When difficulty comes…..

Our trip to France was filled with a fairy tale wedding and time to wander down old towns with a feasting of the eyes and an ear to heaven.

We were in Bordeaux for a week and it is wine country. Fields of vines that were being prepared for the next harvest. Miles and miles of land that was all awaiting the warmth of Spring and Summer.

I knew the land had lessons it wanted to pass along and I’m always a hungry to learn.  I was amazed at the canes that protruded from the earth with what appeared to be two arms lifted up in a stance of worship.

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Acre upon acre the land was filled with old weathered vines with arms uplifted.  They had survived years of bearing fruit and every year they get pruned back to their bare beginnings.

In Scripture, Jesus refers to the vine and the branches as he is the vine and we are the branches and that metaphor is profound in its own right. But there was another metaphor to see right before my eyes.

I saw these weathered vines with lifted arms and imagined them to be mature disciples of Jesus. Every year we are to bear fruit. Young shoots come off of the main vine and bear fruit. Did you know that a cane (branch) can only bear great fruit one time before it needs to be cut off and replanted become a mature vine, or thrown out? If it gets planted and takes, then it is not allowed to bear fruit for two or three years until the root system is substantial enough to allow it to send nutrients to new vines.  

Every year the pruning to mature vines is drastic, leaving nothing but the original vine and a couple of canes.

I saw the connection. Last year’s fruit in my life is not what I lean on. Yesterday is gone and today requires new shoots, new disciples, new growth in relationships.

Remember, fruit is produced on the current season’s growth, that in turn grows from last season’s wood. Heavy pruning provides the best fruit. Light pruning results in large yields of poor-quality fruit; very heavy pruning produces too much vegetative growth and very little or no fruit. There are lessons to be learned in this life cycle.

I’m a gardener and I remember when I was first learning about how to care for roses that I was mortified at how much of the canes I had to cut back. At first, I ignored the sound advice and just snipped at the roses. In no time at all, I had diseases roses on my hands. Then I became bolder and understood why the cuts needed to be made. Though I still wince when I cut off what looked like a perfectly good set of buds. It’s amazing how God prunes our lives. At times the cuts are at our ego because that ego has a way of spreading the “me” disease on everything.  I never know where God will actively prune my life.

The encouragement I received was in looking at the vines (mature disciples) with uplifted arms, waiting for Spring and Summer so that the harvest can come. Knowing that the shoots that are grown will one day become strong canes that take their place in the land.

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Life at times feels brutal and you wonder if you can stand it but know if that is the season you are in, you are poised to bear the best fruit, just like the grapevines in France. 

Though it feels like barrenness, it is at the hand of the vigneron.

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We are in good hands. I pray this blesses you the way it blessed me.

We worship and wait as we prepare for the Spring and Summer.

Discipleship Tip #2

Remember your role.

Discipler’s are to drive the transformational process not just witness it. Exhorting, teaching and correction are essential in this process.

To elaborate on this point; it is very important to take stock of your own personality.

If by nature you are an exhorter, then you know that part of the process is going to flow freely from your personality.  But the other two components are equally as important if this process is going to be guided and not merely witnessed.

Each personality and gift sets that you as a discipler will have strengths and weaknesses attached to it.

Exhorters

If you are an Exhorter you probably have the tendency to overlook issues because your innate gift erupts out of you like Old Faithful. You can’t help but lift the person in front of you up with your vision and passion for what he or she can be in Christ.

Exhorters need to strengthen their discernment and boldness to speak the truth in love.

Pray God increases discernment and practice boldness.

Teachers

Teachers need to make their material concise and know their disciplee very well.  People listen when what you are saying matches their point of pain or emotional need.  People with a teaching gift must refrain from extra information and stay on point.

There was a season I helped lead small groups for college students. I knew that they needed to know more about God and His ways. They wanted to know how to get a mate. So knowing what they were interested in, I offered small groups with the topic of Boundaries in Dating. 

I could have offered a class on how to read the Bible and I assure you that no one would have signed up 🙂  Meet people were they are and show them what God has to say about it.

Also discovering how your disciplee best learns is also helpful.

For example – If you have a visual learner, use lots of pictures and object lessons. Place handles on truth at all times. The handle is the method in which the person receiving can best carry the lessons learned.

Correction

This is the hardest of the 3, and the one most people run from. But it is also the agent of change. Correction done well is life to the soul.

