26 Nov

A Defeated Holiday

thanksgiving table

I laid in the dark, eyes closed.

Echoes up the hallway delivered the sounds of the holiday…laughter, cups clinking, football on tv, kiddos feet running back and forth, stories, chatter, smack talk, dishes being scraped or piled high.

It was a day…a week…a month…a season…to give thanks and as I lay in the dark thanks seemed far away.

Buried under piles of blankets and cold medications my week of Thanksgiving preparations had been pushed off onto another; one goal, now, to get over it. To be healthy enough to cook for the family that would gather round in days…hours…minutes…..

Super-sized balloons and Rockette kicks filled the living room and my determination pushed me into the kitchen. I was well enough to push through and enjoy this day of my favorite things (or many of them)…cooking, eating, family, giving thanks….living.

And yet as the meal drew closer and the house filled up I found myself fading quickly. I managed to eat a few bites of food and help serve those pies that looked so good.

And then while others were busy I whispered to my hubby, I need to go lie down.

Defeated I lay in the dark.

This cold, strep, flu monster thing had won. I was down and hardly thankful.

But as I laid in the dark, I began to listen to the stories and the laughter. The love that fell from Grandmother voices into child ears. The cheers and smack talk of football fans gathered with coffee and second pie servins. Thanksgiving was filling the house — the scents still lingered, the love was being lived out, and the sounds swirled around me.

And there in the dark, I found something….my thankful.

I’m thankful for our family (near and far).

I’m thankful for this house where we host Bible studies, throw parties, celebrate holidays and live our slice of Jesus.

I’m thankful for grace….the gift of unmerited favor that flows into my life from a God I can hardly comprehend. This gift that allows me to love and serve Him and those He blesses me with.

I am thankful for you….yes, you my friend. Some of you I know and I can think of your sweet faces as I write. Others, we’ll not know each other this side of heaven perhaps, but I pray for you, I dream of you, I write for you, I laugh at my life with you and I pray that you are looking for kisses from our God who loves you so much!!!!

There in the dark of Thanksgiving I felt a nudge in my soul….you’ve got it all, every day, don’t lose sight today. And I had, I had lost sight of all the reasons to say thank you…of the feeling of counting grace.

My grace is sufficient for you…{2 Corinthians 12:9} When I saw my life through His filter the truth of these words NEVER rang so true.

Happy Season of Thanksgiving, my friends.

09 Nov

Yardstick of Truth

yardstick

The words seem to jump off the page and move around in front of me.

…received the message with great eagerness…

…examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true…. {Acts 17:11}

I am struck to the core…almost dumbfounded for a moment…they checked Paul’s words against the Scriptures to see if what he said was true. Paul. Paul who wrote almost a  third of the New Testament. Paul who is our go-to guy for doctrine, law, conduct and more…Paul.

And I begin to wonder how I receive what is taught to me. Am I eager when I listen to a message preached or taught?? Do I take notes, write down references, list my questions and wait with excitement  to hear God’s truth. The answer, sometimes. Sometimes I am eager to hear what the pastor, speaker or teacher is ready to bring. Other times I’m checked out {a million excuses for my brain being somewhere else} or I’m distracted {squirrel!!}.

Eager. I need to work on that.

I’m ashamed to admit to my Jesus that I’m not eager to hear the truth of His love, sacrifice and my need  for Him…at least not all the time.

But there is something bigger about these words jumping off the page. Something convicting…nearly painful.

Do I examine the Scriptures to see if what I’m being “fed” is true? Not just point to the verse in my Bible as someone reads it or plugs it into a sermon or crafts a beautiful paragraph on the pages of the latest book….really check to see if they measure up to the Bible…meanings, context, continuity of the Bible as a whole.

No.  The answer is no.

The Bereans {the people mentioned in Acts 17:11} checked everything against the Scripture (they had) to see if what he was saying was true. Paul. The man of God whose hand penned words that God gave to speak straight into our lives.  Wow!!

