Radical Obedience

In bible study this week, we learned that Jesus did nothing except in direct obedience to the Father and that he obeyed immediately.  And in church we are learning about, “Being Jesus”.

It made me think, what if I tried this for one day?  Like for one day I was 100% obedient to the Father in every moment?  What if I really, fully tried to be Jesus for one whole day, in ONE aspect of my life: obedience.  I tried it yesterday for only half a day and discovered something very precious.

It’s not about me.

What?  I figured I knew that already because I’ve heard it a thousand times, and just heard it in a sermon but apparently it’s never fully sunk in because I still find myself constantly fighting for my own way, “dying to myself” but sighing a looong pitiful self-indulgent sigh as I do it.

James 4

Submit Yourselves to God

“4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Here’s the challenge I put out to my bible study group and now to you too if you like: to be like Jesus for one day.

He did nothing except in direct obedience to the Father.

He obeyed immediately.

He obeyed fully.

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)

Two girls in my study totally took me up on it.  We are all going to pick one day next week and try it, then report back.

Here are the results from my half day:  Right away, God gave me the insight that it’s not about me and it wasn’t in the crappy feeling type of way, it was in the everything sits right now kind of way.  We were designed to be obedient to God.  As soon as I got in line with that mentality, snap did I feel better – that sounds absolutely the opposite of what you’d think, but I’m telling you I was happy – like way happy.  I was content.

It’s kinda like this picture of my oldest daughter.  When we trust God fully, when we give him 100% obedience, we let go of the tight grip we have on control, he can then toss us up in the air and when we keep our eyes on him the whole time, it’s totally fun – we’re not afraid of getting dropped, we know he will catch us every time, leaving us to yell, “more!  again!”  Our act of total obedience displays full trust in the Father.

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photo credit: Danny Montemayor Photography

But we have to let go of control for him to give us a good toss.

As soon as I decided it wasn’t about me, not much bothered me (and I have three little kids guys, they can do A LOT to bother a person;-)

Later, when Davin and I went on a date, my focus wasn’t about getting what I needed (talking time, connection) it was on, “Okay, God, you know my needs, I trust you to meet them in whatever form you like.”  Whaaat?  I was again so chill.  I think it might have been one of my favorite dates ever because I wasn’t trying to get what I needed out of it.  Later that night, we went to look at cars and the car guy had met Davin the week prior.  We all started talking and right away he starts sharing about his life and since I was so chill (trusting my Father) it didn’t bother me that it was a “date-night” and I normally wouldn’t want to be interrupted with other peoples lives, I instead enjoyed it.  He ends up sharing that he was raised Jewish and his wife a Unitarian, but that because we were cool people and really chill, and he wanted to know what church we went to, he was interested.  This guy was so rad!  We of course raved about our church and the teaching and community and gave him the website and maybe he and his wife will come with us on a Saturday.  How stoked was I after that?  So stoked!

So, that was a half a day.  I am going to strive towards this awesome feeling of, “it’s not about me” this whole week.  I am guessing I’ll screw it up somewhere, but hopefully, because of Christ in me, the hope of glory, I’ll get right back to it.  I seriously hope this insight and mentality stick with me, this is who I want to be.  I like being like Jesus.

So, maybe you’ll try it?  An entire day of obedience could look like almost anything: forgiving someone who’s wronged you, not holding a grudge, saying, “after you” in line, stopping your day to help a stranger, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile – only God really knows what your day might look like, but I can assure you from experience, it is WAY more fun to live in 100% obedience than 50% or even 20%.

God is not a half way God, and neither is obedience.

Good luck and I can’t wait to hear about the cool things happen when you try it out.

Let’s do this guys!!!

As always, thanks for reading.

God’s in your box

A while back, I started to read C.S. Lewis’ book, The Problem with Pain.  But at the time, I wasn’t IN much pain, so I lost interest and moved on.  The other day I was wishing I had read it.

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This last week, I was in a great deal of pain.  I had a four-day migraine.  It came and went, and was super bad at the beginning.  Like puke-in-the-sink my-head-might-explode bad.

All I could think of at first was, “whhhhy?”

“Why God, would you allow this to happen?  I thought I was healed?  I really was!  I’m so disappointed!”

Also, I just told like the whole internet that you healed me, soooo, that’s pretty awkward.  What am I suppos-to say?

Not like God is ruled by what goes onto the internet, that’s for sure, but I felt kinda crappy about the fact that I just finally announced my big healing news and was super stoked, and then I came back from a church retreat and I got a few headaches that week, and then one very enormous migraine the following week.

As my toddler would say, “supa lame.”

Here is what I do know, and why I am actually sharing this.  Because my life trails are not all that important in your world, however, some of the stuff I learn during them has been life changing for me, so I want to share.

On Tuesday, after I got over my pity party, I took some ibuprofen and thanked Jesus that he helped people invent medicine to make me feel slightly better when I’m sick. I then ate, and took a nap and threw away any guilt I was feeling that I wasn’t healed, or didn’t trust God enough to heal me and not take medicine.  I was able to go out to dinner that night with some friends, and felt mostly fine.

I woke up the next morning, at like 3:30 am, feeling nauseous and back in pain.

After praying for awhile for other stuff, I finally got the nerve to ask God what was up.  And although he didn’t answer me why I had to go through the pain I was going through, he did tell me the following.  It has changed how I see Jesus completely.

He showed it to me in a word picture, as he almost always does when he speaks to me outside of the bible or a sermon or whatever.

Here is the word picture followed by what I felt like was insight he gave me:

I am in like basically the visual of outer space, it’s black.  There is a clear very large box.  I am inside this box and it is able to seal completely, so nothing can get into it unless it is opened.  I can’t open it.  In the box, along with myself is what I call sunlight dust particles, the dust you see in the air when the sunlight hits it right.  In this word picture, they are pain particles.  Small particles, that God the Father allowed into my box, and is allowing me to feel.  He is outside of my box.  He said that he knows every single one, he knows the number, the size the weight of them all.  He didn’t let one more speck into my box than necessary.  He said he knows my pain better than I do, he can see it from top from bottom, from inside and out, every angle.  In moments where I forget my pain, he still is aware of it.  So I’m like, okay, but why?  I hate this box.

Then, I see Jesus in my box.

He feels everything I feel.  He feels the same exact pain I feel.  We feel it together. He allows himself to feel the same pain, every ounce, every nanosecond of it, so that he is always acutely aware of what I am feeling.  Even if I forget for a moment, he is always aware of it.

I have never thought of this before.  I always thought when the bible says, “he was a man of many sorrows, he was a man of great pain” it was just talking about his physical life on earth, which was indeed full of pain and sorrow.  I always thought he could relate to our pain, like, “yeah, there was this one time that one of my best friends totally betrayed me to death in front of all my bros, it was super lame, I got arrested and beat up so I TOTALLY know how you feel when you say that you can’t believe so-and-so tweeted blah, blah, blah about you and now everyone’s hatin’, I get it.”  And sometimes I’d think, How DO you know what those little kids being trafficked actually feel like, you were never actually trafficked as a kid.

Whelp.

What this word picture was showing me, was that no, Jesus actually allows himself to feel my very exact pain.  Now whether he really does or not, I do not know, this was a word picture to teach me something about how God works and who his son is.  However, I am inclined to believe that this is an actual truth.

If my littlest one had to experience something painful to make her well, and it was in my ability to feel it to, I would.  I would want to know exactly what it felt like, so I would know how to help her, how to console her, and give her the understanding that she was not alone, that truly, we were going through it together.  Any loving parent would do this if they could.

When Jesus says he walks with us through our trails, I don’t think he is just walking alongside us in ease, although he is God, it seems more like he allows himself to experience the very thing we experience, however painful, however sad, however deep and cutting to our soul.

In this word picture, he and I were head to head, and all I could do was put my head next to his.  At least we were together in this pain, I was not alone.  It seemed the more I focused on him, the less painful it became, he was almost a distraction from the pain, and then just like that the box was gone, and we were out of it together.

Here is what I have learned so far, and it’s really early, but it’s what he is showing me.

Jesus knows my pain, because he goes through my pain alongside me, with me. He’s not drinking a slurpee while I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, just holding my hand.  No, he’s walking alongside me, knowing my great suffering, we are suffering together.  He is choosing to put aside any luxuries he is given and rights as God and walks alongside me through everything.

When I pray, and I ask for God the Father to take away the pain, he sees his own son, Jesus bearing that pain as well, and his heart is moved to action.

Also, when I looked back at that box, I could see that there were times I’d sit in the corner of it and scream.  Totally unaware of Jesus’ presence.  I bang the box with my fists hard.  I cry and fight and yell at God, believing all the while that he is outside of my box feeling nothing.

Whether we want to recognize him or not, Jesus is still in our box.  He’s always been in our box, it’s just that so many of us fail to look up and see him there.  We are too busy looking at God the Father outside of our box and getting angry and feeling betrayed, doubting his goodness.  But he didn’t have to send his son.

It also seems Jesus the only way out of that box.

If God allows suffering to bring us closer to Jesus, than this would be true.  As we draw near to him, the one who knows our great pain, we can find ourselves rescued and delivered.  And, although he may not ever take away all the pain here on earth, we can find rest in the son, because scripture says it is so.

So, I was in pain for four days.  But I walked out of it seeing that Jesus is always with me.  That is a gift I could never have hoped to have been given.  I don’t know that I will ever walk through pain the same.

