Thursday, July 30, 2015

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

This guy.
My man.

Minister is not what he does, it's who he is.
Minister is not a job or occupation, it's a calling.
Minister is not a noun, it's a verb.

I have known this guy since I was 6 years old and have been with him for over 25 years. He loves and forgives like nothing I've ever seen.

Watching Keith live out love and forgiveness with his dad is the reason I gave my life to Jesus. I had never seen that kind of love lived out before. Keith loved his dad without condition and without strings. He just loved.

If you are struggling to see the goodness and forgiveness of God,
I invite you to lean in.

If you are struggling to see God as loving,
I invite you to come close.


Pure Jesus love pours out of my guy in the most beautiful way.


When there is reason to hate, he loves.
When there is reason to resent, he forgives.
Where you think you'll find bitterness, you see freedom.

The way Keith lives and loves is not Keith at all.
It's Jesus!


Tuesday, I watched Keith lovingly and gently tell his grandfather that his son was dying. We just received news that morning that Keith's dad was dying and being referred to hospice and I sat quietly and watched a grandson and grandfather talk about losing the man who unities them.

Two men.
Both named Keith.
One losing a son and the other losing a father.

Today is not the day to share Keith's life story.
Like most of ours, it's messy.

Keith's dad has hours/days left on this side of eternity.
He penned a note for his children and grandchildren last year for this exact moment.
When I read his heart poured out on a page, one word comes to mind…
…regret.

There are things that he wishes he'd have done different.
There are decisions he wishes he could change.
But I love you and I am sorry are they words he wants to say.


One of the many things I have learned from doing life with Keith Harmon is when you love people with Jesus love, you live a life without regrets.

I can't help but think of all the people out there who need to be encouraged to continue to freely give love those who continue to hurt you. To live out forgiveness toward those who continue to disappoint you.

That's where freedom reigns.
That's where the fruit of the Spirit grows.
That's where your heart is transformed.
That's where Jesus shines.
"God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don't be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive them because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity. Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful."

{Colossians 3:12-15}

Saturday, May 2, 2015

BE THE CHURCH…COME EXPECTANT

We started a conversation called BE THE CHURCH a couple of years ago and God is still writing that message on my heart.  I don't choose where I attend church, God does.  And as I submit my heart [will, desires] to the Lord, He plants me in a specific church [tribe, community] for a specific purpose.


"God has meticulously put this body together;
He placed each part in the exact place to perform the exact function He wanted."
{1 Corinthians 12:18}

As I have been trying to internalize the idea that, my view of my church is often a reflection of what is going on in my own heart, God has been speaking a new word, a new conversation to my heart...

…come expectant.

There is a story in the Bible of a woman.  I don't know her name and know very little of her story, but I think about her everyday.  The woman lived on the western side of the Sea of Galilee and struggled for over twelve years with an ongoing medical issue.  TWELVE YEARS.  She tried to get help many times, but each time she left worse than before and eventually found herself completely broke.

To complicate things even further, her issue was a protracted [extensive, lengthily, lingering] menstrual problem that kept her ritually unclean and unable to fully participate in Jewish life throughout its duration.

After twelve long years, I imagine she was broke, miserable, hopeless, lonely, isolated, and desperate.

Then one day, she hears about a man who casts out demons, heals the sick, makes the lame to walk, and makes the blind to see.  I wonder if she immediately knew she was going to find Jesus or if she was scared to even get her hopes up?  I wonder if she would have believed had she not been so desperate?

When Jesus and the disciples returned to the Galilean side of the sea, they were welcomed by a large crowd of people.  As they walked through the narrow streets, people were everywhere.  They pressed in on Him.  The crowds were smothering.

No one noticed the woman following, keeping her distance.  For her to be there was risky.  She was suppose to yell "unclean" if anyone got near her so not to defile them.  But she couldn't help herself.  She showed up expectant and was determined to touch his robe.

She acted on what she heard about Jesus, what she believed about Jesus.
And when He walked by, she reached out and touched the hem of his garment.

"And immediately the flow of blood dried up,
and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease."
{Mark 5:29}

Then all of the sudden, Jesus stopped…

"Who touched my garment?'"
{Mark 5:30b}

The disciples basically start reminding Jesus that He is surrounded by a crowd of people, all who are pressing in on them.  All touching Him, yet all denying that it was them.

But Jesus insists…

"Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me."
{Luke 8:46}

Jesus' desire to know who touched Him was stronger and more persistent than the woman's desire to touch Jesus.  Jesus wants to encounter the woman!  He wanted to meet the woman whose faith resulted in a miracle!

And this is where my head spins.

