Monthly Archives: August 2011

Penny’s Fundraising Page





Penny’s Fundraising Page – click here to see my blog.

My good friend Penny is training to run in the Chicago Marathon on October 9th.  Penny is running in honor of her dad’s memory.  Check out her blog as she shares her training journey.  I hope we can go to Chicago on the 9th and cheer her on to victory!

Way to go Penny!


Cha cha cha changes…

I’m interviewing for a job today at 11:00.  I have not had a formal job interview in well over 20 years so I am a bit nervous.  I’m also a bit reflective and feeling somewhat nostalgic as I prepare for this interview and continue to update and adapt my resume to the various job postings I’ve applied for.

The main topic I’ve been reflecting on this morning is the amount of change me, my family and my friends have experienced since the beginning of 2011!  I know some of you transitioned in the last year as well but the following is the list just since January 2001:

  • My friend Angie started two new jobs (this was before January but still…)
  • Our dear friends Laura and Andrew moved to Austin, Texas
  • Daniel finally  proposed to Monica
  • Kevin turned 50
  • Kayla was laid off from her job when the show was cancelled
  • I left my job
  • Our dear friends and mentors Ben and Tina moved to Peoria to plant a Vineyard Church
  • Kayla joined Bryce Conlan as co-producer of a documentary on the history and future of revival
  • Daniel started a new job
  • My friend Jenna went to Bethel School of Worship in Redding, California and came back full  of life and joy
  • Jenna followed this up with a trip to Denver, Colorado.  End result?  She is moving to Denver by October
  • Kayla and I spent the summer trying to figure out what the heck we are going to do with our lives
  • Kevin’s wonderful 98-year-old grandmother passed away
  • Many of my dear friends started new jobs
  • Kayla and I began applying for jobs
  • Many of our friends had children get married this year and became in-laws (We attended many weddings this summer!)
  • Our friends Emily and William’s son Owen turned one at the best first year birthday party every put on in the history of birthday parties
  • I was able to take a long trip to Minnesota to visit family for the first time in years
  • Our baby turned 25 in August!!
  • A number of the couples I married last year celebrated their one year anniversary this summer
  • Our good friend and mentor Don Vincent retired
  • I go to  see Beth Moore live rather than on DVD
And today I am interviewing for a job that is totally different from the career path I have been on.
I can’t wait to see what the last part of the year holds for us!

The Counselor Is In The Garage…

I had a garage sale this past weekend and found myself giving away a whole lot more than household goods and clothing.  I didn’t have a lot of traffic at the sale which was good because I found myself talking, well really listening, at length to many of the people who came through the sale.

Maybe it’s because I am a sanguine and think everyone is a friend I don’t know yet or maybe it’s the gift and call on my life but people just seem to feel that they can tell me stuff.  Even when they are counting out dollars and quarters to buy my shoes and household items.

For example, the first two women, best friends who garage sale every weekend together, were there for almost an hour and proceeded to tell me about their individual journeys.  One came through a painful and traumatic divorce, went back to school and is now in business for herself.  One decided it was time to get healthy and she found a personal wellness coach and lost over 100 pounds and was healed of depression.  She was looking for new clothes to fit her leaner body.  (Bless her heart she bought over half of the items of clothing I put out!)  As they were paying I asked for their names and told them I would be praying for them.  They both hugged me as they left.  One of them came back the next day just to say thanks for listening to them chatter away.  She stayed and chatted with me for another hour, sharing more of her story.

Then came the two new grandmas who were looking for things to have in their homes for when the grand babies visit.  I didn’t have one thing in that area but they both found stuff to buy and one of the grandmas shared with me how her granddaughter had been born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery 6 weeks ago but was making a full recovery.  We both had tears as she shared.  I told her I would pray for her granddaughter.  She hugged me and said thanks.

