“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Have Stayed Long Enough At This Mountain

"You have stayed long enough at this mountain."  
Deuteronomy 1:6b

In regards to "Numbing the Pain" please know that I speak as an expert on the subject.  Just recently while working on the Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, One In A Million, I saw it as plain as day.

Priscilla was discussing when the Israelites were leaving Egypt and heading to the promised land... they craved what they left behind in Egypt.  (Numbers 11:4-7) They felt the things of Egypt (because they knew them... and had experienced them... and selectively only remembered the pleasure of them... and not the bondage) would have to be better than anything else that could be offered.  They would stick with what they knew.  It worked for them.  And as I read the story... I wonder how could you ever desire slavery over freedom?  But the truth be told... I do it all the time. 

For me, my bondage has been to affirmation.  Positive affirmation.  Now, please don't get me wrong.  Affirmation is a wonderful thing.  Very necessary and life giving.  We need encouragement.  But for me... it becomes an obsession.  I can't have affirmation from just some people.  It needs to be from all.  And there are some people who need to give me affirmation exactly how I expect it... and if not... I am distraught.  And nothing else matters in life. 

Early on I would find affirmation however I could.  I wanted attention... whether positive or negative made no matter... just notice me.  I grew up trying to find affirmation through grades or guys.  It became addictive.  The Lord helped me to see that the ways I was trying to get affirmation were destructive.  They were not fulfilling.

Then I began to find ways to fill my need for affirmation in ways that were constructive.  Positive friendships.  Trying to change my expectations.  Affirming myself.  And yet, it wasn't enough.  There would always be one or two people who I felt should affirm me, but didn't... and I would be crushed.

Last summer... I came to a crossroads.  As I began mentoring some of my younger sisters-in-Christ, the topic of affirmation would come up.  And I was stuck.  I couldn't help them.  I couldn't help myself.  Some of them were in the same situation I was.  What was I to do?

So, I decided to force the situation.  That didn't work.  I tried talking to others about it.  That became gossip.  I tried to read books on the topic... that helped... some.  I started to pray for that person to change.  That didn't work.  I started to pray that I would change... now... I began to see some movement... in me. 

And I have felt much relief and freedom.  But when I was doing Day Three of Week One-- entitled, "Bound to a Memory" -- I realized I was not yet free.  Completely free.  Because I had exchanged my immediate desperate need for affirmation from a particular person... into a future fulfillment of that need.  Meaning, I was finding comfort in the fact that one day that person would affirm me.  I was able to be content today with that person... and with that need for their affirmation, because I had finally resigned myself that one day... one day... they would truly see me... and they would affirm me.  And I could be patient... and wait for that.

And that's when I felt the Lord say... You have stayed long enough at this mountain, Sheri.  Time to give up that hope.  Time to not rely upon the hope that I would ever be affirmed by that person.  Not that they won't affirm me... but that I was to no longer cover my symptoms.  I still had that desperate desire to be affirmed by that person... but I had covered it up... and that was no longer good enough. 

It is now time for me to stop looking back.  Stop looking longingly back.  Again, let me reiterate that affirmation in itself is not a bad thing.  Nothing is inherently wrong with it.  But I wanted it more than what God wanted for me.  God is offering me an abundant life in Christ... free from bondage... free from insecurity... free from the future hope of someone's affirmation.  Free from the dependence on someone else to meet my needs.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, 
and do not let yourselves be burdened 
again by a yoke of slavery.  
Galatians 5:1

And although there will be times, the allure of someone's affirmation will tempt me... I have resolved to stand firm... and look forward to the promised land of abundant living that Christ has set before me.  And now... as I move from this mountain... I pray my testimony of God's faithfulness will encourage those I am mentoring to do the same.

Post Script
My husband arrived safely home from Ethiopia on Friday.  
I did not attend the So Long, Insecurity simulcast on Saturday 
because he would only be home for two days before leaving for California.  
Photos of the beautiful people of Ethiopia along with their stories will be appearing soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Numbing the Pain

It started the day after Anthony left for Ethiopia.  Back pain.  Searing back pain.  The culprit?  My sciatic nerve.  The remedy?  Ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain gone. 

Next day.  Back pain.  Apply ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain continues.  Apply ibuprofen and ice, again.  Back pain not gone.

The diagnosis?  I had been treating the symptom instead of the problem. Turns out I had a couple of tight muscles that were pinching the sciatic nerve.  A couple visits to the chiropractor and some daily stretching and the pain is gone.

That's the way it is sometimes.  We feel pain.  Try to numb the pain.  Pain goes away... but the next time the pain numbing doesn't work... and we wonder why.  Especially because it worked the first time we tried it.  And that's okay.  Sometimes we need to treat the symptom... relieve the pain... until we can get to the root of the problem.

But sometimes we get stuck... numbing the pain... numbing the pain... and we wonder why it doesn't get better.  We are in a difficult marriage... so we try harder... and it helps for a while.  We have difficulty forgiving others... so we try harder... and we read a book... and it helps for a while.  We are fighting insecurity... and we try harder... and we read a book... and talk to our friends... and it helps for a while. 

But the pain is not going away.  And we think perhaps... we need to give up... on the marriage... or on forgiving others... or becoming secure.  Because nothing seems to be working to fix it.  To ease the pain.

And my question to you today is... are you treating the symptom?  Have you been treating the symptom?  Have you been so diligent trying to fix your marriage or forgive others or become secure that you have missed what is truly causing the pain? 

I have often prayed for marriages that are on the brink of divorce.  But I no longer do.  I don't pray for the marriage.  I don't pray for God to heal the marriage.  I don't.  I pray for the individuals in the marriage.  And I don't pray that they would just want to be married, again.  And I don't pray that they would stay together.  I don't.  I pray that each individual in the marriage would be drawn into a closer relationship with the Lord... and if they don't even know the Lord Jesus... well, that they would.  I pray for a deeper, stronger walk with the Lord.  I pray they would come to know the Lord at such a level... that they would have no other option or desire but to love their spouse as God loves their spouse.

I no longer pray that someone would just become more secure... or find a spouse... or feel affirmation... or have their child do better at school.  I just don't.  I don't want you to just find relief from your symptoms.  I want you to get to the root of the problem, so those symptoms will not keep reappearing.  I am praying for the deeper work.

What I will pray... is for God to show His faithfulness to you... and that He brings complete healing... and that He protects you as you go through the process.  Look, that pain is there for a reason.  We can keep trying to numb it... but the whole point of the pain is to point out that something is wrong. 

And I thank God that He grants us the ability to try harder... and to read books... and to talk to friends... to ease the immediate pain, but I think He allows that for a time... until the pain shows up, again.  He wants us to deal with the problem... not settle for lessening the symptoms.

So, my question to you today is... are you ready to get to the root of the problem?  Because I want you to know... I am praying for you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"And I just wish just once in my life...
that somebody would apologize to me."

trying to capture some blooms... 
hoping they are here when Anthony gets home

I hadn't read the book in years.  It had to be at least 15 years ago that I read the book.  It had been suggested to me by my counselor at the time to read it.  And since I really wanted to heal my wounded heart... I did.

The Gift of Forgiveness by Charles Stanley.  I am not sure who I was trying to forgive at the time.  Probably my dad.  But it didn't matter.  My bitter wounded spirit interfered with many of my relationships... and so it was time to take responsibility... move out of my victim mentality... shedding my past behavior... and move forward towards abundant life in Christ.

I hadn't thought about the book for some time.  But when I had the opportunity to browse in the Lifeway Store while visiting family in Maryland the day after Christmas with major coupons in hand... I felt compelled to look for the book.  Not sure why.  Just compelled.  And, of course... it was there.

So the other day... when I received this message... I thought... Okay, God... I get it.

