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Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Ones That Show Up



I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.

But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to  invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.

It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?

This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.

Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a writer...you probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.

I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.

Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?

A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up. That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.





We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?

What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?

I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up. 
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.

Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.

If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500.  You may even wonder if  anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.

You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that.
Just do it for the ones that show up.

I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.

What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or little....it matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.

Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.

And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.

But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.

Do it for the ones that show up.








Monday, November 28, 2016

All The Feels.



I logged into my blogger account just for the heck of it. I wanted to see if words would come given the opportunity. I noticed I had become eerily quiet over the past 5ish months and even more so over the past few weeks. I wondered why. I don't have any real agenda of playing hide and seek. It just sort of happened.

As I hopped over to this long neglected blog space of mine, I notice the last post I had written was titled "Moving to Stars Hollow." It seemed ironic given the fact that (probably) like you, I just finished the "Year In The Life" Gilmore Girls Revival on Netflix. The gist of what I had written back in July was an effort to discern the truth from the lies that satan feeds us. The lies that make us want to pack our bags and skip town to something quieter with less responsibility. Some place like Stars Hollow.

I was feeling disappointment and fear setting in and I was getting an itch to hop the metaphorical red eye, abandon it all in hopes for greener, softer, quieter grass. I've never been a bigger, better, flashier kind of girl. I prefer smaller and quieter. Though I never really would do it, the thought of disappearing from the radar entertained me for some time. However, in my many years of life as a Christian, I know enough to know the main way satan works is in our mind. So I dealt with all the feels and I wrote it out in that post. To remind myself and remind you that that thing that you are feeling, and I am feeling... all those feels, they might not be the best reason to abandon ship and not only that, abandon your crew. Because as we are tiptoeing through this minefield of emotion, sometimes we can lack the true discernment of the Holy Spirit if we are not careful. What we see and hear and fear and think we know may have captured our attention far more than His still small voice.

These past few weeks have had me pondering life once again as I've weighed the ups and downs of life and ministry. Where do I fit in, what should I say, when should I say it, or should I say anything at all? Am I called to speak up or just sit on the sidelines. As Christians, we do carry an incredible treasure within us, so I don't believe that quiet is ever a life long calling. In fact, the Word encourages the opposite-to speak boldly. Yet in these past weeks, between our car getting stolen and family members suddenly passing away, I kept hearing the exact words that Jess Connolly and Haley Morgan talk so much about to women. "You're too much. You're not enough."
And it seems as though it's not enough to just feel one way. Somehow the enemy gets you to believe both of them at the very same time. 
Your personality is too much for them to handle. They just don't get you and besides that you don't have what it takes to defend and honor the Word and the truth. You are too much. You are not enough.

So I was feeling a little lost, I suppose. 

What is Life?

I could hear Shakespeare louder than the Holy Spirit.
Life's but a walking shadow. A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

It's a lie. And a depressing one.
Yet these similar thoughts have fed my emotions for awhile now. And without even realizing it, I could feel myself slip quietly into the abyss.

Then I watched it. The Gilmore Girls Revival. I looked forward to it for months. The fast talking, upbeat, lighthearted dramedy full of quick wit that made me mostly giggle for seven seasons. And this past weekend, my heart sunk. Lorelai, Rory, Emily. They were all wandering. Shakespeare's dismal words were being played out before my somewhat bored and tear brimmed eyes. The Gilmore Girls- they had plans and hopes and dreams. I thought all was ok. Yet nine years later, no one was really happy.  No one was fulfilled. And to top it off, I had to sit through that awful 15 minute musical. Actually I didn't sit through it, because I fast forwarded through it and could hardly believe that 15 minutes later it was still going.

If that was what Stars Hollow was like 9 years later, I'm over it. Take me back to the city. I still love Gilmore Girls, but I felt strangely unhinged given my already misguided apprehensions as of late. I sunk a little lower. Silly, maybe. But it happened, so...

