Five Minute Friday: Here

I’m here, Lord.

Right where you have called me to be.  But in the midst of being here, I’m confused. Things just aren’t working out to my expectation. I’m not getting it.  I’m doing everything you have called me to do yet I feel like I’m standing in the midst of a wind storm holding tightly to the strings of control.

I’m watching those very strings unravel.

Is this how Abraham felt as he tied the ropes around his beloved son Isaac on the altar?

Or the confused Samaritan woman sitting at the well?

Jesus, beaten and battered, drawing breath on the cross in his last moments of humanity?

God, your way doesn’t make sense to me here. But you see the entire picture, not just the snapshot of emotion in the moment. So for that, I thank you.  Lord, I praise you for what is yet to come.

Uphold me as I continue to stand right here.

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This post is linked up with Kate Motaung’s five minute friday free write. You can find more like this at Kate Moutaung‘s , or you can take a stab at it yourself. See you there.

Five Minute Friday: Dreams

“Last night I had a dream.” I say.

“So did Martin Luther King and look how that turned out for him”, is the reply I receive.

Ever had this response?

I’ve always been a big dreamer.  But my people are firmly planted.  I’ve been raised to appreciate what I have.

Employment.

A home in which to reside.

Financial income to pay the bills.

And I do appreciate them.

Yet sometimes, secretly, these things aren’t good enough for me.  I want more.  I want it all. Most of the time, I’m not afraid to go after the dreams of my heart.

But sometimes I am.

Mostly when chasing my dreams would directly affect the people I am responsible to.  Namely, my husband and kids.

I find myself living in a tension of chasing what I want most in life while seeking contentment in THIS season.  Right here, right now.  Taking baby steps toward the purposes of God planted in my heart long ago while keeping my nose to the grindstone so my kids might not have to fight so hard to have what they want from life.

I long to be a risk taker but my current role is responsibility.

I long to be free to do as I wish and please but realize God is molding and shaping right here.

I long to have the dreams of my heart answered, but recognize that God’s work is not yet complete in me.  There is still more to do to become ready.

So while I wait, I pray for contentment.  I pray for the ability to recognize God at work in me.  I pray for peace in this season while I dream of plans I have yet to realize.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Galatians 6:4,5 (msg)

 

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This post is linked up with Kate Motaung’s five minute friday free write. You can find more like this at Kate Moutaung‘s , or you can take a stab at it yourself. See you there.

I’m expecting God’s best.

“Are you okay mom?”

I smile and give a thumbs up as a tear slips from underneath my sunglasses. My little camper settles into the van ready for a week of fun, adventure and no parents!  I, on the other hand, am an anxious mess.  I have a queasy pit in my stomach.

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

I get into my car and head to work, thankful for the busy Monday ahead.  On my way, I pray for travel mercy.  I pray for peace for the little campers who will be away from home for the week.  I pray for the counselors who will be investing into the lives of these little ones.

We have done all we can to prepare her for a week without us.    I wrote the camp notes.  She has her ice cream cash. My husband packed her bags in day specific rolls.1607111_834186176657715_4690657683349455716_n

We even picked up a cocoa on the way to church.

But now it’s time to hand over the reigns.

I’m not so good at handing over the reigns.

“God, I need your peace in this moment of uncertainty.  I need the strength to trust you.  I feel so out of control.  I know in my head she is going to have a great time. I know in my head you are going to move in her heart this week. Lord, let this truth resonate in my heart.”

Immediately, this thought occurs to me. “You jump on this emotional roller coaster every time I ask you to step out of your comfort zone.” In writing.  In running. In allowing my kids out of my sight for a week to go to church camp, of all places. The emotions are messy yet I’m expecting God to show up in amazing ways.  The words come out choppy and rough but a life is touched.  The race is hard to run but there is the blessing of accomplishment and perseverance waiting at the finish line.

