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Archive for August, 2013

I recently stepped down from a position at our church.  I found that in moving here, and then moving again, and then homeschooling 5 days a week, and then working at the church on Saturday and Sunday along with all of the things associated with it during the week, pause for a breath, that I was not very healthy.  Physical issues that I’ve dealt with off and on for the past 20 years had reared their ugly head.  In the past I’d been able to push through them because I was also feeding my creative side.  Feeding the creative side tends to heal many ailments.

My hubby calls it “living in the sweet spot.”  We know that we can’t be there 100% of the time.  I used to live there a lot more than I have over the past couple of years.  The have-tos have far outweighed the want-tos, and that made things a little out of balance.  As I read that I have a picture in my head of a slightly bent bicycle tire that has a wobble as it turns but it doesn’t keep the bike from moving.  It’s just a slightly bumpier ride that tires out your arms from having to work harder to keep up right on the bike.  I’m exhausted from maneuvering an unbalanced life.

A couple of days ago I finished a book.  Freefall to Fly by Rebeka Lyons.  It was delightful.  It was written by a woman who picked up everything and moved her family to New York City.  They left everything that had known to step out on a great adventure.  Sound familiar?  She went through struggles that seem so instep with my own.  The one thing, besides the panic attacks to be saved for another post, that stands out the most is her search to discover her meaning in life.  She was starting over in every way.  That’s where I am.

At the end of this book the author asks some simple but specific questions.  The first one is, “What were my earliest dreams?”  It was a fun question to answer.  These are dreams I had between 2nd and 12th grade.  I came up with four.

  1. I wanted to be the next Gilda Radner or Carol Burnett.  I wanted to be on SNL.  (This was a dream of mine since I was in 2nd grade and I would sneak down to watch SNL.  A seat half way down the stair case gave me a great view of the TV.  I also watched Nightline with Ted Koppel this way too.)
  2. I wanted to own a shoe company.  I spent most of my 6th grade year designing shoes.  A few years later I saw people wearing the shoes I designed.  If only I had found some investors.
  3. I wanted to be the first female President of the United States or doing something is government.  Why not start with the big goal, right?
  4. I wanted to be a photographer and travel around the world telling stories through my pictures.

It was interesting to hear the hubby’s feedback as I read these to him.  I would say that three of the four still resonate with me.  I don’t feel the need to own a shoe company, but when the need arises I do enjoy designing and making a costume.  I’ll ponder the other three over the next couple of days.  There are a couple more questions that I need to anwer.  The idea is that you take these answers and mesh them together to figure out your meaning in life.  We’ll see what happens.

I moved across the ocean, and I forgot who I am.  I do know that I am a wife and mother.  That is a clear calling, and one that I am so honored to hold.  There is something outside of that.  There are deep passions and huge dreams that are lying just under the surface.  I’m the same adventurer that I was when I was 17.  I’ve been an artist since I could hold a pencil at two years old.  I have vivid dreams and visions; some of which I still remember from 4th grade.  All of these things are part of my DNA and I refuse to let them die even though I live in a culture that honors youth and building up the next generation.  I’m just becoming comfortable in my skin, and all the feedback is that I am too old to be cool.

It took a trip back to the hometown to remember who I am.  It took a book to dig a little deeper into who I dreamed I would be.  It’s gonna take a few more hours of prayer to see how those two things fit together.

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(S) John 10:40-42  40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

(O) Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem when again He was asked to substantiate His claims the He was The Son Of God.  He explained that His miracles where from the hand of God.  He used scripture to back up His actions.  The leaders were not pleased and intended to kill Him.  Jesus slipped away and headed back to where it all started.  He headed back to the Jordan.  Jesus stayed there a while.  Even after his death,  John The Baptist’s words rang true to the people who followed him.  He set the stage for Jesus’ coming and, because he was such a trusted man, his follower’s believed these words in John 1, 29 “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”  Thought Jesus never performed a miracle there, the people believed.  It had come full circle.

(A) John the Baptist answered the call that God placed on his life.  He could have taken advantage of the ears that heard and claimed to be the Messiah.  He could have amassed so many more followers.  He could have said what pleased the leaders and probably would have become a very rich man.  Instead he spoke truth.  He never claimed any thing more than this.  “23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’  24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  26 ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'”  John’s testimony did not change during his entire ministry.  His words rang true and his credibility stood firm.  He lost his life because of it.  He died having completed his call.

Am I doing what God has called me to, or am I spending my time doing everything else?  Do I speak words of truth that draw people to the person of Christ?

