Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas time is only complete with the tradition of lefse making. This is my favorite day of the year. The smells, the warmth, the melt in your mouth taste of a fresh piece of lefse.
My mother and I have become the sole tradition keepers of our family-each year it is reiterated that this will soon pass to just me. My inaugural moment came three years prior when one of the two lefse flippers was given to my possession. There was a ceremony with my mother and grandmother, the flipper, as a sword, was daubed upon my shoulders.
In an effort to assist myself when I do become the sole lefse provider, I have recorded our family's "secret" recipe, with instructions.

Begin by cooking chopped potatoes in boiling water.
Once done, rice the potatoes into a large bowl. This has always been my least favorite task. The one where I just happened to disappear to the other room. Not today.

After the potatoes are all riced and your hands are painfully red, measure out the total amount.

My grandmother's dear friend, and former neighbor in Barron, was Hazel Berg. Her "secret" recipe has become our family's favorite combination of ingredients for lefse.

3 Cups of riced potatoes, cooked
1/2 cup of shortening, melted
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 Tablespoon of cream
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of flour

All these ingredients are mixed in the order given. Grandmother repeated this instruction three times. It's dire to follow it's order.

Mixing potatoes, add ingredients.

Let me not forget the importance of wearing proper attire. Carlson women must donne their Scandinavian aprons, as to not litter their clothing with flour.

Divide the mixture into 20 pieces, shaping into a ball. Let cool for 30 minutes to firm up the dough.

At this time, make sure everything you need is brought near. You will need Christmas music, Diet Coke, perhaps refreshments. Once lefse positions have been taken-one as a roller and one as a flipper-it cannot be unwomaned.

Begin rolling out the dough, turning over once. Use a lefse rolling pin or cloth covered rolling pin, roll into a think circle on a floured surface.

Move from surface to hot griddle. Make sure griddle is ungreased. Bake until lightly fleshed brown, turn to other side. And cool on clean towel.

Once the task has been completed-the worker may enjoy a fresh piece of warm lefse. Delicious.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"There is no fear in love...perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18

"Have you ever thought about fear as an indulgence that we as Christians can't afford? We often think of rich desserts as indulgences, and they certainly can be. But fear is an indulgence, too--one that Christians engage in at least as much (if not more) than Krispy Kreme donuts. We indulge in fear each time we deny a conflict that exist with a friend--even though we know there is a cancer--like silence between us that Satan is probably filling with his lies. We can indulge in fear when we tell ourselves, "I've had enough, I'm done with this." While walking away looks like some kind of primitive strength, it's often a fear "feast" that results in us putting on weight (in the form of concern and anxious thoughts). When fear keeps us from addressing conflict in our lives, it hinders our intimacy with Christ. We'd rather indulge in fear than delight in the love of Christ; yet, if we'd just delight in Perfect Love, scripture says that fear would flee. Leaving fear behind is a bit like dieting. Standing at the freezer with our hand on the door and the ice cream on the other side, sometimes we just have to say aloud, "No." Standing in a conflict feeling sorely tempted to indulge in denial and flight (both grounded in fear), we must call to mind the lavish love of Christ, drop our hands to our side, and remind ourselves that fear is one indulgence we simply cannot afford." The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande

Friday, September 3, 2010

Comparisons of calling

A delicious maple soy latte, tunes of praise, and reading about Christ’s triumph…what more could a cold-breezy afternoon hold that would overwhelm my soul as it does now. Lord, you are good.

It seems strange that a new year begins in January, when now is the time of new beginnings. Maybe God did it that way so January wouldn’t be so gloomy. Good one God. New beginnings-beginning a second year with Here’s Life Inner City. I feel far too blessed to be given the opportunity to serve God with them an additional year. Just think, getting to learn more about the Lord’s character as PART OF MY JOB; witnessing people fall head-over-heal for Jesus as PART OF MY JOB.

I’ve had a few conversations lately about callings…

(I just had a flashback to Augsburg College where every chapel concentrated on researching the issue of vocation)

What a good topic though. It may be perhaps one of my favorite things to talk about. One conversation surrounded how to you discern calling. Another on why God calls some to be tent-makers and others missionaries and everything in between. One common snare in my life is to compare callings.

I was reading a blog a few months ago about this 20-year-old girl in Uganda who started an orphanage and cares for the village, sharing Christ with all who’ll listen. I found myself instantly wishing I could do that, along with some much more holy thoughts that I’m sure I had. Wink.

