Friday, June 15, 2018

Worthy Of It All

And now I sit in Mexico...

It has been probably the most challenging two years of my life...with the last year running at breakneck speed. Heart-wrenching struggles alongside wonderful events marked with tons of hard work...challenges.

And now I sit in Mexico...

I get to be here for three weeks as my sweet hubbie works two of those weeks at the airport here. Needless to say, I have an amazing amount of downtime, which is rare for me. Being a smidgen performance-driven...what???...hehe...I don't usually open my schedule. I fill it. But what hubbie says is good for me. :) A much needed break.

My history with Mexico is a good one. I've been on three service trips here, and two visits for pleasure. Not the crazy-drunk American kind...just the enjoy-the-culture kind. I absolutely love the Mexican people...beautiful, kind. And Mexico is a fascinating place both naturally and historically. As such, rest is most definitely achievable.

My first few days have been marked with...sleep. Getting around 12-14 hours a day right now. Yowza! I've been been relaxing on the balcony just listening to the sounds of the city. I've been taking jacuzzi soaks. I've been eating...and I've been drinking pina coladas. Wow...they are a creamy dream here.

I've also been shedding some tears. You know...the ones you have to hold back when you need to put the nose to the grindstone. I guess now is the time. I'll likely blog some processing, but the timing is right. So...whatevs. :)

So...yay for Mexico, rest and God! :)



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Women!

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

It was International Women's Day on March 8th. I usually don't spend too much time considering all of our theme days (except for National Donut Day...that just makes sense to celebrate), but I had a moment of reflection on this day. One of profound gratitude really.

I was raised by parents who valued identity and calling over gender. They didn't influence me to be a specific kind of woman...I was encouraged to be me. I had grandparents who believed in me and celebrated every opportunity and lesson that came my way.

I was given mentors and examples at very critical times in my development. Some who spoke to "becoming" in general. Some who spoke to the strength of women specifically. All spoke to having the courage to live in God's realities and not the limited "boxes" of human design. They were Uncle John, Martha, Debbie, Ryan, Uncle Tim, Mike, my BIL Dave, Aunt Marion, Rommel, Chuck, Neil, Aaron, Joyce...and on and on and on.

I was given material to read and view to challenge thought and provide a sense of a larger community of support. Some providing clarity to steps. Others contributing to encompassing kingdom vision. John Eldredge, Ann Graham Lotz, Kris Vallotton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Greg Boyd, The Junia Project, Eleni, Wonder Woman...and on and on and on.

And I married a man who is the champion of my heart. He believes we both live to be who God made us to be, AND we live to challenge and cheer each other on in that journey. He truly is my greatest cheerleader.

I'm left...speechless...and so very grateful.

I know there are religious people who view the roles of women differently and even potentially hold me in judgment for scriptural violation...but I'm really ok with all that. I am. I don't hate them. My life goal has nothing to do with constantly being offended and spending my efforts in argument. I'm really learning the uselessness of judgment in return.

I'm also far more balanced in terms of how I see men. I used to hate them...those oppressors! ;) My Jesus-feminism doesn't need men to be less. No, I support the freedom of men to be who they are called to be...strong in their individual design, mature, secure...not threatened, not emotionally stifled, not religiously small. And even more...I desire amazing partnerships...the beauty of mutual appreciation and release.

So...here's to International Women's Day and celebrations of beautiful humanity as expressed in men and women. God is good. :)



Monday, March 12, 2018

So Will I

Beautiful. It's a more "wordy" song...but each phrase is packed with meaning. :)

  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Finding Your Way Back!

I cannot tell you how amazing God is! When we are willing to lay down our offenses and work towards forgiveness, MIRACLES HAPPEN!

And you know what else happens??? We can work toward SOLUTIONS! God's vision for tomorrow is amazing...and we can be a part of His movement by laying down our our stuff. Woo!

Worth it! Let's get to it MORE!

