Archives for September 2012

A Visit to Abundance

We live in a world of have and have-nots. 

I wish I could say it’s different in the Christian realm, but if anything it seems more pronounced.  It might not be a competition for wealth but the struggle for power seems to rise in the absence of financial incentive.

When I tell people I am a Christian writer they want to know if I’m legitimate or a hack. When Tim and I share we planted a church, “how big?” is inevitably the next question, and when I mention the young ladies I speak to and encourage, people seem disappointed that it’s the broken teen mom crowd I address and not the momentous “Women of Faith” tribe.

If I look to find my approval by the world’s standards of more, more, more…I will always be left wanting. 

But I don’t think Jesus would use the same measuring stick.

Typically, when I attend a Christian conference there are unspoken but tangible lines between the attendees and the speakers.  It’s like the hip bar in town and you only get to cross the rope if you are a serious VIP.  The egos are big, the fans are in awe and the competitive, “scarcity mentality” reigns supreme. 

Everyone is angling and ogling –playing the image management game and jockeying from their perceived position into the next strata of awesomeness.

I’m not a good player in this game.  Maybe I’m a bit too rebellious?  Or maybe I just care way more about what God thinks of me then the crowd.

But this last weekend I encountered something radically different – Christian superstars who were willing to pour into the peons with freedom and abandonment.

Now maybe it was the setting –a small conference over three days with serious heavy hitters and a group of writers enthralled and willing to absorb every minutia of wisdom shared, but despite the unique setting, I was amazed at the willingness of these twenty million plus best-selling authors to engage and love lavishly.

It was surreal.

When Paul Young, author of The Shack, entered the room, tears ensued.  I’m not kidding.  I witnessed it on more than one occasion.  Paul will describe an insight or a way God has revealed himself to him and bamm…someone in the crowd or at the breakfast table breaks down in big gulpy sobs of release.

Love changes the game.

Peter Strople, the most “connected man in America” is also the most humble man in the world.  When God looks to and fro for a worthy man, I imagine he sighs in satisfaction and claps with glee at Peter. 

Humility trumps power.

I could go on and on.  Mary DeMuth, George Barna, Ken Blanchard, Joel Clark, Mark Batterson, Jim Henderson, and literary agent Esther Fedorkevich…all willingly moved towards relationship despite the normal barriers of celebrity and power.

Relationship changes people.

I learned an invaluable lesson this weekend.  When someone believes in you, maybe someone further down the road you are traveling (maybe a few global best-selling authors perhaps?) and they tell you they loved reading your book proposal and they gave it their vote, paradigms change. 

Actually, my paradigm exploded.  And I want these fireworks to never end.

I am so tired of living in a world of scarcity.  My new home is in ABUNDANCE. 

I know why these authors give and give and give some more…and why their generosity flows like an endless stream.  It’s because they are connected to the river of all creativity from the author of life itself.  God’s river is lavish and deep and wide and these authors recognize the source of the river will never run dry.

Where are you living –in scarcity or abundance? 


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The Honey-do List

I struggle with certain forms of communication with my hubby –namely how to ASK for anything on the honey-do list.

It’s a lose/lose scenario for me. 

I know my man works hard.  As a pastor he puts in six days a week and on top of that goes to seminary on his day off.  When he is home, the kids vie for his attention along with their demanding sports and activities schedule. He doesn’t have much time off and I feel guilty asking for more, but there are just certain things around the house only a MAN can do.

So I wait and wait and wait.  Then I try to do it all and burn out.  The frustration builds and builds.  By the time I get around to asking him for help, it never comes out right.

I can’t even pin-point where I go wrong, but according to my sweetie every time I say, “Hey Tim, can you please clean the garage or put away your clothes that have been sitting out on the dresser for a month?” it comes out whiny, nagging, or a like a guilt-trip. 

I hear sunshine, he hears bi—yatch.

I think I’m being diplomatic –cautious even, but it comes across as something completely different.  He says it’s my tone.

What tone? 

I tell him my tone is rooted in fear that I will never have a clean garage.  My tone is the sound of a mommy martyr who carries the weight of the world.  My tone is “do you see me slaving away over here while you kick back and watch football?”

