To The Woman Behind Me At Aldi’s

 

cinderella dress

By the time we made it to the check-out, our cart felt rather heavy. I had filled it full of party food for my daughter’s Cinderella birthday party–and all the relatives who would be joining us to celebrate her turning three.

In my joy, I hadn’t realized how expensive it was going to be. After all, we were shopping at Aldi’s! Everything is like $2. (Right?)

So we were getting everything we needed for fruit and veggie trays, and sandwiches, snacks, goodies, and best of all–the homeade buttercream “glass slipper” cake, that we were really looking forward to making together.

My almost 3-year-old was handing me the items that I had stashed around where she was sitting in the cart, and I was putting them on the checkout counter. But as I began to estimate the cost in my head–I had a panic moment.

Oh no..I’m spending too much,” I thought, “What can we do without?” 

I quickly grabbed as many “non-essential” items as I could from our cart and handed them to the cashier, “I’m really sorry, but we’re actually not going to get these today.” Among them were a few goodies, my flavored creamer, and Selah’s animal crackers. She smiled and took them from me with a nod.

“Mom, why can’t we buy the animal crackers?” Selah asked me.

“Sorry, honey, but Mommy found too many other things today. We’ll get them another time.”

As soon as the cashier checked us out, Selah exclaimed, “Mommy, I have to go potty!”

So, I pushed my cart off to the side where there were other customers bagging up their items, “the Aldi’s way.” Among them, an Amish family, who were all in the ladies’ bathroom (yes, men included) the first time I was going to take Selah potty at the beginning of our grocery shopping trip. And I also noticed a “shady” looking couple near my cart bagging up their groceries. As I abandoned my cart and whisked my daughter away to go potty, I actually had this thought, “I really hope no one steals anything from our cart.” 

So I could have never imagined what happened next.

In the Ladies’ Room, I kept telling Selah to hurry up–so we could get back to our stranded-already-been-paid-for-cart. I even told her we weren’t washing our hands today, and instead smeared some gingerbread scented Purell hand sanitizer on her–so I could get back to our cart. (You know, the one I imagined the riff-raff wildly looting while I was in the bathroom?)

But before I could make it to my cart, the cashier that checked us out stopped me. “Ma’am,” she said. “I wanted to let you know…” (Oh no, here it comes, I thought. Someone did steal something from my cart!)

“The woman behind you,” she started, “Paid for the groceries you told me to put back, and she put them in your cart for you.”

“What? Are you serious??” I asked her, looking around, wild-eyed, my hand finding my heart.

“She just left though, so you wouldn’t be able to thank her. I guess, it’s kind of like a pay it forward thing,” she said with a smile.

I looked in my cart, and sure enough there were the “non-essential” snacks, the flavored creamer, and Selah’s animal crackers.

Oh my heart. 

I wanted to cry–to sob. To weep openly for the kindness that had been done to me. I wanted to fall to my knees on that dirty Aldi’s floor.

I wanted to repent for all my judgement–the secret kind that lives in my head.

Because I imagined someone stealing from my cart–not putting more into it. 

I could barely keep it together. And as I began to bag up my groceries that day, “the Aldi’s way,” in my re-usable shopping bags, my eyes began to blur with tears–of thanks.

I wish I could have hugged her–not because we needed the groceries–but just because she was so kind. So…

 

Dear Woman Behind Me At Aldi’s,

If you should ever read this,

Whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you.

Thank you for your kindness to me.

We are not poor, and you didn’t need to buy those extra groceries for us, the “frivolities” that come with a three-year-old’s birthday party.

But you did.

And you showed me something powerful,

Love.

You showed me the power of being kind. And brave. And good.

And the world needs more people like you.

You reminded me that not all people are as bad as I think they are. Some are really, really good.

I had expected someone to steal something from my cart, but you did the opposite–you filled it with good things.

I expected a curse, and you gave me a blessing. 

You were the blessing.

And you reminded me of the power of goodness. And the love of God. Because somehow, through your kindness to fill my cart–I felt his love. And as I drove home that day with tears in my eyes, and a big lump in my throat, I felt Him holding me. I felt Him loving me.

Because I didn’t think He cared about animal crackers.

Or Cinderella parties.