Celebration!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Infused Gifts

I'm a part of a charasmatic body of believers. That means we believe in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit available for us today...which leads to an openness to the various "gifts" that are available to all believers.

The bummer is...there can be a downfall...as is true with any avenue of Christian faith. We can step forward with our beliefs, causes, gifts, etc. with some agreements with lesser things. 

We see this in all sorts of areas. People who take a talent or particular persuasion and combine it with pride or fear or control... It might get "our" results, but it begs the question..."Is what I'm seeking in line with the heart of God for this person? 

At a conference for independent, charasmatic churches, the speaker offered an AMAZING challenge. He said that our "gifts" shouldn't be shared with others unless we are in agreement with the love of God for them. 

WOW! 

I mean double WOW! 

When I look at the history of the larger church...the mistakes I've experienced, the mistakes I've made...I have to ask how much more of an impact we would have on the world if we more intentionally aligned with God's heart for others. We wouldn't teach, prophesy, administrate, intercede, and on and on without first accessing and agreeing with God's heart. 

In other words, if we don't have His love, we should shut up! :) 

Oh, yes. I'm loving this. :) 

What I want???...I want to express the gifts infused with God's love for others. Yep. That's the goal. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Empowering Songs

Loving these songs lately. He's calling us to new rhythms!!! :)

.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Nurtured Offense

I was so excited to leave 2017. Sledgehammer it. Done.

It was the year I became aware of the addiction to offense.

Look at our nation, our American church, our workplaces, our families...we seem to be passionately in love with our offenses. In fact, it seems we have loved our offenses so much that we actually nurture them rather than work through them. We have an affinity for "sides" instead of communicating towards solutions. We prefer devaluing others who we perceive as the enemy instead of standing on a virtue of honor. To suggest anything different is viewed as ignorance or any kind of "-ism" that completes our judgmental picture.

Sigh.

Don't get me wrong. It's not about never being offended. That would be quite unrealistic! Pain and suffering happen in this life. Wounds are real...those we inflict and those we receive. But we forget our most fundamental human gift...free will. Our options aren't limited in the face of offense.

All too often...and in the last year I've been very convicted of our life orientation towards it...we surrender our options to a consistent reaction of offense. And in so doing, we become "owned"...

I realize that saying we are "owned" can be offensive (ironically), but the truth is we need to see our propensity to be constantly offended for what it is. In the face of a hurt or insult, we form a judgment, and that judgment sets us on a track of nurturing and babying a cancer of the heart. It's the truth of what it is.

The implications of such a decision are devastating.

First, we live in a state of unhealed hurt, ungrieved loss, and unmanaged anger. From there we become ruled by "my perception is reality" with its knee-jerk assessments instead of allowing ourselves access to wisdom and insight. Third, we can become vulnerable to even more agreements like a victim mentality, a need to control, or an authorization to be judge and jury. What's worse is that we can even permit ourselves to sin in response to our perception of another's sin. In so doing, we allow ourselves gossip, slander, violence, division, or pride because we feel it is justified in comparison to the greatness of someone else's sin. Eek. And lastly, we can become satisfied with compromised relationship as shown in withdrawal and isolation, but all the while not understand that we are actually shackled to the one we judge. A prisoner via nurtured offense of our enemy.

All of those implications create destructive realities. Ones in which we are both vulnerable and incredibly dangerous. We can very much hinder our own destiny in dreaming God's dreams and partnering with Him for good. With nurtured offense, we will dream fear's dreams or rage's dreams...sigh. The world doesn't need more of that!

How we aren't devastated by this is beyond me. It's absolutely heart-breaking!!!

Oh how we need to be wrecked over it. In our efforts to defend our own pain, we've become destructive.

God gives us beautiful free will though. We aren't limited to the one option offense!!! We have choice...choice to not be owned by our pain, but to acknowledge the hurt and allow it to heal. We have the choice to forgive and no longer be a prisoner to the one we despise. We have the choice to have healthy boundaries without the millstones of bitterness and resentment. We have the choice to confront issues without robbing others of value. We have the choice to stand for solutions instead of sides.

