Sunday, August 4, 2019

how to relish today: kissing and dancing in the everyday mundane

I whispered “I love you” a hundred times in his little ear. 
He threw his soft one-year-old arms around my neck and buried his chocolate filthy face into my chest. I told my sister to take a picture and hurry. 

It’s not always going to be like this. 

But today. We have today. 

The five-year-old, one and only niece, stood outside my bedroom door, “Will you play Candyland with me? I have it all set up for us.” 

 Look around and appreciate?
God's teaching me how. 

They’re growing up and I’m growing older and nothing’s slowing down. But these days God’s giving us, gifts—-fragile mundane beautiful and never going to get back—-gifts. I want to open each one with zeal-soaked fingers, taking my time, relishing, embracing and kissing chocolate faces.  

As I’m living with these four kids, in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky, driving to drug rehabs and falling in love with the Grace-Giver in ways I hadn’t until now, He's teaching me to dance through the aisles of Costco with sister's youngest baby because God is good and relishing today is His idea. And a good idea. 

Look around. 
Who do you see? 

It won't always be this way, but God's given us today. 

I miss Hong Kong and the other places I'm not in right now and those African women and those hard days that don’t seem so hard now--but good grief, look around. When am I going to open my eyes and see my today? My right-where-I’m-at with these people and relish it like a gift I’m never going to get back? Now. I’m going to do that now. 

Things still aren't perfect. 

People still disappoint me, I still disappoint me, life still isn't exactly going like I thought it would.
But God--He's still perfect. And He still likes living in me and being with me and letting me rest my head against His perfect Chest and breathe. And He's teaching me to look around and enjoy, to pause and just be--here, in the moment, this right now. 
He's gifting me with today. 

 Even with the extra pounds and the messy kitchens and the big questions--When these moments pass, we'll miss them. So let's  value the present as a true handed-to-us-by-God present, while we're in it. 

Enjoying today and enjoying God. 
In the everyday monotony? Can enjoying God be the answer to how to enjoy our lives? 

And how do we enjoy God? 

Here's what I'm learning to do: 
Pausing on the countless--literally, so many that I can't count them--things He's doing for me, giving to me, sharing from His Heart with me. Letting my pausing turn to thanking and dancing. Then today becomes the moment I'm living in, enjoying. 

And then I start dancing in the aisles of Costco, that soft laughing baby in my arms. 

These aren’t my kids. This isn't my house. 
But I get to live here with sister and her family all year, and I’m aimed to absorb these memories, soaked into my heart and stored there till I die. 

And that day’s gonna be here before I know it. All of us. Our lives have an end. Let's not forget. 

I've got this rotten habit of waiting until the "next thing" comes, with the feeling that when "next thing" has arrived; the country, the husband, the achieved goals, the whatever, then I'll be able to stop and enjoy. What's a lot better than this rotten habit is to look around at the four wild beauties I'm living with and hug my sister in the kitchen and tell her "thank you" for what she's giving me and know that here-and-now is the "thing" God wants me to enjoy.  

The girl who’s five won’t always want me to hold her and tell her stories before she falls asleep, or want her hair to look a mess like mine because she thinks I'm cool. My bed partner isn’t always going to be three and pleading with me to read “all the Bible stories” every night and then reaching over in the dark and touching my hand right before he falls asleep. The oldest of the crew, 11, will not always think eating sushi with me is a big adventure or want me to show him again how “Heart and Soul” goes on the piano. And the youngest, he’s not always going to fit in my arms in the aisles of Costco. But today. Today he does, so today we dance. 

And God, help us see today as a gift, even with its flaws and hurts and disappointments, help us look around and treasure today anyway. And to enjoy You. 
And help us dance more often. 
Thank You. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

10 years of living with a ton of people from all over the globe: 3 take-aways

I live in a mansion in the woods with a bunch of people. 

Last night we had a ping pong tournament and watched a Chinese movie called "Red Cliff." I'm not into staying up past 9 or watching movies but I miss Asia, so I joined the whole clan on couches in the basement. 

My bedroom is across the hall from the kids' room, I share a fridge with two men and a seven-year-old, and the three-year-old is in my bed 95% of nights. 

