I am shutting down my blog for now, my friends, as I take time to consider the direction my writing will take. I appreciate every one of you who have joined me on this two year journey and I will miss you. Have a peaceful and joyful Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I am shutting down my blog for now, my friends, as I take time to consider the direction my writing will take. I appreciate every one of you who have joined me on this two year journey and I will miss you. Have a peaceful and joyful Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"It is never too late to become the person you might have been." --George Elliot
I love days like today, days that are are cloudy, cold and windy. I love them because they make the inside of my house feel cozier, warmer and brighter. All I want to do on days like this is curl up under a chenille throw on my couch and read a good book and sip hot tea and luxuriate in the yummy goodness of home. And ignore my children and the ringing telephone and refuse to cook dinner and...
Sorry. I got carried away.
I do find it so odd, though, that when the circumstances of life mirror days like this, when the landscape of my existence is dark and cold and windswept, all I can see and feel is the outside. While the stormy afternoon only serves to magnify the warmth and comfort of the refuge of home, the difficulties of life often overshadow the warmth and comfort and coziness that can be found in the refuge of God. Why is that? Shouldn't the dark circumstances of life stand in stark contrast to all the light and comfort and protection of the home we have in the shadow of His wings?
I think it is all part of this process of becoming, this learning to live in oneness with the Lover of our souls. It takes time. And it takes much stumbling and falling and then just as much getting back up and moving forward to change our perspective. When Paul talked of being "crucified with Christ that I might no longer live, but Christ lives in me," (Gal 2:20) he was speaking of this divine perspective, this arduous journey from self-awareness to God-awareness. He longs to be that to whom our gaze is drawn when the storms come, that we might be identified with Him alone and not to the fears that threaten when clouds roll in and the winds pick up.
It is a process. It is a journey. And it is never too late.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting alone in my bedroom, rocking and staring out the window, feeling rather sad and wondering why. My husband came into the room and stretched out on the carpet beside me. Putting his feet on the stool between us, he looked over at me and asked me what was wrong. I didn't have an answer so he just smiled at me and we fell into a long, luxurious silence. After a few minutes he asked me to put my feet on the stool so they would touch his. "I just want to feel you next to me. I need to know you are there," he said.
With the myriad uncertainties in my life at this moment, it is consoling to be sure of what really matters....that I am loved.
By my husband.
By my God.
Sometimes it just helps to reach out and be sure of it.
Monday, November 9, 2009
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” --Pericles
The American dream is to own a piece of land to call home and build a life around it, raising a family and acquiring possessions. Nothing wrong with that.
when we consider how Jesus lived, His stability was not found in possessions or a house with His name on the mailbox. It was not even found in an untarnished reputation.
It was found in relationships with the ones that He led and ultimately the One that He followed. That is pretty simple.
Things get complicated when we rely on the lives we build for ourselves to fill the void. Equity and assets are very nice but we must remind ourselves to hold on loosely (thank you, .38 Special!). And disappointment is inevitable when we depend on the absence of change to maintain our peace of mind. Some equate stability with unchanging circumstances when really stability comes from unchanging commitment to relationships, first to God and then to those people He puts in our lives.
Starting over, bottoming out and reaching dead ends are not nearly as daunting when we can see and embrace the bittersweet truth of James 4:14, "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." With that in mind we can focus on our nearness to God and the deposit we make in the lives of others and let everything else fade into the periphery. Where it belongs.
I want to live life like Jesus did...holding on loosely with open arms and an open life.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It has been eleven days since I last posted anything and I just have to say that my newfound freedom to be a total slacker...it is so freeing. Please know that I have not been wasting my time. I have been doing many important things, like staring out the windows, daydreaming and trying to figure out how to get my new Georgia driver's license without admitting how much I weigh. The folks at the Florida DDS are not near as nosy as they are here in Georgia. So I did what any self-respecting southern woman would do. I lied. And I don't care who knows it.
They showed me, though. The picture they took was unspeakably hideous. To be fair, that could have had something to do with the fact that my grossly infected left earlobe was bloody and swollen from twenty failed attempts at putting in my earrings. And the fact that I had food in my teeth and was wearing my finest pair of yoga pants with a t-shirt and sweat jacket. I am nothing if not elegant and well put-together.
In my defense (like I need one...sheesh) I had no prior warning that a trip to the Georgia State Patrol office was in my immediate future. My husband just showed up and said, "Hey, let's go get our Georgia drivers licenses." That very moment presented me with the choice to be one of two things for my man: flexible and spontaneous or well-groomed and attractive. So I opted for spontaneity. I should only regret that decision for the next five years or so until it is time to renew the darn thing. My only request is that if you see me, do not ask to see my license. It will not bode well for you.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I spoke with a friend today whose husband is stationed overseas on military duty. The anguish in her voice was palpable as she shared with me the burden she carries here while her husband, her best friend fights for our freedom across the ocean. With all my heart I wanted to make all her heartache go away, to bring her husband home so she wouldn't have to see the pain in the eyes of their four children as they live day after long day with his absence. I wanted to fix it so she wouldn't have to face another sleepless night in their empty bed, praying that he would still be okay when she wakes up in the morning.
But all I could do was listen and cry with her, never once pretending to understand what she feels. And I prayed for His grace to surround her.
God's grace is a crazy thing. It becomes to each of us whatever it is we so desperately need and it surrounds us and carries us when we don't see how we can make it another step. We just have to fling ourselves out there in it, letting it carry us wherever He wills. Easy to say. Hard to do. I pray His grace today to military families and I thank Him for a selflessness that I do not understand but that brings Him such unspeakable delight. I pray His grace for those who fight and defend and for their families who wait and believe. I believe, too.
Friday, October 23, 2009
...on Saturday. It's high time I dazzled you with my randomness.
--Living in the country is highly entertaining. This past week I watched my three sons lift a 25 lb dead armadillo onto a golf cart to haul off into the woods. Actually only my oldest boy lifted it. My middle boy alternately gagged and video taped his older brother doing the deed, while my younger boy just giggled and made puking noises. Being the highly supportive mother that I am, I stayed in the house, doubled over laughing as I watched from the window. I know, I know. I should write a parenting book.
--For the first time in maybe twenty plus years I went into a Spencer's in the mall. I don't know what possessed me to do it but I came away with these two powerful truths: 1. Spencer's is the worst smelling store in the mall, hands down, and 2. Four letter words are more shocking when seen printed on a coffee mug. Feel free to take a moment and ponder this.
--If you haven't tried the Double Chocolate Fudge Coca Cola cake from Cracker Barrel, I highly recommend that you get yourself there. Today. And I don't mean maybe. Abandon all thoughts of sharing this lusciousness with someone and just eat the whole blooming thing. You WILL thank me.
--I hope you people have a wonderous weekend. We are taking our crew to see Where the Wild Things Are. And there will be popcorn involved. Holla!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
You've Never Lived!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Life as I know it has returned to a state of "normal". I will make no attempts to define "normal", although I usually do enjoy defining the completely subjective because it helps me to bring order to my already cluttered mind. I am attempting instead to experience moments of life rather than always trying to define them. As founder and president of the Think Things To Death Society, this is nothing short of miraculous. Now, where was I? Oh, yes...
