Category Archives: Faith

Feeling Used – In the Best Kind of Way

There it was. The mysterious phlegmy bubble that appears in my throat when I get sick. It can’t be swallowed down, moved aside, or eased in any way. And it was just in time for the 100+ degree weekend. Yay!

I won’t bore you with my sicky sob story, but suffice it to say that I was miserable. My husband was out of town on a boys trip so I was on my own. I usually enjoy being alone, but this time it would have been nice to have an onsite nurse slash popsicle delivery man. No nurse. No popsicles. But I did have a beautiful new book to crack open, which was sort of the perfect medicine for me.

When Sunday rolled around and I rolled out of bed, I thought to myself “today I was supposed to be all better!” But I wasn’t. I hadn’t been out of the house since Thursday and had become a borderline hermit. Even though I wasn’t back to my spunky self yet, I tossed around the idea of going to church. I should go. My hubby and I usually go together in the evening and meet up with friends, but he wasn’t going to be home in time. But I should go. I invited my sister-in-laws to join me but they both had plans. I really should go. I was awake and could get ready in plenty of time for an earlier service. But I still didn’t feel very well. Although I was feeling better than the days before. So I should go.

Don’t you just love that witty internal banter that helps us make our decisions? Equally split across the pro’s and con’s of every situation until finally, something tips the scales and toggles us over to the “do it” side.

Not my best hair day and nothing I put on was as comfy as my jammies, but I had made up my mind to go. And so I did.

I didn’t recognize anyone as I entered because this was not the time we usually went. These were the morning people, and I am not typically among them!

As I made my way to my chosen seat, I passed by a young woman in the row behind me sitting alone, and I smiled at her. I wondered for a moment about her story and what brought her to church alone that morning. Husband out of town like mine? Perhaps she was meeting friends there that hadn’t arrived quite yet?

I stood and swayed and sang with the music and didn’t feel as alone as I thought I would. I introduced myself to a few people sitting near me and talked about the heat. I listened and let the message seep deep into my soul.

At the end of this particular service, our Pastor prayed a familiar prayer. The words come out differently each time, but the intent is to invite new Christians to choose God. At the end of the prayer, he asked those of us who prayed it for the first time to come to the front and accept a gift as they left. And he asked them to tell someone they had made that choice and prayed that prayer. I always pray along with that prayer because I am making the same choice every day in small ways. Even though it’s not the first time I’ve prayed those words, I still pray them every time.

As we filed out of our rows to leave, that sweet young woman who was sitting in the row behind me and I crossed paths and connected in the most unexpected way. She looked directly at me and proudly proclaimed “I prayed that prayer today!” and before I even realized it, I was hugging her and welcoming her to our church. It was a 20 second exchange at most, but it was everything.

God had used me, in the best kind of way. He didn’t care that my hair wasn’t perfect or that my throat was a little sore or that my spirit was a bit weary. He didn’t worry that I wasn’t up to certain standards. It didn’t bother Him that my voice cracked as I sang. In fact, all those imperfect things might be exactly the reason He chose me to cross paths with that lovely young woman yesterday.

Maybe those things made me approachable. Maybe my imperfections make me relatable. Maybe the worst parts of my life make the best testaments to His glory. Maybe she just needed a friendly smile to convey a welcoming message. Maybe He needed me to be exactly who I was in exactly that moment. And maybe, there have been a million tiny moments like this one that I didn’t even realize I was being used.

And just maybe He is using you in exactly the same way at the most unexpected times too.

12:12 Prayer Challenge!

 

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Are you ready for 45 days of prayer and praise? 

Join me for the 12:12 Prayer Challenge! 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

~Romans 12:12

Every day through Easter Sunday, let’s be intentional and faithful in prayer, focusing on one minute in our day to pray. 

Every day @ 12:12… 

                                           YOU IN???????

 

If you are like me, you long to have a closer relationship with God.  Building your faith requires that you build your relationship, and the simplest way to begin that journey is to open a conversation.  It is impossible to be close to anyone you never talk to!  One minute a day for 45 days is sure to bridge that gap between you and the fruits of your faith. 

It may not be easy if you don’t already have a habit to pray every day.  But ‘easy’ is not what we’ve signed up for in this life.  We are developing a spiritual schedule and after a few days, this habit will take on a life of its own.  Trust me! 

When you see the clock strike 12:12, either am or pm (or both!), simply devote one minute of your busy day to your conversation with God. 

It’s a commitment. 

It’s a calling. 

It’s a conversation. 

 

Be part of our prayer movement to grow your faith, won’t you? 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Doors

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“Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.”

