Lorri Dudley

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

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Man diving into lake

Dive in

Boy swinging on rope swing into lake.

Rope swings aren’t something you can do halfway. You either swing out over the water, let go, and go all in. Or, you swing back and crash into the trunk of a tree. Somebody tied a rope to a tree near the reservoir not far from my house. It’s been taken down now, but we used to hear the whoops and see the splashes as they plunged into the lake. I know it’s only time before the boys try to make one of their own.

Peter was a rope-swing kind of disciple. He jumped into things with both feet. He was notorious for getting out of the boat to walk to Jesus on water and sinking a few seconds later when he got distracted (Matthew 14:28-30). He spoke before he thought and often put his foot in his mouth. One minute, Peter was having divine revelations about his Lord, and the next, he was being reprimanded, “get behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:13-23). He told Jesus, even if the others fall away, he would not. Even if he died, he would not deny Him. And then, before dawn that next day the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:33-34).

Man diving in lake

But despite all Peter’s mess-ups, God loved him and had a great plan for his life. He chose Peter to be the rock upon which He built His church. When Jesus returned from the dead, he stood on the shore calling out to Peter and his fishing crew. As Peter recognized his old buddy Jesus, he couldn’t wait a second longer to see him. He dove into the sea and swam into shore. The rest of the men were left to reel in the nets and row in the boat (John 21: 4-9).

God favors the excitable. He blesses those who step out in faith. He desires us to be all-in.

He wants our fervor.

But how do we do that? Part of it is letting go and letting God (like I mentioned in my last blog), but here are some suggestions of ways I’ve dialed things up a notch when I feel like I’ve plateaued or started to coast in my faith:

  • Crank up worship music and dance around the room. Not a dancer? Lift your hands, and see where it goes.
  • Sing along until your voice won’t let you.
  • Not a singer? Chant scripture like it’s your war cry. Repeat it like a mantra. Let it sink into your entire being.
  • Give something away, whether it be a free meal or just a smile. Feel the love of God flow through you into others.
  • Lay prone on the floor and pour your heart out in prayer for someone.
  • Watch a sunset, or go for a hike, or sit under the stars, and praise God for his creation and the great work of his hands.
  • Support a new endeavor upon which your church or pastor is embarking. Join the vision to make it happen, serve, and be blessed by how God moves.
  • Join a church group or lead a church group. Nothing strengthens your faith like being accountable to and for others.

Don’t worry about messing up or appearing silly. Peter sure didn’t, and God is good at covering faults.

So go ahead. Dive all-in. 

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Girl hiding under comforter

When the World Wants You to Worry

Two mass shootings thirteen hours apart – this past weekend’s news headlines instills fear into the hearts of all of us.

Woman under comforter: Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Circumstances like El Paso and Dayton have become all too frequent. My heart breaks for those killed and injured community, and my prayers go out for their families and communities. Worrying about what is happening to this world and where things are headed makes me want to squeeze my eyes shut, crawl back under the covers, and stay there. However, I peel back the covers, and not only face each day but do so with joy and hope.

In May, my phone rang as I pulled up in front of my son’s elementary school. It was a robocall from the town. My car automatically puts my calls on speaker as a driving precaution. My son and his cousin listened in the back seat to the broadcast announcement that a possible threat had been made upon the Ashland High School and there would be a heavy police presence at all the town schools. The drop off teacher peered at me through the window and cars lined up behind me. I had only a moment to decide whether to throw the car back in drive and peel away or open the car door and let my baby out when I could tell he had fear in his eyes and a million questions for me.

I held up a one-moment finger to the drop-off teacher and prayed Isaiah 54:17over my son and nephew that no weapon turned against them would succeed. I put on my brave face and opened the car door. I told them I loved them like I do every day but added, “God has got this, and He’s got you.”

Baby birds in nest

It’s hard to relinquish those that you love. I have to remind myself, that even though these precious boys are for a time in my care, they are God’s children. His love for them is greater than my own. Even if I want to protect them from every hurtful and hateful thing out there, it is God’s will, not mine. He has big plans for them, and it doesn’t entail keeping them locked away for safekeeping. As hard as it is, I have to let go and let God, and not only that, the Bible says I have to do it without worry.

