When We’re Afraid to be Agents of Redemption

DSC_0788Today when the morning comes, I feel the weight of the next 36 days all resting on my shoulders. I drag myself to the shower and again to the coffee pot and then again to the laundry room where loads and loads wait for me. My heart orders the words that followed me to sleep late last night and I’m grateful to remember the thoughts I should have jotted down on paper. I let the words work themselves out over the folding of t-shirts and the matching of socks and I wonder how the words will sound when spoken aloud.

Will Jesus stand between me and them and move the words around in midair, making my offering something beautiful for the building up of the kingdom here on earth?

DSC_0789I serve the girls bagels and cream cheese and I stir creamer into one more cup of coffee. We work our letters and numbers and the last Harris baby has a meltdown because her letter G looks like a letter O with a broken line and I bite my lip, willing the minutes to pass quickly. An hour passes and I watch the wind through the front window beat the tree limbs against the power lines and the nagging feeling that won’t leave me forces me to push the pen across paper until the feeling passes.

The words that come are the ones that have been stirring up angst in the pit of my belly for weeks now and these words that now come as questions, are the ones I’ve been quietly pushing back down.

Because we are in this together, these words that come as questions are the words I leave for you here:

How many times must we pray for revival before the redeemed of Jesus wake up and know that it is through obedience to Jesus’ command to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves that we experience the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit in our places?

How many prayer walks and calls to prayer must one people rally the masses to before we posture ourselves before our neighbors like Jesus postured Himself before His disciples?

How many times must we fall on our faces in repentance for the sins of those who have gone before us before we rise up and take the land that Jesus is giving us to make His name great?

How long must we wallow in our own confession of sins before we realize that Jesus does not hold our sins against us, nor does He hold the sins of the world against her?

How many missions trips overseas must we take before we see the people in our own communities who are without the hope of Jesus?

How many dollars and programs and gimmicks does it take for us to understand that all the money in the world cannot replace the person of Jesus in each of us in the lives of our neighbors?

How long must we lament the loss of our culture and cry out to Jesus to save us from ourselves when we have chosen fearful disobedience over courageous conviction to love others well?

How many years must we wait on Jesus to revive our cities before we tangibly feel His very breath in us and realize that it is through the Holy Spirit in us that revival comes?

We are the hands and feet of Jesus, filled up with the Holy Spirit in order to do even greater works than Jesus, and we are failing our neighbors because we can’t seem to stop gathering together long enough to be the Light at street level.

Don’t mishear me.

Repentance is necessary.

Calling on Jesus is necessary.

And quite often, waiting is necessary.

But I think that if we’re not careful, we can get so caught up in being a part of the beautiful picture of the redeemed gathering to call on Jesus to forgive us and revive our cities, that we forget that Jesus has redeemed us to be agents of redemption on this earth.

Our faith should make us adventurous.

It should make us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness.

Our trust in Jesus as the only way to God should unleash a fury in us so wild and unruly that we approach the throne of grace with such boldness that confessing our sins only serves to embolden us to live with more fervor among those who have not yet experienced forgiveness of sin.

Our presence in our places matters to Jesus.

He has strategically placed us right where He wants us. 

May we choose to dwell there and be the Love that walks among our neighbors.

We’re Better Together

IncourageThis morning, the front door is wide open and I’ve got a mug full of Tazo Spicy Orange tea steeping. My little people are  counting on fingers while my two year old niece is stuffing dominoes into the pages of books and y’all, in one hour, after all the schooling is done, we’re going to Target.

It’s big doings around here, people.

But before I head out the door to meet my fellow mamas at Target, I wanted to pop in here and invite you into a conversation that I had with my heart sister, Shannan Martin. Because our lives mirror each other, she is a constant source of encouragement to me. We both moved into our neighborhoods at about the same time and we are now knee deep in trying to figure out how to practically love our neighbors like Jesus loves us.

It’s not as easy at it sounds, you know-loving our neighbors like Jesus loves us- but it is the way that we learn how to live abundantly.

Join us over at (in) courage, won’t you?

We’re better together. Grateful for your presence here.


