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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Waiting

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Psalm 27:14

Wait. That has often been one of my least favorite words. Who likes to wait? Not many of us. This is why we shop Amazon Prime, get Fast Passes at Disney and eat so much fast food. Waiting is no fun! Ask any child who is waiting for a birthday or a holiday. Waiting stinks!

But, as much as I hate to wait in the midst of everyday circumstances, God is teaching me a lot about how we learn and grow in the waiting. My natural tendency has always been to push ahead, forge my own way and make my own plans. Oooh, I love a good plan. I like to make things happen.

When God called me into full-time ministry in my early 20's, you better believe I had a plan. Guess what? My life pretty much looks nothing like the plan I had back then. Guess why? Because, God's plan for my life is so much better than even the best plans that my type-A self could come up with on a spreadsheet. 

During the last 5 years of my life, I have spent a lot of time in waiting. I'm still sitting in a time of waiting. I would like to say I've waited well. But, let's be honest, most of the time I've whined while I've waited. And when I whine and pout and complain, God is quick to show me that He is with me in the waiting. And, not only is He with with me in the waiting, He is growing me as I wait. If I would have accomplished my own plans on my own timeline, I would not have grown into the person He wants to use in the ways He wants to use me in the future.

I have no idea what God has for me next and many of you might feel the same way in your own life. But, there is one thing I do know, He wants to be present in our waiting and He wants to use the waiting period as a preparation time so that when we get to the other side, to the next thing, we will be fully trained. My prayer is that I would be found faithful in times of waiting and times of action. Lord, let it be so.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul “therefore I will hope in him.”The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him." Lamentations 3:24-25 (ESV)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Supplies



Confession time- I love new school supplies and school supply shopping. I love everything about it. I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and new, unused crayons. I love notebooks that are clean and have no writing in them. I love organizing new binders with beautiful dividers. Call me a nerd, I don't care. I've had an affinity for school supplies since I was a child. I always loved the week before school began when we would get new supplies and I would spend hours organizing them. I would smell them and enjoy the newness before they would be defiled by school work over the next few months. To this day, outside of book stores, office supply stores are one of my favorite places to linger. I love a new pen and clean notebook. And, now that I have school-age children, I get to live vicariously through them as they school supply shop. Of course, we have piles of half used pencils and stacks of partially written in notebooks at home. But, I wouldn't send those to school with my kids the first week. No, they have to have brand new supplies. The new school year needs to begin afresh. There is plenty of time for them to use supplies that aren't new as the year progresses. The first week of school is the time for new supplies.

I'm going somewhere with this if you were wondering. Jesus also had something to say about newness and the use of new supplies. Listen to what he says in Mark 2:21-22, "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” (ESV)

Let's talk context for a second. Jesus has just healed a paralytic which awed the crowd and then He called a sinning tax collector to be one of his disciples. The Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) are starting to get a little annoyed. Who does this man think that He is? Healing people in the name of God? Inviting sinners into His ministry? They decide it's time to approach Jesus and tell Him how wrong He is and how He's not following the law. They do this by trying to trap Him. They ask him why His disciples don't fast as prescribed in the law like John the Baptist's disciples. They try to pit the Son of God against the law of God and against a prophet of God. In typical Jesus fashion, He turns their questions and accusations back on the Pharisees. 

The Pharisees were so entrenched in the law and how things were supposed to be done according to tradition, they couldn't see the new thing Jesus was doing. They were so stuck on following the law and convincing themselves that they could make themselves righteous through their own efforts, they couldn't see the grace and new covenant that Jesus was ushering in through His ministry. They were trying to make Jesus conform to the old ways of tradition and how things "should be done". They were blind to what God was trying to accomplish.

And, Jesus calls them on it. His new ministry and the new convenant He was activating could not be sewn or poured into the old cloths and containers of the law and tradition. It was brand new. What He was ushering in needed to be put on new garments and in new wineskins. 

When we begin our new walk with Jesus, the old has to be put away. Our old thoughts, worldview, behaviors and practices have to be done away with so that we can start afresh with Jesus and be the people He's called us to be as His ambassadors. We can't start this new life with old supplies. Everything has to be made new. We can't try to infuse the new with the old. No, a main aspect of the Christian life is to continually, day by day, with God's help put away our old self so that we can walk in newness of life with Christ. Only then, can we be the men and women He's called us to be and minister to others in the ways He's designed for us.

As you enter this new school year or new phase of life or whatever new thing God has called you into, remember that we can't put new ideas into old mindsets and we can't get new results with old behaviors. As we replace the old thoughts, behaviors and patterns with God's word and the love of Christ, we will be able to walk in a manner that reflects that we abide in Jesus and our life won't be able to be anything but a pleasing fragrance to those around us. 