As I sat in church this past Sunday morning and peered around at the small and quiet Thanksgiving weekend congregation, that feeling crept back in. That 'what is life' feeling. Or maybe it was a 'whats the point' feeling. 
Either way, I made a decision right then and there that these momentary feelings were fleeting. But the Word of the Lord endures forever. I was determined to check out of the feelings realm and into the faith realm. Feelings do not change the word of God. The Word of God is what changes our feelings. Whether it is preached in an auditorium of thousands, taught in a congregation of a hundred or read quietly in a room of one, The Word of God is alive. And if we choose to receive and apply it, it will not only change our perspective in circumstances, but it has the power to change the circumstances.

My dad has been teaching a series on being led by God's spirit.  With lots of examples and stories that myself and most of our congregation has heard a dozen or more times. But to me, it really clicked this week. I couldn't help but think that this is one of the most important things that a Christian need to know. But not many of us really do.
So many of us are still led by our feelings. Our hurt feelings. Our sad feelings. Our offended feelings. Our bored feelings. Our inspired feelings. Our motivated feelings. Our confused feelings.

But feelings change, obviously.
And feelings lie.
Circumstances change. Culture changes. Times change. Society changes. Moods change.

But the Word of God is steadfast and strong.
His protection and provision is readily available to those who will listen to His voice. Our feelings are in our head. If Gilmore Girls can control how we feel, it may not be best to map out our lives according to them -our feelings, not Gilmore Girls... (though I wouldn't suggest mapping out your life with Gilmore Girls in mind either, especially Rory).

His Word is (should be) in our heart. And His Spirit lives within us. That is where we need to pay attention. 

And I'm ready. I'm ready to look deep. I'm ready to listen carefully. I'm ready to ask for wisdom and discernment. I'm ready to know the difference between my feelings and His spirit actually leading me. I'm ready to be obedient when he says go and stop when He says no.

That is the safest place to be. All of my trust in the Lord. Never leaning to my own understanding.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he will make your path straight." Proverbs 3:5-6


Monday, July 18, 2016

Moving To Stars Hollow.




Out of all the articles that could have caught my attention today, the one that stuck out to me this morning was a sponsored post titled "5 Real-Life Towns Like Stars Hollow that Gilmore Girls Fans would love." Ahhhh..... You can thank me later. Small towns. As a kid, I used to live in a small town. I don't remember having any problem with it, but as I got older and we moved to the city, I remember thinking I'm glad I'm in the city. I could never live in a small town.

But now... Now, It feels like a good place to shuck responsibilities and hide out. Not that if you live in a small town, you are irresponsible. But a quiet life sounds more and more appealing every day. Stars Hollow. Some days, I wish God would speak to us and tell us that's where we belong. Just a small town girl and guy attending a small town church where her kids could grow up, get married, have grandkids and then they could grow up. Far away from the banter of the city life and the ruckus of people and opinions. 

In case you haven't noticed, the momentum of sin and chaos in this world is growing. It's not slowing down and I don't think it will. What was once nearly unheard of, is now becoming ordinary. And for the record, instigating chaos never brings peace, comfort, justice or any such thing. No matter which way you spin it. Yet, people seem willing to settle up and get cozy with it. But seeing it all, hearing it all, reading it all overwhelms my soul some days. I don't know what to say or what to think. And aside from all the opinions being spewed forth all over social media, I think a lot of us really don't know. What do we do? All I know is to pray and to listen for His voice...

We're spinning in a pandemonium of fast paced, lit up, hyper active, uber-cool, politically correct, over-opinionated, superstar, morally decaying, self absorbed, agenda pushing, dehumanizing, non-submissive, extremist activity and rhetoric all throughout the world. And, I for one, would be totally OK, if I lived in a different time. In a galaxy far, far away. 

If opening up my Facebook news feed each and every day wasn't heavy enough, with all the stories and shootings and demonic activity in this world staring me right in the face, what is even more disheartening is watching Satan play on the minds of Christians. And them not have enough sense to take authority over his lies, his deception and his obvious mission to divide their marriages, their families, their churches and ultimately the body of Christ. 

We need to start learning to really know God's voice and start discerning what is an attack or lineup of the devil.

