Monday, October 29, 2012

Sweep Around Your Own Front Porch

This weekend, I got an overwhelming urge to Fall-ify our house.  Our curb appeal has had a split personality since September.   The oversize mum and collection of pumpkins combined with the leftover summer wreath have been a very eclectic mix.  Something overcame me on Saturday, and with the scent of pumpkin pie and the anticipation of Thanksgiving family gatherings at the forefront of my mind, I decided my home needed some autumn attention.

As visions of Pinterest projects danced through my mind, I convinced my wonderfully accommodating husband to journey into the attic.  :)  Once again, I'm thankful that he loves me unconditionally, even if he occasionally rolls his eyes at my requests.   Armed with boxes having yet to be unpacked, I tackled the tablescape in my dining room before journeying to the front porch. (Note: this no longer resembles a homeschool table and all further studies will convene to the desk in the schoolroom where they belong instead of trickling over to my Better Homes & Gardens least until after Christmas!  Now my kids are the ones rolling their eyes.)

I suppose a sliver of my desire to nest came from the sudden realization that I completely missed the homey decorating of my favorite season last year.  At the peak of fall, we were in full travel mode, spending maybe 3 or 4 days in our temporary home the entire month of October.  In fact, last October, this same weekend, we were here in Cumberland interviewing for the position we are now serving in.  I remember whispering quietly with Kevin late Sunday night in a hotel room with the kids sleeping nearby as we searched the internet and newspaper for available homes.  I remember finding the perfect home for us on a less than perfect street...and wanting to turn my head and cover my children's eyes as we drove down that street to view the house.  The elaborate..and frankly, scary...Halloween displays on many of the houses made me want to immediately do a U-turn.

Just a few days ago, those Halloween decorations came back to haunt me.   This is home now, and I still want to turn my head and cover their eyes when we drive home each day.  But this is the season we are in.  And, truth be told, although I am not a fan of Halloween, I adore Autumn.

As I stood on my porch giving it a Fall makeover, I thought about those houses.  I wished their porches could be free of skeletons, spiderwebs, tombstones, and scary faces and instead could reflect the beauty of the mine.  And then,  moving things around,  I discovered an intricate spiderweb in the corner.  It was a masterpiece...and it had obviously been there for some time, receiving no attention from me.  As I looked closer, I saw that though my porch was being decorated with beautiful things, it was in desperate need of attention that a new wreath on the door would not solve.    As I picked up the broom and begin to rid my porch of the cobwebs, dust, and debris, the Holy Spirit whispered quietly to me "Sweep Around Your Own Front Porch".

My broom stopped its motion as the words began to penetrate my heart.  I thought about how I might have judged who was living inside the houses down the street by what the exterior looked like and the decor they chose to represent them.  My heart filled with sadness as the more I cleaned, the more I realized how much had gone unnoticed on my own porch simply because the pretty wreath on the door had drawn my eyes upward.  As I walked around the exterior of my our house, I found more tell tale signs of neglect.  Don't judge me, but I found Christmas wreaths from last year still leaning on one porch.  Granted they were no longer hanging, but they had never made their way to the attic.  I said don't judge me :).

In the beautiful way that the Holy Spirit writes parables for me to understand, I realized that if I'm not careful, it is so easy to fall into this same trap when relating to others outside the realms of seasonal decorating.   I'm talking to myself here, but I know I'm not alone.  We are quick to find fault in others for the inadequacies or bad choices they wear like a billboard on their chest.  But all the while, beyond our smug got-it-all-together exteriors lays a neglected heart corroded with debris that needs our attention.  Jesus address this in Matthew 7:5 when he instructs us to remove the beam out of our own eye so we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brother (or sisters) eye.  It's so easy to ignore what we need to fix when our vision is clouded and our attention diverted by what annoys us most about others.  We need to examine the hidden places on our porches, the nooks and crannies, where it is easy for things to creep in unnoticed when our focus is in another direction.  Things like jealousy, bitterness, busyness that leads to lives out of balance, mediocrity, and pride can cause nasty, sticky spiderwebs when left unattended.