Don’t worry; be praying. – Philippians 4:6 says it straight out, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” In order to allow my boys to become young men, I’ve had to stay put and let them venture from the nest, but not without prayer cover. My role has changed from Mommy guardian angel when they were little to a prayer warrior.

Don’t be a joint worrier. I will sometimes pray as if expressing my concerns is going to evoke God to worry also, enough to take action and save the day. Praying like this isn’t honoring God. It’s trying to control God.  1 Peter 5:7states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Cast means to throw. Not throw like a game of catch where you wait for it to be thrown back. It means to relinquish it, surrender it to God completely.

Let tomorrow worry about itself. Don’t exhaust yourself worrying over what the world is becoming, if layoffs are coming, or about your son or daughter leaving to get their driver’s license, for college, or the military. Worrying about tomorrow today only causes you to worry twice and leaves you exhausted. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Worry is good for one thing only: to help us recognize an area of our life that we need to surrender.

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Hands holding question and answer balls

For When You Don’t Have the Answers, and for When You Do.

Hands holding question and answer ballss

Ever try to assemble a trampoline? If you ever get the chance… well, don’t. It is not a fun experience. We purchased our trampoline through Amazon. They claimed to have a company who would come out and assemble it for us for a small fee. The problem is the company never came. After rescheduling multiple times and our boys staring at the unopened box promising hours of fun and jumping, we decided we’d assemble it ourselves. It even came with a how-to-video. How bad could it be? We’re fairly intelligent people. My husband can read building plans. We should be able to follow seven pages of instructions.

By midafternoon, springs rocketed into the air nearly missing us. We had the instruction video playing on repeat. By nightfall, each of us sported bruises, blisters, and dripped with sweat. It was a miracle we got the thing assembled. As I lay exhausted on the couch, I decided some things I was never meant to understand. The group, Go Fish (their tag line is music for kids that won’t drive parents crazy), has a song called, Planes, Phones, and Microwaves. They sing about the mysteries we don’t understand, but that we should thank God for the people who can – Amen to that.

Boys on trampoline

Often, we think we deserve an explanation. God, why did I not get the promotion? I thought it was your will? Why can’t we have children of our own? Why would I have cancer? Sometimes, our intellectualism gets in the way. We think we can figure everything out on our own. We are okay using phones, computers, and the internet without fully understanding how they work, but when it comes to God, we demand answers before we can believe – before we can trust.

Here’s the thing: we’re not meant to have the answers.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

We are not supposed to have it all figured out. It’s God’s way of building our faith and strengthening our confidence in Him. Just as we the microwave to heat our lunch and the airplane to hold us in the air, we need to trust that God is in control. We will never have it all figured out, at least not this side of heaven. However, we can have peace because God, who knows us completely – our desires, wants, and needs – does have the answers.

And He is for us.

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Forget Your Potential. There’s Something Better…

My youngest saying, “No!” to having his picture taken.

Why is the word No so easy for toddlers to say yet adults stumble over it? It’s a simple word, the two letters should roll off the tongue, but I admit, sometimes I can’t form the letters. They stick to my lips and swell my tongue.

We don’t realize how crucial No is to fulfilling our purpose.

We hold unlimited potential. Scripture tells us, you can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). The real question is whether we should strive to reach our potential… or maybe not.
In one day, I feel the pressure to do the following:

  • write,
  • be a good mom,
  • be a good spouse,
  • paint (because I have some talent),
  • be a leader in the church,
  • run a small group,
  • work to earn a living,
  • mentor young women,
  • keep up with my girlfriends,
  • read and learn.

God has given me the gifts and skills to do the above list, and I enjoy all these things, yet if I did them all, I would become a failure. As much as I want to fulfill my potential, it’s not realistic in the time I have been given. Instead, I try to follow Jesus’ example.

Even Jesus didn’t reach his potential. I know it sounds sacrilegious, but hear me out. Think of all the things the Son of God could have done. The earth was and is his footstool. Not only could He have gotten Himself down from the cross, He could have snapped His fingers and had us all bowing at His feet. Jesus, however, focused on fulfilling his purpose. He only had three years of ministry. Everything Jesus did was intentional. Going through Samaria was supposed to be a shortcut, but He stopped to visit with the woman at the well because He knew many of the Samaritans would believe because of her testimony (John 4:39-43). He ended up staying for two days to draw more because He was focused on accomplishing his purpose.

