Monday, August 2, 2010

This Blog Is Moving And You Are Invited!

Lord willing, tomorrow is the day that I have been anxiously awaiting!

I told you, last week, that it would happen. And, here it is. Tomorrow this will all be new. Jesus.Woman.Words is officially moving, and changing!

It is completely my pleasure to invite you to my new blogging home. When you come here tomorrow you will be bumped right to me. We can celebrate a blog warming, together.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Blog Remodel Is Almost Complete

It might appear that nothing much is going on over here, but that is because I am in the last stages of remodeling this site. I don’t even know if you can still call it this site!

As of next week, Lord willing, everything will look different. At this point, I should say thanks to Darcy at Graphically Designed. Not only is she talented, she is super nice. If you can hold a person’s hand through computerland, she has done that for me.

As of next week, Lord willing, I will have a new title.

As of next week, Lord willing, I will have a new URL.

As of next week, Lord willing, I will be on Wordpress.

Most importantly, next week I want all of my friends to be able to find me. Thanks to Darcy, this should not be a problem. If you come here, you will be sent straight to me. If you subscribe via email, you don't have to do a thing. I will take care of you.

This has been in the works for so long. In fact, I announced it on my 1 year anniversary. At that time Christy and I talked about making our blogs like a cyber living room. If I could take everyone and put them into my living room, this is where we would go. I can’t wait until you join me.

So, please, check back next week and click to my new home.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Discussions From A Car

I have a sweet friend, who becomes dearer to me all of the time. I have taken her to chemotherapy a couple of times and the conversations we have in the car, or those that I hear in the waiting area have been carving out a place in my heart.

Driving to the office, she told me about her love for God's word. Not just that, but she told me about her struggle with its content. She prays for forgiveness when reading the Old Testament. Not after, but before, because she knows that she will not understand it on her own.

This 83 year old dynamo, sees the Old Testament as perplexing, and Revelation is "spooky". Still it is the only thing she asked for while in the hospital, recently. She can't pronounce the names or the cities but that isn't enough to deter her.

Her favorite passage says that God is slow to anger. That is good news for this feisty female. She hates getting her "feathers ruffled". When she feels anger coming on she prays for God to, "kick Satan's butt and get him the heck outta here."

Being labeled, "quick to anger" is not on her agenda. It is really safest to follow her agenda. In fact, just talking about the possibility of ruffled feathers seemed to make a few stand on end.

I can't help myself. I just love her. I learn more from her Oklahoma phrasing than many sermons that I have sat under.

She teaches me that there is a simplicity to God's word. I love this. When I am with her, I want more of God's butt kicking ability. I don't feel like I have to understand it all, or put it under some theological heading.

I think that a lifetime teaches us this. We craft a language between a sinner and a Savior. The grammar isn't perfect and the spelling is lacking but it is personal. Intensely personal.

A real God, in real life, in real relationship.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Two Weeks I Look Forward To

Last week was that time of the summer, again. My nephew stays with me every summer for a couple of weeks, and every year he is a different kid. I love figuring him out and catching up with no mom and dad. Just he and I.

The problem is that he is growing up.

In fact, a friend told me that I will probably only have him for a couple of more summers, at best. She thinks that he will choose his friends over me at 16. She even said he might choose a girl over me.

That hurt.

I was relieved that he still wanted to take our annual trip to the Science Center. We do the exhibits, the planetarium and the IMAX...every time. I will be totally honest though, this is my favorite part. Erosion.

Cause I see this...

So, I will take whatever time he gives me. I just look forward to this time of the year.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Five Years And We Are Still Dating

I guess that everything started right here.

My friends told me that it was time to make a decision and, after three months of deliberation, I was ready to admit that I liked Dwight. Some people speed their way into a romance, but mine was more like crawling through sand. I was sure of one thing, though; I was ready to make that man my very own.

I was not, however, ready for a boring love story; and, that is how we ended up on the rim of the Grand Canyon at dawn.

One could say that I took matters into my own hands. I decided that I “had” to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon and I “had” to do this with Dwight, Mindy (Dwight’s dog), and my best friend from college.

We drove up late the night before and camped out until the following morning. The four of us enjoyed a late night screening of Switch, cat naps, and a catastrophic morning brew of coffee.

Truth...Dwight and wandered away sometime in the middle of the night and on the very spot of this picture, we had our first kiss.

From this, I know that it is dark, cold and windy on the rim of the Grand Canyon in the early am. I was grateful that we did not slip to our demise, but I was even more grateful that I remembered what I was doing. I won’t lie, I was SOOO nervous.