Normal. We have moved to another state, put most of our worldly possessions in storage and are currently living in someone’s guest home for a loosely determined length of time while we catch our proverbial breath and wait on God to show us what is next. I'm sorry, did I say normal? I meant utterly ridiculous but utterly ridiculous is the new normal and so here we are, living on a gorgeous spread of land, complete with horses in surrounding pastures, swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, workout room, and a beautiful home with every creature comfort possible. The sheets with the incredibly high thread count are, in my opinion, just the cherry on top. And if there is a down side to all of this it would only be that there are around a dozen deer and elk heads hanging on the walls in the great room and I swear they stare at me when I play pool in my pajamas.
Oswald Chambers talks about being "put into soak before God". The innermost life is where the real action is, after all, and there are times when God pulls us away from the shop window, where most church leaders live, to receive, transform, and soften in the quiet solitude of soaking. I am just amazed at where He has us now and so I will be here, soaking and hopefully transforming. Softening...like in that Palmolive commercial from the 70's. It is a good day when you can combine serious spiritual content with nostalgic television commercials. That's why I am here, people. That's why I'm here.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
It is four days until moving day and all of our belongings are jumping into boxes by themselves while a roll of packing tape zips through the house, seeking cardboard that needs sealing. I WISH! Actually, it is all going pretty well and on schedule. It is sad how much I love those two words..."on schedule", but there it is and I cannot change who I am so instead I embrace my love of order and schedule.
That being said, I did linger a bit in our guest room as I packed up the tangible remains of the life of my mother. For those of you just tuning in here, my mother lived with me for the final year of her life and this month marks two years that she has been gone. The day after her memorial service, I took all of her things that I wanted to keep and shoved them into a closet in our guest room and so it has taken me a little while to touch and smell each thing before putting it in a box. I gazed around the guest room that she called home for her final year of life and remembered so many conversations we had and thought of all the old black and white movies we watched together, and I wondered to myself if the empty place she left inside me would ever stop aching. I suspect not.
My husband and I have lived in lots of houses in many different cities, a path we chose together nearly twenty-one years ago when we agreed to go wherever God said and pour our hearts and lives into others. But this is the first time I have felt sad about leaving a house. Some of our friends have had the experience of raising their families in one place, maybe even one house, and there have been times I have envied them. But just briefly. I love all the amazing people we have met and friendships we have formed by living in different places and, while this way of life wreaks havoc on your finances, it does bring heaven to your heart. Still, leaving this house hurts and I am trying to make time to feel what I feel, grieving a little over the ending of a season of my life that was searingly painful and deliciously wonderful all at the same time. How I am feeling reminds me of my very favorite children's story that my mother read to me when I was small, Goodnight Moon. Each page shows the little bunny saying goodnight to different things in his room until he finally tells the moon goodnight. It is important to say goodnight to the the places and seasons and people that matter.
Goodnight Lake City. Goodnight Christian Heritage Church. Goodnight house!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Let me start by giving credit for my catchy little title to my friend, Tim Smith. His sense of humor...it is so choice.
Now, down to business. If you are just tuning in, I have been chronicling our journey into the unknown and you can catch up by clicking here, here, here and here. We have been packing and praying, trusting that when our house closes in two short weeks we will not be homeless. Homeless was just not on our list of options. I am kidding of course, but my point is that we have been growing short on time (yesterday marked eight days left until moving day) and long on uncertainty. The amazing thing about following God is that even when circumstances appear uncertain, God is a sure thing.
Just not according to my timetable, which we waved bye-bye to long ago.
So...the night before last we received an offer to move our family into the guest home of some very dear people. Wow! This offer will afford our family an opportunity to rest, pressure-free, and to "lie beside still waters" so that He can "restore our souls." This totally confirmed that the Lord wants us in Valdosta, GA for this season of time that we know in our hearts is still transitional. There will be more ministry ahead for us and we know in our hearts that God has us in a holding pattern for now. And holding patterns are not so bad when you know Who is holding you.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
So glad you asked...
Those of you who know me personally are aware that I am anything but mysterious. I used to wish I could be an enigmatic, elusive personality that people were dying to figure out. Yeah...that's never going to happen. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my opinions on the outside of my mouth, which gets me in a world of trouble. Wide open though I am, there are places in my heart that are seen by invitation only, and I am particularly careful about displaying the details of my life during periods of transition.
You see, my hubs and I have moved more than a few times in our almost twenty-one years together, and we have been the butt of more than a few jokes over the years. For so long the pain of being misunderstood overshadowed the beauty of knowing we had obeyed God. There were times I would forget that when it is all said and done, His delight in me is what counts.Yet somehow my heart has reached that wide-open place of acceptance. I have accepted who we are and the unconventional path He has called us to walk and I no longer look for the unexpected curves and contours of our life in God to mirror that of someone else. The virgin Mary would have never found another whose path resembled hers. And the truth is we are all "incubating" the life of Christ, but we must free one another to be the unique expression of that immense life, no matter how different from our own it may be. Oswald Chambers said this:
“God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.”
What utter freedom, what unending abandon there is in that truth. He decides for me. And you. And no two paths are the same. The community of believers should be like an art museum where we gaze with wonder and appreciation at the breathtaking differences in the lives of each believer. And that is why I have opened this part of our life for you to see. I have written much about following Him at any cost and now I am giving you a peek at what that looks like for us and for our family, at least right now, at this moment. It's weird. It's unconventional. But it's real.
What about you? What is God doing in you right now?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I told you in my last post that all of the strangeness in which we are currently living is something that we asked for. Yes, I did end that sentence in a preposition. I can't be held responsible for my behavior at this time. You see, we have three sons, two of whom are teenagers, and we have been praying some big prayers for them. One year ago, the path of our life veered off into Timbuktu (figuratively, of course) and throughout this process we have asked God to show Himself to our boys in a big way. FYI-be VERY CAREFUL what you pray for! Never, ever do I want to demonstrate small living, small faith or a small God to my own kids. I want them to taste the immensity that is God and His Kingdom so that they will become obsessed with following Him anywhere, anytime.
And so here we are, stuck between the Rock and a God place, with no plan B. And we are watching, listening and waiting. These are perfect conditions for God to show up and show out. And my three sons are a captive audience for a God who never fails.
Check back in soon. I plan to tell you why on earth I am sharing so much of my personal life in such a public way.
The clock is ticking and we are fast approaching moving day. Our house is a flurry of cardboard, paper and questions and we are making every effort to move with calm assurance through a season that we do not fully understand in a way that honors God.
So, here is where we are. My hubs and I are considering two different cities and we are still not clear which one will be home. Truthfully, we need a miracle in the arena of housing and so we are waiting to see in which city God will perform this amazing miracle. And we now have...(you can hum to yourself while I count)...eleven days left until we have to move. We have less time than we originally thought because we realized we would have to move on a Saturday to have any help. Now, I realize how utterly ridiculous this must sound to most people and even our own three sons, who are used to us and the way God usually leads us, are looking at us like we have lost our everloving minds. But here is the thing...we asked for this.
I would explain what I mean but I am running out of time! Check back for the next installment of what has recently become my "reality blog"....
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Lately, I have been considering the blogs that I am drawn to, the ones that I will read regardless of my busy schedule. And do you know what they all have in common? In each one the author is putting him or herself "out there" and what they write is real and authentic and I can't help but find that irresistible. I'm not talking about the embarrassing kind of self-disclosure that makes you want to crawl under your couch and hide, like when you watch The Office. I am talking about a real person who knows they are flawed and yet they let down their humanity like a drawbridge, inviting you to cross over the mote of outward appearance to see what the castle is really like inside.