The past few years, I’ve journeyed with a friend who seems to be made to do full-time ministry. It’s been a difficult road for her, since God has not giving her the
call yet. She’s busy making tents, so to speak.

Sometimes I sit on my couch and don’t want to do a thing! I wish at moments of heartache, especially during support-raising seasons, that I wasn’t called to do full-time ministry. And surely there are far better people than I to preach the gospel.

Another friend has been working in the secular world for a number of years. BANG! God gives him the tickle in his heart to do something else. Let me clarify, not something better, but something different. Something in ministry.

What does this all mean? (by the way if you haven’t seen the Double Rainbow youtube, please watch now)

Moving past the truth that everywhere you are you are a light for Christ. This is true, people in secular working fields are desperate for Jesus just as much as the homeless man or African child. But what to do with this comparison of callings? We all do it. And Biblically, what do we do when we are discontent with the current vocation?

Two thoughts come to mind.

One: Christ is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him. (John Piper). Regardless of the specifics to the vocation, God is glorified. God may design your vocation based on what will give him glory.

Two: the mystery of the Body of Christ. God was pretty spectacularly clever in his design for us to thread together and work for the same goal. It takes on the image of a spider’s web: all connected, holding fast together.

Romans 10:14

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

In the passage above, the mission is that every knee shall bow and tongue confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ To accomplish this goal one person must share the news, bring the unbelievers, to another they must send the speaker. There is a web amongst the church created.

It comforts my soul to know that whatever the task at hand, God is using it to accomplish further glory. I pray my heart would seek not to compare callings. Rather, I’d be so satisfied with the Lord and who his is in all his glory, that I’m far better occupied to compare. It seems to come back to the age-old sin of mine-to ponder myself above my God.

To your Name be the glory.

Revelation 22:7-21

7"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book."
8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"
10Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy."
12"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."
17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

From the Sy Rogers Talks

Sy Rogers
“Sin” is an old archery term for “missing the mark.” We often wonder why we sin and why do we struggle so hard not to sin. Sy Rogers came to speak to our students last week, addressing this question and many more thoughts. He formerly struggled with sexual sins and by the grace of God he’s found some enlightening discoveries.
So, why are we going to struggle with sin?
Biological Psychological Spiritual
DNA-it is in our nature Cultural influences Corrupted and weak
to sin. We have inherited media culture
weaknesses and we are peer group
off track relationally with church culture
God and others family of origin

Hormones Perception of experiences Generational Sin
Emotionally hungry or
Damaged (perception to

Brain in training Events Satan
We gravitate to pleasure Deceives/tempts/
if you’ve learned something
gives you what you want,
you crave it.
Experience + associations =
Learned Acquired Behavior
Reinforced patterns become

What you can do about it?
Bring into light the Principle of dependence
We must accept our limitations and get back on track to aim at the mark. The process of learning maturity and security in Christ. It’s similar to Diabetes, we must learn to manage our body and get the outside source of insulin.
What is the Mark?
Immaturity Vs. Maturity
Are you driven by impulses/urges/appetite or self controlled in spite of feelings?
Are you giving no thought to consequences or do you understand there are consequences?
Are you blaming others for being responsible or taking responsibility of actions?
Are you self centered and using others or are you able to live beyond yourself to serve others?
Insecurity Vs. Security
Are you driven and anxious or at rest and peace?
Are you striving to get acclaim and prove your value or are you accepting of self and confident in your value according to God?
Are you constantly comparing, envying, or coveting or are you content with your lot in life?
Are you jealous, controlling, manipulative, and demeaning to others or are you able to bless others and affirm and serve them?

Brain Training
We’ve created these patterns in our brains without even being aware of them. Let’s say a man started a job and on his first day he wasn’t invited out to lunch with his new co-workers. As a child he was mistreated, struggles with insecurity, and has found a way to cope by masturbating.
His co-workers not inviting him to lunch triggers a pattern-“They didn’t invite me” to “They must not like me” “I wasn’t liked as a child” “I was abused as a child” “I’m not worth anything” “I can make my self worth something” “Look at this beautiful woman” “She finds me desirable”. Each time the pattern is tapped into, he falls into the same sin.
Retraining your brain involves exposing it. Yes I was abused as a child. This was NOT what God wanted for me. He finds me worthy and wanted. Create a new pattern. Each time you are triggered REDIRECT your brain-ie look at your watch.
In addition, give yourself reachable goals. Let’s say you struggle with a sin that you find yourself doing multiple times a day. Start by limiting yourself to once a day, then 5 a week, then 3, then 1…etc. This is not to condone sin, but to manageable stop (similar to rehab).

