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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

40 Candles

Today is my 40th birthday. A milestone birthday for sure. I haven't dreaded it like I thought I would. Honestly, after the trauma of turning 26, and leaving what I felt was "young adulthood" I may be immune to the getting older dread. (except for when I turned 30 and my little Andrew kept telling me I was "dirty" because he couldn't make his "th" sound) As I look at this day and all it holds I have several thoughts in my mind that I wanted to share.

40 is the new 20
They say 40 is the new 20. Well, I say hurrah and they can keep their actual 20's because I wouldn't go back to being 20 for all the money in the world. While I would love to have back the firm skin, no wrinkles and thick hair, I am happy with what I know at 40 that I didn't even know about when I was 20. Life is a great teacher and if you listen and learn you get to live your life very differently as you get older. You learn to appreciate things that you take for granted- like the fleeting moments of a little baby, the value of friendship and not peeing on yourself when you cough.

No Rules
The older I get, the less rules I feel I have to live by. Quickly fleeing are the days of worrying about what so and so thinks or if I do this will I offend them. I love who I am, I have fought for the healing in my heart and I have finally reached the place where I'm ok if others don't see it. I've learned that the same grace I have demanded people give me for my mistakes must be freely given by me to them as well. When you walk in a place where you realize love shouldn't be based on whether I agree with you politically, or how you parent or what you believe in faith wise, suddenly the world opens up so much bigger with so many more opportunities for relationship. It allows connections to be made that otherwise wouldn't have happened, allowing for a much richer life with more to see and comprehend. It grows you. It makes you a better person. It also makes you less annoying to the people around you because really no one cares about your opinion. They care how much you love them and if you love them well, they will value your opinion.

I've learned that some dreams never come true and that when you can finally realize that, God opens your heart to dreams you never even imagined. People always say dream big but really the biggest that we as people can dream can't even touch the hugeness of a God that has a plan for us. I've watched dreams die. I've had heartache and tears as I said goodbye to things that I thought I would have forever. I've walked with fear and uncertainty down dark hallways looking for light, or even just an ember to spark so I could believe again. I'm learning that you have to walk out believing He is a good good Father with a great great plan and eventually the door will crack, a light will shine and suddenly once again you stand in the light with bigger dreams unfolding before you.

Life and Kids
My husband and I are both turning 40 this month and we are truly in this middle season of life. In the next 5 years both of our kids will be done with school and we will be moving into a totally different season.  I have heard friends share of their struggle as their kids get older and get ready to leave the nest. While I mourn the loss of childhood with my babies, I rejoice in the new season. A season where I'm not their boss. I get to love them and watch them live out all those things I pray they have planted in their hearts. I get to see them LIVE their lives- live their dreams and be who we have been raising them to be. I also get to be Jeremy's wife. We are very young with hopefully lots of years left. We will spend them together, laughing and making music and doing the things we have always done. I'm excited about this time with him. We get to have grandkids and spoil them and send them home. We get to eat out for less than $50. Can I get an amen! Life is just getting sweet and I can't wait to see what is around the corner.

Here's to turning 40 and all that the future holds! Happy Birthday to me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dear Future Daughter in Law

I was inspired this week by a post from my friend Julie Presley. She wrote an amazing blog to her future daughter in law and it inspired me. What would I want my son's future wife to know about herself, us, him and our family. As someone who is on the cusp of having a grown child and another quickly coming up behind him I often have thoughts of the future. I'm thinking about the kid in my house who can't remember to pick up his clothes living somewhere other than my home, or being responsible for another person. It's crazy. It's out of my control and it terrifies me. So here are my thoughts to my future daughter-in-law:

Dear Daughter,

I prefer not to use the words in-law because once you marry my son you become part of this family. You aren't an attachment or a branch, you are grafted in and part of the tree that is us. You are part of my son and because he loves you and chose you,  I also choose you. I will be for you and always treat you like one of mine, because that's what this becoming one thing is all about. You won't ever have to worry about what I say about you because it will be good, uplifting, and loving. I want you to know that I am here for you and my goal is to hold up you and my son knowing that God has a great plan and I don't have all the answers. Fair warning though, I do have an opinion but I pray that I can always give it in love and you don't have to do it, just know that at the end of every circumstance we will always be here for you. I have prayed for you over the years.  Not every day or part of some great plan, but in moments where I see my son with a joyful smile on his face or after a day where I just wonder what the future will be, I think about you and I pray that you know how loved and welcomed you will be in our family. That you are safe and cared about. That wherever you are, God is moving in your life and protecting you from all the wounds the world can inflict. I pray for you when my son tells me he feels called into the ministry to be an evangelist and I know what a challenging life that is to trust 100% on God's provision and that he has the faith for that. I pray that God is preparing you for what that looks like and lets you know that at the end of a hard week you have a safe place to land always at our home. I pray for your heart. That is is cherished by not only my son, but by everyone in your life now because it's now that writes a path for how you live and love later. So protect your heart. Surround yourself with people who hold it gently. But don't hide from pain, because it is in the pain that you find the deepest part of the heart of God and experience His great love for you. I pray that you are brave. That you find strength and courage to stand up and be who God has called you to be. That even through the struggle you see the value in pushing through. Brave people change the world. Brave people raise brave kids (to quote Jen Hatmaker) so be brave. Be strong. Be courageous. I pray that you are, well, YOU. That you don't sacrifice who you are to meet some standard that the world is looking for. Be real- by being real and being you- you will see more and experience more and you will attract real people. Real people can be offsetting in a world that is built on the fake. Fake profiles, fake pictures, fake happiness. Be you. Feel the sadness, feel the struggle, feel the joy, feel the fullness of everything life has to offer because one day you will have a child and they need to know what it means to be real so they aren't caught in the cycle of fake that so many in this world are. Finally, I feel like owe you an apology. I've tried. They put the toilet seat down but it doesn't always look clean in there. I really did try. But they can do their laundry and they will respect you. In fact, they will honor you and hold you in high regard so in the end you really did get a winner.  Plus their dad can fix anything so that get's the parents points as well.

Be Brave. Be Real. Be You.

Your future Mom

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hell in the Hallways

When I was a kid I was scared of the dark. In fact, I slept with a nightlight till I got married and then made my husband let me get in the bed before he turned the light off. I was 26 before I would even walk across a dark room. I was reading an article about being fearful and decided that I was no longer going to live scared of the dark. While I may not choose to go in a super dark place, I can turn the light out and walk through my house with no fear (except for stepping on a lego or a baseball). What scared me the most about the darkness was not being able to see what was around me. A room, that I lived in and knew everything about was suddenly filled with the boogey man when the lights went out. This past weekend I went on a women's retreat with my church and God gave me such a GREAT example of this in my life. At 3am I got up to go to the bathroom. As I was in there, suddenly, there was a loud bump on the door. I literally almost jumped off the toilet. I said hello? Kinda quietly because I didn't want to alarm the ladies in the room sleeping. I sat there listening and my mind began REALLY going into overdrive. This was the thought process:

Someone is hiding the closet to kill us when we are sleeping.
I need to hide. Where do you hide in a hotel bathroom?
Ok this is crazy.
Walk by closet but don't look cause you don't make eye contact with the boogey man.
Walk slowly, not making any sound.
Get to window and think they are in the curtains hiding
Don't look in the curtains because everyone knows it's when you look for the boogey man that they get you.
Debate whether to go back to bed

SUDDENLY A VOICE SPEAKS! It was one of my roommates who had gotten up to go to the bathroom and ran into the door. Ah, that makes so much more sense than the boogey man being in our room.  I am not at all dramatic. Not at all.

So what does all this mean? Well nothing really other than maybe we should have left a light on and I need to get a grip. Until I go to service the next morning and someone prays over me and says this statement: it's hell in the hallways.

Darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light. Darkness is not even real. It's the ABSENCE of something. But when you are surrounded by it and see nothing, it is very convincing that it is real. For a very long time, I've been in a hallway with no doors and no windows. It's been dark. It's been hard. I've been bound and scared and unable to move. I've simply existed by standing in one place. I've coped by pulling the covers over my head and just praying that someone would turn the light on. I've tried the fake it till you make it until my faker said look it's not making and we need a break. Thursday morning on the way to leave for the weekend I told my husband- I just feel so purposeless. I feel so lost and I can't find myself. I am so bound with these feelings and don't know how to get free.

This weekend- I. Got. Free.

Hell is in the hallways. Waiting sucks. Not knowing sucks. Wondering what's next and not seeing a path S-U-C-K-S. BUT.......

I said BUT..... God. That person that created me, loves me, and knows ME. He knows where all the doors are. See, I don't have to know where the doors lead, I just need to know they are there. I don't have to see everything around me, I just need to know that the boogey man isn't there. And all the shades are up and the lights are on and there is an entire hallway of doors- I'm just waiting for mine to open.