I have avoided writing about my own personal life in any real detail for the past year or so because it is hard to give someone a tour of a castle you hardly recognize. The past twelve months have turned out to be one of the most surprising years of my life. My husband of almost twenty-one years stepped out of vocational ministry to pursue a business opportunity which turned out to be a vehicle that God used to pull us off to the side where He could tell us some things we needed to hear. And some dreams I thought were finally becoming tangible seem to be drifting off in the big, gray horizon, and I have been standing on the shore like Tom Hanks in Castaway, talking to myself and hoping that someone would show up and rescue me. It has been a costly year for us in more ways than one and a year that has shaken the foundations of my faith. And it's not over yet.
Our home, that has been on the market for eighteen months, has sold and we are set to close in twenty days. That means we have to move in nineteen days. And we have no idea where we are going. I said we have no idea where we are going. I would like to point out that this is actually the second time that we have been all dressed up with nowhere to go so I am not freaking out. I am going about my life, teaching my sons, writing, accepting speaking opportunities when they come and packing boxes, all the while breathing in and breathing out, expecting that God will show up before moving day and tell us where the heck He wants us to go.
I have written a great deal about risk, adventure and the perils of shore-hugging but what I want to say today, at this moment in my life, is that I am feeling a little seasick. And if I have ever given you the impression that launching out into the deep is only exciting and never frightening...well, I apologize. Sometimes it just plain sucks (sorry, Sabrina). I just wanted to set the record straight. Because I am nothing if not honest and authentic, and while that may not make everyone comfortable, I can at least lay my head on my pillow at night and know that I have been real. And real is seldom easy, usually uncomfortable and almost always messy. Welcome to my very real and very messy life. I will keep you posted...
Monday, September 14, 2009
So, I have been contemplating my life. Where I am now....where I will be after our house closes on the 9th of next month...how on God's green earth we have come to be at this place where we find ourselves. You know, things like that. Just for the record, I have no answers. But I do see that I am going to need a little more flexibility in my life. So rather than have a regular posting schedule here on my funky little blog that is read by tens of people three times a week come rain or shine, I will instead be posting whenever the heck I feel like it. So there.
I feel so rebellious, so dangerous, so....naughty right now! The idea of living life with no schedule!!! Okay, seriously, I need you to know that I will only be posting when I have something fantastic to say that is entirely fueled by my passions and not by a posting schedule even though this violates all the rules of growing a wildly successful blog. Fortunately for me, this blog of mine is not yet wildly successful so I can afford myself this freedom. If you do not already subscribe to this blog via e-mail or in a reader, please check out the right margin and do that now. You know you do not want to miss a thing here and I am just making it easy for you. No need to thank me.
And by the way, the title has nothing to do with this post. I just like "Newhart" from the 1980's. Big perms, ugly sweaters with shoulder pads and Bob Newhart...what's not to love?
Friday, September 11, 2009
"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
All of the ceremony of a day like today stirs us to pause and to remember...
Where we were.
What we were doing.
How we felt.
And all the needless loss of life that day.
On this day each year, some will be overcome with thankfulness, forgiveness and hope.
Others will still be nursing hatred and judgment and fear.
If we were to ask God how He feels about what happened, I wonder what He would say.
Because He is "I Am" and not "I Was" or "I Will Be", I think He would ask us to look within and see how we have allowed the tragedies of yesterday and the heartbreak of today to change us and make us look like a truer reflection of His Image. And although I am certain the events of 9-11-01 broke God's heart, I imagine that today He is more interested in whether or not His children are looking more like Him and if we are allowing His image to be reflected on the lost and the broken, the sick and the poor.
These are the things I am thinking of today.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Most people, it would seem to me, are crappy listeners who are excellent at talking about themselves and completely oblivious to their inability to actively listen to others. If this is a gross generalization, then please forgive my painting with such a broad stroke. I am sure there is a huge colony of people who are excellent listeners, expertly utilizing correct body language and conversational cues, that live in some remote corner of Montana and I just haven't had the pleasure of meeting them.
And if most of us are poor listeners when it comes to our fellow man, then how must we behave when we enter the proverbial prayer closet? Pretty much the same, I would wager. So I ask you this: Have you ever gotten alone with God and asked Him this: "What do you want to talk about today, Lord?" (cue the sound of crickets chirping)
I decided to challenge myself with this and I have been asking Him to take the lead in our time together. It is astounding what comes out of this type of interaction with God. It won't lower your cholesterol 20 points or shave ten pounds off of your waist, but it will increase your vision and improve your hearing. And your heart? Well, it will be more tender than you could ever imagine. Go ahead...ask Him.
Friday, September 4, 2009
--From the Department of Completely Useless Information, I am happy to inform you that if you have had or are considering having your dog neutered, there is help on the way so that his self esteem need not suffer. Click here to read about Neuticles if you are as concerned about your neutered pet's emotional health as I am about mine. "It's like nothing ever changed!"
--Tim Sanders (oh, I do respect this man) has written another great post on scarcity thinking in regard to the current recession. Take a minute to click over and read his words of life and encouragement.
--I'm not saying that extended periods of transition and trying to sell ones house are stressful, but yesterday I gave one of my high school age sons his younger brother's math test by mistake. He was NOT happy with me, but I am happy to report that my ninth grade son is, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader.
--And speaking of stressful circumstances, my dog Kramer...you know, the little fuzzball that throws up everywhere in my house? He had a seizure recently and , once I figured out he wasn't break dancing, I rushed him to the vet where he immediately returned to his normal state and peed all over the examination room floor. It's all good though...the doctor assured me that if this keeps up, I can purchase pills that he will need to take TWICE A DAY FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
--Hope you people have a blissfully happy holiday weekend. I won't post on Monday because, well, if the postal employees don't have to work, then neither am I. I will be back on Wednesday. Holla!!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
When I was a child and it was my weekend to be with my daddy, I couldn't wait to get in his lap and feel his arms squeeze me close to him. Nobody could hug me like he did. The smell of his aftershave and the prickles of his whiskers on my cheek were medicine to my hurting little heart and I drank deeply every weekend that I spent with him, wishing that I could hug him every day. Little boys and girls need the lavish affection of their fathers.
These past weeks, I trimmed away some of the distractions in my life for a while so I could pull in, narrow my focus and curl up next to God. I don't mean this to sound spooky- spiritual or religious. I just mean it for what it is...a little girl who needs more affection from her Daddy and the only way she knows to get it is to cuddle up next to Him.
Somehow many of us become so swept away with the distractions of life that we forget how badly we still need to curl up in our Heavenly Father's lap and drink Him in. And sadly many of these distractions, some of them good things or, even worse, ministry things, become poor substitutes for what our souls desperately need...lavish affection from the only One who knows who we really are.
When was the last time you sat in His lap?
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Yes, my friends, I am alive and well. Rumors of my untimely demise have been greatly exaggerated. I have, however, enjoyed a wonderful month of solitude...well, as much solitude as one can enjoy living with three sons. I have really missed all of you wonderful people though, and I am glad to be back. I can't wait to share all of my highly important and life-changing thoughts with you. I am sure you have slept little over this past month in breathless anticipation of what I might write. Okay, seriously, I really do have some things to say...just not today. I might possibly have let September slip up on me. Don't hate me for it.
I will be back on Wednesday, as usual. Have a splendiferous week!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."
When I consider what it means to be still and to know Him as God, I think of the mysteries of the cocoon and the resulting transformation that takes place after a season of isolation, of darkness and of stillness. And none of this "cocooning" takes place quickly but over the course of time. To the casual observer it would seem that nothing is happening. Some may regard being still as idle, unproductive and wasteful, but nothing could be further from the truth. To be still before God is to silence the myriad distractions that life has to offer and to focus on the extravagance of simply enjoying His presence. It is possible in this unhurried exchange that our pressing questions might be answered, our deepest hurts healed and our priorities become realigned, but more often than not, those things just fade into the background and the nearness of God becomes all that we see.
