Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 5)

Olympics symbol

No Snow, No Problem

There they stood teetering at the top of the steps, big smiles on their faces, ready for the treacherous challenge…

Wait… Let me backtrack a little. My family enjoys watching the winter Olympics. During the last winter Olympics in Sochi, we spent family time watching the Women’s freestyle skiing mogul event. If you’re not familiar with it, moguls are artificially made snow bumps that the skiers maneuver through like a gauntlet using turning techniques which is 50% of the score. The rest consists of 25% air stunts and 25% speed. It was the first time my kids had seen anything like it, and we were all glued to the screen cheering on the American competitors.

Soon, however, I noticed the room had grown quiet. My husband and I looked about for the kids, only to find all three boys at the top of the stairs standing on our toy box cushion. They were prepped and ready to try their own mogul course with the pillow as their makeshift skiis and the steps as the moguls. After recovering from heart palpitations, I asked them if they thought this was a good idea. Each responded, “I can do it,” without any hesitation.

All I thought about was the chance of injury. The high probability of not only failure but painful bone breaking failure, resulting in our spending the weekend in the ER. I must admit, though, I liked their attitude.

When I heard about the Nigerian Women’s Bobsled team, I flashed back to this Nigerian women's bobsled team competeting in 2018 Olympicsmemory. Yes, Nigeria has never had a bobsled team. Yes, no country on the African continent has ever qualified for the Olympics. Yes, Nigeria’s climate is considered tropical. Yet, these three amazing women said, “We can do it.”

A lack of snow didn’t stop them. Adigun, their brakeman, built a bobsleigh for training purposes (nicknamed the Mayflower) that runs on track, turf, and other surfaces. Adigun was quoted by a CNN as saying, “We want to be able to be something that people can really be able to be proud of.”

So how do we gain back our “we can do it” attitude? How do we face life’s trials and opportunities with the faith of David as he faced Goliath?  It’s all in how we look at ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we see our weaknesses. The devil goes to town with it. He reminds us of our past failures, makes us think we’re not good enough, or don’t have what it takes. But, when we look in the mirror, what we should see God’s reflection peering back at us. We need to realize the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and it’s in God’s power not our strength. God has prepared in advance the work he has for us (Ephesian 2:10). He has given us what we need for this moment (2 Peter 1:3).

Let me leave you with one last quote from Onwumere, Adigun’s teammate from the Nigerian Bobsled team.

“This journey has taught me that self-improvement is on a continuum. Even when we get to the Olympics, it’s still like, “What happens next?” And that’s what life is about, just always wanting to improve.”

So what does God have next for you?

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my newsletter here: Lorri’s newsletter

Bridal bouquet pink

Love Beyond the Grave

I know my title sounds like the name for the next Twilight movie, but bear with me. I came across this magazine article clipping on the internet.

The text reads: “My sweet husband, John, and I were married for 46 years. Each Valentine’s Day, he’d send me the most beautiful flowers containing a note with five simple words: ‘My love for you grows.’ Four children, 46 bouquets and a lifetime of love were his legacy to me when he passed away two years ago.

“On my first Valentine’s Day alone, 10 months after I lost him, I was shocked to receive a gorgeous bouquet addressed to me… from John. Angry and heartbroken, I called the florist to say there had been a mistake. The florist replied, ‘No, ma’am, it’s not a mistake. Before he passed away, your husband prepaid for many years and asked us to guarantee that you’d continue getting bouquets every Valentine’s day.’ With my heart in my throat, I hung up the phone and read the attached card. It said, ‘My love for you is eternal.’”  – Sue Johnston, 68, Houston, TX

Even as I retype this, tears well up in my eyes.

Yet, there is an even greater love story than that of Sue and her husband, John. Let me tell you the story:

Once upon a time, there was a Prince who fell in love with an indentured servant. She resided just outside the castle gates and toiled for her master. The Prince loved her instantly. Despite the squalor in which she lived and the hard callouses on her hands, he saw her inner royalty, so he donned peasant clothing and left the King’s castle to spend time with her.

