Christ Didn’t JUST Come Down; He Moved In

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…” ~John 1:14 (MSG). Think of a neighborhood you’ve wanted to move out of or wouldn’t want to move into. He didn’t just come to clean us up; He desires to dwell with us, long-term. The God of the universe moved into the middle of the mess we made for ourselves. That’s commitment. That’s love. {Lev. 26:11-12; 2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3}

Resisting the Lies of “Not Enough”

K N O W  TODAY:
You HAVE enough.
You DO enough.
You ARE enough.
Your enemy speaks the language of “not enough” (not enough time, not enough money, not enough sleep, not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc.). WHY? Because God speaks the language of abundance (exceedingly, abundantly above, grace that much more abounds, more than conquerors, more blessings than you have room to receive, etc.), and the father of lies will naturally speak in direct opposition to your Heavenly Father. Know and receive the Truth today. You are enough. {Eph. 3:20; Rom. 5:20, 8:37; Mal. 3:10}
Repeat this affirmation aloud: I am enough!
enough

The Rows Behind You

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Last night I adapted the following activity (found online) with my students after a discussion on the psychological impact of the grand jury decisions (and precipitating events) in Ferguson and in NY for the officer who choked Eric Garner. Some didn’t see it impacting their particular clients or how they function professionally in our field. I had them write their names on a paper, ball it up, and try to throw it into a freshly lined trashcan at the front of the class, but they had to shoot from wherever they were already seated. We pretended that whoever made their shot would get an “A” regardless of how they were performing in the class.

Of course, those in the back complained it was unfair as others in the rows ahead of them practiced their shot. After everyone threw, I asked those in the front why they didn’t join the rows behind them in pointing out the unfairness. One student, privileged with front-row seating, said the others should have been sitting closer. Another nearer the front said she didn’t even hear them saying it was unfair (she was so focused on “making it” for herself). One student near the back made his shot and stopped mentioning it was unfair. His classmate slightly behind him rightfully called him an outlier. I told them that in reality, they have the privilege of front row seating in life, and part of their JOB is to advocate for the people in the rows behind them.

I told them to remember anomalies, represented by the guy who “made it” despite adverse circumstances (being near the back). Remember that our front-row privilege makes it easier to assume what others should have done differently (like sit closer despite being disallowed to move, or like how they should respond to oppression). Remember how easy it is to completely miss the cries of injustice from the rows behind us because we’re so focused on “making it” ourselves. And once you “make it,” remember to advocate for the rows behind you.

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Skin Deep

be.You.tifulRe-blogging this with a short video update at the bottom. I absolutely adore this woman’s snippet on finding and celebrating her own beauty.

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be.You.tiful

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty is only skin deep,” and I have to say I both agree and disagree. On Friday night one week ago, I attended a women’s worship service where a picture framed the question, “What makes you beautiful?” Those four words leapt from the picture frame in the candlelit room. Among the 10 questions posed that night, I only managed to completely answer this one. I’ll share my response as I originally penned it, below (with all the weird capitalizations, boldings, and underlines):

“What makes you beautiful? This question put such a smile on my face. God, you’ve restored me and loved me back to life. Like, WOW! Your love, your grace, I see beauty where I didn’t use to – that makes me beautiful. To join with You in acknowledging the beauty in every single thing You’ve created, to recognize beauty where others, and even I…

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Mourning Unknown Unknowns

snuffed out candle

Recent interactions have left me seriously contemplating life’s “what ifs” and “if onlys.” These musings aren’t fueled by feelings of regret for my own wasted potential, but rather a sense of longing and lament for all the potential beauty this world will never know but should have and would have known “if only.” I feel a sorrow akin to grief for the broken dreams that remain unspoken yearnings, dreams whose fulfillment may have brought such needed light into much needed spaces “if only.” Yet, we live so unaware of the radiance and vivacity that could avail an otherwise dimmed world.

In a Department of Defense briefing, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated the following:

“…there are known knowns…things we know we know [and] known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout history…it is the latter category that tend[s] to be difficult…”

Although he was referring to uncertainty in the context of national security, I have to believe Secretary Rumsfeld’s logic transcends his specified topic. The things we aren’t even aware of not knowing are most problematic in life – the unknown unknowns – the most problematic, yet often, the least considered. I’ve heard too many stories of dreams, not just deferred, but destroyed by harsh critics whose scathing words seared shut the repository of creativity and resplendent joy the world will now miss out on. There are too many brilliant unknowns we’ll never even know we could’ve experienced because some careless comments damped the lamp that could’ve blazed a path for so many.

