Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A phone call from a friend woke us on that unforgettable Tuesday morning in 2001. We scurried from bed, huddled in front of the TV, and watched with the rest of the world while our innocence crumbled to the ground. I still recall my disbelief when the first tower dissolved into rubble. I turned to Dave. "But ... there are people in there," as if my logic could somehow reverse the moment, and silence the thunder, and undo the pain.

But my logic couldn't quell the horror. September 11th played out before us in stark shades of gray, one camera angle melding into another--an unrelenting parade of confusion and terror and grief.

I left my family sitting together on the couch. At the sink, I washed my hands and pulled out a frying pan, with no plan except that I was about to cook something. Tacos, I thought. Dave loves tacos. If I made them for a month straight, he'd probably still light up at the suggestion on day 32.

I crumbled, fried, chopped, sliced, stirred, scooped and slathered. Then I arranged those tacos on three plates, brought them to the living room, and watched for the briefest of moments--with my back to the TV--while my loved ones began eating. But it wasn't enough for me.

I went back in the kitchen, stood again staring out the window above the sink, and thought, Cookies. Forty minutes later, I brought a plate of hot-from-the-oven, oozy, gooey, chocolate chip cookies, and glasses of frothy milk.

Then I swept the kitchen floor, and then I mopped. I washed and folded a load of laundry. I scrubbed the sink.

And then, when I couldn't think of another thing to do, I sat down and cried.
*   *   *   

I'm nesting again this week.

It's what I do when I grieve. Now, mind you, I don't know Greg and Cathe Laurie. They don't know me, although I've met them both. Six weeks ago, I stood in a parking lot at the Calvary Chapel Conference Center in Murrieta, California talking to Greg about when might be the best time to interview him for my book. He gave me a copy of his just-released book, asked me to read it first, and said we'd set up something soon. The following week, I visited Harvest and was completely blessed by Greg's message.

Cathe Laurie has taught sessions at our Pastors' Wives Conference over the years. I'm always struck with her poise and the particular way she phrases her words. She's beautiful and gracious, and someone I suspect is a friend you like having.

I haven't been able to shake their loss this week. I have awakened in the night already praying for them ... especially for Cathe. I find myself asking God the same thing over and over: "Please, God, speak something specific to her--something audible. Give her an anchor."

I think about her boy, and I watch my own. I ignore his messes and try not to think of the alternative--of a floor robbed of his strewn belongings; of a sink not full of his unrinsed dishes.

And I cook. This week I've ground wheat for dinner rolls and for big round rustic loaves. I made a giant pot of split pea soup. Yesterday morning I awoke with a long, unignorable list of must-do tasks, and ignored them all. Instead, I mixed up a batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, so they'd be ready when everyone woke. And when I first heard those stirrings, I started frying bacon, because there's no smell in the world more welcoming than bacon.

Tonight it's roasted chicken, rubbed under the skin and inside out with my favorite concoction of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, and rosemary I cut from my garden. And there might be a pie on the counter before too long, just to even things up.

I sometimes catch my own shadow and see my scurrying for what it is--an attempt to chase my own sadness with the filling of stomachs. It's as if I believe that if I keep them full and satisfied, I can keep them safe.

Unreasonable, maybe. But it's all I have.
*   *   *   

Nils-Udo "The Nest", Earth, stones, birch branches, grass, L√ľneburg Heath, Germany, 1978, from GreenMuseum.org

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

we grieve with hope

I still remember what I felt when I first watched the video of Pastor Jon Courson memorializing his daughter, Jessie, after her death at the age of 16. I watched that man lift up the name of Jesus, and smile at the memory of his daughter, and comfort those who had come to comfort him. And what I felt was awe--awe at the God who could infuse that hurting man with strength, and give him the words that would direct our eyes in the only direction worth looking--toward heaven.

Today I was awed again. Pastor Greg Laurie stood at the same podium he's approached every Sunday since 1971, but he did so this morning with a grieving heart. He's had to let go of his son this week. Christopher Laurie is with Jesus today, no doubt forgetful of all earth's pain, and without any question fascinated by, riveted to, and caught up in the beauty of his Savior's face.

But his father still had to stand at that podium and speak his first words to the crowd that had gathered to grieve with him. And here's what he had to say.

I hope you'll watch today's service. And then, if you've never silenced life's noise long enough to hear and respond to the one and only question that matters, I hope you'll accept the invitation Christ holds out to you this very moment.

Today is a good day to secure your eternity.

*   *   *   

To view this morning's service at Harvest Christian Fellowship, click on the link that says: Previous Study - 2008-07-27.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

please pray for the laurie family

I'm so grieved at this news.

This morning, the first-born son of Pastor Greg Laurie and Cathe Laurie was killed in an accident on the 91 freeway near Riverside, California. The initial report is that Christopher Laurie, 33, pulled into the carpool lane not realizing that the California Transportation Department had just shut it down. He drove into the back of a Caltran truck, which was parked in the carpool lane.

Christopher's wife, Brittany, is pregnant with their second child. They also have a daughter, Stella.

