Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Come out! You're Surrounded!" His Majesty!

Recently I was at a wedding held in the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The front of the church, behind the stage, was nothing but a huge glass window which overlooked the majesty of these mountains.
One large peak stood directly behind the church in the foreground of this larger than life picture out of this window wall, with others sprinkled around in the distance of the landscape.
It would have been mesmerizing on any day, but on this particular day, it was raining, and the scene seemed to morph second by second. The clouds hovered all around. At first, they simply kissed the tip of the mountain, but then they moved low from time to time.
As I watched in breathtaking trance, with melodies from the grand piano filling my ears and my spirit, I found myself frustrated to see this grandios peak covered by the clouds that had once been simply backgound to the portrait before me. This mountain in all its beauty had seemingly been consumed, and now it simply looked like a minor hill of trees, topped off by a massive cloud.
The perspective had changed...but the reality that the mountain was still there had not.

In that moment the Holy Spirit whispered, "This is what the world seeks to do to My majesty."

The majesty of God clouded by the world. Sadly, I know that it is true. And worse, I know I have allowed my life to be a part of it time and again.

We catch glimpses of the grandios holiness of God, the fullness of His power, the truth of His love and grace...and are in awe...mesmerized by the beauty of it all.
But then, we allow clouds of distraction, fear, shame, pride, biterness, busy-ness, religion(etc., etc.) to come in and cover over the massivenesss of the Lord's majesty.
And then, the wondrous, glory filled picture we declared would forever be at the forefront of our minds, slips somewhere into our memory.

We forget the reality of who God is.

He becomes a minor player on the canvas of our lives. The One whom the window was created to glorify is now merely a part of the picture, rather than the theme.
The perspective has changed...but the reality that His majesty is there has not!

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"
Psalm 8:9

THIS has to be our perspective! THIS has to be our life theme- the picture painted by our life!

Psalm 22:25 says, "From You comes the theme of my praise..."
What theme does your life resound?

Have you allowed clouds come in and distort your view?

We get caught up in the ever changing scenery rather than focus on the glory of God that fills the frame of our lives. It stands tall before us, yet we choose to see the piece and not the whole. Why? Because we feel much bigger ourselves when we choose not to turn toward and acknowledge the greatness of God.
And, after all, it is all about us, right?!?

"The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."
Psalm 14:2

Will God find you in the middle of already looking for Him?

"Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." Isaiah 55:6

Don't let the clouds of this world fade in and warp your view of the awesomeness of the One True God!
They may mask His majesty for a time, but the glory of the Lord WILL be reavealed!
Let it begin in you! Let it begin through you!

"For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen."
Romans 11:36

Monday, October 19, 2009

Are You Ready?

I recently set out to write a very basic, informational email to my dicipleship/acccontability group when the Holy Spirit decided to step in and do otherwise. It was a very out-of-body typing experience, to say the least. It seemed as though I read it as I wrote! And, as I read what was on the screen, I realized the Holy Spirit was pouring out a compilation of what He had been pouring in to me over the past days and weeks.

It's all about truthfully answering, and taking a long hard look at, the very questions we avoid, which are the very questions that will ultimately be unavoidable!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare befores the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account." Hebrews 4:13

So here are bits and pieces of what God poured out, slightly modified as the Holy Spirit guided for the purpose of this blog context:

What if, when you come into any setting of teaching, preaching, worship service, etc., you genuinely asked:
"What am I going to allow God to show up and DO in ME?!?"
WOW! What if we all entered into these times that way?!?
What if we WOKE UP with that question leaping from our tongue?!?
Can't you just see Heaven readying itself to open up and pour out on us if that was the genuine, unashamed cry of our hearts?!?

The major obstacle for each one of us is PRIDE. It is so easy for us to slip into this mindset because the enemy brings in deception and convinces us to label a PRIDEFUL mindset as so many other things:
shyness, our personlaity trait, or
"it's just the way I am",
"it's just the way I respond",
"I am a private person",
"I am more spiritually mature",
"I've already heard that",
"I already know that",
"So and so next to me sure does need to hear that.",
"I'm too busy",
"I don't have that kind of time.",
"I'll let God work in me LATER.",
"I am fine with where I am with God.",
"I don't need to be all radical, I'll just do what I think is enough."
....and on and on and on......................

