expect the prophet to look upon this woman with disdain for blaming him, he takes no worry with responding to her. He rushes her words to the Lord.

How many times have I done this, Lord? Gone directly to you in prayer for a sister instead of focusing on how and what and why she thinks certain things about me.

Then he takes – he TAKES the hurt into himself and lays out his body upon the boy. His actions outdo anything he could have said in defense to the woman. She SEES his heart in his action. And the sincerity of his empathy is proved in the answer to his cries for life. The boy wakes.

Miracle after miracle is found in the Word of God. In the stories of widows and prophets, prostitutes and children, wedding parties and funerals. And in each of them, an average person. An ordinary day. A long, long illness.

In every story I find myself. My brother. My neighbor.

And a God who does not change.

A boy laughed about that once. On a cold mountain in Colorado. Young souls hiking, me guiding. They were seekers, hurting, doubting a God. They’d heard it said….and quoted it well:

He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“How boring”, he said. They chuckled.

And I thought, yeah….that steady love they’ve never known – it’s what they needed most. Our words usually cut into the wounds we hide. We can’t imagine a trustworthy God when we compare him to an fickle world.

So the prophet, he takes the boy to his Mama. What Mama isn’t reeling from some kind of anxious hope here? He is alive. And she responds: NOW I KNOW. She uses the Hebrew word aman – the principle word for truth.

It’s not truth that changes. It’s our understanding of truth.

God wants to be known. Yet, she didn’t fully trust at the first miracle. Maybe it took a bigger question, a deeper need to walk her into a faith in a BIGGER GOD.

What if every story and circumstance we walk through is a walk towards a bigger God, if only we look beyond our understanding…and just believe.

Five Ways I’m Teaching My Children to Create Good in the World

My prayer of late has been about fruit.

“I just want to produce something for you, Lord, that will last.”

I want something tangible, touchable that I could actually lay down on an altar. I want to see the work finished. The published book that draws a heart to God. The Bible study that lights a fire in the souls of men. I want to see the fruit of my laboring prayers. Perhaps I’m wired that way. Perhaps we all are.

We were created to do good works. (Eph. 2:10) and to bear fruit in that work. (Col. 1:10) So it is entirely natural to want visible evidence that our works are producing a harvest for God.

All the unfinished ideas and dreams can assault us, as though we have yet to truly offer anything of great worth to God.

My tendency to see achievement as king seems to slip in here.

When I read about the High Calling’s encouragement to create good, I liked that idea. I began to look into my life and ask, “what good am I creating even now?”

What good things are we already doingall of us – that we often overlook?

I stumbled upon little ways every day that I am making a real and authentic offering to God – through my children. For the recovering legalist, it’s a gift of grace to recognize the good God is cultivating in me and passing along.

Giving Jar: We’ve begun our allowance plan in our home to encourage good stewardship, which begins with giving – to God and to others. We are planting a seed of habit, that we hope our children will cultivate all of their lives. After tithe and the piggy bank, we encourage our kids to put a portion every week into our family giving jar. Each month, we plan to find a need in another family and try to meet it with this jar. For extra incentive, I match their contribution dollar for dollar. (We offer great family benefits)

giving jar

Showing Gratitude: I’ve found a great use for the sixteen million drawings my children bring home from school. This may be genius. (You’re welcome, Moms) We upcycle (or is it recycle) them into Thank-You cards. We teach our kids to say the words “thank you” and then follow through with action. If words can bring life, actions prove their worth. I teach my kids to provide proof of their gratitude.

Joyful Obedience: We play music when folding laundry and sing the “clean-up” song while picking up toys. Because so many tasks in life are mundane, I hope to teach my kids to find the joy in doing the necessary. This includes obedience to authorities. There is more peace in the home and the workplace when lines of authority are respected. Though discipline is always tricky with toddlers, I look for open doors to teach them that quick obedience brings joy to the family. (Especially to Mom. ;))

Minute Prayers: I would say I teach my children simple prayers, but really they have taught me here. They pray so easily and naturally already that I find I want to pray like them. My daughter, Ann, began praying, “Thank you for Jesus” as her evening and morning prayers. That about covers it. I believe teaching prayer as a daily conversation creates hope and trust in a God who cares about our every need. When my son Josh struggled with discipline, I taught him to pray, “Help me, Jesus.” I caught him praying it in his room one time without me. If one man can affect change in the world, and one prayer can change a man, then prayer changes the world.

