SLIDER

Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Loving Can Hurt Sometimes



Last week I had a cardiac ablation. Wires were taken through my groin up into my veins and then to my heart to burn out unnecessary tissue that had been causing me to frequently have an irregular heart rhythm. In the days leading up to the procedure, it took everything in me not to hit up google and seek out the risks associated with it. Because with every medical decision made to hopefully improve the quality of your life, there comes a list of risks and almost every one of those lists ends with 'stroke or death.'

But isn't that the way it should be? I mean as far as the human existence goes, we should be compelled to have a better 'quality of life' about us, should we not? Just living it and managing a physical heart rhythm isn't enough. There needs to be more than just breath.

Still the only true and real thing that boosts the quality of our lives is LOVE. Love is our reason for  existing. It's the precise reason for our being alive. Our goal is to love the Lord God, love others, love ourselves. If we don't have love, we are nothing. Remember that?

Be that as it may...love hurts. Although it’s true that a higher quality of life is embodied in love, it can feel risky. Because of the incredible depth of it, there is always that chance that on the other side of love... is pain. And the fear of pain...or ample experience with it...can hold us back from having a genuinely rewarding existence from here on out.
The many facets and types of love can leave us feeling jaded or even battered depending on our exact situation. Parents may have mistreated us. Friends may have back stabbed us. Relatives may have abused us. Our child may have fallen ill. A spouse may have cheated on us. A boyfriend/girlfriend may have left us. A church friend may have talked about us. A leader may have failed us. A loved one may have passed away too soon. A trusted person may have abandoned or betrayed us.

Any of these situations and the plethora of others you may have experienced can leave you feeling afraid to really love again.

Why take the risk? It hurts too bad. We don't like to be hurt. We don't like how people make us feel.  We don't like when people leave us too soon. We don't like to feel disappointed...or worse, completely broken.. So why lay everything on the line to love people if it's only going to leave you wounded? Intentionally or unintentionally.

These past few years have been hard for me. People I loved died. People I loved got sick. People I loved talked. People I loved walked away. Everything in me wanted to shut down. It felt like too much. I didn't want to love anymore. It felt too unreliable. The moment I felt some certainty  was the moment I'd feel myself sink and my heart ache all over again.
I didn't want to allow love while the pain that resulted from it threatened to wear me down. Over and over, I'd say no more. No more to letting my guard down. My heart had become too fragile.

But that would mean I'm just existing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Day after day. Year after year.
I would barely survive. I would become numb to the beauty around me.
There would be no real quality to my life and the quantity of my days would feel like an eternity.
I would never grow or learn anything.  I would never laugh with someone, or cry for that matter...
I would never feel amazing. I would never feel much at all.
Or at least I would tell myself that.

That is not the life we are built for. This time here on this earth is not for us to hold back and guard ourselves. But rather to continue to stretch and to pour into others, even if there are risks involved. True there may be no certainty in love as far as who, what, when and how much of a 'return' you'll receive on your investment into another human being, if anything.

But that doesn't mean we just stop.

Understand this... we are here for a purpose.
Utilizing the LOVE that is instilled in all of us makes all the difference in the overall quality of our lives. We are not here to be alone and die never giving our best to someone else. We need to do more than just breathe. We are here for that child. that friend, that parent, that sibling, that significant other. We're even capable of loving strangers. People do it all the time.

Despite our misgivings, bad experiences and our fears. We are capable of choosing love over it all.



Loving can hurt. Loving can hurt sometimes.
But it's the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive


Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it's the only thing that I know, 
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of you
and it's the only thing we take with us when we die

Ed Sheeran- Lyrics to Photograph

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Nostalgia


A fit of nostalgia. Is that what they call it? I don't know. 

I tried googling the phrase and I couldn't really find it. But I swear it's a thing. And I've been having one. I made a playlist of songs that remind me of when I was in high school. Because those really are the best songs, aren't they? No matter what decade you were a kid or teenager in, the music that represents the era of your youth will always be the best. 

My dad thinks everyone loves 50s & 60s music. Well, I don't mind them Dad. But they aren't my fave or anything. I'm more of an 80s, early 90's girl when it comes to my musical (genius) playlist.
It's not necessarily because the music is that much better (though I could argue that with comparing it to a lot of today's music). But it brings back memories and feelings of a time where you didn't even get that it would be over before you know it. You didn't even realize you should have appreciated the simplicity of it. You just lived in that moment.

And maybe this is just me, but when you are young, everything seems larger than life. The fun stuff like the concerts and crushes are at the pinnacle of excitement. The hard stuff like break ups and mess ups seemed like they would be the end of us. 
Everything, whether bad or good, was big and impassioned. 
And you unwittingly longed for freedom and adulthood, not knowing that one day when you reached it, a concert would be like...Meh... A roller coaster would be... Blechhh! And crushes and first kisses would be traded for commitment to love for better... or for worse. 