What If I Get Contact Burns?

imageI spent yesterday’s entire two hour nap time out at the picnic tables in the front yard trying to compile some thoughts for a speaking engagement I have in November. I’m long-handing all three talks because I’m finding there is comfort in actually writing the words down and because my office is currently outside and the laptop screen fades to black in the sunlight.

I sat facing the road so I could watch the foot traffic and because the guy across the street loves to dance on the front lawn to the music in his head and it’s quite the show. On a good day, he raps while he dances. On a bad day, he tries to sing. Yesterday was a bad day. {Think Can’t Feel My Face meets Bob Dylan. I shudder now.}

As I sat there trying to put thoughts on paper while my man crooned his little heart out, my mind kept going back to a few questions several of you have asked over the last couple of weeks:

How do I love my neighbors, right where they are, without being hurt? How do I not go down with the ship when my neighbors are self-destructing? How do I stand in the lowly places where the hard to love stand without becoming unlovely myself? How do I protect my children?  How do I love well without getting burned?

I thought about last week’s episode with Elli’s phone and the pictures that showed up in her Instagram feed because she was in our yard with the wrong kids.

I thought about the paint on our front porch because the boys across the street wanted to show us that we’d invaded their neighborhood.

I thought about the kid who peed all over my bathroom because I let him to go during one of our Sunday night meals and he was angry that our bathroom was cleaner than the one at his house. {his words, not mine.}

I thought about the stolen bikes and the keyed truck and the crushed plants in the flower beds.

I thought about the girl from around the corner who made strides towards making better choices only to reject us when we wouldn’t give her just one more thing.

I thought about the 45 minute scream fest over the phone with a neighbor three streets over because I used the word crazy in a status update and she had gotten offended. She’d been called crazy and didn’t I know that?

I thought about the little baby who filled up my house only to lose her to an ex-felon who held the mama to nothing.

I thought about the attitudes of our own kids and the constant push against our rules on dress, hair and language.

I thought about our poor schools and the way our kids use science textbooks 15 years old and wade through water on rainy days to get to their next classes and have zero the opportunities that other kids in our same county have.

And I thought that if I could sum up all your questions into one it would be this: How can I love my hard to love neighbors and not get burned?

imageBut here’s the whole truth: If you choose to love and live with those whom Jesus would have loved and lived, you will get burned.

Your heart will hurt. Your children will make poor choices and follow the crowd. You will give and give and give and wake up one day wondering what to do with your cynical, gnarly heart. You will say things to people in the heat of the moment and you will threaten to spank children who don’t belong to you. You will lose your mind trying to talk neighbors off the ledge where their feet are dangling. You will lose sleep and care about things that have no solution this side of heaven. You will throw up your hands and quit a dozen times a week. You will resort to trying to fix people because in the pit it’s hard to see the Jesus who alone can heal and cure and fix and save.

And in addition to the contact burns you will get from your neighbors in the lowly places, you will get contact burns from the two families who love you.

You will be misunderstood by your own brother and sister and mother and father who long for you to be safe and secure on the path to the American Dream- not sidetracked by dangerous people who make poor life choices. You will be misunderstood by brothers and sisters in Christ who will assure you that your best contribution to the cause would be to write a check and pay a professional missionary/counselor/food bank provider to do what you’re doing. You will be addled by the well-meaning clippings they mail you and the gentle rebukes they speak your way. You will long to withdraw and hide out because hiding is easier than being misunderstood. You will make your Target runs in covert disguises so that well meaning lady won’t ask you how your kids are handling being the only white kids in an all black, poor school. The things that make your heart sing make your people squirm and so you slowly shut down, uncertain of how to live with your new heart.

Make no mistake about it, if you choose to stand in the lowly places, with the people the world has deemed unlovely, you will get burned.

Do it anyway.

Behave like a citizen of heaven and spend your life on behalf of the marginalized.

Take on the Great Commandment and make it your life’s song.

Move into an unlovely neighborhood, enter into the struggles of others, and lay down your man-made right to a good life to give others the hope of Jesus who came into this world as a poor stranger so that He could acquaint Himself with us who are lower than He.