No matter where you ARE or where you AREN'T with God....He has MORE for YOU!

Jesus is ready to give you the life He died for you to have!
Did you read that?!
There is always more of Himself that He desires to impart to you so that He can transform you into His likeness!

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Will it take sacrifice? yes.
Will it be hard at times? yes.
Will it be worth it? YES YES YES YES YES! Beyond your wildest dreams....YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I gave you the sure fire perscription for the healthy, beautiful body you've always wanted, and told you it was FREE, whether you were in ok shape and morbidly obese, I doubt anyone would turn it down. And you surely would't be embarrassed to take hold of that which would bring life and health and happiness!
Jesus has given us the sure fire perscription for the ultimate satisfaction to the deep longing of your spirit/soul, and it is FREE.
Why then are we, even as those who already have a saving knowledge of Jesus, turning Him down time after time, moment after moment?
There is no embarassment in embracing, whether for the first time or on a deeper level, the power of the One True Living God who will bring life and health and happiness to your spirit!

Don't let PRIDE steal what Jesus died and rose for you to have!
So what if someone else doesn't "get" what God is doing in your life?! It's not about anyone else- it's about YOU and GOD.
He is all that matters. He is ALL that matters!

Are YOU ready?
Have you settled the most core question there is?
Have you allowed Jesus to come in and take care of your debt of sin?
Are you struggling to know God more maybe because you have never known Him FIRST?
NOW is the time.
Stop playing games and making excuses- you are dealing with your ETERNITY.
MAKE SURE you have TRULY given your LIFE to the LORD.
Embarrassment and shame are from the enemy- schemes and tactics to keep you on a path straight to Hell! I love you enough to shoot straight with you- and that my friends is the TRUTH.
Don't buy into the lies of the one who hates you enough to keep you ETERNALLY separated from the Lover of your soul!

And what if you have dealt with that sin debt? Does your LIFE say that is true?
Would others know that about you without having to ask?
Are you content with just enough of God or do you live your life craving more of Him?
Is He simply IN your life or have you allowed Him to be ON THE THRONE of your life?
Are you willing to go wherever He takes you or do you just take God where you want to go?
Are you in His Word?
Do you know His Word?
Are you willing to do whatever He asks or do you simply ask Him to do whatever you want Him to do?
If you have prayed to receive Jesus as the Lord of your life, you already have victory over the enemy! Don't let His lies keep you from EXPERIENCING the POWER, the RELATIONSHIP, the continual TRANSFORMATION that can only be found in Jesus, through the power and moving of His Holy Spirit!

It is our choice- yours and mine-to make.

Do you understand that not saying YES to God is saying NO to God?
We don't like to think about it that way, but THAT is the truth.
But here is the best part...saying YES to God is taking hold of all of His promises, His power, the inheritance He has RIGHT NOW for you, in every area of your life, for every day, for every moment!
Let's stop living like we are paupers when Jesus gives us the right to call ourselves ROYALTY as sons and daughters of the King.

Stop. Plainly ask the Lord to show you where you are and what questions you need to deal with- not where you HOPE you are, but ask Him to show you where you REALLY are- no games, no excuses- let's face the truth head on, no matter what it is and stop getting caught up in the enemy's web of lies.
It's time to look the truth in the face and deal with it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Only then can we receive all He has in store for us.

Ok so, yes, being sold out to the Lord-really sold out according to the standards set in God's Word, not the world's pathetic standards- may look strange to some...even to some of those who call themselves "Christians". But in the end, we will each stand before the Lord, and in that moment, it won't matter what anyone else thought about how your life answered these questions. All that will matter is HOW God saw your life actually answer these questions

Are you ready?

Matthew 7:21-29 (The Message)READ! DON'T SKIP THIS PART!
(bold type emphases mine)

21-23"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

24-25"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

28-29When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

The time is NOW.
Believer, non-believer...we all have a choice to make.
What is your choice???
Your life, not your words, is the evidence of the choice you make.

"Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 7:20

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Awake at Dark-thirty!

