03 Aug

When He Hung the Moon

moon meme

Books piled up around me, papers scattered across the desk and floor, my Bible propped up against the laptop keyboard. This is my sweet spot. This place of digging through Scripture…turning words and phrases over and over again. Taking things apart and putting them back together. Somewhere in the digging God begins to whisper. He meets me here.

I am preparing for an Autumn full of the Word. Bible study with our children, Bible co-op with a few homeschool families and a ladies Bible study. And they all begin in the same place…the beginning.

Genesis.

It is easy to blow through the Creation story. Six days. Darkness. Light. Sky. Water. Land. Plants. Sun. Moon. Stars. Fish. Birds. Animals. Man. Rest. Yeah, we got it, right?

Oh but there’s so much there. Always the same, but ever revealing. Like the tides rolling across the beach, bringing up new treasures changing the shape of all it touches. The ebb and flow of life and time….the shift of experience and lens….the rolling of the days that crash into years.

It all flows from these words….from in the beginning…and we can skim over the water….over the Word….and we see only the surface. Missing the depths of love, the layers of existence, the details of our infinite God in His creation. And it’s there, in this delving into the depths. It’s there, lingering in His spoken genesis, that He whispers to me about the moon.

moon The moon...the lesser light to govern the night…. God said “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky…to give light on the earth.” {Genesis 1:14-15} And it’s there I see it…this moon that reflects the sun. This moon that gives light in the darkness…the moon that gives light that does not come from within. The moon that is dark and lifeless on its own…that its beauty, its life….its light are only that which are reflected from the giver of light.

Oh, my friends, we are moons.

We were created to reflect and give light in the dark. But all that we have to give….to reflect…all that makes  us beautiful and lovely…that makes us powerful and seen…..is  not ours. We were made to shine Jesus’s love and light into this world. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. {John 1:4-5}

For when God hung the moon to reflect the sun the Messiah was already named….already on his way. In the beginning was the Word. {John 1:1} When time was set into motion a plan was under way. A plan for salvation and eternity. A plan for love and life. A plan for you….and me.

As sure as the moon was hung to reflect light into our world. We were made to reflect Jesus into our World. All our light….anything lovely in us….comes only from Jesus whose image we bear, whose Spirit we are filled with, whose light we shine.

Over the centuries the moon has been the center of fascination — from religions and celebrations, to navigation and space programs, to poets and painters. It’s light draws us to ponder and picture, to reach and explore. And when we reflect the light that shines in the darkness we draw others to Jesus….we awaken a fascination…a  need to explore and reach…to find and connect.

As we begin to start our ladies Bible study this fall, I’ve spent lots of time pondering themes, curriculum and how life change happens. {you know lil things like changing lives} Then I read this verse….For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.   {2 Corinthians 1:19}  

Nothing I do affects life change. No, it is a personal relationship with Jesus that changes lives. And so many of us who know Him do no live like we do…we do not internalize His truths…that from in the beginning to the second you read this through eternity God’s promises are fulfilled. And as we learn that…truly come to understand God’s promises…His plan…Jesus…our lives will be one long, sweet, loud Amen. We will be moons reflecting the Son!

30 Jul

The Last Place You Look

last place you look

Sometimes I just get tired.

I don’t want to do one more load of laundry or cook one more dinner. I don’t want to read one more book or teach one more lesson. I don’t want to write one more blog or encourage one more woman on the phone. I don’t want to lead a Bible study, support my husband, parent my children or even get out of bed.

Sometimes, I just want to do nothing. To do what I want to do.

The truth is I have felt that way for the last few months. I have tried to deny all that God has laid in front of me. Spouting out things like, “I would like to be the one people take care of now and then,” or “Why can’t someone else be the one to encourage others?”

And the more I stamped my feet and demanded to do what I wanted. The farther away from God I felt.

The farther from God I felt, the harder it became to do the things.

Until I couldn’t feel God. I was snarling at my life. I was joyless…is there a word for a joy deficit, cuz that’s what I had...I think I owed people joy. And nothing was getting done.

—-

I wrote those words a little under two years ago. In the wake of a season of difficult circumstances — death of loved ones, health crisis and God calling me to do something I just didn’t want to do.

I stumbled across those words tonight as I was cleaning up my blog. And I just stared at the screen.

Stared.

Cried.

And began to wonder who I owed joy to now.

All at once my life came into focus through the lens of my own words…my own life…and that’s just weird.

I am struggling with heartache. Pain. A season of loss and I feel lost.

Angry. Sad.  Tired. Joy-less.

In this season of  being glued to the couch and wanting to pretend life wasn’t marching on, God whispered, the Spirit blew through, and I knew. God called me to get up….the Spirit planted words in my heart. And it was time to move forward. But I sat on the couch, waiting for God to send me a sign (another one, a bigger one, one with red lettering that flashes!). I sat on the couch waiting to feel joy…waiting to get happy again.

My grandfather sat in his chair, his body weakened by age and life. I searched each drawer, cupboard and nook in his tiny assisted-living room. I found the paperwork he asked me for and laughed, “Isn’t it always the last place you look?” “Well, I should hope so…why would you keep looking if you found it,” he chuckled back.

