So Much More Than a Haircut

I didn’t feel like doing much of anything yesterday. I went to church, but was planning to come home and spend the whole afternoon locked in my room by myself. It would be absolutely beautiful. But then I noticed my hair. It had needed cut for a while, but I kept finding reasons to postpone it. Yesterday I was out of reasons… except for the reason that said I just wanted to go home and could get a haircut any other day. But still, the question lingered: To cut or not to cut? As you’ve probably guessed, I opted for “to cut.”

It was the same old walk-in haircut at the same old salon I’ve gone to since moving to this town (What can I say? I’m a creature of habit). But this time, it was completely different. This time, it wasn’t about the haircut. It was about the divine appointment God was about to make.

Her name was Kristin and she loves Jesus. And, boy, was she excited when she found out that I love Jesus too.  See, Kristin is currently the only believer in her salon, and she hates missing church on Sundays. For the entire half an hour it took her to finish my haircut, we talked about our greatest passion – Jesus. And I didn’t just walk out of that salon with a new haircut; I left with a new friend. And you can bet that I’m never going to have any old walk-in haircut again. I’m going to be dropping her name.

And to think that I almost missed it. That I almost decided against getting the haircut yesterday. To think that I nearly missed that divine appointment that God had ordained for the two of us.

Next time you get one of those thoughts that go against your instant desire, I’d challenge you to think about it. Who knows what divine appointment could be waiting for you in the midst of those little interruptions? It might just be so much more than a haircut.

Oh My Mysterious God

“Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you.

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through.”

-Christina Rossetti

Your Presence washes over my spirit today and I know. Though I cannot see Your hand, I see that You’re opening doors for me. Though I can’t see Your face, I feel the warmth of Your smile.

If I could wrap my mind around You, You wouldn’t be God.

If You lived within the bounds of human comprehension, You wouldn’t be divine.

If You were something I could study and scientifically prove, You wouldn’t fill me with wonder.

But as the breeze proves its existence to me by playing with my hair, the tiny miracles surrounding me remind me that You’re alive and You are here.

And that is all of the mystery I need to know.

Wear it on Your Heart

I have a slight obsession with names. Seriously. While I love the names Silas and Gideon, I refuse to use both of them because the first means “forest dweller” and the second, “tree cutter.” That’s just asking for World War III to break out in your home.

Names are important. Your name is what defines you. That’s why I’m glad my mom was kind enough to name me “devoted and cherished.” And maybe that’s also why I was so touched when I read this article about Indian girls changing their names.

Here are a group of young women who have known from birth that they were “unwanted.” But on this one glorious day, they decided to make that change. They decided to transform the way they saw themselves and force others to see them in this new light. I wish I could have been there to watch these 285 girls receive the certificates that would restore them with a sense of worth. I wish I could have been there to see their smiles, to cry their happy tears.

But here I am, half a world away, talking to you. And I’m sure you have labels – names – that define you. And I’m sure there are words bouncing around in your mind. Words like: worthless, stupid, failure, unlovable… and God only knows what else. But you know what? You don’t have to go by those names anymore. You don’t have to see yourself as alone and unwanted. You don’t have to believe that your life has no value.

You are:

a child of God. (John 1:12)

chosen by God. (Ephesians 1:4)

valuable. (Matthew 10:31)

beautiful. (Psalm 45:11)

delivered. (Psalm 34:4)

endlessly loved. (Isaiah 54:10)

God knows your name, and He loved it enough to inscribe it on the palm of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16) He wears your name like a tattoo. I’m not really into tattoos, but I love the thought that I’m a permanent part of the Almighty God.

When the world screams that you’re unloved, unwanted, and undesired, God throws a renaming party and totally redefines you. Wear your new name on your heart as God wears it on His hand, and know that you are so much more than the words that define you.

The Gospel of Tolerance

Tolerance. I really hate that word. I’m sick of seeing it everywhere I turn. “If people just had more tolerance…” I’ll tell you that I don’t need “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from my own,” and I’m certainly not looking to develop my “act or capacity of enduring.”

It’s not tolerance that is going to change our world. It’s love. And maybe we shouldn’t “tolerate” everything going on in the world, but we should definitely approach others in love.

John 3:16 says that God so loved the world.

Not just the people who would come to repentance. Not just the people who do what He considered socially and morally right. God loved everybody. Even the people who spit in His face. Even the people who drove nails through His hands. He loved them; not tolerated them.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to preach tolerance; He came to lavish love upon a broken and dying world. As Christians, it’s not our job to judge. It’s not even our job to “tolerate.” It’s our job to follow Jesus’ example and love people to repentance. And if they don’t seem to be repenting? Love them anyway.

I’ve read through the Bible multiple times and never found the gospel of tolerance, but I have found the gospel of love. Because the Bible is all about God and God is love.

Learn to love like Jesus today.

Into the Darkness

A Voice calls us out,

beyond the well-lit path

into the darkness.

We follow, trembling,

or trembling stay behind.

But whether we heed the call and launch into the dim unknown

or cling to the familiar,

we are changed.

~Penelope Stokes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s been a few years since I first read these words, and I’ve reread them several times since. But they’ve never impacted me quite as deeply as they do now. This time they are more than an inspiring little poem. This time they are the Voice that calls me out. And, yes, I’m trembling.