In my minds eye I see correction as truth. When I see that someone is believing a lie and that the lie is hurting the person, it is a relief for me to shed light on the lie that serves as a shackle. The lie is keeping them in bondage but I come with a flash light and keys!!!!!

The problem that normally happens is that the person who is in bondage is also in pain.  Have you ever hugged someone with a sunburn? It hurts, but sometimes it must hurt to heal.

When you are able stay unaffordable by covering yourself in the loving truth of God, then you can step in and lend someone whatever it is they need.

Prepare yourself that they are probably not going to be instantly appreciate.

Prepare yourself that they will say that you are wrong.

But if you have prayed through what to say and prayed for the right loving attitude in which to say it, then for grace’s sake, give people keys to get free.

It’s not about you in that moment.

How you feel, whether it be scared, mad, irritated, frustrated or dismissed.

It’s all about them being free to know and love God and be known by Him.

It’s your job to say the thing, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to land it in time.

Hope these words help.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Discipleship Tip #1 – Don’t take it personal.

Upon request, this blog will elaborate on the former discipleship tips from last week.

The first tip was – Don’t take it personally.

When meeting with anyone, it is important to remember that he or she comes with a full history of relationships that are both good and bad.

I can tell within moments if the person that I am meeting with has a good or bad relationship with their mother.  The person being discipled will immediately project an attitude or posture that has little or nothing to do with me.

I’ve heard everything from.

“I don’t really respect women.”

“I don’t trust women”, along with a variety of different responses.  Often my age (close to 50) will also solicit a reaction that is either good or bad depending on their history.

I often start with many questions to hear their story and piece together how many walls there are between us. 

Influence cannot happen until trust is established.

If I am oversensitive or over-react in any way (if their behavior is less than stellar), it will add to the distrust that has already come in our relationship.

When I hear an uncomplimentary response, I often just ask why. Why are women hard to trust (for example)?

At all times I ask the Holy Spirit to allow me to discern the hurt behind the comments and that the shield of Faith would extinguish any darts thrown at my heart, whether intended or not.

The un-offendable person always gains the higher ground. The person on the higher ground will always have more perspective.

If by chance a comment spoken from the disciplee happens to sting, I take note of it but do not respond to it at the moment. I do not justify, argue or defend myself.  If clarity is needed because an untruth is spoken, then I do that calmly.

I will take the wounded place back to my prayer time and if I know that it still remains as pain, then I talk to my sacred circle of people that know and love me so that I can displace any lie trying to take root or ask for healing for a wound not completely healed.

There is power in keeping my peace and joy in all conversations.  My security and identity are rooted in God’s opinion of me and not man’s.

I refuse to allow the chaos of choices made by people in process to steal the peace that was gained in fellowship with Christ. I can empathize without agreeing and it is my role to bring the light of truth into the darkness. My light should be contagious and not their darkness.

At the end of the day, if I discover that I have a sore place in my heart after meeting with someone, then I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to discover it so that I can walk in wholeness and love for Him, for me and for others.

Luke 10:27

He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Hope you find these words helpful.

Discipleship Tips

For those of us on the journey of Faith, I offer a few tips that were learned through much trial and error.

If it helps you to love and lead people well, then it was worth the sharing.

These are short and sweet. If you would like more info on a certain topic, just leave a comment.

True discipleship is about life transformation and in order for that to happen we must allow our wounds to be exposed and healed. When you get near a wound, a reaction is sure to happen and sometimes it is aimed at you, so the first tip is –

  • Don’t take it personally.

People go through many emotions and some of them may be aimed at you as an authority figure.

  • Remember your role.

Discipler’s are to drive the transformational process not just witness it. Exhorting, teaching and correction are essential in this process.

  • The priority of your family goes before those you are serving.
  • Influence – your greatest areas of influence will flow from the areas in your life where you have grown and gained the victory. 
  • Their dramas or self-imposed chaos are not yours so stay objective about what the real issues are and don’t spend all your time dealing with symptoms.
  • Don’t work harder than they do. That is enabling. Everyone is worthy of love but not everyone is worthy of investment. Jesus gave instructions to be able to follow him.
  • Know the difference between your stuff and their stuff. If you ever find yourself reacting instead of responding or your emotion is higher than the situation calls for, be alert to the fact that you have something in you that should be taken to the Holy Spirit for healing. We are all people in process.
  • If you do come across your own personal wound please be proactive and invite discerning friends to offer you some insight and prayer.
  • Identify strongholds so you can pray specific scripture over them.
  • It would be wise to spend just as much or more time in prayer than actually with them.
  • Be prepared for your relationship to be more like a yo-yo than a normal discipleship.  They come and go, come and go.
  • Discipleship is cyclical not a straight shot up so stay encouraged.
  • Do not rescue them unless you have specifically heard from God.  Most problems and situations that are painful are perfect scenarios for God to work.
  • Do not issue ultimatums or promises but keep those you serve rooted in Scripture.
  • Always keep the door open to further communication if they choose to not continue.
  • Let them know what will happen if they are choosing negative behavior.
  • Be a bold truth-teller and also make sure they feel deeply loved.

High affection – High correction leads to health.

High affection – Low correction leads to immature, selfish people.

Low correction and low affection is neglect.

High correction and low affection leads to rebellion.

Above all, enjoy and love the people who are children of God, that you are privileged to serve.

An unscripted life.


The last few years of my life are radically different than I had planned.
Having sat in a church with a strong leadership emphasis, I was diligent to set out goals and worked to achieve them.  There is generally nothing wrong with that unless you happen to be praying for the “more” of God.

Then all of a sudden I read books like Crazy Love by Chan or Radical by Platt and my heart became disenchanted with my limited experience as a disciple of Christ.  Don’t get me wrong I was busy and productive on paper and on the church calendar but there was this deep witness in my spirit that what I was living was too safe and scripted. It was like I had written out a complete manuscript and I just needed God to fill in the few empty spaces.  Somehow God wanted a whole blank page and the thought of that just filled me with anxiety.  God was asking me to live a life I couldn’t control.

Something in me kept whispering that it was time to take the love of God out of the walls of the Church and that the church needed to have legs on it.  The Lord has always been relentless in my life.  God thoughts can at time feel like a thorn in my brain that cannot be forgotten.  The dialogue when a little like this:
“Rozy, when are you going leave this safe structure behind and go be the church?”
“Rozy,  when are you going to take the light into the darkness?”
“Rozy my grace is sufficient for you, why don’t you trust me?”

My answers sounded like this:

“I can’t afford to travel the world Lord, what on earth are you thinking?”
“ It’s not safe to travel to areas where their governmental structures are unpredictable or non-existent.”  “What if I get into an accident or need a hospital?”
“ I don’t have a missional call on my life, I never wanted to be a missionary.”

On and on those conversations would go and at time I thought I presented my case quite well but winning was losing in God’s economy.  I kept talking myself right out of the more of God.

Then one day I stopped making excuses.  An invitation was given. I said yes and never turned back.  In the last few years I’ve worked, cried, laughed and invested more intentionally than I ever thought possible.  I’ve walked on the 5 different continents and I’ve lost count of how many countries I’ve visited.  I’ve ministered to missionaries and loved on strangers. Fed and housed more young people than ever before.  My heart has been torn open to be an unrecognizable size.  I have had to face fears I never imagined and experienced extraordinary measure of the grace of God I didn’t know existed.

I feel like I’m finally part of His plan instead of having God in mine. I have only one regret, that I didn’t say yes sooner.

A glimpse of Guatemala

Some moments are for journals only and some are for sharing.

Here is a random moment I had before leaving Guatemala.

I’m on a rooftop balcony patio overlooking a volcano and ruins.

These walls are covered in green vegetation.

Listening to dogs barking, music sung at a school, a radio, birds singing, a broom sweeping.

The chatter of a few conversations floats up to us along with someone watching TV in Spanish.

A hummingbird comes to show off her hovering skills while I watch in amazement.

All the sounds are low except the occasional rooster who decides to crow way after the sun rises.

City sounds and local sounds all mixing together to make you wonder if you are in the past or the present.

The sun high and the clouds look like they are having a race around the volcano.

The heat of the sun and the coolness of the breeze both share the same space.

There are birds nesting on ruins and rusty tin roofs right next to ancient structures.

Bright colors and hidden courtyards everywhere you look.

Guatemalans’ speak in whispers and the Americans speak much to loudly.

I hear the sound of children singing together in their school and I smile all the way down to my belly.

Children with black hair and big smiles, dark eyes in such little packages.  All dressed in bright colors that simply make them magnificent to feast your eyes on.

