Saturday, April 22, 2017

FLY

             

It was the most unsettling feeling; like walking in on someone or someplace that you were never meant to be. The image was so striking that it stayed with me long after it had passed, perhaps for the sole purpose of writing this post.

I was alone in my car, the radio was off and my cell phone had purposefully been placed on silent. I needed time to process and I had planned in my mind to spend this car ride reflecting on a struggle I had previously faced the day before that had yet to leave me. It was a spiritual attack from the evil one I was sure. I knew I had the weapons needed, but so often in the midst of a struggle we become paralyzed by fear. Afraid to move because there is still that small doubt within us that wonders if our weapons of faith will fail us. My faith at times is so weak. I hate that about me.

Deep in thought I noticed the red truck that was a good distance ahead of me, but that was not what caught my eye. Just beyond the truck on a low lying branch perched what looked to be 5 or more vultures standing as stiff as statues as the vehicle approached. The instant the truck had passed they all simultaneously swooped down and began pecking away at a dead armadillo only to swoop back to their lofty perch once my minivan came on the seen. I'm actually surprised that they did not try to follow me, because I am fairly certain that the stench of death likely mimics that of my van. It is a struggle with four kids and a three legged dog ok.

I could not get the image out of my mind and in the midst of my struggle I believe God was speaking something very profound to me. It is not about you. Seriously, it is not about you. Even when you make it about you, it still is not about you. I love you.

I love to write, since as far back  as I can remember collections of words were like an art to me. Placing them together in different ways to create a beautiful picture of something I was going through was and still is something that brings great joy to my heart.  It is a place to fully be known and even if it is only to the paper you are writing on.  Yet lately it has become a fear, one of many that I have tucked away within my heart only to share with a select few that know the me I really want to be, but also the me that I sometimes am.

These few know that every time I write a blog I am scared to post it. These few know that I greatly fear what others may think of me. Will it encourage anyone? Will people judge me if I am honest and allow my mess to be known? Will they not also judge me if I portray myself as having it all together? Truly I am in a conundrum. Perhaps the answer is to just be silent. Perhaps this desire within me to write is not from God. Yet gently He whispers, “YOU STILL THINK IT IS ABOUT YOU, WHY DO YOU SEEK TO PLEASE MEN?”

But what if I and you and the entire body of Christ lived as though we believed James 1:17, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” How might this change the way we view ourselves and others? What if we began to see the talents in ourselves and others truly as the talents and gifts of God?

For me, I would no longer be tempted to take the glory as if somehow I had accomplished something. It is all about God, anything good is from God. We would no longer fill the need to peck and devour others that are willing to be used by God, for God. We would actually seek out ways to encourage one another, spurring them on in any and every way, because when their lights shine it is actually God who is shining.

Much like the staff of Moses. If by his own power he sought to free the Israelites the staff would have

been rendered useless. Yet with God this staff became the symbol of freedom, not because of Moses’

power, it was always God, Moses was simply a willing vessel.  Was there moments along the way when Moses forgot the source of his power? Most certainly there were. Were there times when he made horrific mistakes that cost him greatly, we all know that he did, but he remained a willing vessel through it all.

When we think back to the parting of the Red Sea, we are not at all tempted to shame Moses for being a show boat, why? Because we know without doubt that the Power was in God and God alone.

Why is it so hard for us to view our brothers and sisters this way? Why are there so many jealousies within the body? So often we assume to know the heart and motives of people and judge them accordingly. Like vultures in waiting for dead carcass we wait for them to fail or succeed and then peck away at them in the name of Jesus.

The reason this is hard is the very same reason I fear to write. We still think it is about us as a-posed to what God in His great power can do through us. We still think that God might need our help deciphering who's motives are pure and whose are not. We compete and strategize. We draw lines and borders in the name of “denominations” when all the while we were meant to exist together in complete unity with the fullness of joy as we watch every body part shine for the glory of God.

