Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moving Forward

My year of GO! has sputtered. I read an analogy the other day about filling a car with water instead of gasoline. It still looks the same sitting there in the driveway, but when you need to put the pedal to the metal, you aren't going to get anywhere.

GO! required more than a washed and waxed vehicle. On the outside, I looked plenty shiny. Good hair (I promise not to go on about that again), the right things on my calendar, the right friends, the right things to say...everything looked just right. But inside, I could feel something dying.

The fire I felt at the beginning of the year, only two months ago, was just a pile of slightly warm embers.

I'm not calling anything warfare, but I can see, almost at the exact day and time, when I took my eyes off God, which is ironic to me, considering that my first memory verse of the year was   1 Peter 1:13 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action. DISCIPLINE yourselves, Set all your hope on the grace that Christ will bring when He is revealed."

I got lax in my discipline, and like an addict, slowly drifted back to the things that used to capture my attention. Proverbs puts it pretty a dog to its vomit. Gross, and accurate.

I also got excited about the arena I think God might be leading me to, and started working on things of that vein, thinking any outcome is up to my abilities instead of God. When I decided, for the millionth time, that I have no business thinking I can write anything anyone would want to read, I stopped. "Oh Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

Yesterday I stood in front a bookcase, looking for anything that might stir up a little passion. Looking for the missing mojo. Nada.

Last night I was rummaging on my desk and found a copy of Beth Moore's Discovering God's Purpose for Your Life. I set it back down because I'd bought it intending to give it away. This sort of reading is way below my status as a mature rock star Christian. I turned off the light and headed back upstairs, but my feet walked back down the stairs and somehow my hand grabbed the book.

She works out of the Amplified Version of the Bible, Philippians 3:10 specifically: "My determinded purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person."

I was hooked from the first chapter.
  • We're so busy manipulating and controlling things that we haven't experienced a fresh work of God in our own lives in some time.
  • When we accept the fact that God is determined about us, and we add to it our determination about Him, there will be no stopping us from fulfilling the absolutely God-ordained destiny He has for us.
  • There is an emptiness in our lives even if we are in Christ if we have not discovered  that we have purpose in Him. And how great that emptiness if we have not figured out what on earth His purpose is for us. looking in a mirror.

I won't paraphrase the rest of the booklet for you (there's probably a law or two about that anyway), but suffice it to say that to find our purpose, to be ultimately fulfilled, we have to bury ourselves in Him. I'm seeing there is a difference between being a believer and being a surrendered believer. On the personality chart, I am plotted on the task-structured quadrant. My focus is on the task, not the relationship.

God says His focus, and therefore ours, is the relationship. It's the whole reason Christ came. No wonder I shorted out again.

This morning I woke up, eager to start my day with Him, and clicked open my favorite devo. Wouldn't you just know that the author was dissecting Philippians 3:10? Of course he was! God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, and I am in seeker mode. Again.

I'm thinking I got my next memory verse, especially since I could not get focused enough to pick one the last time around.

"My determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person. (Philippians 3:10)"

It's why I was created. Everything is just gravy. And we all know how much I love gravy...

This song says it all. Moving Forward, by Israel Houghton.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Diving in the Shallow End

Sometimes I joke about the depths of my shallowness, but today I realized it's no joke. God used a haircut to reveal some things to me, and it ain't pretty. I mean, the haircut's ok, according to my husband and a few friends, but that doesn't really matter.

What matters is that a haircut stole my joy. I lost my mojo yesterday when I didn't communicate clearly with my hairdresser, along with three more inches than I'd planned. Since it's taken me about two years to fully grow out my last round of short-hair-itis, this kind of irks me. I don't feel pretty, and no, I'm not fishing for a compliment so don't feel obligated to tell me I look cute. I'm realizing just how shallow my identity is as a woman in Christ.

Can anyone else relate?

Yes, I know this whole mojo-stealing haircut comes across as incredibly shallow and petty, and I wonder how those who have serious issues, like breast robbing cancer and other life-altering experiences, handle things.

I took my pouty face to church this morning, looking for a spark, something to reignite the fire, and didn't find one. I came home from church and, while walking a grateful dog, God had a chat with me.

"What if I took everything that you think makes you special? What if you couldn't write? What if you were faceless and anonymous in the crowd? What if I took your titles and roles? What then? Who would you be?"

I know the right answer is "Still me, because of You." And sometimes we say the right answer because we know we're supposed to, not because we're feeling it.

I know better. I know the truth. So today, and tomorrow, and as long as it takes, I am praying that He be a consuming fire in my life. Take everything that gets in the way of remembering who I am. Forgive me my shallowness. Thank You for using a haircut to reveal what lies below the surface of my heart, hidden by a superficial facade.