It’s one thing for someone to say, I can relate to your pain.  At least that’s nice, and empathetic.

It’s another thing entirely for them to take it on themselves and walk through it alongside you, when they don’t owe you a thing.

He’s in your box y’all.

 

Don’t Underestimate the God you Follow

So I’ve been hearing the same message lately these past few weeks.

Some might chalk it up to coincidence, others like myself might say, “Hmmmm, I think perhaps God is trying to tell me something, and apparently I’m NOT listening, because he feels the need to keep telling me.”

By the way, each time I hear this message, I start to tear up.

Guys, I’m not the cryer in my family.  I won’t say who is, but it’s not usually me.

Each time, this message hits me like a brick right to the center of my soul, to the core of who I am, and then it sends resonating waves of truth throughout my whole body.

The last version of this message came to me in the car this morning, as I was pondering my life and if it mattered that I try to be a mom and ALL that entails while balancing what I really want to do for myself; invest in friendships, write, spend time with the Lord, pray,  row, paint my nails and pick out outfits, organize my closet and put on makeup, try to do my hair, and snuggle kids past bedtime, and make top-knots in my oldest daughters hair, and put piggies in my youngest even though she pulls them out five minuets later and make a home and have healthy dinner on the table and smile at my husband when he looks at me.

I feel it all pull in each different direction, and I can’t do it all at once.

I haven’t worn makeup in two three days, I’m wearing the same clothes I wore YESTERDAY (it was a decent outfit actually).  I did however make an entirely plant strong delicious menu, grocery shop with three children, get all the laundry done and serve dinner.  I even played a little bit with my kids and gave each one a bath, and snuggled one of them well past her bedtime.

Last night I was so tired by 9pm that I finally decided to stop working and just do my nails.

If I just stop, and let God direct me, like a sailboat in the wind – it’s not so hard.  But when I try and start my engine and get somewhere, I find that even though I’ve gotten somewhere, it’s not the twenty other places I wanted to be as well.  And I keep trying to get somewhere.

So in the car, as I was sweeping up all my frustrations into a big pile of grouchy leaves, God blew them all away with this same message, again.

I was listening to K-Love and Josh Wilson’s song, Pushing Back the Dark came on:

    One million reasons why, you shouldn’t even try.

    After all you’re just one heart, a single candle in the dark.

    And there are shadows here, feeding on your fears,

    That you don’t have what it takes – who are you to make a change?

  But oh, oh, don’t underestimate the God you follow.

     Whatever you do, just don’t look back.

     Oh somebody needs the light you have.

     Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.

     Keep on pushing back the dark,

     Keep on pushing back the dark.

How can that make anyone NOT want to tear up just a little bit?

Saturday I heard the message during worship when God spoke to my heart and said he wanted to use me to speak to others even though I think I’m unqualified, afraid and not very eloquent, and lacking in pretty much every other way.

And then it was there again in the sermon, when our pastor shared how all the apostles were regular guys, ordinary people in whom GOD did extraordinary things.

I keep thinking that if God is going to use me, I’m going to feel different.  I’m never going to doubt myself or my abilities, my thoughts will always be organized and clever, I will have more than enough time to write and share my inspirations.  I will never get grouchy at my kids and yell, “NO!  NO YOU MAY NOT PLAY BUBBLES OUTSIDE because I am still cleaning up your mess INSIDE!  I am still sweeping up all your crumbs from lunch and I don’t want to clean up ANY more of your MESSES!  ALL I DO IS CLEAN UP YOUR MESSES!  NO MORE MESSES.”  <insert very sad toddler eyes>.  This comes from a mother who has wiped an excessive amount of bottoms and noses and what-not the past four years of her life… and she is tired, and God says in spite of herself, he still wants to use her.

And that makes me want to cry.

Because I am so very, very, very imperfect.

And I’ve believed that God would REALLY, REALLY be able to use me… ONCE I was perfect.

That is not what is actually happening.

Before that it was Wednesday night when I was questioning if anything I was doing in life really mattered and I got a text from a good friend and I felt like Jesus said, this message of encouragement is a reminder from me.  You ARE serving me, what you do matters.  I AM using you.

I feel like God is saying, I am going to use you in the grocery store as a stay-at-home mom, in the preschool drop off’s and pick ups, in the sweeping of the crumbs and the wiping of the noses, in the phone call with a friend and the everyday, ordinary stuff.  

I struggle with the desire to be a REAL writer, and like, full time write.  How dreamy does this sound to me?  VERY.  I see people leaving for work with a briefcase in hand as I drive my kids to preschool and I think, “Wow, what must it BE like to get to wake up and know you get to go work ALL day at something you love?”  Now, that person may have a job they hate, but they get to drive in the car – in silence, if they like, ALL the way to work.  #mycarisneversilent. They get a REAL lunch break #igetup20timespermealtohelpsomeonelittle, and maybe they even have a job they love.  My dream is to someday become a writer, and have that be my REAL job.  To fill out my productivity schedule that I downloaded from the storylineblog.com and actually GET TO DO IT.  I fill it out now, and I’m lucky if no one interrupts me during the 45 minutes I woke up super early for just have time to myself.  I’m trying to get somewhere and go after my goals but I get stymied at 7:45 in the morning until about 8:30 at night.  And if that little genius schedule is right, my brain should only work about 30% to it’s creative capacity by then:-(  But God doesn’t care about brain capacity.

I am a mother and I know I want to be home with my kids, and besides, no one has hired me yet to be a writer, so that also makes things complicated.

So today, my goal for the rest of the day is just to try and serve Jesus in everything I do.  Even though it seems like a job that is not important, and no one says, “hey, I noticed you just spent the last two hours in the kitchen prepping food, giving handouts to little kids, serving a meal and cleaning it all up while kissing boo-boos and refereeing the plasma car race in the backyard, even though you’d rather be writing, putting on makeup, taking a nap, doing pretty much anything else for yourself and not others…”  Well, actually, my husband thanks me ALL the time, but I digress…

Trying to have a good attitude by serving Jesus in smoothie prep

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Serving Jesus in playing trains

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Serving Jesus in cleaning dishes

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Serving Jesus in being an audience to my little girls performances

Look out youtube, this duo sensation is coming to your hit list soon!

And, serving Jesus in writing, currently one of my most favorite ways to serve him.

All I can give him is myself, and although it’s not much, he made man out of dirt, so he’s obviously good at working with what I would see as an general lack of adequate supplies.

Thanks for reading.

Rescue is coming and his name is Jesus

This is probably one of the few times I’m going to address a cause.  Today, February 27th is the shine a light on slavery day.  You can learn more about it here: http://enditmovement.com/

My sister-in-law was brave and marked her hand with a red X along with me to bring awareness to others about human trafficking.  I say brave, because she was the one going out in public this afternoon and had to answer the tons of people who asked, “Hey, what’s that X on your hand mean?”  Since she’s afraid of nothing, she shared with others about what is actually going on in the world, and what we can do to help.

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Where two or more are gathered…

I get that it’s a small thing to put an X on your hand for one day.  I get that it’s not very hard to pose in a picture and than share it on facebook and instagram.  However, it’s not a small thing to pray for change.  To pray that the Lord would rush in and rescue.  God is a God of rescue, that is his very name, savior.

  1. Definition of savior (n)

    Bing Dictionary
    • sav·ior
    • [ sáyvyər ]
    1. rescuer: somebody who rescues somebody or something from harm or danger
    synonyms: rescuer · redeemer · knight in shining armor · liberator · deliverer · protector

Last year, our pastor shared that the region we live in is highly involved in human trafficking. From the moment he shared that, it was heavy, heavy on my heart.  In prayer I finally had the courage to ask the Father about it.  Here is what He showed me and what He said to me regarding human trafficking last year:

This word picture is a dry gulch, like a deep cavern, where water once used to flow.  It now is essentially completely dry and full of muck, you can almost hear the vultures flying above.  Insects hover above the muck, and it stinks.  This is human trafficking in God’s sight.

A far distance upstream, water is forming.  Not in an of this world, natural way, but in a miraculous parting the seas kind of way.  Each one of God’s saints (the church), is a drop of water that will all at once, without any warning, wash through and restore the gulch to fresh flowing waters, where life is once again.  Rescue is coming.

This part of the word picture also has a sound, it is the sound of very powerful, rushing waters.  This water comes fast and powerful, is is a powerful force that will take out whatever stands in it’s way.

If people are in the gulch, playing in the muck, they will be wiped out.  They don’t stand a chance.

Fresh water will flow here again.

The prayers and actions of God’s people are rushing water to clean out human trafficking.  The prayers of His saints.

That is why I am sharing this, that is why I marked my hand, because the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS MATTER.

In my study on prayer, Live a Praying Life, the author, Jennifer Kennedy Dean shares,

“Through prayer, the enemies schemes are thwarted.  Through prayer, the powers, principalities, and authorities of Satan’s realm are stopped cold.  Through prayer, all of the power and provision of God flows into the lives of His people.  Prayer brings the power of God to earth to do the will of God.” (p.59)

It is God’s will to put an end to human trafficking.

Here is the other strangest part of this word, it happened a day or two later after I received the first word.

My son who is 3, often says he dreams of Jesus in his sleep, sometimes they play trains, sometimes they see animals, but often he speaks of Jesus in his dreams.  Of course I love this and am always delighted when he dreams of hanging out with Jesus and praying for me while he sleeps.

