Coffee Shop altercations: A story of mistaken identities

I was checking the balance on my smartphone ap while digging correct change from my ashtray in the parking lot of my favorite afternoon beverage stop.

It’s a venti kind of day.

I shut down the ap satisfied I have enough to cover my craving when I look up to meet the eyes of a middle aged woman staring me down from across the parking lot.

By staring down, I mean ready to snatch me bald.

Hmm.

I take a deep breath, close my ashtray and straighten my posture.  I put on my “you’re gonna love me” smile as I get out of my nondescript sedan and head in her direction.

“Hi.  How are you doing?”  I say in my attempt to kill her with kindness.

She stares me down with an owlish expression.  Blink. Blink.  Head shake. Shoulder shake.  Deep Sigh. I grow concerned as I wait for her response.

“I thought that was my car you were in.  But my car is parked over there.” She says as we both turn our heads toward her nondescript sedan.  Otherwise known as my car’s doppleganger.

“Happens to me all the time.”  I reply.

Really.  It does.  Ask my kids.

As I head into the shop I recall my pastor saying that we should follow Jesus so closely that we can say with confidence, “Just follow me.  I’m following him.” My life should resemble the belief that lives inside of me.

The truth is, I cannot always say I am following the footsteps of my savior closely enough to be mistaken for him.

I want my wrongs to be made right.

I want my comfort zone to be restored.

I want to give my emotions the key and the driver seat.

I want to go my own way.  And, when I go my own way, I’m not following Jesus any longer.

Please tell me I am not alone in this.

The bible tells me that I am not alone in the process of transformation from me to he. He gave me his powerful Holy Spirit as a seal and a ransom for my life.  I am marked as his.  I have an advocate for prayer when I don’t know what to say. A mighty power that fills the void on days when I’m feeling particularly human.

The best promise is that his mercy is made new every morning.  I have fresh grace and fresh mercy to call upon each and every day.  A new opportunity to take the mistakes I made yesterday and turn them into opportunities for witness today.  His redemption is powerful.  And, it’s mine. (It’s yours too!)

When people see my life, my words and my choices, they should see my savior.  They should see my flaws, refined and restored, in his amazing mercy and grace.

They should be overcome by His love overflowing from me.

 

The bravest hearts come in small packages

We pull in to the K-Mart parking lot in Freeport, just outside of Applebee’s.  I can feel the tears burning my eyes. I’m trying to be strong but failing miserably.  I take off my seatbelt as I glance in the rearview mirror.  My Chloe, then third grader, was folded over crying silently.  I look over at my husband as he gets out of our magic van.  He pops open the side door as I walk around to take the driver seat.

This is where we say goodbye. I wish I had a fast forward button I could push.  I’m really not ready for this.

“Dad”, our 5 year old Lucas says, “Chloe is just afraid that this is the last time she is going to see you before you die.  But I know that Jesus is going with you and he is going to kick the bad guys butts.”

I will live and die to claim that these are and will be the hardest words I will ever heard one my kids say.  The hardest moment I have ever had to move through. We were prepared physically. In the last few weeks, we had attended every family meeting the national guard had offered.  We got our financial affairs in order.  Arranged for activities to keep the kids busy.  My work schedule altered to accommodate my new single mom status.

We planned for the worst while expecting the best.  But no one told me how to walk away. To leave my man behind to go and fight a war while I proceeded forward with my regularly scheduled life.

Yet, in that moment of brokenness, sheer wisdom came from the mouth of our kindergartener.

You’re not going alone. 

Jesus is with you.  

Jesus has your back.

When our greatest fears threaten to paralyze us, we have to stand on the fact that the power of God will fuel us with exactly the thing we need to move us toward his purpose, even when all evidence says we can’t.

He gave a stuttering murderer the power to part the red sea with his staff.

He projected a rock from the sling of a small boy to the exact coordinates needed to slay a giant.

He arranged a marriage for a pregnant, unwed teen mom that her reputation & future would be restored so she could fulfill her “yes” to him.

He granted his son the power to defeat a sinners death on the cross that all who believed could live in relationship with him.

He granted peace of mind to a 5 year old boy and his family that was separating for deployment.

What is paralyzing you today?

What is that thing you are facing that leaves your palms sweating?

What is the thing that leaves your stomach in knots of anxiety?

God is there.  He has gone before you.  He is with you now.

He has already kicked bad guy butt.

Allow his mighty power to move on your behalf today.

Seeking the Sabbath

 

 

“Your coming straight to bed?”, my husband asks in shock, “not even bringing your kindle to read?”

“I’m exhausted.” I reply.

Lately, my schedule has run me ragged.  My days start early and end late.  As I pursue this dream of writing, I have been adding daily journaling, blog design, web development and a training schedule to a list that already includes my roles of:

  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Sales and Marketing Director of a Supportive Living Community
  • Chief financial officer of my home
  • Household upkeep and maintenance
  • Church Volunteer
  • Community Volunteer
  • Band Booster Secretary
  • Workout & Weight loss champion (kinda)
  • all other duties as assigned.

I’m married to a man whose roles include:

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Production worker owning lots of OT
  • CEO of discount mowing service for elderly
  • Primary Chef in Landrusland
  • After school car pool king for the kiddos
  • Homework coach
  • Household Maintenance and upkeep (yes, it takes both of us)
  • A phone call away from saving the day
  • All other duties as assigned

Sound familiar? Can you relate to our chaos?

Sure, your roles may differ a bit from ours, but the bottom line is this:

We live in an overwhelmed society!