Community it's called. Been living with wild assortments of people for 10 years now. Unless you call my family a wild assortment of people, then I've been living in community my entire life, minus one year (it was a gloriously easy year after graduating college).

From the farm house where I grew up into a 12x15 feet dorm room with a Japanese girl. We had some different habits, me and her, our floor stayed covered in long black and blonde hairs, but she was kind and so was I (most of the time) so we managed along just fine. She made sushi for me before she moved. I drove her to the airport and she gave me her favorite pair of jeans. 

The next nine years entailed roommates like this: sisters, women from six countries in a little house in Mozambique, a girl I'd met once in my Grandma's renthouse (she became my good friend even though I wasn't really into the 'roommate' thing at the time, having just come out of the gloriously easy living-by-myself year and was a jerk to her frequently), 95 kids in a children's home in India, a pretty and creative blonde South African and a coffee-loving and thoughtful American in Hong Kong, a missionary in Thailand, a barely-knew-her-interesting girl in a hotel room in Myanmar for a few weeks, six African queens and an American BFF in Hong Kong, and now, the commune in the woods.    

The guy who lives upstairs has red facial hair, is the loudest laugher I've ever heard, and has a tender heart. He asked me how my dentist appointment went the other day. The man who lives with his seven-year-old daughter in the floor below me has an unusually deep voice, cleans a lot (hallelujah) and just bought his daughter a trampoline, which is set up in the grass right below my bedroom window and I often get invited to jump on it by all the little roommates. His daughter may be an angel. And she has awesome hair that she ties handkerchiefs around. Because that's what angels do. The guy in the basement is a musical mastermind and gave me a piano lesson this week, the husband and wife who brought all the other little roommates into the world are my sister and brother-in-law (and friends and life-encouragers), and the guy who lives out back with his new wife is a caring computer genius, his wife a polite ping pong prodigy from China. Oh, and we have a new dog and two kittens. 

I'm an intro-intro-introvert. Some people are surprised by this, some even argue with me; because I like people, they tell me, I must be an extrovert. But as much as I like them, being around them isn't how I get fueled--being alone, very alone, is how I do that. And being alone, very alone, is challenging when you live with half the population of Kentucky. 

For 10 years now, I've been learning to adapt--to wake up at the crack of dawn before the others emerge from their beds, to relax about spilled stuff on the kitchen counters, to not flip out about all the activity happening in the fridge, to go on lots of walks, and to be nicer.  

Life isn't about me. 
But boy do I forget that. 
Living in community is a super good reminder. Life is about loving God (and thus becoming more like Him), and loving people. 
Love--that's the whole big point of life.  

It would be easier to live by myself--only my shoes at the backdoor, decorate how I want, go to bed without trying to drown out the roommates' noise--easy stuff. But then I don't get a pair of Japanese jeans or piano lessons or in-depth lessons on mothering or become family with women from Africa as we dine on Ugandan dishes at the dinner table or become family with the odd collection of people in the big house as we watch Chinese-subtitled movies. Living with all these people--God is growing love in my soul. 

He said He made human beings in His image. I've noticed there's quite a bit of variety in human beings (20 year-old Japanese girl roommate and 46 year-old American man roommate have a few differences) so it seems to me, the more people I live with, the more of God's image I see up close and personal. That makes sense.  

Don't get me wrong, you don't have to live with a bunch of people to have community or have love grow or see God's image. You can live by yourself and find community and all it's benefits (and trials) in a number of ways. 

This week I got to hangout with a couple friends who believe in me; it's amazing what a nice friend can do for a person's heart. God made it that way, where we need and help and lift and refresh and encourage each other. Whether we share a house or just coffee, we can regularly help someone's heart by believing in them and being nice. 

 3 take-aways:

1. improve on loving your neighbor (and not be a jerk) 
2. all the mercy (God floods us all with it)
3. sorta how Heaven is (tons of people together)

Community: it's hard and good for our selfish hearts and fun.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
-Psalm 133:1

Thursday, July 4, 2019

the fireworks flowers (some practical thoughts on hearing God's Voice)

Sister picked them in her front yard--flowers looking like fireworks. 

The bouquet is sitting on our table in a glass jar, presenting bright colors to the kitchen. 

