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Sit on a Mountain.

Recently (like last weekend), I had a Presbytery meeting in Greeley, Colorado.  & For months Tommy and I talked about wanting to take Delle with us to Colorado, stay a few days after my meetings and spend some time celebrating Delle’s 3rd birthday.  Every time we looked, tickets were too expensive and so eventually we moved on from it. Until… this procrastinator looked online at tickets a WEEK before I was planning on leaving; $130 round trip, direct flight to Denver. Boom.  We got back on plan A and decided to take Delle to Colorado with us.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how amazing of a trip this was and how there was something so sweet about spending some one on one time with Delle.  But for the sake of this being way too long of a post about how much I am obsessed with my daughter, I’ll spare you the details.

But here’s what cracked me up during our trip; all Delle wanted to do in Colorado was to go find a mountain… and SIT ON IT.

It was the weirdest thing.  & for the life of me, I cannot figure out where she got this from.  But she was obsessed. Really… like every mountain we saw; she wanted to SIT on it.

Tommy and I died laughing over and over again when Delle would see a mountain, point to it, and say, “I want to go sit on it.” Where she got this, I have no idea. But she was convinced that we needed to find a mountain, climb it, and then SIT on it.

Here’s the kicker/lesson/reason I’m writing about this… my knee jerk answer was to say, “No Delle, you can’t sit on the mountain- It’s too high, too long of a hike, too big.” Or correct her- “No Delle, we don’t SIT on mountains, we just climb them.”

So, what’s the point (or really why on earth am I telling you this story)?

>>> Because, I want Delle’s bravery. <<<

The bravery to see something big and beautiful and want to go after it.  To accomplish it. To embrace it. And not just that… but SIT ON IT.  Embrace it. Live on it, rest in it.

& that’s not a word you hear much these days… REST. But sitting involves rest. It involves taking in a moment, experience, or accomplishment.  So I desire to SIT, to rest in the accomplishments I’ve made and be brave enough to go after more.

And I want this not just for me but for my daughters as well.

To encourage them to dream and to dream big, impossible things… not just the things that are easy, accepted, or normal.

In fact, I don’t want them to be or live normal, easy lives.  Actually that was a lie.  Yes, I do deep down in my heart, want their lives to be easy and normal. I want to protect them, put them in a bubble so no one will ever disappoint, hurt, embarrass, or discourage them.

But more than that deep desire to protect, I have a piercing passion for them to love the Lord with the kind of love that cannot be contained, understood, or quenched.

The kind of love that embraces a challenge.  The kind of love that is so brave and aware that when God says “Go,” they Go.  When God says “Climb,” they climb. And when God says “Sit,” they sit.

Bravery.  It’s not easy.  It’s terrifying.   And it’s the most exciting adventure you (or those you love most) can embark upon.

So, the point and my challenge… to go sit on a quickbustenhancement mountain.

That’s all. Now seriously… go SIT.

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Advent Week 4: Psalm 23

It’s hard to believe Christmas is THIS week.

That this month, this year, this advent season is coming to an end.  I always get sentimental about the end of… well, everything.  Seriously, I turn into a sap when I finish a JOURNAL. Who does that?! Apparently, me.  So get ready for a bunch of sappy, reflective, sentimental posts;) But in all seriousness, I wanted this week (the last week before Christmas) to be special.  To be a week filled with spirituality overdrive.

I had A LOT of grandiose plans… and then God gently reminded me to not overcomplicate things (something I’m pretty good at doing).  And immediately after this gentle reminder, I felt led to a verse I’m sure many have heard or read (myself included).  But this time when I read this verse I saw the perfect number of promises for the perfect number of days this week.  It was meant to be… & then I did my thing and overcomplicated life/blogging/work and didn’t finish this post UNTIL Wednesday.  Oops (& sorry).

But, hey at least I posted this right?;) Here’s the verse God brought me to…

Psalm 23 (NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

Each day this week my challenge has been to read this Psalm and focus on 1 VERSE at a time.  Yep, you read that right…just 1 verse.  So often I feel like we get hung up on trying to read huge chunks of scripture & in doing so we forget to soak in words and phrases and sentences that can shape our daily lives.  Maybe that makes me less spiritual or elementary but it works for me.  When I find myself being able to meditate and focus on just 1 VERSE each day, it somehow becomes a part of me and shapes the way I think and live… day by day.

& So, I encourage you to do the same.

Small pieces of scripture.  Read them slowly. Think about them often. Dwell on the different words or phrases God leads you to.  Let God’s words soak into your soul and be the living and active, life-giving source Scripture has the power to be.

So today, just read ONE VERSE; verse 1:

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

How simple and yet convicting.  The Lord is my shepherd… I have ALL I need.  & What an appropriate time to be reminded of this.  This week we all will be bombarded by images, toys, stuff we “NEED.”  Things that others need.  That the church needs.  All the stuff you don’t have and need to hurry up and buy.