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I am supposed to check what Pastors, speakers, teachers, books, etc. say. I do know that, but I don’t practice it enough.

But lately….

Somewhere deep in my soul there are nudges, bumps, alarms and whistles going off….there are things that don’t sit well with me. And I pray…ask…beg…God to help me find the Truth, see the Truth…know the Truth.

And then today, these words begin to come off the page.

 

 

examine…Scripture…true

A reminder…an answer…the Truth is in my hands…those books, speakers, concepts, teachings that grieve my Spirit…it is to this yardstick they have to be held.

Does it hold up?? Is it true?

Not just was the Bible open when they preach, is the verse(s) they are using actually about that subject matter…not some sort of holy Mad Libs where we plug-in verses that have the right words in the sentences.

Not just that they put it up on the screen, but is the really in the Bible {my Bible} where they say it is. What version are they using?

So my stack of books has gotten bigger. These books that are shaping ministries, changing lives and being passed around in frenzied chatter…they’ve got my attention. I’m checking scripture, verifying concepts, and just seeing for myself that they are true.

Am I the only one that gets lax about this? Do you check the sources that are speaking into your life? I mean really check? I encourage you, if you don’t already, please start. We trust so many to speak to us — so many sources — but we need to know that they are worthy of that trust. And even after we know they are worthy of that trust, they are human…mistakes will be made and we need to be so into the Word of God that we can find the Truth and help hold each other accountable.

I want to become a woman who is eager to receive the message that God has to deliver to me {however that comes}. I want to be a woman who measures everything against the yardstick of the Truth!!

 

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.

05 Nov

Who is Flirting with Your Man?

anniversary

I watched her tilt her head slightly as she talked to him. She leaned in against the counter, head tilted, laughing a little when she spoke.

She was flirting. With him.

WITH HIM. Him…my husband…she was flirting with him.

I  grew to the size of the Hulk…big, imposing, angry…a force to be reckoned with. {in my head} Outwardly, I stood close by watching, trying my best not to snarl or let on that I was one head tilt away from needing bail money.

And somewhere deep within me a whisper pricks my heart, makes my soul ache. Are you mad cuz she’s flirting or mad because you don’t flirt with him like that anymore?

He never flirts back with her. In fact, he says later he didn’t notice her flirting, and that should be enough to make my wretched, jealous inner witch stand down, but it’s not. I am irritated and wound up, and the more I dwell on it, the more I wonder why I am upset. Why is this nameless girl in some random restaurant {who my husband didn’t notice} causing me to lose it?

That voice somewhere in me really is at the core of what’s bothering me…do I flirt with my husband?

I think fondly back to dating, engagement, and newlywed moments. Times before kids, ministry, bills, family struggles, and life put space between us. Stolen kisses on the way to the car; holding hands across the center console; secret winks and glances across crowded rooms; being excited when he walked in the room; emails sent full of flirtations and plans; late night calls that whisper “I am home, I miss you;” being introduced as “Mrs.” and “my wife” made me giddy and proud.

Love blossomed under showers of flirtations, discovery, interest and chemistry. Electric moments punctuated the every day sentences of our life — his hand on the small of back, kisses under the mistletoe in our kitchen, a hug that lingers in the moonlight.

Perhaps this nameless girl awakened something in me…the drive to be the one that flirts with my man. Do you flirt with your husband?

So here is the mission {should you choose to accept it}: flirt with your husband. Find little ways, every day, to turn his head…make him feel sexy and loved…be the woman who surprises him…the one he doesn’t want to take his eyes off…reassure him that he’s attractive, he’s wanted, he’s important to you…

…play footsie at dinner…

…catch his eye from across the room…hold his gaze…

…walk him to the door and kiss him {like you mean it} before he heads out the door in the morning…

…text him — thoughts, plans, what you are wearing….

