Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He Still Moves

There are boxes everywhere. Some labeled and sealed, others half-packed and yet others opened and rifled through.

My suitcases sit half unpacked at the foot of our bed. I have no where to put the stuff away...as everything else I own seems to be in a box.

We are staring down the barrel of cancer as we pray for my aunt. She battles daily the effects of chemo, infection, and cancer. Three thousand miles away there's nothing we can do but call and pray, and sit helplessly by as we wait for a miracle.

Most years I love Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving the decorations go up, the music comes on and we begin to celebrate. We being anyone who is in listening, seeing, playing distance of me.

There's a tree up and stockings are hung...more out of guilt than want. There's no music playing, a few cookies baked and no Christmas spirit twinkling in my eyes.

And yet, I wait. I pray. I hope.

I want to "find" Christmas this year. To yearn for my God, to celebrate the birth of my Savior, to find excitement and wonder in the snow, lights and gifts. I haven't.

For more than a year I've prayed the same prayer...women's ministry God, give me a place. The prayer went unanswered or at times it seemed like a no. I gave up. I'll find away when life calms back down. When I know where we'll be living this week and next or when family drama settles down. I stopped praying the prayer.

In small steps I've been obedient (or at least tried). I'm going to lead a women's Bible study in January. It seems like too much, even now, but I know that God has lit the path, opened a location and is even calling the women...I can follow Him there.

And almost in reward my tiny little step in a time when I am hurt, angry, confused, overwhelmed and trying desperately not to recoil from the community of God....God moved. A door is opened....a meeting on the horizon about women's ministry. And even as I draw in a breath and wonder how I can do any of it, I am smiling.

I recently got the new Wii Fit Plus game for our Wii. One of the games is to stand on the balance board with the controllers in your hand. On the screen you are balancing on a ball while trying to catch the balls others are throwing at you so you can juggle three balls.

Much of life seems to be this sort of balancing act while you catch and juggle the things the world throws at you. Especially this time of year. But God is good and in control. If you let Him, He'll show you the keys to balance and lob you the things He wants you to juggle.

So even in my world of cardboard boxes, agonizing prayers, and uncertain addresses God is still answering prayer and on the move.

Perhaps this year I'm supposed to sit quietly and celebrate the wonder of a baby born when so many were busy, wondering what life would hold for them and asking where there God was. How many had stopped praying for a Savior? How many weren't talking to God? How many were recoiling from Him and those He put around them? How many were aware that God was still moving?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fat and Secure?

There I stood -- shirt cut low, pants that hung perfectly to show off my curves and hide the parts of my legs I didn't like, make up just right, hair in place, lollipop hanging out of my mouth. I was dressed to get attention and I would do anything to get it.

So insecure and lost that finding "love" and security in feeling wanted by a man, I was obsessed with pursing those feelings. I drank, danced, and did things at night that I was ashamed of in the light of day in hopes of feeling whole, loved...good enough.

That girl lives in my past. I don't often speak to her or think about how hard life was for her. I choose to push out the memories of things she shouldn't have done. I live in my safe, happy suburban life filled with church, children, and stay-at-home-mom moments. In one unexpected moment, my suburban life crashed into hers and I learned something painful about myself.

I stood in my driveway unloading groceries and talking to my mom on my cell phone. At first I didn't pay attention to the whistling. Then I realized someone was whistling at me -- cat calls. I was so flustered and uncomfortable I got off the phone with my mom so I could carry in the groceries quickly. When I darted out the door to get the last of the groceries our Rottweiler puppy darted out before I could put my hands on him.

All the guys in the neighborhood are in awe of our not-so-little little guy and when they guys at the end of the street saw the pup their whistles were redirected in his direction. As Triton, the pup, ran down the street towards them I ran straight towards the guys that had been just making me so uncomfortable.

The conversation was awkward and I was questioned about my "status"...funny I thought the large diamond ring and its shiny companion on my hand would have answered that, however I happily informed them that I am married. To one man's credit he apologized for disrespecting me and my husband by carrying on. (wondered why it is not disrespectful to carry on like that if I had been a single gal, but I didn't say anything)

When I finally herded the puppy back to the house I tried to explain to Will that the guys had been whistling at me, but as I heard myself describe what was going on it sounded like bragging and I shut up. I couldn't find the words to describe how weird the whole thing made me feel and tried to shrug it off.

As the night wore on I began to think of the time in my life when those whistles would have touched off different emotions in me. I would have walked toward those calls, a wiggle in my walk, a little bit of attitude, confident in my ability to turn heads. And then I realized something...I'm avoiding that kind of attention. I'm avoiding it to the point of making myself unhealthy.

During the Beth Moore simulcast a few weeks back Beth spoke about the "heart of your desires" and how that trumps your desires. God looks beyond what we say in we want in this moment to meet the deepest desires of our hearts, and often He uses those desires to draw us to our destiny. She urged us to lay our desires out on His lap...to tell Him what we want. I didn't know how to do that, I don't seem to know what I truly desire in life.

I began to think about how I want to be thinner. It seems the billion times I've tried to revamp my eating and lifestyle I am derailed -- mostly self sabotaging. Including a very recent effort.

Then I began to see into my own heart. I do want to be skinny, but you know what I want more? To be loved and valued, but not the false love and fleeting value that comes from physical acts. Not the love and value I pursued in the dark days of my early twenties. As I began to hide my body under layers of fat I found that I don't get attention from men (save for my loving, amazing husband). I don't feel cheap or like a "piece of meat". No one notices me. There's safety in that for me.

How do I become a woman who is running after God but at the same time not running away from who I was? I am not that girl with the torn and tattered heart hidden under sexy clothes. I am a chosen woman of God who He called out of the darkness and into the Light (see 1 Peter 2:9). There's more safety and security in that Light than any body type can give me.

I don't want to run from that girl anymore. I want her to look into her future and know she finds a love that fills every fiber of her insecure being and that love blesses her with an earthly love that she doesn't even dare to dream of. I don't have to hide or make myself unhealthy...maybe I'm ready to lay a desire in His lap.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Room Looks Happy

I was so tired and sore, but as I walked up the stairs behind her I could barely contain myexcitement. I stood motionless in the hallway as she opened her bedroom door.

As her family and friends began to sing "Happy Birthday" Isabel ran int my arms. I carried her into her room. My heart still pounding, my eyes filled with tears and the butterflies banging around in my belly were nearly the size of those hanging from her ceiling.

After 48 hours of scraping wallpaper, painting walls and furniture, assembling furniture, hanging decorations, making the bed, loading in the shelves and so much more we were done. It all came down to that moment.

Oh, how fun it was, friends! For Isabel's birthday we made over her bedroom. She spent two days with one of her grandparents while we created a pink and green oasis fit for a guitar playing, singing, dancing, dimpled princess.

Even before I saw Isabel's reaction (and we were hoping she loved, but you never know for sure) it was one of the best days of my life. Beyond all the big milestone days (you know wedding, birth of children, etc.) there are those days that are what life and family are all about. This was one of them.

For a few moments after we finished and the waiting for her arrival began I sat on the floor next the closet. I pictured the coming days and years in his room. The laughter, the sleepovers, the prayers, the fashion shows, the singing, the learning, the reading, the heartache, the love, the little girl that will begin to blossom here...and I cried and prayed. What an amazing blessing my sweet daughter!

Here are a few pictures of her room. Oh, by the way her reaction was so cute she was embarassed and unsure, but as she began to explore she told me that the room looks happy and it makes her feel happy inside. Yay, that's what we were hoping for!

View from the hallway.

the view if you were laying with your head on her pillow

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hope Still Reigns

As the beer began to flow the stories started.

My memories of September 11 were painted by television footage, radio interviews and painful memories of loss and anger. But as I sat at a bar a few blocks from the footprint of the World Trade Center I heard things that no man should know or remember. Stories of seas of shoes, the anger that was borne over recovery efforts, bucket lines, paper, smoke, clouds of despair, the sounds of people jumping to their deaths, buildings still standing that were forever ruined in the aftermath of terrorism, and of men who once guarded one of the world's greatest buildings and now guarded a hole in the ground from an office in a trailer.

