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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rich. Monday, October 19. 2015.

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Luke 12: 16-21

This Gospel reading from today was a somber reminder.
Of a couple of things.

In this parable,
God reminds the rich man that he is mortal.
He will die.
And in this case,
very soon.

We all know that we are mortal beings.
But sometimes life sweeps us up
and we forget that death is inevitable.
We like to think we are invincible.

The idea of death is a scary one,
so we put it on the back burner
and we go go go on with our lives.

And unfortunately,
all too often,
the way in which we go go go,
is much like the way of the rich man.

We live in a world where most of us have to work.
We need food.
We need clothes.
And we need money for those things.
And as a result,
we work our lives away.
Money and materials become our livelihood.

We are oh so rich in the world.
In things of this world.
And we are oh so poor in what is rich to Christ.

“You’re going to die tonight
and all that you’ve worked for won’t matter anymore.”

How blunt!
What a wakeup call.
What a reminder that working our lives away on the worldly things
is basically in vain.

We need to work on our souls.
We need to work on our hearts.
We need to work on our relationship with Christ.
Strengthen our weak points.
Seek healing for our souls.
Learn to love.
Seek Christ.
Put our stock in things not of this world.
It is there that our work will never be in vain.

Being rich in what matters to the Lord is a journey.
A lifelong one.
One that we may fail at.
Even multiple times a day.
But a worthwhile journey.
One that will bring us closer to the heart of Christ.

Let us strive to be rich in what matters to God.
And to intentionally not be rich in what matters to the world.

To be rich in the Lord means to not have to worry about the things of this life.
Because they are in His hands.
In His control.

If we are rich in Him,
it does not matter who the world says we are.
Because our identity is found in Him.

If we are rich in Him,
we will trust that He will provide for our needs, whatever they may be.

If we are rich in Him,
we will live for Him
and we will die for Him.

Lord, help us to be rich in You. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trust. Saturday, August 29. 2015.

This summer I spent a lot of time worrying.
And obviously, not blogging.
Apparently anxiety and worry are good time-consumers.

Right at the beginning of summer,
I resigned from my job.

A job that I enjoyed.
A place where, ideally, I would have stayed.
But I knew the Lord was speaking, calling.
And I had to go.

My decision surprised some people.
Myself included.

But when the Father calls,
we go.

I cannot pray,
“Your will be done”
“I am Yours, do with me as You will”
and look in the other direction or ignore the call when it comes.

just because I go,
does not mean that I have an abundance of grace as I go.
Quite the opposite.

The spirit is willing.
But the flesh?
Weak sauce, man.

I resigned.
And I went.
But not to anywhere in particular.

I felt like such a fool when my coworkers and school parents ask where I was headed.

Did I have another job lined up?
Was I going back to school?
Was I taking time to travel?
Okay…well…best of luck?

Thanks so much.
Thank you for reiterating the fact that I have

spending my summer worrying.
No job lined up.
No leads.
No real idea.
False leads.
Unrealistic ideas.
And so went my summer.
All of June.
All of July.
Part of August.

Half of me trying to relish in these free days
the other half kicking myself for walking away from a good job.


There was a long period of intense anger.
Anger towards God.
Pent-up, pressure cooker anger status.
And only after much prayer was that anger released.

One may find that in letting go,
God is able to work.

Two job interviews lined up within 24 hours of praying.
Both incredible opportunities.

And so the story goes.
I have a new job.
An incredible one.
One that I have dreamed about for ages.

I’m a little bit bummed.

This lesson of trusting Jesus was a lot harder than it should have been.
At times it hurt.
I doubted.
I was anxious.
I was worried.
Tried to trust.
Fake trusted.

I essentially had to hit rock-bottom emotionally and maybe even spiritually
in order to see that this was basically a real-life trust fall.

Me trusting the Lord.
Me trusting in His plan.
Me letting go.
Me not being worried about money or all the time that was sliding by.
Me not caring what others thought or said.
Me knowing that He is good and He cares for me.
Me believing that His most perfect will was being carried out.
Me just simply trusting Him.

I could look at this summer as a screw up on my part.
Or I could see it as a practice test along the way
and pray that I do better next time.

And I can certainly praise God that He continues to make and mold and stretch us to our limits,
in order for us to best be able to love Him.
And I can praise Him for His faithfulness in my fury and fear.
And I can pray that next time I have the conviction to say from the beginning,

Jesus, I trust in you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Live Intentionally. Monday, July 13. 2015.