I literally have been walking the track at my gym these past few weeks with tears streaming down face as I listened to the songs and the memories would come flooding in. The opportunities passed. The friendships lost. That sort of euphoric, blissful moment in time has been traded for a really good and comfortable, but a really familiar life. 
And it's not that I want my youth back, but rather I wish I could tell my younger self to protect this season of life. Love it. Love the people in it. Learn from your mistakes. Because it's such a short short time. It's not as bad as you think. But this isn't the best it's going to get either. 

I love where life has brought me. I love all that God has entrusted me with in this season. I love the relationships I have. And I love that I've grown up enough to know how to intentionally contribute to my life. I know to stop and breathe in the memories of my children. I know how to treasure the people I consider my friends. I know that there will be really sad and hard moments, so I need to embrace the joyful laughter amidst the chaos. 

I know that if I want adventure to go beyond waking the kids up late for school, getting frazzled & sweaty, and cleaning up messes of chocolate milk off the floor, I have to pursue it. 

And that is where I think these past few weeks have brought me. 
As I've listened to my songs and felt the emotion through each lyric and melody. I've asked the Lord what can I learn in this short trip down memory lane? Why am I here reliving these moments right now? It's not really just so I can live in my past, but more so I can learn how to better cultivate my future. I don't want to wake up in 20 years, telling myself the same thing over again. I don't want to kick myself for not loving my kids better, not going on adventures with them, not spending time sowing into my friendships or relationships with my family, not walking out my purpose and calling.

As I've taken this journey, I realize how little I have changed. I am still very much the same girl I was as a teenager. I am interested in the same things. I still gravitate to the same style of clothing and music. Not a lot has changed that make up my persona. But I've grown. And that I am grateful for. I can still be me, but I know how to navigate the important things a lot better. 

Though I may regret not preserving the small things in my youth, I don't think that it's an unusual thing. Most of us probably didn't realize how quickly it would pass and how drastically life would change. Most of us probably wish we could tell our younger selves, hang on to these moments, remember them, but don't get stuck in them. I think that is just a part of growing up. Knowing that when we were 'growing up' we'd be somewhat unaware of it all.

So what happens next?
I think just taking each day and making it big, but also pausing in and appreciating the small. Life can't get mundane if we stop often enough to acknowledge what we have... or if we live big enough to have something to remember and talk about to our grandkids.
So that is what I plan on doing. Living life on purpose. Each day. Each moment. I may forget occasionally, amidst a teenage eye roll or toddler tantrum. But I pray that I always come back to be reminded that this life I've been given is an adventure. It's up to me to get in the car and speed it up and slow it down.




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Living The Bitter (less) Sweet Life / when you've been hurt



Life is good. I could end right there. It's good.

Life has been good for me for awhile now. I've gone in and out of troubling scenarios with my kids or my health, but by the grace of God, I survive. I gain wisdom, understanding and strength. I'm way stronger now than I've ever been.  Not physically, but that's an whole other topic. But I know who I am and what I want more than I ever have. And I know who to go to when life seems off kilter.

Seems being the key word. Because the word "seems" usually parallels to the word "feels." And we know that what we feel in a moment or in a season may not necessarily be truth. Although, I do validate feelings, because they are real. You can't tell someone to not feel hurt or sad if they are hurt or sad, but the question is 'where do we go or what do we do with those feelings?' Is it possible to move on?

I wanted to share something that the Lord spoke to me recently that has helped me a ton to move on and live in freedom and really love people. I'm mean for real. Love them. It's super simple, yet chock full of wisdom.

Last summer, I was feeling yuck. I can't really put my finger on it. But I was feeling sort of hurt, offended,  and just overall sad. People were making me sad and it seemed as though I was living a life of being either let down or full on abandoned by people. It's sort of the unfortunate nature of the beast when you are a preacher's kid. And I just got used to it. People leave or people talk, and you hear about it. And if you let it, it can take a little piece of your heart every-single-time. And I was feeling weary and worn down of living the past 30 years this way. It can be rough. I was honestly just tired of smiling and hugging people or liking everyone's facebook status in my very best attempts to 'walk in love.' I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was okay. I was letting it roll of me 'like water off a duck's back' as they say. Yet inside, I was one big Blahhhhhh! Ho-hum. Wah-wah.

I was taking a walk, talking to the Lord about it one day. I didn't want to try so hard to walk in love. I really didn't. I was tired of making the effort to love. What I really wanted was to genuinely love people. Friends, enemies, frenemies and naysayers. I really just wanted to be genuine when I prayed for people. I really just wanted to hug people and not feel burdened on the inside with bitterness or sadness. And I was honest with the Lord about it. I told him like it is and how I felt. Because really, who wants to live like that? It's a crummy way to go through life. And God is cool like that because he listens. And He tells YOU like it is back.

