Saturday, December 3, 2011

Deeply Rooted

As I drove to work yesterday, I found myself go from a state of shock, to becoming choked up, to a full on “ugly” cry. All because I drove past our city’s park. It looked like Tree-mageddon! My brain has still not comprehended the amount of destruction caused by one night of the worst winds southern California has ever seen. The landscape of the city has changed.

However, at the same time, I felt a gentle nudging in my heart to look for trees that were still standing. So as I drove, I started to make an effort to look for those trees…the trees whose roots were still firmly planted. By doing this, the landscape of the city had indeed…changed.

I saw some trees with snapped branches and some trees whose leaves had been shredded off. But they were still standing. I saw trees that looked like they were not touched by the wind at all, and still stood in all their majesty. I also saw trees that actually kept their flowers…flourishing after the storm.

I slowly began to realize as a follower of Christ, as a daughter of the King, highly favored and loved beyond measure…that I am like the trees still standing. The storms will come. Sometimes my branches will snap off, my leaves stripped. But because of the One I place my hope in, the One who calms my storms, rebukes the winds and is the firm foundation in which my roots are planted…I am also the tree that stands untouched and flourishing.

The way I look at the park changed because I realized there would still be trees left once the devastation was cleared. On top of that, new trees would be planted. The winds of change will come, but I’m so thankful that we serve a God that will help us to stand firm as we battle the storms in our lives. He also brings us along others who do the same and clears out the devastation around us.

Where are you planted? If it’s not in a relationship with Jesus Christ I pray that you will invite Him into your heart today and start building the landscape of your life around the God who loves you and wants to see you flourish…that regardless of the windstorms of life, your roots run deep.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My "and" Moment

I got a job!




I so am not saying or thinking of that lightly. A little over a month ago I got down on my hands and knees and asked God to open a door.


Not because I deserved it.


Not because I didn’t believe it would happen.


Not because I couldn’t take it another day.


But because I was ready to take the next step in this journey and I knew God would be the only one to open the door in this crazy job market. It was a "Sun Stand Still" prayer. And He delivered…again.


This past week, as I wait for the job to actually start, I have been experiencing a myriad of emotions and attacks. Yes, that sneaky little enemy, the master of confusion, is definitely on the prowl trying to steal the joy and glory of this answered prayer. However, that has only made me more on guard and excited about what’s to come. Waiting for the moment that something else would be revealed to me.


And then it happened…my “and” moment.


I woke up this morning from the second dream this past week that riled up every “ugh” feeling imaginable. “Sure, you have a job…but you’re still alone,” is what I heard. Such a low blow…but equally obvious of what is going on. So I did what I usually do, I pulled out my trusty life verse to read and meditate on. The verse I pointed to the day I first believed and asked God to ‘prove it to me’: Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


The “and” in that verse smacked me in the face.


Have I been focusing my walk more on the “forgetting what is behind” and less on the “straining toward what is ahead?” It made me think of the lesson at Celebrate Recovery a couple weeks ago: seven reasons we get “stuck.”


Forgetting what happened and pressing on to my future CAN happen at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for this spiritual, “aha” moment that takes all the “ugh” feelings away and all the memories with it. At times, I believed that my recovery would only be complete when I forgot about the past. What a great way to keep me stuck at my life as it is “now” and not in pursuit of what He has for me down the road!


I love what Dr. Grant C. Richison says in his Verse-by-Verse commentary:


It is not enough to forget the things of the past. We should think of things ahead. There are horizons over yonder. There is so much unconquered spiritual territory we cannot waste time on past failures. We should invite God to push back our horizons. What would God do if we would let him? The best is yet ahead for the child of God. The best and most fruitful years are yet before the spiritually dynamic person.


So as I prepare for this new job, new opportunities, and the celebration of my 1st year at Celebrate Recovery, I find myself having my “and” moment.


Forgetting what is behind AND straining toward what is ahead.


AND believing that the “best is yet ahead” for this child of God. 



Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm No Rocket Scientist

The other day I was driving home in traffic and turned on the radio to see why in the world I was driving home in traffic. I caught the tail end of a news story about the NASA scientists in Florida who have had a difficult time finding jobs after the shut down of operations there. They were interviewing these men who were losing their houses or having to move oversees because they can’t find a job. They are overqualified and have such a specific skill set. I’m sure they never in a million years thought they’d find themselves here: unemployed and unemployable.

These men are Rocket Scientists and they can’t find a job.

I thought of all the times I heard my grandpa say “well, I’m no Rocket Scientist but...” as he went on to prove his intelligence in an area. Rocket Scientists are way smart. Smarter than I will ever be but they can’t find a job. If they can’t find a job, how on Earth will I?