We can learn the principle of submission. Walking in the light of discernment and having accountability to God and others is where we can keep clean in a dirty world.
Emotionally hungry or damaged in our lives can also cause us to struggle with sin. We must remember the principle of justice. God give compensation for losses (Ps 91:12, 10: 1-14, 18:1-6, John 4:13-14, 6:35) not always in our lifetime, God also healing of specific emotional injuries.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Soon after I became a believer, I had a dream…
A warm, sweet breeze blew through my hair. Every breath was delicious, the way I felt we were always intended to breathe. I was standing atop a tall tower with arching windows on every wall. The walls were made of tiny stone, cemented together. Running my hands along the base of the window, the stones were smooth and an array of colors. I looked over the land. Turquoise, olive, hunter, every kind of green plant filled the world below this tower. Bright orange blossoms popped amongst the green.
Turning to look though a different window, I noticed the room was filled with fountains. Two-tiered, three, and four bubbled out water. I dipped my hand in: cool. At the base of the fountains I noticed piles and piles of skeleton keys. Strange, I thought. Just then, I noticed my name engraved on one of them. I picked it up and pulled it out of the water, it turned gold as soon as it was out of the flowing stream. I saw my mother’s name on another key, excited I pulled it out to. But as soon as it left the water it turned to ash, and was gone. Rushing, I found my brother’s name, pulled it out and it was ash. My fathers, ash.
I woke up sobbing.
On Sunday…
I was talking on the phone with my mom on the subway. She shared that last week she went to visit my grandma. They went to church where the VBS students sang the verse, Philippians 4:6-7 “6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “
She said that she thought that God had written that verse for her and at just the right time she heard it. Dumbfounded, I said, “Oh yeah, Mom.”
She continued to share that she has had this emptiness in her, that she knows only the Lord could fill.
I asked, “Do you believe that God created you and that he has a plan and purpose for your life?”
“Yes” she responded.
“Do you believe that sin has separated us from God and because of that sin, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to pay the debt of our sins through death? But now, in the resurrection of Christ, we have a bridge to God”?
“Do you now know that you have eternal life in Christ, if you but ask God to come into your heart?” “But abundant life can begin now!!!”
I chuckled, I got really excited at the end and started getting a tad confusing. We spoke on what assurance of salvation is and that our response to God’s sacrifice is found in Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
She asked for prayer that she wouldn’t be anxious and that she would find a church.
A gold key.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tale of Two Cities

There were two extremes today: a southern Baptist worship service in Harlem and a gay pride parade in the Village. I’m taking the approach of just exploding my thoughts, with no real conclusions.
The church service had a piece of freedom I often miss at my typical church services back home. There is a scale of expression during worship, from the still pew sitter ending with the arm raiser foot stomper “Alleluia” chanter. Here, in Harlem, wherever you landed on the scale didn’t matter-reminding me of our audience of one.
Following the service we met two elders who shared the history of Bethel Gospel Assembly. Two black children accepted Christ at a tent revival in the early 1900s. Sadly, for the time, they were not allowed to attend the church that held the revival because of their race. A woman of that church told them she’d come up to Harlem each week and give them Bible Study if they bring their friends. A gathering of believers began shortly after-amongst them the first pastor of the, now, Bethel Gospel Assembly.
We rode the #2 home and enjoyed some pancakes and omelets at the local diner. Walking home, we noticed a large number of rainbow flags all traveling to 5th Ave, we’d heard that it was Gay Pride week. A parade was taking place in the heart of the Village.
I wish I could adequately describe the feeling I had when I walked nearer the parade. A weight in the low part of my abdomen pulled my feet to a stop. Cheers from herd of motorcyclists joined those of the spectators around me. The New York City Council banner slowly walked by with shouts of “C’mon New York show your pride!” An eruption of noise responded. Instantly I pictured Moses, coming down the mountain to see the Israelites draping their bodies over the golden calf.
I want to weep.
I want to see healing in the sexual brokenness.
I want more honesty in the church.
I want to stop reading about Catholic priests.
I want to have parades that honor God.
I want to talk about it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bringing Flesh to Vision

On Tuesday, 20 students arrived from Cali to Maryland, from Nebraska to Kentucky. Each with their own set of emotions, perspectives, and expectations—me too! This week was a mixture of missing home and really thrilled to meet new people. We had two days of orientation: covering topics of “Mastering the Subways: learning the metro card swiping speed”, “Evangelism”, and “The Forever-Changing Schedule”. During these days we joined the 4 other tracks ministry to NYC this summer (all five are-Inner City, Arts, Bridges, Epic, and Campus).
Thursday is where Flesh met Vision.