Jesus has shown us the way to live in this world and how to love it well.

And simply put, we just don’t like His method.

His method hurts too much. His methods costs us everything. His method alienates us from the world we sorta like. His method means that we can’t avoid getting burned by those we choose to love.

Do it anyway.

Wounds may hurt but scars can tell the most beautiful stories.

Risk the contact burns to live the greater story of redemption.

Jesus is worth it.

When Mothering Gets Hard and You Want to Play It Safe

imageWe took our oldest daughter’s phone this week.

Elli is fourteen and she’s only had a cell phone since August. She got it for her birthday. We splurged for the iPhone because the camera is fabulous and we knew that Elli was artsy enough to appreciate that. We even got a cute case for it and the not so minimal data plan.

She beamed when she opened that package.

The three of us, Elli, her dad and myself, sat down and came up with a list of rules and regulations about the phone. We came up with a passcode for it. She agreed to earn the money to pay for her portion of the cell phone bill. And we agreed that at 9pm each night, the phone would be charged from downstairs and that her dad and I would have permission to look at everything we wanted to see on that phone.

So on Tuesday night, after MOPS, I fixed a cup of tea and sat down to plunder the phone, per our agreement.

And at midnight, after two hours of plundering, I cut the phone off.

Who were these kids she was calling friends?  What the heck were we going to do about them? And what were we going to do with Elli?

imageI’ve wrestled with this post for weeks now because when I choose to write about things, Satan loves to get his fingers in whatever I’m writing about. He loves to take the truth I know and screw around with it. He loves to take my obedience to Jesus and challenge it by presenting the worst case scenario. He sends crappy mail to my literal mailbox. He steals my sleep. At night, He draws into question decisions that Jesus and I have made in the light. Satan has my number and I have his.

Lately, he’s been jacking around with our kids’ schools. There were three fights at our middle school and our teddy bear of a principal got punched in the face yesterday. A kid brought an unloaded BB gun on the boys’ bus earlier this week and got suspended. A kid threw a desk at another kid. My children are being tested to death by teachers who are simply following the law. There are not enough substitute teachers so classroom ratios are atrocious. Our football team is lacking in talent due to redistribution of children and our our kid is geared up to play tennis except that the season has already begun and her team has yet to have a practice.

And it’s not just our kids’ schools that Satan in messing with. He is messing with my heart towards our neighbors and revving things up a notch. Oh, you like modesty, do you? Well what do you think about her outfit now? How about if her entire chest is hanging out the top of her bra and she’s sitting on your porch? How about that? You have an issue with cussing? Hang on. You’ve heard nothing like what’s about to come outta that kid’s mouth and honey, he’s only 7. Don’t you love how your neighbors pose when they take selfies? Provocative, huh? And guess what? Your oldest daughter managed to make it into that one!  How do you feel about your neighbors now? These kids are becoming more than just neighbors. They’re becoming friends and you prayed for that, didn’t you? Your kids are just weak and this is your fault, you know that right? They can’t survive out here or at school. Your little church can’t fix these kids. Your best bet is to jerk them out of everything before it’s too late.

You need to understand that you’re going to have to choose: Your family or Your neighbors.

This is the tape playing over and over again in my head.

My family or my neighbors?

As if there is really a choice.

imageIf I could narrow down all the hard things about following Jesus into one hard thing it would have to be this:

To love like Jesus, then I must choose to be where Jesus would be and trust His goodness there.

But here’s the rub.

I am a mama and as a mama, I am prone to want to hole up and hide out. Keep safe. Stay secure. Preserve self and family. I’m prone to want to believe that my primary job in this life is to launch Jesus followers into this world, one Harris kid at a time.

I’m prone to buy every good thing Satan whispers in my ear because he has mastered the art of good mothering and good mothering means safe.

But that’s a lie.

Being a good mother means that I give my children Jesus.

Being a good mother means that I make our home where Jesus is and invite my children to join Him there.

Being a good mother means that I teach truth and let the words of Jesus deliver.

