What makes home, home?

So let’s chat. Got your coffee? Good. I’ve already had my 2nd cup and will be going back for my 3rd here in a bit. Coffee. It’s just one way that Jesus reminds me of His love for me in the mornings.

 

I want to ask you a question. It may sound like a weird question, but hear me out. Sticking with this Home theme I’ve got going on, I’d like to know, what are the feelings you associate with your home? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I think I’ve narrowed it down to the top 3 feelings that I want to be associated with my home.

 

The first is comfort. I'm not talking about just physical comfort, which I do believe is extremely important as well (I’m a huge fan of decluttering and keeping things in place and may or may not be slightly OCD) but I’m talking mostly about emotional and relational ease. “What does that look like?” you ask. Glad you asked. I strive to make my home a place where everyone feels comfortable and I do that in very practical ways. One way is by telling people that come over, “Make yourself at home” and I mean it. I point them to the kitchen and tell them to not be shy. Not too long ago one of the kids (I call them kids but they are in their 20’s, but whatever, they are kids to me now because I’m old enough to be their mom) went to the kitchen and decided to make himself a peanut butter, jelly and whipped cream sandwich. Okay, I don’t get the whipped cream part but whatever, I’m just glad he felt comfortable enough to do it. And apparently 22 year old boys eat weird things.

 

The second one is safe. Creating an environment where everyone feels safe takes deliberate time and effort. Jake and I strive to make our home a place where our friends know they can be themselves and are safe to express their thoughts and emotions and ask questions. Nurturing a safe home means no judging, just listening. Open ears and hearts are necessities in a safe home.

 

And lastly, joy. I’m learning a lot about the pursuit of joy. I’m discovering that a lot of the time, joy is a choice. It needs to be pursued. I desperately want my home to be a place where people come not only to feel comfortable and safe, but also to laugh a lot and feel a deep sense of joy. The world is crazy. We need homes that offer places of refuge and laughter. Sweet moments of delight are best when shared.

 

Please don’t think I’m batting 1,000 on these every single time. Some days I’m feeling super selfish and I don’t want to share my home. Some days the last thing I’m feeling is joyful and my grumpiness is contagious (I’ll be talking about the ways women control the emotional climate in their home in a future post) and some days I’m emotionally exhausted and feel I have nothing left to give (it’s really important for people to fend for themselves in the kitchen on those days, otherwise they’d starve). But, as I’m learning to keep comfort, safe, and joy in mind, it helps me to refocus when I get all funky.

 

Remember what I said in the last post? This house isn’t really my home. My home is found in my relationship with Jesus. He is the one that gives me comfort, makes me feel completely safe, and is the source of all my joy. He is the reason I want to offer my home to others in hopes they will know what home is too.

 

What about you? What’s most important to you about your home?  What makes your home home?



This is my home. But not really.

This is my home. But not really.

 

I’ve lived in Indianapolis for the past 16 years. I call Indy home.

I lived in Kentucky for 27 years. I still call Kentucky home. (You can take the girl out of Kentucky but never Kentucky out of the girl. Go Cats!)

I call the current house I've lived in for 8 years home.

I still call my mom and dad’s house home.

 

The word home evokes strong emotions in me. I love going home to mom and dad’s. I know what I’m getting when I get there. Comfort. Love. Homemade biscuits and gravy. My dad’s sweet prayers. The sound of my mom’s singing and sewing machine. My brother, sister-in-law, nephew and great niece coming over to eat. These are all a few of my favorite things.

 

I also love and look forward to coming home to where Jake and I (and a few others!) live. I know what to expect here, too. Comfort. Acceptance. Laughter. (Although sadly there’s not even a chance that the smell of homemade biscuits will ever come from my kitchen. More like the smell of spaghetti.)

 

I’m not going to lie. I’ve grown pretty comfortable here. We moved so much in our first few years of marriage that when we bought our current house I told Jake I wasn’t moving again until I was dead. I’m not a fan of moving. And I’m not a fan of change. If I had it my way, we’d stay here until the very end. (Unless God said move to the Caribbean, but so far He hasn’t, but I keep asking.)

 

A few years ago, it looked like there was a possibility that Jake might land a job overseas and we would have had to sell everything and move. This went over like a lead balloon with me.  I wrestled with the thought of leaving my home and everything I had grown to love. In fact, I was so upset over it, I was losing sleep and if you know me at all you know that Paulette doesn’t lose sleep. She takes her sleep very seriously.