Share Everything: One of our big family slogans is this: We share everything. You can imagine how well that goes over with four-year olds. Then, when you least expect it, a child takes the initiative. We start early talking about giving toys away to kids to don’t have any. The lessen I tell my kids every time sharing comes up is this: God will always provide enough for you, so you can give with joy. When Josh wants more grapes and Ann starts to take his, I remind him I can always get him more. He doesn’t have to tighten his fist. It’s a lesson we all could use a bit more of…the opening of the hand.


What are some ways you are creating good in your places? Your home? Your work?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9



The Wall of Hostility Has Come Down: Peace, Berlin and Loving Our Brother

He drove by in the limo once…. slowly enough, just so my Mom could brag about seeing her favorite president roll by with a wave. No matter your party, you respected the man. And no speech of his is more memorable than one given outside of his home country.

Standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, President Reagan proclaimed that “the German question is open as long as the Brandenburg gate is closed.” Building up to it, with hope and promise and all the words we need today…he challenged the world and he challenged one man, and we all remember it.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

berlin wall

It will fall, he said, because it cannot withstand faith…and truth. And who knew what truth really seeped through in those words. What walls of injustice we all would fight and climb and beat against.

Years later we watched men and women and children dance on that wall, and jump over to a life of complicated freedom. Freedom isn’t easy.

One of those women, Angela Merkel, jumped over the high stone wall into a future of leadership. She will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that date this Sunday as the Chancellor of Germany.

We never know who we are saving. What leaders we are raising. What presidents we are tending….when we reach across the walls of indifference and demand justice. When we act.

Dr. Ellen Charry knows about these walls of separation. The tension between Jews and Christians and the walls we construct when we don’t understand. We are always most afraid of what we don’t know. Fear breeds hate.

She challenged us, infusing her native Hebrew language with our own….our small group in our small town, to look across the walls and see what Christ has done. That if, in fact, we are in Him, we are ONE. As a Jew, she found Christ, the warrior and the lamb, the ONE who forges through walls and ushers in peace. Mighty, strong and gentle.

It’s this call we struggle with today: being gentle and fierce in conviction. Offering love and living in truth.

He’s the only ONE who can handle a government sitting on His shoulders.

“Remember….you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11 –>)

We’ve all been far away. He brought us near – to God – to one another. It’s that one another we seem to fight most. Seems we think we can marry into the family of God and choose our relatives.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier ——————–> the dividing wall of hostility, ….”

What if half the walls we erect are built because we wrongly identify the enemy? Because different looks wrong and unsafe. Because blame sticks better on the other side.

We only have one real enemy. And he’s not human.

Sure can look human, though, huh? A lot like me. (I’m thinking back to that freedom isn’t easy word) What we do with our freedom, our responsibility, to love our brother – even when our brother loves not —– will define our lives.

Will we build the wall again when it gets hard to live together?

See Christ, He put to death hostility, in order that we might be reconciled. In order that – we might be. We still get to choose.

Reconciliation to God calls for us to live side by side with our brother. 

I watched a short film once that made my stomach twist and my dreams heavy. A boy, young and idealistic, full of love, chose to crawl under the fence of a concentration camp to be with another boy he befriended. He intended to help that boy find his dad. It took great planning. He did so courageously. It just happened to be the day the Germans decided to gas the entire camp. We watched the Jews walk in a naked line to a small chamber and die. That boy died befriending the “enemy.”

Loving will cost us. Freedom will be hard. It is. —– But living within invisible or actual walls of hate and separation is just as costly.

I don’t fully understand it. I watch from the outside. Or maybe the inside. I see the hurt from a distance. I’m the one who must decide whether or not I will crawl under the fence, cross the tracks and do something costly myself for the gospel.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭53‬:‭5‬ NIV)

Our transgressions. Our iniquities. How often the gospel we try to make so personal is actually quite communal.

Can we apply the peace He offers us to the wounded beside us? What if the wounded is far away? Will we reach them?

Dr. Charry challenged us with this: “The rubble is at our feet. The wall has come down. What will you do about it?”

The Daily Bread is Before Us

She grabbed my hand and I felt something move into it. She said she was once a pastor’s wife. “Don’t say no – just take it. For you.” And with that, God used the hand of another to provide for me today.

