Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living Like a Drink

If you would have told me that I would be moving to Texas for only 8 months, I would have told you that you're crazy. The Lord told us about our move to Texas a whole year in advance.  I was so sure and so confident in all the confirmations I had received in my heart about living in the Lone Star State. I'm still very confident in them, even as we prepare to move.......again.

What did we come here for? Well, not what we thought we were coming to do, obviously.

So was it a waste?

No, I don't think that anything we do, when we are totally surrendered to the Lord, is a waste. He uses it all to shape us and build us into the people we are suppose to be, if we let Him.

So what have I gained in Texas?

I'm not totally sure, only hindsight is 20/20, it seems.

Today I realized something really beautiful about my time here, though. I loved well here.

When we were preparing to move to Texas, I remember in the season, after I had pulled back from all the ministries that I had been involved with (wow, I make it sound grand, I was involved in like 2-3 ministries, tops), a feeling of wishing to be poured out.

It was a strong sense of waiting, and anticipation. I kept telling the Lord, and asking Him even, to pour me out once we arrived in Texas. Now, in my heart, I was already sure we were staying in Texas for a while. Years, in fact.

So I got here, to Texas, and the Lord slowly, but surely, put me in relationships where I could pour out what I had to offer. You can only pour out what you have already received from the Lord.

What I got is love, and I love to love. So I love people and the way I love them is I give my time, and thoughts and energy and conversation. My realness and creativity, even my humor, although maybe it is not always understood the first time around. :-) I love to give and give, and offer myself.

As I write it, I wonder if that is really that great of a gift, but I think it is. I think it ranks right up there with at least a glass of cold water, ya know.

So I gave, without reserve.

You know how I know, because after only 7 months of being here, as I prepare to say goodbye to the relationships I've built, my heart is aching. Aching with a familiar sense of loss.

I have sown, and given, and loved, and I will not be here much longer, with those people that I have loved well. Not a moment of it do I regret, because the pain of love is a beautiful kind of suffering. It says that I have done well, and lived with my heart open to people.

Some have said in the past that it is a brave thing to live with your heart wide open, and I would have to agree. You welcome a lot of pain living that way, but it is a worthwhile kind of pain.

Maybe something like childbirth? A labor of love and sweat and tears, and at the end, a beautiful life is created. Not just for the child, but for the mother who labored.

So I just want all my Texas friends to know how much I love you, and how I will not forget this time we had together. You have helped me learn a lot about what it means to love, in a whole new way. I feel I am richer for having known you all.

Special shout out to Andrea Sutton, Channell Hague, Beth Harris, Jenny Snow, Laura McDowell, and the RoG Co op of Arlington. You all have made me feel so loved!!!

After Years

After years of denying my creative side and relegating my hobbies to 'useful' crafts, I have come to the uncomfortable and liberating conclusion that I am something like an artist.

I'm sure a number of my friends will read this and say 'duh' and I have had many 'duh' moments in the last 8 months.

An artist.

Gosh, they are just so weird. They are so silly and creative and colorful. Yet I have always been drawn to them. The weirdness, the eccentric, the down to earth, barefoot potter types. I am like a magnet, drawn to them, but always feeling like an outsider.

Until now.

What has changed?

A lot.

Walking in our true identity in Christ is a helpful start. I've been a Christian for years, but I feel like I've only just begun walking in my true identity for the past couple years. It is a journey and a process, to be sure. To believe what the Lord says about you and actually live like you believe Him in all areas of your life. It doesn't happen over night.

It is a gradual shift sometimes and a drastic switch at others. Every step has brought me closer and closer to a new kind of freedom. The freedom to be me.

Knowing who I am in Christ makes me question myself less and just enjoy myself for who I am more.

Not that I am perfect, but that my imperfections and oddities point to a creative Creator who made me unique for a reason. No one else is like me, and so therefore, no one else will fully understand me like He does.

And that is okay. After 30 years, I feel okay with being misunderstood sometimes, because I know I am fully understood by One who loves me infinitely more than any other.

Even as I write that last line, it sounds like such a Christian cliche, but it is so much more beautiful a thing than that. To know you are truly loved for who you are is the most liberating and empowering thing of all time!

The funny thing is though, the more comfortable I have become in my own skin, with my own personality and style, the more I think other people have enjoyed me too. It is not just Christ who enjoys the real me, because the real me is more fun than the cautious, worried, calculating me.

And when I do things because I like them, then even when I get the odd stares in the grocery store or the sympathetic eyes from a random passerby, then I can just smile and know that it doesn't matter what they think. Not really. I like what I am doing and they don't have to understand it or join in. (Understand that I'm talking about benign little things, harmless to other people).

My life is full because I live it fully now. Or at least fuller. There is always room for improvement, but I like where I'm headed.

With these changes and realizations and admissions, that I am, in fact, creative and something of an artist....

See, I still struggle with flat out calling myself an artist.

Anyhow, it means that I do not have to qualify everything I do anymore. Not even to myself.

For example.

I like nose rings. I think they are cool. Why? I don't really know, but after 12-15 years of wanting one and feeling stupid for wanting one, I think I'm almost at the point where I'm going to get one.

Crazy eh?