Being a good mother means that I make wide open spaces for my children to see Jesus building His kingdom among people who are not clean or neat or pretty.  Or safe.

Being a good mother means that when my kids screw up, I give grace through Jesus and trust that His goodness will capture their hearts and that He will launch them where He wants them to go.

And being a good mother means that when I want to choose my family over my neighbors, I lean on Jesus and trust Him to show me how to love both, even when I don’t know how.

A Theology of Fear

imageThis morning, with the air outside beginning to cool, I slip into my most favorite black sweater and polish off two cups of coffee while the boys putter around the house gathering their belongings and combing down cowlicks. I see them to the bus stop and after they are gone, I pour a third cup and watch as the steam rises off the mug. The steam swirls and disappears and I let myself be drawn into the smallness of the moment.

Small is holy.

And small feels safe.

The best kinds of hard things fill every square on the calendar until the end of November and as I grasp my hands around that mug of coffee, I will myself to rise up and meet some of the hard things head-on before my smallest girls roll out of bed.

But I can’t move.

For three weeks, instead of plowing through the best kinds of hard things, I have baked dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies. {like hundreds of cookies, people. HUNDREDS.}

I’ve rearranged the kitchen cabinets and dusted blinds and read four random books that I didn’t even enjoy.

I’ve sat on my hands and chewed my bottom lip.

I’ve lamented my every yes.

I’ve wallowed in the inevitable failure that is sure to take me under.

I’ve wandered aimlessly around my house feeling like a fraud who has no business getting to live my life.

And I’ve let fear steal the abundant joy found in knowing Jesus through the hard things.

Because that’s what fear does.

It steals the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

imageOver the weekend, I spent a great deal of time thinking about fear.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you know I got another piece of disturbing mail on Saturday. It was a book about all the evils of Common Core and the indoctrination of America’s children by Obama and honestly, it rocked my quiet, little world on Saturday morning.

It wasn’t because this was the first time I had ever received this sort of package, because it wasn’t.  But this time, instead of just be overwhelmed with shame, I stood in the shower with hands shaking and began to question every decision my family had made in the last few years. I felt nauseous and lightheaded and embarrassed. I felt violated and condemned by someone I didn’t even know.

I lost half a day wondering about who sent the book, why they sent it and whether their intent was for my good or for my harm. I lost half a day talking with Jesus about things we’d already agreed to, like school and our neighborhood and our church. I lost half a day trying to make black and white things that Jesus has intentionally left gray.

And I lost half a day trying to wrap my head around the simple fact that when we, as followers of Jesus, choose to impose our personal convictions upon other followers of Jesus, we take the amazing grace that covers all our individual convictions and we tax it, making our convictions look like the law we’ve all been set free from.

And nobody wants to live under the law, especially the law we write and impose upon one another. 

When we impose man-made rules to keep us safe from the world, we teach a theology of fear to that same world who is watching us.

When we condemn one another for standing on the wrong side of all the gray areas, we model a god who cares more about behavior than relationship.

When we hold up a standard of living based upon what we see happening in our big, scary world, we puff ourselves up and deceive ourselves into believing that we alone can save.

When we hold one another to personal convictions or use fear as a weapon to modify the behaviors of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we nullify the Gospel because in Jesus, grace abounds and fear is conquered.

And grace changes everything.

We are to be grace givers even when we disagree on personal convictions because when we tax grace, we give fear a foothold and we steal from others the abundant life that Jesus died to give us all.

LOVE wins, y’all.

And He looks nothing like fear.

Out of Doing and Into Living.

DSC_0657At a few minutes after 9pm, after the wild ones have hit the sack, the Man and I leap head first into the How was your day? conversation.

He wears his reading glasses and I wear dust and fatigue and we both wear looks of mischief.  The longer we’re married the more looks of up to no good we seem to wear.  We’re in a good spot and the move from needy children into the launching-little-birds phase of parenting is good for us.  We’re relishing new found freedom and longtime love and we’re happy-

Over the moon happy.

We’re midstream the blah blah blah’s when someone knocks at the front door and it’s late, even for our neighborhood. He pulls himself up from the chair and closes the door behind him.  I scroll Facebook looking for my friends while he meets our neighbors on the stoop.

