Lessons in Gratitude

Who would have guessed there would be lessons in gratitude—and the consequences of ingratitude—from the president of the United States and the father of a college basketball player accused of shoplifting in China. If you don’t know the story, here’s a brief recap.

Donald Trump, who was in China a few weeks ago at the time the incident took place, evidently persuaded the president of China to go easy on three players who took some expensive sunglasses from a high-end store without paying for them.

After the three players were arrested, questioned, detained, and then released and sent home, they expressed their gratitude to president Trump. But the father of one of the players refused to offer thanks. His omission might have gone unnoticed, but the dad was vocal about his refusal.

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When Teens Wish They Could “Unpost” (Interview with Jonathan McKee)

Have you ever regretted something you posted on social media? Don’t feel bad, 57% of Americans who use social media have posted something they regret afterwards. And that’s just adults. Now jump into the brain of a 10-year-old. Yes, a 10-year-old. Nielsen research labels age 10 the “mobile adoption sweet spot” because the average age a child receives a smartphone today is 10.3 years-old. How is a 10-year-old supposed to make wise decisions with social media like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook? (especially when COPPA—Child Online Privacy Protection Act—regulates that you have to be at least 13 to be on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook). Young people don’t think for more than 3 seconds before they hit SEND. Sadly, the pics they post, the rants they engage in… even the offhand comments they make… often have dire consequences. In law enforcement we deal with the fallout of these posts daily. If you’re familiar with our work here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, you know how important we think it is to equip and prepare the next generation of Christian Case Makers. Part of this mission is to help young Christians understand how to navigate social media and post wisely in an insecure world. To help do this, I thought I’d ask the guy who literally just wrote the book on it.

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Belong Before You Believe?

The church has it all backwards.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the church. I am personally invested in the church. But I’m pretty sure that the church needs to change directions.

Of course I’m talking about the visible church, the one found in physical locations, not the invisible church, also known as the body of Christ. The invisible church is doing just fine, thank you very much. It’s the visible church that needs to rethink its strategy.

The strategy I’m referring to comes in a lot of different forms and formats, but mostly it can be summarized in one little phrase: “Belong before you believe.” The strategy behind the phrase is quite simple. If a church can attract people through its preaching and music and programs—all presented by cheerful, friendly, successful people—then visitors to that church will be compelled to keep coming and eventually believe what the preacher and the music and the programs are talking about.

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Peace in Place of Performance

Culture demands conformity to a never satisfied machine while God imparts peace in place of performance.

The pressure is on isn’t it? Pressure to be all things to all people and to do all things for all people.

I hear momma’s everywhere singing an amen chorus in unison. We feel it right; intangible need to be at the top of our game in every area of life?

The expectation society places on women – well okay then - women place on women, has created a pressure cooker on the verge of imploding. The current of performance driven culture makes me nauseous.

When my husband Martial and I were first married about 8 years ago, I placed this crazy expectation upon myself to master domestic duties like it was nobody’s business. I threw myself into my job, working hard to earn more so we could reach some imaginary financial status we hadn’t even defined. I came home tired and wanting to rest, but the expectations to be the perfect home maker got to me and I’d spend an hour or two every night struggling in the kitchen to cook a meal we could stomach.

When our son Justice made his life debut, life got real, real fast. I was still working full-time, still struggling in the kitchen and on top of being wife of the year, now I had to be the mom of the year too.

The summer when Justice was one, I took him to swim class every week because that’s what you do with your baby in the summer right? It was such a challenge to sneak out of work early, race home, grab my son and his swim gear and get to class on time just so he could splash around and sing the wheels on the bus. We’d race back home, he’d eat a bar and some crackers on the way (the dinner of champions I know) and again I’d struggle to cook something worth eating. On those nights, Justice could barely keep his sleepy eyes open long enough to eat.  It was exhausting and I felt awful watching him struggle to eat, bathe and get to bed before he was beyond tired (and nobody wants to go there with toddlers, am I right or am I right?).

I don’t remember when it was I finally imploded and complained to my husband about never meeting the expectation to be wife and mom of the year and the frustration and exhaustion I felt as a result. I can however, assure you it was not one of my more becoming moments.

Have you been there? Maybe the pressure cooker you find yourself in looks different than mine but we all feel pressure to be and do more than we are and are capable of right?

I distinctly remember my husband graciously telling me he didn’t expect me to be wife and mom of the year. Sure, a nice home cooked meal is great, but if it caused me to feel depleted, I didn’t need to stress over it. We could figure out a new routine that didn’t cause me so much angst. I began to realize I set the bar high for myself based on what I thought he – and the rest of the world – expected of me. I had created these crazy expectations of myself I could never keep which only caused me to constantly feel like a disappointment and a failure.

See what I did there? I set an unrealistic expectation upon myself and when I couldn’t meet it, I labeled myself a domestic failure.

Lysa TerKeurst, - she’s so wise - talks about how easy it is for a line to turn into a lie to turn into a label that becomes a liability.

The line I heard was I needed to be a domestic goddess. After a treadmill marathon, accomplishing nothing but exhaustion and frustration, the line turned into a lie I bought into, seeking approval from my husband for an expectation I had placed upon myself without him even knowing. Because I couldn’t keep the pace, I labeled myself a failure. Had I kept running at this pace, burnout was inevitable. Insert ugly liabilities. Had the unrealistic expectation not been revealed and dealt with, it could have caused serious damage to my relationship with my husband and my son, and maybe even those around me outside our home.

There is a cultural shift taking place and more and more women are talking about the pressure cooker and beginning to release the valve. Thank goodness!

Last year, the very funny Jen Hatmaker released For the Love. The book opens with Jen admitting she has a ton of help caring for her family of 7 along with all her other responsibilities. It does really take a village to raise children. We cannot do it alone, nor were we meant to.