But He does.

He cares about all His children. He cares that they feel His love.

And you make me want to let someone else feel His love, in the way you have let me feel it.

Because, I hadn’t realized the power of kindness–until today.

And, I’ve always been afraid to do what you have done for me today.

Because, I’m always afraid to offend someone.

But being on the other end of it, being the recipient of kindness–I feel no offense whatsover. Only deep gratitude.

And the extravagance of kindess.

And the depth of His love.

Through yours.

I’m a writer–and sometimes I only know how to love with my words. But you’ve reminded me–sometimes this world needs more than words. 

To feel His love.

To taste it.

Sometimes they need action. Sometimes they need something tangible.

Sometimes they need people who will be brave enough to act,  

to actually do something. 

To show them love.

Like you did for me. 

So thank you, for stepping out, in risk, and doing it.

You made a little girl’s Cinderella party a little more magical.

And her mom’s heart a little more tender, and soft.

Love,

Rebekah

P.S. Selah was very happy to see the Animal Crackers return to us.

aldi

How Fear Robs Me of the Life God Wants Me To Live

life

They said the lump is probably nothing. But I can’t know yet.

I have to wait. And my mind—it goes there every single day. I don’t mean for it to. It just…does.

What if I’m dying and I don’t know it? What if I don’t have much time left?

I am afraid to die. I am afraid of many things.

And it shifts. Sometimes it’s ISIS. Or mass shootings. And I wonder if some gunman will start unloading while we’re in the grocery store, or at Target. Or the movie theater. Or a restaurant. Or concert hall.

Because that’s what happened in Paris, right?

And is there any safe place?

Some nights I go to bed, and wonder if some foreign enemy will attack our lands over night? And every sunrise feels like a little miracle. That we are safe another day.

When I get in the car, I whisper a prayer over my daughter in her car seat. I strap her in tight. I kiss her face all over.

I ask the angels to watch over us.

And, I try to be so safe, you know? I try to be so vigilant. But I worry we’ll get in some horrible accident.

There are so many fears that haunt me. There are so many fears that shake my inner peace.

I don’t want to die—but look at me. Look at my fears:
I spend my days dying, more than living.

Fear has this way of choking out everything good in my life.

All the joy.

And this is one of those things—I don’t really want to talk about.

But I have to.

Because it’s real. It’s this reality that is living under the surface of my skin. All the time.

Tonight, after I gave my daughter her bath, and dried her hair, and zipped her into her fleece jammies, I started worrying about the “lump” again. The one they said is probably just a lypoma. But they can’t be 100% certain.

And as I began to get lost in the fear—that I could be dying—the Holy Spirit whispered something to my heart, He said,

“Will you choose life or death?”

He was confronting me, ever so gently. “Will you spend your life living? Or dying? Because if you spend the days I’ve given you as a slave to fear and death–then you will spend your days dying and missing all the good I have for you. But if you trust Me, you will live and spend your days alive in Me.”

I remember reading a Scripture about God telling His people to choose life or death. And I left the last few dishes in the sink, and I went to find it.

I searched in the back of my husband’s big study bible—and I found it. It’s in Deuteronomy 30.

Moses is at the end of his life and he is preaching to the people of Israel. He’s telling them to choose life or death. Obedience or rebellion. Blessings or curses.

He says,
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off…But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Deuteronomy 30:11 &14

It is not too hard for you.

It is not far off.

It is near you.

It is in your mouth and heart.

You can do it.

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping His commandments and his statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 30:15-18

He sets before you life and death.
Good and evil.

And if you want to possess the land—and the life—then obey His voice. And live.

But if your heart turns away from Him. If you stop listening for His voice. If you are drawn away to worship other gods. (Even the god of self-preservation. And the god of fear.) And if you serve those gods—

If you serve those gods, you will surely perish.

The god of fear makes you a slave–and it will make you spend your days dying, not living.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.” Deuteronomy 30:19

God says, we get to choose.

Life or death.

Will we follow the way of Life,
Or the way of Death?

Every day Death haunts me—threatens to steal my peace, my joy, my life.

But tonight Life is calling me.

He’s running toward me, and beckoning. He’s shouting loudly, “Live!”

