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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Puppy Blessings

A year ago I succumbed to the nagging of my children and the nagging of my own "puppy wants" and went searching for a new addition to our family.  I thought we had landed on a decision for a nice silver lab in Kentucky. However, God works in His own way and I found myself going to look at white lab puppies my friend posted on Facebook.  When several people send you messages about a dogs they saw on Facebook, you start to pay attention. 

Because I'm a small town farm girl I came home with two puppies.  Insert eye roll emoji here.



What I didn't realize at the time, it was more than Beef and Zuri, my white lab puppies that I gained that day.  I also gained new friends and new perspective.

Dave and Connie Bowman are beautiful people, they also happen to raise some of the most amazing white labs you've ever seen!  And... they have a story about walking through pain that I want to share.

Many months after my pups came to live with us, Dave and I continued to share texts and pictures of the pups as they grew.  I was able to share new litters to my social media connections and helped them find homes for a few more pups.  Dave and Connie asked to meet with me to help extend their reach with the pups.  I learned so much more about them then.

Dave and Connie lost a child to cancer when she was just a little girl.  I sat and listened to them tell their story of this beautiful girl and how she touched so many lives in such a short time.  They've struggled with God and leaned on God and look for His healing power.  As my friend Emily, founder of LoveBetter.world taught me recently, they're living in the AND.  Hurting AND Healing.  Complete sorrow AND Joy. Sadness AND Love.  Life is full of AND.  This is what God has for us and reminds us, He is a model of the AND.

I'm going to save some amazing details about their story because we'd like to write the book of their story together sometime.  The one part I'll share today that I love so much, Dave and Connie give a puppy from each litter to a family that needs some extra love.  Sometimes it's a family with a cancer survivor, or a military veteran, or another family that has also lost a child.  They let God lead them to people that need some puppy breath and giggles to move into their life.

We can take our love and our pain and let it lead us to a place of sharing more love to honor the beautiful loving spirit of a life taken too soon.  Today is Chloe Bug's birthday, a special nickname for their little girl. Will you join me in praying for, honoring and loving on Dave, Connie and Chloe's sisters, Caitlyn, Chelsea, and Carly as they walk through today with love AND sorrow.

And if you're in the market for a beautiful white lab, get on the list, and be careful if you go to pick out one, you might come home with two!

Happy Heavenly Birthday Chloe.  I didn't get to meet you here, however, I'm grateful to know you through your family.  They're blessing the lives of many in your name.




Sunday, April 1, 2018

More on those "Judgey" Christians

I've been pretty hard on the "judgey" Christians in my writing. Today during Easter Service I had this feeling ......I sorta get how well intentioned Christians get "judgey".

I feel well-intentioned judgey sometimes.  I've worked really hard on chasing down and understanding Jesus at a different level over the past year.  I'm completely blown away in where this journey has taken me.  When I look at my friends and family that are hurting I kind of want to shake their shoulders and say, "dude, this can help you sooooo much!" Then I remember that no one really wants to hear that kind of "fixer" message.

Wanting more and better for the people you love is at the heart of those well intentioned "judgey" ones.  It's hard to explain the supernatural impact of this journey.  This isn't just about memorizing and spouting Scripture.  This is about being supernaturally transformed in many ways.

Standing in church today, thinking about writing this post. How would I try and describe the value of this journey?  It really is a supernatural transformation.  It takes investment to dig into the Bible and study to get the benefit.  He's not a genie in a bottle granting every wish, but like any parent would, He likes to bless us when we've done good.  Grace and mercy are free for the asking and blessing and favor is a reward for discipline.  Just like parenting.

So as I stand in church today, tears running down my cheeks in gratitude for how different my life has become. I want to grab everyone I love who is hurting and say, "Trust me, please, you don't have to do this on your own.  You don't have to struggle like I've watched you struggle!" And I know that's not the best idea.

We don't talk enough about the supernatural aspects of these last 3 days. The days between Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the tomb.  So many miracles.