This week you will be reminded of everything you DON’T have.

& It goes beyond just gifts and “stuff.”  We are reminded that we DON’T have certain people in our lives anymore.  That we DON’T have the family we wish we had.  That we DON’T have the money, schedule, vacation, relationship, health, body, energy… fill in the blank, that we desperately desired/wanted/needed this Christmas season.

But what if we shifted our thinking to what we DO have?

That we DO have God, the good shepherd with us… & THAT is all we need.

Such a simple truth and yet it is extremely difficult to live.  How often do we abide in knowing and living in the grace and goodness of our shepherd king?  Our one true provider, protector, care-giver?  Our leader, shield, and strength.  Our source of life and hope and joy and peace?

And so, this week I shift my gaze and focus my heart on what I DO have- the Lord, my shepherd.

See, it’s only in resting in Him, His strength, His goodness, His presence, that I am truly (& deeply) satisfied and content.

All that in just ONE VERSE. 

That’s why I LOVE and hunger for the scriptures… they are full of life giving truths that keep our eyes fixed & our hearts focused on what matter most, our shepherd king.

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Shine.

Very rarely do I feel comfortable sharing my personal thoughts or opinions in general much less in social media, and much- much less on politics. But I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone & feel a need to speak up. So here we go…

This election year has been a unique one.

One filled with scandals and hatred and violence and dissension and division more than I’ve witnessed thus far.  I’ve seen such hatred among God’s people and the world in which we live.  It has been sad, discouraging, and difficult for me.  I avoid confrontation… and arguments and division (which is why I typically don’t discuss politics… or really anything that tends to upset people).

However, God placed me in this unique roll to be a 30-something FEMALE pastor.  Disagreeing would be inevitable.  And so, over the years, I’ve learned how to “discuss” different views and am still learning how to heed my boss’ advice and “agree to disagree, agreeably.”  Hardest thing to do.  But NEEDED as the people of God

I struggle when people, but especially Christians, are argumentative and divisive and negative and mean-spirited toward one another and those around them.

I hate it when the people of God forget what matters most and instead focus on the “stuff” that divides rather than what unites.

& I especially hate it when we as believers, look and act and speak the same as the world in which we live.  When we mix up the listening and speaking piece in James advice in 1:19 (in fact the entire first chapter of James is pretty relevant/challenging)…

“EVERYONE should be quick to LISTEN, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I’ve been seeing too much of this lately (& have been wrestling with it myself).

Speaking and not listening. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Negativity. & Anger some more.

& TOMORROW is a big day.

A big day for America and a big day for God’s people.

The thing I love about God’s word and truth is that as you hide it away in your heart and mind… it pops out at just the right time.  God pretty quickly convicted me when I found myself getting negative and overwhelmed by this upcoming week.  About what the outcome will be.  How people will react.  And how I am going to respond in that.  It was during this time that God very conveniently lead me to this (pretty perfect) verse.

>>> Philippians 2:14-16 <<<

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. 

 

This is what God convicted me on.  Yes, it was the obvious “do everything without complaining and grumbling” (I need that).  It reminds me to watch my words and negative mindset.  That’s definitely a struggle of mine.

But what really got me was the less obvious… the challenge to S H I N E among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the world of life.”

How perfect of a challenge this week.  To SHINE. To be different than the world around us… as we hold on to the Word of LIFE (God’s word).  And what does God’s word tell us?

It tells us… To be different.  To be light. To be hope. To be encouragement when the world only sees despair and negativity and sorrow.

It tells of the sacrifice that Christ paid and yet in it and through it, he remained focused and set on holding to God’s plan and word so that WE may have life.

Our life as believers hinges on the pain and suffering of Christ.  NOT on who will or won’t be elected.  NOT on who will (or won’t) “run” our country.

Can this person make significant changes that might change our life, finances, and well-being.  100 percent.  But our hope does not lie in A person but THE PERSON. THE Christ who sacrificed it all. For us all… So we all could SHINE.

So, I can’t think of a better time to SHINE than now.  When tomorrow someone will be elected President and someone will not.  Some people will be upset and angry and lash out and some will gloat and cheer.

It might be a difficult day for you or an exciting one, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that no matter what I desire to SHINE. To NOT be filled with negativity but to find the good in whatever happens.

There is GOOD in the first woman being elected as president.

& There is GOOD in making some changes to our system.

There is GOOD either way.  I chose to see that, remember that, focus on that.

Welp, that’s way more than I am comfortable sharing but I couldn’t help but feel the need to encourage us, remind us, and challenge us to remember that what’s most important…

To S H I N E

among them like stars in the sky.