We kissed for the first time on Independence Day and we were married on Veterans Day, the following year. Patriotism takes on a whole new light in our marriage.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Listening To God Is Not Always A Polite Experience

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. - Acts 16:14


This is a conversion story worthy of transcription. When I read the story of a woman in the bible, it makes me stop. While men were the primary actors in the unveiling of Christ’s story on earth, there were these women who express the intent of the gospel, highlighted amongst them. In most biblical stories, we see the heart of women in action rather than words. Inspiring.

Lydia was a worshiper. Yesterday, the pastor was talking about the story of Joseph. He came to the point, in the story, where Joseph has found his brothers tending the flock. Joseph was prepared to write up his behavioral analysis and return to Jacob, but as his brothers see him coming they plot to kill him. The pastor asked us, “What do people say when they see you coming?”

They said that Lydia was a worshiper.

She was also a purple cloth dealer. In these few verses, Lydia is identified in many roles, and in verse 15 we see her act of obedience as one who was baptized. Something happened in the middle, though. The Lord opened her heart to listen, eagerly.

Bare with me while I dust off my Greek books from seminary. The word eagerly is not actually in this text. Eagerly expresses the intensity of the word ‘opened’. Here, ‘opened’ is the same word used when a firstborn opens the womb. It is not a lightbulb going off, or a “Hmm, I’ve been wondering about that.” It is a violent crack in what was formerly understood, pushing through disrespectfully. It stops at nothing but complete transformation.

God opened something in Lydia that had been closed. She never even knew that it existed. She saw what she could not see before. She heard words that were completely understood for the first time. One moment she was a worshiper, and the next she was a listener.

The Lord opened her heart. To listen. He opened a soul to create understanding and desire to hear His word. That is what God does.

I would argue that this process does not stop. It seems that I move from one level of understanding to something completely new, as He bursts forth through my heart. He opens what was closed before and I am left on my knees, waiting to hear his voice. I have begun to ask for this in my prayer time.

This process is not polite. It was not for Lydia and it will not be for us. It is not safe. It is not controllable. It is what happens when we listen to the Father.

Blessings, as you listen to the Father, today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Filled With Praise!

Amy, at Filled With Praise is having her 1 year blog party. Go over and give her your best. I adore her heart. Thank you for being so wonderful, Amy. Keep up the good work!

If you could have dinner with any person (past or present) who would it be?

If I could have dinner with any person past or present, I would have dinner with Rahab. I like a good story, and let’s face it she has one. God specializes in testimonies of change. Her story would be sheer contagious energy.

What is your most embarrassing moment that you are willing to share with the blogging world?

When I was in college, I went to a music festival on a river. There were thousands and thousands of people there, which usually means food and drinks...and port-a-potties. We went to the bathroom in pairs, so there was one girl in the port-a-potty and one girl guarding the faulty door locks. You just can’t be too careful.

I guarded my friend and it was her turn to guard my door. I was almost through with my “errand” when my door opened and I was face to face with a strange man. It would have been fine if my pants had been anywhere but around my knees.

I saw my ‘former’ friend and door guard in the distance turn around slowly, mouth hanging open, and finally exclaiming, “I’m sorry”. She had seen someone that she knew and went to say, “hello”. Because the man in my face was so stunned by what he found, he seemed to be unclear about his next move. This meant that we just stood face-to-face for an eternity, while I scrambled for my pants in front of all the festival attendees.

I can no longer be embarrassed. And, I no longer use port-a-potties...ever.

If you could only use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

My husband says, “Fabulous”.

I say, “Evolving”.

You found a machine that allows you to fast forward your life to a moment or to rewind your life to a certain moment, but it can only be used for one moment. Would you fast forward or rewind and to which moment would you choose?

I would fast forward to my death bed. My husband and I have a running discussion on who will 'go home' first. I want to prove that I am right.

What is your favorite simple blessing in life?

I asked my husband why his eyes were red one night. He said, “They must be irritated from not having looked at you all day”.

Either way, he is my blessing. I love that man.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Love of iPhone Apps and Bee Invasions: CR

I will be completely honest, in my absence I have stored up randomness to pour out at the appropriate time.

My new found pastime is iPhone apps. My husband warned me this would happen.

My favorite is Talking Carl. They say that kids love it, but I can tell you, so do adults. We were on a car trip when I found him, and the whole car was rolling with laughter. You talk into the mic of your phone and he mimics you, but he also laughs when tickled, growls when you leave him alone and makes funny noises when you poke him. It is like having someone else in the room with Talking Carl.

