Lu says, "Let's talk."

Dudley Rutherford – Walls Fall Down

When Pastor Dudley asked me to read his new book Walls Fall Down: 7 Steps from the Battle of Jericho to Overcome Any Challenge, I was quite frankly a bit intimidated.

“What if I don’t really like it?” My mother always said. “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.”

I was afraid I would have nothing to say. Gulp! I couldn’t have expected it to change the way I interacted with God, having known Jesus as Lord for over 28 years.

photoBut it did change things. It really did.

I know I sound like one of those weight loss ads with those hokey promises saying, “Take this pill and your fat will melt off like butter.” But I am going to go for it anyway… This book will produce hope, inspire, and give you victory. And you don’t have to take a pill. You just have to read.

One small paragraph in particular especially resonated with me. On pages 53 – 54, Pastor Rutherford writes:

Try this for a week: When you wake up each morning—before you leave your bed and before your feet touch the floor—pray earnestly, “Lord, what do you want me to do today?” Then spend a few minutes with your eyes closed, listening for the voice of God. Try that for seven days and see how faithful God is to answer you when you take the time to ask and to listen. He will let you know exactly what He wants you to do each day. It could be as general as “I want you to be a good steward of your time and talent at work today.” Or as specific as “Call this person and tell them you love them,” or “Forgive,” or “Stop by the coffee shop before work and buy breakfast for the homeless man you see every day.”

Skeptical, I decided to test it and give myself a 7-day challenge. I felt kind of silly and didn’t tell anyone, but for 7 days I asked God every morning what He wanted me to do each day. All the while I thought it wasn’t going to work.

I sincerely had my doubts about hearing God as clearly as Pastor Dudley had promised. Not that it had never happened to me in the past, but could I really expect those few, supernatural moments to happen on a regular basis?

What I expected was to hear the same or close to the same thing every day. Or even worse, not to hear anything. I was wrong. Each day I received clear instructions. And each day was different. They were filled with focus. Decisions became easier. Having received my “marching orders” each morning, I had clarity. (Now I sound like a giant billboard sign. March To Victory!)

I visited family members. I exercised thankfulness. I experienced rest, joy and love from my family and amazing husband. I learned to chill. I encouraged others. I learned to love God more fully.

Each day felt more like a gift. (Okay, that sounds like a Hallmark card!)

Marching around the wall, I learned to listen for God’s voice. Like many women, I am more than proficient at talking, but in the silence, I heard God’s instruction. If we listen for God, He will indeed answer. We simply need to take the time to listen and obey.

As the walls fell down, all I could think was simply this:

It changed me. And I’m glad I had something good to say.

Does This Make Me Look Fat: 10 Ways To Tell The Truth

bad dress“How does this look? Do I look fat?” When a woman asks this, it makes her man want to run. Is there really any good answer other than, “No, not at all!”?

As for me, I want the truth when I ask questions like that. Then when he says, “You look great!” I can believe him.

Here are some phrases for what to say in those awkward moments:

  1. That outfit does not compliment your fantastic figure.
  2. I love that color on you, but it accentuates areas I don’t think you’d want accentuated.
  3. You look better naked.
  4. You look beautiful in anything, but that one is not my favorite.
  5. Wear the mauve dress. I love it on you.
  6. I’ll take you shopping.
  7. I really like your legs in that dress, but you’d look even better if you wore [fill in the blank].
  8. How about you wear something that matches me?
  9. I love you.
  10. And if all else fails, here’s the top response: Kids, go tell Mom to change.

At the end of any wardrobe malfunction, honesty is the best policy. We’ve all seen people and thought, “Did they look in a mirror before they left their house? Why didn’t someone tell them?” Save your loved one some embarrassment and tell the truth.

I Want Romance!

red rosesRomance is something most women desire. I’ve heard countless times, “I wish my husband was more romantic.”

Matthew McConaughey was the guest on the TV show Actor’s Studio. It caught my attention and I got sucked in. His beautiful wife, Camila Alves was in the audience and they handed her a microphone. McConaughey welcomed her speaking freely. She was asked if her husband was romantic.

I love what she said:

“I watch his movies and I think to myself, ‘Who’s that guy? I want to meet him! Can you bring him home please?’”

This cracked me up. Even Matthew McConaughey’s wife wants more romance!

We need to stop watching movies and reading books to determine what romance looks like. It is only a fake version of love and passion. Those men know what to do because the script and the director directs them on what to do. It is not real. Cut! Let’s shoot that again! the director shouts. They do it over and over until they get it just right.

Women cannot hold their men to a fake standard. A standard that Matthew McConaughey can’t even reach!