It’s hard to say goodbye but in a few short days she will be returning with a bag full of dirty laundry, new girlfriends and memories that will last a lifetime.11227954_10153492797423060_8715412038757468137_n

In the quiet of this week, I’m embracing the shift of dynamics in our home. It’s been a full 24 hours since I last called the dog Madi.

Progress, right?

I’m dumping the guilt of feeling like I, myself, am on a bit of a vacation.  She is our demanding one.  The girl who demands action and drama at every turn.  I’m enjoying the quiet laid back peace of my evenings knowing she is in the capable hands of her counselor and under the watchful eye of her heavenly father.

Besides, she has already assured me she will only miss her daddy and Zoe the diva wonder dog.

Little monkey.

I’m counting the days until she is home again and our world returns to normal.

I’m expecting God’s best.  Not only in her week, but in mine as well.

 

Pretzel pirate ships, blue haired church ladies & unpaid electric bills: God is still more than enough

I’m tapping my fingers on the counter and taking one more plate count.  We have just enough snacks for tonight based on the kids attendance for the week. Well, we will have enough if these two teens stop hitting my cheese blocks for the boat base. Otherwise, my crafty pretzel pirate ships are just going to be pirate flags. Boring!

As another plate is swiped from the counter, my inner blue haired church lady is channeled.  Just as I open my mouth to say something an over powering thought occurs:

Five loaves, two Fish

I’m taking another plate count.  Tap, tap, tap of my finger.  I can always make a desperate run to the store for more.  It’s only a block away.

Five loaves, two fish

Okay.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  I’m chanting now.  I’m giving God the snake eye and allowing the girls to take one more plate on their way out the door.  As they leave, teen girl #1’s brother enters.

I know your not supposed to have favorites, but he is one of mine.

“Miss Samantha, can I talk to you?”  He says.

“Sure.  What’s going on?”

“My mom needs help.  Our power has been shut off and we owe the electric company $756.00.  If we don’t get it turned back on by Monday, we will be kicked out of our apartment.” Oh boy.  It’s already Wednesday.

He continued telling me that after the power was shut down, the family did not have an ample supply of non perishable food.  The kids had not eaten much of anything in three days.  Thank God I had not opened my mouth to his big sister about the stupid cheese!

Isn’t it funny how perspective changes everything.

Five loaves, two fish

Do you think that there might be a reason that God illustrates the glory of his provision in his word.  A lot.   The story of the loaves and fish is not only told in the gospels, but it is tucked away in the Old Testament as well.  Different situation.  Same miracle.

Fast forward to a VBS centuries later and we find ourselves with the same miracle, different situation.

I am guilty of fretting and worrying whenever the supply in front of my eyes does not seem adequate.  I tap my fingers.  I toil.  I meddle to make things work out to my end desire.  But, over and over again, God assures me that he is enough to meet every need I have in front of me.  He assures me that if I take care of his kingdom priorities, he will take care of mine.  Actually, he is big enough to cover both. My only requirement is to move forward in obedience.

Retrain my brain to trust him instead of taking control.

To get out of the way so God can move in a spectacular way.

To thank him for the miracle that is yet to come.

As VBS concluded, I had more than enough cheese and pretzels to send home with two hungry kids.  Our loving church family provided the resources to get their electric bill paid in full.  A family was able to stay in their home.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Get out of the way so God can move.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Matthew 14:20

The Prayer Tree

Pause.  A unique and wonderful evening of prayer that is hosted by our Aspire women’s ministry at my home church.  A chance to sit quietly, remove yourself from reality and seek the voice of God.  My week has been so chaotic that it took a while to quiet myself and connect with the leading of the holy spirit.  I went station to station.  I confessed harsh feelings I held toward others.  I prayed for those persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs.  I wrote a sin that I have been harboring guilt over in a little tub of sand and wiped it away, just as Jesus promises to do when I repent of my sin to him.  After spending considerable time with my worry rope, I wondered over to the prayer tree.  The station assignment was to write a prayer in my heart on a leaf and hang it.  Then, spend some time reading the prayers of the other women left behind.  I was overwhelmed by the weight of the requests:

Restore my family

Help me to be a better mom

Help me find relief from my finances. I’m doing everything I can.

