Lorri Dudley

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

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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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Bendy character with panicked expression

How to Attack Panic

bendy figure with worried expression

“They want my parenting advice?” I laughed at being asked to speak on a parenting panel for our church. I’m proud of how my boys have become responsible young adults. I prayed hard they’d discover their passions at an early age in which to direct their energy. However, there was a time when it was an amazing feat for me to make it through a parent-teacher conference without crying. I used to cringe when the phone rang because it usually meant a teacher or principal was on the other line.

Why would anyone listen to me?

I sweated out what questions would be asked by the audience, and how I would respond. People say they get butterflies. I had a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds flapping in my stomach. I stressed over saying the wrong thing. Public speaking is different than writing. There is no delete button. I can’t go back and edit my words. What was I thinking agreeing to do this?

Don't panic button

The day came, and questions were asked, and the panel handled them open and honestly. There wasn’t a question posed that someone on the panel hadn’t dealt with already in a lesser or greater extent. I got to talk about my boys’ struggles and how those challenges have developed their perseverance and character. People came up to me later and actually thanked me.

Like the conductor of an orchestra, God directed the entire thing.

Moses felt the same insecurities when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt. He doubted whether he was the right person. He told God no one was going to believe God sent him, that they’ll think he’d hallucinated or something. He then complained that he wasn’t a good public speaker and even begged God to send someone else.

Moses was dealing with over anticipation. We make things into more than they are and blow it out of proportion. We panic and work ourselves up into a hailstorm of “what ifs” that leave us paralyzed in fear. My favorite of God’s answers was when Moses implied he was clumsy with words. God asks Moses, “Who makes mouths?” He then tells Moses, “Go … and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:12).

God will not send us out ill-equipped. He will ask us to do things out of our comfort zone, but He won’t send us without providing means and resources. We must trust God to give us the boldness, confidence, and words at the right moment.  

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Don’t Be Goop!

batter on a whisk

My thirteen-year-old son and I love to watch shows like Cake Wars where bakers rush under a time constraint to make the most delicious, creative, and outlandish cakes possible. It gets our creative brains churning along with our stomachs. To make a cake, the contestants put flour, sugar, eggs, etc. into a bowl and mix it up. However, just mixing those ingredients doesn’t form a cake. It makes goop. It takes the transfer of heat from the oven to transform the batter into a cake.

I enjoy reading self-help books and the psychologist in me loves to find ways to change behavior and thinking, but often after reading these books, I’m left with the feeling of something still missing. The author gives us all the ingredients to mix together to find happiness, and it might work for a short time, but something is missing. It’s only cake goop.

Often, we think, if we could just reach this goal, buy that nice house, or change our attitude, we will find peace and happiness. It may even feel like it for a time. If someone dips their finger into cake batter goop, it will taste similar to cake but becoming a cake takes something more than a change in attitude or the temporary high of reaching a goal.

There is something prideful about thinking we can create our happiness, joy, and peace. If we want to find everlasting, sustainable joy, if we want to be a cake and not just goop, we need a transformation from the inside out. Asking God into our heart, allows His love to heal our brokenness and gives us a broader eternal perspective. It allows His Holy Spirit to flow into our lives and rise into a new person.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   – Romans 15:13

my son's 4th birthday spiderman cake

Side note: This is a picture of my son’s 4th birthday, where a friend of mine jokingly said, “Go ahead and spit the candles out.” To which my son did as he was told. Seconds after this picture was taken, I had to scrape off all the frosting.

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Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech

The Key to Commanding a Room

Are you the brightest person in the room? By brightest, I’m not talking about smarts. I mean magnetism, what draws people.

Smiley face emoji among a crowd of frowny face emojis

 Some people desire to be the center of attention others want to be treated like they’re the only person in the room. Think James Bond or Clark Gable. It wasn’t their flashy suits or dapper smiles that made them dreamy (even though it did add to it). It was their confidence, their attitude, and most of all the way they tuned out the rest of the room once the leading lady entered.

My favorite part of a novel is what’s called the cute meet. I’ve written about heroines and heroes meeting on dance floors, elevators, and climbing in windows. In my new release, The Duke’s Refuge, coming out in Jan 2020, the hero thinks the heroine has lost her mind because she wades out into the breakers in a full gown to save her trunks from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. No matter whether it’s a comical first impression, like yanking a hero onto a ballroom dancefloor to avoid someone, or dangerous, like believing the hero is an intruder and whacking him over the head with a candlestick, the heroine grabs the hero’s attention.

The Art of Manliness blog writer Brett McKay wrote an article entitledCommand a Room Like a Man. In the article, he suggests the following:

Theodore Roosevelt making a speech
  • Enter a room boldly,
  • Stand tall,
  • Straighten the silverware at the dinner table or move the salt shaker (this mentally makes you feel more in control).
  • Make eye contact.

My parents offered similar advice (minus the salt shaker thing but add a firm handshake). However, at the end of the article, McKay says the key to owning a room is to be other’s focused. People are drawn to people who take an interest in them.