He offered her his name and protection, but to the servant woman, the Prince’s offer seemed too unbelievable to be true. She feared her master would laugh at the very idea or become enraged. In fact, when her master saw the Prince paying attention to his servant, the master grew angry for he feared the Prince would take his servant from him. To disillusion the woman, master offered her rich food scraps and wine from his table. He misled her with lies that she was too poor, too weak, and too ugly, to ever leave his home. He lured her into his bed, and when he grew tired of her, he cut her hair and sold it to a wig maker. Her appearance now disgusted him, so he sold her to another master to fill his coiffures.

This master was even harsher than the last. However, the Prince’s love for her never diminished. He pursued her to the lowest valley of the region. He asked her to come to his kingdom, become his bride—his princess, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She stared at her dirty bare feet and the rags draping over her abused frame. Shame rooted her to the spot.

The Prince wasn’t deterred and asked her master the price of her freedom. The evil master saw his opportunity to thwart the king. He told the Prince the only way for her to gain her liberty was for the Prince to take her place. The Prince immediately removed his signet ring and slid it onto her finger. He covered her rags with his royal robe. The evil master had his men seize the Prince and beat him until he was bloodied, raw, and barely recognizable. They strung him up in the main road for passersby to witness and scoff at his humiliation.

Word reached the King who arrived with a vast army. He lowered his son to the ground and clasped his son’s battered body in his arms. The Prince’s eyes remained steadfast on his beloved. With the last of his ebbing strength, he stretched out his hand in her direction as his hoarse voice scratched out his final words, “Father, I have paid for her with my life. She is now your daughter. Love her as you would love me.” 

This is our love story. We are the servant woman, and Jesus is our Prince. His unfathomable love has no end. Because of his infinite love, He endured a humiliating torturous death, to pay our debt, to set us free, so that we can be welcomed into His family. One day He is going to once again ride out of heaven this time on a white horse. He’s coming to collect His bride—His eternal love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter here: Lorri’s Newsletter

Bridal bouquet pink

Lorri and son

Perfectly Imperfect

My dad gave my son a disposable camera for Christmas. Remember those? Back when people used film in photography and went to CVS to get it developed? A form was completed. The roll was slid into a bag, dropped into the slot box, and sent off filmfor development which took weeks. Remember the excitement of opening the cardstock envelope and flipping through the pictures to see how they turned out.

Back then, we couldn’t delete the bad pictures. We kept our fingers crossed and hoped the flash worked or that our thumbs didn’t cover the lens. Some came out great. Others we tore up. Some caused us to laugh out loud.

Now, with digital cameras, if we don’t like how the picture turned out, we delete it and take another. No reason to bother with imperfection. No one needs to see that we blinked, had a double chin, or were still talking with our mouth all contorted. Now, we only keep the ones that come out perfect.

An old Indian parable tells a story about two pots. A man carried them on the ends of a stick that he slung over his shoulders. He’d walk down to the river, fill them with water, and toted them back to the house. He did this daily for two years. One of the pots, however, had a crack in it and leaked most of its water before it reached the house. The cracked pot was ashamed of its mostly empty load and wept bitterly. The water bearer heard the cracked pot crying and took pity on it. He said, “Look down the path. See all the flowers that bloom along your side. I planted seeds there, and every day your leak has watered them. Now, I have flowers to decorate the master’s table.”

God doesn’t allow things to go to waste. He will use our imperfections for His glory. So don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Everybody has them. They make us unique. They build our character and develop us into who we are. They keep us reliant on a perfect God. Trust Him to make you perfect in your imperfection.

FYI: I can’t spell or figure out commas to save my soul (no matter how many time I reference Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style grammar book). I allowed those flaws to keep me from writing for years, but God had instilled a desire to write deep within me that wouldn’t go away. So, now I Praise God for spell check and grammar software!