Probably my favorite encounter was with the elderly couple who came late Friday afternoon.  They had to be in their 80’s and were absolutely inspiring.  She was a slim, petite woman with beautiful silver hair and he was over 6 feet tall and protective of his bride.  Can you imagine?  He still calls her his bride with a sparkle in his eye and they have been married over 60 years.  She bought a cherry red velvet jacket of mine that looked so cute on her with her silver hair and he just about swooned when she modeled it for him.  They were in the garage about half an hour and shared their story with me.  The grew up in Paris, Illinois together but she went to Moody Bible School and he went to Wheaton College.  They reconnected and married after college and went on the mission field.  They helped open orphanages in third world countries, taught in Christian schools, served in a variety of churches and served in disaster relief organizations and are now retired but still help out where they can.  I could tell they loved what they did and what they gave their lives to, they simply radiated life when they shared stories about the children and adults they loved and served through the years.  I am totally inspired by them and can only hope and pray that Kevin and I will be like that when we’ve been married 60+ years.

I also chatted with a young, newly single, mother who was looking for clothes for her new job.  I helped her put together several outfits from my old work wardrobe complete with shoes and jewelry.  As we “shopped” she shared how nervous she was to start this job and I shared that I was on the job market myself after nearly 20 years in the same profession and yes, it is nerve-racking and difficult to go in a whole new direction.  I just listened to her pour her heart out, then told her I would pray for her.  Another hug and a few more tears.

One lady, who just leaked sadness, took all the books on healing I was giving away and then proceeded to share with me how she had moved back from out west because her husband of 20 years left her and she needed the support of her family.  I just listened as she let the pain sort of ooze out while she talked.  She told me she is on a spiritual journey right now, looking for “Truth.”  I told her if she is genuinely seeking Truth, He will reveal Himself to her and heal her wounded and broken heart.  I pray that the books will be helpful to her and open her spirit up to the reality of the love Jesus has for her.  No hug, as she had a big “don’t touch me” vibe going and I can respect that, but I think she felt better just having been heard for those few minutes we were alone in the garage.

The last customer on Saturday was an elderly gentleman, recently widowed, stayed for over 45 minutes and just chatted away.  I heard about his daughter who is in Iraq and his son-in-law in Afghanistan; what sports his grandchildren are playing; how he is learning to fill his days now that he is alone and retired; and how to make sure the dresser I am refinishing gets the best poly-coat so it resists scratches.  If Kevin had been home at the time I might have invited him to have lunch with us.

Lots of people came and went and said little more than hello and goodbye but almost everyone chatted at least a little bit.

While I was glad to get rid of almost everything we put out I gained something even more valuable than the few dollars my stuff sold for: I cannot deny who I am or who God made me to be.  He has given me a gift of counsel, encouragement and wisdom and I need to be available to Him when ever and where ever He asks me to be available to people.  I don’t need to work for a certain organization or have a certain title to validate who and what I am called to do and was created to be.  I just have to be obedient and available to the prompting of the Holy Spirit at all times.

It’s no different for you.  What has God called you to?  What has He deposited in you that you are to use as a gift to the people who populate your life?

I had a glorious time at my garage sale this past weekend!



When Shame Is Legitimate

Toxic shame is the horrible feeling that we are seen as deficient and undesirable by someone who we hope will deeply enjoy us.  Toxic shame bursts within us like an internal hemorrhage when we fear our deepest and most ugly secrets are about to exposed to someone whose affection and acceptance we long for.  Toxic shame lies to us and binds us to fear and denial.  toxic shame imprisons us.

There is however, shame that is legitimate.

Legitimate shame exposes our rebellion against God.  We SHOULD feel shame when we have broken God’s moral laws.

Legitimate shame exposes our sins against others.  We should feel legitimate shame when we have demeaned, belittled, abused or in any harmed another human being.  Another person, just like us, created in God’s image and dearly loved by Him.  When we act shamefully against another person we violate our relationship with him or her and with Jesus.

If we have made a decision to be a follower of Jesus then we should feel legitimate, godly shame when we break the first commandment and put other gods before Him.  We should feel legitimate shame when we do not love and worship the Lord with all of our heart, soul and strength and love our neighbor as our selves.

