Monday, March 30, 2009

Jubilee Monday #31 - Already blessed.

Y'all. Go look again at the The contest info I mentioned last week. Scroll down to the bottom to see links to all the contest entries... there are 132 that made it before the cut off date.

If you have time, read those links. Some of them are amazing stories. You'll laugh, you'll

Now, I am not fooling myself. I'm a rank amateur. But that's ok...'cause, you know, a few folks followed my link to my blog. One or two even left comments.

So I already feel like I won something. I don't know how many stayed and read the whole entry or how many just glanced at it and moved on, but I was encouraged just the same.

And I don't think I have to be scared of a five minute limit. ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Who Am I?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The First Outline, slightly modified for readability, that I mentioned in Goin' on Record

Who Am I?

Who am I,that I should stand before people and teach?

We all need to learn who we are in Christ, because it is only when we realize who we truly are that we can accomplish what God wants to accomplish through us. I believe there are people here who have heard God call them to a specific task, and your response has been “Who am I? I can’t do that. I have no qualifications and no credibility.” Well, you’re not the first, and neither was I.

Exodus 3:11 – Moses asked the same question of God. God’s answer to Moses is in the first part of verse 12: You are someone I have sent and I will be with you.

Moses’ Objection #1 (3:13 – 14) I don’t have any authority
God’s Answer: He gave Moses His Name – I AM
We have the same authority today: John 14: 13 & 14 we have the Name of Jesus
His Name is not a magic formula
His Name is how we live: see John 15:7

Moses’ Objection #2 (4:1) – I don’t have any credibility
God’s answer: I will give you three signs:
1) miracles
2) healing
3) blood
We are given fruit (Matt 7:20; note context is discussing how to tell false teachers from true teachers) in order to give us credibility

Moses’ Objection #3 (4:10) – I don’t have any ability
God’s answer : (4:12) – I will give you the ability

Moses’ Final Objection (4:13) I don't want to do it -send someone else
God got angry and allowed Moses to take Aaron (4:14 – 18)
Notice: God did not allow Moses the option of not doing what he was told.

Question: What has God told you to do? What objections are you giving Him?

I admit that's pretty sketchy. But it is, after all, just an outline. If I weren't swamped w/costume sewing I'd embellish it out into essay form, but there's Just Not Time today. Hopefully, if someone reading this post is asking God, 'Who am I to do _______?', there's enough there to verify to you that He's got everything you need to accomplish your assignment.
I'm off to sew!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

God's Funny Like That.

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I noted yesterday that sometimes God will do things that don't turn out like I expect...thought I'd share a story...

Back in '95, I was in an especially hungry place spiritually. I was delighted to receive a brochure for a local non-denominational, non-church affiliated Christian Women's retreat and read that Anne Ortlund, author of Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, a book that changed my life 20 years ago, was going to be the featured speaker.

I and a couple of other ladies from my church sent our registrations in right away, only to learn that the conference filled up almost overnight and we were on the waiting list.

I was devastated. I'd felt so sure that I was supposed to be at that conference. Days passed, weeks passed, and the week of the conference rolled around.

I was almost fasting (although fasting really wasn't part of my spiritual vocabulary at that time; I just was so emotionally invested I couldn't eat), praying that God would arrange things so we could go.

And, I really felt I heard Him tell me 'You will be there.'

Yet there was no phone call that we made it in.

The day of the conference, one of the other ladies and I decided we'd drive the hour to the conference site...just in case there were no-shows. We packed up, and arrived at the state park lodge about half way through the opening service. We checked in at the front desk, but so far there were not enough cancellations for us to get in. There were a few ladies who had come and were staying with friends, hoping to get into the conference also. We waited for the final latecomers to either show or no show, listening to the reactions of the ladies from the auditorium around the corner from the conference registration table. But, when the evening's session ended, we found that there was exactly the full number of conferees. There was no room for us.