…steal kisses…

 

…hold his hand in the car…

…touch his arm while he’s talking to you…

…stand closer, lean into him, linger…

…hang mistletoe someplace unexpected {hey Christmas is coming!} and hijack him…

…wear that shirt he likes on you, or those knickers, and make sure he knows you have them on…

…leave love notes on the mirror, on sticky notes around the house, in his shoes, on his steering wheel…

…flirt on Facebook or other social media…

…offer him a back rub or foot rub…

…greet him with his fav dinner dressed in something skimpy…

…be interested in what he’s interested in…

…do things to make him laugh…

 

So you get the point. I’m sure there are a million ways to flirt. So get to it…I am. Tonight, in mere minutes actually, we are headed out for date night. I will flirt with this green eyed boy who stole my heart. Not because some woman did, but because I have been given the amazing blessing of calling him husband and I want him to know he is loved, adored, attractive, needed and wanted.

I’ve heard it said before, and I’m sure they are right, if you aren’t paying attention to your man someone else will. And so my question is, who is flirting with your man?

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….

31 Oct

Learning to be Still

He bounces up and down on one leg.

He bounces up and down on one leg and starts singing.

He bounces up and down on one leg, singing in his made up language, and tapping his pencil on his notebook.

I want to yell “stop it” “quiet”!! But I don’t. I watch.

He is a constant little noise machine, this little man of ours. (And to think he was known as the quiet one not so long ago.) He is wiggling, moving, making noises, thinking, watching, observing, going…ALL THE TIME, I tell you.

I bit my tongue and watched him. Isn’t this one of the freedoms of homeschool?  I tell myself as I watch him.

Within minutes he has brought his workbook to me…all answers correct and neatly done.

And while I cherish this freedom he has to work and move, to make noise and think…I know there are skills we need to work on with him.

To be still.

An art all but lost in our society.

Still.

 

No phones, no tvs, no computers, no radios, no games…no noise. No distractions.

And as I watch this boy child move through the house with his whirling noises and flailing arms, I smile.

He is not the only one who needs to learn to be still…I know.

Radio on and phone(s) within reach…I’m just as guilty where I stand.

Be still…

No phones, no tvs, no computers, no radios, no games, no noise, no books, no talking….no distractions.

What does being still before God mean?

An audience with the king…don’t speak until He speaks to you, wait, listen, observe.

Even when I pray, am I still?

Do I wait upon the Lord? Eyes and heart open…mouth closed. Listening. Do I seek a place to bow low before God where phones don’t ring, where all is turned off and out-of-the-way? Do I stop talking at Him, listing my needs, and worries? Do I ever get to a place where the only sound is my breath as I breathe His name…my silent invitation to fill up this space around me emptied for Him.

Oh, how I need to learn to be still. To immerse myself in the space where heart and Spirit meet…drenched in the fullness of silence where Jesus whispers.

It is a process, a learning curve this seeking silence. Even as I type I wonder what that looks like — the place, the space, the habits yet made. These are things I must work on.

I think of Jesus who sought time alone with God — left behind the people and distractions of this world to bathe Himself in His Father’s presence. (Mark 1, Matthew 14)

In order to be more like Him, my Savior, I must adopt His habits and seek His presence.

Be still…and know that He is God….

Father God, thank you for the model of Jesus’ life. Thank you for wanting me to learn to be more like Christ. Help me, please, to learn to be still, to listen and be with You in a new way…a beautiful, soul-quenching space to breathe You in. Help me teach my children to be still…to lean into you and be still myself. Help me to put away, and get away from, all the distractions and give you the best moments of my day. Amen.

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!!

 

26 Oct

A Postcard From Nineveh

551097_10151310266343327_2115006907_n

“Arise, go…

The words sound electric when he sings them. Arise and go…his voice fills the theater and my heart beats a little faster. Yes…that’s it I want to go where God says “go”, but……………….

~~

Plants, murals, high ceilings. Whirligigs, stuffed creatures and brightly colored everything for sale in every corner. Sight and Sound theater (in Lancaster, PA) was a delight to the senses already and we hadn’t even gotten past the disney-esque lobby.