Legitimate shame causes our hearts to break, it humbles us and leads us to repentance before God and the person we have hurt.  Legitimate shame comes from the loving conviction of God’s Holy Spirit and it is meant to lead us to a deep desire to change.  Accepting our legitimate shame leads us to walk closer to Jesus so that we can embrace the person we were always meant to be.

Legitimate shame can fully embrace the thought that “I am imperfect and full of flaws and I will fail at something today.  LIfe is difficult but God is good and ready to forgive me and heal me when I fail.  I cannot be perfect but I can trust in and reply upon a perfect God who loves me and empowers me.”

Legitimate shame that leads to repentance has no strings attached to self-contempt, self-hatred or penance for our sins.  In chapter two of the book of Romans in the Bible Paul tells us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance for our shameful ways.

It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance!  Not God’s vengeful anger.  Not God’s disappointment with us.  Not God’s righteousness.  Not God’s perfection.  No, it is His kindness that shines the light on our legitimate shame and then offers us forgiveness and restoration when we repent.

His hands are full of goodness and good things that He longs to give us if we will but accept the gentle but firm conviction of His Spirit moving upon our thoughts and emotions when we are either legitimately guilty or bound by toxic shame.  The answer to both is the same: forgiveness and healing found only in Jesus Christ.

1 John 1.8-10 tells us this:  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

James 5.16 tells us this: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Legitimate shame confessed to Jesus and one another leads to cleansing and healing.

What good things are you denying yourself by not humbly accepting the conviction of the Holy Spirit and confessing your shame to a trusted friend or family member?

You’re Invited to…

…write  your thoughts and stories down and share them with me and the readers of the blog.  I learn so much from other people and I am constantly inspired and moved by the stories and experiences of others.  I believe that your stories would inspire others as well.

I would love to consider your thoughts or stories for a guest post or to use in one my future posts.

Should you be inspired to do so you can send me your thoughts or your testimony to my email and we can have a “private” conversation and decide together what we will use.  The email address that I will be using for this blog purpose is 

Of course you can continue to comment as you feel led.


Please consider sharing what you have learned so that, together, we can help others heal and grow.

You too can live your life out loud…



Coming Out Of The Closet

Yesterday I suggested that we are all powerless in two ares of our lives: our past and other people.   Furthermore, we often have much shame attached to our past and surrounding the people who populate our lives.

A quick reminder that shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous etc.

And powerless is to lack the power to act, to be helpless, to be unable to be effective.

Over the next few days we are going to take a deeper look at the issue of our powerless state as it relates to people and how this can tether us to shame.  More importantly we will discover how we can live a life of empowerment and freedom and Who gives us this power.

Before we go there however, I would remind you of something that gives me great confidence and hope as I continue to heal and mature in this area: God is no stranger to a shameful family line and He is shameless about letting all the skeletons rattle out of his family closet.  He doesn’t keep dirty little secrets and He isn’t co-dependent with His people.  by that I mean God does not define his character and worth by our behavior.  His success as God and Father, Creator of the universe, is not defined by how His children behave.

I like how Phillip Yancey puts it in his book The Jesus I Never Knew

“Matthew opens his gospel not as I might be tempted to begin, with a teaser on how this book will change your life, but rather with a dry list of names, the genealogy of Jesus.  Matthew chose a representative sampling from forty-two generations of Jews in order to establish Jesus’ royal bloodline.  Much like the shabby descendants of deposed European royalty, the peasant family of Joseph and Mary could trace their lineage back to some impressive ancestors, including Israel’s great king David, and its original founder, Abraham.

Matthew’s list of names also lets some skeletons out of the closet.  Consider the women mentioned (a rarity in Jewish genealogies).  At least three of the four were foreigners, which may have been Matthew’s way of hinting that Jesus held out universal promise.  The Jewish Messiah had Gentile blood!

Tamar, a childless widow, had to dress like a prostitute and seduce her father-in-law in order to produce her contribution to Jesus’ line.  Rahab did not merely pretend, but actually made her living as a prostitute.  and “Uriah’s wife,” Bathsheba, was the object of David’s lust, which led to the most famous royal scandal of the Old Testament.  These shady ancestors show that Jesus entered human history in the raw, a willing descendant of its shame.  In contrast, Herod the Great, reigning king at Jesus’ birth had his genealogical record destroyed out of vanity because he wanted no one to compare his background with others’.”

