Take Heart, Daughter

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Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Social media has been a hard place lately. Between the news stories and political happenings and the responses of friends and family sharing their own stories and then the responses to the responses of friends and family, there is one thing that has been made so overwhelmingly clear.

It’s something that can’t be debated or doubted or downplayed and it’s this–there is so much hurt out there.

With each new secret shared, my heart is continually being brought to its knees.

But as a society, pain makes us uncomfortable so our first reaction is to discount it or rationalize it away. We tell ourselves there are ulterior motives or political manipulations.

I just want to stand on the roof of my house and shout.

STOP. EVERYONE JUST STOP FOR A HOT MINUTE.

Your neighbor. Your babysitter. Your mother. Your mail carrier. People are hurting.

And they are vulnerably and courageously bringing their broken pieces out into public view. With trembling hands, they are offering up their stories and holding their pain up to the light.

Just stop for a second and consider what you’ve been hearing from the people you pass on the street, in the grocery store aisle, in the halls at work.

So many people have been going about their lives, never letting on that they were carrying these heavy, heavy burdens.

But Jesus sees those broken places inside us and wants to heal more than just our bodies. He wants to heal our souls.

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)”

This woman had suffered from a bleeding condition for twelve long years. Her physical pain must have been great. Her body must have been struggling with all sorts of issues resulting from continuous blood loss. This is what I’ve always tended to focus on when I read her story—the obvious need for physical healing.

It’s hard for me to imagine the modern-day equivalent of the crushing loneliness this woman must have lived with for the last dozen years. In a time when bleeding women were considered unclean and sequestered in isolation, the last twelve years of her life must have been a nightmare.

But Jesus knew. He not only addressed her physical healing, but with a single word, he addressed her emotional healing, as well.

Daughter.

With that single word, he banished loneliness and isolation and brought her into community. In the presence of so many witnesses, he deemed her wanted and welcomed. As far as I can tell from my limited knowledge and research, she is the only person Jesus referred to as “daughter,” and she just might have been the one whose heart needed to hear it most.

We all have our scars and broken places deep within us. Lately, more and more of those hidden wounds are being brought out into the light. It’s been overwhelmingly heartbreaking to see just how many have been carrying such heavy burdens of pain, often silently.

Take heart, daughter.

He sees the invisible and hears the silent. He heals the hidden hurts.

Do You Know the Power of Your Words?

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face. As soon as the words rushed out of my mouth, I regretted saying them, but they tumbled out faster than I could pull them back. Once they were out there, the damage was done.

We were eleven years old that summer at church camp, and for the first time in my life, the “cool” girls were paying attention to me. Wanting to make myself more acceptable to them, I tried to distance myself from my closest friend. And when the line was drawn in the sand, I outright denied our friendship right to her face.

Even though we eventually reconciled, and she graciously forgave me, the shame of that moment still burns whenever it comes to mind. More than twenty-five years later, I still feel awful for the words I said.

I’m constantly in awe of the power of words. They can bring life and love and joy and peace. They can also bring utter destruction in a matter of seconds. “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt”? I beg to differ.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

If I asked you to remember a time in your life when you said something you regret, I bet it wouldn’t be too difficult to think of several times. I’m also willing to wager you’ve had at least a handful of hurtful things said to you over the years…

I’d love for you to click through to The Glorious Table to read the remainder of this post. Join us in a conversation about the power of words and how we can speak life into one another.

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Facing Down Your Gorillas

One of the benefits of homeschooling my kids is that once I’ve recognized my sanity is at the breaking point, I can spontaneously declare a field trip day. On one such day, when nothing seemed to be going well, we ended up at the zoo for the afternoon. It seemed all the baby animals were also over it and the mamas were reaching their own breaking points.

When we came to the gorilla enclosure, we were treated to a show. Two juveniles were having the time of their lives. They wrestled, threw dirt at each other, and chased each other in circles around their mama. My kids loved this big game of mischief and could not be happier watching those two get into trouble.

After a few warnings, mama gorilla had finally had enough of their antics. (Solidarity, mama.) The big silverback jumped up from where she had been trying to get some peace and quiet and lunged after her rowdy kids. Everyone thought it was hilarious—except my two-year-old.

All Abby could see was this angry gorilla charging full speed right toward us. Terrified, she pointed and screamed, “IS COMIN’!” She called out for her daddy and instinctively reached for his hands, practically climbing up his legs, trying to get to the security of his arms.

To find out what happened next and read how we all have to face down our own gorillas sometimes, click through to The Glorious Table here:
http://theglorioustable.com/2017/05/facing-down-your-gorillas/.

 

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What About Saturday?

Nothing helps you realize just how much you don’t know like a child’s questions. The approximately 1,200 daily queries from my ten-and-under set certainly keep me on my toes. If your role in life has brought you anywhere near young children, I’m sure you know what I mean.

My kids tend to ask their most philosophical questions after we’ve said our bedtime prayers and I’m on my way out of the room.

“Mom? What if you wake up tomorrow and realize you’ve been asleep for seventy-five years and your whole life has been a dream?”

“Hey, Mom? Do you think there’s Chick-Fil-A in heaven?”

“Mom! If I tell God a joke, do you think he’ll laugh?”

One night we were talking about the upcoming Easter weekend. I explained Maundy Thursday, when Jesus and his disciples shared the Last Supper and Jesus was arrested. We talked about Good Friday and all the events of that sad day when Jesus died on the cross. Then we wrapped up with the celebration of Resurrection Sunday when Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave.

“But, Mom? You talked about Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. What about Saturday? What happened that day?”

To continue reading about the truth that question brought to mind, please join the conversation at The Glorious Table. Click here: http://theglorioustable.com/2017/04/what-about-saturday/.