So, we returned to the car and drove back to town. We had a great trip there and back, talking about things we never got a chance to talk about. Finally, I dropped my friend off and got home about midnight.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was just beginning to try to hear from God, and I couldn't believe I mistook His voice. I heard from another friend the next day, who just happened to call to chat, and I related the story to her. 'I really wanted to be there!' I lamented to her, 'I really need an experience with God!'

'Oh!' She said, 'Our church has just started Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God study...I bet you could get still get into it!'

Long story short...I did get into it. And it changed my life. And through a connection made in that study I enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship the next fall.

I graduated from BSF seven years later. It also changed my life.

And my small group leader in the Experiencing God study was a link to the church we now attend.

And, while the friend who made the drive and I have gone different ways, we ran into each other at a wedding last summer, and she commented on that trip -- how good it had been and how much she'd enjoyed it. Somehow, the sharing we did ministered to her.

But, back in that day, I still had to reconcile what I thought I heard. And in my prayer time following the first few daily studies in Experiencing God, I rather remonstrated with my Father.

Lord, thank you for getting me into this study. But -- I really wanted to do the retreat. I thought you said I could go!

His reply...What are you complaining about? You WERE THERE, weren't you?

And, I had to agree...yes, I was there...

And it has led to so many things I didn't expect. All good.

God's funny like that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jubilee Monday #30 - Gulp!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok, so I finally 'fess up to a dream of being a speaker/teacher to groups of women, and guess what shows up in my Bloglines list just a few days later:

A contest to win a scholarship to a conference to equip women writers/speakers/minstry leaders!

It's the eighth annual She Speaks Conference, which is hosted by Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries and is specifically intended to equip women in ministry, with different tracks for speaking, writing and leading. Wow. How cool is that?

And it's in Concord, North Carolina...that is, it's within a day's drive of the Rocket City. I could physically get there.

So suddenly I had a choice...I could follow the rules and enter the contest, just to see if God used it somehow, or I could pretend I didn't see it and continue to wonder how I might get the mentoring/training I feel like I need in order to go where I'm dreaming.

Now, for the few and the faithful who drop by here, can I just say the choice shook me up a bit? Because an entry is a risk, you know. Only one scholarship is being given away; and the entry is the blog post that links to the contest. So, yeah, the post you are reading now will also be read by People Who Are Evaluating It.

I've felt pretty secure in the anonymity of my little corner of the blogsphere; self-promotion was never really part of my vision for the blog. And, can I just say that the idea of writing for a grade (in which only ONE 'pass' is awarded) is pretty intimidating? But -- I *had* to write an entry, because I'd JUST said my dream was to speak to women, only I had no idea how to go about doing it.

Because, you know, this *may* be God's way of pushing me into it. According to the Speaker Track info, one who chooses that track will get great seminar information and also the opportunity to speak twice. The first talk will be three minutes long and be a personal story; it will be reviewed by peers. The second will be a five-minute 'teaching talk', and will be evaluated by a member of the Proverbs 31 speaking team.

Aaaiiiieee. Five minutes. My main speaking experience is a Sunday-school or Wednesday night pre-teens class type of setting in which I sometimes struggle to stay on topic well enough to cover all the material in 45 minutes. Giving a five minute teaching would be miraculous.

It scares me with the kind of scare that comes with something that is a new challenge to be faced.

In reality, it may be scaring me for nothin', because they are only giving away one scholarship. And there are LOTS of women who would be blessed beyond words to receive it. So I know that it's really a God thing if this crazy post should win any favor.

But, you know, sometimes obedience brings a different reward. I *have* to post the may not result in a scholarship, but it will result in something.

Because God is funny that way. And it *is* the Jubilee Year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Indulge Me...for Grandma

One of the techies in Huntsville Masters Commission has posted a few video clips from the service they did at church a couple of weeks ago. They began with their version of 'Stomp', which they use as a ministry tool to grab folk's attention. They'd just returned from doing outreach in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, hence the beat-up state of some of the, um, 'drums'.