And I sigh, full.

DSC_0658We’ve been in full-time ministry since we were in college.

That makes nearly 20 years.

To say we know church would be an understatement because we have bled church work eight times longer than we have not.

We moved to Avent Street with the sole purpose of planting a house church in an under reached neighborhood full of marginalized people who desperately needed Jesus served alongside a hot meal and a break from their life.

It was intentional and thought out and strategic-


We moved our little white family full of redheads onto Avent Street and set up house. We hung a tire swing from the big oak tree and sunk about 1.5K into a treehouse/swingset/slide combo for the backyard.  We bought a porch swing and a rocking chair and potted geraniums to line the front steps. We planted shrubbery and swept the front walk.

Because if you build it, they will come.

Because if you come in to save the day, you will indeed save it.

Or so we thought.

Within six months, we were holding church in our living room. I spent every Saturday, for an entire year, cleaning my house and cooking food and cutting our construction paper Noah’s arks so that we could get our church on here on Avent.  (I also yelled at my kids and cussed the Man and cried at God, but that’s another post for another day.)

Because if you build it and cook it and clean it, surely Jesus will choose to make a grand appearance and people will get saved.


We passed out loaves of bread and held movie nights on the lawn and played nice in the neighborhood sandbox.  We gave out turkeys at Thanksgiving.  We passed out diapers and dollar bills.

For twelve months, we did everything we knew to do to reach our neighborhood.

And nothing sparkly or magical or strobe-lighty happened.  We only made three ticks on the baptism chart and we would have made zero ticks on the Sunday School attendance chart if we had had Sunday School.

For twelve months, I chunked cans of beans at the Man and screamed that we had ruined our life.  I was convinced that Jesus was punishing us for having prideful hearts and impure motives.  Nothing was working and I was tired.

And when I got tired, I gave up.

And after all those months of crazy making, I finally heard Jesus whisper, “I was wondering how long it would take you to quit.  You ready to do this My way? The easy and light way?”

And with my face on the floor of my hundred year old kitchen, I sobbed a broken yes.

DSC_0661It’s been a three years since that episode on the floor of my kitchen.  It’s been two years since the Man and I sat at opposite ends of our farm table and pushed all that we knew about church into the center of the table and just quit.

And it’s been a year since Jesus called us out of the doing and into abundant living.

We moved onto Avent Street to plant a church among a people lost without Jesus.

But Jesus moved us onto Avent to plant a desire within us for only Him.

And so we simply live here.

Right on Avent.

And we try and love our neighbors as we love ourselves…kinda like we do over at the old library.

And on sparkly, magical, strobe-lighty days, our neighbors see Jesus in our living.

 This is the next post in the series Ask Lori. You can catch the other posts here, here, here, here ,here and here.

Also, Mel Colibri YOU won our Simply Tuesday giveaway! Message me!

A Round-Up

DSC_0047I’m drowning in a thousand things to do, but wanted to drop in here and share a few links to things I think you should read, listen to and watch before I run off to clean the house for company tonight.

Life is a speeding train, y’all but I’m so grateful to be on it.

Let me know which posts resonate with you, either here or on Voxer. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


This girl is writing my book. And in this post, it’s like she cracked open my heart and put words to everything in there. Love how God moved both our families into different neighborhoods at the same time- just to experience the same things. She and Becca hold up my arms. And I hope I hold theirs up too.

This made my face smile so big I thought my face would crack. GENIUS. And so like something Jesus would do.

When you have 10 minutes, pray for open eyes, open ears, and a soft heart and then watch this. The whole thing. Then pray again, asking Jesus to search your heart. And only then, after all the praying and searching, respond. Second best thing I’ve watched in the last year. {disclaimer: video was shared from a page I’m not a fan of, but the video stands alone in truth.}

This girl has a new album and you can download it here. It’s been on repeat for 2 weeks.

