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Category Archives: Random

Dear Judas,

Every year on Good Friday, I remember your story. It hits a place in my heart I’m not fond of. Maybe because I can imagine the darkness and the shame and the selfishness that led you to do such unthinkable things.

Judas, your story is so sad and full of dark and impenetrable shame. I imagine you got used to it, though, living in the darkness, not letting your soul see the Light.

I read your story and I wonder, Judas, how did it feel to have God Himself wash your dirty, stinky feet all covered in dust and sweat and grime? Did you realize the irony as you walked those very feet straight to the enemy to turn Him over?

By Joshb (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joshb (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Did you recognize the irony of the grime in your heart that only Jesus knew about?

When Jesus bent over to wash your feet and wipe them clean, did you feel any sense of remorse? Or did it just make you more angry, more bitter, more jealous? Did Jesus’ unendingly pure love strengthen your resolve and stoke the fire of hate inside your belly?

When Jesus handed you that piece of bread and said

What you are about to do, do quickly

did your face go flush with the wash of terror-filled adrenaline that floods your veins when you’re found out? Did you wonder how He knew? Did it even cross your mind that maybe He knew because He actually was Who He said He was?

Did you run out because you made yourself sick? Or were you so focused on the money that you couldn’t wait to get it? Did you have a plan for all that cash? I wonder what you were going to do with it. Buy a new home for your family?

Or some new shoes?

As much as I don’t want to acknowledge it, I actually know where you were coming from, Judas.

All those times I’ve been so focused on what I want that I’m willing to do almost anything to get it. I know how it feels to not want to hear what Jesus has to say, not want to know how much He loves me, not let His love penetrate anything but the tough skin on my feet.

I wonder if you realize now that you actually helped God’s perfect plan along. The very thing you did to thwart it actually led to the working of it. Those people you turned Him over to? They killed Him.

Then He killed death itself.

And, now, I can live forever.

So, thanks.

Today, I read the story of how Jesus washed your feet. And something struck me like never before.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (Jn 13:1)

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God . . .

When Jesus bent over and washed your feet that night, He did it from the knowledge that He had all power. All strength to love even those who would betray Him and murder Him and nail Him to that cross.

I read this and realized I need my feet washed too.

They have walked dirty paths of selfishness and shame. Just even these last few days.

Searching for someone to blame for my own discontent and letting it fall on anyone but myself. Feeding a demanding and critical spirit where gratitude belongs. Then striking out with hateful words to those I hold most dear.

Letting myself get lost in my own selfish disappointment and losing to the rage that should have died when I let Jesus wash my soul with His blood those years ago.

Oh, Judas, my feet have seen some dirt these last few days.

Still, He called you His own. And, amazingly, He calls me that, too.

Loving you, Judas, loving me, and washing our feet — I believe it took every ounce of every bit of love Jesus had to give.

He knew we’d go dirty up those clean feet again, but He cleaned them anyway.

And I am humbled in my deepest of deeps. Because that’s how He rolls. That’s how He loves.

Even you, Judas.

Even me.

Five Minutes on Paint

I always wanted to be a painter. So today when I saw Lisa-Jo’s writing prompt for 5-minute-Friday as I sat in the art room at my kids’ school, I was excited and inspired and a little nostalgic for the day when I believed I could actually use paint to make beautiful art.

The word is paint.

GO

They come individually throughout the morning. five and six-year-old kindergarten wannabe’s. Some of them don’t really wanna’ be, though.

I sit at a table awaiting their arrivals. One by one, they show up in the art room for the vision screening I will help with today. I think it’s because I’m a parent of a sixth-grader, but I’m not really sure.

It’s the art room that plays my office this morning. The art room at the bottom of the stairs in that little school I call the private school I don’t have to pay tuition for. Just one class per grade, all the teachers carefully chosen for my children, I feel. So thankful am I for this sacred place they call theirs.

And the art hangs on walls all around me. It colors the bulletin boards and inspires my children.

Think Art

The teacher who calls this place her room is coming and going today. So I can share her space as I help introduce these tiny people to the world that will be theirs in a few short months.

I have lots of down time in between customers, so I pick up my phone and click a few pics.