I talk to my dogs with him.

Also in my time away, I visited The Flylady. Anyone else into this? I can’t decide if this will make me legalistic or free. I would love to hear your input.

I watch So You Think You Can Dance every season. I do not watch any other competitive shows, just that one. This season, they changed the format. There are ten finalists, not twenty. They are also going to the contenders homes, blah, blah. I am afraid that it is going to become drama, drama, drama. That is the point that all shows lose me. So, I am willing to see what happens this season, but our relationship could be on the verge of failure. Does anyone else watch it?

The strangest thing that happened last month was a bee invasion. One day, I was letting Tess back in the house and had to scold her for playing with the bees. She thinks it is terribly fun to chase them. I, finally, got her attention and what I saw got mine.

Hundreds of dead bees littered my back patio. It was kind of gray outside and very still. I stood there and analyzed the situation. I think that someone sprayed a hive and they all made it as far as my porch. I sent a picture of it to my husband via text, and then my phone crashed. My phone never crashes.

At this point, probably from watching Fringe, I got the idea that the world might be ending. I am not sure how I got from dead bee invasion to that, but it felt right. So, I stood still trying to reboot my phone and check for signs of other life.

Still more weird, I went to my neighbors and they had no bee invasion, only me. My husband had to clean them up with a blower because there were so many.



I know, right?

There is more where this came from, and I am looking forward to more randomness with Andrea, at Under Grace and Over Coffee, next Friday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are You Suffering? Have You Suffered?

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? -Acts 2:1-8, NRSV

Now, erase every word you have ever heard on these verses.

Think of this as a picture. All of us in one place, and the rush of violent wind surrounding us. Between us, above us, around us, tongues that look like dancing fire, searching for their keeper. On each of our shoulders, a new, linguistic identity rests.

We speak these new words. We experience them in our heads, hearts, rolling off of our tongue. These are the words appointed to us. We are given the ability to speak them and share them.

As I sat on the couch one day, this picture came to me so clearly. I had just received a phone call from another friend seeking to console me. My husband and I had, what I will call, a “life event” early this month. I know you also have these life events, too.

My friend did not know what happened to us, but comforted me as I revealed my absence from blogging. As her concern and kind words rolled over me, I heard her say, “I am experiencing a season of suffering, also”. Divine appointment revealed.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4, NRSV.

As she revealed her story, my heart broke for my old friend. Our situations were completely dissimilar, but I understood the intensity of each word. I understood the language that breaks through condition, preference, lifestyle, and choice.

This month, I have found the common language of suffering that rests on all of us at some point.

We all speak a strain of suffering. We have our own brand, our own dialect, on which we lay claim. The most important thing to remember is that while our experience looks, smells, feels different from our sisters, our suffering and consolation are more similar. They are purposeful, crafted, directional. They begin, rest in, and end with the Father.

We all have the ability to understand this language.

I wish that I could bring all of you who have stood with me into a room and take turns hugging and feeding you. (That is intimacy where I come from.) What a gift that not one of you withheld prayer or words from me. You have taught me and healed me in so many ways.

When suffering is spoken, hearts unfold, reach out, lock each other in a hedge of protection, and forever become the object of mutual consolation. That is my experience.

If you are suffering, or even simply struggling, I encourage you to trust your sisters with that sacred biblical task of caring for you. It is a privilege to walk through trials appointed to us, together. Email me and I will be overjoyed to intercede for you.

If you have come through a time of suffering, reach out to another who needs consolation. Remember those who stood around you in your suffering, and extend that same love to someone else.

I have thanked all of you for this last month, but I will do it again. Thank you for your patience, your words, your prayers, your comments, your love and your hearts. I have rested in each of them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Out of Suffering and Into Healing

Yesterday, at church, I sat down in front of a friend of mine. I turned to her and said, “When you are suffering, isn’t this the hardest place to be? Here, everyone knows your business.” She and I started talking this common language of suffering. What a relief to hear another heart that hurt.

I didn’t have to pretend. I didn’t have to excuse myself. I didn’t have to worry if I seemed too happy.

I have been suffering. This is a wonderful biblical term that can include anything from dealing with difficult relationships, to the death of loved one, to physical illness, to persecution.

Mine is a specific brand of suffering known to many women. I have cleared my schedule and dealt with this at the feet of my Hope, My Restorer. Closer than my breath, He has stayed near, leading me into healing.

Jesus is the only one who can heal emotional wounds. That is so humbling.

True mourning and true healing is a process unfamiliar to me, but how grateful I am to bend under it.