But flowers and fireworks are different. Yeah--they're colorful and pretty and fun to look at, but that's about all they have in common. 

Fireworks are fast explosions, loud show-y bursts of color and then gone.  Potassium nitrate, chemical reactions, fuses, and some other stuff, combining to explode color into the sky—-and last year, sending more than 9,000 to the hospital.
 Attention-seeking, potentially hazardous, and gone in an instant. 

Very different are flowers--they grow slow, steady in the sun, unnoticeable daily progress taking their time in the dirt, roots growing down unseen. They're not striving, they're just being. 
Eventually, in silence, they bloom. 

My 74-year old Great Aunt had her first wedding a couple months ago. After years of teaching school, playing the organ at church, raising cats, and waiting, she got her husband. At the reception, where she swayed close to her groom on the dance floor, my cousin and I talked about what it's like to hear God talk. The Creator God's voice spoken to our souls--How? And what's He sound like? 

Smelling sister's bouquet today, touching the textures, admiring the colors--I'm thinking about flowers and fireworks and God's voice.

 I've wanted (and expected) Him to be more like fireworks--flashy loud booming instruction across the sky of my soul; "HERE I AM AND THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SAY, SO MAKE NO MISTAKE, I'M TALKING!" with other loud and obvious words. Like if I mix up the right things and strive hard enough, maybe He'll show up flashy for me. 

But from what I can tell, God doesn't usually talk like fireworks. I'm finding His voice to be more like flowers. And more like my 74 year-old aunt swaying on the dance floor. 

A friend recently asked, "Does His voice inside of me sound like my own thoughts? And if so, how can I tell what's His voice and what's just my thoughts?" Now that's a question. 

I didn't have a polished perfect answer, and I still don't. And I'm not an expert or a theologian but man, I love Him. He's the reason I like getting out of bed every morning and the reason why I light a candle and turn on twinkle lights and open the Bible and read real slow--and thinking about Him now, I'm overwhelmed He's made it so simple. If I can know Him, anyone can know Him. He doesn't speak in the try-to-figure-it-out flashy striving; He speaks in the take-your-time resting. 

When we look for Him, we find Him (He said that). 
If we want to hear His Voice, we will.
Like the flowers and my aunt, He's steady, calm, patient. He's mystery and romance. And I hear Him best when I'm quiet. When I give Him time to talk. 
God help us give You time. 

He wants us to hear Him way way way more than we want to hear Him. Dialogue--us talking to Him, Him talking to us; it's how He wants to fill our days. Our minds interacting with Him, our hearts hearing what He says, from Monday to Sunday, from wake-up to bedtime. 

So I'm sitting here typing, and my blog-beginning enthusiasm has turned to ugh: I just now entered into conversation with Him--
"What am I doing? Writing about hearing Your voice? I'm not qualified. This is dumb."

He responds, 
"I love you. You can do this, Love."

He sounds sorta like my own thoughts, except nicer, and truer, and always matching what the Bible says. His voice is on the inside of us (He loves this place) and listening to His voice is the most important thing we can do. Ever. And His voice is why I'm going to follow-though and finish this post. Help me, Jesus. 

"God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer."
-Mother Teresa

If given the choice of a fireworks show or flower garden growing in my soul, I'd pick the flowers any day. Thriving, steady, spreading color and beauty--like God's voice. 


 a practical idea; 
Read John 10:1-30, taking your time.
Think about what you're reading, talk to Him about what you're reading. 
Ask Him to help you hear His voice.  


Happy July 4th. 
I hope you get to watch a lot of fireworks tonight. 
And I hope you hear His Voice, like a pretty bouquet of life. 

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me."
John 10:27

Friday, June 7, 2019

five life-giving steps for walking through change (and remembering who you are)

I’ve dubbed the first few months of 2019 the hardest I’ve ever lived. This moving out of the safe house in Hong Kong with those remarkable lively women, back to my homeland--for a few different unpredictable reasons that dug their ugh deep into my heart--it has been hard. 

But tonight I went to the movies with my sister and the kids and watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 and laughed hard and loud and then we came home and caught lighting bugs in the backyard and man, life's hard but not nearly as hard as it is glorious. 

