Sister, Cheer Me On!

Posted by on Friday, Dec 29, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

For years they’ve gathered in this room to study the Bible, but recently they’ve had to disband due to civil unrest in their town. But word went out that a bible study would convene, and all women in the town were invited. I was asked to bring a message of hope and encouragement from God’s Word. It was my privilege. We started with the women sharing how life had been over the two-year conflict. They shared many stories of pain and shame. One gal’s parents had joined the rebel forces – shame. Another’s daughter was seized – shame. Another was barren – shame. Another woman shared how her husband had been killed, kids were scattered, and she returned home to find her house gone. She tried to rebuild it to no avail – such despair that she was on the verge of suicide. Until one of the women in the Bible study went to help her build her home. That act of kindness led to her joining the women’s Bible study, which she said, “kept her alive.” This past fall I taught a series, Sisterhood, on female relationships and how desperately we need our sisters. And here I was seeing that truth play out in every woman who sat in our circle. After listening to their stories I shared how crucial it is for us to “carry one another burdens.” (Galatians 6:2) Then we opened our Bibles to Luke 1 & 2 and looked to see that truth in two women’s lives in Biblical times. I marvel at Elizabeth. She was a wise older woman with status. Mary was not. Elizabeth longed for a child. Mary did not. God said Elizabeth’s son would be great but Mary’s would be greater. Elizabeth doesn’t let envy, judgment, or mothering (Think about it, what mother tells another mother, “Hey your son is going to be greater than mine!”) get in her way of ennobling Mary. Mary’s life wouldn’t be easy. The path God had chosen for her included much suffering. She would need a sister cheering her on to run her race and win the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 3:14) And Elizabeth did just that. She cheered Mary on, “Run, Mary, Run.” How many of us, as we’ve run our race, have been tripped up by other women rather than cheered on? That’s why I marvel at Elizabeth. I marvel at these women sitting in our circle. They have struggled and yet they hold onto Jesus – they hold onto hope. During our time of sharing several women shared how our Bible study materials and training had sustained them during this season of suffering. Now I was being cheered on! What a privilege...

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I Wanted to Be An Elephant for Christmas

Posted by on Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

In the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so that the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent and basically act like a pack of badasses. They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they’ll have to get through 40 tons of female aggression first. When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds. Scientists tell us this: They normally take this formation in only two cases – under attack by predators like lions, or during the birth of a new elephant. This is what we do, girls. When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are giving birth to new life, new ideas, new ministries, new spaces, when they are under attack, when they need their people to surround them so they can create, deliver, heal, recover…we get in formation. We close ranks and literally have each others’ backs. You want to mess with our sis? Come through us first. Good luck. And when delivery comes, when new life makes its entrance, when healing finally begins, when the night has passed and our sister is ready to rise back up, we sound our trumpets because we saw it through together. We celebrate! We cheer! We raise our glasses and give thanks.” (Jen Hatmaker ) This is a #sheforshe community. Life is beautiful and hard. And it’s God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people who help live well in the hard. We need each other to remind each other of God’s story about who we are. I need you to help me see myself clearly. We need you. I need you. “Encourage each other and build each other up.” (1 Thess 5:11) This is about cheering, reminding, encouraging, and inspiring each other to continue to live and love like Jesus. Two women do this very well in Scripture. Elizabeth was an older woman and in her culture that meant highly respected, regarded, and sage-like. She was a prominent family and so was her husband. They lived in the suburbs of Jerusalem, the hippest spiritual town in Israel. As you know, Elizabeth was with child, a fact...