So, the other day he says to me, “Mommy, I dream of Jesus”.  Of course I’m like, “Oh, that’s so precious, my son is so special.” you know, silly mom thoughts.

Then he said to me, “a little man touched Jesus’ privates, Jesus didn’t like it, Jesus threw him in the garbage, Jesus threw him in the water and he can’t swim, he’s drowning, he’s still there in the water.”

Initially, I was shocked at why my son would say any of this.  We shield him from everything. Then I felt like God quickly reminded me of what He had said to me the night prior randomly in the car,  “what these men are doing to these children, they are doing me”.  So I thought, what if this is a confirmation of what God had spoken to me earlier?  It matches the word picture he had just given me.

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The kids wanted to join me. All they can really say right now about why we put X’s on our hand is that, “slavery is bad”, but in prayer, that’s more than enough.

Rescue is coming.  The prayers of the saints will ignite God’s full power to do more than we can even hope or imagine.

Jesus longs to rescue these children, these women and men who are trapped in slavery.

And HE WILL rescue them.

Please join me in prayer.

self baptism and what I am learning on prayer

My question to the Lord when trying to write this post has been: how do I convey, what I am experiencing, even though I don’t truly understand it?

Here is my best attempt.  I pray it accomplishes what he intended it to accomplish.

So, I’m in a bible study on prayer this semester at my church.

And I’m reading a book on intercession.

And although I am not lost, I am feeling somewhat over my head because it is beginning to challenge some of my internal (not spiritually based) beliefs.

Beliefs such as: strong people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, if I need help, I need to help myself, if I want something done right, I should do it myself.  I’ve picked up some of that as truth, and I’ve incorrectly applied it to my spiritual beliefs regarding the church and my walk with God.   I am finding these not to be completely accurate in the world of the church and God, and it is a very humbling, pride crushing, and completely wonderful experience all at the same time.

I haven’t written on what I’ve been learning on prayer lately, because I keep waiting to get a grasp on it before I put it to words. That sounds dramatic.  I still don’t have a good handle on the depths of prayer, but I feel like it might be quite awhile until I do, so I figured I’d share even if it’s just a little bit of truth.

It’s almost like I’ve been sneaking morning walks into this misty wood, full of fog, yet beautiful and inviting.  I can only see as far as my arm will reach, and it’s as though a comfortable cloud is continually wrapped around me, keeping me cozy and safe in my little space of discovery.  I keep wanting to come back because it is so peaceful and captivating.  It is quiet and I leave refreshed. The trees are inviting, and the further I walk into the wood, the more I see, each few steps brings me to a new revelation of beauty or depth and understanding.  I am deeply fascinated by the branches and the bark, the leaves and new plants.

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Taken from http://bahaiteachings.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/foggy-woods.jpg

However, the last few weeks feel a bit like the fog is starting to clear out a more, and instead of only seeing what is right in front of me, I’ve got a 15 to 20 foot scope all around me.  And it’s kinda been a lot to take in.  I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m just sorta staggered by how much there is, how beautiful, how deep, how connected but unique it all is.

Please be sure to see my discovery through this lens, as this has been my general approach to my spiritual walk/life what-have you.  Here is a girl about to be baptized, those of you church-folk know you’re suppos-to let the pastor/elder church guy actually baptize you, even Jesus didn’t baptize himself but asked John to do it.

I'ma do it myself!
I’ma do it myself! I don’ need no- body’s help!

Oh, how I love that the little girl psyched herself out right before too.  I feel like I do that sometimes, “I have a problem?  Okay, “I’ma ’bout to take this ON!”  “All by MY-self, and with God too!”  “Let’s DO this!”

And that has pretty much failed lately.

I am learning that we NEED other people.

And that God made it that way, on purpose.

And it’s kinda messing with me and my idea of my independent self.  A lot.

Here’s the very brief information I’ve gathered, merely from personal experience over the past few weeks regarding prayer:

A few weeks ago, the Lord gently suggested I ask to be prayed for at church regarding the migraines I’d been having.  I didn’t.  Then I regretted it.  So, a week or two later at church, I felt like I should be obedient, and I inquired about where one would go if one wanted prayer.  I was told that there was a prayer corner, where others in the church could pray with me after service, or I could put in a request to have some of the elders of the church pray for me.  I went home and decided to think about it.

I wanted to do the prayer corner thing, because it seemed less “bothersome” and attention drawing.  BUT, I prayed about it and asked God what he recommended.  While in prayer, I saw in my mind a picture of my friends husband (he’s an elder in our church, the only one I of know actually), praying for me, and putting oil on my forehead and me being healed.  I took that as a go for the elder one, so I obediently put in a request to have prayer from the elders for the migraines.  Even though it wasn’t my first choice.

A few weeks later the Saturday night had come.  Davin was going to go with me.  The childcare was full before church even started and we arrived late to the service.  We wandered the isles looking for seats, when my friend grabbed us and directed us to two seats next to her and her husband – I’m going to consider that as sovereign action number one because we normally sit in the same spot every service.  I won’t list the other sovereign actions in numerical order, but it starts there.  We also ended up sitting next to a mom and her son who was around 8 years old.  During worship, he lifted up his hands just like his mama and a tear might have welled up in my eye.  Towards the end of service, the pastor said somewhat uncharacteristically, “sometimes we need others to lay hands on us and pray for us.”  My eyes got really big.  He asked anyone who was experiencing pain from something in their life to stand up, so he and the church could pray for us.  Which also doesn’t happen very often.  I stood up so fast!  Ain’t no shame in a cooperate prayer!  That’s not a bother to anyone, they are going to do it anyway, why not get in on that?  The young mom and her 8 year old boy along with my husband all put their hands on me.

The pastor prayed for people who were having pain in their minds, among other things, but he prayed a great deal for our minds.  I was like Whhaaaaaa?  I asked the Lord how he could possibly orchestrate ALL this.  Prayer in church the night I am at church to get prayed over?!?  What confirmation!  I thought to myself, God, you are so surprising, and crazy organized.

(Side Note: When our pastor prays over us, it feels like a present from God all packaged up just for each one of us.  Like Jesus saying, remember, “I love you.”)

The little 8 year old boys fidgety hand wiggled and tried to stay steady on my side.  Tears welled up again in my eyes thinking that I could be so special that a precious 8 year old boy would pray for me.

I was standing in God’s grace.  Right in the middle of it.  Doing nothing to deserve it, doing nothing to actually make any of it happen.  Just standing there, receiving it, not pulling myself up by my own bootstraps.

After service, we walked to the hallway and were greeted by four of our churches elders.  My friend’s husband was totally one of them and I was relieved to see a familiar face.

They were all so welcoming and friendly.  I was nervous but Davin was there, so that made me feel better.  I can’t tell you exactly what I expected when I thought of meeting the elders and having them pray over me, but it was completely different.

First off, they were so humble. They didn’t act like they were boss over anything, or know-it-alls or authoritative.  They reminded me of what maybe Jesus’ disciples might have been like, all different, but of the same heart.  They acted like Jesus was there, and that he was in charge, not them.  They didn’t act like they had the power to heal me, only that they had the authority to ask God to do something and intervene on my behalf.  I sorta felt like I was back in bible times hanging around his disciples. I know, it’s probably over-imaginative, but that’s how I saw it.  And, I was secretly glad to have imaginarily met four of his disciples.

Then they asked me what was going on.  I explained that since September (after the worship, prayer and healing night at my church), the migraines have been better but are not gone.  I shared how a few weeks ago, the Lord led me to be prayed over at church and I didn’t listen.  I explained I was there to be prayed for out of obedience.  I explained a word picture the Lord gave me when I asked him why I had to pray for something more than once, how he showed me my hands, full of arrows, and a large haystack target in front of me.  He told me that with this specific type of prayer or healing, it isn’t enough to just hit the bullseye once, but that the whole target had to be filled with arrows.  It reminded me of the scripture where it says in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  It was like the Lord was showing me there was a lot more to why I was allowed to experience migraines than just a simple one prayer answer.  And although I don’t know or understand all that is behind it, he does.  Each prayer that is prayed, he can interpret before God the Father on my behalf until I am healed.

Having the elders pray for me was shooting more arrows at that target.

Each elder prayed for me.  The first one, the oldest, put some frankincense and myrrh on my forehead.  It wasn’t ceremonial or serious, he was like “Ummmm, should I put some oil on her head?  The other guys were like, “yeah, sure”, “yes, good idea!”  He then read the label and said, “Ohhh, Frankincense and myrrh, this is the good stuff!  I’m totally paraphrasing, but hopefully communicating the gist of it.  We all laughed.

Then we got serious.

Each elder prayed something different and specific over me.

I remember the last one praying protection over me from the enemy.  Because so much of this experience has felt like a spiritual attack.  That was when I felt like the Lord showed me how he has given authority to men, in this case to the elders, to intercede and provide spiritual protection.  I felt shielded.

When my friends husband prayed over me, he said he saw that the the arrows were also about me teaching other people about prayer, that I would take other people’s arrows and shoot them at the target because they did not know how to aim.  That these migraines are not just about me, but will be used to show other people about prayer.  I started tearing up again because I could hardly believe the words he was saying.  This guy doesn’t know me.  He has no idea I’m reading a book on intercession (praying for others – shooting their arrows) and he doesn’t know I’m in a bible study on prayer right now, and that I’m writing all about it on the internet!

Again God was showing me that he was bigger than me, and had orchestrated this whole night.