It's not easy to do, but if we actually get in the game for our hearts, it's beyond worth it. And what's more is that the gift of free will isn't the grandest of God's gifts to humanity. Jesus and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection...the last stand He made in the face of eternity's worst offenses...actually empowers us to discover that healing is a reality purchased for us.

We need to do it. Oh, please God...help us do it.





Monday, February 12, 2018

A Miracle For Me

I received a miracle yesterday. If you knew about the situation, you'd see it as such too.

I've been involved in a icky situation with misunderstanding and division. Some casualties along the way. I've been trying to be faithful in prayer and in handling my own offense. It's been a tough journey. Well, yesterday I received contact asking for forgiveness and reconciliation.

Hallelujah!! Yes...I managed to dance and bawl at the same time.

God is always up to something. His work of restoration. There can be tough stuff in that process...and lots of time...but letting Him have control is the way to go.

So as of today, I don't know where the process will end, but restored relationship is an awesome start.  :)

A Culture of Restoration

I have been thinking about culture lately. Culture in a kingdom sense. I've been looking at some of my ways of thinking and the actions that have come out of that. I've been looking at the kind of family values that Kevin and I want to promote. I've been thinking about our church and who we have been and want to become.

I've been SO blessed to think back. Profound "stands", mistakes made, lessons learned, victories realized, community deepened. God is and has been so wonderfully good and faithful.

So, what is my "culture"???

Restoration.

I was working on my computer the other day and saw something online about computer repair. It talked about the difference between recovery and restoration. "Recovering files typically refers to salvaging one or more files, while a restore usually refers to replacing a complete system or hard drive from a full system backup." So basically, if you have a file that's messed up or lost, you "recover", and if you have a system that is operating outside of design or purpose, you "restore". 

When I read that, I was struck with a distinctive applicable to the kind of kingdom culture I love: recovery is an aspect of a larger, "whole person", restorative process that aims to align with a beautiful original design. The process is real for every person, and our dedication to it is heavily influenced by our view of grace. 

Growing up, I was accustomed to a view of grace that seemed to have accepted a view of humanity framed by "original sin". And while it is true that we all have fallen short and are profoundly broken, I've found that grace is so much more than "undeserved favor". In fact, that perspective validates a process of becoming that tries to manage brokenness or negative behavior. It frames a person in terms of who they've been in their fallenness. It can limit a recovery need to a correction of habits and even limit the larger possibility of restoration. (Likely, restoration itself is an unrealistic expectation, making recovering the focus and highest hope for this life.) Unfortunately, this fails to offer complete healing and freedom. 

The true definition of grace is much grander, I'm discovering. As a result, the journey to true, unshackled humanity is marked by investment beyond our wildest dreams. Graham Cooke said recently, "Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you to become who He sees when He looks at you.". His rationale is that scripture says that Jesus "grew in grace", so the concept has to be much broader than sin for Jesus did not sin. I AGREE! That larger notion reframes our approach to our development or "becoming" by setting us in the light of "origin glory". It sets us in a larger process of aligning with God's vision of us. It means we can really believe that God can and wants to breathe His breath of life on every aspect of our being. AND...it means we can believe and own that God has a "new day" for us all as we join Him in that restorative process.

So recovery...it's not the point. It's a chapter along the way for all of us in various forms. But it's more of a "file" adjustment in a larger, hopeful "system reboot". It can focus on habits and accountability, but it is a part of a grander journey to healing and wholeness.

Restoration...It doesn't mean that life is easy...but it means that even in the hurt, the pain, the confrontation, the challenges...THERE IS HOPE and honor and value and victory. For me, it's worth fighting for and worth doing together. Culture.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Death of Christianity

Oh wow! This article doesn't pull any punches, but it certainly is food for thought. 

The Death of Christianity in the U.S.

For me, making the Jesus' movement into a "religion" (in the fallen sense of worshiping the tenets more than the God) has unleashed horrible consequences. It's been disgusting. BUT, I have to say that I am so excited about the growing distaste. FINALLY! So much potential for beauty is around the corner. :) 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Movie Love

We saw "The Greatest Showman" recently, and OH MY GOODNESS...it was wonderful. If I could see it every day for the rest of my life, I would!!! It's a "must buy" for me. Love, love, love.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

I have a friend who is coming to the end of a tough chapter. The part where grieving can begin and healing can come. Praying for her. This song came up on my Pandora station. Beautiful reminder of the reality of seasons and how God offers us a "new day" in Him.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Being a Shelter

It's that time of year when I look back and reflect. Man, this has been a challenging year!!! I've learned so much in it all though. Go, God!

One of the many things God has been bringing to mind has to do with the message of this song. When we recognize the power of a loving God who is a strong tower in any storm, He actually fashions us into "shelters" of sorts for others in their respective "storms". I've had several opportunities to watch, learn and do this very thing this year.

People who choose faithfulness to the lost and broken...reminding them of who they really are and what God's heart is toward them. It is a gift of comfort, stability, protection, empowerment...

Baby steps into it this year...well, and some major "trial by fire"...but God has been so good. I'm excited to grow more in my stand with and for others.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Use the Enemy's Attack for Powerful Insight

A friend sent this to me this morning. I found it so encouraging. We don't have to take the enemy's bait. Instead, we can ask really good questions about why the enemy is putting the pressure on. Indirectly, the enemy points out the very thing in us or in the situation that he fears. We can definitely push back with praise and prayer, but we can also learn so much about some really AWESOME things that are going on.

Spiritual Warfare: The Real Battle

Friday, November 24, 2017

Permitted Pride

"Pride is ever the deceiver. With it, we become vulnerable to our old offenses and wounds and then permit ourselves to make assumptions, agreements, and judgments based on nothing resembling truth."

This concept has been rolling around in my brain a lot this year...most unfortunately because of some pretty icky situations. BUT...it has also been a good check to evaluate myself. Why?...well, it's so very easy to respond to pride with pride (and excuse it in ourselves while judging it in others). So unacceptable. 

It is so true though...pride is a dangerous thing! A serious sin that the church in America would rather leave unaddressed. In fact, it seems we would rather spend our energies on making sure we really nail people with the sins we don't think we have to distract from the ones that are close to home. 

But pride is likely the most dangerous of all. It is the grand deceiver. It will puff us up to irrational images of self. It will permit us egregious judgments of others. It will manipulate us to actions we would, in humility, never consider. 

We need to get serious about it. Why?...because "pride goes before a fall". Yep, it's true. God, in His goodness towards us, doesn't want us lost in pride. Lost in polluted identity and purpose. He will allow us to fall because of it if we so choose. He will give so many invitations along life's way to acknowledge it and turn around, and He will be faithful to meet us in our "splat". Sigh. 

So...time for self-reflection. No more permitted strongholds of pride. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Worship...Better Than Ministry

Check this out! This is one of the latest posts by Graham Cooke on the importance of worship.

Worship Is Better Than Ministry



Monday, November 20, 2017

Yes and Amen

Oh my...we sang this song at the Graham Cooke conference this weekend. Yes and Amen...I'll take it! :)

 

 Oh yes...and this one too! :)

 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Foil for Darkness

Wow, Beth Moore! I'll tell ya...she's been on a roll on Twitter lately! This one is just a public agreement with a pretty accurate critique in my view, but still...she's challenging some of the sadder "evangelical" (but really "less-than-Jesus") norms. YES! You go, girl! :)


Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Newness Advantage"

The previous blog and then a realization that I get to go to a conference in a week by another inspirational person! Goodness! God is so good at being GOOD! ;) The "Newness Advantage" is something that I am super excited to see, read and grow in! The lifestyle of heaven's realities. Yep!

Say What Now? Wow!

Sometimes we have these opportunities that just come out of nowhere yet leave us with material to last a lifetime. I just had one of those. I can't talk about it too much yet, but I definitely will soon. All I'll say is that I had the opportunity to talk to a hero...and besides almost falling off my chair and peeing myself...I feel so very hopeful about the future.

An awesome challenge..."love the presence of God, love worship, and love how the Holy Spirit moves."

Heck ya! I'm all in!

And now to explore those more!!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fierce

Strength Aligned With Judgment

Strength wrongly aligned with judgment unleashes destruction.

Yep, it's something God was challenging me about a few months ago to NOT do, and unfortunately, my eyes are now open to how easy it is to do and how much it actually happens all around me.

Justified. "Christian-y" even.

Here's what I'm talking about...

Humanity was made to create. Well, co-create really. We were designed, through our agreements and disagreements, to align with the desires of the divine to release goodness. It really is one of the most beautiful aspects of free will. Alongside those agreements, we can bring our particularly beautiful ways of thinking and unique abilities. A partnership of belief and action that creates..."amazingness" in the our spheres of influence.

Think about it... People who internally agree with the notion that beauty is real and important...who then align their abilities to design architecturally or artistically with that notion...and create some of the most beautiful structures, paintings, sculptures, poetry, music, theater... Example after example. Humanity at our best.

Unfortunately, because we took a bite of that forbidden fruit (the tree that deceives me to elevate my role in judgment to that of God), we tend to agree/disagree with really sad sentiments. And when we attach our talents/strengths/abilities to those, ugh...it ain't pretty.

We can be agents of unleashing destruction...with no one else to blame really. My power paired with a critical spirit, an offense, an arrogance, and on and on... My responsibility.

So...it has me considering things. I want to be an agent of LIFE, of beauty, of goodness, of forgiveness, of restoration, of unity....

Have your way, Lord! Have your way!






Friday, November 3, 2017

Modern-Day Pharisee?

Oh dear...interesting challenge. I don't know anything about who the author is, but the concepts are interesting to consider.


12 Signs You Are A Modern-Day Pharisee


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sleep In The Storm

"I will not be storm-tossed. Lord, put your glory on display!" - Jesus (Message version, Jesus Calms The Storm)

 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Keeps Us From The Central Thing

"Our fundamental sin is that we place ourselves in the position of God and divide the world between what we judge to be good and what we judge to be evil. And this judgment is the primary thing that keeps us from doing the central thing God created and saved us to do, namely, love like he loves.” 

- Greg Boyd (Repenting of Religion)

What an amazing challenge! A great reminder about how ingrained that "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is in our broken humanity. We don't always allow ourselves to see it...that's for sure. Sometimes a bite from that fruit looks and feels so good and...justified. 

But we were made for better food...a spiritual meal that fills with so much more than pride, self-defense and all that ya-da. 

Oh my...so much to consider. 


Monday, October 23, 2017

"Alive In You"

The Trail of Honor

I think I'm becoming a pretty good "watcher". Well, getting there...

With all of the drama I deal with from junior and senior high students...having to discern what is true or not in their hormone-driven wars...

With all of the conflict I have dealt with in employment scenarios...the varying perspectives, convictions, talents, needs, power struggles, emotions...

I've found a few strategies to navigate what's really going on...what the truth is.

Asking the Holy Spirit for direction is definitely a "must". Scripture says that God's ways and perspectives are far beyond our own. In humility, we can ask for the truth to rise up...or for the trust that He has all things in His hands with no need for my thoughts or fingers.

And then there's something I tell my kiddos over and over again...we can look for the "trail of honor".

What the heck am I talking about?

* Who is speaking out the value of others rather than attacking it?
* Who is communicating all kinds of info to rally "teams" or "sides"?
* Who is fact-checking and who is not?
* Who is accusing or using polarizing verbiage?
* Who is holding confidences and who is justifying gossip?
* Who is feeding a victim mentality and who is calling for an upgrade?
* Who is assuming the worst?

This is the "trail of honor".

Why is it important?

The "trail of honor" doesn't seek to destroy or further perpetuate conflict. It doesn't need to create enemies to move forward. It stands for something higher. And for me...that's usually the path to truth.

Soulful Disappointment in People

God is so very good. If you know me, you know that the statement in the face of a storm is a major miracle and milestone. Through tough situations, God can be an anchor...a source of peace, perspective and wisdom.

It's people who disappoint me...honestly, I have to say it.

For all of the plans that God has, His desire is to have human agreement...partnership...that we would align our free will with His goodness. All too often, though, humans grab onto previous woundings, pinhole perspectives and subsequent assumptions/judgments and then say/do things that contribute to destruction and division.

I've done it. I've experienced it. And I'm just plain tired.

I've had to witness several, serious situations this year where the choices of people created circumstances that were so very unfortunate and so potentially destructive. And to be honest...there are several of us that have had to practically kill ourselves (stepping in to compensate in places or stand for tough things in others) so that others today can enjoy the privilege of being angry because of love for someone rather than anger for very apparent messes of dysfunction.

My disappointment is so grave that I am experiencing just a soulful grief...an exhaustion no sleeping pill could touch.

So...I'm really working hard to stand on the goodness of God, agreeing with what He wants to do as far as I can align my free will, my strengths and hurt heart with Him...and the reality is that I have had to...have been able to...accept that I don't need to be a part of the complete solution anymore.

I've actually adopted the perspective of having an exit in mind right now to keep being able to deal with other people's junk and a few people's lofty opinions based on limited perspective. A "this can be over for me soon" mentality. At least that's what is helping me plod forward right now...a letting go of having to see it through...having a perspective of an end in sight.

I've already made decisions regarding work. I've only committed for one more year in my teaching job. (Honestly, if I can get my sweet husband to find a job that could take us away for even a year, I'd step out sooner. Hehe.) And, I've committed at church to getting my dad to a place of complete retirement in the next few months so he doesn't have to be stressed/used/abused in his position anymore...free to be who he is made to be with no grief. And even more, so that a new leadership (sans me) can take its place. At that point, I will be free to evaluate my role in serving, if any. I might just be freed to be more "me" too.

A discipline that has been helpful for me in addition to owning the fact that I don't have to see it all through is gratitude. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had and cards I've written expressing thankfulness for the dedication and commitment of people who, for the better part of a year, have sacrificed and fought for investment in people as they are made/called to be. People who have poured out their hearts, strengths, and tears and who have offered prayer after prayer after prayer for God's will to be done.

So, there it is. I'm exhausted. I'm disappointed in people. But, I'm so confident in God's goodness...a perspective that is helping me let go of needing to be involved and a perspective of gratitude for moments of righted, broader perspective.

It ain't easy...but it WILL be good.






Saturday, October 21, 2017

Triune Oneness

“The loving oneness of the church is to reflect the loving oneness of the Trinity. Indeed, the loving oneness of the church is to participate in the loving oneness of the Trinity: “As you . . . are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” As we participate in God’s loving oneness, we replicate this loving oneness among ourselves. And as we replicate this loving oneness, the world sees and believes that Jesus Christ is sent from the Father. The world knows the reality of the triune God because they encounter the love of the triune God in us.” 

I found this quote today...a reminder from a great, challenging book by Greg Boyd called "Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God". It struck me immediately because the verse referenced, which is a prayer Jesus spoke about the future church, is the theme verse our church strategic planning committee recently chose to embody the heart of our congregation. 

A mighty aspiration...but a crazy-difficult challenge. Well, especially for some. Wounding, judgment...I suppose there are a number of potential threats to Jesus' ideal for us. 

Still, it's an awesome calling. Oneness with the trinity...leading to love for each other...creating a powerful message for the world. 

Here's to keeping on keeping on...