I believe we must be intentional in setting aside seasons to seal ourselves into a "cocoon" where we are forced into stillness and away from distraction. This doesn't have to happen in an isolated retreat setting. It can simply mean cutting out so much of the "excess" activity in our lives for a season. The sole purpose is to spend longer quantities of unhurried time with God, soaking in His Presence and becoming preoccupied with Him and Him alone. This is such a time for me. For the month of August I will not be spending time on Facebook and I will not be posting anything on my blog. I sincerely hope this won't kill my blog traffic and that you will all be here when I return in September, but regardless, this is what I need to do. I am really looking forward to the stillness and when I return, I hope to have some tasty things to share with you all.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I am taking the next week off from my blog. I will be back on Monday, August 3rd. Hang in there with me, friends, as I try to catch my breath and figure out where to go from here. Have a great week!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
--This just in from the Department of Disease Control and Extreme Neuroses: It came to my attention this past week that the coffee stirrers at Starbucks fall under the same unfortunate contamination risk as the toothpicks that were tested back in the 1980's for traces of urine. You remember that study... where they tested the unwrapped toothpicks in the dispensers on restaurant counters only to discover traces of urine and other yummy bacteria. (This is where I was going to reference this study, thus proving my thorough and dependable reporting skills only I couldn't find one. It's true though. You can trust me.) I realized this when I met a friend for coffee this past week and was in need of a stirrer. Sadly, I have been to Starbucks hundreds of times and this is the first time I thought of this. What kind of racket are they running? No way am I stirring my mocha with a urine stick. Anymore.
--My children have all been away this whole week and I have made some startling discoveries:
1. I enjoy extended periods of quiet. Okay this is not new information but it was worth pointing out.
2. There have not been any blobs of toothpaste in any sinks and no toilet seats left up. I have been suspecting them all along but this just confirms my husband's innocence.
3. Our grocery bill hit a record low this week, confirming my suspicions that boys really do have hollow legs.
4. I enjoy extended periods of quiet. Oh, wait...I already mentioned that.
5. I am waaaaaaay more productive when there are no arguments to referee and I am not constantly saying, "Turn that lousy excuse for music down!" or "Which part of 'NO' do you not understand?"
6. I miss my hungry, messy, loud, toothpaste wasting bottomless pits when they are not here.
--The sands of July are quickly running out...hope you are living big this summer!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
I have written many posts on this blog about taking risks, exploring unknown places and launching the proverbial boat towards deep waters. And I have meant every word I have written as I feel passionately about not settling for status quo. That being said, I have been thinking a great deal about air travel and the altitudes at which different aircraft fly. And I want to share some thoughts that I have about this in relation to the topic of risk-taking.
Different aircraft are assigned particular altitudes based on a number of factors; direction, distance being flown, and the size of the plane. The ideal altitude for each craft is the one that has them flying most efficiently and thus using less fuel. Passenger jets typically fly between 31,000 and 37,000 feet. Smaller business jets operate up to 45,000 feet. And the Concorde has flown as high as 51,000 impressive feet, a height at which one can often see the curvature of the earth. Air traffic controllers determine when, where, and how high planes will fly based on all of these factors with the goal of getting people where they need to be safely, efficiently and without hurting others in the process.
My point here is that risk for the sake of risk is a life of madness. Risk for the sake of obedience to God is life at it's very best. And risk looks different for each individual. Some will be required, in the tradition of Star Trek, "to boldly go where no man has gone before", to hit the heights of the Concorde. For some, the greatest risk will be to stay the course, cruising at a normal altitude, when running off impulsively is easier. No one can define what is risk for another. Some will see risk and call it irresponsible while others will view a sound decision and say it lacks the vitality of adventure. Only the person taking the next step, in harmony with the heart of God, is capable of making that call. One thing is most certain...we were all created for high adventure, for ardent, technicolor living, and for, as Mark Batterson calls it, "refusing to allow your human responsibilities to get in the way of pursuing the passions God puts in your heart." Technicolor living is the full embrace of your own life, wrapping one arm securely around whatever risks He calls you to take and wrapping the other arm tightly around the beautiful mundaneness of the everyday. The ability to see the heaven and the fire that is right in front of you only happens when you are seeing your life through His eyes. The key is in the seeing.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Churches, like individuals, come in all shapes and sizes with varying personalities, purposes and visions. Some are full of life and draw you in, beckoning you to become a part of its' vitality. Others are cold, arid and devoid of life, causing you to want to run for the door like one might hurry to leave a mausoleum. The living won't linger among the dead. And many, many are somewhere in between, unremarkable, uninspiring and largely unattended.
Yesterday morning I attended a service at a church that is full to bursting with the life of God and I came away encouraged, challenged, and hungry for more. More of God and more of healthy body life. And just for the record, that is how I believe church should be. It seems that everyone has their own idea of what church should or should not look like and some believe that their way is the only way. But, if I might make a bold assertion, I don't believe God is the least bit offended by diversity. The last thing He is going to be crammed into is a man-sized box designed to formularize the God of the universe and the "building of His church", which is His job-not ours. (Matt 16:18)
What does offend Him is pride, which, oddly enough, is at the root of every problem that is encountered in the church. Pride elevates self over God and this is, quite simply, what threatens the furthering of the Gospel and the very life of the church. It would seem to me that if we stopped trying to do His job (building the church) and merely cooperated with Him by disregarding self, adoring Him, and loving others.....the church would explode in such a way that our finite minds never imagined. I don't pretend to have all of the answers and I don't even know what such cooperation with Him should necessarily look like. I suspect it will look gloriously different in different places. But always is will be devoid of pride. Always His children would refuse to focus on what they find disagreeable in the church and choose to focus on all that is good and right in His Face. Simplistic, I know, but I am foolish enough to believe that the Gospel was intended to be just that.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
--Conversation that took place at my house this week:
14-year-old son: "Can I take my coffee into my bedroom?"
44-year-old dad: "Can you keep from spilling it on the carpet?"
14-year-old son: "Dad, I am 14...not 4."
44-year-old dad: "True, but you just microwaved a metal spoon..."
--I know I refer to Tim Sanders frequently here, but he just says so many things that make sense. Check out this post on cell phone conversations. It is good stuff!
--The tragedy of the week involves my poor laptop. Apparently something unfortunate happened to the keyboard and now the "shift" key is broken and the a, a ..."A" key sticks and it is a hopeless mess that has sent me spiraling into a deep depression. so, my hubs recommended taking it in to Dr. Hard Drive, but i just cannot bring myself to enter an establishment that sounds like the name of an adult film star. i mean really. but clearly i cannot live without my shift key and without capital letters in my life. and "a"s that stick? don't even get me started! what's a girl to do/ do/ do? i will tell you what...my hubs took it in because he isn't concerned much with his reputation and, quite honestly, he has been to see dr. hard drive before. it's his dirty little secret. well, up until now, that is. sooo, here's hoping that i get back in the land of capital letters. and "a"s that don't stick.
--oh, and in case you want to get all sassy with me and leave me a comment telling me that my keyboard has two shift keys, let me spare you the trouble. my sons, all three, pointed this out already and i let them know that when i took typing in high school, i always used the left shift key and i have no living idea how to even use the right one. it would be like trying to paint with my toes, okay? sorry. i have been a wee bit out of sorts this week.