1. Stop Dreaming About Stars Hollow.
This isn't a time where we should run from our foundations. I know I know. I said I wanted to hide out in Stars Hollow. And I'm not saying I still don't or wouldn't. But it's not time to hide. Our families, our spouses, and our churches are the people we should stand and fight with, not against-- lifting up one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We need to put on the armor of God and fight against the attacks the devil has placed on each of these unions and relationships God has entrusted us with. If God put a relationship in your life, He is trusting you to tend that garden. If Satan can destroy our unity in our families and marriages, He can weaken the body of Christ on much larger scale. If he can break apart our churches or Godly connections, we can be left standing alone with no one to hold us up. Recognize when the devil is at work. Don't abandon your foundations in faith. And Fight!.

2. Don't Get Your Knickers In A Twist. 
The things happening in our nation and in this world are bigger than your issue with dot dot dot...While we are busy daydreaming about greener grass, the devil is busy using that open time slot to run his dirty little agenda. While we get negligent, it opens the door for him to get busy. It's not the time to become selfish. It's not the time be needy. It's not time to run to something bigger, brighter or flashier just because you have issues. It's not even the time to run to something or somewhere smaller because you have issues (Ahem...Stars Hollow), for that matter. Suck it up, buttercup, and let's stop getting our knickers in a twist. We've got bigger (but actually smaller) fish to fry. I'm just saying. Let's not let our issue carry so much weight that it hinders the plan of God for our lives or our churches. This world needs us now more than ever. And it needs the message of strength and hope in Jesus, not division and bitterness.

3. Crawling out of the Depths of Despair.
One of my favorite movies is Anne of Green Gables. One of the best quotes is Anne, over dramatizing as usual, as she says "I'm in the depths of despair." Then she asks Morilla, her adoptive parent, "Are you ever in the depths of despair?" Morilla is point blank. "No!" 
Every now and then, I feel myself start to sink into the depths of despair. I hear something or read something or come face to face with something in life or family or ministry and my feet start sinking in. I want to give in. I want to feel sorry for myself. 
But I've already been there. I've done that. I've had bad stuff happen. I've had issues with him and her and you and them and myself. I've made bad decisions. I've wallowed a bit. Then more. And where did it land me? The depths of despair. I've been through depression. It sucked. I refuse to allow myself to sink into that crumminess again. If you are feeling discouraged, overcome with depression or perhaps in the depths of despair, the Bible says to give all your worries and cares to God. (1 Peter 5:7) Worry or anxiety will do you no good and won't better the situation. It just won't help. I understand depression is real. I know all too well. And thank God for doctors, and even better-prayer and His word to speak over our lives. But if you are just starting to sink, crawl on out before you begin to even start feeling stuck. His Grace is your Strength, friend. 
.
4. Say No to Sweet Nothings.
There is a lot really cool sounding, new things being said these days. New priorities (us). New Agendas (us). It sounds enticing. New doctrines. New churches. New ideology. And guess what, a lot of it is centered around us. What we need, our human rights, our claim to fame, our need to justified, validated, loved and accepted. No matter what we do, it's still about us. It all sounds really romantic. Because of course, God loves us. But when do we start loving Him in return? When do we start making his heart for this lost world our priority? When do we start really helping and loving people by speaking the truth, instead of just validating everyone and everything that comes along? Not everything that is being said is of God. And not everyone that speaks using scripture is God ordained. Use discretion. Know God's Word. Listen for His voice above all others.
 And in all your ways, acknowledge HIM... not them.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5. Stay In Character.
I've had a lot of discussions recently about staying in character. What I mean by that is knowing who you are and not letting the junk in life derail you. And not letting the world around you have it's influence on who you know you really are called to be. Have you felt bored, had a let down, set back, run in, been down played? Have you heard the gossip, read the stories, tasted pain, felt the fear rampant in this world? We all have. But where did it take you? Did you cling to the Lord? Or did it change you? Did it take you down a path further away from His heart or did you draw closer, clinging to His every word? We may have all had different experiences. But we have all known trouble. Living in this world, we are not exempt from these experiences. But in the end, we know we are victorious. Jesus said, "In this world there will be troubles, but I have overcome this world."- John 16:33. We know who has the victory. So don't let troubles change who you once were. Don't let whispers of the world and agendas of the enemy disrupt God's call on your life. Don't become desensitized to God's sweet presence. 

Don't allow yourself to be influenced by it all. YOU be the influence!



Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.



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