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Losing the Weight.

Last week I had one of those “ah ha” moments.

I was quietly sitting at my cozy little desk working on a sermon I had coming up.  Hagen was napping. Delle was quietly playing with her princesses on my bed.  It was one of those once in a million, totally quiet moments in the house. It was glorious.

Then, out of the blue, Delle crawls up on my lap, snuggles, and began asking a MILLION questions about what I was doing on my computer.  Honestly, my first reaction was to be little annoyed… I was trying to finish up a few last minute touches on my sermon and really needed about 10 more minutes of total (uninterrupted silence).  But then a still voice whispered to me.  It reminded me to include Delle, to explain to her, to open up to her all that I’m doing.

And so, I did.

I explained to Delle what I would be teaching on.  Who I was teaching to and why I felt it was important.  And as I was explaining all of this to my little wide-eyes, princess crown wearing three-year-old… It hit me; these are the moments.

These are the moments to soak in. To readjust your plan. To let your three-year-old into your world for just a moment.

That sweet moment quickly left and was filled with questions mostly revolving around how to press keys on the computer and why Delle wasn’t allowed to do so.

But for those few, precious minutes I had a conversation with Delle (which is still crazy in and of itself) about what I do for my job, about why I believe it’s important, and how I am sharing the gospel to those who need it.  I was allowing Delle to be a part of my journey, my job, my mission.

The irony of this situation was the topic of my sermon… identity. On embracing who we are and who Jesus has called us to be.  Why is that ironic?

Because, I fought the whole “working mom+ pastor” identity plan God had in mind.

I didn’t like that God was calling me to seminary or ordination or to be a pastor.  My plan was to work, get married, have kids, and then immerse myself into motherhood. Nope.

Apparently, that was NOT God’s plan. I fought it, gave in, and fought it some more when I wound up studying for ordination exams during most of my second pregnancy and then completing the exam… at 9 months pregnant.  That was a low point for me.

Truth be told… I wanted to fail that exam.

I wanted to find a reason to put off what God was calling me to do. Nope again.  God made it very apparent to me that THIS was where I was suppose to be. Working. Mom. Pastor. Speaking. Teaching. All of it.

So that beautiful moment with Delle… I worked really hard to avoid that.

To avoid the tension of working AND being a mom.  To avoid the fear that came with whether or not I was (or wasn’t) spending enough time with the girls, desiring more of it, and if I really was suppose to be making this sacrifice. I fought it.

I fought writing sermons.  On whether or not I should really be a (woman) pastor and if I had it in me to do the kind of job I felt God leading me to.

The call to motherhood is a weighty one.  And the call to pastoring is equally weighty. 2 weighty calls on one, little ole’ me.  It scared me to death.  The fear of letting people down. Of letting my family, my friends, my people, my church, God down. All of it freaked me out.

The pressure of sharing God’s word— in a relatable, exciting, authentic way (in front of hundreds of people).  Also weighty.

But here’s the thing I’m learning about IDENTITY…

MORE THAN simply being a mom, wife, believer, friend, daughter, pastor… I am a child of God. Period.

The difficult thing to admit is, THAT source of identity is the first one to get quickly misplaced or forgotten.  Far too often I fill it with something that gives me temporary hope, fulfillment, affirmation, and approval.

& far too often God has to remind be to be STRONG in my weighty callings.

To be strong as I live out (& live in) the tension of being a working mom and pastor and wife and friend and whatever else I am.  To be strong (and courageous) as I seek new opportunities and push the limits on what I think I can do.

& beyond that to…

LET GO OF THE WEIGHT.

Yes, there is a weight of motherhood, pastoring, wife-ing (I decided that should be a word) that never goes away. But there is also an additional weight I place on top of that.  The weight of being a PERFECT mom, a PERFECT pastor, a PERFECT wife… the weight of pleasing everyone.  Keeping all people, at all times, incredibly happy.

So, I’m learning to lose the weight.

To drop balancing all of my different hats and callings PERFECTLY and embrace the tension that exists.

To live in that tension. Be honest in that tension. & be strong in that tension.

We fight tension and discomfort.  But Jesus so often encouraged it.  He challenged people to live outside of the easy, expected life and pursue him with every fiber of our being.

Sometimes I wonder how differently my life would look if I really dropped the additional weight I carried (really dragged) around.  If I actually EMBRACED the tension of my identity and kept my eyes FIXED on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  If I really clung to his words and commands as my lifeline. And (truly) believed it wasn’t about how great of a job I’m doing at balancing all of this extra weight but instead about just losing it. About laying it down at his feet and clinging to the cross.

& so that’s what I’m striving to do, to…

>>> lose the weight <<<

& Stay fixed on the author and perfector of my faith.  On the one who endured the cross & yet still calls me his child.