--have a lovely weekend. hope it is filled with shifts that work and "a"s that don't stick!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Last night I saw 75-year-old grandma do stand up comedy, a 35-year-old cancer survivor sing opera like an angel and a nine-year-old electric guitar player who made my chin drop. I am NOT a fan of reality television but I caught a few minutes of America's Got Talent last night and I went to bed feeling inspired. The world is full of people who say "you can't" every day. Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Dream Giver, calls these people border bullies. And because most border bullies are well-meaning people who cling faithfully to the obviously attainable, they can be very convincing as they seek to keep dreamers "grounded".
But I love seeing people at least try to go somewhere that others say is impossible. That show may be a vehicle I would not necessarily choose, but I love to see a dreamer step out of the everyday to shoot for an extraordinary moment. I have a teenage son who dreams some pretty big dreams and I am not about to tie his feet to the ground. Someone's son has to grow up to be the rock star...why not mine? The world is full of nay-sayers, and disappointment and circumstances alone will challenge hopes and threaten dreams--why should I stand on my own child's border and ask "why?" when I can shout "why not! "I believe one of my strengths is helping people, my own sons included, to dare to believe they can do whatever they love. There are too many people getting paid to do what they don't love while their passions sit on a shelf and collect dust. And I love to do some dusting and see people really love their lives and pursue their passions!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Psalm46:10 "Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God..."
There is a direct relationship between waiting in stillness and knowing God. When we cease our striving and our religious activity long enough to rest quietly in the stillness, we find that He is there. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." This seeking and searching has been mistaken for activity and in a society drunk with accomplishing more in less time so that we can get even more done, most of us do not have the vaguest understanding of what this means.
The activity associated with searching and striving is for those who are unwilling to exist in the quiet places of the soul where God accomplishes great works that are largely unseen. He tells us to be still and in that stillness, that waiting....there He is found. And that is the great secret of seeking. Waiting is not passive and fruitless, a waste of precious time. It is an intentional repositioning of ourselves at His feet, knowing that transformation will surely come. Waiting in stillness is the divine mandate that most of us miss and so He must orchestrate our circumstances in such a way that we are forced into periods of waiting. But when we embrace this waiting and this stillness we find places in our own souls that we did not know existed and it is there that we see the reflection of His face, the branding of His image. And that is where we are changed and transformed. Sue Monk Kidd defines this paradox as "achieving our deepest progress standing still."
There are divine pockets of waiting throughout life that hold deep treasures and it is only the ones who are willing to embrace the stillness and to wait on Him that discover that this treasure is but more of Him. For years I wrestled with this, acquiescing on the outside but resisting and resenting within. It has only been recently that I have wrapped my arms around this thing called waiting so that I might discover the depths of truly knowing Him. Give yourself permission to pull away, to cease so much activity, to engage in quiet waiting. The "knowing" is worth all the "waiting".
Friday, July 10, 2009
--One of the blogs I follow is Jeremie Kubicek over at Giant Perspectives. He writes on leadership and recently posted The What, Why and How of Reading. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of reading, both for recreation and for personal/professional growth, and I found this post to be encouraging and insightful. Just sharing the love...cause that is what I do!
--Those of you who know me are aware that I can be quite absent-minded at times. On some levels this can be cute and quirky. This week, however, I took it to a whole new level. A much LOWER level. I was making homemade chocolate ice cream for the bottomless pits that live in my house and had completely assembled my trusty Alton Brown recommended ice cream maker. Or so I thought. After preparing the ingredients and pouring them through the opening at the top, I was astounded to see no churning action going on and all of the delicious chocolatey goodness was running out all over the counter. Now, I ask you...what kind of thinking individual forgets the FREEZER BOWL in the whole ice cream making process??? Uuummmm....that would be me. Obviously thinking was not involved that day. It was a small miracle that I didn't totally destroy our favorite small appliance.
**please note that no small animals or children were harmed during this process. I, however, was thoroughly ridiculed by every member of my family, including my visiting sister**
--Fav quote: "The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for if you want the kernel, you must break the shell." ~Meister Eckhart
--In case you didn't know, having your shell cracked is agony. And that is all I am going to say about that.
--I am headed to the great state of Alabama this weekend for a wedding ( I love weddings). Our very special friends, Greg and Pam Rogers, who planted and pastor Tuscaloosa Life Church will be watching one of their sons marry the love of his life. I love weddings...did I mention that? My favorite moment is when the bride appears because I love, love, love seeing the look on the groom's face when he sees her for the first time and watches her come toward him. It makes me think of the joy it must give the Lord when He looks at me and at you, His bride, coming toward Him. And it makes me want to draw nearer still to Him.
Do have a wonderous weekend! See you on Monday.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
When a husband and wife come together in the most intimate of connections it is called lovemaking. Love is not actually made in the act of sex, it is merely expressed in a wildly intense way that only God could have imagined. And when each of us joins together in the closest of intimacy with our Heavenly Father, it is called soulmaking. Likewise, the soul is not made in the intimate dance between the Father and child but it is expressed in a wildly intense way that, again, only God could have imagined.
There is an ineffible discovery of soul and self and eternal identity that can only be realized in the tender moments of exchange and connection between Father and child. And the self that is realized is really just the true reflection of Who He is and how He desires His image to be reflected in us. And these reflections of His face in each of us are as unique and different as each snowflake that falls to the earth, not one resembling any other. It is the constantly changing environment within a cloud that makes each snowflake uniquely different and so it is with each of us...our ever changing surroundings cause us to be a reflection of the Father's heart and face unlike any other. This must cause the heart of our wildly creative God to burst with excitement over the endless expressions of His true self that are then possible to be seen and enjoyed in the earth.
However, many of us have been deceived into viewing such exchanges with God in much the same casual way that so many view sex. It is for our own gratification, serving the purpose of meeting a base need in such a way that the heart need not ever be engaged. How cheap and shallow an imitation is this of the deeper reality that He intends for us to know when our hearts are engaged and our souls are brought to life in a fiery, breath-taking intertwining of flesh with the divine. Soulmaking is an incomprehensible union worthy of our pursuit that will move us toward, as Sue Monk Kidd puts it, "recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul."
Monday, July 6, 2009
When all of your writing comes from the deep places in your heart, but your heart is aching, dry and arid, it is difficult to string together words that will bring life to others.
Why write at such times?
It seems that many who write songs do their best work in the dark hour.
Some of the writing that has spoken to me the most has come from people who were transparent when hiding would have been easier, and watching them move forward even when broken has somehow brought life to me.
Hiding is easy and avoiding banal platitudes that are oddly suffocating is far more appealing.
Yet somehow people worth following are the ones who smell like the desert. They have known hunger and thirst and barrenness and can be trusted to bring food and water and life to someone else.
Can you really be an oasis if you have never known the aching need for one?
"All of my servants on their way to the High Places have had to make this detour through the desert...I bring my people into Egypt that they, too, may be threshed and ground into the finest powder and may become bread corn for the use of others."
--Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Sunday, July 5, 2009
My friend, Cee Lew, from beautiful South Australia has recently awarded me the Honest Scrap Award for honesty and authenticity in my blog writing. This was an honor to me as I have always sought to be both in everything I say, do or write. And Cee is a picture of authenticity herself. Pop over here and check out what she has going on in her corner of the world.
To keep this award, there are some rules by which I (and future recipients) must abide:
So, here are the "ten honest things about myself":
--I have a deep desire to leave a legacy of my writing that will make a mark on others the way the writing of certain others has marked me.