It seems quite bold – the words Christ gave us.

Give us…our daily bread.”

How about “Would you, could you, will you…give to us?”

No. Jesus is showing us something here. Humility and boldness unite in prayer when the contrite heart meets the truth of God’s Word.

He has already promised provision. He will meet our needs. We come to the Father in the Lords prayer and fulfill his call to agreement one with another in prayer – “Yes, Lord, you are my provider; I agree and accept your gift.”

The key word is daily. Isn’t our problem just resting in the day to day of His promises?

To ask Him to meet all of our needs now is to misunderstand the ways of God. So Christ invites us to remember. Always remember. At the table, in the Eucharist…and in prayer. The work is done. Only now receive.

Yesterday’s manna, when depended on – can spoil the opportunity for miracles. What miracles are on the other side of our drought, when we look to Him alone for the rain.

The Israelites began to forget: It’s not natural for manna to fall from the sky. After forty years – it became an expectation. A norm. They lost the eyes to see the miracle. Then it stopped.

What bread – what provision – what blessing – is lying at our feet with no recognition to the Father?

We come to the Lord’s instruction and thank God for being a our God today. We marry his prayer with the words of Paul: I know God will meet all of your/our/my needs through His RICHES in glory/in Christ/in all of Himself.

Give us, oh Gracious and Generous God – our daily bread. We acknowledge you are the giver of all good things. May we feed the hungry and find our strength in you alone.

This is a series on prayer. You may begin here.

Discovering Your Default Faith & Why It Matters

Schedules were rearranged yesterday to care for a sick boy. I brushed his hair back as he fell asleep, finally, exhausted from illness. The verse penned on my left hand, almost rubbed completely off, caught my eye. A reminder to go deeper today into the hidden places of faith we all have.


I’ve taken a break from my #write31days for a few reasons. The biggest being I want my words to have integrity. I don’t enjoy slapping words down just to fill in the calendar, and I know readers appreciate content richer than I can offer half-heartedly.

Monday I began my daily prayer walk around my house. I stopped mid-walk and got real with God. But more than an honesty, I found a fear, a hesitance. I saw that I was approaching God as a lowly servant (which I am) to a high and lofty King (which He is) – but with an attitude contrary to what I know and profess about Him.

And I “walked” head-on into where the rubber of my theology meets the road of my faith.

What I know and what I believe, deep down, are obviously not the same thing.

Recently, I happened to define the difference for a class: To know is to understand; to have a clear and complete idea; to perceive. To believe is to accept or regard as true.

If you tell me God heals through prayer, I can completely understand what you are saying. It is quite another thing to believe it is true.

Beth Moore says, “We will act out what we believe, not what we know.”

If I don’t really believe, deep down, that my prayers matter, I won’t persevere in prayer.

If we really believed prayer made a difference, wouldn’t more believers be doing it? There is much discouragement aimed at the saints today in the area of prayer. I devote the majority of my study time to the subjects of prayer and spiritual warfare. I can say with no hesitance that oppression is the number one strategy of Satan for believers.

Oppression is often pinpointed to the core of what we believe about God. In my case, I found a deep-rooted seed that will take a persistent digging up to conquer. I too often judge God’s view of me based on my own limited human understanding.

I default to a God of judgement because I default that way with myself.

I can know and quote multiple verses on the character of a loving God, so why – WHY do I keep approaching Him as if He is my enemy? As if I’m starting over every day and need to slowly work my way up to some holy level and earn a spot at His table. It’s incredible, really, when your eyes are opened to deep-seeded beliefs.

I sat down in my living room and really thought about it. I don’t really believe, deep down, that God is totally for me, I thought. Why am I approaching Him this way?

My prayers have been hindered.

Then I thumbed through a devotional by my bed, and the last line said this: “To say God is for you means He is NOT against you.” Okay. So I remembered the sermon I heard a week ago on Romans 8, and I grabbed my Bible. Verse 1: “There is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”

I’d found and confirmed what God needed to uproot in me. Though condemnation is the easy word, it’s not the deepest root. Most every problem is rooted here: unbelief.

I texted a friend and asked for prayer. I know to persevere, to change habits, to reform a belief system that will affect everything about the way I live my faith will take community.

