Tender days

 

There was a plan.

Roger and I have been faithfully working on that plan for many years.

The plan was to be debt free. To have our house paid off along with all the debts in our lives.

Now imagine being able to know that the finish line was only a year away and then…..

A young person walks into my house and compliments us on a lovely home and asks me a question, “what brings you back to Lawrenceville?” To which I answer her with our long term goal of being debt free. She then looks at me with her beautiful big shiny eyes full of excitement and curiosity and asks me, “then what?”

I look at her and stutter, “what do you mean, ‘then what ’?” The goal is TO BE DEBT FREE, to which she says, “yeah, that’s awesome, then what”. Can I tell you that my ears started ringing a little bit. My mouth went dry and my heart was beating a little too fast.

All I can think of was, “oh no, there might be some reason we are doing this other than to ENJOY BEING DEBT FREE.” I don’t know why it never entered my brain. To know me is to know that I overthink everything in life. Everything in life is not an exaggeration. Thinking is what I do in my free time and I believe I even do it while I’m sleeping!

It is as if I literally saw a new mountain arise behind the mountain we were currently scaling. The mountain called debt.

Then the wrestle began with the still small voice.

No, no, no, no, no, no, it can’t be that there is another adventure to be had. Another mountain to scale, another B zone to conquer.

God, you do know that I just turned 50 right? That’s oldish if I do say so myself. Not the time to be taking financial risks and doing daring things (I said in my best hobbit voice). It’s time to grow up and enjoy some of the payoff that living right and hard work has to offer.

Then I could sense that heightened awareness of God’s presence wanting to get a word in edge wise. “You were created to live on Mission Rozy”, is what I kept hearing over and over again.

In my younger years I would have done the not so polite thing of putting my metaphoric hands over my ears and start singing lalalalalalalala, I can’t hear you, by choosing busyness and distraction.

But being older and a bit wiser, I know those are just delaying tactics.

It was time for me to just listen to the whisper of possibility, to pull an old dream out of the dusty basement of my soul and remember it.

When I was younger I would dream about having a house where learning and living and thriving could happen. Where people who were worn and tired or just needed to remember the goodness of God could come and be rekindled. A house of bread and wine, of laughter and joy and surrounded by all things beautiful.

“Home is a place of ministry. Redeeming words, thoughts, and actions are shared and taught, the wisdom and instructions of God is passed along, and God’s love is offered to all who come under its influence.” -From the Living Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sarah and Sally Clarkson

I had packed that dream away and tucked it just out of arms reach. But it wasn’t out of the Spirit’s reach.

After much prayer and courageous conversation, Roger and I decided it was time to house hunt again, closer to where I work in Gainesville.

To find a home where souls could flourish. Where our whole family could continue to thrive together.

I’m happy/scared to say that we found one. We are set to close on March 18th and move on the 19th.

Moving is hard on my sentimental soul.

So if you think of me offer up a prayer.

Sky Cottage

Version 2

IMG_5619

On a lake in Gainesville GA.

The D.R. – a hard lesson learned.

We left the D.R. a day early to try and to arrive before the snow storm hit Georgia.  Truth be told I was not sad to leave the D.R.  I would miss the Squad but being in the D.R. was very difficult for me.  Not for any reason that I can explain well though I will try. In fact we had a short flight, only 3 hours or so.  We were given an upgrade so we spent those few hours in very comfortable seats being well served.  The hotel was probably the most beautiful we have seen on the race.  But still my spirit was in turmoil.

My thinking was flawed in that I expected the external circumstances to be indicative of the spiritual climate.  It wasn’t. The spiritual warfare was thick.  The poverty, begging children and beggars in general left me exhausted as they always do.  It is as if my mind whirls and whirls and doesn’t know what the best response is when interacting with people in this situation.

I could see the hardness in the eyes of the children.  In fact there were 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl was a little older maybe 10 and the boys a few years younger.  She begged with her hand out and I shook my head to say “no” but my heart said “of course”.  She clearly cursed us as she muttered in a language that wasn’t Spanish.  I asked Roger how much money we had in coins.  Roger had a handful, I don’t know if it was a dollar or 30 dollars.  I just wanted to children to have it even knowing that they might not get to keep it.  I poured the change into her little hand and her fingers wrapped around it like a vice.  In fact it actually pinched my fingers since I couldn’t remove them in time.  She didn’t share with the boys and their hands were left empty.  Her look to me wasn’t gratitude it was anger, survival, she had adult eyes. Not filled with wonder or the beauty that we normally see in the eyes of children.  Her little eyes looked like a 60 year old woman whose life has held little joy and great hardship and disillusionment.  How could such young beautiful eyes be marked with such bitterness and anger?

It wasn’t just the tourists that were hit up for money, there was a general air of “I want what you have and if you let your guard down I will steal it”.  Our taxi driver even carried a gun. Yeah, somehow that didn’t make me feel safe.  Guns were in ready supply. The country sits on ready, the tension is thick.  You can choose to be oblivious to the spiritual climate of people or you can be connected to the pain of a society that sits on tension that feels like it is stretched too thin and can break at any time.

The launch itself was wonderful.  The Spirit of God was all over the Squad leaders and all was in place as the leaders and logistics team whirled around in a typical responsible  fashion.  The teachers brought in exactly what was needed.  They were very spiritually sensitive to where the squad was and delivered tailored meeting times.  In fact it was probably one of favorite meeting times.

All that said I knew where I dropped the ball.  I let my guard down. I relaxed and didn’t step it up.  I thought this one would be easy.  It wasn’t and I grumbled.  When I grumbled I gave the enemy access to me and spent the next two days in pain.  God was clear and kind as He showed me how to repent and rebuke a spirit of defilement.  I know that I’m not doing a great job of explaining this “defilement process”.  I looked at the turmoil around me and I judged it.  The normal hardship that come with traveling overseas, the condition of the people, the crazy taxi drivers, the lack of edible food and the hardship of communicating with people in a different language. The sights, smells and noise that comes with going to a different country.  I took it in, allowed myself to feel overwhelmed and helpless and I grumbled. My grumbling was an effort to remove myself from the pain and confusion of not knowing how to help by putting up a wall of anger. It was wrong, it was sin.

There was much to learn from this lesson.  I will not ignore the condition of my heart.  I will listen to its nagging questions, I will allow Jesus to minister and lead me into actions of obedience and surrender.  I will choose to let my heart break over and over again. I will thank God for allowing me to see the condition of the world and listen as He leads me in response.

Expectations – the subtle manipulation of expectations

How many of you are frustrated with expectations that haven’t materialized? Marriage, a move, a job, a spouse, a healing, a great disappointment?

There are few things worse than confusing emotions.

Many lost opportunities and lessons are at the end of dashed expectations.

How can we best prepare ourselves before the next lesson comes knocking on our door?

2 Kings Chapter 5 has a great story that has so much to say about expectations and how they can manipulate us out of our blessing.

You can read it for yourself and then come back to finish this blog. For those of you that are familiar with the story we start with a mighty man, a commander of a King’s army.

His name is Naman.

The Scriptures brags about this man.  He is said to have –

Authority – over others.

Favor – over circumstance (military conquests).

Man of valor – he had control over his fears and success in his field.

But with all that Naman had control over, he struggled with his health.  He had leprosy and had no power or control over that situation.  I suspect that with so much of his life meeting his expectations, he must have had a hard time with the fact that he had no control over his health.  How many of us can relate?  There is so much of our lives that meet our expectations and that we have control over.

But we also all have things in our lives that we can’t control and those things…….will be the conduit of your greatest lessons,  i.e. your greatest blessings.

The solution or problem is HOW we handle our powerlessness in the light of expectations.

Naman heard about a prophet in Israel.  So he sent the King of Israel a message,
trying to find a distinguished way to meet his needs. In other words, Naman tries to deal with the situation his way.  He goes to the King instead of the prophet. Trying to control the situation and also saving his pride.

The King says he can’t do anything about it but Elisha the prophet hears about it and tells him to come to his house.  Then it hits the fan.

Naman gets really angry because his expectations were not met.
The following actions take place, much to Naman’s chagrin.

Prophet does not ‘even’ show up at the door but sends a message.
The prophet doesn’t raise his arms and pray down this huge miracle from heaven in a dramatic and fancy way.
He sends a messenger to him and tells him to go bathe 7x’s in a dirty river.

Expectations are not met.  Naman becomes furious. He has his pride hurt not to mention being confused.  Naman doesn’t agree with the instructions because he probably thinks they are too simple and silly.  He feels dishonored.  He almost misses the lesson.

Thankfully he was wise enough to listen to his servants who seemed to really care for him and then he resigns himself to follow the exact directions of the prophet.

He comes out healed.

It begs the question, when was the last time your expectations weren’t met and your disappointment or pride blinded you to lose something God had for you?

Sometimes expectations are control issues wrestling the pain of feeling powerless.

Only a heart willing to risk looking & feeling foolish can be open enough to receive love and direction.

Only a trusting heart can really hear what God is teaching in any instance.

God is not interested in your reputation, your accomplishments, your victories, your pride or your way of doing things.

He is interested in your wholeness and your heart.

It really is so wonderful to rest in the fact that He loves us and His actions towards us is not in response to our talents or abilities but on Jesus.

Trust Jesus.

Trust is the door that opens the way for him to enter.

Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path.”

Your wholeness is coming my friend.

It is coming – don’t miss it!

Eat Pray Love – The beautiful Lie

It is always dangerous to mix a whole lot of truth with a profound lie.

Have you ever eaten something delicious lets say, a perfect omelet and all of a sudden there is a “crunch” (hidden piece of eggshell)?  That moment quickly goes from deeply satisfying to “gross”.

Watching Eat Pray Love was a similar experience on a spiritual level.  Exotic locations, some insightful tidbits of truth and an excellent actress – Julia Roberts all wrapped up in one big hideous lie.

I often told my children when they were young that the best of all lies that our culture feeds us will have many wonderful truths with one poisonous ingredient in the middle of it all.  I once baked brownies as a lesson for my small group with the instructions that no one was to taste them till the end of the lesson and hoped they would all listen.  Because though I placed delicious and wonderful ingredients in the brownie mix, I also told them that I added 1 TBS of dog crap at the end.  No worries they would barely taste it.  I laughed to find one boy chocking and wanting to throw up since he ate one behind my back.  No I didn’t really add it, but it was a valuable lesson.

We should be hesitant to add things to our theology that can contaminate our understanding of God as He has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. But on the other hand, I’m not interested in becoming like the Amish and going to hide from the culture or our society.

Just know the truth.

Jesus is the Only Way, Truth and Light.

We don’t break things to find brokenness.

We don’t follow our lusts to fulfillment.

We don’t surrender to our desires; we surrender to Christ’s rule.

If you want to EAT – Eat His Word

If you want to Pray – Pray God changes your heart and do the work of surrendering to His ways.

If you want to Love – then let’s practice loves true definition found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Go watch the movie –  enjoy the omelet and spit out the shells.