--My three sons are the joy and delight of my heart and if I do no other great thing, I will have raised three men who will make a difference in this world.
--My faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of who I am and the reason that I live.
--I love and adore dark chocolate and I hate and detest spiders.
--I desire to travel the United States and see every place my heart has longed to see here.
--Then I want to travel the globe and see the rest of this spinning orb that God created.
--I do truly believe that marriage can be heaven on earth and my husband is easily the finest unexpected gift I have ever received. Life with him is an endless treasure.
--Regardless of how dark the path of my life can sometimes be, I really do love life, the mundane or the exciting, and I thank God for this life I have and I would trade places with no one.
--Two other things I wanted to be as a girl were a world-class tennis player or an Academy Award winning actress.
--Besides my family, my close friends who feed and encourage my soul are my favorite things. And really, family and true friends are what make us so very rich.
And now, to offer this fine award to 7 others (and in random order, mind you):
-Erica Orzechowski of Ponderings for her uncompromising authenticity. I have always respected that she is true to who she is. After all, pretending in order to please others is such a waste of precious time.
-Rachel Grubb of So I've Been Thinking for encouraging me to make time for my gift. I can't wait to see where her gifts take her.
-Bruce Goddard of View From A Hearse for making life in a southern town a thing to be treasured and even envied. He writes from a heart that authentically loves where he came from.
-Joylene Green of Therapy for giving real-life encouragement to her readers on living a healthy and whole-hearted life.
-Eddie Taylor for being a man who lives a life others should envy. He follows God anywhere and he is the same man at home that he is in public. There is no other like him.
-Adrienne Scott of In the Meanwhile for being exactly who she is. I have always respected her walk with God and any reflections in her writing of that walk are well worth reading.
-Jen Walsh of Chair Rocker. Many times I have popped over to her blog and read words that I needed so very much in that moment. Her words are always real.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Observations from the seaside:
--All food tastes better at the beach.
--Calories do not matter while away at the beach and watching what you eat is completely unnecessary.
--Some people are under the complete misapprehension that swimsuits are one size fits all.
--Bologna sandwiches are tastier with sand in them.
--Coke for breakfast is acceptable, even recommended, at the beach.
--God made spray on sunscreen and I love Him for this.
--It is okay to leave your beds unmade for the duration of your time at the beach.
--Hanging over your balcony and yelling loud, obnoxious greetings at the people walking by is frowned upon by some folks.
--There are actually people in the world who think it is okay to leave dirty diapers and tampon applicators on the beach. This is a great mystery to me that I do not understand.
--O'Steens in St. Augustine, FL has the best fried shrimp on the planet. And they are deveined...bonus points for that!
--It is not considered abusive to bury your children in sand and then take pictures of them.
--Chubby, naked babies running around on the beach are cute. Chubby, nearly naked men of retirement age running around on the beach are nauseating. Add excessive back hair to the equation and you might need to take some Pepto.
--My first book will be entitled "Men With Excessive Back Hair and the Women Who Love Them But Not Enough to Help Them Get Rid of It." You can pre-order your copy in the comment section.
--Certain boys I know think that chlorine can serve as shampoo for the duration of an entire week. This is not recommended. I repeat-NOT recommended.
--Being at the beach requires lots of energy. This explains the necessity of eating 6-8 meals a day. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
--And finally, responsible parents do NOT allow their sons to use blow dart guns to kill innocent frogs from the safety and comfort of their condo balcony. For the record, this was another family with questionable parenting skills and not us.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I'm not trying to wear out the MJ thing but....
I read recently that, growing up, Michael Jackson was teased a great deal by his father and that he was reported to have said to his son, "God, your nose is big!" In a 2003 documentary, Michael was reported to have said that when performing he would have been happier wearing a mask. Nothing done to a person in childhood excuses adult behaviors and choices, but we often forget what careless words said to a child can do and the lasting effects of those words.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
In the wake of his recent and untimely death, I have been thinking a great deal about Michael Jackson. Like him, love him or hate him, it doesn't diminish the effect that this man had on the music industry and an entire generation worldwide. We all know that he was an incredibly gifted little boy who ended up a deeply disturbed and broken man. What has gripped my heart is the reality of what fame and idolatry must do to any person. Because the fact is, we were never created to be worshiped and adored and so to receive the kind of attention this man lived with his entire life must have been a crushing burden. Yeah, yeah, I know...he signed up for it and in the process amassed a fortune that many would envy. But I would never want to know the reality of being worshiped and idolized. This was not even a reality until technology made it possible to be known to so many throughout the globe and now, thanks to vehicles like YouTube, anyone can be famous and very quickly. But it has always been appealing to humanity. What did the serpent offer the first woman? That she would be like God. And what does celebrity on such a grand scale offer a man or woman? The kind of renown and adoration that only God should ever experience. He can handle it. We cannot. And it breaks my heart to see what it does to a person. And it also breaks my heart to hear the masses crticize the giants when they fall whether those giants are in politics, entertainment, church leadership or business. So many of them do fall and the bigger the giant, the bigger the fall. And you know why? Because it was just never meant to be.
Monday, June 29, 2009
That's right, my bloggy friends, I am away at the beach for a little R & R with my family. I would not even try to tell you how draining the past twelve months have been for us, but suffice it to say that it has felt at times like we have been climbing the cliffs of insanity from The Princess Bride. And I am afraid of heights. Anyway, we have found a way to get away to my favorite place to be so I may or may not be around this week. I think I will just leave you dangling so check back here and see what might pop up. I will definitely be back in full swing next Monday. Don't.... forget me when I'm gone.....my heart would break....I have loved you for so long....It's all I can take....
Oooh, sorry. A little Glass Tiger for your Monday pleasure...
Friday, June 26, 2009
--So, I sat in the Publix parking lot the other day for what seemed like forever and do you know what I was waiting for??? I will tell you. I was waiting for the car that was three cars ahead of me and that car was waiting for a choice parking spot. I would like to just note that the driver of the parked car was taking his sweet time loading his groceries into his car and he was even loading drinks into his cooler. Clearly this was going to be a long process but the prime parking spot hopeful was undaunted and was evidently determined that they MUST have that one parking spot. Now, I know it has been about 12000 degrees outside every day and nobody wants to be in the heat for longer than they have to, but why do people (most of whom are perfectly healthy and able to walk a hundred feet or so across a parking lot) insist on waiting for the closest parking spot, causing a twelve car pile up behind them, rather than just taking any old spot and just walk for the love of all that is good in this world!!???!! Sorry. Tangent.
--If you have the desire to see the movie, "He Is Just Not That Into You", I recommend that you take two aspirin and lie down until the urge passes. It was not worth the four dollars I spent renting it or the gas I burned driving to Blockbuster. You can trust me on this one.
--Apparently there is profit in avoiding pregnancy for teen girls now in the state of North Carolina. I don't want to just be critical because I do see the motivation behind this program, but really now...we are paying human beings to do what used to be a moral minimum. How did we get to this place? I suppose that, since we have reduced human sexuality to an animal urge that is beyond our control so we pass out birth control in place of self-control, it is a natural progression that we would begin offering financial incentives to help regulate moral behaviors. But that is just how I see it.
--Tim Stevens had a great post on his blog yesterday about how we do church in America. Frankly, I hate the phrase "do church" and for the record those were not words he used in this post but they are words that church leaders, myself included, have often used. I totally agree with his assertions about the busyness and programming of most churches and the expectations we place on Joe or Sally Churchgoer. Check it out here.
