I laughed when I realized how many years it took to discover who I am.... by first zealously exploring who I am not

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Shifting Path

You know I have all these new thoughts rolling around my head that I'm still trying to make sense of. Yesterday I was talking to one of my Deans at school and had quite the revelation of the shifting of the path that I'm on.

Three years ago I was very submersed in teaching inner healing, doing women's retreats and leading worship. I love teaching. I love studying something and seeing it all just lay out in such a clear way. I love seeing people realize who they are and walk in healing from their past and all that binds them. However, the more my personal life shifted away from groups of people, the less I had to opportunity to do those things. I've been getting phone calls to teach, or do a weekend here and there and I haven't had the heart. I did one training class and it was so hard to go back and do it again. Why? I kept asking the Lord to show me why something I loved so much was no longer joyful for me.  All I would get was the scripture about pouring new wine into old wine skins. I get the reference but I don't have anything new, and plus this is good stuff. What's wrong with it. I just have walked around really feeling without a purpose, for a long time. Several weeks ago my sweet Pastors sang this song called "When I Lay my Isaac Down". I loved the words and even enjoyed it, despite it's old time roots. I wasn't particularly moved by it, and really haven't thought much about it since. Enter my conversation yesterday. As we talked I shared with him about the things I've been reading about serving others. About God's call (mandate) to serve others, to meet their needs, to reach out to those around us. It suddenly, like a lightening bolt hit me. I had to let go of what I thought my purpose was, what I thought I was "good" at. I had to be willing to let it all go.  Somewhere in the midst of being lonely, sad and searching I became desperate and hungry and willing to do whatever God called me to do. Whatever it looked like. Can I be very very real with you? That whole dark night of the soul is real people. Being so far down that you just want to stay home and not talk or be with anyone. I've lived it for almost 2 years. The last 2 months has been by far the worst, darkest place. But in that place- inside the cave that I've been in God has been doing something in my heart. He has changed something in me and I know that I will never be the same. There has been a shifting- like a bone being set. Like a wandering pilgrim, finding the path. Like a broken heart being snapped together.

I still don't know what this will look like. I know that Matthew 25 and Isaiah 58 are going to be burned on my heart in a new way forever. I know the world looks different, the people in it different. I know that God will show me what that is going to look like, eventually. And I'm ok with that. I'm ok with simply knowing that He has the plan. (When I get antsy will someone remind me I said this) I'm even ok with my heart being broken, because I know He can put it back together. And that in the brokenness is where I find Him the most. I know that brokenness doesn't mean that I'm broken. My flesh breaks. My spirit thrives. The more broken I feel, the more desperate I am- the more I listen for that still small voice to speak to me. The more broken I am the more I seek Him.

I want to share this song with you today and just pray that God uses it in whatever way you need it in your life during this season.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Broken Heart

I have discovered these past few weeks that I feel like I have multiple personalities. I'm always amazed that at times when I'm broken, devastated and struggling is when I also seem spiritually strong (weak), Wise (so not) and close to God (where is He again). I feel so undone in my life right now. Don't be nice to me, I might start sobbing on you. Don't be mean... same result. I went to a football game for our hometown that we moved from a year ago and yelled "Go Indians" and promptly burst into tears. It's a dicey road friends let me tell you.... you should probably pray for my husband.

Yesterday as I drove home, I ended up alone in my car and had the ability to just spend some time with the music off and thinking. I do my best thinking in my car. Maybe it's the silence and  the ability to be undisturbed that allows our minds to wonder and see into where we are. My conversation yesterday started with just a cry from my heart going God, I can't handle any more heartbreak. I saw in my minds eye every piece of my heart laying around me. Shattered, broken into pieces. I'm frantically grabbing them, pulling them toward me, desperately trying to put them together again. Trying to make them fit together to form a whole. As I meditated on this picture I heard very clearly God say to me "Stop. Stop trying to fix your heart. I can't use you unless it's broken." (yes, I'm already crying as I type this)

Is it easy? No, it hurts. Can I just tell you... it hurts. It is a pain that I hate experiencing, I hate walking through. I hate watching relationships in my life change and people in my life move in and out and look differently. I hate not being able to control what is going to happen. But I know, I know, I know that God uses brokenness as a means to make us aware. He  has opened my eyes to things that I miss. Things like:

-People at church that I never make time to speak to b/c I'm so busy with the people I've been close too. 
- The mother at Wal mart that I saw adding her items in her grocery cart trying to decide if she can afford that gallon of milk.
- The friend on facebook that I see is crying out for attention b/c they are lonely and feels like no one cares but would never admit it out loud.
- That person that has always wanted to be my friend but I never saw them because their quiet spirit was lost around so many others in my life that were so loud.