Don’t spend your life fearing you will lose your life. Or you will lose it. Slowly. Every day.

If I keep living in fear, if I keep letting anxiety rule my life, if I keep letting dread dictate my steps, and my thoughts—I won’t be living anymore. I will be dying.

Dear brothers and sisters—I don’t want to constantly think about how I might die.

I want to start thinking about how I will live.

I don’t know how I will die–and I don’t need to know. I need to know how I will live. I need to know how I will every day and every hour throw off the shackles of fear, and burdens of doubt. I need to know how I will inhale and exhale the breath of God and eat His Word like it is my only food. I need to love well, and love hard, stop being so afraid to risk this life–because it’s not my own anyway. I was bought at a price.

And I hope when I come to the end–however near or far that may be–that I show up to heaven’s gates having lived. That I will have spent my life living–and not dying. I hope I show up with my heart riveted with scars, but bursting with joy, with wrinkles in my skin, and fire in my eyes, and my arms open, and my pockets empty. Before Him who is Jesus.

The One who called me. The faithful and true. The beginning and the end. Who first whispered my name, and who I will hear whisper it again–the moment my eyes flutter open to eternity. To see Him, with my own eyes.

“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life. (Choose Him over your fears.)

Love the Lord your God.

Obey His voice.

Hold fast to Him.

For He is your life.

And length of days.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Have life.

And have it more abundantly.

So stop thinking about how you will die,

And start thinking about how you will live.

In Him.

For He is your life, 

and length of days. 

8 Things I Learned This Year

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1.  I learned that I don’t want to stay the same.

I don’t want to stay the same each year. I want my heart to grow, and expand. I want to continue to be transformed. I want my heart to be soft enough to keep changing. I hope my mercy and compassion for people grows each year, along with the desire to understand people who are very different from me.

2.  I learned I need friends. 

I wrote this post called Three Little Words That Ignite Friendships. And they are, “I need you.” It’s hard for me to verbally say that. But I feel stronger with friends. I feel happier and more connected. I need friends that encourage me, and recieve encouragement from me, too. (I also learned that if you don’t have any good friends, and keep praying that God will give them to you: He will!)

3.  I learned I need to be more heart, and less attack. 

Thanks to a Pandora station, I stumbled into the band Needtobreathe this year–and I’m so glad I did.  Their song, “More heart, and Less Attack,” has become a breathing song for me. I didn’t really care for it at first–but the more I listened–the words are just perfect. I want this to be a mantra for the year to come.

Especially toward my husband, I want to be “more heart, and less attack.”

4.  I learned I have a tendency toward heaviness. 

Realizing this is helpful–because I can bring that heaviness to others. And that’s something I want to be careful not to do–or to do too much. I am drawn toward sad things, and I can easily get lost in tragedies. I can become paralyzed by fear. I don’t want to use my words to make people feel burdened. I want my words to help lift the burden. 

5.  I learned of an author named Emily Weirenga. 

I read her first memoir Atlas Girl, and am now on her second Making It Home. And she feels like a soul sister to me. She knows the language of the soul and how to soothe it. Her authenticity is refreshing to me–and reading about her life unlocks something in my heart–in a way that typical Christian non-fiction cannot.

I had forgotten the power of good writing–how the words move something in my spirit. And how my soul longs for something more than just “information” in this crazy over-loading information age. I don’t need more books about information. I need a living, breathing person, and stories–and that’s what I find in her.

You can find her site here.

6. I learned I want to sing more love songs with my husband. 

It’s something we’ve never done before. But I want to. I want to sing love songs with him, and I want to fall deeper in love with him, too.

Because, he is really amazing.

I read the book “Redeeming Love,” by Francine Rivers last February, and it broke something in me. I wanted to love more tenderly after that, because God’s love for us is so tender and passionate and good. And I think marriage should reflect that love more than anything.

7.  I learned that God’s plans are a lot better than mine. 

I spent so many nights this summer scrolling through Zillow and Realtor.com apps hoping I might run across our “dream home.” I would get frustrated and hopeless with the market, and the houses, and prices.  I was dissapointed when a house we bid on fell through.

But, all along God had prepared a house for us just down the road. I’m so thankful our plans didn’t work out. And His did.