When I am offended by others or pass judgement on them in some way,  I need to look at myself and make sure my curb appeal is all that it can be.  I need to let Jesus sweep away the dust that has clouded my eyes from seeing the truth.  Upon closer examination, I may find areas like the trail the birds left on my doorstep..that take more than just a broom and need a deeper cleansing.  Like my porch needed a pitcher of water, my heart may need the cleansing river of the Holy Spirit to saturate it.

In a few weeks, the ghosts and goblins and all other signs of darkness will vanish from the porches of my neighbors.  I hope they are replaced by more festive decorations as we journey into the true Holiday Season.  But my primary responsibility is to make sure my entryway is swept, welcoming, and maintained regularly.  I'll make sure the glass on my door is sparkling clean to reflect the light of the season.  I'll do the same with my heart.  May I sparkle enough to reflect His light clearly to a world in need of hope.  And may I always, when tempted to complain about the neighbor's landscape, get out my broom and sweep my own front porch first!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crossing the Jordan - Part 1

This blog is the first article in a series I am writing for the Worship Central Newsletter.   

Anyone who enjoys listening to folk or gospel music or reading poetry has, no doubt, frequently come across “the Jordan” as a point of reference.   As I was reading in the book of Joshua recently, I came across a passage in chapter 3 that seemed to jump off the page.  I have revisited that passage several times to try to dig in and see the relevance that it has  for us here at Worship Central. 

It was verse 6 that first seemed to light up for me in neon lights.   The specific phrase that stood out was Joshua’s instruction to the priests responsible for carrying the Ark of the Covenant.  He told them to take the Ark and “Go BEFORE the people”.  In obedience, they picked it up and went ahead of the people, toward the Promised Land.

The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God.  It was a place of Holiness and reverence.  The Israelites didn’t fight a battle or make a journey or take up residence anywhere without the Ark of the Covenant being center stage.  They regarded it as their lifeline because they knew that their lives, literally, depended upon it’s presence among them. They didn’t treat it lightly.  They couldn’t – because they had not yet experienced he freedom of the cross.  They lived under strict law and didn’t have the right to gain access to the presence of God on their own. 

The Israelite priests and Levites had great responsibility.   Here, they were instructed by Joshua to GO AHEAD of the people with the presence of God.  In verse 2, the people had been instructed to LEAVE THEIR POSITIONS and follow the priests and Levites as they passed by them. They were told as they followed, they would receive DIRECTION on which way they should go, since they didn’t know the way before them.

There are many things in this passage I want to explore in the coming newsletter editions.  In reading about Jordan in Wikipedia during my research, I found that “Crossing the Jordan” represents Freedom.  In our pursuit of Freedom, I want us to realize that we are both leaders and followers.  When we are in a leadership role (as each of you are in choir, frontline, band, or technical support), we are expected to carry the Presence of God and to go AHEAD of the people.  We can’t lead people to a place we have never been. Yes, we are on a journey together, but someone has to point the way.  There is freedom, deliverance, and direction in HIS PRESENCE.  But we have to go there first before the people can follow.  In our private worship at home and in our worship during rehearsals, we are beginning to “carry the Ark”, so to speak. We are practicing His presence and preparing our hearts so that, when we get on stage, it is more than just a musical performance.   We are preparing to help others Cross the Jordan.

Leave your positions.  Forget about who you are and what you “do”.  You are a worshipper and a leader.  Follow the Presence and carry it in front of others.  Freedom is at stake.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


COURAGE.  I've been thinking a lot about this word lately.  What does it take to step out from the expectations of others and make a bold statement regardless of what anyone thinks...just because you feel deep in your heart it is the right choice?  When you peel away the layers of opinions, suggestions, expectations, and even rejections from others - sometimes the decision in front of you looks a lot different.  Often, we are intimidated from making a choice our heart knows is right - or we determine to settle snuggly in the boat instead of daring to chance walking on the water - because what our heart is whispering seems outlandish.