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What My GPS Taught Me About Trust

pexels-photo-134643I recently celebrated a major victory. It felt monumental. I almost expected the world to pause on its axis to acknowledge my accomplishment.

I made my way home without using my GPS.

I know this may not seem like a big deal to most people, but having lived in the Atlanta area for only a year, the GPS on my phone is always on. Without it I would likely end up crossing the state line on my way to the grocery store.

When we first moved, every outing sent me into planning mode. A simple trip to the park found me researching my route, pulling it up on my phone, and familiarizing myself with all the street names. I like a plan. I feel more comfortable when I know what turns are ahead.

After getting stuck in a few of Atlanta’s infamous traffic jams, I tried a new GPS app. It offered real-time traffic updates and promised to keep me on the best route. It was perfect. The first time I used it, I pulled up my destination, studied the route, and got comfortable with the directions. I had my plan and away I went…

To see what happened when the GPS lady went off the rails and what life lesson she taught me, click through to read the rest of the story at The Glorious Table. http://theglorioustable.com/2017/02/gps-taught-trust/

Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

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** You can now click here to read a version of this post on The Huffington Post! There are so many ways to do Christmas and I love that no two families celebrate in exactly the same way. Whether you skip Santa completely or you go all North Pole in your home, I’d love for you to click through, like, or share this post to spread some Christmas cheer. **

The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I didn’t realize. Well. I guess the children will find other ways to have a childhood.”

In an effort to reclaim some of our parenting points in the eyes of society (not that I was already in the running for Mother of the Year), here are some of our reasons for sacking Santa.

Santa’s unlimited resources don’t match our very limited budget.
As much as I love the idea of writing a letter listing all my dream requests to someone with the hopes of them being granted (wait–Ellen, are you Santa?), this would only set my kids up for disappointment. Because while the elves might have some back channel connections, Mama isn’t paying $250 or arm wrestling a trucker for a Hatchimal. Sorry, baby girl. Mama still loves you.

We don’t want to share credit with a cartoon.
Okay, so this one is admittedly a little selfish. But over the last decade of Christmases, we’ve worked really hard to scrape together enough money to be able to put a couple of modest gifts under the tree for the kids. It’s not much but ohmygoodness when they open those gifts and we see those huge smiles? I didn’t really want to hear, “Thank you, Santa!” I wanted some hugs.

For all my kids, but especially my literal-thinking aspie, it’s kind of creepy.
If I told my kid that there was a man out there who sees him when he’s sleeping and knows when he’s awake and knows when he’s been bad or good with the thinly veiled threat of “be good for goodness’ sake,” he wouldn’t sleep for a month. It does make Santa sound less like a jolly philanthropist and more like an unsub profiled on Criminal Minds.

It only takes one child in need to make you question the whole system.
Once upon a time in a world far away, I was a 2nd grade teacher. I will never forget the day an eight-year-old broke my heart wide open. I was on playground duty just after winter break when I spotted a student playing alone and decided to keep him company. We started chatting about his holiday and I asked him if he had a good Christmas. He looked up at me with confused eyes and said, “Santa didn’t come this year, Mrs. Pooser. I don’t know why. I tried so hard all year to be real, real good. But he didn’t come anyway.” That moment took my breath away. I just couldn’t bring myself to pass along a tradition that has the potential to make a child feel like his behavior is somehow responsible for his family not having any gifts under the tree.

Our holiday is less cluttered.
When we shifted our attention away from the material side of Christmas, we were able to focus more clearly on what we’re truly celebrating. The long-awaited Messiah, with Calvary already in mind, born to a desperate and dark world, bringing with him the light of hope, joy, peace, and love. And with the love of Jesus in our hearts, we do talk about St. Nicholas and how his spirit of kindness and generosity can live on in our Christmas traditions. We try to think of ways to spread joy to our neighbors and our community. Whether we’re able to sponsor a whole family from the Angel Tree or if we can just swing a few dollars to leave a Starbucks gift card on a stranger’s porch, there are lots of ways we can spread Christmas cheer. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and think of others.

So even though we don’t do Santa Claus with our kids, there is still plenty of room for St. Nick in our Christmas.

When God Writes Your Story

light-forest-trees-morning.jpgThe bickering from the backseat couldn’t dampen my good mood. We were setting off on our one and only family vacation for the year, taking our six- and three-year-old kids on a weeklong camping trip. It wasn’t quite the Disney cruise I’d dreamed of, but we had a good tent, a great campground, and my stubborn determination to make it an Instagram-worthy vacation.

Adventure awaited!

And waited. After eight long hours of driving through Georgia, we finally made it to the cool mountain air. Except the air wasn’t cool at all. It was 109 degrees. The record-breaking heat wave that drove me to walk my young children into the beer cooler at the gas station was relentless.

No matter! There was a beautiful mountain stream to splash in and a shady barnyard to explore. The kids had a blast, and I got some great Facebook documentation of our potential as future farmers. We held bunnies, chased chickens, petted horses and goats, and even milked a cow! Our first day at camp was exactly as I’d envisioned. It was definitely hot, but we were pushing through. I planned to end the day with the perfect night: showers, s’mores, and “Kumbaya” around the campfire.

We could smell the bathhouse before we even got close. An apologetic sign informed us a water main had broken and there would be no running water for two days while it was being fixed.

Two days of no flushing and no showers for people living outside in a massive heat wave. Throw in some barnyard animals for flavor, and it was a recipe for a smelly disaster…

Seems like a slapstick comedy? Find out what happened next! (Spoiler: a bear is involved.) God used this trip to teach me some valuable lessons and give our family some lifelong memories that we will cherish forever. Click through to The Glorious Table to read the rest of the story:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/08/when-god-writes-your-story/