1. Jesus died on the cross at NOON and everything went completely DARK for three hours.  Think about that.  There was no natural reason for an eclipse during a full moon.  And for three hours? Come on.  A sign that without Christ people will live in spiritual darkness.

2. The temple veil tore in two.  This was no sheer veil from the bridal shop, this was a 60 foot tall and 4 inch thick piece of cloth that no man could tear.  This represented God no longer being separated from the people.  Seriously, that's some supernatural stuff right there.

3. There was an EARTHQUAKE at the same time.

4. Graves opened up .... DEAD people walked out and came back to life.

5. Lives were changed forever.  People who didn't want to believe suddenly were changed.

That's some supernatural stuff on every level.

I invested more in learning about Jesus when I came to see it for the supernatural power that it is.  I've always had spiritual connections and feelings I couldn't explain.  The supernatural aspect of this was intriguing to me more than going to the right church and memorizing the Scripture.

So now that I've experienced some of the changes that are possible, I can get a little judgey wanting my friends to feel it too. Then I remember what my really good friend Brian taught me .....

"Preach the gospel always and if necessary use words"  - St Francis of Assisi

I'll go back to trying to live this thing out and leave the "judgey" stuff alone.

Happy Easter ... pass the chocolate.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bad Christians? Skip em, Cut Out the Middle Man.

The number of times I hear someone tell me about a "bad Christian" or a "bad church" story.  Sigh.

Real stories. These aren't fiction.  And some of them preach or work at the church.

So we've got people that are hurting and searching. And my suggestion of prayer is met with an eye roll, the memory of a bad experience that made prayer and God and Jesus a sham.

I hate it, but I get it.

It's about credibility.  It's about trust.

So here's an idea, skip the middle man.  Don't go to that church.  Don't hang with those people.

Just Pray.  Go directly to the Source.  Cut out the sinners and the fakes.

It's like the great business with a good owner and they hire a really bad manager or rotten employees that run people off.  This is what happens at church too.  So stop arguing with the employee at the counter, cut out the bad manager in the middle and go and talk to The Owner.

Because people are...... well ...... people.  Working at the church or reciting scripture doesn't mean they are living out the words they speak. There are fakes. Counterfeit Christians.

Just try the prayer thing.

Trust me on this.  Here is my story.  This is my truth and my experience.

There is no person, no thing, no car, no house, no job that will fill that empty place in you.

I see you, you're hurting or maybe you're searching for something that feels like ...... more.

Skip the middle man, give it a shot.  Just pray.  Use your words, your voice.  Just talk to Him.

Look, I wasn't raised going to church every Sunday.  I was a little intimidated by the whole deal.   I've always believed in God but church seemed like a lot of rules and stuff. I was sure I'd stand out for not knowing how to do it right.

Here's the deal.  Prayer is just a conversation.  You and Jesus, hanging out, talking about stuff.  Seriously, that's it.

I stopped paying attention to the Christians that were judgmental and fake. I cut out the middle man.

I began to feel more free.  I could pray anytime and anywhere.  And I prayed everywhere.  I didn't wait until those quiet times with candles lit and the perfect journal and pen.  I prayed in the car, I prayed in line at Target, I prayed before client meetings, I prayed in the shower, I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

I prayed a lot. What people saw of me on the outside was not at all what I felt on the inside.  I was lost, lonely, scared, angry.  None of the external successes and things could fill the hurt I had inside.

Prayer began to transform the hurt.   Prayer filled the empty space.  Jesus and me, we talk on the regular.  He gets all the emotions that I have each day.  I give gratitude, I apologize, I scream out in anger, all of it.

I do dumb stuff, I'm a person, I will always have sin.  And in all of my brokenness I can get grace and mercy and forgiveness.  All I have to do is ask.  And I do.  Then I start again fresh the next day.

Try it.  I mean really, what have you got to lose?  Cut out the middle man and go ask The Owner to heal your spirit and fill you up.  He wants to hear from you I promise.