Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children

Happy childhood

I want to give a tribute to the mother who has no children.

I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.

You know the ones.

They never had children.

For whatever reason.

Some never tried.
Some never could.

And, for some it’s a hidden pain they carry deeply. Deeper than any wound.

I’m reminded of Hannah’s pain in 1 Samuel 1.

They never had children, but they:

  • Care for others sacrificially, simply for the joy of giving.
  • Are willing to fight lions, tigers and bears (Oh my!) for the ones they love.
  • Have more strength than the average man when caring for someone.
  • Are taken advantage of because of their generosity.
  • Love deeply and unconditionally.
  • Strive to make the world a better place for those around them.
  • Always thinking of others and willing to put others ahead of themselves.

Sounds like a mother to me.

Many of them wanted to be a mother — but they never were given that blessing. And, motherhood is a blessing. Just as all parenting is.

They have no children.

But, they have a mother’s heart.

They may not have children — not in the natural sense — but in heart — they are every bit a mother.

They love like a mother. They sacrifice like a mother. They serve like a mother. They give — just like a mother gives.

And, if God were to celebrate Mother’s Day, I think He would include them in the celebration.

Because in God’s way of doing things, it’s always about the heart.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

This year, as you celebrate Mother’s Day, don’t forget the mother who has no children.

While you’re at it, don’t forget the one whose mother isn’t here any longer. And, the one who has a hard story with their mother. And, all the others who as one celebrates — another weeps. Let’s be sensitive to the needs of others.

That sounds like something worthy to celebrate on such a wonderful day!

10 Reasons You Should Visit Lexington, Kentucky

visit lex

I moved to Lexington, Kentucky in the summer of 2012. You can read about the ministry assignment HERE. What I want you to know in this post is that you should come visit where I’ve moved.

Seriously. Lexington is an unknown (to many) jewel of a city. Lexington has small city charm with a big city atmosphere. Cheryl and I had traveled here before and I’ve been here for business interests in the past, but it wasn’t until we moved here that we realized how great a city this is.

Here are 10 reasons you need to visit Lexington:

Horses – We aren’t called horse country for nothing. And, horse country is breath-taking. Take a drive through the back roads. A short few minutes after leaving the city limits you are in the middle of incredible views. Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park are public use facilities. If you haven’t seen the beauty of horse country, start here.

horse race

Downtown – Lexington’s downtown is thriving. If you come for the weekend, arrive on Thursday for Thursday Night Live, where from April through October we have entertainment downtown. The Saturday Farmer’s Market is one of the best we’ve seen. In the winter we have ice skating. In the summer we have water parks. There is something for everyone each day and night of the week. Shopping. Eating. Playing. (If you choose to stay downtown, message me and I’ll give you my top choices.)

Restaurants – There are over 100 chef quality, locally owned restaurants in Lexington. Not to mention all the dives that are unique. I’ve been told there are more restaurants here per capita than any city in the United States. I can’t verify that, but I can say Cheryl and I are on a mission to work through the list, we’ve been here nearing a year, and we’ve got a long way to go. (That said, we’ve found some good ones. If you’re coming, message me and I’ll give some personal recommendations.)

Museums – We have art museums, children’s museums, history museums and horse museums. (Of course). There’s something for everyone.

Arts – We are on the Broadway tour. Can you believe it? Cheryl and I had season tickets this year. We’ve been to New York City. We aren’t missing anything here. We have one of the top orchestra programs in the country at the University of Kentucky. We have children’s theater. Our arts culture is organized, vibrant, and active.

Colleges – This is a college town and a college region. Cheryl and I have loved visiting the University of Kentucky and Transylvania are the better known schools, but we have a huge technical school and numerous lesser known, but equally impressive schools. Within driving distances there are great universities and colleges, such as Georgetown, Berea, Centre, and Asbury. And, colleges often brings sports, and we have plenty of it in Lexington. If you like college athletics, this is a great option.

Short drives – Within driving distance of Lexington there are more day trips than we can count. We haven’t completed them all yet. We can travel to Louisville or Cincinnati in an hour if we want big cities, or dozens of quaint cities like Midway and Danville for smaller venues. Drive a little further and you can find yourself in the mountains of West Virginia or Tennessee.

Baseball – Do you like baseball? My family knows ballparks and our Lexington Legends Class A ball club is one of the most fun parks we’ve ever visited.

Friendliness – Honestly, this is one of the friendliest towns we have ever visited.

Immanuel Baptist Church – Okay, this one seems self-serving, but it is my blog and I do serve at a great church. This church has been serving this community for over 100 years, with a great history, great people, and an incredible future. We are seeing God move in exciting ways. Come experience the energy at Immanuel.

Cheryl and I are well-traveled. We have often noted that there are a few cities where you will never meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy living there. Lexington is one of those cities. We’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t’ enjoy this city. It’s easy to get to whether by road or plane. We have a great local airport with flights daily through most major carriers.

Come see us!

For more information, go to VisitLex.com.

Have you been to Lexington, KY? What did you enjoy most?

