Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Lost Car Keys Revolutionized My Prayer Life

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“WHERE ARE MY KEYS? Dumb keys, you always make me late, late, late!” I shout as the alarm ticks. Eighty seconds to dump my purse on the bed and toss papers around on the kitchen counter, reset the alarm and dig some more repeating this process until I find my keys. Franticly I grab the keys from the top of the washing machine and yell at the kids to get their seatbelts buckled. N.O.W. or we’ll be late.
As the car backs out of the driveway, I turn up the radio to drown out sibling bickering and talk to myself in my head. “You lose everything. You made it a point to be prepared to leave on time. I can’t believe you lost the keys again. You are a total mess!”
I smirk as I recall the morning’s Bible reading:
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (1 Thes. 5:16-18)
I mean, pray all.the.time? Before I say “Amen,” I am already reciting the day in my head.  Pray continually? Because I wonder how this is possible, I keep asking God. I meditate on that simple verse that seems anything but easy. God nudges me to pay close attention to my voice. Especially the one in my head.
In my quest, I soon discover this morsel:
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Fit every loose thought and emotion and impluse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Another version says, “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
Does that mean I should be thankful and thank God all.the.time? Even for losing my car keys? Sort of.
I decide instead of acting like a crazy lady when I lose my car keys, I will pray.
Lord, You are the Finder of lost souls. Thank you for finding lost people and even lost things. I know you can lead me to my keys. Please keep me calm, level-headed and thinking clearly about where I could have placed them last. Thank you for building obedience and maturity in me through my crazy. Amen
Eventually, I find my keys. 
I pay attention to my thoughts. When my mind betrays me and starts thinking about how someone hurt me, I pray for the person. When I find myself trying to solve a frustrating situation, I stop and ask God for wisdom. When I start stressing over an empty freezer at dinner time, I ask God for a creative solution. When my day’s to do list seems overwhelming, I ask God to prioritize it.
I’m not saying I have this mastered. I’m saying I’m a work in progress. If you want to grow towards praying all the time too, pay attention to your thoughts. Then simply, turn them toward Jesus. 
And hang a hook for your keys by the door.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Whispered Ways

Legacy. It’s one of the reasons I dare to tell my story. Here. On screen. There. On page. Anywhere. In person.
God calls us, as believers, to share our story. Each one’s story is really a beautiful reenactment. A dramatic retelling of His story. In us.
For almost an entire year, my silence screamed. The story ironically told by silence: I don’t want to share this story because I don’t like it.
Have you ever felt that way? Ashamed. Unsure the hope promised can deliver. Sad. In an unwanted place. A sticking point. 
The beauty is that once whispered, hope appears.
My hope appeared in the form of my girl. She’s ten. Working on two books. Two.
Two she’s sure will be published. With New York Times bestseller across the front. Because she’s funny. Hilarious actually. Confident. Full of grace and purpose and the supernatural ability to laugh at herself, at me, at us. She says her writing is easy when living in a family like ours. Nobody can believe it’s not made up. So she writes it as fiction.
In hopes to make it easier for her to tell, I write. Coming back online with a whisper. In the hard parts. In the easy parts. In the unfinished parts. I'm willing my whisper to get louder.

A mother’s desire is to leave a legacy. To pave the way for future generations. Whispering just might make a way. For her. For them. For me. Most importantly for Him. To work. In us. 

And so I whisper.

So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come will know the truth and tell stories so their children can trust in God, Psalm 78:6

What are you doing to create a legacy for your children? To lead them to their dreams by example?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Dreaming?

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Come back Monday to see how I got pushed back into posting, beginning a book proposal and believing I can be that person.

What dream are you believing to come true this summer?

When I told my story, you responded; training me well in your deep wisdom. Helping me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your build me up again by your Word. (from Psalm 119:26-28)

Blogging in community this weekend with LauraSandraDeidra and Michelle. Come along?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grace Drip

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These days, all days really, I need a continuous grace drip. A constant infusion to take away my sickness. 
Summer should be easier. However, four kids, all with socially active school-aged calendars is a wee bit trying. Having two at two different places by nine. One at ten. On at 11. One at 12. One at 1. One at 3. One at 6 and one at 6:30 makes some days an eight-plus hour marathon in the car. You know, there’s only so much Toby Mac my aching head can take!
And sometimes I’m not exactly where I said I would be when I said I would be there. You know, there are lost shoes to find, slow trucks to creep and much work to be done. It’s about an entire family. It’s not as easy as one might think to be two or three places at one time.
In all out afternoon explosion, I cracked. Just a little consideration, thank you. I’m inconvenienced a whole lot. I’m pumping the gas, squealing the tires and entertaining the masses in the momburban. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. I do. It’s just I wish the attitude would get dropped at the door. 
Then I realize. I’m not exactly the most appreciative daughter. My Father sacrifices time. He made the Ultimate Sacrifice. He listens without ever getting a word in edgewise. He makes good, fun plans for me that I actually enjoy, even if the plan wasn’t my idea and even if I refuse to admit it. He’s always right.
Do I stop to thank Him? Do I stop to listen? Do I get upset at the inconvenience of His not running life, the world, on my timetable? Ummmm yeah. I do.
So Lord, please infuse me with your grace as I receive in response to Your sacrifice. The grace to freely show gratitude for plans I don’t fully understand. The power to gracefully weave onto a new path at your gentle directing. And Lord, please allow me to respectfully learn from the most perfect of Fathers how to humbly be a totally imperfect parent. 
Help me to measure my words with grace. Help me to distribute gratitude and rid my family of the illness of ungratefulness. Allow me the privilege of infusing them with grace, filling their little bodies, hearts, heads with all things grace. Help this imperfect mama to fully dose perfect abundant grace to her imperfect children. 
And by your grace, let us stop to give thanks, learning to take nothing for granted, hands raised to You for the greatest sacrifice You made so we could become perfect. Let the grace drip on, Toby Mac style.
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Matthew 5:48b

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Little Words

When I get flustered or frustrated or just.plain.worried words spew out of my mouth. Mostly in singles or pairs. Not.good.words. Even if I catch my mouth and stop the ugly words, my tone sounds panicky. Whiny.
Since becoming friends with Sarah Young and this little book, I chant a new mantra when I feel my heart rate rising. A good mantra. A true mantra. A mantra giving no room to single words. Or sinful pairs. Or panic. Or whining. Or worry.
I trust You, Jesus.
I trust You, Jesus. I trust You, Jesus. I trust You, Jesus,” can be heard from the giant momburban as I burn rubber down Highway 105 as I leave my job, trading the stress, collecting little people. Bringing calm to my worries, seeking Jesus in my fears and seeing Him with such clarity, frustration disappears. That’s the goal of the mantra. Even in the very full, very loud, often short on gas momburban.
One afternoon at the inception of the mantra, I called my bff. When she asked, “What’re ya doin’?” I repeated the mantra three times really fast telling her I was chanting what I wished I was doing instead of panicking and cussing. She laughed. (She finds my panicked chaos entertaining and bit dramatic and well, most times I don’t cuss very loud. I’m a polite southern gal.)
This has been going on for months. Maybe a whole year. The mantra chant. Not my bff laughing at me--that’s been going on for over twenty years!
Recently while chatting with a close friend, I found myself talking in circles. Not quite able to articulate my feelings. Not able to pinpoint my movement for the day. Not quite panicky. Just spacey. She reminded me of Peter walking on the water.
The disciples were in a boat, far from land, in a huge and terrible storm. They were terrified, scared out of their skulls. Then they saw Jesus. Walking on the water toward them. 
As soon as Peter recognized Jesus, he said it. (Matthew 14:28-29)
Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come ahead."
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. 
If you know the story, you know when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the stormy waters, he sunk. But before you can sink, you’ve got to get out of the boat.
These words penned by Young cause me to throw a leg over the edge forgetting the raging waves pounding ceaselessly against this vessel.
“I have called each of my children to a different [distinctly designed] path...What I require of you is to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Me--wherever I lead. Walk with me along paths designed uniquely for you. Concentrate on keeping in step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you. If you trust can enjoy the present moment...Your main focus should be staying close to Me. I set the pace in keeping with...My purpose [for you].” (Jesus Calling p.175 & 177)
Eyes on Jesus, ignoring the rocking of my own boat, I recklessly, boldly, expectantly splash a bit in the rain as I rise and start my own walk. In this storm. Toward my Jesus.
Three little words.
The mantra breeds response.
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. Proverbs 16:9
What one thing is God asking you to do? Will you do it today?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A grace a day keeps the devil away

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Each morning I take one small pill with a glass of water. There was a time when I would have dared to believe grace was life without dependence on one small pill to approach, execute and finish my day successfully. By successfully, I mean without going back to bed, pulling the covers over my head and crying. I’ve come to see these pills as grace.
Dwelling in a pit of depression is a horrible place to be. Some of my best friends, my creativity, my energy, my passion, my determination and my words, stay far, far away from the me huddled in that pit. The thing about this pit is the struggle that it takes to get out. Sometimes it’s just not worth it. It’s so easy to stay stuck. 
I’ve been a closet pit partier for many years. I was so highly functioning no one, not even my closest friends, family members or even my husband knew how desperately I needed grace in the form of a tiny pill. Or two. 
Living with the disease of depression is crazy because it effects how you see yourself and those around you. But so does every illness, every addiction, every dysfunction, every sin. For years, I begged God to heal me and He's brought me to grace upon grace. I thought if I could be good enough, He would change the constitution of who I am. I tried to discipline the lazy out of my day. “If I could only try harder,” I would think, “I wouldn’t feel this way.” I tried the power of positive thinking as I posted inspirational quotes all over my bulletin board and inside all my journals because, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago and the next best time is today.” I tried developing my acting ability pretending to the entire world, including myself and God, that everything was fine and I was doing amazingly well. I lied.
I get questioned a lot as to when I intend to go off my medication. My answer, uh never.
Even though I don’t really like to be dependent on anything, including a tiny pill. Or two. Truth is, we are all dependent on God and His grace to make it through a single second of any day. My tiny pill is just a reminder of His never ending grace in my life. I feel like the me that has been held hostage in the pit of my soul since childhood has emerged. Since taking that first pill, accepting God’s grace has never been easier. Maybe you experience a grace each day to keep the devil away. I happen to need two. Sometimes three or four.
At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 12:9
What daily reminders of God’s grace do you experience?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What are you scared of?