Would you lift this family up before the Lord? Ask Jesus to make Himself known among them, and to give them the only comfort that can help them through these next painful days and weeks and months.

Pastors Chuck Smith, Raul Ries, and Don McClure are at the home today. Pray that God gives them words to share.

Harvest Christian Fellowship has a statement posted here. If you'd like to leave a note of condolence for the family, you can do so there.

Update: This post includes a link to the webcast of Harvest Christian Fellowship's July 27th Sunday service, in which both Pastor Greg Laurie and Pastor Don McClure spoke on the loss of Christopher.

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tasty morsels

It's happened again. Another media shark feast, all due to a whiff of scandal within Christianity. This time it's the principal of a local Christian school.

Not for one moment am I minimizing the charges. If they're true, they're awful. And they require serious consequences. But I'm taking a stand here.

I've decided to believe the best. And not just about this man, or this circumstance. For a long time now I've been trying to urge the women in our church to believe the best about each other, every time, in every situation. I tell them that because 1 Corinthians 13 comes down, in large part, to that one sentence: Love believes the best. That means we don't take offense at one another, and it means that when we stand at a cross-roads choosing between two paths, we turn our back on the one that says, "I think she really meant that," and we run down the road that says, "I believe she didn't." I'm convinced that it's only when we consistently make that choice that we'll have peace in our relationships and peace within the church. And it's only then that the world will look at us in wonder, recognizing a love that eludes them in their circles.

So I've been sounding the gong for a long while now. I believed it on a conviction-level. But only in the last few months has the conviction taken root in my heart. Over those last few months, I myself have been the subject of gossip. One person chose to put words in my mouth rather than admit to the ones she spoke. The words she credited to me were absolutely false, and so far beyond anything I'd speak that I didn't recognize myself in the revised story as it made the rounds. Another person stood at the cross-road I just mentioned, listened to my explanation, took a few tentative steps down the road of "I believe she didn't," and then turn and ran full speed down the road of "I think she did." When the dust settled, friends I've known and loved for twenty years (and some for twelve) left me and left our fellowship without one word, and without even once asking me for the truth ... all because they chose to believe gossip.

So my ethereal view of gossip--and the godly way to handle it--has been brought into concrete terms for me. And when this story hit the news yesterday, and people started murmuring about it, I made a decision. I'm going to believe the best until I'm forced to believe otherwise. And it won't cost me a thing ... except the lingering taste of a dainty morsel. But I am, after all, the bride of Christ. I should probably watch what I'm eating.

*    *    *    

The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food.
People like to gobble them up.
(Proverbs 18:8 New Century Translation)

Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
do you really want junk like that in your belly?
(Proverbs 18:8 The Message)

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

once more

"Cut my hair," she says, with that all-purpose, pleading tone, the one she uses for popsicles and new shoes and just one more game of cards.

I don't want to cut her hair. She's twelve ... almost thirteen, and that means she owns an opinion or two. I'm not as this-or-that as I was last year, or the year before. I can't get away with bordering-on-funny anymore. She rolls her eyes and looks out the window at nothing--hoping, I sense, to distance herself from my corniness.

"No," I say. She doesn't know the words I hold back. It might be the last time, Tera. You might look at my handiwork, roll those eyes again, and sever this connection with finality.

"But, Mom--you do a good job. I like your haircuts," she says with soulful panache.

I don't say a word, but the room is thick with my worry. I'm not ready for a last time, I think.

"Just this one more time," she says.

"What if I ruin it?"

We're both surprised. She's not used to seeing me uncertain; I'm not used to dropping that veil and stepping out into the light.

"You won't," she says. Now I'm twelve, and she's the mother, buoying me in all my sinkable spots. "Just try. If we don't like it, we'll go down to the salon."

When did she become so rational?

My feet drag on the walk to my bathroom. Bending down to retrieve the black box from under the sink, I sigh. She's getting her way. And I'm afraid.

She hoists a kitchen chair out to the patio, plops herself down, and tells me how it's going to go. "Two inches," she says. "Maybe three. Just to here."

I watch her slender fingers clasp a spot on her almost blond, almost brown hair. "And if you go a little shorter, don't worry. It will grow."

I used to be the one to say that. When she was three, and four, and seven. "It will grow again, honey. Nothing to worry about."

I hold the scissors in the asked-for spot, draw a breath, and cut away a summer/winter/fall's worth of growth. Guide my hands, I beg the sky.

She giggles when I hand her the first silky clump of just-freed tendrils. There's still a little girl there. But it's the almost-woman I'm worried about. Will I pass her test? Will there be a next time?

Fifteen minutes pass. I've cut what I can cut, and I can't stall the verdict another minute.

"Go look," I say.

She looks. She stands in the living room surveying her sassy locks in our giant mirror ... and grins ... and tosses her head. "I like it," she announces. And then she's running upstairs for a shower, and her first go at the blow dryer.

I exhale.

She's not through with me yet.

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Friday, July 04, 2008


We were birthed in the light of His favor, nourished on the truth of His Word, sheltered under the might of His arm and raised up for His sovereign purpose. May we not discard our heritage. May America turn back ... and bless God.