Friday, June 19, 2015

Let's Hydrate the Homeless

Miss Debbie with her new water bottle
Raise your hand if you've noticed that IT'S HOT OUT THERE. I can tell you for sure: my homeless friends have noticed.

Consider how long you spend outdoors each day (me, not a lot) and how much refreshment you're taking in to ward off the heat. (I always have a glass of water by my side.)

But what if your home were outside . . . and you traveled by foot . . . and you had little to no funds for refreshment? 

That's a very real scenario for my friends on the streets. Think of them every time you take a drink.

I took one of those friends out for ice cream this week. Although he enjoyed the ice cream, he showed considerably more excitement when I told him there was a water fountain in the back. He popped up, grabbed his old Dasani bottle, and made a beeline.

And Miss Debbie had guzzled down half the bottle, water pouring out the sides of her mouth and down her shirt, before the camera was ready. (We asked her to take another drink for the photograph. She happily obliged. :)

I know you've heard it before, but it is so relevant here:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. . . . Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:35, 40 NASB).

That's what I'm asking you to do: quench the thirst of the least of them. (And note that little phrase: "to the extent.")

We need various forms of hydration for various living conditions. For some, a cold, disposable bottle of water is the best solution. For others, sturdy, refillable water bottles would be treasured. (They can refill at the library and the Greenway.) And for some areas, a water cooler with disposable cups would be most efficient.

Some ideas: 
  • Rolling coolers (to stay with a nonprofit)
  • A portable water cooler/tank (to stay with the nonprofit)
  • Something like THIS would be so helpful! (to stay with a nonprofit)
  • Cases of bottled water
  • Gatorade (or other sports/electrolyte drinks)
  • Gatorade mix/powder/liquid concentrate (or other sports/electrolyte mixes)
  • Refillable water bottles (New, please. The one pictured above came from Dollar Tree.)
  • Paper/disposable cups
  • Gallons of filtered/spring water
  • Carabiners (to hang bottles on backpacks, etc.) 

But we're not picky--they're not picky. Any method of hydration will do.

Will you help us? And will you ask your church, Sunday school class, youth group, and friends to contribute in whatever way they can too?

If you're around Murfreesboro, supplies can be dropped off at WGNS. You can donate online here (note "Hydrate the Homeless"). If neither of those are convenient, comment below or email meWe will find a way!

Of course, in doing so, we're also providing a taste of living water, water that never will run dry.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Losing My Religion

I’ve got a little hothead in my blood.

My dad was a hothead. His dad was a hothead. And I’m sure you could scan through our Scottish bloodline and find a few others to add to the list.

But thank God, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control: "The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NCV). 

I love loving on people. I’m pretty good at patience and peace. But self-control, that last-listed fruit of the Spirit, is one that I’m still growing.

And when someone attacks my kids or my Christianity, well, that fruit rots and falls flat off the vine.

Like recently.

It doesn’t matter who did what. But I lost it. I said things I shouldn’t have. Loudly. Angrily. Lacking self-control.

Sure, I stomped back over there and apologized. But it was too late. I couldn’t erase those words. No matter how truthful they were. (Okay. See. I’m still working on it.)

When things cooled down, my husband turned to my ten-year-old son. “What were you doing while we were over there?”

He slowly shook his head and smiled. “I was praying.”

“Ethan, really. What were you doing?”

The smile disappeared. “I was praying! Praying that everything would turn out all right.”

And that’s when the fruit of gentleness knocked me in the head. Those sweet words from my living, breathing, ten-year ministry were a much needed, grace-soaked reminder. Even in those moments when I completely lose my fruit, the seeds that I’ve planted will stand strong and continue to grow.

And maybe, just maybe, the occasional rotten fruit will help to fertilize those seeds.

Because our God gets it. He’s amazing like that.

What fruits are you trying to grow? And when does your fruit fall flat?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Being a Woman Is . . .

Being a woman begins with one little chromosome that sets a swirl of miracles in motion.

Being a woman is entering a world that carries you a little gentler, speaks to you a little softer, then throws you into the real world and expects you to succeed.