There will always be vultures among us because we live in a fallen world and we are fleshly  creatures. You along with myself will at times believe the lofty branch looks appealing. You will be tempted to surround yourselves with people who are more than willing to sit up there with you and peck away at what is wrong with everyone else, but I can tell you from experience that it is a pretty miserable place to be and the food is less than appetizing. That branch leaves you cynical and unable to see the goodness of God in others.  It is also a lonely place, because no one can measure up to your own standards, so pretty soon you are there alone. If you find yourself assuming the worst of just about everyone then perhaps you have accidentally made your way to that lofty branch and God is telling you to come down. Perhaps He has greater things in store for you. He wants you to fly.

He wants to give you wings like eagles.  I so desperately want to be like the eagle and I want to fly with eagles beside me. Soaring high above the dusty road where animals rot and seeing the big picture. Gods picture. Seeing the vastness of Gods goodness and how it spreads far and wide among His people. I want to see Moses’s everywhere I look and speak life into them encouraging them to speak even when they are afraid because I know that God loves to use his people to do

extraordinary things. Our talents and gifts are not our own, they are reflections of our Father spread

out across the world that we might simply be willing like Moses to hand over our staff to the one who gives it power.

Back to that quiet road a few weeks back I heard God whispering these things to my heart, I will share them with you. You are fearful because you think the power is in your ability and you are also fearful because you care more about what others think of you than what I think of you. I see someone who is self seeking and self promoting, but I also see into the depths of your heart to the soul of a woman that longs to have a pure heart like that of David. You cannot get there by yourself, you need Me in every moment of your day less you mess things up. Cast it all on me and give me the burdens that plague your heart and Pursue me alone. Write with all of your heart as though I am your only audience.

So this question I leave with you, are you afraid? What staff is in your life that you fear to give over to God and allow Him to breath life and power into it?

If you sing, sing for God with all your heart.

If you speak, speak for God with all your heart.

If you encourage, encourage everyone that crosses your path.

If you paint, paint until your fingers bleed for God.

If you play music, fill the heavens with the praise of His name with all your heart.

If you_______ do it for God like your life depends on it.

Fly with eagles. They will gently remind you when you forget who it is about. Fly with eagles. They see the big picture, the true YOU you desire to be.

To all the eagles that fly with me, I thank you! Soaring new heights with you and building up the body of Christ is the best way to live this life. Now until eternity!

FLY!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lord Make Me a Mary

Yes that is a fever blister. Yes I am on the floor of the bathroom. And if you look closely you will see my Superman socks (or Fred's.)

