Where's Donna?

When my mom wanted to know she used all three of my names, “Donna Lorraine Gatlin!”
When my husband wanted to know he would ask my daughter, “Where’s Mommy?”
When they want to know at the office, they text me.

Depending on whose looking for you, you might come running or you might hide. For me “Where’s Donna?” is what I aspire to- taken from one of my favorite verses in the Bible and I mean FAVORITE!

Jesus heard about the death of Lazarus. Upon entering the town he has a brief exchange with Martha where he declares that Lazarus will live again. Powerful, no doubt but the verse that captures my heart- every time- is John 11:28. Martha runs home and whispers to Mary, “The teacher is here and he is asking for you.”

My greatest desire? That if Jesus came to Lawrenceville, he would ask, “Where’s Donna?”

I wonder if it was Jesus remembering Mary’s attention to him the last time he was at her house. Maybe he wanted to see the face of someone who loved him, who took time for him-who gave more than she took. Maybe he knew they would minister to each other in their loss.

We’ll never know. But we do know Mary didn’t hesitate when Martha whispered in her ear. She jumped up and ran to him! I guess so! Imagine being in a meeting in the fancy Board Room at work and your receptionist runs in and whispers in your ear, “Jesus is here for you!”

Guess what? Jesus asks for you every day. He wants time with you! He comes to our towns and sends heralds out, “Where are my children- the saved, the lost, the lonely, the hurting, the helpless, the distressed?” There is no question he calls- the question is do you come? Do you come running and throw yourself on the goodness and grace of our Savior? Do you run and hide fearing judgment for some unconfessed sin? Do you whisper in someone else’s ear, “He must be here for you” because you can’t believe he would ever want time with you? Scripture says He stands at the door and knocks… and waits.

Not only do I want to be the type of person that Jesus asks for, I want to be the person my friends, my co-workers, my leaders ask for. I want to be known as the person that has something to give- something to offer- something to share.

Do the people around you ask for you? Seek you out?
Do they know you’re someone who shares wisdom?
Do they know you’re someone who is compassionate?
Do they know you’re someone who can get the job done?

Who are you running to? Who is running to you?

Heavenly Angles

“Yuk! Take another one! My eyes were closed! I wasn’t smiling! I look fat! Do I really have that double chin? This time I’ll open my eyes, smile, turn to the side, suck in my gut and raise my chin. Just one more… promise!”

 I love the ability to take pictures on my phone but I HATE having my picture taken!

 One day my daughter snapped my picture during one of our Saturday “Shaker Dates.” (It’s an afternoon when we get an original “Shaker” iced coffee at our favorite coffee spot, Boulder Creek.) She posted the pic on Facebook and the next day several people walked up to me and said, “You looked so thin!”

 Boy did I go back and study that picture! I’ve concluded it’s impossible to re-create! It’s almost calisthenics to find my best angle. But I do know that a step or two away and holding the camera higher helps big time!

As that notion settled I thought- God must always be looking at me from my best angle! It’s true isn’t it? He doesn’t need an Instagram filter. When my Heavenly Father looks at me He sees me through the filter of Jesus-through grace.

When He looks at me:

He sees His child – My daughter can’t take a bad picture. Ashleigh is beautiful to me- inside and out-every day-all day.  When I look at her I see love-my heart outside my body! How much more does our Father love us! 

He sees my potential – I imagine God allowing me several do-overs to get it right. “Let me move you over here,” I hear Him say. “Smile! Chin up! Stand tall… Look at me.” God knows what He has placed inside me. Every whisper, every nudge is to draw me to His best!

In the movie classic, “Tootsie” Dustin Hoffman plays an out-of-work actor who dresses as a woman (nails, makeup, girdle and all) to get a part on a popular soap opera. During Hoffman’s screen test, the producer and cameraman have the following exchange: Producer: I’d like to make her look a little more attractive. How far can you pull back? Cameraman: How do you feel about Cleveland?

God challenges us to take the same grace He shows and extend it to others- to see His children- to see their potential. If necessary, be prepared to pull back to Cleveland!

It's A MIRACLE!

At least that was one headline after Auburn’s last minute victory over Alabama this weekend. “Shocking! Stunning!” announcers declared! One news story showed a befuddled Alabama fan both hands on his head and mouth wide open in disbelief. In case you missed it- Alabama attempted a 56-yard field goal in the final second of the game to determine who advanced to the SEC championship game. The kick was short, landing in the arms of a waiting Auburn player who ran the ball back a whopping 109 yards to win the game. And the…crowd…went…NUTS!