 

One such morning when sleep alluded me, I finally gave up trying and came downstairs to spend some time in the Word. Although I tried, I just couldn’t focus on anything other than the fact that I might have to leave my home. The dam finally broke and I ended up on my knees with my face in the carpet. There may have even some wailing and gnashing of teeth.

 

Lord, this is the house we prayed for! We promised You when we moved here that we would use it for ministry!

Lord, I’m not finished with my degree yet!

Lord, I just started a great job at a great ministry!

Lord, I’m responsible for a thriving ministry at church!

Lord, I love it here!

Help me! I feel like I’m dying here, Lord!

 

“Exactly.”

 

That was the word I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me in the midst of my crying/snot fest.

 

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

 

Die to self.

 

Basically, my home had become more important to me that the One who made it a home.

 

Ouch. And thank you Father for the sweet conviction of your Holy Spirit.

 

Something shifted in me that morning. Did I get up off my knees jumping up and down at the thought of moving to a country where German was the official language and I can barely manage to speak English? No. Of course not. But I realized that I was clinging to something that could not offer me what I was truly seeking. Somewhere along the way I had started craving the gifts over the Gift-giver.

 

I resolved that morning that I would strive to hold all things loosely, with open hands, as best I could, including this house that I love. I want to cling to Jesus, not cling to the stuff He gives me.

 

So you may be wondering, why then would I choose to tattoo the word Home on my wall? Well, honestly, maybe this makes me a little morbid, but I chose it as a reminder. So every time I see this….

 

I am reminded that this not my home. Ironic? Weird? Yeah, I guess so. But I like being reminded that although I love what I’ve got going on here, it really is temporary. I have no idea what the future holds. I could be in this house until I’m 85 or God could call me somewhere else tomorrow. Who knows. And I’m okay with it. So for today, I’ll just be grateful that I can call this house home, all the while knowing that Jesus is my real home.

 

What about you? Where do you feel at home? What makes it home? 

Home is where....

A few months ago my husband and I finally did something we’ve been wanting to do for about 8 years. We finished our basement!  (And by we, I obviously mean we hired people who knew what they were doing.)

 

Here’s some before pics:

 

And here’s what it looks like now!

(BTW, Mulder and Scully look amazing on that gigantic TV. #XFiles)

(And if you think that's a huge whiteboard, you'd be right.)

 

I knew for a long time that I wanted to get a wall tattoo. It felt pretty permanent so I thought long and hard about what word I wanted to see every time I was in the basement – which is often because that’s where my new office is. 

 

My uber-talented and super cute brother agreed to paint/tattoo my wall. Here's some fun pics of the process:

 

Drum-roll please.....

 

Home. 

The word home means so much to me. It evokes so many different feelings and emotions. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time y’all so I’ve decided to share all my deeeeeep thoughts with you. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on these topics with you:

 

This is not my permanent Home

Home is what we make it

How we (women) control the climate of our Home

Home is where real community happens

Martha Stewart does not live in my Home

 

And who knows. I may come up with more ideas before this whole Home thing runs its course.

 

I’m looking forward to sharing some virtual coffee with you as we talk about Home. See you soon! 

Thinking about leftovers

I know that not everyone is a big fan of leftovers. Me? I’m a big fan. Knowing that I can rummage through the fridge and find something to eat instead of having to make something, well that’s a huge bonus. I’m already looking forward to the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. I should be able to get away with not cooking for at least a few good days.

 

Have you ever considered the concept of spiritual leftovers? Honestly, I never had, until I read something in Scripture this week. It caused me to think in a whole new way.

 

In Matthew 14 we read the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. The disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftovers after everyone’s stomachs were full. In Matthew 15 we read a very similar story of Jesus feeding 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. This time the disciples picked up 7 basketfuls of leftovers. Pretty amazing stuff! You would think that these experiences would have been burned forever into the disciples’ minds, wouldn’t you? How could you ever possibly forget something like that? And yet, in Matthew 16:5-11 we read this:

 

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

 

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

 

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread?”

 

I could write an entire lesson on the significance of why Jesus was warning the disciples about the teachings of the religious leaders in their day, but that’s not my purpose right now. (That was more for me than you because I was about to chase a different rabbit and needed to remind myself to stay on task.)