These words ring in my head….my heart.

I’m waiting for joy. God whispers, why are still looking you have joy?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

This season of loss and following God when I don’t understand is growing my faith in ways I never imagined. I’ve been able to tell stories of whispering Jesus’s name for peace and reassurance when nothing else would help. Stories of amazing provision and peace when nothing about our situations seemed like they would work out.

YES! My faith is growing. I am persevering. Jesus…the Word….the living breathing saving grace of God asks isn’t that enough? And I choke on my self-pity and egocentric behavior. If I’m honest with myself…nope. It hasn’t been enough. I keep looking for something else.

Truth is I want something tangible. Another candy bar. A funny movie. A good hair day. A phone call from a friend. A Target shopping spree.

I want to say the right Christian words. To hold up the facade that makes you think, dang she’s got it all together, but God girl to God girl…truth is I don’t live like God is enough.

I know that I know that I know, God is calling me to write. My blog. My story. His grace in my life. Bible studies. Words that pour The Word into a parched world of women who lose themselves on Pinterest and in junk tv in hopes of finding the secret to their joy. When I study my Bible. When I dig around and find meanings and phrases. When I ponder the infinite God in the tiny details of my life. When I pour out what He pours in….I am joyful. I am happy. And even though I know, I keep looking…and I can hear my sweet Grandpa’s words “why would you keep looking if you found it?”

So, here I sit today. Writing. In the office that my hunky hubby help me carve out in our home. My space filled with books, commentaries, precious treasures and the sweet-spot calling that Jesus whispers to me.

last place you look

Jesus calls each of us to pour out what He pours in. To give him away. It looks different for each of us, living out what He’s designed for us, but friend I can promise you this….being with Jesus….chasing Jesus….giving away Jesus is more than enough.  It is joy. It is everything. And I’m going to stop looking, because I already have my joy….

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

30 Jan

An Exercise in Sinking

Exercise in Sinking

Peter sees an opportunity and jumps at the chance (Matthew 14:28). “Tell me to come to you on the water.”

Tell me. If it is your will, my Jesus, tell me to come to you.

Peter has a reputation for being impetuous and hurling headlong into situations. But here, we see Peter reach out to Jesus, God walking on the water. In perfect submission, “Oh Lord, I want to do this but tell me if is okay first.”

Oh, and what does Jesus say?

Come.”  Come to me. Join me in the extraordinary. In the impossible. In the things that only I can do.

Discipleship builds faith. Stretches your faith muscle.

Peter had no hope of walking on water on his own. Did he? It was only through Christ’s power. It was only through Peter’s faith in the One that he loved that he had any hope of succeeding. Any hope of walking on water, any hope of the extraordinary lay in Christ’s power alone.

Christ says come, not only so that Peter could experience God’s power through this water walking, but that he would also know his own weakness, his own dependence on God.

Peter got down out of the boat. Sounds simple enough. But, oh how its not. The side of that boat was likely 3 to 4 feet tall (that’s like standing on your dining room table at home). The waves are tossing the boat around. The water rises and falls. Can you imagine what it took to get out of that boat?? To step over the edge and lower himself down to step onto the water. Faith, friends.

 

Faith. Peter believed that Jesus’ power was enough for him – that it would hold him, keep him safe, allow him to do the impossible.

Peter gets out of the boat and what happens next??

He walks on water.

He WALKS ON WATER.

My version has four words. Four measely words for the impossible, amazing walking on water.

And Peter didn’t head off for shore or walk circles around the disciples still sitting in the boat. No. Where did he go? Peter walked toward Jesus.

Storm raging all around Him. Faith focused on Jesus. Peter walks toward Jesus.

And, oh, if that was the end of the story. That Peter did the impossible with God by submitting his plans to him and stepping out in faith. Oh, what a grand story that would be, huh?

But that’s not where it ends.

vs. 30-31: But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

When Peter saw the wind and he was afraid.

Why? Because he took His eyes (and his mind) off Jesus.

It is the same wind and waves, Jesus walked on as He called, “it is I, don’t be afraid.”

It is the same wind and waves Peter stepped out onto and into when he got out of the boat…and yet. He was afraid.

We do this don’t we? We take our eyes off God and begin to look at the world around us – war, famine, unemployment, divorce, illness, the brokenness of people. We begin to look around us and we begin to fear. The goodness of God. The mercy of God. The grace of God is pushed out by “what ifs” “oh nos” and “how comes”.

And we begin to sink. As Peter did.

As Peter began to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Peter cried out! Friends, that’s prayer. Peter opened his mouth and cried out to the One whose power could hold him up.

Do you cry out as you begin to sink? Save me. Or do you take a few more steps…will it to happen…try to do the impossible under your own steam and your own power. And then when you are up to your neck cry out, “save me”.

The awesomeness of Jesus is it doesn’t matter when we cry out does it? One step, five steps, after weeks of trying to do it on your own? Jesus will answer us the same way He answered Peter.

Immediately.

Immediately Jesus the spoke to the frightened disciples in the boat. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand to save Peter.

Immediately.

Jesus could have let Peter flounder. Let him learn from his own mistakes. But he didn’t. His love and compassion are ever present, ever ready. All we have to do is seek Him, call to Him.