I know that some day I will write and write about it, but for now it is still an active process.

Thank you to those of you who have written me, or spoken with me. In this world of blogging, it is refreshing to be reminded that this is about relationships. Real relationships. Your notes meant so much to me.

I am really looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs. If you have done something fun in the last couple of weeks that I can’t miss, please, leave me a comment.

Also, the May edition of Exemplify Magazine is out! The theme of this month is faithfulness. I learned so much while writing that article, so be sure to pop over if you have the chance. It is always an encouragement to me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worship In Posture, Not Pose

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” - Psalm 132:7, NRSV

The motto for my husband’s company is “Posture, Not Pose.” If I had to choose a motto for worship, it would be the same. It made me think about worship’s posture.

Of course, it would be inseparable from the heart, complete with singing and blessing of God’s name, perhaps an intermittent cymbal. I saw grandiose pictures of it in my mind, and places in my life where it could be implemented. To be honest, the more that I managed the vision, the more it started to look like a spiritual spa. I felt dangerously close to “pose.”

I needed something more useful to me. Once I told a friend who was struggling with her fate that fulfilling her purpose was an act of worship. I now have to ask, was I consoling her or was this true?

I could not help but attach the invitation to God’s footstool with posture, and now posture to daily life. It does not seem remarkable, but I have found that simply doing “the next thing” can be one of the greatest acts of worship in my day.

I do not own a footstool, but I know someone who did.

My grandmother lived with us for a time. I recall sitting at her feet for hours. She would tell me how I needed to alter my daily routine, and I would ask her the questions of a lifetime. How fascinating to see her bible by her chair, hear her talk about granddad and their reunion in heaven, and listen to the tales that only come from the right question and silence.

I could have heard my grandmother’s life on a couch or at the dinner table, but in our experience the footstool accomplished more. It is, simply, a small table on which you put your feet; but it was there that I willingly postured myself under my grandmother’s tutelage.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, made the decision to sit at the feet of Jesus, instead of remaining distracted with hostess responsibilities. She just sat and listened to Jesus talk. Can you imagine?

Risking the appearance of doing nothing, Mary’s choice was to sit under the tutelage of Christ. It was inevitably questioned. In her defense, Jesus said, “...there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42, NRSV).”

John 12 shows that the better part was not taken away from her; in fact it seemed to have grown. Scripture tells us that Mary brought an expensive jar of ointment into her brother’s house on this occasion. Immediately, she was disparaged by at least one of the attendees for the extravagance.

As before, Mary was not deterred. They did not know that she was going to the footstool to worship.

Amidst the chiding, the looks and the gasps, she walked. At the familiar feet of Jesus she fell. This was the altar at which her offering would be spilled. Posture humble, ointment scooped, with face to the ground she rubbed in the precious scent. Loosening her hair, she wiped, covering His feet.

The intoxicating smell filled the house, as this scene went on for an eternity. Some were embarrassed for this demonstration, certainly for Mary’s constant excessive acts of devotion. They needed no encouragement.

But, Mary’s eyes were on His feet, inspecting the long miles of wear and pondering the few to come. She was anointing, not making a vague gesture. She knew that what He said was true. He was going away. These actions were all that her broken heart could say.

Onlookers were silenced by the second defense from Jesus. In few words, Mary became the gospel embodied, the good news with its face to the floor and aromatic hair. This was worship.

Worship. What was meant for Christ’s burial was used at the footstool. Worship. Mary, with tears and ointment, prepared Jesus for His death.

A footstool seems to need feet to rest upon it, but I have found that it wants more. It wants the humble, the unequal, the intentional and the personal. The work that is done at a footstool is covenant work, important work, sometimes lowly work.

In our fear of being taken any lower than our day demands, this work is often put aside; but when the complete separation between the Father and the self is understood, when the chasm that was overcome is grasped, we finally understand who we are and who He is. Our heart acts in one way to this worships.

After we sit at His feet, we stand at His footstool, this humble marker of God’s greatness. Over this footstool, postured, we are to pour out respect, admiration and devotion with a reverent heart because we are not God. We are the other, the unequal and the object of salvation.

My confusion comes during the day, when my emotions awaken, startled that, again, I am doing the menial. We hear this around every corner. We hate our jobs, our children are ungrateful, I have no life because I am a stay-at-home mom, the church suffers from apathy.

Somewhere in the menial I forget that God dwells where I dwell, and I dwell where God puts me. All dwelling places have the capacity for worship, a footstool.

