When Ron asked me months ago if I’d give the Mother’s Day message at King’s Park, I immediately said YES, but as the weeks got closer and I was reflecting on what might be said, there was little inspiration and not much content, or so it seemed.

As is often the case, just days before Sunday while on a morning run, a theme emerged. I was pondering what people ask me most these days, “How are you doing?” and “How do you do it?”

So here are my answers under the seemingly fitting title,  “Agony, Ecstasy, and the Boring In-Between.”

My prayer is that you will be deeply encouraged, whatever agony or ecstasy you may be in, realizing that you’re never alone, and that gut-wrenching tears of both joy and sorrow are sure to come laden with unexpected gifts.

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We just finished a whirlwind week of family time, two memorial services for Jordan, travel to and fro, and lots of emotions, as you can imagine.

I was hoping to write a blog that could capture some of my ponderings of late, but then last night I read my dear friend Carol’s amazing blog about Jordan and Cady. It so captures the richness of their love story, the tension between faith and not getting our prayers answered the way we wanted, and much more.

So I’m posting this link to her blog today, trusting you will be as inspired as I am, by a girl named Cady — our dear daughter-in-law, who is one in a billion as my husband always says, and who never left Jordan’s side even once throughout his fight.

Thank you Carol, for being such a fabulous mentor to Cady, for loaning your dear daughter Joy, Cady’s best friend, to be at her side for these many days, and for being one of my great heroes of the faith.

 


IMG_9542After four weeks of cocooning with our new little darlings, this weekend represented their “coming out parties,” with friends and festivities.

I was struck by the memories of days when my arms were empty and my heart felt sick. Times when the showers were for everyone else, and staying at home seemed a more viable option than going and dealing with anguish and pain.

But go I did, to dozens and dozens of showers, many hosted myself, and entering into countless conversations where talk of pregnancy and children meant I had little to add.

Now our house is overflowing with gifts galore, packages and bows and so much pink that Ron was extra excited when the camouflage onesie emerged!

What you sow, that will you reap. It’s true for everyone. Not just some who appear to have it all, but all who appear and show up and invest when they’re running on empty. In those empty moments we pull from a Source bigger than ourselves. We pour out of His supply. Step into grace and the recognition that even when we simply move toward investing He moves lots of provision to us, so we won’t run dry.

One Sunday memory sticks in my mind just a couple of years ago. It was Mother’s Day, and baby dedication. The stage was lined with couples and grandparents with arms full of babies. As the Pastor’s wife it was appropriate for me to accompany Ron on stage as we went down the line praying for everyone.

I hardly had energy to get out of my chair. Truly happy for everyone, yet longing for a baby of my own, my body moved but my heart stood still.

I felt like a fake with only crumbs to offer, smidgens of nothing worth much, maybe a forced smile or a hand on the shoulder.

Something happens though, in those moments, like a new tributary of water that opens up, multiplying the outflow. Flow that is less about us and more about them, Him, the giving away becomes the act of courage and the badge of grace. Grace that is sufficient, making us graceFULL, full enough to feed others.

As I looked at our gorgeous shower cakes this weekend (red velvet and Martha Bollinger’s famous almond white), I was reminded that any little crumb in His Hands, offered in faith, or sometimes not in faith but in fortitude, is like a widow’s mite that brings might. Mighty not of ourselves. Might that may feel like madness but turns into gladness in its time.

Time to celebrate now. Time to lift glasses, hold up babies, wipe away the cake crumbs and count the gifts. Gifts galore, born out of nothing but crumbs of faith. Crumbs that count in Almighty Hands. Counting on His faithfulness and never our own. Owning only to have more to give. Give away hope. Hope for all who call on His ample supply.

You WILL be supplied for whatever you need today, yes you will.

 

 



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After 2 weeks of cocooning in NYC at our little place there, we packed up the rented mini van and headed south.

12 hours later, we drove in the driveway and were greeted with GIFTS, abounding gifts, gifts that can’t be seen nor counted, but gifts galore.

Double pink bows everywhere, posters, ribbons. Completely clean house minus the Christmas tree and garlands that we left in a flurry when the news of our darlings being born, meant we rushed out for a flight, leaving the house looking like a fright!

Now we’re walking back in, arms full of babies, with a pot of scrumptious chicken noodle soup waiting on the stove, flowers at every turn, and boxes to unwrap and enjoy.

These gifts point to the real gifts….people who love and lavish. Friends who’ve stood with us during the dark hours, the tear-stained hours. The times when hope was gone but they showed up. The hands of friends raised in prayer for us when we couldn’t pray anymore.

Now these same hands went to work, preparing a place for us, hands of applause, cheering, high-fiving, knowing our win means we all win, in His perfect timing and perfect way.

Which reminds me yet again, that dreaming big is about dreaming together. Putting it out there for others to own too. Team dream. Dream team.

We’re home. Home and happy. Little sleep. Lots of love and laughter. Laughing our way through. Through the long road together. Together is better.

Speaking of together, that’s the amazing song by Steven Curtis Chapman that’s on our video which has now been seen by over 39,000, here is the link again, for anyone else you know needs a big dose of hope and faith.

 


Our daughter-in-law Cady posted a new blog on Saturday. It is powerful and poignant, and since many have asked how they are doing, I wanted to post the link today.

Cady’s ability to articulate real-life gutsy anguish is in my opinion, brilliant. Going through serious cancer that threatens life and takes you away from all you’ve known, is not for the faint of heart.

Would that there were simple formulas, no-fail guarantees, easy answers that come from fervent prayers.  If only an assurance that the good always get well and the bad — only the bad — suffer.

But life isn’t like that. Oh how we would give anything to get our precious kids out of this trial. Can’t pay their way, make their way, nor pray away all the tears that are inevitable on long, tough days.

BUT, when we read words like Cady’s, and hear their voices on the other end of the phone as they fight for understanding and insights usually reserved for old age, we are comforted. Comforted in that weird ironic way that every child knows via their parents’ discipline, discipline that’s needed but never wanted.

Let Cady’s words assure you today, you are not alone in the questions that remain. And no emotion, however intense, is ever too much for God.

Link to Jordan and Cady’s Blog 

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We’ve enjoyed two awesome Christmas parties in the last few days, first for our King’s Park staff Friday night, and then our Every Nation NYC team Monday evening.

In a year when our family has endured so much, Ron and I have often marveled at how everyone has covered and stood with us this year.

When you go through intense trials, you discover many things you took for granted before. We’ve been in hospital rooms, on flights, or out at the ranch saying, “Isn’t so and so such a gift?” One by one they’ve all given so much.

They’ve texted, served, written cards, brought meals, and prayed a thousand prayers. Like a coordinated army of trained cadets, we’ve seen excellence in action, compassion running over, and grace abounding to us, for us.

Sometimes it’s hard to be on the receiving end, but this year it’s been our turn and in turn, we love saying thanks and recognizing all they’ve given.

“Every dream needs a team,” says John C. Maxwell. Whose on your team? Maybe they’re’ not organized like an official team, but they’re those who you go to and depend on, one by one when the going get tough. When you win they win, and vice versa.

This year we’ve had teams, and they’re a dream. We love doing life with you superstars!! Here are just a few of them…

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Yesterday it was one of those ugly rainy days. Damp, dreary, drizzling. I knew my body needed a run, but oh how my mind and body wanted to stay inside and do nothing.

Just a few days before I was running in 75 degrees in sunny Raleigh. One woman who I passed on the street that day said, “I’m ignoring Christmas shopping and pretending it’s summer.” “Oh how true!” I replied with that mutual knowing that this was early December bliss and not to be missed.

Lots of people show up in the 70’s. Hardly anyone goes out in the 30’s, i.e. 10,000 people use Central Park on a typical day but not yesterday. I had it nearly all to myself and it felt like about 3 hours before I returned home, though it was really more like one hour. Long, cold, dreary one-hour run.

Over my 30+ years of weekly jogging, I’ve come to realize that most people are fair-weather warriors. Give us sun and warmth and we’ll all be out in droves. But make it a tad bit uncomfortable and we’re likely to stay indoors.

Kind of like life too. When it’s easy and comfy we all show up. But make it tough or treacherous and let’s all hold back. I really don’t want to be a fair-weather runner, or a fair-weather lifer. Because this body and this life need workouts regardless of the views outside.

Less about feelings, more about necessity. Do the right thing. The need-it-to-happen thing. Because that thing is what someone needs from us. Not because it feels good, but because it IS good. Good to be there. Good to show. Show what it’s like to be disciplined and tough, even when it’s rough. Mind over matter. Because what really matters is fitting, fitting and right and good and worth running for.

So run on dear friend. Run because you need to. And when you need to and you do it, you feel really great in the end, rained on or not. In my nice warm shower afterward I kept thinking about how happy I was that I ran.

You’re running too. And I’m still cheering you on…


Nine years ago today I married Ron Lewis, and like the night before our wedding, I hardly slept last night!

We had a major women’s event last evening, and coupled with 8 days on the ranch and a flurry of other busyness the last few weeks, my mind was racing and the body feeling stress of unusual demands.

Even so, I woke up pondering so much joy. How 42 years of waiting for my husband was worth these last 9 years of wedded bliss. Not perfect bliss. Not marriage-without-challenges-bliss, but the kind of bliss that comes from paying a price and winning the prize.

What are you waiting for today? Does it feel long, tiring, exasperating at times? Do you ever wonder if the prayers you’ve prayed are falling on deaf ears? Maybe you even feel foolish like, “Am I just crazy continuing to hope and believe?!”

I know the exasperation well. 42 years of the proverbial,”What on earth are you waiting for?”  questions from myself and others, on the obstacle course of belief.

And then at 42, not only did I receive the man, with him came his four brilliant sons. Talk about a cup running over!! Pray for one and get five, now those are my kind of odds, exceedingly, abundantly, above what you’ve asked for prayed for odds!

So here’s my exhortation for you today….Don’t EVER give up on what you want. Pray. Stand. Firmly plant your heart and mind on that dream that won’t let go. Like a target with a center and your faith like arrows that keep shooting ’til they hit, you’re  simply determined you can and must believe.

Meanwhile? Keep living. You’re not on hold, you’re on time. Time to dream other dreams while this one tarries. Time to give yourself  away and focus on other worthwhile people and dreams.

Then, then, when the time is right and because of a God Who is always right, your dream will come. Come full circle. Come without regret. Come to you, for you, as a sign and wonder to everyone watching you believe.

Happy Anniversary to my dream-come-true-dreamy husband, AND to everyone else with a won’t-let-go dream.

Chapter Guide-29

 

 


Simple thoughts today….

Someone needs exactly what YOU have. Your story through your lips. Give what you have. Give it liberally. Don’t hold back. Refuse to compare to others.Cast inadequacy aside.

Not going to let fear shut your mouth or make you timid. Be bold and courageous, because so few are and the world needs more of exactly that. Whatever is in your heart you must do. Do that one thing you so intensely want to do and can’t get away from no matter how long you wait or try to let it go. Because it’s your assignment. It’s been put in you so that you will conceive, carry, and birth it.

So many times in my life felt like crumbs. Had no idea in the world how to even begin. Felt so small against what was so big.

  • Thrust into fundraising when I’d never raised a dime.
  • Inherited four teenage boys and had no idea what they wanted or needed.
  • Married a pastor and thought, “These churches deserve someone so much more nurturing and pastoral than me.”
  • Got to NYC and felt all my colleagues were smarter, more savvy, and certainly more confident than I would ever be.
  • Publishing deal in hand and zero sense of what to write, how to fulfill what I’d so eagerly promised I could pull off.

Over and over. Insecurity. Loneliness. Frustration. Wishing I could be parachuted to some golden spot where timidity is washed away and constant courage remains.

The discovery is this….in these moments we learn strength. Learn it and earn it. Need it and receive it. Discover how to be strong, then take the learning and multiply it to others coming after us. Recognize that all of it meant something. Perfect preparation for what’s yet ahead.

Whatever you have now, this is what you need. It’s really what you want. What you’ve prayed for in your highest prayers, those moments when you cast caution to the wind and say, “Lord, anything, do anything, give me anything I need for what You want.”

And so He does exactly that.

 


We just got in from Honduras. 4 days of ministry, so good, and so good to be home!

I’m honestly not the developing nation type, and often feel guilty for lacking the spirit of adventure ideal for such trips. A love for familiar routines, being on time, and especially 1/2 & 1/2 in morning coffee, makes me wonder if it’s ever really my turn to go.

Fun running into these girls who pointed me to the only known location nearby with 1/2 & 1/2!

Fun running into these girls who pointed me to the only known location nearby with 1/2 & 1/2!

But when you marry a man who loves the world and you love that man, you go where he asks you to go…so we went. (Facebook has some fun and funny photos if you’re interested.)

Every time I come back thinking the same….Americans should travel to the developing world at least once, and ideally once a year. It brings to light the selfishness and attitudes of privilege and entitlement that so easily creep in (preaching to myself now.). Cultivates gratitude and a fresh understanding of the grace that determines where we’re born and how we grow up.

It also makes me zealous and jealous for nations so desperate they’ll let people like us, with a message of hope and transformation, come right on in to their military academy and morning police force meeting downtown.

Here we are, simple little us, telling the story of Hope and Truth that can set a prisoner free. No one is picketing outside against our message, they’re just so grateful someone cares enough to come.

Yes there is crime and danger in Honduras. It’s the most dangerous of the Central America nations. But it’s also hungry, not for modernism and American privilege, as much as a real chance at real life and that more abundant, something most of us take for granted every day.

Checking in at the airport enroute for home yesterday, Ron caught my eyes and asked, “Are you alright?” I was tearing up, feeling God’s heart that longs for these beautiful men and women as much as anyone longs for their child to have, be, and do.

We went to help and came home helped. Helped and changed. Changed and charged, to live beyond our comfort, all for the Cause, a Cause meant for all.