He showed me that he is sovereign.

When we finished praying, I felt so full of life.  The last guy to pray over me said he felt like prayer and fasting was what the Lord put on his heart to share with me.

I asked God about it later, and I really felt like God put it on my heart to fast this blog, facebook and instagram last week.  I know that sounds like a lame fast, but it’s what I felt like he said.  I wanted SO BAD to write all about this whole thing the minute I got home.  But I’m glad I didn’t because more happened.

That night, I started to feel a very, very slight pinch near my right eyebrow where I typically get a migraine.  That’s all it was.  I could almost see in my mind, Jesus holding it back, pushing it back and saying, I AM keeping this from you.  I thanked him.

The night prior, Davin and I went on a date, and it was the first date in I don’t remember, when I didn’t get a migraine.  We even went go-cart racing.  Not any pain at all.  I felt like God was already honoring my obedience to be prayed over before it even happened.

A few times this week, I’ve started to feel the very beginnings of a migraine.  Instead of me just praying for it, I’ve right away told Davin, and he’s laid hands on me and prayed, and it’s disappeared.  One night I even texted my mom and she prayed and it faded right away.  This doesn’t just happen.

This didn’t ever used to happen.

It used to be that the pain would only get worse the longer I waited to take drugs.  Until it was almost unbearable.  It used to last thee days, with drugs.  Every 6 hours the pain returning until I took more drugs.

Then, the other day, we went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  I had started to feel the beginnings of a migraine a bit earlier in the day.  Davin prayed over me and it mostly (but not completely) went away.  I thought about texting my parents, but I didn’t want to bother them. Then at the restaurant, it started to get worse very quickly, so much so that I was beginning to feel nauseous and couldn’t’ really concentrate.  Not wanting to be a bother, I went to reach for my stash of pain reliever (which I haven’t taken since my last post on migraines) and my mom asked what was wrong.  She said, let’s pray right now before I could even pull any out.  She told my dad, and right there, in the middle of a bar during happy hour, my parents and husband prayed over me.  It wasn’t loud or attention drawing, just a quiet prayer.  I started to feel better, but when she asked a few minutes later how it was, I told her that it wasn’t completely gone.  So they prayed again for me.  And again, twenty minuets later.  Then, my migraine was gone.  The nausea was gone, the throbbing gone, the sharp grip on my skull was unexplainably gone.

How can I explain all of this?  If I weren’t the one experiencing it, I’m not sure I’d really believe it.  I would want to rationalize it, saying things like, “oh, she must have stopped eating something that was causing it, or oh she took the proper mix of supplements and that aided it.”  My mind would keep looking for a physical solution that occurred to explain it in my own reality.  Because in my reality, if I have a problem, I must do something that costs me to fix it.  I must try hard, or make it happen.  I must do something.

But I’m not the one doing anything.

Others are.

But mostly God is.

This experience is stumbling.  All my realities and truths of how things work are stumbling all over it.

Guys, God wants to heal us.  From REALLY BIG stuff.  From stuff that doctors say we can’t be healed from.  From physical pain, from emotional pain.  From our past.  From the very things WE think we can never, ever, ever fix ourselves.  Because we can’t.

He can.

And he might not even use you to do it.

He might use others.

I am learning that the reason he created the church, is so that we would be connected.  I was never meant to be able to pray for myself all the time, to baptize myself or to teach myself about God’s word with just him and me by myself all the time.  We were designed to be connected.  This is a new concept to me.  It probably shouldn’t be, because I thrive so much due to my very deep and wonderful friendships in Christ, but it is.

Sometimes God wants to use others.

Sometimes he wants us to feel the grace of being prayed over by a fidgety, adorable 8 year old boy.  To have my mom stop in the middle of her birthday dinner and pray for me, four times. So that when I walked out of that restaurant, I walked home with a gift, and it wasn’t my special day.

So, that’s all I have so far.

I am learning tons in the books, but nothing teaches quite like real life experience, which is why I am probably still in shock, because it’s easy to read about something and think, “yeah, that’s how it should work, that sounds right.”  It’s another thing entirely to live it out.  To have pain gone, for no reason other than prayer, and to not be the one making it disappear.  I haven’t bled my eyes out in prayer over this, I haven’t starved myself and fasted and tried really, really hard.  All I’ve done is TRY to be obedient (which I wasn’t even that good at), and try to ask for prayer from others when I start to feel pain.  That’s it.

That my friends is a crazy, crazy, reality altering experience, and I still can’t fit it into my box of how things should work and be and go.  It makes NO sense, not to this control loving girl.

I’m sure I will write more as I learn.  But until then I’ve figured out that God is sovereign and he intended for us to be connected and that I am not the boss of my world.

Thank you for reading.

College Days

I woke up early from a weird dream, so then I lay there, praying for my family and what-not, and then my mind began to drift to days of long ago.

College days.

The main reason I’m actually writing about this, and not just putting it into my dear old diary, is that I tend to write better when I think other people are actually going to read it.  And, I know at least my mom will read this post, and that is more than enough fantastic audience if you ask me:-) Also, writing for others forces me to better concise my thoughts and reflect on them with purpose and intention rather than just letting my writing drift all over the place from one thought to the next.  And lastly, because when Pioneer Woman had nothing to blog on, she wrote about falling in love with her husband, which led her to write a delightful little book, so I’m taking her advice and writing on whatever flits my fancy because it’s fun to reminisce.

I graduated from UC Berkeley.

Normally when I tell most people this, they pause, and then look at me different, like “OHHHH, you’re SUPER smart and I had no idea.”

No, you actually had a pretty good read on the situation, I want to say… but I don’t say it, which is why I try to avoid telling people where I went to school.

Instead, I typically say, “I went to school in the Bay Area.”  It gets me off the hook from people thinking untrue things about me.  But since this post is about college, it would be weird not to state the school I went to.

When I got accepted, I didn’t know how to spell Berkeley correctly.

I wish I were joking.

But I’m totally not.

And I was slated to be an English major.

Fortunately they had invented the red squiggle line by then, so they weren’t any wiser to my terrible flaw.

I attended junior college near my home for the first two years of college.  It cost $1,000 a year to take a full load of classes and live at home.  And since I’d received a $1,000 scholarship from the Frozen Foods Foundation I figured it was a sign from the Lord.  I think I may have sworn to uphold the integrity of the frozen food business, and I feel I’ve fulfilled that dream by using a deep freezer in my garage and occasionally buying frozen pizzas and fruits and vegetables. Besides that, attending a public University at the time would have cost $11,000 a year, so it was 100% a financial decision.  The college counselors at my high school said that we could go to the local jc and then if we maintained good grades, transfer to a better University then we would have been accepted to straight out of high school, AND save a bunch of money.

I applied to Pepperdine, Cal Poly, and ON A WHIM, The University of California, Berkeley, because I thought since I applied to a CSU, I should even it out with a UC, and Berkeley seemed the least likely place to be accepted.  I wanted desperately to go to Pepperdine.  It is literally ON a beach.  I was going to be an au pair for a family friend.  It was all set.  It was going to cost $33,000 a year and I didn’t care, I at least had room and board covered.  The ocean was calling me, I was going to finally live my dream of becoming a surfer.

Because that is why you go to college.

To become a surfer.

I didn’t get accepted.  I had a 3.9 from my jc (stinkin’ art history!) and Pepperdine said NO.  I was crushed.  When I got the tiny envelope out of the mail and knew it should be thicker or bigger or look happier, and when I read the letters the said the words that told me I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, I was crushed.  I remember following my dad around the Osh Home store, moping about among the outdoor plants section, contemplating the meaning of life.  I was sad for a whole 1/2 a day.

Then I got over it.

I found an apartment down in beautiful Cal Poly.  I put $400 down on it, and planned to live with three other christian girls.  In my mind, Cal Poly was lame, because all my friends were going there, and I wanted to make new friends, and do new things.  To go out on my own and not follow a bunch of the same christians around for the next two years.  Barf city!

You’ll have to forgive me, christians are fun and all, but I grew up in church, everything I did was saturated in church.  My dad was the pastor for goodness sake.  I started the bible club at my high school.  Two other kids and myself sat in the atheist principal’s office and stated that it was our legal right to start a bible club.  We had like 50-75 kids in that thing and we didn’t even have a CLUE about what we were doing.  There were no intelligent grown up’s leading us.  We led worship with one guitar and sometimes a cappella.  A CAPPELLA!  Can you imagine?  Who wants to come hang out with a bunch of christians over lunch and sing without instruments? WHAT WAS I THINKING?  But kids still came, and heard the gospel, and I think even a few kids might have considered that God was real, and maybe liked them, and perhaps it got them thinking about the whole thing.  Who knows, it kept me out of trouble and I was informally voted “most likely to marry a minister”, except the yearbook teacher wouldn’t allow that category, so it got nixed.

Needless to say, I’d hung out with enough christians to realize I wanted to start hanging out with people who weren’t like me – because I didn’t know anyone like that up close.  I had lots of friendly classmates who were non-christians but when I’d try and hang out with them outside of school they’d always say stuff like, “Oh, you don’t want to come to that party, it’s not your thing”, or “You should stay away from me, I’m a bad guy, I’m not good for you.”

Who says that?  People who maybe like you, but don’t want to screw you up I guess?  I say, thank goodness to that, because it was nice to be sheltered in high school, I left feeling happy about life and not addicted to anything, and feeling a bit like a nerd because I’d never kissed a boy – but I had a future husband I was waiting and praying for, so it was acceptable in my book.

