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Of all the names you've been called, how to know who you really are

Here lately, God's been giving me winding roads. Gravelly ones to walk on and as I walk I think about how He made me to be a shepherd girl. "Shepherd Healer." That's my name in His Kingdom. That's what my Father calls me so that I can know who I am and what is mine to do.Have you ever asked God what He calls you? He calls us by our true names. "...The sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And knowing that they listen, he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to pasture." (from John 10:3) God isn't the only one who calls us a name. We call ourselves names. The world calls us names. And the enemy of our souls, constantly calls us the most condemning things. What are the names that you most often call yourself? Are those names helpful for your growth? For you[...]

The Stories that Came out of Denham Springs

I feel completely inadequate to tell you the stories that have come out of Denham Springs while we were there. I think because God's work in those precious people's hearts was so profound, that I'm afraid if I try to put words to it, I will diminish it. What we witnessed there was sacred and I'm afraid to touch it. But, these people have a story and you and I--we feed off of each other's stories. Story is what helps us see that we're not alone. And so, I've prayed and I'm showing up here in this space, and I'm going to do my best to give you an account. First of all, you need some background. These specific people that we ministered to had already been through so much. And when I say so much, that's an understatement. But because they had already gone through the fire, fig[...]

When You Wonder if You're Doing Important Enough Things

In the mobile home park where we're staying this week, there's a great old tree near a pile of stones. It adorns the front entrance. I've always had a thing for trees.  Trees become my friends. I bond with them like some kind of hippie child.  I've gone to  visit my new tree friend a couple times just to stare up into its branches and wonder about life. This tree has the most inviting limbs. If I were a little bit younger, I tell myself, I'd climb up into these big wide branches toward the sky and just sit a while. This week, I've wrestled with things. Even though we travel around in an RV for about eight months out of the year and minister to churches, I still wonder if I'm doing enough. I wonder if my life counts for much. I ask myself, "Why all the angst? What is[...]

We're Ready to Hit the Open Road Again

We've been home for about a month. Taken a rest from our travels. Our break has been just the right amounts of rest and play. Time spent with our precious friends and family. We've paused for reflection and have set out,  doing and going,  preparing for Christmas. We've played with old toys and gotten excited over new ones. The house now looks like it barfed up Christmas. But, that's okay. I'm learning not to stress about these things. A house is not a place of perfection. (I tell myself this when I see the cobwebs and the laundry pile and that base board that needs reglued.) A house is a place to land. A spot, unique to your own family's personality, where you can come and put your things down and build something out of your imagination and know that no matter what, yo[...]

What To Do When You Feel Like a Dweeb

Sometimes, I do terribly awkward things. Like, the time I told the lady in the check-out line that she had a beautiful head. She was bald, and I wanted her to know that even though she was bald, her head was quite nice. Now, I thought that was a perfectly normal thing to say. But, according to my son, who did a facepalm and then beseeched me, pleading, "Mom, please don't ever say something like that again. It's just weird," I figured, that maybe I was indeed, after all, a dweeb. Just as I had suspected. There was also the time that I drove through the Lowe's garden center. Now, grant it, I was young. I mean, I was a grown-up, but I was a very young, just starting out grown-up. When I asked the Lowe's employee where he wanted me to pull up so he could load my mulch, h[...]

When My Children Tell Me, "That's Not Fair!"

Sometimes my kids, they yell at me and furrow their brow and cry. You know, because it's not fair. It's not fair that they have to clean their whole entire room before they watch a movie. Or that they have to eat every last green pea on their plate before they get dessert. And sometimes, I look them in their sparkly blue eyes and I say, "Yes. You're right. It's not fair. It's not fair that you get a whole big plate of food while some other kid today is looking for some scraps in the trash. It's not fair that you get some warm covers and another kid gets a piece of pavement. It's not fair that you get a momma and a daddy to take care of you and some kids don't get anyone. It's terribly unfair." Then they get all quiet and just stare at me and I [...]