A series of events after Sept. 11th led to a friendship with a NYC cop and a Port Authority officer. Those friendships beckoned me back to the city and to a giant hole. Days before our arrival they had finished the excavation of the site and were now doing what Americans do best -- rebuilding hope and chasing progress. Even the wild anger of mad men and the unfathomable sorrow of loss weren't stopping the American spirit. Hearts would beat again, trains would run, life would be lived...hope still reigned.

There is no doubt that day changed the lives of most Americans -- be it the loss of life, the loss of a feeling of security, the reality of hatred in the world, or something else. We all carry away scars. And while admittedly I don't know the glory that will befall God from this tragedy I can tell you something that has happened in my own life.

I am thankful. I am more aware of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday; be it around the block, across town or miles away. The first responders carry a burden that often goes unnoticed in the mad rush of life today. Now, as sirens blare or lights flash, I pray. Father, protect them and those they are going to serve.

In the Culpeper community tomorrow, September 12th, there is an opportunity to say thank you in person. A Community Event for Culpeper, southern Fauquier, Orange, Madison & Rappahannock Counties Honoring our Firefighters, EMS, Law Enforcement & First Responders -- Code: Honor. Even if you aren't local, take a moment to visit the website and leave a thank you message for a local hero.

I honestly don't know the good that has come out of September 11 in the lives of those who stood among the rubble and searched for signs of life and death. Those men who I drank with, I know there lives have forever been changed and they might not ever be "okay" again. I pray that God will use them mightily and let them learn to rest in His peace. There are a lot of questions I have about that day and while I likely will never get to ask God or hear the answers there are a few things I do know...that He has showed me.

Whether or not we ever bring the mad men to our justice God will bring them to His. The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:7-9

Hate is not to be in me. If I turn the anger and hatred toward the men that hate us where will I be? Angry. Fighting. Fearful. Bitter. No, it is not ours to hate. Daily I choose to turn that energy to God and ask Him to work in the lives of those that would destroy our nation founded on freedom in Him. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45

Hope will always survive. I was made to put my hope in a Creator who chose to love me. He will be forever and so will my hope. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

So, friends, today my banner of hope flies; even as my heart remembers the ache of eight years ago. I am thankful for the stories of survivors, rescues and hope. I am thankful for the men and women who chose that day (and every day) to serve. I pray for those who carry scars from that day, who live loss everyday; I pray that You are their hope Father.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chasing 99 0n My Way to 34

As Isabel was coloring her Bible lessons worksheet today she began to sing. The words of her song touched my heart...

"God keep talking to me,
Because I love you,
I'm listening..."

Oh my!

Yesterday was day one of 99. I'm chasing 99.


I saw a link on Facebook yesterday to Chasing 99. Read through the Bible in 99 days -- they have a schedule laid out and talk about the time commitments (also have plans for the New Testament or just the Gospels and Acts).

I've never read through the whole Bible. I liked the thought. And as I began to unfold the timeline in my head, I realized I'd be finished with the reading days before my birthday and a couple of weeks before Christmas.

So, my new goal: I'm chasing 99 on my way to 34! I can't wait to hear what God has to say as I turn my attention to His Word. As I gear up for the holidays, wind down the year and find my legs as a homeschooling stay-at-home mom God is ready to speak.

And as Isabel shouted toward the ceiling of our office/study this afternoon...

"God keep talking to me,
Because I love you,
I'm listening..."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Bees of My Life

I love to take pictures; to capture a moment or a glimpse of hidden beauty. I see much of life through the lens and even when I don't have the camera to my eye I often see snapshots that would have been click worthy.

Sunday afternoon I took a walk with God and my camera. As I wandered the fields and woods around our family's mountain home I asked God to open my eyes. Father, I prayed, open my eyes to Your creation. Let me see the details of this world that you placed around me. Help me find the photos.

I saw a butterfly on a bush and rushed to capture the moment. I had taken some shots earlier of a pretty beat up swallow tail butterfly. I was hoping for the perfect specimen and the perfect picture. Before I could push the button the butterfly was gone...so much for that.

As I stood there at the edge of the tree line I heard a buzzing. My eyes focused in on a bee buzzing for tiny flower to tiny flower. I moved into the edge of the bushes and began to focus the camera on him. I could hear his buzzing stop as he climbed into the bloom. I saw his legs laden with pollen as he bumbled through his God-given job. He was beautiful and perfect.

I must have taken 25 pictures of the bee and was caught up in his flora-centered world when my daughter, Isabel, appeared next to me. "Whatcha taking pictures of mom?" She asked her sweet little sing-song voice. Like I woke from a great dream of bright colors and untouchable worlds I was confused and didn't answer her. After a second round of questioning I managed to mumble something about a bee.

"A bee? Why? Bees are gross!" She said as she wandered off to live her own adventures in the fields of our mountain oasis.

And as I stood there, I was annoyed. The bee was not gross, he was perfect and beautiful. I saw him not as a bug or a nuisance (not at all the way I saw the bees that have stung me in the past!), but I saw him as God made him. I saw him in living color.

Monday brought ponderings of what to write today for my first blog of this week. Should write of recharging my batteries in the mountains of Virginia? Should I write of the blessings of last week -- family, friends, and an adorable husband? Should I write about my bee?

As I thought about the bee God began to prick my soul a little bit. Well, really, a lot. I prayed to see His creation the way He sees it. So I could capture the image, so I didn't have to engage but observe. I don't ask God for the in my life. I don't ask God to let me see His children as He sees them. I don't ask God to show me how their are laden not with pollen or the beauty of flowers but by heartache, pain and the trials of this life. I don't focus my heart or my eye upon them.


Honestly, I don't know. And in all truth, I feel awful about it.

So, this week I pray....Father, let me see Your children as you let me see that bee. Open my eyes to the details of their busy lives and heavy loads. Instead of buzzing and chatter, let me hear the rhythm of their life and their work. Let me be caught up in the moment with them so that I can recall details they share later to give them a Word or share a smile. Allow me to tend to the bees in my life, not through observation or a disengaged lifestyle but up-close and involved that I might impact others for You. Give me Your eyes to see Your creation with the love You have for it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1 in 90,000

Faces turned heavenward, arms spread reaching for the hands of the Father, music just a shadow of the voices in praise...worship. Often on Sunday mornings I listen to the voices fill the auditorium and imagine that God is looking down. He kisses the foreheads of His children tipping their heads back for a glimpse of His face. With the strong and gentle hands of a Father He reaches down to grab His children's hands. Imagine how His heart beats with delight in hearing their voices.

The thought always amazes me. An amazing picture.

This weekend I had the opportunity to view the Beth Moore simulcast. While the broadcast was amazing (and I will share another day what God gave me) there was something else that I could barely fathom.

90,000 people. There were 90,000 people in 516 locations (in 45 states and 8 countries) participating in the simulcast. That's a lot of people, yeah?

90,000 voices. When Travis lead us in amazing worship moments there were 90,000 voices raised. Can you imagine how it sounded in heaven?

90,000 voices saying "I love you, daddy" and lifting their little hands and faces to Him.

And as I stood there amazed by the thought of being part of something that large. I was humbled in the same breath.

90,000 voices but He heard every one. God heard my voice as loud as the worship leaders. He kissed my forehead and touched my palms. He delighted in my singing (as off-key and choked up as it got!) as He delighted in our worship.

Father, thank you that when feel small, insignificant...just one of many...You remind me that You know me. Be it 1 in 20, 1 in 90,000, or 1 in million; You hear my heart and my voice as loud as any other. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where Do Your Headlines Point?

From my end table it beckons, "How to Get More Out of Life" the magazine cover shouts. And as though that's not enticing enough the sub-title not only promises more it wants to deliver everything - "Simple steps to good lovin', rock-solid confidence, the perfect outfit, more time for you, and everything else you really want".

I am happy to say I didn't buy the magazine (it was given to me in a stack from a friend), but as I sit next to it every day I've been sucked in. I leaf through the pages looking for the everything. Looking for the secrets of life, love, happiness and having it all. And while I've found great pointers on extending the life of your jeans, great Facebook profile pictures and skin care I have not found anything life altering.

Hmmm...but I know where there are such promises....

"steps to good lovin'" - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

"rock solid confidence" - So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:6

"the perfect outfit" - ...for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27

"more time for you" - you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. (choose) what is better, and it will not be taken away... Luke 10:41, 42

"everything else you really want" - Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

God's truths don't need flashy headlines, empty promises or pictures of perfect people. Instead He plants His words inthe hearts of His children and sends them into the world to be "read" by others. Our lives are the subheads that point others hearts to the main attraction...where do the headlines of your life point?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Little Martha in All of Us

She seems to be everywhere the past three weeks. The subject in conference sessions, Bible study lessons, even a random show I caught on late night tv. Martha is everywhere! No, not Martha Stewart, but the first the homemaking, hostess to get our attention...Martha of Bethany.

Do you know her story? I'm sure you've heard snippets, even if you don't know her by name.
She's the gal that had a meltdown at Jesus as her sister, Mary, sat at His feet. You see, she was fed up. Tired of being the only one that did household chores and cooking while her sister seemed to be frittering away her time. She is best known, I suppose, as the woman who missed her moments with Jesus because she was caught up in chores and the day-to-day stuff of life. And Jesus told her Mary had made the right choice. (I'm paraphrasing here.)

Do you remember her now? Have you heard people say you need to strive to be a Mary in a Martha world? Or just not to be Martha? I have, but, perhaps they are missing the bigger picture. I know I was, until this month.

Yes, Martha gets caught up in her own life and kitchen and has to be nudged by Jesus, but do you see how she is open to it? How does the conversation start? In Luke 10 we are there in Martha's home and watch the scene unfold. Martha opens up to Jesus -- she is honest with her feelings. She wants Him to fix it, to be there for her, to understand that it doesn't feel right that she is the only one doing anything.

Do you know how often I'm not honest about how I feel? Even with God? I know I shouldn't feel that way or feel guilty about my feelings? So I don't take them head on or throw them down for God to see? Seriously...God. The God of the universe who knows my every thought, I don't talk to Him about how I feel. Why? I am not completely sure why, I guess it is a control/vulnerability thing. But I do know that it is only when you share your heart...your whole heart...that you reach a level of trust and true growth. And that God can begin to heal.

Fast forward a bit in Martha's life. Her brother, Lazarus, has died and her heart is broken when Jesus does not come to save him. In fact, Jesus shows up after her brother has been in the tomb for four days. Can you imagine her disappointment as she stands there before Jesus?

Where were You? I called out to You! I needed You and You did not come. Has your heart ever cried out to Him like this?

Jesus tells Martha Lazarus will rise again and she acknowledges that yes, death is not the end.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25, 26

Do you believe?

"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." John 11:27

In the midst of her pain, loss and disappointment she nods her head. Yes, she believed. This is the strongest statement of faith by a woman in the Bible.

And so it is in these chapters of Luke and John that I find myself reading, studying and camping in these last couple of weeks. And while I loved the new perspective I couldn't see the application in my life...yet.

I love when He does that. He brings you to what you need before you need it. And while I am not ready to share the trials of my heart this week, I can tell you that God has been showing me Martha for a reason. So that in midst of the heartache and pain for these last few days I can open up to Him, sharing my deepest hurts and anger...so that He can heal it! And allowing me in the midst of the deluge to look up to Heaven and see the Son. (see Son Showers for more on this)

So next time you hear that you shouldn't be a Martha, you can smile and know that there should be a little Martha in all of us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He Waits for You

Someone asked me recently, "What would you want them to know?"

We were discussing the two children I placed for adoption in my early twenties. "That I love them," was my immediate response.

With a nod she said, "Of course they'll know that. Just by your sacrifice. They'll know that."

That answer should have given me a warm fuzzy feeling. After all that's what marks the experience of a birthmother, the experience of carrying a baby for nine months and kissing if fair well...giving them up. Sacrifice. Right?

But it didn't.

You see, I want them to know I love them. That a day doesn't go by that they are not in my thoughts and prayers. That everyday there is a hole that only they can fill. That as wonderful as my life is, it will never be complete until I look into their eyes and tell them I love them. That's it, right there...that I can tell them I love them. I wait for the day when our relationship is not defined by any labels, letters or words spoken by others but of moments filled with life lived together. I wait to know their laughter, memorize their smiles and get to know them.

And it occurred to me as I began to ponder the longing and the waiting. That perhaps my experience as a birthmother is not so unlike Jesus's experience of longing and waiting for us.

The stories of His sacrifice are universal, people who don't even "believe" can recite the details of His birth and His death. But He wants more than just a nod at what He gave up for us.

He waits for us to look for Him - - to understand that He is more than any label or book or words spoken by others. He is God. He made your heart and wants to whisper His love to you daily.

I have no idea if (or when) I will get the chance to know my girls, but every day I have the opportunity to lay my heart in the scarred hands of the One who waits for me. The thought that Jesus loves me and longs for me has taken on a whole new meaning in my life as I view it through the lens of my own wanting and waiting for love.

What do you long for? A baby? A husband? A wife? Healing? How does it make you feel to know that there is someone that has that same passion and grief for you? Take a moment today and bask in the love that we so often take for granted. Thank Him for waiting for you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Got Ministry? Monday!!

One of the highlights of being at She Speaks was listening to all the different ministry ideas. I don't know about you, but I love...LOVE...watching God at work. Especially when He uses our time, talents and passions to change lives. And as I was basking in the post-conference-mountain-top high I began to wonder how we could all see how God is moving.

Thus started Got Ministry? Mondays! Woohoo! I know there are tons of you out there that volunteer, lead, organize, support, pray for, believe in, are dreaming up, etc. all sorts of programs and organizations. Well, here is the place to share them -- details, links, pictures, etc.

Over the past three years I have had the extraordinary pleasure to worship, pray, lead with and learn from Mike Webb. This year as he has stepped out in faith to start a ministry that combines his passion for the outdoors with his passion for teaching people about God.

Psalm 19:1says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork." And Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead." Since creation reveals God's attributes and is declaring His glory, we ought to be able to discover and learn all about the God who did the creating. Why, then, do people not "see" or "hear" what creation is revealing?Our purpose is to focus, using a series of Meet Your Maker events, people's attention on the world around them. As they focus, I believe the incredible design features and complexity of the natural world will make it obvious there is a Designer behind it.
As Romans continues, it is up to the individual whether they do anything with that knowledge, "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (1:21).
My purpose has been fulfilled though, in that we helped them meet their maker; we gave them an introduction.Ultimately, I'd like to help answer the question of Psalm 8 for them, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?" God loves and cares for His crowning creation - man, and has a purpose for each and everyone of us.

If you live in Virginia you should hook up with Mike for hikes, outings (like watching this past week's meteor shower), and camping events. Don't worry, if you don't live in Virginia there are still awesome ways to connect with GOD Endeavors -- their website has great devotionals with Bible driven topics that are reinforced by the very things that God has put around us. Also, this year Mike lead a trip in Arizona, meeting God in the Grand Canyon and other locations.

In the time I have gotten to know Mike and his wife, Valerie, I have admired their faith and willingness to serve. But this year I watched as they stepped out to follow Christ where few are going...into the woods and up the mountains. Are you ready to read the Bible and see how God's very Word unfolds around you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Someone You've Never Met

Over the past few months I have had the honor of praying Buddy. Buddy is the brother-in-law of my dear friend Lee. Buddy lost his battle with cancer yesterday. And though I never saw his face or shook his hand, I cried...a lot.

I began to wonder how I could feel such pain and loss for a man I'd never met. And as the day unfolded God began to show me what Buddy had done in me and how he had shown God's light into a world that could have stolen his hope and faith.

Through Lee's blog and a facebook page we were given updates on Buddy and all he was doing. Through his treatments (which he took only so he could fight for the ones who love him here) to his everyday life, Buddy's eyes stayed fixed on the cross. He believed God for a cure and knew that Jesus walked with him down cancer road.

After a few weeks of eating, working and living like in what can only be considered a gift of time and grace from God, Buddy's body could not go on. His final moments were spent with his son and wife.

Yesterday afternoon I was laying on my bed working on a Bible study when I felt the undeniable urge to pray for Buddy and his family. To ask God to bring him home and to hold his family's hearts as they say goodbye. Bring him home, Father. My heart cried out for this man's long journey and his family's loss.

The announcement came less than an hour later. Buddy had gone home. And as I cried over my keyboard I asked God why it was effecting me so.

Here's what I could come up with:

First, I've been praying for him. The privilege of speaking to God's heart about someone draws you closer to that person -- even if only in spirit.

Second, Buddy story of faith humbles me and spurs me to grow. Buddy is a faith hero in my little life. To know and love God so much that you can shine His light in the midst of your own dark days is astounding. Buddy's story of strength, love and humor (I remember a story of him wearing a horse hair wig & hat combo to chemo to give others laughs) spoke volumes to those who love God (at least to me), but can you imagine what it said to those who don't. Here's a man who loves this God so much that he can meet cancer head on and still praise Him. Can you imagine?

So today, as Buddy's family begins the leg of this journey of saying their earthly goodbyes, Buddy is in heaven...in that place Jesus prepared for him. He is whole, laughing and worshipping, but I know that he will hear those words..."well done, good and faithful servant" and perhaps Buddy will begin to see how much his journey toward death touched lives.

I want that. I want to be a person who shines so brightly for Jesus that is what people see and remember. Don't you? What opportunities has He laid before you today? In storms or sunny weather; in triumph or trial He has asked us to love so well that all the world knows we are His. Will you?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Unique Enough?

You knew them. Everyone knew them. The girls with the perfect clothes and hair that never caused a morning meltdown as she tried to tame it. The cool boys who laughed with the teachers, led other students on the field or in the halls. The cool kids. The "in" crowd.

Whatever you call them, every school had them. And, oh how I wanted to be them. I spent so much time drooling over and dreaming of their lives. Wishing my closet would suddenly be full of cool clothes. Hoping that today that cute popular boy would notice me. Silently begging that today that that girl would want to be my bestest friend.

That was exhausting, you know? And what's even worse...it never happened. I was always quirky, clumsy Wendy who knew lots of people but called very few "friend". I was different and I hated it.

Flash forward several years and something odd has happened. I fear I'm not different!!

How funny is that? As I sat in a room full of women all running hard after God and answering His call in their life I began to worry. All these women spread out at the tables in the writer's track at She Speaks and we all listened about how hard it is to be published and the hoops you have to jump through to even be considered.

And all I wondered was am I unique enough?

Do I have a something to bring to the table that no one else does?

Coming back home, I began looking around my life. Do I have what it takes to leave a mark for Jesus?

And I found the answer in my own words to someone else at She Speaks! (who knew I was so wise!?!?) We were discussing why people are called to come to the conference and this woman was the 3rd or 4th that told me it, "It sounds cliche, but...". As as she her story unfolded I sat riveted. When she was done I told her that I didn't think it was cliche.

Nothing God does is cliche!

His every breath is unique, creating. He spoke (breathed) our very world into existence. He breathed life into you and me. And every day, as we trudge around lost in our little worlds of traffic, laundry and email He is changing lives, healing hearts, and breathing love.

So, I am unique! And so are you! Where it like a crown, a heavenly crown that the world might see something different in you (that would be Jesus - smiles!).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Funny - Dog Doo Dance

Had a long week? Laugh it off. Enjoy a good belly laugh on me...or in this case at me.

I knew I was taking a chance, but I was too tired to really care. I picked my path carefully through the cool, wet grass. I hadn't "scooped" the back yard today so there were all sorts of land mines hidden in the darkness. If I could just walk him to the other side of the yard the puppy would "go" and I could go back inside to my warm bed. In the dim light I could just make out Triton's (our 12 week old puppy) outline as he sniffed around.

I patted my leg and walked a little faster. My bed and the indent from my head in my pillow were the only things I could think of. My eyelids hung low and were very heavy. Hurry up puppy!!

And then...it happened. I took another step and instead of the early morning dew it was soft and ookie. Yep, I had stepped in "it".

Ugh. The hose is around the side of the house and there are any number of awful surprises lying in the grass between here and there. So what do you do when you step in something awful in the middle of the night? I started wildly scraping and rubbing my foot on the grass. Gagging and whining I danced around the backyard.

Well, I must have looked like I was having fun because Triton decided to join in. Still trying to get my foot clean, I was not prepared for our stronger-than-he-looks pup to grab my nightgown and start pulling.

So there I am, my nightgown stretched to its limits, 2 a.m. in my backyard with dog poop on one foot and all I want to do is scream. As I begin trying to pull my nightgown back (yeah, not a good plan, I know that now!) I forget all about my foot and the grossness that is on my sole and the other piles of ookiness that are hiding in the grass.

I pull. He pulls. I pull. He pulls.

Then I hear what can only be the sounds of seams ripping and I am NOT going to stand in my backyard in my undies with poop on my foot. I'm just not. So I put one foot on the dog and pull with all I have. I won back my nightgown and began to run for the door.

And then, it happened again....

Yep. Other foot. New pile. And as I stand there trying to figure out whether to laugh or cry the puppy grabs my nightgown again. As I reach down to pull him off, I realize it was my icky foot that I held him back with during our tug-o-war. Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked toward the sky...

I laughed so hard I thought I would wake the neighborhood. Who goes through things like this? Just me?

I grabbed the pup's collar and we walked toward the side of the hose, land mines didn't scare me anymore we just had to get clean. And we did.


Just in case my 2 a.m. adventure didn't give you a chuckle I'm going to post a clip from one of my favorite comedians - Brian Regan. Turn up your speakers and enjoy.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Chips are Enough

Standing at the top of the stairs she was a sight to behold. She had dressed up, not leaving any detail (or square inch) uncovered: plastic yellow high heels; two skirts - a long hot pink one under a short frilly blue one; her sparkly princess t-shirt under a shiny pink tube top looking thing; feather boa; silver jeweled crown and pink fuzzy ski hat.

"Mom, I'm dressed as a princess. I'm going to play. Okay?" My three-year-old daughter proudly announced.

It was almost painful to tell her that we have to leave in a few minutes for my Bible study and there wasn't time to play much.

She tilted her blonde head to the side, catching her hat before it fell off. She was pondering. I knew their was a negotiation in my future. Quick to find a deal for both parties involved Isabel is my negotiator, she would try to strike a deal to get the leopard out of his spots, and I'm sure in the end he'd be happy to be plain however she worked it out.

"How long do we have?" She finally asked. "Less than 10 minutes," I replied.

"10 minutes. I can play for that long." And with that she skipped off down the hallway her curls bouncing and her little heels click-clacking all the way.

I laughed as I walked back to the kitchen. Funny how I thought ten minutes wasn't enough to get started and she'll have created and lived in a whole imaginary world in that time. I want to learn to be like that, where every breath is a blessing and every detail God plants around us is a delight be it a butterfly, Popsicle or the princess phone stuck between the couch cushions that had been given up for lost.

Lessons I learn from my three-year-old.

Yesterday there was a group of neighborhood kids eating chips on our front porch. One of the girls thought she heard the ice cream truck and became very excited. When the UPS truck appeared she was heartsick that there was no creamy treat in her near future. She whined and whined over and over again. "I want ice cream."

Isabel, mouth full of chips, mumbled, "I don't need ice cream, I have chips and that makes me happy." I was awe struck. She is thankful for what she has and that is enough for her.

Oh, how I want to practice that daily. Instead of returning home from a friend's house and wishing my carpet wasn't green (oh we're talking GREEN ya'll) or my furniture wasn't second hand. Instead of looking at the trendy outfits of the sweet women around me at She Speaks, see my clothes as good enough and focus on the real beauty of their hearts.

Sigh. Lessons from my three-year-old.

One of my favorite verses is actually right before one that we all memorize. You know "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" or some similar wording, right? Empowering and a good mantra to chant when you are facing those last ten minutes of a workout and your legs say no.

But have you ever gone one verse before that? Do you know what it is about? Contentment. Taking your ten minutes and living them fully. Being happy with your chips, your sofa, or even your circumstance. Knowing that God is enough for every moment.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:12
For today, I'll follow my three-year-old's example (at least in this, hopefully not in the hissy fits that find her face down on the kitchen floor...but I'll keep ya posted!). I'll smile at the portion God has given me and thank Him for my ugly green carpet.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Let the Wringing Begin

Last year God met me in a hotel in North Carolina, not to teach me of ministry or speaking, but to heal my heart. He used the work of others and some of His gentle daughters to touch my heart and to begin lifting me out of the well of Postpartum Depression.

When I returned home after last year's conference the dark clouds that had hung over my head and heart for a year (almost) were gone. I greeted my husband and children as a smiling, happy woman; something I hadn't been able to be or find since before the birth of my son.

Returning to She Speaks this year I had no idea, I mean NO idea, what I was there for. Weird to answer a call to do something and have no inclination as to why. I told Lysa on Friday night at the little bloggy get together that I came as a sponge and God would do the wringing out later.

I had no idea the wringing had already begun or just how painful it would become.

Friday afternoon I visited the prayer room. What an awesome (in the true sense of the word) place that is. God meets you in there. It is as though Luann and her team had created a place for Him to dwell and beckon you in. And there, waiting for you on the tables, is a God-sized message on a tiny slip of paper.

Each woman from the conference has a slip of paper with her name on it. The P31 team prays, and prays, over the names. Then with prayer again they ask God where to set the names down. On three tables in the room there are large sheets of paper, each one with a name for God on it. Being God's hands they lay the names around the papers....right where God wants them.

When I found my name I thought my knees were going to fall out from under me. Here is what I found:

Jehovah - Rapha
The Lord Who Heals
God has provided the final cure for spiritual,
physical and emotional sickness in Jesus Christ, God can heal us

My God who met me in that very building last year reached down from Heaven and kissed my cheek.

I was so excited I called my husband, I sought out some P31 team members, and even told perfect strangers. I had no idea God wasn't done whispering to my heart yet.

As the weekend went on and I moved from one session about writing to the next the direction God was pushing me in was becoming more clear. And the more God showed me that He wants me to write about being a birthmother the more I resisted him. I'll be honest, I don't want to. I know that writing about my unexpected pregnancies, handing my child to another woman to raise, and the days since then I will face rejection, judgment and vulnerability that I know I cannot handle.

And slowly God started whispering to my heart, again.

I am the Lord who heals. Let me have those dark places. Let me heal your heart and use it to heal others. Wendy, don't let her walk alone.

I don't want her to walk alone. That woman who thinks the grief will kill her after saying goodbye to her baby. That sweet young girl who is sitting in an abortion clinic thinking this is the "easy" way out of her troubles. The young woman who just figured out a little plastic stick can change your life in an instant.

Father, You promise to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. And how I cling to that promise today as the tears roll down my cheeks. I am scared and hurting, but I know others hurt worse and have so much more to fear. I thank you turning my ashes into beauty and my pain into light. Help me Father...I can't do this. Only you can.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She Laughs

I opened my hotel room door, ready to dart over to the elevator. Sure that I could sneak down to grab some breakfast at the buffet in the hotel and then return to the room to get ready for the opening day of the conference. As the door clicked shut behind me a tall, lovely woman began waving at me from the elevator.

"Oh man!" was all I could think. As I walked closer she came to introduce herself, but I knew who she was. It was Shari Braendel. Now friends, I won Shari's book "If Clothes Could Talk" of my sweet friend Rachel's blog a few months ago. Shari is the fashion guru! I've never met her face-to-face.

So there I stand in my baggy sweats, over-sized t-shirt and flip-flops...no make-up, no nothing. Seriously! I was blessed by her hug and how if she noticed my look she was kind enough to not mention it.

Later that day when I told Rachel about it she laughed and said, "She was probably thinking OH I am so glad she won my book. She So needs it!"

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

I had the lovely opportunity to room with my friend Susan who I met last year at She Speaks. She is from South Carolina and has the thickest (and highly entertaining) twang and just the dearest little heart. Well our neighbor in the hotel happened to be my roommate from SS last year, Lee. Lee's laughter is contagious and she just seems like the big sister I never had, but always needed.

So Friday morning we had a little reunion in our hotel room. The hugs were full and lingering and the laughter was loud and often.

At one point, Susan decide to use her camera to take our picture. The first attempt was her holding the camera at arm's length. It was a cute picture of Susan and I am sure Lee and I looked great, except all you could see of us was my left eye and Lee's hair. Oops.

So onto the self-timer option. LOL! Well, I am not sure how many pictures Susan took that way, but I can tell you most of them had us laughing, eyes closed and in one Susan was getting up to check the camera. We laughed so hard that I know they could hear us in the hallway. It was great.

Let me tell you, last year I was blessed with a handful of friends that I have kept and loved all year long. This year I was surround by more lovely women and I can imagine that next year's reunion will be even bigger. God teaches us so much through She Speaks, but one of His greatest gifts is the friendships He hides in the elevators, hallways, even the restrooms for us to find along the way.

***More She Speaks highlights tomorrow. Come back and here about my amazing Prayer Room experience.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Heavenly Road Signs

"In 100 yards, turn left. Then make an immediate left. And make an immediate left."

Um? I couldn't have heard that right.

"In 100 yards, turn left. Then make an immediate left. And make an immediate left," she said again.

What? The calm, computerized voice of my GPS was asking me to turn around. Seriously? In a moment of panic (what exit is it??) I flipped the GPS on to show me the way home from Charlotte yesterday. I was tired and busy wrestling with God, afraid I'd miss where I was going I thought a co-pilot would be good.

Then my co-pilot lost her mind. First sign of trouble, that computer had me headed west. Funny, when I left home last Thursday Virginia was north of North Carolina. Second sign of trouble, the request for three immediate left turns on a divided highway. Donuts?? I think the NC humidity and frizzed her little wires; she wanted me to do donuts on a divided highway.

I was beginning to get extremely anxious. "I just wanna go home!" I was whining out loud.

Barreling down the road I was almost in tears. I had to get back to 85 -- wherever that was from here. And point my little silver van in the direction of Virginia -- hopefully that was still north. I crested a small hill as my blood pressure was skyrocketing and my heart beating in my ears...meltdown was coming.

Then a small little yellow sign on the side of the road caught my eye. There among the overgrown weeds and discarded junk was a new shiny little sign.

"You Need Jesus"

Who says God doesn't give you road signs? Huh?

I laughed out loud and began to pray. Oh Father, I hear You. Help me. Please. I am lost without You, even with computer guidance.

Within a few minutes there was a sign for 29 North. I followed it and that in turn brought me back to 85 North.

Oh how pleased I was to be back amongst the trucks and wide lanes. With the music blaring I was singing and dancing and just driving along. Going over the events of the weekend, God began to remind me that we have unfinished business.

I know, Father. I know what you want of me, but I can't.

No answer.

I don't want to write that...don't want to splay open my heart for others to judge me. I don't want to be rejected for my story of failure and loss -- haven't I had that enough?

No response.

Father, I don't want to. But if it is what you want... (I began to cry, again) I will.

Suddenly my rear view mirror was filled with the front grill of this semi that apparently thought I should move. And in the breath before I got angry and told the truck driver off, I saw the sign. To the left of the license plate hung a red and white sign written backward so I could read it in the mirror.

"Jesus Loves You"

I love You too. I'm scared and nervous, but I'm ready.

***I will share my AWESOME She Speaks moment tomorrow and Wednesday. If you went, please leave a link to yours...I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Son Showers

The sun is beating down on the car. I'm thankful for the AC that is taking the edge off, but I feel the heat on my arms and hands. Summer in the south, huh? 92 degrees, according to my car.

And as I am drinking in the clouds and marveling at the beauty that is the Virginia countryside, it starts raining. There are no dark clouds. No rain clouds. The sun is shining and it is raining. Sun showers, that's what that is called, right?

So I look up on the handy little thermometer thingy on my car at the temp has fallen like 7 degrees. When I stepped out of the car at little later it was still shining and raining. It smelled like rain. My skin was cooled by the light touch of rain while my body was warmed by the sun. So cool.

And I began thinking. Being wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus allows us to experience Son Showers. (track with me here)

Jesus warms my soul -- my whole body from inside out is touched by His light. And while the showers will come (read that again, yes they will come) we are still warm in His love.

After life's storms pass I am keenly aware life around me. Colors are brighter. I breathe life in a little deeper. Just like after the rain -- you can smell the change in the air, feel the temp come down.

So, dear ones, let us wrap ourselves in Jesus so that when the rain comes we know the joy of Son Showers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Painted Toes, Humbled Heart

I've packed and repacked. Tried on every outfit and vetoed a few...only to repack them. I've worried that my yellow tablet of paper isn't cute enough. I don't have stylish pens. Oh I've even painted my toenails, for goodness sake.

For what? To impress the women at She Speaks. Ugh.

And it dawned on me as I went over my checklist of things to be packed that I'm so caught up in the who's and the what's that I haven't stopped this afternoon to ponder the why.

Why I am going?

The honest answer, I don't know. I felt called and at every turn when I tried to find a reason not to go God stepped in and straighted the tracks for me to roll on through. No really, He did. At one point, as I was debating about canceling my registration I got an email that I already had money in my scholarship account (pretty impressive for a girl who hadn't mailed any letters or made an requests!). Some one's clerical/bookkeeping error LAST YEAR made it so they sent a check in months after the conference was over, but just in time to be an answer to prayer when I asked, "Do you really want me to go?"

I took that as a yes.

Oh, yes, I do know, that I am going because God said, "come". I don't know His why, but I shouldn't need to. In my haze and insecurity I have been chosing to focus on all things safe and controllable. Not surrender to the fact that God's doing something here and I can either be obedient and willing or possibly miss out on a huge opportunity and blessing that God has in store.

Tonight, I am humbled. So badly this past year I have wanted, yearned, to be find where God wants me to be. To find what it is He is asking of me. Since I so clearly thought I knew last year before so many details in my life were changed. So now, as I am girl without a ministry on the edge of the first big step in obedience I will stop worrying about my hair, clothes and superficial stuff.

I wonder, what would my life be like if everyday I thought less about what the world thinks of me and more about what God thinks and wants? Imagine striving to be the best you God made and not caring if they noticed your Wal-Mart sneakers or your chipped nail polish. What would that look like? What would you look like inside and out?

Father, I praise Your for pricking my heart this evening. For reminding me that what You have in mind is so much bigger than these trivial things that I get lost in. I beg You -- open my heart and my eyes this weekend. Allow me to be the woman You are calling me to be. Amen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Do I Have to Say?

Don't you just love it when something leaps off the screen or the page at you? Or rings so loudly in your ears that that is all you can hear? An answer or a prompt from Heaven that you can't ignore.

For those of you that don't know, I am going to the She Speaks conference in a couple of days (click the button on the right for more info -- incredible experience for women in several ministries -- more on that another day). When I first learned of She Speaks last year I was drawn to it from a Women's Ministry standpoint, sure that I could learn a lot and expand my life in ministry. I had an incredible time and while God met me in a very personal way that weekend He also sent me home with new knowledge and a pocket full of contacts.

Oh how things can change in a year. Attending a new church left me ministry-less and it seems that no matter how hard I try God (or maybe someone else) is just keeping me out of the same track. So, why did God call me back to She Speaks? Your asking me? Ha! After much prayer and repeated prompting I signed up for the writer's track.

Almost immediately I began wondering what I was going to write. What do I have to say that someone else would want to read? Truthfully, that thought has lingered until this last week. Now and then I write a blog and am ecstatic when I get some responses. As we were discussing self-image last week (a series that brought lots of comments via facebook, blog and email) I read something. Something that pricked my heart.

"The experiences with God and the wisdom you’ve gained in your journey with him will be treasures for someone. Whether it’s your children or your friends or the masses- God will make sure the exact audience who is supposed to be blessed by your teaching will be." -- Lysa TerKeurst

I had never considered writing for just my children. You know, two of my grandparents wrote their autobiographies to share their life stories with us and future generations. And as I began to think what it would have been like if my Grandmother (who did write of her life and the major events) had written her knowledge of raising two kids two years apart (same as mine), of being a wife and mother, of her faith and her walk with God. Can you imagine?

So, I go this week to learn more about writing (as a ministry) and the publishing world. Then when I come home I will begin to write the words I want my daughter and son to know later. And perhaps, God will find another audience for my words. Wouldn't that be cool?

Friends, I ask for your prayers this week. That I might God where He's calling me to and see His direction so clearly.

***Special Note to the She Speaks gals reading -- I'd love to meet face to face at the conference. Leave me a comment or drop an email. Have you hear Jen is having a bloggy get together on the veranda (if that doesn't sound southern, I don't know what does). Will you be there? Let's catch up!! :) ***

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Yeah?...Well....

I was weeding the front flower beds the other night and listening to two young girls play up the street. Most days you see these two palling around and just doing life together. But this must have been one of their off days. They were arguing.

At first it was, "I don't want to play with you either." Then it was, "Well you can't come to my birthday part and we're having a moonbounce." And so it when for more than 20 minutes. Back and forth across the cul-de-sac the insults flew.

Wow did it take me back. The fights I had with my childhood best friends. Maryann and I could mix it up with the best of them yelling from one front yard to the other. And then in later years Niki and I fought in a canoe and threw the oars in the water while we were mad at each other...that's good strand yourself in a small boat in the middle of the lake with the person you don't want to face. How we fought and how we loved. To this day I still count those girls as some of my best friends.

The fight seemed to take a turn, I heard their voices escalate. And the insults changed...every sentence started with "oh yeah". Then it happened, words were said that couldn't be taken back. Like daggers from the other side of the street they fell on my ears and each others' hearts.

"Oh yeah, well your fat and I don't play with fatties."

"Oh yeah?....well...I like to play with Jenny cuz she's prettier and prettier people have more friends."

"Oh yeah?...Well...I'm not fat and Jenny's not nice."

"Oh yeah? Jenny is so nice and people like her cuz she is pretty, like me. Not like you. Boys like us too, not you cuz your fat."

"You can't be my friend anymore."

"I don't care."

Friends, I heard this argument as we were discussing self-image via facebook and blog comments. *Sigh*

And all I could wonder as I sat out there was when does that happen? When do we buy into the lies that pretty people have more friends and fat girls won't be liked? That looks are what its all about. Why do we buy the magazines with headlines like "Find Your Happy Weight" or "Get Skinny then He'll Want You" (um, yes, I did actually see these!)?

You know, I recently saw an ad for a new show. Some reality show were "plus-sized" (any one want to give me a definition of that?) girls get to compete on a show in hopes to find romance. Okay, wait? Don't they have these kind of shows, like the Bachelor and what not? If it were truly reality wouldn't there by women of every size and shape "fighting" to win the love of a man? Proving that we are worried about casting types, and not real love or, heck, even reality Hollywood is helping fat girls find love. How nice.

Honestly, can you imagine if we stopped worrying about how we looked on the outside? Knowing that real beauty shines from the inside out. The fabric of my life is woven together of women of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages and the ones that stand out, the ones of true beauty, he amazing hearts and strength of character.

Instead, (beauty) should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4

Imagine if publishing companies switched their focus. We'd have headlines like "5 Ways to Show Grace at the Grocery Store" or "Integrity, Hope, & Drive -- this Season's Hottest Styles".

Sadly, I don't know that I'll see headlines like this at our local grocery store check out anytime soon. I will, however, be willing to let my life be an open book.

As I learn to be the best woman I can be; becoming comfortable in my skin, drenched in God's grace, I will stretch to be a woman that other's might see beauty in. A woman of a gentle and quiet spirit.

And next time I feel like saying, "Oh Yeah?...Well..." to myself or anyone else I'll ponder 5 Ways to show grace in the grocery store.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Move Your At

God thinks I am beautiful. Great!

I weigh 200 pounds and I'm 5'2" -- I'm terribly out of shape, I can't stand the look of my own body and I am so enslaved to food that I binge eat and suffer the health and emotional (read guilt) consequences.

I do have to learn that whatever my weight, I'm beautiful to my Maker because of who He made me, not what I choose to live like.

There's the kicker.

What I choose to live like.

So as I stick another bite of that dessert in mouth and choose to watch TV tonight instead of doing something active I'm choosing me, not God.

God's plans aren't for us to be fat or mean or sad or addicted or lonely or lost (or the million other adjectives that describe the places we get mired in life). No, He wants to be healthy, happy and content in Him; knowing we are loved and watched over by a God who can fill us up and take us to highs not found on this earth. He loves us where we're at, but He expects us to keep moving the "at".

Max Lucado said, "God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there."

You've heard it. Oh, heck, I've said it. "God made me that way." Flashing red lights and loud sirens should go off on your human bull pucky meter when you hear those words. God made me "heavy set" -- I've always been on the "fluffy" side. And while I might have more curves than Hollywood's pop tart of the week that doesn't mean God wants me to be unhealthy and food obsessed.

Have you said it? Are you saying it? About what?

As I stare down the barrel of lifestyle change I don't like it. I want to stay in my comfort zone, eat food that tastes too yummy and not feel like I'm being deprived; but God is calling me to something more. Really, even more than calling me to change me He is calling me to change my relationship with Him.

You see right now food eclipses so much of God's light in my life. I am not the woman He made me to be if I'm not bathed in His light (inside and out). I heard someone once say about a fat person that "he worships at the altar of the all-you-can-eat-buffet". Wow, pretty strong words, right?

But, how does your life/lifestyle point to where you worship? I don't want to be a beacon of light pointing people to food or earthly compulsions. I want to point heavenward.

I know God is asking me to move my "at" and I going to start. Will you pray with me? I could use it.

Is He calling you to move your "at" too?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Did it Just for You

I was on a mission this afternoon to find a Max Lucado quote to build another blog post around. I had the topic and when I heard this quote again today I thought, "Bingo! That's where I need to start." So off I went to surf the net and find the exact wording.

And then God gave me something else. I love when He does that. I will get back to our discussions of weight, self-image, beauty and so much more but today let's look at a gift God gave me last week.

My family was blessed to spend last week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with some close family friends for a week of sun, sand and relaxing. What joy it was.

I am not a morning person and it was a shock to the system when I sat bolt upright in bed at 5:30 a.m. Why am I up? I grumbled over and over. And as I laid my head back down on the pillow I felt an urge unlike anything I've ever felt.


I threw on some clothes, grabbed the camera and headed for the beach. I was going to see the sunrise. It was beautiful. I snapped lots of pictures and was just in awe. With every breath the colors changed, the sky came alive, the world woke up. Oh it was a moment just for me. I was in love with the painter of the sky that morning.

Two days later. 5:30 a.m.


I did.

And while the beauty of the previous sunrise we had shared still lingered on the backs of my eyelids I was not ready for the majesty God would reveal to me that moment.

In the study I am currently going through Kathy Triccoli mentions Jesus wooing her through creation, specially the beach and the ocean. I thought that was neat concept and wondered what it must have felt like to be wooed by the Maker of the Heavens.

I know now.

As I tried to drink in the ever changing beauty in front of me I was so humbled. How could the hand that made this sky, this beauty, touch my face? Little ole me.

There was no one on the beach. In either direction as far as I could look it was me.

And God.

Then today, I found this:

"Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it? I did it just for you."
- Max Lucado

My eyes fill with tears, even now.

"I did it just for you."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God, You didn't Get it Right

When I wrote my last post, I was venting my feelings and truly thought no one would relate. Wow, I couldn't have been more off the mark. The Facebook comments I received first thing started opening my eyes -- we women all tend to buy into Satan's lies about our bodies and our looks. Look at a magazine, turn on the TV, check out the big screen and it is not hard to see where we get our misinformation.

One of those fb comments started me thinking (yeah, Cathy for being so insightful)...let me share part of the comment with you: "...I have discovered that God is lonely without our love and now I have discovered it again through your words, it's like the more we bash ourselves, the more we are telling God he messed up." Can you imagine the audacity of telling God He didn't get it right?

Go to a window right now, look out at God's creation -- wherever you are there is bound to be something that catches your eye -- the mountains, a river, a bird, a tree, the ocean, whatever. Just look at it. Drink in its loveliness, its form, its function, its complexity. (Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back.)

Back? Did you find something? I was looking at the beautiful flowers that are growing in my front yard. Now imagine this, as I look at that flower I begin noticing it's imperfections -- its stem is crooked and a little bulgy in places, one of the leaves has a hole in it or and that droopy leaf -- nightmare! Let's go one step further, as I am looking at that flower I begin telling God all that is wrong with it..."God, You didn't get it right with this bulgy stem...". Um?

Now go to the mirror. Take a long look at yourself -- head to toe if you can. Look at the lines around your eyes, the post-baby tummy that pooches out a little (or even a lot), the scar from where you fell as a child, your "crooked" smile, maybe your "flabby" arms...all of it. (Go ahead, remember, I'll be here still.)

Back? What did you see?

Lines around your eyes? You know what those are called don't you? Laugh lines -- those show the joy you've had and carry with you. Smile...see 'em. Don't complain about them or get rid of them...embrace the joy God has given you.

Post-baby belly? You know what that is evidence of? That God laid His hands on your belly and created life. Yes, your partnership with God in growing life changed your body, but it changed your heart too...wear your pooch proudly.

How about your arms? Are they as flabby as mine are? Don't like 'em, do ya? Think for minute of the people you bless with hugs. We are God's arms at times and hold people when they need to be held by Him. Are the arms of God ugly?

Girls (and boys), I could go on for days about every imperfection. Trust me...I could.

So the magazines, TV and Hollywood have it wrong. There is no "perfect" size, shape, height or look...well, there is but not just one. God designed every woman to look like she looks. He made her perfectly unique and in His image.

Your hands made me and formed me. Psalm 119:73

The same hands that made the things outside your window made your curves (or lack there of). He got it right and don't for one minute today believe anything different. We can always strive to be more healthy, in better shape and the best form of us if we are doing it in the right spirit, but if it is out of self-loathing and deception we are wrong.

Look in the mirror again....regardless of what you "feel" tell God you know the truth...He got it right and you are beautiful. Go ahead...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Way That You Measure Beauty

I hate the way I look. Can I just share that with you right now?

We just got back from a vacation at the beach and I have been going through the photos. I just cherish the moments we freeze to look back on, and I cherish the ones that I'm not in even more.

We're not talking a feature here or there that I am unhappy with. I'm talking don't like to look at the photos for the harsh reality of what I have become. I'm fat. In my minds eye I often view myself as the thinner (I have never been thin or "skinny" so let's just go with thinner) twenty something I was. I don't look at my body in the mirror...at all. I look at my face so I can pluck here or there or apply some sort of makeup or even do my hair. Beyond that I ignore the mass I've become.

That is until this week. Why does it bother me now? I don't know. I'm no heavier now than I was a year ago. Dunno.

I know where you think this is going...I need to diet, lose weight, whatever. And while that is true and I do hope that I can get there that's not what I was going to tell you. Stick with me here. But wait, oh, don't get me wrong -- I'd love to lose weight, know something about nutrition or training or even just have the energy and discipline to get started on working out -- but tonight as I changed into my jammies and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror God whispered something to my heart.

The king is enthralled by your beauty. Psalm 45:11

I just teared up standing there looking at the mirror. Everyday I grumble about some feature or part of my body. I always have. I've grown up with a very poor self image (which explains a lot of the trouble I've gotten in and the habits I've formed, including overeating) and I've never learned to "love myself".

Yet, He does. He knows every dark detail and ugly truth, still He is enthralled by me? Lights on or lights off, I still shine with Jesus's light to Him. Size 8, 10, or 16, my heart is still full of God-sized dreams and passions that He designed me to do. Me? He finds me beautiful? I don't get it. Just don't get it.

There is a song "Measure of Beauty" by Lindsey Kane that was likely inspired by this verse (at least the opening). Lindsey sings "give me eyes to see the way You measure beauty". Oh how I want that. I want to see how God measures beauty and feel it.

I often pray for God to give me His eyes for other people, especially those I find hard to love. You know, God let me see them through your eyes, so that I may see their beauty and worth. That kind of prayer.

Tonight, I pray that prayer for me. God, give me your eyes for me. Let me see my beauty in You...to You.

It is my hope (and prayer) that as God helps me see the woman I am in Him...to Him...that perhaps I can learn to "love myself". That I can celebrate family photos for the memories they'll bring us all, not cringe or be embarrassed by my weight or looks. That I will be healthier and better equipped to play and parent my little ones. That I can surrender one more stronghold in my life to Him.

Listen to Lindsey's song, make it your prayer too, won't you? Join me in asking God to open our hearts and eyes to see each other and ourselves as He does. Let Him sing over you through this dear talented sister.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Quiet

In the midst of folding laundry and thinking of the other items on my to do list I heard it. It was too quiet. Uh-oh, I thought, that can only mean trouble. I tip-toed into my son's room where our two little ones were playing. They were in the closet emptying the boxes of clothing put away until another season or size is upon us. That wasn't so bad, but when I found that they had already emptied all the drawers of the dresser I had to sigh. Loudly. I knew it was too quiet.

As a mom of toddlers I've learned that rule. That rule that all parents learn. Silence generally equals trouble.

While folding the mountain of clothes to be put away, again, I began thinking. I love when God uses situations in my life to illustrate points He is trying to make to me.

Silence = Trouble

How do you think God views our silence? As the father of overgrown toddlers He invented the rule. Silence generally equals trouble. Right?

In my own life I know that if I wander off from God going it on my I wind up in my own mountains of trouble. And even as I am digging my way out and apologizing heavenward I vow, I won't do this again, Father. I don't want to go it without You.

But what happens? Yep, I wander off.

Show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Song of Songs 2:14

He beckons me back. He doesn't lose His temper or sigh loudly (and I would imagine if God sighed loudly we'd all know it). Always there, forever forgiving.

I am in the midst of Bible study that asks us to commit to do something to show our faithfulness to our Father who is always faithful to us. I chose to give God the best part of my day. I've already wandered off more times than I care to admit, but I continue to try. It is my hope that as God works with me and I move closer to Him that my silences will become fewer and my self-made mountains of trouble will be less.

Oh how faithful You are my sweet Lord. Let me be drawn to You every morning, so that I might stay rooted in You everyday. That I might move mountains for in You rather than build them of trouble on my own. Thank you for your patience Father. Thank you for the opportunity to grow closer to You and more like Your perfect son.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pocket Full of Kisses, Heart Full of Your Word

I read an adorable book to my daughter this afternoon -- Take a Kiss to School by Mary McAllister. When young Digby, the mole, gets scared about being at school and not having his mommy with him, his mom blows kisses into her cupped hands and fills up the pocket of his jacket with them. Then throughout the day he can grab one and press it to his cheek to feel more confident and secure. When Digby's pocket gets torn he loses his kisses and has to find his strength without them.

As I read the book I was struck by God's timing. This week in our Bible study we were introduced to the Kisses from the King concept. God was using a children's book to drive home a message -- to kiss me.

I have hidden your word in my heart...
Psalm 119:11

When we memorize Scripture and hide God's word in our hearts we are investing in future kisses. In those times of trouble or when we need a shot of confidence or just need to be kissed by our Creator, God brings forth something we've tucked away.

With Heavenly warmth He touches His lips to your cheek and reminds you of the love letter He wrote to you. Reminds you that you are not alone...He is there.

And our hearts won't rip and let all the kisses fall out. We don't ever have to figure out where our strength comes from now that we've run out of kisses for our Father.

I'm in the midst of a trying week, and I have just loved how God has chosen to remind me that I am His and He is walking with me. I hate that so often I am mired in my own bog of selfishness and I miss the banners God is flying all around me.

Today, I am trying to see them.

Today, I am reminding myself to listen.

Today, I feel the kisses.

Three small girls singing "Mighty to Save" on the front porch today - touches on the devotional I read this morning that spoke of childlike faith and innocence.

A randomly chosen story book from the library -- reminds me I can carry kisses in my heart.

Standing in my garden, watering my cucumbers wondering what it was like for Adam & Eve to walk in the garden with God and realizing that while I couldn't see His face I was walking with Him just the same.

I love the awesomeness of our God! That the same power that calmed the seas and moved mountains is directed at my tiny heart with the sole intention of making me feel loved.

How am I worth that power? That love?

I'll never know.

But, I can promise that the next time I feel that Heavenly warmth on my cheek I'll smile...for I've been kissed by my King.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What did He give you a heart for?

I love to people watch. Always have. There is something intriguing about watching people go about their normal day, especially when they pay not attention to you. Perhaps that is why reality became such a big hit -- I'm not the only one that likes to people watch.

For the last few years, however, my people watching has taken on a new shape or at least a new thought process.

I watch...
...as she loads her grocery cart cooing at the infant wriggling in the seat.
...as she shuffles her feet along the sidewalk keeping up with her aging husband.
...as she sits in traffic rubbing her temples and singing along with the radio.
...as she sits alone in church not making eye contact with anyone.

I wonder...
Who is she?
Is she happy? Sad?
Lonely? Overcommited?
Skilled? Passionate?
Does she know Him?

At our former church I stumbled into Women's Ministry (don't you just love when you finally bumble your way into exactly where God wants you?). Anyway, I had access to a house in the mountains and thought, hmmm, women's retreat? We planned a little retreat (18 ladies or so) and with that a ministry was born and a passion was unearthed.

Oh lovely it is to see how God knits women's hearts together to share friendship and faith. How touching the lives of one woman as ripple affect through her family, her friends, her neighborhood and community. I was hooked.

Giving women a chance and space to be just daughters of the King, to share their burdens and their laughter and strengthen their faith. I love how God used everything we did to open doors and relationships -- one woman came to a Christmas party which lead to her coming to church and eventually her husband was saved (um, anyone see a God light on that path??). God was always, always doing something and letting the women minister to each other.

And then, we left that church. I left "my" ministry. And when we finally landed at a new church I didn't see any open windows or doors and thought perhaps God had other plans and that was okay.

And then I started people watching again, and...


...you know...

God gave me a heart for women.

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
That's what it is all about, right there. Women are relational. We learn to adore and love one another, and God uses that to share Himself.
The last few weeks I have been asking for prayer for direction and wisdom about ministry. Let me tell you, I'm still clueless as to the how but I know the what! I just see opportunities everywhere -- I get ideas from standing in line at the grocery store for goodness sake!
Like the bat signal in the skies of Gotham God's fixin' to cast a light on path in my life. And, wow, do I love it when I finally bumble (again) into something God wants me to be doing.
Where and when do your passions ignite? Don't know? Ask Him to show you. He is always faithful.
He'll cast the light...will you walk the path?
What has God give you a heart for?