Grab your FREE eBook and exclusive content for Subscribers only:

Subscribe

FREE eBook:

Subscribe

FREE updates delivered to your inbox

Subscribe

Don't Miss A Post!

Subscribe

The post in which I puke all over you. So read only if you are bored and out of your mind

 

 

So I’m writing this post for me. Because this is my blog and sometimes I need to process and struggle through a thing and this is the best way for me to do that. There are no pinnable images, no tips, no nothing. Just me, and raw and wordy at that.

Last fall I wrote a post about putting down the gun. It was a post about dealing with the sin of self protection in my life.

Well.

The Lord and I have traversed a few miles since then. In addressing self-protection, He pinpointed something in my heart even deeper and more sinister… shame.

Self-protection is a telltale sign of shame and it all makes total sense now, everything does, but it has taken me a lifetime to put a stinkin name on the closest friend I’ve had my entire life: SHAME.

I am typing this in tears because shame has exacted a very, very high price from my relationships. It has sabatoged my ministry. It has stolen my voice. It has used me and laughed on its way out.

So as I’ve walked this past few months with the Lord, my writing here on the blog has changed. It’s not what I want, not where I want to stay… but it’s been where I need to be for now.

I’ve shared part of my healing process in this first ever eCourse that I have been so blessed to go through with about 30 others over the past 4 weeks. But this is only the beginning and there is so, so much more.

This morning I woke up and I realized, for the first time in my life, that God loves me unconditionally and He knows every failure, fault, deep sin about me… even my idolatry… and it is not my problem anymore. He is my Savior, He is my Shepherd and He completely has it covered, and always will. He loves me unconditionally, holds no condemnation over me, and is absolutely enabling me to deal with the deep sin issues of the heart and set me free.

Sure, I’ve known and believed all those things before, but I was still trying, in some small unexplainable way, to be my own savior and shepherd my own soul. Today was the first time I felt the truth of the truth. If that makes sense. I woke up sensing God was waiting for me to get up, eagerly waiting, which isn’t out of the ordinary. But today, instead of being weighed down by all the unspoken reasons why I am unworthy and dirty and coming to Him as one stained and wrinkled, I KNEW that I could just. be. myself. and stop trying and stop worrying. 

This week in our eCourse group we are talking about what it means to be “in Christ” and that when we are in Christ, we have been given certain RIGHTS. Not because we are worthy or have earned them, not because God thinks we are awesome with a capital A, but because it comes with the position we’ve been placed into. God has placed us in Christ. I have never understood that prior to the last few months. My eyes have been enlightened.

And I’m holding to that truth like a lifeline.

In fact, it is changing my life.

Each morning, I meet myself in the mirror and say: “You are in Christ. Not only that, but BY GOD’S DOING, you are in Christ. (I Cor 1:30) That means that you have been given the right to be called the child of God, and if a child, then also an heir. You are forever at peace with God. You are a new creation. You are under no condemnation.” I say other things too that the Lord brings to mind, they vary each morning.

And here is another part of this journey: When you are wrapped up in shame, you feel this inner need to prove yourself, to make yourself worthy, to somehow convince yourself you are good enough. And it can become this love idol that sucks the life out of everything. I’ve made progress in dealing with many of those lies. But there is something more that I am doing business with God on TONIGHT… and that is tearing down the altar. Getting rid of the root.

You see, the Lord reminded me today of Judges 6. Judges 6 and I go way back. Years ago, on a beach resort in Thailand, the Lord showed me that in order for Gideon to defeat the enemy, he had to destroy the idols first. Before the victory in Judges 7, Gideon had to do business with his father’s altar in 6:25.

 

“That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” Judges 6:25-26

 

Years ago, the Lord showed me that lies are the foundation for idolatry. We trust in a lie and it becomes a stronghold for an idol. And every idol has an altar, a place of sacrifice. This is where the idol gets served and fed and worshiped. This is where we, in every day living, make sacrifices to the lies we believe.

So God says, “Tear down the altar and cut down the Asherah pole.” Get rid of the lie, the idol, and the associated {worship} behaviors the idol demands.

In my case, get rid of shame and it’s associated behaviors of self protection and the need to be good and prove myself worthy.

Wow, that’s huge.