Being a woman is overcoming that world in stilettos--or sneakers--and a smile.

Being a woman is learning from an early age to hide regular, crushing pain, and still march on in spite of it. 

It is learning to love that pain because it gives us the ability to carry new life.

It's having the superpower to grow humans in your belly--and being held responsible for that power every. single. day. of your life.

It's having to defend the choice not to exercise that power. 

And it's mourning the emptiness of the loss of that power.  

Being a woman is having the ability to create the purest nourishment for your child, both inside the womb and out--and being held responsible for that ability every. single. day.

Being a woman is a life of giving, listening, caring, nurturing. Wiping noses and kissing boo-boos. Stroking sweaty hair and cleaning puked-on toilets--even when you feel like dying yourself. It's giving until you feel you can't possibly give any more, until you look in the mirror and see smeared mascara and a ratty sweatshirt and gray hair and crow's feet and laugh lines and beautiful memories molded into your face.

It's helping your dad on a bedpan. It's giving your mom a bath. 

It's watching the woman who taught you to be a woman suffer and die from the very parts that defined her a woman--and knowing that it was worth every magical moment.

Being a woman isn't about rewards for service or bravery or heroism--because that's just what we do.

Being a woman is not now, nor has it ever been, about the sum of the parts you see on the outside. It is the ugly, beautiful, individual, vulnerable, powerful, inimitable, phenomenal creation of God.

It is all of those things. And so much more.

Don't ever let this world tell you differently.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Judy Blume on Writing

On Tuesday, I was tickled to stumble upon a Twitter feed, #lunchwithJudy, where followers and fangirls (ahem) were given the opportunity to sit on the other side of the screen from the living legend of kid lit that is Judy Blume

Who hasn't read a Judy Blume book at some point in her childhood?

In fewer than 140 characters, Judy Blume fielded questions with wit and guidance and inspiration that any writer would appreciate. So I grabbed some portions of that #lunchwithJudy, put them in a to-go box, and brought them home to share with you. 

On inspiration . . .

On second-guessing . . .


Advice for ANY writer . . .

Digital vs. Longhand 

On writer's block  . . .


On editing . . .

On characters . . .

On book sniffing :) . . . 


On trying new things  . . .

On Sally J. Freedman . . . 


Want more? Her website offers a generous section on writing.

Happy writing!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Lion and the Mouse

Jennifer & one of our friends
A few weeks ago, my friends and I held an event to help some of the people who live in tents and under bridges in Murfreesboro. My dear friend and hairdresser left her posh salon--on one of the busiest hairdressing days of the year--and set up shop in the smoking section of a dated hotel to offer haircuts to our friends. 

Throughout the afternoon, we heard lots of interesting stories from lots of interesting people. As Jennifer said, "When I put my hands in people's hair, they just start talking." And as Jennifer always does, she listened. We left that day completely spent, but hoping our new friends felt a little more refreshed and a lot more loved.

Then today, when I went to see Jen for a haircut, she told me an interesting story. Her adorable daughter (a high school senior who had also come to help that Easter weekend) ran out of gas a few days ago. Emma Claire coasted to rest on a steep embankment at the side of a busy intersection and called her mom for help. 

Stranded and waiting, Emma Claire watched people pass her by, some staring, some glaring at her audacity to slow the traffic on a Friday afternoon. Jennifer arrived soon thereafter, but then realized that the car was sitting at such an angle, even when gas was added, it still wouldn't start. So Jennifer and Emma Claire set out to push it to level ground. 

That's when a van pulled up. And Jennifer immediately recognized the two passengers walking toward her. Jennifer had cut Kristen's hair on Easter weekend while her boyfriend, Sean, watched in anticipation of the new look. 

"How many people have offered to help?" Sean asked, listening to their predicament. "Nobody has." He answered his own question, knowing the feeling all too well. 

Then together, they pushed Emma Claire's vehicle to level ground and got her on her way.