The Artist is the one on the far right in the red shirt. You don't wanna know what he's done to his hands/fingers in the course of playing this since the first of the year...he actually posted bloody pictures on Facebook, which makes his mamma shudder.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it, Mom! (If you double click, it should take you to Youtube, where you can enlarge the picture and you can see the other video clips on the sidebar there).

Friday, March 20, 2009

With All My Heart

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

One of my favorite books is Hinds' Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. I don't remember how long ago someone loaned me a copy with instructions to 'Read this!', but I read it, went out and bought my own copy and read it again. And again. And again.

I still find lessons in that allegory for my life. The current one stems from the little scene in which Much-Afraid sees the road leading to the High Places and runs joyfully along it, only to be surprised by a 90-degree turn that takes her, not towards the High Places she has been promised, but towards the desert. She doesn't understand but, at the Shepherd's assurance that this is indeed the way she must go, she resigns herself to the journey and heads off in the direction of the desert.

It may be a stretch, but this fits the scripture that has been on my heart a lot I cringe from some aspects of the new job because they aren't what I really feel like I will thrive doing. Not that I don't think I can learn to handle that particular responsibility -- I'd just rather have my teeth drilled. But I didn't plant myself here, so I can only assume that this is, indeed, the way the Shepherd desires me to walk.

I also look at the verse when I regard the pile of costume/volunteer sewing that is occupying my sewing space at the moment, when I have some projects from my own sewing stash that need some attention. It is a service to the community, to folks for whom I am a representative of the body of Christ in some capacity. I didn't ask for that, either, yet here I am. Obviously, the Shepherd is working here, too.

My verse is Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV)

If I am serving Him, then I need to give it all my best shot.

Now I'm tempted to go edit today's sewing blog post so it's not quite so whiney. But, on reflection, maybe I'd better leave it as is. Just to prove I really am struggling to do what my heart knows I should ain't easy and I don't always get it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strengthen My Hands and Tune My Ears

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Guess I'm on a Plain Vanilla kick at the moment. Funny how this stuff I wrote years ago is speaking to me now. Here's another excerpt.

Shortly after the birth of my fourth child, I gave up my position of ‘youth leader/teacher/whatever’ at our small church, since I felt the students needed more than I would be physically capable of giving them. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was tied up in my position of “Youth Leader,” or how much spiritual nourishment I was getting just by hauling them to various conferences and activities, or how much I enjoyed the interaction with other youth-ministry people. Suddenly, all of that was history.

I found myself struggling to teach the junior girl’s mission class on Wednesday nights with curriculum that frequently did not arrive (and seemed like just so much busy work when it did). I spent my church services sitting alone with my nursing baby in the nursery, listening to the sermon over the intercom. I literally felt like I had dropped into a spiritual black hole. Add to that the normal chaos of adjusting a house to a new baby – even a fairly contented one – and you can see that I was headed for Whine City. I have multiple journal entries in which I whined to God about my house being a mess; about feeling fat and unattractive; about the pointlessness of the mission class I was teaching; about feeling like I was not giving my husband or my three older kids anything they deserved from a wife and mother. Over and over, I heard myself pray, “God, get me out of this mess!”

The one bright spot was that I was enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship, and I had an hour and forty-five minutes every Tuesday evening in which I could drink in spiritual refreshment. We were studying “Israel and the Minor Prophets,” which required quite a bit of study through the week, and it was the lifeline to which I clung desperately. I will never forget the night my teaching leader discussed Nehemiah...and observed that, despite the difficulties and pressure he faced, Nehemiah never once said, “Lord, get me out of this mess.” Instead, he prayed, “Lord, strengthen my hands.”

Have you ever been smacked right between the eyes with conviction? I was that night! Now, not only did I know that my circumstances were less than ideal, I also recognized that my attitude was in need of some serious adjusting. But, in all honesty, I hadn’t a clue how to go about adjusting it. I was moaning over this to God, and this time I actually felt a response from Him. “You are focusing on yourself and your imperfections,” He told me. “You need to focus on Me and My Perfection.”

