19 Jan

That Time I Wrote About the Poop in the Corner

poop in the corner pic

There’s a pile of poop in the corner.

Feels like the appropriate ending to this afternoon.

For the record, the poop belongs to our pet ferret who was playing in my office yesterday while I cleaned. apparently he didn’t get the “we’re cleaning” memo.

This afternoon got me thinking about Facebook — what I post and why. My motives were questioned by someone and at first I was REALLY angry (truth is I’m still sorta ticked).  I have been accused of being fake. If not putting my drama on Facebook makes me fake, well then, I’m fake.

Do I have struggles?? Um, yeah, I breathe air and live in a messed up world don’t I? Nothing is perfect in my world, except my Savior and His grace. Beyond that I’m just a girl trying to get it right. And along the way I post things to remind me what we’ve done as a family, funny moments and just snapshots of our life. (I LOVE the TimeHop app that reminds me of those things on a daily basis!!)

So I post things like….

timehop app pic

Facebook holds some of the sweetest memories of our everyday life.

 

 

Or this….

Because one day the will both be so big I forget the days when they were lil and best friends.

Because one day they will both be so big, and I’ll forget the days when they were lil and best friends.

And truly I apologize. If here, or anywhere, I post something that makes one feel that I am bragging or trying to front about our life. I’m not. (I pray that the Lord roots out anything that isn’t of pure motives.)

The truth is life happens fast. And I want to remember it. To catch. To hold it. To celebrate it. To freeze it. Either via camera or phone I try and grab the moments that leave my memory before I’ve had a chance to dwell and be thankful.

I was encouraged by a sweet friend to put up some pictures that show our ugly truth…the laundry, the dust, the dishes…the whatevers of life that get left when you are too busy living it (or living in it). All I could think is who wants to see that??  I mean really???

Then I sat down at my desk and noticed the poop.

poop in the corner pic

Oh yes, there it is next to the piles of papers the weasel spread about in his play time yesterday. A pile of poop in my beautiful, clean office.

 

 

And all I can do is laugh.

You see, my sweet sisters, everyone’s life is full of crap. I don’t care what church you go to, what you drive, where your kids get their education, or just how cute your Facebook pictures are. We’ve all got stuff to deal with.

And it is about time we started giving each other grace rather than grief.

It is about time as image-bearers of Christ we choose to laugh with each other and be willing to get close enough to someone to be able to cry with them. To carry their burdens and care for them. True friendships are not lived on Facebook and before you pass judgement, get off the computer/put down your phone and walk with someone in their life.

I want to live my life as openly as I can, because I really feel like that is who God calls me to be…to love on His girls and be honest about what’s hard in life. But, the truth is I won’t post that on social media…I LIVE life in our house…in our town, and freeze frame life online.

Want to see the full picture…come on over. You’ll leave our house with a belly full of food, your pants covered in dog hair, your ears chatted off and you’ll see that the sink is full of dishes, there are books stacked everywhere , the counter is dumping grounds for everything, the guinea pigs have as much of their shavings on the floor as in the cage, and I haven’t showered yet today.

But, hopefully, there will be no poop in the corner.

07 Jun

Lessons the Ladies Have Taught Me

320623_10151351862471753_660991136_n

It will end as quietly as it began. In a small Bible study in our home.

For most people the day will be unremarkable, but for me, even the square on the calendar is already full of memories, lessons and an unbelievable cast of characters.

Next week, I’ll teach my last women’s Bible study, putting a period at the end of one of the most beautifully life-changing seasons of my life…serving in women’s ministry. 

I got into women’s ministry, because I thought women needed a safe place to exhale and allow Jesus to love them….and I thought God was going to allow me to help Him love on them. And while, I’d like to think, that is what happened along the way, the truth is women’s ministry changed me, taught me, molded me. This Jesus girl needed to learn how to love and be loved and there were some lessons I had to learn along the way.

Lesson #1 – Where there are women, there is food

Be it a Bible study, a movie night, a retreat or anything else Jesus girls can bring some vittles now. Tables, counters, and plates piled high with deliciousness prepared and served with a whole lotta love and good bit of laughter.

 

Lesson #2 – We all need a place to just be women

Wife. Mother. Sister. Daughter. Granddaughter Friend. Ministry Leader. Executive. Teacher. Bookkeeper. Hostess. Maid. Neighbor. Servant. Helper. Driver. And SOOOOOOO many more. Women wear so many hats and take on so many roles everyday that it is often difficult to just set everything down and exhale.

And the truth is, most of us, don’t create space to exhale in our lives. We push and rush. We forgo sleep and beat deadlines. And we are tired and hurting. Unfulfilled and overworked.