Per our normal routine, I asked the wrong way for him to clean the garage.  But this time, I lost it –big time.  I threw a tantrum…over the garage.

(Not my finest moment)

I ended up on my bed sobbing like a child who lost her blankie.  And then I realized it wasn’t about the garage.  It’s never about the “thing” you fight over.  It’s always ten layers deep.

This meltdown was about my dad and his waning health and the reality that my time with his is limited.  This is about surrender and God and trusting him despite my fear.  This fight was about my heart full of aching emotions seeping out.

My husband held me, quieted my tears, and then went downstairs and started cleaning the garage. 

And I think this is what marriage is like.  We bumble things like “tone” and “communication” but we know innately when the other is hurting.  We know when to be an anchor and to hold on tight to our beloved in the midst of a storm.

I love how my husband KNOWS me. 

Marriage is like best friends with benefits, only better, because it is true and intimate and mysteriously interconnected.  It is a naked and unashamed love. It’s love that sees past the dragons and still climbs into the castle window to rescue the wounded princess.

I will probably always screw up the ASK on the honey-do list, although I imagine if I put on the lingerie he bought me for my birthday I might get a different response?



Confessions of a Carpool Failure

I’ve never had good luck with carpool.

When my son Kyle was in kindergarten, I eagerly arranged to share the mommy-chauffeur load with a family down the street.  All was well for about six months and then the sabotage began.

It started with a beautiful girl.  Doesn’t It always start with a beautiful girl?  Little Sofia was glorious.  She had long raven locks and a tiny button nose.  Even more importantly, she played a mean game of hand-ball.  Kyle fell head over heels in love with her.

Unfortunately, our carpool buddy, Christopher, was also smitten with Sofia.  And so the war began to fight for the damsel’s affection.

It seemed for a time, Kyle had the upper hand, untill one day, right around Valentines and coinciding with a fancy bracelet adorning Sofia’s arm, Christopher gained her favor.  Kyle was bent on revenge.

The next Monday, as I strapped Christopher into his booster seat, I struggled with the buckle.  For the life of me, I couldn’t get it to click.  Studying the lock more intently I saw something or lots of somethings were jamming it.

One by one, I pulled out french-fries from the buckle insert.  Kyle laughed in glee and I knew who the culprit was.  After three days of fries mysteriously appearing in the lock, Christopher’s mom was so ticked off she not only refused to let her son in the car, but Kyle and I were mocked by all the kindergarten mom’s as difficult to carpool with.

Almost ten years later, still stinging from kindergarten wounds, I decided to try again.  One week in, I lost a kid.

Not dead lost.  Lost lost.  I couldn’t find the kid in our carpool meet-up area after school.

I found my daughter Faith and her friend Alexa, but the boy was MIA.

We drove up and down the road home.  It was the longest two miles of my life and I did it four times.  I called his mom(who didn’t answer) and banged on his door (no one home) and besieged the neighbors to help.

I dreaded facing his mom.  What the heck would I tell her?

Finally, my neighbor called with the news.  The young man had gone home with a friend and forgot to tell anyone

Carpool doesn’t like me. Then again, maybe I just need some french-fries for the boy’s seat?

Blonde Ambition

About a year ago I decided to grow my hair out.  For some, this would be no big deal, but for those of us who haven’t seen their real hair color in twenty-three years, it was a significant risk.  I was a bit apprehensive at what might surface under the prolonged years of L’Oreal abuse.

Was I blonde, grey or brown? I had no clue.

But as the roots came in, it wasn’t as atrocious as the images I conjured in my head.  Turns out I have medium to drab blonde hair and as of yet, the grey fairy has not appeared. 

I thought I’d try out this new me for a while –the real me and see if I liked her.

People tell me it looks more natural, maybe because it’s the color of dirt? 

But “natural” isn’t necessarily a compliment.  “What a lovely color” was just as nice.  I think as one ages, natural might be overrated.

I’ve noticed lately I’ve been struggling with blonde envy.   I drool over light blonde hair and wish mine was just a little more flaxen.

But because I am wretchedly poor right now thanks to private pre-school, high school and a husband finishing seminary, I couldn’t justify a trip to the hairstylist.

And so I forgot the cardinal rule of hair care.  If you screw up your locks, you will pay one way or the other.

