Category Archives: life & lessons

He never stops giving

I was resting in bed tonight, head spinning with excitement knowing that our newly decorated tree and Christmas-a-fied house was on the other side of the bedroom door.

Finally I could stand it no more so I returned to the living room, opened all the windows, and now I sit facing the glow of tiny white lights while the rustle of palm leaves outside competes with the symphony of crickets (and a few guest appearances by the odd frog).

Gosh, I love this time of year.

Cliche? I don’t care. I love it. I so, so love it.

Today was a storm of a million emotions. Amidst the merriment of the holidays and the buzz that I get from the decorating kick-off, there’s so much going on in our little world right now that’s vying for headspace. Most of it good, but some uncomfortable.

At one point this afternoon I sat down for a few moments scrolling quickly through emails that I knew I’d not be responding to until later. But curious, I read a few anyway.

The first one I opened had some disappointing news. Understandable, and yet disappointing, deflating.

The second one was from a stranger. A woman who belongs to a people I’ve fallen in love with (PNG) who now lives in a place that I once called my own (USA).

We’ve been writing back and forth this last week and I teared up a few days ago when she told me her family thanked God for me and my family around their Thanksgiving table last week.

I don’t know her. But she knows Him.

And then today her email – the second email I opened – contained news so sweet and so personal and so unexpected I couldn’t control those big, hot tears, from rolling quickly down my cheeks.

You see, He is faithful. He really is so faithful.

And sometimes you think everything’s just fine and then grace comes in a million forms and you realize how much you really did need it after all.

I had grace in many different forms this week – friends arriving at my doorstep to mow our lawn and clean my floors, another bringing us dinner one night, another offering childcare, and now another (who’s face I can only imagine, and voice I do not know) with an offer so simple and lovely it makes me close my eyes and shake my head and whisper, “What did I do to deserve this kindness from a stranger? From anyone?”.

But it’s not a matter of “deserving” anything at all. I receive because they give. And they give because they want to. And they want to because they also know what it is to receive.

Because He never stops giving.

And that’s it – the way I want to start December and the preparation of my heart to celebrate – really celebrate Christ’s birth: I want to see Him around me, recognize Him as he weaves worlds together, hear Him through the noise, and breathe deeply of His of goodness.

I want to receive Him, all over again.

Thank you, dear grace-givers, for helping me to see Jesus. You represent Him so well.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How has someone’s kindness been grace in your life lately? 

 

Love,
A

p.s. Forgot to use the timer tonight. Definitely blew the five minutes… probably doubled it, but who knows, who cares.


Indecision, and how much I loathe it.

One of the great plagues of my generation is indecision.

So many young people are trapped in their inability to just say yes or no.

Over and over again I’m frustrated by my peers, as well as those younger than I, who can’t (or won’t?) commit.

I understand that decision-making is easier for some than others. (Yes, I am decisive by nature. Not everyone is – I get that.) But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about this epidemic of young people being afraid to step out and choose something.

Oh, we love to take a stance on “issues” and fight for “causes”, but that’s much easier when it’s not too personal.

Often, I think our indecision is because of a fear of missing out on something better.

We’re so bombarded with information all the time, that we subconsciously get the message that surely the “next big thing” is right around the corner.

We just have to somehow get ourselves in the right place at the right time.

I see this over and over with events – parties, celebrations, etc. People don’t RSVP – they leave it open-ended, thinking they will come if there’s nothing better to do, or if they feel like it.

And you know what? That just makes me cranky.

For one, it’s rude.

But beyond that, it robbing people of peace.

When you waffle in indecision (not just about inconsequential things like RSVPing for a party – but big things like vocation and relationships and geography), you leave yourself open and exposed to being tossed around by circumstances.

Or–perhaps worse–stagnating right where you’re at.

You run the risk of missing out on a lot of life while waiting for something that doesn’t yet exist. (And might never exist.)

And you know what? Sometimes the best option is right in front of your face.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How has indecision affected your life?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


I’m convinced that He is able to guard what I’ve entrusted to Him…

“…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12b

God guards – keeps, protects, covers – that which is entrusted to him.

If you’ve been a Christian for more than… oh, a nanosecond, chances are you’ve had to entrust things to God over, and over, and over again.

And then you think you’ve done it once-and-for-all only to realize somehow you’ve picked up that burden/worry/sin yet again.

Sometimes it’s not even a bad thing that you have to entrust to him – it could be a very precious thing – but that doesn’t mean you should carry it yourself.

(Did you know our good stuff can become idols too? Our spouse, kids, ministry, etc?)

But Paul tells Timothy in his second epistle that he (the Lord) guards that which is entrusted to him.

So it’s making me think, are there any areas in my life that I’ve not entrusted to the Lord right now? Are there areas where I’ve once trusted but have stopped?

A “small” but current area came immediately to mind as I asked God to search my heart related to this issue.

And just like that, I was able to acknowledge it and entrust it to him. Again.

I’m so glad he’s the one keeping and protecting it now.