I was still pretty disgusted over the whole situation, and I’ll admit I was a little sarcastic when I replied, “That sounds just great, Lord. How do I do that?” I wanted something practical, down-to-earth that I could quantify. I didn’t expect there to be anything other than "Read your Bible and pray," (You know, the standard Sunday School lifestyle answer).

But I received a different answer. “Praise and worship music.”

So, I began to listen to praise and worship music. Not just contemporary Christian music, but music that was expressly used to lift up God’s name and praise Him. I can’t say that I suddenly woke up and found everything changed in a hurry…in fact, a number of my physical circumstances haven’t changed that much. But, God did something with my attitude. My confidence in Him returned, and I found strength to keep going.

The truth is that God speaks to Plain Vanillas, but the speaking often is not dramatic or obviously supernatural. It is God’s Spirit speaking to the inner man, something that could almost be written off as imagination. In fact, it would be surprisingly easy to ignore God’s voice altogether if I was convinced that He wouldn’t talk to me. He gave me a revelation that, while not being something grand or flashy or earth-shaking, still was enough to get me out of my Slough of Despond.

Remember, all you other Plain Vanillas, God speaks to you, and He does wonders for you. You may not be aware of it, but it is happening. Expect it and keep expecting it. Look for it. Sooner or later, you will realize what God is doing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jubilee Monday #29 - Goin' On Record

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've really, really thought about dreams this week. I spent some time on the carpet at the women's conference this past weekend trying to figure out what my dreams really are -- what is God calling me to do?

I considered some ministry that I am doing now and wondered if that was it. As in, 'Is that all there is?' I wondered if I should just settle into that spot and pursue God with it. I am enjoying it, but it feels like the 'back side of the desert' in a lot of ways. I don't think it's all there is. I may continue to do it for the next umpity-ump years, but it isn't the end goal. I don't think.

Because when I thought about just pouring myself into that place, something in me grieved. And I realized that THAT's how I could find the dream -- I had to look at that place to see what it was that didn't want to die.

And, lo and behold, there it was.

Maybe 15 or so years ago, a guest speaker spoke in the little denominational church we were part of at that time. He was someone who clearly had the gift of evangelism, and he led people to Jesus on his mail route, in parking lots and checkout lines...wherever he encountered them. He exhorted us to do likewise. And I felt disappointed in myself...not only because I didn't do that, but because I'd never asked God to allow me to do that. So I prayed, "Lord, stir up in me the desire to be an evangelist!" Shortly thereafter...maybe even that same I was walking through the den, I heard in my spirit, 'Do not despise a teaching gift.' I wasn't even thinking of anything spiritual at the time, so that word surprised me. But I wasn't sure what to do with it.

But there was another little nudge way back there in the past, too. I can't remember when it was, whether it was one or two years before or after that word. But I do remember the specific spot in my bedroom where I suddenly had a very clear mental picture of speaking to a room full of ladies sitting around white table-clothed luncheon tables. It was so vivid that I immediately felt panicked. 'God!' I said, 'Who am I to speak to ladies?' Immediately I was referred to Genesis 3, when Moses used that same protest.

That turned into one of the first outlines to go on the computer as a possible message to those unknown ladies. I've collected several others, but, as is the way of things, when years passed and nothing whatsoever happened that looked like it was leading to that place, I quit outlining.

I suspected that the idea of teaching was a personal ambition thing, not a God dream at all. One I was afraid to pursue because, you know, if it was just me, it'd be a flop and a failure. But, because it was in me, I found myself making attempts anyway. Oh, they were small toe-in-the-water efforts...and most every attempt WAS very nearly a flop and a failure. Or greatly appreciated by all of about 6 people. I decided that that *couldn't* be my God dream.