Lessons I Learned in the Dark:
1. When you finally decide to go wake your soundly sleeping husband in order for him to yell at the dogs which have been incessantly barking for the past hour, which are in turn keeping awake the child you have been trying to coax back to sleep for that same hour, and you then proceed to turn off the house alarm, and rattle the blinds, and huff a sufficient amount of times, he will get up. But…it is the split second before he opens the door and clicks on his Barney Fife flashlight that the dogs will inevitably STOP their incessant barking.
2. A child’s whisper of “mama”, coupled with maternal instinct and will, are strong enough to overcome the medicinal induced coma of a Darvecet and make you forget about the headache for which you took it.
3. What six year old little girls and grown men can sleep through is baffling.
4. Bad dreams affect more than just the ones who dream them.
5. Praying over the one who has had a bad dream affects more than just the one for whom you are praying.
6. Just as you drift back to sleep, you will be reminded that children’s inability to sleep happens in shifts.
7. The peace that a child receives from reaching out in the darkness with their precious hand every few moments and saying, “Mama, are you still there?” brings a mother inexplicable joy.
8. Sacrificing a portion of the bed that is rightfully mine is worth every recaptured moment of peaceful sleep for my child.
9. When you decide that, in order to get caught up on some things such as blogging, you will just go ahead and stay awake…so will everyone else.
10. Even in the darkest and longest of nights…sunrise comes.

Am I tired this morning? Yes. Am I concerned about how I will function through my day? Yes. Am I longing for rest? Yes. Am I still stumbling in the early morning fog? Yes.

Am I regretful that I had to experience such a night? No.

These lessons I learned in the dark, much deeper than their appearances, have taught and reminded me of truths that I would not have readily received or taken time to remember in the busy light of day.

There is purpose in the darkness.

“You are my lamp, O Lord, You turn my darkness into light.”
2 Samuel 22:29

And even as we fumble through it, there are treasures to be found, if we choose to find them.
“If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection…I hold on to you for dear life and you hold me steady as a post.”
Psalm 63:6-8(The Message)

So, although I say it with a yawn and the croaky voice leftover from a long night,
I still choose to say, “Thank You, Lord.”
Oops. My head hit the keyboard.
Sorry, still human…. need…... sleep.......must…….soon…..........

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Practical Love

A few Saturdays ago our Sunday School had a Yard Sale as a fundraiser for our church’s upcoming Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic. We were determined to minister in the midst of it and WOW did God do some awesome things! This led us to the next adventure with the Lord the following week. We were given the “homework assignment” to purposely show practical love and sacrifice in our life some way during the week and then report the following Sunday.

God did some amazing things in my life personally that week:

  • He reminded me how He wants me to obey the best things He has purposed me to do and not just random noble things I could do for Him.

  • He showed me that I don’t have to have it all figured out before I obey, I just have to take the step of obedience and He will provide the rest!

  • The Lord is prepared to multiply what I sacrifice until the need I am sacrificing toward is met! Fishes and loaves anybody?

So we came together Sunday and shared in groups the ways we had sacrificed to express the love of Jesus that past week. The sound of people moving in harmony with God’s love was music to my soul. People shared the joys, fears, expectations they had experienced as they sought to share the practical love of Jesus.
But as each person tried to recount Holy Spirit inspired actions through mere human words, the Lord reminded me that He had already written the words through which each sacrifice could be explained: The gifts of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22

I often think about these fruits as things I desire for the Holy Spirit to give and raise up in me. They are virtues that the Lord desires for me to allow the Holy Spirit to sculpt into my character as a Believer. But I have allowed my self-centeredness stop me right there, when there is so much more!
It is not a gift simply to be given to me so that I can proudly display it on the shelf of my pretty Christian life. I am the tree that God wants to cultivate to produce His fruit. He wants me to bear this fruit so that it can nourish the lives of others for the glory of His kingdom to be realized here on this earth!

Too many times, I am wrapped up in being a fruit eater and not a fruit producer.
Too many times I am wrapped up in what the Holy Spirit can give me, not what I can give through Him.

So when was the last time you nourished someone with the fruit of love that the Lord has produced in your life?

  • When was the last time someone tasted the sweetness of joy because of Christ in you?

  • Have you not just experienced peace but actually given it today?

  • Have you shown patience to one who needs it, deserved or not?

  • Have you offered the simplicity of kindness?

  • When did you last allow God’s goodness to be tangibly expressed through you?

  • Have you been the hands and feet of God’s faithfulness, rather than just the mouthpiece?

  • Have you embraced others with His gentleness?

  • Have you harnessed your energy for God and directed it toward doing His will?

“Against such things there is no law.”
That means there is FREEDOM in it.
The world will tell you that this type of giving is too high risk! But it is the selfishness and self-centered attitudes that will incarcerate you.
The walls of the prison are built with the blocks of apathy, piety, religious hypocrisy, complacency, comfort, and self preservation.
Drawing close to the Lord is the only way our lives can produce this life giving fruit. Remaining in that place of true intimacy is the only way we will ever have His heartbeat to give, to reach out, to love, to nourish with what He has so generously, so graciously given to us.

“Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop-on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Practice. Love. Simple as that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Deliverer

Today I went to THE doctor.
You know, the one when you tell people that you went they they go "Ohhhh".
Yes I went to the doctor that also happens to be the one who delivered my children. My kids wondered when I picked them up from school why I was dressed up and it was not even a Sunday.
Sad, I know.

Questioned once again about my outfit choice for the day- as if they were shocked I actually DID something while they were at school-I figured I would spur conversation with my I told them that I saw the doctor that delivered them-the doctor that helped bring them into the world.
Not sure what reaction I was expecting-maybe the opportunity to tell them their birth story or something. But then came reality...
They were completely unimpressed.
Although I did get a polite, "Oh really?" from Jonathan which turned into short lived interest as he then began reciting the word "deliver" in different ways, as only an 8 year old comedian can do.

Realizing the conversation had been lost, I traveled into my own thoughts, taking with me the word "deliver", where-as often happens in this crazy brain of mine-a song was triggered: "My Deliverer" by Chris Tomlin.

As the song played on a round in my head, I began to think about what that word "deliver" really meant.

When I was talking to the kids about the doctor as their deliverer, the one who delivered them, I thought about how he brought them into the world. The focus was not on what he delivered them from, but what he delivered them into: fullness of life.

But then I realized that when I think about the Lord as my Deliverer, I have the opposite tendency. I tend to think about what He delivered me from, never fully focusing on what He has delivered me into.

I think as Believers, we often get stuck in thinking about what we have been delivered from and forget to actually live in the place that He has delivered us to.

This isn't a new problem.

Remember the grumblings of the Israelites after being delivered out of slavery in Egypt? I am sure at first they simply talked about how horrible it had been in the place God had brought them out of, but after dwelling on it too long, they were actually wishing they could go back! And no, the conditions of where they were may not have been wonderful, but come on! They were living under the favor and covering of the One True God! They were delayed from moving into a greater place of communion with and provision from the Lord, not because God hadn't made it available, but because they only had eyes to see what the Lord had delivered them from and not the place of new life and growth that He had moved them into.

"But it was because the Lord loved you...that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery...know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God , keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments."Deuteronomy 7:8-9

Praise God! He has delivered us from death! But that is only the beginning! What He has delivered us INTO is a fullness of life, an abundance of grace, an unfailing love, an unequalled power that can only come from the One True Deliverer.

What would happen if our lives were the fragrance of what Jesus Christ has delivered us into, rather than the stench of what He delivered us from?
What if we stopped considering ourselves first and foremost as former slaves, and actually saw ourselves as redeemed children of God, with full access to the priceless inheritance made available to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade..."(1 Peter 1:3-4)

We need to live and grow as sons and daughters of God rather than babies who wish they could go back to a place where, although predictable and familiar and seemingly safe, was a place where the touch of the Father could never be felt!
When a baby is delivered, it isn't born knowing how to function fully and completely in this place it has been delivered into, and neither are we as Believers.
We have to learn how to glean nourishment from God's Word, how to drink in His presence, how to walk in His ways, how to speak His wisdom.
But every step and stumble of the way is worth it all! What was left behind in delivery could never compare to what we have been so graciously delivered into.

"...the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God!"(Hebrews 9:13-14 The Message)

Don't reduce your Deliverer to One who only brought you out of death...glorify Him as the One who has also delivered you into teh abundance of life in Him!
"...I have come that may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Monday, May 18, 2009

God's Left Hook

I can finally chew my Trident gum again...

Short of dental work, orthodontics, or some weird diet, I realize that statement may sound rather strange. So let me back up a week and a half, to a couple of days after I had bought a value pack of Trident and to the last time I had gum in my mouth, and I will fill you in on the story- since it HAS been so long since I have written, Kim.

Anyway, it was a normal Thursday night at home with the hubby still gone doing ministry work when I got a call to help out the church’s women’s softball team. They didn’t have enough players and were going to have to forfeit. I love to play, but as of late, my schedule had not allowed me to, so, at the last minute, I decided I would go. My kids were thrilled and as soon as we got there they headed off on their own adventures while I headed for the field…first base.
Softball is nothing new to me by any means. I have played since I was little and was in effect my daddy’s little boy. This is not to say I am outstanding at the game, but I do have solid fundamentals and a driving intensity. As for playing first, I am tall, limber, unafraid of a hard or crazily thrown ball and a pretty accurate catch, so it’s a good place for me to be. My second inning in the field seemed as though it would be like any other. I was checking the outs, the runners on base, aware of my own and other players positioning, as our pitcher threw the pitch that changed my night.
It wasn’t a line drive, it wasn’t even a fair ball. It was a high hit foul, easily catchable, by my calculations and past experience, by any first baseman. So I headed off in a dead sprint to make the easy out…

..…doing good, eye on ball, glove in air, other hand prepared to help trap ball…but then I had a thought….
”Where is the fence that I know is in this direction that I remember is broken and had a pole sticking out and oh my goodness! I remember when Jarrett didn’t pay attention to where the fence was and he ended up getting stitches right between the eyes, so I better glance, as I am in this sprint toward the ever looming fence, to see where it is so I don’t…BAM!(I slammed my fingers on the keyboard really hard when I typed that!)

Yes, BAM! TY-YOW! POP! POW! Any of that onomatopoeia would suffice to explain the split second it took for that not-so-softball to miss my glove and plummet into my chin/jaw.

It rather stunned me, I have to say. I remember thinking, “What just happened? DID that really just happen?” I had never moved my head from the direction of the ball, with my face and chin remaining up in the air to see the ball and make the catch. I had, however, slightly and quickly glanced to my left, and that was all it took for the ball to find a landing pad on my face rather than in my glove.

After impact, I took my glove off and thanks to Jesus, sat down calmly on the ground. I couldn’t really feel my jaw at the time so I reached up to try to see if my teeth were still there, and assess the damage. ALL my teeth were in place, praise the Lord!
But I was bleeding from a gash inside my mouth and had to spit out the blood over and over. This plus gum in the mouth is NOT a pleasant combo. So as everyone was huddled around, I spit out my small white piece of Trident gum. This elicited a rather overwhelming guttural response from onlookers who thought I had just spit out a tooth! Even through the pain, that was funny- and no- NOT intentional! (Thanks, Ashley, for being willing to pick it up had it actually been my tooth!)

And that my friends, was the last time I had gum in mouth until today.
Chew, chew, chew.

Oh since that night there have been many other “milestones”: not having to sleep with ice on my face, not drooling when I drink something, not having to sleep with cotton wedged in my gums, not having people stare at me like Jarrett took a swing, not having someone tell me I have something on my face, not having to cut all my food in little bitty pieces…and all these things came into my life because I had a split second thought that took my eye off of the ball.

I have thought about that moment so much over the past week and a half. What I did, what I should have done, what I could have done differently. You know, the sad thing is, the ball wasn’t even in play. It was a foul ball. I could have let it go, but I didn’t because I wanted to make the easy out. I chose to go after it, then I got distracted by what may or may not have been close enough by to cause a problem.

I all too often play out this same “game” scenario in my spiritual life. I go after good things, but not the best things, determined to make the easy play, then I get distracted. I take my eye off the ball. And the next thing you know…BAM! At least if I had been looking at the ball and missed it, I could have shielded myself from the impact. But I was looking at the distraction.

Matthew 7:13-14(The Message) says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God…the way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.”

I had taken a smidgen of my attention and placed it in the wrong place and the result was a painful wake up call.

There are so many distractions in my life, some of which are my welled intended pursuits and well thought out precautionary measures. Despite having a good basis in the fundamentals, I go after the wrong things, play it too safe, and or just don’t pay attention at all! The problem is simply this: I take my eye off of Jesus and His purposes for my life. The plays he asks me to be a part of are “vigorous”. The things of the Spirit I am to run after “require total attention”.

He reminds me in Isaiah 66:2 , “But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.”

He simply wants my focus and my obedience.
Nothing good comes from entertaining deadly distractions.
LIFE comes from setting your heart and mind on Jesus.

Believe me, my chin and my gum deprived mouth know all about it.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words to build a life on.”
Matthew 7:24

Father, give me the courage and strength to make YOU the center of my attention in a world that throws distractions at my face at every turn! Empower me to do what you require in Matthew 7:21- “serious obedience-doing the will of my Father.” I don’t want to be guilty of adding you to my life like some impressive decoration. I want to be obsessed with You and the things of Your Spirit so that the glory is Yours and Yours alone. Help me keep my eyes, my heart, my spirit, my life, my words, my everything focused on You! Amen.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:36
Mother's Day with my black and blue chin!
Looked more like Father's day with my 5 o'clock shadow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One Foot In Front of the Other

So...many of you may or may not know that as of about a month ago I began a journey. It all began as trip with a planned destination, filled with fanciful mental images of what it will be like when I one day arrive at said destination. But then I realized that this "glowing journey" is more like a grunt of a road trip down the back dirt roads in a convertible.

Yes, such would describe the "journey" I began in order to break through my weight loss plateau- ok who am I kidding- gain, and sculpt my body into something that it is bound and determined not to be after 3 pregnancies and years of lethargy.

Over the years, I have Tae-Boed, Power 90ed, Karated, Slim in Sixed, Booty Camped, Turbo-Jammed my body and yet I still have thighs that one of which is the size of most teenage girls' waists and a stomach that defines the phrase "this is how I roll." And yes, I can still hear my underarm flab slap up against my sides when I make sudden movements. Eww. Yes, I know.

That was when I didn't know Jack.

No seriously...Jack is the name of my trainer, now. And my fat is his sworn enemy...and I am so not kidding. Oddly enough, I am thankful for that- even though his inventions of torture have brought me to my knees before the porcelin god(once, ok once!)

Quitting is not an option with Jack. Pausing momentarliy, maybe, quitting- no. He quietly, yet firmly and confidently tells me where to start, where to finish each round, each set and tells me I can even when all of me is screaming "NO! FAT GIRL CANNOT!" And he even pretends not to be scared as I walk about with hair distrewn, red-faced, sweat pouring, mascara smeared from one ear to the other. He tolerates my hollering through that last set, quoting verses through that last round on the bag, and all the other crazy stuff I do. He just says, "Awesome!" And I believe him. Why? Because I know he has the knowledge I need. He's got the map. He is the GPS for my road trip to my body destination of heatth and fitness. He doesn't want me to quit the trip because he knows that the destination exists and I will be better and stronger for traveling there.

From where I stand right now, it really does seem improbable, yes, even impossible that what I see in the mirror could ever be even remotely close to arriving at that fanciful destination in my head. There are days when I have felt like I know I made the right turn, I know that I am traveling down the right road, but things just don't look the way I thought they would and I am confused and tired and frustrated. The road is rough, the car is sputtering, blubbering on its way.

I even stop and ponder turning around and heading home.

But then I remember I want to see this place I have never been before-I mean there have been times I thought I was there, but really, I had not taken a valid journey, I had not experienced the road trip. I tried short cuts that were quicker but that left me weak, weary and scarred...I had arrived at a mirage in the desert. I was not smarter, I was not stronger, I was not trained.

Smarter. Stronger. Experienced. Envigorated. Empowered. TRAINED.

Spiritual sculpting, spiritual growth is a lot like that.

The journey isn't separate from the arrival, the journey is the beginning of the arrival!(wow- I just re-read that...You go Holy Spirit!)