As I shared on Facebook, there’s something about wasted potential that saddens me to my core, something about knowing there are people whose light, and love, and beauty the world may never know, whose untapped genius may never change the world into what it might have been because it went unnoticed, or unappreciated, or worse, because mere mortals used mere words to dim the light that could’ve shone so brightly.

For some, those scalding words toughen them on the outside, never again letting pain dig to far in while never letting love all the way out, either. They strive harder and accomplish more, but do so in a spirit of rebellion against the rest of the world. You hear them echoing torts of the past, “I made it, no thanks to my teacher who said I’d never amount to anything.” By the time they’ve “made it,” they’re often hardened toward the vulnerability that could set this world ablaze with such ardor and grace. Even this type of “making it” causes the rest of humanity to lose out on what could have been if words of life were spoken instead. Sadly, yet another group exists — those who wilt under the scorching heat of wanton words, those who shrink back, who give up, who never bare their souls, whose torches have been tapered, whose greatness we’ll not experience.

If our words can revive even the faintest of heartbeats and bring life where death once loomed, if they could stir the smoldering embers, put a whimsical twinkle back into they eyes of those who would have lost heart, wouldn’t it be worth it to aspire to always speak life? Wouldn’t it be worth it to not have to mourn the unknown unknowns, to experience those things that we didn’t even know we needed in our lives and to help others produce those things they don’t yet know they’re designed to contribute, to minister to the hurts they didn’t know they could heal and do the unimaginable? What if our words of life could brighten each fading light by just one lumen? Couldn’t a change like that light up the sky?

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What if we each brightened one fading light?

How To Write a Suicide Note

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Remember these old commercials? Great message!

I saw this request for how to write a suicide note and a response to it posted on a social media site. The image is somewhat blurry, so I’ll share the wording below. [Question:] How do I write a suicide note the right way [Anonymous Response:] You start writing about all the things you love about life. Here, I’ll help you.

  • Sunsets
  • Sunrises
  • Cups of Coffee
  • A snuggly blanket
  • Puppies
  • Cupcakes
  • Finding a new amazing book

Next, make a list of the people who care about you. Can’t think of anyone? I guarantee there’s more than you think. Me especially. After that, write out your dreams. What you want to be when you get older, what you want to name your kids, what your dream wedding will be like, etc. And finally, you write out your favorite things about yourself. Your laugh, your smile, your personality, your hair, your skin, your compassion for others, anything. Giving up isn’t worth it. Look toward your future because there are so many bright things waiting there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For many, the holiday season brings laughter and joy; it’s a time for reflecting on fond memories and making new ones. However, for many others gripped by depression, anxiety, addiction, and a host of other relational difficulties, the holidays are shadowed by the same dark cloud that plagues them year-round. Research shows depression and suicide rates are relatively stable, and sometimes lower during the holidays, likely because of the interaction with others and increased support. That means each of us can play a significant role in helping others through an otherwise difficult season. Think of someone you can pour into, today. Think of the difference you can make by giving a different perspective, by reaching out, by being kind. Be that hope for someone else! Be thankful for blessings, yes, but also be a blessing. Someone will be thankful for you! If you or someone you know needs additional support during difficult times, reach out; support is available: National Suicide Lifeline (U.S.A.): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) International Suicide Lines (List): CLICK HERE Find a Depression Support Group (locally): CLICK HERE

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Suicide Question and Response 

My Two Cents

Still Worth Two Cents!

Still Worth Two Cents!

When I saw these coins, I saw myself. They don’t look like much, but bless God, they’re still as valuable as the day they were minted! Their worth is based less on their material (which used to be pure copper) and more on the image they’ve been imprinted with. God made man from dust, then He breathed into man and man became a living soul. We used to be just dirt, but God made us in HIS image; we’ve been imprinted with the image of God and THAT determines our worth. As if that wasn’t enough, He shed His blood for us; what a high price He decided we’re worth!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and just as valuable to God as the day He began to knit me together in my  mother’s womb (Psalm 139). In fact, you were precious to Him and loved by Him from even before that, for the Word declares His steadfast love is FROM everlasting TO everlasting for you (Psalm 103:17). He’s always loved you, will always treasure you beyond measure! What life brings your way does NOT determine your worth! Battered and bruised as you may be, you are treasured by God, made in His image, and still worth the blood of Jesus!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made