Alphabet City-located in lower East side of the village. Named appropriately because of the streets: block A, block B, C, and ending in D. I learned that this part of town is known for its punk nature, high drug use, and never-ending graffiti. Blocks A, B, C and D are the last on the subway line and they are referred to as “Attention”, “Beware”, “Caution”, and “Danger”. Block D, being the worst. In the past 20 years, much has changed in Alphabet City. The parks were cleaned up of all the used, dirty needles. Graffiti was removed and replaced with fresh paint. Petty crimes were gone after-from the philosophy that if we go after the smaller crimes the larger ones will take care of them self. Now it’s a tale of two cities. The West side of Alphabet City has been gentrified and the East still remains with many of the same needs-violence, hunger, housing.
We walked from A to B, stopping just before C at Graffiti/ E 7th Street Baptist Church. ( Here we met Kareeme Gubran. Kareeme shared how this little church started in a 10 x 10ft. store front. They moved into the neighborhood in 1974 to begin offering childcare, food, and clothing for those in need. The church now has grown, increasing its capacity to give through GED classes and much more. But as the neighborhood has changed so has the vision of Graffiti. Trying to find ways to bridge these two cities. Kareeme expresses:
“We are committed to living out the New Testament Scriptures through personal relationships with the risen Christ. We do this "living out" through serving others, and helping others find ways to serve.
We value worship, diversity, devotion and enthusiasm.”
Kareem introduced us to another friend, a renowned drummer from Eastern Europe. He came to America, first seeking to live out his passion for music in the secular world. God quickly showed him that it’s of greater value in heaven to use his passions to give ultimate Glory to the Risen Christ. He now plays drums at a homeless shelter.

Flesh to vision.
We walked on. Found our way to the house church and ministry home for Abounding Grace Ministries ( We met Pastor Rick Del Rio, the founder. He shared with us that God had given him this compelling sense that he needed to seek the face of the Lord. So he drove off to Kentucky. There he prayed for vision-God gave him the picture of a truck filled with food and his boys handing out sacks of food to those in need. He drove back to New York, told his wife and 3 young boys, packed up their belongings and moved to alphabet city. The picture of the truck below is the vision realized. Rick would stand in his truck and preach the message of Christ, people from the streets would come out of the dark and pray to receive Christ. At first they didn’t come, no one did. Rick would give an alter call and the street would be empty. One evening after they were packing everything up, this elderly woman approached them. She said she heard Rick preach and ask anyone to come forward that wanted Christ. She was 13 floors above, listening from her window.

Flesh to vision.
We ended our adventure at the Bowery Mission: a men’s homeless shelter, food program since 1879. Here we joined the lines for a meal and met some of the residents. The Bowery serves 3 meals a day, first to the residents and then to the public, averaging 300 meals a day. The residents are in transition programs. Two programs are offered, each lasting 6 months. They use tools such as Holistic Hardware and WorkNet, teaching life-skills and job-skills in a biblical format. Many of the staff we met were men that had graduated from the programs.


Walking into New York, you begin to see the flashes of bright lights, advertisements every 3 feet, cute skirts, shoes, and bags passing by you. “Oh, I want that.” “I want to look like her.” “I wish I had…” These thoughts flood your mind. Comparison. Dissatisfaction. Envy. Greed. A warped mind.
One of the project leaders mentioned that cities that are built out of sin continue to show evidence of the same sin decades later. New York City was built out of sin, people trying to avoid the “Protestant cities” and the taxes-they were greedy. Today, idols of greed, firmly planted, fill the city.
It’s hard to describe this-and I’m sure it comes across as being some “overly-spiritual-sensationalism” but I assure you-your mind feels attacked by greed.
We need to guard our minds. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isa 26:3). The mind is a battlefield: prey to the cunning schemes of the enemy, but created to steadfastly think upon the Lord. God is our watchmen over the tower of our mind. He knows us completely and we cannot hide our hearts. Surrendering our thought lives to God is not just means to more consistent victory; it is the safeguard against finally being given over to a depraved mind.
I give you my thoughts Lord, make my mind steadfast. Remove the idols that have taken root in my heart. You are faithful to your Word. Build your kingdom in my heart, my mind.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Song of the Redeemed