And as the hardness of the change lingers but the awareness of God's delight in me grows, I've decided to read more books and grow more plants and wear more lipstick and talk to my delighted-in-me God more often. 

So let me make a public declaration:
I'm done whining and worrying about my life right now. 

It's true that I don't live in Asia anymore, I don't walk by the ocean every night, those beautiful women from Africa are no longer my roommates, and there are approximately 8,000 things I miss. And about 8,000 more I don't understand. 

 But it's also true that my sister's kids who I cried for during the two years I lived in Asia are now living across the hall from me and asking me to tell them stories every night before bed. 

And here's what else is true, change is a booger and boy we go through a lot of it in life. All of us. Extremely painful change, inevitable for everyone. 

I keep burying my head in God's chest and crying. He keeps wrapping big arms around me and saying kind and true words to my soul. 

Help us go through it well, God. 

If we'll join our hearts up with His during the changes, He will use them to shape us and help us and teach us important things we need to be taught. Like, He loved taking care of us back then, and He loves taking care of us right now. The care coming out of His unbelievably good heart is constant. Stable. Doesn't change. 
What a relief. 

An expert at comparison--my life to her's and my purpose to his and my happiness to their's and then I even compare my current self to my used-to-be-self and think that my used-to-be-self was better--let me tell you that being an expert at comparison is an awful and stupid thing to be an expert at. So I'm retiring.  

Comparing and changing and self-pitying helped me to kinda forget who I was. So me and God are still in the teaching-me-who-I-am process. And the amazings He's given me as friends and family, they're teaching me who I am, too. I taped a bunch of pictures across the wall beside my bed--smiling people who love me, secured next to my head. I named it my "identity wall." 

Five life-giving steps I've found helpful as I'm walking (not crawling...anymore) through change: 

1. Don't have pity parties. 
Look around for something to be thankful for, then be thankful for it. You'll probably find a few million things and spend the rest of your life listing off the thankfuls. 

2. Don't compare yourself to A.N.Y.B.O.D.Y.
 Including your old self. 
You're not your heroes, you're not your parents, you're not whoever else you may think you wish you were. You're you. Do you. Be proud of you. Explore you. Are you super weird and don't know anybody else like yourself? Awesome. Me, too. You were God's original idea and He only has good ideas.

3. Don't worry about what others are thinking about ya. 
Talk to Jesus, worship Jesus, read what He's saying in the Bible, listen to Jesus--then don't mind at all if others think you're not amazing. He thinks you're amazing and His opinion is the only one that counts.  

4. Find friends and lean on them. 
"Community" it's called and it's oh-so-important. Call up some friends, cry to them, bare your soul to them, listen to them.
(and maybe tape pictures of them on your bedroom wall) 

5. If you only listen to one of the suggestions, listen to this one:  pray pray pray. Talk to God about every single thing going on in your heart during the change and ask Him for all His help. He loves an open heart, even if it smells like manure and looks like poison. He's not intimated and can cradle those things back to healthy thriving life. That's what He's been doing with mine. 
(and get all the friends taped to your wall to pray for you, too)

I've been studying new ways to pray then taking my findings into drug rehabs and we're getting closer to Jesus together. He's the best conversation Partner and the best helper and the best everything. 

We're going to make it. And when He's the leader of your life, everything really is going to be ok. 

Chin up! He's got you. 

Those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed. 
-Isaiah 49:23

p.s. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is my new favorite movie. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

why we don't have to live love deprived: lessons from drug rehab and this toyota

Craig, the young man at Auto Zone in the red shirt and confidence, came out and looked at the tiny rust spots on my hood--I asked him to because I figured he was working at Auto Zone so he'd know what to do. 

"Oh yeah, some spray paint will take care of that," confident Craig said.  

The shade of blue looked close enough to the shade of my new 2003 Highlander that all my friends just bought me. Confident Craig agreed. So $11, later I was standing in Auto Zone parking lot, confident Craig's support cheering me on, and I spray painted a giant blue circle, a very different blue than the color of my car, right onto my Highlander's hood. And then I didn't stop. In no time, I had bright blue polka dots across the front of my beautiful car. Then I stood there, wondering what in the heck I'd just done. And wanting to spray paint confident Craig's face. 