By the way, my son thought that disposable camera was the coolest thing ever. He loved turning on the flash, snapping a picture, and then cranking the wheel to forward the film. He brought it with him everywhere. Here are some of his photos:

Son making hot coco

Son and Grandad getting into car

Lorri, Son and mother

Lorri and youngest son

Patriot's fans hold Not Done sign

Not Done

You can’t be a Patriots fan and have nice fingernails. They’ve mastered the art of the nail-biter and bringing it down to the wire, but one thing Pats fans have learned is Patriot's fans hold Not Done signthat it’s not over until it over. During the last Super Bowl, my eldest son (who loves everything football and is an avid Pats fan), at half-time with the Patriots down 28 to 3, sat slumped on our couch with red-rimmed eyes as he fought back tears of frustration. By the end of the third, he paced around the sofa in dizzying circles muttering, “We might make it,” over and over. The last minute remaining of the game, he danced around the room, fist pumping, screaming, cheering, and high-fiving everyone.

During the last Patriots vs. Jaguars game, I noticed a cardboard sign held up by a Patriot’s fan. The sign had two words written on it: NOT DONE. Some of you may not be Patriots fans or not even care a hoot about football, but we can all learn something from the Patriots: We are not done.

God is still doing a great work in us.

Philippians 1:6 states, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Every day, we are growing, changing, learning, and fulfilling the potential God sees in us. We are a work in progress. Even if we are in a lull, in a bad place, or the scoreboard says we’re down, God is using our circumstances to transform us into His masterpiece. And, the best thing is that the Bible says, God’s love never fails. He is victorious. No matter what the score says—in the end, we win.

Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a hundred and three years old. If you still have breath, then God is still doing a great work in you. He still has plans for you. Your past may haunt you or shame weigh you down, but God can wipe it away and make you into a new being in Christ Jesus. He will use your past or mistakes and turn them around for your good. So keep striving. Volunteer, mentor, run a small group, sing a joyful noise, use whatever you’ve got to glorify God because you’re not done.

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my enewsletter here: Lorri’s Newsletter

Womans stern look with raised eyebrow

Easy Way or the Hard Way

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” I’ve said this more times than I can count to my children. Usually, it’s in a disciplinarian situation as I raise my eyebrows and use my I’m not playing anymore tone. If they decide to take the hard route, I’m in for a long round of setting consequences and standing guard as the enforcer. Sometimes, they smile at me with that mischievous twinkle in their eyes and keep doing what they were doing until they realize mom is serious.

Everyone wants children that mind their parents, but what would happen if a child always chose the easy way? Would they be able to navigate through life without their parents telling them what to do having never experienced consequences? The hard way is an effective learning tool. My kids still mess up and get into trouble, but it is considerably less now. Thanks to a lot of hard training, they’re learning to weigh the options and outcomes.

No train, no gain.

Our brains even know it. While we sleep our minds switch into practice mode. If there is a problem I’m working on or a worry I’m stressing over, I’ll dream about it. At night, my brain trains on how to handle tough situations. It’s like an emotional workout or conditioning so that when the problem arises, I’m mentally prepared to handle the conflict.

Training takes time.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He didn’t just miraculously become the greatest basketball player of all time. It took training. Often we see the end product and want it right away. We see successful people and think, I want that, but do we really know what it took to get there?

Training takes sacrifice.

My husband is an amazing entrepreneur. He’s been reading financial magazines and business books since he was in high school. He’s had numerous friends and past employees who see what he’s accomplished and thought, I can do that, so they start their own company expecting immediate results. What they didn’t see was the beginning where he ran the company out of our living room. We didn’t own a couch for the first three years of our marriage. Instead, we had cubicles. I used to come home from work and have to wait for their meetings to end so I could make dinner on our boardroom/kitchen table.

We can be like this with God. We want the easy way: the heaven card, a tight relationship with Jesus, answered prayers. But, we don’t get on our knees every day, crack open our Bibles, or wake up on a Sunday morning. How often do we take the easy spiritual way, when we should be training the hard way knowing it will become easy the more we practice? God challenges his prophet Jeremiah in verses 12:5

“If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

How many of us are worn out by the little battles? (Don’t worry my hand is raised here too.) We need to ask ourselves, how can we ready ourselves for when the big spiritual battles arise? How can we be training for spiritual challenges?