The fact that God our Father, who is perfect and loving in every way, would so boldly and with great vulnerability open up His heart and family history to us gives me great hope.  If God is not ashamed of the things his chosen people did, then He is not ashamed of me and my family!

Tomorrow we will begin to consider who is in our closets and how we can go from powerless and shamed to empowered and shameless.

The Power of Shame

Before we get to today’s topic I would like to invite you to subscribe to this blog if you would like to be notified of new posts.  It’s easy to do.  Simply scroll to the bottom of the homepage of the blog and click on the “subscribe to this blog” link and follow the tutorial.  You can un-subscribe at any time.  When you subscribe new posts will automatically be delivered to your email inbox.


I have spent the vast majority of my pastoral career ministering to people in the area of emotional, spiritual and relational healing.  The first step on any journey towards healing and wholeness is admitting we are powerless.

For the past 11 years I led a support-recovery discipleship program on Tuesday nights.  Three times a year for 10 weeks we met to help one another heal, grow and find freedom from the various addictions that were holding us in bondage.  More importantly, we were committed to helping one another mature and grow so that we could live as the people we were created to be so that we could  embrace genuine healing rather than tolerable white-knuckle sobriety.

And three times a year we started every session with step 1: “We admit we are powerless over our addictions and attachments….”

The list of issues one could be powerless over is endless: anger, sexually acting out, food, resentment, shopping, alcohol, gambling, fantasy, control, running, street or prescription drugs, over eating/under eating, work, relationships etc.

While the presenting issues of our powerlessness are many and varied they all have their roots in two primary areas we are ALL powerless over: our past and other people.  And both have shame attached to them that drive our addictions, attachments, fears and behaviors.

Over the next several days we are going to take a deeper look at each of these two areas of powerlessness and how they contribute to shame thus keeping us bound to shame.

And we will discover the truth and healing that Jesus has for us that will empower us to walk free and whole before Him and others so that we can fully embrace the life we were always meant to live.

I take great comfort in the words of Jesus found in John 8.31-32

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We will certainly address some uncomfortable and even ugly and painful truths as we dig into this topic but I take Jesus at His word that these truths WILL set us free.  In all my years of following Jesus and discipling others to do the same, Jesus has never once revealed a truth that was meant to destroy or harm.  He always reveals truth to bring life and freedom.

In recovery we say that the ugly truth is better than a beautiful lie.

I hope you will choose to go on this journey with me.

What are you going to do with this life?

Have you ever been so moved by a song that it’s as if it was written just for you at just this moment in time?

It happened to me this morning.

As I was out on my prayer walk  I was listening to Matt Redman’s CD Beautiful News.  Matt’s journey is paved with pain and sorrow and he courageously lives his life out loud through his music so his songs often speak to me.

This morning from the first note of his song Fearfully And Wonderfully Made I had a quickening in my spirit like “Hey, listen up, this is for you!”  It’s the line “So what am I gonna do with this life You gave me?” that is resonating with me today.  Reverberating like a bass drum in my spirit I cannot gat away from the question.

What am I going to do with this life you gave me Lord?  That is the question I am pondering and have been pondering for the last four months.  Four months in a spiritual wilderness.  Four months asking myself “what just happened there?”  Four months doing battle with confusion and anger, pushing back and resisting depression.  Four months of confessing, repenting and forgiving,  Four months of waiting and waiting and waiting.

I have lived in Isaiah 40 particularly verses 27-31

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Today I feel like the path is starting to lead out of the wilderness.  I am cautiously putting my feet on this path and trusting the Lord that now is the time to prepare to move forward.  

Jesus seems to be highlighting the “number”s of this journey recently.  I believe that numbers have meaning in God’s economy so I did a little research on the biblical meaning of numbers.  I was super encouraged by what I discovered.  Please understand, this was not an extensive research into all the theological sides of this.  I did a few days study on this as I felt the Lord’s leading on it.

Here is what I discovered in brief:

Four is the number of creation, earth, space, completion, creative works etc.  (It also encompasses things like the four elements: water, earth, fire, air; the four seasons and four directions.  (This particular part of my journey started in April, the fourth month also the month I was born in).

Five is the number for God’s grace, favor, redemption, atonement, life, the divine name of god, a new song, the cross and anointing.

August is the eight month and eight is the number for man’s ability to transcend limits of physical existence, teacher, new birth, resurrection, new beginnings, make fat, super-abounding in strength.

September is the ninth month and nine is the number for completion, end, conclusion, finality, fullness of the blessings, evangelist, summing up, manifestation of the Spirit, judgment, serpent and tribulation.

Now before you go mad on me, please understand that I am not using this information as a measuring stick or the foundation upon which I am building my spiritual life.  I simply find it to be ONE of the things Jesus is using to enlighten, encourage and empower me with as I try to move forward with Him.

So I am taking all of this along with A WHOLE LOT of other stuff the Holy Spirit has downloaded over the last months as well as, and most importantly, the wise counsel of the mature and solid people I am blessed to have in my life.

I just had to share this out loud with you because I do know this is a call on my life: to live my life out loud as authentically and shamelessly as I can before you in the hope that you will find the same freedom and life in Jesus that I have.

So, what ARE we going to do with this life HE has giving us?

For I Am Not Ashamed

1. not ashamed;  not restrained by embarrassment or consciousness of moral guilt
2. open; unconcealed; unabashed
As I said in yesterday’s post I have learned so much about living without shame from both my and Kevin’s side of the family.  Two examples:
My mom was burned over much of her lower body when she was a month shy of her 3rd birthday.  It is a miracle that she survived and that she can walk.  The doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN performed wonders on my mom’s tender burned and ravaged skin but her legs still bear silent testimony of this horrible event in her life.  But my mom (and her family )has never, to my knowledge, been ashamed of what others might consider a deformity at worst and an embarrassment at the least.  I grew up with a mom who wore shorts and skirts, played golf, swam and played in the lake with us growing up.  I don’t ever remember a time when I felt ashamed of my mom’s scars or even thinking her legs were different.  I don’t ever remember a time when my mom let her scars hinder her from doing anything.  I learned so much from my mom and her family about accepting people’s physical imperfections and about living without shame when we have something that clearly marks us as “different.”  My mom has never been restrained by her scars.  I want to live that way.
One of Kevin’s grandmothers contracted German Measles while pregnant with their fifth son.  As a result he was born blind and mentally challenged.  This was in the 30s when “imperfect children” were often hidden or shipped off.  Not so Kevin’s Grandparents!  Kevin’s uncle was fully integrated and accepted into the normal ebb and flow of family and social life.  I met Kevin’s uncle 30 years ago when we were dating and he was a delightful and vital part of the family.  As I have been a part of the Larson clan I have been blessed and enriched by their unabashed, unrestrained and unashamed acceptance and love for this uncle.  They are all better for it.  I have learned to accept people no matter what their mental and/or physical challenges may be from Kevin and his family.  No one in his family or among their friends has ever been ashamed of this uncle.  They have always been unrestrained in their love for him.
Between Kevin and I we have provided much fodder for the shame hall-of-fame for our families.  I am pretty sure that between us we have broken all ten commandments (whether in thought or word rather than actual deed it’s all the same) and we’ve introduced new addictions to the family line.  We are not much to write home about when I think about it!  The background music for the story of our lives sounds eerily like the opening credits for a soap-opera.
BUT, we have learned what it means to be loved and accepted by our families in spite of our shameful behavior.  They have forgiven us, loved us, accepted us without embarrassment and with unrestrained love.
Their shameless love and acceptance of and for us has allowed us to accept forgiveness, accept love even when we feel unworthy, heal and grow.  We have learned the value and power in un-tethering ourselves from binding shame.
What about you?  Who has modeled shamelessness to you?  What have you learned?