Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ready, Set, Go

I'm a simple woman. I have this formula for movement. Essentially it's this- the stronger the beat, the faster I go. In fact, if you could just remix everything in my world, I'd probably be the most efficient woman on the planet. Bumpin', that's the word I was looking for. I need something bumpin'.

Following said formula, I emptied the dishwasher with passion a couple days ago. I cleaned up after supper with the enthusiasm I once had clubbing yea so many years ago. I just wish I could pop-n-lock. And those glimpses I caught in the window, those reflections that confirmed that no matter how awesome I am in my own mind- I still look like a mom dancing, they didn't deter me one bit. I played "Ready, Set, Go" on repeat and my husband just smiled as the opening measures cycled again and again. My son said I was weird- bonus.

I danced to "Ready, Set, Go" yesterday as well. Best 69 cents I've spent in a loooong time. If you like bumpin' music, it's by Royal Tailor. Anyway, I told my husband these were my three words for Wednesday. I just didn't tell him it would be about him.

We've been married 9 years today. "Ready, Set, Go" could be our theme song. I met his sister in college. We were out with the choir one night and, while I don't remember the exact conversation, I'm pretty sure it went something like this:

Me: Boys, like, totally suck. I'm done. 
Melissa: Yeah, I hear ya.
Me: I give up.
Melissa: You know, I should totally hook you up with one of my brothers. Then we could be SISTERS!
Me: That would be so AWESOME!

I met his folks the next day, introduced myself as their future daughter-in-law and decided to just go ahead and start calling them Mom and Dad. Didn't have the son picked out yet, but it was pretty much a done deal, right? Met his Aunt, Uncle, and Grandma. This could work.

Talked to the guy online for a while. Then on the phone. Met him in person one January, married him the next, had our first child the next. Moved and ministered. And I know the cornfields of Iowa don't seem to be a "ready set go" kind of atmosphere, God is showing us that ready, set, go is His call- not ours.

God has taught me a lot over the past nine years, the majority of it through my family.

The one that sticks out today- God doesn't wait until you think you are ready- for anything. Because half the time I have thought I was ready and certainly wasn't. The other half, I doubted my readiness and He supplied all the ready I needed.

I am married to a man who is ready always- at least he seems that way. He looks for opportunities to share Jesus with people. That may seem like a no-brainer with him being a pastor and all, but trust me, it's not. I could go on and on about how much he rocks, but I don't want to make anyone's teeth hurt from all the sweetness.

Thank you awesome readers for indulging this little post dedicated to an amazing gift I've been given. I know if I would have had any hand in it, I would have screwed it up a looong time ago. And now you've all also been privy to his anniversary card, since I haven't made that yet... You are welcome. Love you all and have a wonderful Wednesday:)

This sappy post is being forced upon anyone else who links up with the FABULOUS Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday:)

If you are looking for the song that bumps my world:

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Incomplete Illusion {Messy Monday}

You may recall we are having a garage sale.

You also may recall that some things tend to be incomplete around here.

So when my husband suggested we take out every single glass from our cupboard, as well as those cowering under the kitchen sink, and those in the boxes we still haven't unpacked since we moved here, I said, "Go for it." Meaning, "You do the heavy lifting and I will tell you what stays and what goes. I mean, we will together decide what stays and what goes. Right."

The glasses, mugs, cups, sippies, water bottles, and other miscellaneous junk covered our floor. Occasionally we would run across a complete set of glasses. In our house we have a word for that phenomenon: Miracle. Our house is where complete sets come to die, so our eyes widened and our brows furrowed when we'd run across even numbers of the same beverage containers.

Then I saw my sweet mugs and did a happy dance. I have a few random mugs that I adore, but I have one set that is particularly close to my heart. I rescued the set a few years back from a second-hand store. They're quirky, with a handle that looks like a capital B. They are my Sweet B mugs. And I had every single one!

A week later, I prepared to meet my dear friend Simply Beth. I wanted to give her more than a ride- I wanted to give her a gift to remember her trip and our time together. Something that would mean something. I racked my brain. Do I head to Hobby Lobby or Family Christian Store and pick her up something cute? Do I make her a necklace with beads formed by the Suubi women from Light Gives Heat? Do I buy some sweet Iowa State scrapbooking paper and make her some bookmarks to use in the pile of books she's reading right now?