Next day, I knocked over my french press full of piping hot coffee, spilling its contents across my computer keyboard. Coffee-soaked computer hasn't recovered but I left it with Jason at the computer repair shop and I'm praying for a resurrection. If it doesn't ever come back to life, I'm going to spray paint it blue and tape it to my hood. For decoration. And go visit Craig. 

I've started praying prayers like this: 

"Help me not be an idiot, God."

So I packed up my secret place in the back of that polka-dotted Highlander and drove to a drug rehab. I unpacked my treasure--the thrill of knowing Jesus--all over the rehab living room. Colorful blanket laid on the floor, candle lit, secrets of the secret place shared, hard questions asked. 

That drug rehab living room was full of 17 women hungry for more love. Aren’t we all? 

Love love love--It’s what God’s made of. 

He’s longing, itching, intense desiring-—to come in, flood in, dance in, and pour love everywhere, all over all of us. Drenching our deepest corners and holes and moron activities-—with love. With Himself. When we've ruined valuable relationships and computers and have worshiped everybody but Him, He still wants to fill our lives with love. 

Those 17 ladies in recovery and me, we’re recovering from broken hearts and bad habits—-aren’t we all? 

I feel at home in rehabs with the honest and open and hurting. They tell their stories of habits and abuse without batting their tired pretty eyes. I wish the rest of us would be that honest.

I told those ladies the same thing He’s been telling me—-He likes our company. And His company is what we're created for. The simple truth I'm discovering--when we make space for Him, He fills it--I want to keep sharing with rehabs and neighbors and nations and you. 

In the midst of our hurting recovering hearts in the rehab living room, He--the great King of the universe--met with us and filled the space we made for Him. He always does. 

What are 20 minutes? What’s an hour? What else could I possibly have to do that outweighs sitting before my Maker breath-Giver who wants me to sit before Him? He made us for this. For Him. For love.

Those 17 girls and me, we know about hunger and longing and intense wanting. The deepest place in us, it can only be satisfied by One. We make damaging mistakes trying to get something else to satisfy that deepest place. No income, number of friends, loud applause, health, wild adventure, drug, man, or woman can satisfy that deep want everybody feels--for love. Love is the thing we're all starving for and there's only One named Love. He’s the God who became a baby in a feeding trough, then a carpenter, then murdered for the sins of the world. He did that so He can touch our deep insides, wash clean those nasty places inside of us, and bring us into intense intimacy with Himself. The Gospel! He's the One. He is Love.   

We don’t have to live love-deprived. Not anymore.

It's costly, but not complicated. He isn't a quick fix. He's a Mystery to be discovered with time and focus and songs and listening and reading those ageless Words.


Give Him 10 minutes of your time. 

-Tell Him you want to see Him and ask Him for help
-Read a few verses in the Bible 
(if you're starting, I'd suggest Psalm 139)
-Think about what you're reading, 
talk to God about what you're reading
-Ask Him to show you a picture of you and Him together. 
Close your eyes and wait. 

He's got enough love in His heart for you, too, if you’ll let Him love you. He never gives us anything except love. 

And He doesn’t call us idiots, or addicts.
He calls us lovers and family and friends.*

p.s. I still get giddy when I get in my Highlander, even with its new polka dots. Thank you, everybody. 

p.p.s. ask God to keep directing me and all my friends in rehab into His love--2 Thessalonians 3:5.

p.p.p.s. ask God to help my computer live.

*Lover-Song of Solomon 2:16
 Family- Matthew 12:50
 Friend-John 15:15

Sunday, April 28, 2019

jessica, my weak heart, and the way God waits

They were drunk, handsome, and thought I was pretty. 

But then I remember. 
Right before that humanity's story-transforming murder, Jesus sat down at a table with His 12 friends. When He took the bread and broke it, took the wine and poured it, He gave it to them. Just like that, He offered, again, all of Himself to His friends. 

"Remember, through the rest of history, that I have given myself to humanity. Take Me, accept Me, have all of Me. Here I am, given to you, Love." 

Then He hung, completely given, to you and me. I love the Cross.

Jessica Lynn, my blonde friend with defined muscles and a massive heart, got married. 