But, when I wrestled with the idea of finding the dream, I kept coming back to that. There's something deep in my spirit that doesn't want to give it up. It was that place that mourned when I considered pouring myself into an alternative vision.

Yesterday, as I was getting ready for church, I glanced in the mirror in the bathroom just before I left and saw myself holding a microphone. Teaching.

It shook me a bit, but I can't deny it.

I still have no idea how or when or where. But it's there. And it's not going away.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi. I posted this earlier today as a Facebook Note, but I decided it was worth editing slightly and posting here as well

(I was gonna title this 'Stripped Down', but, well, I thought that would bring the wrong connotation)

It wasn't a question of whether or not I would attend the 'Bridentity Women's Conference' at one of our church's satellite campuses. I knew I needed to go.

It is an honor and a blessing to serve in the house, but I gotta tell ya, it's a sweet refreshing to be in a place where I can just receive without necessarily being on the lookout for what needs to be done.

Because we all need an objective word...a confirmation or warning or correction or encouragement from our physical as well as our spiritual ears from time to time.

How many of us women would just die of romantic bliss if our respective hubbies whisked us away for a weekend with minimal luggage/preparation...because the time was to be spent in intimate communion, not sight seeing or visiting fancy places or doing anything but spending time in each other's presence? I didn't know that's what Bridentity would be for me in a spiritual sense.

I inquired about carpooling but didn't find any one else who was going, so I just drove myself over for the conference. Sure, it'd be late when I got home Friday night, and I'd have to get up and leave early on Saturday morning, but I had a feeling it would be worth it. I knew I had to go.

50 rainy minutes after I pulled out of my driveway, I pulled into the parking lot of at the satellite church. I went in and hung out in the lobby for a bit, waiting on the sanctuary to open. Amongst the visiting and chatting, the pastor, a long-time friend, welcomed me and asked where I was staying. Somewhat surprised, I replied, 'Home!' He told me that there were several ladies staying at a local retreat center and encouraged me to just stay with them.

Stay overnight? I didn't bring ANYTHING to stay the night...and I'd just used my last check in the bookstore. Yeah, it'd be *nice* not to make a late drive in the rain back to town, but, well, it wasn't practical. I'd have to wear the same clothes tomorrow...I didn't have a toothbrush....

"I'm sure that can be taken care of!" he countered. "Seriously, you should stay with them."

I smiled my 'oh, that's sweet' smile and said I'd think about it. Which I did, for about 20 seconds. Wear the same clothes two days in a row to a women's conference? Uhn-uh!

Once the sanctuary doors opened, I found a seat and put my purse and Bible down, then ran into the ladies who were staying at the retreat facility. They invited me to sit with them, then asked where I was staying. They got the same answer I gave to the pastor, 'Home!'

"No!" They were insistent. "You don't need to drive back and forth! There's plenty of room at the need to stay with us!"

I gave them the same protest...slightly more detailed...that I gave to the Pastor. I wasn't prepared to stay the night. I didn't have anything for the next day. Anything.

But they were not going to be put off. "We can get you what you need!" they said. "There's a Wal-Mart up the wouldn't be difficult at all to pick up a couple of necessities!"

The service was about to start, so I rather lamely agreed to 'think about it'. And, this time I did. Was this something God meant for me? Wouldn't it be humiliating to not change clothes? Everyone else looked so pulled together...

After worship were the opening remarks. And one of the things said was that this weekend was to be a weekend of simplification...of stripping down and away that which was unnecessary.

So. I saw the point. After the service, I called My Sweet Baboo and he said he wondered if I'd want to stay and gave me his blessing. And a $16 charge at Wal-Mart later I had what was minimally necessary to spend the night. I laughed at my luggage when I got to the Cove and Wal-Mart bag.

And do you know, one of the ladies at the cabin made a comment while we were there that provoked a paradigm shift. She wasn't talking to me or about me, but her statement about using God's time for something other than God echoed in my spirit. It was a word I needed to hear.