He is always more at work than we think He is–even when it looks like things are falling through.

8. I learned being a mom is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. 

I continue to learn more from this little girl–than almost anyone. She brings me so much laughter and joy and so many happy tears. Watching her grow is one of the best gifts I’ve ever experienced–and I thank God that He let me be her mom.


 

These just are few things that have shaped my year. (And I’m sorry if this post seems kind of self-focused.) But I just had to take some time to reflect on what God has done, and where He is leading me. I hope you take some time to thank Him for what He has taught you this year, too.

I sketched this in my journal the other morning, and I want it to be my theme for 2016: Open Arms

image.jpeg

I want my arms to fall open like a book.  

Because the posture of surrender,

and the posture of receiving

is the same. 

 

Open arms.

Come Lord, do all that you have in mind.

I open my arms completely

to You.

 

I hope wherever He has lead you this year, and whever He leads you in the year to come, your arms will fall open like a book.

And you will open them wider than ever before.

And embrace all He has for you.

Much love,

Rebekah

 

Don’t Forget The Miracle

selah

It’s 9:47 p.m. and she’s still not sleeping. Though I put her to bed over an hour ago. It’s bedtime–the never ending saga–of hugs, and kisses, and stories, and songs. And tears–because the door isn’t cracked open enough to let the light in, and cups of water. And reassuring whispers in the dark.

It’s 10:15 p.m. and I thought she was sleeping, but she’s calling for me–yet again. “Mom! Come here, I need to tell you something!”

I go up. “What?”

“I hurt my finger.”

I have no idea how you can hurt your finger while wrapped in soft blankets. But, that’s my girl. “Okay. Good-night,” I say.

Eventually, she does sleep. Eventually, we all do.

And…I forget sometimes that the little blonde-haired girl in the blue snowflake pajamas next door–is a miracle. I forget sometimes of what my life was like, before her.

And how I never expected her to come.

But she did.

She did come, because God had ordained it. And I didn’t know it. I didn’t know she was coming to us.

All I knew was this name, He dropped in my heart, before we ever conceived her, before we ever even wanted to try.

It was,

Selah.”

It’s from the Psalms and means, “pause, and reflect on this.” It’s a musical interlude, when the singers to grow silent, and reflect on what was just sung.

And I thought about Selah often. I didn’t know if Selah was really a girl, or merely a state of mind. I didn’t want to try and “name it, claim it!” I didn’t want to try to dictate to God, what He would do, or what or who He would give us. I thought maybe God just wanted to teach me how to practice, “Selah.” To be still, and listen, and reflect–on Him.

And I wasn’t sure.

And it was shadowy, like something from a dream. Like traveling through fog.

You can’t see it, but then, it’s right there.

And I didn’t see her. I couldn’t see her.

But then,

she was right there.

The miracle.

Sometimes miracles are like that. They seem so far away. And then, suddenly, it’s right there.

We were just watching a movie one night, and I got up to take a pregancy test I had bought that day in the clearance section at Walmart. “Do you want me to pause it?” my husband called up the stairs.  “No!” I shouted.

I didn’t know that in two minutes everything would change for us.

I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see her coming.

But God did.

He always saw her.

And this is something I love about God–He sees everything. He sees it far before.

And He sees us.

He sees us, even on the day we stop believing in miracles. And He loves us still.

I don’t understand it all. I don’t always understand God. But that is part of His mystery. And part of His majesty.

I don’t really know how miracles work–but I know that when God does a miracle, we should celebrate it. We should remember it. And never forget it.

That’s why when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, they were commanded to bring up twelve stones from the bottom of the river–and take them with them. It was to remember that God had stopped the flow of water for them, so they could pass through. He saved their lives. And God wanted them to keep the twelve stones as a memorial–so that one day, when their children were grown, they would ask their fathers, “What do these twelve stones mean?”

And then, they would remember. Then, they would tell their children–what God did. The miracle God worked on their behalf.

We are prone to forget–the miracle.

So today, remember.

Remember the miracle–that God did–that time you were crying out. That time when you whispered prayers in the dark. And you couldn’t see anything in front of you. That time you thought nothing would ever change–but it did.

Remember the miracle, that God did?

Remember?

