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

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.