When we’re paid a genuine compliment, we’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Moreover, think about how you felt toward the person who paid you the compliment. Typically, our guard will drop, and we’ll feel happy to be around that person. Same goes for those who inquire about your interests. I’m thrilled when people ask me how my writing is going or about my books. I’m often more pleased that they took the time to ask about something that brings me joy, sometimes even more so then the opportunity to talk about it. McKay states, “When we shine a light on a person, they reflect that light back on us. If we shine a light on every person in the room, we end up being the brightest man there (Command a Room Like a Man, McKay 7/2009).”

His comment reminded me of 2 Corinthians 3:18So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Jesus was others focused, and when we put others before ourselves, we are reflecting his glory. When we seek God, we become changed inside and out, and we reflect his light. When we reflect his love and his light, then Jesus becomes the brightest person in the room.

Crocuses blooming

A Change Will Do Us Good

Crocuses blooming

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It holds the promise of warmer weather. Our dead yellow grass springs up in a verdant green. Buds on trees burst into flowery white clouds, and bulbs open their colorful faces to the sun. The cold drabness of winter comes alive and new again.

The same thing happened to me after I started going to church. My husband and I, up until that point, had put our heads down and poured everything into growing a company and savings. Then, 9/11 happened and brought the world to a standstill. That horrific day stirred up questions I hadn’t wanted to face. Is this life all there is? Is there truly evil in this world? Do I serve a purpose?

I’d like to say we started attending church that Sunday, but no. It took me five months of stifling those niggling questions before the aching need, for something I didn’t yet understand, overrode my excuses for why I should stay in bed. My husband and I warily strolled into church. In my mind, I was just going to give it a try.

I left changed.

There wasn’t a bolt of lightning. I didn’t break free from my cocoon and morph into a butterfly during that service. I remember being greeted by a man named Donny who smiled and welcomed us. I recall pausing to look at my husband during worship to see if the live band overwhelmed his instilled Catholic mindset. (He now is the electric guitarist in that band – go figure.) I had laughed and smiled all through the sermon about parenting, and a woman named Laura hugged me on the way out.

Butterfly emerged from cocoon

We drove back to our same home, in the same car, but I wasn’t the same. My heart held hope. I remember feeling lighter, excited. The earth hadn’t fallen off its axis. For everyone else, the day had been a day just like any other, but the dead shell of my old self had cracked open, and a small sprig of the changed me started to grow.

Easter reminds us of Jesus’s love and the ultimate sacrifice made for us, yet we still go about our week normal. Shouldn’t Easter renew the same feelings of hope and excitement? After being reminded about the cross, how are we not left changed?

Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Two thousand plus years after Jesus’s death, the world has changed a great deal, but I beg to differ with Monsieur Karr. We are not the same. Jesus’s resurrection allowed the Holy Spirit to come into the world. It emboldened the disciples and changed hearts. An encounter with the Holy Spirit helps you see others differently and find love where there was none. It prompts you to be moved, be changed, and to love because you are loved. 

Don’t remain unchanged. 

Let the truth about Jesus’s sacrificial love sink into your heart. Steep in the hope it brings and gets excited about the promise of everlasting life with a Lord who’d give everything to have you by His side for all eternity. Realize there is more to life than wake, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. You have a purpose. Become grateful for what God has done for you, in you, and is going to do through you.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

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Crown of Bavaria

Kings Aren’t for Everyone

Crown of Bavaria

My family rented Aquaman over the weekend. One line in the movie stuck with me and instilled a new perspective on kings. Here’s the dialogue:

Mera: Atlantis has always had a king, now it needs something more.
Aquaman: What could be greater than a king?
Atlanna: A hero. A king fights only for its nation, but you fight for everyone.

Okay, so maybe a king isn’t for everyone?

Atlanna was right. Throughout history, kings have fought mostly to defend or expand their nations. European Kings rose to power due to their ability to conquer and maintain their holdings. After William the Conquer seized power in 1066 A.D., he established a feudal system in England where land was granted to Barons, who in return, offered their fidelity and service to protect the king and his country. After that, it became rare for a king to ride into battle himself. Kings sent their best warriors to fight on their behalf.

Should we hold out for a hero, instead? 

Boy dressed as superhero

We are fascinated with superheroes. Marvel Studios, the maker of the Avengers films and others, has proven our obsession regarding people with superpowers by grossing nearly 11 billion dollars in sales. Little boys dress up in capes and pretend to save the day. They dream about catching the bad guys and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. 

What if saving the day isn’t enough?

In college, I took a world religions class. I was fascinated by all the similarities and differences between the religions. As the professor taught from a non-biased perspective, part of me wanted to stand up and yell, Don’t you see? In all these other religions, humans desperately work to sacrifice to their god or gods. They seek to earn favor, but Christianity is different. Jesus not only freely offers his love to anyone who’ll believe, but He sacrificed Himself for us, not the other way around.

A hero may save the day, but a Savior saves us for all eternity.

God didn’t send his best warriors out to fight the battle. He came himself. He assumed our fallible human form and laid down his life as a sacrifice. Out of His unfathomable love for us, he allowed himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified during a time when the most brutal means of torture possible was used to extend the torment. He did this for us knowing our past sins, the filth of our present sins, and willful acts of sin we’d commit in the future. He bore them all and chose to die because He loves us.

Jesus stepped down from his throne, took off his superhero cape, and allowed nails to be driven into his hands.

All hail our Savior! 

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