Sometimes it means making a choice that seems foolish by nature - like David who choose to shrug off the expectations of heavy protective armor and face a giant with the simplicity of stones and a slingshot.  When I set out to pinpoint what courage really looks like, I found this definition:

Courage is summoning strength in the face of life's difficulties or, sometimes, life's horrors. It means proceeding in spite of pain, cost, or risk. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the deliberate decision that action is necessary regardless. Courage acknowledges uncertainty, but perseveres because of conviction and resolve. 

I really like that 3rd sentence..."Courage is not the absence of fear, but the DELIBERATE decision that ACTION is NECESSARY regardless".  Many times in life, I am guilty of playing it safe and waiting for the answer to come - or the problem to work itself out.  But when I look at the example of those before me, I'm beginning to see that all Jesus followers at one time or another possessed a crazy courage that called their faith to action.  They pushed past the walls of "normalcy" to unchartered territory in a desperate quest for solutions.  As they summoned that courage, faith sprung to action, and the walls fell.   But the key?  They took the first step.  Made a bold move.   Acted in obedience that defied logic.  They had COURAGE.   They silenced the negative voices around them and focused on the VOICE of TRUTH.

Great leaders and history makers of more recent days have also had much to say about courage.

Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.     ~John Wayne

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind, next to honor.    ~Aristotle

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.    ~Mark Twain

Courage is grace under pressure.    ~Ernest Hemmingway

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers.  We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.  ~Ronald Reagan

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex.,.it takes a stroke of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.    ~Albert Einstein

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face...we must do that which we think we cannot.    ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.  ~Winston Churchill

Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.  Get out and get busy.    ~Dale Carnegie

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.    ~Alan Cohen

And finally:

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.  Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  ~Steve Jobs

There is a common thread.  To break a chain, accomplish a great feat, live out your destiny....fears must be faced.  Norms must be redefined.  Courage must be embraced...and we must STEP OUT.  Away from the noise, the limits, the narrow viewpoint of others.   To live our passion, we must take risks.    

I'm so thankful that when I gather up the courage to stand up and step out of the boat, I have a promise that walks with me over every wave. It's an ageless promise that stands the test of time from the one TRUE voice of truth.  He will be with me.  His voice calls across the ocean..and there is peace as I focus on His face and take hold of His steadying hand.

Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Make it personal!: Back To The Classroom With RENDI

It's back to school time and I just had to share a great idea for your classroom if you are a teacher, Sunday school teacher, or home school mom.  These also make fantastic teacher gifts!  These can be personalized any way you like & ordered online at my Rendi website  They will ship directly to you via fedex - within 48 hours of ordering.

Make it personal!: Back To The Classroom With RENDI: The air has an edge of crisp and the sun seems to be getting sleepier, rising just a little later each day! Going back to school is bi...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let's Have Tea

Yesterday afternoon, while Kadence was napping and Jaedyn went to the office with Daddy, I had a "mommy date".   It was a simple hour of heartfelt, comfortable conversation in my living room over a cup of peppermint patty tea with a friend.  Although short, it gave us time to just be women, sharing life challenges without being interrupted.  The hour was over far too quickly, but what a nice break in the day!  

After my friend left, my thoughts started to fill with the amazing tapestry God weaves through the many seasons of our lives.   In my mind, I journeyed back 13 years.  It was a warm day in May and I stood outside the home Kevin and I had built together.  On one side of me was the front door to the house that held a heartful of memories collected over 5 years, on the other side of me was the moving truck that was carrying all of our possessions into a new beginning. 