Sometimes we have to remember the miracle of the past–in order to have hope for the future.

Remember the time, He victoriously came through?

Remember the miracle?

Because when we remember–then we can celebrate. Then we can trust Him. Then we can worship. Then we can stop walking by fear, and start walking by faith. And joy. And trust.

We are taught to be good at telling people our accomplishments–about showcasing our talents. But what if we started saying, “Now, let me tell you about what God did..” “Let me tell you about what God accomplished…in me.” “Let me tell you about the time God victoriously came through.” These are the stories our kids need to hear. These are the ones they will remember. This is how we show them the twelve stones. And the God–who carried us through the river.

“We will not hide these truths from our children, we will tell these truths to the next generation, about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders.” Psalms 78:4

We have to remember. We have to celebrate–what God did. Even if it was last month. Even if it was last year. Even if it was ten or twenty years ago.

Remember the miracle. And the God who showed Himself through it.

“So the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:6-7

***

One day, my daughter will ask me if I believe in miracles.

And I will tell her, Yes. You are one.

Selah

FOX2015-97

How God Loves Us In Our Mess

sleepingI don’t remember what we were talking about when it happened. I just remember I was having a nice time eating my buffalo chicken salad in the booth of the restaurant when my Mom cried out, “Oh no! Bekah!

But it was too late. My two-year-old daughter who was sitting in my lap, began throwing up right there in the booth. “Give her the bag!” Mom said.

I scrambled for the plastic Target bag next to me, and held it out, missing most of it, and catching only a few ounces. I sprang up from the booth, holding her in my arms, wet with vomit and ran through the restaurant, yelling, “Excuse us!” at a crowd of people in the lobby, who moved like frantic seagulls as we dashed wildly through them. I was still clutching the plastic bag of puke in my hand, which I’m sure left a nice trail behind us.

As we burst into the ladies’ room, she threw up again, on the floor in front of the sink.

I locked us into the first open stall and squatted next to the toilet, holding her frail little body on my knee and told her, “You can throw up in the toilet, okay?” But she just looked at me with her deep blue eyes, and started crying, “I’m sorry Mommy.” She collapsed her blonde head on my shoulder, “I’m sorry.”

And my heart wrenched. “Oh honey,” I said, pulling her close to my chest, “You don’t have to be sorry. It’s okay.”

Mom came in and handed us baby wipes under the bathroom stall door and helped us into our car. She wished me well, gave me a hug and some hand sanitizer. And we headed out for our hour journey  home.

In the car, she fell fast asleep just minutes after pulling out of the parking lot. And as I drove, she smelled like throw up, and so did I. Her clothes were wet with it, and so were mine. But I couldn’t help glancing into the rearview mirror at her–sleeping with her head cocked, still holding the empty box of wipes I had given her to catch her throw up in.

And I never loved her more.

My heart ached with love for her.

I just wanted to stop the car and crawl back there and hold her, just as she was. I wanted to keep telling her it was okay, and that I was taking care of her, and that I wouldn’t leave her side. I wanted to tell her, even in her mess, that she was still so beautiful to me. That she was never more precious.

That I loved being her mom.

Tears trickled down my cheeks, as I drove the interstate that day. Love-sick for her.

And as I drove, and glanced at her, precious and asleep, I thought of God.

Of how He feels about us.

Because He knows what it’s like to be a parent. He knows exactly how it feels. This. This deep ache of love.

This love I feel today, that is so tender and violent, it would move mountains, and rend heavens, and go to the ends of the earth to rescue her–He feels this all the time.

For His sons.

And His daughters.

When He finds us deep in our mess, our weakness, our sickness, with throw up in our hair and tears on our cheeks. He doesn’t run from us.

He runs to us.

He sprints, He chases wildly. He scoops us into His arms. He washes us. And clothes us. And comes to our rescue.

And this is why He came.

For, “He remembers that we are dust.” And He is gentle, and kind, full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, and rich in love. “A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick, He will not snuff out.” 12:20

And Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17

I look back in the rearview mirror again, and see her. And love her. With aching love. And know, just a little bit, of how God feels toward me. Toward every son. And every daughter.

In need of rescue.

Why I Couldn’t Be Happier About Starbucks Red Cup This Year

starbucks red cup
Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year.