And even as I type that, I am reminded of the abundance of blessing I have been afforded during this time of unemployment. The fear of no health coverage the first few months of this year has been trumped by months of not having to go to the doctor. A part-time, temporary job that helped me remember what I’m good at and how I flourish when I’m working in the right atmosphere with the right people and the right attitude. The ability to pay my bills every month and a roof over my head.

I still may be no rocket scientist…but I am blessed and highly favored.

And I will find a job. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hurts, Habits, Hang-Ups and Hangnails

I got home the other day and as I was relaxing catching up on the latest news, my finger brushed up against my pillow and….OUCH!! Hangnail! How could such a small piece of a slightly torn skin cause so much pain! For the next day or so, I am reminded each time that little, micro-small piece of my body comes in contact with ANYTHING…OUCH!!

I can’t help to think about some of the hurts in my life in the same way. What appears to be something that seems so small can cause so much unnecessary pain. I can deny, and even sometimes, forget that the hurt is there…until it brushes up against a hurtful comment, a broken promise, or a car cutting me off in traffic and…BAM! The pain comes back and reminds me that the “little” thing I’m ignoring is still there.

And it still hurts.

What I’ve learned is that the “little” hurts matter. I can only ignore them for so long. The problem with ignoring the small hurts is they seem to flare up in the most inopportune times and very often are just a byproduct of something bigger. When triggered, they leave me in a state of not being able to focus on anything but the pain.

So here’s to dealing with the hangnails in life! Nipping them in the bud when they first appear, moisturizing them properly so they can heal, and giving them the time they need to do so. 

Where’s my nail clipper? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

9 Months

I can’t help but think about babies when I think about 9 months at Celebrate Recovery. Interestingly enough, I have several friends who either gave birth, or are about to give birth this month. As I’ve watched them wait with anticipation for this new life on the way, I think one word sums up a lot of what they are experiencing: Hope.

Hope that the new life will mature to its due date.

Hope that they are doing everything they can to prepare their home for the new addition.

Hope that this new life will be afforded all the opportunities that they’ve been blessed to have, and then some.

Who will they be? How will they change the world? 

When I come back each week…when I share my story or hear the stories of women in my group…I see the same thing…new lives being formed…I see hope. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bellyflop Faith

This past weekend I got to watch my brother’s kids. I love the time I get to spend with them because it never ceases to amaze me at what they teach me every single time. We ended up spending an awful lot of time near the pool. They both are on swim teams, and both had swim meets, so I got to see them in their competitive mode. I also got to see all the hours of practice pay off, as they are both very good, and brought home several ribbons.

But it’s the time we spent near the pool at home that left the biggest impression on me. It always ends up with someone who’s not supposed to be getting wet…well…getting drenched! The only competition that occurs is who can make the biggest splash. My 7 year old nephew gets his little legs going, yells at the top of his lungs, “Watch this!! Watch this!!” and proceeds to fling himself, face first, arms spread out wide, belly exposed….SPLASH!!!!

When he pops his head above water, I expect to see the look of pain and anguish, but instead, he just wants to see how big his splash was and who he hit with it (and if it gets his older sister…you bet that’s worth some braggin’).

I couldn’t help but think…I want a faith like that!

That’s the kind of faith I’m in need of during this season of not knowing what is next. I want to let go of what is holding me back, run full force with all my gusto, fully surrendered and ready to throw myself into wherever God sees me making the “biggest splash” for His kingdom! Sure, I know that along with that leap of faith might come a bit of sting to my belly. But I want my focus to be so transfixed to who the “splash” is reaching that all I can do is celebrate once my head comes up from below water!

So in the true spirit of my nephew, I'm ready to run full force, arms outreached and yelling at the top of my lungs to God, "Watch this! Watch this!"  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Root of the Matter

So there’s a good chance we are putting the house up for sale. Being unemployed and not being able to financially help my parents out has been a bit of a challenge. Fighting the pangs of codependency because I know there is no way to “fix” this. So I do what I can, which means putting on my overalls (figuratively) and helping with getting the house curb-appeal ready.
As I was out in the yard cleaning up a flower bed, I was met by what I could only describe as a slab of concrete. In actuality, it was dirt that was so embedded with the roots from our oak tree, that the surface could not be penetrated. Nothing you plant there could grow, the roots had taken over and no seed had a chance. I rolled up my sleeves and really got to work. It took every muscle in my body to break that ground and turn the Earth, but as I cut through the roots, the soil became softer and easier to work with.