What’s your definition of romance anyway?

As for me, if my husband spends an hour or more talking with me, I’m happy. Sitting on the sofa and watching an entire movie with snuggling, I’m beyond happy. Putting on a suit and taking me out for dinner – now we’re talkin’!

Instead of waiting for romance to happen, create it yourself. Have a candle lit dinner for just the two of you. Or better yet, decide what is romance for you and ask for exactly what you want. Isn’t this better than waiting for it to magically happen? Make it happen.

Ask. Create. Communicate.

Give Me a Break!

inside planeThe pilot had an announcement. I was flying from Atlanta, Georgia, to LAX. We were about to land.

“We have a passenger on board in row 26 and he needs to make a connecting flight to Australia. He only has 13 minutes. If you would please allow him to exit the plane first, maybe he can make his flight.”

Hmmm. I wonder if people will actually take a few minutes to allow this gentleman to catch his flight?

The plane landed and I remained in my seat, even after the seatbelt sign was turned off.

What do you think happened?

The passengers all ignored the request of the pilot and not one person allowed our Australian-bound flight buddy to move forward. Geez, give me a break! If just one person said, “Hey, let this guy go first.” Maybe the others would have followed. I may have been that person but I was in row 33, too far back to make a difference.

I felt a bit sad by the selfish nature of the human race that day. How hard would it have been to sit a few extra minutes and yield for a fellow traveler?

On the other hand, I often hear stories about heroes coming to the aide of one hurt or in danger. Standing valiantly in the face of danger or extreme duress, putting their personal concerns aside. But where was that hero on the plane? It seems we’ll stop and help if the stakes are high, but to be inconvenienced, we don’t seem to have time for a small kindness.

Small acts of kindness can make someone’s day. Kindness can put a smile on another’s face. Kindness can be passed forward reaching countless recipients who in turn spread smiles and good cheer.

When was the last time someone made your day with a small jester of good will? When was the last time you made someone else’s day?

10 Life Hints I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 20

If I could go back 30 years and give myself a few pointers, what would I say?

I would imagine the older Lu sitting down with the younger Lu over a cup of coffee, explaining ten simple life hints that will make her life abundantly easier.

  1. Tomorrow you can start over – Each day is a new start. No matter how bad your day was, count it all as joy. Tomorrow is a fresh beginning. Tough decisions, challenging disappointments, and frustrating failures the day before always look better in the morning.
  2. Say no – It is okay to say “no.” Practice all the time! Feeling like you always have to say “yes” will be detrimental to your wellbeing. Protect yourself with the word “no” and use it as often as you want to. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of things you will say “yes” to and you will enjoy them more because you didn’t agree to everything.
  3. Be nice to yourself – Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same level of consideration, compassion, and thoughtfulness you show others.
  4. Some people are not going to like you – Some people are not going to like you and that’s okay. Invest your time in those who do like you. There will be many. Enjoy each one.
  5. You are going to make a lot of mistakes, and it’s okay – Mistakes are going to be common. Get used to it and embrace it. The sooner you learn to deal with your mistakes, the better. Apologize, accept responsibility, and then move on!
  6. Your attitude will determine how good your life will be – Many things are going to happen that you will not like. Many things are going to change. Many disappointments are going to come your way. Your attitude will determine your level of success and joy. There can be many changes but which attitude you select will remain. Choose wisely every day.
  7. Be you – Just be you, and enjoy yourself. You have a lot of years and time ahead to be with you. Don’t try to be someone else. Enjoy who you are. Like yourself. You’re one of a kind, and you’re pretty special.
  8. Begin each day anticipating what God will do and end each day thanking God for what He did – Start off your day with acknowledging God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. Expect Him to be wherever you’re going before you get there. Look for Him in everything. Rest in His direction. Revel in His presence. And remember to thank God for all He does every day.
  9. You can’t have it all – That’s right, you can’t have it all so be careful what you choose. What you can have is God’s best for you.
  10. God will come through – Know that God will come through, hold your hand, and guide you through every step.

PS – I’m not sure if younger Lu would listen to what older Lu had to say, but at least it’s worth a shot!

Pitching-a-Fit On the Way to Church

It was Sunday morning, the Lord’s Day. I walked through the preschool ministry area of our church and noticed a toddler throwing a fit.

He was kicking and struggling with his mom, who was holding him tight in her arms, trying not to drop him. It was a mom verses child tug-of-war. He was pushing to get away from her. She was holding on as tightly as she could.

toddlerAt first glance I thought he was resisting going into the nursery, but then as I looked closer I realized he was pitching-a-fit to get in! As mom was filling out the necessary security measures and the child was being tagged, he was extremely impatient to go into his children’s class. He couldn’t wait to get into church.