And paint and colors surround me and I love the inspired and the fresh that I feel when I walk through these halls where my children learn to live and make art with their living and their friendships and their conversations and their heartbreaks.

The smell of poster paint and construction paper and glue takes me back to a time when I believed I could do anything. Before Mr. Bukoszky chided my work in high school and led the rest of my painting class in a laugh-fest over the colors I had chosen.

That’s when I found a different way to paint my world. I found words and photos and learned to mold those things I felt confident with into things I knew nothing about.

STOP

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker today for Five-Minute-Fridays, where a whole bunch of brave writers throw caution to the wind and write unedited for five minutes straight before sharing it with the world.

Five Minute Friday

Friday Thoughts and Maybe Small Is The New Big

It’s Friday. And I want to write. So I’m joining my longtime friend, Lisa-Jo and a whole bunch of amazing people who bravely write unedited for five minutes every Friday. Check it out here and consider joining in? (Because I know you have a story, and we really want to hear it.)

Today, the word prompt is small.

Start:

We lived in a tiny apartment in the middle of Bayreuth, Germany last year. About 500 square feet, I think. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and a kitchen the size of my dining room table.

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When we got home, it took us a while to get used to the bigness of our home in Ohio. The spread-out acreage of our yard and its trees. Even the seven-seated minivan felt huge.

And we missed the closeness of the small even though it had sometimes been so hard to live in those nine months.

I think of that living, that adjustment back home, and I wonder at the small of my life in this place. Where I think I want big but know maybe I don’t.

A big house. Big bed. Big blog. Big deal.

I think of it and wonder. Maybe small is the new big.

Because isn’t small where faith grows? The tiny mustard seed that brings big branches and a tree trunk.

Isn’t small where God shines biggest? In the small of my spirit that needs His huge? The small of my unknowing that can’t survive without His always I-Am-The-Rock?

Yes, I wonder, and I think I start to see that small is the new big. And I realize I love small.

What February’s Teaching Me About Faithfulness (It’s Probably Not What You Think)

February was always a hard month for me. Maybe not always. But at least from the time I was 17.

That’s when my friend’s boyfriend shot himself in the head. Five days later, she jumped off a bridge. When my infant cousin died in her crib just about a week later, it was all I could do to stay sane. Literally.

Over the course of three weeks, I went to three funerals and lost my will to stay faithful to the God I had known since I was five. That will got replaced by a burning desire to do whatever it took to keep my friends happy. And close.

Although it made my senior year of high school super fun, that decision also served as a catalyst for some really dumb choices that made me not want to go to my class reunion twenty years later.

For years, every February when I would realize what month it was, I would enter a sort of subconscious funk that made me dread the coming days and the pain I thought I would always remember.

I’m not sure when that pain stopped hurting. But I can tell you for certain it no longer does.

Still, there is a certain mid-winter funk that happens every year. It makes February feel like the longest month. ever.

Tulips for Feb

I find myself dreaming of springtime and daffodils and hyacinths. Easter celebrations and sunnier days and planting gardens and sitting outside at Chipotle. (My fingers are seriously typing faster with every thought of those springtime lovelies!)

I’d like to say this year I have found a way around the funk, but the truth is I have not. Rather I believe God is using it to teach me about faithfulness.

It’s doing what I know I was born to do even when I don’t feel excited to do it.

It’s just starting. Finding my way to the floor on my face and handing the I-don’t-want-to-do-this to the One Who does.

Faithfulness is choosing to stay committed to my dream even when the thing that does the choosing doesn’t want to choose that.

It’s every step, following God’s next. Believing He won’t let me stray. Trusting He’s showing up inside my every daily offering. My hands as they type. My smile as it turns a stranger’s countenance around. My mouth as it refuses to grumble.

And this is where I stand. Faithful because God shows me how.

What about you? What do you think of when you hear the word faithfulness? What about February? Do you like it? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

My 2014 Wish For You

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This year, may Jesus show you more and better life than you ever imagined.

A Christmas Wish

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May your heart know the depth of God come to earth. May your spirit sense the joy that He came to give.

May your home emanate the grace of real peace on earth. And may heaven and nature truly sing.

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

When Overwhelmed Paralyzes

The overwhelmed screams loudly as the crazy of the season catches up with me.Merry Christmas focus

I can’t shake it.