--I am headed to the ole' home town this weekend to see family and go to Crossway Church. Our very close friends, Rodney and Renee Thrift, planted Crossway Church almost seven years ago and God has been amazing them all ever since. If you ever get to the Southeast corner of Georgia, you have to stop in and experience Crossway Church. Tell them I sent you and you might get asked off the property. Just kidding. Oh, and do check out their website...it is verrry impressive!
Have a loverly weekend!!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
How is it that I carry a camera around with me at all times and yet when given the opportunity to spend a tremendous week of ministry with some of my very favorite people on the planet, I took NO PICTURES? Nix. Nil. Nada. You get the point.
It is a great mystery. I am a great mystery. Okay, really I am not, I am just totally and completely forgetful. But I want to enjoy life as I am living it rather than just take pictures of it. I do try, really I do. This was supposed to be a fascinating post on the power of team and how a motley group of crazy, love-sick Christian leaders get together and pull off a camp for hundreds of children every summer. I was going to tell you what incredible people I am privileged to work with as we plan this camp throughout the year and how no one is prideful and self-promoting but rather everyone lays their lives down, surrenders their gifts and talents, and the lives of children are forever changed. I was going to comment on the fact that the many children's pastors I work with are of the highest caliber. How they are not known nationwide is yet another of life's great mysteries. Napoleon once said that "A leader is a dealer in hope." And these leaders offer hope in immeasurable abundance to the children of this generation. I love the power of "we" and how together we attain what alone we could only dream. These are the things I wanted to tell you.
And I was going to post a picture of these amazing leaders that I call friends but, as I mentioned earlier, my camera never made it out of my bag. And that is mystery # 572.
Monday, June 22, 2009
-A Wrinkle In Time (movie)
I had the privilege of speaking to more than seven hundred kids and adult leaders at Kids Aflame Camp this past week. I am amazed each year to see children run to the altars and surrender their hurts, their hopes and their very lives to the living God. He knows all too well what hellish pain many of them have endured and He is always faithful to heal, to fill and to make new the lives of some of the tiniest of His warriors.
Children are not merely the hope of tomorrow. They are the unlikely warriors of today and my desire is to see the church make room for them, for their gifts and callings. Now. Today. Oh, how we need them!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday I wrote a post about the danger of allowing your passions to carry you along in leadership without first submitting to the Divine process of "proofing." The logical question to ask then is "do I have a chip on my shoulder and an axe to grind and how do I recognize them?"
It is painfully simple to see if you know what you are looking for. A man or woman who has been through this Divine process is willing to lay aside the passion in their heart if God asks. She is more fascinated with being with her Father than she is with working for Him. He is willing to cooperate with whatever authority is in his life even if it appears his passion will not take top priority. But when your pet passion, be it ending poverty, caring for the elderly, pastoring a megachurch or foreign missions, is the driving force in your life, you had better check your shoulder and your hands because you are most likely armed and dangerous and of precious little use to God. He chooses yielded vessels. He chooses vessels that do NOT dictate to Him the what and the how but instead are willing to completely die to the very passion that He instilled in them.
For me, it was eighteen years before He gave me permission to publically speak and write about the passion of my heart. And I thank God for the Divine process for it is that alone that makes the leader ready for the heat that inevitably accompanies leadership and the living out of the Holy discontent that keeps you awake at night. Leader, check your shoulder, check your hands and embrace the process.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It is a scary thing to work with a leader who has an axe to grind and a chip on his or her shoulder. And yet such leaders are everywhere, even in the church. Chips and axes are passions that have not been yielded to the tempering that comes from the Divine process. Unyielded passions will always become chips and axes and these will most assuredly become weapons that hurt those to whom you desire to minister.
My passion, my holy discontent as Bill Hybels calls it, is seeing women free in the church to lead in any capacity God desires and not be held back due to misuse of Scripture. For almost twenty years I wrestled with my passion and God put me through a process, a Divine process, that was necessary for me to be trustworthy with this message God placed within me. It is a proofing just like bread dough must go through before it is ready for the heat of the oven. The dough must be worked and kneaded and then put aside for the yeast to do it's job of making it ready to bake. Usually the dough is then "punched down" and set aside a second time for it to rise and become ready for the heat. And so it has been in my life. God has put me through rigorous circumstances and then put me aside while His deposit has done it's work within me. And then came the punching down (it is agony, friends) and more time sitting alone, waiting. All the while He was at work in the interior, making the woman ready before I could be trusted with His message.
There must be this season of proofing so that your passions do not become a chip or an axe. And if a leader is placed into the "heat of leadership" before the process is complete, what results is hard and incapable of being nourishment to others. How do you know if you do have a chip on your shoulder and an axe to grind? Head on back here Friday and I will tell you...
Monday, June 15, 2009
I found this video of a dance tribe forming on Seth's blog this past week. This is a pretty typical group dynamic...once more than a few people join in something, people come in droves to do the very same. But as I watched the first strange man dancing all alone, and in a most bizarre way, I couldn't help but admire his freedom. The truth is, when you act in a way that is different from the norm, people will gawk and laugh and point. Many will feel very uncomfortable with your freedom and your willingness to express it. Others will feel contempt and usually that is because they secretly wish they had that kind of nerve and rather than be challenged by it, they will judge it instead and usually loud enough for others to hear.
Obeying God is just like this video. At times, you are going to look crazy and unstable in all of your ways. It could be that your actions start a revolution and, in time, others will be running to do what you had to work up the nerve to do. But sometimes you will dance alone. It is a risk of obedience. Are you willing to risk it?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
--If you have one minute and one second to spare, hop on over here and hear a small morsel from one of Tim Sander's recent talks on generosity. I honestly love this guy because he is constantly challenging the scarcity mindset and he is effectively breathing life into the hearts of people who are afraid of where we are in this nation. Really good stuff.
--As an avid reader, I try to give myself a taste of many different kinds of books to consistantly challenge and educate myself. Biographies are a great change of pace and I really love learning about people who have made their dreams come true and the path that got them there. Right now I am chewing through Julie Andrew's memoir and, wow, has her life has been fascinating! If you are looking for some summer reading, grab a biography and get lost in the life of someone you admire.
--It is now summertime and the season when a young man's fancy turns to....peeing outside. I have been trying to understand why members of the male species find that such a fascinating pastime. Is it just because they can? I can give birth, but this was never so much a fascination as a necessity in becoming a parent. If anyone has wisdom and insight into this phenom, I would appreciate it.
--I have a million and one things to do before next week so I am out of here, friends. Have a big weekend...read a biography...pee outside...knock yourself out!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
My mind is a circus of thoughts today. I read of the recent moral failure of a prominent church planter/pastor/blogger, Gary Lamb, today. His five-year-old church plant, Revolution Church, is in Canton, Georgia in the Atlanta area and you can read about his recent resignation here. Why am I bringing attention to yet another blight on the American church? I am glad you asked.
Next to nurturing an intimate relationship with God, my greatest desire as a minister of the Gospel is to live a life of integrity. This desire is not so that I will be shiny and and stainless and admired, but so that my life will garner little attention and He will get it all. I have no doubt that Gary Lamb had similar desires when he set out to plant Revolution Church. The reality is that not one person on the planet is above the temptation of sexual sin or the sin of pride or any other sin for that matter. We will all fight temptation until we draw our last breath. And those who do think they are immune to such things are in the greatest danger. The only difference between a leader who falls and a leader who does not are boundaries and accountability.
