The Cure for Election Season Grumpiness? 21 Day Gratitude Challenge


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21-day-gratitude-challengeHave you been watching the news lately? Or spending any time on Facebook?

UGH! I know, right?

Although I have strong opinions, I am not going to go into a rant here. You’re welcome. Just promise me, one way or another, you will go vote on November 8th. Even if you don’t love either of the candidates, voting is a privilege and responsibility. Pick one. If you can’t decide, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to tell you which one you should choose. #NeverTrump

IN THE MEANTIME, how do we survive these next three weeks until election day? In this world full of cynical, angry, LOUD voices, how do we maintain our equilibrium and choose the joy, peace and love of Jesus instead?

I am not advocating a policy of disengagement or denial. Rose colored glasses are not the answer either. Our country is facing serious issues and we all need to get involved, get informed and get to the polls. Yet, if you are like me, you may be spending more time than you would care to admit getting pulled into an emotional tailspin by the deteriorating rhetoric of angry finger pointing. My blood pressure cannot survive another three weeks of this level of collective rage and despair.

This past Sunday, my pastor Tom began a new sermon series about gratitude, arguably one of my favorite topics. Choosing gratitude, without being too dramatic, has likely saved my life in many ways, so I am a big fan. At the end of the sermon, he invited us to take a 21 day gratitude challenge.

Every day, for the next 21 days, we agreed to intentionally and thoughtfully express appreciation to another human being. Whether in person, by email or with an old fashioned note of thanks, the challenge is to notice the loveliness of the human beings God has placed in our lives and TELL THEM about it!

Cynicism, pessimism and self-righteous anger, unfortunate by products of recent current events, don’t look good on me and frankly cramp my style. I much prefer the joy-filled Jesus girl aesthetic Continue reading

When You Just Know What You Know


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if-you-need-wisdomMy heart beats more quickly than usual. The feeling in the pit of my stomach is familiar, a pang of recognition and anticipation. I sense an invitation has been extended, an offer made, an answer found.

Perhaps it is an intuitive knowing, a sixth sense, a gut reaction or an answer to prayer. Whatever name you give it, many of us can recall times when we just know. 

Deep in our spirits. We. Just. Know.

But then the questioning begins. We second guess and argue with ourselves.

  • What if I’m wrong?
  • What if I’m crazy?
  • How will it work?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I look like a fool?

So we stuff it down, put it on hold, and decide we need to spend more time thinking, ruminating, marinating, worrying, wondering, stewing, contemplating, considering, cogitating, meditating and praying before we act.

(Whew. Just typing all those words is exhausting.)

Yet, I have had several conversations with friends recently who Continue reading

A Table of Hope


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gttableofhopeEvery Tuesday afternoon as we finish the mid-afternoon prayer, Dave invites everyone within hearing range to gather for afternoon Bible study at the twenty-foot table in the center of the room.

“It is a very exclusive table,” he says each time. “Only sinners allowed!”

The Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless and poor individuals, recently moved to a bigger, better-equipped building. Three times the size of the old building, the new space enables us to serve our guests in a number of new ways. In spite of the improvements, though, the heart of what transpires continues to happen around the old table in the center of the room, the only piece of furniture that made the move from the old building to the new. Built lovingly by a volunteer who has since passed away, the table was created especially for The Lamb Center. Staff, volunteers, and guests couldn’t imagine a Lamb Center without this table–a symbol of hope, healing, and transformation for so many.

I understand the attachment to this special table. I too have sensed God’s presence there and have been repeatedly moved by the vulnerability, compassion, and hope I have experienced within this community during the years I have been leading Tuesday afternoon Bible study. If I know anything at all about the kingdom of God, I’ve learned it at this table.

All are welcome

Everyone is welcome at The Lamb Center table. Whether sharing a meal, gathering for Bible study, or engaging in conversation during the hours in between, there are no requirements for a seat at the table except a willingness to pull up a chair. This is a place of radical hospitality. Whether guest, staff, or volunteer, we are all invited to come as we are. We can show up hungry, show up confused, show up with a smile, or show up with tears in our eyes. We can show up in our finest clothes or show up in our last filthy shirt. We can share our perspectives or sit quietly and listen. The table is a safe place, and we are all there by God’s invitation. My friend Dave often says to those who hesitate at the edge of our circle, “We won’t be complete without you.” At the table and in the kingdom, we are loved, our stories are valued, and our presence matters.