The weird thing is, I didn't even realize I was holding on to any bitterness. I honestly thought because I was doing my best to smile and walk in love, that this was enough. My very best effort to walk in love was equivalent to forgiveness, no? As I was talking to the Lord about it, He said "Why don't you forgive them?" Wait, what? But God, I liked their facebook status. I smiled at them at church. I hugged them. I waved when I saw them at the grocery store. I did my very best, didn't I?

To even try to walk in love in our own strength, in particular when we've been hurt, will never be enough to move on or feel happy or content on the inside. It's a nice try and your heart probably is in the right place when you go on pretending as if all is okay for the sake of your 'love walk.' But if you truly want to feel free to love, it starts with forgiveness.
By that I mean, speak it. Say it out loud. God, I forgive 'so-n-so" and I release any bitterness and all hurt I have felt because of him/her. I want to love that person like you love them, with your love. I thank you for going to the cross for me, I thank you for forgiving me and because of that I can and will let go of any hurt or  pain because of what they did or said and I will let go of any resentment I've harbored ...and I give it all to you.

I hate to say it, but I had lists. Things I didn't even realize were hurting me still. And I went through them one by one. People I loved, people I didn't care for all that much, anyone and everyone. I remembered situations I had let slide. I remembered things said that made me cringe and my stomach sink. The tears rolled. But I gave every last bit of it to the Lord and I forgave 'em all. And wouldn't you  know it, my heart is free. It's free from all the yuck. The sad feels. The irritable feels. The frustration. And I can love people authentically now.
If a new situation occur or things get said that make me want to crawl back into the hole of contempt, I remember what God said to me... "Why don't you forgive them?'

I told you, Simple...yet profound. And liberating. Stop trying so hard. Just forgive them. And love will be easy.

I want to challenge you now. If you are thinking of a person or people that you've tried hard with. You've smiled. You've hugged. You've let it roll off you, in sort of a pretense of walking in love. Maybe you forgot to give it to the Lord. Maybe you forgot to actually forgive them. Maybe, like me, you need to ask God for his forgiveness for hanging on to it and trying to do it all in your own strength. Do it now. Say it out loud.
God, I forgive them. I want to love them like you love them. I want to walk in freedom from hurt and bitterness. I give it all to you and from this point on I can smile and hug  and love with sincerity. I don't have to pretend any more.








Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!



2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!




What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Ones That Show Up



I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.

But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to  invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.

It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?

This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.

Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a writer...you probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.

I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.

Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?

A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up. That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.





We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?

What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?

I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up. 
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.

Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.

If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500.  You may even wonder if  anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.

You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that.
Just do it for the ones that show up.

I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.

What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or little....it matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.

Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.

And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.

But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.

Do it for the ones that show up.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Moving To Stars Hollow.




Out of all the articles that could have caught my attention today, the one that stuck out to me this morning was a sponsored post titled "5 Real-Life Towns Like Stars Hollow that Gilmore Girls Fans would love." Ahhhh..... You can thank me later. Small towns. As a kid, I used to live in a small town. I don't remember having any problem with it, but as I got older and we moved to the city, I remember thinking I'm glad I'm in the city. I could never live in a small town.

But now... Now, It feels like a good place to shuck responsibilities and hide out. Not that if you live in a small town, you are irresponsible. But a quiet life sounds more and more appealing every day. Stars Hollow. Some days, I wish God would speak to us and tell us that's where we belong. Just a small town girl and guy attending a small town church where her kids could grow up, get married, have grandkids and then they could grow up. Far away from the banter of the city life and the ruckus of people and opinions. 

In case you haven't noticed, the momentum of sin and chaos in this world is growing. It's not slowing down and I don't think it will. What was once nearly unheard of, is now becoming ordinary. And for the record, instigating chaos never brings peace, comfort, justice or any such thing. No matter which way you spin it. Yet, people seem willing to settle up and get cozy with it. But seeing it all, hearing it all, reading it all overwhelms my soul some days. I don't know what to say or what to think. And aside from all the opinions being spewed forth all over social media, I think a lot of us really don't know. What do we do? All I know is to pray and to listen for His voice...

We're spinning in a pandemonium of fast paced, lit up, hyper active, uber-cool, politically correct, over-opinionated, superstar, morally decaying, self absorbed, agenda pushing, dehumanizing, non-submissive, extremist activity and rhetoric all throughout the world. And, I for one, would be totally OK, if I lived in a different time. In a galaxy far, far away. 

If opening up my Facebook news feed each and every day wasn't heavy enough, with all the stories and shootings and demonic activity in this world staring me right in the face, what is even more disheartening is watching Satan play on the minds of Christians. And them not have enough sense to take authority over his lies, his deception and his obvious mission to divide their marriages, their families, their churches and ultimately the body of Christ. 

We need to start learning to really know God's voice and start discerning what is an attack or lineup of the devil.