“This has been the best day of my life,” she beamed, minutes before walking down the aisle to her waiting groom. 

My new friends at the reception kept going back to the bar and kept giving me their attention. And they were funny. And had so many nice things to say to me.

But—-I had lots of makeup on and they were drunk. 

On Monday, when they were sober and back to work, why was I still thinking about their liquor-soaked compliments? 

I'm all the way convinced; if we could feel God's pursuit of our affections, His unchanging want for our love, His real and deep (and sober) compliments--we wouldn't feel lonely, we'd stop being mean, our insecurity would get replaced with confidence, and sin would be swallowed up in His love. God help us feel Your love for us, deep down let us feel it.

God sees all of me. So much of my life has been me making mistakes, ugly selfish heart on display. There are secrets I wish I didn't have, filthy hidden that embarrass me. Makeup washed off, flawed face and flawed heart--no one has any idea how weak I am. Except One. There is One who knows...and His response? 

He waits at the end of the aisle. 

Still, even still--His eyes fixed on me, heart coveting forever covenant with me, His bare hands open to take mine into forever holy matrimony. Oh God, You still want me. 

Makeup, curls, invitations, cakes, workouts, parties, counselling, and dreaming since she was five—-preparation for this day, this coming together in promise forever moment. Jessica Lynn stood before her groom and there they gave themselves to each other, their worst and their best, exchanged in holy vows. 

Gosh she was pretty. Yeah the muscles and perfectly-pinned hair were lovely, but the prettiest was the love she floated in. She was thrilled. She knew she was walking down the aisle to a man who wanted all of her, purely and rightly. 

Doesn't God want us to be an in-love bride? Floating down the altar in love? 

Why marriage? A promise held sacred in Ethiopia and Canada and all the places in between—-why do we do it? 

God wants us to know what He’s like. We get a lot of tiny windows to see into Heaven, tastes of the indescribable sweet that’s coming soon to those who want Him. And the promised “I do” of husband and wife is one of those windows. I don't think there's a window that let's us see Him any clearer. 

"I,__, take thee,__, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you."

When we look at Him, we see a furious loving Groom who has pledged Himself to us, given Himself in full to every person who wants Him. Our marriage to Him, there is no "death do us part." There's only together. Forever. Ah. 

Why did I think about those drunk guys' compliments so much? I guess it's because being wanted is wonderful. 

People can't satisfy people. There are moments of satisfaction, but they don't, they can't, carry us. Marriage, even a blissful one, won't fulfill us. It can't. We're created for a more, a-united-to-the-Uncreated-forever more. He is the satisfaction that carries. The total giving of Himself to me, my total giving of myself to Him--it's His love-soaked design.

His Heart—-the one giraffes and cherry trees and eye sight and wheat fields and sunsets came out of—-it’s still feeling. The feelings? Want for you and me and for all 7.7 billion of us.

When I say to Him, "Let me know how much You want me," and I listen, read the Bible, and wait, He lets my little heart feel this truth. And I stop daydreaming about drunk men calling me beautiful. And I'm satisfied.

God's compliments are sober. And He's waiting at the end of the aisle. 

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
-Revelation 19:9

Thursday, April 18, 2019

3 ways to help me put God's love on display (plus what's happening at the dentist)

Laid back in the dentist chair, I started to cry.
The tears weren't rolling from pain, but from the warming extraordinary feeling of being cared for. 

When I slammed my head into that metal pole in Thailand, two front teeth broke off (one ripped through my bottom lip...but the Thai plastic surgeon sewed that hole up nicely). 

I recently began considering a visit to a fake-teeth-specializing dentist. 

"Oh no. It's too expensive. I need a car instead of two new fake teeth. And I'm just being vain, anyway. And what about starving people?"

Right when I'd about talked myself out of a new smile, God interrupted the guilty-I-don't-have-enough-money-and-am-too-vain chatter in my head; 

"I love your smile. I can afford new teeth AND a car AND feed starving people." 

Well ok, God! If You say so! 
(We can hear God's voice! Jesus made that possible!)

In the fake-teeth-specialiazing dentist's chair, after he cracked my last pair of fake teeth off, I snuck my phone out and snapped the most awful-looking and hilarious selfie that's ever been snapped (I'd done this before, years ago, but wondered what they looked like now, after years had passed...I was pleased to find myself looking as attractive as ever). 