But I’m a natural blonde, (remember?) so I embraced my inner ditz and proceeded to make the dumbest move possible.  I picked up a highlighting kit at Wal-Mart for $6.00.  It looked simple enough.  Paint a few little beach blond stripes through my hair and brighten it up a bit.

Unfortunately, my artistic brain begins and ends in the writing realm, although I do have some qualms with Revlon…. (a)They need to include paint by numbers diagram and (b) there should have been an idiot test.

I really tried to get it right but the gobs of blue goo I accidentally dropped on my head left a little surprise for me.

How bad could it be you ask?

(Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I am tall)

On top of looking like cheetah, I also have large gum-ball spots of white hair in the middle of my darker blonde head. 

I tried to part my hair about fifty different ways to cover the spots, but to no avail. 

It looks AWFUL! 

I‘d cry, but every time I glance in the mirror I start laughing at the quandary I’ve gotten myself into. 

My vanity is like a dysfunctional friend I’ve (mostly) set firm boundaries with, until in a moment of weakness, I crack open the door and invite back in to torment me.

It might be time for professional intervention, but In the meantime, I will answer to Spot or Hound’s-tooth. 

Have you ever screwed up your hair?


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An Encounter With Racism in Ladera

As the steaming hot and gooey pizza was placed on the table, five hands shot out to grab a piece in unison

We were celebrating my son’s fourteenth birthday before I dropped off his posse of freshmen football buddies at their first high school dance. The boys were giddy and amped up as only a potent mix of soda, pepperoni and hormones can do.

They chatted about hot cheerleaders, grueling practices and loads of homework while I secretly listened and delighted in their jibes and roasting.

“Hey mom, can we run over to the mini-mart to get some gum?” my son Kyle asked.

I snorted, “Sure boys, better pick up the minty fresh one for the ladies.” Kyle grinned and took off running with his friends at his heels.

As the boys hustled off, my husband and I smiled weakly at each other from across the table. It had been a big week for our son who started high school and suited up for his first varsity game. Kyle was now playing with athletes of an elite caliber and the stakes were getting higher and higher.

One of the boy’s was a new friend from LA , commuting to play football for J Serra High School. He was a shy kid, a phenomenal athlete and determined to carve out a different path than his gang-banger brothers. I admired the kid’s tenacity and dry sense of humor.

As they walked back in the door, I knew something was wrong.

Kyle burst out, “Mom, a group of older teenagers pulled up in their car next to us, pointed their finger at his friend and screamed, ‘I hate n—ers.’”

(You know, the worst word an African-American can be called)

My heart broke. I looked at the boy’s face as he shrugged it off, pretending not to care. Kyle and Nate didn’t press their friend, although I knew they were concerned and were struggling with how to respond and encourage him.

The awkward space between shock and discomfort hung in the air like the ashes of a wildfire lingering in the haze. We sat in the unease. There wasn’t much to say in the face of such ugliness.

The boy stood proud, not allowing himself to be sucked in by a group of racist white boys trying to intimidate and belittle. I struggled to hold back tears seeing his strength of character.

We changed the subject and moved on, but it affected each and every one of us.

There’s very little I dislike about Ladera Ranch, EXCEPT for the eerily skewed white-bread demographics. Few would deny that Ladera Ranch is a homogeneous Disneyland suburb with white picket fences and Stepford-wives abounding. And if there was a breeding ground for racism in southern California this might be it.

I don’t hate much, but I despise racism…

I hate that we took our young friend out and he was exposed to bigots. I hate that this young man –who is overcoming obstacles right and left to get an education and make a decent life for himself is subjected to idiots running around in daddy’s Mercedes with nothing better to do than make mischief and torment younger kids.

The next morning the boy and another friend from LA came to visit our church. I gulped and prayed they would feel accepted and loved by our congregation. Fortunately my husband, whom they smiled at and recognized, was on stage doing announcements.

A few minutes later a video played with a beautiful young lady from Kenya talking about getting connected and finding relationships here in our community. I turned and saw the boys relax and settle in.

And I knew God heard my heart’s cry to find a middle ground, even if it was just for a brief moment-where black and white didn’t matter and we all stood together side by side worshipping as one.

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