This is where women’s ministry comes in — it gives us a space and place to allow women to just sit — to worship, to pray, to breathe, to feel God. A woman grounded in Jesus blooms in ways that people cannot miss. When women are refreshed and healing. When they are filled to overflow with the sweet truth of Jesus they pour out.

As women ministry leaders and teams it our responsibility to give women a safe place to immerse in the Word, find discipleship opportunities, and receive the love of Jesus from their eternal sisters.

 

Lesson #3 – We have got to get real

In the beginning I wanted women’s ministry to be pretty. Cute little parties. Music. Flowers. Decorations. Prizes. Pretty. But I soon found that life isn’t pretty. And ministry isn’t speakers, programs, or budgets. Ministry is life….it is a couple of Jesus girls looking for answers…for Him.

We need to stop entertaining people and start engaging. We need to be bold and brave, and take on topics like domestic violence, food addiction, parenting. We need to dig into the Word and help women make sense of it, apply it…GET it!! We need to turn off the movies, disconnect the sound system, and get women talking to each other…ministering to each other.

We need to put on our Jesus girl t-shirts and lay ourselves bare. Share our struggles, speak up about what we don’t understand, and pray for each other. No more prayer request gossip line sessions where we write it down and promise to pray later. Grasp hands, ugly cry if you need to, intercession for each other.

We need to learn to pray, laugh, learn and talk with unabashed honesty and be real with each other.

 

Lesson #4 – It is like herding cats

Somehow it doesn’t matter if there are 5 women in the room or 150, women are hard to lead. God harnessed incredible power and put it in women — passion, love, excitement, drive — and wrapped up in beauty, hormones and emotions. Then we wrap it all up our latest Kohl’s super-cheap, wicked-cute sale find.

You have to have the finesse of a well-seasoned politician; the moves of a Super Bowl receiver; the sense of humor of Betty White; the thick, tough skin of John Wayne and the wisdom of Solomon all wrapped up in one broken and flawed girl who is just trying to follow God. Cuz, us Jesus girls, we can have opinions (that we don’t mind sharing), and drama (Steel Magnolias ain’t got nothing on us), and comfort zones (and if you change something or move us out of it you WILL hear about it), and we have IMPOSSIBLE standards (how the church used to do it or how the church the down road did or how it looked on Pinterest).

It’s like herding cats — they go where they want, with claws and a sometimes a bit of hissing.

 

Lesson #5 – If it is not about Jesus, we have failed

 

I don’t care what the topic is. I don’t care what the point of the gathering is. I don’t care why the church/ministry/Bible study/group has decided to do it. If it isn’t about the Gospel — living it, teaching it, breathing it, learning it, sharing it….it isn’t important.

We don’t have to make Jesus flashy or fancy. There need be no entertainment or show. People need Jesus. They need us…the church…the leaders…the Jesus’ people…to live like Jesus works and help them find His Truth for their lives (in Word and in deed).

If we aren’t giving women the chance to learn about Jesus, equipping them to share Jesus in their lives, and loving on them like Jesus (through TRUTH and SERVICE) then we have failed.

“…one thing is needed….which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

 

Lesson #6 – God always shows up

No matter what we plan. It isn’t about us or our plans. It is about God and His girls. Year after year — church after church – event after event — woman after woman I have seen it. When we help women carve out time in their schedules to seek God — He shows up!!

He touches a hand lifted in worship.

He whispers to a weary heart surrendered in prayer.

He speaks in the testimony of His daughters.

He breaks through pain, He repairs friendships, He places the “right” person in our paths.

He is the comfort of a meal cooked for a hurting family.

He is in the laughter when His girls gather.

He is in the reflection of stain glass window when your knees are knocking as you speak.

He is in every detail….we need just look.

And that, really is, what I’ve come to know through this journey. That God is in every detail. That it isn’t our time or talent that make anything successful…it is the pure and holy love of our Savior wrapping around us.  He is reflected in every woman I have been blessed to laugh, cry, pray, talk, debate, learn, lead, follow, study, hike, play, serve, worship,  and love with over the years.

 

 

07 Nov

Take Off Your Cute

Shoes

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because they were cute, no matter how they felt when you tried them on? Come on, admit it…I know I’m not the only one.

We do this with more than shoes, you know. We do this in life. We think that we need to put on the cute. The fashionable. The easy to look at.

Photo courtesy of http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

I’m talking about the persona we put on.

We all do it. When someone asks, “How are you?” We say fine. Fine.

