Thursday, March 27, 2014

Business On Great Waters

For me, I embed truth further into my heart by writing about it or sitting down and sharing it with someone. Last night, Mark was beating baseball gloves with a sledge hammer, while I sat on a dirty, concrete block; sporting my yoga pants, CRS sweat shirts, and these days--my ever present glasses.

Sledge hammer hits baseball glove

"You have to listen to this! This--this is rocking my world!"

I began to read the passage, and then I began to walk Mark through my thoughts.

"Isn't that amazing? Do you see it?"

The further along I went my voice got louder, more passionate, more decisive.. (imagine that, me passionate?!)

Sitting became standing, standing became pacing. Talking became speaking, and speaking became preaching. (imagine that, me preaching/!)

Mark, thoughtfully listening and taking in all the fireworks displayed in front of him in the form of his wife, finally says, "And, and... tomorrow when you share this on your blog you can add this part. 'As we search for the missing plane, we know less about the square footage we are covering in the Indian Ocean, than we do about the surface of the moon!' "


Me, looking a bit confused.

Mark, "the ocean is HUGE!"


Psalm 107: 23a
Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters;

Many years ago, I entitled the series about my sweet Mama's battle with Alzheimer's, "Living In The Storm". I had no idea at the time how profound and beautifully articulate that title was, for what was headed our way. It was a storm with gigantic magnitude and eternal implications.  A storm that had the potential to wreck havoc in so many different ways and in so many different lives. A storm that threatened to overcome us with some of the waves we swore we were going to drown in.

There are moments, in the privacy of my heart, when I replay the movie of that storm, I shake my head and say, "how did we survive?" And while I am happy to give you a pre-packaged Sunday School answer, you should know by now that is not how I roll.

Often times, a lot of times, the majority of the time... in the this precious journey we call Christianity, we are called to take the ships of our lives and do business on great waters. I have yet to meet a person whose name has been left off the roster of 'Life's Storms'.

Some of you are convinced that you keep getting re-enrolled in this course because you have not mastered the criteria for passing out of the storm and into calm waters. Can I just plead with you to protect yourself from that lie Satan is spewing all over you?! God does not throw his beloved children into the middle of the raging sea to document whether or not our PFDs (personal flotation device) will withstand the storm.

All through out the book of Psalm, we are told time and time again why we are asked to enter into the raging seas of this life. And the answer is so simple, but so extraordinary, I just weep when I think about it.

Psalm 107:23b
They have seen the works of the Lord; and His wonders in the deep.

Did you catch that? The people who are being tossed and turned, beat up and beat down, bleeding out and vomiting because of the torture of the sea..... THESE PEOPLE SEE THE WORKS OF THE LORD!!!

They find Him. The God of the universe reveals Himself in this awe inspiring way in the depths of the sea. In the middle of DEEP darkness, pain, uncertainty, calamity, depression, strife, injustice, suffering, brokenness, sleeplessness, hopelessness, fear, and death, God shows UP!!

For those of us, who are doing business on the great waters; God, specifically, intentionally, and dramatically opens the eyes of our hearts to see His WONDER.

If you flip back to Psalm 77:19 it reads this;
" Your way is in the sea, and your paths in the mighty waters."

Do you want to know why God is calling us into the great waters of the sea?
Because that is where HE IS DOING HIS BUSINESS!
His way is in the sea.
The paths He has laid for us are found in the mighty waters.

Our God is so in love with us, so motivated to action by us, so moved to enter into our junk, and so crazy about His beloved children, that He cannot help but want to be close to us, and reveal to us on the most intimate level who He is. No book, no Sunday school lesson, no sermon, no seminary, no amount of theology and no length of church attendance, can substitute the encounter our Abba Father has with us when He meets us in the sea of this life, full of disaster, and draws us onto Himself. He shows us His glory, and all that is left on our putrid lips to say is, "Savior! Savior! Savior!"

You want to know how we survived the storm of Alzheimer's..... Because He met us there, He sustained us there, He upheld us with His mighty hand as the waves crashed about us, He and He alone was our refuge. And in a way I could never describe to you with words, He showed Himself to us.

'We would have despaired unless we would have believed that we would see the goodness of the Lord'
Psalm 27:13

Dear friends, do not fight against the raging seas of this life, for in them you will find your God, and a blessing with gigantic magnitude and eternal implications. And just like Psalm 107:29 says, "He caused the storm to be still!" And so He will in your life!