~ Matthew 7:7

Turns out, you don’t need a secret knock, a magic password, or even a key. The doors will be opened for us, at just the right time, exactly when we need them opened. Even the gentlemen that still exist today can’t do that! Only God can do that.

I’ve been collecting antique doorknobs for years now. My husband and I made that a scavenger hunt item every time I dragged him to an antique store. One of my favorite things to do is rummage through old things and imagine them in their prime. The newest and coolest gadgets in their hay-day. My husband’s favorite thing to do is hang out in his recliner watching sports, so if I wanted company at the antique store, I needed to make a sport of it. So doorknobs it was!

Quite the collection we have gathered. Dingy and discolored. Some brassy and bold. And some with layers of paint to evidence the changing times. They are all completely different, but their purpose, still the same.

A crystal bowl of our scavenger hunt doorknobs graces our entry, greeting our home’s guests with a simple message. “Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.”

The door is always opened to believers. At exactly the right time. The key is simply to seek. Doorknob or not. Only God can do that.

Curious…

How are you seeking God in this season of your life?

What doors are opening for you as a result of your faith?

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Resurfacing this post to share over at Kate Motaung’s blog for Five Minute Friday. On May 1st, 2015 the topic was DOOR and this fit perfectly. Doors have been closing more than opening in my life recently, and maybe that’s a good thing. Exploring closure is certainly as important as our new beginnings.

Remain

John 15 4

Remain.

When it isn’t easy and things are tugging you in so many directions, remain.

When the outcome is anything but what you’ve envisioned for your life, remain.

When your doubts are screaming so much louder than the quiet whispers of faith, remain.

When you feel as though your ship has left the harbor without you, remain.

When your gut tells you there is no longer purpose here, remain.

When your efforts have gone unrecognized and the pain of anonymity plagues you, remain.

In these moments, your sweet surrender and perseverance in God will still your restless soul.

When you falter, remain.

When you want to escape and run and flee, muster the courage to remain.

When you wait and wait and all the wrong answers flood your weary head, wait some more.

In faith we grow, and through adversity we become what we had never dreamed possible.

Simply remain.

Lazy Christian Tip of the Week

A few weeks have passed since my initial admission of laziness, and I am still lazy. Not in all aspects of my life… but definitely in some areas. It really is all about convenience for me!

Developing ways to follow God and pursue my faith in ways that fit with MY life has been essential for my journey. I never want my pursuit for a more spiritual life to be something I check off a to-do list. But rather a way of life. Maybe you can relate?

This week, I want to share with you a favorite blog from a best selling Christian author, Lysa TerKeurst. Her words are real, relatable, and relevant. She addresses the messy truths of life and gives some solid suggestions to overcoming the challenges through scripture and with love, humility, and grace.

Click here for inspiration from Lysa’s website!

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I hope you enjoy Lysa’s site. Check out her books too if you have a chance! Unglued is a great resource on relationships and reactions. I certainly am more conscious of my snappish sarcasm after reading it!

“In every situation, in every reaction, in every day, I want to be a noticer of the good.”

~ Unglued

Would love to hear some of the ways that you follow God amidst your busy life! Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Worship Waterworks

Today I am trying something new! I have found this great site called (in)courage and this morning while sipping my coffee on my last day of vacation, I stumbled across a challenge. Sometimes I glaze past things like that but today, this was a call to action for me.

The task: To take 5 minutes to write. Unedited. (although spell check is my best friend) Unapologetic. Just write. The prompted topic today is “Worship”. So I grabbed my note pad, snuggled up in a fuzzy throw, set down my coffee and let the juices flow. Here it goes…

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Worship. The best mini rock concerts I have ever been to!

Hands lifted in the air like the wave at a sporting event. On queue. Just right.

While the raised hands confused me at first, I now understand the openness to God that it expresses. A vulnerability and a willingness to receive Him.

I have been reaching toward His Kingdom for a while now, but I am still fairly new and a bit insecure in my faith. Not really in the faith part as much as in the proper practice of it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, right?

You see, when I am amidst hundreds of voices singing out His praise, I am too busy suppressing my tears to raise my hands. My hands are otherwise engaged. I learned a somewhat effective technique to hold back the waterworks a few years ago and I get to practice it during every worship experience. With one hand you squeeze the soft flesh between your thumb and index finger of your other hand. Both hands busy.

I always hope for a voice nearby to be horribly off-key to distract me. I diligently concentrate every word on that screen and belt ’em out to the best of my ability, but that doesn’t always hold my attention. My mind wanders and my eyes well up. And after the music is over and everyone looks around before sitting back down, I surely hope that no kind soul asks me what is wrong. The truth is… I don’t know!

