Iron Sharpens Iron

Currently, the hubs and I are living in just over 400 square feet and sharing a car.  I just had that thought and marveled at the fact that it has been as easy a transition as it has.  We have been ‘on the road’ now for three solid months and have over 5,000 miles under the wheels of this bus that we’re calling home. Though it hasn’t been as challenging as I expected it to be, it hasn’t been without a downside here or there.

Tonight, I Face Timed in to my small group in Melbourne.  We’re now in Oregon, so I have missed the last three weeks due to the time change; either we’ve had a meeting that collided or I was still knee deep in work.  But ever since I hung up the computer with my Jesus loving girl friends tonight, the thought “iron sharpens iron” keeps running through my head.

Perhaps the one major downside to this trip, or the one I’m currently honed in on, is the lack of community around us.  We. . . I . . . don’t have enough iron.  The year prior to us leaving on this trip, we finally had developed a community that was faith based and grounded in growth and the bottom line is that I am missing it. . . and needing it.

As we set off on this journey, we started out strong in our church watching, quiet time and e-group routines, but have fallen off the wagon over the last month.  I can see the void now. . . it’s the hole in my soul that’s been developing over the last couple of weeks.

I texted my dear friend Gil today, just to touch base with him, in what I know, is a very challenging time in the life of his family.  He immediately called me back and said, “you must have a direct line to God” and went on to say that there had been some recent, positive developments (Hallelujah!!!).  From that call around 11 am (my time) to the the writing of this post, I’ve had the running thought that, “nothing could be further from the truth“.  I am feeling so, so far from God at the moment.

And I know I’m not the only one who goes through seasons like this.  Life gets in the way sometimes. . .  kids soccer schedules, ailing parents doctor appointments, a life-choking job.  There are 1,000 things that can. . . and do. . . come between us and the precious Jesus who is always standing there with open arms.

My pastor says that social media is just everyone’s highlight reel.  We only tend to put up the good stuff, while filtering out the less attractive bits of our lives.  I see myself doing that very filtering with every instance that I want to post something via Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc.  I am simply not that comfortable being vulnerable and putting the yucky stuff out there.

The downside to that reality though, is that it gives satan room to niggle around in our souls.  Lately, he’s been telling me that everyone is better at this Jesus thing than I am.  That I’m falling short of all that God intends for my life.  And that I’m failing in what God has called me to do.

Of course his stinky reach isn’t limited to Jesus.  It could be any number of things. . . careers, parenting, relationships, appearance. . . anything he can get his grubby little hands on to keep us from the far reaching arms of Jesus.

I’m just so thankful that I can stand against that.  I can tell that nasty bugger to shove off and get away. That the bible says that I have the power to defeat any lie he is trying to tell me.  No matter what I do, no matter how fall I far I fall away from Jesus, that He is standing there with open arms.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

And though I miss my weekly and sometimes daily interaction with the iron that He had surrounded me with, I know that He is directly responsible for this season with less of it. Perhaps what I’m really needing is to lean more into Him and let Him be all the the iron I need. . .

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Good, Good Father

So the road trip is underway.  There’s a lot to catch this little blog up on, or maybe not, but for now, this is the place to share God’s goodness.

We’ve been on the road for two months and landed in Durango, Co yesterday.  This last week we’ve driven from North Texas through New Mexico and up into south western Colorado.  It’s been a busy week of work, mind blowing scenery, and the overwhelming presence of God’s goodness.

While the trip’s primary purpose is about meeting many of our customer’s face to face, we also aim to make Jesus look good.  We pray before each and every meeting that we will shine God’s light wherever it needs to fall.  Jeff is far better at this than I, bringing Him into each and every conversation we have with a customer or vendor.  And this week, in one meeting, as Jeff brought Jesus into the conversation, the customer we were meeting with reached over on his desk and picked up his budget for the year.  He then proceeded to tell Jeff that he had a million dollars to spend on equipment this year and then told us exactly the equipment he would be looking for.

Now, by no means does this mean a million dollars in our pockets.  And NEVER, do we want Jesus to be a marketing campaign, but as soon as we got in the car Jeff said, “Did you see what just happened in there?”  Totally.  Roger that.  In the one sentence, that Jeff threw out there, out of obedience, Jesus shined His light on us.  He’s a Good, Good Father.

We have certainly stepped out on a limb here with this little trip of ours.  It’s expensive for one. And we’re missing our friends, family and church.  But He continues to show up and show off for us and it is beyond humbling.

In a random coincidental situation, we have five customers in the small town of Durango, Colorado and a dear friend, Sue Croom, who was a tireless volunteer when I was with Habitat.  Durango was on our short list of towns to get to as soon as possible.  In addition to getting to know Sue well at Habitat, we also attended the same  Episcopal church in Vero so it was a no brainer for me that I wanted to go to church with her in her new town.