I have felt like I am sinking lately. Drowning in the weight of the tasks God sets in front of me, weighed down by the heartache of recent hurts and overwhelming heartbreak over the state of so much in our world. And as I sit here this morning on this overcast, gray morning my heart hangs heavy. And my own words echo back to me (the ones above) from part of a talk I was privileged to deliver last fall.

When you are sinking? Do you cry out to Jesus? When?

I’ve been try to walk on water, I suppose, but really it is more an exercise in sinking. I can’t do this water walking without Jesus…it is His impossible, amazing that He invites me into. And when I watch the waves (the seemingly insurmountable in my life) and listen to the wind (the voices of critics, insecurities and other people’s faith issues) I sink. We can only do this life in Christ if we are striving to live in Him. Eyes on him…heart focused on him…walking toward him…. Anything else is just an exercise is sinking.

How about you? Are you struggling with something this week? Look to Jesus, focus to hear Him above all else! He will reach out…save you…touch you…love you. You have to choose it first!

07 Dec

Cure for Christianapathy

cure for christianapathy

(My thoughts on how we can embrace our roles as Christians as whisperers of warming grace or how we can choose soul-deadening, Jesus stealing, Christianapathy….began here. You might want to start there…)

The list of verses lays on my desk. Weeks’ worth of emails and prayers, hopes and expectations, now nothing more than a piece of scrap paper. When the idea came bright and full of promise I knew it could be life changing. I handed them the challenge…memorize scripture. I handed them tools…dry erase boards and weekly emails. I even offered motivation (because for many of us being closer to God, fighting sin, comforting others, and conforming to Christ’s image is not motivation enough)…prizes.

And yet, nothing…reasons, excuses, life…stuff got in the way.

We who memorize songs, recipes, gossip, lines to movies, plots of television shows, breeds of dogs, clothing designers, punchlines and so much more. We who claim Christ only when we can look up His truth, because excuses block us from hiding it in {our} heart. (Psalm 119:11) Not even prizes or nudges to our competitive spirits can save us from this Christianapathy.

I growl and groan. My disappointment is audible, palpable. And yet, even as I sigh I’m not sure who I’m disappointed in. Them. Or me. Do I work to memorize the Word that lives and breathes…that Word that saves, corrects, shapes, molds, reveals, loves…the Word that is my Jesus? Not like I should. Did I really think that I could lure people into making an investment…into changing for their own good? Perhaps…a dangerous, unfulfilling game, really. If Jesus isn’t their motivation…if He isn’t my motiviation…then why?

This list lays on my desk….a new reminder of an old flaw…this indifference to the things of God. A nudge to an apathetic soul that chooses entertainment over the eternal.

And as we wait on entertainment and memorize the vapid, we waste our energy on so many things that aren’t significant…aren’t of or for Jesus. We find to do lists, tasks and stuff that needs our attention. We stand in line for movies but want to help or serve only when its convienent and easy. We hop online instead of kneeling to meet with Jesus. Commutes, cleaning, sports, work, shopping, tv, cooking, family and trivial wants top our to do lists when Jesus said, “only one thing is needed“. (Luke 10:42)

The dictionary says apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern.

The Bible says it like this “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

Spit you from my mouth….you who are lukewarm…you who are apathetic.

That we would know the life abundant Christ came to give us. (John 10:10) The life that is full of Christ — full of the Word…full of Truth…full of service…of sacrifice…of love. That life…that Christ-life…is one that is to be embraced…pursued…lived. Not one that we sit through…wait for…or ho-hum our way through.

Abundant life is exciting life. But embracing that life does not mean comfort or ease…it means running hard after God into places that will challenge, that will require us to grow (in wisdom and knowledge that come from Christ and the Word), that will require us to take a stand and speak up. Abundant life is vibrant and full….like spring full of flowers, buds, green grass and emerging life!!

The cure for soul-deadening, Jesus stealing, Christianapathy comes like all things great and glorious that God offers us…it is a choice. A choice to follow God.

A choice to invest in the things, the people, and the habits of our Savior. A choice to embrace this Jesus-filled life of abundance with enthusiasm, passion and worship…after all that’s what we were made for!

 

05 Dec

Christianapathy

christianapathy

From deep under a pile of blankets I stare out the window. Winter pushes on the windows and walls…cold air rushes through cracks and closing doors to gnaw away at our warmth and comfort…no snow, no beauty. The trees bare and lifeless against the backdrop of brown fields and life shriveled into crusty, crunchy leaves. Winter has arrived with its tale of bleak days and cold hands strangling dry, hard earth.

January will come…day after day…bare landscapes, cold weather and I will forget that spring will come. It is easy to forget when you don’t focus on the promise. It is easy to view life through windows and closing doors…safe, protected, shut away. The short days of winter, when the sun leaves too soon and the night lingers too long, bring an apathy that shrugs at life…that forgets that winter ends and new life begins….that accepts with no enthusiasm that new blooms wait for a whisper of warmth.

Winter will end, spring will come. Birds and buds…flowers and green shoots will remind us that winter ends…that hope lives. The warmth of spring sunshine and a sweet-scented breeze will warm us from winter blues.