I don’t know why I have been chosen for this beautiful work but I’ll take it and say thank you.

What a two year old taught me about God.

I spent a week with my grand-daughter while her parents were away.  It’s been over 20 years since I’ve cared for a little one for more than an overnight visit.

Storie is now 2 years old.  She can walk and communicate in her precious limited way. Missing every few consonants of the words she uses and making me smile every time.  This age is such an incredible time of dependence.

As I spent time caring for her it became a study in discipleship as I watched her interactions with me – her Nana – her caregiver – the power figure in her world.

These are the scriptures that kept circling my mind as I watched her and knew she represents me as I represent God in this example.

Matthew 18:1-4

At that time the followers came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child.

Here are a few illuminating factors I enjoyed discovering about childlike humility.

  • Full participation in our relationship – Affection is the most enjoyable key ingredient in this relationship.  My affection for her is fully returned and it is the glue in every aspect of our relationship.  The smile that greets me as I scoop her out of her bed in the morning.  Her arms held out in anticipation of my embrace.  Somehow she knows that love connects us and that great things are coming.One of the sweetest aspects of our relationship is the pure delight that we share together.  Storie does understand to some extent maybe even better than I do the limits of her power without me.  She doesn’t use me for her agenda or try to have a whole day without me.  She delights in me as we journey throughout the day.  She loves my full attention and her discoveries are for my quick applause and affirmation.
  • Surrender to my Power – Storie surrenders to my power.  My strength is used for her benefit as I carry her from room to room. Or room to car, and place to place.  She will be where I am, so that I can care, protect and benefit her.  She doesn’t fight my arms but readily anticipates being scooped up and brought close.  Trusting without thought or fear that I would deposit her to a place away from myself.  Even when she cannot see me, she can trust that I am not far and my voice comforts her.
  • Trust that I am Good – Our relationship has been present in every moment of her life.  From the time she was delivered to this world as a premature   baby, my heart, my hands and voice have hovered over her.  She can trust without a complete intellectual understanding that all I have and all I am is for her benefit and good.  My love hovers like a fuzzy velor, warm blanket in her life.  A force of love though all she understands at this point is that I make things happen that are awesome. I ease discomfort and pain. I bring food and snacks and even CHOCOLATE. Which she delightfully calls chopate.  Even when she is mad that she can’t force me to do something that isn’t good for her, her only comfort is in my arms.  She turns to me for solace and not away.
  • Allows me to teach her – Storie fully expects and appreciates my influence and instruction in her life that helps her become more proficient in her environment.  She studies my actions and repeats them with full concentration as she increases her motor skills and understanding of the world around her.

It’s been a great week. I’m thoroughly exhausted, (unlike God) and full of new insights.  Thank you my little love for teaching your Nana more about childlike humility.

Two scents

A strong sense of scent is both a gift and a curse.

I have this mixed blessing and here are a few ways it has enhanced or affected my life.

I love the scent of my husbands shirts when I go to wash them.  His cologne mixed in with his wonderful unique scent.

The baby fragrance that emanates from my grandchild has the power to reach my heart in an instant.  Swallowing me up in the power of my love for her.

The brewing of some great espresso coffee makes me smile and feel excited.

My mom’s cooking always brings back cherished memories.

As funny as it may sound the scent of each of my children and pets causes a delightful explosion of joy in my heart.

Each beautiful to me and can quickly stir my heart and emotions.

I have heard some people say that the smell of horses makes their heart beat just a little faster.  That one evades me since I’m a city girl.

Every experience we have ever had shapes us to delight or reject certain stimulations.

The smell of Dial soap makes me recall Roger’s heart attack since it was used during his hospital visit.

The slightest smell of blood makes me want to faint.

It is fascinating how tied together our previous experiences and emotions can be to one of our senses.

There are a few verses in the Bible that speak of fragrances.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

When we are like Christ and He dwells in us, we smell like Jesus.

The scent of heaven for those who are being saved.  The stench of death to those who reject Christ.

The stronger our commitment and surrender to God the stronger our smell.

People should be having a reaction when they are around us.

I’ve traveled to countries where wonderful aromas and horrible smells are inter mixed and often arrive one right after another. It causes me to pray that I would never affect another person as a perfumed person with stinky moments.

May we all be drenched with the scent of heaven and walk around smelling like our Jesus.