I was excited about embarking on a new adventure with this man I loved so much, but my heart was ripping in pieces at what I was leaving behind.  Three years prior, we had entered full time youth & music ministry.  We were young, without children, and ministry totally consumed our lives.  Our home was always open and became a haven for the students.  We finished our basement as an oversized teenage "playroom".  The rooms echoed with laughter.   It was LOUD. :)  We shared our lives.   Sometimes we shared tears as we tackled life's problems together.  We grew together through bible studies, afterglows, and discipleship classes within those walls.  Every one of them held my heart in their hands.   They were the only "kids" I had at the time and I loved them as if they were my own. 

I remember a conversation that nearly ripped my heart to shreds, overheard in the basement after we announced we were leaving.  Together, as they wrestled through the coming change, they questioned if there was a way they could pool their resources to buy the house...because it was THEIR house..and where would they go now?   Ugghh.  I felt like a mother giving her children up for adoption. And yet, I knew God had called and we must follow Him.  No matter how much we wanted to stay, it was time for change. 

There have been many changes on our journey since then. I'm really not a fan of change.  I still hate packing up my memories. I still feel conflicted when I see a moving truck outside the front door.   I still hate to say goodbye, no matter how exciting the adventure ahead.  These days, goodbye has a whole new set of complications since my children have a heart full of emotions all their own that I must help them navigate.  But yesterday, I was reminded that sometimes our journey comes full circle.  Often at the other end, there is a whole new set of blessings and a view we didn't have the last time around.  That view that is gained from life experiences, and may never be realized if we always stayed at one place and always gazed in the same direction.  Life is about growth.  Often, it takes change to facilitate that growth.  At least that's how it has played out on my own personal journey.

Yesterday, my "mommy" friend was one of those "kids" I viewed as my own.  In an unexpected twist that landed us just 60 miles from where we began full time ministry all those years ago, our journey to Cumberland has placed us living in the same town again.  Now a woman with children of her own, we are at parallel life seasons and relate to each other in a whole new way.  Now serving in ministry herself, we share a burden to give hope through Jesus to the same community through our individual churches.  In this new season of life, we share memories and  a common belief system that unites us, but our individual journeys have caused our friendship to be even richer this time around.   Our lives are busier, and we can't get together daily or even weekly, but when we do it is a heartwarming hour - an hour of escape that returns us to the simplicity of 13 years ago.  

This full circle journey has held many unexpected blessings.  That's just how God is.  He fills our life with little joys we could've never seen coming.  Sometimes, His plan is filled with irony.  You just can't plan or make this stuff up on your own.  Only He is wise enough to intersect our lives in such a beautiful way. I'm loving seeing His plan unveiled, day by day. 

If you were a Strong Tower girl (you know who you are),  my freezer is no longer filled with Schwann's delicacies waiting for your arrival.  My floors are now sometimes littered with toys and my attention is often drawn away by our two little mini-mes.  But you remain in my heart.  I would love to reconnect.  My tea leaf 
selection is amazing.  There is a cup with with your name on it.  And you are always welcome.  :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Holding on, Letting go

This week, I've noticed that the days are growing cooler.  Facebook is filled with back to school pictures. Summer days are coming to an end. Fall is in the air.

I've been living in a state of denial.  We continued homeschooling in a few subjects throughout the summer on a minimal level, trying to regain some sense of normalcy after all the transition that took place in our lives this year.   For us, the coolness in the air doesn't make sense.  After all, our beach vacation is not for two more weeks! 

I've been looking ahead trying to determine what this year's school year will look like for us.   There are curriculum choices, organization, Co-op opportunities, extra curricular activities, and field trips to consider.  We have been homeschooling Jaedyn since Kindergarten, and every moment has been an adventure. He has thrived in the homeschool enviornment and would not trade it for the world.  Now entering 4th grade, he is content to stay by my side and feel secure and satisfied there.  He loves our daily interaction and learning schedule at home.  Although he has never had trouble making friends and functioning socially with any age group, he doesn't feel the need to be socially stimulated in a school environment.  Church, playdates, soccer team, and co-op opportunities have been enough for him.  In fact, at age three, he profoundly announced one day "I don't want to go to college".  When I asked why, he replied "because I never want to leave you guys!".   I hope that changes over time, and I believe that as I learn to give him wings, he will learn to fly.  But, for now, he is content. 