A pastor recently mentioned to me that we often miss a big part of the prodigal story. When the Father looks upon his son, just before running to him, he is filled with compassion. Interesting thing is….when you are full of something, there is no room for anything else.

God has no room for condemnation. He is full of grace.

And I don’t know what took me there, but I came upon Galations 2:20, one of my first memory verses years ago. All these years I looked at it as something I needed to do. “Lord, crucify me.”

But just like the Spirit – in just the right time – on just the right day – to provide a whole new revelation. It actually says, “I have been crucified with Christ.” Have been. Done deal.

So now Christ – right now – already – lives in me. So Christ, the Son of the Living God, is there, approaching the Father through me. I can truly stop approaching God in fear because I no longer live…but Christ lives in me. And He had a pretty great prayer life.

I think we all have them: default beliefs. When the waters rise, what we really believe comes out. It’s important here, in these places – to run into the truth. To face what we see about ourselves head on.

We bring our questions and thoughts to the Word, and let Him sift the untruths. It matters that we know AND believe that God is love, so we can freely love others. It matters what we really regard as true, because we will act on it.

How we perceive God is how we will portray Him.

I’m thanking Him, moment by moment, that all who are in Christ have passed from death into life…and we will not be condemned. John 5:24





7 Ways to Live Intentionally in Your Places

live grace


Ask for Names

There is just something about hearing your name. It’s personal. You are named. So is every other person you meet or see. They need to hear their name. Watch the countenance of a waitress change when you ask them their name instead of yelling, “hey, you.” Watch the checkout person smile when you read their name tag and ask them how they are. Names matter, and it matters when you acknowledge…and then work to remember names. For those you will see again, write down their name when you get to the car. Keep a notecard in the car….so you can say hello to them again when you see them…by using their NAME. See what happens when you love people this way. My husband taught me this. He lives it well.

Pray on the Go

The most Spirit-empowered prayers I have whispered happened off the cuff. When you drive through the neighborhood, pray for peace and God’s kingdom to reign. Circle your child’s school and pray for guidance and wisdom and favor. How many times have we missed opportunities to see into the needs of others by not asking the Father to speak to us? Pray for your mailman as he drops by. Ask a friend, “how can I pray for you today?” When prayer becomes your intentional daily practice with people, you will go through your days differently. Don’t wait for open hours to pray; it may not happen today. Talk openly and listen intently. Think of the 3 Keys: Look, Listen, Speak. Look beyond what you see with your eyes. An angry person is hurting. Listen to people talking. They often are saying something different than the words you hear. Speak life. People need it.

Then Tell Them About It

People don’t know you are really praying for them until you tell them. Consistently, genuinely and intentionally. I’ve found a great way to encourage teachers (who need so much encouragement) is to write a series of notes over time. Make one simple statement to people: “I am praying for you. Then follow-up and follow-through. Let them know weeks later, “I am still praying for you.”

How often do you think most people receive a note specifically asking them what someone can pray for them about? Choose someone in your life today who needs prayer and decide to let them know – in different ways on different days – that you will be standing in the gap for them.

Give an Unexpected Gift

Don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to offer a gift. Kindness is most noticed when it is unexpected. Gift gifts to your child’s teacher when there is no holiday obligation. Send a basket to the owner of your local store thanking them for serving you. And when we do this for very small things – showing people we care that they are in our lives – they remember it.

Follow Your Holy Discontent

That issue in your town that causes the most frustration can actually ignite the most fuel in your spirit – when you choose to act. What grabs your heart the most just might be the one place God is calling you to serve. Serve there. Don’t be afraid to say no to other things when you are willing to give a BIG yes to God in at least one area. Choose to do one Big thing REALLY well. Your town needs your voice, your service and your heart.

Acknowledge the Unnoticed

I wrote a note to an assistant to the director of the bus routes for my childrens’ school. The next time I spoke with her over the phone – not knowing her at all – she spoke to me like a close friend and told me how much it meant to receive that. Some people NEVER get thanked. Find them. Look for the people who sit by themselves. Have you ever tipped the water boy at your restaurant? It’s one of my favorite things to do. Ask your waiter who cleans the table and get a tip to them. The people in the background help run your town, your church, your business. They are not in the background to God.