And these are just things in my immediate life that need a radical encounter with the Jesus that I say I love so much.

God is putting my heart together again. I firmly believe that as He is putting together he is joining the pieces with a true love for His people around me.  Do you know what I've realized? All my friends that I am around on a daily basis are Christians. I don't want that anymore. I love my church, and I love the people that walk this faith life with me. But I can't justify anywhere in the Bible that tells me to cloister myself in a group of people just like me all the live long day. It tells me to love my neighbor. It tells me to love my enemies. It tells me that the very Spirit of God is on me to take good news to the poor and offer freedom for the captives. If our churches are hospitals and we as believers are the caregivers.... where are the sick people. They are laying on the street dying and no one ever sees. I haven't seen. I walk right by them every day. At the grocery store, at Wal-Mart, at the gas station. People are bleeding and dying and I miss it. Oh God I miss it. So while my broken heart is painful- it is bringing out a radical awakening in my life. What is it going to look like as I walk it out? I have no earthly idea. I just know I can't live a grand commitment to religiosity anymore. I must live a life committed to Christ-whatever it looks like, whatever it costs.

So this is a new journey.... I think I've decided to take a jump off that cliff. Here goes nothing. Here is everything. Use me Lord. Just use me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jumping off a cliff.....

It's coming. I feel it. I have visions of the opening sequence of Mary Poppins where the wind blows and the shift happens. I feel it. For weeks I have felt undone... disconnected... I blamed it on different things happening in my life but now I can't. I know this feeling, yet it is different and new. I can already tell that this one is going to cost me. I've been on this slippery slope for a while and I know that I'm close to going over the edge. And there is a scary, very real, possibility I can never come back fromvcliff. A place that is either all in or all out but you can't just hang around and look over the edge. Which I think is where I've been the last three years. I know that this place is going to cost me relationships and people that I hold dear. I'm in the process of counting the cost and honestly don't know if I'm ready but I know that I can't stay where I'm at anymore.

God wants me. He wants all of me. He doesn't want my theology, he doesn't want my pretty life that is ordered with my kids in church and all is well. I think he wants me in the mud, in the water, drowning going GOD I KNOW YOU WILL SAVE ME! He wants me in that place where someone just needs someone to love them and I want it to. I can't stay here. I want to find the homeless man on the street that smells and give him a sandwich and just sit and let him tell me about his family- because he has one. I want to find the homosexual and share a meal and tell him that I love him just the way he is and that there is a Father with a radical love for him. I don't have to change him to love him. I simply have to love him. I want to go to the lady that walks in the sanctuary on Sunday and maybe her dress is a little low cut and maybe she's a little too friendly but I want to welcome her and tell her how glad I am that she's there. I want to find the group of kids that sit in the corner and dare anyone to talk to them. I want to buy them coffee and send it over so they know I get it but that someone is still there when they are ready. I want to move anywhere, sell anything and love anyone that you want me too. Without hesitation. Without the trappings of this life that I have built for myself. God free me from all that holds me and keeps me from being free to follow you. Including myself. My pride, my need for approval, my need for the friends I love. My need for anything that is greater than my need for you. Because I've had all those things and I still have deep empty places in my life. Places I know that only you can fill. Places that I know you have put a destiny and purpose inside of that I haven't even begun to discover or dig up. I want what the world calls RADICAL but you call GRACE. What the world is so busy protecting and hiding you call out in the open to be transparent and honest so that through our brokenness you are revealed because we are just like the world- we just happen to know the Healer.

I'm not sure how to get to this place. I have a feeling it just starts with me hurtling myself over and going all in. Help my Lord to take that step. To be that person. Help to not care when the persecution comes, when no one understands because it's about you. Not me. So here's to jumping off the cliff. I wouldn't dare ask anyone to come with me. Only to know that all are welcome.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

To the kid that called my son the "N" word today......

