Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pink Lemonade for Krystal

God's angel sets up a circle
   of protection around us while we pray.
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
   how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
Psalm 34:7-8 MSG

A young woman, a brunet with bright blue eyes, runs for the first time in decades. She is freed from her wheelchair by death. She runs to Christ.

A mother grieves. A father mourns.

A priest wears the pink vestments out of season.

In the church people celebrate life. Her caregiver Ivan reads a poem composed for this occasion, a celebration of Krystal and her favorite color pink.

She is buried near the edge of the cemetery, behind the church.

Krystal Kathleen
September 16, 1984 to May 24, 2006

Friends and family gather for the luncheon; the lemonade is pink.


photo credit

Friday, May 18, 2012


I am
not Abel
but Cain,

not the
prodigal son
but the
jealous sibling,

the virus
not the
January 2012 more

This morning, the brownie wins.

My humanity is hungry for comfort, and the chocolate brownie satisfies – momentarily.

Yesterday at a table with ministry leaders from across our community we prayed for those tempted by suicide, our sisters and brothers in desperation, people seemingly without hope.

Today I am grateful that when my life slips
from chaos and exhaustion to mourning and despondency, that Christ surrounds me with people who care enough to share hope.

The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. 
Some days I can think of nothing better. 
Paul in Philippians 1:23 MSG 

Paul is open about his desire to leave this earth ...
then he boldly makes plans to stay.

So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you 
as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues.
Paul in Philippians 1:25

Paul invites us to trust God and be companions to each other here on earth.

On the days when we can think of nothing better than breaking camp with life here on earth – finding a friend to pray with, acknowledging our sorrows before God, is essential.

Praying with her until God caresses our hearts with the chocolate embrace of hope is life changing, equips us to make a plan to stay.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tenacious Oak

My much neglected morning devotional opens with this verse:

By faith we understand that the
universe was ordered by the word of
God, so that what is visible came into
being through the invisible.
Hebrews 11:3 more

The question that follows is:
"What in God's creation feeds my spiritual life the most?"

the seasonal cycles of deciduous trees
the coming back to life after winter
the seed helicopters on the maples
the tenacity of oak leaves over winter
the sounds of birds
the scrambles of squirrels
the branches catching the movement of the wind
the shade on a warm summer day

Reading my 'chapter a day' I find myself nodding in recognition at Paul's words:

The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful.
Philippians 1:22-26 MSG excerpt

I am like a tenacious oak leaf hanging on through the winter, assured in the arrival of spring.


Photo by Vasyl Nesterov more

Friday, May 11, 2012

Earning Permission

There are tons of blogs out there ranting to masses, preaching with bullhorns, trying to move a giant wave: the 313,514,154 people in the United States. Or perhaps the 7,012,669,276 people around the world.

I hope this blog is not one of them, that I remain focused on the person next to me and the friend sitting next to her.

This morning I am inspired by Amanda Palmer at more, the power of simplicity, each person invited to giving small, their combined gifts potentially world changing. Amanda Palmer is seeking backers for her music, a studio album. Minimum pledge $1. Maximum $10,000.

With 11,727 backers, the average is about a dollar a week for a year.

The current total pledged is $626,181 – more than 6x the $100,000 goal.

What moves each person to pledge? What moves you? Or me?

Whispered Hopes is about pledging our lives to friendship in Christ.

Whispered Hopes is not an indexed doctrine of Biblical answers nor a neatly typed
Q 'n A page of appropriate responses to frequently asked questions.

Whispered Hopes is sitting quietly side-by-side with a stranger until we strangers become friends, answering each question with the dignity, honesty and faith we'd use to encourage our closest friend.

Whispered Hopes is respecting each person enough to earn her permission, engaging with loving answers only after the questions are asked.

God invites us to start with giving small.

 Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Ephesians 5:14 NIV

... let those who dwell in the dust
wake up and shout for joy—
your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead. 
Isaiah 26:19 NIV

Living together in Christ changes everything.


Amanda Palmer more
Brick by Brick more
Population Clock more
Photo by Dmitriy Shironosov more

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cupcakes, Pringles and Tears

Something chocolate 'n sweet followed by a fat-filled salty snack – the combination signals danger, an impending ride on an emotional roller coaster.