We got into town mid afternoon yesterday (Saturday) and planned to join her for the Saturday night service at her new precious, mountain Methodist church.  She’d been telling me how great her preacher was and we were locked and loaded for going with her. Shortly after we arrived though, we realized he wouldn’t be preaching.  A young intern would be.

And honestly, we were both a bit bummed.  You know, kind of like when you’re all psyched up for a solid service and it’s “youth Sunday”.  There is always a place for services like that, please don’t get me wrong, but it was a bit of a womp, womp moment after a bit of build up for us.

But God.

But God is a Good, Good Father.  And this young  preacher girl, a soon to be college graduate, heading into the mission field and then on to seminary, delivered a sermon that screamed of God’s goodness to me.

Back in December, we were charged by our pastor to choose a word for the upcoming year to pray and meditate on.  The word that kept coming to my mind was “unity”.  Seeking more unity in our marriage and with God, independently and collectively, as a couple, I chose unity as my word.  Jeff’s word was, “follow”.

Going into this year, where it’s the two of us and Jesus, let me tell you, there’s quite a bit of unity and with no real plan as to where we’re going or what we’re doing, a lot of seeking to “follow” wherever God leads.

And in the craziest of ways, He shows us that we have, indeed, followed Him to exactly where He wants us to be, when this sweet little girl preaches a message on nothing less than Unity.  I mean.

But God.

But God raised the bar from there.  AS IF, that little sermon wasn’t enough.  It was also the one week out of the month when this little mountain church celebrates communion.  As a recovering Episcopalian, my heart did a little leap when we walked in and saw the bread and the wine.

We don’t do traditional churches very often anymore and our non-denominational church celebrates communion far less than I would chose, so after feeling Jesus’ sweet hand on my shoulder during the service with the sermon on Unity, words can hardly express how sweet it was to kneel at that railing with my dear, dear friend on one side and my precious husband on the other.  He’s a Good, Good Father.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, as if God’s seeing handiwork in the majesty of this country on this trip isn’t enough, just this week, I have had two additional absolutely mind blowing opportunities.  And I don’t deserve an ounce of it.

I’m a sinner, I have gross habits and an ugly heart, and yet He is absolutely showering His blessings on me.  And honestly, I’m struggling with it.

And all that I know to think on the matter is that He is a Good, Good Father.

“Good, Good Father”, by Chris Tomlin has been downloaded a bazillion times or so on Spotify, so  I know I’m not the only one who has been touched by the lyrics, but this week they have just been laid on my heart.  I am so humbled by how God is loving me right now, on us, really.

And I know it’s not just right now. . . it’s all the time. . .  but in this season of absolutely ridiculous blessing upon blessing upon blessing, there is no other explanation than that He is a Good, Good Father, and that I am loved by Him.

It is who I am.

I hope you’ll take a minute and click on the link below to listen to the song.  Because you too are loved by this Good, Good Father.  And whether or not it feels like it at this moment. . . loving YOU, like He is loving me at this moment, IS HIS character.  It’s who He is, and He is calling you, and me, deeper still.

Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin

3 Things

I so stink at blogging but there are three things that are rocking my world right now that I simply want to share with the world!  I keep thinking that I have to tell someone these little bits that are making my little corner of the earth brighter, and it just hit me that, “Duh, you have a blog, perhaps you could use it!”  Brilliant, I am. <read with a large dose of sarcasm>

The first on the list is really the impetus for this post and you’ll see why in just a minute.

#1- All things Jamie Ivey.

To say that I am obsessed with Jamie Ivey would be a complete understatement.  She’s my new BFF (if only she knew), and though I’m sorry to bump some of my dearest peeps off of that platform, once you check her out, I’m sure you’ll find yourself in the same predicament.

I was “introduced” to  Jamie when she helped Jen Hatmaker host her online book club for “For The Love” a couple of months ago and instantly fell head over heels for her.  She blogs at the link above and has a weekly podcast called The Happy Hour that is truly my latest obsession.  Cannot.get.enough.

I have never been a big podcast listener, but I’ve been able to incorporate catching up on it while getting some exercise so it’s been a win-win for me. Each week she sits and chats with a friend about completely random life topics ranging from raising kids, adoption, jewelry, tv shows, music, etc.  It’s like sitting down with a couple of girl friends for coffee and considering I don’t do nearly enough of that, listening to them chit chat completely fills the void.

I feel like each time I listen, I hear something that motivates and inspires me! LOVE>IT!

This week’s episode is no different.  It’s a special Christmas episode, where she and Jen Hatmaker discuss 21 small, ethically inclined businesses to shop from this Christmas.  From children’s placemats, teacher gifts and stuff for the “oh-so-hard-to-shop-for-man”, they highlight online stores that produce for a purpose.   I now can’t wait to finish knocking out my Christmas shopping!