This is what I really look like. 
I'm a scary-looking goofball. Jesus sees who we really are, even after our wrecks, our divorces, our wars--and His intense love is unchanged.

We are super imperfect, tempted, doubting, weak little things, oh, but God doesn't look away! We smile our imperfect grins and He says "Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!" 

Getting ahold of how He feels about me, it's changing all my insides. Hopeless holes are getting filled in with hope--hope that looks like blooming huge colorful flowers. My scary goofball grin is loved, cherished even, by the Maker of the entire universe. Ahhhh. 

At my next appointment, trying out the new fake teeth that had just come in, the specializing dentist says to me, 
"If you don't absolutely love these teeth when we try them on, then we're sending them back."

He slipped the new beauts onto the scary nubbs and they looked quite nice--my smile looking more like my pre-wreck smile than it had in seven years. But they were a little large and a little the wrong color. So specializing dentist calls in the other specializing dentist and both of those angelic doctors stood over my smile discussing in detail--shape, color, texture, size, how to communicate the details with the lab,  and I laid there, mouth wide open under the bright light, and felt so loved, so cared for.

Tears started rolling from the sides of my eyes, leaking onto the grey specializing dentist chair. 

God whispered, 
"Your smile is important to Me." 

On top of that, car money's been coming in, new monthly supporters have been signing up, I've been calling homeless shelters in Louisville to find out how to get hungry people fed with a food truck, this last week I got to tell a drug rehab and a youth group about Jesus' longing for their company, and I've been mailing letters, singing God songs, and letting Him shape what He wants my life in America to look like. 

So, everybody. 
Thank you. 
Each of you who are joining the display of love God is doing in my life, thank you. Your love is helping the homeless and the recovering and the church folks and the nursing home residents and the cashiers to experience the great love of the great God who defeated Hell for all of us. Together, your love and mine, is displaying for many people what Jesus is like--good and right and generous and incredibly interested and  strong and made of love. He is love! He came for everybody! And it's almost Easter! And I'm getting new fake teeth!* By gum. There's so much Good News.

If you're wondering how you can help people know Jesus in a very practical day-to-day sort of way, I've got more good news. That day-to-day making Jesus known is the life I'm living. 
And I need your help.

1. Pray
2. Give
 3. Come 

Pray--Sign up for my prayer e-mail if you'd like to pray with me. 

Give--I'm still living on what people have told me is a "part-time salary." I'm doing the full-time ministry work, so asking God to raise my salary...."my salary" means people who want to be part of what God's doing in my life and send me money every month. My goal is 55% raised.  Give here or mail my mom (aka my accountant).

Come--Oh I love friends and adventuring together. If you want to come with me to preach the Gospel, feed the homeless, or anything else God leads us to do, you're welcome.

Together is God's way and His love shines bright through us. Us.

God's been reminding me who I am and I've been reading through old journals, getting dreams and hopes churned up in me again...

August 14, 2012
Andra Pradesh, India
So I'm buying Joseph a motorcycle today! I say "I'm" like it's my money, but none of its mine. Like I told Sudar today, I'm just a funnel. People have given so much for this venture I'm on, and now I get the awesome job of finding places to put their money. So fun! Since Joseph is literally making disciples of the nations, I thought something to help him "Go" would line right up with the Great Commission. Had plenty of funds to give him $1,100 for a motorcycle, so that's what we're doing today.

We just waltzed in here like royalty and Joseph picked out which one he wanted. I couldn't stop smiling. They keep thanking me and saying things like this; "I can't believe it. I never knew God would send the money through such a little sista." hahaha!  God's rich and He's just looking for generous people to dump His richness on. I never want money to stop at me, I want it to just pass through my hands.

God is good, Jesus is alive, and from Kentucky to India, He loves taking care of us. 
Happy Good Friday, my friends. 

*p.s. I have two bank accounts--ministry and personal. Every month, my ministry pays me a set salary which my board has approved, while the rest stays in the ministry account. Ministry pays for ministry things, while personal pays for personal (like new fake teeth). Just in case you wondered. Ok I love you bye.