The students arrive in 5 days! This morning I woke up with that “thirsty” feeling-where you can barely go one more moment without God’s word. You must run to the well and drink it in.
In my cup, God answered a prayer.
I had a hard time coming to New York this summer. In all honesty, I had so much going on at home and making plans for the future that I didn’t give much thought to New York. I cataloged it as: that quick adventure before things move on again. Upon arrival, this aching sense that God had something more and I was to find out-and better seek and find-fast. I had to repent too, that my motives fell short of God’s glory and landed on my comfort.
Yesterday, I prayed, “Lord, I ask for your vision for New York. Consume me in what you’ve planned for this land.”
Today, I saw:
A hope for New York
--- a rising of the fog: the deception of the enemy that the voice of scoffers is mightier than the Lord, the loneliness and escape pursued, and the weeping in the hearts of many.
God is lifted high.
He speaks truth of love and mercy, offered to all-drowning out the scoffers. He offers reality that, YES, you can live an abandoned life larger than yourself. He wipes away the tears of the widow, the orphan, the lost, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the invisible, the untouchable, the broken, and the prisoner.
He has come to redeem all.
I see The Most High on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe spreads through the streets of Manhattan.
All are filled with an everlasting joy. The song of the redeemed resonates, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty the whole earth is full of your glory.”

I pray for these 21 students, 70 in the whole project, that they would be captured by your vision Lord. That they would throw off everything that hinders. I pray their eyes would be FIXED on Jesus-fixed with dove’s eyes, that they would consider Him, day after day, consider his character again and again. That they would not grow weary or lose heart. They would not labor in vain but would take the fruits of their labor and allow Jesus to own the results.

Monday, June 7, 2010

NY 101 - Fitness

Above is Grand Central Station

NY 101-Fitness:
(My first day)

The New Yorker’s breakfast is the delicious, well balanced meal. Starting afresh with a blended taste of cigarette and apple, green or red makes no difference.
Building muscle is essential to the New Yorkers physique. Every 5 feet you will find the “water hole” aka a coffee shop. Everyone walks with a fresh cup in hand, you must alternate between right and left hands to evenly distribute weight as you bulk up biceps. Between don’t walk signs, reps of 10, raising the cup to mouth is expected.
The true Fitness guru wears the appropriate fitness clothing. This may include: a business suit with hula hoop, eighties black balloon pants with 6 inch heals- or really anything eighties.
Lastly, for a true Pilates experience, commutes are maximized in New York. Directions: enter subway car, stand between doors-near hand rails, do not hold on to these rails, stand keeping your feet under your shoulders, anticipating the start of the train keep balanced. You will work your calves, shins, even the balls of your feet-hoping not to fall desperately into the lap of a bystander.

I plan to return to MN as fit as a New Yorker.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My new tent

On my way to New York, first stop Indianapolis to see my YOUNGER cousin get married. Airports, more often than not, make me nervous. Security guards look at you suspiciously, strangers walking past each other, odd superficial conversation. I think it makes me long for authentic human connection. The Lord blessed me with such this morning. Walking through the MSP airport, a steaming cup of Carabou in hand, I heard, “Lauren!” There was Megan Horter from Grafton, ND. She was on her way to Spain, super jealous by the way. What are the chances of seeing a North Dakota girl in the airport? It was a blessed coincidence.
On the airplane, sitting next to an empty seat, my eyes were lead to a recently found passage.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah 54:2
This was written to the barren women of Israel, who felt ashamed that they couldn’t have children. This has been a challenging year in many regards, causing me to surrender big things to God in honor of His timing and perfect will. I’ve been given the desire to be married and to have a “brood of children.” This is God-desired passion and I do look forward to the day. As of now, I’ve often assumed that I cannot see this passion met until I marry. So I’ve fought with God! To be honest, we’ve had words for years. I’ve asked him for a husband and, regrettably, once when I saw no answer I attempted to find my own. It failed. This cycle of surrender and taking back, surrender and taking back, has been exhausting. Though, I’d imagine that as long as flesh lives this cycle will continue.
The box that I put God in, however, barely holds his pinky toe. The expectation- that having children is left just for the married woman- is busted down by the verse in Isaiah. Who’da thunk?
My home and heart can be enlarged, my love (granted by God’s spirit) can be stretched wide-for the kingdom of God and the children of the Lord.
I DON’T even have to HOLD BACK!
It’s meant to be lengthened wide and strengthened by the Strengthener.
This excites me, especially on the brink of New York. People are meant to be invested in, without holding back. God given passion for children can be used by the kingdom for spiritual children. My prayer for my heart as I meet this 40 wonderful college students is that God will have enlarged my capacity, that He’ll fill me with love for them, that I won’t think that just because this is a short season that it’s not worth the investment, that my mind would be opened wide to be a learner and listener, that I will be strengthened by Him.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I remember the moment my heart broke