Then I got a huge envelope in the mail from UC Berkeley.

My parent’s were so excited for me.

Well-meaning christians told my parents not to let me go there.  They said it would change me. They spoke words full of fear and good intention.  They were extremely hesitant about my parents decision to trust me.  To trust God.

But because I have parents who trust God at the base of who they are, they gladly helped me pack my bags and my mom even went with me to orientation day.

The pastor’s kid goes to UC Berkeley.

Scandal.

I was still in shock that I got accepted.  I was really wondering what God was up to.

The cover letter said the words, Congratulations with my name on it.  MY NAME. The folder was thick with information about financial aid and registering for classes.  It had flyers about clubs and parent day.  It had pictures of super smart kids sitting on lawns and talking.  I was in disbelief.

memorialglade

The font of the folder had the beautiful words, “fiat lux”, which means “let there be light”.ucberkely

God was sending me to a liberal, non-christian school with the motto, “let there be light.”

God has a sense of humor, and apparently a lot of faith in a little bible club starting girl.

This is the school with the third tallest clock tower in the world.  

450px-CampanileMtTamalpiasSunset-original
photo credit: wikipedia

The Campanile, or Sather Tower plays the carillon every day at noon, challenging students to strive for academic greatness.  If you’ve never heard a carillon, it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world, especially surrounded by the history of this school, and the beauty of the Bay Area.  Go sit on the lawn in front of Doe Library and have a listen, and then get an expresso brownie from the Free Speech Cafe attached to Moffitt Library.  Yowza, you’ll be set for the next 36 hours of life excitement.  

This is also the school known for political protests and academic-amazingness.  Some of professors are Nobel Laureates, and fancy award getters.  There are 7 Nobel Laureates, 32 MacArthur Fellows, and 4 Pulitzer Prize winners among the current faculty.  Berkeley is known as the number one public university in the nation, last I checked.  What was I doing here?

photo
Cal crew (rowing) days, that’s me on the left and my bow partner, T on the right. It was the best of times!

When I was in 3rd grade, I was not a great student.  I have a vivid memory of a Monday night when I was forced to stay home from church baseball night and work on a report about dinosaurs.  This was sad to me and made me do some serious thinking.  Church baseball night was super fun as a kid, all the dad’s would play baseball, and all the kids would run around, and usually regardless if they won or lost, we would go out to ice cream and the kids would eat their weight in frozen dairy, and then I unfortunately would throw it up later that night, but that is another story entirely about my stomach not tolerating a bunch of sugar.

Needless to say, missing out on ice cream and fun gave me some time to ponder my future.  I always knew my dad wanted me to go to college.  When I was really mad at him, like SOOOO mad, I’d loudly announce to him, ‘FINE, then I’m NOT going to college!”  It was irrelevant, and he’d let me say it and mean it and he’d love me anyway and knew I wasn’t serious, but I knew he was serious about me going to school, so it was that night I decided it was time to think about my academic goals.

I sat and thought about who I was (in third grade, yes) and who I was going to be.  That night I decided I wanted to go to a really good college, the kind that was in the movies, the kind that was old, and had history and prestige.  I pictured myself on some carpeted old steps in a beautiful old library, walking down the stairs to go to my next class.  I can still see it now. That was a college where really smart kids went, and someday, I was going to walk up or down those fancy old steps and be apart of it.  I wasn’t just going to go to college, I was going to attend a really good college, one of the best.

I should share that the junior college I attended had fake bells, on a loud speaker.  And I’d walk up the steps to the library and hear them and think, someday I’m going to walk up steps to at a really good school, that has real bells, not fake ones over a loud speaker.  I’d think that every time I walked up the steps to the library.

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photo credit: UC Berkeley Website

When I walked onto the UC Berkeley campus for the first time, for the intro tour to the school I’d been accepted to but never set foot on, all my very forgotten 3rd grade memories came rushing back to me.  I saw the beautiful old buildings.  I could feel the prestige in the air.  I heard the real bells from the clock tower.  If you’ve ever been to the Bay Area, you might notice it has a beautiful smell, the smell of the ocean, the fog and the eucalyptus trees.  It’s refreshing on almost any day.

I remember standing there, but trying not to look like a fool, in a great amount of disbelief that it actually came true.  I couldn’t believe that God had remembered my 3rd grade dreams.  And I had forgotten them completely and attempted to trade them in for a surf board.  But he wouldn’t let me, and he didn’t forget.  Every time I heard the bells over those next two years, I’d stop and think and remember.  It was hard not to.  They sounded so beautiful, it was a reminder of my dreams coming true.  And I should say, every day there felt like a dream.  It literally felt like I was living in someone else’s graces.

morrison2
photo credit: UC Berkeley website

One time our professor put a paragraph on the board in Latin prior to class, and my friend next to me read it and knew what it said.  He learned Latin in his private school on the East Coast.  I knew how to make a skim board and slip around on the water in Santa Cruz.  I was completely out of my league and I loved every second of it.  Plus, no one knew I was a pastor’s kid, so people stopped treating me weird.  It was like an escape from my old life, I could be exactly who I wanted to be, and no one was going to judge me or care.  It felt like freedom.

Sometimes God puts ideas in our hearts when we are little, because that is when we will let them be deposited there.  Our hearts are still fresh and young, and not full of why-nots.  He planted those dreams in my 9 year old heart, only to make them come to pass ten years later.

I feel him attempting to plant new dreams in my heart now, but I so much more resistant.  I have all the arguments of why they aren’t possible and why they are selfish and why they are too good to be true.  Of why money should be spent elsewhere, as though God’s resources are somehow limited.  I keep hearing him say, dream.  Trust me and dream.  Dream.

A lot of my previous, seemingly ridiculous dreams (except for becoming a beach bum surfer) have come true.  So, now I’m starting to dream new ones.

I am doing this 5 day Storyline thing on the storylineblog.com.  So far I’ve completed day one, and it’s been like a month, so in a few months, I’ll have completed it.  I figured I needed some proper organization to my dreams.  I want to live life intentionally, and not be afraid to dream. I am still a bit afraid to dream, because it could mean really big things could happen, and what if I’m not ready, or good enough or smart enough?

But isn’t that the moral of my college days story?

I didn’t have to be smart enough, or good enough, or ready.  I just had to let God plant some dreams in my third grade heart and then say yes when the time came.

So much of christian religiosity and churchie-church talk is about surrender.  Surrender to God. Surrender of our hopes and dreams in place of God’s.  And it usually sounds like giving all the cool stuff up, choosing the road less traveled, taking the poor man’s path, carrying our cross. And I get that, because much of the christian life lived out is a surrender of our will – choosing to love when we want to hate, choosing to forgive when we want to hold on.  But sometimes I think we take it too far – like we think being a good christian looks like giving up all our dreams and living a mediocre life.  If I had taken the well intentioned advice of so many, many christian “friends”, I would have never attend Cal.  But I knew God had something more for me there and I wasn’t afraid to hope.  I learned WAY more about God’s love for the lost hanging out with a bunch of non-christians who liked me just the way I was then I ever could have at a mandatory skirt wearing christian college.  And it’s amazing to see how God showed up in such a crazy spiritually dark place!

What if God’s plan for your life looked super cool and awesome on the outside?  What if it looked more like surrendering YOUR lame ideas of boring-ness for God’s way better ones?  What if he really wants to you live out your 3rd grade dream?  What if churchie-church people won’t like it and it will make them frown?

Here is my favorite song about putting dreams out to the Lord.  I always ask him that I can sing it with 100% honesty, and then trust him to do the rest.  Sometimes I sing it out of giving something up, and sometimes I sing it out of accepting a big dream that scares me.

I’m giving you all my heart, and all that is within
I lay it all down for the sake of you my king
I’m giving you my dreams, I’m laying down my rights
I’m giving up my pride for the promise of new life

[Chorus]
And I surrender all to you, all to you
And I surrender all to you, all to you

I’m singing you this song, I’m waiting at the cross
And all the world holds dear, I count it all as loss
For the sake of knowing you the glory of your name
To know the lasting joy even sharing in your pain

Some of the dreams I currently have, scare the crap out of me.  They are way bigger and require much more than I have to offer.  But I feel myself being tempted to dream them anyway.  Because I never had what it took the first time, but God did.

Not to be super cheesy and leave you with a thought provoking question, but what dreams has God planted in your heart, and is there anything holding you back from saying yes?  If so, is that truly from the Lord, or is it’s motivation fear?  Because we know scripture says, “Fear is not from the Lord.” (Perfect love casts out fear – 1 John 4:18.)

Just a thought.

Or a kick in the bum to get you moving.

Come on already, if all us Christians were truly living the dream lives God has for us, this world would be a million times cooler already.  Get on it friend!  

As always, it means literally the world to me that you read this blog, and I know it shouldn’t but it does, and until God fixes that in me, it probably will.  Thank you so much for reading!

banana bread crumbs

(You’ll have to excuse my writing if it sounds funny.  I’ve been reading one of G.K. Chesterson’s fictional novels, and it’s absolutely convoluting my writing style, but I care not, he’s amazing. Try to bear through it, my apologies.)

Earlier this morning, as I was spending my short quiet time reading an article my husband sent me which was explaining in depth a subject in the bible I had earlier in the week asked him about, I had a thought.  The thought was this: why does this read so choppy to me?  Why am I still wanting more breath and depth then this extremely articulate article is providing me?  What am I still missing?  Something feels missing.