Each footstool requires the same heart. Each dish to wash, bottle to give, meeting to run, or fund raiser to organize requires that we recognize the dwelling place is often the commonplace. Here the humble heart is the altar and worship is the language spoken over it.

“Posture, not pose” is the heart that can worship where it is put. It is the gospel lived as an act of worship to the Father. It is willingness to sit under the Creator and learn worship from the menial, the elementary, the exhausting and the undesirable.

I believe God is asking me if I can I worship from these places.

Before I answer, He reminds me that posture is not for a moment: it is for each moment.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Lesson On Fishing

This Sunday we had a guest speaker. I really look forward to hearing him when he is able to make the trip. Different voices can spur me to action. Different perspectives can convict me in new areas. I download sermons and speeches to my IPod so I, at least, have the option to learn when waiting on my car or in a doctor’s office. Sometimes, I just play Bedazzled.

The topic this Sunday was loving those who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

You will notice that I do not blog every day. Yesterday, I had every intention of blogging but my day took a different turn. I accompanied a relative of mine to an annual series of testing. My job is to accompany, listen, remember, write down, schedule, wait and drive., a privilege..yes.

I was able to spend the rest of the day with my family, and had a scrumptious dinner at the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner. It was a wonderful, abnormal day.

It seems that I have more abnormal days than normal, anymore. This wasn’t always the case, but I am learning to take the day as it is prepared for me. I pray about it, so it must be right.

The more that I embrace the abnormal schedule, as opposed to the predictable schedule, I have more experiences with people who do not have a relationship with Jesus. I see this trend growing in my life.

As a blogger, I interact with other women of faith, which thrills me; but, as a believer, I am called to live the commission to which we have all been appointed. Jesus commissioned us face-to-face, and I still believe in the power of human contact when doing ministry.

If I am to be completely honest, I pray for these opportunities to be used by God, yet, when it involves loving strangers I find that I am a little shy to complete them. Love can cross this timid line which makes me second guess extending my love to the unknown. It is a place that I need to grow in understanding and in truth.

Perhaps, I misunderstand how to love a stranger.

This Sunday, one simple point in the sermon cleared so much up for me. I learned the right way to fish for men. These fishermen that Jesus spoke to were fishing with a net. When you fish with a net, you catch all kinds of stuff. Our job is not to sort the fish, but to love. We let the angels do the dirty work of the sorting. We just love on everything in that net.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous...” - Matthew 13:47-49, NRSV


Not for me.

This Sunday I learned that to love...

I need to intentionally place myself amongst those who do not know Jesus.

I need to act lovingly by speaking the name of Jesus to those who do not know Him.

I need to forget about sorting and just love.

This changes so much for me.

Does it change anything for you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Don't Want For My Mall Hair To Come Back Around

The other day, I was standing with some high school girls discussing their recent pictures. I carelessly made the comment, “One day you will look back at those skinny jeans and think, ‘What was I doing?’”

Some of you can think back to the folding and rolling up of jeans and t-shirt sleeves. That and some Keds, with scrunchy socks, and you had a killer outfit.

They looked at me like I was crazy.

(I would like to preface the rest of this post by saying that I grew up in Texas. Texas also gives you an insight into my boots.)

See, I know what it is like to look back at a picture, knowing that you were following trends.

This is my hair in the 9th grade.

I know, right?

This was my hair in the 11th grade.

The older I get, the less solace I find in the phrase, “Don’t worry, it will come back around.”

Today, I declare, “I don’t want for some things to come back around!”

For more Caffeinated Randomness, visit Andrea at Under Grace and Over Coffee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two Ways To Get Rid Of Unused Stuff And Throw A Party

My entry way with everything ready for donation. It exhausted Maggie.

This was the scene after my recent "Garage Free". I spring cleaned and realized that there was just too much stuff...too much stuff! I told you that this was coming up, but what I failed to show was what became of my house. My husband helped me set up stuff on tables in three rooms. The doors opened at 5pm and it was a free spree, until the women's leadership team meeting started in my living room at 6:30pm.

The goal: To give away enough stuff so that we could meet in the living room.

I served cold beverages and tried to "sell" my friends items that I had no use for. They, in five years, will probably come to the same conclusion and hopefully bless someone else with all of their goodies. I am happy to say that it was not overcrowded, as my guests staggered their timing. All that was left was donated. My house was freed.

Upon planning all of this, I heard of another way to get rid of unused stuff that sounded a little more fun. I got this information from a friend, who has a get the idea.