There were people all around Jesus.  Leaning on Him.  Touching Him.  There is no way in a crowd that large that the woman was the only one who needed a fresh touch from Jesus.  And yet, power didn't leave Him when the crowd pressed in.  They were in the presence of Jesus but they did not have a single encounter with Him.

And God keeps reminding me…I get to choose.
I can be the crowd or I can be the woman.
But it all starts with me.

Do I come expectant?

How many of us go to church every Sunday, but we don't go expectant?
We stand and sit in the crowd, in the presence of Jesus, and leave without ever encountering Him.  We press in, we raise our hands, but don't actually expect to leave changed, to leave different.  Some have even decided it's not worth the trouble so we just stay home and watch church online.  

No matter where God has planted me, I am to come expectant every Sunday.
If Jesus is going to show up and encounter someone, I want it to be me!

I am choosing to come expectant.

Not expectant of the music being what I want.
Not expectant of the pastor preaching the way I like.
Not expectant of the church bending to my wants and desires.

When I come to church expecting anything but a touch and encounter with Jesus,
I leave just as broken, desperate, and jacked up as when I walked in the door.

So I am choosing, choosing to come expectant that Jesus is present and wants to speak a fresh Word into my heart and breath life into my soul.

Monday, March 30, 2015

POTTY TRAINING: SAFETY HELMET REQUIRED

Potty training.
It's the worst.

We have spent the last several months getting Miles used to the bathroom, the idea of sitting on the potty, and observing his potty habits.  In the world of Autism, they call this desensitization and collecting data.  

Knowing it will take several months to master this new skill, we decided to start now in hopes that Miles will be fully trained before starting Kindergarten in the fall. *fingers crossed*

Potty training a child with Autism, zero self-care skills, and delayed receptive/expressive language skills is hard.  And hilarious!

Here are things I never thought I'd have to say to another human being...

"Don't put your head in the toilet."
"Oh dear, you gave yourself a swirly. Let mommy dry off your hair."
"Squeezing your penis like that won't make the pee come out."
"Hey buddy, sit up and don't lick the toilet."
"Please stand still. You just hit mommy in the face with your penis."

All actual phrases... said by me... this week... more than once.

After a week of potty training, Miles will pee pee in the potty when we take him, but will not initiate going on his own.  We knew that would be our biggest hurdle and may not be something he's capable of at this time.

But then again, maybe he's starting to come around.

Keith and I attended a class on Potty Training Children with Autism a couple of nights ago.  After class, we grabbed some dinner and went home to put Miles to bed.  I took Miles to the bathroom while Keith got his sleep medicine ready.  We decided to let him play a little bit before we put his pajamas on because, well, we ate Mexican food for dinner and we both had to... go.

After finishing up in the bathroom and changing into my pajamas, I went to find Miles to finish getting him ready for bed.  Keith, still occupying the front bathroom, yelled my name as I walked down the hall.  Stopping to see what he wanted, Keith tells me something I can only pray I never, ever have to say...

"Miles just walked into the bathroom, yelled 'POOP,' and threw a turd at me."
"The poop ball hit me in the chest, I trapped it with my arm and flushed it."
Then, in case I missed it the first time, he repeats, "HE HIT ME WITH A TURD!"

I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed until I cried.

The irony.
Getting poop thrown at you while you are going poop.

It still makes me laugh every time I think about it.

That is not exactly the initiating we were looking for, but it does give me a glimmer of hope.  In a weird way, I am thankful that Miles made the connection that poo poo goes in the potty.  It is one gross step in the right direction.

Potty training.
It may be the worst but it has given us some of the best laughs!

And until further notice, if you need to use one of our bathrooms, please wear the provided safety helmet and watch out for flying balls of poop.


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

THE NUMBER OF GRACE

Five years ago today, a baby boy was driven across town and carried into the small, quaint courtyard of a little guest house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  He had no idea that the family he saw waiting outside had been praying for him since before he was born.  He had no idea that the God of the Universe had been working on his behalf, for his good, since the beginning of time.  He simply had no idea.

Five years ago today, a woman opened her arms to receive the gift of life.  She had no idea what all she would be opening her arms and her heart up to.  She had no idea that the gift of this sweet baby boy would completely change her life forever.  She simply had no idea.

Five years ago today, a man was able to hold his boy for the first time.  He had no idea how this little life would change his family forever.  He had no idea that God would use this baby to change the calling He had on the man's life.  He simply had no idea.

Five years ago today, a little boy proudly stepped into his role as big brother.  He had no idea that his new role would prove to be very challenging.  He had no idea that God was going to use this little guy to shape him into the person he was purposed and intended to be.  He simply had no idea.