This was after at least three interruptions from my son who tiptoed into my room and asked, “Mommy, can I snuggle you?” To which I replied, “in a little bit, when mommy is done reading her bible.”  Then off he went to play trains in his room.

So when I finished off my attempt at quiet time by reading a psalm and the last chapter of 1 John, I prayed and asked the Lord about why that article felt like it was missing something deeper.

And here is unfortunately what he said.  I say unfortunately because it paints me, in my mind as somewhat of a dolt, which I am for obvious reasons, not fond of.

Here’s the word picture.

At first I see crumbs, they are banana bread crumbs, on the ground, under my kitchen table. Now, I have a small toddler living in my home who OFTEN finds in-between meal snacks from the ground, and being that she and the twins are not the cleanest of eaters just yet, it’s not hard for her to do so, so this is a very relatable word picture to me.  So there are crumbs under the table, and in this word picture, when I find a yummy banana bread crumb I eat it and think to myself, “Mmmmm, that’s so good”.  So then I search for another one, and find it and eat it. Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are a bigger type of crumb, but always they are crumbs.  Then, I see lots of people eating at a table, but I am still under it, so it’s just lots of legs and feet, and crumbs falling here and there.  Every time a crumb falls, I am super quick to grab it and eat it.  In a way, scamper about on all fours, waiting for crumbs to fall and gobbling them up.

So I asked Jesus, “What?!  I know that I’m a Gentile and all that and crumbs are for the dogs ect… but we’re in the New Testament times, like all of us have access to God, so why the crumbs analogy?  How come I’m not sitting at the table like the other people eating a WHOLE piece of banana bread, in a restful and peaceful, relaxed state?  Like one of your kids?  Why do I have to hustle for all the crumbs that fall?”

And here we go…

He showed me that I am accustomed to filing myself up with other peoples crumbs.  I have become very good at it.  So, I’m not hungry, but I have to dart from here to there to get enough to eat, scampering about on all fours (Glollum style).  I am definitely not sitting, nor at rest enjoying a meal or snack at the table as was intended.

And do you know what the crumbs are?  God’s truth, his word, from other people.  Here is what I tend to do in real life: I hop from this author to the next, to this blog to the next, from that sermon to this bible study, to that encouraging word posted on fb.  Then onto the inspiration video and back into a book on how God loves us.  I jump.  I jump from here to there to everywhere to hear all about God, his truth, his word and having someone else illuminate scripture FOR ME.  I’m eating their God inspired crumbs and they are delicious, but they are only a crumb of what I could have.

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Why?  Because it’s easier to read an inspirational blog full of truth in five minuets while I stand in the hallway waiting for the laundry to be done washing, while intermittently making sure the kids aren’t getting into something they shouldn’t, breaking something, or breaking each other.

I know it takes time to read God’s word and have it illuminated.  Because until this word picture, I thought I’d done it a few times.  And perhaps I have, but that’s not my habit that is for sure.  My habit is to be filled up on Saturday by the worship and message, then read this book on Sunday, that blog on a Tuesday when I’m feeling down about motherhood or busyness or whatever and top it off with a chapter on Friday about holiness.  All in between are brief moments in scripture where I actually read the bible myself and then move right along onto the next thing.  Not often taking time to ponder, to pray to seek God and actually ASK for insight regarding what I’ve read.

And like I said, all those things are good, but they don’t make a meal.  None of those things are bad in themselves, but collectively, if they begin to override my quiet time with God, if I am so accustomed to quickly hearing God’s truth from a scripture that someone else has shared, then I am indeed in a not-so-good place.

Perhaps I am wearing myself out hopping from one thing to the next, seeking deep and meaningful truth (AND a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD) from other peoples relationship from God, in five minute segments.

Which is why I say it does not paint me in the brightest of lights.

I don’t stand up and sit at the table because that is work.  Apparently I think it’s easier to stay on the ground and spot crumbs.  I’m quick, it’s fast and and I’m good at it.  But here’s the thing. If I’d just stand up on my big girl legs and go to the table, and then SIT STILL, I might get a whole piece to myself, to enjoy slowly over time and really appreciate it for what it is, and in turn, get to enjoy being at the table like one of God’s kids.

But I’m rarely sitting still physically, and now I’ve grown accustomed to not sitting still spiritually.  In my energetic quest to move onto the next insight, I’ve lost the real idea, which is to sit and ponder and seek God, on my own, one-on-one with him.  Not to find the next book, or the next blog to fill me up.

I get that these are all excuses, but somehow I’ve allowed how most of my day is: full of interruptions, bursts of activity, making meals, breaking up fights and teaching kindness, selflessness and love all filtered through tired eyes just wanting a moment of quiet and peace. All of that I’ve allowed to change how I interact with God.  I’m interacting with him the same way I interact with myself, always searching for a crumb of quiet time to myself, or a crumb of sitting down, or a crumb of writing or even a crumb of a hot meal eaten all in one sitting.

That may sound like complaining and it totally is.  The fact is, my life is different.  Often times my son comes sneaking into my room WELL before my natural clock wants to be awake and well before my brain is awake enough to have a thought or moment with God.

Sitting down with my bible and a pen in the late morning over coffee is a distant fond memory from the past.  And although I say I don’t have time, maybe if I even tried just turning to the bible in all those little moments, instead of turning to insightful blogs, books or sermons, I might learn to tune into God even in the hectic.

God’s not surprised that I do one-thousand little things all day, never sitting down.  He’s not surprised that I don’t wake up and have leisurely coffee with him in the morning, because we both full well know that means him waking me up at 4 in the morning, something I only do when it happens to happen.  I never intentionally wake at 4 am.

However, that doesn’t mean that I need to get my fill through other peoples crumbs about him.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think about how nice it will be when the kids are off and away at college, and I’ll get to wake up on my own when the sun rises and drink coffee and read my bible in peace and quiet.  I start to think about how nice it will be to have time to iron something and then wear it, without worrying someone will snot on it and then all my time (which is currently so precious) was wasted on one hour of ironed shirt wearing glory only to be taken out by 9am and switched for a sweatshirt.

But then I remember, THIS is where God has called me.  Right here in the middle of twenty-two thousand interruptions, in the middle of wearing leggings and long sweaters everyday because they are black and wash easy.  In the middle of half-eaten meals interrupted by “I’m done or more please!”  In the middle of being so exhausted by 8:30pm that I gladly crawl into my bed if only to forget about the long day and relish the sweet parts as I drift off to sleep.

What I’m saying is that if I have the energy to scamper and jump to each crumb, then I can muster the self discipline to SIT STILL before him and trust that he will bring me a big warm slice of banana bread if I just sit at the table and wait.  Other peoples crumbs are nice, delicious even, but they always leave me pining for the real thing.  A whole piece to myself, enjoyed at the table like one of his kids.

So, although there are many good things to be read out there, and I’ve already downloaded 12 free Beth Moore books on my Kindle, I’m going to take a bit of a break, and start to let some of what I’ve read in the bible, during my own “quiet time” begin to sink in.  And in all those little moments when I’m searching for a crumb throughout my day, I’m instead going to let my mind rest, and think about what God is already teaching me, in his word.

As always, thanks for reading!

Healing and Jesus Fries

I have a migraine.

Why am I writing right at this very moment when I’m shaky and feel like I want to throw up?

Because I want to do the very thing I think the enemy is trying to keep me from doing.

Speaking truth about who God is.  Last time I tried to sit down and type out this truth, I got a migraine and didn’t finish it.

So this might be a super crappy post.

But I don’t even care, because it’s my best attempt at saying, “God is bigger and better then barf and headaches and pain and more pain.”

My head started hurting earlier this evening, right as I sat down for church.

I unfortunately get migraines on a regular basis.  After years of prayer, they are better then they were, but they are still not gone, and they can still be terrible and of course inconvenient.

I typically get them when I am in a place where I could enjoy myself and find rest, for example: my husband and I are about to go on a date, I’m in church, when I should be sleeping or when I have time to reflect and write.

I feel like there’s a pattern.  I feel like they might be spiritual and the enemy is trying to rob me in my times of peace.

But really, what do I know?  All I know is when I get them, I want them to go away and they make me question what I’m doing wrong in my life to have them in the first place.

They are also always on the right side of my head.  And it feels like a 1/2 metal rod has been shoved through my eye socket up and out of the back of my scull.

That’s descriptive and lovely.  Sorry about that.

In church tonight, as we were getting up to leave and go pick up our kids, I felt like the Lord said, “have someone at church pray for you, go ASK for prayer.”

I was like, ummmmm (drumming up some good excuses), “I don’t want to bother anyone, it’s not that bad, I’ll be okay.”  I added on for good measure, “my dad’s a pastor, and I love his prayers, I’ll have him pray for me” and then, “my mom is an intercessor, she will pray and mean it, (she wields a giant spiritual sword)” and to end it, besides, “my husband loves me and his prayers for me are like treasures, I love hearing him pray for me and I’ve been healed at different times by each one of their prayers.”  It wasn’t that explicit when I said it, but basically I was telling God, “I have like three super qualified people to pray over me, I am so blessed already, there are people here who maybe don’t even have ONE person to pray over them, why would I ASK for help from our church?  I don’t want to bother anyone.”

Because praying for people in a church is a bother.

And I’m an idiot who still has a migraine at 4 in the morning.

It’s starting to feel a little bit better.  But I’m still shaking.

Here is what I understand about Jesus and healing… not very much.

Why does he allow pain in the first place?  That is a ten-jillion theologian page book in itself, but sometimes Jesus’ answer is, “so that God may be glorified.”

But everything Jesus ever did on the earth, was to show us more of who God was, to bring us closer to God, his Father which in the process, made us healed and whole.  It really seems to me that the Father is glorified when we know who he is, and when we know who he is, we become healed and whole.  There’s something to that.  From the outside, it sounds like, “oh it’s all about God and his glory, but actually he sent his ONLY son, to die for US.  It’s not about our glory, but it sure sounds like it’s a lot about us being rescued and saved, healed and whole and his glory looks a lot more like the sacrifice of a dying soldier then a dude on a throne who people worship and throw flowers at.

Here is an interesting look at healing in the first book of Matthew chapter 15. verses 21-28.

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman.  Her story is a bummer at first, but it ends well.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. 

Say WHHHHHHAAAAT?  Jesus legit ignored her.  That does not sound like the “nice” Jesus I know.

Does Jesus REALLY ignore people?  I thought he was always, super-nice-guy.  Ignoring seems so rude.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about Jesus.  In the bible, he does everything for the benefit of those around him (and for the future readers of the bible, like you and I, he is multifaceted like that).  In this case, the best thing for this woman to have a real encounter with Jesus, was for Jesus to ignore her.  How crazy is that? 

Let’s read on.

“And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Again, she is ignored and the excuse is because she is not a Jew, the people group chosen by God.  Canaanite’s according to the commentary on biblegateway.com were, “bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry.”  But she doesn’t care, she even goes so far as to bothers his disciples, so much so that they, “came and begged him saying, “send her away” for she is crying out after us.”  She must have been determined, insistent, over-the-top obnoxious, not caring about social rules or status, not caring about looking like an idiot.

I can just hear her screaming like a crazy woman, “SAVE MY CHILD!!! Don’t you care?!  HELP ME!!!” – reminds me of reality-tv people going for good ratings.

Yet, Jesus says no again, replying, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel”. (strike 2)

But there’s more

“25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 

He is still telling her no appears to be speaking to her as the Jewish leaders might have, putting her in her social place. (that’s 3)

“27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

A humble and wise response, she is attempting to persuade God, And humbling herself in the process.  Now her heart is in the right place, she has moved her attention PAST herself, and onto Jesus and his business.

28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!   Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

I seriously doubt that the Jewish fancy-pants leaders would have ever prayed for healing for her, so Jesus was basically breaking down those social barriers but anyway, that’s another type of commentary. This story is crazy.  I used to think that Jesus was all about going around and healing people instantly.  Fixin’ stuff.  But healing is not what she really needed first.

Why does he draw her out, make her wait?  She goes through the motions of seeking, asking, and begging, she gets rejected BY Jesus, three times.  What could be worse then getting rejected by Jesus?  How awful in your life story, “This one time, I was rejected by the Son of God, three times…”  But she wasn’t ever really rejected was she?  He knew she wasn’t going home without what she came for.

Sometimes Jesus heals people in an instant: BAM healing.  Other times he first says, “go, your sins are forgiven”, while they sit there still crippled, then he heals them too after a sec (Mark 2:1-12). In one instance, a lady touches his robe (Matthew 9:20) and she is healed without him saying anything and he acts all surprised saying, “who touched me?”  Do you really think he didn’t know?  No, the dude is God in the flesh, but he responds that way for her unique benefit, and she humbles herself in her response to God.

Back to Strike 3 Lady.  Why did he tell her no three times?  I thought when we ask God for something, he wants to give it to us right away if it aligns with the bible.  The bible is pretty down on people being possessed by demons, so we can assume it was God’s will to heal this little girl of demon possession, so why did he wait?

Perhaps to grow the Canaanite Woman’s faith in the process?  Jesus is always saying in the bible, “by your faith you are healed”.

Like me, tonight in church.  How much faith did I really have?

Well, what does faith mean?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Sure and certain.

Those two words.

When I am sure and certain of something, I will stop at nothing to go after it.

I WANTED my migraine to go away.  I assumed it would get worse as they normally do until I am crying and have to make myself throw up just so I can fall asleep again in the middle of the night and get at least the nausea to go away.  But I didn’t stop at nothing.  I stopped right at the doorstep of pride.  Pride is the doormat you have to walk over to get into the house of healing.  You have to get over your pride before you can get into God’s healing.

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Big girl shoes on the doormat of pride, probably a little bit of how God sees us.

I wasn’t sure and certain enough to humble myself.  Really that’s the truth behind the “facts” I told God.  It’s not that I don’t believe my family can pray for me and heal me.  It’s that I didn’t want to have healing the way he directed me to have it.  I didn’t want to go up to some nice strangers and tell them I needed them.  To say, “Hey, I have this problem, and I’VE prayed about it and it’s NOT going away.  I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and I STILL need help. I’ve done everything in my mind I can do, and it’s still not fixed.”  How humiliating is that? Maybe I’m just prideful but I don’t like the idea of going up to super nice strangers who ARE THERE TO HELP ME, and telling them I need help.  I want to solve it in my own way. (There are SO many biblical examples of that, so at least I’m not alone).

Because what if the nice people at church think I’m pathetic, and not good at praying, and wonder if I really know Jesus at all because if I did and he really talked to me, I’d be right as rain this very moment.

But they don’t wonder any of those things.  Because when I get to pray for someone I am delighted.  I am so happy to stand with my brother or sister in the Lord and intervene on their behalf.  It’s makes me feel like I still have a purpose.  It is a reminder to me that God is using me, that I’m still USEFUL to him, which is what I desire most in this very world, to be someone that God still says, “hey, I can use this girl”.  Some of my most favorite, best experiences in life have to do with being in the presence of God. He is so beyond peaceful, beyond all the distractions, beyond all my doubts and questions and misunderstandings.  Even when I’m in his presence for just a second, I begin to feel better.

What if God wanted to use someone tonight to help heal me?

And I took my reasons and handed them up to God in list form.

And I didn’t get to experience healing.  Because I wan’t humble.

According to the dictionary, humble means: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Like we aren’t the one’s who are most important when we go to God and ask him for things. We hold the position that HIS will is still the most important.

And sometimes, I don’t think we always want that.  We want our will, with a side of Jesus, like he’s the fries in our delicious meal of self.  Jesus fries.

Jesus is never the fries.  He’s the whole meal.  We aren’t even the fries.  We aren’t even the ketchup leftover stain on the table from the meal prior.  And yet he loves us, and wants to heal us and to give us what we ask for.

But not until we stop negotiating with the Lord.  And I didn’t hand over that migraine to the Lord tonight, I held onto it and said I knew how to fix it myself, I had the solution.

And where did that get me?

Barf city.

I should have said, “Okay God, I REALLY want THIS (healing in the comfort of my own home by my family’s prayers), BUT, seriously if you have something better (nice strangers praying for me), something that is more your plan, even if I don’t like it – I’m down, let’s go that route, I’ll step out of my comfort zone, I surrender.”

And I have to mean it.

And I have to act on it.

It totally doesn’t count if I just say it like a wish to the sky.

This usually involves part of ME dying.  Myself.  My will.  My pride.  And me saying and big fat, “YES” to God and his plans.

Because it’s not my will, it’s his.  Because it’s not about me.  It’s about him.  When my eyes are on him, I get better.

So maybe you want something really bad, something that is good and lines up with the bible.  Maybe you’ve been asking for a long time, and you FEEL like he’s ignoring you.  He’s not.  He might be waiting for you to simply humble yourself and give it over to him, saying,

“I trust you enough that even if I NEVER get this thing I want the way I want it, I still trust you, and believe that you are good.  I’m giving it to you.  I surrender.”

And if you can’t say that prayer just yet in all honesty, tell him you can’t, but that you wish you could, and then ask him to help you get there.

Then, if he tells you to go to church and ask the nice strangers to pray for you, listen to him and go, don’t be dumb like me and hold onto your pride while you suffer in pain.  Don’t be dumb like me!

And, by the way, somehow over the last two hours and a bowl of Joe’s O’s, the migraine is gone.

See how much I know about healing?  Not very much.  The migraines I tend to get usually last three days.  Fortunately, God knows everything and I don’t have to.  I just have to know him.

And, side note, in church tonight, we learned that we are the introducer guy, the one who introduces others to the one who can actually help them.  So here’s the introduction for whoever this post was actually written for, because the enemy did everything he was allowed to do to stop it from being written.  So if it’s you this is written for, run to God and do whatever he says.  He had some big plans for you whoever you are.  Don’t even wait, find a bible and go right now to the only one who can help you, heal you and make you whole, his name is Jesus.

a made for tv movie

I LOVE horribly cheesy made for tv movies.  Especially Christmas ones.  I like the mix of predictability, mediocre acting  and always ending on a happy note.  I also love that they can’t include gratuitous shots of people not wearing enough clothes, there is nothing I despise more than movies where people are acting like they are getting physical.  So tacky, so gross, so not the real thing – barf.

Back to point.  The other day I convinced my husband to watch a made for tv Christmas movie with me. I had delicious snacks, so he was lured in.  I’m pretty sure the soundtrack was the same gals that always did the Gilmore Girls, so it was on par with my standards in many, many ways.