I'd inadvertently left my notebook at home, so the only thing I had for note taking was the 3x5 notepad in the conference bag. Normally, I write pages of notes...I had to limit myself to nuggets only. As a result, I realized that there are times when I almost 'hide' behind my journaling; being the recorder and not the participant. Not having the journal, I had to make sure I listened with all my ears so as to remember as much as I could and I couldn't shift my focus to writing when I got uncomfortable.

Consequently, I don't have the details on everything...just the outstanding points. Stripped down to the essentials.

But I am going to be processing those essentials for a while. I don't want to miss any lesson from my simplified weekend.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Psalms 18 Encouragement

Our monthly women's study at church was Tuesday night and involved a look at 'upholding'...and, as part of the study, we were given a list of about 10 verses that mentioned 'upholding', split into groups of 4 - 5 and instructed to read the verses aloud and then discuss them.

I was in a group of ladies I didn't know well, so it was awe inspiring to hear their stories as we discussed the assigned verses. What appeared to be a random assignment...we each took two verses to read and initiate the comments...turned out to be an amazing word to each of us in her own unique season.

The verse that got to me is Ps. 18:35: You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great..

I didn't pre-read it before my turn came, just turned to it and read it cold. I got as far as 'sustains me', and when I read 'you stoop down to make me great' I had an overwhelming sense of the greatness of God and the insignificance of me; yet He was 'stooping down' to lift me up.

And, given the plain unadorned fact that I have been feeling very insignificant of late, I was undone. And completely surprised that I was undone.

Now, I don't think that only means 'great' in a worldly sense, although David was writing it as one who went from a shepherd to a king. So far as this applies to us, God humbled Himself, in the form of Jesus, in order to restore us to a place of authority in His Kingdom.
He is that committed to seeing us take the place He has for us .

He gives me His shield of if it were my own.
His right hand holds me doesn't matter that I am too weak to fight/persevere/win. His strength never fails.
He comes under me to put me in a high place.

He does this!

Now, how many times have I read Psalms 18? Why had that verse never caught my eye before?

Perhaps it wasn't the season for me to hear that word. Or, perhaps I was so blown away by the rest of Ps. 18 that I just didn't notice.

The notes at the top of the chapter indicate that David sang this psalm 'when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.'

It's a RICH song.

If you're in a tough place today, look up Ps. 18 and read it through slowly. I'm expecting God to use it to encourage more than just me. And if one of the verses speaks to your situation and gives you hope, share it with the rest of us in a comment.

I'm looking forward to seeing how God ministers to others through this little part of His Word!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Have No Idea Where This Stuff Comes From

I have a flair button on my facebook bulletin board that reads, 'Why, yes, I do randomly speak with a British accent!'

Not to disrespect anyone who speaks that way normally, but I kinda picked it up when we did 'The Gospel According to Scrooge' at church and every once in a while it just slips out.

So tonight, while preparing my jr. high girls class for a fill-in-the-blank review test we give as a part of the Honor Friends requirements, I not only spoke in the random accent, but then challenged the girls to do their part of the corporate read-aloud in as close to a British accent as they could manage.

We wackily read through it, then I gave them their empty-blank sheets to see if they could remember what we'd just read (sounds rough, but they get the same paper each time and once a blank is filled in correctly, it's filled in and they don't have to re-do it).

I haven't checked the sheets yet to see if the craziness inspired any more correct answers.

Did I plan that at all? Nooooooo. Just happened that way.

Guess it keeps 'em guessing. I know it keeps me guessing....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Plain Vanilla: Small Things

Posted By Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Every once in a while, I get an urge to go post something from the Plain Vanilla File. I don't know why the urge strikes, but it hit tonight and, cruising through the folder, this bit caught my eye.

We don't always recognize God in the small things. But the small things make a huge difference over time... Anyway, here 'tis:

How God Saved My Marriage
(Plain Vanilla Style)
My hubby related this story to me quite a while ago, and I remember that it really surprised me at the time. It was during one of our ‘deep sharing’ times, when we were talking about our marriage.