Focus on fulfilling your purpose, not your potential.

arrow hits target

Sometimes we get stressed because we feel the desire to reach our potential. We say yes to everything.  Then, when we make a mistake or have a setback, we feel devastated. We spread ourselves too thin, and it becomes hard for us to catch back up. In our attempt to be the best of everything, we burn ourselves out. We fall short of our expectations, lose focus of our purpose, and feel like we let ourselves and God down.

God gave us unlimited potential through him, but we need to focus on what His will is, what he needs us to do, and what His purpose for our life is. It will mean saying “no” to things that we may be good at doing, things we have the skills and abilities to do, but they can be a distraction from what God intends for us to accomplish.

Below is my middle son saying, “No,” to cake, of all things.

My middle son saying no to cake of all things!

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Arerial view of doctor's supplies

The Doctors Killed Garfield

“The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him,” claimed the assassin, Charles Guiteau. Guiteau’s strange words were not entirely wrong. James Abram Garfield, our 20th President, died eleven weeks after being shot.

Aerial view of doctor's supplies

He’d been on his way to a family vacation at the Jersey shore when Guiteau’s bullet pierced his body and lodged in his abdomen near his spine. Doctors rushed to the scene. They poked and prodded the wound with unwashed hands in an attempt to remove the bullet without success.

In tremendous pain, President Garfield was brought back to the White House where the doctors continued to surgically probe the wound, turning a three-inch-deep hole into a 20-inch-long incision. Infection set in turning the wound into a puss-filled, rotting mess. What we now know as germs and bacteria attacked the President’s internal organs, rendering them septic. President Garfield died on September 19th, 1881, technically not from a bullet but the following infection. (Markel, The Dirty Painful Death of President James A. Garfield, PBS.com NewsHour, Sept 2016)

We may not have taken a bullet, but many of us have open gashes festering like President Garfield. Whether something horrific was done to us or whether our actions left a physical, emotional, or mental wound, we wrestle with the negative thoughts and doubts that seep in. Guilt, worry, and stress corrode our well-being and steal our joy.

Ephesians 4:27 says, “Do not give the devil a foothold.”

A foothold isn’t much, but it’s just enough to keep a door from closing. It’s enough to let something unwanted inside. Once it’s in, the septic thoughts infiltrate our hearts and minds like those doctor’s unwashed hands. But we have the power to stop them.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We have the power to rein in our thoughts and take them captive. We can flush out guilt, self-doubt, and shame and rid ourselves of their toxic infection. We can let the blood of Jesus cleanse us – wash us clean.

Sheep in the snow

I find it best to shut off those negative thoughts as soon as they begin. I remind myself I am a child of God, that He delights in me, and that Jesus’s blood has washed me white as snow. When you come under attack, if you still question whether you are worthy or capable of being cleansed of all sin, let me remind you of what the Bible says:

Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Colossians 1:13-14 – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:14 – How much more, then, will the blood of Christ… cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death.

Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

1 John 1:9– If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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Future robots and life on the moon

Would You Rather…?

Would you rather move fifteen years into the future and receive 50 million dollars or go back to the age of ten but with all the current knowledge you have now?

My son and I heard this question posed on the radio while driving to lacrosse practice. Immediately, my son chose fifteen years into the future with 50 million dollars. I asked him why, and his answer made sense because for him ten years old was only three years ago, so going back wouldn’t gain him much. He’d know the outcome of the Superbowl, but he’d be too young to place any bets. (I reminded him he shouldn’t be placing any bets.)

I thought over my answer and came up with neither, to which he told me neither wasn’t a choice. Nevertheless, it’s what I chose, and I got to explain to him the reasoning. I wouldn’t want to progress 15 years into the future even if they paid me 50 million because I wouldn’t want to miss my sons’ graduations, their weddings, and even maybe the birth of a grandchild or two. Those are precious moments. And even though it means dealing with the teenage years and some of the struggles of standing by while my children learn to make life-changing decisions, some wrong and some right, I want to be there to support them and help them navigate their way when and if they need me.