It was then that it dawned on me that my 6-month milestone was coming this week with Celebrate Recovery and I pretty much had a moment there in the midst of soil and sweat: How similar my recovery journey was to this soil bed? When I came to Christ 15 years ago, I know that I was immediately delivered from some hurts, habits and hang-ups. God had certainly broken the surface. However, it wasn’t until I started dealing with the root of my issues, exposing them to myself and trusted friends, and surrendering them to God, that I was able to really see changes in my life. Every week that I “keep going back” I see strongholds broken in my life, and seeds planted in a soil so much more ready for growth.

I’m starting to see the fruits of the labor…and I’m so very excited to see what else grows.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Green Thumb

Several months ago, I noticed that the rose bushes in our backyard were fried. I started trimming them down, and even the thorns seemed petrified. I pulled the weeds around it. Put in some new soil and turned the earth. Made sure it was watered and sprinkled some plant food.

Imagine my surprise this week when my eye was drawn to a bright pink rose in the center of that once petrified bush. I know I’m not the first to make the connection between gardening and life…but a connection was made. Even though that bush looked good and done, dry as can be and not a sign of life to it…I still tended to it. I still believed, at some level, that a little attention to it would bring a flower eventually. It just took time. And hope.

The fact is the bloom would never have come unless I: 1) clipped off the dead branches, 2) cleaned out the weeds, 3) watered & fed it and 4) wait. Yes…WAIT. 

I think that’s why I’m enjoying gardening so much – my life at this point is very much like that flower bed. I’m in the process of learning to pull the weeds in my life. Cleaning out the dead and overgrown stems. Trying to make sure I get plenty of water, and lots of sun. And no matter what…I keep on sowing. The flowers won’t come overnight, but if I keep at it, they WILL come back. I just have to get my mind around trimming off those dead blooms and LETTING THEM GO.  

I can’t wait to be that beautiful garden again… 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Motion Sickness

I have motion sickness.

Many of times, if I’m the passenger in your car, I will need to be in the front seat with the AC on or the window open with my head facing straight forward. And chances are, if I’ve been the passenger in your car, I’ve gotten queasy because this girl can NOT keep her head straight…not when there are so many great things to look at out the side windows!  Or if you speak to me…I *have* to look at you. Because (hello): I’m anything but rude!

Recently, I remembered that there was a time in my life that it wasn’t such a problem. In fact, there was a time that I was the passenger quite often, looking out the side window at all the great scenery, and also looking over at the man that had all but made me his wife in the driver’s seat. I don’t remember getting motion sickness then. I gave up the control of where I was going to a person I thought wanted to go the same direction. I was wrong.

So, over the past several years, I have become the designated driver on many occasions. I drive myself to most destinations, and if with friends, I usually offer to drive. Everyone has just come to understand that I drive my own car and if I don’t, I get motion sickness. On top of that, I always have control of where we’re going and how we will get there.

It has dawned on me that I’m running my life and my relationship with God in much the same way. Fear that if I give up the steering wheel, I’ll have to endure the queasiness. I somehow convinced myself that I have control of where I go and the only choice is to drive myself, or get out of the car altogether. But I’m realizing that if I truly want to move forward, I’m going to have to learn to be a passenger again. It might not always feel great, but I want to go only where He’s taking me!

How about you? Are you still trying to drive? Have you learned to be a passenger? Or have you gotten out of the car completely? 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What if...

What if I had never dated him? What if I had never gone back after he was unfaithful? What if I had been upfront with how he made me feel when he did exactly the opposite of what he was saying? What if I was thinner? What if I had stayed in that program or job? What if I had shown up at church the day that dude wanted to meet me? There had always been a lot of “what ifs” in my mind when I thought about past or possible relationships. But as I drove home from my connect group, I again got a glimpse into what God has been planting in my heart.

Our group is called the “Power of Pursuit” and is directed toward single ladies in the church who are committing themselves to seek God’s best for their lives in dating. Tonight we had a lovely couple who shared their story and a whole lotta wisdom. A few of us spoke after, and the sentiment was the same: “Man,THAT was inspiring!” You know that stirring you get when God is doing much more on the inside than you can even put into words? Well, I got that feeling on the drive home.

What if I was meant to be single right now? Now hear me clearly…right NOW. Not forever. Just right now. Because guess what…I am single right now. And, guess what. I’m actually okay with that. God planted a seed in me about 2 years ago that I deserved more than I could hope for, or imagine, when it comes to a husband. Every so once in a while, I allow myself to “what if” my way out of that by listening to the world, and sometimes, even friends that try to convince me that my standards are too high, I'm not doing enough, or that I'm running out of time. 

What if it’s okay that I’m not in a relationship because God knew that I needed to be single right now to get this work done? 

What if He's building me up now, because whatever is coming down the line, is going to require some-thing and some-one special that He's equipping me for?