To the kid that called my son the "N" word in front of me today,

I will admit it. My first thought was to grab you and not in a loving, kind way. More of a jerk a knot in your tail kind of way. Show you that you do not act that way young man and march you to the principal myself. But you took off down the hall in your bright orange shirt for all the world to see and acted like it was nothing to you to belittle and use such a horrific word toward someone.. namely my son. I ruminated on your comment most of the afternoon as I ran from place to place. Lucky for you (and me) I love Jesus and today chose to listen to Him and not my flesh or it might have ended badly in the hallway of Wilbanks Middle School, for both of us.

As I walked with my son from class to class I continued a conversation that I have had every day for the last year. He tells me how bad his school is and I tell him that the world is all searching for Jesus. And then you happened. He looked at me with a "SEE MOM" face that made me want to cry for the lost innocence that happens in middle school when kids make bad decisions and share the discovery of them with everyone they come in contact with. It really is a place of darkness. But you know what? My son is a light in that darkness. I'm a light in that darkness. Anyone who lives with kindness and love for those around them has the ability to be light. We just finished vacation bible school at our church and the theme was SHINE! One of songs was part of the old Sunday school song that said "this little light, this little light, gonna let it shine". Individually our lights may seem small. A candle emits very little light. But in a darkened room, no matter the size even the tiniest light cuts through the darkness and makes a difference. God calls christians to be part of the world, but separate. I think we miss it by separating ourselves but never being a part. We are the salt, the light, we are what God uses to bring about change to those in darkness. We have to be part of the world to do that. I told someone tonight that sometimes we take the high road and place ourselves so high that no one can reach us much less be affected by us. I'm even more convinced that there is far more done in the trenches in the dirt than from the pew on Sunday morning, surrounded by people just like us, who really never challenge us at all. My answer to my son today was simply this. Pray for him. Love him. It's not your job to tell him what he did was wrong. It's your job to be different, respond differently and know that God can use you to change him.

Did you know young man that you make a difference, good or bad to the world around you. I want you to know that you are on my radar. Every time I set foot in the school I'm going to look for you, speak to you, smile at you, offer to buy you popcorn at the football game. I'm going to show you that you matter in an inordinate amount to every one you meet. I pray that at some point during the next year, that you realize that you have a candle in your hand and will allow Christ to light it so that you too will be part of a group of kids that shine light in the darkness that you walk through every day at school.

And thank God that he is stronger than my fleshly responses. I'm going to do that to.


A little light that just wants to Shine

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Camp Meetin' Time

It's Sunday afternoon which is typically homework time for me. However in typical fashion I am watching So You Think You Can Dance and distracted from doing my homework. In an effort to stay distracted I thought oh yes, I should write a blog. So here is my distraction....

Friday night I attended an old fashioned pentecostal campmeeting. If you don't know what that is let me tell you... it usually runs from Friday to Friday at a campground that has been there for about 100 years. Many families have been coming to campmeeting for generations, they stay in cabins on the property and the whole family comes. They eat together, some as families some in groups at the camp meeting dining facility. I had a friend who had a lady that came with them every year to cook for the family in their cabins. It is quite the tradition. Many denominations, including the Methodists and the Congregational Holiness participate in this wonderful part of history.

One thing that all campgrounds have is the tabernacle. This is the place where morning and nightly services are held. Many are still open air with large rafters and open sides to let in the breeze, while some have been enclosed with modern conveniences such as A/C... which is a blessing in the sweltering GA heat.

So back to Friday night. At this particular meeting this family got up to sing- that had been singing at camp meeting for over 50 years, I admit I did an eyeroll. In spite of me loving the history of camp meeting I don't always enjoy the fact that almost 100% of the music is what most would call old fashioned. What I do know however is that God uses the most crazy things to speak to me. As this family was singing their dad, who was so feeble he was being held up by his children, sang with them. He talked about his wife who was at their cabin on the campground but unable to attend service and then began to sing about heaven. Suddenly he stood up straighter, and threw his hands up in the air, cane and all. In that moment... that one beautiful moment I saw my parents in heaven and what it must be like for them.