Hi Sheri,
Do you have a book in mind regarding forgiveness. I have a loooonnnngggg list of people that I need to forgive. Every time I nail it to the cross.......it falls off:( To put it deeply......I think the problem is more related to me being hurt by their rejection. And I just wish just once in my life.....that somebody would apologize to me. ....I tend to apologize to a lot of people for things I didn't even do..... I've been thinking of going to one of those 12 step recovery groups. However, not sure which group to begin with...because I have so much to recover from. A few nearby A/G churches offer these groups on Tuesday nights. Truthfully....I really wish a good book ...... and God could miraculously heal me of my misery. I am beginning to believe that I am one of those hurt people......that can easily hurt other people. Do you have any thoughts?
How precious is each one of us in His sight?  I ran up the stairs grabbed "The Gift of Forgiveness" and started re-reading it.  I mean... over 15 years ago is a long time to give a proper recommendation... so I read it... and it was as amazing as ever.  And I thanked God, again, for Charles Stanley... and his willingness to write this book.  And I was confident as I responded back to the dearest sister...
A really good book that I have read and found help from is "The Gift of Forgiveness" by Charles Stanley. It starts with our acceptance of forgiveness from God... moves to our forgiveness of others... and then gives practical steps. It even covers perceived rejection... and the desire for someone to apologize to you.

I encourage you to read through the book. Answer the questions at the end of each chapter by writing down your thoughts. Truly expect the Lord to heal you of this... ask for Him to do the difficult work so that you can live the abundant life He has for you.

Let me know if I can come alongside you in any of the process. If you would like to send me your answers... or discuss any of the chapters, I would be happy to do so.

With much love and prayer as you draw closer to the Lord!

PS Would it be alright if I used your question anonymously on my blog? I think this will help a lot of others.

And she graciously answered that I could post her question... and that she would get the book... and give me an update.

And I posted her question for you... because some of you can hear yourself in what she wrote.  And you are waiting for that apology.  Because then you can move on with your life.  But it is not coming... and you are getting angry and bitter.  You keep trying to give it to the Lord, but you don't know how to... or you've tried and nothing has seemed to work.  I'm not saying that this book is "THE" answer... but it sure is a start.  Might as well give it a try?

I would love to hear any book recommendations you have... for forgiveness or whatever else you are working through.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bittersweet in Oromia


I am having a hard time blogging with my man being away. Where are all his gorgeous photos?  I need inspiration!  So, I went to his computer and looked through his photos and found this one.  We were on a family vacation mentioned here almost 3 years ago.

So, what has Anthony been doing in Ethiopia?  Teaching... preaching... "being likable"... and of course...

 Taking photographs!

And more photographs...

We did get to see a short video at church today of the team in Ethiopia with the 300 pastors that they will be commissioning tomorrow in Oromia.

Anthony and I have been in contact primarily by texting.  After realizing I had already exceeded my 200 text limit... I decided to purchase the unlimited plan for the rest of the trip!

 The Team

It is becoming a bittersweet time for the team... there is a sadness in knowing that their trip will soon come to an end... yet looking forward to seeing their loved ones waiting for them at home. 

For more on the team's trip stop by their blog here.
For more information on "Project Oromia" go here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 8
And Other Miscellaneous And Random Thoughts...

My current memory verse and other miscellaneous and random thoughts...

1. My current memory verse.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more 
than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us...
Ephesians 3:20

2.  Congratulations to Christina of The Luther Family.  She won the book Speaking Mom-ese:  Moments of Peace & Inspiration in the Mother Tongueby Lisa Whelchel (aka Blair from Facts of Life).  
3. My husband, Anthony, is currently in Ethiopia on a missions trip.  Thank you for your prayers.  He is part of a team from my church training 300 Ethiopian pastors who will be starting churches in Oromia.
4. My mom is visiting from Maryland and keeping Christopher (and me) nicely distracted.
5. Next book on my reading list:  Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  My mom's, too!

6. I had been so disappointed that our local Christian bookstore had closed several of its locations... and it looked like the final one was close to shutting its doors.  I was sad that my Christian book browsing would be limited to the "Religion" section of The Big Bookstores.  I had in my heart prayed that Lifeway would open a store in our area if this one closed.  
Today, my mom had asked to stop by the local Christian bookstore today.  I said... well, there's not much there because I think they are about to close.  Much to my surprise... the local Christian bookstore is closing its doors tomorrow... and re-opening them next Wednesday as a Lifeway Store.  Thank you, God.  Thank you for resources that we can use to strengthen our walk... and drive us deeper into Your Word.
7. I was recently featured on Confessions of a Tired Super Girl for her blog tour.  Of course... she highlighted Anthony's beautiful photography... might be time for him to start a blog!
Sheri, over at The Leaking Window, has a really neat uplifting blog. I really love all the beautiful photography and especially the reference from her retreat Zephaniah 3:17....because that is one of my most favorite scriptures in the world.
8. If you missed out on my giveaway of My Bangs Look Good And Other Lies I Tell Myself... then stop by Amy at Simplifying Me for her GREAT idea on "passing it forward"!

