It's been awhile since I posted a blog post. If you follow Quirky Faith on Facebook or Instagram you know I haven't completely disappeared. However, finding time to sit and write has been on the bottom of the list lately. I've had quite a bit of work at my actual job and I had the great joy of speaking to five different groups for Quirky Faith about the power of words. It was a lot of fun but took the time I normally put toward the blog.
The last two weeks I've been completely focused on all the color of Christmas. We decorated early - a week before Thanksgiving. Don't be mad and judge now. I love Thanksgiving. We had a houseful and fed them well - turkey and sausage stuffing, pie and green beans. We prayed and talked about gratitude. We focused on being thankful. But it happens to be that one of things we are most grateful for is the Christ Child so the Christmas decorations added to the thankful hearts in our home. Jesus coming is not a distraction.
Then my eldest daughter and I and a group of friends got up at 4:30 am and joined all the crazies in the frenzied sock buying festival that is Black Friday. It was fun. I had not yet purchased any Christmas presents for anyone so I was a shopping machine. And then a wrapping party broke out. Then Christmas cards. Then preschool bell choir. I love the preschool bell choir. The kids this year were intent and joyful. I cried. But writing didn't happen.
So this morning I'm sitting with my laptop under a fuzzy blanket next to a glowing tree. *my English professor would not be impressed with that last sentence. Too many prepositions. I'm currently reading "The Intelligent Conversationalist". The last chapter was about how now to embarrass yourself with grammar mistakes. Split infinitives. I have heard of these my whole life and never knew what they were. Dangling participles. These grammar issues seem like diseases. If you look them up on WebMD you'll likely be convinced you are dying.
My spouse just handed me a cup of coffee. He wins. Perhaps this post will loop into something clear now that I'm adding coffee. Perhaps not.
One of the problems with not blogging in awhile is the pressure in my head mounts. My inner critic starts to preach a lie that the next post has to be phenomenal because I've been so absent. So then the little thoughts I have and want to write about don't seem like enough. So I don't post. And the time goes longer. And the pressure mounts.
So this morning I'm just writing. Just to rip off the bandaid and get something out. Sometimes the best way to get past a block is to take a step forward. Any messy but courageous step.
Good morning. It's Saturday. Christmas is coming. Be of good cheer.
My daughters and I signed up to do the iCan race. The fifth and sixth graders at our church put the race on to raise money for a service project to help foster kids. If you know me well at all you shouldn't be surprised that I was drawn in by kids helping kids. We signed up for the easy walk 5K.
I just loved it. When I stood at the race starting line I was so impressed with the teens who sprinted off the take off line. I loved watching the church cheer on the fastest runners and encourage those of us who were slower. Along the race line were signs which had cheerful sayings to keep us motivated. iCan pray. iCan encourage others. iCan persevere. iCan try harder. iCan share Jesus. As we approached each sign my kindergartener sounded out the words.
Somewhere in the middle the little one started to lag. Her legs hurt. I grabbed her hand and we soldiered on. We rounded a corner and up ahead was a refreshment station manned by the kiddos from church. One of our friends saw us. She came running forward, cheering on my little one, bringing us water. I almost started to cry. Not at all because the race was difficult. But because in her action I saw the church. This is what we are supposed to do for each other. Encourage. Cheer. Aid. Run toward. Smile.
We turned back and hustled our way to the finish line. My youngest one needed cheered on. Her big sister prayed for her. I held her hand. We kept walking on the path in the right direction. You see the sermons hiding in there right?
At the end of the race our children's pastors were standing at the finish line. They saw the little one. She decided to run and finish strong. I'm telling you I almost cried again. Not because her action was so amazing. Because its was a symbol again of what the church does. Her pastors cheered and yelled and encouraged her to finish the race. When she crossed the finish line they both gave her a high five and welcomed her home. Seriously more sermons. Great way to start a Saturday.
I had the opportunity to speak at our church's women's retreat this last weekend. So. Much. Fun. If I'd been thinking about it I should have filmed it for Quirky Faith....ah well. Maybe someday. At any rate I am loving having the opportunities to speak more often . If you have a retreat, conference, event or would like a sermon fill in let me know and we'll see if we can work out a topic and time. I'd love to share Jesus with your crew too.
I promised the women at retreat I would share the links to a few of the studies I mentioned in the speech. major point of the presentation was my attempt to prove words have power. These studies show the amazing impact words have on our actions, thoughts, emotions and relationships. If you know of other studies which prove the power of our words and language feel free to share them in the comments. I'm collecting research. Enjoy!
The Color Study
Jules Davidoff from Goldsmith University in London conducted a study of how the perception of color is affected by language. The Himba tribe in Namibia does not have a word for the color blue and consequently struggled to identify it in the study. Sounds unlikely until YOU try to pick out the different color green without having the word to differentiate. Crazy interesting. You can read the full study HERE. A good summary is below.