Five years ago today, God grew our family.  He called us, prepared us, and went before us.  He knew exactly what He was doing.  He knew every struggle we would face.  He knew that the addition of this little life to our family would make us look more like Jesus.  He knew the whole time!

Five.

In the Bible, numbers can have literal and symbolic meanings.
The number five represents God's grace, goodness, and favor.
Five, the number of grace.
SERIOUSLY!… I am beside myself!

Five years ago today, God gave us the gift of Miles.  Learning to love Miles, parent Miles, and do life with Miles has taught us so much about God's grace and His goodness.  Believing God is good, truly good, is the truth He has sealed on my heart the last five years.

Don't stop on four because the number of grace is coming and it is worth the wait.

If you keep up with our family at all, you know that Miles' birthdays and gotcha days weigh heavy on my heart.  I've settled into the fact that they always will.  Miles had a Mama before me.  She was the first to open her arms to this precious gift and the fact that I had the same privilege is a sacrifice I just can't seem to reconcile.  My heart hurts for her and yet is grateful to her all at the same time.  I pray that God will pour out His grace, goodness, and favor on the brave one who gave life to my gift.

Happy Gotcha Day, Miles.
You are so deeply loved and we celebrate you today.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHAD!

This guy.
He was a coworker that became a friend.
He was a friend that became family.

Chad served alongside Keith for years and this past November,
God called him to something new, something different.

And for the first time in over 10 years,
we have to say Happy Birthday and celebrate him from a distance.

Three states.
Three churches.
Ten and a half years of memories.

He has been a friend to Keith, a role model for Alex, and a brother to me.
Over the last decade, Keith has had several associates, lots of interns, and hundreds of youth workers, but Chad has been the constant in our lives.

Chad, your friendship to my husband has meant so much to me.

You were trustworthy and loyal.
You loved him and faithfully served by his side.
You freed Keith up to be Keith so he could fulfill the call God has on his life.
You put up with all of the oddities that make him who he is.
You never failed to challenge him and point him to Jesus.
You made him a better man…. and for that, I will be forever grateful!

The two of you… you made an amazing team.


You brought balance to someone who lives life on the edge and the amount of things the two of you have accomplished for the Kingdom is nothing short of amazing.  Thousands of lives forever changed because of your commitment to live out your unique calling.  I am so glad I have had a front row seat all of these years!

And Alex…
How do I even begin to explain to you the amount of gratitude I have for you being the kind of man I would be proud for Alex Harmon to model his life after?

You filled the role as brother when it looked like he was going to be an only child.
You patiently allowed this little extrovert to completely invade your introvert world.
You were a substitute grandparent when he lived away from family, you were his trusted movie critic when he was deciding if a movie was a good choice for him, and you were the only person he ever wanted to come along with us wherever God called us next.

If Alex Harmon could choose to be any superhero in the world, I am confident he would choose you every time.  Thank you for being a hero to my tender hearted little guy.

You have done life up close with us and it hasn’t always been pretty.

You have witnessed our family walk the hard road of infertility.
You served with us when we lost our second baby.
You prayed with us as we fought to bring Miles home and then prayed for us as we fought to learn to parent him.


To say the last 4 years have been the toughest for our family is an understatement.  But, having you at the church to daily do life with Keith and Alex was such a comfort to me because life at home was so hard.  You will never really know how much we appreciate you not being afraid to be a part of the messiness that is our family.

You are and always will be family to us.  I have prayed for you over the years like one of my children.  In January, I claimed this as your year.  I told God I wanted to mark your name off of my “Single Guys on Staff” list that I pray over.  Guys that don’t have a wife to stand in the gap for them.  I circled your name and wrote 2014 on the card and have been claiming this as your year.  Little did I know that God was already working out something special.  The only thing that made the transition bearable was that, as I watched God close out this chapter in all of our lives, He was writing a brand new chapter that included the most beautiful love story.  The love story that I have been praying for you and over you the last 10 years.

Thank you for walking out your single years in front of Alex with integrity and purity.  For showing him what it looks like to wait for your person and trust God’s timing.  You made trusting God look easy.

I pray that as you begin your next chapter, one that includes marriage and children, that God will bless you with a “Chad”… a friendship whose hearts are knit together by God, a person who will love your children like their own, someone who will be an example of what it looks like to chase after Jesus, a friend who will be a faithful brother in Christ as you have been to us.

Happy Birthday, sweet friend!
I am so absolutely crazy about you, your family, and the sweet girl God has gifted you with and I hope your birthday is wonderfully fantastic!

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