9.  Current Bible Study:  One In A Million by Priscilla Shirer.

10. New on my iPod:  I Am God by Kirk Franklin with Tobymac.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So Long, Insecurity - Week 9
Complete, But Not Finished

photography by Anthony

Complete, but not finished.  Here I am, again.  Finishing up another book... another study.  Makes me think about the completion of Anonymous.  Talk about life-changing.  Yes, again.

I highly recommend the book So Long, Insecurity.  I encourage you not only to read it, but to answer the discussion questions found on the LPM blog.

Whether you have read along with the rest of the Siestas or not, I want to encourage you to attend the So Long, Insecurity Simulcast on Saturday, April 24th, 9 am - 2:30 pm Pacific Time Zone.  I'll be heading to:  Brookwood Baptist Church, 3440 East Main Street, Hillsboro, OR 97123. 503-648-4547.  They are only charging $15 per person.  (Each host site determines the price of the ticket.)  I would love for you to join me... and Yes!  I am talking to YOU!  Please let me know if you are going... who knows... maybe we can carpool!

Okay, my dear sisters!  Here are the answers to the final discussion questions...

~~I am currently reading So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore and I am participating in the So Long, Insecurity Discussion Group on the Living Proof Ministries blog.  I decided to open my blog up to anyone who wanted to post their answers to the discussion group so that we can encourage one another in a somewhat smaller group.

These are my answers to the questions posed for Week Nine based on Chapters 17 & 18.
Italics indicate either the question that Beth Moore posed on her blog or that the passage is found in the book So Long, Insecurity.~~

1. Based on Chapter 17, on a scale of 1 to 10 (one-almost none, ten-over the top), how big a part has fear played in your life?  After responding with your approximation, please share what, if anything, in the chapter resonated with you.
Are you kidding me?  Fear?!  10.  Over the top. 

What resonated with me was the "Quick Start"...basically when you feel a wave of insecurity hit... Trust God.  Realize that there is a fear behind your insecurity.  Trade it in for trust.  You don't have to trust a person... or a circumstance.  Just trust that God will take care of you... no matter what.

I also liked the quote, "As long as you're going to borrow trouble on the future, why don't you just go ahead and borrow the grace to go with it and see yourself back up on your feet defying your enemy's odds... just as you and [God] have done a dozen other times."

2. Reflect over the journey as a whole. What (again, if anything) lasting and of God will you take away from it?  
I want my God-given security to become contagious.  Viral.

I love the prayer at the end of the book... and especially how she had us personalize it.  I encourage you to personalize it today, too.

My Father in heaven,
I thank You for breath this day to give You praise.
I thank You for a life where nothing is wasted,
a life where pain turns into purpose and your providence
       assigns a personal destiny.
You will never allow anything in my path
that cannot bring You glory or me and those around me good.
No matter what this day holds,
I am clothed with strength and dignity.
I have divine strength to overcome every obstacle and all oppression
because I belong to Jesus Christ, and His Spirit lives within me.
You, Lord, are my security.
No one and nothing can take You away from me.
You will keep my foot from being caught in a trap.
I choose to turn my back on fear because You are right here with me.
I can smile over the days to come because Your plan for me is good and right.
My heart is steadfst, trusting in You, Lord.
In the end, I will look in triumph on my foes.
Because of You,
I, _____________, am secure.
In Jesus' triumphant name,

Thank you for walking alongside me in this journey.  This chapter is complete... but the journey goes on... Looking to what God has in store for us!

Monday, April 12, 2010

It Wasn't "That" Illegal...

I broke the law today.  And I was immediately caught.

I made a u-turn.  Across two yellow lines... not at an intersection.

I was tired of waiting for the construction flaggers to let our lane flow... so I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Two cars behind me... was an unidentified Oregon State Trooper.  He immediately pulled me over.  Lights and all.