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter here: Lorri’s Newsletter

Couples fighting

Unstir the Pot – Calming the Battlefield

Couples fighting

The kids scatter to get away from the tension between mom and dad. Yelling, screaming, tears, a door slams. Words have been said that can’t be unsaid.

Most fights are not the iconic scenes of the movies like Braveheart where William Wallace inspires his warriors with a freedom speech before they charge into battle. Mr. and Mrs. Smith movie posterOr, the fantastic light show of sabers as Luke Skywalker holds a final showdown with his Darth Vader dad.  Or, even the witty, I love you, but I have to kill you now, undercover spy humor of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Usually, fights are trivial, hurtful, and often a simple misunderstanding.

Misunderstandings are what develop conflict between the hero and heroine in most romance novel plots. It can be anything from hiding a past shame to believing the hero may be an actual murderer. Whatever the conflict, it’s good to know how and why fights progress. In my research, I came across two types of fighters: duckers and confronters.

Duckers prefer to hide or ignore the issue hoping it will resolve itself on its own. When forced into a confrontation, they think, I don’t need this, or I don’t have time for this.

Confronters prefer to attack the issue. They want to air it all out in the open. When faced with a ducker they think, he’s/she’s not willing to fight for me and wants to press their spouse into standing up for them.

Here’s an example of an argument from my manuscript “Love Never Fails” between a confronter (Abby) and a ducker (Nick). For some background information, Abby’s husband Nick had gone missing during the Napoleonic Wars with France. He’s suffering from what now would be diagnosed as Post-traumatic stress disorder, and even though the war ended, he’s allowed everyone, including his wife to believe he was still deceased.

 Abby crossed her arms over her chest. “Do you have another family?”

“No!” Nick’s bellowed answer reverberated off the cramped cabin walls. His eyes flicked to the lieutenant who stoked the fire as if it was his sole purpose in life.

Abby’d grown tired of excuses. The truth must come out. Tonight. She lifted her chin higher. “You know, for a moment, I was actually relieved to discover you were a spy.”

“I’m contracted out by the War Department for specialized missions.”

“You’re a spy.”

“You’re not listening.” Nick stared into the fire and dragged his fingers through his thick hair.

She continued to watch him, using silence to demand the truth.

He let out a low growl. “Yes, I’m a spy. The lieutenant is my liaison. He can confirm I have no other family.” Cynicism tinged his voice. “Since my word isn’t enough.”

A single nod from the lieutenant verified Nick’s statement. Once again silence fell over the room, interrupted only by the popping and hissing of the fire. Lieutenant Spark’s eyes shifted between her and Nick before he slowly stood, faking a yawn. “It’s been a trying day. I’m going to turn in for the night.”

Abby followed him with her eyes, using it as a chance to blink away tears. Lieutenant Sparks grabbed a blanket from out of his saddlebag and curled up in a corner facing the wall.

Nick continued to stare at the blazing fire. He snapped a twig in his hands and threw it into the flames one piece at a time.

“You never meant to come back home, did you?” Abby demanded in a hoarse whisper. “I discovered you by accident. You planned to sneak back in and grab your bow and arrows while I slept.”

“Don’t do this, Abby.”

Abby stood. “I waited for you for ten years. I prayed and prayed and prayed until I thought God had forgotten me, but you were alive.” Her arms hugged her midsection. “Did you ever plan on telling me?” She shook her head. “No, of course not. That’s why you suggested I remarry because you wanted to continue to play dead so you could resume spying for the crown.” Hot tears choked out her voice. “You would prefer a cloak and dagger life over being with me.”

“I wanted you to remarry,” he hissed in a rough whisper, “so you could have a chance at happiness.”

Abby crouched beside him, her tone lethal. “I’m already married.”

“I’m not the same boy you wed. I was giving you an out.”

“I never wanted an out. I wanted you. I wanted a life and a family of our own. You never gave our marriage a chance.”