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Living the Blessed Life

Posted by on Monday, Apr 10, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I never heard it growing up. It just wasn’t a saying. I heard it when I moved to Dallas. You’ve heard it, too – Blessed. We Christians use it often. “They have a blessed life.” “I’ve lived a blessed life.” I googled images of “blessed life.” Here’s a sample of what pops up. I’ve been noodling on the birth of Jesus in Luke. There I tripped over Mary’s words in the Magnificat, specifically the ones where she proclaims that she’s blessed and that God has done great things for her. And I’m wondering, as I noodle over the meaning of her life if I’ve minimized the meaning of blessed. What exactly are we referring to when we say “our life is blessed?” That we are financially ok…that our relationships are in a good place…that our health is holding up? The more and more I read Scripture the more I realize how unsanitized it is, how what we say or think isn’t what’s being said through the lives of those of whom the Scriptures speak. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49) I’ve spent the week noodling on Mary’s life. The events that Scripture reveals about her. As I’ve pondered I’ve increasingly wondered how she could say, “God did great things for her?” Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (That’s freaky!) She could have faced death by stoning for the pregnancy. (That’s scary!) There was a time of tension over it with Joseph. (How awkward was that conversation?) She lived in a shame/honor culture. Where her parents ashamed? What about the community? Did they mock her? Leave her out? Say mean things to her? Her reputation, the most valuable possession a woman had, was on the line. While very pregnant she traveled on a donkey. (Ouch.) She gave birth in a cave with animals. (Smells. Need I say more?) She had no other woman present for the delivery. No mother, sister, or aunt to look her in the eye and help her navigate this painful experience. Herod’s threat forced her to go on the run. She left her home and friends. Some of those friends she left behind lost their sons on account of hers. Don’t blow past that. When I had my 2-year-old son Hunter, we had playdates with other 2-year-olds. And us moms would make them PB&Js and chat while the kids played. What was it like to leave...

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The Moment You Crumble On The Bathroom Floor

Posted by on Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

A sister in Christ wrote this out of deep pain. She’d been holding it in for a long time but now it came rushing out. Poetry. Pain. Some of you will understand – others will not. I do. And I want her cry to be heard. Church please hear.   That moment when you find yourself crumpled on your bathroom floor. A puddle of tears and confusion. What is wrong with me? Deep wounds emerge for triage and you realize the truths you’ve been able to push down, to sooth, until now. This desire seems big and hairy and its spitting the pacifiers across the room. Why don’t you want me Jesus? Why can’t I have a seat at the table? Is it true? Am I not good enough? Here’s the rub: I have a deep grief that women are not valid in the church. Valued. Maybe. As long as they stay in their place. Sure there are exceptions of leaders, teachers, preachers. But why not me? I get it, there really are singers that should have never made it to American Idol auditions on broadcast television. And I’m embarrassed to even admit: I want to try. Maybe I’m delusional. Or prideful. What if I had been allowed? What if in my preaching class in 1997, what if it wasn’t just condescension? What if they took me seriously? What if I took myself seriously? But I didn’t. I said this: “I know, I know, it won’t happen. But thanks for having me guys. You wrote really nice comments on my sermon eval.” And tolerance is not the same as embracing. Being nice isn’t empowering. I settled. It’s like the abuser that abuses subtly. And that time you almost wish he would just go ahead and punch you so you knew it was real. Not just some figment of your imagination. I keep finding myself with the nagging…is it real? Is it real that my church heritage that I love excludes me? Is it real that I want this? Am I actually called? You know Lord, it would be so so much easier if you literally would write me a letter of recommendation that I could pull out and show: I hereby declare that this woman has my recommendation to preach my Gospel in church on a Sunday. I can hear your thoughts, “But the Bible says…” Yeah, I know. I just wonder…do we really know what the Bible says? You might be thinking, “Go preach the Gospel where you can—it doesn’t have to be at church!” Yep, I do…to my kids, my husband, my friends, neighbors. And I love it. But maybe, maybe I’m allowed to preach to my...

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Pondering From Luke 8: 4-15

Posted by on Monday, Oct 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Pondering From Luke 8:4-15 This parable is a familiar one. I didn’t even want to write about it. But Jesus spoke, and so I write. In this parable there’s seed, which is God’s Word. And there are four kinds of soil (or ways people respond to Jesus and his message). We have seeds on a path, on the rock, among thorns, and in good soil. Jesus explains … 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. Obstacles to our walk with God clearly exist. They not only exist but pull hard, trying to loosen our grip. While we cling to God’s hope and promises, they pull … trying to loosen our grip. Satan. Worry. Riches. Pleasure. And trials. It wasn’t but a few  years ago that I almost lost my grip. A tsunami hit. I wasn’t even aware it was coming, and my faith was rocked. For the first time, I wondered if living for Jesus was worth it. I considered leaving the ministry. I struggled believing his Word. I felt abandoned, betrayed, and lost. Pain can cause the heart to harden. I tried to move towards him even in my pain. I couldn’t read his Word, so I listened to it online: http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/. And slowly, ever so slowly, Jesus started warming my heart again. He does that. Makes our hearts soft. I’m so grateful that when I was about to let go, he didn’t. This passage reminded me that there are obstacles, and they are pulling – hard. If we are going to cling to God’s hope and promises, we must go to Jesus. And listen. Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Luke...

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