“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, May 31, 2012

My Middle Name

Walls of Jerusalem
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

My heart is heavy.  Perhaps better said... my heart feels pregnant.  About to give birth.  And it feels like it is in labor pains.  And I am hoping this post will give it birth... whatever it is.  That I might move on and forget about the pain.

I feel like I am screwing up a lot lately.  Whether I am or not is immaterial to the fact that I am getting the impression others think I am.  Well, not just the impression.

Just yesterday, I received a private Facebook message that encouraged me to keep my business to myself.  That my numerous Facebook posting was overkill.  And that the encouragement was sent in love.

Can I just say, OUCH!  I have had this request before.  Many times.  But normally from men.   Who actually do not use Facebook with any regularity.  And actually find Facebook to be a waste of one's time.  And I am easily able to move on from their comments and chidings.  Realizing that they are not interested in relationships... quite like I am.  Or realize the true capability of Facebook as a tool to mentor others in small ways.  Or encourage those who are depressed.  Or connect with those who I would not have the opportunity... time... or place to connect with.

I get it.  They are different than me.  I don't totally understand them.  And they don't totally understand me.  Point taken.  I do my best to not take it personally.  Because actually they are showing their contempt towards Facebook and not me.

But not this time.  This time I was sent a direct message.  And it is personal.

Now, mind you... I want you all to speak into my life.  I want you to feel the freedom to rebuke me in love.  To tell me if I spoke out of turn.  Or if I hurt someone's feelings.  Or hurt your feelings.  Stepped on toes.  Or even to tell me when I have spinach in my teeth.  Or toilet paper on the bottom of my shoe.  I want to know.  I want to be open to that...

But I think there should be a reminder... that if you want to speak into my life...  If you feel it is necessary to come alongside me and rebuke me or re-direct me... even in love... that you at least know my middle name.  I mean if you don't know my middle name.  You don't know me.  You don't really know what or who I am about.  Most likely it means that I may not hear what you are saying to me without being easily offended or hurt or wonder if everyone else out in the world is thinking that of me.

But if you know my middle name.  Well, you might just know me well enough to know that Facebook... for the time being... is part of who I am.  And how God has called me.   And so the response I wrote was this:
Sorry about that! But this is what I do. It is a ministry to me. I feel that staying transparent and available is part of who God made me to be. I totally understand if you would want to un-friend me or you can choose that you only see my important updates. Otherwise, I'll be posting as much as I feel compelled to... God has allowed me to use FB to touch lives across the country (and actually across continents) especially in regards to depression. And I feel that is more important than the number of postings I do in a day. I hope you understand and receive this in the love it was sent.
And I haven't decided if I will post on Facebook that I wrote this blog.  Because the response was a bit surprising to me...
I won't unfriend you because of your postings. This is a beautiful way for God to use you but other additional postings of food, etc make for extra postings. Perhaps that could be taken into consideration.
So friends... I guess if I have to choose... if I have to take into consideration... my other additional postings of food, etc...

Well, I think you better start asking me my middle name.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Because from where I sit... it is beautiful.

Yellow... White... Pink...

From where I sit... it is beautiful. 

It's a secret.  Only because I don't tell anyone.  Not because it is all that interesting...
But the truth is... when I plant flowers in my garden... I plant them according to my vantage point.

I have the best seat in the house... er, back patio.  I get to swivel my chair and get the full 180 degrees of the back yard.  And whenever I am considering adding a new plant, I go and sit in MY chair and see if I will be able to enjoy its beauty.   I am the one who spends the most time in the back yard and I am the one who does most of the planting.  And so I figure... it should be amazing from my perspective.  

Every petal.
Every wind chime.
Every hanging basket.
Are placed according to the loveliness of where I sit.

I am not as concerned about the views for anyone else.  
Just me.  
And I feel justified.  
And I don't think most people would argue with me.

Now, I guess it isn't a secret anymore... and I will have to offer you the opportunity to see things from my perspective.  

Because from where I sit... it is beautiful.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I just wanted to remind you that life is messy.

 Sun-Kissed Orange Beauty In My Garden

Quick unedited thoughts as I am about to head out the door to pick up my son from school.

I just wanted to remind you that life is messy.
Relationships are messy.
Church relationships are messy.

I have been having this conversation multiple times over the past few days.  So I thought I would remind you, too.  Conversations with women who want to leave the church because another woman at church has hurt their feelings.