1. Stop Dreaming About Stars Hollow.
This isn't a time where we should run from our foundations. I know I know. I said I wanted to hide out in Stars Hollow. And I'm not saying I still don't or wouldn't. But it's not time to hide. Our families, our spouses, and our churches are the people we should stand and fight with, not against-- lifting up one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We need to put on the armor of God and fight against the attacks the devil has placed on each of these unions and relationships God has entrusted us with. If God put a relationship in your life, He is trusting you to tend that garden. If Satan can destroy our unity in our families and marriages, He can weaken the body of Christ on much larger scale. If he can break apart our churches or Godly connections, we can be left standing alone with no one to hold us up. Recognize when the devil is at work. Don't abandon your foundations in faith. And Fight!.

2. Don't Get Your Knickers In A Twist. 
The things happening in our nation and in this world are bigger than your issue with dot dot dot...While we are busy daydreaming about greener grass, the devil is busy using that open time slot to run his dirty little agenda. While we get negligent, it opens the door for him to get busy. It's not the time to become selfish. It's not the time be needy. It's not time to run to something bigger, brighter or flashier just because you have issues. It's not even the time to run to something or somewhere smaller because you have issues (Ahem...Stars Hollow), for that matter. Suck it up, buttercup, and let's stop getting our knickers in a twist. We've got bigger (but actually smaller) fish to fry. I'm just saying. Let's not let our issue carry so much weight that it hinders the plan of God for our lives or our churches. This world needs us now more than ever. And it needs the message of strength and hope in Jesus, not division and bitterness.

3. Crawling out of the Depths of Despair.
One of my favorite movies is Anne of Green Gables. One of the best quotes is Anne, over dramatizing as usual, as she says "I'm in the depths of despair." Then she asks Morilla, her adoptive parent, "Are you ever in the depths of despair?" Morilla is point blank. "No!" 
Every now and then, I feel myself start to sink into the depths of despair. I hear something or read something or come face to face with something in life or family or ministry and my feet start sinking in. I want to give in. I want to feel sorry for myself. 
But I've already been there. I've done that. I've had bad stuff happen. I've had issues with him and her and you and them and myself. I've made bad decisions. I've wallowed a bit. Then more. And where did it land me? The depths of despair. I've been through depression. It sucked. I refuse to allow myself to sink into that crumminess again. If you are feeling discouraged, overcome with depression or perhaps in the depths of despair, the Bible says to give all your worries and cares to God. (1 Peter 5:7) Worry or anxiety will do you no good and won't better the situation. It just won't help. I understand depression is real. I know all too well. And thank God for doctors, and even better-prayer and His word to speak over our lives. But if you are just starting to sink, crawl on out before you begin to even start feeling stuck. His Grace is your Strength, friend. 
.
4. Say No to Sweet Nothings.
There is a lot really cool sounding, new things being said these days. New priorities (us). New Agendas (us). It sounds enticing. New doctrines. New churches. New ideology. And guess what, a lot of it is centered around us. What we need, our human rights, our claim to fame, our need to justified, validated, loved and accepted. No matter what we do, it's still about us. It all sounds really romantic. Because of course, God loves us. But when do we start loving Him in return? When do we start making his heart for this lost world our priority? When do we start really helping and loving people by speaking the truth, instead of just validating everyone and everything that comes along? Not everything that is being said is of God. And not everyone that speaks using scripture is God ordained. Use discretion. Know God's Word. Listen for His voice above all others.
 And in all your ways, acknowledge HIM... not them.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5. Stay In Character.
I've had a lot of discussions recently about staying in character. What I mean by that is knowing who you are and not letting the junk in life derail you. And not letting the world around you have it's influence on who you know you really are called to be. Have you felt bored, had a let down, set back, run in, been down played? Have you heard the gossip, read the stories, tasted pain, felt the fear rampant in this world? We all have. But where did it take you? Did you cling to the Lord? Or did it change you? Did it take you down a path further away from His heart or did you draw closer, clinging to His every word? We may have all had different experiences. But we have all known trouble. Living in this world, we are not exempt from these experiences. But in the end, we know we are victorious. Jesus said, "In this world there will be troubles, but I have overcome this world."- John 16:33. We know who has the victory. So don't let troubles change who you once were. Don't let whispers of the world and agendas of the enemy disrupt God's call on your life. Don't become desensitized to God's sweet presence. 

Don't allow yourself to be influenced by it all. YOU be the influence!



Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Being Known Vs Being Loved


We have the same discussion over and over again. My son and I. He's a gamer. He's a youtuber.
That's a thing now. Being a youtuber. I used to be a youtuber several years ago. After a few random and brief episodes, I saw no future in it for myself. But it's hard to explain to an adolescent boy the concept of hard work and sometimes the stroke of luck. Because he doesn't just admire youtubers. Nor does he just intermittently create videos. He has a goal in mind. His goal: being famous. Eventually he wants a full time job of youtubing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Oddly, people make a living off it. And I'm not saying he lacks the skills. He's pretty bright when it comes to this big world of technology we live in. But I don't want him basing his self worth on how many people are subscribed to his channel. Because there have been tears over this. 
He says, "I'm never going to be famous" with that look of defeat on his face.