Leader, if you remember nothing else I have written here these past two years, please remember this: you are only as safe from sin as the boundaries you set for yourself and the accountability that keeps you within them. To give you an example, I will share with you some of the boundaries that my husband and I have set for ourselves.
-We never, under any circumstances, allow ourselves to be alone with anyone of the opposite sex. Period.
-If anyone of the opposite sex behaves inappropriately with either of us, we quickly alert the other of the situation and handle it immediately.
-We never counsel someone of the opposite sex alone. We always have someone else sit in or we counsel that person together.
-We are very vocal about our marriage relationship and we publicly affirm that relationship so others see that we are knitted together and will not be an easy target.
-We nurture intimate relationships with close friends and mentors who know where we are in our walks with God...not just our ministry. Many leaders in the church talk freely about their ministries and say very little about their intimacy with Jesus. Open doors and open hearts are much safer.
-When we are struggling with anything, we get help. You cannot wrestle temptation alone. Run, don't walk, to your mentors or co-laborers and get help.
-We prioritize our lives. Ministry responsibilities MUST come after your marriage and then your family time. If you win your entire city for Christ but your children are neglected and hurting and your spouse is a stranger to you, you are a dismal failure.
Please let me clarify. I am writing this NOT to judge a fallen minister, but rather to expose the desperate need in the body of Christ for boundaries and accountability. I do not write these things because I am immune to sin, but rather because I know that I am wretched flesh and, if left to my own devices, I will sin . And so will you. Examine your life and ministry. Shore up the integrity of your own life and ministry by putting careful boundaries in place and then insure these boundaries with faithful people who will love you enough to correct you.
Your life depends on it. And if you lead, so do the lives of so many others.
Monday, June 8, 2009
"Silence is the way to make solitude a reality"
When I was a girl, I spent many hours with my grandmother on her front porch watching the rain. Sometimes we would talk but more often than not words were unimportant and instead we would both get lost in the beautiful conversation between the wind and the raindrops. I did not understand in those days how she was schooling me in the art of solitude. All of the mornings I would find her in her breakfast room, sipping coffee and listening to the serenade of the blue jays and cardinals outside of her opened back door, she was teaching me the importance of what Wordsworth called "a wise passiveness."
I have known people who find themselves anything but companionable and I feel so sad for them as I have nearly always enjoyed my own company. This is not because I am anything special, but rather that I was taught at an early age to appreciate, even relish silence and solitude and to seek it out regularly as one might seek time with a dear friend. Sadly, this is a lost art in our current time and with an ever increasing number of distractions and ways to connect with others, this generation has forgotten how to connect with self, which ironically leaves us with much less to offer all the other people with whom we work so hard to connect.
Paul Tillich said that "Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone, and the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone." I long for my own children to know the glory of being alone for it is in that place where we become acquainted with our true selves and can then see the transformation from who we are to who we can become. God's transforming grace can meet us in the contemplative silence with an overwhelming clarity that is unknown in the hustle and bustle of busy living and it is a meeting of unparalleled importance. It is what elevates the leader from good to great, the Christian from shallow to deep and the person who is alone from pain to glory.
Friday, June 5, 2009
--If you have some time to burn and are sorely in need of a belly laugh, please click here and head over to hear Jeanne Robertson, a former Miss North Carolina, tell the story of "Left Brain's Grocery List." This woman is Southern and funny, my favorite combination except for dark chocolate and peanut butter which is indisputably the best combination there is. Amen.
--I am traveling today to the great state of South Carolina, home of intelligent and articulate beauty pageant contestants. Oops. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. Anyway, I am headed to Florence to see my nephew graduate from high school and I just have one question for you. If there are approximately three hundred graduates and I am there to see only one walk across the stage, is it wrong to do a crossword puzzle or read before and after my nephew walks? Yeah, I know. I am just gonna be bored. (sigh)
--I watched House Hunters on HGTV last night and I sat amazed as a young couple (they don't even have kids yet) purchased a $1.5 million home in Belize. Not to pander to the wealthy, the next episode featured a young couple about the same age who have been living in a tent in the woods (even more amazing) and have decided they might like to try life inside of some walls and under a roof so they were looking for a rental in the city. Who does that? Who gets engaged and then registers at the Bass Pro Shop because they want to set up housekeeping in a tent in the woods? I'm not saying it is wrong. I am a live-and-let-live kind of person. I'm just saying...I'm just saying...WHY???
--Hope you have a relaxing weekend and that you don't have to drive for sixteen hours in two days. That would be my destiny.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
So, I spent the entire day yesterday finishing my preparations for a speaking gig I have in a little less than two weeks. I am privileged to be speaking to five or six hundred kids at Kids Aflame Camp in Bradenton, Florida. Sadly, due to my recent two week bout with lung sludge, I was a little late getting all my stuff into the media gurus that make everything flow flawlessly for a solid week of camp. I got it all done, though, and I was even able to make a few sage observations as I was wrapping up my work late last night.
Observation one: I suck at power point.
Observation two: My husband ROCKS at power point and he is my hero.
Observation three: I couldn't get all of my work done, take care of my three kids and write a decent post for today.
Observation four: I could not possibly skip a post and I would rather just let you get a peek into my life, chaotic though it is at times, than not show up at all. That would just be rude.
Observation five: I HATE to be late on a project deadline when other people are counting on me.
No, I don't have issues. Why do you ask?
The thing is, life happens, sometimes you get sick, and you just have to do the best you can with what you have to work with. My wise grandmother used to tell me to "just play your best with the hand you are dealt." Words to live by. What about you? Have you skidded into home plate just in the nick of time on any deadlines lately?
Monday, June 1, 2009
I have recently been feeding on a truth that I once learned in a 1994 Henry Blackaby Bible Study called "Experiencing God." One of Blackaby's key points is to "watch to see where God is working and join Him." It seems a simple truth but one that many people fail to remember. We are by nature self-centered so it is only natural to ask, "What is God's will for my life?" The better question to ask Him is "How can my life fit into Your will?" God has a grand scheme, a plan for His Kingdom, that is so much greater than our singular existence and yet it is difficult for most of us to ask the bigger question when all we can see is the one path we walk, forgetting that our one path is just a dot on the grand tapestry of human existence. For many, the weight of the question centers on "my life" when, if that part of the question is eliminated, what is left is "What is God's will?" And this was a truth that Jesus well understood.
No one on Earth has had the level of intimacy with the Father that Jesus enjoyed. And with Christ as our model, we, too, are taught to pursue an intimate, personal relationship with the God of the universe. In doing that, it becomes easy to forget that my ministry, my church, my hopes and dreams are not to be considered as the central theme. Jesus understood this. He was here to ONLY do the Father's will. He pulled away frequently to get His Father's perspective and direction and His existence revolved around that and that alone. It is His great plan and His ministry and His work that are the center and it is our role as daughters and sons to stay close to His heart and thus hear Him when He calls for us to "go here" or "stay there" or "do this" or (and this is the hardest) "wait." Still, so many labor in their fields of ministry, asking God to bless their efforts, and never even notice when God has moved on and is no longer at work among them.
It is better to think of life like a mobile that hangs over a child's crib. God is at the center and we are to be positioned by Him wherever He sees fit to place us for His Kingdom purpose and then revolve around His great purpose and just enjoy the nearness of our God, doing only what He asks us to do. If we are to change our placement, that is His doing and He has every right to put us wherever He wishes in order to accomplish His will. It always goes back to His will, His plan and His purposes. What is at the center of your existence? Is it your life or His? Is it your ministry or His? Remember it is never too late for a mid-course correction.