He made the comment that he recalled a time when we’d been married about five years or so, when he was beginning to feel bored with the whole thing. He said that he began to wonder if “this is all there is” to marriage. Well, according to the world’s pattern, that’s about the time our marriage problems should have really started.

However, for some reason (!) he decided that, if the situation was going to change, he needed to change his attitude. Keep in mind, I was a relatively new mom at that time, so I had my plate full just being mom and I was totally unaware he was thinking through this. Now, years later, I can tell you that that decision made a great difference. He has pursued opportunities to learn about being a good husband and father; he has done things in our home that most men wouldn’t consider doing. I never knew that he decided to take responsibility for keeping our marriage growing and vibrant…I just knew that it was good!

When he told me about his decision, my jaw dropped. I mean, that’s just not the sort of thing a typical modern American male would do! Yet, he did it. To my way of thinking, that was God keeping the sword from passing through the land. Sure, there are marriages in which God does great, spectacular restorations…but He was just as involved in that small, quiet decision, made in private and carried out diligently. God really and truly saved my marriage…but if my sweetie had never told me about his decision, I would never have known.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jubilee Monday #28 Dare to Dream

I've mentioned dreams of the heart before in connection with Jubilee, and once again that theme has recurred. Sarah posted about dreams, then challenged her readers to articulate their dreams, even offering the opportunity to be a guest blogger to discuss it.

Which once again made me consider dreams of the heart.

It's one thing to cheer on someone else's dream, but it's entirely different to put my own personal dreaming out there.

'Cause, by and large, I haven't even been brave enough to define it to myself.

I read The Journey of Desire several years ago, then picked up the companion study guide/journal and began to seriously work my way through it. It's taken me literally years to get even halfway through because I keep stopping, finding it very difficult to actually write down what my dreams are. And I'm rather ashamed to admit that when I do finally write an answer to the latest question that stumped me, it is a beat-around-the-bush, vague thing that technically answers the question without exposing anything. (Does that mean I'd make a good politician?)

I tell myself I don't know, but I think the truth is I'm afraid to look. 'Cause then I'd be responsible.

So, maybe in my remaining few months of Jubilee, I need to be willing to risk admitting to at least one dream....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Paradigm Shifting

Ok, take a little time slipping by with a whole lot of busy thrown in, and now I can be a little more objective about my faux pas of a couple of weeks ago.

It is my perspective that is/was out of line. Not wrong, you understand, but not in line with the leadership I'm under. The paradigm that worked when I was the sole youth worker in a small church has run me headlong into a brick wall twice in the seven months I've been in this particular position in a very large church.

And we must all be lined up for the ministry to be as effective as possible.

So, in a nutshell, I need to get in line. I don't like hitting brick walls -- it makes my head hurt.

But, this means I need to shift my personal ministry paradigm. And that's were Romans 12:2 comes in.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

See, the 'pattern of this world' dictates standing up for one's rights, ideas, viewpoints. But that's not how things work in the Kingdom of God.

Now, I really and truly thought I understood submission to authority. And, in some areas, that's true. It's not difficult for me to see the difference between seeking my own way vs. seeking to serve. What tripped me up, and what I have just realized in the last week or so, is that I had problems submitting when the subject wasn't me but something I cared passionately about. It's not wanting *my* way at all, but wanting what's best for the area in which I'm serving that got me into trouble. That's a whole 'nother level of submission to authority. Because it goes beyond me to others. And, because we're standing in different places with different viewpoints, 'what's best' looks different.

So, what I have to do is move my viewpoint. Because I am under the leadership. This doesn't necessarily mean that I absolutely agree with it, but it does mean that I absolutely support it. (Disclaimer: we are not talking about differences in beliefs, only differences in methodology).