Even in the midst of a freed-up morning, I feel paralyzed by all I have to do.

I get my kids to school and return home to the dishwasher full of clean plates and bowls and silverware and the sink that overflows with their dirty counterparts. Where do I start? I ask myself emphatically and literally spin around in my kitchen hoping for a sign.

I have so much to do I don’t even know how to pick where to start.

It’s like trying to find the end of the Scotch tape roll. My mind spins, too.

But somehow even in the spinning, I hear a sort of whisper in the deep places where my thoughts form.

I remember the quiet Almighty God offers. I want the peace He gives.

I see my Bible on the table, but I don’t reach for it. Not yet.

I go straight to my knees instead. Face to the ground, and I bow before Almighty God Who thought up Christmas and knew about this very day before He even started time. He knew the crazy overwhelmed I would feel. The stress and the busy and the too-much-to-do list.

So right in the middle of the minutes I have to get something crossed off my list, I lay on the floor and tell God He is Lord. Lord of the whole earth. Lord of my life. I know He knows, but I need the reminding.

The loud overwhelmed quiets as I ask the Lord of my life to show me what to do. Let me know how to do it. He reminds me that this is His plan even today. It’s His hand that’s brought me to right here.  His hand that’s pointed me straight into this season. Jesus Focus

Then right there — in the middle of my living room floor — the Living God breathes air into the lungs of my soul, and He whispers away the paralysis. He reminds me Who He is as I exhale my desperation.

I get up off the floor and find my dishes still undone.

But their effect is quite different now.

No almost-swearing or hopeless burden of busyness. Somehow now I can think clearly.

No longer paralyzed by overwhelmed that had me frozen just minutes ago, I check my list and start on what’s easy. I notice a hope suddenly restored.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get something done today.

Do you feel paralyzed by the overwhelmed of life right now? Why not take three minutes to hand it over to the very God Who already knows?

Can I pray for you?

Almighty God, thank You for knowing already our stress. Thank You for the quiet You promised to bring even when it feels like we’re stuck in the spin-cycle of life and Christmas parties and shopping and crowds and laundry and life. Lord, I pray right now for my friend reading this. Will You let her know Your peace like she’s never known it before? Will You take his overwhelmed and turn it into hope? And, Lord, please don’t let any of us forget that You’ve got this. Every detail. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen

An Invitation To Dream About Christmastime

Every December, we decorate our house and put up a tree and remember with our kids what it means that Jesus came. We talk about it all year, but Christmastime is different. The whole world takes pause for the God Who was a baby and lay inside a hay holder because of His extravagant love for mankind.

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For several years, I have considered not sending out Christmas cards because I get all deep and wonder why we even do that in the first place. Then I remember how much I love getting Christmas mail and I think I should do the same for all the people I have ever met. So I settle for eighty of our closest friends and order them anyway.

Then I get all bi-polar as I vacillate between the I-want-to-buy-gifts-for-everyone-I-know spirit of Christmas and the Scrooge in me that starts to forget the point of it all.

I want to live deeply at Christmas more than any other season of the year. I don’t want to just do the stuff of Christmas because it’s what is expected. I want every part of it to mean something.

The gift-giving. The celebrating. The singing. The bells. The manger scenes and Christmas cantatas and gingerbread houses.

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I want more wonder in my heart and in my home at Christmastime. I want it to be set apart for telling more Jesus. Living more love. Knowing the True Light that gives light to mankind and what He does for the darkness in my soul.

So I have been thinking . . .

What would it be to actually live like the best part of Christmas is the heart all aflutter at the miracle of God touching earth with feet that got dirty?

Oh, I love the magical lights and the big, pretty bows. I like getting Christmas presents about as much as I love my afternoon coffee. Maybe even more. But the truth of the matter is, I tend to forget the why of Christmastime and just muscle through the what without stopping to wonder at the W-O-N-D-E-R of true Christmas. I think most of us do.

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But the reality of Christmas and the month of December makes me consider the secret dreams. The ones that hide behind all the cozy and the cute of Christmastime. Somehow those dreams seem to settle for an obligatory nod while the inevitable craziness takes over and convinces me that this is good enough. Getting through to-do’s and the Christmas schedule mix-ups and the wrapping paper that floats from living room floor to dining room table to master bedroom and so forth.