 

Don’t miss the significance of Jesus asking, “Don’t you remember?” Pay close attention to what He was asking the disciples to remember:

 

Their experience.

 

Think about it. Jesus could have easily said something like, “Why are you worried about not having any bread? Don’t you remember that God parted the Red Sea and rescued your ancestors from slavery? Don’t you remember that God rescued Daniel from the lion? Don’t you remember that God sent manna from heaven every morning?” Really, the list of examples that Jesus could have used are endless. And yet, Jesus purposefully directed their attention to something the disciples had experienced for themselves.

 

Now, I’m just speculating here, but why did the disciples not bring the leftovers with them in the boat? Where had they left all those baskets? And if they had brought the leftovers with them, would they have better understood Jesus’ statement to “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” because they wouldn’t have been distracted by their lack of bread? Maybe because they didn’t have the leftovers with them,

 

they forgot about Jesus’ miraculous ability to produce bread at will and

 

they missed the whole point of what He was trying to say because they were too distracted by what they didn’t have that they should have had in the first place. (did you get that?)

 

Hmmmm.

 

Now before you go and accuse the disciples of having short-term memory loss or just being dumb (come on, you know you’ve thought it) let’s ask ourselves, do we do the same thing?

 

Work with me here.

 

As a follower and believer in Jesus, has there been a time when you have experienced God richly blessing you with all that you needed? What about a time where He not only supplied your needs but blessed you with more than you even asked for? Has your heart ever felt like it could overflow with gratitude? When we hang on to those precious memories and experiences it’s like collecting basketfuls of leftovers. Big, beautiful baskets full of leftover blessings.

 

The next time you find yourself in a difficult season and wonder what you are going to do, lean in. You may hear Jesus sweetly asking,

 

“Don’t you remember?”

 

When we take time to pull out those basketfuls of leftovers and recount the many ways God has provided for us in the past, amazing things begin to happen. We are reminded that God was faithful to us then, and He will be faithful to us now.

 

This Thanksgiving, let’s pull out those basketfuls of leftovers… and remember.

Straight-Up Crazy

The parting of the Red Sea.

The walls of Jericho falling.

Gideon changing from a big chicken into a mighty warrior.

David taking on a giant with just a few small stones.

Three men walking into a blazing furnace and believing God would not forsake them - no matter the outcome.

Peter getting out of the boat. 

These are just a few example of the stories I grew up hearing and believing. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I doubted the stories in the Bible. I also grew up hearing stories of missionaries in other parts of the world, their great faith, and how God moved through them to do amazing things. I’ve always enjoyed praising God for what He was doing in and through others.

 Then I got irritated. 

I started looking at my own life. Boring. Mundane. Predictable. And to be honest, there was no need for me to have extraordinary faith because frankly, I was just hanging out in my comfortable and safe boat. I had been content my entire life just watching and hearing about everyone else who had enough faith to actually get out of the boat and walk on water with Jesus. I had been content merely hearing stories of other “water-walkers.”

 But then I started to wonder, “What if?”

 What if the stories in the bible were meant to fuel my faith?

What if God really hadn’t changed and He still delighted in doing the extraordinary through ordinary people, just like me?

What if the Jesus that told Peter to come to Him on the water was the same Jesus that would empower me to do the impossible if I would just step out of my boat? 

So. I tried it. 

Yep. That’s right. Boring, predictable, mundane me actually stepped out of my comfort boat and trusted God to be God. Guess what? I didn’t sink. 

Was I scared? You bet I was. Was I in over my head? Absolutely. Was it worth it? A thousand times YES. Has Jesus had to pull me back up when I let the waves overtake me? Many times. But He’s never let me sink.

 Once you get a feel for wet feet and windblown hair, you won’t want to climb back in your boat. You will begin to crave the intimacy that grows between you and your Savior as He walks next to you. You will begin to crave the exhilaration that comes from trusting Jesus to do the impossible both in you and through you.

 You will begin to crave a faith that is so radical it looks straight-up crazy. 

I believe God puts a desire within all of us to experience the Divine. All of us crave to see Him move in ways we could never, ever take credit for.

Many years ago I started praying that God would send a holy revival among His daughters.  I prayed He would raise up a generation of women who were willing to leave their comfort boats behind, throw off everything that hinders and every sin that entangles and run the race He has marked out for us (Hebrews 12:.1). By golly, I believe He’s doing it! More and more I am seeing a movement of women who are strong, courageous, sword-yielding, Jesus-loving water-walkers, and it fires me up! It’s an exciting and opportune time to be a woman on fire for God! 

So now what? 

God planted a dream deep in my heart a few years ago. I dreamed of a place where women of all ages, races, and denominations could come together in unity and be equipped by God’s Word, empowered to live out their faith in every area of life, and to work together to change the world. That’s right, you heard me -

A massive unleashing of believing women to CHANGE. THE. WORLD.

I know those words are often thrown around with nothing of substance to back them up. But what if we really could change the world?

I think we can. Together. 

And I have a crazy plan to do it. And I believe it will work. But I’m going to need your help. 

Imagine a place where you could be in community with other women who are willing to share the wisdom they have gained through life experiences such as divorce, step-parenting, trauma, anxiety, depression, and many more.

Imagine a place where you could participate in Bible studies with other women from across the world that will deepen your knowledge of Scripture. 

Imagine a place that offers tailored groups where you could find hope, healing and encouragement from other women who have been hurt by the church, whose husbands wrestle with a porn addiction, who are recovering from sexual abuse/trauma, and who are navigating the waters of addiction recovery.

Imagine meeting other women who can help lead you down the sometimes difficult and confusing path of the adoption process, both domestically and internationally.

Imagine learning from seasoned leaders that will empower and equip you to enhance your leadership skills.

You can experience all of that and much more as a member of Ignite Women. And as if all that wasn’t awesome enough, it gets even more awesome -

Ignite is strategically partnering with large Not For Profits that are doing amazing work across the world to help end poverty, help end abortion, help increase adoptions and help end human trafficking in our generation. We are not messing around! A portion of every membership dollar will go to empower them to do even more.

It IS possible.

Together, we really can change the world.   

I invite you to visit Ignite Women and check us out. I’m confident you will find a place where you can invest in your own spiritual growth and simultaneously join with other women to change the world!

A dose of honesty

How about a dose of honesty?

My world has been a little cray cray lately. And by lately, I mean since around last October. I was one week into teaching my latest bible study, Rescued, when whammo! I was hit with one of those things you can’t see coming nor can you plan for it. Someone I love dearly suffered at the hands of evil. It was devastating. I knew that healing would take a very long time and the road wouldn’t be easy. But what I didn’t know was that the enemy was just getting started. The initial trauma was followed by a series of painful events that dragged on for months, and continues to do so. The saga continues. It isn’t even close to coming full circle yet. There have been some small victories along the way, but this is not over. Not even close.

 

I was so deeply affected by this that I couldn't hide it. I’m usually not one to try and hide how I really feel anyway, so when I was asked how I was doing, I didn’t respond with the expected “I’m okay,” or “I’m doing great!” or “Fine!”, ‘cause let’s be honest, I wasn’t okay, great or fine. I was heartbroken. Confused. Angry. Exhausted emotionally and spiritually. And quite frankly, terrified that maybe things weren’t going to turn out the way I hoped and prayed that they would.

 

But wait…there’s more. Recently, my husband and I faced something that we’ve only heard stories about. It’s something you believe only happen to other people. I’m watching my husband lose sleep over it and wrestle with how to best handle it. It’s extremely stressful, very complicated, and has shaken us in ways we could have never expected. (For the record, he and I are fine, our marriage is strong. This is something that hit us from the outside.) It’s also a situation that won’t be resolved quickly. The ramifications of this will last for a very, very long time.

 

In addition to of all of the above mentioned, God is also calling me to trust Him in ways I’ve never had to before. He's calling me to do something I've never done before, and something that quite honestly, I KNOW I cannot do. I know, I know, that’s part of a growing relationship with Jesus. It’s one thing for me to talk to others about trusting Jesus, it’s another thing when I have to wrestle through this myself. Recently, I sensed God whisper this to me:

“Paulette, you are going to have to learn to trust me in this. I know I am asking you to do something you have never done before. I know you want to know the details of the plan, but I’m not going to give them to you right now. I want you to follow my voice. I will lead you through the dark. Trust me. And yes, I am well aware of the fact that you cannot do what I’m asking you to do; that’s the point.”

(Sometimes I think I hear Him end with “Duh.” But maybe that’s just me.)

 

So what am I’m learning in all of this? I’m learning that it’s possible to be on the Crazy Train and simultaneously have one or two toes on the Struggle Bus. I’ll be honest peeps, I’ve been struggling! But through it all, here’s what I’m learning to be true:

 

God is faithful. He who began a good work is faithful to complete it.

I don’t have to see how all of this works out. I just have to trust Jesus. One step at a time.

It’s okay to struggle and wrestle through things. And it’s also okay if the struggle goes on for more than a day. Or two. Or weeks. Or even months. God is faithful to meet with me in the midst of my struggle.

He really does give strength for the day.

His mercies really are new every morning.

It’s very important to have good girlfriends around that will listen as I wrestle through some of these things. Sometimes a good laugh really is the best medicine. And the faithful prayers of a friend are worth more than all the chocolate in the world.

 

Let's be honest. We all struggle sometimes and life will get crazy every now and then. But just because life gets crazy doesn't mean we have to. Let's resolve to lean into Jesus and allow Him to grow our faith roots deep during the crazy times. I want to come out on the other end of this struggle stronger than before, don't you? I'll be doggoned if this will be in vain! Something good WILL come out of it. God said so. :) 

And we know that all things work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 

 

 

What do you want me to do for you?

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them.

 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:29-34)

I like to play the “What If?” game a lot. This morning as I sipped my beloved cup of coffee while sitting in my favorite over sized chair and reading this passage in Matthew, I felt the urge to play the “What If?” game.

 

What if Jesus walked into my room, stood in front of me, and said, “Paulette, what do you want me to do for you?”

 

Well now. That is one heck of a “What-If?” don’t you think?!

 

I’ll admit, I chewed on this one for a while.  Before I jump in and share where I finally landed, let me point out a few things in the passage that, in my opinion, should stand out.

 

 First, when the blind men heard it was Jesus, they demonstrated their faith that he was the Messiah by how they addressed him. Apparently, in their minds, the issue of Jesus being the Son of God and the promised Messiah, had already been settled.

 

 Their faith was solid.

 

Secondly, they were obviously desperate. Desperate enough to shout. And who cares if everyone around them tried to get them to shut up? That just made them all the more determined to be heard. It worked, because it got them an audience with the King.

 

Desperate, stubborn and determined.

 

Thirdly, they knew what they wanted. There was no hesitation or pause before they answered and told Jesus what they so desperately wanted. My heart melts every time I read “Jesus had compassion.” Jesus. The Son of God. Creator of the Universe. The promised Messiah. The King of Kings. He feels compassion toward the desperate. Wow.

 

Jesus acts when He feels.

 

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”  

 

“What do you want me to do for you?”

 

Like I said, I chewed on this one for a while. My answer was not as immediate as the two blind men. I had to think about it for a minute. Here’s where I landed:

 

Lord, I want you to give me ears to hear you.

 

I realize your response may be completely different from mine. I don’t think there is necessarily a wrong response to this. (Well, that’s not entirely true. If your response was “I want you to give me a brand new Porsche” then you may be slightly off-track. Just sayin’.) Let me explain my response.

 

Currently, I am in a different place in my life than I have ever been. I’m calling it the “Hit the Gas” season. God has granted me more favor than I could have ever dreamed of. Hear me clearly: I am WELL AWARE that this favor is not for MY good, nor to prosper ME, rather it is for the good and prospering of OTHERS. God has opened amazing doors for ministry opportunities that, quite frankly, are blowing my ever-lovin’ mind. I have a dream that I whole-heartedly believe can help change the world. Yep, you heard me right. Change the world. (More on that later!)

 

This dream of changing the world comes with much responsibility. God revealed something to me about myself this morning. Let me paraphrase what I heard:

 

Paulette, you have learned to trust me with the really BIG things. I am so pleased that you are able to say with full confidence that you believe me to do the IMPOSSIBLE in you and through you. I know you believe that I am the same God that split the Red Sea. You are willing to charge hell with a squirt-gun believing you will win. You have full confidence in my willingness and ability to do the impossible. However, while you are so focused on changing the world, you sometimes miss my voice in the moments. And when you miss my voice, you miss the opportunity to die to yourself. When you miss the opportunity to die to yourself, you slip into disobedience. The impossible cannot happen where there is disobedience.