"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:9-10, 12-17 ESV)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Home

Before I sat down to start writing and working this morning at my favorite coffee shop, I decided to take a walk around my town of Smyrna, GA to clear my head. I was immediately struck by thoughts of what the term home means to me. I love my current town of Smyrna. It has a small town feel while sitting on the edge of the very large and bustling city of Atlanta. Even though Smyrna is growing rapidly, it has managed to keep most of it's small town charm. 

This got me thinking about "home" and all the places I've lived. Last week we were in Texas visiting family. Every time I go home to Waco, I feel homesick and consider that maybe we made a huge mistake not staying in Texas. It will never cease to feel like home.

But, during my walk today, I realized Smyrna/Atlanta is home, too. And, when we lived in Cambridge, MA I loved it so and it felt like home as well. How can all these places feel like home? Isn't just one place supposed to feel like home? At that moment it struck me, home is wherever we are that is exactly where God wants us at this time in our life. God chose for me to grow up in Texas and He called us to Atlanta and to Boston and back here to Atlanta. This is exactly where He wants us and sitting in the center of that is where home lies. 

Acts 17:26 says, "From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live..." (NSRV)

God, even though my parents grew up in New York, planned from the beginning of time, the plan for my life and where I would live. He had a reason for me growing up in Texas and He had a plan concerning all the moves I've made in my life, and He has me here, in Smyrna, GA, for a purpose. He has a will and a plan for you where you live, too. And, whenever we are in the center of that plan and His will, where we are will feel like home.

The Bible also tells us that even though God has set up the places where we will live on this earth, this is not our ultimate home. A sliver of our heart will always long and be homesick for our ultimate home which is heaven. Yes, we are called to live at home in the world where He has placed us. We are called to bring His kingdom to the place where we've been dropped at this moment in time by His sovereign hand. But, we are also called to live as one who longs for our eternal home. 

Hebrews 11:16 tells us, "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (ESV)

So, to answer my earlier question, yes, we can feel at home in multiple places at the same time. That is our calling as Christian sojourners on earth. We make a home here in the world, encouraging His "kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven", while at the same time longing for that day when we will live in our forever home prepared for us by God Himself.

Oh, that I would find that balance- how to live in the here and the not yet. God, help!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Shield Still...



This Saturday will be our son Nathan's 4 year "cranioversary". Four years ago, on July 1, Nathan underwent an endoscopic craniectomy because he was born with a condition called craniosynostosis which means his head was born fused together so that his brain could not grow normally. A couple weeks post surgery, I wrote the following blog post. I was in the weeds then, but the fact that God is my shield has not changed. I pray that it will be an encouraging read for anyone who needs to hear this message today. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Jars of Clay



If I had to pick a chapter of Scripture to be my "life chapter" (is that a thing?), it would be 2 Corinthians 4. That fact might seem obvious to you if you've hung around my blog for some time. I mean, the title of my blog is Extraordinary Treasure, Ordinary Girl which comes from 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 which says,

"But we have this treasure in jars of clayto show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every waybut not crushedperplexedbut not driven to despair; persecutedbut not forsakenstruck downbut notdestroyed.." (ESV)

As I prepare for an upcoming writing conference where I will get to propose a book idea, discuss my blog, etc. there is pressure to redefine the purpose of my blog, revamp my look and define my audience. But, as I pray for direction in these areas, these verses and that chapter continue to jump out at me and speak to my soul. 

I write because I truly believe that God reveals to me extraordinary treasures as I live my ordinary life. And, I can't help but share what He teaches me. My audience, honestly, is whoever wants to listen, whoever wants to join me on this adventure of discovering the nuggets of truth He show us in His Word.

In Paul's time, clay jars were created by artisan potters who would take raw clay and though the skill of their hands mold the clay into a precious vessel. After the clay was molded and baked, they would beautifully decorate the jars using paint and glaze. The jars would be decorated based on the value of the items they would contain. Sometimes they would be decorated beautifully because they would hold precious items such as scrolls of scripture and law. Other times they would be minimally decorated because they would have a more basic function such as holding water. But one thing all clay jars had in common was that they were breakable and they would not last forever.

We are just like those clay jars of old. Our physical bodies are "jars" that hold precious treasures. Our bodies were created and molded by the Potter with a specific purpose in mind. Our bodies are beautiful, functional and breakable. They are also temporary. They are a temporary, functional container that hold precious, eternal treasures.

What are some of the treasures God entrusts us with? 

* 2 Corinthians 4:6 says that God has shone the knowledge of Him in our hearts. We have the privilege of housing the knowledge of Him in such a way that it shines forth into the world around us.