When You Need a God Who Wrestles

  My loves, Today is new all over again. There is much romping and exploring and laughing and searching and losing and winning and struggling and resting to be done here today. You aren't here by chance. No sirree. You've got this glorious Maker who is smiling when He looks your way. He's smiling and He's loving you and He's singing you songs as you do the dishes and brush the tangles out and study new things and breathe in your next breath. He's telling you stories with His grass and His trees and His ladybugs and His clouds and His people sitting next to you. He's saying in at least a hundred different ways, "Child of mine, I'm walking, will you walk with Me? I'm going on a trail or two, want to come along? We can live this life together." Did you know you can [...]

When You Want to Run Away From Your Ordinary Life

There have been days...very monotonous, ordinary, hum-drum days when I have just wanted to escape. You have those days, too? Since life isn't exactly all exciting or all adventure. So much of life is putting away the laundry. Jotting down the grocery list. Taking out the trash. Refereeing squabbles. Sometimes, we scroll Facebook or Pinterest and we realize that there are far more appealing places in the world than where we are at the moment. Sitting next to the kid with the squishy diaper. There are botanical gardens and mountains where you can see big patches of sky. There are beaches! And I think to myself, "Awe, yes. That's what I need. If I were on the shore, in the warm sun, then I'd be happy. All would be right with my world." But the thing is, occasionally, o[...]

When You Wonder What Your Life is For

I talked to the lady at the hotel who puts out our breakfast. "What do you do?" she asks.  We must look like a sight, scrounging around for donuts and eggs and coffee with all our ragamuffin kids. "We travel for work," I say. But, I can tell she's still curious, so I do my best to explain. "We help churches. We go live on their parking lot." I point out the window at our house on wheels. "We help the people with their marriages and their families and their relationship with God." She nods slowly, like maybe she's tracking with me. "We help them with their hard things. We help them become healthy in their hearts." I pat my chest with my hand. "In here. We help them with what's in here." She smiles wide and nods earnest. I think maybe she gets it--the rest of what I didn't have [...]

When You Feel Far From God

God made us. And He seeks us. We feel far from God, most days. We scratch around and try to grab hold of Him, and He seems just out of reach. But feelings are like clouds. They hide reality. The truth is, the sun is there, always. The truth is, God is there, but our feelings hide Him from our sight. So, we pray. We pray in order that we might see what's actually there. We pray that we might feel the warmth of our Father. Prayer was never meant to be an occasional duty we perform. Prayer is a way of living. It is talking. Listening. Acting. It's keeping the conversation going, in faith, with a God who is close by and who hears us. Prayer is reaching out and touching God's chest and finding that there is a heart behind it. Warm. Pulsing. Vibrant. Al[...]

How to Overcome Your Past. (And those dark thoughts.)

When I was little and before I was adopted, I saw things. And heard things. Things little people were never meant to see or hear. I saw my birth mom prostitute herself with men. She'd bring a different guy home, so many nights, and I really wanted to sleep next to her, so I would curl up down at the end of the bed just so I could be a little bit close. Those things have a way of staying with you. And my birth dad was addicted to pornography, I suppose, so he'd leave the magazines out and I'd look at them so curiously. My birth mom had some crazy sense that those images weren't good for me, so she'd snatch them up. Then fuss at him. Now that I'm all grown up, I think about the irony of that.  Her bringing men home while I slept on a pallet on the floor or at the end of the bed but[...]

What to do with your hard things

  One morning, I sat on the couch and had coffee with my Hope girl. Well, she had some creamer, with a little bit of coffee in it. I asked her if there's anything she's been thinking about lately. She only just had ten things. Ten very big, heavy things, that made her cry into her coffee cup. Ten things that she's been carrying around in that little tender heart of hers--things that made her feel scared and afraid. Some of those things that had created anxiety in her chest, were words I had said out loud to my friends, about my own fears. I didn't realize she was quietly listening. We forget that us grown-ups can process out loud and then be fine. But, kids absorb and worry. There were some words I had rashly and flippantly spoken, that I had to apologize for. So, w[...]

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