“Don’t turn this around on me,” he roared. Nick’s gaze flicked to the lieutenant’s sleeping form and lowered his voice. “Everything I did was for you.”

“What did you do? Save me from heartache? My heart shattered into a million pieces ten years ago.”

His hands clenched into tight fists. “I don’t need this right now. You’ve made up your mind. I’m the bad guy. I can’t reason with you if you’re not going to listen.”

“So, you’re not even going to try?” Hot tears flowed freely down her cheeks.

Nick chucked a large stick into the fire and stood. “I can’t do this.” In three long strides, he stalked to the door. The wooden door crashed into the weeds as he exited, leaving a gaping hole.

Love and Respect a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs talks about the “crazy cycle” in which married couples can find themselves trapped. Men yearn for respect. If they don’t receive it, then some will withhold love using it as a weapon to lash out. In the same line, women yearn for love, but if they’re not getting it, they may disrespect their husband as a method of revenge. Dr. Eggerichs found that these tactics only land couples in an endless circle of dishing out more disrespect and unloving behavior. He encourages people to break the cycle. How? Husbands—by being bold and doing something that shows your love, even if you think she doesn’t deserve it. Write a love note, buy flowers, finish the honey-do-list. Wives—respect your husband, even if he may not have earned it. Tell him qualities you admire in him, thank him for working or even taking out the trash, encourage him. Even little acts of love and respect compounded over time can reverse the “crazy cycle.”

I know I’m a hopeless romantic (it’s why I write romance novels), but I believe there’s a reason why little girls play princess and boys pretend to be superheroes. Deep down women want to know, “You’re worth fighting for,” and men want to hear, “I believe in you.”

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter here: Lorri’s Newsletter

 

Knight holding sword

Hold On Til Morning

Chirp!

It started the first full night of 2018. One single chirp every fifteen seconds. Only between the hours of 12 am and 3 am.  We’d tried everything to get the smoke detector to cease its incessant warning chirp. Of course, it started with the smoke detector on our cathedral ceiling, because it was a negative seven degrees outside and we needed our extension ladder to reach the blasted thing. We changed the battery and went back to bed. An hour later—chirp! Another smoke detector started. We replaced the battery in every single smoke detector. Chirp! We unplugged them, reset the circuit breakers, and hit the test button (which woke up the kids). Chirp!

Four nights in a row the same thing. I struggled into work with toothpicks holding my eyelids open and my brain only firing in safe mode to discover our financial software had crashed and couldn’t be restored without an expensive upgrade. I opened my email to a rejection letter saying they were going to have to pass on my story. This was not how I envisioned starting off 2018.

It was the beginning of a new era …

God’s own son had entered the earth. Hope filled the world with the promise of a savior. Shepherds and wise men traveled to see baby Jesus and even brought gifts. Everything seemed right with the world.

Joseph shakes Mary out of a deep sleep. Jesus is cuddled at her side. He’d had another dream. An angel came to him again and told him to take Mary and the baby and flee to Egypt. Herod was going to try to kill Jesus.

Wait. What?                                                                                                                                  

Isn’t the hard part over?

The savior was born. Shouldn’t things run smoothly now?

God never promised life would be easy. In fact, Jesus himself said the opposite. “In this life, you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” I’m not an expert on why bad things happen. I know, by God allowing us to have free will, mankind has made unwise choices. It started with our not obeying God’s command and eating of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. (Enter evil, stage left.) But, God doesn’t try to tell us life will be all rainbows and unicorns. He tells us to prepare for battle and gives us the tools to fight. (See Ephesians 6:13-18.)

Knight holding swordewyIt is through struggles that we obtain a better understanding of who we are. It’s how our character is forged. It’s hard to grasp when you are in the heat of the fight. But then a lull comes, and we can look back. We discover the changes we’ve undergone and the strength we’ve derived from combat.

Just remember, God will not give us more than we can handle. Having three boys, I’ve often thought, God must see something in me that I don’t see in myself. Even when I doubt, He’s always given me the faith I need to continue on. Sometimes it’s in the form of a running charge. Other times, it’s crawling on my knees, but he’s always beside me urging me forward.

