Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The "Perfect Jesus Walk".

It doesn't exist.  Actually it does.  Those who have it are called Pharisees.  Anyway, where is all of this pressure coming from to have the perfect "spiritual walk" with Jesus?  Is it our churches?  Our Christian organizations?

And I hate that in many cases, if you are doing ministry in the church or maybe raising support for something, etc. we are expected by many (not all!) to smile and act like everything is okay.  Clearly, that's a lie because everything is not always okay. 

It's just a stinkin' lot of pressure that's unattainable for most.  Yes!  I believe I should read Gods word.  Yes!  I believe I should pray to Jesus.  Yes!  I believe I should love the people I come in contact with. Yes!  I believe reading Christian books is great!  Yes!  I believe bible studies can be so good for the soul.

But why is there all of this pressure,  no matter what our personality type or the way we uniquely  feel closest to God or our different giftings or which season in life we are in not accounted for?  Why do I have to posses all of these things, all the time in order to feel like "my walk with God" is good?!

 And what about the times where you are doing all of those things but God's not talking much?  He does that, ya know.  Sometimes He is silent.  Does that mean I am not praying often enough or reading deep enough into the scriptures?

Ugh!  It's not fair and ya know what?!  It's making people feel like they are failing or they just plain do not feel close to God.  That makes me sad!

I wrote this Tweet the other day out of feeling the need to encourage myself along with other friends.

"There is no pressure from God to have the perfect walk w/Him. Just invite Him into your day. He'll appreciate it and you'll enjoy Him more"

And I believe it!  God wants us to desire Him and put him first.  He wants us to love others and do life with them.  He wants us to praise His name, etc.  Yes!  The goal is to become more like Christ so please do not take this post as a ticket to be stagnant in your relationship with Jesus BUT! with all of the desires He has for us, He also knows we cannot do all of that all of the time.

That's where grace comes in.  Grace is defined as 'unmerited favor."  Basically, God doing good for us that we do not deserve.  He is still going to love us through our 'failures" and nothing we do or do not do is going to stop His love us.  Our sin isn't strong enough for that.

So, please.  Wherever you are know that He loves you and wants good for you.  He wants you to search for him but he understands you cannot do it perfectly.  Pursue Jesus daily but first break down the cookie-cutter image you have been given to have the perfect spiritual walk.  Accept God into your daily life just as you are and I believe you'll find you enjoy Him more.  I think when we choose to do this, we can genuinely walk closer to Him more in line with the way He uniquely created each of us to....we are all created in His image but we are all very unique so let's let our "spiritual walks" look different and unique, too.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Talking to College Girls on Friendship.

I was honored when Becca Jane aka Bex (I think that is too funny!) asked me to speak at the OCF retreat this year.  I knew I was going to talk on friendship as ya''ll know it's the area God has really challenged me in.

I also didn't want to go there sounding super spiritual and "better than though".  I really wanted to reach these girls and let them know, I struggle in many of the things they struggle with.

I also took a craft for us to do!  How fun is that?!  Well, I thought it was fun...

 Friendship bracelets anyone?!

The girls only saw the strands that had color and picked a few they liked and then sat down.  Here is what I had to ware!  I may have cussed a wee bit ;)

I am a friend.  You are a friend.  I have friends.  You have friends.  Let’s talk about that. 

Over the past year or so, God has been speaking to me about the relationships in my life, specifically my friendships.  It started about a year ago and although I didn’t realize it then, I can look back and see areas in my life I needed an overdose of God’s grace through wisdom on how I ‘could be’ and ‘needed to be’ a better friend.
The funny thing about God pouring wisdom in our lives is that once we stop fighting it or quiet our lives enough to hear it, we then have to apply the wisdom.  Ugh.  Really?  God, just stop right there.  This is too hard. 

For me, the hard part was as I finally caught on to God (6 months later) and I realized he wasn’t telling all my friends these same things.  It made me feel like throwing a massive pitty party and inviting all of my friends so I could tell them how difficult they're making my life by not being as good as I am being told by God I have to be.  'Can’t you see where you SUUUUCK in our friendship?'  'I can’t really tell you because I am supposed to be looking at my own life but I’m too busy looking at how much you SUUUCK in our friendship.'
Have you been there?  Done that? 

OR another area God ‘oh so graciously’ highlighted sin in my life was when I went to have a quiet time, by myself and read God’s word like a good little pastor’s wife should,  I caught myself highlighted verses while pointing fingers at different people in my life (or in my FB life) and wanted to Tweet them so certain people in my FB world would read them and be convicted.  This is recently, girls.  I am not going to pretend this was a couple of years ago…I’m still.learning!  

I’m going to ask you, no I am going to beg you to let God speak to YOU tonight.  I know you have people in your life who are at fault.  But today, God is sending me to speak to you.  Not to them.  So just listen.  Let’s invite the Spirit to move in our own hearts today so we can learn to be the best friends with the time we are given.