Most of us have had our "I'm never going to be famous" moment of defeat, in our own way...
As immature as it may sound, (because we all know better), it's all to familiar in our current world. 

When I was a kid, you measured your self worth based on how popular were in school. Lucky for me, I could have cared less. I'm a quiet, keep to myself, kind of person to this day. I don't think it was until I reached the thick of adulthood that I even cared for the approval of others. And it wasn't until the invention of social media that I saw the desperate and silent cry of way too many adults needing to be known. And that look of failure when not everyone on myspace liked your music. 
Suddenly self worth went beyond the high school walls and reached out to win the admiration of not just our peers, but of the entire world . So crazy. But we remain hopeful.

Last fall, I attended the Influence Conference. The final 'big' one. I had to go. I had gone to the first one and I just really wanted to be a part of the final one. I went knowing just a handful of people via social media and blogging and just a handful of people knew me or had even heard 'of' me via social media. I'm going to be honest, It's not the best feeling going somewhere where you don't really know anyone and the people you do know are known by so many others- If that makes sense. But I like to challenge myself occasionally and like every other person who has had a first time for anything, you work your way through the uncomfortable feeling to put yourself out there. And I did the best I could.

I remember leaving the conference and writing up an Instagram post, saying something to this nature: "I didn't know a lot of people. Not alot of people knew me. But everyone I met was friendly and showed me kindness. One thing it taught me was that being known is not the same thing as being loved." 
And I didn't think too much over it until recently

Because I'm an overgrammer. I insta my kids, my days, my location... sometimes a lot. And I like to use a few hashtags, mainly regarding raising kids, having kids etc or along the lines of being a christian woman, reading devotions, having influence. The main reason I use hashtags  is because I write. I write here if I'm feeling ambitious and I write on Instagram when the mood hits. And if I can write something that someone else relates to and if that something will encourage them, help them in any way...than in my own small way I am making a big difference. I may not always know how I'm making a difference, but I try to be responsible with my words and stay open to the leading to the Holy Spirit in everything I say, so my job is done. So I hashtag (at least for now), to put myself and my words out there. It's a simple and mostly harmless way of being seen and heard.

If it was just about being seen and heard for my own sake, I wouldn't do it. This online world we live in has the ability to affect and reach so many more people than ever before in history. We can scoff at technology or reflect on the good old days, but when it comes to our influence, we have more now than ever. And if we don't use our influence for good, someone else will come along and use theirs for bad. So I say, let's do what we can and use the tools in our hands today for the glory of God.

I'm off topic, but this is where I am going. With hashtags and whatnot, comes along a lot of "likes" and "comments" and "follows" that are false in nature. People follow along with the hope of getting you to see them or follow them. Perhaps they own a shop or are a creative of some kind. They write, they speak, they are a fitness coach, they sell wraps, whatever...and sometimes they just have a really cool Instagram aesthetic (which is it's own awesome kind of creativity, in and of itself)!
So I get it. I get people need to put themselves out there, they need to put forth effort to get people to see what they do and what they have to offer.
But where I've learned to draw the line is lacking integrity in doing so (especially if you proclaim Jesus in your bio). When we gain or seek followers under false pretense and someone responds in kindness by following us and then we unfollow once we get their approval (or if we don't get it), I see and hear junior high & high school all over again. It sounds so super silly even typing this out. But as silly as it sounds, it's a real thing with millions of people online desperately hoping for the approval and distant admiration of others, but lacking the integrity to really earn it. If you have any sort of social media account, you've probably know what I am talking about.

I think the reason this has been on my heart is because I've been there. I have felt like I needed people to like or know me when I first started this journey of blogging and writing online. But little by little, God has shown me to just follow his leading. I will affect and reach the people I am supposed to reach if I always stay obedient to Him. Remember Paul when he said "Follow Me as I follow Christ?" (1 Cor 11:1) It wasn't about Paul. He had already been known and not in the best kind of way. That's not what he wanted any longer. But it was about Paul setting an example so in turn others would follow Christ and find hope. 
Maybe today, I will set the example in my home. Maybe this weekend, it will be at my church. Maybe on Tuesday, it will be on the phone or at the grocery store or mall. Maybe next week it will be online. Maybe he needs me to reach 10,000 women or maybe He already has someone else doing that. Maybe I am supposed to reach 10. Maybe He wants me to fiercely promote what He has laid on my heart, or maybe what he is teaching me is just for my small group.
Maybe it changes from day to day.