There’s something soothing in the well-lit path, even though I may not like where the path is leading. At least I can see what’s coming. At least I feel some semblance of control. I can’t say that about the uncertainty of the darkness.

But here the Voice calls me, telling me that I don’t belong on the well-lit path anymore. Telling me it’s time to blaze a new trail. And here I stand, trembling – unsure as to whether I should really launch into the dim unknown or cling to the familiar. But I am certain of one thing: no matter what my choice may be, change is coming.

So I stand here and wonder what awaits me in the darkness. I say that I’m waiting for clear direction. I claim that I’m being wise. But am I? Or am I just so lacking in faith that I won’t take that first step even when I know that I know that God’s calling me? And I wonder if this is really the time to “be wise” or the time to step out of the boat and start walking on water.

Here I am, trembling, praying, and waiting for the courage to take the first step.

Mere Existence

There’s a big difference, you know, between living and existing. I think that if you were to ask anyone, they would tell you that they want to live. But how easily we fall into that horrible thing called “existence.” How often we simply trudge through the mundane. And how sad it is that we need a reminder to live and not merely exist.

Today I present you with the wake-up call I need on a daily basis. Here’s your reminder to step outside your mere existence and truly start living.

Do You Know the Moped Man?

There’s a guy who drives up and down my street on a yellow moped. I first encountered him when I was out walking last year. He beeped and waved, shouted something unintelligible and swerved back and forth. Needless to say, it was a little unnerving.

The moped man knows where I live. He recognizes my car. At first, I was frightened that he was privy to such details, but considering he’s known for over a year and has yet to abuse that privilege, he doesn’t scare me anymore. In fact, he’s one of those people who never fails to make my day. And all he has to do is drive past my house on his yellow moped.

He always wears a helmet, but I saw his face for the first time the other day. He was driving a suburban, but I knew it was him from the beep and the wave. And I thought to myself, “I could die happy now.” That’s how much joy I get from this guy I really don’t even know.

And I think that’s why God put the moped man on the fringes of my life: to bring joy in the midst of the mundane.

Sunday afternoon, I was driving home from church when I spotted three teenage boys on the sidewalk. They were waving at a car up ahead and, at first, I thought they knew the driver. But then they waved at the next car and the next, and I realized that they were simply searching for a response. I thought of the moped man – of the simplest things that bring pleasure – and I waved back. The boys erupted in smiles, fists raised high in victory.

And that’s when I realized it… Though I was probably the fifth car that passed, I was the first that evoked the victory fists. Meaning I was the first to wave back. I wonder if I was the only one who ever waved back.

And to think that my one, simple gesture could have been the thing that made those boys’ day like the moped man makes mine.

So go ahead and smile at the people around you. Wave at those passing by. You never know how much joy the simplest gesture can bring.

“Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”

You Matter

I’m in the middle of a pretty freaky book, but that’s not what had me tossing and turning in bed the other night. My mind kept replaying this snippet of a conversation – this one tiny piece of a testimony:

I was the pregnant 8th grader everyone gossiped about. “That trashy little girl.” But no one ever asked me how I got pregnant. And no one ever stopped to tell me that I matter.

I lay in bed for a long time and cried over the sorry state of my world. Over a people who are quick to judge and slow to extend mercy.

“You matter.”

Those words would have meant the world to this lonely, frightened 8th grader. But the people who were too busy judging a character that wasn’t even on trial were too blind to see the gem underneath.

She couldn’t see it either. She didn’t think she mattered.

I’m thankful to say that, years down the road, she met a God who told her the truth. She finally heard the words, “You matter,” and let them seep into her heart. But what it would have meant to hear those words in 8th grade…

So I’m here to tell you that you matter. No matter how many crimes have been committed against you. No matter how many wrongs you’ve done.

You matter.

And because you matter, your life has purpose. Because you matter, there is strength to face another day. Because you matter, you can hold your head high amidst the jeering of the crowd – against the lies and hatred you encounter along the way.

You matter. You honestly, truly matter.

Please believe these words I’m saying and, because you believe them, tell someone else she matters too.

New Life

“I could go running, and racing, and dancing, and chasing, and leaping, and bounding, hair flying, heart pounding, and splashing, and reeling, and finally feeling – now’s when my life begins!”

That song from Disney’s Tangled came to my mind as I danced down the road the other night. Yes, you read that right – danced. What started out as a brisk walk on a perfect autumn evening turned into a wonder-struck worship-fest complete with singing and twirling and running and giggling… There was even a cartwheel or two thrown in there.

Anyone who may have been looking out their window at the moment probably thought I was completely insane – and maybe they’re right – but I honestly didn’t care who might be watching. When Jesus gets a hold of your heart like that, nothing else matters.

When Jesus came and walked the earth, He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) As I danced down the road the other night, all the chaos from earlier that day fell away and I felt myself being infused with new life.

It’s amazing how easily we fall into the mundane routine of life. Incredible how easy it is to forget that we were meant for so much more than sitting in a tower like Rapunzel did for most of her life.

Then Jesus shows up again, inviting us to dance with reckless abandon. And “for like the first time ever I’m completely free… feeling now’s when my life begins.”

A Lively Tune

“A lively tune. I’m inspired to dance.”

That quote from The Three Musketeers has always, well, inspired me, but never more so than when my mom used it as a closing in a letter to her somewhat dejected daughter. Today I just want to leave you with the same words my mother left me:

May you always be the first to hear a lively tune and be inspired to dance.