Put the kids to bed, pop some corn the old fashioned way and watch this. It’s a little more than an hour but it will rock your pretty little world right off its rocker. My favorite line: We didn’t want to make them come in off the streets so we decided to just serve the best meals. We wanted to be known as the place that served the best food. Isn’t this just like Jesus?

This sermon. What can I do to grow in Christlike humility? How can I grow smaller?

How awesome is this?

Because it’s fall, I’m reading this again. Fifteen years running, people. It never gets old.

5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church:   All the things you need to be an informed follower of Jesus and how you can respond to the crisis in Syria

This to bring the crisis home.

And this to love the kids in our backdoor.

Caramel Corn and The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

DSC_0496I interrupt all the heavy blogging to give you a peek into what’s happening in my kitchen and share 2 recipes that we’ve been gobbling up around here.

Y’all know I’m no food blogger, but I am a foodie who writes, so what the hay? Let’s pretend I’m a food blogger for the day. I’ll go back to the heavy stuff in a day or two. Or maybe tonight.

Because I sometimes must feed a small crowd at the drop of a hat, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are easily doubled and use ingredients that I keep on hand at all times. And no, I don’t give a hill of beans about whether or not the recipe is healthy. I run our home on butter and sugar-Paula Deen style, you know? When the kids are happy, mama is happy and butter and sugar make us happy. So does guacamole, but that’s another post for another day.

Here are two of my all-time favorite after school snacks that will feed all your kids and the kids next door.

Because sharing is caring. Jesus said.

DSC_0504Crispy Caramel Corn

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of light {or dark} corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/2 tsp of baking soda

16 cups of popped popcorn {2-3 bags of microwave popcorn}

Grease 2 shallow roasting pans {or cookie sheets with sides} and divide the popcorn between the pans. Set aside.

Stir together the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat as soon as mixture boils and stir in the baking soda.

Pour caramel over the popcorn, covering evenly by spreading with a spatula.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack and then break into small chunks.

Store in airtight container.

{adapted from the All New Southern Living Cookbook}

DSC_0621Best EVER Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp of baking soda

1 1/4 tsp of salt

2 sticks of butter at room temperature

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups of semisweet chips {I use mini and regular}

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. {Rack position is important.} Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together the first 3 ingredients and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, vanilla, and both sugars on medium until light and fluffy. Takes about 3-5 minutes.

Add the eggs and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Eggs will not be fully incorporated. This is okay. Turn mixer to low and then add the dry ingredients, slowly, in thirds, beating until combined. While the mixer is running, pour in chocolate chips and mix for 1 minute.

Using a large ice cream scoop, dip the batter and place on the cookie sheets- 6 cookies per sheet, 2 inches apart. These cookies are nearly as big as your face. Winning.

Bake the cookies, one pan at a time for 15-18 minutes, turning the cookies at the midway point to make sure they cook evenly. Turning the cookie sheet is important. These cookies cook in 15 minutes in my oven, but you should begin keeping your eye on them at the 13 minute mark. They are done when they begin to turn golden brown around the edges but still light in the center. Think crispy outer rim and gooey center. Just watch them and adjust time accordingly.

Also, only cook 1 pan at a time. Trust me on this. It’s worth it in the end. Listen to a podcast or clean up the kitchen while you watch the oven. Store in an airtight container- these are still fabulous 3 days later…if you have any left!

{taken from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook– go buy it here. You’re welcome.}

 Now it’s your turn.

Whatcha cooking that you can share with us? I’m all ears and tummy.

If you’d like to help gift a book fair to Parker Middle school, you can donate here.

When It’s Time to Leave Your Church {a conversation about the wrong question}

DSC_0632DSC_0636On Sunday mornings, I usually say that Satan has descended upon our house because words fly carelessly and shoes are tossed around and babies cry when the hairbrush pulls through tangles and my stress hits the fan while we simply try to get everyone one block down the street to the little old library that is our church home.

Thad makes two trips from the house to the little old library to unload the things our church needs and then comes back to pick up his women folk who are skating on the edge of a break down. The boys take the high road and walk to church and I know for a fact that you couldn’t pack them into our petri dish on wheels to save your life. Who wants to ride in a car with five wild-eyed women on a Sunday?

