Thanksgiving Grace


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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I will gather my family around a table full of lovingly-made, delicious food, and we will indulge in feasting, conversation, beloved traditions, and spending extended time together. Tomorrow, I will remind my daughter of what day it is and its significance and help her remember all the wonderful things that we have to be thankful for.

But I don’t just want to leave thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. I want it to be a part of every day. I want to make sure that I don’t forget my blessings the rest of the year. I don’t want to forget them. Not ever.

Over the course of this month, I have been inspired by and written on grace. I have one week left and I know that there is still so much that I have yet to learn about the kaleidoscope facets and beauty of grace that I am simultaneously floored and chomping at the bit to see what comes next in this journey of mine.

I never want to forget the grace that has been lavished on me, both by the God I love and serve and the people with whom I share my life. In these holidays (and every day), let’s determine to extravagantly extend the grace we so desperately need ourselves, dear ones, and fill our homes with safety, love, kindness, and mercy.

Love Is a Superpower


Check out that title again. Go on. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here for you.

See that? Did you know that? Think about it! Love is a superpower.

Love is versatile. Love is strong. Love is life-saving. Love is world-changing.

Love is a superpower.

See that girl standing against the wall over there, her head bowed? That head covered in luminescent teal and aqua hair, hair that perfectly matches her outfit? Imagine how proud she must have been of that radiant ensemble after meticulously planning and putting it together. Then no one complimented it. No one noticed the bravery and care it took to live her unique beauty and truth. Now imagine her face after you step over and tell her, “I love your mermaid hair!” Imagine the smile that might brighten that beautiful young face. That’s the power of love. That’s the supernal magic of expressed kindness and compassion.

Love is a quiet word. Love is a genuine compliment. Love is an acknowledgement of trying.

Love is a superpower.

When we extend even a little love outward, it ripples, reverberates, snowballs, and multiplies exponentially. It may not always come back to us but we can absolutely count on it surging forward like a wave swell, building and increasing in power as it courses onward until it finally hits and explodes, sending uncountable, shining, shimmering pieces of itself out into the air and the world.

Love is what compels children to pick up their plate, walk out of a restaurant, and hand it to a hungry soul huddled outside.

Love is what compels neighborhoods to rally around their sick, elderly, and downtrodden to lift them up to hope.

Love is why children who are left to grieve the death of a parent are gathered close and taken in by family friends. People who have always treated children like their own are taking them into their families as their own, ensuring that they know they are loved, protected, and wanted.

Is love always easy? No. I love always accepted, lauded, or thanked? No. Like courage, love does not derive its definition from simply doing it when it is easy. Courage is doing what’s right or what’s needed in the face of being scared. Love is doing good when we could do otherwise.

Love is we choose to step into an isolated corner or a lonely cafeteria table and speak to the soul that’s hidden there.

Love is when we choose to wait for someone rather than rushing ahead.

Love is when we choose kind words and a soft voice rather than the explosion our feelings tell us is warranted.

Love is when we choose to see the child needing help coping rather than the little tyrant throwing a fit.

Love is when we choose to accept as is. When we choose to sit with, hold close, listen intently, speak encouragingly, handle gently, defend boldly, and act mercifully. Watch what happens. Watch the changes, the improvements; watch the vibration, reverberation, and snowballing of that love as it is passed on to others. Love never remains stagnant, unchanged, or even in one place.

Love is supernatural. Love is supernal. Love is superb. Love is absolutely a superpower!

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What I Put On is Not Me


Today, I was asked, “as a favor”, to change out of the cute little capri pants I had on and into my jean skirt. To clarify, nothing was showing. I had a Peter Pan collar top that left covered my bust, decolletage, and shoulders and came down over the waistband of my pants. The capris were dark denim and came down past my knees. The reason I was asked to change? So I could meet the current principal of my old school–where I will be giving the commencement address on Friday evening–and “avoid any conflict” that might come from me being seen in pants. I did it; I changed. I did it because I don’t live here anymore. I don’t have to live with these people and their talk and their (more-than-sometimes vicious) gossip. She (the person who asked me) does and I want her life to be as easy as I can help to make it. But, honestly, I’m angry. I am angry and disappointed.  Not at the person who asked me but at the fact that she felt like I had to be asked to do this. I am insulted by the very idea that my worth or the validity of my faith or my respectability could be compromised by an article of clothing. Could be questionable in the eyes of someone who has never even met me, simply because I showed up in their presence wearing pants instead of a skirt. The idea that anyone’s clothes determine their worth or respectability, especially when you don’t know them. This, frankly, angers me to a degree that I cannot quantify.

What I put on, what I wear, is not me. Now, I know all about first impressions so don’t feed me that line. This isn’t about first impressions. This is about me not being Christian enough when I wear pants for people who have known me all my life but obviously know nothing about me or who I am at all. It makes me angry and makes me sad that this has Not changed in thirty-plus years, and I refuse to be that kind of Christian! I refuse to deny someone’s worth or faith or right to be respected because she wears pants or he wears a skirt or they wear whatever they choose to wear. What I put on is not me. What I do, how I speak, how I act, how I live out what I believe. That is me.  A woman came to Jesus with her head uncovered and used her hair to dry his feet after she anointed them with the dearest and most expensive thing she owned. Did he scold her for coming to him dressed immodestly? No! In fact, he told the others with him, who started berating her for “wasting” the perfume, to leave her alone because her sacrifice was heartfelt and true and made out of love for him. Somewhere, somehow, I think that woman knew in her soul that Jesus was going to go through something terrible, and she refused to let him experience pain without knowing that he was loved. Her lack of hair covering didn’t matter; her actions did and still do.

You cannot judge someone heart and soul by their clothing. You cannot judge their intelligence, their gentleness, their faith, their belief, their convictions, their journey, or their capacity for kindness and love based on what they wear next to their skin. What clothes our outside does not matter. In fact, in the New Testament, Colossian 3:12-15 says:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

I believe that we are all holy and dearly loved. We are all beloved of God. What makes a person important, what makes them indispensable, what makes who they are valuable and valid is how they have clothed their spirit, not how they have clothed their body. How that person over there dresses doesn’t make them any less of a person, any less capable of kindness and compassion and love and care, of courage  and determination and strength. You haven’t seen how they live their life. Don’t judge them in this one snapshot moment because of what you haven’t seen. Please! The fact that I wear pants on a regular basis as well as skirts and dresses doesn’t make what I will have to say to these graduating students any less true. It doesn’t make my testimony any less powerful. And it doesn’t make me any less respectable, any less worthy, of a person. And it definitely does not make me any less of a Christian.

If you judge me unworthy or less than just by looking at me, then I would dare say that it’s possible that you might have a much bigger and more serious issue than a 33-year-old woman in pedal-pushers. 

Giving As You Would Have Given To You


We have often heard what is touted as The Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Have you ever thought, though, that that includes not only our actions but our reactions to people, too? Have you ever had a situation in which you longed and hoped for the best-case reaction from someone(s) but, instead, got the absolute opposite?

  • Instead of compassion, you were judged.
  • Instead of mercy and forgiveness, you were rejected.
  • Instead of support, you were abandoned.

Being truthful, coming clean, sharing our faults, shortcomings, vulnerabilities, or our need for help are often very difficult and even frightening. That fear is often built on the anticipation of a bad reaction from those to whom we must tell these things, and many of us have felt the pain of those fears realized at one time or another.

One of the most popular quotes over the past year (with over 51 million Google results and numerous memes floating about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) is: “Be the person you needed when you were younger” (Ayesha A. Siddiqi). What would our world be like if we gave the reactions that we wished we had received in our difficult moments? Better yet, what if we gave responses instead of reactions? “To react” is defined by Merriam-Webster as action or feeling as a result of a stimulus or situation. “To respond” is defined by the same as giving an answer to something. The former implies a visceral outcome, built on emotion. The latter implies conscious effort and thought given before speaking or acting. Now, that is not say that ours will always be the response that the other person would expressly desire but, in taking time to think, there is less chance of us allowing our emotions to hold sway and cause us to be discourteous, dismissive of, or even cruel to others in their heavy moments.

What if we gave responses instead of reactions? What if we took the time to consider? To consider humanity, fallibility, and kindness.  We can give compassion instead of judgement, mercy instead of rejection, and support instead of abandonment. How much better would our world be if we remembered the responses that we needed in our tough times and then gifted those responses to others? How many spirits might be spared, hearts edified, or even  relationships saved? Taking a pause is not always easy to remember or to do but I dare say that it undoubtedly worth it.

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