People are messy

The Lamb Center table is raw, honest, and real. Life is hard, and many of our guests are living in difficult circumstances. My friends at The Lamb Center are under no misconceptions that they have their lives under control. The pride and self-sufficiency which plague many of us with comfortable homes and money in the bank has long since been left behind by my friends who sleep in the woods. They know they need help because the situations in which they find themselves leave them no alternative. Around this holy table, masks of invincibility have no place. We laugh a great deal…

Continue reading the rest of this post at The Glorious Table


This week marks the one year anniversary of The Glorious Table, a contributor blog where “life is shared and grace is poured out.” I am honored and humbled to be a part of this community of brave writers. If you aren’t already, please visit The Glorious Table and sign up to receive our posts in your Inbox. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Glorious Table!!

Video Update! Free and Almost Free Stuff


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Welcome to my first ever vlog- video blog! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Excited to link up today with my #LiveFreeThursday friends. We are blogging today on the prompt “where Jesus is leading me.” Read more wise words by visiting my friend Suzie here.

Fake It ‘Till You Make It


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tshirtIs hope dispenser an appropriate descriptor for a resume?

When I was a young counselor working in the addictions field, some of my favorite work was encouraging the parents of teenagers who were struggling with substance abuse problems. These parents were understandably terrified. In many cases, they had no idea how deeply ensconced their child was in the use of drugs and alcohol until the situation blew up and they landed in my office. They were drowning in guilt, anger, confusion and overwhelming fear.

Over a period of weeks, months and sometimes years, my job was to ask these parents to show up, trust the process and expect a miracle. In the early days of their child’s recovery, their family’s life seemingly blown up beyond recognition, hope was a herculean leap of faith. I asked them to trust me and let me carry the hope until they could grab onto it for themselves. In many cases, I invited them to act like they believed in the process until they actually did. I asked them to grab hold of the 12th step advice to “fake it till you make it.” They were some of the bravest people I’ve ever known.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, a group of these parents with whom I had walked the road of recovery threw me a surprise baby shower. My favorite gift was a giant purple t-shirt with the words “Expect a Miracle” emblazoned in big white letters. Continue reading

An Unexpected Party!


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9781938499913-jpgIn the Johnson household, we are crazy about all things Tolkien. Yes, we did indeed read all the books. Yes, we do love all the LOTR movies. No, it is best not to ask our more vocal Tolkien fans about the Hobbit movies. My big strong hubby nearly cried when we finally visited The Eagle and Child, a lifelong dream for him. Google it, if you don’t know what it is. 

Today’s guest post is from my friend Jill Richardson, a fellow Tolkien lover and Jesus follower. I met her last year at Jen Hatmaker’s house and have been a huge fan ever since. After I met her, I found out she wrote a book called Hobbits, You and the Spiritual World. I, of course, ordered it immediately. I invited her back today because she is re-launching her book this week and I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’ll let Jill tell you more below, but be sure to join the party on Facebook to get all the details.

An Unexpected Party!  by Jill Richardson

Three years ago, I wrote a book about hobbits. And elves. And dwarves. And some pretty kick-butt women as well. Mostly, about God. It was designed as a devotional for teens, but a lot of adults have loved it, too. Here’s the back cover copy:

“Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!”

I love Tolkien, and I love teens/young adults, and I LOVE connecting the next generation to faith. It’s been a journey — an adventure, one might say! — that I can’t wait to continue.

I am having a party over on Facebook, and I would love it if you could join me. Come to the party, enter contests, win prizes, have fun, see weird photos, get recipes for hobbit food. What else could anyone want? #hobbitdevo.

  1. Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Can you think of a better way to bore a fifteenish-year-old girl? Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

  1. Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? Continue reading