If you find yourself diving in the shallow end, if circumstances are dictating how you feel about yourself, join me in praying for deep faith, hope that radiates joy to the rest of the world, and love that sets you on fire to reach the world for Him. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love: Not Just for Valentine's Day

At the beginning of the year, I asked some friends what their theme word was, and my friend Becky eloquently shared her heart. I invited her to write about it, and she sent this beautiful post. If anyone has chosen a word and feels inspired to write about it, I would be happy to post it here for you.

"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children of God, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ Jesus loved us and gave up himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (2 Timothy 1:7)"


My sweet husband gave me a simple silver bracelet with part of this beautiful verse on it that has become my anthem for 2013: "Walk in the way of LOVE" 

But, what does that look like?   

What does love look like? 

I'm a photographer and I think about this a lot.  I get a huge thrill when I can click the shutter and freeze love in a photograph.  I know it when I see it, but how do I walk it?  How do I share it? 

I can laugh with my oldest while he watches Sponge Bob, admire Minecraft creations made by my second-born, doctor beanie babies endlessly with my littlest, and do my best to have dinner planned and ready (most days) for my husband - without complaining or making them feel like they are interrupting my life.  Those are all ways to walk in love with my family.   

I can smile and say hello to strangers on the street, ask the grocery clerk how their day has been (and really listen), take a meal to a family who needs a blessing - all with a happy heart.  These are ways to walk in love with the world around me. 

I have discovered, however, that I will have no love to give if I have no love for myself.  If I don't truly believe that I have something to offer those around me, that I am loved and worthy myself.  If I feel dry and empty, then all those actions can become hollow, forced and filled with bitterness. 

So I'm trying to replace the fear and anxiety that cripples love with things that grow love. 

Taking pictures used to be a joy for me, until I learned too much and began to only look at them with an eye that was way too critical.  I am giving myself loving permission to take one picture a day that I love, that pushes me creatively or moves me emotionally, and post them on my blog ( once a week. 

Will you join me?  What can you give yourself permission to make room for in your life, to re-energize your love tank and renew your creative juices?  How will you let that spill over into the world around you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ever feel God take you in a direction you had no intention of going?

Yeah, me neither.

Just kidding.

Check out my post on the Encouragement Cafe and see how that all worked out! Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience following God somewhere that wasn't on your itinerary.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Steal My Show

I was looking out the balcony window from five stories up into the hotel courtyard. Large raccoons and man-size gorillas were eating the stray dogs and other small animals. As they ate, these monsters kept looking up at the hotel balconies, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they began climbing them in search of more food. I made eye contact with one of the gorillas, and he sneered at me as he reached the first level of balconies. I kept begging someone to call for help. "They are coming! Don't you care they are coming for me?"  No one seemed concerned enough to take action, and before I knew it, the balcony door smashed in, glass spraying the room as I was overpowered by unbelievable strength.

(Insert Gilligan's Island dream sequence music here.)

All joking aside, this was my dream last night. I am, apparently, a little overwhelmed by my life right now.

You know the saying "Be careful what you wish for?" That is my reality this week. I love opportunities to share God's word with others, and I have three speaking engagements in a six day time span, all separate topics. Plus a PTO meeting in the middle of it. Plus my part-time job. Plus my family life...

I know I fall into the trap of thinking it is all up to me, and that God is just watching on the sidelines, completely removed from the situation. Nothing is further from the truth, and I got that reminder this morning.

I was listening to David Crowder's All I Can Say, a great song if you are in a bit of a funk, and reading in my Bible. I know what I'm supposed to do when I feel like this, and sometimes I actually do it...

Anyway, me and David Crowder, and God. He gave me two scriptures to hang on to.

  • Psalm 46:5 God is in the midst of the city and it shall not be moved.
  • Zechariah 2:5 For I will be a wall of fire around it (City of Jerusalem) says the LORD, and I will be the glory in it.
 Again, as I have said on so many occasions, all I need to do is prepare and show up. God's got this covered. He is the show stealer, the show stopper, the lifter of my head, the words in my mouth. I think, even though I was listening to David Crowder this morning, it's time for a little Toby Mac.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Stay Out of the Shadows

I'll be honest; I've been in a battle lately and in the midst of it, I forgot that Jesus has already won the battle for me. It is my job to stand securely in His victory. He stands between me and my accuser.

Having said that, I still need to do the right thing. Jesus can fight for me all day long, but if I choose to commit a particular sin, He will not stop me. He created us to make our own choices and to walk in obedience out of love for Him and not requirement.

A friend of mine used to say that God would give her all the strength she needed not to drive into the Krispy Kreme parking lot, but He wasn't going to blow it up for her.

Does that make sense?

In light of that, no pun intended, I have chosen my next Memory Verse:

"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.   If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.   But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)"
Though the enemy taunted me from the shadows, filled me with fear and made me question my ability to stay strong, Jesus reminds me that He's got this. All I need to do is stay out of the shadows.
I can do this, with Him.
If you find yourself in a battle, can I remind you that Jesus has already won it for you? Like it says in James, resist the devil and he will flee from you. So it is written, so shall it be. Amen