Leslie’s Learnings: I thought a thought last night that I’ve never thought before. As my precious Frank and I climbed into bed, I thought, “I don’t want to say goodnight to today.” It was the most wonderful day. Full of memories for daydreaming moments. I close my eyes and smile picturing Tiffany, Heather and Danielle boldly standing on the altar and wooing our hearts as they share about their first week as minimalists. The need for new hangers sparks the realization that the need is not for more hangers, but less clothes.. The cleaning out of a forgotten drawer reveals a thought-to-be-lost-forever diamond earring. And money earned to buy more for self is given generously to offer hope for another. Together, we celebrate getting rid of the old stuff. Then almost in the same breath, our breath is taken away as our Ms. Opal walks down the aisle to meet her future husband in a church decorated by her great granddaughter. “Morning has Broken” fills the air, and together, with weepy eyes, we honor and stand in awe of the old. Heads bow reverently. The words to an old poem are put to song by young Alejandro and a prayer is prayed for our precious couple. Holy happens. It’s true. I didn’t want to say goodnight to yesterday. But oh what delicious memories I have for today. For this, O Lord, I give you thanks! [Today is Day 7 in our minimalist journey. If you want to join us, PLEASE give us a call and we would love to send you a thirty day prayerbook/journal, which you can begin on any day. Blessings!]
Today, Lord, How many faces will we see? How many words will we read? How much time will we spend with our family and friends? As our fingers type and swipe Bring us, Love, into Your Light. Yours is the Face we want to see when we strike a messaging key. Love listens. Love learns. Love forgives a wrong turn. Love seeks to always find something good – something kind. Love never wants to turn away from what His people have to say. Love gives us space to make a fuss refusing to give up on us. So, today, Lord, may Your Face fill the space between us and our friends. May Your Love from above be our button marked “Send.”
A Learning at Luke . . . Taking a Double Take at Double Tape by: Kevin Acord Last Saturday I decided to attend the Fall on Your Knees class being offered at our church through October. I was expecting to learn something about prayer, but little did I know, I was in for much, much more. Ms. Leslie brought pieces of paper with various thoughts on prayer for us to put into the notebooks we brought with us. She was even thoughtful enough to bring several rolls of Scotch tape for us to use to put the papers into our notebooks. When I got my roll I noticed that it was double sided tape. I immediately thought, “I can’t use this, it’s double sided tape; it will make the sheets in my notebook stick together!” My next thought was, “Classic, Ms. Leslie!” In that fond, warm, yet patronizing kind of way I all too often think and speak. As soon as there was a break in the teaching, I passed the roll back to Ms. Leslie and asked for another while pointing out the silliness of trying to use double sided tape. Ms. Leslie then said, “Yes, I handed that out so one side could stick to the back of the handout and the other could stick to the notebook.” Doing it that way never even crossed my mind. I couldn’t believe I missed something that simple. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Kevin, how many other times have you thought you did things the right way and judged someone?” “What other areas in your life could you be stuck doing things a certain way?” I guess it’s worth a double take.
Rory’s Learning . . . Ownership I like people who rent. Please do not assume that I do not like people who own…that’s certainly not the case. The truth is that none of us really own anything…well, except one thing but I’ll get to that later. People who rent have a sense of freedom from their stuff. Whatever it is they are renting…they can look at it and be like “hey stuff…guess what, you don’t control me”. Need an example? Okay…here we go. In a few seconds I’m about to make you feel, with only two words, absolutely carefree. When you read these simple two words your mind will be at ease, your spirits will rise, and a sense of freedom will instill in your soul……………rental car. How many times have you heard “it’s okay it’s only a rental.” Or a human being is actually stepping up to drive a group of other human being’s somewhere, with a big toothy human being smile, saying “Guys don’t worry I’d be happy to drive! It’s a rental!” Then all the other human beings are now smiling too, because they do not have to drive the cars they think they own…everyone’s smiling Now stop. You’re having too much fun. I’ve got to bring you back to earth. Way too much smiling…in a few seconds, I’m going to give you another word that will put you back at your desk. One word that’ll bring you to reality, cause a little crick in your neck, tighten your collar a bit, and add some sweat to your brow……………mortgage. Ugh, yeah, I feel like I need to get up and stretch a bit. Mortgage sounds like Mordred…or the kingdom of Mordor or even Mortal. How morbid. The more I feel like I own something…the more that thing actually owns me. I was watching Andy Stanley the other night, and he said something I really dug. “I never buy anything that I feel like I couldn’t lend to someone else.” Wow! I started thinking…hey I could let that person borrow this and that… I was getting a real sense of ‘alright! My stuff doesn’t own me!’ Then ironically I looked back at the TV Andy was on and thought…if someone came in right now, and asked to borrow my only TV…I’d say no. Yeah…I’m still dealing with that one. I also really like how Jesus deals with the issue of ownership. There was this super rich ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven? Jesus said just do what God tells you. The ruler said, I do all those things but what else? So Jesus said sell all of your possessions; give everything to the poor and come follow me. The rich ruler couldn’t go there and left. Right there, the heart of it…the one thing I actually own! Choice. I do not own stuff, I either outlive my stuff or it outlives me. I do not own my name…probably 1 maybe 2 generations after I die, my name will most likely be gone from this planet. Eventually all names fade. The only thing I own is what I choose to do now. On the surface it may seem cruel to ask what Jesus asked of the rich ruler…but think about it for a second. Jesus didn’t say, okay sell everything you own…bring it back here, give it to me and I’ll take care of you. Or, sell everything you own, give it to me and I’m going to equally disperse it among my disciples and we are going to fund this really cool new movement! Jesus didn’t choose the ruler’s money……………Jesus chose the ruler. Jesus doesn’t want our money, he wants us. Jesus knows the only thing we own, is our choice. How we choose to give…how we choose to love…how we chose to live…how we choose people over stuff……………I need to go back and rethink the whole TV thing. In he who chooses me, Rory