I sipped my coffee and thought. The coffee in my Sweet B mug. It's a simple mug. Simple. B. Simply Beth. And she's sweet just like the mugs. That makes sense, right? But who wants a random mug? And you have a complete set!

What is the point of a complete set? Really, we were so excited to have found some. It was like we had arrived. We were real adults now. Adults who could keep four mugs together, even six, so we must be able to keep our lives together, right? Look at us! We have it together! But when I have coffee company over, I never give everyone the same mug- way too confusing. Who wants to spend the morning asking, "Wait. Is this one mine or yours?" So a complete set seems kind of... superfluous.

So I decided to give Beth a mug because she is now a part of my life. And when you have been made complete in Christ, there is only one thing to do with your life- give it away.

That's why all those epistles start with the writers praying for churches from a distance. That's why they call each other brothers. Because being adopted into God's family makes us brothers and sisters. You know that already I'm sure, but in a society where we can spell me with two i's, we need to be reminded that wii is a fun way to play, but a crappy way to live. Each of us complete in Christ is joined together to share lives because our lives no longer belong to us anyway. We are a body, a family, a kingdom together. That's how we are called to live.

The world would look at my collection and see it as incomplete, but I know it's not. It's more complete than it was before, because it's being shared a state away. My adorable mug resides in a cupboard far away, holding a reminder of the love of Christ that binds together sisters from two different mothers.

It's just another example of how Christ fills the empty, common things with a love that knows no bounds.

Praying for you all, wherever you are, and thanking God for uniting us in Him. What a huge family we have, let's invite some more:) Love you all!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

He Plays Beautifully

I don't often admit the thoughts that run through my head during a worship service. I suspect that's because, like most people, my mind isn't always where it belongs. Which is why the fact that I am about to tell you a passing thought I had during a funeral is kind of hard for me.

Maybe it was selfish.

Glenn's guitar sat just two feet from me as I rested on the piano bench. He wasn't there to play it. It was his funeral.

After the music was sung, my eyes wandered back over to the instrument I wouldn't hear him play. They perched there for a moment. Just long enough for me to wonder, wouldn't it be amazing if that was a magic guitar? 

A brief scene coursed through my imagination. Some guy wanders into our praise team loft and sees the guitar sitting in its stand. He ponders it a moment, glances around to make sure no one is paying attention, then picks it up. He sits on the pew behind him and places the guitar on his lap, the back of it resting on his chest. Without explanation, his fingers move exactly to the right parts of the guitar like they have found their home. He leans over the instrument. His body is possessed by a musical talent he never knew he had and, like magic, the guitar makes a guitarist out of the man. He picks beautifully.

But it wouldn't be Glenn. So it wouldn't matter. And there are no such things as magic guitars.

It's just a piece of wood, I remembered.

But for some reason I couldn't let the thought rest there. It's been haunting me these past weeks.

The cross, that was just a piece of wood too. A couple pieces of wood held together by some ropes or something. But in the right hands, it played the most beautiful music I've ever heard. The music of my redemption.

We get wrapped up in the things, but with that guitar there was no doubt that the talent resided in its master. Glenn was good. He was so good. You just couldn't be unhappy while he was playing. It was like magic.
But the most beautiful part of all was that he shared it. His music was a sacrifice to God. He didn't keep it to himself. He just couldn't.

God has done that all along. From the beginning when He breathed out "let there be light" and there was, He showed us that the beauty lies in the Creator. He beckons us throughout His Word over and over to look beyond the nuts and bolts of what we see, and see the Master behind it all. And He plays beautifully.

So why do we doubt His work in us?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things. -Philippians 4:8

If you are like me, you are more than willing to check off the list above thinking "these things" about other people. She is lovely. He is so commendable.

But the first thing to remember is that Paul tells us to think about what is true.

Here is the truth: you are those things too.

Not on your own of course. Me neither. But God has breathed His Spirit into you, and if He can work wonders on a bloody hunk of wood, then He will work wonders in you. And through you.