He came up to my window... with all the other drivers gawking at me... with my husband sitting next to me... and my son in the back seat... and let me know that I had made an illegal u-turn.  He informed me of the dangers of illegal u-turns especially with a child in the car.  How the construction traffic might have been coming down the opposing lane without me knowing it.

And I listened.  Because he was right. 

But the scary thing?  It had not occurred to me that what I was doing was illegal.  I truly had not thought to myself about breaking the law.  And I am trying to reset my brain that what I did really was not the right thing to do.  Because deep down I think there was a time... that I knew that it was illegal... but perhaps didn't think it was "that" illegal... and then it became... well, just what I would do in that situation.

And the truth is... it didn't matter what I thought.  My action was illegal.  It doesn't matter if I knew it in the past or not.  I mean... it has been almost 15 years since I took the Oregon's Drivers Test.

I have to admit... that I am glad I got pulled over.  That someone cared about my safety and the safety of others.  Someone who knew the law.  It was humbling to have my son witness the exchange, but I am glad he did.  He found out that I... on occasion... break the law.... although without willful intent... but my ignorance is almost more dangerous.  It makes me wonder what else I don't know... and I think I'll spend some time visiting the Oregon DMV website.

Because I want to be the kind of person who hears reproof... and accepts discipline... whether on the road... or in my relationships... 

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, 
but he who hates correction is stupid. 
Proverbs 12:1

And I know... I know... if I had actually received a citation... this would have been an entirely different post.  But maybe not.  Either way... it is very comforting to me to have someone who knows more than me... sees the bigger picture... and instructs me for my own benefit.

And the truth be told... I'll be avoiding that road with the construction... don't want to give in to temptation!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

So Long, Insecurity - Week 8
A Little Housekeeping

 A Word from Our Women's Retreat

Congratulations to Tammy of Life From My Teacup.  She won the copy of My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself.
Today's giveaway is the book Speaking Mom-ese:  Moments of Peace & Inspiration in the Mother Tongue by Lisa Whelchel (aka Blair from Facts of Life).  Just leave a comment.  I'll pick the winner when I publish my next post.  Sorry - giveaway now closed.

Although I did already discus my reading of So Long, Insecurity earlier in the week, I didn't "actually" give my answers for all three discussion questions.  And it just doesn't seem complete to me.  So... here they are...
~~I am currently reading So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore and I am participating in the So Long, Insecurity Discussion Group on the Living Proof Ministries blog.  I decided to open my blog up to anyone who wanted to post their answers to the discussion group so that we can encourage one another in a somewhat smaller group.

These are my answers to the questions posed for Week Eight based on Chapters 14, 15 & 16.
Italics indicate either the question that Beth Moore posed on her blog or that the passage is found in the book So Long, Insecurity.~~

1) As you surely noticed, Chapter 14 is more of a testimony than a teaching but it concludes with a charge to deal with our female insecurities for the sake of young girls coming up behind us.  Annabeth was my big inspiration for the journey. Briefly describe someone who is worth doing what it takes to you to live abundantly and effectively in Christ. Help us picture her so that she inspires us, too. Needless to say, don’t share more than she’d want you to.
Middle school girls... including my future daughter-in-law.  My son is entering middle school next year and so I will have the opportunity to be around middle school girls at church and school.  One of these precious girls could end up being his wife.  Wouldn't I want someone to pour into the life of my darling daughter-in-law to be? 
2) I wish we could discuss all of Chapter 15 in person but this is the next best thing. Name a couple of ways pertinent to your sphere of life and influence that you could look out for your own gender in our battle with insecurities. In other words, how can you (not others but you in particular) start becoming part of the solution in your female relationships rather than default into part of the problem. No condemnation here. Goodness knows, we’ve all been both. Our challenge is to learn to be deliberate. How are you prepared to do that?
Just this week I handed a dear friend a one-way ticket to insecurity.  I asked her (due to my insecurity) why she hadn't contacted me in the last week... after seeing her expression... I said, "just kidding!" I have determined to stop "kidding" around!  (stop by this post for more details)
3) I can’t wait to see your answers to this one. Based on Chapter 16 and the challenge to look past ourselves, what is your passion? If you don’t have one presently, don’t feel pressured or unnerved. You might be too deep in toddlers or school work to think past the urgent. Those things are priority and need to be your passion right now. If, however, you long for something that makes you feel fully alive and part of something specific God is doing for the greater good, ask Him to nurture that vision in you. It will be ultimately be the key to life on the outskirts of self-absorption. Keep in mind, your passion may not be anything you’re currently engaged in. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to participate right now. Maybe it’s just in dream-form. Or maybe it’s just a place God has tendered your heart. Try to give it a name. What is something outside of yourself that you feel passionate about?
I went through a "SHAPE" class last fall.  It covered... Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences.  I discovered that my Heart is for women.  Especially women who desire to break free from an un-abundant life.  I am passionate about mentoring them to live their lives fully for Christ so that they will pour their lives into their families, churches, communities and God-given ministries.
It's hard to believe we are almost to the end of our journey... thanks for making the trek with me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself Blog Tour

photography by Anthony
flower courtesy of Patti 

Numbers.  Formulas.  Mathematical Equations. Now, that is my passion.
Gifted from an early age with a mind for math...
I went to college and received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics.  
Numbers.  Not words.
Calculus.  Trigonometry.  Geometry.  That's what I'm talking about...
Not words... they are difficult for me.
Even more so when I tie my emotions and thoughts around them like a big bow.

But here I am.  Not a writer.  Not interested in writing books.  So when a friend of mine mentioned that she had just read a book which reminded her of me... of how I might write a book... I thought... hmmm... not sure whether to know if that was a compliment for the author.

So, I purchased All I Need Is Jesus & A Good Pair of Jeans  by Susanna Foth Aughtmon and stuck my nose in it. I have meant to blog about it... I really have... because so much of her words resonated with me... there was so much I wanted to share... that I didn't know where to start.

Then, I found out Susanna (aka tired supergirl) had a blog... and another book on the way... and I was hooked.  I immediately signed up to be on her blog tour for her new book My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself.

You know all those questions you have about God that you wonder about but never ask anyone about them... or if you do ask you feel like you never get a straight answer?  
"If I am this disappointed in myself, how much more must God be disappointed in me?"

"You realize that if you say 'yes' to God and his plan, you can kiss your good times good-bye, right?  (Did you know that if you follow God, you will become the most boring, overly spiritual person in the universe?  None of your friends will come to your birthday party.  You will be that boring.)"

"And how exactly can God use me in the state of imperfection that I am in anyway?"

"But really, does God know me?"

"Shouldn't God want to give me a good life?  Why wouldn't he bless me and keep my kids safe and help me stay sin free?"

Susanna Foth Aughtmon answers these questions with humor, personal experiences and scripture.  She sets you up with a story from her own life... reveals her deep dark question about how she feels God should respond... tattles on "the Liar" who is the true enemy of your soul... and then shows the truth of God's character using scripture.

It truly is like sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a good friend.  A very real and authentic friend... who will tell you the truth.  Who admits to the fact that life can be hard sometimes... but God is always good.  Always for us.

I thoroughly enjoy Susanna's writing... so... in the end... it really was a compliment to me.
But I'm still not writing a book.  I'll leave that up to Susanna.
I'm sticking with the blog.

Today's book giveaway is a copy of Susanna's new book My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself.  Leave a comment on this post and you are entered.  I'll pick the winner before I publish my next post.  If you don't win... you can stop by Amazon and get one here... might as well pick up her book All I Need Is Jesus & A Good Pair of Jeans while you are at it.  Sorry, giveaway is closed.

Yesterday's winner of Gift From The Sea is Comment #6 - Lisa.  Thanks to all who entered!

My Bangs Look Good & Other Lies I Tell Myself
“Available now at your favorite bookseller from Revell, 
a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blessed Beyond Measure

cake by Jean

Cup runneth over.

Honestly... I never imagined that I would enjoy having birthdays as I got "older."  But yesterday I turned 42... and it was one of the most sweetest days of my life.

My family lives on the east coast, so I had stockpiled my birthday cards and gifts I received via snail mail... so I could open them on "the" day.  A phone call to my mom... to reminisce about my birth.  Words with my sis thanking her for the Brighton charms added to our bracelet.  And secret conversations between Anthony and Christopher about what the evening might bring.

My dear friend, Jean, had planned a glorious lunch at her home with the ladies from our Bible study table.  What excitement... as I knew she had as much fun preparing as I would have enjoying it!  Using her fine china... showering me with words of affirmation from each lady who attended... and making a chocolate chocolate chocolate cake from scratch.  I thought my heart would about burst out of my chest.

And then there was all the birthday wishes on Facebook.  And the kind and thoughtful words.  Gulp!

It's funny.  I feel almost guilty.  Why is that?  Why would I feel guilty over all the blessings?  This escapes me... because I so very enjoyed each and every one of them.

So, to continue the celebration... I've decided to do a couple book giveaways this week.  Today's giveaway is the book Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I happened upon this book on a bike ride through San Francisco at a tiny little book store in Sausalito.  Contemplative words...  thoughts on our lives as women... all wrapped up with beautiful descriptions of the seashore... and seashells.  Just leave a comment.  I'll pick the winner when I publish my next post.  See you then! Sorry, giveaway is now closed.
Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.  Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one sheds in beach-living; one's pride, one's false ambitions, one's mask, one's armor.  Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world?  If one ceases to compete, does one need it?  Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself.  And what a liberation that would be!

...a new stage in living when... one might be free to fulfill the neglected side of one's self.  One might be free for growth of mind, heart and talent; free at last for spirtual growth...
~Excerpts from Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seasoned With Salt...

photography by Anthony
In the host of words shared between women friends, especially amid colliding hormones, sometimes something gets said that leaves the other pondering the old familiar question:  "What in the world was that supposed to mean?"  

Insecurity will rob us of some of the richest woman-to-woman relationships of our lives.

~excerpts from the book So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

"Just kidding."

That's what I said to her.  As if it would make up for the words I had just said.  As if "just kidding" would be enough for her to not truly ponder whether or not I really was.  Because isn't it true that there is always a little truth in our teasing?

I hadn't seen her or spoken to her in about a week or two.  So, I teasingly said, "Did I do something wrong?  I haven't heard from you."  The look on her face said it all... she started wondering to herself if not only I had done something wrong... but had she done something wrong that would cause me to question her.

And as if to make it all better... I said "just kidding" but it was too late... I had handed her a one-way ticket to insecurity.  And I knew it.

God was so gracious to bring our paths alongside each other yesterday at church.  And we even had a moment to speak just between the two of us.  And thankfully, we know each other well enough that I could say, "I'm sorry I said that." And she admitted that she had at first mulled over whether or not she had done something wrong... but also reasoned that I had not contacted her during the same time.  Which was so very true.

One of the questions for the So Long, Insecurity discussion group this week is:
Name a couple of ways pertinent to your sphere of life and influence that you could look out for your own gender in our battle with insecurities. In other words, how can you (not others but you in particular) start becoming part of the solution in your female relationships rather than default into part of the problem. No condemnation here. Goodness knows, we’ve all been both. Our challenge is to learn to be deliberate. How are you prepared to do that?
And I realized that in my insecurity of "jokingly" asking my dear sister why she hadn't contacted me... I defaulted into part of the problem.  I not-so-graciously allowed my insecurity to become contagious... and it was viral!

And in apologizing to my friend, I thanked the Lord that He had very clearly given me an example of how dealing with my insecurities can enable someone else's.  And that with a little forethought I might have reasoned that we had both been busy through the week of Spring Break... and that I shared in the responsibility of the communication... or lack thereof.

And so in my desire to be part of the solution... learning to be deliberate in making my security contagious... I have decided to ban "just kidding" from my vocabulary.  No excuses.  I love you all too much to be pushing your head under water... when you are already drowning.

But please realize... if I am quiet around you... and appear to be struggling with words... it is because I am making a conscious decision to not just fill the emptiness with words... words that could end up... even unintentionally... being hurtful.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, 
seasoned with salt, 
so that you may know how to answer everyone.  
Colossians 4:6

So, when you are waiting for me to share my words of wisdom... I may just be swishing a little salt around in my mouth... and praying that my words bring encouragement.  It may take a while for me to get there... but hey, you are worth it!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

As The New Day Was Dawning...