Girls, we can be, as my husband oh so perfectly calls it, crazy-psycho-bitches.  *crickets* I do not care if you are known as the nicest girl in the crowd because I was known for that, too.  Now I’m just known for being the loudest and most honest. ;)  Not always a good thing.

Anyway, girls are catty!  We get jealous which God calls a sin.  We ASSume the worst.  We are rarely ‘for” each other.  OH!  And instead of talking about our hurts with each other, we just get all passive aggressive hoping you’ll catch on but when you don’t, it’s straight to the phone to text about it to your other friend and gossip sets in.

Don’t worry girls.  It gets better when you get married and become a mom.  We don’t deal with silly things like this.  Our stuff is way more important.  Like on a play date when her kid took something from my kid.  It goes down like this.

 “Hey Jan!  Um, isn’t it so cute how our kids are playing over there?”  My pits start to sweat and my heart is practically beating out of my chest and I’m praying a full moon isn’t coming because I may just start howling. “I be-leeeve my Johnny had the ball first.  But it’s okay!  Oh, your Jacob is just so STINKING CUTE!  I CANT STAND IT!”

Sorry ladies, it’s a woman thing and until you ask God to take a good look at your heart in the friendship department, all this stuff carries right on into being married and having kids.  Having kids just brings out the momma bear in you.

Alright.  Let’s talk about the two kinds of friends you should not be.  Won’t this be fun?! ;)

The Suspicious Friend.  This is the girl in your life who you never know what she is thinking because she doesn’t open up.  You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around her never knowing when she’ll crack!  It may seem she's holding on to every word and ready to medicate you with why you do what you do.  So.Annoying.  There's no freedom there.

Feel me? 

The Bitchy Friend.  I said the B word again but honestly, you can’t talk about women, to a bunch of women without throwing it out there at least a few times ;) No one wants to be around this friend because all they do is make everyone around them feel bad and inferior.

Both of these types of friends are trying to exhort power.  One is, aggressive-aggressive and the other is passive aggressive.   

Ladies, lets vow to not be either.  We all struggle sometimes but if you catch yourself acting like either of these two types of friends, call yourself out and move on. 

So, how can we avoid being these two types of friends?  How can we be a good friend? 

In order to be a good friend I’ve come up with five charactoristics that are easily found anywhere in the bible when looking up how to be Christ-like.   I would like you to think about each one and how God does these same things for you in your relationship with him.

1. Perseverance-  Friendships are so much fun at first!  Perseverance is necessary when some kind of bump comes along.  You know what I’m talking about.  Miscommunication, hurt feelings, life takes one friend down the path you wanted so badly for yourself, etc.  When you choose to persevere through the hard times, I promise, you’ll reap amazing benefits on the other end.  Don’t give up and move on to the next honeymoon phase with someone new or you’ll never know the sweetness on the other side.

**How does God persevere for you?

2. Grace- You and your friend are not the perfect match.  I may say Andy is perfect FOR me and he IS but together, we are not perfect.  Sorry, no two people are.  It doesn’t exist.  Your friend is going to let you down because they are human and you have and will let your friends down, too.  You’ve got to be willing to show Grace with each other and be okay with the beautiful differences you have.

**How is God showing you grace today?

3. Honesty.  This could also be labeled as Courage.  Are you being upfront and honest with your friends about how they have hurt you?  Maybe it’s about a struggle you are dealing with and need prayer? 

**There was a time I just kind of let things go but they ended up coming out one way or another.  Usually through anger and talking behind my friends’ back.  Not good.  Not okay.  Not of God.  Not Christ-like. 

This was the first way God opened my eyes to an area I needed work on.  So of course, I went all out…I went from keeping it in only to let it explode to telling my friends and family the areas that they were hurting me…I had very "little editing down" which isn't good, either. 

**How is God courageous for you?

4. Forgiveness.  As a friend, you must have room in your heart to forgive.  It doesn’t have to be right away.  But it does have to be genuine.  So if needed, take a few hours or no more than a day and pray and ask God to get you to a place where you can truly forgive your friend.

**God is ready to forgive.  Have you asked him?

5. Humility (a characteristic of God and one that ties all of these together)~  You can’t say you're sorry if you are not willing to see where you are at fault.  You cannot be willing apologize when you have all the reasons in the world why you do the things you do.  You can’t be willing to forgive if you are full of pride.  Humility is the opposite of pride and God calls us to it.

My point is, being a good friend isn’t a huge mystery!  The hardest part is to get over yourself and quit pointing your fingers at everyone else so you can let God lovingly tell you how you can be more Christ-like in your friendships!