I’m an athlete.
This statement has become real to me since I haven't been able to run.
I’ve been injured since mid-May.
This means that my running 50 miles a week dwindled to nothing.
Now, it’s back on the rise…8 miles last week! Woohoo!
But as I’m writing this,
I have yet another new pain in my foot.

During this time of no running
and the school year coming to an end,
I’ve had a lot of free time.
A lot.

Free time that I planned on using as running time.
But I can’t run.
And I still have this free time.

Athletes are adrenaline junkies.
It’s our addiction.
Our drug of choice.

I don’t do well with so much free time.
No new goal or new height or new distance or new pace.
I feel so blah.
Like I am just going through the motions.

No purpose.
Day in and day out.

Focusing on the things ahead
and not paying attention to all that is in between.
Only to find that the thing I was looking towards isn’t nearly as great as I had hoped.
Along with that disappointment,
is the loss of all the sacred time from here
to the not-so-great thing looked forward to.

It’s a word that has been on my heart lately.


I get the feeling that I am supposed to apply these words to my life right now.
But I am still learning how exactly to do that.

My current goal is to
live with intention.
Live intentionally.
Be intentional.

I don’t know exactly what those phrases mean yet,
but I am learning.

I think our lives are too precious to be wasted.
We are meant for more than
drowning in an ice-cream-pint-pity-party
or getting our Netflix-fix.

Our lives have meaning.
They have a purpose.

It is up to us to seek out that purpose.
To find the reason.  

I haven’t been doing this ‘living with intent’ thing for long.
I’ve spent most of my time being injured dwelling on the negative.
It’s only been recently that I have tried to change my mindset
but even still, I screw it up multiple times a day.

Today for example.
I’ve failed so much more than I will even begin to admit.

I’m not a pro,
but I’m trying.

I certainly know that there is a difference between sitting on the couch all day
or going out and making the most of the day I’ve been blessed with.

I’m learning that there is a difference between doing something
and doing that something with grace.

I’m figuring out that attitude accounts for much of how we go about our days.   

I’m curious to know how the world would change if we all lived with intent.

I intend to live.
I intend to live well.

I choose to live intentionally.

I trust that though life is hard,
we have a God who intends to see us through,
even in the darkest of times. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Leadership 101. Wednesday, June 10. 2015.

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?”
Morgan Freeman as God in Evan Almighty

Often, things don’t come in the pretty little packages that we imagine they would.

Patience doesn’t come in the form of patience
but rather,
the opportunities to be patient.

Courage doesn’t come in the form of courage,
but rather,
the opportunities to be courageous.

Love doesn’t come in the form of love,
but rather,
the opportunities to show love.

Leadership doesn’t come in the form of leading,
but rather,
the opportunities to be a servant.

We often think that leadership says,
“I am above you.
You are below me.
Do as I say.
And by the way,
you’re doing everything wrong”.

We lead with our egos.

This hurts people.
It puts people in crappy positions.
And they have to make decisions that they don’t want to make.
And then we aren’t raising effective leaders.

We put people down when our egos are inflamed.
Ego engulfs us
and leaves no room for others.
Ego extinguishes others’ spirits.

I’m not the best leader
but I do know the most important part of leadership.

That there is Leadership 101.
You just need one word.

Don’t worry about the leading.
Just serve.
The leading will fall into place.

True leadership asks,
“How can I help you?
How can I ensure that you are being the best you?
Where can I serve alongside you?
What are your goals, dreams, and aspirations?
How can we get there?
What can I do to be a better leader?”

Leading through service elevates the lives of others.
There is no ego.
Just a servant’s heart.
A heart humble enough to let others’ spirits grow.
A heart wise enough to know that,
just because someone else's spirit is illuminated,
does not take away the light from your spirit.  

My friend Steve Schultz put it this way:
Lead. Love. Elevate.


“The world needs good leaders.”
Many people have said this.
Most recently,
I heard this from someone who is far from a good leader.
I wanted to scoff.
I think I did.
And then I gossiped about it later on,
when I should have taken it as an opportunity.
An opportunity to be a good leader.
I missed it.

But there’s tomorrow.
And the next day.
And the day after that.

His mercies are new each morning.
His graces abound each sunrise.
So too should ours.

Let us lead as Jesus did.
Through love.

Lead. Love. Elevate.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Prison Praise and Worship. Tuesday, May 5. 2015.

After they were badly beaten,
and thrown into the deepest depths of prison,
Paul and Silas prayed.
They praised.
They worshiped.
A God so good,
so strong,
who was for them in every which way,
who allowed them to be beat, chained, and imprisoned.
A time for prayer?

What about time for questioning,
time for doubt,
time for despair,
time for tears,
time for giving up,
time for feeling like dying?

But Paul and Silas found not time for those things.
They saw it fit to pray.
And praise.
And worship.
A good, good God.

And ironically,
their prayer was not,

Their prayer was a prayer concerned with telling God how good He is.
While they were bloody and bruised.
And in prison.

Their ability to praise during suffering brought souls to Christ.

The other inmates watched in bewilderment.
There was a massive earthquake that shook the foundations
and flung open the prison gates.

The guard, seeing the open gates,
was about to kill himself for the prisoners had surely left.
But to his shock,
the prisoners were right where they were supposed to be.
Praising their good God.
And the guard and his whole family came to believe.

So often we find ourselves bound in chains
and thrown into the deepest depths of prison.

Our prisons are different.
They might come in the form of addictions,

Whatever the prison,
we usually forget to praise.
If we do pray,
the prayer is usually,
"Lord, please free me from this prison".

In the depths of the prison walls,
our focus should be not on ourselves
but on Christ.

Where can we find Christ?
Yes, even here, in our prison.

When in prison,
the objective should not be,
"How can I get out?"
but rather,
"How can I praise Jesus?
How can I enthrone Him?
How can I bring glory and fame to His name?"

How radically different than our normal method.

Praise and worship in prison.
You know not who your cell mates are.
You know not the groundskeeper or the guard.
You know not who is watching.
You know not who you are witnessing to.

Even in your prison.
Even in your darkest place.
Even in your pain.
There is joy,
there is hope,
to be found.
Even there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fish Tales. Wednesday, March 25. 2015. Lent.

I like to try and have quality conversations with my students.
And sometimes that high quality conversations include
play-by-plays of scenes from Finding Nemo.
Good stuff.

Yesterday we were talking about the part where
Marlin and Dory end up on the tongue of a whale.
Apparently, if you're a fish, whale taste buds are nice and bouncy.

Dory claimed to speak whale
and had a nice conversation with the whale that sounded a lot like a mooing cow.
While Marlin was intent on getting out of that whale's mouth
so that he could continue on his journey to find his son.

These two unlikely friends had completely different attitudes about their situation.

As Dory continues to converse,
the whale lifts his tongue
and the two fish hang on to those taste buds for dear life so as to not get swallowed.

Dory relays what the whale said,
only, she can't quite understand him.
She proudly announces,
"He either wants a root beer floor or us to go down his throat!"
Marlin, being the sharper of the two, yells in a panic,
"Of course he wants us to go down his throat!"

And Dory lets go.
And falls down the whale’s throat.
In sheer abandonment.
Not a care in the world.  

Marlin is forced to let go and follow Dory.
Though he is reluctant, afraid, and angry.

It just so happens that Dory was right.
And not about the soda pop.

The whale did want the fish to go down his throat.

But not to eat them,
to help them.

He timed it just perfectly so that as the pair fell,
the whale shot gallons of water and two fish out of his blow hole.
The pair was once again on their way to find Marlin's son.

We are fish.
God is the whale.

Often we find ourselves in situations,
a rock and a hard place.
We pray and seek.

Maybe we hear an answer.
But maybe that answer is crazy.

Maybe we know in our gut.
But maybe our gut is asking for a root beer float.

Maybe we hear but we are unsure what we hear.
But maybe we hear only what we want to.

Sometimes the crazy thing is the God thing.
Sometimes the normal thing is the worldly thing.

We don't want to be the first one to let go
and drop down into the whale's throat.

Marlin thought Dory was insane.
We don't want to be labeled insane.

But look at the outcome.

Exactly what they were hoping for
and what they needed to continue their journey.

When we find ourselves in tough places,
we automatically see it as a hindrance and an interference.

But in reality,
it might be just the right stepping block,
just the right move,
just what we need.

Where are you today?
Where do you need to be?
What is the Lord saying to you?
What are you hearing?
What are you choosing to hear?
What do you need to hear?

The process may be scary.
It might be hard.
We might kick and scream.
Or we could go with complete abandonment and trust like that little blue fish.