I don't have the when we all get to heaven gene. When my parents passed away I never understood the whole "you will see them again so have joy" mentality. I would rather see them here. But sitting in that large tabernacle, with tradition so rich you could actually see the old time religion written on the walls and feel the presence of the saints that had been there before, for the first time I felt at peace and unbelievably happy at the joy they must have at being in the presence of Jesus.

I'll be going back to camp meeting this week. I want to sit in the place where thousands have been saved through out the years and where they sing about heaven and the place where we will all meet Jesus. I think it's good for the soul.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hello young man.....

Jeremy and I are blessed to be surrounded by friends and family that have little children- little meaning under the age of 7. We love playing with them and being a part of their lives. My sister in law has 5 kids that range in age from 7months to 8. We spent our July 4th weekend with them at my mother in laws house and they are fun and rowdy and we love them to no end! I fed my sweet niece banana pudding until I thought she would pop and she still wanted more. The older ones loved to hang and play on top of my boys and it was a wonderful time. One the way home, my boys laughed and talked about all the cute things they did and how sweet they are. One of the blessings of having the oldest grandchildren is that my kids love babies and little kids because they have been constantly surrounded by them with our family. Seeing all these different ages together has brought a few things to mind.....

......I love knowing my kids as young men- I miss the babies and the cuteness and all the joy and wonder that comes with being little kids. There is nothing like a baby snuggle or the sweet two year old that is learning to talk and everything they say is exciting and funny. Equally as wonderful is having deep conversations about God with your 15 year old or discussing politics with your 12 yr old. (Politics aren't quite as wonderful to discuss especially with my black/white thinking kid)

.......I'm excited to see the relationship that I have with my boys as adults. I'm looking forward to the next phase of life, especially with my oldest. I'm not a fan of middle school. Like I'm a fan of taking them on the last day of 5th grade and locking them away until the first day of high school. Middle school parenting is nothing to play with. Nothing about it is easy. In fact... it is harder than the the worst colicky, throwing up, diarrhea baby combined. But something happens the summer between. I don't know if there is a switch that goes... ok... high school... turn it on. There is a maturity that comes, an awareness. Don't get me wrong... they are still teenagers, mouthy, selfish and they know everything. But they are also kind and aware of how they treat others. They are learning to be adults. Learning to be responsible. The more my relationship changes with my kids the more I realize that the fast changing parenting that happens over the first 18 years leaves you with the friendship you get to have with your children as adults for 30, 40, 50 years. I can't wait for that. Not to rush the moment and stages we are in at the moment, but to look forward to being able to just sit and enjoy being with them.

I love little kids. I love holding them and playing with them. But I think my favorite age is exactly where I am now.... watching my boys become men... godly men... responsible men... men with character and integrity. Men who will make a difference in this world. Leaders.... not followers. Watching them navigate through this age is difficult, but seeing the beginnings of the fruit that is being produced makes it so worth it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Changes from the Enemy

Tonight I sat in a room full of teenagers and was so undone I almost could not contain myself. I desperately needed a corner to just sit and cry. This morning, we received word through one of our teens that the local high school was on lockdown, there was a suicide attempt by a student and SWAT had been called in. Fortunately I am able to get information from a reputable source and was able to follow what was happening. However, there are no words to describe the true fear that I felt for our church teenagers that were in that school and the intense need I had to pick up my kids from their respective schools and hold them tightly. We see shootings on the news and it's true, you never think it will happen where you live. But this school is 20 min from us, we are rivals in ball and like I said we have students in that school that go to our church. I sat at my desk most of the morning looking for news but mostly following the posts of one of our teens that was on lockdown in the school. I was floored and amazed at the things he wrote.....

........God is in control white county, do not fear. Just pray and praise God. He's working with someone who has a spirit of suicide. God's spirit is telling me this and no reason to fear death anyway, Jesus made a way for no death. Life is here.

.........Today was interesting at WCHS. ALL DAY, I've felt God's presence here. Getting more confirmations than I could keep up with, spiritual breakthrough, saved another life, and giving me signs all over that this world needs Him. I know my God is real, I have so much proof, and I'm just amazed at what God is doing right now. White county, I told you God is coming, be ready, that's part of the spiritual storm, there may be more unless you start shining, I'm telling y'all, be ready, today's safety is all because God came and answered prayers. Time is almost up, but it's not too late to accept God, He accepts you just as you are. All you have to do is ask.