So, this Mrs. X invited over her friends and told them all to bring five items, or so. Each person was given their own sticker color, or type, on arrival. Then they put all of their items out for everyone to inspect. If someone was interested in an item, they put their sticker on it.

If there was more than one sticker on an item, these individuals had to compete for the item. This can be with trivia cards or any game that causes people to laugh hysterically. The idea is to keep it moving while laughing a lot. Keep a camera around! The winner took the item home, of course.

Really, the decision lies in the amount of time that you have. You can get rid of stuff, quickly, like me; or you can spice it up and have a new reason to party. Whichever way you choose, have a blast!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feeling Stuck And The Decision To GO

I serve on the women’s leadership team at my church. I have had this “burden” for women’s ministry for several years. It was the first area of the church that God appointed me, and it has been my passion ever since that time. In fact, I went to seminary because I became aware that my teaching had reached a place that needed to be more informed. My love for learning seemed perfectly matched for His call to preparation.

That being said, I serve on a wonderful women’s leadership team. I can’t even tell you the things that we laughed about at the last meeting. I really can’t tell you in writing...too incriminating. Oh, and we did a lot of business, too.

I had the opportunity to go to the YouLead conference with these ladies a few weeks ago, and it was incredibly helpful. I recommend it for your women’s leadership team, if it is in your area.

The topic of one session was, ‘going with God’. We all pray that, right? We want to be available for God to use us, expanding His ministry through us, or maybe we just pray that on good days. Nonetheless, I would say in the blogging world most people desire increase, not decrease. Most people living their ministry, desire more influence, not less. I am not necessarily talking about numbers, but hearts ripe for transformation.

At the conference, Chris Adams challenged us by saying that you cannot stay where you are and go with God. When she spoke these words, my head whipped around because she was on the mark. You cannot stay where you are and go with God. You have to find where God is working and join Him there. This is a great definition of ministry.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. - John 5:19, NRSV

Jesus could do nothing on his own. He saw the Father working and He copied that. He only worked where He saw His Father.

I wonder how my efforts would look if I diligently looked for the Father, if I watched His course and made my plans around that, and nothing else?

I would save time.

I would save heartache.

I would save headaches.

I would be with the Father.

Would your efforts look different?

Monday, April 19, 2010

When Fierce Love No Longer Works In A Family

I have been asked to write about family several times, but each time I chicken out. My family reads mom, my sister, my mother in-law, my aunt-in-law (love your emails, Aunt Connie!). I am sure that many of you know what I am saying. Some life lessons, you can’t just put out there if it could hurt other people.

So, my disclaimer to this post is that it does not concern any of these family members. In fact, this post is about anyone who has an object of fierce love, especially the kind we assign to family members.

Fierce love is different from other kinds of love. Fierce love is what happens when someone talks about your sister. You can talk about your sister, but that privilege does not extend past you.

Fierce love is willful.

Fierce love is disappointing.

Fierce love aggressively invades your life and their life.

To test what kind of love I have for these individuals who hang on to my prayer list with sighs and head shaking, I have decided to check myself with this verse...

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NRSV

If I am honest, I have fallen into fierce love which is a twisted earthly ambassador of its pure inventor. I find that I am not bearing anything well, or believing that they will ever change. I lost my hope with trying, and I cannot think of enduring in this state forever. Sound familiar?

I am finding that fierce love is what makes my sister mine to love, mine to fix. We are bonded in a way that no one else can understand, and I have the right to feel territorial. It should not be a surprise when one of these objects of fierce love becomes the reminder of where we end. Oh, what a difficult day that can be!

I was talking with someone recently who said she was done. She could not put her heart into her family problems anymore. It left her empty and the drama left her tired. I know what she means.

Then I realized that this is a moment of hope, not defeat. I just kept hearing, “Good, you end here.” It is good that we end. It is good that we understand that God is in the places that we cannot go. We are not capable of changing, enlightening, altering, or loving someone into submission, or (my favorite) reality. We end in defeat and He begins in power.

Have you ever been there? Have you invested yourself in a person who just can’t seem to get it together? They bring you the greatest hope and follow it with the greatest defeat. Always hand in hand, this roller coaster makes you want to say, “Enough, if I don’t get off now I am going to be sick!” That is exactly how fierce loves affect us. We want to ride with them until we realize that they are the only ones enjoying themselves, or we are going to, physically, throw each other off this ride.

We have to make a conscious decision to get off this roller coaster.

What a moment of trust that it takes when we look at God and admit that this object of our fierce love has remained that way out of our pride, our ego, our last name. We have not turned this person over completely to Him because somehow we believe that God honors our vested interest and our shed tears. How many tears has He cried over our family members?