This matters because what we think about, name and process mentally is what we see in the world. Name lots of things to be angry about? You'll see more anger. Process and learn more about God? You'll see His actions all around you.
The Movement Study
The University of Brussels conducted a study of how artificial intelligence can create language by placing robots in front of mirrors and showing them their own movement. I'm telling you - I can nerd out on this type of thing all day long. Here is the study.
Saving for a Rainy Day
blog.ted.com/saving-for-a-rainy-day-keith-chen-on-language-that-forecasts-weather-and-behavior/comment-page-2/Economist Keith Chen delivered a TED talk looking at how the use of tensed verbs can affect the responsibility decisions in culture. Apparently when our thoughts about our actions separate the consequences to a future date we're less likely to behave. Watch the whole talk below or read a shorter summary HERE.
If you talk to me anytime in October I'll probably mention Pastor Appreciation Month. I love the idea of saying thank you to people who invest and love and could likely use the encouragement. This year I'm going to make it a point to say thank you to the husbands and wives of our pastors as well. Think about it - when pastors are pulling long nights at hospital visits or praying with people in the midst of difficult circumstances their spouses are picking up the difference at home. Many good ministers depend on their other halves for support and care and comfort. Whew. Heavy load. Thanks are appropriate.
Kay Warren is the wife and ministry parter of Pastor Rick Warren. The Warren's serve at Saddleback Church in California, helped start Celebrate Recovery, are involved with The Purpose Drive Life and some incredible AIDS support and outreach programs. They are crazy busy. Kay's first book Dangerous Surrender is on my must read list. She's faced recovery from sexual abuse, depression, marriage problems, and suicide of their son. She loves Jesus. This new book Sacred Trust is about the blessings and difficulties of ministry and how to serve without drowning. Its gorgeous.
I've got a copy of Kay Warren's book Sacred Trust to give away! I'll be making a list of all the pastor's spouses I know and drawing a winner from the list this coming Friday. If you have a person who is married to a pastor you'd like to add to the list send me an email. You might consider buying this beautiful book and passing it on as well.
My youngest daughter had a rough happening at school yesterday. It was the first really rainy day of the year. Puddles abounded. The little one went running across the playground, tripped and fell full flat into a large muddy puddle. She started crying. Friends helped her up. They took her to the office where the nice nurse lady helped her wash off her face and hands. She changed into a slightly too small but clean and dry outfit.
When she got back to her classroom her friend was making her a little book so she'd feel better.
This book quite simply made my day. Its a perfect how to help a friend who is hurting plan. May it encourage you today.
How to help a friend
Help your friend stand up.
Friends give life.
I am thanking Jesus for this little girl who my daughter has at her side.
That's the Book: 1st Thessalonians
Ahhh it's October. The rush of back to school is over. The pumpkin spice is sneaking into every single thing sold anywhere. Christmas is still far enough off I can ignore my to do list a while longer. And October is Pastor Appreciation Month.
Seems like our society likes to mock, harass, ignore and abuse pastors. About the only time a pastor makes the news is when its bad news. And those pastors should be removed from the line of work. Its a holy and important calling. And frequently thankless.
The book of 1st Thessalonians is a letter from Paul to a church reminding them to take their relationships inside their church seriously. Much of the letter could be used as a sermon about pastor appreciation month.
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
See what I mean?
Just as a nursing mother. cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8
Every year I get to participate as a member of the Pastor Appreciation committee at our local church. This year one of the things we did was invite people to share things they were grateful for about our pastoral team. I was amazed about how almost every single one was about a time a pastor shared in their lives. At hospitals and funerals and court rooms. The flashy ministries are fun. But the real work is the love.
For you now that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Want to know what pastors want for Pastor Appreciation month? They want to see their people love Jesus. Really. A thank you is good. A card is nice. Everyone likes a gift. But what makes the ministry worth it is when they see people learn to love Jesus.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
I'm a mom. I have two kids. When they are kind to each other I feel like I won the lottery. My guess is pastors feel the same way. When they see people in their communities working together, forgiving, helping or growing I'm guessing its the very best.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 These 5: 8-11
Practice gratitude this month. Send your pastor a note. Take your church staff a plate of cookies. Drop something in the offering with a grateful heart just to bless your team. I really don't want to do life without my church or the leaders who God has in place. Let's make the most of this October.
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always drive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 These 5:12-16
There are way too many things ending and launching and happening today for me to keep up without just laying it out there. SO if you've been following along at all you might want to read this post just because it's helping me count where I am.
Today is the END of #SeptemberJanuary. I tracked three goals this month and am counting it as a rousing success in learning some balance. I definitely was able to put some time and thought together for Quirky Faith. It was a fun way to kick start this love of mine which had stalled. Sometimes projects stall. More importantly, the kick start didn't derail my personal goals I've had in paying attention to my health and soul care. I'm down 11 pounds, my pants are fitting and I've kicked my Diet Coke habit. I feel better. And most importantly, my kids and I painted and played cards and had good conversations. My spouse and I even got a date in and another one planned this week. So YAY for balance. Thanks @JonAcuff. If you need help in reaching a goal can I recommend you follow Jon Acuff on Instagram or Twitter - or buy his book Finish. Its a funny game changer.
September 30 is an annual online conversation hosted by Wycliffe Bible Translators about why the Bible matters. This year a donor is giving $5 for every post on social media tagged with #whyBible. I've got a few up on Instagram. If you want in on the fun and want to share why the Bible matters in your life jump in the offer is open through midnight. Just post a photo with a ? on your hand, state why you care about the Bible and make sure to tag it with #whybible.
For those of you not on Instagram here is what I said:
The world is a giant painful mess. The Bible tells the truth and I recognize myself in its pages. When I apply the ideas to my problems I see progress. When I accept by faith the promises of Jesus I find freedom. #whybible because nothing else gives life.
Break up with your phone
I already wrote about this book earlier. You can read the post HERE. This is just a friendly reminder if you are interested in working your way through this book with me for the next 30 days we start TOMORROW. I will not be posting a ton about this on the blog (seems counter productive). I already have another partner ready to give me some accountability. You are welcome to join in. Just send me an email and I'll keep you up to date on the process as I build some better margin.. If you need help - jump in - we can support each other to do our lives better.
Pastor Appreciation Month
Pastor Appreciation Month is October - guess what - that's TOMORROW! I'll have a post up all about how the Book of 1 Thessalonians is a big long letter encouraging the church to participate in Pastor Appreciation Month. Not really. But pretty much. At any rate - that's up tomorrow.
Ok. I feel better. My schedule is cleared up. Hope you do too. Have a great week.
I did the the fall chore of cleaning out my garden. I'd ignored the plants for the last couple of weeks. My zucchini had sacrificed all its energy to this last monster. When I brought it into the house my eldest screamed. The youngest was less than thrilled.
The zucchini plant itself was difficult to get out of the garden bed. I had to glove up because I have an allergic reaction every time I touch the leaves. You can see the scratches in my arm. The leaves were massive. The plant has grown to the point it was blocking the sun from my tomato plants. The tomatoes did terrible this year. I also stepped on a rotting bit. Nasty gross. The filth stunk. It had to go.
Later my husband and I discussed a few local and national news stories. Scary. The local paper had some extended coverage of the rise and fall of a local pastor. Such a sad story. Heroin and pastor should not be in the same sentence.
Lots of people say the Bible is only about love and we should never judge others. If you've read the full story you'll know love and grace are certainly primary themes. But so it justice.
The third chapter of Karen Swallow Prior's book "On Reading Well" also focuses on justice. I so appreciated reading through this chapter. Prior walked through a loaded topic with grace and thoughtfulness. I'm quite simply not going to be able to do justice to the chapter here (see what I did there?) I do want to share a few of my favorite quotations which were mulling through my head as I processed the morning news.
"When the justice system becomes a form of entertainment, it is surely unjust."
"Excessive anger distorts justice, turning it into vengeance."
"Injustice, no matter who seemingly private, always has public consequences."
"Compassion is individual and voluntary. It also has no cost. Justice on the other hand, exacts a price. Because the world is broken, making what is wrong right is costly. In other words, justice requires sacrifice." - On Reading Well
Here is what I know for sure about justice. God is not concerned about maintaining institutions or protecting false reputations. He is concerned about people. He is willing to tear down walls, remove leaders, crash ministries and start all over if sin, violence, injustice or pride are present. Our sorrow shouldn't be people were caught. Our sorrow would be the sin and heartbreak happened at all. And our response shouldn't be to shake our heads and turn away. Our response should be to make things right, to grieve with victims, to preach truth to the fallen, to check our own lives for what is dead and rotting. Justice is hard work.
The Bible is full of stories where God let his people fail to clean up hypocrisy and restore a right heart. Don't believe me? Go read Joshua 7 or John 2 for two excellent examples. God's story will not be stopped and His glory is infinitely secure. The end of the story is a lot about setting what is wrong right, setting captives free, restoring what was lost. It's about justice.
Truth is we all deserve death. We're all offered grace. We all have the opportunity to wipe the eternal slate clean and start over. This being made right is what moved Jesus to take our place. Great sacrifice. Justice is a virtue and character of God. When we ignore the impacts of our sin or refuse to corporately make right a wrong we are cheapening the cross. Justice means God will remove whatever he has to so heaven's darling can be seen by everyone.
"But even forgiveness can not negate the ripple effects of the past. To pretend otherwise is itself a further injustice." -On Reading Well
You knew I'd loop back to that giant zucchini right? The analogy isn't perfect but it works. In order to get my garden ready to grow next year I had to haul out the dead and stinking plants. And next year I should plant my zucchini away from my tomato plants. I really want the tomatoes to see the sun. Let's make sure justice is a virtue we cultivate. We want the Son to be seen.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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