I will be honest... these are not the initial thoughts that I had as this scene was unfolding. I felt fear, I felt unsafe, I felt worry, I felt sick. I honestly can not say that I felt God's presence- however I most certainly spent my morning seeking Him and pleading for protection over those involved. 

However, tonight I have such a totally different view. You see I know at the root of all that has happened there is a very real enemy at work in the lives of our teens. From the young lady that was ready to end her life to all the students huddled in the classrooms, the enemies goal is to strike fear and convince them that their life has no purpose and no hope. He almost succeeded today. His goal is to change them and pull them from the path they are on to another path altogether. This he succeeded with today. However, I don't think he got the results he wanted. You see in that dimly lit sanctuary tonight, I saw teenagers praying for that young lady. I saw boldness to speak truth and hearts to seek God. The enemy changed their path all right. He lit up with fireworks that God is the ONLY answer to their questions. The God has the ONLY plan that will work for them. The God is the ONLY thing they need. 

So undone, I sat, with tears streaming down my face and pride at our students for who they are changing into and growing into and becoming. For their hearts that are going after God and seeking Him with all they have. The enemy had a plan this morning to change the lives of these students forever. He succeeded and I am so glad he did. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

In Christ Alone

I'm sitting in my quiet house while my family sleeps listening to Kristian Stanfill's "In Christ Alone".  My favorite part of that song is in the third verse where it states "no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand". Every time I hear that line I have a part of my soul, deep down in the farthest corners that screams... yes... please be true. I know that God's plan for my life is certain and secure, I just feel I have walked so long not knowing, seeing or really understanding where it was taking me that even on the right road I have felt lost. Even in the place I know where I'm supposed to be, I have found myself questioning my own sureness. For weeks I have been having a dream about my kitchen being unorganized. In the dream I am standing in front of my cabinets looking at a mess. I try to bring order to the chaos and can never get it to work. I stand there frustrated and overwhelmed. I haven't even realized the implications of this dream until Thursday night. You see I got a phone call last week and interviewed for a job doing marketing and bookkeeping for a local cabin rental company. As I talked to the lady about what all she needed I was so excited about being able to help her a couple days a week. At the same time this week I have finally gotten some clear direction from God about what I feel called to do with my life and in ministry. After sitting with my pastor and wife to get some clarity and a starting point, I have spent every spare moment all week working on writing some plans and putting some stuff down that I need to move forward. So back to Thursday night....I woke up Friday and before I even opened my eyes I had such an awareness of God's presence in my life. I dreamed Thursday night that I was standing in my kitchen and every shelf, every drawer, every can of food was in place, organized, sorted. Nothing was out of place. There was order where there had been none. I wasn't the one that organized it either. It was just done. As I meditated on the meaning (ok, come on... sometimes you have to really pray for God to show you the meaning of a dream, sometimes it's like Duh!) Anyway... as I meditated God showed me this. The kitchen refers to your heart... it's the heart of the home where all sustanence comes from. Our heart is our intent, motives, plans, passion, ambitions... our true desires that are placed there by God. For two years my life has felt chaotic. I have done everything I could to tame it. I lost my dream job 2 yrs ago and never thought that I would ever be happy in another job again. I literally felt like a scheme of man had robbed me from His plan. I've put very strict boundaries on relationships in my life. I don't give my presence to people who use me or hurt me. I live in a bubble and protect my heart from those who walk on it without regard. I've brought order to my life in all the ways I know how, yet I still had chaos. Yet, suddenly in the one moment, there is order. And the order is coming from His divine plan, not from anything that I could ever fathom or put together. He has brought order where there has been none. He has pushed me into the place that I needed to be. I haven't always gone willingly. In fact I have rarely gone willingly anywhere He has wanted to take me recently. But oh my goodness.... what's coming is so much more than I could ever imagine. I'm going to get to do what I love. I get to be creative. I get to imagine and dream and do all those deep things in my heart. I get to solve problems and make a plan. I get to do exactly what I was created to do..... and no power in hell.... no scheme of man can pluck me from His hand!