Monthly Archives: June 2016

Hanging Out

6:24:16 hanging out

Hanging Out

by Daniel Floren

Dad took me to Chicago for Spring Break. It was an incredible trip full of hilarious improv, great food, and cool culture spots.

One day, I really wanted to go to a particular pizza place and check it out. I took it upon myself to figure out all of the transportation details, feeling quite accomplished as the ’son’ directing/leading ‘dad’. We got to the address, and saw nothing but high rise buildings. It was the Corporate Headquarters for this pizza spot – no where close to the actual restaurant. I was soooo mad. I spent the next hour trying to walk off my frustration. “I totally screwed it up,” I thought to myself.

The next day, after the Shed Aquarium, we had about a 4-5 hour gap with nothing to do. I turned to Dad as we looked out at Lake Michigan, and I asked him with some urgency, “Dad, what do you want to do? I don’t know what comes next, I’m out of plans, I didn’t plan well enough. I’m sorry, but we have some free time. How can we redeem it to make the trip worth the money? What do you want to do?” He looked at me and just kind of half-smiled in amazement, shaking his head. He took a second. “Daniel. This. This is all I want. Just spending time with you.”

In that moment, a number of curious things clicked into place. I looked at Dad’s shirt. It was the TKA Elementary School shirt from when he was my soccer coach. Yesterday he wore my high school football shirt, and the day before that a TCU polo. The point was always to spend time with his son. All of the gifts and adventures of Chicago were just a nice backdrop for hang-out time.

I have always come to God asking, “What do you want to do?” With my life, my marriage, my job, my friends, my day, the groceries, this very second…

Strangely enough, I think the answer has always been, “We’re doing it!” Christ wants to hang out and commune with me and love me! By the very nature of turning to God and asking, “What do you want to do?” we’re there! We are now talking and hanging out! Before I take another step toward anything, I’ve got to first realize that that is the most beautiful thing. We’re just there already. His Grace met us there and his love keeps us there. All of our purposes and plans must be in context of just hanging out with the Lord. Then, without any pressure, we can go grab pizza.


Perfectionists are  a restless lot. As a perfectionist-in-recovery, I am no expert on patience.  Impatience?   Now that is something I know well.

Much of my life I have lived in the world of impatience.  I am impatient for a project to be done, for people to hurry up and catch up, for the house to be perfect, my kids to be perfect, my husband to be perfect., and– most of all– for ME to be perfect.

Every perfectionist is really hard on themselves, and I am no exception.  I try-I really do-to correct all my imperfections, to achieve the elusive status of “perfect,” for once in my life.  (I wonder what that might feel like?)  Occasionally I get close, and have the momentary sense of satisfaction before the all-too-familiar restlessness returns.

I am learning that perfection is such a hopeless goal, and it is so unnecessary:.  The truth is, I am already perfect.  God through Christ has made me that way.  My  job is to claim perfection for myself, not to create “perfection” in myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving. From

Patience takes root when I quit focusing on self-improvement.  In fact, it really flourishes when I quit focusing on myself altogether, and

  • I give thanks for God – His character, wisdom, kindness, honesty, integrity, and
  • I give thanks to God, for His enormous love for me and every other person on the planet.

Patience thrives when I am thankful to God for His infinite patience with me, and for teaching me – slowly and surely – to be patient with myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving.  And as I turn my face toward the warmth  of God’s Love, that patience blossoms with Joy.

Beauty Out of Ashes

6:2:16 Beauty Out of AshesBeauty Out of Ashes

by Lydia Floren

There were thousands – literally thousands – covering the hillside, sitting beneath trees, listening, absorbing the truth Jesus was teaching. The truth of who He was. Just being in His presence was powerful – life-changing.

But the disciples had been there, done that.  They were getting hungry. And worried.  How in the world was this crowd of humanity going to get something to eat in the middle of the countryside?  Why can’t Jesus see the need to stop and let people tend to their families and themselves?

And then a little boy tugged at one man’s sleeve.  “My mom packed me a lunch.  Can I share it with the Teacher?”

The burly man turned around, and looked at the small sack of bread and fish.  He shook his head.

“Son, this is nowhere near enough to feed this huge crowd.  Just keep your lunch.  We’ll figure something out.”   

But then a deep familiar voice resonated from behind the pair:

“Young man, this is a generous offer.” Jesus kneeled down, and looked the boy in the eye.

“Thank you,” He continued, “I would be most grateful for this food, as will these hungry folks.”

He took the small bag, opened it, blessed the food, and then proceeded to feed the huge group until they were too full to eat any more.

Never think your talent is too small, your gift too weak, your life too broken to be given to God.  When we offer what we have, we are immediately blessed, just because we offer it. And our act of trust blesses our Heavenly Father, because what He wants is not the gift itself, but our heart that chooses to give.  And He wants it all, no matter how meager it seems to us. It thrills His heart when we not only give him our best, but we give Him everything, including our weaknesses, shortcomings, bad habits, worries.

God makes beauty out of ashes.  It is His specialty.

What do you need to give to God today?  This year?  Whatever it is, He will transform it, multiply it, use it to bless you and those around you.

And know this:  our greatest joy – and God’s – comes simply from our act of giving.

“…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3