Monthly Archives: July 2011

what crowd are you running with?

She lapped me twice yesterday. Twice. She an avid marathon runner. Me an avid “hope I get through this jaunt without tripping on a rock” walker. My lap around the neighborhood is about a mile in lengt

h. Her lap a bit further than mine. We made our cursory nods at one another the first time she passed me. She’s not much of a talker. Running is serious business for this gal. But when I heard her steps encroaching upon my territory the second go around, I decided to break our customary silence.

“I’m going to ‘facebook’ that you lapped me twice today! I used to run, but I can’t anymore. I’ve been through cancer, and it’s slow


ed my pace. You’re my inspiration!”

It was then that she did something I’ve never seen her do before. She stopped running (she was now several paces ahead of me), turned around and said…

“No, you’re my inspiration. Look at you. You’re jogging slowly. Someday we’ll run together.”

I nodded my thanks, and we departed company. It’s highly unlikely that I will ever be able to keep pace with her stride, but I liked her idea—this “running together.” It started me thinking about the men and women with whom I currently keep pace. Those who are stepping the path of cancer and who are moving forward with their healing. There are many of us. Too many to name in one post. Another 1.5 million will be added to the roll call this year alone.

And while I may not be able to run with the marathon momma in our neighborhood, I’ve been privileged to run with many valiant cancer-warriors in the course of my last year. Some of them I was able to meet face-to-face this weekend.

All of us cancer survivors. Three of us breast cancer survivors. One a momma-survivor—her precious son, Andrew, marking the path home to heaven increasing our hopeful expectation for what awaits us all at the end of the road. I am honored to call these women friends; they have stood with me, prayed for me, touched me with their love—all from a distance, and just this past weekend, in the flesh. As I recently wrote in my book proposal…

“Suffering need, needs a suffering friend. Not just any friend, but a friend who has walked a similar road.”

Certainly, we need a variety of friendships. But there is something uniquely special about having a “come-alongside” friend who grasps the fullness of our pain, whether that pain issues forth from cancer or from some other type of “disease” that is eating away at our flesh. We need those who will keep pace with our stride, not move ahead of us or lag behind but who willingly enter into our struggles because their stories mirror ours. Out of the comfort we have known we must, in turn, offer comforting comfort to others (see 2 Cor. 1:3-5).

I don’t know what that will look like for you in the days to come, but I imagine there will surface a person in the next week who will need the benefit of your comfort. Perhaps a “suffering need” with which you are well familiar. Promises regarding a “future run together” fall flat to a heart that is suffering. What proffers hope is an offer of willing participation, a decision to stop running ahead and to start keeping pace with personal pain. A slowing down so that the hurting heart might catch up, look up, live up in the midst of trial.

God needs you to minister his comfort to his children. You cannot be all things to all people, but you can be a friend to one. Would you be willing to pay attention to the lives that cross your path today? There is someone who needs the tenderness and kindness of heaven. God has entrusted you with the privilege of this glorious dispensation. Suffering need, needs a suffering friend. Out of the comfort you have known, minister comfort. As always…

Peace for the journey,
PS: According to, the winner of Glynnis Whitwer’s I Used to Be So Organized is Kathy S. And because my friend, Cindy, is the queen of organization and simplicity, I’m sending her a copy as well. Leave a comment today to be entered into a give-away for Michael O’Brien’s CD Be Still My Soul.

Legacy (a reflection from "She Speaks")

 She nestled in next door to me, to my left and within an elbow’s reach of bumping into mine. Around the table set for eight, we began our dissection of rolls, salad, and sweet tea. Her choosing a seat next to mine put a smile across my heart. She’s a good fit with my favorite people group, and as things go with my favorite people group—those exceeding me in wisdom and age by at least twenty years—I heartily welcomed her as part of my evening digestion.

Some meals feed the stomach; other meals feed the soul. This meal would provide nourishment on both counts. Thus, the “feeding began” with a few words of initial impartation from my heart to hers.

“Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you come from, and why are you here?”

“I’m from Arizona, although it’s not really my point of origin, and I’m here with my daughter this weekend. I’ve never been to She Speaks before, but I wanted to come and see what the buzz is all about. Mostly I came to support her. Can I show you something?”

