The Secret That Changes Lives

 

When Sylvia and I started working the same shift, I liked her right away. She was smart and confident and full of life. She had good ideas to make the work flow better and it was fun to be in her cubicle space.

At lunch, I often read my Bible or worked on a Bible study. Sylvia had no interest in God, but she was intrigued with me. “How can you go through so many hard things and not be angry at God?” she asked when I told her I was working at the office because my husband had died at 39 leaving me to take care for our two kids by myself.

As we learned more about each other, I realized Sylvia’s performance at work was exemplary but her personal life was messy. Her weekends were parties and binging and hooking up.

When she first started to tell me about her raucous weekends, she anticipated being judged, shamed, and lectured. But instead, I showed Jesus’ love to her.

Sharing the secret

As she accepted my acceptance of her, she stopped trying to shock me and began to confide in me, asking for advice. It was the open door to talk to her about Jesus.

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The Answer to Everything

Ready for an easy Bible Quiz ??

  1. Who was fathered by the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin?
    Answer: Jesus
  2. Who was tempted in every way, yet remained sinless?
    Answer: Jesus
  3. Who is the Savior of the world?
    Answer: Jesus
  4. Who issued the great commission in Matthew 28?
    Answer: Jesus! 

The answer to everything.

At our house we say Jesus is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. 🙂  You probably believe that, too, but I bet you know lots of people who wouldn’t agree with us.

These folks with an underwhelming faith sit next to you in church, stand next to you at work, and live next door to you in your neighborhood.

They long for the kind of faith and trust in Jesus that stands firm in any situation but don’t know how to get it. Maybe a name is coming to your mind right now???

The great commission in Matthew 28 says make disciples who make disciples … who make disciples… who make disciples of Jesus! 

The great commission is to make disciples, but once a person says yes to Jesus (becomes a disciple), the real work of reconciling that decision with past habits and patterns can be daunting. Old temptations are alluring. The tests are real. The choices are many.

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My Finest Recipe

The recipe everyone wants. 

Last week, I made the best balsamic Brussel sprouts … ever!  They were so good, everyone at the potluck wanted the recipe. (That didn’t surprise me, cuz I got the recipe at a different potluck.)

Though the recipe was simple, the dish was not easy to make. It took planning, timing, prepping and double-checking the instructions to make sure it would turn out well. But it was worth it to see it consumed with glee and share the goodness with others.

We readily share recipes for lasagna, banana bread and glazed Brussel sprouts, but what’s the recipe for a life that works?

The recipe for disaster.

I tried all sorts of things before Jesus.

  • Drugs.
  • Men.
  • Food.
  • Shopping.
  • Will-power.

Nothing worked till I surrendered my life to Jesus and found a woman to disciple me. Louise recognized how quickly a girl like me, who knew little about God and nothing about the Bible, could get discouraged or misled, so she took me on like a project and never made me feel like one. She provided a safe space for me to ask questions I was too embarrassed to ask in class.

  • How do I talk to God?
  • Where do I start reading the Bible?
  • Is there forgiveness for my past?
  • How can I let go of the pits and patterns that keep me stuck?
  • Where do I find peace in the midst of cruddy circumstances?
  • How do I know if God is leading me or if it’s my own idea?

Louise discipled me from starting out to standing firm. Could you do that?

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Exciting News Flash!

What’s overflowing in you?

I set up the coffee pot, hit start and walked away. Just like I’ve done everyday for the past umpteen years. When I returned to the kitchen a few minutes later, I heard the hiss of the overflowing liquid hit the hot plate and the drip, splat, splash of coffee flowing off the counter and onto the floor. Arrgh!

Since my coffee carafe is metal, I hadn’t noticed it was already half-full of coffee from the night before. I’d brewed a new pot on top of the cold pot – ruining both pots!

I had a mess to clean up and no coffee!

As I fussed and mopped and grumbled and wiped, God whispered in my ear. “There’s no room for me to pour my fresh stuff in YOU if you’re already full of yourself.”

Can you say ouch?

It had been a while since I had spent any time in prayer. My Bible lay dust-covered on the bed stand. I couldn’t remember the last time I paid attention in church or spent time in community with women who loved the Lord and studied the Bible together.

That lack of connection was showing up my behavior and demeanor. I was often irritable or discouraged.

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Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Ever been scared? So scared and there’s nothing you can do about the situation? 

I was just there and it wasn’t any fun, but I learned it’s never as hopeless as it seems and there is always something you can do about it.

Dave, who never gets sick, got violently ill. Pretty scary for a gal who’s already buried 2 husbands. He had a fever, chills, muscle aches, light-headedness and stabbing pains through his mid-section. Right away, I was ready to call an ambulance, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Men!

Of course, I fretted and feared. But then I realized that while circumstances were out of my control, they weren’t out of God’s. I started banging on the gates of heaven for relief, and for healing, and I called in reinforcements to pray with me in agreement.

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Want To Take A Divine Journey?

Perfectionism is the lie that we can earn God’s favor. Or that we need to!

The truth of God’s word is that God already loves us to the moon and back (my paraphrase of Ps.103:11) and accepts us as is (Rom 15:7).

