Consider the Source {when a friend hurts you}

Hi There,

I know it’s late — it is after 11:00 PM my time as I write this to you. I figure some of you are up and having a little quiet time after the kids are asleep and some of you have already gone to bed. In any case, I am posting this even at this late hour.  I’ve fought with technology all evening just to get this video from my phone, to my computer and then on to YouTube. I am posting this tonight if it kills me!  Lol! 

I hope your evening has gone smoother than mine has. 🙂

Here you go – I’m sharing a few tools to help us when our feelings get hurt by our closest sisters. It happens in every friendship at one time or another. I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to me.  As Lysa TerKeurst says, ‘Imperfect Progress’ is what we are after – not perfection.

Love,

laura

 

 

PS. And speaking of imperfect progress…thanks in advance for grace as you view my ameteur video. I am learning, but I’m not there yet! 

 

Don’t Be The Rock

We finally had a snow day yesterday! It’s been a snowless winter until now – I was so grateful for a day off work and to myself.

As I puttered around the house, I was thinking back to a blog post I wrote in January about the Women’s March in DC. In it, I shared that in the original language of Genesis 2, the word ‘helpmeet’ – referring to why God created woman – actually translates back to the original Hebrew word ‘ezer’ which means, ‘rescuer, lifesaver and strong power.’ Those words have so much more strength in them than helpmeet. Don’t you agree?  

I often share this when I speak – always with the intention of reminding women how much they are valued and treasured by God. I love the ‘whoo-hoo’s’ I hear from the audience when I tell them this world was not complete until we arrived on the scene!

But when thinking about the word ezer yesterday, my mind went in a completely different direction.

The day my mother died, we were all gathered at her house in the evening with family and friends coming by. As you can imagine, after a week holding vigil at the hospital and then with her passing, we were exhausted. There was a bit of family drama going on. You know what I mean – emotions were running high.

My Godparents were among the visitors and witnessed some of the family stress. As they were leaving, and I walked them to the door, my sweet Godfather hugged me and then looked me in the eye and said, “Laura Anne, YOU are the rock.”  

He meant this as the kindest compliment and I took it as such. In that moment, he saw me and was conveying that I was strong enough to handle all that was swirling around. I hugged him back, and told him that I learned how to be the rock from my mother.

Next week, it will be two years since that evening.

Over the past 24 months, I have learned so many important truths – far too many to detail here. But as I remembered the word ezer and its meaning, I was reminded of something I’ve learned since mom died..

Often times, our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness.

As Christian women, we have such big hearts. It’s easy for some of us to become very caught up in being the rescuer, the lifesaver and the strong power. We are natural fixers and may feel it is our calling to rescue the lost, hurting and dysfunctional.

We want to help, inspire, cheerlead, figure out the problem and then fix it. Us to the rescue! We can feel responsible to make everything and everyone ok. Sound familiar?

So here is what popped into my mind as I was thinking this through: Don’t be the rock.

There already is a Rock and it isn’t you.

It’s not your job. It isn’t your role and it won’t work anyway.

You can’t rescue anyone – you can’t fix anyone.

And all the helping and cheerleading in the world will never save a single soul.

Don’t be the rock.

Our role as women – as mothers, friends, siblings and lovers is to…

Love

Encourage

Listen

Be an example

Pray

And then, keep pointing to the true Rock, the only One who can save and rescue – the strongest power, Jesus.

Only the Creator can fix what He has created.

In psychology lingo, trying to be the rock, the fixer, or the rescuer of people is called co-dependency.

We Christian girls are amazingly skilled at this and we confuse it with love, caring and compassion. But in reality, co-dependency crosses a line and accomplishes just the opposite.

To rescue your child from pain or obstacles is to teach them to be helpless for a lifetime.

To be the lifesaver for an addict is to prolong their addiction and hinder their recovery.

To try to fix everything and make it all ok for everyone is exhausting, keeps you from living in freedom and hear this truth: it will continue into the next generation.

Don’t be the rock.

Our beautiful and powerful attributes, given to us at Creation are not to be used for our own glory, a search for significance or our need for validation. We place ourselves in God’s role when we do that – and that’s always a problem.

Instead…

We rescue by taking them to the Rescuer.

We help save a life by pointing them to the Lifesaver

We use our strong power, by loving deep and unconditionally with healthy boundaries.

Our true strength is seen when we allow others to experience their own journey and learn their own lessons –  and we do the same.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” – Psalm 18:2

Someone already has been given the assignment – and it is not you or me.

Please, please – don’t be the rock.

Many Blessings,

laura

If The March For Life Was Painful

The March for Life was last Friday and, if I didn’t have to work, I would have been there.  Washington D.C. is only 45 minutes from my home and it’s an easy trip. I’ve always wanted to attend, but haven’t made it there for a variety of reasons. Maybe next year.

Last week I wrote a post in response to the women’s march that occurred on the Saturday after the inauguration. I was heartbroken after watching it unfold both on TV and on social media. I know that many of us were troubled by the message that day and I wanted to write a simple piece on our true, God-given, feminine identity.

As for The March for Life, you might be surprised to know that I felt heartache over it as well. My feelings had nothing to do with the peaceful and prayerful march, the wonderful speakers or the message of the day. All of it was uplifting and inspiring. God truly is answering our prayers for the unborn.

Image Credit: Terri Cunningham
Image Credit: Terri Cunningham

Even so, as I watched the march unfold, my heart was broken for many of you – my dear sisters who have had an abortion.

From Sanctity of Life Sunday to the march on Friday, we were reminded that since Rowe vs. Wade became law, 58 million babies have been aborted in this country.

What if one of those dear souls was your child?

I say this because, even though the cause is important and we as Christians must stand to speak out for the unborn, it doesn’t mean that the message wasn’t painful for you.

All of this, though well intended, can pick open a wound.

And so I prayed and asked God to remind you of His great love for you. And even though I have not had an unexpected pregnancy, we really are no different from one another.

In the time and place I grew up in, coming home pregnant was completely unacceptable. Fear was put into us, that we would shame our entire family. We were told we would be forever ruined.

I remember one girl in my high school who was quietly sent away to have her baby and give it up for adoption – but every other girl I knew in high school and in college who became pregnant, chose to have an abortion.   

They almost universally made this decision based on the belief that they could not go home and tell their parents such news. They believed it was better to just make it go away.

And make it go away, they did. The problem is, it never really goes away.

When I look back on my younger years I am convinced that, even though I was a Christian and understood abortion is a sin, I feared shame, being ‘ruined’ and disappointing my family more than I feared God.

My faith was simply not strong enough to trust Him with a situation like an out of wedlock pregnancy.

Although I will never know for sure, it is quite possible, had I been in the same frightening place, I would have chosen abortion too – even though I was a Christian and even though I knew it was a sin.

In those years of my life, I didn’t have the faith and trust that I have now.  The truth is, God never asks us to do anything He doesn’t give us the power to do. He would have given it to me, but I didn’t know it then. 

And so, I can’t pass judgment on any of you who have made the choice to abort her baby. I feel so fiercely protective of your broken hearts that my heart breaks for you, too.

I am no different from you. I just never had to make that choice.

The story of my growing up years may be different than yours. Women deal with unplanned pregnancies in different ways and for different reasons.

But no matter how you came to your decision, know this – if abortion is part of your story, you are not ruined. 

If you have asked Him for forgiveness, He has forgiven you. He sees you, understands your broken heart, and He will take away your shame.

My sister, you are not ruined — you are redeemed.

And today, maybe, just maybe, you need a reminder that your child is in His care and you are too.

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. — 2 Kings 20:5

Many blessings and so much love,

laura

The Truth About Your Sweet Feminine Self

There was a lot of commotion out there this past weekend regarding our role as women in our society and in this world. If we are not careful, we can get ourselves caught up in trying to find our self-worth from someplace outside of God’s Word.

To be crystal clear: our value, our self-worth and our acceptance will never come from a law, a march or a shifting-sand political platform. They come to us from one place and one place alone – Jesus Christ.

Remember this: God-given identity is true for all women. Every single soul has value and is an image bearer of the one who created her — whether she knows Him or not.

In Genesis 1 and 2, God created the heaven, the earth and everything it in it. Each time something was created, He said it was ‘good’ – until He created man. After man’s creation, God decided something wasn’t good.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” — Genesis 2:18

You have seen this verse before and in some translations the word ‘helpmeet’ is in place of the word ‘helper’. 

Helpmeet? Helper?

They sound kind of weak, don’t they? Both words feel like God created us to stand a few steps back with eyes lowered to the floor. No abundant life for us – we simply are here to ‘help’.

But it isn’t so.

In the original language, ‘helpmeet’ is translated back to the Hebrew word ‘ezer’ and this word has a very, very different meaning.

The word ‘ezer’ means, strength, power, and rescue. One commentator translates it as a strong power and lifesaver!

So, let’s take a look at Genesis 2:18 again and place the real meaning in the text.

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a strong power and rescuer for him.’

Our sweet Lord created us not as an afterthought, but as the crowning glory of His perfect creation!

This world was not complete (and neither was man) until our feminine strength, fueled by God’s power, arrived on the scene! He has given us large hearts to love and carry life – by our very nature, we are life givers, lifesavers and rescuers.

And anything that goes against how God created us, goes against Him.

Now girls, ever since Eve tangled with sin, our God-given qualities have been distorted.

Oh my, how they have been twisted and turned and defiled! It’s no wonder so many of us have searched for our identity and value in unsafe places.

But the truth is, no matter how messed up our value may be in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, it has never ever changed in the eyes and heart of the One who made us.

We are life-bearers.

We rescuers and lifesavers.

We possess God’s strong power expressed through our big feminine hearts.

We are smart and possess keen intuition & wisdom via the Holy Spirit.

We are valuable.

We are servant leaders.

We have God-given dignity.

And so does every little girl on this earth and those yet to be born. All are image bearers of God Almighty.

lightstock_87029_full_laura

The Bible is full of women who used the attributes God created them with to influence their world for His glory.

One such woman was Esther.

Her name means ‘star’ and it is so appropriate! She used her strong power to be a bright light in a very dark time. Her courage, strength and keen wisdom led her to become the lifesaver of her beloved people.

There is also Rahab, Mary, Elizabeth, the Samaritan woman and on and on. These women — and many, many more (some named and some unnamed), have left us a legacy as God’s crowning glory.

Creation wasn’t complete without our feminine strong power!

As designed, we can illuminate His voice of life, calm, wisdom, kindness, love, empathy, loyalty and of understanding in this lost and hurting world.

We don’t need anyone out there to affirm our dignity or value. We don’t have to go looking ‘elsewhere’ for it either. It’s ours. We only have to look at God’s perfect creation and listen to the lives of our sisters in the pages of scripture.

Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. — Hebrews 13:7b

Blessings to you, my girlfriends!

laura

Long Walk Part Of The Gift

An African boy listened carefully as his missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she held  the gift up to the light.The young boy told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

 “Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift. **

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I love this story.

It perfectly illustrates that going the extra mile is the most precious gift of all.

I don’t know about you, but my heart has been extra tender this Advent. When that happens, at any time of the year, it usually means God is urging me to grow in a particular area of my life.

Does that ever happen to you? He turns up the heat, stirs the emotions and pushes us to grow. It’s possible to ignore, especially during this busy time of year, but I have learned to lean in and listen when God is speaking – most of the time, anyway. 🙂

Our son Grant moved to Chicago in December a few years back – just in time for a polar vortex, sub-freezing temperatures and a ton of snow. He wasn’t really prepared for such weather, and his commute to work was a three-block walk from his new apartment. Needless to say, our Christmas gifts for him that year included all manner of outerwear.

I was so concerned about him that it almost became an obsession to find the just the right things that would keep him warm in such extreme cold.

I was a mom on a mission!

I scoured the LL Bean Catalog, Cabela’s and other stores to find sub-zero clothing for the brutal Chicago weather. That stuff is expensive!

I shopped sales, used coupons and was able to get him taken care of without breaking the bank. It took some extra time and effort, but what a relief to know my boy had good quality gear to keep him warm.

Grant, moving to Chicago in 2013. Boo hoo.
Grant, moving to Chicago in 2013. Boo hoo.

And so, as the Lord has been working on me this Advent, He brought the memory of Grant’s first winter in Chicago to mind.

And then, almost immediately, came the challenge: Every year I donate items such as hats, gloves, scarves and blankets to the homeless. Have I ever taken so much time and care to find the same quality gifts for them?

Have I been as concerned about one who actually lives on the street as I was for a very well-cared for son who walks three blocks from one warm place to another?

Have I scoured the catalogs, used coupons and shopped sales in order to find the best gifts that I can afford? 

Has it ever become an obsession and a mission to find things that will really keep a person warm?

Do I give away the same quality of gifts as I give to my own family? 

If I am being honest, my answer would be sometimes – but not nearly enough. And this Advent, He is impressing on me to do more. Not necessarily to spend more, but to make more of an effort and to treat those who are in need as well as I treat my own family. In other words – to make the long walk part of the gift.

And here’s the thing – the recipient may never know about the long walk, but it doesn’t matter and it’s not the point. As the missionary teacher told the little boy, “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other.”

So, if we are joyful over the birth of Jesus and truly love people, the long walk will become the most precious gift of all.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40

Merry Christmas! 

laura

 

 

 

** The story is attributed to Norman Vincent Peale

"The first time I heard Laura communicate, my exact response was 'Wow'! Laura's teaching style is passionate, relatable, and hope-filled. She radiates warmth, kindness and a genuine interest in those around her -- on and off the platform. Her amazing story of transformation, coupled with her solid biblical teaching, will leave you also saying "wow!" If you're looking for a dynamic communicator, Laura has my highest recommendation!"

- Cindy Bultema, International Speaker and author of Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church and Live Full, Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin Soaked World