As I've wrestled with all the different dynamics of relationships this past year I have asked the big question about church authority. Who is really in charge here? Almost a year ago now, I was told that I did not respect authority, and with that statement from a leader our relationship and so-called friendship began to spiral out of control. Why did it go so haywire? I think it went crazy, because confidences were betrayed, authority was abused, memories were mistreated, reality was misrepresented, truth was not told. Consequently, my views about my church body changed and I have not viewed it the same again. And, now I do not have the same respect for authority as I once did.
Now, my authority is Christ, and as one lives like Him that gives authority. If a leader is not living as Christ lives, he, or she does not have authority in anyone's life, not ever. So, that limits the amount of people that I view with authority, I can count them on one hand. I will say one of them is the person that presented me with the statement in the first place, saying I did not respect authority. People grow, people change. I know I have.
My journey has shown me though that just because a church makes someone a leader, does not mean that they have authority. That person needs to live a life that shows themselves worthy of leadership, and worthy of being followed. They need to practice what they preach. Integrity, no masks, honesty, rest, accepting God's grace, forgiveness, etc...
Can I do this? I am leading women, I am speaking into hearts, facilitating classes, forming relationships. And, as I write this, I feel like I am walking a line, because I want to tell truth, reveal my life for what it is, be real and honest with integrity and honor, stand before God with purity of heart knowing that I can do nothing without Him and I must always stand before Him open and waiting. I don't have any of the answers, but I do have a lot of questions.
I know who has the answers. I know who is wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and understanding. It is God. I know that I can lean on His understanding and He will guide me through. And, I know that He has taken me on a journey this past year that I can look back on and sigh with exhaustion. I can call it a bazaar journey with so many lessons that has had a web of people, lessons, pain, and healing. I have ended up in a place far different than I ever imagined, far better, and yet still not fully settled.
God has asked me to trust His Body, He asked me that years ago, and He has given me a network of very trustworthy friends. Then, He showed me that not all of His Body is trustworthy. I found that to be a hard lesson. He has asked me to fully depend on Him and to give my family to Him, then challenged me by exposing my son to someone I do not trust. God is God, and I am not, He is mighty, and I am not! God works wonders, I do not. It is all about God.
So, as I ramble in this post to the bloggers out there, and commit again to being open and real in my life. I challenge each and every one of you to do the same. Walk the walk, talk the talk, look for the person whose authority is Jesus. Say That Again, Jesus, You are my Authority, now, tomorrow, and always.
I have been blessed with the company of three of my closest friends in less than 24 hours. I had dinner with my very dear friend last night, and we were able to speak more truth into each other's lives and work at deeper levels of healing and heartfelt love. We were able to pray together and I left praising God for the healing that He brings in relationship.
I was blessed with more conversation and prayer time this morning with my dearest, friend and my spirit was renewed as we spoke of the weeks happenings and all that God brings into our lives. I feel safe and blessed to have the honor of her friendship.
Then, I was triple blessed with another precious, dear friend this morning and we were able to spend time talking and catching up. Being in her life has been a gift of love, accountability, joy, and a journey that has blessed me beyond and above.
As I look at the friendships God has brought into my life, so many dear loving friends, I praise Him for the way He renews me through them. I praise Him for the way He is able to not only use me in their lives, but He uses them all the time to encourage, love, uplift, restore, and bring truth. This is a gift I once thought I would never have, yet God has seen fit to give it to me. He has renewed my life in such a way that even when I have challenges to deal with, He surrounds me with patient loving friends to listen.
He brings them to me in person, like last night and today, and before that He brought them to me by phone, email, and text. Support and renewal. This is how I am praising God today, because I know He loves me through my friends. I know He loves me through my family. I know He loves me. With that knowledge, I have a source that compels me to speak truth, I have a source that compels me to tell others that He loves them too. I have a source of strength, boldness, hope, and courage, and I know that He will continue to move me forward, as He always has!
Jesus, My loving God, Say That Again, to me. You are the Source of all things, and You bring so much renewal into my life. Thank you again, for who you are and what you do!
Anyone that reads this blog knows that sin has impacted my past in such a way that my path has certainly not been straight all of my life. The sin of my family, the sin of their family, and my very own sin. I have paid the consequences with darkness, confusion, lies, bitterness, resentment, many ways of the world. The Enemy has often had a grip on me, and He would like to have a grip on me now, His arrows are often ripping my way with fire on their wings. Thankfully, I am clothed in Jesus Christ, my saving Savior. He has dispelled the darkness, forgiven me, taken me out of the pit and given me a seat in the heavenlies.
Having said all of that I will confess that I am still triggered by events such as the ones I have recently described over the last couple of days. They greatly challenge me. My level of trust in Christ Body is challenged, and I am often thrown back to the church I grew up in. When that happens, I do not feel safe. I do not want to risk being with my church body, or speaking truth. I feel the same fear I felt as a child, and I want to run home.
I just did that very thing on Sunday, instead of going to church as I had planned, I ran home because I got afraid. It felt like I was back in the court room of my childhood and I knew I couldn't walk into my own church and face the jury. Even if the jury was perceived in my own mind it was still real enough to me, and I couldn't do it. All the stuff, the walk the process had taken me to a place in my childhood that I still need to resolve!
Nothing goes away until it is resolved, NOTHING! The judgments, the hypocrisies, the lies, they all exist in every church body. They existed in the church body that I grew up in, and I became a victim to them in a horrible way. Now, when I see anything that reminds me of those childhood days, my head screams RUN, run home where you will be safe! But, Jesus is saying "Bethany, I am your home! I am your safeguard and I go with you everywhere, so even in these situations I will keep you safe!" See? I know this, and sometimes I do it, I follow through with it, I trust Him and it works out great. Then, there's days like Sunday, and I run, praying as I'm hightailing it home. "Jesus, I can't, I can't, I can't!" It's true, I really can't, it is only through Him that I will have power and strength. And, I know that I will be faced with many more of these situations, because nothing goes away until it is resolved!
Jesus, Say that Again! You are my home, safety, my Lifeguard! Enable me to remember!
And so the realization came to me like a bucket of cold water thrown on my face on a cold winter day. I am called to speak, but that calling is not received in this ministry, and that is why I am in the wrong place. I am like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole; it's never going to work. The truth God is revealing to me, is not going to be heard; it's going be condemned. My heart for women, my love for God, my desires to serve will be watched with eagles eyes and torn down at every turn. I could stay and fight some more, or I could leave and turn to what I know God is calling me to do, Speak. I could surround myself with people that build me up, or I could stay in the den of lions. God said I could go, so both my husband and I stepped away. The next day I was asked to speak in MI, and I was humbled again at the glorious God I serve. The way He works, the way He confirms, the way He loves.
It didn't just end. With some it was nicely accepted. Others, there were words of discouragement, telling me that God does not work this way and it's odd. There was blaming, assumptions, all the usual stuff. But, I was quiet.
Why am I speaking now? Why after all this time is it flowing out in a post? Because it's time. Because the question of what happened still lingers in the minds of others, and they are part of His Body, part of His heart. Because light dispels the darkness, and I'm choosing to hold only light. Because, community was pushed aside, hearts were hurt, and it was wrong. And, because, it keeps coming up. I want out of the court room for good, no surprise visits, no last minute trials. To accomplish that, I have to take the first step.
What could I have done differently? Been more aware that my opinions and questions were causing alarm. My heart needed to be more sensitive to them, and more tuned in to the fact that I was being too bold. Less emotional? Less passionate? I always tell myself that if I could just be less engaged in these areas it might go smoother. Like my husband who is 'take it all in stride' but I have not learned that tactic yet. And, God has not seen fit to give it to me. I could have been more loving, less judgmental, more patient, and more giving. And, I confess that I need the power of His Spirit more every day to grow me into His plan so I can walk that path. I absolutely do not do it perfectly in anyway whatsoever!
Jesus, Say That Again, You will continue to walk me through the saga's of life. You have walked me through this and I have learned a lot. You continue to walk me through so very much. Jesus, I am here to serve You and to speak truth. sometimes speaking the truth is not that fun or very pretty. It can be scary, it can be risky, and I can feel vulnerable. Jesus, Say that Again, You are with me!
AS I move through the "rest of my story" a continuation from yesterday, I have to ask myself, "What are my motives for telling this story? Why now? I just left the court room, right? Am I back in the court room AGAIN? What am I trying to accomplish by posting this?" These are the questions to myself, and to God, they fly all over the room early in the morning and sometimes I wonder if God is hearing them. But, then God continues to remind me, "Bethany, you have asked that truth be revealed over and over again. I have revealed truth to you in many ways, it is okay for you to write about it. Be loving, be kind, speak the truth."
I've always talked about speaking truth, right? I guess I shouldn't be the one that shy's away from it when things look sticky. Or when I start to feel like I'm the one attacked or being misunderstood, and God reveals truth in various ways, I will use the gifts He has given me to speak about it. Thank you, Jesus!
During the breakfast saga, I was told that the breakfast was going to eventually split and there would be another breakfast in another community in our city. I was asked if I would like to head that up. I said that I thought I would like to do that. I was asked to put together a team. The idea for another breakfast was presented to the entire team and everyone was asked to pray about it, and I was asked again along with my original team member to pray about heading it up. We did. We were on board.
Then, another meeting was called, a special one for just me. I went in and I was asked why I thought I was suppose to put a team together or why I thought there was going to be another breakfast, or why I even thought I was going to be in charge? Hmmm, could it be because I was asked? Could it be because those were the words I heard and so did the other team members? Let's just say, the meeting didn't go that great, and it seemed obvious to me at that point that I was in the wrong place.
I serve a God of truth. I hear a God of truth. I live in truth and I choose to walk in truth. I'm also going to serve in truth.
God is calling me to speak, I'm speaking right now. I'm speaking out for truth. The truth for what I believe is right. The truth of God. The truth of His Spirit and for my community. The truth for what the hearts of women need in my community. The truth of what I heard that day and other days, and the truth of who I am! I am God's child, and this is how He is calling me, this is how He is working in my life now. This is the blessing He is bringing to His people, His Spirit is pouring out all around me, and I am humbled before His throne! He is leading, wooing, calling, and the people obeyed. I am one of those people!
Say That Again, Jesus, You are that way, the truth, and the life. You are my Way, my Truth, and my Life.
So, back in March a question hung in the air, and this was the question: "who wants to do a women's breakfast in our community?"
"I do" I said without hesitation. And, I did. I wanted to serve the women in my community in whatever capacity God would enable me to serve. I was ready, and I was willing. I was given the okay and told to put together a team, so I put together a team. The team consisted of two people.
Our community brought in one other person to give us a hand, and we had two weeks to pull off a community breakfast. God impressed upon me to speak, and I asked if I could speak for the breakfast: "Can I bring my story to the women at the breakfast?" I asked.
I was given a definite okay. I began to pray.
The breakfast was a huge success with over 100 ladies attending. God was glorified, His Spirit soared through the room, and it was evident that He was there. I felt truly blessed to be a part of His plan, blessed that He was speaking through me, blessed to be used by Him.
We planned another breakfast, the news spread and the excitement soared. We had a skit. Friends came to be in the skit and it was fun. We laughed, we enjoyed each other, we planned, we loved. It was another great breakfast with over 100 attending. The Spirit weaved in and out of the room, touching the hearts of every women. The excitement of His love was evident, His heart was glorified again, His tenderness was evident. My heart was full and thankful.
God was whispering to me that I should step back at this point, but I wasn't sure I really wanted to, I was enjoying this. Having a good time, but stepping back was the right thing to do. Yet, I still had ideas. I was concerned about the direction of this breakfast....
Then I voiced my opinion, "I do not support an overly preachy atmosphere at a community breakfast!" I was making waves. My opinions were perceived as conflict and causing trouble. I began to ask questions, dig deeper, make more waves. It was not well received. As I prayed, God impressed upon me to just be still, so I was still.
Our team, which was larger now, was called into the church office and the "issue" was discussed. It was an issue that had grown. I didn't realize how big.
Time passed, the breakfast continued, attendance declined. I have stepped down, and the lady that started out with me, she has stepped down as well. The breakfast is still nice, but it is different. Something has changed.
I heard today that during all that fiasco even more people were hearing opinions about the breakfast than I realized. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The reality that my reputation is tarnished, the truth is scarred, the facts are skewed.
My reputation is not mine to have. I am not my own defender. I am not my own fighter. I can voice an opinion and know that my God will set it right in His time. My God will protect me, love me, defend and be my reputation. It is all about Him not me. I feel hurt sometimes, and weary, but not crushed or ruined.
Say That Again, Jesus, You are my reputation, my Strength, my Everything. It is All YOU.
I went to a tea party today with a close friend. We had a great time. It's the first time that I've been to a tea party, actually. All the women there were very friendly and the atmosphere was warm and pretty. The table we sat at was decorated with china and flowers and lovely bags of lavender. On each plate were three pieces of chocolate, wrapped in bright colors of shimmery cellephane. Naturally, I had to eat at least one of the chocolates right away, right? Isn't that why it's there? So, I picked the one wrapped in green, and ever so delightfully began to enjoy every bite. Just as I had put the last bite in my mouth, someone looked at me and, in an alarmed voice announced: "you are not suppose to eat the candy!! It is for a game." My mouth was still pretty full of chocolate and there wasn't too much I could do for her, so my response was rather limited.
About one minute later, another lady noticed my offense and said "you are not suppose to eat the chocolate!" By then, the chocolate in my mouth was pretty much gone, and I still didn't know exactly what to say or do in response. She continued with a reassurance: "Oh, it's ok, I'll just get some more, this chocolate is for a game, you are not suppose to eat it!"
I was giggling, with my hand over my mouth, and my friend and other women were kinda looking my way. It was too late, I had eaten the chocolate and there was no way I could redeem myself. Was it worth all the stares and the scolding? YES. The chocolate was good and she replaced it. She redeemed me, so I got my chocolate and an extra one too!
In the game of life, I know that I am not very good at the rules. I am not always very good at looking ahead and asking if I should or shouldn't. I see the chocolate, and I eat it. I jump, and think later. I live more on the edge, than in the middle. I'd rather play risk with a bowl of chocolate, than play sorry with a bowl of cherries. But, there are consequences to my methods, and I get scolded from time to time. I call it all living in faith, someone else might just call it foolish. I call it passion, and the power of the Spirit, someone else might say it's careless and reckless.
What does Jesus say? To me He says it's freedom. To me He has captured me in His hands to be free forever to live with Him. Free to eat the chocolates. Free to have the passion, free to speak the truth, have the faith, live on the edge, take the risk, free to love.
Say that Again, Jesus, I want to hear all that You say to me everyday, because I know it's important. I know it is full of life, fullness, joy, and passion, and it gives me what I need!
My husband has been limping all summer with a sore hip. He went to the doctor and the doctor sent him to a physical therapist. The physical therapist gave him some exercises to do, and sent him to a massage therapist. He did all the right stuff, he took ibuprofen to help with the pain, but still his hip was really hurting, getting worse even. It changed our summer significantly, we didn't have our usual long summer walks, or bike rides. He was concerned that he might make things worse. But, now he knows that he has arthritis in his hip bones and it is what it is. A walk isn't going to make it worse, or better. He might be in pain, but it's not going to worsen his condition. Someday, he will most likely need a hip replacement. He seemed to take this news in stride, I on the other hand just cried. He is not an old man, and this did not add up in my brain. It still doesn't.
I talked to God about this for a long time yesterday and He didn't have a good answer for me. The only thing I hear from Him is the same thing He's been telling me for days now: "Bethany, it's going to be a long road, focus on me. I am here with you, I will not leave you."
My cry back to Him is, "Okay, God, what about my husband and that hip? The road for him is going to be not only long but painful?"
Same thing comes gracefully back, "focus on me, Bethany, I will not leave you."
So, I guess I am here giving my husband to my God, trusting that God will carry him down the long road. I know He will, He does that. God has kept me through my husband, and He will touch that hip and fill it with the power of His Spirit and move us both in amazing ways. He is good all the time.
Say That Again, Jesus, as I walk with You down this road, the path you have set before me. I will not waver because You are deeply rooted within me,and I love you!
I remember the first time I decided to tell someone the truth about my life. I felt sheer terror. I really believed that if I spoke the words, even a few, I would die.
Terror in the dictionary is defined like this: "intense, sharp, overmastering fear; to be frantic with terror." Yeah, that was me. I wasn't running around pulling my hair out screaming frantically, or anything like that, but on the inside, I was freaking.
It really is true that the truth sets me free, and the enemy does not want me to speak the truth, because he hates freedom. He prefers terror! He prefers that I sit in terror and live in isolation, and believe that there will never be freedom, no, not ever!