I have had many ideas about how to try to get where I know I need to go in my relationship with God, but I don't have the map. I have Beth Moored, Stormie O'Martianed, Women of Faithed, Through the Bible in a Yeared, Church Programmed, Church Attended, my spirit and yet, still had a flabby core. I didn't go to the One first who knew the exact road map that would bring about a fresh growth in my spirit, the GPS that would draw me closer to the Father.
He quietly and confidently tells me where to start and finish each day...tells me I can even when my spirit cries out, "No! No! No! I cannot!"
He tolerates my distrewn life, my red faced frustration, my sweat and tears pouring, the mess of my life smeared from one place to another.
He just says, "Awesome! Bring it all."
And I believe Him.
Matthew 11:30 (The Message)
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

No more short cuts. I want to EXPERIENCE the journey with my Lord. I want to be trained, no matter what I look like right now...all that matters is I choose to begin the journey...because that's the first step toward arrival.

SO...I guess I have begun to arrive at a skinnier, more sculpted, but most importantly healthier self. At least the vague definition in my biceps and shoulders are telling me so...along with the soreness in my hamstrings.

As for my spirit, definitely could use a weight gain there- always- and praying that the fat chubby flesh is starved a little more every day.
"He must increase, I must decrease." John 3:30.
Good motto for body and spirit, I say.

I know for sure the Holy Spirit's got my back...and for the physical part...
...well, now I know Jack.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Most

Having a parent that travels a good bit can be disheartening for a kid, but, as some of you may know from first hand experience, it can also have its perks. For instance, when my dad went to the Southern Baptist convention in Texas when I was 8, I ended up getting my ears pierced 5 years earlier than my sister because I was so "distraught" over his leaving(insert evil, manipulative laugh here....sorry Shay.) Though no where near as fantastic as my earring victory, yet still excitedly received, "surprises" from parental travel are one of those things kids just love, and I suppose, to some degree, help them get through that time of physical separation. As a parent myself, I now realize what a true delight it is to choose and give these prizes to my little ones.

While Jarrett and I were recently at a Youth Minister's conference, I called on a lunch break to check on the kids and also to get a hint of what type of prize they might would like. I happened to call as my mom was getting the kids out of school early, so they were in the school office going through dismissal procedures. My oldest, Alex(now 10!), was handed the phone first and I asked him if he would like for me to bring him a surprise. The reply was of course, yes, but, realizing that he was in the office with others' ears available to hear, he was aloof and rather unengaged in the rest of the conversation. I asked him what specifically he would like, such as a stuffed animal? a football? He responded only with a "Yes, yes, uh-huh, ok" and a few unspoken "whatever, Mama" 's. Needless to say, he was none too slow in handing the phone off to Jonathan.
After our hellos, I asked Jonathan the same question, "Do you want Mama to bring you a surprise?" His response was a genuine gasp and ,"Really? Yes!" I proceeded to ask him what exactly did he think he might want, but only got, "Ummmm..." after asking several times. I probed a final time for an answer waiting anxiously to hear in the noisy mall standing near Chic-Fil-A, cell phone to one ear, with the other ear plugged, "Jonathan, what do you think you might like for Mama to bring you?"

"Well", he stretched out, "You, the most."

My heart flipped, danced and jumped in my throat all at once as I stuttered through welling tears to make sure I had heard correctly, "Wha-what did you say buddy?"
"You, the most, Mama." he replied.

I am crying even now as I write this, yes because of the precious gift of a "Mama Moment" that Jonathan gave me, but more than that, because I caught a glimpse into my Father's heart.
The Holy Spirit whispered instantly into my spirit that day and said, "That's it. THAT is what I want to hear my children say more than anything else: I want You the MOST, Daddy. I love to give you gifts, pour out my blessings- I made you to want those things, I am the Creator of desire. So go ahead and have hopes and dreams and wants...but just want ME the MOST."

A statement by a 7 year old little boy had not only taken me to my knees as a Mama, but also to my knees as a child of God.

I realize that there is so much more to the Giver than any gift, any provision I could ever want from Him. So I just want to live my life wanting Him first, wanting Him most- no matter who is listening, no matter who is watching- I am going to tell Him as loud as I can with my voice, with my life, as many times as He wants to hear it, "Daddy, I want YOU the MOST!"

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And this is what we are!"
1 John 3:1