Lorri age 10
Lorri age 10

I also wouldn’t want to go back to the age of ten, even if I could return with all the wisdom and knowledge I have now. Yes, it would be great to go back and correct some of my mistakes, but I wouldn’t want to risk changing the outcome of those mistakes. What if it was those mistakes that led me to God. What if I changed something and then never met my husband, not having my children, or having different children. (Plus, I’m not sure I hold the patience to re-live the potty-training phase again.)

My mistakes have made me who I am today. Even though they are painful to remember, I can rejoice over the outcome. The would-you-rather question got me thinking about how God gives us just the right amount of wisdom and strength for each moment when we need it. He doesn’t give us too much so we become prideful and think we can handle things all on our own, and He doesn’t forsake us and leave us to fend for ourselves in our time of need.

God’s wisdom and grace are sufficient for each moment.

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Atlas Holding up the Heavens

Releasing the Weight of the World

Atlas holding up the heavens

We’ve seen the sculpture of a man bent under the weight up a massive round sphere. Atlas is a mythical Greek titan, who after losing a rebellion against Zeus, was forced to hold up the heavens for all eternity. I can’t even hold a ten-pound weight above my head for more than two minutes before my arms start to shake uncontrollably.

Are we like Atlas, trying to hold up the world?

Are we being crushed under the weight that is too heavy for us to bear? Do we hold onto false guilt believing we should do more, try harder, handle circumstances that are beyond our control? I’m guilty. I’ve woken up more times than I can count stressing about one thing or another, striving to work out solutions to problems even in my sleep. How often do I let my problems affect my sleep and my mood? Not only do I let the weight of the sphere I carry burden me, but I also let it spill over onto those around me like my family or co-workers. They automatically know to “make scarce” when mom’s upset.

Here I am a mere mortal trying to carry the globe when I have a Heavenly Father who created the entire universe. How quickly do I forget the times God has seen us, though?

I can try to take some comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one. Not long after God performed the miracle of parting the Red Sea to help the Israelites escape slavery in Egypt, the Israelites complained about not having any food to eat. I can imagine God shaking his head, saying, “Do you truly believe I would save you from slavery only to have you starve to death in the desert?” So, God provided them with manna to eat that rained from heaven each night. Next, the Israelites feared they’d not have enough to drink, and God pulled through by telling Moses to hit a rock with a stick and water gushed out. You’d think that would shut them up and they’d learn to trust God, but soon the whining started that manna was getting boring. God provided them with enough quail until it was coming out of their noses.

What does it take to get us to trust that God is going to handle the problem? Can’t we learn vicariously through the Israelites, or do we need quail to come out of our noses to finally believe God’s got this?

World in his hand

Whether it’s paying bills, finding a spouse, getting another job, or fighting for a lost family member, wouldn’t it be nice to take our heavy ball and say “catch” to God? We can then relax in His peace, knowing it’s the size of a pebble in His caring, responsible hands—the same hands that placed the stars in the sky and scooped out the oceans.

God is faithful to see us through. Like the song goes – He’s got the whole world in His hands – so why are we still trying to carry the burden of it?

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Runners at starting line

Medaling For Finishing Last

Madeline Tate, cross country runner for Boston College, collapsed into the dirt. Her legs were too weak to carry her across the finish line. Rival racers, Evie Tate (Clemson) and Rachel Pease (U of Louisville), saw her distress and stopped to help their fellow racer. Even though Tate and Pease were also exhausted from pushing their legs to the max, and even though the girls sacrificed their chance at placing, they still chose to half-carry half-drag the limp girl to the finish. To watch the video click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PjBS2AjM7o

I love stories like this where women come alongside each other to lift one another up and support their fellow sisters to strive to be their very best.

However, it was sad to watch all the other girls in the race who witnessed Madeline collapse and kept going, so they could place or beat their previous time. I get it. They trained hard. They fought to earn their position on the team. But, it was still is difficult to see one of the runners brush by the women struggling to hold Madeline upright.

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last,” Matthew 20:19.

I feel like that’s where the phrase “girl power” has gone wrong. Over the years it has morphed into entitlement, pride, and dominance (specifically over men). It disturbs me when there is an undercurrent of being better than the rest, or the suggestion of “we deserve” lurking beneath the sense of empowerment.