I firmly believe that the Lord has called me to homeschool for this season, maybe forever.  I'm still praying about that and taking it one year at a time.  However,  we have a second child. :)  A child whose personality is totally different than the firstborn, she is full of an adventure all her own.  When she is tired or scared or hungry, she runs to me with arms wide open.  Otherwise, she is content to explore the world on her own.  While Jaedyn needs someone to be his activity coordinator, Kadence will fill hours with independent play.  While he waits for me to take the lead, she paves a path all her own.  Jaedyn is most content at home, quietly functioning as a family.  Kadence is happiest surrounded by friends and family, in the middle of lots of people and chatter, in a busy social setting.  (Each child clearly takes after one of their parents, but I'll let you decide which one!)  

Kadence is 3, but already she has a deep desire to learn and is a sponge soaking up the enviornment around her.  This has been interesting to watch.  She is clearly enamored with all things pink and princess themed - some days she even refuses to get dressed if her clothes for the day are not pink.  However, having an older brother who is immersed in all things action themed, my little princess has developed quite a Star Wars and Lego Ninjago vocabulary.  Sometimes, it's funny.  Other times, I cringe.

In an effort to allow her to spend some more time in age appropriate activities and satisfy her incredible desire to learn, we have decided to venture into unchartered territory a bit this year.  We are blessed to have a preschool, daycare, and school at our church.  After much discussion and prayer, we have decided to enroll her in preschool for a few hours a week.  It will give her some freedom to learn in wonderful enviornment with the same values we would teach at home, while it gives Jaedyn some one on one time to focus without distractions.  I love her teacher and couldn't be more excited for her to pour into Kadence's life.  I love that, since Kadence won't attend every day of the week, she will support our learning at home by supplying us with supplemental materials.  The situation couldn't be more perfect.  So why do I have a tinge of sadness?

Last night I took her to Open House at the preschool.  She was able to spend time with her teacher, see her classroom, and learn about what to expect.  She was so excited.  I was excited watching her even as my heart filled with emotion.  She does not like to be referred to as a little girl anymore, and I was witnessing the transformation before my eyes.  

Little by little, as our children grow, they develop less of a need for our 24:7 attention and assistance.  I know this, because this is my second round.  Yet, this time is different, and I'm learning all over again.  (God help me when they become teenagers!)  Maybe it's my life season, and starting this parenthood thing late in the game that causes this to be so emotional for me.  Maybe it's watching all my friends that are of age equality :) sending their children off to high school, college, and even marriage that has made me want to hold on so tightly as time speeds up and slips away.  Maybe it is knowing that pregnancy, infants, and sleepless nights are a thing of the past in our house (not all of that is bad, by the way!).  Whatever it is, it has caused me to want to savor - and capture - every  precious moment, even as it is slipping through my fingers like sand.  

I don't want to fill my life with things that take up so much of my attention and energy that I lose sight of life's most precious blessings.  Even though things may seem to have value at the moment, my family is God's greatest gift.  I could have a lifetime of accomplishments, but it wouldn't matter if they kept me so caught up that I couldn't get down on my knees to look into the eyes of my child and give them my undivided attention.  So today, as I HOLD ON and LET GO,  I have the words of an old school song running through my head.  Funny, I remember my mom humming these words when I was a child. I'm pretty sure today that I know exactly how she was feeling as those lyrics went through her mind. :)

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living,
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making memories of what was today.

Chorus: We have this moment to hold in our hands
and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment today.

Tiny voice that I hear is my little girl calling,
For Daddy to hear just what she has to say;
And my little son running there by the hillside,
May never be quite like today.

Tender words, gentle touch and a good cup of coffee,
And someone who loves me and wants me to stay;
Hold them near while they're here and don't wait for tomorrow,
To look back and wish for today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest,
And the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay;
Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,
And weave you a lovely today.