I remember the moment
My heart broke.
My leg stuck to the green vinyl boot-seat
I looked across the restaurant to the mirror wall.
It was my favorite place to eat because of the beautiful wall.
Light bounced,
Waves of colored mirror: green and pink-swept over the wall.
Taking a step back, you can see the waves made flowers-huge peonies.
I could see everyone in the restaurant from this vantage point.
It was someone’s birthday,
The candles dance in the pink peony.
Mom and I sat across from each other,
She smiled
Touching my hand, her face now serious.
As a Hollywood line cue,
“I’ve got something to tell you.”
I, a young eleven year old, happily waited.
“Dad and I are getting a divorce.”
No movements from the restaurant,
The servers had no orders to attend
Customers held their forks inches from their mouth.
Then the moment happened.
The air flowed into my throat and caught just behind my swallow.
Muscles pulled, tightened and would contract
The roof of my mouth beginning to quiver.
My cheeks tingled below my eyes, working to form tears and shoot them into my eyes.
But my heart
It had no lady-like composure.

The same moment
You fell to your knees and tore your clothes, heaping ashes upon your head,
Miles above.
Reaching behind your shoulder, you grabbed your
Most perfect arrow (Ps 127:3-4)
The son you loved, called beloved (John 3:16)
Your heritage.
Looking upon my heart, desperate and needy,
Love reached into the quiver,
Pulled the solitary arrow. Quiver empty, your cherished arrow aimed for the hearts of hateful man.
“The divine dilemma: two loves. And one would demand the sacrifice of another” (B. Moore).
You laid the arrow, clicking into the bow, aimed for
My heart,
Pulled back and released, snap!
“and she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger “ (Luke 2:7).

to be continued…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Stories

More of the story:
“God had plans to meet Jordan* in a very special way this weekend. Looking back, I see that the healing started last year on a Monday night during the Bible time at one of our SAY Yes! meetings. Jordan shared with the group the pain she had experienced because of the absence of her mother in her life. My heart went out to her and I could feel her pain.

Before the closing banquet, I asked Jordan if she wanted to talk. She said, "Sure." I told her it was a good thing that I wanted to share with her. She was relieved. I didn't want her to think she was in trouble.
Sitting beside her on the couch, I told her that I remembered the time she shared about her mom. I told her that God wants to do a deeper healing in the area of that wound in her heart. I asked if she would mind if I prayed with her and she was open to it. As I prayed, I was amazed at the words of healing that came. I was so overwhelmed by God's love for her. She was crying and I knew God was working. I prayed that He would heal the deepest, darkest place in her heart, where it had ached SO BADLY in the past. I told her that never, at any time, was her mother's leaving and being absent from Jordan’s life in any way her fault. I wanted her to know that God wanted to free her from those thoughts. She thanked me several times as I spoke with her. I knew that she was clinging to every word. At the banquet during testimony time Jordan read a poem she had written at the retreat. She described the deep hurt she had about her mom and how she tried to deal with that. God confirmed through her poem that He was meeting her in a deep way and doing a healing work in her life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inside Out 2010

To measure success:

Firmly known is that the gospel was presented not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. (1 Thes. 1:5). My God is one of POWER and he was undoubtedly, present this weekend.
From a leadership position, it’s rather easy to forget praise and take mental note to “change the opener,” “find ways to use journals,” or “more free time.” My mind was a jumble of tasks and future decisions.
Taking a step back today, I see that God in His Spirit was exploding out of the retreat center as balloons filling up a car, pressing against the windows. I apologize, I think in analogies.
I thank the Lord for the moments of assurance, without the need of faith: the moments where He was surely moving in the hearts of girls in measurable ways. Girl 1, originally protected by walls, she showed respect to leaders, she started talking, even shared how she wants to be loved, but said she was waiting to be “loved right.” Girl 2, a natural leader, started “preaching” telling all the girls around her how they need to look at the mentors and “they’s our example, to be like them.” She won’t let a boy get more than a kiss without a ring. Girl 3, has been quiet for 6 months, wouldn’t stop talking and hugging all weekend. Girl 4, confessed she doesn’t want to be around men at all, including family, she said she’s afraid of them. She’s memorizing “Perfect love drives out fear.” Girl 5, asked “How can I talk to my Dad about sex, without him thinking I want to have it?” Many girls signed a Purity Covenant between God and them stating, “I ____________make a commitment to keep myself pure in spirit, mind, body and soul for you Jesus and the husband you have for me.”