The point is it's all about Him. It's about making Him known in a real way to this world. It's not about being known or gaining momentum, just to feel admired by a majority. Whether you are a writer, a church, a worship leader, a parent, a creator, a speaker, a photographer, an entreprenuer, an Instagrammer, a doctor, a computer programmer.

Whatever you do. Whatever hats you wear. Make it about Him. And honor that commitment.




Because, being known doesn't always mean being loved. I think our current politics teach us that. There are a handful of names I could spit out right now and everyone in the world would know those names and thousands of people would respond with sarcasm or fury or annoyance. But true love and acceptance comes from your Heavenly Father, who knows every bit of you and from the people in your real life who love you no matter how many or few people admire you from afar off.

If this is an area you are struggling in or have ever struggled in, my prayer is that the Lord to show you the depth of His love for you. That you would feel brave and confident and beautiful knowing who Christ is in you. And that you would seek His wisdom for your life and in following His leading, you would find true happiness and rest in simply being known by Him and doing what He has called of YOU, and you alone. 

His word says He knows the stars by name and every hair on your head. He knows you. 
He knows when you lay your head down and when you wake up. 
He knows your voice shakes when you speak in front of a crowd, but when you counsel a friend, His wisdom comes pouring out smooth as butter. 
He knows, you might look like a kindergartner when you try to create with your hands, but genius shines through when you create online. 
He knows that you write there instead of their, and loose instead of lose and people make up memes about you, but you have the anointing of God flowing through your words when you speak. 
He knows that you can't sing a single note in key, but can certainly make that musician sound amazing in the studio.

It doesn't matter. Because He knows you. 
He is the one who truly knows you. He is the one who truly loves you.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Apology For Being Me



A few days ago I caught myself semi apologetic... for being myself.

I heard myself saying to a friend, "I wish I wasn't like that, but I am. I wish I didn't wear my heart on my sleeve. I wish I didn't share stories. I wish that with every post on social media, 75 bazillion words didn't accompany it."  Or something of that nature...
But words. They follow me like that cloud of dirt that follows Pig-Pen around on Charlie Brown. They spill out of me, out of my mouth, off of my fingertips, and they will swim around in my head for days and days if I don't liberate them in some way. It's almost embarrassing. Almost. But not enough to stop me.

I realized that somewhere in between the end of 2015 and now, I've said nothing. Strangely enough. At least not here. 
And I tried to do a little soul searching to find out why the silence. We (writers, bloggers, and the like) go through our "I've been quiet" phase and we usually have a good reason for it. For reasons that usually bury themselves somewhere between moderately intellectual and magnificently heart expanding.

But honestly, sometimes we just aren't feeling it. Sometimes it simply boils down to the truth in what we say, when we say "I have kids. I was tired. I was watching Netflix. (yes 3 months of Netflix)." Sorry, but it's true.

I'm forcing myself, for tonight... to write. Because I love to write. I love to think. I love to process. I love to explain. And I'm sure it's a treat for my husband too. Write something. Anything. I've had an assortment of well meaning, well thought out topics of things to write about these past few months, but you know... Netflix and whatnot.

But let's bounce back to my apology for being me. There has never been a time in my life where I felt more confident in who I am. There has never been a time in my life where I recognized and understood and knew the Greater One on the inside of me, so much so that I've challenged and trusted myself to stand tall and strong because of Him. Each and every time an accusation against me and who I am dares flatter itself in my presence, I am reminded that its' not me, but Christ that lives in me. 
So why am I apologizing? Now I apologize for apologizing. 

Really, I think some days I owe God a great big "I'm sorry" for not trusting Him and His purpose in creating me.
 
I'm sorry for not realizing you really do want to use me. I'm sorry for thinking that all the quirks and personalities and genius in this world aren't something you can work with. I'm sorry for forgetting that you created this world, you imagined and spoke the 7.77 million animal species and the 298,000 plant species into existence. Why wouldn't you be the one to create a human race with distinctive skin colors and personalities and passions and expertise ? And why wouldn't you want to use each of us for your purpose and your glory, in our own significant and exceptional way?
It's all you, God.

I'm someone that gets a kick out of the vast and colorful array that makes up the human race. I don't mean skin tone. I mean, I unquestionably see God's handiwork in the abnormal, the artistic, the eccentric, the intelligent. We don't serve a robot and he didn't manufacture us to even be comparable to one another, really. We are all convincingly vibrant in our own way. And it all comes directly from our amazing Creator and Heavenly Father.

So, why do we question His design? Or even the purpose of His design. Scripture is clear. He knit each of us together with thought and purpose. We were intended. Why wouldn't He use our sense of humor, our words, our dreams, our quirks, our charisma, our passions for His glory? 
After all, It's not ours. It's His. We are His. 

YOU are nothing to shy away from or be embarrassed about. Your story is not yours. Your story of creation and redemption and everything that comes along with being His prized son or daughter... is for His glory. 