Three thoughts have captured me since seeing that play:

He was in a position to receive– #11, Chris Davis wasn’t there by accident. In practice you prepare for every contingency. When the opposing team is attempting a long field goal, you position a player in the end zone in case the kick is short.  But here’s the thing- Davis could have let the ball go. The game would’ve gone into overtime. But when you’re a football player and a football lands in your hands, instinct and training kicks in!

He had the passion to run – On the replays you see Davis ran, hard and fast! From the moment he leaves the end zone, you just feel he’s going to make it all the way. (Heck I was rooting for him and I’m not an Auburn fan!)He had the goal in his mind’s eye before he could ever see it and he was running towards it from the top of his head to the bottom of his toes! He knew what was at stake!

He had the protection to score– Just because you take an opportunity and run with it doesn’t mean you won’t encounter opposition. Plenty of players tried to keep Davis from scoring but you hear the announcer shout, “He’s got a block… and another block!”  In a July 29, 2013 interview, cornerback Jonathan Mincy said of Davis, “A lot of guys respect him. He’s a hard worker as well. That’s something you can look at and say ‘I’ll go to war with him any day’.”

For two years Davis fought injury; his shoulder in 2011 and a severe concussion in 2012. But like his performance at the Iron Bowl, he didn’t let anything stop him.

  • Are you in position to receive an opportunity that can lead to a miracle?
  • Do you have the passion to run it all the way down the field?
  • Who’s got your back? Who would ‘go to war’ with you any day?

Can't see the - for the trees!

People who live within a 50-mile radius of Atlanta will know the Apocalypse has occurred the day we leave our houses and don’t encounter orange construction barrels on our way to work. On that premise, today is NOT the day. A long-awaited highway-widening project has come to my front door. The pleasant tree-lined, two-lane road outside my neighborhood is going doublewide!

When they began clearing out the trees on the side of the road I remember being so shocked the first time I saw the barren terrain. More shocking was that on the edge of the road I drove every day was a steep drop off. And although I was sad to see the greenery mowed down my first thought wasn’t for the lost trees.

What hit me was that for almost 20 years I couldn’t see the ditch for the trees. The thick foliage had given me a false sense of security that there was a buffer- a boundary there- something that would break any fall over the edge. But that wasn’t the case at all. The trees, underbrush and kudzu had been covering a huge chasm.

I wondered how much foliage in my own life I allow to grow up around me. What gives me a false sense of security when in reality I am dangerously close to the edge?

It was almost comical how once the trees were removed and the danger exposed, the average speed limit dropped about 20 mph. Just seeing what was really there was a cause to pause. In one day we went from speeding to creeping.

In one day we can go from avoiding to addressing.

What covers your secret sin or keeps you from God’s best for you? What foliage disguises your failing marriage or a lackluster faith journey? Ignoring problems don’t make them go away. Tear down the false protection. Mow down the pretense! Set up some sturdy guardrails- faith, accountability, counseling or friends.

Today’s a good day to start- after all it’s not the Apocalypse.

Learn the lessons in life’s little edits.

Take it off

There’s a running feud in my house. My husband and I face off at high noon. Our OK Corral- the thermostat. It’s that time of year when “too hot” and “too cold” is clearly subjective. One degree up or down seems to make a huge difference in each of our definition of comfort. I sit on the couch looking like Nanook of the North and Michael seems to be poolside on some Caribbean Island! I plead my case through chattering teeth frustrated by my husband’s justification, “It’s easier for you to put on more clothes than it is for me to take them off.”

It’s easier to put more on than take things off. That’s just true in life. It’s easier for me to make one more commitment. It’s easier to say yes than to say no. It’s easier to buy another black shrug than it is to clean out my closet.

But then one day you wake up and you wonder, “How did I get so busy? Who put all those meetings on my calendar? Who put those extra 10 pounds on my body?!” The pace and momentum of our daily decisions take us down the path of the wrong kind of more.  One of the hardest things I’ve had to do lately is take things off my plate. It takes time and effort to determine what gives you fuel and what drains you. It takes intentionality. It requires the courage to risk people’s perceptions and your own expectations of what makes for a full life.

“Too much” is as subjective as temperature. Some people have greater capacity. Some people because of their stage of life have greater commitments. The challenge is to look at all of it. You have the power to set the thermostat. Evaluate the layers of your life. Throw off what hinders you. (Hebrews 12:1-3) Put on what takes you toward healthy, healing and wholeness.

Learn the lessons in life’s little edits.