I don’t know where these unreal exteriors come from – I don’t think it is from tv or magazines…I think it is something deeper. Was Eve like that after the garden? She and Adam trying to carve out a life in a desolate area after being evicted from God’s glorious garden. Adam asks Eve, “How you doing honey?” Does she say, “fine.” Meanwhile screaming in her head…how do you think I’m doing we live in a desert, I disappointed God and these animal skins make me look fat!

We take on these unreal expectations that we can’t say things like, “times are tough” or “I’ve been better.” Or “God’s working something out in me.” Nope, we’re fine…just ask us.

We had an event to go to earlier in the year and I needed a pair of new black heels to go with the dress I was going to wear.  So, I bought these these super high, super cute black heels. So trendy. High heels. Barbie shoes, they are.

I put them on and tried to walk through my house. Channeling Marilyn Monroe I stood up straight and tossed my hips a little when I walked. Oooh, I was gonna turn my hunky hubby’s head with these. But in two or three steps I realized I was not Marilyn Monroe, heck I wasn’t even Marilyn Manson in these things! In order to stay up right I had to take tiny little steps and concentrate with every move.  It wasn’t going to happen. I was not meant to wear Barbie shoes.

We are not meant to wear Barbie shoes.

When God calls us into relationship with Him, he calls us as we are. He knows that we are all just hot messes looking for a place to happen. He knows that our truths – the realities of our sin, our hurts, and our lives aren’t pretty. He knows we are more like our feet than our shoes.

I think there is some comfort in that, when I really stop to realize that I don’t have to tell God my reality. He knows it. He knows the anger I struggle with and my love-hate relationship with food. He knows the world’s expectations for wives and mothers, and the realities of trying to raising a family while working full time. He knows the difficulties and stress of caring for an elderly parent while we are raising our family. He knows the difficulties and loneliness of being single. He knows our struggles to put down the labels of our past. He sees who we are under our cover of “fine”.

When we put on our “fine”, our Barbie shoes, we are covering up who we are, how much we need a Savior, and what Jesus is doing in our lives. Our fines not only distort our realities, but they discount the character and work of God.

The Words I speak about God’s good news mean more to someone who can see that my words are true because of the way I live, the way I behave. Letting people see God’s truth at work in my life means letting them into my life. (paraphrase from the book “Missional Mom”) Sharing God’s truth in my life isn’t about having a perfectly clean house, this season’s fashions, the “right” words or having my stuff altogether.  Sharing the truth of my life, being authentic, is an invitation for others to join into my life, no matter how messy my house may be, literally or figuratively, may be. It is about dropping the fine…and getting real.

It’s about understanding that underneath our cute we are all feet.

Let’s start getting real, today. For one day, ban the word “fine” from your vocabulary when someone asks how you are tell them the truth, the messy, real, this is who I am truth. And be prepared to ask real questions, not “how are you?” (Cuz we aren’t gonna let fine be the answer)…ask “how can I pray for you” or “what is God doing in your life?”

Take off your cute…your fine…you’ll find deeper relationships and chances to share Jesus lie underneath.

18 Jul

Power Ranger Truth

power rangers

The red one muttered something about evil winning, darkness overtaking them.

The yellow one said, “You can’t walk away. You can’t give up.”

The green one said something about being a team and friends and they wouldn’t let one give up.

(don’t you love the in-depth play-by-play so far??)

The show droned on and on (and on, and on, and on…), but I sat pondering the Truth that was just acted out in a cheesy, kids’ show kinda way. I had no idea in the next few days God would call me to become the yellow or the green Power Ranger (yep, Power Rangers!) in my own life….that I would be the one speaking the truth of perseverance and living out Biblical concepts of friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(just on a side note…how crazy cool is God that He can use a kids’ show to point me to Him and having me ponder a truth that I would need in the coming days?!?!?!?! Really.)

The truth is the pat answer (although entirely correct answer) of “we live in a fallen world” doesn’t make me feel any better when illness and disease attack those we love; when accidents cut short lives and change family landscapes; when parents grieve and worry for children; and life is full of “stuff” sometimes. When I look at things from my perspective, the human perspective, the self-centered perspective there’s no joy in suffering, there’s no hope in tomorrow, there’s no reason for the hard stuff.

BUT!! (oooh, there is always a but with God….filled with hope, redemption, restoration and love…if we choose to accept it!)

BUT!!

We aren’t meant to see things from a me centered place. We were made to worship an eternal God who shapes us and molds us, refines us and loves us into people shaped more like Him. And let’s be honest…shaping, molding, refining and tough love aren’t easy.