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I settled here last night. At 2 AM. God can do lots of messing at 2 AM. When the mind isn’t quite a sharp as it usually is. When the worries of the day slide down the shoulders in one final attempt to shackle the arms and legs into paralysis. When the most basic of physical needs remains elusive, instead of crying, I decide to praise God.

I remember Psalm 63:6. 
If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. 

But grateful reflection causes me to wonder.

Because you've always stood up for me, I'm free! (Psalm 63:7)

Do I believe this? I don’t live in the freedom I profess to have. Why? Maybe I don’t believe God has always stood up for me, is standing up for me, fighting for me, clapping for me, cheering from the sidelines, straining to see the mix of determination and joy on my face at running my best and coming down the stairs of the stadium to pace Himself with me that mix gives way to tears. Maybe I don’t see God. Maybe I see a human likeness. A coach who tries to make me perform in harshness. A preoccupied father, an emotionally absent parent or a condescending caretaker sitting in the stands motivated by duty rather than love.

Let’s face it. I’m scared to write, to speak because of what God’s calling me to say, to share. I am afraid that taking the steps to respond in a new, healthy way to the old elephant in our crowded living room, exposing the family secret, will cause me to lose my family, my reputation, and my usability (is that a word?) by God. I’m scared women will see a scared, tired, messy failure instead of a strong, energetic, victor in Christ.

...or are they really one and the same? 

The tired, messy victim and the strong, passionate victor. Does one require the other? Do both require God? Am I just too prideful to give into either one completely so I settle for a life of somewhere in between? Not so totally pathetic anyone (but me and God) notices and not so free as to draw attention to myself soaring; after all, flying might mean crashing and falling. Success comes to the godly; He protects His anointed. So what would failure mean about me?

That’s the real question and that’s also the wrong question. What I’d like to be consumed with is this: What would failure mean about God?

Maybe what I’m really scared of is this: Am I too far beyond His reach? Can He fix me? Can I be trusted to help others find their fix in Christ?

I like to think yes; however, reality says it hasn’t always been this way for me. My heart has been broken this past year over the wrong habits, attitudes, sins that I’ve taught my children. All because I’m scared. And prideful.

Today I’m still scared. Scared silly. But today I’m allowing God to come out of the stands, set my stride and coach me along to the finish. Instead of trying to stand firm on my own, I’m going to the place of freedom where God stands for me. My new living room.

Monday, June 11, 2012

When 2+2 doesn't equal 4

Things in my life don’t always add up. I’m not a mathematician. I tell people the rent for my condo is $500 when it’s $800. I think my house is twenty miles away when it’s seven. I’ve been a real estate agent for over twelve years and tax rates still boggle my mind. And without a note written on the palm of my hand, I have to guess what the rates are like today. Sometimes I feel my life is just one big algebra equation filled with X’s and question marks.

Three years ago, I put my home on the market. The home we bought as newlyweds filled with four kids, saw a total of four dogs and countless goldfish was no longer where we lived, it was what we sold. I was in paradise. From painting the shutters to replacing the floors, every item on my honey-do list got checked. From rearranging furniture to organizing the pantry, I was living the dream. I was in control of my house. The house I lived in became the house of my dreams. Yet I made a crucial mathematical error. 

Living in the perfect house doesn’t make the perfect home. 

Placing a third of our belongings in storage felt freeing. However, storing away the giant pink elephant that had taken residence in our living room for over a decade didn’t change things. When we unpacked in our newer, cleaner, prettier home, the same old habits, attitudes and family dynamic came with us. As a matter of fact, the elephant took up residence in our new living room and I covered it with a giant leopard rug tying it into my Tuscan safari theme.

Problem is, my new living area is smaller. There’s just not room for the elephant anymore. Addressing pain is hard. Solving mathematical equations is hard. Subtracting dysfunction to multiply freedom is hard. Differentiating between enabling and responsibility is hard for a right brainer like me. I don’t always see things as they are. I don’t always learn by getting the right answer once. To experience a finite answer, I require practice. Lots of practice. And I don’t really like homework. It’s much easier to guess and romanticize than to sit down and do the math. I’ve been doing lots of problem solving this year. Facing my past so I can embrace my future, elephants and all.

I can’t wait to tell you how I’m loading a gun and taking aim at the elephant, how I’m learning to use truth to perfect my shot and utilizing tools to subtract from my problems and add to my successes. Finding my way instead of feeling my way is a challenge, a real honors class for a regular gal like me. However, even when things don’t add up, I’m learning I can always have The Answer.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:25 The Message

Linking to the's been a long time.