 As The New Day Dawns over the Sea of Galilee
photography by Anthony

Early on Sunday morning, 
 as the new day was dawning
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! 
For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, 
rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  

His face shone like lightning, 
and his clothing was as white as snow. 

The guards shook with fear when they saw him, 
and they fell into a dead faint.

  Then the angel spoke to the women. 
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. 

“I know you are looking for Jesus, 
who was crucified.  

He isn’t here!

He is risen 
from the dead, just as he said would happen. 

Come, see where his body was lying.
And now, go quickly and tell his disciples
 that he has risen from the dead, 
and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. 
 You will see him there. 

Remember what I have told you.”

 The women ran quickly from the tomb. 
They were very frightened but also 
filled with great joy, 
and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 

Matthew 28:1-8 NLT

Friday, April 2, 2010

The third hour. The sixth hour. The ninth hour. On a cross.

photography by Anthony

It was the third hour when they crucified him.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land 
until the ninth hour. 

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, 
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

The third hour.
The sixth hour.
The ninth hour.
On a cross.

Jesus, the son of God. 
God himself.
On a cross.

"The Old Rugged Cross"
by George Bennard

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

In the old rugged Cross, stain'd with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To pardon and sanctify me

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory forever I'll share

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Thursday, April 1, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 7
"Lord, to whom shall we go? "

photography by Anthony

 From this time many of his disciples 
turned back and no longer followed him. 

 "You do not want to leave too, do you?
Jesus asked the Twelve. 

 Simon Peter answered him, 
"Lord, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life.

We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." 

 John 6:66-69

 Memory Verse 7?  Already?  This year is going quickly!

I have chosen John 6:66-69 for Memory Verse 7 of 2010.  This verse is dear to my heart... and I pretty much know it, but I want to meditate on it the next two weeks.  That's okay, isn't it?  To memorize scripture that you kind of already know?  I feel that sometimes we need certain words pressed into our hearts more deeply and thoroughly.  So, I encourage you to work on a scripture that is kind of familiar to you... but you would really like to meditate on the next two weeks.  What do you think?

I shared about this verse last year after the Beth Moore event in Portland.  I had pretty much just posted all my notes... without editing.  Not pretty... not fancy... not "eloquent"!  But a desire to hold on to what the Lord had spoken to me.  It was a series of 11 posts that I called 6 Words... because that was a theme for Beth at that event.

I love this scripture because it asks the real question... "So, if you don't think this whole Jesus thing is working for you?  What do you think will?"

originally aired... Wednesday, April 29, 2009

6 Words: Lord, to Whom Shall We Go?

Dearest sisters... thank you for bearing with me. I realize my journal notes from the Beth Moore conference have been a dry read... and somewhat selfish on my part to share them so publicly... with no gift wrap of my own. But will you hang in there? Will you be a witness to what is transpiring within me?

God is dealing with me ever so intentionally with my ego. I knew that, but it was at this conference that He decided it was time to go all out with me. Since I hadn't caught on to His gentle nudgings, it was time to get in my face. And I want that. Ever so much.

I'm nothing without Him, girls. In all honesty, I would be dead (not figuratively) without Him. And so, I want to love Him, serve Him, trust Him and obey Him with ever fiber of my being. Seem extreme? I think it must be... but it is all I have. And it is all I have to give.

It is not something I have entered into lightly. It has been a slow 41-year progression. But I can't turn back. I have to go forward.

One of my life verses... that so often rests on my lips and heart are the words of Simon Peter in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Some of the disciples of Jesus had turned back... they would no longer follow Jesus... they were dismayed and couldn't handle the Truth. So, Jesus asked the ones who remained, "Do you also want to go away?"

Can you imagine? The Lord asking you if you want to leave Him?

Really, where would I go? What else is there? Money, success, my own fleshly desires, drugs... No, I mean really... what else is there?

You have the words of eternal life.

And then Simon Peter says, "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

It's all I've got, sisters. I believe and know that He is the Holy One of God. It's all I've got...

No, Lord, I do not want to turn back.

No, Lord. I Won't Turn Back.