But this is where the truth of the Power Rangers comes in. We weren’t meant to do it alone. As those redeemed by Christ we are placed in a family of believers — that is SO MUCH BIGGER than just going to church together or sitting in a Bible study. It is a body…connected pieces…meant to work together and for each other. Meant to encourage and carry each other.

We are meant to be a team (costumes optional) that changes the world in Jesus’ power and along the way holds each other up.

I have dear friends that are going through “stuff”…the ugly cry, don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, sometimes life is just hard….”stuff”.  And I can’t fix it. I have no tangible way to make their days better or their hearts less troubled.

BUT! (ooh, that awesome, wait for it…the hope comes after the “but” moment)

BUT!! I know the ONE who can make a difference. Intimately. You see my friends and I belong to the same family. The same family. We live under the same covering. We are Jesus’ people.

So as these days are tough and slow for them, I am donning my green costume (cuz it matches my eyes) and I might even do some kicks and flips (um, yeah). Okay, well, at the very least I am living out the truth that I was reminded of as my children watched the tv…

Carry each other’s burdens…(Galatians 6:2)

I will be very intentional about friendship and life. Texts of encouragement, calls to just check in, knees red from interceding, scripture in emails and cards, and just love.

Because the truth is…we are a team and we won’t let anyone give up…

So who needs you today?

Who needs your encouragement or support?

Look around, ask God to lead you to them and get ready. Evil is waging war, darkness threatens to overtake, but we know how the story ends…victory already won the war. Christ wins. Christ won. Today, live like a conqueror and remind His people of His hope!!

15 Sep

Have You Prayed the Bra Prayer?

bra shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their voices echoed up and down the hallway. Chatter filled the air as the mothers gathered waiting to pick up their children. Sitting on the floor, I just watched. Listened. There was something unsettling in the air. Complaints. Negativity. Where was the encouragement? Laughter?

Another day I listened as a young woman excitedly shared the details of her current successes. As the last sentence hung in the air she turned expectantly to her friend. Waiting to see her excitement reflected she just stood there. But the reflection didn’t come, immediately her friend began telling her all the things that could or would go wrong and all the reasons she should be cautious. Visibly deflated the young woman shut down.

…encourage one another and build each other up… {1 Thessalonians 5:11}

God tells us we were meant to live with Christ, and therefore  we should build each other up. Lift each other up.

A supportive, encouraging friendship is like a good bra {stick with me here}, it improves the way we carry ourselves, changes the way we interact with the world around us, and it is something every woman needs!

Every woman.

We all have different friends we call for different things. You know the friend that is fun, outgoing and the must have on any girls night? How about the wise friend who always seems to have advice or perspective on your situation? Now how about the woman who always has a hug, an encouraging word and whose conversations leave you uplifted and inspired?

We all need that last woman. We all need to be that woman. We were made to be that woman. And, I know God provides opportunities everyday to just build someone else up.

Years ago I was super, super embarrassed to shop for undergarments at stores. Even being in the underwear section of a department store colored my cheeks pink and made me anxious. The thought of other people knowing I was buying, even wearing, a bra was more than I could bear. {ask my mom, I was a nightmare to shop with} But as I matured and grew into my body I realized that it was pretty obvious I wore a bra and so did other women…to be seen buying one wasn’t a huge embarrassment {I had many, many other reasons to be embarassed…my life is full of them}. And so I began shopping in department stores, buying decent bras and it changed my life. It quite literally, lifted me up. {okay, I know, border line sharing violation}

And as I get older it is these kind of friendships that I look for. The ones that build me up, the ones full of mutual encouragement and God’s love.

And the more I look to find this kind of friend the more I look to be this kind of friend. I’ve begun to pray that I can be a like a bra in friendship for others.

I am asking for God to point out the women who need a kind word, a hug, and more.

It used to be that I could remember anyone’s name and the details they told me. In recent years motherhood and the busyness of life has started to make my memory fuzzy. I ask God daily to help me listen and remember, because I know there will come a time when I see a woman and what she needs more than anything is to know that someone remembers her name and cares enough about her life to ask after the details.

And I am learning to be the woman who can celebrate another’s successes with her, regardless of the current hand I’m dealt. To be the mirror reflecting the enthusiasm and excitement.

I have a reality tv addiction. {um don’t judge} And I’ve been seeing it there too. Women so busy complaining, back biting and focusing on themselves that real friendships fizzle and life is lonely. Yes, I know these things boost ratings, but it is a sad reality I am watching play out on the screen of life. There were no ratings gimmicks in the hallway as I sat and listened, and yet every conversation was someone complaining about something.