Are you in the hallway? Are you hiding under the covers? Let me tell you something- there is a door there I PROMISE! You know how I know? 

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 MSG 

My favorite part of this is where it says if we don't know- IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!! He does it for us. Every sigh, every cry HE KNOWS! He knows all of it and has worked out the details of your life. Just hang on and don't give up. There is a door. He knows where it is and I promise it will open. Just wait.... SUDDENLY HIS VOICE WILL SPEAK! You will have the answers, you will see a path and the lights will shine brightly!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Step out of your comfort zone where the water is fine....

I shared something this week with 598 women that I've never met. What I shared was a confession of something I struggled with for years and that no one, outside of my husband, knew about me. Something that I've never shared in years of womens meetings, teaching classes, writing or any other avenue. What made me share this tidbit of my life? I have no earthly idea.

One week ago I joined a group on facebook of women that weren't chosen to review Jen Hatmakers new book- For the Love (that is coming out in August so PRE-ORDER NOW!) This group has monopolized my life for the last week. In a short amount of time we have shared secrets, fears, worries, illnesses- all in the most grace filled cocoon I have ever seen in my life. My husband, ever the skeptic, said well it will be nice while everyone's on their best behavior, but eventually the humanness will seep in. That may be true except that this is the most raw, human place I've ever seen in my life. Maybe it's the anonimity of social media that makes it easy- except that I know so much about them and we all have each others numbers. Maybe it's  just people putting their best foot forward- cause you know we are all Christians- except that we aren't. It is the most ecclectic group of people, some who haven't been to church in years. These are the most broken, humble women that I have ever met. They have shared some of the most heart breaking, devastating parts of their lives only to face- LOVE. It's beautiful. It's safe. It's what the church is supposed to be. This group has shown me in for real, in your face, what love looks like. I feel so close to these strangers that have knitted together inside a little piece of my heart. Why is it that hundreds of women would just literally cut themselves open and throw their hearts out on a table? What is missing that is so foundational in our lives that we would do it with 598 complete strangers? I'll tell you what it is. It's because the church can only handle so much crap and people are desperate for truth. People sit on pews week in and week out without ever seeing any real change becuase they aren't real with themselves, much less real with each other. They hear you are loved in most worship music and it's usually preached from the pulpit, yet they sit in groups and listen to women just cut to smiterhined anyone who dares to step out of the box. They dare to speak up that they see something different and suddenly people walk by them and don't speak to them at all. We wonder why people aren't flocking to our churches but we have yet to come up with attendance requirements that we can all agree on, much less that someone can actually meet. I had someone tell me just this week they didn't come to church because they woke up late and knew how bad people talked about people coming in late. I wanted to find every person that ever said that and hit them with an alarm clock in the face. Do you hear that... SOMEONE STAYED HOME FROM CHURCH B/C YOU CARED WHAT TIME THEY GOT THERE- NOT THAT THEY GOT THERE.  We have a problem. Don't get me wrong, I love my church. I have pastors whose hearts are pushed toward those who need the body and I will shout from the mountaintops that I'm in a place that has a heart to get it right. We need our church. We all need church. But we need church they way that God designed church. God's plan was for the body to be His living hands and feet to all who need Him.

My (new) friend Renee wrote this blog here. (you must read it- it's fabulous) and as I read I was just crying and cheering and going yes yes yes! I decided something after reading it. I want to be brave. You see, I fall into the category of people who ache to be different. I think church happens more in every day life than it ever happens in a building. I serve in my church on the platform so people see me and they have an opinion on everything I do or don't do. Or say. or don't say.  But you know what this new group of friends are teaching me? That I have so many people that feel the way that I feel. I'm not alone. That there is a whole culture of people that feel the same rumblings and stirrings yet I care way to much about the people who are so concerned for me yet don't love me enough to really be in true relationship. So that's it. I'm done. I'm going to be who God called me to be. You know what that looks like? Well let me tell you..........