For those of you in the trenches of motherhood, I seriously think you’ll find a great deal of refreshment from her!I highly suggest (read that <implore>) you to check Jamie out and let me know what you think.

Oh, and one of my favorite things about the podcast is that at the end of each show, she asks her guests “3 Things” they are totally into at the moment . . . thus . . . this post!

#2: C12

When Jeff and I started Beverage Truck Pros a couple of years ago, we (read I) was completely clueless when it came to running a business.  While Jeff knows the industry inside out, he was a sales guy and had minimal management experience.  My career in the non-profit world, though great in many ways, had not prepared me for running a small business, but when God told us to jump ship, we did.

He has provided for our shortcomings in business ownership in a variety of ways, but the greatest blessing of all has been our affiliation with C12, a Christian CEO Roundtable Group.

We each attend separate, day-long, meetings each month.  Jeff is in the CEO group and I’m in a Key Players group.  We spend our time in our meetings making our businesses better by identifying blindspots, focusing on areas we can sharpen, and working on incorporating Jesus into our roles as business owners.  I realize that last bit might sound weird, but for us, it’s His business, and we are so grateful to C12 for giving us a framework to help us see beyond ourselves, and enabling us to operate for a higher purpose than our own desires.

I share about C12 knowing that you likely aren’t a business owner, but I think it’s safe to say that you know people who are, and they need to know about C12!  So give them a call or shoot them this little blurb about it in an email.  Christian marketplace resources are rare, and C12 is the best of the best.  We have been so blessed by it and want everyone to know about it!

Oh, and the friendships we have made from our groups. . . priceless!

#3- My Fitness Pal

Ok, so I feel silly sharing this one, as it’s so 2009 and I’m fairly certain that anyone leading an active lifestyle in today’s app centric world knows about it, but I have a new  found appreciation for it over the last few months and need to share because I just feel like someone could use the tip. So there.

Over Spring Break this past year,  my (real) BFF, mentioned that she’d recently dropped a few pounds using the calorie counter in the app.  I immediately thought, “pshaw, I am so not a calorie counter” and dismissed it. A few weeks later though, after feeling my waistline expanding once again, I decided to give it a shot.

It’s just a phone app that serves as a food and exercise log, but it gives you a calorie limit to help you reach your goal weight, and then provides a platform for managing your calorie intake and output, right there on your phone. Couldn’t be easier.

What I LOVE about it is that it simply keeps me mindful of my choices.  I eat all the foods I want, including Cheezits and Queso.  I have yet to feel deprived of things I want to eat and it’s working for me. . . at the moment anyway.

It’s not so much about a huge weight loss goal for me at this point, I just wanting my clothes to fit better, so when I fall off the MFP wagon, and things start to feel a little tight, I can easily jump back on without really feeling like I’m going on a diet.  It’s more like, “I’m just going to do this for a week or two until my clothes are fitting better again“.  If I’m going to a party, or out to dinner, I make sure I get in some exercise to allow for some extra calories.  It’s just managing intake and output, and for whatever reason, it’s seeming totally doable for where my life is at the moment.

Going into the holiday season, I think it’s a great resource for us all to keep things in check. And if you’re not a smart phone user, you can click on the link above and use their online platform. It’s so easy.  Really.

Oh, there is a fourth thing, so let’s just consider it a bonus!

BONUS!!

A few weeks ago, I was sick as a dog, so Jeff went to the grocery store and while he was there found the holy grail of food items for me.  I frequent this brand so often, that I just grab and go from the shelf and would never have spotted this new variety had he not been surveying the options.  I was nearly in tears when he arrived back at the house, and showed me what he had found. Cue the Hallejulah Chorus.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Extra Toasty CheezIts!!!!!

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You guys, I have been toasting CheezIts FOR YEARS!!!! YEARS!!!

I mean, as ridiculous as it sounds, these have changed my life and I am so, so, so grateful for my man, who makes all my dreams come true, for bringing these into my life!

So that’s it folks.  My 3 current favorite obsessions, well 4, to share.   I love hearing about other peoples, so if you have any please let me know in the comments below what is rocking your world!!

 

 

The Wheels On The Bus

Just this past Tuesday, we ordered an RV.  And by RV, I mean a hugely random, hugely long, hugely expensive. . . motorhome. . . er, coach.  That admission, being one that I never, not ever, not even one time, imagined would come out of my mouth (or brain as it were).  The fact that I’m even sharing all of this, here of all places, for everyone to judge our madness literally has me scratching my head.  Gah, transparency.

But God’s been moving again, and considering that (from my vantage point anyway) He generally shows up in the most unexpected of ways and with the most unexpected of plans, here we are.  And by “shows up”, I really mean, “shows off” because of course He “shows up” every moment of the day, He’s always there, but every once in a while, He just presents Himself in this beautifully random, crazy way, that I can only attribute to Him.

His handiwork in my own life has rarely, if ever, “made sense”.  It’s always been crazy, off the wall, kind of stuff. Always.

Case in Point: Jeff asked me to marry him when we weren’t even dating.  I’d literally fought my very first physical urge to slap him, or anyone else for that matter, within the previous week.  And poof. . . *Jesus shows off* . . . and a couple of months later we’re married, sailing in the BVI’s and on our way to our happily ever after.

For the last year and half, we have known that there was something more that we were supposed to be doing. We haven’t known what, but we’ve both had this restlessness about what our life currently looks and feels like. For a few months we considered moving up to Georgia, spent a few months there even, trying to figure out how to make it work.  But eventually God told us ‘no’.

So we came back to Florida, settled back in and then started looking for another house to buy.  One where we could have our offices, plenty of garage space and storage for the business, Jeff’s hobbies, and the ability for us to host people in our home for different reasons.  After a year of house hunting, we finally gave in and came to the conclusion that a new house also wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

Back in the spring, we started praying about doing a year long boat trip called the Great Loop.  We love boating and given the flexibility of our business and lifestyle, it seemed like now might be the time to do what most don’t get to do until retirement.  After countless hours of internet searching and traversing the state walking docks and looking at boats, God gave us a pretty clear ‘nope’ back in August, when our last hope for a good fit in a boat, that was up in Georgia, sold the very day we were heading up to see it.

At that point, we’d been in “life limbo” for a year and a half.  A year and a half of not knowing what in the world we are doing with our lives.  I’ve found it shameful that we just haven’t been able to make a decision or make a move in any direction.  We’ve just been “talking” about doing stuff, and never making anything happen.

So when the coach thing entered the picture I was quite hesitant at first.  I was really reluctant to delve very far in to the whole thing.  I’ve been afraid of another closed door.  I’ve been afraid of what people would think when we threw, yet another, grand idea out there.  And given our track record, afraid of the disappointment that comes with another closed door.

And as I write this, that risk is still there.  We’re financing this big rig, and given the “self-employed” factor of our current situation, that’s a challenge at best.  Despite great credit and despite money in the bank, we have yet to be welcomed by a lending institution with open arms.

So, brace yourself.  The next time I come back here baring my soul, I might be sharing another pipe dream.

But for now, it would appear, that God has opened the door for us to take our little show on the road.  Prior to the internet, the beverage truck sales deal was done by a few fellows driving around the country in an RV meeting with customers.  Our current plan is to take our business back to its’ roots.  Sometime after the first of the new year, we hope to head off on a series of month to two month long trips, traversing the country, meeting our customers face to face and seeing the country while we do it.

At least that’s what I’m crossing my fingers for.

(i just realized that my face is flushed. . . i’m totally embarassed and no one has even read these words yet!)

Business-wise, it’s the most sensible of the above options for our next life move.  We both believe in the power of relationships and believe that the elusive face time with customers is the best next move.  Tax-wise, it’s hugely advantageous.  And personally, we’ll get to see the country.  Win-win-win.

But an motorhome???? Who would have thought?  Never, in a million years, me.  Much less, a big, beautiful, brand new one.  But having weighed new vs. used, small vs. large, tag axles and front suspensions (exciting stuff, I tell you) and the thousand other variables in between, this big bertha is the only way to go.

And despite knowing that “crazy” is often the way that God shows up in my life, I seriously fought the purchase for a few days.  Fear gripped me, and I struggled with the expense and the grandiocity of it all, as Jeff’s excitement grew over the whole thing.  And then Sunday.

Sunday. Church. Elevation. Word.

“Stop asking God what you should do, and start asking Him how you should think?” ~ Steven Furtick

And immediately, I knew that my recent thoughts on the situation. . er, fears . . . were not Godly.  They aren’t from Him. They are from Satan and, uhm, no.  I’m not going there.  I needed to change my tune to faith.  Faith that God can make it all work out.  Faith that God can keep us from a bad decision.  Faith that God will use us and this vehicle to further His kingdom while growing us and our business.

So. . . we turned in an offer and our financing info on Tuesday and here I am putting all my crazy (well, some of it) out on the internets.

Heaven help me.

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“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

The Power of Participation

Just this last six months, we have had the joy and honor of becoming a part of a new church family.  Elevation Church has had a huge impact on my life for many years now, from a distance, but in February Jeff and I learned that a new extension site was forming in our community, 550 miles away from it’s headquarters in Charlotte.  At first, I could barely believe my eyes, when I saw “Space Coast” listed on their website as one of THREE extension sites in the country.  But as I reached out and learned that they would be meeting two miles from my house the following Sunday,  we both recognized that God was giving us a unique gift in this opportunity to be a part of the church that had been such a foundation for us, virtually, for many years.

Pastor Steven Furtick regularly states that the Elevation is a church of participation rather than membership. Attendees aren’t expected to join.  It’s not a club where members gather on Sunday mornings.  It is one church in many locations made up of people from every possible strata of life, doing life together, so that those far from Christ may be raised to life in Him.

In my excitement about Elevation’s tangible presence in my community, I signed up to join an E-Team and was placed on the welcome team. Practically, this means that I leave the house at 6:45 am on Sunday and return around 1:00 pm.  Myself and about sixty other volunteers are participating each and every week, while even more participate throughout the week in various small groups.  Last Sunday, when I was in Charlotte, I was able to go to the Uptown Campus for the worship experience before I headed back to Florida.  All I kept thinking, was good grief, I wonder how many volunteers they have?  There were participators all over the place!

I’ve always loved serving my community and have been a part of various volunteer roles for most of my adult life, but I have never seen anything like this.  People, of all shapes, colors and sizes, working alongside one another, week in and week out, as the hands and feet of Jesus. Folks actively engaged in the life of the church, in their communities, and putting their faith into action.

I know that there are many a Elevation detractor out there, and I get it.  It’s a young church, with too many skinny jeans, scoop neck shirts and tattoos for the bible belt region it was borne out of.  But good grief, from my vantage point, they are definitely doing something right.  Each and every week, from Toronto to Central Florida, people are participating, loving on one another, reaching out for the lost, and seeking to advance the kingdom of God. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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This week, is Elevation’s annual LOVE WEEK.  Over the course of the week, countless hours of volunteer time, dollars and love will be poured into Elevation communities.  Here on the Space Coast, in our first year of existence, our church has organized TWENTY-THREE Love Week projects!!  From landscaping projects, sorting clothes for donations, preparing meals and digging ditches, this church, my church is putting Christ’s love into action.

On Friday, myself and heap of my closest Elevation friends are jumping on a bus, at the crack of dawn in the morning, to head (back for me) to Charlotte.  We will join over 15,000 others as we praise this God whose blessings flow at a Live Recording of Elevations newest album at Time Warner Arena.  What a way to celebrate this week, the best week in our church, and our God who has done exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever dare to ask or imagine!

I can still hardly believe that I get to be a part of such a movement of God.  He is moving and shaking, and making things happen in my life and in so many others around me.  He is bringing people together, FOR GOOD, so that, even in the darkest days of our society, we can find hope in Him, in His church and in His people.

“From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16

Are you participating?  Is your church making an impact on it’s community?  If there’s even a little hesitation in your response to these questions, I would encourage you to find a place to get involved with what God is doing in your community and make sure that you are attending a church that isn’t simply serving it’s members.  As the saying goes, “To whom much is given, much is expected” and seeing that all of our blessings flow from Him above, we need to look outside of ourselves and our day to day circumstances and get involved in His church! The places God will take us, in turn, are immeasurable and completely forsaken if we don’t make room to engage in His work.

Meeting NC anew

Having spent ages six to twenty eight in North Carolina, it has been ‘home’ as long as I can remember.  Georgia, by birthright, also has the distinction in my life and I have spent much more time there since I moved to Florida almost ten years ago.  Yes, I said 10.  Gah.  Proximity plays the largest factor in that fact, I suppose.

My visits to NC have generally been around the holidays, and as I drove over the state line on Monday, I realized I hadn’t seen the Carolinas in summertime in ten years.  Ever since I have arrived, I have been stunned by their beauty and how, despite the ten years that have past, how much everything changes and yet, how everything primarily stays the same.

I guess I have reached the age where time is getting the best of me.  It is fleeting and just goes by so fast, that I can’t be all the places I would like to be and before I know I it, I haven’t seen the deep green hues, and rolling hills, blanketed by a Carolina blue sky in ten years. How have I let this happen?

It makes me sad that I know there is so little hope of making more time to be here.  While I’m immensely grateful to have this week here, the remainder will be in a hotel conference room.  A fact that makes me want to ditch the reason why I came and spend the rest of the trip heading west into the hills that suddenly feel like a part of me.  They are so close, yet so far away, and it brings tears to my eyes, that I can’t get there.  ‘Home’ suddenly feels elusive.  What I would give to feel the dampness of the forest and smell a hammock of rhododendron.

But alas, God has given me the opportunity to attend She Speaks in Concord, so here I shall remain amid the neon lights and commerce overload. I suspect, that my time here will become as much a part of me going forward, as those back Carolina roads.  What God is doing in my life is nothing short of amazing, and I’m at a point where I can literally see how He has and is putting the puzzle pieces in place.  It is a gift to be on this journey with Him and I can’t wait to see what He does with it.

