Lorri Dudley

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

Tag: God’s love

My fearless middle son on the jungle gym

How to Lose Control and Like It.

My daring middle son on the jungle gym.

Danger doesn’t find my kids. They seem to seek it out.

A knock sounded on the door. My kids were watching a movie upstairs (back when they were ages 7, 6, & 4) while I cooked dinner. I sighed and turned the stove down. It had to be a salesman, peddling insect yard treatments, or a person soliciting votes to run for local office. I planned to shoo them swiftly away, so I didn’t burn supper.

I swung the door open with a tight expression to find a middle-aged man nicely dressed, standing back from the door by a good distance.

“May I help you?” I said in a clipped tone.

He glanced up, then back at me and shifted his weight. “I—ah—just wanted to let you know your son and his two friends are on the roof.”

I blinked while his words registered. I felt my eyes widen, and my stomach rose into my chest. Footsteps and small voices sounded on the landing behind me. I spun around and stared up at two curious little faces peeking through the railing. My voice pitched a couple of octaves higher. “You were on the roof?”

Their smiles evaporated.

The man at the door cleared his throat, bid me farewell, and hustled back to his car. I called out my thanks, my voice, this time, sweet as pie. I should have invited him in for dinner. I should have kissed his feet for taking the time out of his busy commute to stop and tell me my children were in danger. How many other cars had seen the kids and just kept driving?

I mounted the stairs two at a time and entered my room to see the open window and screen that led to the farmer’s porch roof. I popped my head out. The concrete sidewalk below the porch loomed like a gravestone. I searched for my oldest son, but he wasn’t outside. The youngest two pointed to the bathroom.

I yelled through the door. “Were you on the roof?”

“I was in here the whole time.”

My jaw clenched as my initial panic switched over to anger, knowing my oldest was the only one who had the height and dexterity to remove the child locks from the windows. 

My boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs
My older boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs

There is only so much control we have over a situation.

I want to protect my children from harm. I do what I can to keep them safe, give them rules and boundaries, put child-locks on the windows, turn on a movie, so they’re not underfoot while I cook dinner, risking serious burns, but there was and will always be something I don’t think of, something I can’t control.

It’s this lack of control that causes me anxiety. It wakes me up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, wondering what if… why didn’t I… I should have…

The helpless feeling sucks me into a dark place. I want to hold tight to my illusion of control and think of more ways to protect my family and our wellbeing, but the problem is just that—its an illusion. There have been so many days when I’ve kneeled on the bathroom floor crying out to God. I’ve failed them. I’ve messed them up for life. I’m not qualified. I don’t know enough.

It’s those times when God speaks into my heart. My love never fails. I’m in control. I will cover your faults. I will stand in the gaps. Cast your cares on me.

God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. It’s a ridiculous pressure I’ve placed on myself. God says, Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

I don’t know what happened to the nice man that stopped. I pray for God to bless him every time I remember this story, and I thank God that he sent him to protect my kids. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night worried, I say a prayer for God’s protection and whisper to myself.

“God’s got this.”

My youngest stuck under the table
My youngest stuck under the kitchen table

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Frog heart sculpture

Go Ahead and Look Foolish

“Excuse me, sir. May I have the honor of brushing your hair?” Beth Moore tells a story of being in an airport and seeing an elderly man with long, ratty, unkempt hair. As she waited for the boarding call, God nudged her to brush an elderly man hair. No way, she argued with Jesus, but He wouldn’t leave her alone until she approached the man with the strange suggestion. The elderly man consented, and after she worked out all the tangles, she noticed he was crying. It turns out the man had been in the hospital and was flying home to see his wife. God knew the man had been embarrassed about his messy appearance and needed his hair brushed before he returned home to his bride. Because Beth Moore obeyed and was brave enough to appear foolish asking a man if she could brush his hair at the airport, an elderly man’s prayers were answered.
Don’t let fear of feeling foolish kept you from God’s blessing. “In God I have put my trust. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalms 56:11NIV
I haven’t done anything as extreme as asking to brush a stranger’s hair. But, there have been times when I’ve wrestled with God because I didn’t want to appear foolish. I’ve argued with Him about not wanting to hug a stranger. I’ve explained to Him that there is a big difference between writing and public praying because you can’t go back and edit spoken words to make them sound better, but He told me to pray anyway. He’s asked me to reach out to old high school acquaintances and complete strangers.  Sadly, sometimes, I haven’t obeyed, but the times that I have, I’m not certain who was blessed more, the person I was prompted to help or me.
Trust God’s bigger plan. Don’t let pride stand in your way. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” – Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV
Noah probably felt foolish building an ark in the desert. Sarah probably looked foolish knitting baby booties at age ninety. The Israelites probably felt silly silently marching around Jericho ready to crumble the walls down with their trumpet blasts. King Saul and two armies thought David foolish for going after a giant with nothing but a slingshot. And I’m certain the blind man probably felt awkward hearing Jesus spit into the mud and standing there while he rubbed it on the man’s eyes.
I don’t don’t believe God uses these scenarios to get a good laugh. These are opportunities for us to humble ourselves to let it all ride on God’s plan. It allows God to grow bigger in our lives and for us to become smaller. And, history has shown, God will reward those who aren’t afraid to obey his prompting.
So go ahead, be brave enough to be foolish.
Showing Vs. Telling - homework page

The Dreaded Show Vs. Tell: Why It Can Improve All Aspects of Life.