I'm glad I took the steps and spoke the truth, and have continued to do so all these years. It continues to be a battle in one way or another, and I continue to speak and wear my armor and fight. Yesterday, as Jesus and I conversed back and forth He asked me if was ready to leave the courtroom for good. This whole church thing has been an issue and a challenge, was I ready to leave the court room and let Him do His job?
I asked Him to send me out of the court room, so He picked me up and carried me out through the door. He closed the door, bolted it, and posted warrior angels by the door. Well, that seems pretty final, guess I won't go back in there! I don't want in there anyway, and I'm pleased to have my prayer answered. I'll be testing it's strength on Sunday.
Jesus, you are mighty and I know you are judge and jury, not me. You are my protector, defender, my safeguard, and I love you. Once again, I am here to praise your name, to be in relationship with You. Thank you for pursuing me, for wanting me, for creating me.
Say That Again, my dear Jesus, You want me, therefore you have set me outside of the courtroom so you can take care of me!
I walked around a pond last night over and over again with a friend, and talked. We both talked. We spent a couple hours together reviewing more stuff in our relationship, more digging, more processing. We looked inside each others hearts. As I admitted more of my fears, and allowed myself to process them I was able to get in touch with why I have been so triggered this past year with certain people at church. Why church is not safe for me.
As a child, church was not a safe place. The talk did not match the walk. The people that preached up front, were often the people that were very offensive later. Now, as an adult, this past year, the church that I have loved has triggered me in some similar ways. And, I have been challenged to keep my focus on God and not on them. I have been challenged to live in grace and not in fear. I have been challenged to reconcile and not to run. I have been challenged to love.
This morning, again while praying God assured me that I am in His hands. He firmly said as He has for awhile now that I need to keep my focus on Him. I need to leave the court room, for I am not the judge or the jury, He is. I need to hear His word and only His, and give their words to Him. He has promised to hedge me in, to keep me captured in His Hands so that I can dance there, sing with joy there, love with abandonment there. and run with delight there. He is asking me to love ALL people, because I don't, because I am HIS precious child, His beloved child, because He gives me grace, so I will give grace. "Bethany, Speak truth, live truth, walk truth, and be a women of grace."
Say that Again, Jesus. I need you to give me the grace to give. I want it to ooze out of my pores and puddle to the floor, but it has to be all you, because I know I am not capable on my own! Say That Again, again, and again! And, I will focus on You!
I had lunch today with two of my daughter in-laws. It was a pleasure. They are married to my two oldest sons, and I enjoy their company very much. They are my daughters, and I wouldn't have picked anyone different to marry my sons. I love visiting with them, hearing about what they do from day to day, their jobs, their interests, their husbands, their hopes and dreams. One of them is going to have a baby and this is very exciting for me, and for her. Everyone in the family finds this exciting and even though she is very early in the pregnancy, I am shopping now. We are planning parties, and talking about the birth. We have discussed the name, and whether we prefer boy or girl! We've laughed about the daddy's reaction, and I've told stories about his dad and how he was as a father.
Thinking about this grandchild brings tears of joy to my eyes. It makes me want to sit in a big chair and wrap up in a cozy blanket with hot chocolate and cry. I know it sounds silly, but I can hardly wait to hold him or her in my arms, and when I do I'll probably cry. I'll be like a weeping willow that can't get up off the floor because I'll be so overwhelmed with baby joy!
When our first child married, I felt so incredibly blessed! I just couldn't believe that God would bring us such a delightful women. He really took our son under his wing and has loved him so tenderly. And, our family has been so blessed by his wife.
Then, our second son found a godly wife as well and the blessings continued, and I praised His name some more. He gave our son a beautiful women to love him tenderly, laugh at him, be patient with him, support him through school, and love his family! Amazing!
Now, a grandchild!
Jesus, You have said you would expand our territory, and You are doing just that. You have always kept me and kept Your promises to me. Thank you for bringing these lovely ladies into my life, thank you for blessing me far beyond what I deserve. Say That Again, Jesus, You keep Your promises to me!
My son came home today with 15 coupon books that he needed to sell. Its a school project, and the more he sells the bigger the prize. He wants to sell 100! So, we didn't even go home, we drove straight to the top of our hill and he got out of the truck and started to knock on doors. I watched. His sister went along with him for extra support. He was very enthusiastic and he was sure that he would sell one at every house, but as the doors were closed in his face and he had the same amount of coupon books, he began to wonder what was wrong with all the people! Finally, after about six houses, he made his first sale, and he was encouraged once again. We continued to work our way down the hill, finding that only one person was going to give in to his sales tactics.
We ran out of time, and had to go to a prior commitment, so they piled in the car with a bit of despair. I assured them that after dinner they could go out again and it would probably get better. He hit the road again after dinner and I followed at a distance on foot. This time, as I watched them with amusement, it amazed me to see the reckless abandonment of both my son and daughter. The freedom they feel to say whatever is on their mind, to move their bodies in strange and unusual ways, to run in every direction in the neighborhood and twirl about with joy. When they race to the door and ring the bell, for some odd reason they both turn their back to the door, this puzzles me, but amuses me as well. When they each have opinions, they voice them. Questions, they ask them. It is what it is. And, I am so thankful.
Jesus, give me the reckless abandonment of a child, the faith of a child, the joy to be, the freedom to roam about and simply know that it is what it is and that's okay. You have it all under control anyway, so I don't have to think about anything else. The life of a child, a safe child.
Jesus, I am your child, in your hands, captured there forever. Say That Again to me so I know and I remember it always. I am safe there, because You are my Protector.
We had a mini-vacation yesterday afternoon. Our daughter had her first soccer game and she did great. Her team won the first game, so all the parents were excited and proud! Her team did not win the second game, but all the parents were still excited and proud! Since we had to cancel our vacation this year we told our kids that we would take a day to play, so after the soccer game we went to a favorite restaurant to eat. It was a big treat. We hadn't been there in a long time and it felt good to sit down to a nice lunch and just watch our kids enjoy their food. They were hungry and they ate a lot of food, both of them chatting away about various things.
After eating we headed out to play mini golf, ride go-carts and play arcade games. It was a fun day, and our kids went away feeling like it was "the best day ever!" It was time well spent, and they enjoyed our company, we enjoyed their company, and, dare I say? They even enjoyed each other!
I really missed going to the coast this year; it's the highlight of my year. But, as I surrender that to God and confess that He is sovereign, I have been able to see the blessings He has given us this week in staying home. Blessings in our family, our friends, and in solitude. It has been nice.
I have been rested, challenged, happy, joyful, sad, peaceful, restless, angry, forgiven. Always Captured in His Hands!
Say That Again, Sweet Jesus, You know my life far better than I do, and You will provide for me exactly what I need and what my family needs. Thank you.
I took my daughter to soccer practice yesterday, and she did great. "She's the best on the team" her coach boasted! I'm good with that. She is very athletic and it seems to just come as natural to her as walking and talking. She runs around the field kicking the ball with a huge smile on her face. She's not afraid to get right in there and take the ball away from her opponent and fight for her team; it's like she's been playing soccer for all her six years!
She approaches most of life this way, fearless. She fights. As she was moving her little legs across the field, the Spirit reminded me of something I needed to do. Another step, and I felt fear. "Jesus, this is old fear, and I don't like it. I don't want to do this." But, the thought continued and The Spirit of God kept prompting. It was such a small thing, really, but my fear was that I would not receive a response, consequently, I would then have to deal with the old feelings of rejection, being invisible (again), pain, hurt, etc... "Why do you keep asking me to to this, Jesus? What am I not getting?"
This morning while reading in my Bible I read this in Psalms 91:5-9, "Fear nothing--not wild wolves in the night, not lying arrows in the day. Not disease that prowls through darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because GOD'S your refuge, the High God your very own home."
Ok, so obviously, God continues to bring up the things I fear to say to me that I do not need to fear them. It is only Him that I should fear, and until then, He will continue to show me the areas that need to be demolished and dismissed. The old fears, new fears need to be given over to Him, because He is my very own Home.
Jesus, thank you for showing me yet again who you are. Say That Again, You are my very own Home!
My calendar was empty yesterday. After kissing the kids and husband goodbye and closing the door, the house was empty and quiet. Just the dogs and I. It the kind of quiet that swooped me up in delight. I checked my calendar, nothing. So, the dogs and I went back to bed. This is a very unusual practice for me, but, I will admit, enjoyable. I listened to an audio book. I read my bible, wrote in my journal, and I napped. It was restful, and I needed it. It appeared to be needed by my dogs as well.
I did make my way out of bed by 1;00, I know, that's a long time in bed. To make up for my laziness, I walked for 2 hours, which was also enjoyable. I toured the neighborhood and went down by the lake. Then, took a trail up on a hill through the trees that gave me a beautiful view of the lake and the town. I ended up at the kids school just in time to pick them up. It was a good walk.
They came bounding out of school, not as excited about the idea of walking through the neighborhood as I was. But, they did fine. We talked about their day, made it to The House and had a snack, and then drove to our home.
Throughout the day, I just felt thankful that God had given me yet another day of rest. It seems that I have needed them lately. And, He has been telling me to rest. So, I am resting. It feels kind of weird to rest, I want to do stuff, but I choose rather to obey. And, it is nice to rest. His promise to me is that the rest is in preparation for something big. Something big, like the power of His Spirit, big like a sifting of His people, big like revival of many hearts! It will be like wild fire going through the community, hot and crazy. There will not be time for rest.
Say That Again, dear Jesus, You have said to rest IN You, and I will do that. You have said that something big is coming, I will wait and watch, believe and see.
My husband took this last Tuesday off of work so we could spend the day together, after all it is suppose to be our vacation week. The day turned out to be a little different than we had planned, because we still had a box of peaches and two boxes of tomatoes in the garage that needed to turn into salsa and also just be canned. I didn't anticipate it would take the entire time out children were in school! It wasn't a bad day, just different. We had fun making more salsa, and I know we will enjoy it through out the year. And, we bottled 17 quarts of tomatoes, which will be great for spaghetti sauce.
While in the depths of our canning the doorbell rang and my husband went to explore. It was our son, he would've just walked in, but the door was locked. We hadn't seen him in awhile, he doesn't come around much. It was a joy to see him! We visited as if no time had really passed, and he tugged at my heart. I miss him. But, I know deep inside that God has him secure in His arms and all will turn out well. We gave him salsa, jam, and peaches. We enjoyed his presence, we liked just looking at him. It was a surprise to see him, and it was hard to see him go.
As a parent, I am constantly learning to let go of my adult children, especially my sons. Praying daily for God to take them in His hands and protect them. For God to make them strong warriors, Godly husbands, men that fear Him and love Him, men that stand up for what is right and have integrity no matter what the cost. And, sometimes the cost is great. As a parent, this is a difficult prayer and it's hard to let go. It's hard to watch. My husband and I know that the road ahead, although joyful with God, is also painful and with trials. And, with our son that came for a surprise visit, he has chosen an independent route, which is only painful. We watch, we pray, we wait, and above all, we will always love.
I do know Jesus has waited for me many a times. And, always loved me. I have taken many roads, and many of them without Him. So often my thoughts have been independent of Him, running off on my own, leaving Him behind. But, Jesus, being the Faithful One, was always keeping me, loving me, watching me, and praying for me. Always knowing there was a plan for my future, and waiting to bless me with those plans.
Jesus, Say That Again! You are mighty in my life. And, in the life of my son, in all my sons, and my daughter. You will bless, love, watch, keep, pray, and always wait.
I went to church Sunday morning. Normally, we go on Friday evening to a smaller branch. But, this last weekend I met a friend and ventured into the giant church. It had been about 5 weeks. Upon arriving, I already knew that God would need to work overtime to keep my anxiety in check. Even though I love many of the people in this church and have been coming to this church for a long time, I have experienced enough here now to cause me to feel unsafe. I walked in, and sure enough, the levels rose.
I stopped to say Hi to many friendly familiar faces, friends and people that I love very much. I weaved in and out of hundreds of people, looking for my friend, always stopping to talk to another friend. Being honest with most about my level of anxiety, moving forward in the crowd so as to avoid to much pressure.
I asked myself, "does anybody else have a problem in this foyer? or are they all wearing masks--still?" It's just a question I left hanging in the air. I prayed for the Spirit to soar through the building,for a hedge of protection to surround me and the church, and life to be within each one of us, for Jesus to clothe us all.
I thought about Jesus and wondered if He would be here, at this church, or if He would be outside walking in the field with His friends, or in a smaller church eating and drinking. I wondered if He would be condemned by my church because He seemed like an outlaw, or a rebel? What would He be like if He were here right now? He probably would come into the foyer, and He would be the One to ask the challenging questions, the One to uncover the masks, the One to look inside each soul. Some of us would ask Him to leave, others would cling to Him and bow at His feet, never wanting to let go. I would feel safe, and just thinking about it all made me feel safer.
In the church foyer, it occurred to me that I will always live in a battle. And, even though God has already told me this, it just really hit home in the foyer. There will be rest in heaven, not here. If I am dedicated to doing the will and service of Jesus, then I will be in the middle of a battle for Him all the time. So, I must be prepared. Some battles I may be able to walk away from, but others I cannot. The enemy does roar, he attacks, my God protects.
Jesus, Say That Again to me today. You clothe me with Your Armor. You love me, you strengthen me. You are a mighty God. You will fight for me today,and every day.
This was a super duper day. It started with seeing some friends at church and sitting with a good friend. I enjoyed her company and being with her. I stretched myself today, pushing myself to do some things that made me a little uncomfortable but brought some growth. That was good.
After church, I visited with a good friend and had coffee, it was nice. We chatted lightly, and deeply. We laughed and there were tears too. It was good.
My son called today, he had news. It was good news, I thought. He and his lovely wife are going to have a baby! Another grandchild, number two for us, I can hardly wait. We are surely blessed. God led me to the prayer of Jabez just a couple days ago, the prayer where Jabez prays for his territory to be expanded, and God does. God is doing this for us too, He has promised!
We, my family and I, had lunch with friends. We went to their house and it was lovely. We sat in their back yard, it was peaceful and quiet. Our children played on the swing set. The dogs sat at our feet. We ate salmon that was grilled on cedar planks. We talked. These are some of the best friends we have ever had, and the love my husband and I have for them is Spirit felt. And, the loyalty won't waver.
Our day continued to be super duper. After leaving our friends we went to the lake and met family. We had more good food, rode the boat and the kids were pulled on the tube. It was hot and sunny outside and it felt relaxing and fun. There was a soft breeze coming off the lake and I just wanted to sit there for the rest of the day and nap. I wanted to think about my family, my future grandchild, my friends. I felt grateful to my God for the many blessings, and excited about my super duper day!
After our lake adventure we drove home and played a game. It was the longest game ever. But, it was fun and we had a good time. During the game we took turns texting our son, the future daddy, about fatherhood and being pregnant. We laughed and had a good time. We talked about the day and about babies and about being pregnant. It was super duper!
Jesus, thank you for giving me days like today. Thank you for reminding me that You bring all things together for good and you are good. Thank You for family, friends, and Your love. Say That Again to me, You are expanding my territory in so many ways with family, friends, love, joy, peace, and even in ways I do not yet see. Praise to You!
We went to Costco today for an ice cream bar. It's the best ever. Vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate and rolled in nuts, yum! Sometimes, my husband and I go there for date night :-) it's the ultimate ice cream bar and it's so big, there's no way to have dinner too. It's a real treat, and after spending a few hours canning peaches, we needed a real treat! I know there will be ice cream bars in heaven. Treats of all sorts will be spread on the table of feasts. It's going to be a splendid reward. Eating with Jesus will be amazing. He is calling me to come eat supper with Him now, sit down at His table and enjoy His company. Say That again, Jesus, you are inviting me to cone eat with You at your table and enjoy the ultimate ice cream bar with you. I'm coming!
It seems to me, that women have more conflict than men. Maybe I just notice this more because I'm a women and I tend to get myself into conflict on occasion. There are some women that I never have conflict with, we breeze right through life totally fine, others, not so much. My daughter, although she is not a women, she is female, is not someone I breeze through life with. We experience conflict on a regular basis, she seems to thrive on conflict. She wakes up in conflict, and comes looking for it. Conflict, on the other hand, makes me tired.
God sent me to Philippians 4 this morning, again. It starts out by telling of conflict between two women, Euodia and Syntyche. He is pleading with them to agree with each other in the Lord! He is asking God's followers to help them get along. He doesn't say what happened, but whatever it was, it was big enough to cause a pain and attention.
I know that feeling. Been there, done that. I've caused pain and attention and needed help getting back on track. And, needed help getting along. It's not easy.
I was thinking about it all as I read the chapter today and questioning, "is it worth the battle? wouldn't it just be easier to walk away?"
It's a lot of work to get along and a lot of work to surrender and let Jesus fight the battle. Can I do this day after day? Jesus, help me!
Say That Again, dear Jesus, You have to help me, fight for me, be my mighty God. I can't do this all alone!
We have three boxes of tomatoes in the garage, all of which need a home in bottles. I blanched several of them this morning and made salsa! My hand is still hot from the peppers I cut up and put in the blender along with garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin,lemon, lime, salt, and pepper. It's going to be good as all the spicies are blended together, working in favor of each other to make a delightful salsa. If I were to miss even one ingredient, it wouldn't be the same---yup, just like Christ's Body, working together in favor of each other to build up to make a delightful harmony for Him. When one is missing there is disharmony and pain. When the body tears at each other and causes others to leave, the flavor is not as good!
I am excited about my salsa. I'm eager to have my family try it and I'm excited to make more.
Jesus, use me to be in harmony with Your Body. Use me to build them up and be a helpful ingredient. Say That Again, Jesus, be blended together as a Body IN You!
Every year in September we go to the Washington Coast. We stay in a cozy little cabin right on the sandy beach, and we play. Our older children with their wives come, we bring our dogs. We play in the sun, the water, the sand. We build castles, we fly kites. The dogs run along the beach until they can't move anymore. We eat smores, hot dogs and cold cereal. I spend a lot of time reading, sleeping, and just being still. The kids play board games, card games, and run on the beach. It's the kind of vacation that everyone in the family looks forward to all year long. We plan it, we talk about it, we laugh about it. It's a memory builder and we love it. This year, money has been tight. Our business has had work and God is blessing us, but we do not have extra. We are limping along, skimping here and there, scraping by. Still, we were hoping, praying, and planing to go on our traditional family vacation. Everyone scheduled in the time, everyone prayed, we all wanted it very much. But, we cancelled the cabin today. It's just not going to happen, we won't be leaving on Monday. The beach will go on without us. And, everyone in the family feels sad and disappointed. God and I have spent some time together talking about it today and I have decided that even with the disappointment, I will find some rest and fun in next week. I will praise Him extra and enjoy the beauty of my town. God is so good and in His timing there is a purpose. The blessing in all that He does, and even if I am not seeing it, I will choose to believe that it is there. He has kept me, loved me, and flourished my family in so many ways, how could I not praise His name? So, Jesus, Say That to me Again today. There are blessing in all things, and You have a purpose for me in all things. You are good, and I will choose to see that today, even when vacation is cancelled!
Well, we made it through the first day of school. I had my doubts the first hour as our son began to sob and cling to me begging to come home because he was "homesick." All my hopes of a better year was quickly vanishing as he worked every angle to get out of the school and back into the car. I finally left him in the care of his dad and waited outside the school, texting my friends to pray for extra warrior support for him.
Our daughter, on the other hand, marched into her classroom, found her desk and sat right down. Her dad, both brothers, sister in-law, and I assisted her in getting all her stuff put away in her desk and reading her first grade directions. She quickly did her connect the dots work sheet and moved on to the next one. Most of the family left her to get her 4th grade brother settled in and I remained behind with her to help her finish up. She did great. I snapped pictures of her, and she behaved as if she had been coming to school for years. When in reality, this is her first time ever! I breathed a sigh of relief, kissed her goodbye, and to my surprise felt a short pang of sadness, and headed out the door!
An hour into school, my husband broke free from our "homesick" son and we were off to enjoy our first day of quiet time without children. It was a little weird, actually. We thought about all the stuff we should do, like can the boxes of tomatoes we have or make salsa, but quickly decided against that. I longed for a wonderful walk or hike, but my husband is in a lot of pain right now with his hip, so that desire didn't come to a reality either. We decided that the park was our best option, with some books and then lunch at our favorite spot. So we packed up and headed to the park by the lake. It was relaxing and a nice way to spend our first day.
I am grateful for days like this. It has been a gift a from God. He sent calmness to my son, after awhile and when we picked him up he admitted that it had been a good day. My daughter was happy and looks forward to tomorrow. My husband and I basked in the quiet moments and were able to connect with each other and just be together. We experienced, once again, how friends are willing to pray for us in the time of need, and that is good. And, how God answers.
Jesus, You rescue. Thank you. Say That Again to me today. When I need you I can call for help and lean on your body for help, and You will rescue. What an awesome, God you are.
Today is the last day of summer. My children start school tomorrow. My baby will be in first grade, she has a whole new life ahead of her, so do I for that matter. I have had years and years at home, with children, now it's all changing. My oldest child is 27 years old, and I remember spending years at home with him and his two younger brothers. Then, When they got older, we had two more children and I continued to stay home with them, watching them grow. Now, our youngest is ready to sprout her wings and head to the first grade class room. I've checked her back pack to make sure it is free of wrenches, and we discussed the importance of manners on the playground. I'm praying that we make it though the first day without a call from the teacher. Ah, this will be a day of prayer for both her dad and me, and a day of dancing! She is very excited to go to school. She likes to learn. Her oldest brother and his wife are going to meet her at the school to help settle her in, and she is excited about wearing her new uniform.
Our son is not nearly as excited about school. He knows what school is all about and he prefers summer. He longs for the hot summer days with endless play. He wants to be with his friends in the tree house or on his bike racing around. He loves freedom. He loves to explore in the forest and swim in the lake and eat ice cream. Going back to school day after day is not his idea of a good time.
I know how they both feel. My days will be a lot like school with facilitating women's groups, and meeting with women individually. Learning more about God and His will for our community and my life and how He is working. But, I will also miss summer. I love the freedom of summer, the long hot days, the visits to the ice cream store, the hikes, the lazy nights. The children playing Lego in my foyer and the laughter in the hallway. There is going to be change. Now there will homework, crispness of Fall, and early dinners. Mornings will be brisk and quick and the whisking away of packs and books to get to school on time. Life moves on.
Jesus, teach me to grow through all the change. Keep me flexible in you and shine through me. Use me to reflect Your Image to the people I encounter through the changes this Fall. Show me where to go, what to say, who to speak to. It is all about You dear Jesus, all you.
Say that Again, Dear Jesus, You are with us on this last day of summer!
I received a letter from a friend this morning and I was faced with whether to brush it aside with a quick answer with little detail or delve deeper into the truth. As I prayed, God continued to bring truth to my mind and 1 john 2 for the second time this week. "The one who keeps Gods word is the person in whom we see God's mature love. This is the only way to be sure we're in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived." As I continued to read a little further down it said this: "It's the person who loves his brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness."
I want God to reveal truth to me and that is what I've been praying for everyday. Is He telling me to now reveal truth, truth about how I feel, to someone else? Will this bring God's light to them? If I hide from this will it mean that there will be darkness in someway? Will that darkness show itself in roots of pride, bitterness, anger, fear, or jealousy?
I don't have the answer. I just know that God is asking me to speak truth. I was encouraged to read along in the chapter where it says: "God's word is steady in you Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the evil one." I like the sound of that, I like the promise of victory over the evil one. God has already gained victory and it is already mine if I accept it.
Jesus, Say That Again, victory is yours!
I found myself in the toy aisle at the dollar store yesterday. My children love the dollar store and they think the toys there are the best ever. So, as we cruised the aisles, we settled on the aisle with all the armor, swords, shields, helmets, axes, etc...They each picked out two items and were excitedly anticipating a new battle. When they put on their armor, they are invincible, ready for all things,the fight is on!
AS I face my daily challenges and pray for Jesus to clothe me, for He is my armor, I too am ready. He has promised to fight for me. He is the tool to face every challenge. He is the truth, the way and the light. He has given me all that I need in this battle of life to come out with victory.
Earlier in the day, as I was feeling a spiritual attack and praying for God's truth in my life and asking that he cover me in His robes of righteousness, I could feel the arrows of the enemy coming towards me. But, because of His peace and His shield of faith and the prayers of friends, the enemy did not prevail. I have been assured of His salvation, and His enduring love, and His victory in my life.
In church last night the sermon was about God's armor! And one of the pictures he gave was of the Roman soldiers locking their shields together and marching forward in combat. I love that image. This is what my friends do for me. When I am in a battle, I ask for prayer, and they gather together in faith and prayer, locked as one, and the battle is fought. Jesus hears the prayers of Saints, the enemy does not prevail. The Saints go marching on!
Say That Again, Sweet Jesus, You have already won the war, and You have promised to fight the battle for Your Saints. You are the Armor that I put on each day, and when I band together with Your Saints and march ahead IN You, there is no turning back!
My children have played nicely today, well, for most of the day. They were in the garage working on their skate boards and scooters when my son came running in crying---again. I recognized this cry, it was the same one I heard from the stomping episode. I hurried out to see what the problem was and he threw himself into my arms, relaying his sad story to me, "sister hit me over the head with a wrench!"
"Why did she hit you over the head with a wrench?" I asked
"I don't remember!" He replied flatly.
I wasn't really too excited to go find out for myself, but since I am the mother I figured I should. So, I found my shoes and headed to the garage. The neighbor girl was here again and I asked her if she had witnessed the fight. She had indeed and volunteered the information. My daughter had certainly picked up the wrench and slammed it into his head simply because she did not get her way. Hmm, this is not good.
"God", I pondered, "do you feel this way with me on a daily basis? Because I am frustrated with my daughter who throws herself into fits of self pit and rages of temper when things don't go her way. She is six, but when is she going to grow out of this?"
My daughter was sitting on the stair waiting her trial and punishment, but I didn't know what to say at that point. I simply asked her to clean up the skate boards and scooter and go in the house. My conversation with God needed to be extended before my conversation with her went any further.
My son seemed to forget that his head had been wrenched and he went on as normal. They are now playing again as if nothing at all happened. Maybe that is what grace looks like for a child. Maybe that is what grace looks like for me too, today. Jesus, speak truth when there are wrenches, and when there is stomping and when I am misbehaving. Jesus, give me the grace to just move on and clean up the mess and then go to the next task at hand. Jesus, Say That Again, You are grace, truth, and you clean it all up. You are the answer.
My husband found apricots at a local fruit stand, my favorite fruit for making jam. I was getting a little concerned that maybe I wouldn't get any apricot jam this summer, it's so late in the season now, but we got two boxes and today we made jam. Two friends came to my house and we spent several hours stirring pots of apricots and sugar over the stove. It turned into a deep orange color, like the Fall leaves on trees, and we poured it into little jars and sealed them all up into tight treats for toast and biscuits.
I enjoy making jam. It reminds me of my grandmother and all the canning she use to do when I was a child. She made a lot of jam. Today, I enjoyed being with my friends and talking and just hanging out in the kitchen. It was nice to be in relationship. It was fun to just have a day to be together and have a project. I like that. It felt good to have a couple friends that were willing to come and help me with my needs. It felt like the olden days, and it was good.
In the Bible when Jesus talks about His people being there for each other I picture jam days. We don't have to have a crisis to be there for someone. It's good to be there for the good times, because we are in relationship. I want to be there for the people I love in the good times and the bad. I want to be in relationship, in community. I want to know who they are and to love them all the time. I want to make jam with them, dinner with them, pray with them, love them, and walk life with them.
Jesus, You walked life with twelve men on this earth when you were here, and You did it well, teach me how to do it like You did. Show me how to reflect You. Say That all Again, so I know how.