But I begin to wonder about the apathy we choose….

 

I watch it spread, this soul-deadening winter…this place where we choose to wait…to watch life through windows and closing doors…this space where we choose inaction over Love.

She tells me of her loss…of her family’s loss and how the only expressions of sorrow, of sympathy and love have come in a form when one can push send. Her body language is tight, closed off, and cold…her sorrow looms large. “When did people stop caring for others?” her question hangs huge over my heart. When their souls are aching…shouldn’t we be the warm breath of Life?

The lines on her face tell stories of life and worry. The cigarette hangs loosely from her lips as she recounts the tales of those on the fringe of our midst. Tents, shelters, addicts, those without heat or lights. Referrals pour in, but the money is short…the doors always just barely staying open. A battle to help the least with but a little from a few. When there is hunger, homelessness, need…shouldn’t we do for them as unto Him?

With splashes and sputters the water pours from the tap. A sight, a sound, a precious resource I take for granted. Every. Day. As I wash dishes I think of the words on the radio. Water filters. (from Compassion) So simple this water…that quenches and cleans. How would we live without it? How do they live without it? And I wonder…when they are thirsty…shouldn’t we bring them water…Living Water?

So many stories of them…those people whose suffering seems distant and faceless through windows and closing doors…those people…those people…the ones we choose not to help…sure that someone else will send a card, open their wallets, share the Gospel…love.

Like the bleakness of winter we surround ourselves in this sad, dark envelope of Christianapathy. We shrivel and whither like late season leaves and think that going through the motions of showing up at church, singing when the praise band strikes a tune or praying over a meal make us glorious and life-filled.

I watch as beautiful, talented, passionate women sit by and wait for someone else to plan, someone else to encourage a hurting friend, someone else to stand up for Jesus. I, too, am guilty of indulging in this Christianapathy….warm Bible studies, over steaming cups…the world rolls on outside the window…suffering women search for friends, for security, for Jesus….

The world is cold, the darkness presses in on all sides, and here we sit holding the Word…the Light; we hit send instead of speaking the Word to souls drowning in meaningless noise; we choose comfort and waiting on someone else to do it when Jesus said, “whatever you did for one…you did for me; and whatever you did not do for one…you did not do for me.”

We choose this soul-deadening practice of comfort zones and wasted opportunities. We choose winter and bleak landscapes, when the promise of Hope and new Life was His breath into our lungs…breath pours out Words and grace…a whisper of warmth for blooms that await.

We are the promise of spring. We are the promise of new Life…we breathe grace and love. We can embrace our roles as Christians as whisperers of warming grace or we can choose soul-deadening, Jesus stealing, Christianapathy.

02 Nov

Blessed is the Woman who Believes

path

(repost, but struck me a new this morning….maybe you too??)

 

A sweet song of worship rings in the air as my alarm goes off. The house is still and in the whisper of time before the day begins it is easy to remember God’s promises, to believe that every step of my day is covered in His plans, and to live like I believe.

But…
…there’s juice spilled on the carpet.
…there is a mountain of laundry and only half a cup of detergent.
…there are screaming children in the playroom.
…there’s eye rolling, back talking and timeouts.
…traffic.
…long lines with unhappy people at the checkout.
…even longer waits at the doctor’s office.
…there’s wondering if we’ll make ends meet at the end of the month.
…there’s family conflict.
…sickness.
….death, loss, grief.
…there’s the heart ache of the past.
…the uncertainty of the future.
Somewhere in the hail storms of life my belief becomes dented and beat up. And I find that I am not living like a woman who believes God loves me and He is working all things for my good.

Yesterday, my Facebook status said, “How would your life change if you woke up every morning BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you?” My sweet friends over at Proverbs 31 posted it as their status too. Reading the responses was fascinating to me.

There was a large segment of people that answered “my life is different because I already believe that.” Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it in that light…the faith of salvation changes lives immediately. But how do you exercise that faith daily? What do you do to not lose sight of God’s love and plans for you in the midst of life’s moments?

There were a few “I needed to hear” that kind of responses, and to God be the glory on that one. If my fb status is being used by God to whisper to the hearts of His children…. Don’t even have words for the end of the statement…just WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I had asked the questions hoping for concrete answers…my life would be ____ . And I got some of those — joy was probably the top thing people said they would have. JOY!!

In the final days of 2010 I was struck by a Bible verse in a way that I can’t even begin to fully explain. I am drawn to it in a new way. It has become the basis for our women’s ministry theme this year. It is the reason I started blogging again. It is the fresh wind in my sails as I look into 2011.

Midway through the first chapter of Luke is the story of Mary coming to visit Elizabeth. In her sweet proclamation of faith and excitement over Mary’s visit, her greeting and the news of her pregnancy Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Let that wash over you for a moment.

That is where my fb status question came from. That is what I’m driven to find out…to teach…to embrace…to live. I want to be that woman. I want that written on the last page of my life here on earth – “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Because that, my friends, is what real life here is all about.