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people.

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

Red Cups Redeemed, Thank You Starbucks

starbucks red cup

Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year. 

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people. 

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

#StarbucksforJesus #redcupsredeemed

The Secret Beauty Of Being A Mom

mom

She doesn’t know it, but the note she sent me stays by my kitchen sink. She doesn’t know it, but I’m still thinking about what she said to me on the phone today. She doesn’t know it, but I still desperately need her.

I need her words.

Her warmth.

Her love.

She lives 93 miles from me. But today when we were on the phone, and I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and talked to her, and told her what the doctor said, and all the worst-case-scenarios I could think of—I didn’t feel like she was 93 miles away. I felt like she was right there.

She listened, and I could feel her nodding, I could feel her smiling. I could feel her coming through the phone and wrapping her arms around me, the way she did when I was little. When I would sit on her lap and lay against her chest, and I would press my face into her hair, and breathe in her scent. And I’d play with her watch, and make the time stop, and she’d let me take off her rings and put them on my fingers. And I always asked her again what each one meant. The diamond was for when Dad proposed, and the plain silver one, was the one Dad gave her on their wedding day. And the blue one, the star sapphire, he gave her just because he was in love. With her. And that one was my favorite, because it had a hidden beauty. When you held it just right in pure sunlight, a sharp white star appeared. And not many people could see it, but when I sat on Mom’s lap and slid her rings loosely on my fingers, I could see it. And when I did, I was in awe of the beauty. The secret beauty.

I have heard so many people say they don’t want to be like their mother.

But I just want to say: I want to be like mine.

More than ever.

Not because she was perfect. But because she was there. Always.

Mom was smart, and talented, and beautiful, and could have easily had a full-blown, successful career. But she gave up everything to stay home with us five kids. Because my parents believed something: that moms should be with their babies. And babies should be with their moms. And so, we shared rooms, we pinched pennies, we shopped at Gabriel Brothers, and always ordered water with lemon when we went to restaurants, (which were only rare and cherished celebrations.)

Mom would pack our school lunches, and dump the money out of her birthday cards just to take us shopping, and make us homemade pizza and birthday cakes. She’d fill the whole house with the sweetest aroma. And some mornings, we’d wake up to it, and run down the steps to find her in the kitchen. Baking away. With flour in her hair. And on her hands. And on her jeans.
And in those moments, she never looked more beautiful.

We’d come into the kitchen and she’d hug us so close that our cheeks touched, and the flour would spread from her cheeks, to ours. And sometimes we’d come down the steps in clusters and she’d just hug us all at once, and say, “I may not be rich in the world’s eyes—but I’m rich in my kids.”

And we always laughed when she said this, because, it was just a funny statement. But deep down, I knew she meant it. Because I saw it all over her face. I saw it in the flour on her jeans. The smile behind the glow of the candles on our birthday cakes. The scribbled notes in our lunches. The glorious Christmas mornings she and Dad stayed up all night to make special for us.

I saw it in her life. In the way she refused to let anything separate us from her. To let anything steal her motherhood. To steal her greatest treasure and joy. Her kids.

Mom sold homemade pies from her car when we were little—just to keep us together.

Because she believed in being a mom. No matter what the cost. And it did cost. I don’t know how women looked at her. I don’t know what comments the cashiers might have said. I don’t know what the bank tellers might have thought as they looked at our statements. But Mom never told us what we cost her.

She only ever told us—that we were her greatest treasure. Her riches. And her wealth. And in her eyes, this couldn’t compare to anything else.

We may not have had the latest tennis shoes, or the best clothing, or the most extravagant family vacations—but we had her.

And she had us.

And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

All the money in the world. All the riches, all the jewels. All the grand houses, and clothes, and cars—cannot compare with the treasure of having a mom who is there.

And if my mom taught me anything, it was something she taught me with her own life: Be there. Be a mom. Don’t let anyone steal this great joy from you. Because the world wages war against motherhood. And you have to fight back. You have to fight for it.

There will always be more money to be made. There will always be a better identity to be achieved. There will always be a better name to be made for yourself. There will always be more ministries to invest in. But your kids are with you for such a very short season. And then, they are gone. And they are precious treasure. To be discovered, and enjoyed.