It reminded me of Aesop's story of the lion and the mouse

When we give, we will be repaid, even--or especially--in the most unlikely of ways.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Tale of Two Songs

When I started my car the other day, Steven Tyler was warbling over a catchy riff. I, admittedly, like me some Aerosmith and instantly recognized "Love in an Elevator" (common side effects of the 80s & 90s). 

As I took a breath to sing along, something struck me, and . . . well, I reached down and changed the station. As soon as I did, I knew what--or rather who--it was that struck me. 

I heard, "Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain. Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires, singing Your name. . . . " 

It was Needtobreathe, with probably their most beautiful song ever, "Multiplied." (If you have to choose between reading this post and listening to that song, by all means, listen.)

God's love had come to find me, to remind me that in that moment--in every moment--I had a choice. I could choose the insta-love in an elevator, an empty, entertaining distraction, grasping and gasping for fleeting satisfaction. Or I could dig deeper and find a love like radiant diamonds. A love that we cannot contain. The love that will seek us out, never go away, and never grow old.

I'm not talking about sex versus purity. Or the negative effects of the "devil's music." I'm not saying don't make banana pancakes with Jack Johnson or shake it off with Taylor Swift. (I enjoy doing both on occasion.) 

This is about so much more than that. It's about how we fill our lives, our eternities. It's about that invitation that you respond to every single day.

Who are we listening to? 

Who are we singing along with? 

Whose messages are sinking into our souls?

Do we fill our heads with the brash, cheap, temporary love (that isn't really love at all)? A pining for popularity? Superficial beauty? Stuff? Do we cheer louder for our sports teams than we do our God? (Thank you, Pastor Allen.) 

Or do we change the channel and fill our souls with love everlasting? Generosity. Truth. Kindness. Compassion. God's Word. Things that make a difference for eternity.

What's your station tuned to? What music are you allowing to fill your heart, your soul, your life?

The choice is ours. And we make it every. single. day.

Choose well. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Words to Dream On

One of the huge perks of this business is having author friends. The people you meet at conferences and chat with on Facebook are the same people who create amazing products that you wanna run around telling everyone about. 

One such friend is Diane Stortz, with her latest adorableness, Words to Dream On.* (She also wrote The Sweetest Story Bible.) 

I mean, c'mon . . . the cover! I knew I loved this book before I'd even read the first word. And once I held it in my hands, well, let's just say that you need this book in your library. Like, now.

The thing you'll love about Diane is that she spent many years of her career as an editor in children's Christian publishing. She knows what works. She knows how to speak to children. And she's going to make every word matter. As a mom, that speaks volumes to me, because I have limited time and money and bedtime stories to spend with my children. I want to make them count.

You can see for yourself that the interior is just endearing. It pulls you in. The illustrations feel modern and vibrant, but there's an earthier chalkiness that I love too. 

Still, what you're going to appreciate the most--besides the obvious sharing of God's Word with your children--are the multiple interactions provided with each story, for each bedtime. 

  1. There's, of course, the Bible story, with perfectly simplified phrasing, like this one from the story of Moses: "One mommy, Jochebed, didn't do what Pharaoh wanted. She hid her baby boy at home, but after three months he was too big--and noisy!--to hide any longer." (Do you know how difficult it is to explain the scary stuff of the Bible to kids?! She's done it. Beautifully.)
  2. There's a Bedtime Blessing, giving the theme or lesson that your child will walk away with. (To me, this sort of doubles as a topical index. Say you're having a bully issue. You know you can flip to the story of David, with the Bedtime Blessing, "God will fight for you.")
  3. There are Words to Dream On, a short but applicable Bible verse, perfect for memorizing.
  4. And a Sleepy-Time Prayer that's a quick, sweet message for kids to read or repeat to God that helps them to internalize and pray about the message of the story.
If you're looking for the perfect Bible storybook, or just a meaningful book to share with your kids, this is it. Gorgeous illustration and design, words that matter, messages your kids will understand--this Bible storybook is no less than the title promises, a dream

*I'm not sure why CBD has the description "Imitation Leather." Unless I'm missing something, this is a regular hardcover book, and I wouldn't want it any other way. :)