Pretty sure he’ll be doing a better job than me.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you have any areas you need to entrust to him? (Don’t you want him to guard them for you anyway??)

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Every time we take up our cross

“Every time we take up our cross — we take weight off someone else.” -Ann Voskamp

How often do I view the “taking up of my cross” as a burden to myself? And yet really, it’s not a burden but a blessing.

Jesus said, “It’s better to give than to receive.”

Anyone who’s ever been a part of a Christmas celebration can attest to the truth of his statement.

And so taking up my cross so that I can bare the weight of someone else’s? It’s not a burden. It’s a gift given to another.

Which is ultimately a gift given to me.

And all of it is a gift given to HIM.

So hard to remember when we allow the daily grind to blur our vision.

I want to take up my cross, so someone else won’t have to.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you been challenged to take up your cross lately? Did it feel like a burden or a gift?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Stuff – what would you put in your box?

In light of the Colorado wildfires I was thinking tonight about what I would put in THE BOX if I had enough time to gather up precious, sentimental valuables.

Actually, I know full well what I’d put in there because I had to do it not that long ago when a cyclone was headed straight for our city.

I put in our passports, a few other important documents, some photos, journals, a box of love notes, and our hard-drives which contain several years worth of photos.

Really, when you boil it right down, most things we have are replaceable.

But then I started thinking about some of the things I have stored up in my parents attic – sentimental things from my childhood.

What if they were to evacuate their home suddenly, with only a short window of time to “rescue” a box or a car load of stuff? They would have no idea the things that I hold dear from my childhood. (Or if they did, there’d be no way they could locate them in time.)

What remains of my childhood in “stuff” form would be gone forever. (Not the end of the world, but sad for a sentimental sap like me.)

One of the things I’ve wanted to do during this time home in Oregon was rumage that attic and see what treasures I left behind 12 years ago when I left and never came back. That was on my list far before I left Australia.

But the fires in Colorado have given me extra incentive.

Now as I go through those few old boxes (there aren’t many – maybe 3 or 4) I will know to sort the fun-sentimental stuff from the important-sentimental stuff (as well as the non-sentimental-just-move-on stuff as well).

My heart and my prayers go to those caught in tragedy in Colorado, all the while my mind goes here:

what’s really important?

STOP.

 

Q for you: What would you put in your box?

 

Love,
A

p.s. I’ve been sick. And absent. BOO. 😦 But I’m on the mend now. YAY. 🙂

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited

 


How far is too far?

Working with Christian young people, a question I hear regularly is “how far is too far?” when it comes to sex and physical relationships.

I usually tell them that the better question to be asking is “what is best, most loving, and most honoring to the other person?”

We often have our perspective wrong. We wonder what we can get away with, what’s in it for ourselves, and what the consequences we will have to face.

But fundamentally, that’s a wrong perspective and is rooted in selfishness.

As followers of Christ we are called to think of others first, to serve, and to put others above ourselves.

This principle is not just for romantic or sexual relationships, but for all areas of the Christian life.

Instead of trying to figure out where the lines of sin are and what we can get away with, why don’t we start asking ourselves a better question:

What’s best, highest, and most loving toward others?

What’s best, highest, and most loving toward myself?

And ultimately, what’s best, highest, and most loving toward God?

STOP.

 

Q for you: How’s your perspective lately?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Mentioned with an eye roll

I’ve always been a little on the dramatic side.

Unfortunately, that often has negative connotations when people mention it.

Instead of being recognized as creative and spirited, it’s often mentioned with an eye roll.

It’s too early to tell if Judah will be dramatic. But Levi? Oh, he’s dramatic!

Even now as a two-year-old the way he tells stories is absolutely hilarious. (And mind-boggling.) He acts them out using different voices and fake cries, fake laughter, hand and body motions. The whole bit.

In junior high I hurt myself playing crack the whip with some friends at a slumber party. I cried, and they teased me for “being dramatic”. I spent the next several hours on the couch until my friend’s mom noticed that I was burning up with a fever. Only then did they call my dad to come and take me to the emergency room.

I had fractured my arm. Go figure.

From that point on I tried to never cry when I was (physically) hurt. I wanted to make sure I never gave anyone a reason to think I might be “crying wolf”, so I tried not to cry at all.

“I’d show them,” I thought. “I may be skinny but I’m tougher than they think.”

Years later I was told that I probably couldn’t handle natural childbirth. I just “didn’t have the pain tolerance.”

Um, excuse me??

It’s a shame how we think we can judge and measure and set limitations on other people, based on what we perceive about their personality.

It’s an even bigger shame that we take on and internalize those judgements and measurements.

Now as an adult I’ve suffered many types of pain. Often I’ve not even shared my pain with anyone, for fear of appearing dramatic or weak or even just ungrateful.

Sad really.

But now as a grown-up with my own littles I’m trying to be very deliberate about how I speak around them.

Yes, Levi is dramatic and strong-willed and determined and independent (he’s so much like his mama), but I never want him to sense a negativity in my tone when I comment on those aspects of his personality.

Even though he’s decisive, he’s also very sensitive and very, very creative.

Believe me, it’s tempting to roll my eyes at his dramatics sometimes. But I hope – I really hope – that I’ll be able to nurture his creative and sensitive side (while also helping him to hone his strength and decisiveness) and help him feel comfortable being himself. Even when it does seem  a little over-the-top to the rest of us.

After all, who are we to know what another person is really feeling inside? And who are we to know what they are really capable of?

People are much stronger, and much more fragile, than we often think.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you been rolling your eyes at someone lately? If so, perhaps you need to rethink that.

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited

 


*Poof* Out of nowhere

The kids are both in a phase right now where they’re literally amazing us every single day.

It’s like they wake up and think… what new thing can I get up to today?

Levi spouts out new words as if he’s always said them.

“Oh, it’s windy!” he said the other day when we got out of the car.

All I could do is look at him and say, “yes, yes it is windy.”

We didn’t teach him that word – at least not in the repeat-after-me-I’ll-name-it-for-you kind of teaching.

He just learned it by picking it up.

A small example, but every day now he says many, many things along these same lines.

Seeing that little brain just explode with information and vocabulary is seriously awesome to me.

Not to mention potty training. By two hours into it he was already telling us when he had to go. And after the first two days he was waking dry from naps. And this morning (day five) he woke dry from overnight.

Hello, we aren’t even training him for overnight yet. We’ve kept him in diapers at night! Obviously he’s training himself. Smart cookie.

And Judah’s the same.

All of a sudden today he just stood up on his own and stayed there for seconds before falling. He didn’t pull himself up on anything, didn’t have assistance, he just stood.

At eight months old (yesterday) he’s seriously freaking me out the way he’s determined to move along. No doubt he’ll be an early walker.

And I guess that’s the thing with milestones. There’s all this developmental work in the background that’s going on that you can’t see… and then one day *poof* – it’s as if their skill emerges out of nowhere.

I wonder how much of that we lose as adults, obsessed with finding the quickest solutions and shortest routes to success. We want to skip straight to the results and rarely give time to work hard and build behind the scenes where no one can see us or where there’s nothing to show for our hard work and investment.

Or maybe that’s just me?

In any case, I’m completely astounded with my ambitious little boys at the moment.

They are so entertaining. And so fun to watch and learn from.

STOP.

 

Q for you: When’s the last time you witnessed a skill emerging from what seemed like thin air? (In an adult or a child.)

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Dread. Don’t do it.

Dread is a sneaky kind of fear that robs you.

It doesn’t exactly feel like fear, because there’s not that ‘afraid’ aspect to it.

But don’t be fooled, the dragging-your-feet-expecting-the-worst is a type of fear no doubt.

Recently I tackled something that I had been dreading.

For months I had imagined it. Loathed it. Resisted it. Put it off.

And then finally, I did it.

To my surprise it was much, much easier than I had expected.

(Yes, I’m talking about potty training Levi here. But that’s not the point.)

The thing is, I had built it up into this momumental task in my head – something to be entered upon almost as a martyr… surrendering myself to the cause.

I put on my mom boots and got to work.

And found it to be…

Easy.

And… even fun. (*gasp*)

So all of those months spent dreading and procrastinating? I now realize those were moments wasted, robbed by a mundane sort of fear that never should have been there in the first place.

And I see this to be true in other areas where I’ve “dreaded” before.

So here’s the thing about dread: don’t do it.

It’s just not worth it.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What have you been dreading lately?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Serving people is almost always inconvenient

Serving people is almost always inconvenient.

So often I don’t feel like making the effort, giving the time, or dishing out the dollars. Even when I know I “should”.

But inevitably, when I’m able to get over myself and move beyond my feelings I begin to serve and my feelings almost always change.

Recently I was given the opportunity to do something that would require a big effort, a big sacrifice of time, and a huge inconvenience in terms of scheduling.

Believing it was the right thing to do, I said yes.

And now, having done the “thing” I’m so, so, so glad I did.

Yes, there was some sacrifice involved. Yes, it meant adjusting a whole bunch of life to make it work. Yes, it would have been much easier to just say no.

But if I had said no I would’ve missed out on an incredible blessing – the blessing of giving.

Jesus said it’s better to give than to receive. it wasn’t just some good idea when he threw it out there. It was (is) truth. And I can testify to that.

I’m amazed at what I’ve received simply by choosing to give.

Sometimes the giving is difficult at first, but always as I’ve chosen to give (serve) my sentiments have changed mid-stream.

The giving becomes “easy” in that it flows.

And as you pour out, you’re also filled. (A very strange paradox.)

The surest way to be filled up is actually to give first. After all, if you’re already full, what room is there for more?

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you ever feel like serving is inconvenient? Have you experienced that feeling changing as you’ve stepped into it regardless?

 

Love,
A

p.s. By the way, I think if you give/serve in order to receive something in return… you’ve missed the point and your selfishness can hinder the blessing. The point here is that receiving is a beautiful byproduct of the giving.

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited