Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Pennies

“That will be $4.71 please pull around to the first window.” I dug a 20 out of my wallet as I drove around to pay for my breakfast. The guy working the drive-through was in a good mood for it being so early, and so cold. He started to count back my change to me when he realized he didn’t have any pennies in his cash drawer. As he opened the new roll I heard him gasp. “Check this out” he said to me as he handed me my change. “A whole roll of brand new pennies. Aren’t they beautiful.” He asked.

And they were. Perfectly shiny. Without a scratch on them.

I thanked him, tossed the pennies in my change cup and drove away to finish my errands.

But I couldn’t quit thinking about those shiny pennies. I was their first owner. How would I spend them? What would I do with them? Where would they travel?

I reached out to grab one of them to examine it again. But instead of picking up one penny, I grabbed two. One brand new, the other obviously very old and dirty. Its coppery shine had faded to a dull brown. It looked almost sad next to the new perfectly polished penny. I flipped it over in my hand and read the date on it. 1973. The year I was born.

The old tired penny was as old as me. Looking at the two pennies I realized that the old one was a lot like me. Tired, worn, scratched and no longer shiny. I wished I was more like the new pretty penny.

Then I realized that wasn’t true after all. The old penny and I, we’ve been through a lot. Traveled the world. Experienced a lot of life. I wondered how many hands that penny has passed through. How many times it’s been counted. I wondered if it had been cherished or taken for granted. I wondered if it had bought candy, paid the rent, put gas in the car, bought lifesaving medicine for a sick child. One thing was for certain… that penny had been used!

That was clear just by looking at it.

I want to be used too. I want to be of use. To God. To His Kingdom. Like currency in His hands I want Him to be able to spend my life as He sees fit. I want to be life and hope to the world around me. Even if it means forsaking the shiny perfection of being new. Even if it means getting a few scratches and dings along the way.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isa. 6:8

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The kids are all tucked in bed and the last of the presents have been wrapped and placed under the tree. All of the work that comes with being a mom at Christmas is done. Now, finally, it’s time to sit and reflect.

Christmas, to me, has always been about endings and beginnings. It marks the end of the year as we look forward to the new year, new resolutions, new promises. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and all that it held. Joys, sorrows. Saying goodbye to people we loved, making room for new friends. The struggles we survived, the surprises along the way. All of life wrapped up in memories, tucked away in our hearts.

I think God meant for Christmas to be reflective. After all, it was the birth of His Son that marked the greatest new beginning of all time. The end of silence was broken by a babies cry. Years of wondering were ended by the most wonderful gift of all. When Jesus came everything changed. The old things passed away, and all things were made new. This is the gift He offers us. New life.

I think that’s what I love about Christmas. The wonder of it all. The thought that no matter how hopeless a person or situation appears to be that there is redemption offered to us. It’s the promise, the grace, the splendor and majesty wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

And because of the hope of Christmas I sit here and think of tomorrow. Of what it might hold, for me… for you. What promise does tomorrow hold? What answered prayer awaits us? What joy sits on the other side of this dark night? When Jesus was born four hundred years of silence was shattered on a clear dark night in Bethlehem. And the world has never been the same. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

That is the gift I want this Christmas. The gift of the Word dwelling in my midst. The gift of Emmanuel, God with us. The gift of the promise of new life.

I pray that He will be your gift as well!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Secret

Her name was Sam. And we were seated at the same table for the Chamber Choir’s Madrigal Feast. She was beautiful. Not necessarily in appearance, but in spirit. Externally, you would have noticed plain brown hair, average height, little makeup, simple clothes. But then Sam started talking to us. Her beautiful British accent flitting across the table as her eyes sparkled. When she smiled it wasn’t just with her mouth but with her whole being. We were all instantly drawn to her.

As we waited for the performance to begin Sam kept a running commentary. The food… delectable. The Wassail… divine. The d├ęcor… stunning. Her assessment of our evening influenced each of us around the table. Then suddenly a hush fell across the room and Sam grew silent. Slowly the Chamber Choir began their processional singing acapella of the Christ Child and a manger.

As their voices filled the air my attention was once again drawn to Sam. Her eyes were closed, face upturned and slightly tilted, a single tear made its way across her cheek. Completely unashamed she sat fully immersed in the emotion of the moment. In a word she was radiant.

And as I watched He whispered to me “she knows the secret”.

The secret of being fully engaged. Of living, embracing, savoring every moment. The secret of joy.

She was not aware of time, or schedules, or urgent emails waiting to be answered. She was not worried about bills needing to be paid, or concerned about her child’s grades. She was simply, completely there. In that moment. Focused. Enjoying.

And I was jealous. I wanted to feel her joy. Experience her rapture. Join her in abandonment. But I simply could not silence all of the other voices in my mind. Like icy winds they whipped through my mind. Schedules, deadlines, lists, chores.

I want to be more like Sam. I want to silence the voices that aim to distract me. I want to revel in beauty. Get lost in joy. Be swept up in wonder. Enjoy the moment.

And so… I shall.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rise up Shepherd and Follow



There’s an old African-American Spiritual that has been haunting me the last few days. The words have crept into my soul and wrapped their fingers around my heart. When I wake I hear their refrain. All through the day it echoes in my mind…

Leave your flocks and leave your herds

Rise up shepherd and follow

Can you imagine it? A cold hillside on a dark night. The lights of Bethlehem in the distant. The bleating of sheep all around. Small fires surrounded by weather hardened shepherds; nomads. I wonder if they were tired. If they missed home, or if the endless pasture was their home. I wonder how long it had been since they had heard the cry of a baby, felt the smooth skin of a child, heard the innocent laughter of a little boy. Calloused hands holding wooden staffs and wooly coats. That was their life. No women, no children, no roof over their heads. Only sheep, shepherds and endless sky.

Until…

there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Rise up shepherd.

Rise up from outside the city gate. Rise up from your comfortable place around the warm fire. Rise up from the routine of your day.

And follow.

Follow the star to the baby. Follow the baby to green pastures and still waters. Follow the Shepherd of your souls.

Leave your flocks.

And leave your herds. Leave the things you depend on. Leave everything behind.

Rise up shepherd. And follow.

And they did. They did exactly what the angel told them to do.

Yet here I sit. Clinging to the comforts of my life. Glued to the seat of my complacency. Deaf to the Harkening of the Angels. Afraid to follow. Afraid to leave the flocks & herds. Afraid to rise up.

Yet, still I hear the chorus repeat. Rise up shepherd and follow. And softly in the distance I hear my Shepherd call; rise up, child, and follow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All I want for Christmas is a Limp

My friend Jennifer and I have been a bit obsessed with Joseph and Jacob lately. They were dreamers. We are too. And yet, their path from dream to reality didn’t really go like either one of them had planned. Neither has ours.

Yesterday Jennifer texted me: I keep hearing this: You have been wrestling, but you’re not walking with a limp yet. Time to get alone like Jacob did…

It’s true. The last several months have been spent wrestling God. Wrestling with His word, with His dreams in my heart, with knowing Him more fully. But I’m still walking the same. Maybe not exactly the same, but the changes have been subtle. And frankly, I’m done with subtle.

I want more.

I’m desperate for more.

And in my longing for more of Jesus I keep hearing… wait. Get alone. Fast. Pray. Watch. Seek.

But it’s Christmas! Doesn’t God know that this is the busiest time of the year? There’s decorating and baking to be done. Presents to be purchased and wrapped. Family and friends to visit. I don’t have time for waiting, seeking, and certainly not fasting (seriously? Fasting during Christmas? That’s just crazy!).

And then I am reminded of what this season is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about waiting for a Savior. It’s supposed to be about preparing our hearts to receive the King. It’s supposed to be about a light shining in the darkness. It’s supposed to be about Advent.

Advent- an arrival or coming, esp. one which is awaited, a coming into place, view, or being; arrival:

In a dark lonely prison Joseph waited on God and a promotion. On a dark lonely night Jacob waited on God and a blessing. And in a dark lonely stable Mary waited on God and a baby.

