I’m driving home from North Carolina, and I see an old restaurant with a dangling sign, half-lit. It says, “Come In! We’re Under New Management!”
Something about that sign grips me and won’t let me go. It’s hope. I know it like I know my own hands typing on this keyboard. The broken-down restaurant gets a fresh start–a new dream–under new management.
The old has gone, the new has come. 2012 will be our best year yet. We’re under the new management of a Great God. We’re surrendered, strong, and steady. Under new management means whatever was left broken down, hurting, and hopeless gets a makeover. Renovated, restored, renewed.
Living with flair means I’m under new management. Sorry Self. Sorry Satan. I’m under new management.
What in you needs to get under new management in 2012?
Last night I consider what a wise mentor once told me: “Sometimes your most spiritual activity might just be taking a nap.”
I’m so tired I feel sick. I’m so tired my head hurts and everything in the world seems wrong and terrible and nothing will ever feel right again. I hate everything, and my whole entire life is falling apart.
My husband reminds me that after a good night’s sleep, I’ll feel refreshed again.
The funny thing about getting a good night’s sleep is that it works. When life feels overwhelming and impossible, maybe we just need a good night’s sleep. I think about what happens to my children when they don’t get enough sleep. The simplest tasks (putting on shoes, brushing teeth, buckling a seatbelt) dissolves them both into puddles of tears.
Go to bed, my sweet child. You’ll feel right in the morning.
Living with flair means we sleep. Call it sleeping with flair. It’s a simple challenge to take care of a simple need before we try to conquer the day.
What’s keeping you from a good night’s sleep?
This morning, I’m speaking to a group of 1,000 people about how I encounter God. As I pray about what to report, one phrase resonates over and over again. In my sleep, in my waking thoughts, and in my attempts at writing, the same phrase erupts:
Go find the brokenhearted. Bring them to the throne of God for healing.
That’s it. If I want to encounter God, I go where He is. Scripture says in Psalm 34 that “God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
If God is near to the brokenhearted, I want to be with Him. I want to draw near to whatever pain, whatever sorrow, and whatever deep despair imprisons the people God puts in my path. I want to journey with them to the throne of God to meet the Healer.
I want them to know the Healer who healed me.
Do you know a brokenhearted person who needs to go to God’s throne?
Today, my youngest daughter and I float petals in the creek. She loves to launch a flower where the creek begins and watch it find its way to where the creek flows off into some grand distance she cannot see.
We root and cheer for the little petal as it braves rocks, sticks, swirling eddies, and sandbars. We observe delays, near-drownings underneath dams of leaves and bark, and the wilted, water-logged exhaustion of a petal on her journey.
When she’s stuck, we see how when she simply turns to the ease of the current, the water takes her where she needs to go.
It’s just like living, I tell my daughter. You’re on the journey, and when roadblocks come, you just relax and find your way back to that current of Living Water that always takes you home.
Don’t you just love watching things float down the creek? Oh, the joys of childhood!
I’m speaking at a conference this week for 30 minutes on the topic of how I encounter God. I’m finding I cannot possibly narrow the topic down to 30 minutes. I could speak for hours! I could teach for days upon days about every moment of surrender, every beautiful instance of suffering, every story of entering the spiritual journey of another person, and every abundant blessing that came when I obeyed God’s boundaries for a simple life.
Surrender, suffering, spiritual journeys, and simplicity. That’s how I see Him. That’s how I experience Him most of all. Whenever my faith moves from theory to practice, I see Him.
But there’s also beauty and wonder! What if I used the 30 minutes to reveal what I learned of God by blogging about the acorn, the Lady Slipper Orchid, and the snowflake?
Maybe, instead, I’ll talk about the coconut cake that’s in the kitchen at this very moment. How could I not experience the goodness and presence of God when He makes something so very wonderful as the coconut?
Focus, focus. I’m thankful that there’s just too much to report. What a great God we serve!
How do you encounter God best?
Whenever I return to my husband’s little hometown of Fuquay-Varina, NC, I’m always amazed that people actually do grow up. The little children who once ran down the aisle for children’s church now hang back and talk about politics and sports. The young girls who once tugged on my sleeve announce college acceptances. The high school students I used to know now have careers and spouses, and to my amazement and delight, new babies!
Children do become adults in this little town. And at least here, they don’t seem to mind.
I’ve been studying theories of emerging adulthood this month. Researchers worry that many adolescents in this generation do not transition well into adulthood. They seek pleasure, fame, and ease and delay assuming the adult responsibilities of financial independence, marriage, family, and careers until well beyond 30 years of age.
Nobody wants to be an adult anymore.
But not in this town. This community celebrates, encourages, and teaches the graceful transition to adulthood. It’s a privilege and a joy to raise children, work hard, and serve your community. Your own father did this, and his father before him. Your own mother did this, and her mother before her. You welcome the hard work of it. You welcome the blessing of dying to self and raising up the next generation.
I’m sitting quietly in the pew, watching the new generation. I feel old but full of peace and joy. There’s something so right about growing old and serving others.
Maybe the researchers need to come visit this town. Some American children do grow up well.
Do you worry that children aren’t growing into adulthood well?
I’m at a Christmas Eve party in an unfamiliar home, and I go upstairs to find my daughters to alert them we’re heading home. All the children play a nice, quiet game in a room behind a closed door.
I gently open the door, but I don’t know there’s a step to go down into the room.
I proceed to tumble into the room, arms flailing, shrieking and grabbing onto anything that can keep me steady. My black sweater rises above my body like horrible wings. The sweet children see this monstrous figure lunging for them, and they scream so loudly that all the party guests start inquiring from downstairs. The children keep screaming as I regain my balance and try to explain myself. One little boy begins crying. He runs to his father’s arm while another boy relates the tale of the Creepy Mother who attacked the good little children at the Christmas Eve Party.
“I think it was the Freaky Mother, not the Creepy Mother,” my oldest reports. At least my own children laugh hysterically and talk about how fantastically terrible my entrance was. “You enter a room with flair! You were awesome!”
I spend the rest of the evening apologizing to parents as they comfort their children. I feel horrible about myself. My husband says, “Well, you made the best Christmas memory. Nobody’s ever going to forget that party.”
Living with flair means you see your Christmas debacles as memory-makers.
My youngest daughter receives magnetic earrings from Grandma to pretend as if those little ears are really pierced. The magnet jewel sits on top of the earlobe, and a powerful magnet backing goes behind her ear to hold the earring in place.
In theory, this works. However, we quickly realize that strong magnets latch onto any metal she passes. I’m on my hands and knees half the day, looking for whatever metal thing has attracted her jewel. Her own headband, for example, sucks the earrings away from her ears.
She needs the real earrings–piercing deep inside–to keep the jewel in place. That night, I think of my own heart, drawn away and sucked into the vortex of shiny objects and luring ideas. I want my heart pierced so deeply with God’s truth that nothing else can attract it.
As we count down to Christmas morning, I’m so thankful for the birth of a Savior that pierced me for real. Whatever passes by cannot shake that rare Jewel within me.
How do you resist the lure?
This morning at grandpa’s house, I take a moment to read a pop-up book by Robert Sabuda, the paper engineering genius. I marvel over the intricate designs and how, when you turn a page, an entire world unfolds in another dimension. The book enters the room, right upon my lap. Why haven’t I found these books before?
On Mr. Sabuda’s website, he teaches you how to make your own pop-up creations. I cannot wait to try them. Maybe I’ll invite my children to join me.
Sometimes, you leave the digital book and remember the wonder of paper and turning pages. With pop-up books, you remember what it means to interact with texture and smells, sounds and movement.
I’m going to try my hand at the reindeer, snowman, and angel. Living with flair means you read a pop-up book and remember the ancient enjoyment of books you hold in your hand.
Do you remember the wonder of pop-up books?
This morning, I realize that Christmas delights. Delight (as a noun) means great pleasure and joy, and (as a verb) it means to both give and receive such joy.
I delight in your company! Your company delights me! You are a delight!
At Christmastime, I recall the Lord’s great delight in us. Psalm 18 says: “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Zephaniah 3 tells me this:
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Jesus comes because God delights in us. His verb turns us into nouns; we are a delight.
We delight–giving and receiving great joy–today. We walk about in dust and shadow knowing we are a heavenly delight.
Do you feel delightful today? You are!