Immeasurable success:

How I wish I could say, 28 girls made decisions to follow Christ. Or 28 girls are waiting for marriage to have sex. But God has given us faith instead: faith to believe that God moved below the surface this weekend. That he touched hearts; that he presented a little bit of truth in the mess of lies the world screams, faith to know that truth is lasting, faith to know that His will will come to pass. And faith even to realize that God exceeds our expectations.
“The one who calls you is FAITHFUL, and He will do it” (1 Thes 5:24).
I pray for your protection Lord over the truth planted in their hearts. May they understand and know their purpose, beauty, worth, and love found in the fold of Christ. To God be the Glory. Amen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Potato Chips

“Will God still love you if you sit all day long in your sweat pants eating potato chips on your couch?”

What a challenge to answer this, truthfully; the theological-thought answer, “Of course!” But do I really believe this, six inches lower, deep within my heart?
This question attacks your view of God and knowledge of His promises.
However, each being comes to understand God with different experiences, borrowed legacies, and preconceived thoughts. A person’s deepest, most basic and often hidden self-concept, thought patterns, decisions, and nuances of belief all shape our understanding of God. We answer the question what is God like and who we are, based on these childhood tendencies, family traditions, and innate behavior thoughts.

What are my rocks of understanding?

One big one is my thought pattern “If I am _______, they will love me.” This stems from a torn family by divorce. Childhood experiences with friends that wanted me to steal in order to hang out with them. Or memorize “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” before I could dance with them. Etc.

My view of God is this “If I am_______, HE will love me.”

When we put all our rocks together, we can clog the flow of truth. Who is God? How does He view me?
Sweetly, despite the many rocks, a filter is made, the character of God and his affection for you is always the same. That’s a crazy thought, regardless of my present or past circumstances GOD IS THE SAME.

I pray I get this.

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 Minute Testimony

I come from a family of unbelievers, and so, many people wonder how I came to find the Lord. Or rather, how the Lord came to find me.
On the streets of Milwaukee…
Tragedy struck, as anyone with parents that divorce, would honestly say. My parents separated and divorced just as I was entering sixth grade. This literally tore my family into two. My mother and I moved to South Milwaukee and my brother and dad stayed in North.
Insecure, hurt and lonely- described my 6th grade year. I frequently had thoughts of suicide. I struggled as a child to feel accepted, despite my mother’s attempts at telling me, “I love you.” I took disappointments hard and a slight nub ruined days of my childhood life. The idea of escape became my goal. I escaped when I watched a movie for two hours. I escaped when I felt friends liked me. But in the evenings, reality shook my emotional heart, and I wanted out.
That summer, my mom thought it best if I left the big city and visited family. I drove out to small town Iowa, joining my aunt and uncle.
Shortly after my arrival, my uncle’s youth group traveled to Colorado for a youth convention. Vulnerability became my companion; I was the youngest of the group and unknown to anyone. This pain had a purpose.
The first evening under the Colorado stars probed my thoughts on existence. I looked up high into the night and screamed inside, “If nobody in the universe loves me, why do I exist?” I planned to return home and end this quandary.
Following the crowd indoors, I took my place amongst thousands of teenagers. They played weird music and sang with their hands up in the air. I uncomfortably shifted in my seat. When all these “crazies” joined me in their chairs again, a man took the stage. He began to tell the life of a man-god named Jesus, but the words that finally penetrated my heart were, “He loves you completely.” That Jesus spoke, “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). And said, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt 10:30).
Tears flowed as Niagara down my face and splashed into my palms. Loved completely, despite my failures, and without strings attached, I didn’t understand it, but I wanted to know more. I learned that man was created to know God, but that rebellion/sin broke that relationship. God desired a relationship restored, so he sent messengers to bring people back to him. Each time people refused. They claimed they didn’t hear his voice. For thousands of years God screamed his love for his people and wept as they rejected him over and over again. In a final attempt to declare his love, he sent his very own son. This time some listened, but many didn’t see. They crucified him, Jesus was his name, and the Earth shook when his last breath escaped. But in His glory and power, death could not hold Jesus; he burst forth three days later from death and returned to his father in heaven. Jesus died the death man was guilty of and through this “most humble act” we can have a relationship with God again.
In fact, God says, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
And so, I returned to Milwaukee a child of God.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Okay, last story….
With these 1,600 college students this past week, many of them new to the faith, we were able to partner with the local church to share boxes of food and invite them to a fellowship of friends. I went with the Key of Faith Church in North Minneapolis. Over 150 students filled the sanctuary and lifted praises to God, students from Eau Claire, Lacrosse, Grand Forks, joined with a congregation from North. They sang, How great is our God. The joining of nations gave me Goosebumps and a glimpse into how beautiful the praises to God will be in heaven when all nations bow together to God.
I stepped outside with a group from Grand Forks, two of the four students who had never gone out to share their faith before. It was amazing to witness one girl share for the very first time. She listened to the prayer request of an older gentlemen and asked him, what he wishes for in his life. He was struck by this girl from ND coming to give him a gift and ask him that question. Flushed and energized she spoke him the grace of God. I loved just being able to witness the conversation unfold. How Great is the God we serve that can bless each person in that room, an older man, a young believer, and a girl watching God move.