And your feelings are real.
And I am sorry that you are hurt.
I will be praying for you.
I will be available to give you a hug.
And maybe go out to lunch to cheer you up.

But here's what I think...
If you attend church, there will be women who will hurt your feelings.
If you do not attend church, there will be women who will hurt your feelings.
Just because a woman is a Christian doesn't mean that she should have the ability to not hurt your feelings.
Christian women hurt other Christian women's feelings.
It happens.

I kinda think that if you aren't getting your feelings hurt at church then you probably aren't paying enough attention.
Or you aren't involved enough.

If relationships were easy, I don't think Jesus would have had to remind us so often to "Love one another."  I need that reminder.  I think you do, too.

Believe it or not, you have hurt the feelings of other women, too.
It's okay.  They have already forgiven you.

Church relationships are messy.
Relationships are messy.
I just wanted to remind you that life is messy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nehemiah - 2012 Summer Bible Study

Join me this summer to study the book of Nehemiah
Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30am
June 5th - July 17th
No childcare available.

More information can be found on Kelly Minter's website.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

God Shows Up

Mt. Bachelor at Elk Lake

God shows up.  

I am teaching on Tuesday at our Ladies' Bible Study.  This Tuesday.  Teaching on the book of Obadiah.  One of the shortest books of the Bible.  The shortest book in the Old Testament.  Just one chapter.  Twenty-one verses.  A judgment on Edom.  

I've known that I would be teaching Obadiah for a while.  And it was pretty immediate when I felt impressed what the Lord would want me to share.  The impression was strong.  And I felt comfortable with that.  But the problem was... the correlation didn't fit.  What God wanted me to teach and what the book of Obadiah is about just didn't match.  Not in my mind, that is.

I waited and waited for the Lord to show me the correlation.  How would I segue from Obadiah to the teaching?  I started to feel uncomfortable.  I started to think that I might look a little foolish because I couldn't figure it out.  How did they relate? 

Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  

Then I started to think that I needed to convince God that He needed to change His mind.  I couldn't figure out the correlation... so change the teaching.  But He wasn't convinced... and neither was I.  But Tuesday is getting closer and closer.

And then today.  Today.  God shows up.  He wakes me up and drops the correlation and... VOILA!  It fits.  I get it.  He knew it all along.  

And I wondered why He waited.  Why did He make me wait?  Wouldn't it have been easier if He had told me sooner?  I could be done by now.  Relieved.  Ready.  Wouldn't it have been easier for me?  

Yup.  It would have been easier for me.  
It would have been easier.

If I was already done, I wouldn't have had to wait on Him.  I wouldn't have had to continue to seek His wisdom.  I might have even thought that I figured it out on my own.  And I might have thought that I pulled it off.  

But now I am convinced that I didn't pull it off.  I didn't figure it out.  I needed Him.  I needed His wisdom.  

I am humbled and 
He is deserving all the glory.

And I hope that I have learned my lesson.
And even if I haven't learned my lesson... I know that waiting is where He wants me to be.
Waiting on Him.

Waiting for Him.  

Waiting for God
To show up.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,  
who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to him.  

James 1:5 NIV84

Friday, May 4, 2012

But It Is A Matter Of Our Poverty

Venice Beach, California
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Reading this excerpt from My Utmost For His Highest.  Reminding myself today that it's not about my ability... but my poverty.

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest
The Brave Friendship of God

He took the twelve aside . . . —Luke 18:31

Oh, the bravery of God in trusting us! Do you say, “But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing good in me and I have no value”? That is exactly why He chose you. As long as you think that you are of value to Him He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve. But if you will allow Him to take you to the end of your own self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him “to Jerusalem” (Luke 18:31). And that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, or of experience— all of that is of no avail in this concern. The only thing of value is being taken into the compelling purpose of God and being made His friends (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God’s friendship is with people who know their poverty. He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all— we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. We do not know what God’s compelling purpose is, but whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him. We must never allow anything to damage our relationship with God, but if something does damage it, we must take the time to make it right again. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  
Not many of you were wise by human standards; 
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; 
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 

He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—
and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 
so that no one may boast before him. 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, 
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 

Therefore, as it is written: 
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV84

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Depression From The Other Side... Almost A Year Later

A Crazy Quick Trip To Seaside, Oregon

I spent the day with my darling friend, Elizabeth of elizabeth embracing God.  We drove about 1 1/2 hours to the Oregon Coast today.  Did a little shopping and had some lunch.  Then took an obligatory walk on the beach.  We were drenched, so we made sure to get a picture for proof.  And then we were back home to pick up our kids by 3pm.

Part of our conversation centered on depression.  My depression.  And it reminded me of a post she had written about me a year ago.  I have re-posted it here because I feel it is valuable for me to remember how difficult depression can be to understand for those looking in from the outside.  And perhaps you can relate to her words.


In her words...

I have never actually seen her depressed. She blogs about it. It’s her ministry to many women.  Heart heavy with the emotions and distress of how this disease has effected her life. She shares so openly and I have learned from her what I know nothing about.  Our paths don’t cross much in day to day life. Now that I think about it, not much at all.  We share a few emails and important phone calls. We read each other’s blogs. She is my go to person with my heart, my prayer concerns and I am hers on many levels too. She comes to sit with me when I am sick and brings me coffee.  I can sense when her heart might be heavy with an issue about life and marriage or even parenting.  Together we can share those burdens of our hearts and pray for each other. Help hold each other up.

Our friendship grows from a distance because our lives are on separate parts of town. We go to different churches and we don’t share a lot of the same friends.  Even so we both know we can trust the other with the deepest parts of our hearts and we have.  Then there is today, which was a different kind of day. Today I did not know her. I was uncomfortable around her. I felt distant and then I asked her. “Are you okay?”

She had already shared earlier her need for the sun. Her need to feel the sun and how she felt down about the weather. She said she was down and was glad that she could be "this way" around friends who know her. But I did not know her today.  I did not know this kind of her. A some what depressed her.  She could explain this disease to me beautifully. Sitting at her counter drinking coffee on her good days.  She could blog about this disease with eloquent words of her heart.  I can read and learn and see first hand in written word how this disease effects this person I love, how it effects her.

Today she looked cute. All during Bible study I wanted to take my pen and flip her cute hair cut. It has that bounce that makes you want flip it. I am growing my hair out and have worn the style she is wearing and was slightly thinking to cut my hair because hers looks so cute.  Does depression have flippy cute hair?  The color of her shirt was bright and cheery. I noticed it right away because I just bought new p.j.’s with those same colors.  The weather has been so gray and dreary I needed something to brighten things up around here. She shared she was feeling down and needed to brighten things up too. We both had the same colors in mind. Does depression look bright and cheery and fashionable?  Every time I have come into her home she is chatty.  She offers a special coffee and drink and cozies into conversation.  Today she just was kind of there and not very cozy or excited to chat about any at all.  Is depression masked like this?  Is this her on her down days?

As I drove away I started to cry. I cried really hard. I cried because I love her so much. I cried because today she had to be “on” and she did a really good job of it. I cried because I have a gift in knowing her enough to know that I could ask if she was okay and she told me she was not. I cried because for the first time in my life I think I am beginning to understand what depression looks like from the outside looking in.  I have known a few people who have suffered from “situational” depression who could shake it off. I think I could raise my hand on that one.  I have never understood, like I did today what it truly looks like. Looking into the face of my sweet sister Sheri and crying my eyes out. Not knowing who to be, or what to say. Only to love her and pray and paint that banner of sunshine on a canvas. I was uncomfortable and stupid and actually said that. Like that would help her.  “I will just paint you a canvas with a big bold sunshine that you can roll out when the sun is not shining.” I know she knows I mean well. But I did not know what else to say.

Depression is like a mask on a beautiful face.  I have only ever seen this face without the mask so I know first hand how beautiful she is. Today I saw that face with the mask on and was confused. I love you Sheri and know that I am learning how to love you in all ways.  

I sent the above writing over to Sheri shortly after writing it. I asked her permission to share this on my blog.  She is so funny. She said I could flip her hair any time I feel like it and that she felt sad I was crying. My tears have since dried and I have a deeper sense of understanding for Sheri.  She told me she  was glad that I did not just tell her to get over it. I was not even sure what “it” was until I got in my car. Now that I know what “it” is I get it.  Depression.  I am thanking God that this is not an obstacle in life I have had to overcome or live with. Yet for some reason today she showed me a clearer picture of what depression looks like.   

Thank you Sheri, my dear sweet friend for not getting mad at me for being silly and stupid around your today.  Did you notice I was fidgety?  I get that way when I am a little nervous.  I also talk a little too much.  I did both. Perhaps you did not notice, but then we make a great team.  Now off to go and start that sunshine canvas for you.  Love and Blessings, Elizabeth