Apr 292012
 

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning, in a quiet house (not sure the last time that entire statement was true). I’m harmonizing with Pandora and blogging instead of going to church. What’s your favorite Pandora station? Mine, without a doubt, is “DC Talk Radio”. “My Will” is playing right now, and even though I disagree with one of the lines, it’s one of those songs that makes me drop everything and sing (and light a lighter and sway it high, if you must know). I don’t have a way to church this morning, so don’t think my pink hair has made me a heathen!

My family needs prayer, y’all. I’m scared, and I trust, and I’m scared, and I trust. Hopefully you know that I mostly trust, but life is scary; He knows that. Life has barely given Papa Bear and I a chance, and we are struggling. I know I haven’t blogged anything resembling that, but I can only blog from my view and my faith. I’m not going to go into any details, but I can’t imagine building a relationship under these circumstances let alone healing one. I’m still crying out to God. I think something must be worth saving, here. Something is certainly worth attacking. I know that’s a bomb to drop after all these months, but I know I can count on your respect for my privacy and your prayers.

Speaking of prayer, a few days ago Papa Bear was having trouble at work and I asked the kids to say a prayer for him. It was one of those moments where everyone was scattered and dirt covered, and I didn’t sit us down to pray (I just passed the word). About an hour later, I asked Cuddle Bug, “Did you say a prayer for daddy’s work day?”

She nodded sheepishly that she had.

Oh, but I knew that she hadn’t!

I didn’t ask to catch her in a lie, I just knew she was lying once the words were loosed. And it made me think of…me.

If I’m going to tell you how I do things right, now, it’s only fair to admit my failings. Cause everyone asks for prayer like I did just a few lines ago. And as Christians, our knee-jerk reaction is to say (or to comment on Facebook), “Praying!” or “I’ll be praying,” or something else that might end up (accidentally) being a lie.

It’s not that we think, “I’ll let them think I’m praying so that I look good, but I don’t really believe my prayers affect things, anyway. So, mostly I’m just offering moral support.”

A spiritual placebo?

At least, I hope not!

I think that when we promise to pray, it’s because the moment and the situation move us to act, and we do feel that our prayers are needed and necessary. But is saying, “I’ll be praying!” ever an over-promise for you? Because I’ve talked to many of you about this, I know that it is.

I’ve blogged this before, long ago, but it’s been on my heart again. I hope it might free some of you from bondage. Because if someone asks for prayer, and you don’t feel a burden to pray, it might be something you need to press through, or it might not be yours to carry (to Jesus). I just asked for prayer knowing that not everyone who reads this will be burdened to pray for me. I think that by paying attention to those urgings of the Holy Spirit, we can more effectively fight the battles we are called to fight (both spiritually and physically). We’re always most effective when we’re focused instead of trying to save the entire world.

If you do feel led to pray, stop and pray. The burden might return to you later, but don’t trust that it will. Some of you war in prayer like I do, and it’s not natural for you to pray something less than ten minutes long or sans tears. I get it. But we’re the ones who might more easily forget to pray because we’re waiting for our prayer closet and a full box of tissues.

The next time you’re led to offer prayer, simply stop, wherever you are, and pray. And if you’re with the person asking for prayer, don’t say, “Oh, I’ll sure be praying!” Pray with them, right then and there. If they feel comfortable enough to tell you their problem, chances are they’ll welcome your awkward, in-person prayers. And I promise, God will use even the simplest, spur of the moment prayer. He doesn’t need a lot from us, just our obedience.

And if you’re obedient, when the victory comes and your loved one says, “Thank you so much to everyone who was praying!” you won’t have to mutter…

Oh, darn.

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 April 29, 2012  Christianity 22 Responses »
Apr 252012
 

Everybody wants to have a club, right? Whether it’s in a tree house or a cardboard box or a fancy building with white columns (icky). Well, I kinda have a secret club (i.e. a Facebook group). And I’ve kinda been hanging out there all week. And when you’re having a bad day, that’s when you need your club the most.

 

:)

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 April 25, 2012  Blogging & Writing 2 Responses »
Apr 182012
 

First of all, thanks for checking in about last Saturday. My talk to the women went “OK”. I said pretty much everything I wanted to say, and if I could have said it without a shaky hand holding the microphone, I would probably feel much better about it. My comfort zone is definitely behind the keyboard.

This post is going to be similar to my last in that it’s really just supposition after reading an exhausted and beloved passage of scripture. Take it if speaks to you, leave it if it doesn’t. These are the things that ran through my mind after reading (an edited version) of Samson’s story to the kids during Bible class.

Samson’s birth was foretold by an angel (an angel who didn’t say, “fear not,” actually). That means he falls into a teeny tiny group of extremely special people. And not only that, but he was set apart as a Nazarite. This, to me, means his calling (and his call to holiness) was great.

Samson accomplished some incredible things in his lifetime, it’s true. He was very influential in the Philistine’s downfall. But I do not believe that His life story reads the way God wanted it to read (I know, that’s shocking to some of you). I really don’t.

Even though God used Samson’s weaknesses, it would be impossible to convince me that God chose a man before birth, sent an angel to proclaim his conception, set him apart as a Nazarite and gave him superhuman strength so that he could be a womanizing, unruly, unclean mess. As I read the story to my children, I was overcome at the awesomeness of God and His ability to make something worthy out of our unworthiness. But I was also overcome with sadness. I believe that God plans our lives the way He wants them to go, even though He knows that we won’t walk it out and He’ll have to resort to “plan B”.

I believe this because God has never made a robot.  I believe He changes the plan (though it’s not really changed because our sins never surprise Him) because of many different passages of Scripture. One of these passages is in I Samuel where Samuel removes the kingdom from Saul’s line and says that it should have been his forever. I firmly believe that God had better things in mind when He breathed life into that real life superhero, Samson.

Now, we’ll never know. We know that God redeemed Samson’s mistakes as he drew his final breath, but we’ll never know how many glorious battles and righteous years of judging and testimony living should have been accredited to Samson.

As for me, I want to live out as many of the perfect plans God has for me as is humanly possible. I don’t want the vessels of unworthiness to be the things that cloud my vision and author my life. I don’t want to suddenly embrace holiness as I draw my dying breath. I want to inhale and exhale holiness right now…every time I breath.

I think I’ll say something like that.

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 April 18, 2012  Christianity 2 Responses »
Apr 122012
 

I’m behind by two review posts, but I thought I owed everyone a real blog post tonight. My mind is cluttered with woulda-coulda-shouldas, and maybe this will help me to clear out the cobwebs. I’m officially almost done with my first book. It’s not the prize winning novel that I started writing at fifteen (which was eerily similar to any Anne book), but I’m happy. It’s what God has given me to say. And it’s simple, like me.

When it’s finished, you’ll be the first to know. When it’s finished, the success of being completed at all will be largely due to my wonderful family and friends. I have the best, and they are currently editing, critiquing, designing, and ensuring that what comes out of this is actually something worth doing. I don’t think I’d have the guts without them. I know I wouldn’t. Last night, I teased that when this book is finished I will be immediately starting on “How to Self-Publish for Free by Taking Advantage of Friends and Family”. They thought I was kidding.

Thank you, girls!

On Saturday, I’m filling a twenty minute speaking slot at a local women’s event. I was given “courage” as my topic. It’ll be the first time I have spoken in front of people in quite a while. I’d be lying if I said I was nervous, though. I’m not.

I’m terrified.

So just think of this blog post as a much needed practice run. M’kay?

I think I’m going to start out by reading from Luke chapter one:

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 

And then I’ll make some kind of joke like, “Yeah, it was just that simple,” or something that sounds less blasphemous.

I realize that it would be impossible to capture the emotions and details of every noteworthy biblical event. But as a woman, the lack of detail here has always been a little humorous to me. It’s a good thing that God inspired men to write the Scriptures, though. Even though I believe that every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it would have been harder for a woman not to ramble.

Especially in a story like this.

In Scripture, every time an angel approaches a person (or every time that is coming to my mind right now), he tells him/her not to be afraid. Now, that’s mostly cause angels don’t look like this…

(cue stuffed angel/cupid that I borrowed from my girls)

But it’s also because of the message the angel is sent to deliver. And in Mary’s case, I think inevitable fear (because the angel wouldn’t tell her not to be afraid unless she was afraid) is due to the message.

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

I think Mary knew that being favored by God means trouble!  And (after the initial shock wore off) I think she was OK with that.

