Archives For relationships

The whole issue of choosing whether or not to have children, when to have children, and how many children to have is extremely multi-faceted. It is an issue that has preoccupied recent generations far more than the generations preceding us simply due to the sponsorship of its patron saint: birth controls.* I know you know that. But have you thought about how, because of the widened availability of birth controls, we have immensely more freedom now than any civilization had before us? Most of us take that freedom for granted. Some of us, occasionally, are terrified by it.

I have lots of friends in lots of different relationships with birth controls. Today, I’ll just discuss the heterosexually married ones. Several have been married for awhile, but are still unsure about if and when they want to start a family. Several have 1.2 kids and are wondering if they could survive another. And several have made the decision to “be done,” saying that they just “felt like they were done.”

It’s gotten me thinking and talking with a lot of people about all of these life-changing decisions. And so far, it’s led me to one conclusion. (Many more, I hope, are forthcoming.)

 

Therefore, I have a proposal. It is just a proposal; I’m still working it out in my head and heart. But I’d like to start the conversation. So I’ll just hit you with the proposal and then make my arguments from there.

When it comes to the decision about how many children to have, I propose that husbands give their wives 51% of the vote.

Hear me out. Continue Reading…

Happy New Year! & #cruconf

January 1, 2014 — 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

cruconf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still feeling so blessed and refreshed in my heart from spending the last few days of 2013 hanging out and catching up with so many close friends at Cru Conference – all staying in the same hotel and many of them freed of their usual responsibility as mother to young children! I loved hearing all that God is up to in their lives and praying for them. I also loved having the opportunity to verbally process what God is up to in my life by honestly answering the question, “How are you?” several dozen times! I felt so loved and cherished and immersed in the beautiful intimacy and inspiration of an entire community of sincere Jesus-followers (“surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” as it were). They still listened and hugged me and empathized even when they heard all of my worst failures since we’d last spoken. To be known and still loved — what a blessing.

I also got quite a bit of quality alone-time: time to think and pray and listen to God, mostly about my life and His continuing direction (small and large) in it. The dawning of a new year – and later of my new year on my birthday – is always such a significant time for me to evaluate, seek God, and make slight course changes wherever needed. I love New Year’s Resolutions, but only when they’re a reasonable and attainable step for where I’m at in the process of my life and mostly when I sense God “giving” them to me. Here are a few of mine this year:

  • develop more artistic discipline in my life (blog)
  • create touch points with some old but dear friends I’ve lost touch with
  • look into going back to school for some kind of Master’s degree

It was a last-minute decision to go to conference, and I am so thankful for Jason Larsen and my mom who so generously sponsored my spontaneity. And it was so wonderful that I think I must add the following resolution to my list:

  • go to Cru Conference every year possible from this time forward

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Heart Treasure

November 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

When I was a junior in college, I read an article by Bill Hybels called “The Art of Self Leadership.” The article helped me self-reflect in a way I’d never known before, and it changed my life so dramatically that I made it a habit to read it annually.

One thing Hybels addressed was, “What do I treasure?” Then, he told this story:

When our kids were young and Lynne and I needed some husband-wife time, we’d get a babysitter. And I’d give those sitters my little talk. As we were heading out, I would say, “You need to know something. We only have two treasures in this life, only two. I don’t care if you wreck our car or if the house burns down while we’re gone. Really. Just promise me. Promise me you’ll take really good care of our children. They are all that really matter to us in this world.”

God is saying to leaders, “Promise me. Give me your word. Take care of my treasures. Grow in leadership so that you become the greatest you can be at taking care of my treasures. Love them. Nurture them. Develop them. Challenge them. Mature them. They are all that really matters to me in this world.”

It still brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

It was during my years in college that my treasures saw a dramatic transformation. As an incoming freshman, the things I had my heart most set on were: getting excellent grades so that I could impress people with how smart I was, filling my resume with various leadership roles so that I could impress people with how competent I was, and attracting a handsome, brilliant, successful, nice husband.

By God’s grace and through much humiliation and failure, when I graduated from college, my heart beat for: a life-long journey of continually deepening my own love for and intimacy with Jesus, helping college students know and love Jesus, and a handsome, way-too-strong-in-character-just-to-be-’nice’ musician named Jason Larsen.

Life is a journey. While God has righted some of my heart treasures, I know that there remain treasures in my heart very much in need of transformation.

Oh, Lord, make my heart like Your heart. As I go about my day, in my home, among my family and friends, and out into my community, help me to treasure You and people most of all. Amen.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

*This story was written originally for my church’s monthly newsletter, Here@First, for which I write periodically. I don’t know how many people actually read it there, but I thought a wider readership might enjoy it. So I’m just re-sharing with you.

True Generosity?

October 22, 2013 — 1 Comment

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

It was a late spring morning a few years ago when I read this verse during my quiet time for the first time. I remember thinking, “Wow! That is something. ‘..all things at all times, having all that [I] need, [I] will abound in every good work!?’ Really, Lord? This seems quite idealistic, if you ask me. You don’t know how tired I am sometimes. Or how needy others can be. Hm. I’ll have to think about this one a bit more.”

I moved on from my quiet time to glance at my schedule for the day. It was full to the brim. At the time, I was employed in full-time Christian ministry to college students, so my day was full of meetings with our staff, appointments with college women for discipleship or counseling or prayer walks or you never know… You get it: lots of being with people, talking with people, helping people, teaching people. Fulfilling, but exhausting work.

That night, I arrived home late – stomach rumbling, feeling sweaty and achy, back and calves sore from carrying too many heavy books up and down too many hills, itching to get out of my heels and into some sweats. As I pulled into our driveway, I sighed. There, standing across the street from his house, in my driveway was our neighbor, a very friendly and fun-loving guy: flying a kite over his house – in our very compact, residential suburbia. ‘Is it even legal to fly kites here?’ I wondered. He scooted over so that I could drive into my driveway, smiling and waving enthusiastically. My stomach growled louder. I pulled in and parked. I closed my eyes and pressed my forehead into the steering wheel. ‘Not today,’ I thought. ‘Not now. So…tired…’ And then, drifting through my heart, unabashedly, ‘And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. OK, Lord. Here I go.’

I stepped out of the car.

I think he’d had the entire day off. And spoken to not-a-soul. He was extremely in the mood to chat.

‘Lord, at all times? In every good work?’

In an instant, I felt His grace wash over me. I’m certain that I missed a few sentences of my neighbor’s welcome, lost in the stupor of His strength and power instantly replenishing the depleted reserves. I tuned back in to my neighbor’s friendly banter. And I actually smiled, suddenly glad to see him standing in my driveway, flying a kite. ‘At all times, Lord…’ I prayed silently.

I often feel so busy, so worn out, so involved, so absorbed with my job, my kids, my marriage, my family, my home, my church, my life. I’m sure you do too. We all give so much to so many people in so many ways. It seems so counter-intuitive to add one more outlet, one more need to my whirlwind. But, so often, that one more need shows me what I’m really made of. It reminds me that I must not depend on my own strength, but His. It reveals whether or not I really meant it when I told Him that my life was His. It refreshes my perspective, turning it heavenward and riveting it on eternal things. It impresses on me that because I met Jesus, I really have been blessed abundantly. And therefore, apparently, I have so much to give.

Oh God, You have blessed me so abundantly! I have clothes to wear, a place to live, and I never even think to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Sometimes it is difficult for me to believe You and Your idealism – really, Lord, in all things at all times? But I say now, today, this week, in each moment, I will trust You: that I will continue to have all that I need, and that by Your strength and Your power, I will abound in every good work that You have prepared in advance for me to do. Amen.

*This story was written originally for my church’s monthly newsletter, Here@First, for which I write periodically. I don’t know how many people actually read it there, but I thought a wider readership might enjoy it. So I’m just re-sharing with you.

We just moved. And so we’re searching for a new local church to attend, enjoy, give.

As a side note, a cross-state move produces the most pleasant circumstances under which to search for a new church: you must give no reasons for leaving your old church besides “We moved” and you must give no reasons for why you’re looking for a new church besides “We moved.” Cross-town church exchanges are so much more complicated than that. I’ve never done it, actually, but my parents did a couple of years ago and it was really hard.

Anyway, before we even started looking, my husband and I had a couple of conversations (in our many drives cross-state) about what it is for which we are principally searching. We talked not only about what we wanted, but also what we thought was good for us and the characteristics to which God might be calling us in a church community. We limited our list to 3-5 things because we know the “perfect” church is a phantom and that we’ll find our new home church still wanting in several ways. But we made 3-5 things non-negotiable. (I hope you see our intentional openness for the Holy Spirit in our “3-5 non-negotiables.” Are all 5 not negotiable? Or just 3?) Here they are in order of most to least importance.

1. Conviction-level doctrines. (those doctrines that make Christianity Christianity: i.e. that Jesus was God incarnate, that Christianity is a free gift of God by grace through faith, that the hearts of people cannot work properly without God, etc.) All persuasion-level and opinion-level doctrines are negotiable – not that we don’t have persuasions or opinions about these doctrines, just that we can share a church community with people who are persuaded or opinionated differently than us.

2. Character of the leaders. Are they the kind of people who we could get behind and follow? Are they the kind of people who could get behind us and support our ministry in the church and/or community? Is there evidence of the humility of the Gospel at work in their lives and hearts? Are they growing toward Jesus and doing their best to bring along  (We’ve been to churches enough to know that you’re going to find weirdos, legalistic Pharisees, snobs, people who seem to have a hidden stockpile of boring stories, pretty people, ugly people, people who are too Bible-centered or too doctrine-centered or too worship-centered, people who are perfectly Christ-centered and likeable and always awesome at every church. We know this because at one time or another, we have been – and still on some Sundays we still are – those people! So we’re giving up trying to find a church with only awesome people that we instantly like and who never annoy us. Instead, we’re taking a closer look at the leaders of the church and asking ourselves only the most important questions about those leaders.) You might have your own batch of most important questions, just make sure they don’t include “Is the pastor bald?” One of the best men with the strongest character I ever met is bald. Plus, most pastors are bald, so you’ll have very few churches to choose from.

3. Peers. We’ve just got to have at least a few friends who are approximately our age and in the same season (little kid invasion). We just might not survive life in the trenches without them; and we want to be able to invite people we meet to church and for them to feel like this Christianity stuff just might be relevant for their/our generation.

4.Worship: something in which my husband could joyfully participate without leading entirely. My husband has music in his veins. He is not only very talented, but he absolutely comes alive when musical worship is done with a spiritual and musical quality that leads peoples’ hearts in true focus on God. He is also working long hours at his job right now, building a web development and consulting business from scratch and he can’t commit to lead worship at church every Sunday. We’d both love it if he could handsomely contribute without not-so-handsomely over-committing himself.

5. Pretty. I figure that on those Sundays when the worship is a little dry or I’m just not tracking with the pastor’s sermon, at least I’d like to be in a beautiful place where I can pray, meditate, let my mind wander and simultaneously enjoy the scenery. (Note: the more sleep-deprived you are, the more often these Sundays come. Don’t judge me.)

I think that’s it. Is anyone else searching for a new church? What are you looking for?

Jason & I watched this little video recently of Tim Keller, John Piper, & Don Carson and there was so much good in it that I had to share it with you. Even if you wouldn’t call yourself a Christian or religious, I think you’d like this.


 

 

 

 

Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love

My favorite things from the video (Watch it before you read my thoughts because they say it so much better than I do!):

  • “In your many years of marriage, have you ever considered divorce?” “Divorce? Never! Murder? Often!”
  • I found the concept that my husband will be married to at least 5 different versions of me over the course of our marriage to be so true! For better and for worse, I change. During my first year of motherhood, I was a very different person than the girl he married. I was very emotionally unsteady. I was physically exhausted. I felt spiritually abandoned and angry. I’m so glad he based our marriage at that time on his promise and not on his feelings!

What did you think?

 

 

I think an awful lot about parenting. Maybe because right now it’s my job. One thing that’s true is that we have very few rules at our house. I do my best to parent less out of rules and at least mostly out of principles. I guess I feel like it’s more true to how life works, and it goes beyond the surface, the behavioral-management level, and gets to the heart of things.

One parenting principle I’ve been passionate about lately comes from The Byrds, a Pete Seeger song: “Turn! Turn! Turn!” I’m sure you’ve heard it. The words come straight from Ecclesiastes in the Bible, but anyway, it goes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

Continue Reading…

For Christ’s Sake

September 5, 2011 — 1 Comment

Recently I ran across the following statement of Jesus:

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

The words “my sake” stuck out to me as if I’d never read them before. When I look back on the past year, it has felt at times consumed by cleaning up messes for my kids’ sake, doing laundry for my family’s sake, and mentoring others for their personal growth’s sake. Then when I haven’t exactly gotten the appreciation or acknowledgement that has felt due to me, I’ve easily become self-pitying, angry, resentful, bitter.

Jesus words here are simple, yet profound. “Give up your life for my sake.” That is when it dawned on me: Giving up my life repeatedly for anyone else’s sake is discouragingly unfulfilling! It literally sucks the life out of me. I watch my life trickle away into the abyss of peanut butter sandwiches and another empty container of disinfectant wipes. I lose my life. And I get angry and self-centered about it. The thoughtful and kind person I thought I once was has disappeared, only to have been replaced by an uptight woman with frequent emotional breakdowns. They often don’t notice my behind-the-scenes deep cleaning efforts. They sometimes don’t see the value of clean clothes enough to care. They are still too young to comprehend the selfless inconvenience it is to me to make yet another mess just for the fun of playing with paints. They don’t know how much anguish in prayer and labor of heart it takes to counsel them.

But He notices. He knows the value. He comprehends fully. He knows. And when I embrace this reality in my mind and heart, when I give up my life for His sake, I’m happy to serve. I’m glad to give. I don’t mind when others don’t notice.

When I give up my life for His sake, I get my life back. Just like He said I would.