Our sweet little church scurries around setting up coffee and setting up extra chairs. My six kids set up the floor mats for the children’s room while I unpack the toys. One friend prepares the weekly communion cups and wafers while another prepares to receive guests. Two men and one woman gather to pray for the service and Thad tunes the guitar for worship. The fifteen or so kids scarf down donuts and run wild and our precious college girl wrangles them with the loving kindness that drips from her pores.

And at 12:30, around our beat up farm table, we bow our heads and beg Jesus to send more laborers.

Because the harvest in our little neck of the woods is plentiful, but the workers are few.

DSC_0639DSC_0646Last weekend, at my last ever MOPS retreat, the new leadership team was asked to share their story of Jesus and their story into MOPS leadership. We were in a circle with cups of coffee and bare feet and boxes of tissues and as each woman shared her story, we all cried and laughed when nearly half the group said:

Well, I’m here because Lori told me that Jesus told her I was supposed to serve. 

Because it was true. I had asked each of them to serve because I absolutely felt that Jesus had a place in our MOPS ministry with their name on it.

And as I sat there in the circle, I couldn’t help but feel my face flame with the audacity of how I went about building that team. Who was I to invite them into MOPS and play the Jesus card in the process of asking?

I cringed as each woman shared the same story until I felt the sweet whisper of the Holy Spirit:

See. Look what we did. You heard me right and you invited. They said yes to the adventure.

And I let the tears roll because I had prayed for laborers and Jesus had sent them and together, our MOPS team had ushered in the kingdom of Jesus by planting a new work.

imageI hesitate to answer the question How do I know if I’m supposed to leave one church for another? but I spend countless hours answering that very question, asked in a thousand different ways. The question masquerades itself in discontentment, lack of purpose, unfulfilled longing to belong to something bigger than oneself, or idleness. Sometimes the question waltzes into the room looking like temporary help to a permanent problem such as showing up to feed some hungry kids once a month, knowing full well there will be hungry kids every day forever.

And sometimes the question comes out exactly like a statement:

I know Jesus is inviting me to something uncomfortable and I do not want to leave what I know, but what I know is leaving me longing for more of Jesus.

And the only answer I can give you is this:

While you are posturing yourself at the feet of Jesus begging for more of Him, somewhere out in our great, big world, is a person posturing himself right beside you at the feet of Jesus, begging Jesus to send laborers into their field of mission.

And the answer to both prayers may be YOU, leaving what you know to give yourself away to the harvest that is plentiful.

If we can ever begin to look at our churches as our places of sending, leaving would not be the question we ask. 

The question would simply be Where?


Someone is praying for you.

Maybe by name…because Jesus told them to.

Just say yes to the adventure. You’ll be grateful you did.

This is the next post in a series titled Ask Lori. You can catch the other posts here, here, here, here and here.

The Place Where Hospitality Lives

LORIHARRIS_createdGTOn Mondays, when the smallest kids go down for a nap, I whip up something gooey and chocolate and stick paper straws into mason jars filled with lemonade.

Around here, Mondays mean that a handful of teenaged girls from the neighborhood are coming for a few hours of girl talk and all around foolishness and I am the resident mama managing the chaos. Sometimes, Jesus smiles upon me and sends a college girl to help me out on Mondays, but for the most part, it’s just little ol’ me.

I must tell you that although I have two teenaged daughters, teenage foolishness and conversation is not my jam. A house full of people who smell funny and act funny and look funny give me the willies. And when the peals of laughter reach a certain decibel, my eyes cross and I have to fight the urge to want to lose it. Lame, huh? I know.

But, hey, we’re all in process and so on Mondays, I put on my big girl panties and take a deep breath and fling open the front door, right at 2pm…and I wait…because no one is ever, ever on time.

And I use those few extra minutes to give Jesus my nub of a heart.

Jesus help me to see these girls as your beloved children. Help me to be patient and kind and loving. Help me to know what to say when their stories make my head roll and my heart ache. And help me to want to enter in and stay.

Join me at Grace Table?

Also, if you missed out on the fun yesterday, here’s the link!