Use what He put inside of you. Be loud with it. Stand tall and be brave. Clutch it to your chest tightly and embrace it even. But don't bury it. Cultivate it and watch God continue to weave His purpose and plans into you and through you. 

There is nothing more rewarding in this life, than really truly knowing that you are His, knowing that He is big inside of YOU and He wants desperately to let Him use all of YOU (yes, you), for all of His glory.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth...
Psalms 139:13-15



Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well



I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...




Monday, November 16, 2015

Your Future Is Bright




Over the weekend, I've been trying my best to process what is happening in our world. The evident evil taking over otherwise happy, everyday moments of so many lives in so many places. From threats of terror to movie theater and school shootings, life can really feel unpretty these days. Like the rest of the world, my heart was aching the moment I heard about attacks of concert goers and city dwellers in Paris. My heart was aching and my mind was fearful. Then articles started pouring in about suicide bombings in Beirut. And hashtags start switching from #prayforparis to #prayfortheworld as people around the world began letting their voice be heard of their own tragedy.

Everytime I hear of a mass attack on humanity by any means, two things automatically cross my mind. One, what happened to these people? These were once someone's tiny sweet innocent babies, full of life and purpose. How did they get to this place where this was okay in their mind? And second, why oh why have I brought children into this world? I am just one person and can only protect them so far, so how do I protect them from things like this, because it seems to me, no one is immune.

In the midst of all our facebook filters and hashtags rallying support around others that have had tragedy strike, we either live in fear or we keep convincing ourselves to just keep living fearlessly, because we may as well make the best of our life, do the most that we can, while we still have breath to breathe. We know our true future is in Heaven, but what about now?

My 12 year old son was showing some concern on and off over the weekend for the "what ifs?" What if it happened here?  How do we arm ourselves and our families? How do we not show up at the wrong place at that wrong time? And as I was looking to the Lord, he showed me that our only answer is to know His voice. We need to know the voice of God's spirit. We need to learn how to let it lead us, how to let it stop us and how to let it give us the go ahead. The Holy Spirit was given to us as our comforter and helper, to reveal to us the deep things of God and to show us things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:10, John 16:13.

In times like these people tend to think that God doesn't care, but the fact remains that he gave men dominion of this world for this time period. They do with this world what they wish. For some, it's evil. For other's its selfishness. For others, it may be just living life oblivious to what we are truly here for. But while he gave mankind dominion, He gave believers the Holy Spirit so that they would allow Him to lead them and guide them throughout their life. And we better have our ears tuned in to His voice, because our future and life depends on it.

It frustrates me at times, watching the enemy working on the lives of Christians, getting them to a place where they compromise truth for lies. They compromise living lives in close communion with the Lord to living lives based off quotes and memes on the internet. Honestly, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how inspirational a person or his words are, if it's not the whole word of God, it's not truth. And memes and quotes aren't going to save anyone when the enemy is working on someone's mind to blow a up a building that you just walked into. Being led by God's spirit and knowing His voice is our only hope and comfort in this time. We need to know Him and be willing to obey his leading. We need to stop getting in our own way, stop playing the devils games and get serious about this life, friends. Clearly the devil is serious. He means business. He is at constant war with humanity because his sole enemy is the God who created them. So why do we play games in a world he's infiltrating?

I know this is a serious post, but this is a serious time we live in. And sometimes I fear for people that want to say as long as we love Jesus, everything is okay. Love Jesus or not, if we don't know His voice, how will He ever warn us or show us things we need to know? Time away from this 'world' and spent soaking in God's presence is key. I believe God will and does show all kinds of people all kinds of things they need to know for their future, but if you are too busy following all the other voices that are beckoning you in this world, online, in books, on youtube or even in our own mind... you will always second guess or flat out disobey his voice--His voice that was trying to show you things that will protect or bless you and your family.

I get tired of the gross darkness that is attempting to cover our world and even infiltrate the body of Christ. And I just had to say it. It's deceptive. It's sneaky. And It's meant as a distraction to water down the power and presence and anointing of God in our lives. And ultimately, it's meant to deter the body of Christ from hearing His voice and doing what they are called to do. God's love is bigger than acceptance which seems to be the mantra these days . Jesus came to set people free from the things that hold us captive, to give us authority over the enemy, and then He left us with His Spirit to keep us growing, moving, protected & guided. All incredible acts of His incredible love.

And right now I'm thanking God for all the tools He's provided for me. I'm thanking God I don't have to live in fear. And it's my hearts purpose to make better use of what He left for me to use, both for myself and for the world around me... I'm thanking God my future is bright. My kids future is bright. My husbands future is bright...

And yours can be bright too, friend.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11



Monday, October 12, 2015

Leaving the Ninety-Nine





Over the past few years, I've discovered a lot inside myself that I enjoy and love, actually. That sounds weird to say, but I don't think it's crazy to love the things God has stirred and placed inside of you. I don't think it's crazy for you to love YOU. Especially when the you that you are loving is really just the things He put on the inside of you. All those things that make you, YOU... are really just Him.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a women's breakfast we had at our church. Public speaking is still semi new to me and I've only engaged in it a hand full of times. I'm still in the place of feeling completely awkward, but also "Okay, I can do this." I've sort of fallen into the role of coordinating our ladies ministry, but never really feel comfortable saying "Ok, listen up Ladies. I've got something to say and I think you need to hear it." I'm fairly confident when I hear from the Lord, but I'm never sure of other people's confidence in me, so I hesitate. I step in and sort of just micro manage all the event details of this area in our small church without really having to 'teach' for fear of "What if I'm wrong?"  

But at the same time, I know when I'm hearing from the Lord. I'm careful as to when I speak up or when to keep silent because God is speaking just to me. I've learned over the years when to...and when not to... You live and learn.
I was weighing (overthinking) all the pros and cons of  stepping on stage with a mic in hand and all my notes in front of me, saying "God said...". I told a friend my hesitancy both because I was unsure, but also because I told her I didn't want people to think that I thought I knew it all, because I don't. 
(that darn fear of people).

And her reply stuck with me...

"It's okay to be confident in yourself and your abilities. It's okay to know you are good at something. It's okay to do something  you believe in with boldness and anticipation. It's okay to know you hear from God."

That was the jist of it. It's okay to believe in yourself.
It's okay to love who God made you.

I've done a lot of digging these past few years, deep within myself, and I have to say , I love where God is taking me. It's not big and flashy. It's not really bold and sassy. But it's me and it's Him. And it's unique. It's beautiful. And it's ours. And I love that. 
Sharing my heart, using way too many words, dancing with creativity-I love it all.

And it's okay to love who He made me.

I truly thrive and find such purpose in being used by the Lord to speak truth and life and encourage others. I love watching Him work, not because I am so great, but because I am willing.
And it's okay. 

It's okay for us to be happy and excited with where God has us. It's okay if He promotes us to different or or even monumental spheres of influence. And it's also okay to want to be used more and more by Him. I don't shy away from it as much as I used to , because more than anything, I know if I can't do it, He can... and He's just using my life and my story and my mouth to tell His story. 
His story of redemption. 

But what I keep finding out over and over....and what I keep hearing the Lord ask me is, "Is it okay if I keep you here for awhile? Is it okay if this is just your season, if this is just your place for awhile? Are you okay with just being a friend? Are you okay with just encouraging people with a smile or a conversation? Are you okay with letting your small be  my great?" 

Taking giant leaps in life doesn't always glitter or feel snazzy. Maybe just a few see you sparkle from close up. Maybe no one sees you sparkle at all. Or maybe you don't feel like anyone sees you, because not enough see you. Are you okay with just letting him use you in His way? Not yours?

I was reading the 'parable of the ninety-nine' earlier this week in Luke 15 and it struck me in a new way. In this parable, Jesus talks about the shepherd who had one hundred sheep (or one hundred followers, if you will) and he lost one, but he left his ninety-nine in search of the lost one. That lost sheep was valuable. Clearly, he was a wanderer. He was probably dirty and smelly, which isn't cool. He didn't follow the crowd and wasn't in the corner coffee shop sipping on a chai tea latte keeping tabs on hipster subculture. But he was important enough to leave the ninety-nine that were...
In this technology savvy culture we live in, where we shine our bright lights on the small hand held screens of our peers and our fans, would we be okay leaving our 'ninety-nine' to reach the one lost and hurting one? Or have we so exhausted ourselves undertaking the masses or even just the busy-ness of life, that the small lost sheep gets shuffled aside? 
It spoke something fierce to me. I'm just like the rest of you. We all want people to notice us, our hard work, our deep thought out sentiment, our creativity... but would we leave all our likes and favorites and follows behind, would we pause our busy lives if there was just one small person that needed us? Would we notice them?

And that is where I got stuck all week. Am I noticing them?

God was saying, "Who is that one person that you've been thinking of lately? Are  you willing to take the time to step away from the hype and glam to reach just that one person? Are you willing to use your influence for something small? Are you ready to stop being too busy? Because if you are, what you might deem as small and perhaps insignificant, I am calling great. 
I want to open my life for God to use me, but I'm just more and more seeing that His ways are so much more grand than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. And we are filled with so much contentment, satisfaction and everlasting joy-- when we aren't getting in the way of his big work in us and through us in seemingly small ways.

Matthew 25:23
His Master said to him 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.


"We long to see God's power and glory, the miraculous and supernatural breaking into the temporal. But let's not forget the one. Don't forget the one next to you-the person to whom you can be Jesus' hands of compassion. In God's economy, the person who just reaches out to one and sees that one find grace is just as important as the evangelist who leads thousands to Christ."-Heidi Baker













 
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