Laurel Thomas

decisions Archive



July 2017



A Child’s Voice in the River

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A speech impediment plagued my five-year old self. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pronounce my name. The letter “l” was impossible, the “r” tricky. My name, Laurel, required mastery of one or the other. The sound that tumbled out of my mouth in an untidy heap was not my name.

Awkward, mumbling “Ohwell” confused anyone who asked, “What’s your name, little girl?”

How could six letters arranged to identify me be so hard to get out of my mouth? It was embarrassing, even for a little kid who shouldn’t have cared much. After all, I was loved by the people who mattered. No big deal.

Except it was a big deal. But for reasons I didn’t understand at the time.

Later, when I experienced God, I realized why. Because me with Him was the point. The whole point. Me living this life, with Him, as only I could.

It took me awhile to figure that out. And to understood I needed to be grateful for all the parts of my life. In my worst moments, I’d made flawed decisions, opted for easy instead of difficult, and stayed passive when a mess required a response.

But those parts could be summed up in a sentence or two. Unlike the incredible joy of seeing my babies for the first time. When my husband and I locked eyes and knew we were part of a miracle – together.

Or the journey of recognizing my mom’s courage. Loving and appreciating with adult eyes how she responded to dashed dreams as a good mom – loving her kids and making the hard choice to protect us.

And accepting the wonder of a dad who chose me. Actually, he chose my mom first. But by choosing her, he embraced me. On purpose. He loved that way when I recognized it and when I didn’t.

I’d had great people who helped me along the way. Most of all, my husband. But, also leaders and bosses who taught me to be wise and work hard. Even the ones who blew it showed me that my decisions for integrity, or not, were me writing my own story. The one I’d be able to share with my kids in the years to come. Or not.

Colossians 1:28 has been talking to me all summer. Talking to me? Well, it’s a big subject. Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Confidence in God showing up as God in me? What does that look like?

I struggled a long time with the largeness of that thought. I’d focus on how many ways I’d missed it. And why. Until I decided to go another direction. It started with a simple prayer.

Lord, help me see You in me. Help me identify and treasure Your uniqueness in me.

Then, help me steward Your expression in me well.

A steward doesn’t just keep order and make sure life colors within the lines. A steward administrates what doesn’t belong to her. The assignment and it’s design are unveiled as I keep moving and trusting.

Finally, help me share it in love. Because love rests over my imperfections and somehow makes my offering lovely.

This summer, in time for my birthday, I’m discovering the one thing that evaded me as a child.

I’m learning to pronounce my name.



October 2013



Shalom in the River

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There’s a canyon near Questa, New Mexico. Massive lava rocks line the gravel path leading to its floor, where the Rio Grand and Red River meet.

The Red River is pristine. It’s so clear you can watch brown trout shimmer against the polished stones lining its bed. The Rio Grande – not so much. It overwhelms the gentle Red with a torrent of muddy chaos as the two rivers converge.

A muddy river confronted my stillness one morning. Its murky force thrust itself into my clean, clear waters, turning them upside down and filtering silt in my emotions.

I thought about Moses and the Israelites camping by the Red Sea. Their deliverance from slavery led them to waters impossible to cross. Worse, as they looked behind, they saw the dust of every chariot in Egypt rise in billows of hot pursuit.

Things looked bad. Really bad.

One thing about God. He’s good. Okay, two. He’s bigger than any force that plots to take us out.

But how? Does He roll up His sleeves, lift His hand as a battering ram and crush the fear that rages against us?

Maybe. But most often, He promises Shalom.

Shalom, a Hebrew word, can’t be translated into English by a single word. It comes from the word, “shalem,” meaning complete. Where there is Shalom, there’s tranquility, wholeness, harmony and health – nothing good withheld. It’s the absence of disorder, injustice, lack, and evil.

There is an antithesis of Shalom. It is Ra.

Again, hard to translate. Here’s a picture to describe it. I have a beautiful bowl that’s just right for whatever deliciousness I can put into it. It’s blue Polish pottery, so it’s pretty, too. But the goal of its design is to hold food.

Here’s the definition of Ra in one image.

Someone walks into my kitchen, picks up my lovely bowl and hurls it across the room. It shatters.

The act that destroyed its function defines Ra.

Ra looms large in storms of life. It threatens to shatter our tranquility, steal our dreams and deposit the dirt of its chaos in us. Nothing makes sense or fits in Ra. It represents chaos, anarchy and all manner of evil. Bullies take over, might makes right. Freedom is bound and hopes are smashed.

God’s response to Ra isn’t a giant fist. It is Shalom in a Person. The One who stands like an invitation, waiting for our response.

Ra can’t exist in Shalom. But I’ve discovered a greater force. It’s my will. When I’m angry or someone is angry with me, when I’m misunderstood or maligned, I can choose Shalom, or give in to the flood of Ra. Each river responds to my choice.

How could such a simple decision be so powerful? I don’t understand it all. That’s okay. I can still choose the clarity of a spring-fed river in my soul- and expect it to flow in and out of me.

Shalom in the River,


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