The idea of taking intentional time to rest gets farther away from the top of my priority list.  Rest equates to lost work time.  Lost work time equates to the possibility that someone  might get ahead of me and gain an advantage.  It means a tic mark left unchecked on my to do list. It means that someone might perceive me as lazy and carefree instead of driven and successful.

But what does God say about rest?

“By the Seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

Genesis 2:2-3

According to God, seeking the Sabbath is important!  If the mighty creator of the universe requires rest then so do I!

There remains, then, a Sabbath- rest for the people of God for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:

So when do you enter in rest from your works?  I find my Sabbath best met on Saturday.  A friend of mine who is a Pastor’s wife & youth leader experiences her refreshment on what she calls #recoverymonday.  Nothing defines the Sabbath as Sunday, but as the seventh day.  In theory, the idea of traveling together for church service is great.  Then, a lunch that magically prepares itself  followed by a nap and an evening of quiet family time.  Reality is that our family is up early for church and head that way in separate vehicles to accommodate our volunteer commitments.  We come together for lunch and hopefully a little downtime.  Then, the older two kids head to youth while the hubby, youngest and I begin our preparation for a new week.

Again, when do you enter into rest from your works? 

This is something I plan to begin scheduling week by week as an intentional effort to take a break from life.  I know that this is not a perfect solution.  We all have seasons of chaos that prevent us from taking more than a few moments of rest in an otherwise crazy schedule.  However, if crazy is your norm, it may be best to start creating some whitespace in your schedule.

Then the Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

Let’s talk about how to rest.  True rest comes from God.  How we rest is as unique as you are from me. The bible defines rest as a break from work or toil.  For me, this is a nap on the couch or a picnic in the park with my family. Reading a new book in the hammock, beach day or a hike.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as reading a book at the lake on my lunch hour.  Desperately needed moments of escape from my reality.

How can you seek the Sabbath today?

The Sabbath is simply about taking time to refresh and renew.  Recharge your battery.  Reconnect with God. Calm and rejuvenate.  Kick start your creative juices.  When resting, you’re to do list doesn’t go away, but, you can trust that God is going to give you exactly what you need to handle it when you return.

So go! Rest.  We’ll be right here, waiting, when you return!

What is your favorite way to break from your busy?  What are some great escapes that bless you & your crew?  Workaholics (like me) want to know! 

Leave your comments here:

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The cost of contentment

It was the second week of my very first bible study. Being a new member of our church, and the body of Christ, I was trying to learn and absorb as much as I possibly could. Last week, Judy, our bible teacher, asked us to write out our favorite verse. Mine was a no brainer.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
 
Apparently, I was not the only one. Four of us wrote that as our life verse. The problem, as a new believer, is that I believed that calling on that verse was a sure sign of prosperity and blessing upon whatever project I was working on. It was my cure all verse to conquering whatever ailed me. Fear in making sales calls. Guaranteed success on whatever business venture I put my mind to. The trick to making me an amazing wife and mom. A sure fired verse that would help me accomplish getting the home of my dreams and a life of accomplishment. My error was when I made this verse all about me and how Jesus would serve me. How Christ could help me achieve my dreams and ambitions. How Christ could take me from the struggles of being a young, insecure wife and mom and transform me into a confident woman who could handle anything with success and ease. A woman that other women longed to be. It was not about Christ at all, but about me and my own selfish desires to succeed. It was a few years later when I discovered the verse in context:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phillipians 4:11-13)
 

You could say the Apostle Paul, then Saul, was on the fast track before Christ caught his attention. But on that road to Damascus, everything changed. Paul was willing to sacrifice everything to proclaim the name of Christ. His life work. His good name among peers. His comfort. And he did it all through Christ who strengthened him. He was humble in riches and peaceful in poverty. Oh, that I could achieve Paul’s belief that no matter what, Christ will give me strength.  I challenged myself to rewrite this verse in a way that applies to my own life.  Here is what I came up with:

I am not saying this because I am in need, because you have something I covet or envy. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, even when they don’t make sense to me, or line up with what I think should be the promises of God. I know what it is to be in need. To be empty and lonely in my deepest places. To not have enough to cover all the bills for the month. To be without the wisdom I need for the moment. To feel lacking and incomplete. And, I have known what it is to live in plenty. Moments when I can’t lose. Money in the bank. Time spent well. Everything rolling exactly as I would expect it. Perfection. I have learned the secret to being content in every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I used to think I could use that verse as a magic wand to pull out for a tough situation. Abracadabra- I closed that sale. Abracadabra- Super balanced Super Mom. Abracadabra- selfish plans and motives instantly transformed into God’s will and plan for my life. But that isn’t it at all. It’s a commitment to contentment. It’s me, surrendering my life like a blank page, handing the pen to God and saying, “It’s all yours.” It’s leaning on Christ to step out in faith, intentionally and passionately, to pursue the calling he has for me. Even if I’m stepping into places I don’t want to go. Seeking only God’s face. Letting go of my selfish pride and ambition. At times, making choices that don’t make a lick of sense to those around me. Trusting God to be there when I step. He promises to be the light in my darkness. He promises his power will be made perfect in my weakness. The cost for contentment is death to self and rebirth in the promise of my Savior. Lack of concern for my life, while passionately and intentionally pursuing his purpose in the time he has given me on this earth.
Lord, in this moment, may my life be an open book in which you can write my story. Lord, grant me the strength and courage to pursue my purpose passionately and intentionally. In Jesus name, Amen.