-We Have This Moment (Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Drink from this Water

Summertime.  As the weather gets warmer, my thoughts are filled with one thing…water.  Water quenches my thirst on hot days.  The refreshment of a pool beckons me.  My dreams are filled with images of sinking my toes into warm sand in the salty sea air, while watching the kids build sandcastles that will soon be washed away by the tide.  Ahhh…cool, refreshing water.

A few weeks ago, the subject of water impacted our home in a different way.  Recently, a missionary visited Central to talk about digging wells.  She showed a moving video about the absence of clean drinking water and the need for wells in Africa.  She spoke in the main sanctuary after making a similar presentation in kids church.

Two days later, we were at home sitting at the dining table when Jaedyn, my 9 year old, disappeared abruptly.  A few minutes later, he bounded down the steps with a sealed envelope in his hand.  He plopped it on the table without a word.   When asked what it was, he shrugged and said “There are kids who need clean water to drink.  Their water is dirty and disgusting.   The lady asked us to pick an envelope, and I picked this one because I knew I had $2 in my bank I could give. “  His words pierced my heart.  It was a proud Mom moment - one that dreams are made of.  Without urging from us, he had made a decision on his own to give of his own money to meet a need. 

However, that’s not the end of the story.  The envelope laid on our table for a few days, waiting for Sunday.  Two days later, I noticed it was torn.  Fearing that he had changed his mind at the thought of his toy savings being depleted, I asked Jaedyn why it had been opened.  He casually replied  “I decided it wasn’t enough and I needed to put more money in”.  As he answered, I saw a crisp $5 bill peeking out of the envelope. 

I tried to keep the tears from coming at the realization of his selfless giving. I understood that something had captured his heart.  Whether it had to do with the visual of the dirty water, or with Jaedyn’s life experiences, I wasn’t sure.  All I knew was there was passion burning in him that caused him to empty himself..and his pockets.

During our tenure at the church where we served prior to Central, we experienced vast multicultural growth in our congregation.  There were many nationalities represented, one of those being a large number of Burundi families. They came to us from a refugee camp in Tanzania after being driven from Burundi, Africa due to political unrest.  Being a part of their lives taught us many things, and stretched us in many ways (one of which was learning worship songs in Swahili – just one of the four languages they spoke - in an effort to make worship relevant for them J).  We laughed, cried, played, prayed, and worshipped together.  Jaedyn simply saw them as his friends.  Regardless of skin color, language, customs, or background, we were family.

Perhaps it was those relationships that he identified with that caused his heart to be captured by the faces of the children in the video.  Whatever the reason, every time we passed the display in the foyer, he would stop for a second glance at the bottle of dirty water.   We attended District Council and saw a dramatized presentation during the evening service on the same subject matter.  During the presentation, he excitedly narrated the project for us, in spite of our efforts to quiet him.  Secretly, I had to smile. 

As a church we’ve been studying and talking about what it means to Act Normal over the past few months.  At the heart of this study is learning to let compassion for others become second nature.   In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the sorting of the sheep and the goats.  Inviting the sheep to their eternal reward, He says: “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me…Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” (v. 34-40 the Message)    

Jesus’ heart beats for the broken, the hungry, the forgotten.  He came to meet needs. And when He left, He commanded us to walk in His footsteps.  Those are big shoes to fill.  But the expectation is clear. To be like Jesus, we must love like Jesus.  We must serve like Jesus.  We must see the need – and meet the need.  Israel Houghton, in his song “Deeper”, says it this way:  God give us a heart - give us YOUR heart...break my heart with the things that break Your heart.” 
Something about the object lesson my son unknowingly gave me has caused me to pray that prayer on a deeper level.  I want to be moved to compassion, and then action, with the things that break His heart.  A portion of the song “Hosanna” from Hillsong sums it up so beautifully.  Won’t you join me in making this your prayer today? 