There are many strategies to overcome the compulsion to be perfect that we’ve addressed in previous blogs, but let’s review them before I give you the best bad news and ultimate solution for overcoming perfectionism.

1.

In a blog titled, How Do You Measure Up To Perfection, I suggested that you STOP measuring yourself against what you see in other people. Stop COMPARING yourself to what you think you see in others.  

Replace the lie that you don’t measure up with the truth of God’s word.
He loves you so much, he sacrificed his son, Jesus, to pay for your sins so you could establish an unhindered relationship with him.

No conditions
No catches.
No exclusions.
No performance required.

God loves you with an everlasting love. Jer. 31:3

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What Does Mother’s Day Mean To You?

When I mention Mother’s Day, what comes up for you? 

I’m so happy for you if you are really celebrated, but many women are not.

Mother’s Day can be a tough day for many. Women who have children eagerly wait by mailboxes and telephones and on the edge of their seat to see if anyone will acknowledge their day.

Women who aborted or surrendered babies for adoption often spend Mother’s Day lamenting what could have been.

For women whose mamas have died or those who have crappy relationships with their moms, Mother’s Day dredges up lots of old memories that either hurt or cement the realization there won’t be any new ones.

There are women who are desperate for children, but have none. They are expected to put on brave smiles and exuberantly celebrate those who do.

Women in the throws of child-rearing years – the ones who could really benefit from a day off, are the ones who work overtime on Mother’s Day to make sure the shopping, meal prep, cleaning and decorating is done so their mother or mother-in-law can be recognized and honored.

Even husbands fret and worry about Mother’s Day. Is a card enough? How about chocolates? Should there be flowers?

Changing the narrative of Mother’s Day.

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Changing Seasons

Mothering means lots of changing seasons.

Done correctly, it means there will be sleepless nights and hot tears on your pillow. It means lots of messy moments and endless challenges. It means robust celebrations and a million prayers.

In essence, the role of mother requires you to teach your kid not to require you anymore. It means your kids will grow up and leave you behind. And trust me, you will never be ready for that moment. 

The moment of separation.

When my boy completed his training as a fire fighter in Charleston, S.C., he called to tell me about the details of his graduation ceremony. He was so happy. It made the fact that he lived 1000 miles away almost worth it to know we’d finally be celebrating his dream of becoming a firefighter.

“Mom,” he continued excitedly, “The Chief will there to present my diploma personally. She’ll shake my hand and give me my official badge. I’m even allowed to ask someone to walk on the stage with me! It’s supposed to be a person of importance. A person who has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a firefighter.”

I waited for it. In my mind, I could see us walking across the stage, me beaming with pride and smiling as I pinned the DYKSTRA badge on his crisp blue uniform shirt.

He continued, “Mom, I asked Kym to walk with me. I’m going to marry her this summer and it seemed like the right choice. I didn’t think you’d care. You don’t care do you, Mom?” 

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Where Is God When You Need Him?

Are you in the wilderness?

Are you in a season of wondering if God cares about you or even sees you? Does it seem like He led you into a wilderness and forgot where he left you?

I feel like that a lot whenever I launch a new series of talks, a service, or book. I have a “moment” or two when it feels like I might have misread the signals God sent. That I am all alone and forgotten. That I will die out here in the wilderness.

Then God shows up in some extravagant way to reassure me that I am not forgotten at all. That’s what happened when Almida said she had a present for me. 

I need to tell you Almida is an interesting woman. Her wisdom, life experiences and prayers have been my life line for decades. Russian by birth, she escaped the Nazis by walking across Europe only to live in a refuge camp for months before getting a sponsor in the US. She made a living as a tailor until she married an entrepreneur who made a boatload of money as a building developer. Her husband, Willy, died at 41 in a plane crash leaving her devastated. Her grief was compounded when Willy’s business partner bankrupted the business, depleting her resources and retirement.

Almida is now 87, and resides in an assisted living facility. The pain in her hip is her constant companion, making an outing to any store a major ordeal. She’s frugal by necessity and was never a big believer in “good behavior” gifts. It wasn’t my birthday and Christmas was long gone, so I couldn’t imagine what gift she might have for me.

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Easter Good News

Easter Sunday is here and Lent is over!

Part of me is relieved that Lent is nearly over so I can resume the consumption of chocolate and binge watch television. You would think after 46 days the cravings would be gone, but they taunt me. I have repeatedly whispered, “God, I want to long for you like I long for chocolate and Netflix.”

The glorious discipline of Lent has brought me closer to God and has transformed some of my strongholds into mere indulgences. I have experienced God in powerful ways over the past 40-plus days.

But Lent isn’t about just overcoming temptations or even establishing new patterns. It’s to put me in the place where I anticipate the celebration of an an empty tomb. To synchronize my trust and faith with the RESURRECTION of Jesus. To really believe that because HE lives, I will live, too. 

More than get out of hell insurance.

Jesus’ resurrection has to be more than get-out-of-hell insurance. It has to be the assurance that all the things wrong in my life and in yours can be resurrected.

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