I am laying in bed in our hotel room listening to all the little noises that five other sleeping people are making and smiling to myself. Today was just a good day. Not the normal go through the motions day, but a really good day and all I can think about is how thankful I am in this moment. I realize that all days will not be like this one and I am also aware that there have been many not so good ones that have came and went leading up to a day like this. In fact, had it not been for all of those "just get me through Lord" kinda days I doubt that this simple ordinary really good day would mean so much to me.
I moved to the bathroom floor, made me a little pallet and set up camp, because these thoughts are the kind that need to make it to paper lest sleep lull them away and I might miss an opportunity to write to my Father. He is the author of this day after all and He is the one I cannot seem to get off my mind.
Lord I want to meet you every morning. I want to rise before dawn and seek you as though my very life depended on it. Lord make me a Mary.
One of the most beautiful parts of the resurrection story is not necessarily spelled out for us in scripture, but my heart longs to imagine the Mary Magdalene before she left her home this special Easter morning. Had the "Mary's" planned to meet at a certain time much like two special friends do for an early walk? Had Mary awoke that morning and felt a stirring within her soul? Was there something that perhaps attempted to detain her or keep her from going? What did they talk about on their way? Perhaps they did not speak, perhaps their hearts were heavy or maybe they prayed while making their way to the burial sight of their Lord.
Of course I do not know the answers to those questions, but there is one very glaring truth in these four verses that deeply challenges me.
"Now after the sabbath toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb" Matt 28:1.
"And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb" Mark 16:2.
"But on the first day of the week at early dawn they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared." Luke 24:1
"Now in the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark" John 20:1
There seems to be an underlying theme here. The very first chance these woman have to go to their Lord they do not hesitate. There is no chore more important, there are no emails that must be checked first, and there is no need to scroll through the latest updates on social media before heading out the door. There was one thing and one thing only their eyes were set before, JESUS. Lord make me a Mary.
From what we read in scripture it does not appear that Mary is planning on meeting the Resurrected savior on her journey. In fact this is something that makes this encounter in scripture so beautiful. Surely many of us might awake before dawn to see the resurrected king, but this dear sister was simply planning to anoint a dead mans body with spices. Why would she do this? I get chills when I think about Mary Magdalene's past. Do you remember? Jesus healed her of seven demons in Luke 8:2. Seven. When the Lord heals it is not so easily forgotten.
Or is it? Sisters in Christ and men, bless your hearts if you read my writings, we serve a risen Lord! He has been out of that grave for as long as anyone reading this post has been alive and how often do we forget? How often do we forget the mess of sin Jesus has healed from our lives and how often do we forget that He Is Alive. Alive! We can meet Him anywhere and anytime.
I take it for granted, do you? So many mornings I press the snooze button only to leave myself just enough time to rush the kids out the door. I often set aside quiet time only to have it easily replaced with a "must get done," failing to remember that the very one my life depends on often gets my left overs. At times I am guilty of living as though He is still in that grave and unable to handle the mess I have made of my day. Or on days like today it is easy to think I have everything under control.
Lord make me a Mary! I want a heart that never forgets. I want a heart that seeks you first every day of my life; in times of struggle and in times of great joy. I want to meet up with my friends (perhaps named Mary as well) and come to you sharing our stories of healing and praising you all the day. Make me a Mary.
Did I mention that today was just a really good day. Well it is Good Friday or at least is was when I started writing, it is also my sweet son Bears 9th Birthday, but especially we are only two days away from the best day ever. Our family began a tradition 5 years ago that has become my most favorite of all traditions and I wanted to share it with you. Easter morning we wake all of our children up just before sunrise and lay on a quilt and watch the sun come up. Zach reads the story of the resurrection and we share communion together. When I first had this idea I do not remember everyone loving it as much as I had envisioned and even my husband seemed to rush through the whole process. Sleepy eyes and less than engaged hearts we continued anyway. But time has a way of drawing you close to the ones you love and the last couple of years this has meant so much to our family. Just today as we were driving down the road my husband begins talking about how excited he was for our Easter sunrise this year to which my daughter replies "this is going to be the best sunrise yet." I agree. Lord make us Mary's!




   
   

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

SHALLOW


I am still not sure that I want to write this, pretty certain that you will view me differently upon reading this post, but there is someone that needs to hear this today.  Perhaps that someone is me, perhaps it is you, either way I know that it is worth it. 

I am shallow.  Yes and quite frankly it sounded much less abrasive in my mind than it feels typing the actual word, but due to the fact that my fingers will not stop it would seem that my heart is intent on speaking. 

Where to begin on such a topic as this?  The sort of topic that requires you to pull the rather large wrench from the depths of your gut and refuse to clot the bleeding with a bandage.  Open wounds need to breath in order to heal, so let the healing begin.

I have always, since a young child, been intrigued with politics.  The secret service, Jackie O's wardrobe, The white House, all of it has been a source of great interest to me for as long as I can remember.  I was glued to the television for the swearing in of every president as far back as George W. Bush Sr. so you can imagine my excitement upon receiving an invitation to the Inauguration.  The thought of actually being there in person had me all kinds of giddy.  I am a sucker for all things red, white, and blue and could not wait to feel the lawn of the capital underneath my feet.