'As we search for the missing plane, we know less about the square footage we are covering in the Indian Ocean, than we do about the surface of the moon!.......The ocean is HUGE!"

Here's to the business HE is doing on great waters!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Intentionally Intentional

I love intentional people. People who are not an unresponsive victim of their circumstances, but rather are deliberately responding to the heat and rain of their lives and the lives of others. I love me some Dr. Gary Chapman, but I think there are actually 6 love languages. The sixth one being intentionality. I guess it could be a sub category of quality time, but I think it's WAY meatier, because intentionality doesn't necessarily require an abundance of time. Someone just sent me a text this morning that didn't take me longer than 30 seconds to read, but the message was so intentional that I was BEYOND blessed by her words and encouragement.


In my old age of 32, mother of four children, and lover to my best friend; I find myself redefining what is important, redefining where I spend my energy and efforts, redefining what is worthy of my investment in a Pinterest obsessed world, screaming at me to invest in everything extraordinary. Grief has this beautifully strange way of limiting your output ability. Grief requires some hibernation of the heart and mind.  I'm not going to lie, some of the most freeing, life-giving moments of my life have taken place in the passed sixteen months under the umbrella of being completely spent emotionally, mentally, and physically. I have had to say 'no' to so much because there was simply no energy for 'yes'. I had to cocoon for myself a safe place to process and walk through (instead of around) my grief. Because of deep grief, I feel confident that I know myself, my heart, my emotions, my limitations, and have a clearer understanding of exactly why I am who I am, and why I am doing what I am doing. I stand in awe that God so meticulously used a dark and heavy time in my life to shed light on the inner-most parts of my soul. Only a great and intentional God could do such a sweet and perfect work.

Each of us has a different set of white noise pining for our attention and energy. The white noise around me has to be intentionally put to death day by day, because so much of it does not deserve my attention or my energy. I have given myself a permission slip in so many categories in my life, and it feels so AMAZING!

Recently, through teary eyes, I asked a group of safe people to offer me a permission slip to not be in love with every aspect of my life right now, they graciously and abundantly extended me a permission slip, and helped me take down the 'For Sale' sign in my yard. Intentional friends. Intentionally meeting me where I am, intentionally handing me a permission slip. Provers 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from intentional counsel.

If we refuse to be intentional in the most intimate relationships we have on this earth, we lose. Time will eat up the moments we lackadaisically blow to the wind, and the white noise will win out each time. And let me warn you, sometimes the white noise looks appealing and "good" from the outside, but will suck you dry of life and liberty quicker than a mosquito on the fourth of July.  

Maybe it's time for some self inventory. Maybe it's time to start being more intentionally intentional. Trust me, if I've learned anything in my life it is this; life is way too precious to waste on the white noise!

Here is to chartering a pathway of intentional people!!
Move over Gary, we're rewriting history.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spot Light Intimacy

You know how farmers say they know it's going to rain because they can feel it in their bones? I feel the same way about a post. Long before I ever get to the writing stage of a post, I can feel it in my bones. Very rarely do I show up to the blank canvas of my blog without knowing where I am going. I saw a quote recently that was perfect, " I write so that I can go back and read how I feel!" Writing for me is cathartic for my heart. Frustration, pain, fear, joy, love, elation, regret, can be swirling deep in my soul, and until I can use brush strokes of pregnant words to paint my Mona Lisa, I can be a bit constipated emotionally.

I used to begrudge the fact that I had no artistic ability; I cannot draw a straight line to save my life. When I shave the back of Mark's head he has to use a shoe string as visual for me so that he doesn't end up with the Rocky Mt. Peaks as a hair line. Stick figures are where my creativity ends with a pencil. Mark does the hanging and the decorating in our house, and I am one fantastic cheerleader. I avoided an Elementary Education degree because the bulletin boards scared the fool out of me. However, in recent years, through the encouragement of my family and friends, it has become abundantly clear to me that words are my art. The right side of my brain runs on all cylinders when I gently start walking down the road of writing.

Today's composition of words has been marinating in my bones for a very long time.

The multifaceted emotional and physical intimacy of married couples, can be compared to a complicated dance. We often might trip over other each other, stumble each other, step on each other's toes, dance completely different dances while being so unbelievably frustrated as to why our partner was dancing the Rumba while we danced the Waltz. We've been dropped during pivotal lifts, cried during the excruciating process of trying to find the right music to dance to, and sometimes during the course of a marriage, one or both partners might want to walk off the dance floor entirely.

After nearly thirteen years, Mark and I still earnestly seek to learn and understand the great dance. We have never claimed to have the dance perfected or figured out in any way. We are still students in this great study.

However, through God's GREAT graciousness, there can be sweet connection on the dance floor. The moment when the music, the scenery, the costumes, the choreography, and the dance have unfolded into a beautiful artistic expression of  marriage. As humans, our hearts cling to those dances.

In recent months, Mark and I have been learning about the spot light of the dance floor. Be it ignorance or intentional avoidance, our dance can be surrounded by mysterious and harmful darkness. The spot light can shine on only one dance at a time, and the spot light can be deceiving. You see, just because the spot light, lights up the dance of an intimate relationship; creeping in the unknown darkness is danger and shame so deep and so silent that it seeks to quietly devour any remnant of the sacred marriage bed.

Isaiah 9:2, "Those who have been walking in darkness have seen a great light!"

I think if there were a spread sheet tracking the most quoted verse in our home,  it would be this verse.

Dancers have to remain in the spotlight in order to be perceived how they want to be perceived. They have to strategically and methodically make sure they don't step out of the tiny light. Satan seeks to keep couples and individuals in the spot light and away from the darkness. We strategically and methodically avoid going into the darkness of the past, present, and future struggle by convincing ourselves we are safe in the isolated sliver of light. We've bought the lie that a little bit of light in this area is enough. We only let the audience of our spouse and/or other onlookers, see what we want them to see while the darkness looms and waits to destroy.

Those who have been dancing along the edges of the spotlight have discovered that the entire ballroom can be lit up by a GREAT LIGHT, and darkness will flee and full exposure will reign. Isaiah 9:2 (NISV)

I'm tired of being in bondage to the spot light. I'm sad that our christian culture has deduced it's only rhetoric to "don't have sex before marriage, and if women would do their job-- men wouldn't struggle" as its' primary platform.

*Small Clause*
I am a firm believer in the importance of a woman's role when it comes to the marriage bed, as we talked about here nearly two years ago. But as I get older, I am more and more convinced that there MUST be a very tight balance here. Men, no woman on her best day, can compete with the internet or the Rolodex of images in your brain. No amount of intimacy from her can satisfy an addiction of your heart. Both individual people have to constantly keep in check their motivation for coming to the marital bed. And it must always come from a pure overflow of a deeper, emotional connection to one another and to our God.
*Clause Over*

I am tired of sexuality constantly being high jacked and perverted by people who are MORE than happy to talk about these issues on movie screens, TV shows, and pornographic websites and books. I get frustrated when struggle, brokenness, isolation, mistakes, adultery (of the heart and body) shame, masturbation, pornography, secrets and silence go completely ignored because it's uncomfortable, messy, and complicated.

I want those who have been walking in darkness to see the GREAT LIGHT! I want the ballroom of all things intimate to be blown up in the light department. I want 1000 watt, non environmentally friendly, bulbs setting homes, marriages, and individuals FREE! I want people to walk through the darkness and NOT around it anymore.

When we only live in the spot light that Satan has to offer, we are not really living. In a marriage, you are not really partaking of the beautiful intimate relationship we were meant to be enjoying, when we refuse to do the dirty work of addressing the darkness. Darkness so dark, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Darkness so dark, there are moments, hours, days, months, you cannot see your beloved for who they are. Darkness so dark, you are sometimes convinced that darkness is all that exists. But please, my dearest readers, keep exploring, keep peeling back the darkness, find the light, expose the darkness, run it out of town, and be set free from the bondage of the spot light.

For when you enter a dance floor that is covered in the light of truth, you will a dance a dance you never knew existed. No reservations, no rules. No strategic lies or cover ups. And for the first time, you will dance a dance that is established by a melody of real freedom,  real grace,  real life, real intimacy, real marriage and real love.

Here's to finding your Great Light!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Facebook Stalking

Confession, I facebook stalk people. Yes, yes I do. I'm checking in on my peeps, reading their statuses and liking their selfies. I love seeing my nephew play with his potato head from thousands of miles away. I get so excited when a new picture of my nieces is posted. I adore watching the first giggles of my best friend's baby boy and watching her dog go slightly insane. I like knowing where my brother and dad are eating dinner, and I like seeing what articles my sister has read that particular day. I like receiving links from my BIL about jokes only nerds enjoy, and I like seeing my brother and SIL rocking it at Hall Family Chiropractic. I like getting random texts from my other brother telling me to stop stalking him...BWHAHAHAHA


I was walking around in Psalm today, comforted by David's bipolar spirituality, it made me feel safe in my extremes. And well, I've camping a little in the extremes recently, (ok, ok, ok, my whole life :) I love the rise and fall of some of the passages, "kill my enemies, cut their throats, bury them in the depths of their wickedness.... God you are so gentle, meek, humble, and your unfailing love sustains me." I just so see myself there. Cracking.Me.Up.

I was laughing with the Lord about my plan to read through the bible this year and the fact that I was only 61 days behind.. I named it and claimed it, on January 1st and 2nd. *sigh* I'm so glad He waits for me, I'm so glad He walks with me and talks with me, regardless of me letting down the folks at Daily Bread. He is good.

Two things resonated with me this morning. First, in Psalm 4:4 David says, "meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still" I wish I could write little permission slips to all the mamas in the trenches, and give them permission to lay before the Lord in the comfort of their beds and be still. Raising little ones can suck every ounce of life out of your soul. Meanwhile, often men and women who are out of the trenches and beyond, innocently encourage us to spend time in the word, meditating during our early hour of prayer. I used to carry that awful guilt around thinking I was less before the throne because I could not find that hour, or 15 minutes, to do my bible readin'. The Lord graciously set me free from that legalistic bondage. Some of the sweetest, most precious times I have encountered the Lord, was when I would lay my little ones down for a nap, and I too would go crawl in the bed and be still before the Lord. More often than not, sobbing my eyes out because I didn't think I could make it another day. Only offering a sacrifice of, "Here I am Lord, help me! Or take me home!"

He met me there, oh He met me there; tenderly, patiently, and He would wash me with His new mercies. Please don't hear what I am not saying, being in the word and in prayer is everything to me, but during this specific season of my life, I was lavishly blessed through laying in my bed and being still before my Jesus. Carry on mamas, drop the guilt and be set free.

Second, Psalm 5:3 (I read two WHOLE Psalms, take that Daily Bread! :) "In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." Eagerly watch. That's what stuck. Oh, we are all too good at ordering our prayers. Sometimes, as if we are pulling through a fast food restaurant, " I need a #1, definitely super sized with a side of 'big ole miracle'. Please leave off pain and misery, they contain gluten and I will unnecessarily suffer if it is cross contaminated.  I also have a coupon, I picked it up for checking off bible reading and church attendance this week, does that get me a discount?! And all hell breaks loose in our hearts and minds, if our prayers aren't put together, bagged up, and ready to go with a drink holder when we reach the window of the Almighty.

Eagerly watch.

How many of us are eagerly watching for the Lord to move in our lives?
Not bossing,
Not prodding,
Not nagging,
Not manipulating,
Not bartering with,
Not stirring before the Lord with anxiety,
eagerly watching.

Do look for Him throughout your day? Not just when sitting in the pew, or listening to the man in the pulpit.
Are you peeling back the layers of every day life and seeking the heart of your Savior? Do see Him in the struggles and in the sweetness? Do you see Him in the crazy and the calm? Do see Him in sickness and in health? Do you see Him in poverty and prosperity? Do you see Him in the desert and in the land flowing with milk and honey?

Are you facebook stalking Jesus? Eagerly watching for the hand drawn pictures in the sky and status updates from the word that will blow your socks off. Do you admire the selfie He creates EVERYDAY in the world around you. Are you "liking" His handiwork in your life? Are you scrolling through His news feed of good news? Or are you hiding from Him? Selectively choosing what you want Him to see and not see (even though we know He is in all).

Oh, friends let it be said of us that we are eagerly watching for the Lord.
He is the best.

"as the deer pants for the water so my soul pants for you!" (Psalm 42:1)