Friday, January 28, 2011

Blessed is the Woman who Believes

A sweet song of worship rings in the air as my alarm goes off. The house is still and in the whisper of time before the day begins it is easy to remember God's promises, to believe that every step of my day is covered in His plans, and to live like I believe.

...there's juice spilled on the carpet.
...there is a mountain of laundry and only half a cup of detergent.
...there are screaming children in the playroom.
...there's eye rolling, back talking and timeouts.
...long lines with unhappy people at the checkout.
...even longer waits at the doctor's office.
...there's wondering if we'll make ends meet at the end of the month.
...there's family conflict.
....death, loss, grief.
...there's the heart ache of the past.
...the uncertainty of the future.

Somewhere in the hail storms of life my belief becomes dented and beat up. And I find that I am not living like a woman who believes God loves me and He is working all things for my good.

Yesterday, my Facebook status said, "How would your life change if you woke up every morning BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you?" My sweet friends over at Proverbs 31 posted it as their status too. Reading the responses was fascinating to me.

There was a large segment of people that answered "my life is different because I already believe that." Interesting. I hadn't thought of it in that light...the faith of salvation changes lives immediately. But how do you exercise that faith daily? What do you do to not lose sight of God's love and plans for you in the midst of life's moments?

There were a few "I needed to hear" that kind of responses, and to God be the glory on that one. If my fb status is being used by God to whisper to the hearts of His children.... Don't even have words for the end of the statement...just WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I had asked the questions hoping for concrete life would be ____ . And I got some of those -- joy was probably the top thing people said they would have. JOY!!

In the final days of 2010 I was struck by a Bible verse in a way that I can't even begin to fully explain. I am drawn to it in a new way. It has become the basis for our women's ministry theme this year. It is the reason I started blogging again. It is the fresh wind in my sails as I look into 2011.

Midway through the first chapter of Luke is the story of Mary coming to visit Elizabeth. In her sweet proclamation of faith and excitement over Mary's visit, her greeting and the news of her pregnancy Elizabeth says, "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Let that wash over you for a moment.

That is where my fb status question came from. That is what I'm driven to find live. I want to be that woman. I want that written on the last page of my life here on earth - "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" Because that, my friends, is what real life here is all about.

If I believe - I'm saved.
If I believe - I'm the daughter of the King.
If I believe - my heart is changed.
If my heart is changed I live a life that the King designed for me.
If I am living the life the King made me to live then I am living in victory, in joy, in love.
And out of those places spring the works of my faith - service, missions, worship, prayer, teaching, giving, parenting, loving.
And if my days are filled with the works of my faith, then my life will be a reflection of my God.
And if I am reflection of my God, others will be begin to believe...

So my question, rephrased this time, What would your life look like if you lived every day BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you no matter what the circumstance?

Not the I know somewhere in the back of my head God loves my kinda life. The life that says in the face of every circumstance, "My daddy's The King and oh how He loves me." A life that says to every traffic jam, rude cashier, hard-to-love family member and frustrating moment, "God is strengthening me in this moment, and for this I will rejoice." A life that shines in the darkest moments of humanity and says, "This is tough. And I'm hurt and scared, but God is strong and steady and His light will shine in this darkness."

Blessed is the woman who believes....
Blessed is the woman who is living like she is believing....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Uber-Christian

I have a confession to make.

I'm not an uber-Christian.

Shocked, are you?? Anyone, who knows me well, has stood next to me the grocery line or reads this blog, probably has already figured that out.

But you know what. I wish I was.

I hear about people who spend hours on their knees and have a dynamic prayer life. Or folks traveling around the world on amazing trips to share Jesus with the lost, disenchanted and suffering. Or I watch one of my friends promote her book, her blog, her ministry, her speaking, her godly-womaness-that-I-don't-got online. And I begin to compare.

I don't have a dynamic prayer life. Some days my prayers are non-existent or breaths of "help me, Jesus".

I don't go on trips to save the world. I don't find lost people at the grocery store looking for Jesus...usually they are looking for peanut butter or something much less thrilling.

I fall into the comparison trap a lot. Thinking that my little is little in the eyes of God. That my blog with 2.1 readers; my homeschooling lessons for 2.2 kids (2 kids and .2 dogs really, but hey!); that laundry, sweeping and cooking for my family; and my nearly exhaustive thoughts, research, emailing and planning for the ladies of my community aren't very much.

And yet, lately, there is a theme in what God is teaching me. From the last word in a completed Bible study today, to the pages of a book I am reading at night, to the snippet of an online presentation I watched. My little is little.

(stay with me here)

But God is not little. And when I bloom where He planted me -- in our "classroom" at home, right here on this blog, in my laundry room, at our dining room table, in our kitchen, on our women's ministry leadership team -- my little bitty bloom casts some big seeds.

God hasn't called me to fill stadiums and teach. Or write best sellers or blogs with a massive following. Or, as of yet, bring people to Jesus at the grocery store.

He does want more for me. He always has. (Jeremiah 29, assures us of that) He wants the best of the best for me...the best of me.

And so, does He want me to have a dynamic prayer life...absolutely. He loves me. Why wouldn't He want me to spend time with Him, listen to Him, speak to Him...often, a lot! Does He want me to stop bet. He wants to be what I hunger for, what satisfies me. (see Matthew 5:6). I could spend a week listing all that He wants me to be better at or stop or start or you name it.

God totally wants me to be an uber-Christian.

But here's the catch...I need to be the Wendy kind of uber-Christian He formed me to be (Psalm 139:13). To learn the habits that draw me to Him. The habits that will help this little bloom cast seeds only Jesus could carry.

What He doesn't want is for me to run around comparing myself to others. To wish a way the moments He's given me as I long for something else. A bigger following, a larger house, a dynamic career...all those things that look so enticing from this side of my living room window.

Before the world began He had a plan -- a place and calling for the Beths, Lysas, Marks, and Ricks of the worlds. And there was a place and a calling with a little reserved sign on it...until I could take my place there.

What is He calling you to be? Are you so busy being aware of all you're not that you aren't being at all? What habits do you need to break or make so that you can be the bearer of some Jesus-sized seeds?

Monday, January 24, 2011

I want to be tracted!

I looked up and was shocked to realize where I was. I had passed the exit I was headed a few miles! Shaking my head I focused on where I was and my inner GPS began its own recalculating chant. Quickly I exited the highway and began to wind my way back to where I was headed. The one place I had to go this morning.

10 minutes of backtracking later I was back on track and focusing.

I thought.

Back at home and settled in I ran out into the garage to grab a soda. A little caffeine to fuel my morning push to check off lots of "to dos". Half way back through the kitchen I realized I had a rawhide in my hand instead of a soda. Hmmm...try that again. Half way back through the kitchen a second time - look down - yep, another rawhide. Thankfully the third trip was successful and I'm not curled up on the dog bed trying to chew their bones.

A quick email written. Went to press send and realized I didn't know how it was supposed to be to.


In hopes of finding a verse to meditate on or something to center my obviously distracted heart I went to a and typed in distracted. You know what I found?

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40

The only verse that comes up with distracted, distract or distraction in it is about a woman so wound up in her own to do list that she has missed Jesus -- who happened to be sitting in her own living room.



To do list - put away.
Agenda - not even written for the day.
Praise music - turned on and turned up (thank you Pandora!).
Blog - well, nearly written...cuz I had to tell somebody about that word, that verse, that moment of seriously?
On tap for this afternoon? Well, Bible study, homeschooling with the peanuts and whatever God puts in front of me. (oh and just the smallest load of laundry so hubby doesn't go naked to work tomorrow)

My point. I think the world has overloaded my circuits today. And maybe for a lot longer. In prayer this morning I asked God to "change me" -- make me the woman He wants me to be. I won't become that woman fueling up to check off my own to do list and so distracted by what I think is important.

I don't want to be so distracted that I become unproductive. I want to be so tracted (is that the opposite of dis-tracted?) that I'm filled up with my Jesus.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good morning, ugly!

So, I've been grumbling for a couple of weeks. (we'll get to why, in a minute)

And suddenly this morning, God took the things I've been reading, praying, studying and writing and brought them into focus. He quite literally shifted the lens of my life so I could see what was right in front of me.

In focus, it is ugly.

We're talking U-G-L-Y....ugly.

We had the amazing opportunity to study "Growing Kids God's Way" over the past few months. With witty and wise leaders and a committed and supportive small group we went through this book that literally changed how we are parenting. We are walking through the application phase of many of the challenging things we learned. Including first time obedience.

Our kids are getting it. We are seeing changes in them...and in us. The atmosphere of our home is shifting and we are enjoying the process (I know, who knew!?!?).

Then, this morning...the focusing...the ugly truth...the challenge.

Remember the grumbling? If you've seen me in person at all over the last few weeks you've heard it...some more than once. Just think of the earful my poor hubby has had to live with. (some of you are breathing a sigh of relief...perhaps long distance friendships aren't so bad, huh?)

A few weeks back the teaching team for our upcoming women's retreat met. If you lay out the talents, gifts and credentials of the three women teaching at our spring retreat you'd see that I might be fit to hold the doors, set up the chairs or maybe introduce the others. My thoughts were I could teach the short, "easy" introductory session and leave the big messages to the big guns. I knew exactly how it would go down. Until it didn't. Somehow, when the dust settled I was left with the Sunday morning session. I was the anchor.

And so the grumbling began.

I'm not worthy. Not talented. Not ready. Didn't know this was what I was signing up for. And so many more, long, pathetic, whining excuses have come out of my mouth. Over and over again.

Is it coming into focus for you yet?

As the lens rotated this morning, there I saw it.

Saw me.

A child of God with a God-sized task laid out in front of her. What was I doing? Throwing a spiritual temper-tantrum -- whining, stamping my feet, complaining, and throwing a little pity party. Where was my obedience?

Joshua 22 says to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

This morning, as I focus on God. I realize what He's called me to is not about me...never was. Oh yes, I might learn something along the way (and if I don't then I've missed yet another blessing), but God's work is about God. And I've been called to such a time that I might be able to see God work in the lives of the women He calls to this retreat.

My job is to be obedient...the first time He calls. Not wander in my own desert until there is enough sand in my shoes that anything else seems like a step up.
My job is to read, learn, research, pray, listen, write. Rinse and repeat. Over and over again until it is time to open my mouth for Him. Then, as I step in to what He has called me to...He'll show up. Even if I stumble over the words, shuffle my papers and forget the punchline to my opening joke, God will still be there. He'll take my unpolished, overthought words and hand them to His sweet daughters with a heavenly bow.

My job is to answer Him. "Here I am!" "Yes Lord."

The first time He calls.

Then hold fast to Him and serve with all my heart.

No more grumbling...

May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:171