And that totally flies in the face of any kind of worldly notion of sense. But -- remember what I wrote last week? Romans 12:2 has a promise. That when we refuse to conform to the pattern of the world, we will be able to test and see what God's will is for that situation. So, to be able to test and approve what God's will is in this area, I need to make sure that my heart/mind is totally out of alignment with what the world/common sense viewpoint might be. Because God is able to make all things work together for good...even if I don't see it as 'good'. Ultimately, I am not the one responsible to set the leadership is. And, ultimately, I'm not the one responsible for the kingdom to be manifested in the areas in which I'm ministering -- God is.

What I am responsible for is to pray for my leadership...that God will lead and they will hear, then keep myself lined up with the vision they are implementing. Then I'm responsible to prayerfully fulfill my duties under their direction to the best of my ability and leave the rest to God.

The paradigm shift involves both changing my viewpoint AND not fussing about it. It's trusting God to work through methods that may not appear to be 'the best' to my intellect. Furthermore, I have to admit that what looks 'the best' to me may not really be 'the best' at all.

That works very well with the context of verse 2, following after the exhortation in verse 1 to offer your bodies as living sacrifices and preceding the instruction in verse 3 Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.

I honestly believe this is a test. Even a pretty basic test. One I'm determined to pass.

Because, you know, my head hurts. ;)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quintessential Armor Bearer

I had a very recent reminder of how much our pastors carry with the vision of ministry...and how those of us who are part of that ministry need to come along side and 'hold up their arms', so that they can carry that vision.

And I heard in my spirit, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well!"

If you recognize those words, maybe you'll understand the head-smacking revelation I had as I realized Sam Gamgee is the perfect example of the armor bearer. He had not a shred of ambition for himself, but was totally motivated in all his actions by concern for the one in whose service he had been placed. Frodo's mission was Sam's mission; Sam understood that the quest was not about him at all. He did what needed to be done with such complete submission to the cause that he wasn't even conscious of his own self.

There's a lot for me to learn from Sam Gamgee. His one moment of temptation to step forward and proclaim himself Lord when Frodo had been captured and Sam, by virtue of his dedication to the task, had the ring, was quickly quelled by Sam's devotion to his master, his accurate assesment of himself, and his certainty that it was only a trick of the enemy and not a real possibility at all.

I need to remember that if I'm going to be a proper armor bearer in the house. And maybe The Lord of the Rings should be required reading for everyone in a ministry support position...with particular attention given to the character of Sam Gamgee.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Door Closes, Another Opens.

Fresh starts.

That's a Jubilee thing.

And, ya know, I had a feeling this was the year for this particular change.

I didn't go hunting a job; I prayed for income. And the job sorta came to me.

So. After 23 years of being a SAHM, I filled out all the paperwork today and am now officially a part-time employee of my church, working in the accounting/human resources offices. Aside from my nervousness at having actual responsibilities outside the home, I'm finding myself much more melancholy about it than I expected.

It marks the end of an era. I'm suddenly wondering things like, 'Did I hug my kids enough when I had the chance?' Because I now have a title other than Mom.

I guess it really is a milestone of life; the return to work because the kids have grown enough that they don't need 24/7 parenting...and they're involved in things with, um, more expenses than just packages of diapers. (Note to self: The Actor's Production Fee is due tomorrow for the spring musical...).

Logistically, it's actually about perfect; I'll be working while the kids are in school, three days a week. I can shift the hours around as necessary for things like dentist/orthodontist appointments. So, as far as the kids know, things won't be too different. Actually, it's probably less time working at church than I put in when we're working on costumes for a dramatic production, so it shouldn't be so far out of the ordinary.

But the world feels different today. And I'm not really as excited about it as I thought I would be.

Once I figure out how it's all going to fit together, though, I think I'll be ok. There's just a lot to fit together.

Emotionally...psychologically...not to mention there are now three employed people living this household, and we only have two cars. *That's* going to take some creativity!

At least my co-workers are excited that I'm on board. Appreciation like that is a new thing, too... ;-)