But when Zach began to speak of "Balls," and "Gowns," and "Business Attire" and I could feel my face become red, my hands become sweaty, and a lump form in my throat where just moments before I was floating around my house singing God Bless America (Lionel Richie style.)  In a matter of 10 seconds it would seem that every physical flaw that has ever been brought to my attention replayed in all caps across a large marquee sign in my mind.  101 reasons as to why I should never wear a ball gown.  Well you see, first there is my skin condition, the vitiligo is not favorable to ball gowns. Then there is my hair situation, how does one manage to style overly damaged hair that is also thinning due to thyroid issues?  Finally there isn't a heel tall enough to get this 5'2" chick off the hem of any ball gown without significant alterations and we were leaving in a couple of weeks.  Did I just admit all of that? I am shallow.

It gets worse.  I even attempted to convince my husband to go without me by playing the old "we can save money," "we wont have to find childcare," "yada, yada, yada..." secretly of course I wanted to go, but my insecurity had me trapped in fear.  You see years ago I would have never in a million years admitted this insecurity to my husband.  If I had managed to admit it to myself, and that is a big IF, I would have simply pepped talked myself into "owning it" and that as long as you appear confident it doesn't really matter what you are truly feeling inside.  It was all about the way others perceived me. Praise God that he did not consider me a lost cause and loves me then and now as He leads me to a greater understanding of true security.

As the story goes, due to my willingness to admit the ugliness inside of me to my
husband, he was able to reassure me in a loving way.  My inability to show weakness all of those years before would lead me to blowing up over silly unrelated issues that had nothing to do with the real source of my insecurity.  My anger would make no sense to my husband, because my pride would never allow me to honestly discuss the real issue, thus leading to a very frustrating marriage.

The freedom you can experience when you refuse to fear seeing yourself for who you truly are is life changing.  It also changes the way you are able to see other people. Many times our issues with others stem from insecurities in our own lives that we refuse to allow ourselves to see.  Yours may not be a physical insecurity, it could be a coveting of someone's gifts or talents, discontentment with your own life, or ole fashion jealousy. I have been guilty of all three in my life.  When my pride keeps me from admitting those things then sin has a way of mucking up my heart and pretty soon I have a whole lot of issues with a whole lot of people.  All because I was not willing to deal with the true root of my problem, me.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was not sure that this was something that I wanted to share.  Meaning, I wasn't sure that I wanted you to see a side of me that I am not particularly proud of.  Often times we want to draw people to a version of ourselves that is not exactly the full picture in hopes that they will think highly of us.  However, there is not a single version of me that would be worthy of being lifted up, followed, or admired and so for that reason it is not my goal to write in a way so that you will look at me.  I write so that you will look at Him.

I write so that you can look at someone as shallow as I am and see that God's love is changing me.  I write so that through my attempt at letting you into my flawed world that you might see beams of light as God is continually tweaking me through whispers from the Holy Spirit.  I write because somehow I do not feel alone in this struggle of mine and the thought that God might speak to you as I type, allowing me to be but a mere instrument of His Glory truly is my hearts desire.  I write because I know that my daughter and my son will one day have a moment or two of their own insecurity and I do not want them to settle for "faux" confidence.  I want them to settle for nothing short of the truth.
Even if that truth is embarrassing and unpopular.  Even if it causes them to have to see things within themselves that they do not like and would rather keep covered.

When you are willing to lay the truth before the Father there is no limit to the amount of healing He is waiting to pour out and there is no insecurity that He cannot fill with His love.  When the insecurities come, do not allow yourself to runaway and seek temporary cover, but instead run at them head on with everything you've got.  True healing, true security, and true confidence are only found in the bright light of TRUTH.


 "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light" Eph 5:13
 P.S. I have to tell you this one little thing, because God never ceases to amaze me in the ways that he works.  Wouldn't you know that the sweet little girl who did my hair for one of the balls in D.C. had lost a significant amount of her hair due to radiation treatments.  She asked how I wanted my hair to look and I made a joke about its fragile state and she immediately began telling me her story and how this struggle effected her self image.  I then talked about my skin disease and shared my own struggle with her.  Two strangers sat talking about how God had completely changed the way that we see ourselves.  God is good.