Carry Your Pass Card

Most days, everyone just needs a pass. We need a do-over. That person who pulled out in front of you probably is not your major enemy. That rude clerk needs grace like you do. And on some days, those closest to us can be out of character – just like us. We are all works of progress in need of redemption. How much frustration could be released if we chose fewer issues to fight. How many mountains are we really willing to die on? Most things that cause so much frustration are very small indeed. Someone in your path – today – needs a pass from you. Offer it freely and with love. Let someone be angry. Check your judgements at the door of your mind and hand out your pass card. Say in your mind, “Me, too, brother. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“Above all, LOVE each other DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8





Begin Again: When You’ve Lost Prayer & Hope & Life

I remember on one of my darkest days asking God to swaddle me. I had swaddled the babies so many times by then. It was, at the time, my greatest need. I could feel the need physically to be held so tightly by someone greater and stronger than me. This was the only time during that year that I felt the presence of God come down and warm me while I lay there, knees to my chest in the corner of my bed.

I had never really known depression before.

One day I went out for lunch with my husband. I told him I was just surviving. I can remember how heavy my chest felt as I said that. I thought I might drown. My whole body felt as though it might literally give out.

They say what is deepest will rise to the surface on your harder days. I found anger most of all, and lack of fruit. The verses about branches and vines and being thrown in the fire caused me to truly question if I could call myself a Christian. But the hardest part for me was the loss of prayer and intimacy with the loving Father I’d always known. I doubted His goodness, and it was my greatest disappointment – in myself.

I picked up an old copy of Prayer, by Richard Foster. I didn’t even believe the words anymore. But I kept reading, and picking it up again. Something in me could not settle for the doubt that was covering me.

This is a sign of prevenient grace: when sinful souls hunger for God.

What finally, truly freed me was this: I gave myself permission to live out the season.

To let the questions have their full effect in me. To speak them out into the thick air and let them hang there. Though I wanted so deeply to be fixed and go back to what I felt before, I could not. I didn’t pretend. I didn’t hide. I had the church remove me from the list of corporate prayer leaders.

What do you do as a minister when people look to you for faith, and you have none at all? When they still call to talk about fasting and you don’t remember the last time you prayed?

I was honest. I let them walk with me, into my unsteadiness.

I needed to begin again.

We need to give people room to stretch into a new place with God. Room to struggle and ask the hard questions, without rushing to answer them ourselves. Because it was here, in this new and unknown place of doubt that God deconstructed and rebuilt a heart for Him. I thought I was waiting for Him…but He graciously waited for me.

The idol of knowledge needed to die. So many idols did. I finally offered my need to have all the answers down at the cross. What came forth from my dark night of the soul was a whole new place of faith.

Maybe the darkness of doubt is the primer….for a faith that sticks.

faith that sticks

The life that Jesus offers is found in the most unexpected places. In ordinary tangibles like bread and wine. In the heart of the prodigal, hurting from sin, but willing to look up and see the Father, waiting.

And even in death. For the seed that dies will sprout new life. The soul who dies in Christ will live.

“Today is the perfect day to believe and begin again.” - Ann Voskamp


I’m linking up with the High Calling today. This is part of a series on prayer. You may begin here. Segments of this post were taken from previous posts I’ve written on my experience with depression. May you find the light of His truth and know you are loved today.

No Other Thing, Lord

Grace, grace, grace to a debtor

Means all I have I owe.


What debt I owe

What sin I’ve lived

But whence He comes to save

Be still oh soul

At passion’s edge

Flee thee from the grave


Dare I ask in such a state

Is there room at the cross for me?

Where I can go to the higher life….

One less lived for me


The line is drawn

The waters near

It’s go or stay behind


The cross is there

I see it plain

What cost will I not pay?

So take my hand

I need you, Lord

To guide me on the way


What is left, Oh Lord

When selfish deeds are lost

But dry and empty offerings

Of straw and wheat and hay

So take them, now, for your glory told

And burn with fire away


Oft I run to ocean’s edge

And dream of lofty praise

Returning to the endless chase

For which I long have grazed


Yet paths you show, though cloudy gray

Are better than any dream

For peace and joy abide there

Each day I trust and glean


Rather I would know not one

Of the days which lie ahead

But rather live day to day

And consider you my stead


No other thing, not high or low

Can last the world around

But you, Oh Lord, my constant thing

Will last with grace abound.