Yep, maybe. But I like the way they look, and I think I might like it for me. There you have it. So I am wearing a 'practice' nose ring, and seeing if it annoys me. After two days of wearing it I still want one, and when I find the money, I might get me one.

The most freeing thing is that I no longer feel like I have to qualify and explain and defend myself to people, especially those who aren't even attacking me.

Like when people use to tell me I looked nice in a certain outfit. I would always downplay it. I would explain how old the outfit was or how I didn't like such and such about it.

I couldn't believe that they actually might like me, because I was not even comfortable with me. I was so afraid of being rejected, that I was always qualifying my existence.

To look back now I can see what a sickness it was. A lie that I had totally bought into.

The LIE: That I was not as good as other people. That I had very little to offer. That I was not truly creative, only a copy cat. That I was too much for people to handle. If I was too much one thing or another, they would reject me.

But now I am moving toward freedom, and that can be a little crazy sometimes. Freedom is a beautiful, crazy, messy thing, but it is so much more fun than the way I have been living for years.

What fears and lies are holding you back? Dare to believe what the Lord says about you! Truth can always defeat the lie, if we take it and eat it and wear it and believe it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Making Me Believer pt 6

So I'm still working on my compassion, but the Lord has put me in my first real battle since that last post was written. Yes, yes, I know I just posted "Making Me Believe pt 5" at the end of December, but it has been written since around June. I like to write, then pray, and then when I feel it is ripe, I will post a thing.

Anyhow, so as I was saying, I feel as though I have been given my first real battle. I am thankful for all the training, but in the last six months, I feel as though I have learned nothing. I have been fighting and fighting and seeing almost no progress. The details aren't important, except that when you prepare to make a huge move with your whole family across the country it can stir a lot of things up.

So my first battle. I threw myself into it at full force. I was hopeful, I was energetic, I was prayerful and compassionate (most of the time), and zealous to prove myself strong.

But after the first few weeks of battling this thing, I had seen little to no progress. I was worn out and confused. I began to ask the Lord what I was missing, what I was doing wrong.

That is when He whispered, "You're a good sprinter, but this is an endurance race."

I threw back, "Well then how long am I going to have to fight this thing?"

He patiently posed the question, "What if it takes 6 months to a year to see any fruit for your fighting?"

Ugh. I didn't know what to say. I was honest enough with myself to know that I was not a good endurance runner, but this was an opportunity. A painful and tiring opportunity, and a divine opportunity.

So I said yes, and I have continued to say yes over the last six months of fighting this thing.

What I have learned over these last few months though.....

That when I am out of energy, and throw my hands up in despair, preparing for defeat, that is when some of the best mini-breakthroughs occur! In my weakness, that is when the Lord has come through and shown Himself strong and in control. He has been using other people to do it too!

It has been teaching me the truth about when we are weak, He is strong, and it is okay to ask for help. That is like a 'duh' basic Christianity truth, but I was fighting as if I could do it all by myself.

Yet I am not meant to be fighting this totally on my own. In the Kingdom, we are a family, and I am not self sufficient in all things. I never will be.

I draw strength and council and love from those people the Lord has placed around me.

So many times, in my weakest moments, I have had to turn to someone and share my burden with them. Then they, in turn, have encouraged me and spoken the truth over me. It breaks the despair and renews my strength to be in such company. It has also shown me a lack of trust I have had toward people.

The lie I had believed was that my burdens were too heavy for me, so no one else would want to help me carry them. Yet the Lord asked me, "Would you turn away a friend who needed love and encouragement and council?"

I said a quick "no," because I love to encourage and pray for my friends, but then He turned it back on me.

"So then, what makes you think that none of your friends would be willing to do that for you. Do you really think so little of yourself?"

The lie was two fold.....1) that I couldn't trust people to want to help me.....and 2) that if I just tried hard enough, I could do it on my own and show God how strong I really am.

The truth is that I do sometimes think that I'm not worth my friends time. I worry that if I bring a heavy burden to them, and ask them to help me, that they will be 'put out' by my neediness.

It is just NOT true though. Every time I have ever broken down and asked my friends for help, they have rallied around me like a troupe of feisty momma bears. Speaking love over me and praying passionate lovely prayers for my situations. But I never break down and ask for help until I'm totally desperate. I should NOT wait so long to ask.

Perhaps, if for no other reason, the Lord has allowed this current battle to drag on, to force me to have to reach out and ask for help again, and again, and again. Maybe I will learn it soon.

So recap of current lessons being learned - it takes a whole army to fight a battle, not just a lone ranger. Don't be fooled, we are in the body of Christ because we need one another to function properly.

What I am NOT saying - go find anyone who will listen to your sob story with no intention of going and working on the problems yourself.

I am also NOT saying - find just anyone to tell your burdens to!  You MUST seek out mature and trustworthy friends to ask for help. You don't want to call up a friend who is not good at keeping a confidence, or who looks at the world with a negative bent. Those friends will potentially make the situation worse.

The way I decide if people are trustworthy and good encouragers...... I listen to how they talk about other people and situations to me. If they talk hopefully about hard situations others are facing, that is a good sign. If they are gossipy and focused on the negative, they are not a good candidate for my candor. Do they pray often, do they talk about the things of the Lord often.....those are also good signs.

Be encouraged. Help is out there!