I always used to laugh when Mom said she was “rich” in us kids. But now, as a mom myself. I am beginning to unfold this mystery. There is a different kind of wealth, that this world cannot know, nor can it offer. It is the hidden wealth of being a mom. Of discovering the treasure. Of obtaining the richness of love in your children. And letting them find it in you.

There is something so secret here. So sacred. A hidden beauty—just like the star in Mom’s star sapphire ring. It only shone in the purest light. Very few ever saw it, and yet it was there all the same. This secret beauty. That could only be witnessed by a little girl, who was allowed to sit on her lap, and play with her watch, and make the time stop. Who took off her rings, and and searched and waited for the bright star to appear–in her ring. And in her eyes. And in her love.

And I found it, Mom. I found the treasure. She is two-years-old, and wakes up with wild blonde bedhead each morning. And she is more full of life than anyone I know. And when I look into her blue eyes, gazing into mine, sometimes I swear that star appears. And the beauty catches in my throat. And it’s unlike anything I ever dreamed.

I found the treasure, Mom. And you were right. The world doesn’t see it, the world doesn’t know it. But I’m finding it, Mom. I’m finding it right here in the secret places. This hidden beauty, where no one sees. When my daughter now sits on my lap, and breathes in my scent. And makes time stop. And searches for the star in my ring. And in my eyes.

You have shown us, Mom, the secret beauty of being a mom. And what real treasure is made of.

Thank you for giving us yourself.

All of you.

Maybe you weren’t rich in the world’s eyes, but you were rich in us kids. And because you were rich in us, you made us rich, so very rich, 

in you. 

And we rise up, and call you blessed. (Proverbs 31:26)

 

How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week + Giveaway

schedule

This guest post was written by the first “mommy blogger” I fell in love with, during my first fragile months as a new mom. Her name is Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot and I am so honored to have her share some “real-life” wisdom with us when it comes to creating a schedule. 

How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week

Several years ago, I had some medical students over for dinner. Sometime during the evening while everyone was milling around the kitchen, one of them noticed my weekly schedule up on the fridge. Let me just say—it was a masterpiece. Color-coded, broken into thirty-minute increments, with all aspects of my life present and accounted for.

The medical student exclaimed, “Hey, look! We just learned about this in our psych rotation. It’s called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!”

Okay. So it was a little over the top. That schedule lived on my fridge for months. In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t follow it. That was my dirty little secret. But it was just too pretty to take down. I loved everything it represented. Order, rhythm, accomplishment, purpose.

When Rebekah asked me to blog about how to create a schedule for her homemaking series, I felt those same words bubble up inside of me. Yes! I thought. Creating a schedule is so worthwhile, especially for a SAHM whose days are a blank canvas before her. But where do you even start? How do you know which activities to choose and which to cut? And how do you make sure the schedule you create is one you can actually live out? I want to suggest three principles that can help answer those questions.

1. The first is this: build your schedule around your priorities. It may seem obvious, but it doesn’t happen by accident. What happens by accident is we build our schedule around what’s “got to get done,” and then we groan in frustration when a friend’s crisis interrupts grocery day. Or we build our schedule around all the things we “wish we could do” until we’ve got ten thousand commitments and not enough sanity to fulfill them. Or we don’t build any schedule at all, and we fly by the seat of our pants until we collapse into bed on Friday and wonder why we didn’t spend any time with the kids this week.

We need to start with our priorities. What do we value the most? What needs to be lifted off the bottom of our schedule, dusted off, and placed back on top? Is it a commitment to grow in our relationship with God? Is it a thriving, healthy marriage? Enough time (and sanity) to invest richly in our kids? Meaningful connections with friends? Evangelistic encounters with lost people?

For me, the answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. Those five values are among my top priorities. So as I evaluate my schedule, I need to ask myself: Are these values “showing up” in my minutes? And if they’re not, how can I reorder my schedule so that they are? Let me give you an example. Because my husband is a pastor, he’s off work on Friday and Saturday. One of the ways I try to build my schedule around my family is by busting my tail on Thursday. I make sure the laundry’s done and the pantry’s stocked, so that I’m all theirs over the weekend. Friday morning is sacred. While the girls are at school, I commit to nothing except spending time with my husband. Some days I’m helping him get things done at work, and other days we’re sipping coffee on the back deck. But barring extraordinary circumstances, I don’t schedule anyone or anything for Friday mornings. I build my schedule around my priorities.

The beautiful thing about orienting your schedule around your priorities, is it prevents the schedule from enslaving you. So what if little Lucy interrupts “dishwashing time” to talk about what’s troubling her? She trumps dishes. Your values drive your schedule. Not vice versa. As you build your schedule around the things that matter the most to you, you’ll begin to recognize which commitments need to go. But hold on just a second! Before you cross off everything “fun and relaxing” in light of more noble pursuits, let me share my second piece of advice.

2. Don’t forget to factor in time for yourself. Pouring into every person and animal that crosses your threshold while starving yourself, isn’t noble; it’s foolish. We need a little blank space in our lives. We need room to breathe, and rest, and take care of ourselves. It will make us such better wives, and moms, and servants of Christ!

So what do you enjoy? What re-charges those batteries? Reading? Watching a favorite show? Baking, blogging, jogging, scrapbooking…factor a little of that into your schedule, and guard it! Don’t feel guilty for saying, “Sorry, I have a prior commitment Tuesday evening.” You don’t have to tell them that the commitment is with Pandora and your bathtub. It still counts! It’s a valid commitment. You know why? Because you count! You are a valid person, and you’re worth investing in.

3. Finally, don’t be such a stickler. It sounds backwards, but I believe we’re more likely to maintain a schedule in the long run, if we give ourselves the freedom to scrap it every now and then. The pursuit of perfection always leads to burnout. (Hello, pretty little schedule on the fridge!) Order your chores so that they serve your family. Plan your week so that you’re investing in the Kingdom. Carve out margin for yourself. But also give yourself the grace to say, “I couldn’t stick to it this week. I’ll start over again next week.”

It’s not the most profound advice, but this is where I’ve landed over the past few years. If you came over for dinner tomorrow, you wouldn’t find a schedule on my fridge. But there is one in my brain. There is a rhythm and order to my life—imperfect and sometimes messy—but there just the same! And by God’s grace, this schedule reflects my values more than it has in the past. And by God’s grace, it includes taking care of myself. And by God’s grace, it’s allowed to be a work in progress. Just like me.


This guest post was written by author/blogger Jeanne Harrison of Loving My Lot. To read more her posts go to her blog, or check out her newly released book “Loving My Lot.”

Enter the contest to win it for FREE! (I seriously LOVE this book, and if I could afford to buy it for all my mom-friends and sisters..I would.;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

[Join the discussion on the Free Spirit Homemaker Series: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul! Check out these posts if you missed them: What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?, Why Free-Spirits Are Naturally Terrible Homemakers, and Introducing The Free-Spirit Homemaker Series . Share your own thoughts in the comment section, or visit my Barren to Beautiful Facebook page.]

Why Our Homemaking Will Never Be Good Enough

homemaking

Last winter, there were days I so hated living in my house. My house with it’s doors that froze shut during bitter temperatures, and windows that leaked with the melting snow, and my ugly kitchen floor staring at me day after day. But my husband would come home and get out his guitar and sit on that ugly floor and play and sing and worship. And my 2-year-old daughter would dance, and squeal, and spin around in circles. And I would sing and rock and sway. And in those moments, on the kitchen floor, the presence of God would fill our house so thick, it was other-worldly. It was Love come down with us. It was the Spirit of God filling our hearts and filling our house with Himself. And those were the moments that Heaven broke through.

And that kitchen floor became sacred ground.

Not because it was meticulously cleaned. Not because it was the latest design. But because we had sunk to our knees. And we found Him there. And behold, God was in that place and I did not know it.

And this is what makes it home. It’s not the home I’m making, it’s the home He is making in me. For Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

So, come Lord Jesus, come. Come and make your home in me, today and all eternity.

Click here to finish reading this post I wrote on author Emily Wierenga’s site. This post was originally published as part of Emily’s new Making It Home book launch. And it also is part of our Free-Spirit Homemaker Series:How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul. If you missed the last post, read it here “What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?”