Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Weed By Any Other Name

There is a flowerbed at our house that has been the subject of so many blog posts. And once again, I learned a lesson from a plant growing in my backyard.

For a reason not known to any person living in our household, the gardener took it upon himself to tear out all the plants in one particular flowerbed. I was so mad. Granted, the flowers had come and gone, the season had passed, and there was some gardening “cosmetic surgery” that needed to take place. But I didn’t believe it was time to completely mow down what took hours for me to plant.

He got everything but this one strange green thing sticking up in the back.

“Oh, sure…he left the weed,” my mom proclaimed in an equal amount of disgust. As she bent over to pull it out, she realized why it hadn’t been pulled, “Boy, that sucker is really in there!”

I gave it a quick tug, but to be honest, it was the only form of life left in the flowerbed, and I felt it deserved to stay (I was also tired and it was getting dark). The “weed” lived to see another day.

Every time I passed that flowerbed, I noticed that it grew a little taller. At one point, it looked like a bulb was growing. “Mom, I think that actually might be growing something!” My mom said “No, that’s a weed…I’m pretty sure that’s a weed.”

Neither one of us pulled it again or cut it down. It continued to grow. Somewhere between August and December…that “weed” turned into a beautiful flowering tree!

It didn’t matter what we called it – this tree growing in our yard was going to be a tree whether we called it a tree or not! Whether we watered it, or not! That’s just its nature. It planted itself. It got the nourishment it needed. It survived tugs on its roots. It stayed planted and it grew. And now it is flourishing. I even see that it has purple flowers waiting to spring out of its pods!

God has showed me so many times in the past 6 years how incredibly important it was to stay planted in the local church. When I was first making the decision to join a church, there were many reasons and rationales that came up to distract me from staying planted: It’s too far. I don’t know anyone. Once I knew someone, they left. I’m not sure the leaders handled that situation right. I don’t know enough. I’m serving too little. I’m serving too much. Most of the time, the only thing pulling at my roots was me!

But I stayed. I believed that this was my home church. I stopped getting distracted from the people and the thoughts that really had nothing to do with MY relationship with JESUS. Once I made the decision not to be distracted, I pledged to go all in. I called myself a member. I remained planted. I grew. And now I am flourishing. The local church has been instrumental in helping me heal the hurts in my heart, grow in my relationship with Jesus, and find my purpose in life.

And I’m so excited to see what continues to grow!

The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon[majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].

Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.

[Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].

[They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  (Psalm 92:12-15 AMP)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Baptism

I found my blog the year I got baptized! So neat for me to read again as so many people are taking that important step at Oasis Church this weekend! 

A New Creation written 9:08 p.m. - Monday, Dec. 04, 2006

As the end of the service neared last night, I could feel the lump in my throat return. It would happen soon. In front of all these people I would take the next step I had waited for 10 years to happen. Even though the room was filled with people, it was just me and Him up there. A nervous, calm…I can’t explain it any better than the feeling I get in the movies when the star-crossed lovers end up bumping into each other again on the street and I know that it’s not by coincidence… they come back together at just the right time, the steps they had taken up to that point in the plot bring them to just where they needed to be…and the feeling is of excitement and comfort of where their relationship is about to go.

That was me last night. Although there had been some anxiety at the thought of taking the next step in front of people…I knew my steps had been ordered and it was time. I had prayed that two things would happen this year… in the plot twists of my life; I was minutes away from having both happen only weeks before the end of the year.

As the time got closer, I slowly felt the calm enter every ounce of my being…much like that night I first believed my life had changed forever. As I ascended the stairs up, and then down into the warm water, I felt like life was in slow motion…the heart beat slowed down, I took my last breath and down I went under. Even though someone was holding me, it was just me and Him. As I was raised - that insecure, scared, betrayed girl was left in the water.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

…and justice for all.

We all learn it.

If you are blessed enough to call the United States of America your homeland…you learned it.

Whether you learned it, like me, as a child in the school yard after repeating it every morning before you walked into your classroom for the day.

Or you learned it, like my friend’s mother, well into her adulthood during her Citizenship class.

You probably said it a million times: ”with liberty and justice for all.”

And although I’ve repeated it more times than I can remember, the last statement in the pledge of allegiance was heavy on my heart during my civil service.

The judge explained that justice is blind and the scales of justice start out even. It was our duty to see if, after all the evidence was presented, the scales leaned more to one side than the other. The jury is made up of 12 human beings who all bring their eyes, their experiences, and their biases to the jury holding room, and are then asked to lay them down and disregard them in order to seek justice.

To be honest, I can’t say I would choose to be on a jury. But once I was chosen, I took it seriously because:

God loves justice (The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5)

God commands we seek it. (Learn to do right; seek justice. Isaiah 1:17)

God blesses those who maintain justice in a world that might not always seek it. If we want to maintain justice, we don’t get to pick and choose when we want to do right.  (Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantlydo what is right. Psalm 106:3)

God requires us to act. (He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercyand to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8)

As I finished my jury duty, I couldn’t help but feel convicted. When I walked out of the four walls of the court room, it was clear to me that I don’t live in a world where justice is blind and the scales are even. Yet, I’m commanded to stand in the gap between those who need justice and the One who loves it.

How am I loving and seeking justice in my day to day life? How am I playing my part to bring liberty and justice for all?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Someday...I will.

I'd say I was surprised...but I really wasn't.

Whenever I go to a staff meeting, it never ceases to amaze me what I walk away with. And even as I write that sentence, I am still in complete awe of what God has done in a year's time. I'm working. Full-time. On a church staff.

But I digress...

The meeting started with updates and then turned to Pastor Holly giving what would be a soul stirring devotional.

She spoke about Psalm 9:

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; 
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and rejoice in you;

    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

She pointed out how David was intentional about using the words "I will" at the beginning of each line. He was intentional in his commitment to honor God. We were then challenged to write our own Psalm. What were our "I will's"?

I wrote:

I will love you, Lord, with a fully devoted and undivided heart.
I will tell how You changed my life once I surrendered it to Your will.
I will stay positive, and praise You Lord, even in the valleys (it's not about me).
I will make You top priority in my life.

Yet as the meeting ended and I went about my day, I had to stop and ask myself..."How ya doing with all that right there?"

Are my "I wills" really "I will someday?"

There are several areas in my life that have been stagnant. I will write regularly in a journal or blog. I will lose this weight I've been carrying so long. I will read that book from 2 connect groups ago. I will reach out to that friend who I've lost touch with.  

And then I heard His voice say: I will choose to live today like it was yesterday's someday. 

The difference between "I will someday" and "I will" is intention. I realized by writing down the words "I will love you, Lord, with a fully devoted and undivided heart" that I was saying NOW. Not in a few days. Not next week. Not when I feel like it.

Not someday.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Whisper to a Scream (It’s more than just a song from the 80s)

Love comes, down upon us
Til you flow like water
Burning, with the hope of insight
- (A Whisper to a Scream ~ The Icicle Works)

My church family has joined together to start 2012 off with 21 days of fasting and prayer. I started 2012 in the midst of emotions that I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on…emotions I knew if I didn’t get a hold of, would lead me down a path back to a place I didn’t want to visit. So I asked God to show me the things, people, places, situations that were distracting me.

The thing that I’ve found about my relationship with God is that I hear Him whisper to me all the time. A “don’t forget that bag” as I walk out of the house, that I grab without thinking…only to find I needed something in it several hours later. Sometimes it’s a word like “all in” that I find myself hearing and then sharing with a friend who needed to hear just that. Sometimes the whisper is a scripture that I have no idea why I’m being lead to until I’m reading it and knowing exactly why.

The thing about a fast, though, is that it seems those whispers become screams. As I press into Him, spend time in prayer and in the Word, His whispers sound like screams in my head. They are louder. They are clearer. And unlike a whisper that you can try not to hear…there’s no ‘not hearing’ a scream.

But even as I write this, I hear my Heavenly Father remind me…”am I screaming? Or are you just listening better? Have you cut out the people, and the things and the distractions that make My voice more easily heard?”