And the fabulous Shauna Niequist released Present Over Perfect, Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Life.

I’ll trade in my frantic for simple and soulful any day! Can I get a witness?

I’ve shared some of my frantic with you. What’s your frantic and where do you need simplicity and a refueled soul?

This past summer I didn’t take Justice to swim lessons. I just couldn’t fit it into our schedule. And this time around, I wasn’t interested in futile attempts to conform our lives and what works best for our family into a schedule that just didn’t work for us.

When it comes to cooking, I’ve discovered crockpot meals - genius - and preparing meals ahead of time which has saved me hours during the week. I have more time to spend with my family and a lot less unnecessary stress.

I have learned to identify our families values and more importantly, to hold these values at higher esteem than societal or self-inflicted expectations. Sometimes this means we don’t take swim lessons right now and I don’t cook dinner every night. Sometimes it means I order pizza. Gasp! I know! The horror! And guess what? We’re still alive! As it turns out, Justice and my husband love pizza. #winning

What are your non-negotiables? What values are worth more to you than your own expectations?

Because here’s the thing, when I read about the character of God in the Bible, I read a very different story of grace and rest and peace than the story I was writing for myself.

In his book, Barefoot Church, author Brandon Hatmaker says, "Being at peace with God means we can take a breath, relax, and stop performing." 

The Bible is the story of God with the main character entering the scene as a baby. And what I learn about this unexplainable God in reading His story is He is the God who created life and delighted in it by resting with it. Even going so far in His relentless pursuit to be with His beloved children He became a little baby and babies rest a lot.

It’s no surprise then that the most restful, peaceful, delightful part of my day, is spending time with my son Justice reading and playing while a prepped ahead meal cooks or bakes away in the kitchen.

My biggest non-negotiable is my tribe before all. And for me, I am most prepared to love and to give my family the best of me, when I am in a position to be loved and to find my worth, label and peace in the One who made me to rest with Him.

Here’s my charge to you. Read and rest in the passage below. It’s Gods’ story told so you would know and live your life resting in His unwavering love and adoration of you. His love does not deplete, not exhaust, not expire. His love fuels and empowers and uplifts.

As you read, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What does this passage say about the character of God?
  2. What does this passage mean?
  3. How does this passage relate to the larger story of God told throughout the Bible?
  4. How does this passage affect my life?
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Doing Less Equals Being More

I love to write. And it takes a lot of time to write.  I roughly have 18,000 full-time jobs. I’m a full-time wife, full-time mom, and full-time home maker with a full-time job! It goes without saying (yet here I am saying it; that’s how smart I am you lucky reader you), I struggle to find the time to wash my hair thoroughly let alone to write a blog. Most days something has to give - either for lack of time or lack of energy - and unfortunately for me in this season, it's the writing I've had to hang up like a vintage 1989 telephone.

Love Kindness

This Op-Ed piece by Dr. Barry Corey, president of Biola University, originally appeared in the Washington Post under the title, 'I'd like to punch him in the face': The incredible shrill of this election season.

“You are the single biggest liar.” “This guy is a petulant child.” “Let’s get the boy in his bubble out of his bubble.” “A lightweight choker.” “A low-energy ‘stiff.’”

Or the latest, from Donald Trump about a protestor: “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

Maybe I’m amnesiac, but does this year’s political season seem more outrageous than ever? By outrageous I mean the outrage, the heat, the shrill. Why have so many candidates put on red or blue ties and then wrapped themselves in razor wire before coming to the podium?

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Interruptions and Healing

Most of the time when Jesus healed, performed miracles and had life altering encounters with people, it was unplanned and an interruption in His day.

My favorite interruption story is found in Luke 8. Jesus is on His way to heal a sick girl when someone in a large crowd touched the hem of his robe. He stopped and asked who touched Him. Despite the emergency of the dying girl before Him, Jesus stopped, turned towards the woman who touched Him and the Bible tells us “she told why she had touched Him…” We don’t know how long the woman poured out her story to Jesus. We do know she was physically healed of chronic bleeding the second she touched Jesus’ robe and we see by Jesus’ response to her sharing when He says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” she found healing in her soul.

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God's Adoption Plan is Jesus

I was not yet a mom when I spent a week at a state run orphanage in Moldova.

Learning to Pray for my Son

Recently I read Mark Batterson’s Praying Circles around the Lives of Your Children. In the book, Batterson shares some personal stories of praying for his family, specifically each of his children. He shares some helpful suggestions of ways all parents, regardless of life stage the children are in, can pray for their kids.


The 7 prayer tools he suggests are:


·         Praying the promises of God

·         Making prayer lists

·         Creating prayer mantras

·         Praying a hedge of protection

·         Forming prayer circles

·         Praying through the bible

·         Passing on blessings

Batterson believes prayers function as prophesies. Praying parents have the opportunity and privilege of scripting the future of their children with their prayers. I find this absolutely incredible. And weighty. And exciting. And daunting. And even more exciting.

I took away a few learning’s from the book that I’ve quickly adapted into my daily routine. For starters, Justice wakes every morning with a song of thanksgiving for the day that the Lord has made and we clap and say “yay” and rejoice in it together.
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Malestrom: An Interview With Carolyn Custis James

Who gets to define what it means to be a man? Pop culture? Church culture? Jesus? Evangelical thinker and author Carolyn Custis James has spent the last two years examining these questions, and she’s now calling Christians to the urgent task of recapturing God’s vision for men. The title of her new book, Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Current of a Changing World (Zondervan, June 2015), alludes to the dangers of whirlpools in the open seas, maelstroms. She chose this powerful title to help readers grasp the destructive and disorienting forces that took root as humans turned away from God’s original vision for men.

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