In the movie, the main gal hits her head, and gets an amnesia dream where her life is totally different (absolute predictability) from her mean/selfish/ambition driven life and she in the end realizes that she wants to change who she is and have the dream life where she is nice/selfless/semi-philanthropist.  All ends well.

During the made for tv movie, there is a point where her long lost love is telling her all the things he did after they broke up and she moved away.  He saved the grocery list she wrote on the chalkboard in his house, he kept some old mayo in his fridge from when they were together, he even bagged her pillow to always have her scent.  SO kinda creepy, but hearing all the ways he treasured even a memory of her made her realize that she was truly loved by him. All that time she thought he’d moved on and he hadn’t.  Game changer.

Later on he lists the things he loved about their life together and why he wanted her back; how he wanted to be there when she went to sleep, and watch her wake up each morning, to be the one who was there when she needed him, to catch her fall when they ice skated because she was always so clumsy and he knew her better than she knew herself… there was a laundry list of things he stated which included lots of qualities girls hope for in a man, all the little things that say, “I ADORE YOU”.

This made for tv movie summary totally has a worthy point;-)

It was during this movie that it hit me.  When the dude was listing off all his awesome qualities and ways of affirming his love for the main gal, I thought, “Whoa! That’s totally what Jesus does!  He IS that dude that all girls dream about!”  Not in the creepers save your pillow kind of way, but in the, “there for you when you need him, and never lets you down” kind of way.

Now, I love my husband, he does do a lot of the little things that are blockbuster movie worthy.

When he has to get up early for work, he makes a stack of pillows to hide the bathroom light from my face so I can keep sleeping while he gets ready.

He fixes my fuel filter when it smells like diesel in my car before I can notice there was a problem in the first place.

He watches silly movies with me like Pacific Rim and lets me “ELBOW ROCKET” him and doesn’t get me back.

He brings me cold water from the fridge before I go to sleep.

He is totally the guy I was meant to marry in a million-trillion ways.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s super dreamy handsome either.

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a match made in heaven.

But he’s not perfect.

And neither am I.

But I still want perfect.

Sometimes he just doesn’t get me.  Sometimes he’s gone for work and really can’t be there when I need someone.  Sometimes I still feel alone in something even though I’m married and have three beautiful children and an amazing family and friends.

Guess who stands in when other people can’t?

Jesus does.

Other people were never meant to fill all of the voids in my heart.  They were meant to fill some of them, but even in those people meeting my needs, Jesus is behind it.

He is the one who gave me my husband to stand in as a physical representation of how much God loves me.  And when my kids come up to me and say the sweetest most angelic, heavenly things at just the right moment, I have to chalk that up to Jesus sending me a sweet one saying, “Hey, I love you.”  Because normally they do things like this…

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father-son resemblance?

Jesus is behind so much, and we don’t even see it.

Jesus has been there for me in so many moments when no one else could be.

We all long for someone to love us, adore us and to think that we’re special.  And someone does.

When I stood in my littlest one’s room tonight and held her and sang while she rested her head on my shoulder, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved and just absolutely adored her, but my next thought was, Jesus adores me even more.  That is astounding.

He adores you even more.

He adores each one of us even more.

He’s the one who’s going to come dashing in and rescue you from danger, to hold the elevator for you in the building, to wipe the tear from your eye, to kiss your owies, to snuggle you to sleep and to sit with you and watch a made for tv movie with you and not eat all your snacks.

He’s there all the time.

And he’s perfect.

Sometimes he’s demonstrating his love through other people and their actions.  And sometimes it’s just you and him and he covers you in peace as you pray and ask for what to do next.

He’s the made for tv dreamboat we’ve always wanted, only better!

So, if you find yourself lonely in something this season, maybe it’s that someone isn’t understanding you, or getting it, or saying just the right thing at just the right moment… tell Jesus right then, and let him step in and be the one that meets all those hopes and dreams in being loved perfectly.

And, have grace on those who aren’t perfect, because they are just giving Jesus a chance to step in and fill that role.

Thanks for reading!

Outfits

Here’s a story about outfits – both physical AND metaphorical.  It’s deeper than it sounds.

It starts a few weeks back when I was searching for a Christmas outfit for a tea I was going to sing at.  I was pretty excited about it, because I haven’t sang at anything for like a couple of years.  And I actually at one point thought, maybe I wouldn’t get to sing anymore, but then God was like, “Okay, breaks over, you can sing again!”.

So, I was really, really excited, because when I sing, I feel like I get to say in my best, most clear voice: who God is, and what He’s done.  I can’t explain it super good in words, but I feel like a big part of my soul gets to connect with Jesus, and even join with other people when we all praise the same God.  It just feels amazing and I love it.  It’s what I imagine heaven to be like in a way.

Singing is also great, because it’s like a very concentrated time of focusing on just God.  I can’t think about laundry very well when I’m singing to Jesus, so it’s great for undistracted focus on Him.

That all being said, I was pretty jazzed about finding the perfect “debut” outfit for singing.  At this point I thought that was high on the importance level: finding an outfit.

So I picked a dress, but it was more of a leggings dress, so after scouring all the stores, I ordered some cranberry leggings online.  I figured once they showed, I could then move onto picking shoes.  All the men have just checked out of my story, I’m sorry, it gets better.

Saturday comes (6 days to the tea countdown) and no leggings in the mail.  They were lost. Among a few other life stressers, this was topping my list.  So when my husband sat me down and asked me what was wrong on a frazzled Saturday morning, and I said my leggings hadn’t shown up in the mail he had a confused look.

I told him they were important.  I told him how important my outfit was.

Then he asked, “doesn’t the bible say something about not worrying about what you’re going to wear?”.

Yes.

Yes it does.

Stinkers, he was right.  Again, I am stumbling all over my stupid self.  I can’t even get to a tea to sing without bumbling all over about nothing.

So, I prayed with him, and gave my leggings to Jesus.  And it was kinda hard.

Then in church that night, in worship, I gave my whole outfit to him again.  I felt so much better.  I would wear whatever he said.  It didn’t matter.

As our pastor was introducing a new series about Being Jesus.  He said something like, the reason Jesus was born was so that He could die.  The whole culmination of His life was so that He could die on the cross for us.  It was his BIG moment.

Then Jesus said to me, “And I didn’t even get to pick my outfit.”

Yes.  He said that.

I felt like an idiot.  And I was also laughing in my head.

Just to attempt to compare the importance of Jesus’ BIG moment, and me having an outfit for a tea – it’s mathematically impossible, because my life itself in all it’s summation is not even a speck of dust in the entire universe compared to anything Jesus.

And yet, He still talks to me, and makes jokes in church.

Besides, He didn’t even get to wear pants on the cross.  AND, they put a crown of thorns on His head.  That had to be not only humiliating but painful.  Blood was His accessory.

jesus-on-cross-0101

And I was worried about my leggings.  And I am lame.

Skip to the tea.

My leggings were re-shipped, I found shoes.  Everything was fine.

We sang.  People had an opportunity to worship God.

Here is the interesting thing, this is where the other outfit comes in.  The metaphorical one.

Old me, old worship leader me, would have sang and felt like that was apart of who I was.

But this time, it was different.

I felt free.

Old me would have wrapped herself in a cloak that said, “singer, or worship leader, or worship team member-fancy pants”.

That cloak is heavy, it’s made of steel and iron.  It’s like a magnet that people can throw heavy objects of criticism to and they stick.  It drags the wearer down, down and down to the ground. It’s full of judgement, and fear of failure, it’s restricting and limiting, and keeps my head to the ground in hopelessness.  It’s also full of pride, and self glory, and it resembles someone else who is an enemy of God.  It’s a horrible, dark and ugly cloak to wear.

The original cloak came off when our church closed and I was out of ministry for almost three years. For three years I asked God who I was.  If I wasn’t a worship leader, then who was I? Where did I get my value?  My worth?  What did I DO to deserve Jesus?

Years and years, I built who I was around what I thought I did for God.

My works.

Me.

After he stripped all that away, I was almost afraid to go back to any of it.

But this time it was different.

This time I didn’t’ put the cloak back on.

How?  I’m still not sure, other then Jesus made that happen.

He helped me finally understand that He loves me unconditionally.  He doesn’t love me because I sing for Him.  He doesn’t love me because I try to be a good christian.  He doesn’t love me for my efforts.  He doesn’t love me for anything I “do.”

He loved us first.  His love is enough.

And you know what else?  He took another cloak off me the next day.

My homemaker/mother/wife cloak.

The one where I tied my identity and value to what I do at home.  How hard I work all day in my roles as a mother, wife and homemaker.  The cloak where I find my value in who I am, based on what I accomplish, how perfect my kids behave, how tasty and on time dinner is, how clean my home is and how organized my life appears.

Realizing that I can relax because Jesus, the God of the entire universe, the maker of it all, loves me just for who I am – His.  My performance, success, failure, efforts – none of it are tied to who I am.  I am just His.

Do you even understand how chill I have become the last two days?  This is THE BEST Christmas gift I’ve ever been given.  EVER!

How did this truth elude me for years?

His love, His action of dying for me is enough.  It covers it all.  He did it.  Not me.  He does it, not me.

God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matthew 11:30).  That could totally say cloak in another version, I’m just saying (it doesn’t but still, they rhyme.)

He doesn’t want me wearing any cloaks of self identity.

Just walking freely with Him.  In cranberry leggings, apparently;-)