I'm not perfect, but I am fiercely loyal. I will love you until the day I die, even if you hurt me and break my heart. God gave me a big heart because HE has a big heart. I want to love the people that no one else loves. The homosexuals, the drunks, the addicts. I don't care. I believe that if the church really thought homosexuals needed Jesus so bad then they would invite them to come. I'm going to invite them. I'm going to love them, and hug them and sit next to them and know that, like me, they struggle with so much and need the radical love of Jesus. I get angry and may cuss sometimes. Jesus is working on that in me. I'm a lot better than I used to be, but not where I want to be. I actually said BS in front of my pastor a few months ago and you know what- he didn't faint and the world didn't stop. I apologized, he nodded and we moved on. I love Jesus in a fierce way and desire Him in ways that scare me. I crave the ability to just sit and let him speak to me. I want a relationship with him that compels me to be different. I just want to love people where they are knowing that Christ is the only thing that will move them, but if I love them enough they will listen when I tell them that. Most importantly, I want to be a safe place that anyone who struggles knows they can tell me and not face criticism, a list of rules or judgement. I want to be a safe place where Jesus surrounds them and his love heals them. I want the Holy Spirit to move in my life so much it scares me. That white hot holy flame that people don't understand but when it hits you it changes you forever and ever. I want it all- everything in the Bible that is promised to us- people healed, raised from the dead, lives changed forever and ever.

I will never be all these things living scared of the few people that have a problem with it. I have found my tribe. It's a beautiful, scary, wonderful thing. It's pushing me out of my comfort zones and you know what... the water is fine.........

Friday, March 20, 2015

Anna LeBaron Davenport: Jen Hatmaker Knows Who I Am!!! (sort of)

Anna LeBaron Davenport: Jen Hatmaker Knows Who I Am!!! (sort of)

The #4500 AKA Why I've done nothing for 3 solid days

This has been a crazy wonderful week. I've been super busy and obsessed with a group of ladies that I've met through the launch of Jen Hatmaker's new book "For the Love" which releases in August. Even though I wasn't joining the official launch team I became part of the unofficial group who has just been rolled into a big ole love fest for this amazing book. Ladies, I might have a problem. Let me tell you how my night went:

My husband and I went on a date tonight. It was fabulous. We went to dinner and it was quiet- no one argued, or asked me unending questions, or ate off my plate. Pure Bliss. Afterwards, the hubby wanted to go to books-a-million and walk around. I said "Sure" and off we went. We walked in the store and he bought some books and we came home. It was a great, wonderful night and all our love tanks were filled with conversations and kisses and I love you and I miss you when we don't get to do this. Amen.

Now, let me fill in what happened in between these wonderful moments.

Get at restaurant- check in and then check my #the4500 page for new comments b/c these women are cray cray up in here.

Husband walks in.... put phone down.

Husband looks at menu- look at phone in the corner of the booth where he can't see

We head to our table and start talking about vacation- he says google so and so---- I look at #the4500 page and go gosh it's going slow, give me a minute.

The waitress takes our order and the food begins to come---- "Honey, there's a couple of good places, let me see what they have available" (OH MY GOSH, that is the funniest pictures- I can't believe she posted that- hysterical"

Head to the bathroom before we leave- blessed alone time to read for a few minutes what everyone is saying now.....

Get in the car and plug my phone in "In case the kids need us and try to call, honey" (If my phone dies what will I do!! I will miss real time posting with my new best friends forever)

Get in Bookstore- Husband says I'm going over here. I'm all take your time I'm going to look over here. Find chair in the farthest corner and look at my phone. Type responses as quickly as possible because I have 1% battery life and Gosh Darnit this is important!!!!!!!!

Whew. That was the most stressful, I mean wonderful night ever.

Jen Hatmaker- New Book- For The Love - Fighting For Grace in a World of Impossible Standards", which is set for release on Aug 18, 2015. PRE-ORDER NOW at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other retailers! Order one for a friend because you will need someone to share it with I promise!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Controlled Burn