I would love to go over all the areas God has opened my eyes to but we do not have enough time.  We have our craft to do!  *Please pass out white strands*

As the white strands are being passed out, I want to quickly touch on a few other areas that can be extremely vital in your current relationships and those who God is challenging you to reach out to…

1.Get to know what the real differences are between an introvert and extrovert.  Learn who you are and get to know who your friends and maybe even future friends are .  This will help you to understand how to better give your friends space when needed or how to better pursue your friends to make them feel loved.  It’s extremely important to know where they get their energy from and what sucks energy out of them.

2. Find out what it means to be an internal processor and an external processor.  What are you?  Apply the same effort in figuring out people in your life and give the opposite type of processor that you are, extra grace.  You may not like someone just because they process differently than you and that’s just plain silly.

***How are you processing life with God?  Both are accepted!  Just be real with him!

3. Love Language.  How do you receive love most.  How do your friends?
*They can change over time!  I used to be quality time when I was first married but now I need words of affirmation.  Like a lot.  Since we have discovered this, I am feeling a lot. 

***Read up on how God loves you, because he most definitely does!

4. Learn to communicate well in conflict.  Here is an exercise Andy and I were taught in premarital counseling and it's completely genius.  (I will blog more on this later) There is the issue (what ACTUALLY happened) and then there are feelings (what we REALLY FEEL!).  Be willing to talk on the feeling level first.  Share your feelings and listen to the others without addressing what actually happened.  Even if feelings seem wrong or ridiculous, their feelings or yours are very real.  Once both parties feel like they have been heard, move on to what actually happened in the issue level.  It’s a beautiful thing to come out of conflict well. 

Along these same lines, graciously talk about the things that need to be talked about.  On the counter, do not go to your friend with every little thing.  Yes, your friends ARE allowed to hang out with someone else without you.  It’s okay! You do not need to tell them every little hurt you have because most of the time, if they are really your friend, they are not trying to intentionally hurt you. 

I know I believe that lie far too much and so this is my most recent challenge from God which is “Humbly forget the things that do not need to be talked about.”  You do not want to become exhausting in the friendship instead of a breath of fresh air to your friend.  But, if everything they do is questioned by you, you indeed will.

**God, through His word, Jesus’ death and the Holy Spirit is constantly communicating with you.  Are you listening?

You have chosen for yourself a few strands of the pretty colors of friendship strands.  These colors that you chose represent the friends in your life that are easy to be around.  They represent those who you love to hang out with and do life with often.  But let me challenge you today.  Take this white strand which represents people in your life you are not willing to get to know because they either fail to fit your high standards in a friend, they are not cool enough, trendy enough, make you laugh enough...Maybe something about them makes you jealous.  As you create your friendship bracelet with ALL of the strands, you can see that even adding a strand that doesn’t jump out at you right away, it will still come together beautifully. 

God wants to use you and when you are willing to come along side those who are easy to be with AND those who cause you to work a little harder or dig a little deeper, you will accomplish more than you could ever dream for The Kingdom.  You really can be a warrior as a women, with the other women in your life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An "At-least-it-wasn't-my-french press" kind of day.

Sunday night, Andy (My Sometimespreacher husband-man) spoke on Agape love.  Ya know, as apposed to Eros which is "romantic love"

Ow, ow!  Love me some Andrew William!

Philia which refers to the love one has for a friend

 My soul mate, her!  January/February 04 I think?

and lastly, Storge which is the kind of affection which is that natural bond between mother or father and children (in most cases).  In my case for sure!!!

  Me and my little, 7 month old Cyrus. 

Agape is the love that is unconditional.  Not matter the condition, it continues without end.  Choosing to agape is to love regardless of how we feel.<---as in it's NOT a feeling, necessarily.  It's a choice.
The love of The Father. The love of Jesus as he choose to die on the cross.  We are called to love with agape love.  It's hard.  It's not easy.  Yesterday was no exception...

Yesterday morning started out nice with a speech session for Zekey.  He did wonderful!  He's making more sounds, new sounds and I'm really proud of him!

Afterwards, I let the kids go out in the backyard to play and I noticed one of my Caribou Coffee mugs had been thrown right outside on the back porch.  Of course it was broken.  Oh, Zeke. I was bummed because this was one of 2 mugs I was given by my dear Bou girls as a wedding gift.  Ya know, I worked at Caribou Coffee right before I got married :)

Next my sweet friend, Kate came over to hang out in the beautiful chaos of my life.  We drank french pressed coffee (my first time making it!).  We chatted of trials and how we are both very different (for the better!) because of what trails we have both faced (and are facing).  We talked a bit about parenting and that we can do the very best job in raising our children (her future children) and showing/teaching them the importance of Jesus in their lives but in the end, we.can' 

I really needed this.  I LOVE hanging out with friends and being goofy and laughing but in order to feel like I'm growing and stretching and to feel a less "surfacy" bond with my friends, I need the serious stuff, too.  