In 2012, very few people are unfamiliar with the concept of the virgin birth. As Christians, it is a building block of our faith and Jesus could not have been God without it. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and He was placed in the womb of  a virgin.

Duh!

But Mary had not heard the stories most of us have grown up with…and neither had any of her friends.

For Mary, proclaiming the gift (to the whole world) that was growing in her womb was akin to claiming an abduction by aliens. God set her up to be crazy! And she couldn’t hide her faith. She was pregnant with it.

In November of 2010, my husband left me. We had had many, many troubles in the beginning of our marriage, but we’d survived them. We’d spent the previous two years proclaiming the miracle God had worked in our lives. Somewhere around a thousand people checked in on us daily to read about our restored marriage. And then, we (both) allowed Satan to get a foot hold, and my husband left me holding a pile of worthless effort and shiny, nonsensical works.

When he left, I immediately knew that everything was going to be OK. More than OK, I knew he would be coming back home. Though I went through my own times of doubt, later on, my immediate fear was not over my situation, but over how others were going to perceive it. I couldn’t even voice this until, while on the phone with Jen, she ironically asked in a hushed and tearful whisper, “What on earth are you going to tell your readers?”

And I had no idea.

God continually, if not daily, told me not to be afraid. He knew I was. He knew that walking through a friend’s baby shower as an abandoned woman, smug marrieds only, my faux diamond catching every possible opportunity to glimmer, made me feel like a six year old girl playing house. He knew how ridiculous I felt in my faith. But He wouldn’t let me hide it.

I wonder if that’s just a small taste of what Mary felt as she walked through town…alone, but less alone than she’d ever been before.

When Jesus impregnates us with faith, He rarely allows us to hide it. He sets us up to look crazy. Maybe that’s when we prove what we really believe. Insanity is staring down the opposed path and finding it welcoming. True courage allows for, even demands, a little fear, but then it also demands that we walk all over it.

I think I’ll say something like that.

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 April 12, 2012  Christianity 24 Responses »
Apr 092012
 

In my cupboard, at this very moment, is an almost empty jar of coconut oil mixed with honey and cocoa powder. When I need something sweet, I grab a spoon.

It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it’s healthy (it’s also awesome on toast).

Last night, while licking said spoon and doing a happy dance alone in the kitchen, I giggled, “I am coconut oil!”

Let me back up.

All over the country, maybe right now at this very moment, wives of porn addicts are meeting for comraderie, comfort and advice. I used to be one of those women. One of the main purposes for meeting is to educate each other on why a man might choose something fake over something real (and I understand that women struggle with porn addiction, too, but I think the reasons behind that are a little different).

One of my favorite analogies is the steak versus the fast food hamburger. While most men would rather have a steak, they don’t know that one will be “hot and ready” for them when they walk through their front door. Stresses of life and the need for a quick fix (not to mention a scientifically proven chemical addiction to the quick fix) often drive them to the arms of the fast food burger. They know they’ll regret it and drive home sick. But, sadly, the urge is often too strong to resist (without Jesus).

No steak can compete with the ease of a fast food burger, though she has it beat in every other way. I mean, even burnt and a little fatty, it’s still better than drive-through. Still, I’ve watched wives mourn the absolute fact that they will simply never be as convenient as that danged burger.

Maybe that’s why it made me so incredibly happy, last night, when I felt the honest right to compare myself to my new favorite food.

I’m healthy, delicious, and yeah, I said it…I’m easy! There’s nothing better for him than me.

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 April 9, 2012  Marriage 4 Responses »
Apr 072012
 

Passover and Resurrection Sunday (and the time in between) are filled with precious moments and sweet reflections. But during that time, all those years ago, Jesus was loosing chains.

This sacred weekend is about one thing: the gospel. And this year, I’ve been asking Him, “Does my life preach?”

Unless we’re alone in the middle of nowhere, there are very few times in our days when our actions are not affecting someone’s soul. The way we drive, the way we treat our waitresses, how we order our coffee, how many items are in our cart when we pick the “express” lane, what we post on Facebook, what seat we choose, the expression on our face, how we dress, whether we pay our bills on time, whether we hold the door for others, the words we choose…

It’s all about preaching Him. 

He would have died just for me (I do believe that), but He didn’t just die for me.

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 April 7, 2012  Christianity 4 Responses »
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