Monday, May 3, 2010

....them...the women God sends us....

A huge daisy, 20+ inches across, sprouted out of a large bright blue tin pail. Tickets stacked up, clipboard out, pens at the ready and four women standing around the table...we were ready. As service ended and people walked into the cafeteria there were butterflies in my stomach. We were prepared for the stampede of women who couldn't wait to purchase their tickets for women's ministry launch event.

Well, what's less than a stampede...a trickle?

Almost an house later as I carried the bright pink daisy and our other things out to our car I was doing my best to keep on a happy face. But inside there was a storm a-brewing!

I have been eating, sleeping, and dreaming about this launch -- planning meetings, asking friends and merchants for donations of door prizes (and can I just tell you there are some awesome ones!!), and praying that we can bless the socks off the women God gives us. But yesterday I got caught up in my own ego and the numbers of it all. Won't it be awesome if we sell out on the first day. And all sorts of other thoughts of how many tickets we'd sell.

As I laid in bed this morning I began to talk to God. Father, please help me get my heart right for these meetings today. I know you have placed two more opportunities in front me with your daughters in mind. Allow me to hear what you are bringing us to and say only that which needs to be planned or imparted. And, (sigh) what about these tickets Father?

And as I laid in bed watching the wind in the trees outside something occurred to me. I've been praying from the very first glimmer of an idea for this "launch" that we are able to bless the women God sends to us -- great food, a warm friendship inspiring atmosphere, a dynamic speaker who will stir women's hearts for God and their sisters and to have prizes that will surprise and delight them.

....them...the women God sends us....

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 

I print that verse on the top of every planning meeting agenda so that we remember THAT is what we are here for as women's ministry leaders. That through our planning we might create events that lead women to the feet of Christ; whether it is to come face to face with Him the first time or fall more in love with Him. And while we are kneeling their, together, it is our sincere prayer that women learn how to have real relationships - friendships discovered in worship, grown stronger in prayer and learning, peppered with wisdom and healthy boundaries and filled with laughter and love.

We loved you so much that we were delighted...with you.

With you! It wasn't about the volume of women yesterday or the number of tickets. It was about the women. And I got so caught up in my own head I forgot to delight in the women I've been praying for! I forgot to smile at her and wonder -- what piece of what we're planning did God set up for her?

So here I sit getting ready to start my women's ministry Monday with my ego bruised (the best way for an ego to be!) and my attitude in check.

Father, thank you for driving me to my knees this morning, for the tears and the embarrassment. Thank you for helping me to remember why You touched my heart for this ministry...for "them".... Help me to stay in this place, Lord, as we walk these last couple of weeks toward the launch, that I might see their faces, pray for their hearts and strive to put all the pieces in place for You to bless them and meet them at those tables. Jesus thank you for walking those five women across the cafeteria yesterday to purchase their tickets. I ask you, Father, please be with them prepare their hearts for time with you that night -- not as mom, coworker, wife, etc., but "just" as your daughter invited to the table by her sisters for a night of celebration of our beauty and growth in You.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The False Friendships of Facebook?

I know what color socks you are wearing. I know when you are stuck in traffic. I know when your birthday is and can even send you greetings from my living room. I know your favorite books, movies and quotes. I know when you have good days and bad.

Nope, I'm not a stalker...I'm your Facebook friend. And as great as it is to be in instant communication with my friends and gobble up little bits of their lives with no effort, it is not friendship.

Have you ever gotten an email from someone and something in it pushed your buttons so badly that you fire back a snotty reply? Oh, come've done it...I mean I haven't but I've heard of people that have and I'm sure you are one of them. (he, he) Seriously though, your hot button's been pushed, you hit send and now what? You are in an argument with someone only to find out they forgot to put the little smiley face next their sarcasm and you didn't pick it up. They weren't trying to push any buttons, in fact when you go back and read it (inserting your own :) ) it is sort of funny. Oops. Email was invented for business communication and in our all-too-busy lives we've adapted it to fit our needs. However, does it replace a good old fashioned phone call? No. Tone of voice would have told you she is kidding, not emoticons needed. You could have also heard her need for encouragement, her fatigue or her excitement, but we miss those things when we go for convenience over quality.

By now you are tapping your foot and saying, "Wendy, come on? Everyone uses email and Facebook (Twitter, MySpace...and more)."

Yep, they do. And my issue isn't with them, per se, but more the false sense of connectedness and friendship it seems to be lending to our already disconnected society. Since I know your beef with the moron in traffic this morning and I saw your pictures from your latest vacation, somehow it feels like I know what's going on in your life. But I don't know what is going on in your heart -- I don't know the troubles your teenage daughter is having that I could pray for (cuz she'd kill you if you posted that!!), or how you got passed over for that promotion again for work or how you are struggling to understand why God doesn't answer your prayer.

Why? Because it is hard to be vulnerable to 500 people when they have a chance to "like" your status, message each other and judge you from their living rooms. Because fb allows us to be a better version of ourselves (at least publicly) -- more funny, more religious, more caring. No one can see your flaws unless you post them and that doesn't happen.

I do love to use Facebook to share my photos with family and friends that are far away. I can put up tons without overloading their inboxes and they can leave their comments. It is a great way to share my life, because Facebook is not our connection it enhances our communication.

I'm on a quest for friends, not numbers, lately. Funny, flawed, real women with whom I can laugh, love and live. I am sure there are a number of my 236 friends on Facebook that fit that bill, but how many of us will make the investment to be more than a number on someone's profile? Will pickup the phone? Will invite someone to dinner? Will dare to peel back our profile and show the sometimes ugly humanness underneath?

What do you use Facebook for? Does it define your relationships? Enhance your friendships? I want to hear how social media is impacting women's relationships...oh and if you want you can add me as a friend. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holding onto the Boxwoods

Sitting at my desk as I look out the window I can see grass, trees and flowers I planted last weekend.  This doesn't seem so terribly remarkable to you, I suppose, because you don't know the old view. Until last week five foot tall (probably closer to any rate they were taller than me!) boxwoods blocked out the sun and my only view was the edge of greenery and the deadwood underneath.

Even before the house was officially ours we knew we had to trim them or rip them out. They were overgrown and growing out over our walkway, you had to steer clear of them just to enter our house. From the street they didn't look so bad, really. In fact some people had mentioned how the boxwoods made the house look stately.

From the walkway side they were green, full, and imposing; it wasn't until I was standing in the middle of them with my clippers that I realized what horrible shape they were in. There were lots of dead branches, dying leaves and vines choking the trunks. Several hours later they were virtually chopped to the ground and I stood staring at the front of our house. It looked SO big and open. Better than I could have envisioned and I was so excited to fill in those once shadowed gardens with flowers and plants.

And as excited as I was outside I couldn't imagine what it would change on the inside of our home. The front rooms (my office and the dining room) while nice rooms have seemed dark and less welcoming then the rest of the house. We used them, but honestly have not really enjoyed them or figured out how to live in them. With the boxwoods gone, the light pours in. The brightly colored walls and rugs take on new hues and I linger at my desk, and we even sat and talked at the dining room table after a meal!

One person even said, "I wouldn't have had the imagination to visualize what it would look like with them gone, but I love it!"

As I have begun to ponder the boxwoods I began to think of my own own boxwoods.

What am I holding on to because I can't visualize life without it?

Are there things that are overgrown in my life?

Things that look healthy to a passerby, but are actually dead and gnarled underneath?

Things that are blocking out the light and prohibiting new growth?

Last year was a season of great loss and sadness in my life -- my aunt was deathly ill, we sold our old house (as the neighborhood became someplace we didn't want to raise our children), I had a couple of health scares and the end of year was marked with my Aunt's death and funeral. I had hoped (and prayed) that God would begin filling me up this year...filling in the holes left my months of stress and sadness.

Not quite. Instead, He is continuing to prune, work and dig in my soul. As though the season from last year prepared my heart for His Holy gardening gloves to do their work.

But in light of the boxwoods, I now view this season a little differently.

Can you imagine the change in my soul when these overgrown, dead things are cleared out and His light shines through? I can't, truthfully...and perhaps that's why I have never let go of the habits and thoughts...I couldn't visualize life without them. But He could.

So now I ask you have any boxwoods? Don't know? Can't visualize life beyond where it is now? I urge you to ask Him to point out the things in your life that inhibit your growth and His light. Throw your arms open and ask Him to go to work!

Father, I long for a safe, comfortable life, but I know that is not what brings You glory and it is not what draws me closer to You. And what I want is more of You to pour in me until I overflow...if You have to rip my boxwoods out to let that happen I am ready and willing, and so thankful that You are able and You already know the woman You want me to become...I can't wait to be her.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Search of Friends

In her final moments, they were with her. After weeks of cleaning her home, doing her laundry, administering her medication, cooking for her and so much more they sacrificed sleep and comfort zones to hold her hand as death knocked. They weren't her sisters, hired help or nurses...they were her friends.

Even in my grief I was aware of how well these women had loved my aunt. And in the days and weeks since Kriss's death I have marveled at what she built in life. Any Saturday Kriss could be found at a soccer game or birthday party for her friends children. Her life centered around the people she loved.  She lived life with them -- shopping, eating, of herself. She invested wholly in the people she loved and they felt every ounce of it.

One truth has come glaringly into focus for me. I don't have friends. Not friends like that. I have some girlfriends who I study with, go out to eat with now and then, but I don't have the kind of friends who would put their lives on hold to help me fight the demons at the door (be they cancer, depression or sudden emergency).



I don't invest in my friendships the way I should. I spend much of life in competition with other women; many of whom don't even know my name...let alone that I'm determined to win at what I perceive they are good at. "My children are more obedient than hers" (go ahead dare to think that thought...your children will then proceed to melt down in Target screaming and throwing things). "I need to go shopping so I can look as cute and put together as she does." "My husband holds my hand too, but I wish we looked that in love." "Before the ladies come over next week, I need to get some fresh flowers for the bathroom so my house looks like one from the magazines." I spend so much time letting my insecurities steer my life that I have been missing something incredible.

Those children who are melting down; their mother looks tired and sad, perhaps I can pray for her and offer her a small smile. You know the kind of look that says "hang in there, I understand." There's no woman with a put together house or outfit that isn't covering up the same brokenness I am. And no marriage is perfect or without moments of disconnect, instead of caring how we look on Sunday morning, I need to invest in our quiet moments at home that are the foundation for our life together.

You know what I really missed, though? Friendship.

I wait for people to call me or choose to send them a little message on Facebook. I don't reach out. I'm not vulnerable. I want to wait for someone to invest in me fully before I invest in them at all. You know what that equals...loneliness.

I'm a women's ministry leader, I love women! I want them to make incredible friendships that grow in God. I want them to learn to trust each other and understand that God designed us to be relational...we are meant to have friends. But more than that we are meant to BE a friend. I need that women's ministry as much as anyone else!

So, in the months that I have been wading through grief for the loss of one of my closest friends, my Aunt, I've learned a lot from her. I've been trying to pick up the phone more. To reach out. To offer to help. To let down my guard. To learn to be the friend that Kriss was.

In a little less than a month we will be officially kicking off our Women's Ministry for Mountain View Community Church (my amazing church home). We are in the midst of planning an incredible night of food, fun and teaching for our women. But there is some personal prep going on in my home...I'm getting ready to just be me. If I trip walking across the stage, well then I can't be any more me! If I'm not the most put together cutie there, that's okay, I can compliment the other women on their outfits. I pray that God allows me to leave my walls and baggage at home and just go meet His girls; the women He's placed in the next pew or around the block for a reason.

I'm going in search of friends (wow, not in the weird stalkerish way that a sweet kinda way!!).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Sunday kind of Christian

Okay, can I just tell you about my was awesome. My sweet fairy-god-mother-in-law came to watch my precious little monsters so I could take the afternoon to hang out with a great friend, learn about dogs & dog training, and just be Wendy for a while. Hmmm...throw in the incredible weather and you have the recipe for a great day....great day!

And while I bask in the glow of a day off there are words lingering in my heart. God pricked my heart this morning and spoke into my life in a way that was unexpected but very necessary. My normal praise and worship music station faded out on me most of the way through my drive; I station hopped for a bit until I found another and was kind of disappointed when it seemed the songs were unfamiliar and the djs did A LOT of talking. But then, they aired an interview they did with Max Ludado this morning about the "Saturday of Easter".

He spoke of how as we focus on the events of this week we tend to focus on Friday and Sunday. While it is for good reason, as the suffering of Jesus for our redemption and forgiveness on Friday and Jesus beating the specter of death worthy of our celebration on Sunday. We don't often pause in the silence of Saturday. Saturday was silence...the apostles hid, Jesus was dead...there was doubt, pain, fear, loneliness...silence and waiting.

Fascinated by the thought I began to ponder Saturday...what must it have been like to miss Jesus? To grieve the man they had come to love, believe in and follow? And just before I could take another breath or think another thought Max floored me.

He went to explain that he thinks many people live in Saturday. They've accepted the forgiveness of God through Christ, but they aren't living in the joy of the resurrection, of life with the Holy Spirit, of Jesus in us...the joy of Sunday. That so many are suffering still in doubt, pain, fear and silence.


I sat in my car at a traffic light with tears in my I've been missing lately.

I don't want to be a "Saturday Christian". I want the joy of an empty cross, an empty tomb and a full heart.

How great is God's timing. Holy week and He opens my eyes to the lack of celebration of the gift of Jesus in my life. He continues to nudge me and say I am your joy quit looking for it other places.

As I think about how my children will perceive God and what a relationship with Jesus is I am very aware that my faith will have much impact. I want them to learn to study the Bible, pray earnestly and shine His light to draw others heavenward. But I also want them to live in the joy that is Christ. I want Isabel to grow up knowing the security that is a God who made her exactly how she is -- that no magazine, boy or silly girlish clique defines her. I want Paxton to stand firm on faith that urges him to work diligently and be a kindhearted man in a world that tells him at every turn that you are entitled to anything you want no need to work hard for it and why think of anyone but yourself. I want them to remember a mom who reveled in Scripture, who prayed over them and with them, who danced in the kitchen to praise music while teaching them what it is to make a joyful noise (and sometimes it is nothing but a noise let me tell you!), and who was so in love with her God that she couldn't hide...or wouldn't.

I'm so thankful for my day off. I was blessed by a good friend who falls somewhere in the friend-mentor-sister realm; the ability to talk about God and do dog kinda stuff is a great day in my book. But most of all I was blessed by a sound bite on the radio that rang in my heart all day.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I am going to strive to be a Sunday kind of Christian.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I've lost my joy


Soaked to the bone after loading groceries in a downpour, I sat in the drivers seat and burst into tears. Any other night I might have felt conspicuous sitting in parking lot crying and yelling at God, but tonight under the wet blanket of stormy darkness I felt all. Freezing and tired, I decided I could wrestle with God on the drive, so off I went.

Oh how the rain was pouring and in the dark that made the road all but disappear. In the van tears left my cheeks more streaked than the windshield...and the road a blurry mess in front me.

As I drove, I cried...and yelled. "What? What do you want from me? I have set aside everything to do what you keep putting in front of me -- my husband, my children and women's ministry. And yet, I'm miserable. Nothing is easy, nothing is easy. What? What am I missing?" My only answer the annoying squeak of my windshield wipers.

I babbled over and over about all I am doing or giving up. Admitting that I don't do anything in my life to perfection right now, but I was trying.

"WHAT?" I bawled. I am doing everything I can.

And then words flooded my memory, just this morning at church a man was discussing his walk into full time ministry and the lessons he's learning. " is not about what you do or think you should do for God...He just wants to love you..." (might not be verbatim, but that's what my heart heard and remembered).

"I don't have time." Yes, you do. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"I'm always tired." Rest in Me. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

"I'm doing all this for You."  Like a lightening bolt straight from heaven, my heart sunk. I'm not doing anything for the Lord or with Him...I'm doing it because I feel like I should. Obligation is such an enemy to our joy. No wonder my heart is heavy, my feet are sore and my attitude is worthy of a mamma-sized time out.

I've lost my joy.

The good news is...I can turn my eyes to the lover of my soul and begin to remember His songs of love and grace. And then while He sings over me (He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17), I'll find my joy...I'll find my smile (even while I do laundry!).

 So, today, my sweet Jesus. As the rain continues to pour down and obscure the outside world let me rest in You. As the waves of fatigue, four-year-old drama and "why's" from the two-year-old quizmaster continue to batter me let me remember that You've called me to these moments and You are right here, smiling with me.