Ladies hugging after race

Men and women should both be encouraged to be strong, empowered, and courageous, but maybe we’re putting too much emphasis on the wrong thing. Instead of striving to cross the finish line before everyone else, we should be focusing on how to get as many people across the finish line as possible.
Maybe we should put an equal or greater value on humility?  

Jesus’s mother Mary is a great example of a strong woman who showed humility. She stood strong in her faith when her family and friends believed the worst of her pregnancy. She also stood at the cross and watched her beloved son die when most of the disciples scattered. Yet, you don’t read in the Bible about Mary bragging about being the mother to the Son of God. Twice in the book of Luke (2:19 & 2:51), it speaks of Mary with her gentle spirit quietly treasuring the things that were spoken over Jesus in her heart.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” – Matthew 5:5

Satin and denim are different materials. Satin is more expensive, whereas denim is cheap. Does the higher price of satin make it a better material? Not if you’re doing yard work or horseback riding. I’d probably slide out of the saddle if I tried to ride a horse in satin pants. However, if I’m attending a formal wedding, I certainly don’t want to show up wearing jeans. Denim is effective but humble. Satin is expensive but weak. Both have a purpose.

If humility and weakness are traits valued by God, maybe they should be our focus.

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Graduation photo tossing hats by Emily Reinquist

I Don’t Know… You Know What I Mean?

“I don’t know. . . You know what I mean?” This was a friend of mine’s response when being asked for some difficult future advice. It sounds funny, but I do understand what he meant. How many times have we lacked the wisdom and the right words? How many times have we been caught in a situation that we don’t understand, or felt lost hoping someone can point us in the right direction?

Graduation celebration Pexels photo by Emily Reinquist

It’s graduation season, and many young adults will leave home to start their futures. I still remember staring at the college application where it asks to declare a major. I had no idea. I took one of those career tests at school to determine what professions would be best for me. The test said I should be either a Rabbi or a parole officer. Since I wasn’t Jewish nor male, I figured the Rabbi position was probably out, and no offense to any parole officers out there, but I can’t imagine the push-over in me surviving long in that job.

I was stuck, afraid I’d pick the wrong thing and ruin my life. I was waiting for lightning, inspiration, or God’s voice to tell me what I should be. I thought there had to be perfect conditions. I thought I had to know everything before I could venture out.

I was wrong.

Whether I picked an unfit major or worked at a few jobs that might not have been for me, it all worked out. Each was a learning experience. Each developed my character and allowed me insight to know who and what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Fork in Road

Did it slow me down and keep me from my potential?

Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is to first experience what it’s like to be lost.

There is no return without some risk. We have to step forward and make the opportunity. Mistakes will happen, but we can’t fear them. God Almighty isn’t going to let a few mistakes ruin His plan for your life. God’s will is going to be done, and even if we swerve off the path a couple of times, He can get us back on track. But one thing is for certain, it’s a lot harder to steer a car when it’s in park.

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” – Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV)

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Road Block or Toll Booth?

Avoiding potential disaster is not how my husband likes spending his holiday. However, this past Memorial Day, instead of BBQing, he reverted into crisis prevention mode because the main hard-drive of our company’s server decided to stop working. If it wasn’t back up and running for the following morning, we’d have an entire staff with nothing to do without a computer or internet. The IT company we pay to help us in crisis told us they were on vacation and good luck getting a hard drive on a holiday. Thankfully, a good friend who happens to work in IT stepped in and saved the day, for which we are very grateful.

Roadblock or Tollbooth?

Toll Booth

Tim Elmore, the author of Habitudessays we have to decide whether we let our problems be roadblocks or toll booths. When we run into a roadblock, we’re stuck. Our problem either makes us immobile or sends us back to the way we came. When we see our problems as toll booths, we pay the price and move past them to keep going.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

Dwelling on our problems keeps us stuck. God doesn’t want us not to ignore our issues, but He doesn’t want our issues to keep us trapped. We will fall, but Proverbs says we should dust ourselves off and keep going. Pay the consequence and move forward. Expect adversity so you’ll be ready to overcome and move past it.

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