Do Not Forget the Lord

The Israelites were repeatedly reminded:

“Do not forget the Lord”

Deuteronomy 4:23, 6:12, are 8:11 as a few examples.

It made me think…

We wouldn’t forget the Lord…would we?

Or admit to forgetting the Lord…or our commitment to Him…

We would never, ever, forget our God, would we?

He’s our God…we love Him…

How could we forget the Lord?

But, we are human…

We all like sheep have gone astray…and go astray…

Do you ever worry more than you trust?

Do you ever fail to pray when you are afraid?

Do you ever move to control faster than you move to surrender?

Do you ever take grace for granted when you do wrong?

It almost seems fair to say…even today…

“Don’t forget the Lord…”

Dear Lord, help m today not to forget you!

A New Book That I Highly Recommend – Get 25 Free Gifts If You Get It Now By May 7th

My friend Frank Viola has just released a new book called God’s Favorite Place on Earth. Frank makes a bold claim with his newest release. This book “could literally change your relationship with God, help you defeat bitterness, free you from a guilty conscience, and help you overcome fear, doubt and discouragement once and for all.”

This is a book that will jar you out of your “Christian rut” and give you new eyes for looking at EVERYTHING. It’s a quick, inspiring, and entertaining read.

In addition, if you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also get 25 FREE GIFTS from 15 different authors including Leonard Sweet, Jeff Goins, Andrew Farley, Steve McVey, DeVern Fromke, Pete Briscoe, Frank Viola himself, and many others.

god's fp

Over 47 Christian leaders have recommended the book, including me.

Here is my endorsement for “God’s Favorite Place on Earth”:

“Frank Viola is a powerful story teller. The story in this book changed Frank’s life. That’s a powerful statement. After reading the pages of this book, I’m convinced that learning God’s favorite place on earth might just change yours also. Do you need some encouragement? Ever feel rejected in your Christian walk? Read this book!”

The premise of the book is simple and 100% Biblical: when Jesus was on the earth, He was rejected everywhere He went . . . from Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to Jerusalem. The only exception was the little village of Bethany.

The curtain opens with Lazarus, who is now ready to die, telling the incomparable story of Jesus’ interactions with him, Martha, and Mary. God’s Favorite Place on Earth blends drama, devotion, biblical narrative, and first-century history to create a riveting book that you’ll find difficult to put down. Within each narrative, the common struggles Christians face are addressed and answered.

Go to GodsFavoritePlace.com to claim your 25 FREE GIFTS, read a Sampler of the book, and watch the gripping video trailer.

Saying No as a Leader

Yes or no buttons

 

Leader…

Gain the courage to say no…

You need that ability…

It will save you future headaches and heartaches. It will protect your family. It will protect your leadership. It will protect your time to do what you were called to do as a leader. It will help you be more effective.

I believe in empowering people. I believe in helping people as much as I can. I believe in saying yes, whenever I can.

But…

  • If you know it is not going to work…
  • If you know you can’t support it…
  • If you know the answer is no…
  • If you know you don’t have the time…
  • If you know it’s a distraction from the vision…
  • If you know, deep in your leader gut, that the best answer is no…

Say no…

If you’re going to say it eventually anyway…

Say it now.

  • Don’t lead people on
  • Don’t try to appease them.

That’s what leaders do.

Do you have trouble with no?

Seeing Behind the Tinted Windows

20130424-192631.jpg

I am in Orlando as this post is written. I come here in April for the Exponential Conference. If you’re into church planting or revitalization, don’t miss this conference next year.

While I am here I always run. I love to run in this city. One thing that stood out to me this time in Orlando is that most everyone here has tinted windows. The sun shines a lot. It makes sense. Some are tinted more than others, but almost all are tinted. Some are tinted so much that you can’t see the driver. That’s hard for us runners.

But car windows are tinted…

Where I come from, highly tinted windows are illegal. And, so when someone’s windows are highly tinted, people often assume you’re hiding something.

Selling drugs…in a gang…you know.

But almost everyone has them in Orlando…

And I don’t think all of them are selling something. At least not something illegal.

As I was running this week though, the thought occurred to me.

All of us…everyone of us…in every city…regardless of where you live…have tinted windows. To some extent.

We have tinted windows to our life.

Everyone has something to hide…

Something they’d rather everyone not know. Some secret. Some hidden pain. Some past mistake.

We all have tinted our windows. Some darker than others…But we all have a story we are hiding…or trying to hide.

Some we hide better than others.

That’s okay. Not everyone needs to know all our story. Sometimes it’s none of their business. Many times it’s none of their business.

But, here’s my experience. All of us need someone who sees behind the tinted windows. All of us need some people in our life who know the whole story. All of us need someone who loves us, but is willing to shine a light into our darkest places.

All of us.

Who sees behind your tinted windows?

Communication Often Changes Everything

gym

I was at a gym recently on an elliptical.

At the entrance there is a table with sign up sheets for various machines. People reserve their space in advance a week at a time. On that particular day, there was no sign up sheet for Monday. There was a sheet for other days, but not for Monday.

What took place for the next 20 minutes was humorous, but illustrated a great principle.