What are you waiting for? Praying for? Wrestling God for? What is the Advent of your heart?

Are you limping yet?


So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hop so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I say God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Gen. 32:24-31

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Broken Girl

How long, O God, will your daughters suffer in darkness? How long will their silent cries go unanswered? How long will they be trapped in their pain?

How long will they be abused? Mistreated by the ones who should protect them. Rejected by the ones who should love them. How long will they carry the shame of what’s been done to them. Of what they’ve done to themselves?

Human trafficking. Sex slaves. Assault. Molestation. Rape. Abandonment. Abuse.

Beauty defiled. Purity marred.

Do you hear their cries, God? Do you see them, in the dirty hovels, in the back alleys, in their father’s beds?

You must. How can you stand it God? When I can hardly contain the anger, the sorrow I feel. How can you stand it when your beloved child is robbed of her innocence?

And what are we to do?

What am I to say to the broken girl; in the mirror, across the table, on the other end of the phone, on the other side of the world?

How do I tell her about hope, when all she’s known is despair?

How do I tell her about love, when all she’s known is abuse?

How do I tell her about truth, when all she’s known is lies?

You love her, Jesus, don’t you? You love me, too. You love all of the broken girls. You don’t see us as marred, do you? You think we’re beautiful. Even with dirty hands and broken hearts.

The world says we are rejected.

You say we belong.

The world says we are marred.

You say we are whole.

The world says we are tainted.

You say we are pure.

The world says we are an object to be used.

You say we are of infinite value, and are to be treasured.

The world says we are damaged goods.

You say we are perfection.

Still it’s hard God. The lies are so loud. So deafening. It’s hard to hear the truth, harder still to believe it.

God, tonight, will you hold your girls? Will you tell us that you love us? Will you remind us one more time? We need to hear it again. Bring light into our darkness, Father. Breathe new life into our hard and jaded hearts. Break the chains that hold us. Give us strength to stand. To believe. To be free.

Love,

The broken girls

In case you haven’t noticed, my heart is very heavy today. Everywhere I look it seems as if I’m surrounded by broken girls, hiding in their pain, trying to cover up their shame. It makes me mad. And it makes me want to cry. I can only imagine how it makes my God feel. If you are a broken girl, can I remind you that you are loved? Can I remind you that you are beautiful? That nothing in your past or your present disqualifies you from being loved and accepted! He has loved you with an everlasting love. He doesn’t want you to stay broken. He wants to put you back together again. Will you let Him?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Show Me

Yesterday I shared part of my journey over at incourage. This morning driving in to work I was listening to Audrey Assad and heard the song that started me thinking of what it means to learn to die. Today I thought I'd share Audrey's beautiful song with you!




Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Time to Die

Years ago, I wrote that and meant it. Literally. The all encompassing black cloud of depression held tightly to me, and death seemed the only escape.

Thankfully, He rescued me from that cave of despair. Now, I want to live. And not just live, but live BIG.

Will you join me at incourage for the rest of the rest of the story?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Purpose or Beauty


The leaves are turning. An array of orange, bronze and red assaults me from the other side of my window. Gusts of wind send them dancing across yard. Breathtaking!

Leaves are temporal things. Born in the spring, flourishing in the summer and vibrant in the fall just hours before their death. A nuisance in winter, lying upon our manicured lawns, blown into piles against our houses. But what is the purpose of the leaf? Is it to grow and flourish and then die? Or is there a deeper meaning to its short life? In reality the purpose of the leaf is not for the leaf at all, its purpose is for the tree, actually for the roots of the tree.

The root system is what grounds the tree, what nourishes it, what sustains it. Without the roots, there would be no tree. It is the very essence of all we see. But the leaves, they live and die for the glory of the roots and they do so with majestic beauty. They supply the water and food to nourish the roots. They offer shade so the roots won’t scorch under the hot summer sun. In the fall, they prepare the roots for the cold winter ahead, and as they rest upon the ground they blanket the roots from the winter snows. Yes, the roots provide the life, but the leaves provide the abundance!

A root system with out leaves is like purpose without beauty. And a leaf without roots is simply beauty without purpose.

So the question is which do you choose? Joy and beauty? Or purpose and life? Perhaps the question shouldn’t be a choice but a challenge. A challenge to obtain both. For without both leaves and roots the tree will die. And I have a feeling same is true with you and I. Jesus said I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly(John 10:10). Abundant life can't be achieved with out both roots and leaves. Without beauty and purpose. The roots serve the leaves and the leaves serve the roots. Just as living in your purpose brings beauty and living in His beauty brings purpose. Can the two exist alone? Sure. But why would we want them to? Why have one without the other when Jesus freely offers both!

Our roots establish us. They are what give us the strength to survive the long cold winters of our lives. If our roots don’t go deep we won’t be able to stand when trials come our way. We must guard and protect our roots, above all else. If our roots are deep, and well watered, they will thrive every day for all of our days. Good, bad. Stormy or calm. Our roots hold true.

Leaves, on the other hand, are seasonal. They grow, they die. They change with the weather. Leaves are affected by circumstances. Just as we are. On bright sunny days they clap with joy! When the cold winter sets in they shrivel up and fall to the ground. But the thing about leaves, about beauty, is that it always returns. It always offers hope. Spring always returns.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)

So dig deep in the Word of God. Pursue Him! Immerse yourself in Him! Let your roots go deep! For this is the sustaining essence of life in Christ. And let your beauty shine for all the world to see. Grow and drink and wave and shine!

Be rooted. Be beautiful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Allison & Alexa...

This picture was taken when the girls were 2.5 weeks old. It was their first milestone... a picture with no oxygen masks, heart monitors, umbilical lines, or IVs. It was a temporary respite from all their tubes and wires. We still had 2 more weeks of oxygen and 9 months of heart monitors in our future. But on this day they were free (except for the feeding tubes).

Today milestones are measured differently. Driving cars, late nights with the girls, college applications. Scary stuff. My baby girls are women now.

Tomorrow morning another milestone... Sweet 16! And sweet they are! I am so blessed by these sweet girls. They are a joy, my sunshine!

Today a song from my favorite scene from our favorite movie (that finally applies)... for my 16 year old girls, who wait on an empty stage... I can't wait to see the story of their lives unfold!




You wait little girl

On an empty stage

For fate to turn the light on


Your life little girl

is an empty page

that men will want to write on

to write on


You are 16 going on 17

Waiting for life to start

Somebody kind who touches your mind

Will suddenly touch your heart


When that happens, after it happens

Nothing is quite the same

Somehow I know I'll jump up and go

If ever he calls my name


Gone are your old ideas of life

The old ideas grow dim

Lo and behold you're someone's wife

And you belong to him


You may think this kind of adventure

Never may come to you

Darling 16 going on 17

Wait a year… or two



I'm no Julie Andrews... but my girls are as sweet and beautiful as Lisle.

I am so proud of you both!
Love you forever~
Mom

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Follow

I discovered something today. I have a MySpace account. OK, so I already knew that. But I logged on to it today for the first time in over 2 years. I decided I don't really need to be on MySpace anymore so I deleted it. But before I did I copied a few blog posts I had there.

I've never claimed to be a poet. But on occasion I like to make words rhyme. I found this poem that I wrote in '07 at a time in my life when I was really feeling the stirring of God towards full time ministry. It was a precious sweet season in my life.

Just thought I'd share where my heart was then, and still dwells now...



I heard a call from Jesus,

"You've a purpose to fulfill"

So I'm following my Master,

I've no time to be still.


I heed Him when He beckons

I listen when He calls

Dropping everything I answer

Lest I lose my all in all.


Where He leads me I will follow

I trust He knows the way

Never stopping to consider

If I should go or stay.


To stay here would bring comfort

And to follow would bring fear

But my fears I will conquer

To my Lord, I must be near.


This uncharted journey

Is one amazing ride

It's filled with joy and laughter

With Jesus by my side.


He leads me to the captives

And lets me watch Him set them free

Reminding me without Him

That prison is where I'd be.


For a moment I'll stop and ponder

The amazement of it all

The closeness of my Savior

The wonder of His call.


But I've no time to linger

This life is but a breath

The prize so close before me

On the other side of death.


But while breath is in this body

And strength is in this hand

I'll run this race before me

Telling others of this Man

Who walked upon the waters

Who hung upon a cross

Who lay within a borrowed tomb

For me, for I was lost.


So if you hear Him calling

Don't hesitate or stall

For He longs to have you join us

As we journey one and all.

He'll never leave you or forsake you

He will guide your every way

He only asks you answer,

And follow Him today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Act vs. Be

Sunday.

For me it conjures up many thoughts. Church. Naps. Long walks. Cuddle time with kids. I love Sundays.

For my husband Sunday means one thing… Steeler’s Football. Actually, for him, the Steeler’s game prep starts on Monday. Checking highlights from last week’s game, reading injury reports, talking to the guys about different plays, rehashing every call the refs made. At some point in the week he moves from reflecting on the previous game to anticipating the upcoming one. At that point he starts changing Fantasy Rosters, studying the other team, and initiating conversations with me about what Ben Roethlisberger should do differently this game.

Me on the other hand… I don’t mind watching the Steelers game. In fact, on occasion, I enjoy it. I can even pull off a mighty fine game watching outfit. I’ve got the Steelers t-shirt. I even own a Terrible Towel, and have been known to wave it when we score a touchdown. Oh… and I love Troy Polamalu. But not because of his talent on the field, it’s all about the hair!

The difference between my husband and I? I act like a good Steelers fan. He is a good Steelers Fan.

Act like a fan.

Be a fan.

I can’t help but wondering what other things in my life I act vs. be. I can act happy even when I’m not. I can act interested even when I’m not. I can act like I have it all together even when I don’t.

Sadly, I can even act like a good Christian. I know how to play the part. I know all the right answers. I can fit in with all the right crowds. I’m comfortable sitting in church or debating theology.

But I don’t want to act like a Christian.

I want to be one.

I want to look like Jesus. Dress like Jesus. Talk like Jesus.

I want to be like Jesus.

And being like Jesus cannot be acted. It must be genuine. Being like Jesus means less striving, more resting. Less rule following, more relationship building. Less trying, more surrendering.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Heb. 10:19-23

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shallow


Here’s the thing about blogging that I’ve realized this week. Blogging doesn’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of me. Even though my goal is to be transparent, and in my transparency I often share things that are painful, I still choose what and when to share.

So if the only interaction you ever have with me is from what you read in my blog or what you hear me say on-air then the picture you will have of me will not be an accurate representation of who I really am. If, on the other hand, you happen to live in my house, share a workspace with me, or be a certain fake redhead who just won’t let me hide behind my filter, then the odds are good that you know me.

Take the last nine days of my life for example. There have been no blog updates and very few facebook updates. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to know what’s going on in my head. Why? Because I can’t even make sense of what’s going on in my head. And it’s not even that things are bad. I’m not depressed. I’m not stressed. I’m not overwhelmed, or mad, or in despair. I’m just blah. And I hate blah. Blah is not me. I’m deep. Passionate. A bit crazy even. But lately I’m just… “whatever”.

So, I’ve been avoiding you. Not just you, but everyone. I’ve been quiet. Withdrawn. Pulled back. Stand-offish. Even with God.

I keep thinking “I need to blog”. But then I realize I have nothing to say. So I don’t.

I still don’t have anything to say, except this…

I want to be real.

I want to be fully alive.

I want to embrace life and love without measure.

Right now my “want” and my “am” are not lining up. Right now I am needy. Right now I am tired. Right now I am living in the fog. But I will not stay here. He is calling to me. Reawakening me. Wooing me.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God? These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42

Let it be so with me, Lord. Let it be.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Thing



I love to play solitaire. Last night I played with cards. Remember those? It’s what we used to play with before there were computers and smart phones.

I take my card games a bit too seriously. Once I get started I’m extremely focused. And if I get stuck… let’s just say it’s not pretty. In my mind every game of solitaire is winnable, so if I can’t figure it out I get really frustrated.

Lately, whenever I feel really stuck I always stop to take another close look and I think to myself, I just need one move. If I can find one move it could change the entire outcome of the game. And it works. I can go from thinking I’m going to lose to being on a roll after finding just one move.

Lately my life has felt a bit like a solitaire game gone awry. I feel stuck. Like I just can’t win. I feel like there’s too much that needs to be done. And it’s overwhelming at times.

I make some pretty grand lists. Seriously, you’d be impressed. I’ve even been known to make color coordinated Excel spreadsheets with charts and graphs on how I’m going to fix my life. But they never work. I can’t ever find the motivation to start on my 101 step process to freedom. So I quit before I ever start and wind up right back where I started… stuck and overwhelmed.

But what if God doesn’t want me to enroll in a 100 step program? What if He’s not wanting me to get my entire house spotless and laundry done in one afternoon? Or overcome my area of struggle in one morning prayer time. What if He just wants me to do one thing? To find one move? To take one step?

That I can do.

What about you? Do you feel stuck? Overwhelmed? Like you’re losing? What one thing can you do today to change the game?

I’ll go first… I have a long term on-again off-again relationship with mild depression. Over the years I’ve learned my triggers and also what is most effective for stopping depression in its tracks. My “quick fix” is worship. It snaps me out of it. But the last week instead of snapping out of it, I’ve been embracing it. Wallerin’ in it really. (I know wallerin’ isn’t a real word, but I’m sticking with it) So today I’m breaking out my worship playlist!

Now… your turn! What one thing can you do today?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

God Sized Dreams

My friend Holley and I have been having an ongoing conversation about God Sized Dreams. Today I'm sharing about my biggest obstacle in chasing my dreams... fear. Join me on Heart to Heart with Holley for the rest of the story!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Trailblazer

I have three daughters. Yesterday they were little babies and today they are young women, just a few short years from spreading their wings and leaving my nest. I have big dreams for my girls- God Sized Dreams! I believe with all of my heart that they can, with God’s ever present help, do amazing things with their lives.

But, it’s not enough for me to have dreams for my daughters, unless I also have dreams for myself.

You see… I’m a trailblazer.

I grew up in a home shattered by divorce and void of talk of God and dreams. I was loved and I was nurtured, but I never saw the women around me fly… so I never believed I could either.

Until I was a teenager and fell head over heels in love with Jesus. He not only saved me, He also planted a dream in my heart and whispered to me in the quiet hours of the night… “I believe in you! Spread your wings and fly!”

And so I did. Tentatively at first, with fear gripping my heart. Then I became stronger, steadier… occasional storms still send me back to the nest, but never for long. I just can’t ignore His call… “Come fly with me.”

I fly for Him and Him alone.

But I know He’s not the only one who watches me.

My nearly grown daughters have watched me fly... and fall... and fly again. They have seen me jump off of ledges and cry out for Jesus to save me.

And in watching they too have begun to dream. They too long to fly. They too can’t wait to soar.

I know one day soon they will fly higher than I dare. But I will not stop flying and dream through them. I will keep flying. I will dream with them. I will spur them on to higher heights and greater dreams.

I will blaze a trail for the daughters to follow.

Marianne Williamson wrote in her beautiful poem Our Deepest Fear:

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Girls, it’s time to shine! It’s time to fly! For our daughters, for the ladies in our small groups, for the women we work with, for the new mom, for the lost teenager! They are watching, waiting and hoping… hoping that YOU will blaze a trail!

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Cor. 11:1

Friday, September 24, 2010

Redemption

Yesterday I shared part of my story over at Thin Places. It’s not often that I allow myself to travel back to that time when wounds were fresh and raw. Healing has a wonderful way of dulling the pain of the past.

It’s fascinating to me how we view things differently in different seasons of our lives. When I was a fifteen year old girl my parents’ divorce shattered my world as I knew it. From as early as Eden we’ve learn to cope by placing blame. And that’s exactly what I did. I blamed my mom.

Now, as a grown woman, and a mom myself, I look at the circumstances of my childhood through different lenses. I see my mom differently now than I did then.

Redemption is a curious thing. True redemption causes a change of heart. I can look back at my own life thankful that I’m not the same person today that I was decades, years, or even months ago. I’ve grown, evolved, changed. I’ve been redeemed. I’ve been forgiven. I’ve been loved.

And through my redemption I am free to forgive. I am free to let go. I am free to accept the truth that just as I have grown and evolved, so has my mom and also my relationship with her.

I’m overwhelmed by the healing God has done in both of our hearts. I’m so grateful that God has restored our relationship. But before healing came I had to let go of the pain of the past.

I was thinking this morning about how we love to hold tightly to our hurt. We grip it in white knuckles. We hold our hurts up to God asking questions that begin with “Why?”

The problem with holding tightly to pain is that it hinders us from being embraced.

I’ve learned that God very rarely answers the Whys. But He always comforts His child. And in His arms the Whys slip away. It’s simply enough to be loved.

But we must first let go. We can’t hold on to our hurts and God.

I remember when my little boy was around 3. He had an obsession with trucks. This particular afternoon he had tripped and the truck he was hugging busted his lip. He came to me with tears streaming down his face wanting me to hold him. But I couldn’t get my arms around him. There were too many trucks between us. Eventually his longing for me superseded his need for his trucks and one by one he handed them to me. I took them from him then gathered him in my arms and soothed his anxious heart. We sat and rocked and snuggled until his cries turned to sweet peace.

God stands ready and able to do the same for us. His arms are wide open waiting for us to run to him for healing. The choice is ours.

We can hold on to the truck.

Or we can hold on to God.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Thin Place

It was 3:25 in the afternoon and I stood right inside the threshold of my front door. Just like every other day of my sophomore year of high school. Only today was different. Something wasn’t right.

As I slowly made my way through the house I noticed things missing. A couch. A chair. A bookshelf. Pictures, rugs, tables; just disappeared.

Will you join me at Mary DeMuth's for the rest of my Thin Place Story?

Friday, September 17, 2010

More

This morning driving to work I was talking to Jesus about love. I’ve been struggling lately with the concept of love being a two way street. You see, past hurts have caused me to be a bit reluctant when it comes to trust, and without trust it’s hard to love. I’ve begun to realize that I’m better at giving love than receiving it.

I was talking with my friend Holley over some BBQ the other day about this dilemma… and we seem to feel as though it might be tied to control. My heart feels safe when I’m in control. So, if I show/give/express love to you then I am controlling the situation. But receiving love gives you control. So, I keep people at arm’s length. I pull back when you reach out. I hide when love shines on me.

I know it’s not right. This is not how God wants me to live. He wants me to have an open heart and open arms. Its dangerous stuff, letting your heart be open. It means I might get hurt. It means I might get betrayed. But… it also means I might find hope. I might find healing. I might find warmth and acceptance and… LOVE.

Anyway… I was talking it all over with Jesus this morning and decided that I was going to open my heart up to Him, freely and unreservedly with no strings attached. 1 John 4:19 says we love because He first loved us. So all love must start with Him. I decided to go to the source. To sit as His feet for a bit and learn from the Master what it means to be loved.

I thought that maybe, if I can learn to be loved by Him then I can learn to be loved by others.

My heart was set and at peace. Then I reached for the dial and turned the radio on and literally in that second heard Matthew West singing this:

I love you more than the sun

And the stars that I taught how to shine

You are mine, and you shine for me too

I love you yesterday and today

And tomorrow, I’ll say it again and again

I love you more

It’s like that fight that parents like to have with their kids… you know the one. The “I love you” “I love you more” fight. This morning I whispered a quiet I love you to my Father and He shouted back to me… I love you more!

And now I am overwhelmed. How absolutely amazing is He to orchestrate the minute details of my life in such a way that that line from that song would be playing at the exact moment that I would push the power button in my car at 5:30am on a Friday morning. I’m sorry but that cannot be coincidence. That to me is proof…

He wins!

He loves me more!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Legacy

This past weekend I decided to tackle the mess in the garage. Fun way to spend a Saturday. In the midst of sorting I found a few boxes my aunt had sent me after my Bompa (grandpa) passed away. I knew they were filled with pictures, and at the time I didn’t have the emotional strength to sift through the memories. For the last two years these boxes have sat in the corner of my garage.

I decided it was time to tackle them. So I had my hubby drag them in the living room. I poured myself a soda, grabbed a bag of chips and plopped down on the floor to explore.

The first box I opened was filled with old black and whites. Great-great-grandparents, relatives I’ve only heard stories about and never met. Turning over each picture I was greeted with my grandma’s beautiful handwriting… Mary Abrams, 1903, 4 years old; John Halleck, Emma’s father, 1856.

I continued to dig, began to find pictures of relatives whose names and faces were familiar to me. Then I found a simple flat box. I assumed it was just stationary. Noni (grandma) was a letter writer and was always well stocked with beautiful cards and stationary. But there, buried beneath the cards were 7 small, aged pieces of paper. And written on them was poetry. Poetry that she had written to her sweetheart who was off fighting in World War II.

There in my hands I found my legacy. I poured over each word, tears streaming down my face. You see, it was Noni who taught me to love words. She is the one who encouraged me to write. My passion for pen and page came directly from her. And there in my hands… a treasure. Private, poetic words of love.

Their marriage lasted 55 years. I remember the weekend I had to say goodbye to her, sitting in that hospital room listening to a machine breathe on her behalf. I remember the restaurant we all went to for lunch, the park bench my Bompa and I sat on as we waited for our table. I remember the words he spoke to me, “Keri, she wasn’t just my wife. She was my sweetheart. I want you to know that. Know that I loved her, everyday.” As I took his wrinkled, arthritic hand in mine my heart was full. Full of joy for a couple who stood the test of time, who loved freely, who left a legacy.

And now, evidence of their love hangs in the entryway of my home. It greets me every day. A reminder to love.

One day, 50 or so years from now, someone that I’ve yet to meet will unpack a box filled with memoirs from my life. I wonder what they will cherish. Will they find something of mine that causes their heart to be filled with longing? Will they find something worth framing and hanging on the walls of their home. Will they talk of “grandma” and “grandpa” with pride?

I know what a gift it is to leave a legacy. For it is a gift I have received. It is a gift I desire to pass on to my own children and grandchildren. And so, today, my heart is filled with questions… Have I loved well? Have I cherished deeply? Have I laughed freely? Am I leaving a legacy?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Abide



If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7

I have good news. Abide is a verb!!!

Seriously, it is!

Do you know what that means? That means that when we are abiding we are doing something! When we decide to ignore the To Do list and turn off all electronic devices and sit on the carpet and think about Jesus we are doing something!

When we choose to say no to the committee, and let someone else bake the 500 cupcakes for the school fundraiser so we can spend time soaking in God’s word… we are doing something!

We are not being unproductive when we abide!!!

We are not being unproductive when we sit in silence longing for Him to speak to us.

We are not being unproductive when we turn up the worship music and dance like crazy.

We are not being unproductive when we fall on the floor and sob our eyes out.

We are not being unproductive when we drive the long way home to steal a glimpse of His creation.

As a matter of fact… abiding might very well be the most productive thing we will ever do.

But abiding requires us to reposition ourselves. We cannot go full steam ahead every waking moment and abide. Abiding requires us to say no to things that would distract us. Abiding requires us to come to grips with the fact that God doesn’t want our accomplishments… He just wants us! He wants us to come, to sit, to rest, to love.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary had discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NLT

Mary discovered it—the one thing worth being concerned about.

Lord, let me discover it too!