At this point I must stop and give kudos to our nursery director, Ashley Clark, for doing such a superb job!

This child was so excited to go into his class that he couldn’t get away from his mom fast enough. Have you ever been that enthusiastic about going to church? Have you ever been that excited to go anywhere? So excited that you were pitching-a-fit, kicking and struggling to get in?

If we completely grasped how much God loves us we would be pitching-a-fit to get into church every week.

We wouldn’t miss weeks for sporting events or kids’ soccer games. We wouldn’t casually walk in late. We wouldn’t cut out early to avoid the traffic. We wouldn’t drag our kids into the adult service and give them a video game, because we were running behind and didn’t want to check them into their class.

We would soak up God’s love. We would soak up God’s forgiveness. We would soak up God’s mercy and grace. We would walk in freedom. We would love others the way God loves us.

Pitch-a-fit for God.

Pitch-a-fit to get into the worship service.

Let’s pitch-a-fit to worship God with all our heart, mind, and strength.

Celebrating or Grieving Graduation

photoI am experiencing a graduation. Not just any graduation. We are celebrating a high school graduation for my youngest child. Which makes it different than any other graduation, because I too am being plummeted into a new season of life.

A death.

It is the death of my parenting years. The death of making every decision based upon what is best for my kids. The death of driving kids around, homework, school performances, being able to say, “Go to your room.”

I get to wake up and say, “What do I want to spend my time doing today?” It was such a long time ago when I was able to ask myself that question, and frankly, it is quite scary.

I want to make an impact. I want to make my life matter. I want to leave this world a better place because God chose to give me life. And for so many years the best way to do that was to raise my kids. I knew my three children would and could accomplish more for God than I ever could, and with that realization I devoted my life to being a mom.

But now what?

I’m done. I’ve raised them. Yes, I love what I see. I am proud of all three and the people they are today. I’m excited to see all they will do for God now and in the future. They are simply amazing. They surpass me.

Now, I feel as if I’ve been demoted.

What’s next? Is there anything more important than raising your kids? If there is, I certainly can’t think of it. It was not only a good choice to completely dive into raising them, it was actually the best choice. A choice I would make a thousand times over.

The choice to drive them to school and to be the one to pick them up at the end of the day. The choice to play with them at their level every day when they were young children, remembering times we splashed about in a our kiddy pool. The choice to do nightly devotions with them and have faith conversations during the day. The choice to allow consequences to shape and teach them even when they hurt me more than the consequences hurt them. The choice to make every decision based upon what was best for my family.

Yes, I’ve been demoted. Nothing can surpass the impact of raising kids. I should be celebrating, but honestly I am grieving.

Am I experiencing a loss to be grieved? According to my wise and loving husband I have an improper view of my current, world ranking. He believes I’ve been promoted not demoted. Pointing out that I still get to have input into my kids lives because of the mom I chose to be. He said, “They still call you for advice. They want to spend time with you and have you share life with them. What they are doing now has greater consequences, and therefore, you have greater impact and you get to be a part of all that. You haven’t been demoted you’ve been promoted.

Hmmm…I guess he’s right. Again. On some level I guess I have been promoted…sort of. But for now, it feels like a demotion and I think I will wallow in that for a while as I wait for my next assignment from the King.

Thank you God, for giving me the best three human beings to raise for You and Your glory. And I will choose to be thankful as I wait for my next marching orders.

The Perfect Proposal

My daughter got engaged yesterday. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It surprised all of us. We knew the proposal was coming but none of us knew when. It turned celebrating Mother’s Day into a greater occasion; it was a gift beyond all gifts.

All a good mother wants is to see her children happy—happy and thriving. Their happiness brings you happiness. And having said that, seeing my daughter have all of her dreams come true is the essence of what Mother’s Day is all about.

Who wants details? Proposals are so much fun and the details are everything. My daughter and I had gone out to celebrate Mother’s Day—going to my favorite spot for breakfast (getting a table right away because there were only two of us!), and then off to the movies.

After the movie my daughter had a text on her phone from Dad, “Where are you guys?” I had left my phone at home because I didn’t want to be distracted from time with my daughter. Monica handed me her phone to call my hungry-after-church-pastor-husband. He said with a level of urgency, “Where are you? We are hungry and want to eat.” I was a bit confused, because after all, it was my day and I didn’t understand his anxiety.

As soon as we got into the house Hubby pulled me aside and said, “Kyle is proposing today.” All the urgency and anxiety was now understood. He needed to get us home without tipping off our daughter.