Holy Ambition

Another story, I just returned from a Christmas conference in Minneapolis, geared for college students involved in campus crusade for Christ. Over 1,600 students attended from all around the Midwest. While there, God spoke a clear message to me. I share this with you too, whoever you are, because I feel that it is meant for more than my audience.
I meet with the National Intern Coordinator for Here’s Life on Thursday morning. She said that during her first year she was asked, “What do you dream about?”
Not in “dreaming” about giant asparagus that sways and sings, eat more veggies.
What do you wish for your life?
Many people responded, seeing a certain people group come to Christ, or spending a year in ministry, etc. The leader who asked the question said, “I dream about being 80 years old and loving the Lord.” My leader thought this was a stupid, of course everyone here wished that they loved God and that they would love God at 80.
Later she was convicted. Many people in there 20s are sold out for Christ, devoting years to ministry. But slowly they trade God for treasures of the world. She even reflected on her father, who now, at 80, has salvation but no living relationship with God. She challenged me, Lauren in your 20s now, seek God and build a foundation with him by seeking his word.
Three hours later, I received a phone call from an 80 year old woman in my church. She said that she wanted to be a prayer warrior for me and that she received a word from the Lord to share. She told me that my generation is in danger, because we have thought our own wisdom greater than the word of God. She said that while I am young I need to humbly run after God’s wisdom and learn from him. She wanted me to seriously read scripture and learn from the Lord.
Three hours later, John Piper stood before a group of 2,000 people and shared a message he received from God. He spoke on how my generation struggles to grow up; we have prolonged adulthood to our 30s. We are focused on our self, in transition, unstable, confused, melodramatic, and disappointed.
He shouted, “Grow Up!”
He challenged us to get a HOLY AMBITION. As Paul and Timothy. (Romans 15:18-24). We are called to holy ambitions and Christ doesn’t like waiting until we are 30.
To get a holy ambition we must immerse ourselves in the Bible.
God does not lead us into pointless ambition, but Holy Ambitions are always filled with love and meeting peoples needs.
So, as cheesy as I feel that it is to have a new years resolution, I can’t shrug off this word from God. It is good to reflect on the past year and see what standard and ambition we are being led to, I feel pulled to jump into God’s word, know it, study it, love it, seek the kingdom.

I feel the need to record the latest moments of life, since I have felt heaven shake. Three have profoundly affected me, leaving me unpretentious to how God works and moves. I just returned from a trip with family to England. My prayer before leaving was that Jesus would be celebrated during our trip. Unexpectedly, we attended a Christmas service at Westminster Abbey.
A signed read, “Enter with reverence.” I wish that I saw this on every corner as a reminder that the curtain is torn and that God resides on earth, and he is to be revered.
We strolled up the aisles with a ceremonial gait, gazing up at the ribbed vaulting, rose windows, and flying buttresses. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, George Frederic Handel, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce were some of the Men of God honored, their names ensued a sense of God’s movement and creativity.
Maroon velvet choir chairs were opened to the audience. I sat in a throne that rose 6 feet above me. The music began, with perfectly architecture acoustics. Hymns spread through the apses, climbed lavish marble columns, and splashed together in the highest Gothic vault in England (102 feet).
It hit me, that God, who seems hidden so often, is worshiped. He is worshiped in England. I had this same feeling when I was in Ghana two summers ago. When the boxes that I put God in explode, and he becomes the God of all Nations.
I praise God! I thank God that he is beautiful and creative and that He can even bring my family to silence before him.