(Honestly, she could have shown me a pair of nail clippers at that point; she “had me” at her words about “point of origin.”) Instead of nail clippers, she pulled out a copy of the newly released book by Glynnis Whitwer, I Used to Be So Organized: Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace.

“My daughter wrote this book, and she dedicated it to me; I didn’t even know it until today.”

She opened the book to the dedication page, and we read the words together. Her name was written there—in print and on display as a lasting memorial to the parenting investment … the loving deposits, she’s made into the life of her daughter over the years. Glynnis obviously “had her mother” with these initial words of personal dedication. It was a Kodak moment, at least of the heart kind—one that I mentally snapped and reflected upon throughout the remainder of the evening.

I watched them as they broke bread with one another and wondered about how many tables they’ve shared over the years. The evening was filled with little moments of mother-daughter give-and-take. Caring for one another in simple ways. Passing the salt. Passing softly spoken messages. Passing the tissue box. Passing touches. Passing love.

At one point in the evening, my new friend gently placed her hand on her daughter’s shoulder. It remained there throughout the serenade beautifully voiced through Michael O’Brien. I could barely contain my tears while witnessing this love pass from a mother to her daughter. A stretch of grace from a mother’s womb to the fruit of that womb.

A grace-filled tribute to legacy.

The keynote speaker for the evening spoke of legacy. Ann Voskamp challenged us in regards to those “book/movie trailers” we’re creating for the next generation. What seeds are we planting? What trails are we blazing? What steps are we marking? What stones are we gathering? What remembrances are we collecting? What will be the lasting memorial of our earthly tenures?

As the evening drew to a close, I thought about the “book trailer” that I had just watched unfold before me at the table. Not the one on the stage screen, but on the screen closer at hand—the 3D, in the flesh trailer that rubbed elbows with me throughout dinner. Clip after clip of loving legacy between a mother and her daughter. I’m not sure anyone else noticed it, but I was privileged to sit ringside to its witness. As I prepared to leave our time of fellowship, I looked at my new friend and said…

“This is the book trailer; the way you love your daughter and the way that she obviously loves you in return … this is the trailer that matters. Keep to it … keep to your loving.”

Weary and worn from a day’s worth of peddling my words to publishers, I threw a few more out there; not on behalf of myself, but rather to validate and commemorate a precious love between a parent and a child.

Legacy–a trailer we leave for the next generation.

  • Traveling with the ones we love.
  • Talking about the ones we love.
  • Touching the shoulders of the ones we love.

Not a bad formula for making a life-trailer. Traveling. Talking. Touching. What better words of final benediction could be spoken over our lives? I want them to be spoken of me one day.

She traveled with us. She talked about us. She touched us with her love.

This is the book trailer, friends. The one that matters. Keep to it … keep to your traveling, your talking, and your touching this week. And thank you, new friend, for being willing to rub elbows with me. You had me at your “point of origin.” As always…

Peace for the journey,

PS: Leave a comment to be entered into a give-away for Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, I Used to Be So Organized. There will be another give-away with my next post for one of Michael O’Brien’s CD’s. Shalom.

Tuesday Take-Away {Genesis 3:8-9}

Three years ago, I traveled to “She Speaks” with a completed manuscript in hand. And while all of my publisher meetings exceeded my expectations (a.k.a. they enthusiastically took my proposal), weeks later my mailbox was filled with their (what I assume to be) customary rejections. The manuscript I pitched back then is still sitting on my shelf, collecting dust alongside a few other books I’ve written. Today, I reach back in time to re-consider the pulse behind this particular manuscript–a collection of thirty, devotional reflections all centering on the questions of God in Scripture. Questions spoken through his prophets, his Son, and his own voice. Questions given to us as an invitation to join with him in sacred conversation.