If I believe – I’m saved.
If I believe – I’m the daughter of the King.
If I believe – my heart is changed.
If my heart is changed I live a life that the King designed for me.
If I am living the life the King made me to live then I am living in victory, in joy, in love.
And out of those places spring the works of my faith – service, missions, worship, prayer, teaching, giving, parenting, loving.
And if my days are filled with the works of my faith, then my life will be a reflection of my God.
And if I am reflection of my God, others will be begin to believe…

So my question, rephrased this time, What would your life look like if you lived every day BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you no matter what the circumstance?

Not the I know somewhere in the back of my head God loves my kinda life. The life that says in the face of every circumstance, “My Father’s The King and oh how He loves me.” A life that says to every traffic jam, rude cashier, hard-to-love family member and frustrating moment, “God is strengthening me in this moment, and for this I will rejoice.” A life that shines in the darkest moments of humanity and says, “This is tough. And I’m hurt and scared, but God is strong and steady and His light will shine in this darkness.”

Blessed is the woman who believes….
Blessed is the woman who is living like she is believing….

29 Oct

Life with Water Shoes on

water shoes

 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:28-30

Peter, wind buffeting his face, rocking in the boat, has a thought that would NEVER occur to me. Never. When life is hard and I’m scared or hurting I don’t say, “take me deeper into the storm, Lord. Bring me to a place where the only way I survive is by your power.”

Oh, but what if I would?

What if you would?

What if we prayed these prayers, asked these things of God. What if we lived like we believed it. What if we were fully aware that today, right now I am in a place that the only way I can survive is through God’s grace.

What if as the winds of life push against us and the waves of uncertainty and fear threaten to capsize us we  put these on…

 

What if we listen for Jesus’ words, don’t fear…come to me.

Storm raging. Eyes and heart focused on Jesus we reach out.

Our faith (small that it may be) will grow with each step toward Jesus we take. Our walk with God wouldn’t depend on smooth seas or “perfect timing” but it would depend only on our love for Him. Our belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

We won’t always get it right.

There will be disasters – natural and man made. Marriages still struggle. Money is still tight. Prodigal children still wander. Friends will let us down. Illness still looms. And we will doubt.

God knows that. Jesus knew that Peter would doubt.

Look what Jesus asks Peter, “Why did you doubt?”

I already told you that you are safe, you are mine. I am here. Trust me.

And even when we don’t trust, or get distracted, God is still God and He stills saves.

So, then what does your life look like with water shoes on?

When you step out to follow Jesus. You become his disciple. His follower. One that loves Him, learns from Him, helps to spread his message. Do you get that? You are Christ’s disciple…that is not a word we reserve for old, dead guys in the Bible. That word is as alive and as active as our Jesus is.

So let’s ask the question again – what does your life look like now that you have these disciple water walking shoes on? What does life look like when we define ourselves as Jesus girls – through faith, like Peter did?

My life with water shoes on looks like a girl willing to follow God. That means when ministry seems too much, too big, uncomfortable, that I find my peace in the Holy Spirit dwelling within me…that God is in control, He has called me to this and His plan and glory are more important than my nerves.

It means living my faith in front of my children — praising with wild abandon, praying when things get tough (rather than losing my cool), and modeling that Jesus works…cuz He does!!!

It means that no matter how busy I am that I am open to what God brings…who God brings…that His people are worth far more than my to do list. My faith leads me to become a woman of character who cares about the people of God!

What would your life look like if right now in this moment — stormy skies or clear skies — you walked and lived as though God’s love (and your faith in Him) were all that mattered?

Father, call me deeper into the storms…deeper into a place where I rely fully on You. That I might love deeper, prayer harder and believe in a MIGHTY, BIG God…that others would see You in me!!

 

20 Jun

I Don’t Want To Miss the Water Walking

sunrise

I leaned on the counter and just watched. Listened. Drank in the moment.

This is what ministry is about, I mused in a sing song voice in my head.

Colorful tables. Door prizes. Food. Speakers. Music. Jesus’ girls.

{Oh, and chocolate.}

That was a beautifully exhausting night but it was not my destination. Oh trust me, at the time I thought it was…I had unpacked by bags and set up shop. God had called me to women’s ministry and when I got there I quickly settled in.

But I prayed a prayer, somewhere in there that God honored…and continues to change my life. Turns out women’s ministry was not a destination it was a journey and we were just getting started.

We had a Pastor once that talked about the most dangerous prayer to pray. “Use me.” That asking God to use your life…your skills…you,  would lead down roads that we can’t even imagine. I was inspired. Challenged and completely naive.

I prayed that prayer. Over and over. In my heart I really wanted to become a woman that followed Jesus…wherever that lead. In my head, I pictured where it would lead — to the pink and frilly worlds of women’s ministry.

In my head, being in ministry meant Bible studies (or LIFE groups whatever you want to call them), brightly colored themed events and meeting all the women at church. And sometimes…in real life that is part of the picture. But through a series of set-backs, changes and God-sized miracles I’ve come to know a different side to ministry — loving women through the hard moments of addiction and rage; searching for words that speak Jesus to weary heart in a chemo-ravaged body; Bible study into the wee hours of the morning and pages of notes in hopes of teaching others about God’s Word; putting my problems on hold when the phone rings during someone else’s crisis; holding a woman’s hand while she receives her Savior. And it is here…in the depths of “ministry” that I thought I found what God’s called me to…His girls. His Love.

Funny how often I think I’ve arrived to where God and I are going….I forget the journey part. I forget that my only destination is Heaven and everything on my road there is just drawing me deeper into Jesus so that He’s what the world sees in me.

As the waves crashed against the sides of the boat and the other disciples still shook with fear, Peter had his eyes on Jesus. “Lord…tell me to come to you on the water.”

What??? A lot of things have been said and written about our dear friend Peter, but can I just say, WOW! I would not even have had the thought to ask to walk on water…let alone get of the boat (but I’m getting ahead of myself)!

And what does Jesus say? “Come.”

You know, that’s the truth of our relationship with Christ right there. That He wants us to join Him in the extraordinary, the supernatural, the only-God-can-do-this-kinda-stuff stuff! And I would be willing to bet that there are opportunities all the time (daily even?) that Christ sets out before us to get out of the boat…to join Him in the really?? did that just happen coolness of Christ’s love….but do we get out of the boat? Geesh, I know I don’t get out of the boat…I don’t even ask for the chance.

That dangerous prayer that pastor talked about. That “use me” prayer…that was my Peter moment. The Lord let me join you request. But when I prayed that prayer I didn’t dawn on me that God would answer it in the only way God does things…with a choice. With an opportunity. A chance for growth. A get out of the boat moment.

I have had the pleasure over the past few years to attend a conference called She Speaks (for writers, speakers and women’s ministry leaders). Last year I took some of the speakers classes…and walked out thankful that God didn’t’ call me into speaking!

So, back to Peter. Jesus has just told him “come”. And what does he do? Well, my translation says “he got down, out of the boat”.

Got down? Oh, yeah, we’re not talking a canoe here, this was a decent size boat being tossed around in the waves. Most research I found said the sides were 3′ to 4′. He had to step over and/or climb down off the side of this boat that was moving around in the waves. Go stand on your dining room table…now imagine you are in the middle of a large body of water in a storm, imagine climbing over the edge down on to the stormy waters. Hmm….

But oh the triumph on the other side of that momentary fear…walking toward Jesus!! Eyes on your Savior. Doing something only He can do through you!! Right there, that is the gift of ministry.

So this year, I’ve stepped out of my boat. Remember that whole, glad God didn’t call me to be a speaker thing?? Yeah, well. This past school year God has opened the door for me to do a couple of devotions at a local homeschool support group, and while my nerves upon saying yes nearly killed me. I have been amazed by how easy the speaking came; how the message was just what someone needed to hear; and how crazy sweet and support the ladies have been. Climbing out of the boat nearly did me in, but walking with Christ in what He calls me to is worth every vulture sized butterfly flying around in my stomach.

But, my ankles are getting wet.

You see, Peter walked on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But when he let life and doubt (and, oh, um waves and wind) distract him he began to sink.

God has opened another door for me this fall. And wouldn’t  you know, it is a speaking engagement for a ladies retreat. When I focus on Jesus and His girls, of sharing whatever He wants them to hear…I’m fine. But the minute I begin to focus on the billions of other details (number of attendees, length of messages, what I’m going to wear, whether they will realize I am bundle of nerves wrapped up in an awkward, fragile package….) I hear the wind,  I watch the waves…I realize my ankles are wet.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that my Jesus will (and always has) reached His hand out to touch me, to hold me, to save me, whenever I call out to Him. I don’t fear drowning. I fear missing the water walking with Jesus!!

So where are you? In the boat? On top of the water? Or trying to ride out the storms of life with your eyes on Jesus? Wheverever you are, I hope that you pray dangerous prayers and get ready…because we were made to follow Jesus (even across the water)!

{by the way, you can get down off the dining room table now….he, he.}

04 Jun

Planning to be Obedient

IMG_7263

To the crowd she likely seems just a sweet, impulsive child as she wades into the water. One that makes you say, “aw.”

She is sweet.

She is impulsive.

She is a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this moment is so much more.

This is God leading her. Her teaching me.

As we walked up next to the pool (late for the baptisms), we walked up just in time to hear the Pastor asking if anyone else wanted to be baptized.

I was just setting down my camera bag (luckily the camera was around my neck) and my husband hadn’t even made it to where we were standing…yet a little voice answered “yes.”

For nearly a year we have been saying we would plan for Isabel to be baptized. Weather, schedules and life seemed to get in the way, with promises of this summer. We would plan for her to be obedient.

And then there in this moment with a church we are new to, with people we barely know, with no grandparents or godparents, no plans, no towels or extra clothes. There in that moment the opportunity to follow God was presented, and Isabel understood.

This wasn’t about plans or the crowd. This was about a little girl and her Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were planning for obedience. She seized the opportunity to be obedient.

And as I stared teary eyed at my baby girl boldly declaring her life for Jesus, I knew deep in my heart that once again God was teaching me through my peanut.

To get out of my own way and follow Him. Tune my ears and heart to the sound of His whisper. To walk in His footsteps. That there is a time for planning and there is a time for doing. And doing is what touches hearts, changes live.

Isn’t that the moniker of Jesus’ ministry? Doing. Healing, teaching, loving. Heart tuned to God, eyes on His people, hands open to life…to love.

The water was cold. She didn’t turn back.

A pastor she barely knows held her hand. She didn’t flinch.

Her parents were caught of guard. She knew what she was doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isabel was baptized exactly when she was supposed to be. Following her Jesus when the whisper moved her soul.

This morning I awoke with teary smile remembering yesterday. Thanking God for the lessons He is teaching me. My prayer breathed before my feet touched the floor, “help me follow You like that.”

I urge you, today, to turn your heart toward Jesus. Listen for those whispers. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow Him. Even if the water is cold. Even if you don’t know the people or you aren’t prepared.

…even if you haven’t finished planning….

03 Feb

Running Ahead

Running Ahead of God

The words were like a starter’s pistol to my mind.

I hadn’t even fully listened to her sentence and was already picturing the what ifs, what would need to be done, the hows.

And as I raced ahead planning, plotting and taking care I didn’t look back…or look up.

As if God caught me by the back of the shirt I slammed to a halt. A whisper way down deep hit hard and carried a truth I needed (that I often run off without).

Let Me work.

I am a caregiver by nature and a take charge kinda gal. When I see a plan unfolding it is hard for me to not just grab the pieces, throw it together and make it work. Often making things harder than they need to be as I try to keep everyone happy, make sure no one is uncomfortable , and stay on top of all the pieces and emotions.

Um, have I mentioned I do this a lot. It isn’t always starting to execute plans. Sometimes I over-think things or get caught up in the possible emotions. In my mind I race on without hitting my knees or bowing my head.

And off we go. No looking up at God or back at where we are. We’re off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week I took my children on a walk down a gravel road near our house. For them this was new territory. What (to little legs and eyes) felt like miles of road and fields spread out around us. They saw the road, they made the plan….they were off.

Running as fast as their little legs could carry them they tore down the road. Shrieking, laughing and calling out observations along the way. It wasn’t until they were at the crest of a hill that they looked back to see where I was.

Way back. Where they had left me standing.

Waving.

Waiting.

Huffing and puffing. Grumbling and dragging their feet they returned to me. Questioning. Confused. Why was I standing here? Why did I make them come back?

I calmly explained that as they took off I was trying to show them the rabbit on the top of the hill and the hawk on the tree. Something amazing was unfolding over this way. I pointed toward where nature’s drama unfolded.

“Where’d they go?” was the disappointed cry.

“You missed it,” I said, “that’s why I ask you to listen…there are things I want to show you and when you run off and run ahead. You miss it.”

And there as I taught my children a lesson underlined by gravel roads and open fields, I got it.

That understanding. That piece of the puzzle God’s been trying to give me…if I would just stand still…quit running off.

In this moment I was aware that this was not my plan. This was not my burden. These were not my shots to call, not feelings for me to guard, this wasn’t about me or making people happy. This was about God. And God’s plan.

We do that you know. We run ahead of God. We see the road and we take off.  Maybe because of fears and failures…perhaps we are running from something? Or plans and burdens…perhaps we are trying to run towards a goal? Or maybe competition or history makes us run…perhaps we are trying to outrun someone or something?

And off we go. No looking up at God or back at where we are. We’re off.

But, when we wait on God to do His work. He gives us our job…He shows us the amazing things around us that we miss as we charge through life. And if we run past Him. Charge on without Him. We find ourselves at the top of hills or under messes out of breath, tired, overwhelmed and a long way off for where He intended. We end of up missing the things He set out to show us or taking on more than He ever intended.

Perhaps we need to learn to let God be God.

Let God handle situations…I’ll meet them with prayer and waiting in faith.

Let God direct our steps…I’ll listen and follow rather than charge ahead.

Let God do the heavy lifting….I’ll take on His yoke that is light and  look up at Him before I take off.

 

 

13 Jan

Daddy is My Hero

daddy is my hero

 

Stooped down. Flashlight pointed towards the carpet. Hands sweeping back and forth. Like finding a needle in the haystack his search seemed hopeless.
Yet, he did not give up. Different flashlight. Up and down the same hallway, over the cream-colored carpet.

 