(P) Dear Lord,  Thank you for sending Your Son to die for us.  Thank you that we can come before You humbly and ask forgiveness because of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Please help me to see exactly what You want me to complete here on earth.  May my words and actions be ones of truth drawing people to the Grace of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

 

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Journal In A Jar

Today’s paper strip question:  “What about your family makes you happy?  Share a moment where they made you happy.”

I struggle with the word “happy” because it is such a fleeting emotion.  I much prefer the word “joy” because it is something that grows deep roots, and is felt even in the most dire of circumstances.  Here is the new question.  I ask those of you reading to ponder it.

“What about your family brings you joy?  Share an example.”

I know without a doubt that I have an unusual family situation.  I have been married to the same man for 20 years.  We homeschool our kiddos.  We enjoy spending time together.  Our parents get along, and have never had a difficult time accepting each other as family.  We’ve enjoyed many holidays together.  I know that if I never have more than this that I will die completely satisfied.

One of the biggest sources of joy for me lies in the Yayas kitchens; both my momma and mom-in-law’s.  It’s truly is the hub of the house.  During those first years of homeschooling, the cousins and sis-in-laws gathered once a week around Yaya’s kitchen island.  We would cook or do a project.  The kiddos would end up in the playroom for down time and watch a video while the “grown-ups” ate lunch or sipped on tea.  Those were precious times.  When my brother moved to town to pastor a church he and my sis-in-law joined us in Yaya’s kitchen for Thanksgivings or Easter or for an evening together.  My nieces grew to know my sis-in-law and know that she cares for them.  My mom and Dad are called Aunty and Uncle by them.  These moments fill me with joy to overflowing, and I will cherish them forever.

 

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Today our pastor asked for our church to commit to 40 days of prayer. We are seeking wisdom about whether or not we should pursue “Plan A”, a permanent location with ample parking for our church.  We signed a commitment card agreeing to pray for this at least 5 minutes each day.  We are hanging the commitment cards up around the ministry center.  I’ve adapted my prayer this way, “Dear Lord, I pray for YOUR will to seen clearly by our leadership.  I pray for our hearts to lay humble before YOU, for revival, for YOUR people to genuinely seek YOUR face.”  These next 40 days are vital.  LORD, may YOUR Spirit move in ways that we never imagined.

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This cat looks just like the cat we had for years.

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Life Journal: Release

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John the Baptist had a few buddies complain that Jesus was baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan River.  I can only imagine the commiserating going on between John’s followers.  Jesus was honing in on their territory.  He was taking the attention away from his cousin John.  Maybe they weren’t invited to as many dinners, or maybe they had lost their favorite spot along the river.  Perhaps it was that they weren’t the first ones being asked the difficult questions anymore.  Whatever it was I think that it comes down to one basic thing; they were no long everyone’s first choice.

John’s response is what we would hope every great leader’s response to be.  He expresses great joy in the fact that he worked himself out of a job.He tried to explain it to his followers.  There are some jobs that requires one person to set the other person up for success.  God called him to prepare the way for the Messiah.  John did that, and now it was time to step down.  It was time for John to release.

Within the church we don’t always do a good job in the hand off.  We aren’t always told why positions change.  It may cause us to doubt our calling in the first place.  We question our relevancy.  We doubt our worth.  It sets us up for a poor transition where we may not rejoice when we hear our replacement coming.

At times over the last 20 years of ministry I have allowed my value get wrapped up in my work.  There was one particular section of time in my life where I was put in a position of authority that I had longed for.  I loved it everything about that season.  After about two years, things started to shift.  I had less authority as the leadership above me changed.  I didn’t understand why, and no one was giving me any input when I asked for it.  I found that I didn’t sleep well at night because I kept rehashing conversation after conversation and asking God what I had done wrong.  I assumed things.  I stopped living out Philippians 4:8-9, 8 “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I finally pulled it together after I just let everything go.  Every dream, every hope, every desire I had I just put on an “altar” before the LORD.  I stopped asking why I wasn’t allowed to serve as before.  I started asking God how He wanted me to serve.

From time to time I still deal with the pain in the loss of that ministry.  I miss the people who I worked.  I long for another season to serve in that way.  I believe that God will have another opportunity for me.  It’s all in His time.  I believe that my work now is all about the word “know.”  I must dig deeper into God’s word and allow for times of quiet so that I will hear God.  I must come to know God in away that I never have before.  In that process I allow Christ to become greater by understanding my position as a child of God.

 

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