What if this desire to know God better and His will for my life is what my focus should be on right now?

My heart has been convicted: there’s no “what ifs” about it. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Want To See!!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

I’ve come to that time again. That time where I know that I need to refocus. It was inevitable. It’s not like I haven’t been here before. That time in my journey where all things seem anything but focused.

I. Just. Want. To. See!!

There is no easier way to say it. I’m tired, Lord. I want you to show me now what I’m supposed to be seeing. I’m tired of waiting. 

And even as I type that, I already see the immaturity of my current state. I know that even in this time of ‘waiting’ that some great things are happening in me. There are just those days that I let my flesh take over…the ‘worry’ of what will come. Why not just FOCUS on what I can do?

Some days, I feel like I’m in the optometry office of life…and I’m sitting in front of the phoropter…that machine they sit you in front of to test your vision. They say “this or that” as they change the frames back and forth. Sometimes it’s clear and then it’s fuzzy. Sometimes it’s fuzzy and then even fuzzier. But in the end…the vision is corrected to what’s perfect for you.

I feel like I’m midway through that exam…and even though I KNOW that I KNOW the end result will be perfect vision…perfect corrected vision…I somehow find myself wanting to just jump to the end of the test. Why do I insist that God take me to the end without correcting what must be corrected so I can have that perfect vision? I certainly don’t want to end the test now…not while I’m seeing fuzzy! I want my vision for my life to be in perfect focus with His vision for me. 

So I take a step back and I allow God to continue to work and correct me. At the same time, I need to take a step forward, and refocus my commitment to the things I do have control over. I know that I do these two thing, His vision for my life will start to become clearer. I'm excited and expectant at what I will see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Courage Is...

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. Probably because of the Godchicks ‘Night of Courage’ in a few weeks, and the questions posed to our team by our lovely leader Bonnie: What was your most courageous moment in life? What gives you courage? What does courage mean to you? 

Great questions.

When I was a kid, courage meant standing up to the school yard bully, or not being afraid of the ‘monster’ my brother said was hiding in my closet. But as I grew up, I realized that courage was more than just the absence of an obvious physical threat. Courage was also who we become and how we respond in spite of a challenge or fear. Courage seems to be one of those wonderful gifts from God that I want more of as I see and experience it through others.

Courage is my 5 year old nephew who will walk up to any kid on the playground and say “Hi, I’m Max! Want to play?”

Courage is my friend who is able to pick up her 90-lb son who is not able to walk (yet!) and get him in and out of school, therapy appointments and basketball practice.

Courage is the Pastor who stands up in front of a congregation each week to share the message of the love of God, believing that someone will hear it and make the most important decision of their life; while knowing others may critique his/her every word.

Courage is the person who walks into a Celebrate Recovery meeting for the first time, sometimes not even knowing why they did.

Courage is the one who chooses to believe.

What does courage mean to you?  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Something Beautiful

Ever hear a song differently? You know…a song that you’ve listened to a kajillion times…and then just one day it suddenly is saying something completely different to your heart?

I was researching for a job interview and was feeling like a match had been struck inside. And as I sat thinking to myself, “hmmm…maybe this is a new direction,” I heard the Holy Spirit say, “a new song to be sung.” I immediately googled it because I honestly didn’t recognize it as part of a scripture…and there it was: Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
   He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
   and put their trust in him.

I marinated in that scripture for a bit. I’m sure I must have heard it before, but it’s amazing what you hear when you are listening. I’m in a place in my life that I haven’t felt I’ve been before: in a sea of ‘what’s to comes’ and the unknowns but not feeling like I’m drowning. Some moments come that I feel like I’m being tossed and turned in the thrashing waves, yet it only takes a moment before I’m feeling like the seas are calming and I’m floating along in my life jacket.

The interview went well. And I am confident in saying that if it’s for me…then it’s mine. If it’s not for me, He will provide. He already has. If anything, I feel like a new song is being put in my mouth. Initially, I thought it was my job search direction. And although I still believe that’s part of it, I realized driving home from the interview that it may also be something else…Something Beautiful.

And the water is rising quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side, no I can't leave your side.

The lyrics I had listened to and sang repeatedly reached out and grabbed me at that moment. For years when the waters rose, the fear would overtake me. But I find myself in a time of my life where, for all intents and purposes, I should be drowning; and I’m not. I’m actually pressing into God more and He is showing up…big time.

And that’s the beautiful part. I’m glad that I’m reaching for Him now instead of feeling like He’s turning away from me. It’s in those times that are the darkest, those times that we find ourselves either figuratively (or literally) on our knees that He is within our reach.

I finally get it.

And that *is* something beautiful.