You are not ordinary. Not anymore. You might look it on the outside, but the truth is He is extraordinary and what He has done in your heart is the most amazing thing in the world. So amazing the world cannot understand it. So amazing the devil would try anything to ruin it. So amazing that you cannot listen to the worthless lies of the father of lies anymore.

In God's hands there is no such thing as ordinary. He cannot touch a thing without it being amazing just from having been in contact with Him. He might wrap it up in what the world will say is "common," but there is nothing common about following God. Nothing.

You are more than a hunk of wood. You are a precious and beautiful instrument in the hands of the Master Artist. And it's not magic. It's real. There can be no doubt, He plays you beautifully.

Linking up with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday (on this Thursday morning:))

Monday, January 20, 2014

Imagine That! {Messy Monday}

A sssshhhhhhhhhup! tore through the air as I removed the adhesive backing from her comforter. I took a step toward her bedroom door.

"My sticker!"

I stopped. I held up the tag. "This?"

"Yeah! My sticker!"

I tried hard (really hard) not to sigh exasperation at my three-year-old as I handed her back her "sticker." You know those sticky tags they put on the back of clothes that tell their size? The kind I would always forget to take off and so wear ignorantly all day long? 

That cute little "Jumping Beans" sticker that makes shopping at Kohl's just a little too easy- that was her sticker. She smiled sweetly and clutched it close. She slept with a tag.

It's been a while since I have posted about this child, but she has a knack for inspiring me.

Maybe it's the fact that I can go on a rampage around the house about missing puzzle pieces (and honestly, some of these puzzles have 9 pieces- 9), and fifteen minutes later she'll walk up to me right properly and ask, "Would you like a piece of candy, Sweetheart?"

"Why yes please. I would love a piece of candy."

Her petite fingers will yank open the hot pink zipper, slide into the silky Hello Kitty bag, and pull out... the missing puzzle piece. "It's candy."

Maybe it's that I have several misshapen diaper boxes around the house because they have been stuffed with pillows and other amenities to make her rocket trip that much more comfortable.

Or maybe it's because she fills up her chair cushion swimming pool with a wii remote hose.

Whatever it is in her that inspires me, one thing is certain- she has imagination. Praise God for that. It's that imagination that keeps her occupied right now as I write. I'm writing from a forest, in case you were wondering. 

Anyone who knows her knows that she is my biggest challenge, but today that's a positive thing. Because her imagination is pushing me to see past myself. 

God, the Author and Creator, and the Author of Creativity does this all the time. He pushes me to see past myself. He sees what can be, what will be, and when I take a moment to listen to Him I am just dandy. But so often I stand at the bottom of the mountain. I see the incline and think I am out of shape. I see the boulders and think There's no way I'm getting over those things. I see the brush, the crevices, the struggle and think I just can't handle that. 

And that's exactly when God calls down from the mountain, down from where visibility is at it's maximum, and says, I already have. He's already been there. But love is not far off. Love climbs back down. Love comes close. Love doesn't tell me, "You can handle it." Love tells me, "I can handle it." And then Love makes a way for me. 

When it comes to imagination, our problem is not that we don't have any. It's that we limit it. We must learn that somewhere along the way. Our lives are too small. And so is our God. We might not say it in those words exactly, but we confess it in our worries.

What if we imagined bigger? What if, instead of seeing our lives as a sum of so many parts, we believed God's word when it tells us, 
"Behold I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:1) 

What if God became the variable that caused our sum to grow exponentially? I guess there is some math in the Bible:)

I don't have the biggest family, the biggest words, or the biggest following. But I do have the biggest God. The only God. And do you know what else He says to us? 

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." 
(Isaiah 43:1)

I have those words sitting on the window ledge by my kitchen sink to remind me that God knows my name. He has redeemed me personally. Which means He loves me. Which means I have absolutely nothing to fear because He has both mercy and might. 

The same holds true for you! Read God's words to you, His child, and know that He has called you by name, and redeemed you completely. He did it out of love for you, and there is nothing to fear. Imagine that!

Today I am linking up with Angie at Inspire Me Monday! Stop over and read some great stuff!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We're All Puzzled

We are having a garage sale.