Today, I’m letting myself dream Christmas altogether differently. I’m getting brave and admitting the dream of my perfect Christmas.

Because what if the Christmas dream God wants me to live is the kind that has power to change the world?

My dream is full of sacred moments. Lots of laughs with my husband and kids. Egg nog with my friends. Showing Jesus to the grumpy lady at WalMart. Telling Jesus to my friend who doesn’t know Him. Sharing turkey with a family who has nowhere else to go.

It’s laughing and singing and playing with toys. It’s intentional quiet with true prayers to the God Who invented the season. Wrapping presents all pretty because I love to give gifts. Giving stuff away to people just because I can. Crazy gift-giving because of the supernatural extravagant love of Jesus Christ.

I dream of one day spending our entire Christmas budget on someone who wouldn’t otherwise get to have it. Like decorating their house and bringing them beautiful packages and eating cookies with them while we talk about Jesus and drink afternoon coffee together. (Told you I like it.)

I dream of Christmastime that’s more than what I’ve always known. One that doesn’t clamber to cross of lists but delights to show Jesus to all who will see. Looks to tell His story at any given moment.

As I dream, I also wonder what might happen if you join me. What if we admit those deep down dreams to each other? What if together we envision the excited pieces of our souls that want to soar inside the depth that is Christmas and December and Jesus Christ Son of God come to earth with real life coursing through His veins?

What’s your Christmastime dream? I tend to believe it’s bigger than pretty presents and squishy Santa bellies.

Tell us in the comments. And together we will dream of Christmas.

Those Four Days I Spent at a Blogging Conference

I flew through Washington Dulles on my way to Allume. The blogging conference in Greenville, South Carolina where 452 women came together last weekend to figure out how to collectively make God famous on the internet. In the world.

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I had an hour layover. So I found a turkey brie sandwich at a Cosi deli and sat down at my gate to eat it. I knew it was one of the last moments I would have alone for four days, so I took some time to breathe and think through my expectations for the weekend.

Then I realized I had no idea what to expect, except for one thing. I fully expected to be overwhelmed. And, really, how does one prepare herself for overwhelmed? So I gave up the thinking-through and struck up a conversation with the woman next to me.

As soon as I got there, my expectations became reality.

Seriously. Over. Whelmed.

It started when my roommate and I rode the elevator with NY Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle and asked her name. (Um, duh! Melanie Shankle. You know, the lady that will speak tomorrow morning? The one whose book you adored?!?)

It came with me to the first meetup, with all the new people, where everyone and everyone else was better at doing what I’m usually so good at. I introduced myself to Tricia Goyer, the amazing author of more that 35 books and asked her name too. (Hello, Bria! Have you looked at any Twitter picture? Ever?)

And, yes, the overwhelmed followed me into dinner that first night. That’s when the awesome Barefoot Mel so graciously saw what must have been the picture of a holy-cow-this- is-a-lot-of-women-and-what-the-heck-am-I-doing-here scream. (Seriously, I felt a little bit like crawling into a corner and rocking while sucking my thumb.) She gave me a hug and asked me to sit with her and her friends.

I felt a little bit like Nemo. I was really ok, but at the same time terrified. Wanting to sit back and soak it all in, but still wanting to be at the forefront with all the famous people I’d already seen. I didn’t want to see them as famous, I wanted to see them as fellow Jesus-chasers. I wasn’t there to compete. But it was hard to remember.

My thoughts were loud. Super duper loud. And crazy. Ann Voskamp spoke at dinner that night, and I loved what God had her say, but I felt like His voice was a distant echo bouncing off all the loud that was in my heart.

So I found the prayer room after dinner. A big dimly lit, softly music-ed room (did I just make that word up? I think I just made that word up!) full of godly women who wanted to be Jesus with shoes on for those of us who might want to find respite there throughout the weekend.

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God gave me a beautiful new friend who asked if she could pray with me. I said yes.

We prayed for God’s voice to speak. Prayed for clarity of purpose. Then I grabbed my prayer journal and wrote these words:

Dear Lord,

The noise is big. I want to hear You. Please help me hear You. And help me obey.

Amen.

And then I heard God speak.

