Category: grateful!!

day 3: the unexpected journey

Today, we celebrated journeychurch.

Journey. It could not be a more fitting word.

In so many ways, our existence in South Carolina is anchored to this place, these people, this mission.

We celebrated so hard today that I’m pretty tired, and there isn’t much I can write that I haven’t already, just…

In South Carolina, our home is journey, our friends are at journey, our family is at journey.

We thought it was going to look different. We thought moving to Myrtle Beach was going to mean an anchor to positive and Christian entertainment, the opportunity for Rod and I to work together every day and get paid for it, a chance to perform, create, promote, succeed.

In a matter of months, that journey was over for us. That dream was gone. But the unexpected part was how the work, the mission, the ability of the local church- of a vibrant, dynamic, growing, Spirit-led, truth-teaching, real-hug-giving, loving, let’s-do-this-like-Jesus-did-it church, became the place for us to, well…

perform… create… promote… succeed… in a totally different way, for Jesus.

We have grown up in our faith here. Our children will grow up in every way here.

However unexpected and different the journey is, we are grateful for it and in love with it.
journeynow

 

day 2: there is no box

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to drown out the voices of culture, scholars, politics, and myself, on the subject of Jesus.

I want to know what HE said. No more, no less.

What did Jesus say when He was on earth?

How does it apply to our complicated society?

What does it mean for all the subjects and situations I find important?

I have started several books recommended to me by people I trust and respect. (Once a veracious reader, I am now an expert on reading articles and starting books. ’tis the season).  They are good books, but they, too, come with some agenda when it comes to the person and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Last night, a prophet spoke to me. I had shared with him the day prior my desire to know the heart of the Savior.

And through this prophet, Jesus said back to me, “I want something deeper with you. You’ve only known the idea of Me. I want you to know ME.”

Folks, I’ve been singing “Jesus Loves Me” since I was 4 years old. IN church. KNOWING the Bible stories. TEACHING the Bible stories. Absentmindedly humming the songs whilst grocery shopping or in line for a roller coaster. I’ve lived a pretty Jesus-y life. But I know those words are true. I don’t know Him like I want to know Him.

And I’m ready.

~

Yesterday was a marathon. From the start of the day (and whoa, did we all have Halloween-candy-hangovers to begin with), I went from one definitive, must get done activity to the next. This included my annual review at work, and let me tell you, like most things that have blown my mind about working in the business and ministry of church, it was a profound and touching experience… because we opened in prayer and my boss and I both cried, because the two smart, experienced, pastors reviewing me talked about the potential God has for me.

I also got to have lunch with a friend whom I don’t get to visit with very often. She and daughter run Miranda’s dance studio. And as I told my friend, I’m a little obsessed with their family… three grown daughters who are so fun and talented and lovely. They have walked through unbelievable emotional highs and lows this year, and in particular, this last month, and it was precious to sit across from her in a crowded restaurant and cry together and rejoice together in how God’s love has carried them through and been a light in dark times that everyone around them can see.

You know, there were also errands, and cleaning, and after-school-crazy-time with the girls, and then finally, opening the door to the 22 people who came last night. I’m tired y’all, and everyone else is miraculously still asleep this rainy Saturday morning. But I woke up at 7:30 and got over my own self, and took my favorite Bible, one that is almost 20 years old with the cover hanging off, and began to read the words of Jesus.

What strikes me in the first passages I have read is how Jesus called people to Him. In Matthew 4:17, He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

So simple. So direct.jesusbox

So void of tasks.

Is anyone else struck by what He didn’t say?

Part of what has gotten me so frustrated with Christian culture is the lists. We take secular entities and try to fit them into our spirit walk. It’s very American, and I think very fruitless. Now I am not saying different people don’t need different boundaries because of their struggles, or maybe their fears. I respect that. But respectfully, I say to my fellow believers in Jesus:

He would eat at Chic-fil-A, but he would also shop at Target and eat rainbow Oreos.

He hung with tax collecting crooks and downtrodden losers and active whores… before they changed one bit.

In fact, as my wise and observant husband pointed out to me two days ago (and I read this morning!) when Jesus began to build His team, when He called the first disciples, He said to them:

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4: 19

Note the sequence. He didn’t say, “Get your tattoos lasered off, quit smoking, stop cussing, clean the wine out of your refrigerator, clean all those soapy sex dramas off your DVR, tell your gay and Catholic and Democrat friends you can’t be seen in public with them, then come find me.”

Oh, don’t mistake me: I know Jesus calls us to change our lives and become more like Him.

But I think we gravely, for as long as I remember learning about Jesus, mistake Who and How and What He is.

Part of the reason I want to read all of His words is because I have a theory. I’m sure others have discovered and written about this theory, but it’s a personal journey for me.

My theory is that Jesus doesn’t fit in the box I’ve been shown, that He doesn’t care about all this “stuff” we’ve made rules and marches for, that His love is better, greater, deeper, wider, much less discriminating and much more redeeming than we have ever ever ever allowed ourselves to fathom.

My thankfulness today? Bosses who pray, friends who testify, husbands with wisdom, and a Savior who does not live in a tiny, conservative, American box. After all, even a grave could not hold Him.

day 1: greater things

greaterFor a moment tonight, I thought it best that instead of blogging every day of November, I should use that time to pray.

And then someone very close to me suggested that instead of replacing one with the other, I need to do both.

I know that my life (all our lives) go in cycles of valleys and mountains, defeats and victories, struggles and successes, being lost and being found.

So I am sure if I searched the contents of this digital, running memoir, I’d find these words at least once in my recent past:

Greater things have yet to come.

It is in my heartbeat. That phrase is one I use to encourage others, because I believe that no matter what we have seen, we still haven’t seen our best days. On a general human level, there is always hope that things are going to be better.

And on a spiritual level, the truth is, our home is not this time, this world, and so obviously, our best days are in the future, when we are joined with our Creator.

Tonight, we hosted 22 people in our home, all of whom were either pastors or church elders.

For four hours, we ate, we shared, we laughed and cried, we encouraged each other, and we prayed.

For several minutes, Rod and I had the privilege of being on the receiving end of that encouragement.

What was the resounding message?

You ain’t seen nothing get.

You are accepted and gifted.

You aren’t meant for the bench.

God wants something greater with you.

God will do greater things through you.

Get ready.

This is not a message solely for us, nor do I share it to boast on anything except for God’s grace.

As I said to a new friend at the end of this meeting, Rod and I were just two dirty sinners. Who’d ever have thought we’d not only host pastors in our home, but be pastors? Religion told us there was a glass ceiling for how much God could use us, and a finite amount of his grace. Love tells us that God’s plans for us aren’t limited by anything but our willingness.

I choose to accept the grace.

I choose to receive the prophecy.

I choose to get ready for the something greater that is coming.

In this special time of year when so many of us “count down” gratefulness, tonight I am grateful for the infinite grace, which does not, as some fear, entice me to settle for a life of sin, but rather, calls me to a life of walking with Him, confident that the best is within my reach.

new, old, silver, gold

Disclaimer: I did my best with pix. I could have spent 20 years on those… ;)

It’s no surprise that I have a heart after friendship, so much that even celebs I’ve never met feel like part of my circle… like, I just know that Johnny Cash and I are going to be BFFs in Heaven…

cashBFF

I fall for people hard, and I protect my friendships ferociously. And because of our travels for a few years, and the miracle (yes, miracle) of the Internets, I have friends I have 1) Never met in person, 2) Might never see again, 3) ‘Talk’ to nearly every day but rarely hear their voices or see them.

And you know what? That’s not always enough.

Looking back now, I realize that when I moved away from my very, very comfortable, in-person circle, even though I said I wanted to make new friends, I had a wall up.

And then it came down.

And then, I spent months being disappointed, disillusioned, left out, rejected, etc, because …

well, because I expected for my new friends to be just like my old friends.

Last week, my sweet hubs posted this song for me. It’s by 2 celebs who would probably be my friends <smile>. I have loved their duets since I was a child (c’mon, ’80s children… you know you belted “Islands in the Stream” in the backseat of your mom’s car and the front seat of your own…No? Just me?).

The song is called, “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” and it’s sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

The message to me: you can’t rush intimacy. You can’t rush history.

But you know what else? You can’t erase it either.

My old friends? They’re still my friends. We can pick up where we left off. We can celebrate and share burdens across miles. We can reminisce just like always, and on special occasions, we can still have nights to remember.

My new friends? We are creating history. Today we share the laughs that will be next year’s inside jokes. Today we meet each other’s kids and parents and learn each other’s stories so that 10 years from now, we can recall them and say, “Remember?”

To the old friends who remain,
…the ones from kindergarten, the ones from college,the ones from teaching, the ones from the mommy-ing, the ones from the gospel years…
I cherish you. I always will.

 oldfriends

To the new friends who are along for the ride…
…the ones who have gathered around our table or shared your own, the ones who have loved my kids, the ones who visited the hospital, the ones who stand barefoot in the backyard, the sisters and brothers who’ve seen me laugh, cry, sweat, squirm, and flourish in these last 2.5(!!) years,

newfriends
I cherish you.  And I sure hope some of you are fixin’ to be my old friends.

To my best friend, who has added brother, sister, girlfriend, shopping partner, mommy date, and so many other roles to his Husband, Love, Best Friend, Partner In All Things status during various times since May 2011~

bffs_2013

you’re still the best.

 

Though I’ve never seen Him

It’s no secret that I love the beach. I mean, I love the beach. It is my absolute favorite thing about living in Murrells Inlet, SC… and working in Surfside Beach, SC… and hanging out in Myrtle Beach, SC and Garden City Beach, SC. I can pull up to one of those fab “Public Access” signs pretty much any time I desire (and many times not even pay for parking!) and automatically be reminded of something bigger, deeper, and more constant than anything else I can experience with all my senses.

Fifteen months in, our honeymoon is still not over. I still have my shoes off long before my feet hit the sand, I still show up at the store or the office with the bottom (ok, or up to my knees) wet because I couldn’t resist walking in just a little deeper. I cannot explain why I love it so much. It just feels like the purest air and the most beautiful sight and the most familiar home.

Today, without really thinking about it, I made it there earlier than ever, around 7:30 after I dropped the girls off at school. My routine on such days is to put in my earphones and walk awhile, and my plan today was no different. The only notable difference was that I was listening to my husband’s music, which I have not done for a long time. So much of what he recorded during the period of 2006-2010 just doesn’t sound like “him” anymore, but his most recent CD, The Difference, has some moments. One of them is a song written by Shane Roark that is one of my favorites Rod sings. It’s called, “There is a God,” and it happened to be playing as I walked out onto the beach.

I can’t quite describe what I saw or how it made me feel. Everything looked different. The water looked nearly white, like it was being illuminated from beneath. I smiled and nodded as I realized the words to the song playing at that moment were, “Though I’ve never seen Him with these human eyes, I know there is a God.” And then I saw 1… 2… 3!… dolphins swimming along, about 20 or 30 feet out from the shore. It was then that I broke my routine and sat in the dry sand and listened to the words of the beautiful song about our Creator and watched in awe the beauty of His creation.

~

I shared a photo on Facebook as I was experiencing this, and it received such a response that I wanted to share the others. I’m no photographer and these were taken with my iPhone… no editing, just as close as possible to what I saw.

IMG_3545 IMG_3546 IMG_3547 IMG_3548

 

I also want to offer a little present for you if you are reading this…
– Click the photo below for a free wallpaper download
– and click HERE to download the full version of “There is a God.”
– And if you enjoy it, feel free to click here to download the rest of The Difference. (or order the CD here)

“He lives in me, He’s still the same, He’s never changed.”

There Is A God