Half a dozen gym members debated the missing sign up sheet:

Maybe Monday is a holiday.

It’s not a holiday that should affect the gym.

No, it’s not a holiday.

There may be an error

No, because they have Tuesday and Wednesday 

I bet they’re saving that day for something special

Yea but they usually put a sign on the door 

And what about us regulars?

It’s probably a private party.

I hate when they do that.

Has it happened before.

I think so.

It’s not fair. 

We should complain.

After 20 minutes of similar dialogue, one wise person said, “I’ll just go ask.”

She did. It was a clerical error. Problem fixed. Problem solved. In a matter of minutes.

Unfortunately, I see this kind of thing all the time in leadership and life. Even in families and other relationships.

Sometimes…

  • Rather than complain
  • Rather than make up your own scenario
  • Rather than stir gossip

Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.

Especially in relationships…relationships of all kinds…when it involves people…when miscommunication or misunderstanding is possible…and it always is…

Communication often changes everything.

The Greatest Must Be A Servant

Grandmother & Granddaughter Playing at Home VII

The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11

I have fond memories growing up of a sweet, older lady who worked in our church nursery, watching children while the parents went to Sunday School and worship service. She had a quiet disposition. She was easy to love. I remember wanting to hug her every week. She diligently changed diapers, wiped noses, and cleaned up toys after toddlers emptied the toy boxes. She never complained, she just did it. She was loved by all who knew her.

As far as I know, she never had her name announced in a church service. She didn’t serve on committees, have a building, or even a room in the church named after her. From what I knew where she lived and she didn’t appear to have a lot of money. She was just a simple lady, with a lot of class, and a whole lot of love. I have a suspicion that if she had ever had a need, someone in the church would have easily come forward to meet it, because she was a princess among people.

What was special about this lady?

It wasn’t her position. It wasn’t her bank account. It wasn’t her connections. (She probably had more power by popularity, but she wasn’t the type to ever use it.) It wasn’t even her abilities. There were others who might have been more qualified, at least on paper, than she was at her work.

As I reflect on her, I think she was special because of what was in her heart. She treated everyone the same; with love and grace. She had a servant’s heart. It wasn’t what she did. It was who she was. She loved people and so she wanted to give them the best of herself.

When I think of this verse I think of her…and many like her. She was great among mankind, because of her servant’s heart.

What defines your greatness?

Are you great, because of the standards set by society, or are you great because of the love within your heart?

In God’s Kingdom, greatness is never greater than when defined by a servant’s heart.

Does that describe our hearts today?

Whom do you think of when you read this verse?

When I grow up…

Happy childhood

I was walking in the hall of our church building recently when I had to stop to let a classroom of children walk by me. We house a school in our building and an early childhood development center. It’s not unusual to encounter some of them on a daily basis. On this occasion, it was a class of what I would guess to be 4 or 5 years of age.

They were perfectly lined up by their teacher. They were behaving nicely. Their teacher was doing a great job with them. So cute.

All of a sudden. Out of nowhere. One little girl broke into meowing. Cat meows. She was good too. She didn’t know anyone else was around it seems. She simply started meowing.

I laughed. She didn’t seem to understand why. Her teacher told her to be quiet. She didn’t seem to understand why.

What is wrong with a little meowing anyway? Especially with such good pitch. I mean, it wasn’t a lion’s roar. That would be different, right? It’s a kitty cat. The cat’s meow.

But it made me think…

I want to be like that girl when I grow up.

Suddenly my mind reflected on another time in life…several years ago now…

When my youngest son was little he was often afraid at night. As long as he knew he could call and I’d be there…anytime at night…he was okay. He could sleep without fear. Without worry. And he tested that numerous times.

I want to be like that boy when I grow up.

I also want to skip and kick a can down the street and not worry about the effects on the environment. Just once. Random. I know.

I want to laugh more. Belly laugh. About things other people don’t even think are funny.

I want to enjoy my ice cream. All over my face, if needed. We can go to the bathroom later and wash it off. Or just go swing for a while. Whichever.

I want to climb a tree. A really big tree. Without a fear of heights or a fear of falling. I might even shout, “Look at me” from the top of that tree.

I want to take a run in the woods, jump in some puddles, and wear my play clothes all day.

Life is serious. Too serious. Very serious.

This world is a messed up scary place. Somedays it seems everyone is crazy. Doesn’t it? Even me. Who can I trust? Does anything make sense anymore? Anything?

But I know, I really do know, that my God is on His throne. He’s not moved. He’s in control. He has a plan. And, He loves me. He really does. He watches over me at night and counts the hairs on my head. All while making sure the stars are still aligned. And, I think He even laughs at my corny jokes. And at the cat’s meow of a little girl.

So when I grow up I want to trust more and worry less.

I want to enjoy life knowing someone else is in control. I want to laugh in the midst of sorrow knowing there is coming an answer. A resolution. Glory yet to be revealed. Knowing hope is here today. Not tomorrow. Today.

And, I want meow. Whenever I choose to meow. Life’s too short not to meow at will.

I can’t wait to grow up.