The Playground and the Meadow

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The playground has a castle and a drawbridge and three slides and a climbing wall. There are tire swings and baby swings and regular swings and even big red chair swings the adults can sneak onto if there aren’t a lot of kids around.

When we’re at the playground, my kids are wild and rambunctious and run around yelling and playing and leave every ounce of energy there. The surrounding fence keeps them IN and they swing and slide and climb and run and there’s just so much to DO there.

The Meadow is a wide-open space with exposed granite and a gentle stream. It was made to be a ‘backyard’ for our mountainous neighborhood full of wild hills and forests of trees. There’s one pond and one picnic table and six Adirondack chairs. The stream has tadpoles and the pond has rocks at the bottom from two summers ago when my littlest toddled over, crudely tossing in every pebble he could find.

An army of trees circle the Meadow – more a protective shield than a boundary line – and cast long, lean shadows over the stream and the pond and the exposed granite. In the late afternoon, the sun peeks through with a wide smile like it’s trying not to get caught in a game of hide and seek.

In the Meadow, my kids imagine they are Susan and Edmund exploring Narnia, defeating the White Witch valiantly. They chase butterflies and bring me dandelion bouquets and pretend the big oak is their secret hide out. He chases after her, desperate to be big like she is, and she holds his hand as they cross the slippery rocks so he doesn’t fall and scrape his knee yet again.

In the Meadow, there isn’t as much to DO – there are no swings, or slides, or castles – but there’s so much to BE. In the Meadow, they are free to Be imaginative, Be together, Be relational, Be intentional.

They have fun DO-ing together at the playground, but love BE-ing together at The Meadow.

“He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.” Psalm 23:2-3

I get caught up in the doing of the playground, too. My playground is ministry and work and friends and family and home. It’s joyous and blessed and holy and necessary. It can become a playground of To-Do’s though, if I’m not careful.

Read the rest over at Compassion That Compels today!

The Gentleness of God

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We met once a month at her house and we’d always sit on the couch with all the flowers that overlooked her garden. Her pup would sit between us on the cushions and sleep for the hour and a half we’d talk. I soaked up every single word she said in my Japanese-designed journal, furiously scribbling her every word with my mechanical pencil. Always a mechanical pencil.

Her wisdom ran deep and her gift of insight and prophecy were direct from God. She’d talk and I’d write and then often she’d pause to make a seemingly unrelated comment or ask a pointed question. But it was always related somehow and most often made tears spring from my eyes and it was as if God Himself were the one speaking. Always as if it were God.

One spring day, as the roses were blooming pink over my shoulder in the garden, I sipped iced tea and poured out my heart over a troubling issue I was facing. My heart was heavy and my mind in discord and she had been espousing all manner of wisdom and scripture related to the issue.

I sat with my head down, tears falling onto my flower-print cocktail napkin and she paused — one of those God-Speaking pauses — and she asked (in more of a statement than a question),

He’s always gentle with you, isn’t He?

* * *

I’m sharing over at Be Still Be Free today! Hop over to read the rest!

Being Honoring

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She was a huge influence to me — I’m not sure I ever told her, but she was.

I worked with her for a few years, and always marveled at her integrity and character. She had that innate and godly ability to be honest about how she was doing…if she was struggling or having a bad day…but never — not once ever — was disrespectful or malicious in her speech.

She called every single pastor by the title Pastor. Even my husband — and we were so low on the totem pole we literally just held it up. But in all her conversation to me, even if no one else was around, she referred to him as Pastor Greg.

I’d stop her — every time — and say,

“It’s just Greg! It’s so weird to hear you call him Pastor!”

And she’d reply,

“That’s his title. He’s earned it, and  I’m going to call him that!” 

Click over here to keep reading — I’m sharing the story Be Still Be Free today

In this week’s podcast, we explore what it means to BE HONORING, and how unlike respect, it’s demanded by God, regardless of how we feel about it.

Being Merciful

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It was a random Friday night during my late 20s, driving my little navy blue Nissan Sentra with manual locks and windows and pop-on hub caps. I was on my way home from some shindig or another, just me in the car…listening to the radio, singing along and mind racing and just wanting to be home already.

It must have been a song on the radio from the radio station playing Friday Night 80s that triggered All The Thoughts. The thoughts of stupid, reckless, crazy things I had done in high school. Which morphed into the stupider, more reckless and crazier things I did in college. Which morphed into the straight up asinine things I did as a young adult.

All The Thoughts suddenly flashed across my mind like a rapid-fire slide show — in that dreamlike technicolor-slash-Polaroid transfer imagery — and as I began to relive each moment, and the possible outcomes of every single moment, I felt God whisper,

I was there. 

And I began pouring shame all over myself. Shame and guilt because of All The Sin, but then shock and bewilderment took over as I realized every single gentle outcome. With each passing scenario playing out in the movie in my mind, awe and wonder overcame me at how nothing that should have happened to me happened. How in every single instance the outcome should have been painful, or dire, or deadly —  yet instead suddenly ceased, was non-existent, finished.

Click over here to keep reading — I’m sharing the story Be Still Be Free today

In this week’s podcast, we explore what it means to BE MERCIFUL, not show acts of mercy without possessing mercy in our hearts.

Have an incredibly merciful week. I love you.

Being Forgiving

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It’s different when you’re a wife. Or a mama. Or a close friend.

That gentle forgiveness you so easily give when there’s been a personal offense suddenly morphs into a hideous, spitting monster and a new level of ugly bursts forth from your heart when your daughter’s feelings get hurt…or your son gets pushed on the playground…or your husband is unappreciated…or your friend is taken for granted.

It’s different.

The mama bear holds grudges close to her heart and the incensed wife keeps tally in her record book and the bitter friend has the keys in her hand, ready to drive wherever necessary to kick some tail.

Wrongs done to me personally are different, somehow. I can empathize, be compassionate, have insight into the reasons why I have been hurt. I am able to see into the other person’s heart just enough to understand why they reacted the way they did and said what they said. It might take a while for me to clothe myself in forgiveness — to sink into it and offer it up, if only to God — but I eventually get there.

But until recently, I never realized how hard it is for me to forgive those who hurt my loved ones. My record-keeping is meticulous and the roots of bitterness run deep and are tangled up into a misshapen heap.

It’s different when you’re a wife. Or a mama. Or a close friend.

It’s different — but it’s wrong.

“Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)

This week over at BE, we explore what it means to BE forgiving, not just DO forgiveness. And as is the case every single cotton-pickin’, stinkin’ week, God is driving this home in my personal life…illuminating the areas I need growth and highlighting the grisly mess of roots in my heart.

It hurts and I hate it, quite frankly. But I know it’s vital to growing more into the image — the eikon — of Christ.

Would you hop over to Be Still Be Free today and listen to this week’s podcast on BE FORGIVING? God will have a word for you today. I just know it.