This is the first one I have attempted in a while. I'm talking about 9 years. I think we did one with the church right after we got married to fund a youth group mission trip. Pretty sure that was the last time.

It's just a daunting task.

So these past years I've collected our treasures and given them away or donated them somewhere. Simply because I don't want to do the pricing thing., and because other people need those things.

My husband came in the door as I was purging toys the other day. "You ready to get rid of that stuff?"


"Good. What do you think about having a garage sale?" I gave him a You're kidding, right? look.

He wasn't kidding. The concept was simple. No pricing. We set up in the basement of the church. Freewill donation (maybe a section for things that need a bit bigger of a donation, we'll see). Every penny goes to fund my husband's and his friend's trip to Kenya in a few months to share Jesus.

I could do that. He put it on the calendar before I could back out.

Yesterday, I figured I better get to work with the organizing and boxing and whatnot. What better place to start than the puzzle closet? I opened the closet and perused the shelves for the puzzles we have neglected lately. Those would be the first to go.

There was just one problem. We have dozens of puzzles, and I guarantee you half of them don't have all their pieces.

New plan. I picked out the puzzles with the fewest pieces and counted the pieces in each. The complete ones were the first to go. The larger puzzles, we'd have to tackle those another way.

Another plan! (And I thought I wasn't a planner!) I'd wait until school was out, then have the kids grab some puzzles and we'd have some family puzzle time. Genius!

In case you are wondering how that went over, I've transcribed some of our wholesome and fun conversations below. I was going to put my words in red. Like Jesus. Jesus always spoke in red. But red doesn't show up very well round here, so we'll go with blue.

Ok, guys! Grab a couple puzzles and we'll work on them together.

Do we have to?

Yes, you have to. But I'll help you! It'll be fun.

(Eye rolls from the boy. He grabs a puzzle. The girls are a little more accommodating. They grab several and even manage to spill one 6 inches from the closet. )

Mom, this is hard.

I'll help you. Just let me help your little sister here first. No, get away from that! Can someone please get the baby away from the table?

Mom, this is hard.

Yeah, I know. I'll help you- I just have to clean these up first.

I don't like doing this.

Yes you do. Stop whining and finish it.

No I don't, it's too hard.

You've done that puzzle a hundred times. It's not too hard.

Can I be done?

Really? You can't just help me out on this one?

No. Can I please be done and go play?



It's too bad you won't get any ice cream, though.


Your sisters get ice cream after supper because they are helping me. 

That's not fair! I want ice cream too!

It is too fair. I want to get these puzzles done. Anyone who helps gets ice cream after supper. If you choose not to help, that's your own choice.

He huffed and sat back down. His sister finished the puzzle with him as he provided some comic relief that had me wanting to beg him to go. Go play. It's fine, really.

It didn't go quite as I envisioned, but some progress was made. Some of the puzzles had all the pieces. Some didn't. I decided to finish some more after the kids were in bed.

One puzzle had given the 8 year old a tough time. 150 pieces, it should have been a cinch. The kids went to bed and I sat in front of the sparkly princess puzzle, ready to knock it out.

I despise that puzzle. I probably shouldn't admit this, but that sucker was hard. I'll blame the long day. And the fact that most of the pieces were identical in shape. I'd get to where I thought I was on a roll, then I'd pick up a piece, put it in its place, and realize I had to change about 3 other pieces around it because they were wrong.

"This is hard," I told my husband. He just laughed.

I say that to God a lot. Sometimes it seems that as soon as I get a piece in place, I have to reorganize everything else. And sometimes that is hard. Not to mention, I know I don't have all my pieces.

When we do puzzles, I tell the kids they have to wait to add the piece in their hand. "Another piece has to go there first. Then you'll be able to connect that one." The waiting for the right pieces can be hard too. I just want to get it all in there as soon as possible, and when it gets too hard, I just want to say, "Can I be done now?"

Of course, God is more gracious and wise than I am. His not yet isn't said in exasperation, but understanding. He is waiting too. And He loves me way too much to let me just give up and "go play."

He loves you that much too. We all have our own puzzles to work on. And everyone is missing pieces, at least for now. Sometimes we see things that fit, that should work, but we don't see the whole picture. We don't realize that those things that should work in our own mind don't actually belong there at all. Even the edge pieces can be tricky.

But there is a wonderful promise that I sing to myself, when things get tricky, or confusing, or frustrating:

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 

It's not my job to see the whole picture. It's not my job to see how everything is supposed to go. I only need to trust, place my pieces where He leads, and praise Him for the good things He is working in me. And they are all good things.

Linking up with my buddy Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday today!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Eyes to See {Messy Monday}

If I was to measure the distance from her nose to the treats she sought, it could not have measured more than 8 inches.

I laughed my frustrated laugh, "They are literally right in front of your face."

"Huh?" Her eyes searched the counter and settled on the gummy worms my husband was now pointing to.


In my helpful fashion I mused, "You must have zero peripheral vision." (To be sure, this was not the first time that day that her eyes had completely missed an item I asked her to fetch...)

"I was looking for a bag."

There it was. The moment I handed my giddy son his gummy worms and watched him skip into the living room, I showed initiative and went ahead and pulled more worms from the bag. I placed them in neat, equal piles on the counter.

She wasn't looking for neat, equal piles. She was looking for a bag.

Haha, Lord. I get it.

He does this to me all the time. I ask for something. I search for it in confusion. Then there it is. Right there. Right in front of my face.

I prayed that I would be able to make it through Glenn's funeral music relatively intact.

I then wrenched my back something fierce while working out, and spent the majority of the funeral focusing on the electricity massaging my back to keep the inflammation down.

Ok, it doesn't seem much like an answered prayer. It certainly wasn't in a package I expected, but the singing went awesome. As easy as breathing. (I'll blog more about the funeral on Wednesday.)

And I shouldn't be surprised. God's always wrapping up answered prayers in His own packages.

A deliverer in a basket in the reeds.

The Messiah in a little baby.

A healing cleanse in a dirty river.

Body and blood in bread and wine.

You are an answered prayer. You are to me, and to so many others. He hears our prayers and so often we want a magical finish. From what I've seen, God can definitely do that, but more often He changes the packaging. He wraps it in flesh. He wraps up His answered prayers in fallible people with hearts for God.

You are going to meet people today with messy lives. People who are praying for an answer, for a miracle. You might not be the answer, but you can be the one who points them to The Answer. You can show them the love and support that they need to get through this. You can be the one who receives the help from the person wondering if there is any purpose to their life.

Today I pray God give you the eyes to see His answers, no matter how their wrapped. And I pray He gives us all eyes to see that He has chosen us to point out His Answer to a broken and hurting world.

God bless your Messy Monday, Friends! I love you dearly!


Today I am linking up with Inspire Me Monday!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Supernatural Hope {Fearless Friday}

I learned a few years back that just because death is common to all man, that doesn't make it common to our souls. Back then I lost my mother-in-law and two babies.

This past week, I lost a friend.

Details unnecessary beyond,"cancer sucks."

Tomorrow I sing for his funeral and I haven't practiced the song yet without crying. I guess I'm just hoping that if I practice it enough, I'll be all dried out. I already tried the "pretend it didn't happen" approach, hoping that would get me through Saturday, but it didn't work. The praise team sings too, and I'm just hoping no one expects a Grammy Award winning performance, because we were a mess at rehearsal.

He played guitar for us and I can't tell you how beautiful his music was.

So, he and his wife are my Fearless Friday. Because 7 months ago everything was fine, and now... it's not.

I thought about this yesterday as I drove home from Omaha. Perhaps they weren't fearless. Each appointment brought more and more bad news. They just knew they'd show up and he'd take tests and the results would come and... more bad news. That pattern can certainly cause some fear.

Still, the only word I heard out of their mouths was peace.

There were tears. More than I can imagine. I find it amazing even now as I write just how freely tears can flow. But when all was said and done, they had peace.

They could see something beyond this present circumstance, and that vision was supernatural. That strength, that perseverance, that optimism that they displayed- that was supernatural. It was fearless.

Because God reigned in their hearts and in this situation.

Fearlessness has nothing to do with your circumstances, and everything to do with your God.

When God is God, love overshadows fear. It doesn't annihilate the pain. It doesn't eradicate heartache. It gives hope. Supernatural hope.

"When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.
And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me."
How He Loves, David Crowder

I don't have the words right now to tell you just how wonderful and loving this man was, this couple was. We were awed and thankful, so thankful, for their peace and their presence. I just ask that you pray. Pray for his beautiful wife, his kids, his grandkids, his friends. Thank God for His faithfulness. Ask for strength and comfort and anything else you can think of. And pray for those of us singing tomorrow. Lord, I Need You is hard enough to sing without crying. 

For now I'm just thanking God for His promises.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
and death shall be no more, 
neither shall there be mourning, 
nor crying, nor pain anymore, 
for the former things have passed away.”
 Revelation 21:4

Thank you all for your words of encouragement to me. I appreciate them so much, and it warms my heart to know that God is using me to bless others. I am so thankful for each of you. Have a blessed weekend.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Just You Wait {Three Word Wednesday}

There is a blessing that comes with surrounding yourself with men and women older than yourself. You get the benefit of their wisdom, if you choose to take it.

And I can tell you, hands down, the phrase I have heard the most often from my beloved friends. It's a phrase I've even started using with my own younger friends.

"Just. You.Wait."

It's true. Kids are throwing fits, wiping snot on every article of clothing in my possession, crying about no-thing. And then I am reminded to treasure this time...

Because it's all downhill from here.

My daughter asked me when she could get to start shaving the other day. She's almost 8.

"Not for a few more years, Hon."

A bit more conversation about the wonders of growing older, and then I said the phrase that I wish I could just stuff right back into my mouth.

"You're almost 8. That's scary." Hello?! Why did you say that out loud?!

"Why is it scary?" Aw, isn't she so sweet? Because, Honey. Because your mom is freaking out. Because in just a few years you're going to be embarrassed by me. You're going to defy me. You won't like me at all. And I will have lost all control.

But I manage to keep those words in my head. Instead, I backpedal, "Oh, I didn't mean scary, Honey. I meant... exciting. It's exciting to grow up." She shoots me a quizzical look. Then she must just chock that one up to "Mom's weird" because she drops the subject.

How's about this? How's about I don't get so scared about growing up and growing old.

How's about "Just you wait," turns into this awesome thing.

Like when the Bible talks about heaven and the new earth. Like when God told Eve about her Offspring that was going to make all this right again. Like when God told Noah a flood was coming. Like when God told Abraham he was going to father a great nation. Like when God told Moses He was going deliver His people in a crazy big way. Like when the prophets told Israel that a Messiah was coming and that captivity would be nothing but an impotent memory.

Like when Jesus foretold His death, but then "just you wait" because He was going to do something that's never been done- something that would mean eternal life for the world.

I'm redefining this "just you wait" business. Or maybe I'm just undefining it. It seems that God holds the patent on that phrase and I like it waaaayyyy better than when others use it. His "just you wait" may involve floods, strife, captivity, and death; but it also involves love, life, light, and satisfaction.

And that's the "just you wait" I can live with. It's the kind I can share. Because honestly, there are enough things to freak me out in this world, and God tells me (very specifically, very deliberately) not to worry about it.

How's about (I'm just really liking the sound of "how's about" in my head. If it bothers you, feel free to cut off that pesky  's) we make a pact together. Instead of speaking fear of the future to those around us, let's give our word that we will only speak words of life*. We won't sugar-coat and speak fluff, but we'll speak the truth in love. Offer wisdom and insight, while reaffirming that we have a mighty God who holds the future in such a way that we can't even imagine the things He has planned.

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

Have we got a deal?
*For those of you wondering exactly what this "speak life" stuff looks like, think back to when you took your kids to the doctor. Sometimes they had to get shots and that was the thing they feared above all else. And you'd say, "It'll only hurt for a moment." There's truth and hope in that. That's kinda what us moms of young children need to hear about the t(w)eenage years. Thank you.

Today I am totally linking up with Simply Beth, and Woman to Woman!