I firmly believe that as God presents his questions in Scripture, he means for them to jump off the page to become a question that engages our hearts. So, for today’s Tuesday Take-Away I’d like for you to consider the very first, recorded question from God to his children as found in Genesis 3:8-9:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'”
Where are you today? I’ll tell you where I am. Knee-deep in the midst of words, rambling thoughts, and wrestlings with my faith. I’m also knee-deep in the midst of God’s faithfulness. He is doing a work in me that I never expected; maybe thought about on occasion but never imagined that we would arrive at the point of putting our hands to the plow and some elbow grease to the deeper heart-work that is in front of me. As I reflect on this first question of God to his children in light of where I am this day, I keep these thoughts in mind:
  • God can always be found walking in his garden.
  • We have the privilege of joining him in his walk.
  • We’re always within earshot of his voice.
  • God is always willing to find us, even when we are content to stay hidden.
  • God intends for us to reveal our hiddenness, to name our “spot”, and to stand before him just as we are. Sinners in need of a garden-walking, question-asking, seeking Savior who knows our names and who isn’t content to leave us as we are.
Where are you today, my pilgrim friends? Wherever you are, I pray the sound of his footsteps ringing in your ears and the call of your name lingering on his lips. You are God’s child; he knows you, and he knows how very much you need him. Keep walking toward Eden. It’s closer now than it has ever been. As always…
Peace for the journey,

a little "manna" for your weekend…

I had an experience yesterday… not unlike the ones I had with her. I’ve spent the better part of my morning thinking about my experience, writing a few words to memorialize our encounter. I’m not sharing the fullness of that writing in a post, but I thought I’d give you a few thoughts to chew on over the weekend. You may want to re-visit the backdrop for my thoughts as found in Exodus 16. In this piece, I work with the idea of our not “taking more than we need”–about living within the daily boundaries of God’s daily provision. I realize this reading it is not in its full context, but I wanted to:

1. Say “hello.”
2. Tell you that God has been mighty good to me over the past few weeks in regards to my preparations for She Speaks. His daily manna has been just enough for a day’s worth of doing. I pray you know the witness of his manna in your life this weekend. 

Never take more than you need.

I have a feeling this has been a guiding principle for her throughout her life. Receiving help as she needed it, but declining it when she had enough. Oh for a heart like hers to know when to take and when to give back. When to say “yes” and when to say “I have enough for today. You keep it for your family.”

Our spiritual ancestors had a difficult time discerning that balance. Manna from God was a daily dispensation, their gathering of it as well. A daily obedience not to be taken advantage of, but rather to be celebrated. To say back to God, “Yes and this is enough for today.” When they didn’t—when stocking the pantry took priority over receiving the daily provision of God—the resulting consequences didn’t allow them to imbibe their hoarding.
“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but is was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” (Exodus 16:20)
Could it be the same for us in our hoarding of blessings? Could we, in the receiving of blessing upon blessing a few thousand times over, get to the place of keeping them for ourselves? Worse yet, of coming to expect them as our right rather than to humbly receive them as a grace from God? When is God’s “enough” enough for us? Why does abundance sometimes breed greediness? Why can’t God’s daily provision settle down within our hearts as faith rather than as distrust?
I think this is it. I think we are afraid that God’s goodness has a limit. We falsely reason that even though today it’s raining manna, tomorrow it might be raining famine. So we collect and hoard and relish our abundance; in doing so we break ranks with God’s mandate to live daily beneath his provision. We cultivate a deserving attitude because, after all, we are God’s children on the road to the Promised Land. Before long, the stench of maggots have replaced the once, sweet smell of God’s “enough,” and the odor emanates upward to the nostrils of heaven. And we wonder where it all went wrong. When did the manna turn to maggots, and why do we feel so empty on the inside?
Manna begins in its disintegration when we take it upon ourselves to manage the blessings of God. Certainly, we need them, especially the witness of God’s love to us through others in our times of great trial. When the need is great, the manna rains down proportionally—maybe with a generous dispensation to last us beyond the borders of a single day. But when our need is less, we must relinquish our expectations for more and live within the boundaries of day’s worth of manna. When the need is but a day’s worth, the manna will fall accordingly. Out of his abundance, the Father gives to us what we need. We must receive it with thankfulness and then we must release our expectations.

For what it’s worth, there you go. Love to you each one!

Peace for the journey,

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