So, there is an end. At this end, we know that the only thing that we can do is pray. Why? Because this is when we claim His power. We trust that He will, not can but will, do infinitely more.

He will do it because He loves them more than we can imagine, more than fierce love.

Have you fallen fiercely in love?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prayer for Amy Beth

There are many women gathered in prayer today, for Amy Beth of Ministry So Fabulous. I am so encouraged when this happens in the blogging community, because this is the only way to be useful to Amy Beth right now. This girl is suffering. Please lift her name up to the ear of the Father for the healing of her body. If you feel inclined, you can join many others and link your blog to a day of prayer for her. This link can also provide updates and specific prayer needs.

Thank you.

He Covers Me, Today

I am doing errands this morning. It is not remarkable, and not even close to heroic. Even in these small tasks I need the covering of the Lord. Perhaps, it is because I prove each day that I can mess up anywhere. Can I get a witness?

I just don't want to miss out on Him. I don't want to miss a thing that He does, today. Because of this, I have to rely on Him to do everything.

This morning, during my prayer time, I wrote,

Today, cover the work of my hands.

Cover the thoughts in my head.

Cover the movings of my heart.

Cover the blindness of my choice.

Cover the cruelty of my flesh.

Cover the words from my mouth.Cover the direction of my feet.

Cover the safety of my path.

Cover this woman from the influences of this world.

Cover me with your word, your Spirit and your love.

Cover me, today.

Today, is all that I am expected to accomplish. This moment is all that I am expected to live in. Getting dog food and groceries is no less of a spiritual course than the rest of humanity. Today, this is my task and I have to trust in the only One who can cover me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Great Weekend In Review

Invigorating and tiring. That is how I would explain this weekend. I had so much fun with the girls. As we get older, simply being a girl can become a rare opportunity. Responsibilities take over and 'girl time' becomes a privilege. We should giggle and talk about frizzy hair. I am happy to say that I had my dose of it, in its most unadulterated form for two days.

When the high school girls come to my house for these mini-retreats (as Lauren called it in her comment on Friday, loved that), we are simply girls. I might get more out of it than they do. We followed our schedule pretty closely. I don't have pictures of every single thing, but I will give you some highlights.

We went to the tea...

Our hostess (the woman standing in the white pants), who serves on our women's committee with me, spoke about individual expression in our homes. She is a phenomenal interior designer and faithful woman. I am excited to make some of the changes she suggested. More to come on that.

The tea was a great time to be a girl with some of my favorite girls...

The woman standing in this picture (she doesn't have her heels on so look right above everyone's head) is one of my favorites, her name is Elizabeth. She just started blogging over at Caffeinated Grace. Drop in and say hello, if you have a moment. BTW, she is hysterical and her posts show it.

Speaking of girls, here is one of my senior high girls...

They also had a blast sitting in my husband's car and playing with the IPad...

We went to the Rock and Worship Roadshow, and all that I can say is, "Wow!". We worshiped the King until we had no voices left and our feet were sore. What an awesome experience to worship with thousands of other believers. The name of Jesus was lifted up on Saturday night. I am still on a cloud. I Facebooked pictures from the concert, taken with my camera phone. You can basically tell that I was somewhere with bright lights. If you haven't done so already, friend me on Facebook and you can see them.

But before we got in, we waited...

My husband is on the left, his friend who visited us this weekend is in the middle (his wife, Amy, blogs over at Evidence of Creativity...amazingly gifted!), and our youth pastor is on the right. Again, to the one on the left...nice, right? I know. I just love that guy! He has had so much fun with his friend this weekend. They have seen a car show, played Wii, eaten, laughed at things I don't understand; AND, since he was in town, my husband stayed at his hotel so the girls and I could have the house all to ourselves. Nice!

All and all, it was a great weekend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Something You Didn't Ask About...CR

Today is, indeed, random as I follow our fearless leader, Andrea, into another Friday. See more of her over at Under Grace and Over Coffee.

I am getting ready for a sleepover. No, it isn't a bunch of 30 somethings trying to recreate their girlhood. There is nothing fun about a bunch of women who are ready to call it a night at 9:30pm. That is if they didn't accidentally have caffeine past lunch.

My senior high girls are coming over!

This means junk food, Jesus, more food, and musicals (usually Enchanted with audience vocals) as loud as we want them.

Our plan...

Dinner out (I will let them pick, of course.)