In a matter of minutes after our daughter lost her first tooth she lost it again. This time it was dropped somewhere between the living room and her bedroom.
Tears threatened to spill from her big blue eyes. And that spurred her daddy on.
And as I watched that man of mine search over the same sections carpet, over and over. I was struck by a parallel between this earthly daddy and the one that sits on the heavenly throne.
Our God loves us so much that He goes to great lengths to love on us. Nothing short of conquering death. Giving up His own Son. And creating a world full of beauty, challenge, and breath-taking scenery. God’s love is big.
And God’s love is small. It is so often in the details of life. A letter written with care to touch birthmother’s heart. A “random” encounter with a woman at the airport that brings happy memories and divine comfort. A little boy saying “I love you mom” when your day isn’t going right. A beautiful sunrise painted across a frost covered landscape. Rain on a parched earth. Storybook snowflakes falling slowly on a hushed afternoon.
Oh, yes, our HUGE God is a God of details. A God in and of all things. A God of love.
I was thinking, last night, about how as I lay my head down to sleep God was not resting or putting up his tools for the day. His love rolls on — miracles in the dark of night, sunrises to paint on the other side of the world, babies to be born from delivery rooms to dirt floor huts. His love is exhaustive. All covering. All consuming.
And then there is the daddy in the hallway. The children have abandoned the search. He has switched flashlights, again. And still he searches on. Searches for a tiny little tooth in a sea of same-colored carpet. No words. No frustration at an evening surrendered to an unexpected search and rescue operation. Just searching. Just love.
This morning as I opened my eyes the first sight to greet me was bare trees across our back hill lit by a sunrise full of reds, pinks, purples and blues. Breath taking. I just laid there staring. When I shut my eyes I could still see the sight, so beautiful it was. The world turned through the night, but God never stopped working. Never slowed down His love. Like a kiss from the King of Kings the sunrise met me with such awe-inspiring wonder. For you, my love, good morning.
Relentless Love. That pursues you into the darkest places. Kisses you sweetly in the morning. Refuses to give up on you, even when you’ve given up. A father’s love for His child.
Walk through your day today looking for the love of your Heavenly Father. Smile and receive the Divine kisses from the King.
After nearly an hour of searching, the hallway upstairs filled with delighted squeals and victorious shouts. The tooth had been located. A daddy’s love and devotion had saved the day. What was important to her drove him to do all he could for her…to find a needle in cream-colored carpet haystack. And his little girl declared, “Daddy is my hero.”
Today, look for the love your heavenly Father is showering down around you. From the big moments of saving grace and life to the little details of songbirds and the smell of fresh-baked bread. Draw every breath aware of the Daddy that works all things for your good. And when you lay your head down tonight declare, “My Daddy is my hero.”

 

09 Jan

There’s Nothing You Can Do to Change That

Fingers clenched so tightly into fists her knuckles were white. Arms shaking, tension surging through her. Tears ran over dimples, dripping off a little chin and wetting the tips of her blonde locks. “I just feel so stupid!” She screamed at me.

After a fight with her little brother my daughter stood at the end of the couch. Angry at him for doing little brother things and more angry at me for daring to say that she was being mean and bullying him.

That’s her new thing. Telling me that she is stupid. I don’t know where it came from, but can I just tell you where I wish it would go. Away. Forever. It is difficult enough to just deal with her emotion and her words, but to stop and consider that this six-year-old who reads above a fifth grade level, that crafts stories and songs, and has a heart filled with compassion for others might believe those words she cries in anger. Well, that just breaks my heart.

And, what was my response? I sighed. Tired of these same words, the same fit, the same emotion. A mama tired of “he touched me”, “she looked at me”, “that’s mine”. I wanted to shoo her away.

BUT, I didn’t.

Because in that moment I realized He’s never shooed me away.

I’ve thrown 100’s {maybe 1000’s??} of fits at God, about God, in front of God and He never turns away. He never leaves me to believe the lies of this world and the whispered untruths of my emotions.

Slowly I began to explain that making bad choices or having bad behavior doesn’t make you stupid. We talked about consequences of being angry and how it makes others feel. And then I told that when she was ready she needed to apologize to her brother.

There were so many more lessons to be had in that moment, but I knew as the sobs continued and her fists stayed clenched she wasn’t ready to hear a lesson or see the character of God. She had to be done being mad, she had to get out of her own way. Wow, have I been there before!

Less than two minutes later Paxton, our son, appeared on the stairs, “Mom, Isabel feels like God doesn’t like her anymore.” He didn’t know what to do about it, but you could tell from the look in his big blue eyes he knew that wasn’t true.

I called Isabel down the stairs again.

The look of defeat hung heavy over her round features. There was no clenching, no shaking, no anger.

“Why do you think God doesn’t like you?”

“Because I keep doing all these things wrong.”

As we sat on the couch bathed in afternoon sunshine we talked about the fact that our behavior isn’t a surprise to God. She kind of giggled at the thought, or the realization, that God already knew she was going to pitch a fit and toss her brother out of her way in the hallway. We talked about forgiveness, repentance (not an easy concept for an adult, let alone a sister who feels justified in roughing up her lil brother), and how God gives us a fresh start everyday.

I stopped talking and just watched her.

I whispered, “God loves you, honey. And there is nothing…nothing you can do to change that.”

She nodded. She looked at my face and flashed those killer dimples. All was right again in her world.

In an instant she was gone again. Off to play with Paxton, again. Secure in the love of a God she’s stretching to learn about and loved by a momma who needed a reminder of that very lesson.

We all fall short. That’s the plain and simple truth. And we aren’t stupid or lost causes. Just human. But we are redeemed by the love of a God who knew of our fits and failures, of our disobedience and sin and chose to love us beyond anything we can fathom.

Let that truth wash over you for a minute. For God so loves you…

{now skip off to play or do laundry or get back to work or whatever, but do it with a smile on your face and song in your heart knowing that nothing can ever change the truth you just breathed in!}

Father, thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving us despite our fears and failures, our sin and selfishness. Thank you for moments to teach Your baby girl You love her and that won’t change. I ask your mercy and wisdom for this “baby girl” who needs to remember her Daddy’s love and show it daily to those around me, especially our children. Amen.

 

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