God’s whisper into my heart cannot be drowned out by the doubts screaming in my mind, but I have to choose to listen. I know it can be difficult to comprehend when you’re on the floor of your bathroom saying, enough, please enough, but God will pull you through. He will hold you up with his righteous right hand. All you need to do is hold on.

It may not be an easy ride, but the end result will be well worth it.

Psalm 30:5 “… Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter by clicking here: Lorri’s Newsletter

Coming down the stairs Christmas morning as a child

Do You Still Tremble?

Christmas morning, after a night of fitful sleep, my brother and I used to awake long before dawn. We’d stand at the top of the stairs our knees bouncing with Coming down the stairs Christmas morning as a childexcitement. Mom attempted to brush our hair for pictures as we danced around. Dad checked downstairs to ensure Santa paid us a visit. He lit the fireplace and oohed and aahed over the presents loud enough to start us quaking with anticipation. When he finally gave the okay, we’d barrel down the stairs with peels of giddy laughter.

Today, I use the same methods of Christmas torture on my own kids. There is nothing more precious than a child’s bubbling anticipation and eager delight.

As an adult, gifts don’t seem to hold the same fervent bliss. Over time, the excitement of presents fades, but it’s replaced with a lasting joy that stems from the love behind the gift.

I love Christmas Carols. Not so much pop holiday songs on the radio, but reverent songs filled with hope and rejoicing. My particular favorites are carols written in the late 1700s to the mid-1800’s. These songwriters put into words the desperate need for a new hope and a new joy found in a savior.

Take a look at some of the sections of these lyrics:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman

Remember, Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy

 

O Holy Night

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.Lorri and boys sitting in front of Christmas Tree

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

 

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing

“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Joy to the World

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

 

While only a fleeting happiness awaits in the presents under the tree. We can rejoice in the eternal joy given in to us that Christmas day long ago. Jesus, in His awe-inspiring grace, took the humble form of an infant, born in a lowly manger, because he ached to save us from the evil of this world and from our mistakes and sins. He chose to endure a mortal life, with its hunger, pain, sickness, and suffering, out of His love for us. So that, on Christmas morn and every day thereafter, we can have His comfort, His joy, and the hope of heaven.

So go ahead and dance around, tremble with excitement, cry tears of joy, delight in the wonder of the miracle of Christmas. For unto us a savior was born!

Merry Christmas!

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter by clicking here: Lorri’s newsletter

Light of the Bethlehem Star

The Darker the Background the Brighter the Light

There’s a painting technique I like to use where you start with a painted black canvass. When you have a black background, colors and especially whites become Bethlehem Starvivid. They pop out of the artwork. If a pale yellow is applied to an already white canvass, it blends in or seems muted. However, if you apply a pale yellow to a black canvass, it casts a bright glow in contrast against the dark background.

“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” Leonardo Da Vinci

The darker the background, the brighter the light.

It was a dark time. The prophets had stopped prophesying, and for four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, God seemed to have fallen silent. The Roman Empire with their idols and multiple gods dominated the region, and the despotic King Herod ruled over Judea.

Yet in this dark time, light entered the world.

She became pregnant as a virgin. God had visited Mary and told her not to be afraid, but already the whispers about her condition had begun. Her family hung their heads, and neighbors moved to the other side of the street when she passed. Joseph, her husband, had even planned to divorce her in secret if God hadn’t sent an angel to him in a dream.

Dry dust caked her dress and face as they traversed the hot, overcrowded roads. She longed to stretch her aching limbs. Her backside throbbed from the jolting sway of the donkey, but she kept her complaints to herself, for she didn’t want to appear ungrateful. She fared far better on the beast than if she would have trudged the long miles to Bethlehem, her back arched to off-set her well-rounded belly. Another spasm cramped her abdomen. Her fingers clenched the donkey’s mane, not only to combat the pain, but to ensure she didn’t pass out and fall off its back. She pinched her lips to not cry out for her Mama. The ill-timed census drew her away from her family when she needed their wisdom the most. Joseph was the only familiar face, and even though their families had been longtime friends, she knew little of her new husband.