Obedience

Pray for my sister who is fighting cancer

My daily relationship with God

Heroine addiction recovery

I received news of a life threatening illness- healing

Lord, have mercy.  This all sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?  No request was named, but God knows every face.  He knows every name.  He knows every intimate detail of the life represented by each and every leaf.  I prayed over several but the need was so great, I just looked up to God and appealed to him on behalf of each and every one of my sisters.  The energy of the request flowed through me.  It was as if I could feel God charging toward each need, ready to respond in his own unique way. It was a humbling way to apply the teaching James gives us:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.   (James 5:16)

It takes courage to admit where we are struggling.  Even just writing the words admitting our deepest fears, shame and weakness on an anonymous piece of paper at a prayer event can be overwhelming.  But in that moment of confession, each woman received a prayer warrior to come along side of her.  We are instructed in Hebrews 4:16 to come boldly to the throne of grace. When I think of boldness, I picture confidence and assurance.  Expectation of results.  And what should we expect at the throne?   There, we will receive mercy.  There we will find the grace to help us when we need it most.

Is there something we can pray for you? Please leave your request. And, if you don’t mind, leave a word of hope and encouragement behind to another sister who might need to hear it. As evidenced by the prayer tree, we all have something we need to boldly approach the throne with. Let’s make this a safe place to do that.

 

Let us come boldy to the throne of our

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Will the Real Slim Shady PUH-LEEZE stand up?

I am a closet rap fan.  Okay, so I’m not in the closet anymore.  There is something about Bass that sets things right in my world.  It’s quite possible that this love stems from being rocked to sleep by it in student housing as a baby.  When the song in my title, produced by Eminem, debuted, I recall an interview he did with one of the major morning shows.  The talking heads asked him,” What is the meaning of your song?”  To this he replied that we all have two egos that live within us.  We have one side that we want the world to see.  The good, loving, wonderful side.  But we also have a “Slim Shady” that lives within us.  This is the ego that causes us to flip someone off in a fit of road rage. (His words, not mine!)  I remember his words resonating with me.  I can completely relate.  NO!  I have not flipped anyone off in traffic, but I do have a two year old that lives inside of me when things don’t go exactly my way.  Turns out, I’m not the only one.  Take note from Paul in Romans 7: 18-20:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t.  I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one who is doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.”

As “good” Christians (this IS an oxymoron), we tend to believe that we are born as “good” people.  In reality, the bible says there is no such thing!  In original creation, we are born to the “flesh”.  This not only means our skin, but more importantly, human nature!  This is the earthly nature of a man apart from divine influence, therefore, prone to sin and opposed to God.  So God decided we needed some training wheels.  He sent Moses to the mountain and created “The Law”.  Believers of God were so excited about “The Law” they forgot God’s promise of a Savior.  Many still believe, to this day, that through their own “good” actions, they can get to heaven.   But, the bible say’s we have to be born again, to the spirit;  The disposition, or influence that fills and governs the soul of anyone.  In my mind, I know God sent his son to the cross to die for my sins.  I fully accept that I cannot get to Heaven on my own.  But my dilemma comes in when I try to live up to “The Law” and transform myself into who I think God wants me to be.   This was not God’s design, at all!  In Galatians 3:3b, Paul reminds us, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Okay, so when you say it out loud, it sounds scary!

I leave with this thought.  When my “Slim Shady” is trying to come out to play, I will remember that I am “under construction.”  If God had made himself perfect in me, I would be blogging from Heaven.   God produces good  fruit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  If the fruit I produce is anything other than these character traits, I am commiting Galatians 5:24-25 to heart:

“For those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their passions & desires of their sinful nature to the cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the spirit, let us follow the Spirits leading in every part of our lives.”