Jesus himself warned us that what we say tells what is in our hearts, and one day we will give account for it.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

I can’t imagine standing in front of Jesus and watching the scenes of my life. The thought that together we will watch a divine appointment He had set for me, and then we’ll see me fill the air with negativity, miss the moment to listen to another’s heart or just plain fill the moment with useless chatter about myself. The disappointment reads on the woman’s face in the flashback scene. Then imagine the look of disappointment on Jesus’s face. We’ll give an account for every empty word. Empty words. Those that don’t love, encourage, exhort, empower. How that pricks my soul to think that missing the moment here is missing a moment to be closer to and more like Jesus.

Jesus is our friend. He loves us. And through that love He wants us to love others. To encourage and uplift each other. To fill up with Him so that we overflow into the lives of others.

It is a learned behavior this business of filling up with God and intentionally overflowing on others. It is something we were made to do. Designed to do.

So as you get dress each morning pray the bra prayer, “Lord let me be supportive and uplifting for someone today.” I know it is silly and you likely just rolled your eyes at me, but you must admit you won’t easily forget it.

Father, I ask you today to continue to help us be a friend like Jesus, one that lifts, loves and pours into another’s life. Set divine appointments and remind us to be your love in an overwhelmed and often uncaring world. Help us learn to fill up with you so that the fruit of our  lips will be the love of our Jesus, so that today and everyday unto eternity our lives would give an account of our faith. Amen.

27 Apr

In Search of Friends

In her final moments, they were with her. After weeks of cleaning her home, doing her laundry, administering her medication, cooking for her and so much more they sacrificed sleep and comfort zones to hold her hand as death knocked. They weren’t her sisters, hired help or nurses…they were her friends.

Even in my grief I was aware of how well these women had loved my aunt. And in the days and weeks since Kriss’s death I have marveled at what she built in life. Any Saturday Kriss could be found at a soccer game or birthday party for her friends children. Her life centered around the people she loved.  She lived life with them — shopping, eating, supporting…giving of herself. She invested wholly in the people she loved and they felt every ounce of it.

One truth has come glaringly into focus for me. I don’t have friends. Not friends like that. I have some girlfriends who I study with, go out to eat with now and then, but I don’t have the kind of friends who would put their lives on hold to help me fight the demons at the door (be they cancer, depression or sudden emergency).

Why?

Why?

I don’t invest in my friendships the way I should. I spend much of life in competition with other women; many of whom don’t even know my name…let alone that I’m determined to win at what I perceive they are good at. “My children are more obedient than hers” (go ahead dare to think that thought…your children will then proceed to melt down in Target screaming and throwing things). “I need to go shopping so I can look as cute and put together as she does.” “My husband holds my hand too, but I wish we looked that in love.” “Before the ladies come over next week, I need to get some fresh flowers for the bathroom so my house looks like one from the magazines.” I spend so much time letting my insecurities steer my life that I have been missing something incredible.

Those children who are melting down; their mother looks tired and sad, perhaps I can pray for her and offer her a small smile. You know the kind of look that says “hang in there, I understand.” There’s no woman with a put together house or outfit that isn’t covering up the same brokenness I am. And no marriage is perfect or without moments of disconnect, instead of caring how we look on Sunday morning, I need to invest in our quiet moments at home that are the foundation for our life together.

You know what I really missed, though? Friendship.

I wait for people to call me or choose to send them a little message on Facebook. I don’t reach out. I’m not vulnerable. I want to wait for someone to invest in me fully before I invest in them at all. You know what that equals…loneliness.

I’m a women’s ministry leader, I love women! I want them to make incredible friendships that grow in God. I want them to learn to trust each other and understand that God designed us to be relational…we are meant to have friends. But more than that we are meant to BE a friend. I need that women’s ministry as much as anyone else!

So, in the months that I have been wading through grief for the loss of one of my closest friends, my Aunt, I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ve been trying to pick up the phone more. To reach out. To offer to help. To let down my guard. To learn to be the friend that Kriss was.

In a little less than a month we will be officially kicking off our Women’s Ministry for Mountain View Community Church (my amazing church home). We are in the midst of planning an incredible night of food, fun and teaching for our women. But there is some personal prep going on in my home…I’m getting ready to just be me. If I trip walking across the stage, well then I can’t be any more me! If I’m not the most put together cutie there, that’s okay, I can compliment the other women on their outfits. I pray that God allows me to leave my walls and baggage at home and just go meet His girls; the women He’s placed in the next pew or around the block for a reason.

I’m going in search of friends (wow, not in the weird stalkerish way that sounded…in a sweet kinda way!!).

%d bloggers like this: