A better version of me

Ten years…

It’s been nearly ten years since the moment the pretty little world as I knew it was shattered and my life spun out of control due to an unexpected divorce.

You never really recover. Pain changes you. You make new decisions about yourself based on the emotions that exist as a result of the heartbreak. You recognize the risk that comes with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Whether you realize it or not, you unconsciously guard yourself from being hurt again.

I loved my time in church ministry, insulated in a world that was immersed in “good”. I loved helping others, being a vessel of change in people’s lives, introducing people to a deeper knowledge of Christ and a realization that He specifically loves them regardless of their own choices. I truly believed (and still do) that we don’t earn God’s merit or favor, He loves us because He wants to and He will never leave us.

As a former Pastor’s wife, I invested in the lives of hundreds of people, many of whom I’d say I knew very well. Today I wonder…did I really even know them or did I know the version of them that they wanted me to see?

I walked with other families through heartbreak and devastation, believing that I was seeing the rawest form of who they truly were…but did I even know them or did I know the version of them that they wanted me to see?

How transparent are you? How transparent are others around you?

I remember being in a small group one night and a new believer overwhelmed with excitement began to pray out loud in our prayer circle. I recall the combined looks of horror as the majority of the seasoned Christians eyes flew open when this young man dropped the F-bomb several times while praising God!

I recall chuckling inside and thinking that I most likely was part of the most sincere, transparent prayer ever offered to God that evening. This young man was using his native tongue to talk directly to his Savior and thank him for saving the “f#$%ed up mess of a man” he formerly was. His praise was genuine, pure, non-filtered, unmasked and laced with obscenities and I’m pretty sure God was pleased. He hadn’t descended into the sanitized version of Christianity that requires us to speak in “these” and “thous” and pretend to be incredibly Holy so everyone around us is convinced that we are a better version of ourselves than we really are.

While a Pastor’s wife, I was steeped in the same game of pretend. I made sure that regardless of the situation, the congregation and community saw my life as Holy. I went to great lengths to make sure our family didn’t embarrass Christ. I spent more time worrying about what others thought of me and our family than I spent focused on what Christ thought.

Fast forward to present day: I work full time in administration for the construction trades. My world is no longer insulated. The influence of this world slaps me in the face hundreds of times every day. Each day is a constant battle for my soul and many days it seems like I’m moving backwards not forward in my faith. Yet every time I walk into church, I put on my “good Christian” facade, play the game, and act like everything is OK.

Years ago while immersed in full-time ministry I wrote these words…

Look beyond the mask

Through this great charade I play

Look beyond my words into my heart

Search me Oh God, and know that I am yours

All my life is in your hands

All my desires, all my plans

Every single thing I am, I am Yours.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a new friend and for the first time in 10 years, I was honest. No cover ups or pretending to view things through a super spiritual lens, just raw truth about my present state of mind and my need for Jesus.

Yesterday I tiptoed into the world of transparency.

Yesterday I peeked out from behind the mask.

Yesterday I became who God wants me to be.

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Hidden in Plain Sight

I wore camouflage leggings & a black blouse to Easter service this year. In a sea of pastel worshippers, rather than blend in, the fabric that was designed to do that very thing was as inconspicuous as a tall tree in the middle of an open prairie. Obviously tradition is lost on me.

As I listened to the message and endured the looks of displeasure from the “well dressed” lady next to me, I started to think about what a powerful life lesson God was showing me through my choice of Easter clothing.

As a Christian, my faith in Christ should be more obvious than a camouflage clad worshipper in a sea of pastel dresses on a Easter Sunday! Yet all too often I’m guilty of blending in, of neatly tucking my faith away, yet keeping it just within reach in case I need to pull it out but not so obvious that those around me might notice and think I’m a religious nut.

But if I am a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t my faith in Him be obvious to the world? Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Am I being transformed because of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for me? Are you? Or are we just hidden in plain sight?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Can you hear the whispers?

Recently I’ve found myself wondering how my faith compares with that of generations before me. I curiously wonder if the lack of modern conveniences in the past had significant impact in the depth of an individual’s relationship with and dependence on God.

All around I see great “exploits” happening in the name of Christianity, yet when I listen closely the common theme seems to softly whisper in self-gratification: Me, Me, Me!

Across the nation churches are trying to outdo one another in worship styles, music, trendy cafes, and decor all in the name of making the gospel relevant and the environment one that everyone wants to run to.

Take a sip of your latte, can you hear the whispers? Me, Me, Me!

Cities are filled with Christian bookstores packed to the gills with “how-to” books filled with easy steps to follow to achieve your desired outcome.

12 easy steps – can you hear the whispers? Me, Me, Me!

Christian radio stations promote campaigns geared at declaring our good deeds in sharing God’s love with others.

As you’re sharing how you paid for a stranger’s coffee in the drive through can you hear the whispers? Me, Me, Me!

Social media platforms filled with posts intended to convey the Christian image to others.

I bet you’re too ashamed to repost this as you hear the whispers -Me, Me, Me!

Before modern technology, when people struggled, it was largely between themselves and God. Their Christian reading material and self help book was the Bible. They wrestled in prayer and persevered in faith. I wonder if the depth of their relationship was greater because HE was the source they depended on?

Before churches were a dime a dozen people gathered in worship together in whatever building they were fortunate enough to have. In many churches they didn’t even have instruments but they still raised voices in worship without concern about church growth strategies, building aesthetics, or music trends. I wonder if their worship was purer and somehow more sincere because HE was the center of their focus.

This is a journey I’m embarking on this year. A journey backwards towards a simpler faith that is focused more on God and His word. I’m not leaving my church or ministry involvement, just giving conscious thought to the motives behind my actions. Hopefully by doing so, I’ll silence the whispers of Me, Me, Me and unleashed the shouts of Him, Him, Him!

No more resolutions

I’m republishing last year’s post because I needed it again!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. ~Proverbs 19:21

A new year is upon us. The final page of the old year is about to be turned. A glimpse at social media shows the plans that are underway in many of my friends’ lives as they boldly declare their resolutions. The pop-up ads and email campaigns have suddenly shifted to the many gym memberships, supplements, beauty products and self-help programs designed to assist in miraculously achieving a better me in 2018. For many people, it’s time to mark a new beginning, filled with goals, resolutions and plans for a better life that starts tomorrow. Optimistic and enthusiastic, they will wake in the morning to begin life anew.

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For others, just making it out of 2017 alive is an accomplishment. Surviving a year of hardships and heartaches has consumed very ounce of strength leaving little or no room to plan for the future. Exhausted and weary, they will wake in the morning in hopes of surviving yet another day.

As a natural planner (control-freak), I generally enjoy the excitement of a new year ahead. While I know that nothing changes other than a page on the calendar, the idea of a blank page waiting to be written excites me. I love to ponder what’s ahead and determine how to schedule my life to accomplish more, find satisfaction, and achieve significance. However, this year the Lord has been stirring me differently. As I hear other people’s goals, rather than being challenged and excited, I feel a little melancholy. Every time my mind begins to ponder the coming year, I feel frustration rather than enthusiasm. I want to make plans, but I just can’t bring myself to go there.

Last night at the final service of 2017, my pastor preached out of the book of Galatians and I had that “aha” moment where things really connected for me. This has been one of my favorite passages, because Paul kindly provided me with a neat list of do’s and don’ts to that I can check off to gauge my Christianity.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. ~Galatians 5:16-26

In my tidy, well-planned, SELF DRIVEN world, I simply worked tirelessly to follow the list and prove myself as a Christian. For the past 20+ years I have tried my all out best to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and suppress the works of the flesh. I’ve been working to ACHIEVE Christianity and I. AM. TIRED.

tired

Last night, I realized that for more than 20 years, I completely missed verses 16-18! In my own strength I will never accomplish the fruit of the Spirit.  The ONLY way the fruit of the Spirit will be produced in my life is if I WALK BY THE SPIRIT!  I can’t make a checklist or plan benchmarks to achieve this goal. Attempted on my own, I only create bondage rather than freedom. Achieving the fruit on my own is nothing more than an actor or actress playing a role. They never actually become the character they are portraying, and eventually they go back to their old ways of living, dropping the charade.

This year, rather than set resolutions or design another “life plan”, I intend to fix my efforts on walking by the Spirit. I give up on doing things my way. I’m handing over the keys to my life and letting the Spirit lead. Perhaps the Lord is prompting you to do the same. Will you join me?

I’m ready Lord…YOU can have control.

 

Living outside the box

In my adult life I’ve moved…a lot…TWENTY-THREE times in 30 years to be exact. That’s TWENTY-THREE seasons of packing boxes, carefully labeling them and eventually unloading to the rooms they belong in and unpacking them. Imagine TWENTY-THREE times of physically handling each and every item you own, deciding if it’s necessary and determining its location in your next home. In my last move, I downsized substantially and realized that the much of stuff I’d been hauling from place to place really wasn’t an essential part of my life and a lot of it was actually holding me back from truly enjoying the life I have!

It’s safe to say I’m something of an expert at living out of boxes.

Truthfully, I started living out of boxes long before my first move. I’m not sure exactly when I perfected the art, but I’m guessing it was somewhere in early elementary school. That’s when I started to realize there were specific “boxes” that I fit into. You know, boxes like ugly, uncool, and weird. (I’ve written before that grade school wasn’t particularly kind to me!)

As I grew, I learned how to stack the boxes based on certain areas. By middle school there were boxes that contained labels for home, different boxes that contained labels for school, and even more boxes with labels for dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, band, choir, softball, track and even church.

By the end of high school the labeled boxes that defined me were stacked so high that I could no longer be seen because they blocked me at every turn. Those boxes prevented me from trying things, caused me to continue in unhealthy relationships, and filled me with all sorts of imaginary limitations.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe your box is labeled “good girl”, or perhaps “the girl that gets around”. Maybe you have boxes marked “popular” or boxes marked “uncool”, boxes marked “unwanted”, “unlovable”, or “forgotten “. It really doesn’t matter what your boxes are…THEY DO NOT DEFINE YOU!

Isaiah 49:15-16, says

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

People will fail us. Life will disappoint us, but God will never leave us!

Unpack your boxes now friend. Quit handling the same junk over and over, dragging it from one place to the next. Get rid of it and start living outside the box!

Masterpiece or mess?

Seven years ago I took a cake decorating class with a friend. I spent a few weeks learning the various skills necessary to create beautiful, realistic looking flowers and leaves, dimensional ribbons and mastering the painstaking process of designing a stunning show piece delicately created from sugary goo.

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I seemed to have a natural knack for the skills needed, however, this cake was the one and only time I employed my newfound abilities. Why? Because it felt like a giant waste of time and effort to me. The ENTIRE TIME I was decorating this cake, I was reminded that regardless of how great it looked on the outside, if the actual inside of the cake was no good, it was worthless.

I remember my grandmother, who was a professional cake decorator, taking great pride in the TASTE of her cakes, not just the appearance. I recalled how excited I would get when the surface one of the delicious cakes she was decorating would pull up as she was spreading the first glaze of frosting and she’d declare it a failure. She would then serve the ugly, messy cake and frosting mixture in bowls to my brother and I. In my eyes, (and to my taste buds) that messy masterpiece was a thing of divine beauty, because the inside of my grandmother’s cakes had been perfected and they were amazing no matter how they looked!

cake falling apart

In Matthew 23: 25-28 Jesus uses some pretty aggressive word pictures to show the Pharisees (religious people) that they were so worried about “looking the part” that they had completely missed the point!

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

I have to admit, if I’m truly honest with myself, I find myself in the same category as the Pharisees more often than I care to admit. In today’s “image is everything” culture, it’s easy to put a lot of focus on the external. I find myself more concerned about how people will perceive me from the outside than I am concerned about letting God transform me from the inside.

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Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that we have the luxuries of  soap and water and I have no intentions of discontinuing the practice of good hygiene….that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the game we play of trying to prove our value from the outside in.

Even in church, I sometimes catch myself attempting to “look the part” so that I’ll somehow gain the approval of those around me. I enter worship looking for the approval of the people around me rather than seeking transformation from the One who saved me. I try to hide the mess that’s inside. There’s a word for that: HYPOCRISY. Hypocrisy is easy; I just slap on the mask, make up a script, and play-act my life the way I want it. It may not be sugary frosting, but it’s not any different than frosting a cardboard box and passing it off as a cake. It looks great on the exterior, but the inside is worthless.

I could have the most fashionable clothing, designer purses, a perfectly shaped body, fabulous hair, and flawless makeup and still be a rotting corpse of a human being on the inside. I could spend so much time perfecting the exterior beauty, yet, without the inner beauty to match it, I’m an empty shell delivering disappointment at every turn.

Jesus challenges the Pharisees (and us) to clean the inside and let the rest take care of itself. True transformation can only take place when we hand over our entire being to Christ and allow Him to change us from the inside out. It requires action on our behalf to “clean” the inside (that is, to wash away all that is not pleasing in our hearts, our minds, and our motives). This internal cleansing results in an external beauty that can’t be purchased at the makeup counter.

Christ personally invites each of us to join Him in a divine makeover. I’m tired of trying to achieve beauty and acceptance from the outside in. I’m ready to do it His way. I want Him to take every part of this mess that is me and turn it into HISMASTERPIECE.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

On the Outside Looking In

Oftentimes when I’m out for a walk or a bike ride, I find myself imagining what life is like for the residents of the beautiful homes I pass. I’m certain they must be living quite differently than me. In my mind, I’m convinced they aren’t weighed down by their concerns, their life is easier, more beautiful, and obviously more satisfying than mine. They feel comfortable, confident and secure. Before I know it, my mind races into a game of comparison and I allow myself to begin to feel like a failure. I wonder how things could have been different. I wonder why I didn’t draw the “comfort & security ” card in the game of life.

Let’s be honest, that’s the way many of us live our lives. Social media fills our minds with imaginary scenarios of perfection.

A quick scroll through Facebook assures me that everyone else has a picture perfect existence free of heartache, struggles, and pain. I open Instagram to find that all of my friends make gourmet meals, have perfectly dressed children, beautifully decorated homes and lives that are stress free. Snapchat shows me that everyone else is hanging out with friends, taking exotic vacations, splashing their perfect bodies in the ocean, and enjoying the life they have.

I, on the other hand, find it hard to keep up with my own existence. I try to be responsible, I keep a tidy house, but I get so busy trying to balance my various roles that I find it hard to remember if I paid the insurance bill, and when I fall into bed at night, the half inch of dust hanging precariously off the blade of the ceiling fan reminds me that I failed once again at successful, beautiful living.

Oftentimes it feels like I’m on the outside looking in. If I’m not careful I miss what God has for me because I’m so busy wishing for what God has given others. There’s a word for that – it’s called COVETING. And guess what?

It’s. A. SIN.

The Tenth Commandment states: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:17).

Every time I let those thoughts creep in, I set into motion a vicious cycle of discontent and greed. I may not recognize it, but in reality I’m selfishly telling God that what He’s given me isn’t sufficient and that I know better than He does regarding what my life should be. I’m like a petulant child who didn’t get what she wanted throwing a tantrum and screaming to God “but I waaant it!”

I’m working hard personally to be content with the life God has given me. Daily, I have to remind myself that I will never accomplish the things God has specifically planned out for me if I’m spending all my time focused on what I don’t have.

Daily, I reposition myself in the center of God’s love and remind myself that I am His much loved daughter.

I run home to my Father God and realize that I’m His…and when I think of all that I have as a result of His grace and mercy, I realize that in reality I’m on the inside looking out.

1 Timothy 6:6-7 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Let’s just play it by ear…

“Let’s just play it by ear”. The dreaded words kept repeating in my head. How is that possible? Shouldn’t we have a plan of action? How will I know what to expect? Am I supposed to just sit here and wait? Well, that’s not fair. After all, I have things I want to accomplish. How can I do my things if I have to sit around and wait for whatever “playing it by ear” means.

I like to be in control. It’s an area of my life that I have been working to change on a daily basis. I’ve made significant progress, but encountered this reality check the other day. I was trying to plan for the weekend. There was a possibility we might go up North, which was contingent on a shipment of supplies. My second job was texting me with open shifts they had for the weekend. I needed decisive answers and I wanted them NOW! I was met with “let’s just play it by ear” and faced an internal meltdown. So there I was stewing and fussing, frustrated that I couldn’t write down an agenda. In reality, I wanted to spend a weekend doing nothing, but I buried that reality under my desire to have a schedule so I would know what to expect. At least tell me that we’re going to do nothing this weekend so I can put it on my calendar and feel fulfilled as I check it off my “to do ” list.

I didn’t know which direction to turn. Should I go to the grocery store and get supplies, just in case we go to the cabin? Should I take a shift that I really don’t want to work simply because it’s there in front of me? Should I make plans to meet with friends or spend time doing things that I haven’t had the time to do? My frustration mounted and I did what I always do when I’m frustrated, I began to frantically clean while talking to the Lord.

I began to lament to God about how frustrated I was. I poured out my complaints while scrubbing the toilet. I mumbled about how unfair the situation was while vacuuming the floor. I asked God to give us a clear agenda while scrubbing the kitchen. And then, while making the beds, God gently spoke to my spirit. He didn’t give me an agenda, or clarify my plans. Instead, He pointed out my insecurity and  spoke to my personal weakness. He showed me the reason those words set off a frustrating chain of events for me and He showed me how the frustration went much deeper than the relational issue of the weekend. This issue was between me and God and it had been going on for years.

You see, I’ve always seen organization as a positive attribute. I value order and I believe that God does as well. When I have order, I know what to expect, there are no surprises. I can look at my “to do” list and visually see success. As I complete the events on my calendar, I am fulfilled knowing that I have done what I need to do. But in reality, my planner and “to do” list are MY plans. Every task that I check off was placed there by me. As I listened to what God was speaking to my spirit, I recognized the reality of Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

God showed me that the reason the statement “Let’s play it by ear” set off such internal combustion in me  is because it required me to give up control. He showed me the parallel between my momentary weekend frustration and my larger-scale life frustration. You see, my life hasn’t gone exactly the way I planned. My agenda looked a lot different than this. My “to do” list did not include many of the things that I’ve done. My version of a “perfect” life looked a lot different than this. And every time that my life has taken an unexpected turn, I am thrown into a tailspin screaming at God about how it’s not fair and how I had things that I wanted to accomplish and how it’s not right that I end up wondering what’s next. HOW COULD GOD DO THIS TO ME???

As I neatly arranged the pillows on the bed (in their correct order, of course), God showed me that playing it by ear is not a bad thing. He reminded me of Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” He reminded me that I am not the one in control. Not now. Not ever. He showed me that sometimes, having no plan is the best plan of all. He reminded me that in my weakest and most frustrating moments, when there was nothing in life that I could control, He was there and He had a plan that was greater than anything that I could write in my planner or place on my “to do” list.

And so, I embarked on a weekend with no agenda. The supply shipment did arrive on Friday morning. No plans were made. We decided to wait until Saturday morning to decide if we wanted to go up North or not. No alarm clock was set. On Saturday morning, we decided that it just felt good to relax and do nothing. We drank coffee and read the word and took naps and it was glorious! Without any plans or expectations, I experienced what was possibly one of the greatest weekends of my life. My body was relaxed, my mind was cleared, and my spirit was refreshed.

I let go of the illusion of control and experienced the joy that can come “just playing it by ear”.

Ministering to an empty room

I’m about to step back into a ministry role as a women’s small group discussion leader and stumbled across something I wrote following my last (failed) attempt. God has taught me that regardless of the visible results, He is always glorified by our obedience.

Nervousness and excitement mingled together in anticipation as I waited for the ladies to arrive. Several months of planning and preparation had been poured into the ladies event that I was about to host. I had originally wrestled with God about the idea of starting a women’s ministry. I’m not exactly the girly-type and my idea off fun doesn’t seem to line up with my female counterparts. I’ve tried the traditional feminine activities, but crafts and scrapbooking just don’t bring me the same joy that other females seem to experience. I buy my purses for functionality rather than as a cute accessory to my clothing and I’d rather pull my hair into a ponytail then spend an hour getting all done up. I own a whopping total of 4 necklaces and 6 pairs of earrings and frequently forget to put them on to “complete the ensemble”. I like shooting guns and hiking and reading books. About the most feminine part of my personality is the fact that I enjoy getting a pedicure and having cute toenails.


Nevertheless, I couldn’t avoid the burden that God was putting on my heart. I was coming off some serious life circumstances that had catapulted me into the arms of God. I had spent the last several years being anonymous while my heart was healing and had just recently begun to feel that familiar tugging on my heart to step out into something unfamiliar and touch the lives of others. I bargained with God, reminding Him that I was better equipped to minister to children (never-mind the fact that there are no children presently attending my small start-up church). He didn’t budge…women’s ministry was what He continued to speak to my heart. I asked Him if I could do worship ministry (my church currently didn’t have a worship leader and my pastor had asked me to consider stepping up to the plate) but was met with a big “No” and a reminder that it’s not about me.


So here I was, stepping out into the unknown, feeling rather ill equipped and very insecure. My thoughts raced between wondering if I would break through into the hearts of the ladies attending to whether or not they’d notice the grease stain that I somehow had managed to get on my blouse. I had taken care of every detail I could think of. I rented a facility that was created specifically for ministry to women. I did announcements and email blasts and Facebook reminders leading up to the day of the event. I crafted an interactive way to get acquainted with one another. There were beautiful flowers and giveaway gifts prepared. I had studied the book of Ruth and had an interactive message of redemption to share. The refreshments were beautifully displayed on the table waiting for the ladies to arrive.


The time was drawing near and I sat in anticipation, thinking about greeting each woman and dicovering how I could minister to her needs. The facility volunteer (a beautiful woman from my church with a beautiful Spirit) and I watched as the minutes ticked by. With each minute that passed, I sensed more deflation. I picked up the phone and called my pastor to see if anyone had called him – perhaps they were lost or confused about the location. I began to doubt myself…”Why would I ever think God could use me? Maybe I misheard Him? Maybe I was wrong to step out into the unknown.”


The minutes turned into hours and soon our time was over. No one ever showed up. Not one person. Two ladies, a whole lot of preparation, a lot of food and flowers and a heaping dose of disappointment sat in anticipation of what might be but never was.


As I drove home I pondered the evening. I stepped out in obedience to God in a ministry that I felt ill equipped to lead. As I prepared, I developed an expectation that somehow my obedience was going to be translated into a thriving, exciting ministry. My expectations hadn’t been met but I never asked God what His expectations were. Maybe He just wanted to see if I’d be obedient. Perhaps He needed to provide me with that opportunity to be ministered to by the other lady that waited with me. Perhaps He was testing my heart, to see if I would let my expectations get in the way of my relationship with Him.


And then I was reminded of Hebrews 11:39-40 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 


None of the great heroes of the bible knew what the outcome was going to be. They stepped out in faith and were obedient to the voice of God. Many of them died without ever seeing the results of their faithfulness. Though they didn’t receive what was promised, they were part of the bigger plan!


No one showed up. Not one person. Two ladies and a whole lot of preparation went into ministering to an empty room. And the blessings abound. 


~For wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

The real me

Warning: Raw Emotions ahead…

I’ve had one of those weeks. Heading back to work after the holiday break, ready to face the new year with earnest expectations –  my neatly created imaginary world crumbled. I didn’t leave the house as early as I wanted to, the baristas at the coffee house were painfully slow, I spilled coffee down the front of my blouse, traffic was congested, roads were slick and I was immediately met with a barrage of tasks and information at work that was beyond frustrating. Externally I handled it with beautiful Christian grace. Internally, I was anything  but Christ-like.

I’ve been praying each day that God would lead and I would follow. My desire is that the Holy Spirit is evident in my life, not because I was able to pull off the right Christian acts, but because I’m so filled with the Spirit my actions are a natural overflow of God’s love and purpose.

In retrospect, I’m keenly aware (most likely due to the anger bubbling inside and the less than Christian thoughts I was experiencing) that the way I handled that morning had very little to do with Christ and a whole lot to do with me being trained to act a certain way.

I’m a work in progress. And right now a LOT of progress is needed.

Tonight, As I was cleaning the kitchen a song came on by Natalie Grant that literally made me stop what I was doing and listen. It was one of those movie quality moments where the lyrics connected with my heart and as I heard the words, it was as if I was being set free. Here’s the chorus:

But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I’m loosening my grasp
There’s no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me
Painted on, life is behind a mask
Self-inflicted circus clown
I’m tired of the song and dance
Living a charade, always on parade
What a mess I’ve made of my existence
But you love me even now
And still I see somehow
But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I’m loosening my grasp
There’s no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me
Wonderful, beautiful is what you see, when you look at me.

That’s me. I’m tired of acting.

I don’t know if I even know the real me.

That’s how I feel. I’m tired of hiding in my skin.

Holy Spirit take over. I’m letting go of playing charades to “be” what I think everyone expects.

I’m done pretending.

Wonderful, beautiful is what you see, When you look at me

Will You please make me into the real me?