 

Ouch.

 

You see, God is showing me that He wants to trust me with really big things, but He can only trust me with big things if I am surrendered to him in the little things. Moment by moment.

 

Hence, my answer to Jesus’ question. Lord, give me ears to hear you. If I will tune my ears to the voice of my Savior, I will hear him speak to me in those moments when I’m tempted to be selfish, or tempted to run my mouth about so-and-so for doing such-and-such. If I have ears to hear Jesus, then I will hear him whisper to me the needs of the woman right in front of me and know how to answer her, or how to lead her, or how to love her well. If I have ears to hear Jesus, then I will discern the decisions he wants me to make in the big matters and the small matters.

 

I so want to hear Jesus when he speaks. I so want to be obedient. Not because I have to. But because I want to. Because I love Jesus. I really, really love Jesus.

 

What about you? How would you answer Jesus if he asked you,

 

“What do you want me to do for you?”

 

How about a rebuke with your morning coffee?

It happened to me again this morning. I read something that I’m very familiar with and yet, a phrase I have never paid attention to before, jumped out at me. Well, it felt more like it leaped off the page and smacked me upside the head. Yep. A good old fashioned smack-down by the Holy Spirit. And honestly, I’m thankful. His holy smack-downs are done with such grace, gentleness and love, that I want to respond in repentance. Why? Because I know that my God is FOR me, not against me. 

Luke 18:35-43 

Jesus was on His way to Jericho and there was a blind man on the side of the road. When he heard the commotion and asked what was going on, he was told that Jesus was passing by. Immediately he began calling out, 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

This always makes me smile. I try to picture the scene and I imagine an older man who had probably been blind and helpless his entire life. Relying on the kindness of others was his only hope in the world. He must have heard the stories about this Jesus person who had the power to heal. Maybe for the first time in his entire life he felt a quick, sharp pang of actual hope. And with every ounce of strength he could muster up, he yelled, his own voice piercing his darkness: 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

What a beautiful picture of sheer and absolute desperation. What an authentic display of desperate hope. While I cannot relate to his physical blindness, certainly I know and can relate to a desperate need of the Savior’s mercy.

As I sat on my couch sipping my morning beloved cup of coffee, I’ll admit I was feeling good about this awesome little story in Luke. That is, until I read the next line:

 “Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet…” 

Granted, I have never given much thought to “those who led the way” other than to think, “What the heck is wrong with them? What’s their problem?? Surely they know Jesus loves to heal so why would they tell this poor man to be quiet??” But this morning, the phrase “those who led the way” struck a very personal chord.

For reasons I will never understand, God has placed me in leadership and I am in a position of “leading the way.” I’m ashamed to admit, there have been times I have become so focused on the ministry vision, mission, and hard work that has to be done, that I have dismissed the sideline cries coming from those who are desperate for hope. 

“I don’t have time to answer that email. I’m too busy.”

“I’ll call her back later. She can wait.”

“I don’t have time to sit and talk over coffee. I’ve got way too much work to do!”

And I justify my busyness and hard work and lack of availability all in the name of “ministry.”

Ouch.

No, seriously. Ouch.

I think it comes down to this: 

When ministry becomes more important than the people we are called to minister to,

we have missed the mark. 

I don’t want to miss the mark. What about you?

 

Sweet Jesus, thank you for the loving rebuke this morning. Please give me ears to hear what You hear, and eyes to see others the way You see them. And please Lord, give me Your heart, so I will respond like You would. Amen.

Don't freak out

I love it when I read a passage in Scripture and something I hadn't thought of before pops out at me. This morning I was reading Luke 8:22-25.  It’s a very familiar passage. Jesus tells His disciples to hop in the boat so they can go over to the other side of the lake. During the sail over, He falls asleep. And then…

“A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.”

And then the disciples freaked out.

Freaking out is a natural, human reaction, don’t you think? I mean, it says plainly, “they were in great danger.” I freak out if I’m in danger, don’t you? Seems like a reasonable response. In their freaked out state, they woke up Jesus. You know the story. Jesus rebuked the wind and the water, and of course, the wind and the water immediately obeyed. (I wish I always had an immediate obedience response.) I’m thinking they didn't expect what He said next: 

“Where is your faith?” 

Hmmm. Let’s be honest. They were just reacting to a very real situation. They weren't imagining things. This wasn't a hypothetical situation. Their situation was, in essence, reality. Here’s what popped out to me today:

 Jesus is even greater than our reality.

I’m totally grooving on this truth today! Because no matter what is going on around me, Jesus is greater. He doesn't lessen my reality. He doesn't expect me to deny my reality or downplay my reality.

 He wants me to remember that He is GREATER than my reality.

I need to remember when the storms hit (and whew! They seem to be hitting frequently here lately!) that I need to not freak out! I need to remember that Jesus is greater than the storm that threatens to drown me. Basically, as long as I’m hanging out in the same boat with Jesus, there’s no chance that any storm is taking this girl down. 

Just thinking about friendship...

Will you allow me to share with you what God has been teaching me about friendships recently?

God never intended for us to “go it alone.” We see God instituting the importance of relationship when He made Eve to be Adam’s companion. Don’t worry; I’m not going to give you a commentary on marriage right now. Just simply consider that God didn’t have to make Eve for Adam. He could have left him alone and Adam would have kept himself company with the animals. (Doesn’t sound so bad to those of us who are naturally introverts and love animals, does it?) But even though the garden and everything in it was perfect, and the relationship between Adam and His maker was perfect, God still chose to create another person with whom Adam could enjoy a relationship.

As hard as I try, I can’t do this alone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t have friends. God has richly blessed me by surrounding me with many amazing women who inspire me every day. However, here recently God has allowed me to take a few hits from the enemy that I did not see coming. After practically getting the wind knocked out of me, I realized that the battle is all too real and the enemy is much too ferocious to fight him on my own. My natural tendency is to take my battles straight to Jesus and keep them between the two of us. However, He is teaching me that I need to humble myself before others and confess my struggles so they can go into battle by praying with me and for me.

There are some friends who won’t freak out and leave when I’m honest about my struggles. This one is a doosey, isn’t it? I wonder just how many of us, if we were being honest, will admit that we are terrified that if we allow someone to really see us and know our struggles, that they would cut their ties and run for the hills. There are several issues I want to address with this, several “non-truths” the enemy uses to keep us from being honest and vulnerable in our friendships. First, we believe that we are more deeply flawed than anyone else. We believe that no one struggles to the extent that we do and that there is something innately wrong with us. This is simply not true. Scripture tells us that our struggles are common to all humankind. (1 Cor. 10:13) Secondly, we convince ourselves that if we are honest about our struggles, our friends will think we are too messed up and they will leave us for another friend who isn’t as messed up as we are. Listen, sharing our struggles with our friends requires grace on both sides. As we share our struggles, we need to be ready and willing to offer our friends the same grace and acceptance that we hope to receive from them. This thing goes both ways. You have heard the old saying, “If you want a friend, you have to be a friend.” So true, so true. So when you decide to share your heart with someone, make sure that you are ready to treat your friend with the same measure of acceptance and grace you hope to receive.

It really does lessen the burden when it is shared. Learning this one has truly been a gift. First we are to take our burdens, struggles, sins, and heart’s concerns to Jesus. He beckons us to drop our loads of grief, anxiety, and fears onto Him and in doing so, we find our rest in Him. This I have known and have been practicing for quite some time. But what He is teaching me lately is that once I have given Him all of my worries and struggles, He also beckons me to share them with my friends. Here’s the secret: giving them to Jesus first makes it safe to share them with trusted friends. Don’t make the mistake of putting your friends in the place of Jesus. That’s unfair because just as you can’t be Jesus for your friends, neither can they be Jesus for you. However, once your heart is safely in the hands of your Savior, you can share your heart with others and the burden is lighter. What an amazing feeling to know that your friends are approaching God’s throne of grace to pray for you. It pleases our Father when we carry one another’s burdens. Isn’t that what family is for? 

Consider Paul. He was strong-willed, determined and focused. It seemed that nothing could deter him from serving Jesus; including anything from ridicule to physical beatings and imprisonments. He knew beyond a doubt that he had been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light and that God had set him apart from birth for His glory. And yet, Paul chose not to go it alone. He chose to invest in a few friendships that would help him in his mission and help carry his load. He chose men who understood his passions and loved Jesus with the same fervor that he did. If Paul needed deep friendships, what makes us think we can go without?

-Adapted from “Rescued: A Journey from Darkness to Light” by Paulette Stamper

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