Musical and snacks (because they have different metabolisms than a 30 something)

Table Talk for Teens (upon request, before bed)

Get up to devotional and breakfast (usually they are more excited about breakfast)

Off to the tea thrown by our women's committee at church (this means getting spiffed up, but I have my own bathroom so the world is good)

Another feeding (Of course, they get to pick.)

Then the piece de resistance, we are going to The Rock and Worship Roadshow. This means getting in line at 3, for a 4:30 door opening, for a 6pm concert. For this 30 something it means comfortable shoes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and a bottle of water. For them, it is fun with lots of people they don't know.

Then, everyone goes home and I crash hard.

Just another day in youth ministry. I love those girls! Pictures will be coming, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Women in the Word @Exemplify

I anticipated April for many reasons. Only one, of which, was the flip flops and t-shirts. There is something else, though...

As many of you know, I just love the Exemplify Online team. I have written for Exemplify's Devotional Channel for several months (I am bad with time, so probably longer). This is the channel that I always write about, but there are several other channels to meet every need imaginable, such as a Family, Marriage, Singles, and a Ministry channel.

This month has brought a new relationship, as I was invited to join the Exemplify Magazine team. This ministry has a thirst and hunger for glorifying the King. It ministers to me much more than I contribute to it, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

While this month's column was a testimony/introduction to my presence on the team, the April theme of the magazine is worship, and that is exactly what it does. It worships His name.

Without further delay...

I can’t really explain how it happened, but somewhere along the way I lost my life.

It was not the same scenario as losing my keys, or setting down my tea cup and forgetting where I put it. I do things like that all of the time. I did not forget the location of my life. I just lost it.

When this lost life began, it could be said that I was off to a good start. My family encouraged me to know the Lord, and the church body knew every move that I made. In fact, I was in church every time the key turned.

In response, it became irresistible for me to know something else. Rebellion was a sash that I wore as if I had won its pageant.

To read more, click here and visit April's issue of Exemplify Magazine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Window Shopper Deux

My dear friend Victoria over at Let the Son Shine, is doing a new meme on the first Tuesday of each month. I simply love it. It gives us the opportunity to rummage through the archives of the blog to a time when no one, and I mean not a person but my husband and one or two friends, read it.

I need to see some of these lessons, again. I need to hear past-Tracy tell me to intentionally put on the fruits of the Spirit if I want to see them in my daily life. What a challenge! Isn't it amazing how we continually need the same words?

BTW, my husband did the artwork for this post. How adorable?

So, here is Window Shopper from March 10, 2009...

Colossians 3:12-15, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

Upon my initial reading of this verse, I thought to myself, “Isn’t it great that Paul loved clothing as much as I do”? I have been trying to picture this scenario for the average woman, as we walk into a department store, up the escalator and saunter into our favorite clothes area.

Immediately, things start to pop out at us and we travel to them, seemingly effortlessly. My mother’s favorite color for clothing is lime green, she moves faster in a department store than anyone that I have ever seen, so off to any lime green sweater vests she would go. I am trying to spiff up my church clothes, so I would be off to the button up shirts and slacks (I am horribly predictable).

What would the clothing of compassion look like in our department store? How about kindness, humility, meekness and patience…what about love? Would we be subject to the endless row of sweatpants with the fruits of the spirit embroidered on the rear end? Would it be emblazoned across the drop neck tees, perhaps with glitter? Maybe it would be hanging from a bright golden necklace…unmistakable to strangers that we do indeed possess these amazing fruits. Is this good enough, or is it window shopping the Spirit?

I found a litmus test for myself in these verses. Verse 13 tells me that “putting on” compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience can be seen through my bearing of others. The way that I deal with others tells me what I need to know, like dealing with the lady at the cash register, or the young girl that just laid down on the floor screaming for a new pair of humility sweatpants…or my husband.

What is happening in my heart and head can tell me if I am window shopping. Here is a big one; I can look at the way that I am willing to forgive the past and present mistakes of those around me, by loosing them on earth and laying them at the foot of the cross for Christ to work in their lives. This tells me if I am a spiritual window shopper.

And love…it leads to perfect harmony (Love = Perfect Harmony). How many of us have perfect harmony? Do we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts? I say that again…let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.

I come across people, all of the time, window shopping for peace. I want peace. That cannot be window shopped; it is Christ living in our hearts and taking the hits that confuse us and leave us spiritually bankrupt at the end of the day. Why? Because we are His, holy and beloved. Holy and beloved.

Thank you Jesus for making us your beloved. Thank you for taking the hits for me today. Take us away from window shopping so that we can experience you. I pray that each of you will let the peace of God reign in your lives.

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