I had the opportunity last night to join other women in prayer at the Proverbs 31 office in Matthews.  On the conference room wall, hung this verse,

“. . . test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, ‘”and see

if I will not throw open the flood gates of Heaven

and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

Malachi 3:10

I’m beginning to feel like I really cannot contain it all.

My Roots Are Showing

So I’m going to get Baptized at church on Sunday.

And I feel kind of weird about it.

But I think it’s just that my excuse-me-roots-267x300Presbyterian/Anglican roots are showin’.

I was baptized as a baby in the Presbyterian Church and later “had a religious experience” succumbing to an altar call at church camp around age 15.  I decided then to follow Jesus and have done so, feebly, ever since.  My feeble attempt at walking with the Lord has been often unconvincing to those around me, I’m sure.  God has been my compass though since that summer at Jekyll Island when I moved from the back of the room to the front and accepted Jesus as my savior.  Admittedly, even when He has shown me my course from time to time, I have opted for the bumpier, harder road and failed in my walk.

Over the last 3 years though, I have FINALLY learned to yield to his direction.  FINALLY.

Yes, if you do the math, that leaves you with, oh, about 20 years of a half-arsed faith walk.

I’m a late bloomer.  Things that come naturally to others, often don’t come so quickly for me.  I have to make some mistakes to earn the merit badge.  It’s not that I’m stubborn, it’s that I’m just not smart enough to do what I “should” do.   So I often don’t follow the normal course of action such as Get Saved –> Get Baptized.  It took me the better part of 20 years to actually start acting like I was saved so why should we think that anything other than this delayed reaction would be my standard operating procedure.

Anyway, I have been contemplating being baptized again for a few years now though.  And by contemplating, I mean, dismissing the notion.  Here were a few, not so humble, thoughts I had on the matter:

  1. That’s a Baptist thing
  2. I’ve already been baptized
  3. That’s a Baptist thing
  4. What difference could it possibly make
  5. That’s a Baptist thing
  6. It’s all for show
  7. You don’t see Baptist up there in my roots comment do you?
  8. I don’t need the attention that some folks do  (Ugh, that sounds like more than my roots are showing.  My ugly is now showing, too…)

When Gil and Lee, our dearest “couple friends”, were baptized with their Relevant Church family year before last, I was thrilled for them.  I remember being at church that morning, two hours away, and being so grateful for what God was doing in their lives that I spent the whole worship time at my church in complete awe of what He was doing in and through them.  And man, I LOVED being a bystander to the fruits of their faith.  I still do.

But even then, the whole notion of baptism evoked feelings of, “that’s for them, not for me”.

But when Jesus brought Elevation Church- Space Coast Extension into my life at the beginning of this year I had just declared that this year was the year that I was going to dedicate my time and energy into “Going Deeper” with God.  I was getting serious about it.  Reviving the blog, working on my book project, being REALLY connected to my church (even though it has changed), and getting intentional about my quiet times were all a part of my plan.  Anything that would help me “Go Deeper with God” I would do.

And wouldn’t you know that soon into the new quiet time routine, “maybe it’s time to get baptized”, became a recurring theme.

This time though, I couldn’t dismiss the notion though. I had already come to the conclusion that if it was  going to get me any closer to Jesus, then I’m in.  No Matter What IT Is. And in this case, IT is simply an outward declaration of a decision I made more than twenty years ago.  I decided to follow Jesus back then and am just now making that declaration public.  Shame on me.

Anyway, I’m in.

I honestly still think the whole thing is cheesy and thus I’m still kind of dragging my emotional feet on the issue, but if God wants me to do it, then I will.  I will surrender to whatever He wants me to do, like it or not.  If it will bring me any closer to Him, then I want to do it.  And, I know it will be good.  It’s just that my roots are still showing.

I know that His way is the only way, so if He wants to dip me in some cheese, I’m all in.

Luckily, for me, He and cheese are two of my very favorite things.

___________________

p.s. If anyone can explain the TWO fetus pictures in the search I just did for a “dipped in cheese” image to me, i would appreciate it.

Touch The Sky

So Hillsong United has a new album coming out in a few weeks.  My Instagram feed is full of updates about it and this morning I decided to see if anything from it had been released early on Spotify.  “Touch The Sky” is the only offering to be found there thus far and by the time I switched to bluetooth from my radio, the first line of the song that I caught was, “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.”

Oh, my heart be still.

There were the words I have been searching for having not so long ago begun a regular practice of kneeling.

A few months ago I started attending a new bible study ( which I coincidentally skipped this morning. . . gah).  The very first day the leader spoke about the importance of quiet times and she gave us a structure for how she does hers.  With two small boys, she has to be especially intentional about her quiet times, which often boil down to just a few silent minutes in the floor of her closet.  She retreats to her closet and hits her knees each and every morning before a word is spoken. When she has more time to devote to a more structured quiet time she begins those on her knees, too.

I’ve been a kneeler before, and have especially loved kneeling in church, back in the day when I was attending Episcopal and Anglican churches.  There was just something about doing that in a service that helped put me into a special mind frame.  Doing it at home though, had really just been relegated for those most desperate of situations. . . like that one time when my husband left me for another woman.  Let’s just say that was a season of frequent kneeling in my life.  Fortunately, there haven’t been very many more occasions when my knees NEEDED to hit the ground.

But hearing sweet Jennie, the bible study leader, talk about her quiet times motivated me.  If this would help me go deeper, then far be it for me to dismiss its’ value.

At the same time I was starting this new bible study, I was also in the process of repurposing a guest room into a multifunctional room where Jeff could have his race simulator and I could have a cozy space to read and write and pray and separate myself from the 3,000 tabs that are often occupying most of my brain.  After leaving bible study the following week, I ran into Target and got the biggest, cushiest navy blue pillow I could find (since my knees hate me and I knew they would require some buffering in order to play along well.)

It’s been a couple of months now and just this morning, I found myself on my big, cushy navy blue pillow, in my closet before the sun came up.  Just a quick moment of prayer before heading out the door to pound the pavement with my precious best friend who is in town this week with her family.  I hadn’t been on my knees since Monday morning and yesterday it’s absence was tangible.  I was on the the verge of tears much of the day, for no good reason, eventually realizing that I just missed my Jesus.

My knees, do indeed, NEED to hit the ground, even in the seasons with little to no desperation. Selah.

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There are a few amazing lines in “Touch the Sky”.  The first one that tugged at my heart the moment the song came across my speakers, “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground”, of course,  and then “I found my life when I laid it down”.

But the chorus. . . oh, the chorus. . .

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

That is it.  That surrender that happens when I’m on my knees.  Laying my life down, at His feet, is when He can sweep me up in His love and my soul can be free of all of the thoughts, feelings and happenings of my every day life.  This is the place where He takes all my cares and worries and relieves me of them.

When I’m on my knees. At His feet. I can touch the sky.

Yesterday, over on Momastery.com, Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about a little boy asking her a huge question, “Is God coming?”  I have felt her response so many times, but never been able to simplify the answer as beautifully as she did in response to that precious boy:

             “Ryan, I don’t know how you can know if God is here or not. But here’s what happens to me when I notice that God is with me. My hearts starts to feel bigger. It feels like it’s swelling up. It feels like it’s getting so big it might crawl up through my throat. Like right now, next to you—my heart feels huge. Like somebody pumped it full of air. I think this heart swelling is sometimes how God reminds me that God is with me.”

When I’m on my knees my heart starts to feel bigger.  It feels like it’s swelling up.  It feels like it’s getting so big it might crawl up through my throat. I feel like I can touch the sky.

And I find my life when I lay it down.

_______________________

Oh, and Hillsong performed “Touch The Sky” this morning on the Today Show.  You can watch along HERE.

So That.

Sometimes my day job is little more than busy work for an entire day. Filling out forms, prepping post office mailers, repetitive quick books entries. .  . that sort of thing.  In an effort to make those chores a little more delightful, I have been known declare those days  “TV days”.

As I set up my plan for the day, I would load up the TV or my computer with my favorite shows that Jeff can’t stand (pretty much any and all Bravo shows) for background noise.  With one of my primary deficiencies being “lack of focused attention”, repetitive activities and I don’t get along very well, so I quickly found that I could trick myself into doing these things by treating myself to crap TV.  Win, Win.

This was maybe a once a week occurrence, but nevertheless, I eventually became a little convicted about filling my heart and mind with Real Housewives drama, Vanderpump RIDICULOUSNESS and Million Dollar Listings.  Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t EVER watch those shows (I just saw that the Shah’s are back on TONIGHT!), but I did begin to see how when I was listening to this mess hour after hour that I was leaking out the good stuff that I’d gotten from my quiet time that morning.

I was giving “the world” and its’ values a little more room to squeeze into my psyche.  And during these days that I’m desiring to “go deeper” with God, I figured I needed to come up with a better solution for my busy work distraction.  At the same time I was feeding a mild obsession with all things Elevation Church,  having recently learned that God was bringing my very favorite church to my community, so one day I decided to tune into the Elevation Network instead of spending time with my friends on Bravo.

Now, I’ll admit, having a sermon on in the background isn’t quite as distracting as Lisa Vanderpump and all of her magnificence, however, I did find that tuning into Jesus in the background changed the tone of my thoughts and my heart for the day.  I was more receptive to seeing what God was up to and what He was trying to get through my thick skull.

Le sigh . . .  and wouldn’t this be just the kind of thing He had in mind when He put all of this “going deeper” stuff on my heart in the first place.  Sigh again. . .

The mission statement of Elevation is: “We exist so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ”.  A few weeks ago, while listening in, Furtick referred to the what might be the most moving words in that sentence.  Not the God.  Not the Christ.  Not the raised to life.

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(Let’s not act surprised that there is cheese on my desk. Even crappy cheese is better than no cheese.)

The “SO THAT“.

He challenged the listeners to start including a “SO THAT” in each and every prayer that they pray.  It struck me as notable goodness so I made a note and stuck it on my computer screen thinking that I would glance it every once and remember to include it in my prayers.

But man, it has stuck and become so much more than a sticky note.  It is GOODNESS.

Jeff gave me a prayer journal for Christmas that I start a new entry into every Monday.  There is a section for new prayers, old prayers, prayers answered and praises.  Each week I make my lists and since hearing this message, have ended each of the prayers with a “SO THAT”.

  • Please help Jeff sell trucks this week SO THAT we can give more money to YOUR church.
  • Please help us find a new house SO THAT your will can be done for our family in it.
  • Please save these friends’ marriage, SO THAT each spouse can experience the Your love.
  • Please help me find peace with my body, SO THAT dieting is not a distraction from  what You want me to do.
  • Please make your plans known to the planning team of the Elevation Space Coast Extension Site SO THAT people around me will be raised to life in Christ.

It occurs to me that by defining our so thats that we will also likely stumble upon what is most important to us.  For me, this “going deeper” thing is about filling up more on Him than on my own desires.  It’s about getting more of Him and less of me.  It’s about following His direction in my life, rather than my own aimless pursuits. Incorporating this simple so that can take us so much deeper into our selves and closer to the heart of God if that’s what we’re shooting for.

Jeff was on a goal setting kick at the first of the year, both personally and professionally, and we spent quite a bit of time sitting down and making lists of what we want to accomplish with the business, internally and externally.

Looks like we forgot a step.

Now, I see that we need to go back and revise those goals so that as we start tackling those lists, we focus on what is really important and can prioritize those items that are kingdom builders rather than the more selfish pursuits. Not that there won’t be some of those along the way, but at least we can be mindful of what we are doing with our time and how we are spending our money so that we aren’t getting overly lopsided in self-driven pursuits.

I also now want to go back and add “So That” to the businesses mission statement and to my statement of intent for a writing project I’m working on so that we can be used in mighty ways.

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Going Deeper

Though I’m sure it is not random at all, it seems random to me that my first day blogging here at the new site is also the first day of Lent.  I was complaining to my dear friend Jordana this morning about my complete lack of self-control re: food when she said, “hhhrrrmm, it is the first day of Lent, you know”.  I told her that I’m not really one for giving up something.  I like the thought more of going deeper.

Deeper with my faith.  Deeper in my walk with Jesus.  Deeper in my life in general.

I get so stuck sometimes in the rut that is this life.  I forget about Jesus 98% of my day.  I forget that I am called to more 6.75 days out of the week. I forget that my life isn’t about me.

I want more, but so, so often I fail to make the time to really go deeper.

So that’s what I want to do for Lent this year.  I want to give Jesus more of my time. Listen to Him more. See Him more. Talk to Him more. And in the process, I want to leak more of His goodness out on the folks in my world.

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http://www.naptimediariesshop.com

Sweet Jordana just so happened to send me a Lenten devotional this year that a friend from college has contributed to.  It’s a gorgeous little book with 8 weeks of journaling to look forward to.  Today’s entry really struck a cord with me considering my desire to “go deeper.  It’s just the reminder I needed as I take the plunge into going deeper.

“True spiritual fruit starts with self-denial, because self can’t produce anything of spiritual value.  Only the Spirit can do that.”  ~ Christine Hoover

I mean. <selah>

That whole self-denial thing is H.A.R.D.  Ya’ll that means I might actually have to deal with some of my issues.  I might actually have to let go of the Reese’s Valentine’s Hearts.  Let go of that anger or resentment I’ve been “dealing” with. Let go of my time and my money and my peoples.  I might have to just trust.

Trust that God has is working it all out to the glory of His kingdom and for my benefit.  Trust that He has got it all under control and that I don’t have to.  Trust that He will fight my battles for me.  Trust that if I just shut up, let go and let Him that things will all work out ok.

So let’s revisit that line I gave Jordi on the phone this morning. . . I’m not really one for giving something up.

Oh, right.  About that.

_________________________________________________________________

P.S.  a friend of Jordana’s actually posted this on her wall this morning. . .

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YEAST!  <i snorted>