It was a loverly time.

So far, agape was easy. Naps ended and we were right out the door to get Eisley to dance class.  I dropped her off and thought I'd tackle the grocery store with the other three to purchase the rest of what we needed to make 'hamburgs', as they call it in Toledo.  I just love to say it like that!  Maybe mostly because Andy hates it ;)

Anywho,  After getting into the store, I realized I didn't get my debit card.  I knew I didn't have time to (nor did I want to) pack up all of the kids to drive home to get it and come back so I used my noggin and transferred money via my I thought.  Oh, yes, it IS coming...

I have Zekey, who is doing really well on my hip, pushing Bex in the cart and Cy trailing behind.  We spend 35 minutes picking out produce, healthy snacks, sides for dinner and such.  Why it took so long?!  I have no idea!  Oh!  It was the kind lady who talked to me for 10 minutes ;)

I get to the checkout and my card will not work.  Embarrassed?  Pissed?  No, but completely annoyed with myself.  I apologize like 4 times because I know they have to put all of my stuff back.  The woman at the register was super sweet.  I just walked away wondering why the heck my card wouldn't work?!

At this point, I am sweating and honestly, the only prayer I had was, "Please don't let Cyrus start asking me why we are walking away without our food or remind me to go back to get our food, or even start to cry that he didn't get the string cheese I FINALLY remembered (and allowed) to buy."  And he didn't.  It may sound silly but I felt an extra dose of grace from Cyrus' silence.

My next prayer in the car, out loud was, "Okay God?!  Seriously...what are you trying to teach me?!  I know you don't think I'm an idiot like I think of myself..."

I drove to pick up Eisley. AT this point, I was just praying that I would get to dance at the exact time Eisley was done.  I didn't want to drag all the kids in and talk to people.  I wanted to just talk to Eisley, ask her how dance was and leave.  Again, God heard me and blessed that thought/prayer...whatever it was.

I decided I was over the whole "make a healthy dinner so it can be mostly done for when Andy gets home" attitude and went for a 180 spin in taking the kids to get shakes so I didn't have to take them home to mess it up before dinner and I just needed to drive with minimal noise.

Oh, yes...I did.  I drove up, ordered 3 shakes and realized I still.didn't.have.the.card.  haha!!??!?!?  I laugh and tell her, "I forgot my card.  I will be right back!"

I drive and park.  I look at my phone to see if I can try and transfer money again.  What do I see?!  I forgot to press SUBMIT earlier and THAT is why the card wouldn't work!!!!!  Are you freaking kidding me?! 

So I call Andy in my HOT van b/c the air decided to only work while I am driving 80...err...uh, 65 on the expressway ;)  Oh!  Actually the air in the back worked which I feel was another blessing from God because the good Lord knows THEY WOULD BE LETTING ME KNOW HOW HOT THEY WERE!

I basically just say, "Can you transfer money for me?  Are you at a computer?" You can tell he wants more but I really didn't want to explain my day thus far...

We get the shakes and my plan was to drive in Olde Worthington to look at dream homes...nope.  I accidentally drove home by habit....another blessing?!  haha!

Are you still reading?!  ;)  Eisley asks me to read her a story.  She's always asking me to play dolls with her, read to her, etc and rarely is it a time that I am available.  It sucks.  So, I was finally available and we sat and read 2 pages and are interrupted by  a very loud shattering of glass.

I throw, yes throw my phone down and find Zeke at the top of the stairs looking guilty.  After screaming as I asked him what he did, I looked down to find my french press that I had finally used for the first time, shattered into many small pieces all over the basement.  Did I mention I have shag carpet?  I do!

I grab a rubber glove and a bag and spend a half hour picking up tiny shards of glass and then vacuuming.  The blessing there?!  It was NOT my french press.  It was my coffee pot.  So now, I get to do this in order to heat my water before using my french press....

That's a Cheers mug instead of my coffee pot.  My french press looks like it's judging the Cheers mug saying, "You are such a freak!"

As I am talking to my mom on the phone telling her about my day (bless her heart for listening!), I see Zeke take my Cheers mug, open the basement door and get ready to chuck it....really?!

I was just emailing my MIL who is traveling Europe with friends and I realized just how much Zeke had done within the afternoon yesterday and this are my words exactly.

"He threw my coffee pot down the stairs yesterday and it shattered on our shag carpet, so that was fun to clean up.  He also threw a mug outside that I got to clean up.  He threw his whole bowl of oatmeal away this morning, poured a whole cup of water in the silverware drawer....this is just yesterday afternoon and this morning!!!!"

I storge Zeke but it's a challenge to respond to these daily situations with Agape.  Like a big challenge.  Actually, this is with all of my kids...I wish I naturally chose agape but the truth is, it's work to do so.