 

 

Mouth open, camera out I stood very touristy, just trying to take it all in. Whew, I thought this show will be great. And then, the words came, “I get it,” my hubby said, bright greens eyes dancing, “We’re at Jonah, and you keep telling me you want to be go where God wants you to go.”

Somewhere deep within me an alarm began to sound. Uh-oh. How in the world had I missed this? How had I missed the fact that I have been wrestling with God over where we go to church, what my ministry looks like, and more. And in it all I just keep saying, I want to do what you want me to do Lord, but…..

Now here we were, Jonah about to unfold on the stage before us. Uh-oh.

The show is fantastic. The music, the sets, the costumes…truly a delight. Watching our kids on the edge of their seats, mouths open, excited about this passionate (creative) portrayal of the Bible makes a mama’s heart happy. It all unfolds around us, above us, through the aisles.

I don’t have a Nineveh, God. There isn’t a place I wouldn’t go for you.

On stage, Jonah flees, runs, argues with God. I’m beginning to feel less like Jonah. My hunky hubby had me worried for nothing…I’m just here to enjoy the show.

Jonah’s words…in the show…this creative portrayal…suddenly they are mine. Literally the exact words I’ve used in our discussions lately, the exact words! My stomach began to twist. Inner alarms going off. Uh-oh.

Boats, winds, storms, whales, sinking….hiding from God…….And then Nineveh looms large on the stage. Imposing. Scary.

(photo courtesy of Sight and Sound Theater)

I don’t have a Nineveh, God. There isn’t a place I wouldn’t go for you.

And as I watched the rest of the show unfold I began to get it. I am in the place God told us (our family) to be and I complain, wrestle, argue and am generally a sourpuss out the whole thing. My words, Jonah’s words, they haunt me. And I know…it isn’t about how I feel…it is about God’s glory. And when the Sovereign Lord says, “Arise and go….” it isn’t to check to see if I want to or only if I feel like it. No “arise and go…” is a cue that He’s got some glory to shine and I/we are blessed to play some part. But our part in God’s plan requires obedience…requires faith, patience and a willing heart.

And I began to see, across the landscape of my life, many Nineveh’s…places I don’t want to go with the Lord. Places where it feels different than I want it to. Places where comfort and my plans aren’t the order of the day. Places that hold my fears, worries and possible failures…places I avoid.

Total obedience isn’t just about where my feet are pointed. Total obedience isn’t just about what I am doing on the outside. Total obedience is about my heart. THAT is God’s whole point in this process…taking this heart marred by sin and life and making it more like Christ’s. There’s no comfort in scrubbing out stains and reshaping my heart {thinking of how our children smash, mash, and punch play dough to get it into different shapes}. It’s not about  feeling comfortable, it’s about  becoming more Christlike.

Some of the hard truths I’m learning in Nineveh.

I don’t want to fail. God can succeed in my failures…His plan is about something bigger than my pride. God’s success is not contingent on our perception of win or lose, success or failure. No God’s success…His glory…lies in who He is. In grace. Mercy. Power. Justice. Love.

I want everyone to like me. It’s more important for people to know Christ than it is for them to like me.

I want to feel happy and comfortable. I have joy, through the Holy Spirit, in Christ…I need to learn that He is enough…the joy there. The feeling of doing what you are made to do far exceeds any comfort zone…hands down.

But I want, what I want. It’s not about me.

And there I sat. Tears pouring down my cheeks. Sitting in Nineveh in the middle of Lancaster. I didn’t want to run anymore.

I don’t want to be swallowed by a whale or darkness. I don’t want to be separated from my Jesus or disappoint Him. I don’t want to miss one chance to be part of the extraordinary with God.

And as you read this, perhaps you have exhaled thinking…God’s not asking me to go anywhere…I’m off the hook. But I challenge you, examine your life…God is calling you to something, to someone, to the hard stuff of love and life. Check your heart, what is your attitude like. Obedience is a heart issue…how’s yours?