Monday, January 6, 2014

When You're Just Not Sure What You're Worth {Messy Monday}

We're not a family that plays by the rules.

Wow, that sounds way cooler than it is.

What I really mean is, at one point every week there comes a time when we flip the rules of value and worth on their heads, and it's all based purely on a whim. That point is offering.

Our church does kids' offering a bit differently than the churches I remember from my youth. Instead of a Sunday school offering, the segment of our worship service dedicated to collecting adult offering is also a time for the children to come forward and bring their offerings as well. Big kids pass the plate. Little kids run to the front of the church and drop their offerings into the fishbowl. The fishbowl offering then goes to the missionary we've elected to support that year.

Funny thing about fishbowls- they can get super loud when you're tossing coins in them.

It is for that reason that once a week any amount of change is greater than any amount of dollar bills. I hand the kids their dollar bill and they aw and pout. I give them a handful of pennies and they're giddy. The clink of the coins far surpasses the number on the currency.

I blame their childhood naivete. I also blame my husband. Here's why:

Every October, the hubs and I attend a benefit dinner called "Christmas in October." It is put on by the retailers in our town (whoop small towns!) and the money raised goes to a fund to help the children of our town celebrate Christmas. The town businesses also contribute some sweet door prizes that you get to choose from when your name is called. Last year we got 6 months of free cable between the two of us.

This year, we received a sneak peek at some of the goods, and from the moment my husband saw the piggy bank, it had to be his. He kept talking about it. Coveting the cleverly folded two-dollar bill that served as mo-hawk in the top slot of the pig. Of course it was filled with coins, but the real hook was that two-dollar bill. He adores those things.

Anyway, the night of the banquet, my name was called relatively early on. I raced over to the table and scoped out the gift certificates, centerpieces, wines. Time was of the essence. There was the envelope, "3 months free cable." And there were the pigs. Two of them. 

I hesitated as my eyes darted between the pigs and the certificate. I had to determine which was more valuable. I knew what I had to do. I snatched the swine and presented it with both hands to my husband. He was ecstatic. For the rest of the night, our table guessed at just how much money was in that thing. Look at all the... pennies. Ooh, a silver dollar! Maybe there are more of those in there! What if there's a twenty hidden in the middle?...

We got home and poured out the porker. Twenty bucks. Total.

But for that night, those twenty bucks were far more valuable than the free cable.

Maybe you don't see it that way. But my choice put love far above money.

Guess who else did that... Did you guess Jesus? Then you're right! 

As I saw the eyes of my children light up when I handed them their offering coins yesterday, I thought about how God is always flipping my idea of what is truly valuable. By nature, I don't get monetary compensation for my job. There are times when I'm tempted to think that my lack of exciting business trips, or social contacts with important people really just reflects that I'm not really that important. 

I couldn't be more wrong. And if you ever feel like you just aren't that valuable, you couldn't be more wrong.

Jesus came to an "unimportant" family and lived in an "unimportant" town. It always cracks me up to read Nathanael's response when Philip tells him they found the Messiah: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46)

Jesus called children to Him, "unimportant" by society's standards for sure, and warned the people about leading one of these precious ones astray because the "kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)

Jesus sat before hundreds and thousands of "unimportant" people and went into detail about the blessed people in the world. They are the 
poor in spirit, 
the mourners, 
the meek,
the hungry and thirsty for righteousness,
the peacemakers,
the persecuted,
the reviled.

As a parent, my job is to make sure my children know God's standard of value.

As a writer, my job is remind you God's standard of value.

As a blessed daughter, my job is to simply believe God when He speaks, regardless of what I see. Praise Him that He finds me valuable enough to give me the strength to believe that. And that He gives me you dear friends to remind me when I forget.

You are loved. You are valuable beyond words. So valuable, in fact, that The Word became flesh, lived, died and rose for you. It is my prayer that the knowledge of that moves past your eyes and mind into your heart. It is my prayer that you believe that today, and that those words that speak life into you may spring forth into the lives of those around you. It is my prayer that our neighbors find out just how valuable they truly are in God's eyes- even in their Messy Mondays.

Are there any moments in the Bible or in your life that have stood as reminders of how God values the things that the world disregards? Your comments and conversation are valuable- to me, to God, to others. Bless you this week!

And today I link up with Inspire Me Monday!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five-Minute Fearless Friday: Fight

Fridays are Fearless days. Days to celebrate those who encourage me with their fearless moments. Days to reflect on the moments of the week that remind us why we need not fear.

Today's day of fearlessness also correlates well with the Five Minute Friday prompt: Fight. So I'm linking up again over at Lisa-Jo Baker's place to join some marvelous writers in five minutes of hard writing. At least I'll try to stick to five minutes. I tend to get carried away... No editing or going back. Just writing. Click on the button on the right and join us!


"I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down." Bob Goff, Love Does

I'm starting to wish I could get more uncomfortable. Maybe it's because of books like Bob Goff's "Love Does" or Vince Antonucci's "Renegade." Maybe it is reading the Gospels and seeing just how uncomfortable Jesus made the religious folk and how comforting He was to the pariahs.

Maybe it's because I've realized that the light of Christ is to illuminate the darkness- meaning it has to go out and find the darkness. Maybe it's because none of my excuses for keeping Jesus hidden are legitimate because they all have to do with me- not Jesus. And when I ascribe any power to myself, fear creeps in.

Maybe it's because God promised a big family to a barren couple.

Maybe it's because God promised to crumble the walls of the most fortified city of the ancient world with just a few blasts of the brass.

Maybe it's because a virgin had a baby.

God delievered. Again. And again. And again.

He delivers every day of my life.

It's kind of addicting.

It makes me want to fight on God's side. It makes me want to see just how big His work becomes in the hands of the frail and feeble me, not for my glory, but for His. And for the sake of those lives, many or few, public or private, who come to faith.

God bless you, warriors of Love. Let's fight the good fight of faith and receive the crown He promised. Because our God always delivers and always wins.



Not sure how long that actually took. Kids=blessed interruptions:)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why 2014 Needs to Begin With an F Word

Her face was solemn as she approached me those few minutes before the worship service began. I sat at the piano, running over the order of service in my head and trying to keep it together. Our pianist is out of commission with a shattered elbow, which leaves me.

She spoke softly,"Mom..." So seriously, "[Your son] said the F word."

I can't tell you what I was thinking at that point. Survival mode and repeated misinformation about the severity of words with that particular initial kept me calm.

"Okaaaayyy. What's the 'f word?'"

She moved closer to my ear and whispered, "friggin."

I breathed a sigh of relief- that's not my word. I'm not saying I'm too good for it. I'm saying it's not part of my repertoire. I called the boy down from the balcony and he knew he'd done wrong before he got to the piano. Problem solved.

I'm no stranger to blogging about f-words. But there is one f-word I'm just ready to kick to the curb.


So my word for the year is FEARLESS. Another F word. A word that I am looking forward to exploring at length in the scriptures.

Because for far too long I have let my knowledge of the evil in the hearts of mEn eclipse my confidence in the power of God.

Because FEARLESS makes a terrific acrostic to describe the One who makes me fearless, as well as the reasons He gives me for being fearless. Really. Take the word and use each letter to describe something you know about God. Words pop up like Father, faithful, forgiving, everlasting, eternal, alive, awesome, Alpha, relentless, rescuer,radical, Love, Life, Light, empathetic, everything, Savior, salvation, shelter, Shepherd.


Then take those same letters and describe yourself in terms of being His child.


Where is the fear? It's drowned in the awesome that is our God.

And I'm also thinking a new graphic or button would be perfect for the occasion, but you know- that takes time. So I'll get around to it. For now, this will do:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

Please join me on this trip- even if you don't find fear to be such a ferocious enemy. There is just so much to be gained when we get together and dig into what our God can do! And while I don't fight anything nearly as fantastic as fire-breathing dragons, I'm not so naive as to think the thief isn't daily coming into my little world to steal and destroy. But our God is so much bigger. SO MUCH! It is my prayer that this year holds everything we could possibly need to grow closer to the Lord- namely, Him. God bless you all!


It's not Wednesday. Nor does my post begin with three words, but I'm linking up anyway!