Has the Lord placed a troubled child in your path? Maybe a step child – grandchild – neighbor’s child – your child. Their needs are beyond you. Their behavior frustrates you. You want to ease their pain, but you can’t. Short term or long term, their problem poses a problem in your life. Guilt holds your heart. Heavy rides your back. And confusion clouds your mind. That’s how I went to bed last night. Aching for a child I love, but cannot help. All night I tossed. All night I turned. And, all night I heard the same six words sung over and over again in my sleepy soul. “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” It’s true He is. We aren’t. But there is one thing we can do that He can’t. We can bring the children to Him. He already knows them. He already loves them. But He needs us to let go of them and leave them with the One who knows and loves them perfectly. If God has placed a child with a problem in your path, as He has mine, believe it or not, it’s a privilege. He’s trusting you and He’s trusting me to persistently, insistently “Let the children come to me.” How? When our eyes look into theirs, PRAY. When our hands fold their clothes, PRAY. When our hearts hear their name, PRAY. Why? He is able to do what we can’t. “My Savior, He can move the mountains, My God is Mighty to save, He is Mighty to save.” Move the mountains, Lord. Ease our children’s pain. Help us flee fear. And give us the courage to leave the ones we love with the One who loves them most. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Space is a rare commodity. Especially in relationships. Something of great value. Full of grace. Space allows others to be who they are . Space says, “I take you as you are. Not as I want you to be. I want you to be kinder. More thoughtful. Drink less. Weigh less. Pray more. Do more . . . But I refuse to restrict you with my expectations. I love you as you are. Warts and all.” Space requires tenacity, trust and self love. It refuses to give up, insists on trusting God to fix what feels unfixable, and focuses on accepting oneself – warts and all. Once one knows how to give space serenity happens. I’m watching serenity happen as I write. And it is glorious. Frank and I are spending three days with Frank’s best friend of seventy years and his family. We are nineteen people living in one large home on the beach. I am fascinated, enthralled, awed at their capacity to let one another be. Control, manipulation, and judgment are non existent! It is beautiful, easy, sweet. It is serenity. Their dad, Vic, would be the first to tell you that he is a recovering alcoholic of twenty seven years. And his wife has become a sought after mentor and teacher for Al Anon. As they celebrate fifty years of marriage today they are surrounded with the fruit of space . . .serenity. And it is a magnificent work of art to behold. May we all pray the prayer of St. Francis as we live into a brand new day: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. We adore you, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
My precious Frank and I were frustrated with each other. Deep down I knew my pathology of control was in full swing. But, when you’re ticked off with someone, self-reflection is the last activity in which you want to engage. Blame and judgment are far more enjoyable companions. So, I thoroughly enjoyed their company. As I confessed the error of my ways during my sermon the following morning my eight-year-old grandson’s hand shot like an arrow into the air. Knowing that he was within hearing distance of our disagreement I trembled at the thought of what he might say. So, I chose to ignore the waving request with “We’ll talk about it later, Walker, okay bud?” The congregation chuckled, and we moved on. Quickly. Shortly following our worship service I received a phone call. “Leslie, I was sitting in front of Walker and I thought you might want to know what I heard him say.” My mind raced fearfully. “When you didn’t call on him he turned to his buddy next to him and said, ‘I wanted to tell Laelae that I want to be baptized.’” I couldn’t speak. The lump in my throat was too big. We think we know what someone else is thinking. I was certain Walker wanted to bear witness to my mistakes. He just wanted to bear witness to God’s grace. Amazing. Lord, save us from ourselves. Save us from thinking that we know what others are thinking. Have mercy on us, most merciful Savior. Have mercy.
When someone hurts us we want to hurt back. It’s a natural instinct. Animalistic actually. A dog is bitten. A dog bites back. A dog is beaten. A dog fights back. But when a dog is beaten until it’s broken, the dog cowers in fear hurting itself more than the assailant. Naturally we humans view this behavior as normal. People hurt us. We hurt them. With our words. Our actions. We want them to hurt. And we want it now. But we have an amazing God who is asking us to fight, not others, but our own natural instincts. To let love become our natural response to hate. To separate ourselves in the animal kingdom. Behave differently. Refuse to attack. Refuse to cower. Remain constant in patience and kindness. Trash the records of others’ wrong doings. He knows it’s against our nature. And He knows we need Him – the One whose name is Love – to help us fight right. We are His wounded warriors. We reject revenge. We relinquish it to our Captain. (Romans 12:19) We bend low in love. And hold on valiantly to the hope for His Kingdom. So, onward Lord!!! Lead us into a land where love lives triumphantly! We are Yours now and forever! So be it!