Show don’t tell.

The dreaded words that baffle many writers. They’ve been marked in red pen in the margins of my manuscripts. Hence, when my son handed me his school paper, a gasp escaped my lips. My jaw fell slack, and my eyes widened. I blinked as words blurred on the page then refocused. (See what I did there instead of typing I was shocked?) Here’s his schoolwork page:Showing Vs. Telling - homework page

Bam, and just like that my son learned showing versus telling.

Simple, easy-peasy.

Even as I self-edit, I’ll still find places where I’m telling my readers what they should feel instead of showing them through description and allowing them to experience their own emotions. If it is that simple, why are there entire books written on the topic? Why do I occasionally let it slip into my writing?

Because it’s easier to tell. It takes fewer words. It gets to the point. It doesn’t require any emotional involvement.

It got me thinking. How much of my life is telling instead of showing?

  • Do I take the time to show people I love them?
  • Do I tell people they are forgiven or do I demonstrate how I’ve forgiven them?
  • Do I tell people I’m going to pray for them, or do I take a moment and actually pray with them?

One of the most impactful things I learned from leading a church group was from an instructional video that came with the curriculum. It said your group will only be as open as their leader. If you are vulnerable, your group will open up. If you answer questions generically, so will your group. To lead my group effectively, I had to become emotionally involved. It would have been easier to just preach, but I wanted the group to go deeper, so I had to set the tone and lead by example.

My husband has consciously decided to never say the words, “You know what you need to do …” Instead, he has trained himself to say, “I was in a similar experience, and I handled it this way …” By describing his own experience, he’s allowing the people he interacts with to draw what they need from his past mistakes and to form their own conclusions. If he merely told them what they need to do, most of them would jump on the offensive. Some may go through the motions and take the advice, but the idea would never be their own. Within my husband’s business dealings, he too has learned to show instead of tell.

Don’t get me wrong there is a place for telling. In fiction, it’s usually used to show time passing or to skip through some of the boring parts, but it doesn’t convey the same feeling as showing. It doesn’t generate the same buy-in.

God too understands showing versus telling. It’s why He sent his son to earth to show us His great love. I believe it’s why he gave us free will. God is all-powerful. He could easily tell us, “You will worship me,” but He wants us to willingly choose to love Him. He wants our emotional buy-in. So, He chose to demonstrate His love through His grace and mercy.

1 John 4:9-11, not only sums it up but also calls us into action, “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”

How can you show God’s love today?

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Man holding bouquet behind his back

Crazy Love and Mixed Tapes

Oh, the romance of a mixed tape. Way back before, Spotify, iPhone, and even CD’s, cassette tapesthere was a thing called a cassette tape, and with the proper equipment, you could record your favorite songs to make a customized mix. It was the first gift my husband gave me when we were dating. I resided a couple states away at college and played that tape over and over until I knew every word of every song. It gave me insight into his tastes and choices, and even though were we separated by distance, it made me feel like he was near.

I enjoy watching couples newly in love. I’ll never forget going on a group date with a bunch of couples, one of which had just started dating. All the others were a few years into their marriages, so the wives spoke to the other wives, and the husbands spoke to the other husbands. But not the dating couple. They only spoke to each other. In their smitten bliss, the rest of the room was completely forgotten.

Man holding bouquet behind his back When we’re in love, we do the craziest things. King Nebuchadnezzar supposedly built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world) to help ease his wife’s homesickness. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan almost bankrupted his country to build the Taj Mahal to honor his deceased wife. King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry his love.

My husband used to drive six hours to see me at school and then drive six hours back. On my summer breaks, I’d sacrifice my precious days off between waitressing and interning, to paint with him. He paid his way through college by running his own painting company, so every day during summer break he’d be up on a ladder painting. Because I wanted to be around him, I’d don my painting clothes, grab a brush, and climb up a ladder next to him. (As it turns out, painting is a very helpful life skill to know.)

Sometimes we forget that God holds an even greater, more passionate love for us. He made us in His image. He longs to be near us and is jealous for our attention. God doesn’t merely carve our initials with a heart into the trunk of a tree. It says in Isaiah 49, that He has carved our names into the palms of His hands.

God stands at the door and knocks. (I sometimes picture Him in a tux and holding flowers.) He’s eagerly waiting for us to answer, so he can come in and be with us. He wants to spend time with us. He wants us to know Him intimately. He is beyond patient with us not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He goes to great lengths including the ultimate sacrifice of dying on a cross to defeat death so that we won’t be separated from him.

He just wants to be with you, no matter where you are, how you look, or what condition you are in. He’s knocking at your door, waiting for you to invite him in.

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