I've been very weepy this week for some reason. Sometimes it is part of being a woman. Sometimes it's because I'm tired and don't get enough sleep. But sometimes, it's because God just has a fire poker straight at my heart and I can't get away from it. It was in the weepy place that found myself Sunday night pulling up youtube baptism services from the Brownsville Revival. My husband and I lived in Pensacola for a year during the Brownsville Revival. We watched thousands- truly thousands come to know Jesus in a very real way. We saw the alters flood at the end of every service. On Friday nights we watched dozens of people baptized and share about their deliverance from drugs and alcohol. Murderers, religious people, people from every walk of life, young and old. People who had worshipped Buddha throwing them away because of the power of the true and living God. It was something to behold. I found myself watching this on Sunday night and weeping as I listened to testimony after testimony. The kid who had written out a plan to murder his parents, while his mom prayed for him every night. Each story more powerful than the last. As I watched this I asked myself, God, do I still have the fire in my heart that I did back then?  I feel so different then I did back then. My prayers are different. I see people differently. In 1996 when we sold out, I remember that I looked on the world knowing that they needed Jesus, but I didn't see people. I prayed for souls, but I didn't see their faces. I didn't watch TV, or listen to anything but church music. I didn't associate with anyone that didn't love Jesus as much as I did. Did I really reflect the heart of God? Was I really as on fire for him as I thought? Fast forward almost 20 years. Add in life- children, marriage, heartbreak, brokenness, sin, passivity, death, grief, mourning. Add in that huge doses of humanity and humility. Tonight as I sit and ponder this path I see my own growth, my own setbacks, my own faults and I see one thing very clearly. The fire of God in my life is going to grow in many different ways. I had a huge fire for God back then but it was all heat. All it did was burn everyone I touched. No one was holy enough or righteous enough. The standards I held myself to and everyone else around me surrounded and burned at the stake all the people in my life. That type of fire destroys people and ruins relationship. Passionate, yes- but also destructive. Today, my fire burns a little differently. I want it to be hot- but white hot. I want people to see a flame that flickers and calls people to come close to the heart of the one who tends it. I have learned that my expectation of others has to be nothing. They owe me nothing. They don't have to live their lives to my belief system. My responsibility is to allow God to fan the flame in my heart- as I seek Him, call on Him and trust Him, He grows the fire into the direction that it is supposed to be. A controlled burn, that only burns away what doesn't belong and let me tell you- People are not supposed to be collateral damage of our passion for Jesus. Now I pray for faces- people with a name and a need. I love to watch Blacklist with my husband and Happy by Pharrell is my favorite song and my flame still burns. My heart still breaks for the people who need Him, but in a very real, in the dirt, mud on my knees sort of way.  I heard a song by Sanctus Real a couple of weeks ago that started this thought process. I've put the link below and would love to share it with you. The chorus says You were on fire and church was more than a place and people were more than faces and Jesus was more than a name. It's personal. It's so personal. It's you. It's me. It's Jesus. Light my fire again Lord. I want to hold God's people close and feel the power of Jesus' name. Amen.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A side of desperation

It has been a heart wrenching night in my small community. A man-a father, a husband, killed his wife and as the night continued his life ended as well. Things like these are difficult and heart breaking to watch. They are also a part of life I wish I could shield my kids from, but know that I can't. The world is an ugly place. It's filled with people who are struggling and hurting. This morning as I took my son to school, he kept asking question after question, questions that I didn't have the answer for- that no one has the answer for. As we approached the school I finally landed on this statement- Son, people are desperate and desperation can lead you down a path with disastrous results. 

Psalms 13:12 says this:
                           Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I love the message translation which says:
                          Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can 
                           make you turn your life around. 

Life is hard. Married, single, kids, career it's all hard for everybody. Throw in broken hearts, hurt feelings, and cover it with a mess of suffering and it's a wonder any of us get out of bed and walk upright. The unrelenting dissapointment of this world leaves us heartsick. It robs us of our joy and our peace and keeps us captive. But a good break turns it around. What is a good break? It's that friend calling just to say hi. Coffee Fridays at Starbucks with your girlfriends that turns into lunch.It's your people, your tribe that you know loves you and is there for you when you can't be there for yourself. It's a church family that misses you when you aren't there. It's that one friend that calls you out when you are being overly dramatic or just tells you when you are being a butt. Because, let's be real we can all be that way. Two weeks ago in church our alters were filled with people crying, desperate for a move of God in their lives. Desperate enough to come forward, to surrender everything and to seek Him. Their desperation led them to a different place. It makes me realize how important we are to each other. We need each other. People need to KNOW they aren't alone. The worst days that I have are the ones where the enemy convinces me that I'm alone. We are never alone. God is always with us. He loves us, desperately loves us. And He gave us people to surround us and hold us when we are broken and to be a safe place for us when we are desperate. People that are the hands and feet of Jesus. 

It's a broken world. But if you love Jesus you have the glue. Find someone today and just love them. Reach out to them. Go through your phone and find that friend, maybe it's the one that always needs you, so you don't always answer when they call. Be there. Life is fleeting and your friendship may be the one thing that helps them stay the path.  You may be all they have. Share your heart with them. Share Jesus with them. Be desperate enough FOR them to know that your answer may be the difference to them. Your desperation for Christ, the realization that He is what they need could save their life.