My friends, I’ll send you a postcard from Nineveh….a postcard from a place where I let God grow, shrink or change this ministry He’s called me to…a postcard from places where I don’t fit in and they don’t do things how I think they should…a postcard from a stop on my journey to become more Christlike….a postcard from places where God has some glory to shine!

Father, oh how I want to be the woman you want me to be. But it’s hard and scary. I worry about failing, about not being liked, about our family having to love people who don’t like us or want us there. But, I know that I know that I know that I know that You have some glory to shine and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of your plan. Lord, please forgive my unbelief and help me to lean into you! I want to “arise and go” with a heart full of Spiritfilled joy!! Amen.

 

 

 

24 Oct

We Were Made to Fit Together

wedding kiss

When he wraps me in his arms we are a perfect fit. My ear rests over his heart…I can hear it beat for me.

We were made for each other this hunky man and me.

Eight years ago {yesterday, technically} I stood and looked in green eyes that sparkled with love and a promise of his forever. I became his wife. He became my husband.

Two became one. Two woven together with the One became a cord of three.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I had no idea when those words were read at our ceremony how true they were….how life and time would become object lessons….how God made  us to fit together in Him.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor

Oh how the work of life gets easier when we work together side-by-side, Jesus between us. Housework, ministry, parenting, gardening and life they aren’t so heavy when we carry it together. When we laugh and flirt our way through the everydayness of life. The good return for our labor is accomplishment, love, fun and glory for God!

If either of them falls down,  one can help the other up

Life has a way of knocking  you down, doesn’t it? Prayers offered in the depths of postpartum depression. Comfort food fixed for dinner when work is tough. A united front in parenting. Hands held over the death-bed of a loved one. When we seek to love each other and serve each other in the midst of this messy world we lift each other up.

But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up

For God made us to fit together in Him…when we step outside of Him our pride, sin and life get between us. When we are blinded to glory of God, we fail to help each other up. When the sun sets on arguments or doors are slammed on apologies. It is a moment to be pitied.

Oh, but the sweetness of grace! The warmth of an embrace when forgiveness has been offered. The reminders of how we are meant to be together when God steps in and settles the dust.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?

There is such security in knowing that I am his forever. That his love is bigger than whatever the scale says, deeper than my struggles and is rooted in the One who created him for me. Even as he snores and sleeps with his feet on his pillow there is warmth there. Because there is security there. A love secure in God.

Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Alone, I struggle. With my husband we find shelter in God…defend ourselves back-to-back against the world and all it throws at us. And in God…it is right…we were made to fit together in Him. A perfect fit, him and me.

Marriage is God’s plan and it doesn’t get better than when we live out God’s plan for our lives.

As you read this today, we are off celebrating the day God started our family. We are on a family road trip, hotels, pools, dinner out, Jonah at the Sight and Sound theater. I know he will look my way and wink or place his hand on the small of my back. Little signals of I love you. His green eyes will give me butterflies. His smile will make my heart flutter. There will be a card with words that cut straight to my heart. There will be holding hands, flirting and stolen kisses. And prayers of thanks for eight years of love and 63 more of this fitting together in our God.

Happy Anniversary, my hunky hubby. Thank you for making me your wife. I thank God for your love, protection, provision, laughter and heart. You are my biggest blessing.

22 Oct

Give Them Jesus

they need Jesus

“They need Jesus. That’s why we need you.”

She sits just a few feet away, this woman I admire. I look up to. And in casual conversation she says something that strikes a chord somewhere in me.

It is so much more than a reason for asking me to speak at a retreat {which is what the conversation was about}. It is about Jesus. About me.

And then a few days ago, I read this.

Now, I’m restless.

Restless I tell you.

Approachable words filled with Jesus. Words that live, encourage, lead, shape, mold. Can I find those words? No.

But, somewhere deep, God whispers…they are My words….give them My words.

A deep breath….over and over again.

Prayer…over and over again.

Writing. Rewriting. Breathing. Prayer.