Why am I crying? For goodness sake, I can’t even hold it together for 15 minutes of glorious, cheerful, beautiful music?!

I truly don’t understand what opens the flood gates within me, but I think it is more about what He is opening in my heart during that time together. Turns out, apparently I don’t need to lift my hands up to Him to worship. He is clearly reaching down to me.

A few questions for you:

What stirs your soul and brings you to tears when you are spending time with God?

Why do you think it evokes so much emotion?

Can you please pass me a tissue?

 

 

 

Click here to link up to (in)courage’s Five Minute Friday too!

Rubbing Off…

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Revealing my snack habits a little bit here… but you know when you are enjoying the delicious crunch of your Cheetos and before you reach in for another handful, you look at your hands to find them covered with evidence of your guilty pleasure?  Oh YOU know what I’m talking about.  The undeniable coating of electric orange cheese dust!  You can lick it off, but once you reach back in that bag, your fingers will be covered again.  That crazy good snack just has a way of rubbing off on you and leaving its mark, every time. 

Forgive me for this “cheesy” analogy, but there have been some crazy good people in my life that have rubbed off on me too.  Much like the Cheeto cheese dust on my fingers, they have left their mark on my heart and on my soul.  Thinking about all of the positive influences in my life during this season of spiritual growth has caused me to ponder, who has pointed me to God?  I mean, really led me to Him in a tangible way.  Did I recognize it at the time?  Or did they just leave behind a mysterious orangey hue? 

Looking back, there are a few key people who have steered me down a more spiritual path.  I remember in highschool the first person to ever invite me to church.  This was significant because I had never been to church in my entire life.  Not for church anyway.  Weddings and funerals, yes.  Church, no.  We weren’t that type of family and I never really thought anything of it before, but the idea of going really intrigued me.  Would it be uptight and stuffy like I had always imagined?  (thankfully it wasn’t)  I was curious and I went with her a few times which opened my eyes and heart to God.  She rubbed off on me.

A few years passed and now out of college, another dear friend of mine invited me to join her for church.  We had both been through challenges in our lives and it was a good opportunity for us to share some of our pain and work on healing.  I have always admired her for her strong faith and fortitude.  Gifts that she developed through her amazing family and Christian upbringing, and gifts that would serve her well later in life.  Little did we know how much she would need her trust in God at the time, but I am thankful she has that now as she is battling cancer.  She shares her journey on her Caring Bridge site and continues to inspire and point people to God throughout her struggles.  She has rubbed off on me. 

It is hard to imagine someone considerably younger impacting my quest toward faith, but never underestimate the power of a kind gesture in a moment of need.  My oldest nephew appeared in my office one day with a gift for me.  My husband had been losing hope with his sons and with our involvement in their lives.  So much pain and so many tears had caused me to lose faith in myself and certainly in God.  At one of my lowest times, I was given the simple but meaningful gift of a home recorded CD containing the hand written title of a song that had gotten him through some challenges in his own young life.  “The Voice of Truth”.   I’m not entirely sure how he knew the volume of voices that were carrying doubt and condemnation, but he was able to point me to a louder voice.  To this day, I consider that one of my prized possessions and among my most life changing moments.  On a regular day appeared a gesture that brought me closer to God, and every time I hear that song I think of that day and I am grateful.  He rubbed off on me. 

Growing up together and being positively led by her in many areas of my life, it wasn’t until we were several states and hundreds of miles apart that I realized what a spiritual soul my sweet sister is.  As the Outreach Director of Elevation Church, she has the privilege of sharing her faith every day with so many people within her church, within her community, and within her reach.  We have had some stirring curiosity based conversations to stimulate my faith.  We have also had some slightly uncomfortable (or as she calls it “prickly”) conversations that have really challenged me to see things in a different light.  It is often the people in your life that gently push you out of your comfort zone that rub off on you the most, and she definitely does that for me in the very best ways.  I am blessed by these God filled moments with her to stretch my mind, warm my heart, and feed my faith.  She is rubbing off on me more and more every day.

As I have drawn closer to Christ, I can see more of Him in my everyday life through the earthly angels that continue to impact me in such loving and lasting ways.  It has not been big moments of grand significance that have steered my heart toward Him.  It has been in the small gestures.  In the inclusive invitations.  In the unexpected gifts.  In the thought-provoking conversations.  In the situations that could have been easily overlooked and even more easily forgotten over the years.  It has been these moments that have paved my path toward God.  Snacking periodically on small tidbits of faith has filled me up with the spirituality that I hunger for.  And as I reach back in for another handful, I begin to extend my own hand to you, in hopes that I can leave just a little of that electric orange cheese dust on your hands too.