“Open up my eyes to the things unseen - show me how to love like You have loved me.  Break my heart from what breaks Yours - Everything I am for Your kingdoms cause....”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

Recently, I had a hair disaster.   You know, the kind where you just squint your eyes, clench your teeth, square your shoulders and wait for it to grow before you can even think about fixing it.   Yes, it was uneven, but worse than that it was SHORT.    On the morning after, I got out of the shower, dried my hair, and looked in the mirror.  Horrified by what I saw, I realized (fighting back the tears) that it wasn’t just the bad haircut that was getting under my skin.   I felt exposed. 

It was at that moment that I realized that months of hectic traveling schedules, drive thru windows, and a newfound love of cupcake shops had caught up with me.  I was staring at a face that I tried to hide, behind the one thing that made me feel confident…hair.   Now, with the hair gone (and an uneven, bad style to boot), I could no longer hide, disguise, or justify my faults.   It was time for a long hard look in the mirror.  And I didn’t like what I saw.

You see, the reflection staring back at me reminded me of one word…failure.  Let me explain.  

In 2005 the Lord stopped my course and helped me make a U-turn that transformed me spiritually, physically, and emotionally.  He set me free from a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and riding emotional roller coasters related to the weight-loss saga.  He took me on a journey of health…and taught me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light when I learn the beauty of discipline that comes from following Him in mind, body, and soul.   That is another story for another time, but in short, I found myself 106 lbs lighter and completely free. It was not a short term crash diet.  With results that could still be seen 3, 4, and 5 years later, it was a lifetime transformation.  Or so I thought.

Then came that morning in the mirror.  The nagging thought that had been hounding me for months, as my exercise grew lighter and my clothes grew tighter,  was now reality. I could no longer deny the heart-wrenching failure I felt inside.  I had pushed aside the things I knew to be true in a quest for survival during a season of upheaval and change.   In trying to define a new normal for my family, I had lost myself.  I had strayed far from the formula I had found to follow Him in obedience.  I had hidden my fears and failures, covering them up with things that allowed me to justify them away.   My life had fallen out of balance, and my exposed face carried the proof.

Suddenly, as I came to grips with my hair drama and begin to face the truth, the Lord begin to whisper quietly to me.  I began to think about how, as a woman, I hide behind other things in my life. 

How many times have I hidden behind my children, my husband, my roles and responsibilities, my fears?   How often have I ignored the Holy Spirit’s leading to explore a new avenue of service because I am convinced it doesn’t fit my skill set or simply because it makes me uncomfortable?  How often have I lost myself in the name of taking care of my husband and children, convincing myself that my own needs were unimportant in this season of life?  How often have I not taken the time to reach out to someone because I’m afraid of rejection?  How often have I not tried something new because I was sure it would lead to failure?  How often do I, in my quest for perfection, refuse to tackle a task because I think its  impossible to meet my own unrealistic expectations?   How often have I not let my true self be exposed because I am afraid of judgment or disapproval from others?

It was time for some serious introspection.  Like the pieces of a puzzle coming together, I quickly realized that hiding can always be traced back to fear.  

Fear is crippling.  It paralyzes.  It places limits on us and causes us to plateau and give up when we should be climbing to higher heights.  It is one of the enemy’s greatest tools to defeat us and prevent us from birthing the dreams God has placed inside of us.

I thought about the disciples in John 6.  The Bible tells us they were sailing through rough waters and they were terrified.   Then Jesus showed up in a supernatural way, walking on the water, to calm their fears.  After He reassured them that He was there, He told them not to fear.  At that moment, they had a choice to make.  Verse 21 says “Then they were willing to take him into the boat”.  They had to be willing to invite him into their stormy, windy mess.  He didn’t force His way in.   The passage doesn’t say that the sea automatically grew still, even though we know He had the power to make it stop.  What it does say is this “and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading”.  When Jesus showed up and they were willing to invite Him in, He immediately helped them chart the course through their mess and they were able to reach their destination without delay. 