Late into the night…struggling to write.

I’m not a speaker, I began to say {to anyone that would listen}, I’m a Bible study teacher. I’m not a woman gifted to stand in front of a crowd and tell them how to live the life of a Christian woman.

And then I felt it…I knew it.  I wasn’t called to be a speaker. Echoes in my head…they need Jesus…give them my words.

I began to craft messages around Bible study — when I dug into the Word I could speak for hours…how interesting, amazing, fulfilling God’s Word is. When we look into the depths of the Bible we find the stories of a loving God who wraps eternity around His beloved and expresses love in ways that will never be paralleled.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  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 1:1-4

Give them my words…give them Jesus.

The Word is Jesus. When you teach the Bible…when you teach the Word you teach Jesus.

God had already given me everything I needed – a passion for His girls and love for the Bible.

My friend’s words had struck a chord because that chord plays the notes of my soul…what God made me to be….just a Bible teacher.

I struggled with nerves and worries of disappointing God, but I pushed through…obedience became a theme…this was bigger than me, my fears, or my nerves…someone needed to hear Jesus and God presented me with the opportunity to be the bearer of a beautiful gift. It was my choice — as the things of God always are. I could choose to walk away, but no matter how big the butterflies {or vultures} were in my stomach I knew this was going to be a defining moment in my walk with God…in me.

The words of that blog {linked above} ring in my ears like music…calling me…moving me. “We need Jesus.  We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travellers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus – not to the sale at the mall.” SarahBessey.com

It is an honor and a weight this calling of teaching and bringing Jesus. That I’m looked at as anything more than a flawed and broken girl trying to figure it out seems scary and overwhelming. But when I lean into God, dig into the Bible and just be honest about how beautiful God’s grace is {even in the midst of my messy life} all the pieces fall into place. God is faithful to accomplish His purposes through His word {Isaiah 55:11}.

How can you honor God today?

What step can you take toward finding or stepping toward what He is calling you to do?

How can you bring someone just a little bit of Jesus today?

Father, thank you for Your Word. That in the beat up and worn pages of my Bible I can touch, read, and absorb the majesty of my beloved Creator. Whew. Thank you for making us for a future, for a calling, for being parts of the body of Christ. How blessed we are to carry pieces of Jesus to give to others. Help us to share Your Word, memorize Scripture and share it, study the Bible…Let us be women of the Word because that makes us women of Jesus. Amen.

 

19 Oct

I Know Why Jesus Wept

Jesus wept

Husband fighting addiction.

Bodies wracked with chronic pain.

Children lost, searching for answers.

Mental illness causing chaos and family strife.

Money’s tight, bills are piling up, and there is no work on the horizon.

Words that cut to the soul…grace and forgiveness hard to grasp.

Depression lingers and heart is heavy.

I know why Jesus wept.

I’ve prayed with these women, and more, this week. Women struggling under the weight of life’s heartaches. Women broken. Crying.

It is late and I lay here in the dark, tears running down my cheeks.

And I cry out to God…they need you…they are hurting….help them….help me help them.

Yet He whispers to my heart…the day will come, I will wipe away their tears.

Tears shed in strangers living rooms or face buried in a pillow, none are missed by God. He collects them in His bottle. That even your tears are precious to your Creator….oh, that’s love.

As my tears fall, and I approach that “ugly” cry, I begin to understand why Jesus wept.

How do you carry these burdens? I whisper to God. How does your heart not break?

And He whispers, Jesus wept.

Standing before Mary, Martha, and the rest of the mourners Jesus is moved to tears. {John 11:35} Not for Lazarus’ death, for He knows the plan of raising him. No, Jesus weeps silent tears of compassion for those mourning in front of Him. Their broken hearts touch His, and cries with them…for them.

 

 

God’s glory shined on the other side of their tears. His plan for miracles, resurrection and faith building was watered by their tears…poured into their empty vessels. God had a plan, but still Jesus wept.