The combo repeats:  two evenings each month sharing chocolate* with the women and men, my friends who work in the strip clubs, then consuming something salty on my way home ... and two mornings each month, like this morning, the remaining Pringles and two left-over cupcakes eaten while drinking my coffee.

Tears followed.

Nutrition-minded friends gasp at the poison content of my choices and easily link mood swings to my consumption. I'm quite certain that my mood will swing today no matter how healthy my food choices.

The day after we visit the clubs is always a time of tears. The phrase that brings tears today is 'bringing grace to graceless space' which used to make my heart sing and is now tainted as it seems to imply that 'we' have something 'they' don't, as though Christ isn't already in the clubs, as though 'they' is so very different from 'we'.

Satan wants the separation, the division, the deep trench of distance, a belief that somehow separate is better ... the twisted lie that being in the world but not of it keeps us safe.

God keeps us safe.

This I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, 
you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, 
the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, 
but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 
Jesus, in John 15:17-19 NASB
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, 
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern 
of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Paul, in Romans 12:1-2 NIV

The enemy uses our own fears against us, our belief that 'graceless space' is somewhere outside us, that 'we' can keep our children safe, that our daughters and sons would never end up there – in a club or wherever.

God's daughters and sons work in the clubs.

'We' are not better parents than God.

I want Christ's church to be a place for all God's children – not 'we' and 'they' separate – All of us.

Better Together.

Better Together in Christ.


* more than just chocolate, volunteers often bring full meals to share with our friends in the clubs

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wrestling with God

Oct 5: With food costs spiraling out of control, my friend Kimberly, asks for $150,000 to feed orphans in Sudan. more

Oct 10: Kimberly boldly and transparently writes about the "businessmen" offering to SELL an entire year's worth of "USAID NOT FOR SALE" food. more

Oct 20: Kimberly is back at her keyboard: "All morning long I wrestled with God, or maybe whined to Him. 'I don’t get it. Even when Betsie Ten Boom was dying in a concentration camp with her sister Corrie she only recalled your Word, Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.' ... Why can’t I just call on You and let it go?
I really don’t want to write about children going hungry one more time.” more

Asking for help is difficult.

One day Jesus was teaching ... and the power of the Lord was with
Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man
on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the
tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
Luke 5:17-26 NIV excerpt

Jesus knew exactly what the onlookers were thinking.

Jesus ... said, "Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say
 'I forgive your sins,' or to say 'Get up and start walking'? Well, just so it's clear
 that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both ..."
 Luke 5:22-24 MSG

Asking for help is trusting others to hold the corners of my mat, submitting to being lowered through the roof and placed at the feet of Jesus.

Asking for help is risking that the crowd may doubt and scoff and gossip, that people will hear "I forgive your sins" as an exposure of my brokenness rather than an affirmation of Jesus' Divinity.

I need your help.

I need your help with provision for Whispered Hopes.

Please consider donating gifts, joining us in prayer, volunteering to visit the clubs, or asking friends to be ambassadors in their own faith communities. more

Like my friend Kimberly, I am wrestling not with God's abundance, but with my own unwillingness to risk asking for your help.


The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom book
Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith book

I will not accept another young bull from your household 
or a single male goat from your pens. 
Every creature in the forest, 
the cattle on a thousand hills, is mine. 
I know every bird in the mountains.
Everything that moves in the fields is mine.
Psalm 50:9-11 GW

Monday, May 7, 2012

Streetwalking with Jesus
John Green's signature on the opening page reminds me that Streetwalking with Jesus
is a book written by a friend from Int'l Christian Conference on Prostitution, a brother in Christ. Nearly a year has passed since adding it to my bookshelf. Too long.

Early in the introduction, John's words deliver hopelessness: "My eyes caught the blur of his falling body just before I heard that sickening sound ..."

A homeless man jumps to his death.

A life is ended. A life is changed.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
Micah 6:8 more

The former alter boy raised in middle-class American values: hard work, doing good, living well, owning things, following the rules ... finds himself in a new paradigm. A heart is changed.

John writes, " I heard God clearly say, '... I value justice, mercy, and humility. These are my values.'" 

Streetwalking with Jesus is a passageway, inviting us to break the habits we call happiness and embrace the delight in what God has planned.


image credit: