Monday, July 28, 2014

The Gift of Telling the Truth

Dorothy Littell Greco

I have struggled to consistently tell the truth for most of my life. While my lies rarely impacted others and were certainly not of the magnitude of Pinocchio's or Charles Ponzi's, they were, none-the-less, untruths. According to Pamela Meyers in a recent TED talk, "We are deeply ambivalent about telling the truth."

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Though I did not realize this until fairly recently, my ambivalence was connected to my fear and shame. I lied because I wanted to be liked and accepted by everyone. I did not lie about my achievements or status. I lied when I was angry or had feelings that might be perceived as threatening or negative. When my boss asked if things were going well, I lied because I feared that if I admitted how much I hated his misogynistic comments, I might lose my job. When my husband asked how much I paid for my new outfit, I slashed $10 off the price because I was afraid if he knew how much I actually paid, he would be unhappy with me. Bottom line? I valued being liked and accepted more than pleasing God.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, no one ever noticed my deceitfulness. No one except God. As the Holy Spirit gently convicted me, I began to notice how often Scripture mentions God's disdain for lying. Until this point, I actually thought my lies were inconsequential. After all, I wasn't lying about my tax returns or infidelity. I had conveniently created a gradation of truth telling, rather than seeing it as a choice between two polar opposites. We either are telling the truth or we're not. In God's economy, white lies are still lies.

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My two greatest desires in life are to love well and to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Since Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and God never lies (Titus 1:2), I needed to choose sides. I began to confess to my husband or close friends whenever I misspoke, no matter how trivial. After about a year of this humiliating behavior, I noticed that my fear and shame were losing their grip. Lies no longer unreflectively rolled off my tongue. Obedience began to trump my desire for popularity. I still fight to speak honestly when I know the truth might create waves. However, knowing the ultimate truth - Christ - has indeed set me free.

Dorothy Littell Greco photographs beautiful things, writes about relationships and following Jesus in a sometimes confusing world. You can find more of her words and images on her site ( or by following her on FB ( and Twitter (@dorothygreco).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Love in Action

By Karen Schelhaas

It's a balmy 102 degrees in Juarez, Mexico this time of year, and the contrast to our home in Colorado is stark. Roads are foot-thick layers of dust and the homes dotting the landscape are colorful mosaics of scrap metal, cardboard, wood, and plastic. The only green splashes are a few sparse vegetables that hard-working families have had the vision to plant and nurture, adding color to their plates of rice and beans and tortillas.

I'm no expert on short-term missions trips. I know for sure that no one transforms an entire community in a few short days, and it quickly becomes clear that there's far more to learn than to teach or contribute. Our family of seven, including our five children ages 8-16, drove 10 hours straight south of Denver, and crossed the border in New Mexico.
Nice Girls
Check out "How I Learned I Could Change the World" from our Nice Girls issue.
We brought a truckload of donated diapers and formula, the 43rd such load commissioned by my friend Quinn after she started Babies of Juarez. Pastors of local churches then distribute the gifts as needed, combining the spiritual with the physical. Quinn's vision was a visceral response to the excruciating 6-month waiting period during which families in Juarez choose not to name their babies due to lack of good nutrition. I got to hold a chubby one-month old boy during a food outreach we provided for the community, and when I asked his mother his name, she shook her finger at me and said quietly "no nombre, no nombre". Slowly but surely, though, Quinn's tireless efforts are kicking that miserable 6 months to the curb, hoping it will exist solely as a cultural norm rather than a necessary evil, and there's evidence to support the growing shift. Chubby babies bring joy, no matter where you live.

We also worked alongside a family building their home, viewing their long-prayed-over dreams slowly emerging out of the dirt and taking shape, a monument of sorts. We watched our teenager hang drywall and install windows while we helped our younger children bang nails in to the roof, covered in splotches of gooey tar and robin's egg blue paint. In the end, there were giant, beautiful words the father voiced at the house dedication, eyes moist and lips quivering as the keys dropped in to his hands. "Thank you to our great God, for He is a God who hears us," he said. Indeed. The family's house got built with boards and nails, but my guess is that as they lovingly turn it in to a home in the months ahead, they'll remember it being stitched together with a lot of joy, laughter, and answered prayers.

The whole trip was an effort to move toward people in love because God first loved us, which, to me, is the essence of missions. Playing soccer on a dusty road in scorching heat with dozens of local kids, holding a baby we hope will live more than 6 month, tears shed by thankful parents at the house dedication, and the dozens of caricatures my husband drew, morphing gorgeous people into funny keepsake cartoons - all of it has our kids begging to go back, the togetherness etched deeply in their bones.

More from Karen Schelhaas here!
Karen Booker Schelhaas lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her husband and five children ranging from ages 8 to 16. When she's not teaching, cooking, jogging, cleaning, gardening, entertaining, chauffeuring, volunteering or counseling, she can be found at her kitchen table with coffee in her veins, slowly putting her stories into words.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Safe Haven

By Melodi Leih
I watched a small bird from the couch in my living room. I was captivated by it over several days. I have no idea what kind of bird it was but it was quite small. I saw it repeatedly fly from the wooded area in our yard to the fence post outside my window. I was in awe of how this little bird carried such large twigs, moss and other foliage from one place to the next. I wasn't sure why it kept coming to the same spot on the fence until I discovered where it had built its nest. It had meticulously placed twig after twig, branch after branch in the wreath on my front door.
Like many moms I know, this bird took her time creating an environment where her little ones were protected and could thrive. On occasion I saw a few other birds appear to be watching as she created this safe haven. It reminded me of moms I have seen critique other moms on their mothering or how they keep their home.
As I watched this little mommy bird I thought of the many times as a mentor I have been able to add to the environment moms around me are creating. The interesting thing I discovered is it really hasn't required much of me except my time. Being present is what they have needed. Being there to listen, pray, share coffee or an encouraging word has been enough for the women in my small circle to continue to gather what's needed for the safe haven they are creating for their families.  
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One of the most impactful gifts I have received was the gift of time. It was a gift I had not asked for nor did I realize I desperately needed. However, that gift has helped me learn to be more mindful and invested in others. Whether you formally mentor or just invest in other women in your life, it is simple to live out this gift. Recently I sent hand written notes to some women and the impact from this small act was more than I could have imagined. Other ways to invest time might be sharing wisdom from scripture or inviting a few women in for coffee and Bible study. Helping with practical needs such as child care for mom friends is another way to invest in healthy families.
What I have learned from the little bird out my window is women work hard to protect, provide, nourish and love those in their nest. They also need a place to stop and rest to be able to continue that work. You can be a place of rest for women by investing and being present in their lives.

Melodi Leih is a MOPS Mentor at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, TN and Regional Developer for MOPS International. She is married to Mike and has 3 beautiful children and an amazing son-in-law. She enjoys music, reading and time with her family.
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