1 John 4 reassures us that God is love.   Love comes from Him.  He defines it.  He lives it.  He gives it.  And He calls us to love - Him, others, and ourselves - the way He loves.  Interestingly, verse 18 states “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear”.  When we invite Jesus into our stormy mess to ride out the waves with us, His love washes away all fear.  In His love, we find freedom and there’s no longer a reason to hide.  When we take hold of His hand, we are quickly able to safely and securely reach our destination.

As I’ve sailed through this year, He’s been whispering to me about the depths of His grace.  He doesn’t call me to be perfect.  He just calls me to be the best me I can be....without fear.  And that requires no more hiding. I’m running after Him with heart exposed and arms wide open to embrace everything He has for me.  

Now if I can just decide what to do with this hair!   J

Friday, July 27, 2012

Welcome! Im so glad you're here!

Welcome!  I'm so glad you decided to come alongside me on my journey!   I am in the processing of moving my facebook notes to this blog so everything can be conveniently in one place as I journal my thoughts and share jewels I'm finding along the way!  Grab a cup of tea, curl up in a comfy spot, and hang with me for awhile!! 


Today, I'm taking some time to look back over the past year and what the Lord has brought me through.  I have a thankful heart. The journey was hard.  But He proved Himself faithful.  Again.  And my heart is full.  Here is what I wrote a year ago...still fitting in every season...and for different reasons, still very relevant today.

Did you ever just have one of those days?

You know, the kind where the wind gets knocked out of your sails, your GPS loses its connection and you're left wondering how you ended up where you are let alone figuring out how to get to where you're going?   Today has been one of those days.  And yet, in these moments, I have the calm assurance that there is an unseen hand orchestrating every movement, every twist and turn of this roller coaster ride of life.  In each season, on the mountaintop and in the valleys, He has a lesson for me to learn.  A lesson that draws me closer to His side.  A lesson that grows me up in Him.  A lesson of His faithfulness.  And his knowledge of things I cant yet see.  Sometimes he whispers it gently in my ear.  Sometimes He has to pound me over the head with a hammer to get His point across. Other times He seems silent - and yet..I can sense His arms around me...carrying me, sheltering me, shielding me, protecting me..then helping me fly - when He knows I'm ready.  But in every season, whether hes whispering, shouting, or shaking His head that I didn't get it..again...He's proven Himself faithful.  Trustworthy.

And so, I will TRUST that just as He promises (Jer 29:11-13)  He already knows the way.  He already made the plan.  And He knows how today fits into the journey He planned out for me before the foundations of the Earth.
So what does TRUST really mean?

1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2. confident expectation of something; hope.
1. certainty, belief, faith. Trust, assurance, confidence  imply a feeling of security. Trust  implies instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something: to have trust in one's parents. Confidence  implies conscious trust because of good reasons, definite evidence, or past experience: to have confidence in the outcome of events. Assurance  implies absolute confidence and certainty: to feel an assurance of victory
Goin way back, I got some old school Twila Paris running through my mind tonite:

Do I Trust You?

Sometimes my little heart can't understand
What's in Your will, what's in Your plan.
So many times I'm tempted to ask You why,
But I can never forget it for long.
Lord, what You do could not be wrong.
So I believe You, even when I must cry.

Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart,
You can read my mind,
And You got to know
That I would rather die
Than to lose my faith
In the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?

I know the answers, I've given them all.
But suddenly now, I feel so small.
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul.
I know the doctrine and theology,
But right now they don't mean much to me.
This time there's only one thing I've got to know.

Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart,
You can read my mind,
And You got to know
That I would rather die
Than to lose my faith
In the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?

I will trust You, Lord, when I don't know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I'm blind with pain!
You were God before, and You'll never change.
I will trust You.
I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
I will trust You.

True Safety

Psalm 91 - THE MESSAGE
You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!"