Joseph returned from speaking to another innkeeper and took the reins. She searched his face hoping for a positive answer, but his eyes mirrored the same concerns and doubts plaguing her heart. He shook his head and her hopes plummeted like a bucket down a deep well.  He turned the donkey in another direction as another birthing pain wracked her body. The intervals were becoming more frequent, and when she thought the searing pain couldn’t get much worse it grew in intensity. She fought against tears congealing in the traveling dust within her throat.

God has a plan. He wouldn’t allow this to happen to His son.

Or, had she misunderstood?

Joseph stops to speak to another innkeeper on the outskirts of town. A rumpled elderly man points to a barn and another contraction seizes her body. Mary muffles her scream into a whimpering moan. Joseph’s eyes lock on hers. Lines of worry crease his forehead. He nods to the innkeeper and presses a coin into the man’s gnarled hands.

Joseph helps her down off the donkey’s back. Her legs wobble, and Mary leans heavily on him as he guides her into the barn and settles her into the hay. Curious animals stomp their hooves and turn their heads in her direction. The manger is filled with their earthy smells and bleating noises. Her grip on Joseph’s hand tightens as the pain overwhelms her. Why would God allow His son to be born in a lowly manger? The inns were full. There was no other place to go. Stifling fear smothered her, stealing her breath which rushed across her lips in quick pants. Had they failed God?

His light shines brightest in the darkness.

Mary and Baby JesusExhausted and spent, Mary cradles the precious baby in her arms. The pains of birth are forgotten as love fills her. Tears of joy slide over her cheeks. She arranges the swaddled cloth around his sweet face. The hope of the world… so small… so tiny… so perfect.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter by clicking here: Lorri’s newsletter

Downtown Boston

Living Christmas with Purpose – Seeing People as Individuals Not Objects

Turns out I’m not a city girl. I lived in Boston for a year while in college. Although Downtown Bostoncity-life was fun and exciting, I drove white-knuckled, swerving around double-parked cars, oncoming trains, and jaywalking pedestrians. I lugged grocery bags six blocks because it was easier to do that than to find a parking space. I packed into a tight commuter-rail car amid a plethora of unpleasant smells. I’m ashamed to say it, but, I knew it was time to move back to the burbs when I began to see people as objects in my way instead of as individuals.

Animal Behaviorist, John B Calhoun, created a utopian society for rats.  Within his barn in Maryland, he constructed the ideal environment for rats to live. No disease, no natural predators. He provided them with food and even kept their pen at a balmy climate. At first, the rats thrived. They congregated together at food distribution and bred rapidly, but then overcrowding began. In the stress of limited space, it didn’t take long before the rats became aggressive and even ate each other.

Now, we are not rats. I’m not worried about cannibalism becoming a problem in cities, but I’ll never forget the horror of people being trampled for a black Friday deal. As Christmas approaches and the stress of buying presents, mailing out cards, and making a dish to pass for the next party overwhelms us, we can become too frazzled. We can lose the purpose of this wonderful season, and begin to see people as a task to check off our list.

John Hambrick, author of Move Toward the Mess, said, “You know you’re too busy when messy people become a problem and not an opportunity.” People are not barriers, they’re not boxes to be checked, or hurdles to be jumped. We (myself Love ornamentincluded) need to take a breath and remember God has placed these people into our lives for a reason. God loves them, and Jesus died for them. So when you’re looking at that Christmas party invite and creatively thinking of an excuse to turn it down, consider if God has a reason for you to attend. As you place stamps on your Christmas cards, take a moment to pray for that family. As you order gifts or bake cookies, ponder who else you might have the ability to unexpectedly bless. You’ll be blessed in return. Don’t just survive Christmas. Live Christmas with purpose.

 And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Don’t miss a post! Sign up for my e-newsletter for more stories and personal insights here: Lorri’s Newsletter.

Page 1 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén