Tag: Nablopomo

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.

simply radical?

Today is the last day of my 2nd “National Blog Post Month,” though I did skip one day. This accomplishment means absolutely nothing, but I’m glad I set aside time every day to write or at least reflect on the day or a subject. Thanks to those who read every day, too!

It was not lost on me during this vacation (we are driving home now) that some of our favorite or most enjoyable times were spent in the condo… using the bathtub with the jets, letting the girls eat breakfast in bed or pack their own bags, reading, talking, being slow.

There are a few ideas colliding in my spirit right now. One is the question that always forms this time of year (and really, all the time for me, but more so at the end of the year), What is next for me/our family? Another is several cultural paradigms guiding me toward better health. I am overweight. Our family eats too much processed food. American consumerism is a disorder. Whew… that is a heavy. But a healthier, simpler lifestyle beckons me from the spiritual and physical realm. And still another is something my husband, my pastor, and more than one sister-friend has whispered in one way or another to me: I hold the keys. The keys to what? Well, I’m working on that exact picture, but it has to do with my family, with ministry, with stuff I probably don’t even realize just yet.

I am currently reading Jen Hatmaker‘s book, 7. I first read about it almost a year ago, and put it away in the shelf of my mind, possibly after writing several versions of what my 7 foods for one month might be (a struggle between onions and coffee… very healthy!). Then, some of my closest friends in Illinois started reading it, and one of them sent it to me. They were loving it because of its subject and because they thought her narrative voice is so like mine (upon making it to chapter 2 and devouring some of her blog, I have to agree. Perhaps someday she and I will compare notes over a gigantic bowl of salsa while wearing graphic tees and speaking in parentheses!…) There are many things about her words that are calling to me… the fasting, the yearning for clarity, the frustration with the status quo in American Christianity, the heart-cry to adopt children out of poverty, the feeling that perhaps I need to do something radical to jump-start a new period of growth and productivity… God’s way.

So all that is swirling about right now. I have a very busy week ahead when we return, and then 2 more weeks of shows at the theatre before Christmastime is here… our doors will be open, Jesus will be celebrated, simple gifts will be given, a trip to Ohio and Chicago will be enjoyed, and the new year will yield positive, driven changes for us. Simple choices. Radical execution. Help me, Lord!

Is it better than the Bahamas?

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Seven years ago this weekend, to celebrate the end of my student teaching and completion of my college degree, Rod took me to Nassau, Bahamas.

It was an unprecedented move, that weekend of paradise in December. We lounged in hammocks and didn’t wear shoes and ate at the buffet and drank at the ‘adult slushie’ machine (well, one of us did). And at one point, while floating in tubes on the private beach, we decided we would do this, the first weekend of every December.

During the first weekend of the following December, Miranda was exactly 2 weeks old and Rod was returning to gospel music. And the story goes on.

Today, on our last full day of vacation, the girls had just done something adorable or hilarious…

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And I made some sappy comment to Rod about “what did we do before they came along?” and he answered, “We went to the Bahamas.

Minutes later, they were doing something disobedient or irritating, and he said:
THIS is better than the Bahamas? And I snapped the above photo.

And..honey… I still think YES, but I’d be happy to accompany you to Nassau (or perhaps to Disney Aluani) in December 2025ish….