We are not left to suffer and cry on our own. No, dear friends, we are given a Savior whose eyes fill with tears of compassion and love.

God has a plan. There is glory for Him in the miracles, resurrection and faith building on the other side of this storm in your life.

So my friend, let me whisper to your heart, you are not alone in this. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior His heart beats for you…He weeps for you when you hurt, when it’s too much, when it’s hard. And I know, that I know, that I know that He waits for the day when He will forever dry your tears. And if He is not yet, your Savior, my friend, He waits for you…He’s whispering to your hurting heart come to me.

Tonight I am comforted by my God who tells me I’m not alone. Who reassures my burdened heart with reminders of what I know of Jesus and His love. As I lay my head down, I pray more…still…oh how they need You, Father.

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you that you hear our prayers, that you collect our tears, that you gave us Jesus. There are so many women…families…people that are hurting and struggling under the weight of so much. I beg you, Father, touch them tonight…bring relief, comfort, rest…allow them to feel You, please. In the days and weeks ahead, please help me to bring comfort. To pray. To call. To show them tangible compassion. To remind them of Jesus. Amen.

16 Oct

A Weedish Offering

offering 2

The front door crashes open.

Little hands meet mine. Palms open I receive little flowers…broken, mangled, dry, crushed….beautiful.

I cherish those little yellow flowers, the clover, the grass, and whatever else finds its way into the little bouquets delivered by peanuts with sparkling eyes.

I trim them carefully and place them in vase, with all the loving care the florists use for the most expensive flowers and arrangements.

They look little, broken, dry…almost weedish…in their tiny vase. A vase salvaged just for small little, weedish bouquets. Every time I fill up the vase I wonder if this is the last time. Will they grow out of it next week? Will the somedays when little boys aren’t interested in kissing their mamas and delivering flowers come too soon?

His little love offering to me….

 

I begin to ponder these weeds. That no matter how they look, how clumsily they are delivered they bring joy to a mother’s heart.

I suppose my life…my offering to God…is not much more than this handful of late season weeds.

This sin-wracked life is broken…mangled…dry…crushed.

But as I seek my God, who longs for me to come to Him, perhaps the light cast on my handful of weeds changes. Perhaps as I come to God…as I try to be the woman He made me to be…perhaps my weedishness softens.

In the light of Heaven’s grace…of mercy…of eternity…of a God who knows that my dirty hands clenched tight around this life are trying to learn to deliver all I have to Him…my handful of weeds looks breathtaking, lovely.

You see, nothing matters with out the light of God cast on it. If we are living only to survive, not to thrive and shine. If we are living to fill up on what the world offers, not pouring out what God has given. If we are clutching our lives, instead of offering them up for God to mold, direct and breathe life into. It is an ugly, sad bunch of weeds.

But, oh my friends, how does it change when we are willing to open our palms and hold it all to the One who says, Come!! I wonder does God’s heart swell like mine when little palms deliver little offerings? Does He kiss our foreheads with heavenly glory just as I kiss my peanuts?

I watch my little man run off. Off to find more flowers to deliver. Some will be dropped, lost along the way. Others will be bent, broken, mangled. Some were dry and wilted before they were ever delivered. But for my little man, it is never about the flowers or the run up and down the hill to get them. No, it is about giving them to his mama.

The lesson there for us is palpable….the lump in my throat is too…our life is meant to be lived full of joy and expectancy as we go about the business of living for our God who loves us. Who dotes on us. Who is the beautiful light that changes all we are and all we offer.

What handful of weeds can you offer to your Jesus today? Can you give Him control…trust that He is big enough for your circumstances? Can you serve someone in His name today? Can you tell someone about the Savior who waits open-handed for your weedish offering?

 

 

Father, thank you that see the beauty in my broken, that you receive my offering from grimy hands, that you loved me enough to give me Jesus. Thank you for little peanuts whose simple, unfiltered love teaches me about how I can and should come to you. Thank you for accepting my weedish life and help me to continue to offer it to You. Amen.

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