Love in the light bulb aisle

A few months ago, during a July week heavy with devastating loss and racial tension, I stood with my Korean son next to a Black man in a cramped Walmart aisle as we chose boxes of light bulbs. 

The man and I joked for a while about the high price of each box, our genuine laughter causing others passing by to look our way. It was a few lighthearted minutes. 

Before the man turned to leave he said in the most wishful tone, "You know, and this is just a thought, if more people stood in aisles laughing and talking and really seeing each other, even for a minute or two, maybe the only thing anyone would need to protest is the high cost of light bulbs."

He wished me well and walked away.

I stared after him, tears welling up and my heart convicted again of any and all ignorance and prejudices that seep down inside of me.  

It's been months since that day, and I can't stop thinking about the man and his words in the light bulb aisle. 

Let us be those people, dears. 

Let's turn wishes into realities by driving out darkness one light-filled conversation at a time. 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." ~Matthew 5:14-16

Let's examine our hearts and uncover any prejudice that might be simmering there. 

Let's be present and aware. 

Let's be listeners and inviters and learners.

Let's hold the hand of the hurting, even just in spirit, and weep with broken hearts for loss. 

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."  ~Ephesians 4:2

Let's lean in and be quick to listen, much slower to speak. And when we do open our mouths, let it be to ask questions, to acknowledge the pain and fear another feels, to offer kindness. 

Let's look each other in the eye and really see who stands across from us. Stranger or friend, let us love them well. We belong to each other. 

This will look different in each of our daily lives, yes, but love and hope can be spelled out in so many ways.

Above all, let us look to and be endlessly inspired by the One who lived every breath in perfect Love and then went to the cross to show us just how wide and deep that Love is. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ~Romans 5:8

I'm Free Fallin'

"Just leave me alone! Leave. Me. Alone!” came shouting and crying from the child thrown across the bed at the end of the hall. The wailing caused a pall to fall on the household as everyone else became silent and gave each other sidelong glances. It appeared the child would get their wish because no one else knew what to do but give in. This child wanted freedom from us, the parents. So be it.


In a short period of time, when no one ran to the bedroom to object to the request, the tantrum was over and the three-year-old emerged in a much calmer state.


Have you ever witnessed or been this child? The all-too-familiar scenario speaks volumes about human nature. How often do we also, as adults, fall prey to throwing the proverbial fit when we are too angry, tired, hungry or overwhelmed to deal with life? I know I have more often than I would care to admit.


Just leave me alone.


Like an out-of-control child, the natural self grabs for the freedom to be or do want it wants, when it wants it. Psychologists and academics call this type of freedom foolish freedom. Foolish freedom is a type of freedom that desires no boundaries. Without rules, this freedom often goes to an extreme and destroys its resources. As an example, think of a rock star smashing a guitar at a concert, because they can. It’s a desire that eventually implodes.


The twin to true freedom is responsibility. In a recent graduation speech, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of theUnited States, Clarence Thomas, spoke about our freedoms as citizens and the corresponding boundaries which make independence possible. Growing up on a farm he mentioned the obligation to take care of the land, to use it to produce food for their family and for others. 

If there was to be independence, self sufficiency, or freedom, then we first had to understand, accept, and discharge our responsibilities… The only guarantee was that if you did not discharge your responsibilities, there could be no independence, no self-sufficiency, and no freedom.
— Imprimis, May/June 2016

The apostle Paul talks about this type of freedom. Those who believe in Jesus have become truly free from the curse of sin and death. Believers have been redeemed by the atoning work of Jesus. In a sense he turned the freedom/responsibility upside down. God has let us off the responsibility of paying for our desire for a foolish freedom because we are not capable of paying for our sin and fulfilling his requirements to be perfect. We are born in sin. Instead, Jesus took the blame and paid by his death on the cross.


The astonishing act of making payment, and subsequently giving the gift of faith to all who believe, has set us free from that debt and replaced it with a debt of gratitude. All he asks is that we obey the Great Command, to serve others in love.

God the Father has made it possible for us to flee the path of being left alone to wallow in our guilt.

Jesus’ love has made it possible for us to be reunited with our perfect and just heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit has given us the capability to live the gospel out of thankfulness and joy.

We don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation, and at the same time we are free to do more and to be more because we can live out the freedoms won for us on the cross.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5:1

So in a sense, our freedom from sin has a built-in responsibility. It is the key to a happy life no matter what our circumstance. We can choose to live out of gratitude and love for the freedom God has granted us by following his directives in the Word.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:34-35

Our freedom can be manifested in all kinds of ways.

As parents, we train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We teach our children to serve each other out of love, even when they want to be left alone.

As family members, we bear with one another through the highs and lows of life. We support one another with encouraging words.

As friends, we listen to one another. We counsel each other to turn our desires for foolish freedom back to the freedom of living life in accordance with the Word of God.

Living in God’s type of freedom sounds easy as I sit at my computer and pen these words. However, dedicating our lives to preserving and passing on the Word of God and the truths therein is an uphill battle.

I ask myself, do I love my freedom in Christ enough to persevere?

Am I willing to be responsible in love even as the world around me crumbles into chaos and disorder?

Am I strong enough to stand up and shine when all around God’s people are encouraged to slip back into foolish freedom?

On our own, we are not able to do this. With God, all things are possible.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
— Ephesians 6:13

By grace, we can be truly free because we have been set free. 

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth to live the perfect life I cannot live and to pay the penalty for sin I could not pay. We are truly free because of your love. Help us to flee our desire for foolish freedom. We want to be beacons of your love in this dark world as we live out our freedom to serve you and others. Empower us through your Holy Spirit and may we live to glorify your name. Amen.

Finding Rest in Your To Do List

Do you ever make yourself a to do list?

I like to make them sometimes I think purely for the satisfaction of crossing things off and seeing how productive I've been during the day. It gives me motivation to stay organized and to continue tackling all the different tasks from day to day. I don't make them everyday, but mostly on days when I feel like my brain can't remember anything or when I need an extra kick in the pants to get started. 

Is your to-do list never ending, like mine? 

I often feel a little overwhelmed when writing my list. How am I going to get all these things done with my kids creating disasters right and left at the same time or between shuffling my kiddo to 4K and back or if I want to spend any quality time with my family at all? Perhaps you have the same problem -- not enough time with too many tasks.

What if I told you to add just one (or maybe even a couple) more things to that list.


Hear me out... or read me out or whatever. 

When our to do lists are too long and our lives are nonstop, these are the times we need to take time to pause. 

Time for rest and rejuvenation.

Sometimes you need just a little time for you -- to refill your cup before pouring yourself out again for others. A little reset or recharge time when you are just. so. done

So here are just a couple ideas to reset. You'll notice in my list that I am doubling up the "task" with both a spiritual side and a personal side. When I make time for my spiritual needs, I always feel more rested and ready to tackle the world. I've tried relying solely on myself before (and I'm sure I'll try again), but it never ends well. I become overwhelmed easily. I lose sight of what really matters in life, and it's not peeling the carrots, folding the laundry, or scrubbing the toilets. Centering on Christ and what He has done for me gives me better focus and motivation. 

So my challenge for you is to do one (or more) of these this week. They're totally simple, don't worry. See if it improves your outlook, boosts your mood, and brings you closer to Him.

1.) Grab yourself some coffee or tea -- whether this be a fancy splurge at Collectivo or out of your favorite mug at home. Open your Bible and read. (Best to enjoy this without children present so the beverage can be enjoyed while warm, but hey, if that's not possible you can always zap it in the microwave!) 

2.) Go for a walk or a run with or without your children. Take note of all the beautiful things with the changing seasons. Point out all of God's blessings to your kids. Talk about what you are thankful for. If you are solo, listen to last week's sermon or a podcast or some Christian tunes. 

3.) Do something for someone else. I find when I take time to do something for someone else, I feel so much better myself. Send a postcard to a friend (or even just a text). Make a meal for a family you know. Donate. While you do it, pray for that person. 

Let us know how you do! Have more simple suggestions to share? Let us know!

Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."