Okay, not really like that. But kind of.

Three times last weekend, God gave me specific answers I had asked for. Three no-doubt-about-it times He let me know He wants me all-in. He used three different people (two agents, one speaker) to assure me and to prod me and to tell me to get over it and just do it. Get the word out about Him and the amazing life He wants us to live.

Just. Write. Bria.

Quit worrying about screwing up your motives. Or your kids. Trust that He won’t let you. Trust Him to keep you on track. And just do what God has given you to do. Take the next step. Write the next word. Publish the next post. Love the person right in front of you. Just show them Jesus.

He reminded me that first morning in South Carolina, Greenville Hyatt, room 545’s shower, why I was there. It had nothing to do with meeting famous people or being less than or more of a writer or a networker or even a follower of Jesus Christ.

I was there because He ordained it.

God wanted me there. So I was there.

He gave me people to meet. Women to befriend. Bloggers to love.

And he clarified my purpose in writing what I do. He gave me words of assurance in moments at lunch. At a breakout session. And lunch the next day.

So today I have purpose I hadn’t realized I had. I have so much to tell you about those clarifying words He spoke ever so clearly. But I’m pushing 850 words here, and I want you to come back. 😉 So I promise I’ll tell you. Just not quite yet.

Have you ever felt like God gave you an answer you’d been waiting to hear? Do you think I’m crazy?

When Broken People Show Off God’s Amazing

I have known our dining room table and its chairs since I was ten. And by known, I mean I sat at it regularly for probably twenty-some years total. (But to tell you the exact number would require too much math, and we all know how I feel about math.) I did math homework there. And English. And French. And… well, you get the picture.

old chairs

Now my kids do their homework on it.

That probably sounds cool. Like a family heirloom or something.

The truth is, though, my parents got a new dining room table six years ago, and we needed one. So we took it off their hands. And by took it off their hands, I mean it was easier to give to us than to figure out how to sell it on Craig’s List or something.

I am grateful.

I am also ready for a new table.

Because this one is old. It’s rock solid, but not my style. The years upon years worth of water stains make the top look like a not-wood but not-a-color kind of color. It needs a perpetual covering, which I can’t seem to find.

When I (finally) cleaned my house today, I found myself less than enthused about it. Usually after I clean, I like my living space so much more.

But today I realized the rugs are getting old. And the couch has stains. And the curtains feel old too. And I want my house to be more up-to-date and put together than I feel like it is.

Tomorrow I have a new friend coming over for coffee. I know it will be great. But somehow I feel like it would be better if I had my house more together. And a new dining room table.

Maybe you can relate.

Because we like to put our best foot forward when people come over. We like to feel prepared.

But what if God’s definition of prepared is different than ours?

Not necessarily when it comes to cleaning the house, although that might fit too. But when our lives feel all messy, and we don’t feel like we can handle a particular purpose set before us. A certain job God leads us into.

I’ve been writing through the book of Judges the last few weeks over at Everyday With God.

Seriously. Each of the judges God chose to save Israel during that time had major issues. Fear. Doubt. Pride. Speaking rashly. Indiscretion. And that’s just the beginning.

Still, God used them. He picked each one right our of their messy lives and accomplished His purpose anyway.

He didn’t wait for them to get all cleaned up. He didn’t wait until they felt ready. He knew they were already there. Because they had Him on their side. He was all the preparation they needed.

I wonder how many of those God-appointed judges wanted to get it all together before they led their people to victory.

My guess? Approximately all of them.

Because it’s not natural to step out into the forefront, where everyone can see us, when we’re all dirty and messed up and don’t feel ready for the display.

God on Display

But we forget that we aren’t the ones on display.

God is.

And He’s really good at displaying Himself from inside our brokenness. Right through our cracks and dried on mud.

So I’ve been thinking . . .

What if God purposely chose those people BECAUSE they didn’t have it all together?

What if He wants to use my home BECAUSE it’s less than perfect? What if He wants to use me BECAUSE of my cracks? What if He wants to use you BECAUSE of your weaknesses?

What if that’s how He shows Himself off?

Does that thought scare you? Or does it free you up? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments . . .

 

**Join us in Judges? You can find it here . . . This one and this one are my favorites so far.