The Christian’s Secret for Survival

Sometimes we are simply besieged. Too many troubles all at once. Enemies too big to defeat alone. We want some sure-fire way to win. Some secret for making it through the darkness.

I know this is where you expect me to say something like “Christianity has all the answers.”

But actually, when it comes to dealing with trouble, Christianity doesn’t have answers.

Not plural answers.

How will I survive this storm in my life? What's the secret?

There’s one answer. One secret for survival. Continue reading

Give it Time: Transition and Transformation

Everyone I know is in transition.

Friends are transitioning from parenting to empty-nesting. My adult children are transitioning from school to the workforce, from singleness to marriage, from one child to two. My parents are transitioning from independence to dependence. And me? Still transitioning out of the parking lot.

We want transitions to be smooth, quick, and easy, like on-ramps to the next stage of life. They usually aren't.

All of these transitions look different. Some, we saw coming and started planning for. Some blind-sided us. Some we hoped to put off longer. As we describe our transitions, our voices twist with frustration, longing, anxiety. And I ache for us all, because we all want the same thing. Stabililty.

Stability. Yet we’re in flux, changing. Instability is “in.”

We all want our transitions—whether expected, unexpected, or inevitable–to be the same: quick, smooth, and easy. A brisk walk down a short hallway to an open door. A gentle turn guided by a crisp British GPS voice: “The destination is on your right. Arrived.” We want to steer, we want to control the speed, and we don’t want any bumps along the way.

Most of all, we want it to be over.

But transitions serve a bigger purpose than to merely come to pass. Continue reading

Living the Unexpected Life

I recently interviewed a man whose siblings have birth defects. What, I asked, would he tell expectant parents who have just learned their coming child may be born with defects? What if that’s not what they had planned?

He replied, “I don’t know anyone who can say that their life is what they planned.”

I’ve been pondering that remark ever since. How many of us live lives we didn’t plan? Unexpected events can come like beautiful surprises and change our lives forever. Continue reading

A Vineyard of Your Own

“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers…” (Matthew 21:33, NIV)

Why does Jesus of Nazareth launch His brief parable with so much technical detail? Perhaps the Master Storyteller, keenly aware of His audience, knew that the set-up was essential. “This must be distinctly understood,” as Charles Dickens said in one of his famous introductions, “or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”

Your life is a vineyard entrusted to you by your creator. Will you produce the fruit of it?

Continue reading

House of Hope Makes Progress

Someone’s doing something good. Right here in rural Minnesota. This is a story in progress. Hope is forging ahead.

Olivia's House of Hope logo

If you remember my post about Janine Kramer, founder of Olivia’s House of Hope, you’ll be excited to know the House is moving forward toward its goal of supporting women in transition to a better life.

Thursday, January 19, 2017, their Open House runs from 9:00am to 5:00pm, at 212  26th Street South in Olivia, Minnesota. I intend to go see how far they’ve come.

Interested? Learn more about the event on their Facebook page.

And thank God there is a whole lot of hope for women ready to leave the past behind.

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Expectant Endings for New Beginnings

This was the year of the empty nest.

Having an empty nest can make more room for new beginnings.

Our fifth and last child graduated from high school and flew off to college. No longer do dancing feet shake the bedroom over the kitchen. No more excuses to make pizza more than once a week. Half the laundry, half the groceries. (I’m tempted to say “half the fun,” too, but that’s not true. Being best friends with my husband means we have no trouble having fun.)

In fact, I’m finding that an empty nest is a nest with room. Continue reading

Speak the Words We Should Have Spoken

I have told stories of brave people doing good in the face of great evil.

I have told stories of people with transformed lives who are passing on the transformation.

But lately I have been silent. Not that there haven’t been good stories to tell. But some of the stories I have watched taking place—with fallout that’s still falling—have been so sad, so disappointing, that I have laid my storytelling pen down for a time.

Now I think I can talk about the story that makes me cry.

Words can drop like bombs. Christians are called to bring healing with our words.

Continue reading

What if Messy People Came to Church?

Every Sunday morning, my little friend hops into the front seat of my van. She talks rapid-fire as she buckles her seat belt. Her pink cowboy boots swing back and forth a few inches above the floor.

Then she tells me where to drive. We’ll be picking up other children she has invited—or is about to invite—to Sunday School. I never know who they will be.

What if messy people come to church? Welcome them because we all have been messy.

This girl is amazing. Resilient and affectionate, she really “gets” the kids in her neighborhood. She gets the chaos, the unpredictability, the hidden hurts, and the joys that fill lives so much like her own. And she gets that in lives like hers, Jesus makes all the difference.

So she wants everyone to know Him.

She invites. All I have to do is drive.

Well, that and teach the squirmy, precious, crazy, delightful gaggle of kiddos who end up in my class. Continue reading

Paying It Forward – and Backward

Grinning in his tuxedo, my son—my son!—stands at the front of the church as his bride enters on her father’s arm.

When my son married, I saw all that he had ever been in the man that stood at the front of the church.

Photo by V Square Media

Time rushes in my ears. Time when I was the bride, when my mother sat where I sit now. (What am I doing in her seat?) Time when my son squinted through newborn eyes, and my mother peeked at the little bundle in the arms of her daughter-turned-mother. Time when I cried widow’s tears while my newborn slept, and my mother shared her own bereavements, somehow lightening the weight of my darkness.

All these moments and more flow down that church aisle Continue reading