And for the first time ever, I know that because I am in Christ, I can do it. I CAN. It’s not just positive self talk. I know that because of what Christ has done for me, because of His gift of grace, because He has completely dealt with my sin and I can be utterly honest before God, I can also tear down and destroy that which has been part of my life ever since I could make memories. {That’s a long time!}

The cool thing is that God says to build an altar to the Lord on the very spot where the stronghold once was. Don’t you love that? The idolatrous is replaced by the glorious and in that very place there is a testimony of God’s grace.

I guess it all boils down to this: I’m starting over.

I’m coming to a real place of intimacy with God where I can actually say Goodbye to shame. Goodbye to what others think of me. Goodbye to fitting in. Goodbye to conformity, goodbye to running away. Goodbye to being silent, goodbye to speaking to impress. Goodbye to the caring too much, the anxiety, the wasted hours worrying, the self-protection, the running around standing on my head trying to get noticed and the hiding in the corner when I am.

Together with God, I’m tearing down idols and altars and asherah poles and in this place, I’m rebuilding an altar to the Lord. Boy howdy, this is gonna be good.

 

Living the Christ Life

Set your mind on things above

 

 

 

I wanted to reflect something amazing.

I wanted to live something noble.

I wanted the Divine to invade in such a way that we all stood in awe of His glory.

But then the kids got up whining.

They fought through breakfast and one wiped his snotty nose on the couch and we stumbled out the door late and I had to take Little Bit to the doctor.

It was rush hour and we literally squished ourselves onto a subway that was packed like sardines with people who had bad breath and B.O.

And when we got to the hospital to have blood drawn, we entered this open air hall crowded with nearly 1,000 people… all of them there to have blood drawn.

It was hot and stuffy and there were no chairs and the wait was long. And that ache for glory, for something noble and worthy, it seemed to slip away, further and further beyond reach.

I could feel the slipping, the slow death, the faith and hope being wrung right out of me by a thief I couldn’t even see.

And I wondered what a person is to do when life has starved her of what really matters. How does she regain faith when it’s been lost? How does a hope-deprived heart regain its health? How does a perishing woman apprehend her life line, that glimpse of Glory, before it’s too late?

 

Set your mind on things above

 

And I’m standing in that huge outdoor hall, waiting our turn for the needle, when the woman beside me asks about my Little Bit. “Her parents didn’t want her?” she asks. “Was she abandoned?”

I wince at such a cruel question, like I’d been elbowed in the gut. Because I am her mother. We are her parents. But it was asked in ignorance, so I overlook the words and speak to the heart of this woman. “My Little Bit was left in a cardboard box the day she was born. But we are her family now.”

We chat a few minutes more. I want it to be enough. I want to go back to just waiting, go back to being numb. I want to retreat into my shell of no- risk living. Hoping for Glory is just too painful. It makes the heart ache.

And yet.

I know this is an opportunity for me to share the good news of Jesus. On the one hand, I want to hope for Glory. I want to live the Christ- life. On the other, I just feel so tired. I’ve done this so many times before, it all seems canned, mechanical, so… futile.

But the prompting inside, that  internal force, the tidal wave of hope… it’s like He’s laid His hand on me and I cannot help but speak up.

So I do.

I can’t say that my heart is totally in it. I’m not full of faith that something miraculous will happen as I open my mouth. I just… simply… begin.

“I’m a Christian,” I tell her. “We adopted because adoption is what God does for us. He brings us who are without hope into His family.”

And no sooner do the words leave my mouth than the lady beside me flails her arms and reaches for her purse. She’s a crazy woman, digging deep in the bowels of her bag. She comes up with a pack of tissues just in time. She bursts into tears.

“I’m a Christian too,” she sputters, dabbing madly at her eyes. “Just haven’t been to church in a very long time.”

And I’m shocked. You don’t meet Christians like this here. Not in this country, not in a hot, crowded, smelly hallway where you are just one anonymous person. I voice a few more words, awkward and tentative. I don’t know where to go with this. I’m listening for His prompting to direct my words, guide my speech.

The life of Christ fills me then and I do know. I know why we’re here, why years ago we left father and mother on the other side of the world. I know why we squeezed into a subway that morning and stood lost in a crowd of a thousand. I know. It’s so we could stand next to this one woman and be the Father’s voice- her Father’s voice- to her. “You are very special,” I tell her. And I’m really just relaying a message from our Daddy.

“There is something He wants you to do, some way you can serve, and no one else can do it. He’s prepared you for it and He’s given you this ministry. He has tailor made you for this job.”

Tears are dripping down her cheeks and her heart is soaking up words that are not mine. We are two crazy ladies crying in public. Everyone around us stares and I’ve a mind to let them in on the joyous secret:

God draws lambs into His fold. He restores hope to His people.

We all like big shindigs. We want church planting movements, big followings, best sellers, and we don’t want to settle for anything less than A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

I get that.

But God whispers to our child-like hearts, “Don’t ever despise the day of small things.”

The Lord rejoices in the small beginnings… and He is a God who leaves the ninety and nine for the one.

And sometimes you can know it at the strangest of times, like in the midst of a very ordinary day when your kid smears snot on the sofa and you feel your inadequacies and you are standing next to someone with body odor. You can know that in spite of everything that’s wrong with you, God has given you the ministry of reconciliation.

You can know He’s made you alive in Christ.

 

 

“I come as one who desires, who seeks, to be prepared to live out the life of Christ today on earth, to translate His hidden heavenly glory into the language of daily life, with its dispositions and His duties.

As I think of all my failures in fulfilling God’s will, as I look forward to all the temptations and dangers that await me, as I feel my entire insufficiency and yet say to God- ”I come to claim the life hid in Christ, that I may live the life for Christ;” I feel urged and drawn not to be content without the quiet assurance that God will go with me and bless me.

May I indeed expect to live the life hid with Christ in God, so as to make it manifest in my mortal body? I may. For it is God Himself will work it in me by the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. The same God who raised Christ from the dead, and then set Him at His right hand, has raised me with Him and given me the Spirit of the glory of His Son in my heart.

Believe what God says about you. Accept what God has bestowed upon you in Christ. Take time before God to know it and say it. The life of every day depends on it.”

Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling

 

Join something new we are doing here?  A 4 week eCourse on Abiding in Christ and living out our new identity? The course begins February 4. Get all the details here. 

How to be rich in 2014 {A Heads Up!}

When you need a new you

 

 

When you need a new you

Five kids, one dirty dog, one messy house, and one demanding husband into life, she lost it.

Took her daughter to the ER one day ~ I remember sitting in the van singing the Romans 8:28 song while we drove her there~ and she walked out of that ER loony.

She went missing and even after they found her and her frightened daughter on a street corner in Tampa, it took a while for us to really find her. It was like her mom before her…and her mom before her. Just like generations of moms past, sprinkled throughout a lineage as far back as I can trace. I come from a long line of women who’ve up and gone crazy, lost their minds, gone stark mad.

And words, they can be weapons. Words like, “You remind me of your Aunt…” “You’ll never be good enough.” “Look how you’ve done it now!”

It’s true that fear can mark you, hunt you down, shape your identity.

If you let it.

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.”

 

We can  ”let” the word of others root in us… or we can “let” the word of Christ be what dwells in us richly. Not our past. Not our mistakes. Not a lousy year full of regret and bad choices. Not our inadequacies. Not the words of friends, foes, or facebook.

The word of Christ.

And if Christ didn’t come for the healthy but the sick… if He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17), then that means we have real hope. His words are LIFE and truth and everything we need. 

We can stop letting everything else take root and let the word dwell in us richly and we can marinate in those words and that’s how we can live out the new year and the new you. We can remember we’ve been redeemed from the past.

 

 

“You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Your real life is Christ…”

~ Colossians 3:1-4

 

So there’s been this prompting to do something new here in this space.  Something I’ve never done before. Pray about joining in? A way for us to let Words be our Wealth, a way to be rich and full with heaven. Because really? There’s no better way I’d rather spend my 2014…  my life… than feasting on Christ.

In the next 24 hours I’ll be sharing the details!  Whenever I get the invitation ready… perhaps around midnight? Can’t wait to slip it to you!

 

The Gift

For five long years it sat on a shelf in the closet.

Amidst shoes and winter sweaters and baby clothes, its bright pieces beckoned a child, promised cheerful play.

Except the children were all gone and there was no one to notice a simple 8 piece track with matching bus the color of sunshine.

Then, Christmas 2010, the family returned! From travels and adventures spanning the world, they returned to this place for the holidays. This is the place they call “home.”

After the children are in bed, we visit the closet in Grandma’s house, sorting through stored belongings and taking out old toys that will be re-wrapped and discovered all over again this Christmas.

We find the sunshine set and I lock the pieces in place while husband finds a screwdriver to bring life to the matchbox-car sized school bus.

But when a new battery is inserted and the switch turned on…nothing.

Our hearts sink at the ending of the toy that brought firstborn son so much joy. “He played with this set for hours,” Husband says, and I nod sadly and finger the small bus.

“I wonder if they could just push the bus?” I mutter it as I place the bus on the board to see if it would work.

My fingers feel the familiar curves; my eyes imagine a little boy’s laugh as I push the bus around the track time after time. When I stop, the bus rolls just a split second…then keeps on going!

The wheels have come to life and what I thought was a thing of the past is new and moving and real and will be the joy of not one little boy on Christmas morning but 4 little ones, eager to have a turn arranging the pieces and seeing little bus go.

Something inside me awakens too.

It has been many long years since I dared to go there. It has been stored away, placed up amidst other memories and seasons gone by. It was a nice thought… once. A noble idea, a soul dream….but I moved on. I had to. Life didn’t have room for me to take it along, like an overstuffed suitcase. Dreams had to stay behind, parked on a shelf in a closet far, far from me.

And when I chanced upon the dream again, I fondly fingered its beauty, remembered with bitter sweetness its joy and awe. But it doesn’t work now. It can’t. It’s a thing of the past and cannot be resurrected to fit my present.

Except suddenly, when the wheels of the sunbeam bus are nudged and encouraged, Divine fingers seem to reach down and nudge and encourage the place of dreams in me.

And just as little bus drives around track on its own, awakened again by fresh power and a little coaxing to un-freeze his wheels, so the message reaches my heart: in its time, the dead can come to life.

Isn’t this what Christmas is about?  “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…”

Years and years of waiting…of wondering, “Is this the One?”…of longing…of finally closing the book for 400 years and placing it on a shelf in the closet of silence.

Until…

The time had come.

The darkness behind earth’s closet doors pierced through as the Light of the world opened the womb of a woman.

Hands that Created brought Life to us and what we once thought dead and hopeless and just a dream of the past became living and real and not just for us to open but for a whole world to receive and awe over and find joy in.

The time has come. For you.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.

Today is the day of the Lord’s favor. Today is the day of salvation. Today.

Heaven has come down. Life has been given. Today is the day. Rejoice!

And like the wheels on little yellow bus, we can come to life.

We can Come to Life.

 

{Repost from last year, still living alive!}

Are you encouraged here? You can receive free updates by clicking here

How to live Well-Watered

 

 

For weeks, its been dry around here.

The sunflowers all withered up to a brown crisp and the crepe myrtle holding her blossoms tight, like un-opened gifts. It’s just too dry to be giving blessings.

The lack of water carries a cost and all of us groan it, waiting for waters to nourish and restore.

6:02 am and I lay in bed unable to move. Several consecutive nights up with sick children have left me spent… A husband miles away tending to his own father…And when was the last time I sat down with my bible for a really good drink?

I’m oh, so thirsty. I don’t know how I’m going to make the demands of another day. Really.

Just like our bodies are scripted to respond to thirst… Parched mouths and weak bodies send signals to our brains that say, “Your survival is at stake! Find water immediately!”… so we have emotional scripts that trigger those distress signals.

We are programmed with alerts that sound when we are in danger of getting in over our heads. It’s the part memory plays, because even for memories we can’t consciously “remember,” our limbic system knows when danger lurks. It never forgets the past, adoption has taught me that.

My signal is screaming now, telling me I’ve got to find relief and fast.

Red alert. Danger. You’re going to be overwhelmed and you know you can’t handle this. You are on empty and in peril.

Like many, my script was written in childhood. That’s when I experienced a drought so dark and severe that it seared a message deep in my memory, the message that says to avoid similar situations at all costs. When the demands begin and the resources are few, the script is replayed and I respond. I bark at the children. I’m short with my husband. I don’t give my best. I fight or I withdraw. I operate like my reserves are low and back up isn’t coming. I’m in survival mode.

I lay there in bed, listening to my scripts. The clock steadily ticks, moving away from 6:02 and bringing the day on, ready or not. “You can’t do this,” the messages relay. “You are too tired.” “You need rest, a good quiet time, help with the kids, community with others…”

And with each message, I’m pummeled against the pillows, dead weight body.

“Help me, Jesus.” I don’t speak the words, hardly even believe them, but they reside deep within and He does too and He responds.

“I will multiply your seed for sowing,” He says.

I laugh. I laugh because yesterday He and I talked at length about the widow in I Kings 17, the one whose oil jar never ran dry and whose flour bag never went empty. And I knew then He wanted me to hold onto that, that my provisions will never run out.

Except this time, today, it isn’t flour He’s giving, but seed. He wants me to toil, to work, to plant, to invest in these little ones knocking at my bedroom door. He wants me to sow seed.

And I’ve been up all night!

At first, I don’t want to listen to it. It means that I’ve got to give up my hopes, my desires for rest and reprieve. It means I’ve got to accept no provision but His grace and believe that His grace is sufficient.

But really, there is no choice but grace. This isn’t a fairy tale world I’m living in…but is grace really better?

“You will multiply my seed for sowing,” I pray back and know in this moment is where a lifestyle is formed. Here is where a woman is made and here is where a single choice makes all the difference of a lifetime.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed and I latch on like a dry, hungry infant who’s belly needs filling and doesn’t a baby learn that milk fills, satisfies, nourishes? And can’t I take in the word like milk, find it sufficient to fill all my dry places?

The clock reads 6:42. I don’t feel ready for this. But faith isn’t a feeling. It’s an action. So I stand on hardwood floor and I rewrite the script of my life, from “I can’t” to “He will.”

“He will multiply my seed…He will multiply…He will.”

Like dryness, living well watered can become a lifestyle. It happens one drink at a time, one baby step after another, one choice at a time,  rejecting the old script and replacing it with the new.

In the kitchen, I notice it rained outside during the night. The skies are still gray with moisture. Finally.

And the crepe myrtle has opened her gifts overnight. I steal a peek and see white blossoms against dark sky.

Related Scripture: Psalm 78:20-22 Remember, God speads a table in the wilderness!

Un-sheathed

The tube is just about dried up, but I pump it anyway, twirl out the last color, brush across lashes.

I want to be beautiful.

One of my earliest memories is when I thought I was…ponytail in hair, painted nails.

Mom had made me beautiful.

What happened afterward…that boy man who saw innocence and took it for himself…well, a big brush dipped in black slashed across soul and beauty was marred and I guess I’ve been trying to recover it ever since.

Or running from it.

That big black X said all sorts of things about me. It has been a task master, a slave driver. I’ve taken its message as truth.

But something happened somewhere along the way.

I encountered Beauty.

And as I draw closer to Him and awaken to words of Beauty, He whispers, “You don’t have to be beautiful; You can borrow Mine.”

“You don’t have to be good enough; You can have Mine.”

“You don’t have to try to be something more; You can have Me.”

And Beauty makes me beautiful.

I read the words and Beauty offers His cloak:

“Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin.”

Those who allow Beauty to clothe, cease striving.

I can never rid myself of the black X. I don’t need to. Beauty tells me I can stop trying.

And flowers do this well while I miss it?

Oh no, I’ve been looking for Beauty all my life and here it is, that Pearl of great price. I’m not missing it this time.

“Yet I say to you that not even Solomon, in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”

Yes, I think I will learn from flowers, how to be clothed with beauty. How to stop striving and trying and piling things on to cover up the black.

“If God so clothes the grass of the field, will He not much more clothe you? Oh you of little faith!”

Perhaps I hold on to the seed, not allow the bulb to die because I’m afraid I’ll be left with nothing. I grasp tight, thinking to save what is, not believing in what is to be.

But all along, the bulb begs to begat the lily that becomes clothed with splendor that surpasses Solomon.

Will I hold on to the bulb, tuck it away, refuse to plant and trust and wait… and settle for store bought color instead?

Must I insist on paying?

Earned beauty is nothing more than a tube of color that eventually dries up.

The secret of real beauty is that it’s offered without cost. Beauty has been poured out, made available to us, generously and lavishly offered. Just like wings that soar and seeds that bloom and grass that softens our steps,  beauty is ours, no charge.

 

Unsheathed beauty is that seed which falls and dies to all self effort and striving…it takes the risk…it gives up and lets go…it releases it’s shell, undergoes decay…waits on the One who clothes the grass…and is brought forth in splendor.

[ Adj. un-sheathed: not having a protective covering ]

Oh soul-scarred one, let Him birth your beauty?

{I’m taking the risk.}

 

The Quiet before the Conquest

I sit in quiet, rare and a bit odd after holiday flurry.

But welcomed.

I have heard the words that are to be my footing for the coming year; I’ve embraced them and pondered them and they will become my daily portion for the year ahead.

Each year around this time He gives me a focal passage for the coming year and 2011 is to be The Year of Conquest.

I wonder if this is how Joshua felt? Did he sit in stunned amazement? After waiting so long, undergoing so many years of training and preparation?

Did he give in to fear? Did he ponder the obstacles…the fact that Moses was gone and the full responsibility fell to him…or did he find his faith-footing right off? Did he wonder at the timing, trying to make sense of it? Did it seem to “fit” or was it out of place, like words on a thick tongue? 

I think when we realize God’s plan for our lives can be lived by no one but us… well, it has a way of strengthening our faith if we will let it. If we don’t turn around and run. If we don’t keep looking for our Moses to show up and realize instead that I am up to bat. Only I can carry out my portion of His story. I cannot expect Moses to do Joshua’s job.

And this… To think that we, in some way, will lead others to take possession of God’s promises…that is our calling. That is part of why we are here. That is a slice of our “good works” prepared before the foundation of the world. That is what each of us have been given the privilege of doing.

And when God speaks this to a person’s heart, courage is the command. The task will not get done by shrinking back.

All our lives we have prepared for this moment, for this coming year. We have been trained and shaped and readied for what God is going to do in us, with us, through us, and to us in 2011.

So had Joshua. He had been Moses’ assistant and now Moses was dead and Joshua’s life purpose was at hand. The very reason for his existence stared him in the face, stretched out before him in the form of vast territory stretching from ocean to mountain, and he was told to conquer it!

What must it be like, to have such a moment of clarity? To realize that this is what everything in your past has been for, this is what God had in mind when He formed you in the womb?

I believe such times come throughout our lives. When we are allowing Him to shape us, make us, hide us, create us in those secret places and seasons, there comes a time when He brings us to the brink of a vast territory and says, “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to give them.”

Joshua’s success depended on one thing. One thing. So does ours.

Here is the challenge: To take everything 2011 has for us by conquest, as a possession given us from God, AND lead others in doing the same.

If we do position ourselves to take 2011 as our possession, will we do the one thing required for success? Or will we be deceived into thinking we need the Word PLUS {…fill in the blank…} until the Book becomes marginalized into nothing of real significance?

What will I do? What will this time next year say of me, of how I lived 2011?

Do I really want the conquest? Then I must center my life on the key.

His words must be my life, my breath, my thoughts, my dreams, my wisdom, my eyesight, my strategy. More than mere words, they are my bread, my sustenance, my movement, my activity. They are my all and I don’t have anything in any given situation until I have His word.

This is how I want to live 2011.

And so I sit in the quiet before the conquest, pondering His words and praying them back to Him and asking Him for the miracle of them becoming part of me. Because when the conquest begins, this mere woman needs a Book to stand on.

UPDATE **After posting this, I read of Ann Voskamp naming her year today too…read the others who are discovering what 2011 is for them?

A Christmas Gift for You

For five long years it sat on a shelf in the closet.

Amidst shoes and winter sweaters and baby clothes, its bright pieces beckoned a child, promised cheerful play.

Except the children were all gone and there was no one to notice a simple 8 piece track with matching bus the color of sunshine.

Then, Christmas 2010, the family returned! From travels and adventures spanning the world, they returned to this place for the holidays. This is the place they call “home.”

After the children are in bed, we visit the closet in Grandma’s house, sorting through stored belongings and taking out old toys that will be re-wrapped and discovered all over again this Christmas.

We find the sunshine set and I lock the pieces in place while husband finds a screwdriver to bring life to the matchbox-car sized school bus.

But when a new battery is inserted and the switch turned on…nothing.

Our hearts sink at the ending of the toy that brought firstborn son so much joy. “He played with this set for hours,” Husband says, and I nod sadly and finger the small bus.

“I wonder if they could just push the bus?” I mutter it as I place the bus on the board to see if it would work.

My fingers feel the familiar curves; my eyes imagine a little boy’s laugh as I push the bus around the track time after time. When I stop, the bus rolls just a split second…then keeps on going!

The wheels have come to life and what I thought was a thing of the past is new and moving and real and will be the joy of not one little boy on Christmas morning but 4 little ones, eager to have a turn arranging the pieces and seeing little bus go.

Something inside me awakens too.

It has been many long years since I dared to go there. It has been stored away, placed up amidst other memories and seasons gone by. It was a nice thought… once. A noble idea, a soul dream….but I moved on. I had to. Life didn’t have room for me to take it along, like an overstuffed suitcase. Dreams had to stay behind, parked on a shelf in a closet far, far from me.

And when I chanced upon the dream again, I fondly fingered its beauty, remembered with bittersweetness its joy and awe. But it doesn’t work now. It can’t. It’s a thing of the past and cannot be resurrected to fit my present.

Except suddenly, when the wheels of the sunbeam bus are nudged and encouraged, Divine fingers seem to reach down and nudge and encourage the place of dreams in me.

And just as little bus drives around track on its own, awakened again by fresh power and a little coaxing to un-freeze his wheels, so the message reaches my heart: in its time, the dead can come to life.

Isn’t this what Christmas is about?  “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…”

Years and years of waiting…of wondering, “Is this the One?”…of longing…of finally closing the book for 400 years and placing it on a shelf in the closet of silence.

Until…

The time had come.

The darkness behind earth’s closet doors pierced through as the Light of the world opened the womb of a woman.

Hands that Created brought Life to us and what we once thought dead and hopeless and just a dream of the past became living and real and not just for us to open but for a whole world to receive and awe over and find joy in.

The time has come. For you.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.

Today is the day of the Lord’s favor. Today is the day of salvation. Today.

Heaven has come down. Life has been given. Today is the day. Rejoice!

And like the wheels on little yellow bus, we can come to life.

We can Come to Life.

 

Repost from last year, still living alive!

The Flightless Cormorant

“Mom, why do some birds have wings but can’t fly?” wondering one asks.

Normally I have to send wondering ones to their father for such questions but this time I have an answer and can’t wait to share it.

I turn from wiping down the counters and face Wonder, trying not to scare him with my eager anticipation. “Son, sometimes they forget how to use them.”

The story unfolds on the Galapagos Islands, the story of the flightless cormorant. All cormorants can fly, except the ones on these islands. Why? The scientists wondered. Why do these cormorants have wings but cannot fly?

Some unbelieving scientists jump at the opportunity to make a chaotic, convoluted case for evolution. One more link in the chain.

Christian scientists- Creationists- have no case to prove, just a simple, profound foundation from which they work: that God Created and that He blesses and that He gives the gift of adaptation.

With a basic understanding of our Creator as revealed in Scripture, the story of the flightless cormorant is easy to imagine… and the parallels to us easy to see. Cormorants arrived at Galapagos and thrived on the bounty of island life. In this beautiful, protected environment, the cormorants find an absence of land predators, meaning that they don’t need to fly for survival.

And for food?  Without the need to fly, they simply devote their entire life developing their God-given secondary skill for diving. All cormorants are natural fisher-birds, with their long beaks and webbed feet. The Galapagos Island cormorants have perfected the art.

Over time, these birds have adapted to a flightless lifestyle. Their bodies reflect these adaptations with shortened wings and a smaller keel, the place on the breastbone that supports the large flight muscles. Instead, the legs are heavier and more powerful.

Smaller wings means the cormorant is a better swimmer…but it has lost the ability to soar.

Relying too heavily on secondary giftings is the pathway to loosing what one was intended for.

I know this in my soul, as Creator tells me the story of the flightless cormorant and then explains why it is vital that I know: “The North American church is like the flightless cormorant.”

Hasn’t God blessed us with material abundance and resources beyond measure? Is this not the blessing of God?

Yet have we turned to these and relied on them so heavily that we have outgrown our need for His Spirit to lift us and enable us to do the impossible?

One might simply ponder the question, “What if all our resources were suddenly gone? What if we had no ability to pay pastors and staff, buy workbooks and curriculum…what if we lost our buildings and all the resources that generate programs, activities, good feelings that we are safe, well-padded, alright?

“If we suddenly lost all that… would we have the wings to soar?”

Would we know how to stretch wide and kick hard and believe deep and let God? Are we learning these things in our resource-driven Western Christianity? Or have we lost our wings?

Have we under-developed keels?

Is not the fact that 80% of our children grow up and leave the church proof that we are failing to pass on the ability to soar?

Do we only have silver and gold ministries to offer the lame beggar on the temple steps? Or can we, like Peter, say, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus, WALK!” (Acts 3:6)

All year these things have niggled me. All year I have seen how we, as a culture and for the most part, live the Christian life in the flesh. All year I have been sickened by how much of my life, my 12 years in the ministry as a church planter and missionary, have been lived relying on secondary skills.

The secondary skills aren’t the problem.

The forgetting what we are made for is.

We were made for Spirit wings to indwell us, fill us, empower us, carry us to places secondary blessings never can. We were made for “abundantly above all we ask or imagine,” from Him and to Him and by Him and for Him.

We were made for the kind of indwelling power that raised Christ from the dead. And we are content with diving?

All year I have approached His elbow. “So Father,” I ask and He slows to listen to me. “How is it that we can learn to fly again? How is it that we can be filled to the fullness of God by Your Spirit? How is it that we can get our wings back, stop over-relying on secondary giftings and do what we are made to do?”

He turns to me in eager anticipation, answer ready, thrilled to be asked by a wondering child. “I thought you’d never ask,” He whispers. “Come closer.”

And I embrace His answer…

{to be continued as I live it out}

New Things

This is my first post.  Today is a new day and grace is fresh to me this morning.

I have lived the Christian life up to this point in the flesh. Yes, I’ve been a good, responsible Christian. I’ve served God well. I’ve emptied bank accounts for God’s work.

I’ve joined my husband as he planted a church from scratch.

I’ve led Bible studies and taught all sorts of sound doctrine.

I’ve served eight years as a missionary overseas.

I’ve given up dreams and taken up crosses.

I’ve read through the Bible numerous times and memorized much.

I’ve been an exemplary Christian.

Key word in all those statements: I. I’ve lived the Christian life in the flesh.

Many months back, the realization hit that if life was going to really count, if destruction was to be avoided, the Spirit had to be the one in complete control.

The Christian life couldn’t be lived by me any longer. “I” must stop trying to live the Christian life and “I” must stop trying to tame and train the flesh.

The whole stinking ship needed to be abandoned.

The question was how? How to let the Spirit live? How to let Him flow freely out of me? How to let this life not be mine any longer but His?

I have sought God for many months about this. I have hungered for Him, for His life to replace my life, asked Him to be to me what I see in Scripture.

Along the way He has broken me. He has revealed the dark putrid stench in the bulkheads. He has revealed the deceptiveness of my captain’s compass, exposed the rotting planks behind the pretentious exterior.

The SOS signal grew stronger. More cries for rescue and truth and grace and a whole new way of life.

In the meantime, my oars dug desperately in the waters with all I knew: Anger and irritation seemed to be my constant companions, as an effort to get others around me to behave! My life message was “I can’t handle this! Stop making my life harder than it is already!” or “Come to my rescue because I’m about to lose it!”

Until finally…

I knew that in accordance with Scripture, God desired for me to have the better way and He wasn’t withholding anything from me, so that meant there was something in me still in the way, blocking it from happening. So I started praying,

“Lord, whatever is in the way, whatever I have to do, whatever I need to confess, whatever I have to give up or let go of, I will. I will do whatever You tell me so that I can have the fullness of Your Spirit.”

The first day He said, “In order to walk in the Spirit, you have to get off that mat.” (see John 5)

Before a crippled soul can walk, he must arise and take up their mat, be done with that filthy bed of comfort.

A cripple’s mat is what stood between me and the fullness of His Spirit and I needed my mat clearly defined.

On day two, He said, “There is no provision but My grace.”

He defined my mat for me: A lifestyle that demanded provisions other than His grace. My anger demands my kids behave. My stress demands my husband step in and help. My withdrawal demands life stops while I get my head and heart geared up.

All the while I never realized that by neglecting certain responsibilities and taking on other more “enjoyable” ones in the guise of service and rights, I was falling short of the grace of God.

But God said, “There is no provision but My grace and My grace is able to make you stand- Romans 5:2- and it is by My Spirit that you walk and you told Me you would do anything for the fullness of My Spirit.”

I am rolling up this mat. I’m standing in this grace. When the baby starts my day at 5am and the children’s bickering interrupts my morning and all 4 lambs need my attention and love at once and when no husband is around to help… “There is no provision but My grace.”

When my mind is numb from the demands placed on it and my emotions are unstable and I want to pick up that whip of anger and condemnation to get things manageable again and when the body is tired and there is no fix and when I long for freedom outside of these walls and when I’d like to take wings and fly… “There is no provision but My grace.”

So this is my journal and my journey.

I’m getting to my feet, taking up my mat, and walking in the Spirit.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...