Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Just Being Real {Day 21}

My husband and I are in the middle of a big life changing situation -- we are moving! So I'm a little more than exhausted at the moment. But I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about something I've been thinking about for the past couple of days. Especially this evening as I was in a meeting with a couple of folks talking about this exact topic: being real. 

The buzzword these days is authenticity. 

Whether you're in a church or leadership or business or marketing, that's what people are talking about these days. The idea is that this generation is all about being real, authentic. If it's anything other than authentic, forget about it. 

What's the big deal about authenticity? For many, especially those who identify as Christian or a part of the church, being authentic is being able to be who you are with fear of judgement. It is coming to church just as you are with whatever baggage you have, whatever hurts and misconceptions you might have, questions and doubts, you name it. It's OK not to have your stuff together. 

For me, authenticity allows me to say I struggle to trust God even though I've been walking this faith journey for more than 20 years. That I struggle being a wife, often getting angry rather than giving grace. That I struggle with showing emotion because I'd rather feel physical pain instead of emotional pain. 

And even as I type this post on authenticity, there's still a wall up to guard against judgement. 

Just being real.

Be real with me: what do you think about authenticity and the church?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Storm Clouds {Day 20}

Today I'm joining up with the folks over at Inspire Me Mondays where we post something positive to start off our work week. Since Monday is my least favorite day of the week, it's easy for me to be negative. But I've chosen for over a year now to find the good, the beautiful, the positive on Mondays. I hope you'll join me in doing the same!

This morning started off looking like it was going to be a nice day. The sunrise was beautiful, the sky a lovely light pink as the sun rose over the hills. (Not that I was up to see the sunrise, but I did see the effects it left.)

But soon those pink skies let way to dark storm clouds. The rain came off and on throughout the day. Not a downpour but a steady, drizzly rain. It disappeared for a while, giving way to a clear night sky with a few storm clouds on the horizon.

This evening on my drive home, the skies lit up with lightning, indicating another storm was on it's way. Along with the lightning I witnessed the brightest, most beautiful falling star!

It's days like today that remind me that there is still joy to be found in the midst of the storm.

For the past 20 days I've been writing every single day for the #write31days challenge. My posts always hold a hint of what I'm going through in life, but never do they divulge the whole story. Maybe one day. But for now, it's enough to know that life is stormy.

But there's joy in the middle of it all.

There's hope and peace and light and love.

Whatever life throws, it's going to be OK. Like the quote says below, "it may be stormy now, but it never rains forever."

Photo credit: My Dear Valentine

When your life is stormy, what gives you hope to keep going?

This is Day 20 of my 31 Days of Simply Writing series. If you're just joining me, feel free to go back and read from the beginning! Also, if you like what you read and don't want to miss another post, please subscribe to my blog to have them delivered straight to your inbox. Thanks for reading! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sanctuary {Day 19}

Church has been a part of my life since my mom started going when I was 10. I'd been to church before that, but it wasn't an important part of my life. It was an occasional thing, like for Christmas or Easter or a weekend spent at Nana's. 

But from the time I was 10, that all changed. My family was in church twice on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings. Anytime there was a special service or event, we'd be there. Basically whenever the doors were open, we were in a seat (or serving.)

Church has been a huge part of my life for many, many years. I grew up in the church. It molded me and shaped me into who I am today, and it continues to do so. 

But for many, the church hasn't been such a wonderful place. It's been a place of hurt. Of broken promises. Of deceit, hypocrisy, and hate. 

This morning as I was driving home from church, an old church song popped into my head that really spoke to me:

Lord, prepare me
To be a sanctuary.
Pure and holy,
Tried and true.
With thanksgiving,
I'll be a living 
Lord, for you. 

This, friends, is what the church should be. A sanctuary. A safe place for people on the midst of the brokenness. A refuge which offers healing. 

There are some folks who have been so hurt, so battered by the church that they'll never step back into a church building. Folks who want nothing to do with Christians. 

As followers of Jesus, we have a long way to go to repair and restore the church's image. 

The church - you & me - are to be a living sanctuary. A place of hope for our family and friends. 

I don't know about you, but my prayer this morning is that I can be a sanctuary for those around me. I want to be a safe place for my family and friends. I want to be able to offer hope and healing to those who are in need of it. My heart longs to be a follower of Jesus who helps bring about mending broken hearts and restoring broken lives. 

If you're reading this and have been hurt by the church, I'm so sorry. My heart grieves for you and hopes you will find a safe place where you can heal. That Jesus will mend those broken pieces of your life. 

I hope you will find sanctuary here. 

Have you found sanctuary? Are you a sanctuary for people in your life?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Like Mother, Like Daughter {Day 18}

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is Gilmore Girls. Thanks to Netflix I have been binge-watching the show most of the day. Well, the early afternoon and now late evening. 

If you've never watched the show, it's about a mother-daughter relationship. Lorelei and Rory have more of a friendship than your typical mother-daughter relationship. They share a love of movies, tv, music, junk food, and coffee. They're quick-witted and super-intelligent. 

There's so much about this show that I love. But the one thing is that it reminds me of my own relationship with my mom. Growing up my mom and I had our issues. We fought about stuff like any mother and daughter would. I had a terrible problem of back talking. 

At the same time, my mom was (and still is) my best friend. She and I have always been able to talk about anything and everything, even if we don't agree. We both love to read and often share books. We also both love music, though I'm more of a rock-n-roll kind of girl and she loves contemporary Christian. (We do share a love of worship music, though.) She's a coffee drinker and I'm not. And she loves to watch the news and I could care less. 

The one most important thing we have in common, besides each other, is our relationship with Jesus. My mom was instrumental in my coming to believe in God. At the age of 10, mom started taking my brothers and I to church. It was there that I heard the gospel, but it was at home where I saw it lived out. Mom taught me what it was to have faith. She taught me to pray and believe and to love unconditionally. 

Through the years, mom and I have had our ups and downs. But I'm thankful for every moment we've shared, good or bad. Because each moment has still been filled with grace and forgiveness and love. So much love. 

(Love you, Mom!)

Have you seen Gilmore Girls? What is your relationship like with your mom?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Longing {Day 17}

It's Friday which means I'm joining up with the Five Minute Friday community. Every Friday we write for five minutes on a specific topic. No editing. No backtracking. No worrying if things are perfect. Here we go...

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons— Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. (Psalms 107:1-14 NKJV)

A year ago life was more than hard. So many nights I went to bed in tears, praying for God to make things easier. To do something, anything, to make things better. 

Prayers that have still gone answered. Life is still hard. But there's a peace in the midst of these circumstances. 

My heart knows that He is good. 

My souls knows that He satisfies. 

He is bringing beauty from these ashes. 

In the midst of the unanswered prayers, He has let me know He hears every prayer. He has seen every tear. 

In my trouble, He has heard and answered my cry. He has saved me from distress by giving me peace. 

Have you ever prayed for something that has gone unanswered but still had peace? 

Meet Kelly {Day 16}

A few years ago I used to have a series called "People You Should Know." It was inspired by blogger Matthew Paul Turner who had mentioned something on his blog about doing something similar.

Anyway, I haven't done this for years, but I'm going back to it for at least today. Because I have a friend who is wonderful and I'd like you all to meet her. 

Meet my friend Kelly. 

Kelly and I met at church several years ago. We both have a passion for Jesus and for showing crazy love to everyone we meet. Because of her huge heart for people, we hit it off immediately. She is kind and super compassionate, and inspires me to be more so. 

Kelly is also a writer and blogger. Today she wrote a post on love. Her heart is for folks to truly understand one another and to show love rather than judgement. We have no idea what others face on a daily basis yet we are quick to judge their words and actions. Jesus compels us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Why not give others the same grace we so often give ourselves?

Today, instead of reading my words, will you do me a favor? Visit Kelly's blog. Read her post from today and leave a comment. Thanks, friends!

This is day 16 of 31 days of simply writing. If you'd like to start from the beginning, click here. You can also visit the #write31days website to visit thousands of other writers who've also joined the challenge! 

What did you think of Kelly's thoughts on love?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Toy Story of Horrors Inspired Me {Day 15}

Do you ever get inspired by the weirdest thing?

Sometimes I do. 

Tonight was one of those nights. Toy Story of Horrors was on ABC and I was scrolling through Pinterest at the same time. Mr. Potatohead was missing and Jessie was getting ready to hop in a box, scared to death, in an effort to save him. Then I scrolled by the above graphic on one of Compassion International's boards. 

Inspiration hit so I decided to write my sweet little Compassion child!

Sweet girl is ten years old and lives with her family in India. She lives in a small village on the east coast. If we think the economy is bad here, imagine what it's like there. Most folks live on less than $2 a day. Thankfully she receives an education, healthcare, and learns about Jesus through the Compassion program. 

But just like any other 10 year old, I am positive there are days when she is afraid. So I told her the story of Jessie from Toy Story of Horrors. How she overcame her fears in order to help save Mr. Potatohead. I also told her of Joshua from the Bible and how he had to be brave and strong. And how The Lord was with him.  

Then I told myself the same story. 

Because sometimes I'm afraid. 

Afraid of change. 

Afraid of failing. 

Afraid of being alone. 

But these two seemingly unrelated stories remind me it's possible to overcome my fears. Because He is with me, I can be strong and courageous. 

I can be brave. 

What weird things have inspired you lately?