I went into her room. She had found a letter Kyle had lovingly placed for her to see. Monica was crying before even opening it. “Mom, I didn’t expect this today. It’s Mother’s Day; it is supposed to be about you.”

“Honey, this is perfect! I love that he chose today.” We hugged. We cried.

photoAnd then she began to read the first of 7 letters, beautiful letters from Kyle. I walked to the front of my house and looked out my kitchen window. He was standing patiently waiting for her to get through all of his letters. She was on the first one and the rest were all hidden in her room, and no he didn’t “break and enter” our home. He had gotten a key from my husband.

I began to help her find the other letters hidden around her room. Her dad even got in on the search and we found all 6. She read each one and at the end of the sixth it said the final letter was on her car. You see, before their first date he had left a note on her car, and now the date letter turned into a proposal letter. So beautiful!

She took a deep breath and walked out the front door. The proud parents ran to the kitchen window. Little brother took the living room window. My husband videotaped through our lousy view via our window. We watched as they embraced. We watched him get down on a knee. We wished we had trimmed the tree, which partially blocked our view. We sang the lyrics “shine bright like a diamond” together. We had a mom/dad moment, not much different from the day God placed her in our arms for safekeeping—for kingdom keeping.

When the newly engaged couple walked into our home there were tears and hugs, tears for she and me at least. The guys looked on probably not completely understanding the emotional bond between mother and daughter. The rest of the day was a celebration.

The sweetest blessing I received came from Kyle’s mom in a text that read, “We are so blessed to have Monica join our family. Thank you for raising an amazing daughter to become Kyle’s wife, partner, and helpmate.” I wept.

This day brought me back to a time long ago, a time when two kids found each other…over 32 years ago. We didn’t know how to be adults. We didn’t know how to love. We didn’t know how to be a husband or a wife. All we knew was that we wanted to spend life together. And we were going to figure it out together.

He said, “Let’s get engaged.” There were no bells and whistles. There was no ring. There was no formal proposal. But there was love and a commitment that lasted beyond anything we could comprehend at the time. It was two kids figuring it out together.

And it was perfect. It was the perfect proposal.

Same-Sex Prom Dates

photoLove the sinner, but hate the sin. What does that mean? We hear Christians say that often. I know I have. Unfortunately, saying it doesn’t make up for not showing it. Too often we camp out on “hate the sin.”

When our children do something wrong we focus on the offense, the “crime.” What if instead we focused on how much we love them and are proud of them? Even when we are grieved by their decision? How would that effect their next decision?

My son recently went to his senior prom. The parents and kids all congregated at an outside venue for pictures. I was so proud of him in his tuxedo. But not any less proud as when he was in his jeans.

As the parents were taking pictures, a couple walked up. This couple was different. They were a same-sex couple. Prom dates. As they approached, the silence from the other parents was deafening.

It was obvious this couple felt awkward and out of place, unsure of how they would be received. There were no parents there for them. Not one. As all the other teenagers were posing for their proud parents, this uncomfortable pair had no parent to dote over them.

When they got to the group I instantly and instinctively went right over to them with compliments on their appearances. I could feel how out of place they felt. I asked if they wanted me to take pictures. They were happy to hand over their phone for me to do so.

I then doted on them with numerous pictures and poses, more so than my own son and his date. (Before you think that’s odd, just remember that my 18-year-old son doesn’t think his mom is cool. I’ve been asked to keep the doting of him to a minimum!) I pretended they were my own children for just a little while. I don’t know if the other parents were watching me. Judging me. I don’t know and I didn’t care.

I called my son over and said, “Take some pictures with your friends.” He happily joined in and I used my camera this time.

The next time you say “love the sinner, hate the sin,” ask yourself how you are loving the sinner. It is easy to hate the sin. Hate comes easy. Love needs to be demonstrated. Love is an action word.

Put love into action. Love. Love the sinner. Period. Love the sinner.

Suffering Through Easter

cross of nailsGuilt. Shame. Condemnation.

I have experienced all the above. Haven’t you?

Easter is approaching and I can’t help but think about Jesus. How can anyone go through the Easter season and not think about Jesus? He suffered. I’m not suffering.

There was a time I would have felt guilty about not suffering. Not only am I not suffering, I am feeling extremely blessed. My entire family will be celebrating together this Easter and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Jesus carried our guilt, shame, and condemnation so we could live in freedom. We can be blessed because He put an end to condemnation and striving to be “good” as means of acceptance. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Master, you are good. You are good enough. In fact, you can’t get any better.

Enjoy His complete gift. Enjoy blessings. No condemnation.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

–Romans 8: 1

God does not condemn you. Don’t condemn yourself.

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