* Scripture also teaches us that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Even though I've known this truth for some time, it's still so hard for me to truly comprehend that my ordinary body is a TEMPLE for the Holy Spirit. Sit with that truth for awhile. Are we living like people who house the 3rd person of the Trinity? Eek!

* We also have the opportunity to digest His Word in a way that it becomes written on our hearts. His Word doesn't just live on a page bound in a Bible I purchased on Amazon. If I spend time reading it and meditating on it, it becomes engraved on my heart and I can carry it with me wherever I go. 2 Corinthians 3:3 says, "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (ESV)

So, the question for you and for me is this- do we live like one who walks around as a container of extraordinary treasures?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

City of Stars (Be Brave, Part 5)



Okay, okay I finally watched La La Land last night. I'm sure I'm the only person on the planet who hadn't seen it. I loved it! And, a discussion of the main themes of the movie seems a fitting close to my Be Brave series.

For the few of you who haven't seen it, the story centers around two inspiring artists trying to make it in LA. Emma Stone's character, Mia, leaves the small town where she grew up to try and make it as an actress in Hollywood. Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian, is a jazz musician that dreams of opening his own jazz club. The movie is a progression of their walk together and separately as they navigate the failures and successes of pursuing one's dreams.

At first glance, it would seem that the bravest act performed by Mia is leaving her home town to pursue her dreams in the big city. But, as the movie progresses, it's clear that the real bravery and courage is found in pushing through the rejections and the fears. She ebbs and flows between fearing failure and success. In the end, you also see the reality that is realized that sometimes success and the path to achieving one's dreams doesn't always look as one expects.

Some people think that pursuing the dreams God has placed on your heart is foolish and only for the young. And on one hand, those thoughts are true. But, I truly believe that God places dreams and desires in our hearts so that He can use each of us in unique ways as we live our lives. Yes, doses of reality are important. We can't blindly follow our dreams. We have to release expectations and know that following our dreams includes heartache, rejection and it certainly never turns out exactly as we plan it out in our heads. But, that's true maturity- pursuing our dreams with a healthy dose of reality. It also requires tremendous bravery to pursue our dreams in spite of the loss of expectations and in the face of failure and rejection.

My 7 year old daughter struggles with a lot of fears and anxiety. This weekend we went on our yearly lake trip with dear friends. She really struggles to jump in the lake and enjoy all the water sports that the other kids do readily. But, this weekend she pushed pass a lot of her fears and tried things she's never tried before. I was very proud of her. But, it's hard not to feel sadness sometimes as I see all the other children try new things with such willingness and trust. Every time she approaches something new, she has to push through so much fear and it's so hard to watch. It's easy to look at the other children and label them as brave while labeling her as fearful.

But, my sweet friend made a very profound point this weekend that I will never forget. Myla is actually the bravest one. The other children are being children and living life as most children live life- with reckless abandon and trust. Myla has to push through so many fears and anxiety in order to do the same activities. And, that's true bravery- facing your fears head on and conquering them victoriously.

I'm not so different than my daughter. I have dreams that God has placed on my heart and I want so desperately to pursue them. But, I also have so much fear and anxiety. As I pursue my dreams, I have to face head on my fears of failure, success and rejection. The easy route would be to push away those dreams and live complacently day in and day out. But, God is calling you and me to be brave. And, to live bravely means naming our fears and with His help, conquering them so we can be the men and women He wants us to be for His glory.

A look in somebody's eyes
To light up the skies
To open the world and send it reeling
A voice that says, I'll be here
And you'll be alright

I don't care if I know
Just where I will go
'Cause all that I need is this crazy feeling
A rat-tat-tat on my heart

Think I want it to stay

City of stars
Are you shining just for me?
City of stars

You never shined so brightly 

(City of Stars, La La Land Soundtrack)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Story of Jarena Lee (Be Brave, Part 4)

Because it's the last week of school, I haven't really had time to blog. But, God keeps bringing me new stories of brave Christian men and women. I couldn't help but share this story of Jarena Lee. As the first African American female preacher of the Gospel, she bravely broke down so many barriers in order to be used by God in His Kingdom. I am so privileged to know her story and pray that I can be half as brave as her as I follow God in my own life.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2017/may/jarena-lee.html#storystream

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rahab, More Than a Prostitute (Be Brave, Part 3)


What picture comes to your mind when you think of a person who is brave? Who comes to mind when you think of a person who does great things for God? Do you think of a great saint or famous Christian leader? It's funny how sometimes our picture of who God uses differs from the person whom God actually uses.

Our story today comes from the book of Joshua, chapter 2. At this point in the history of Israel, Moses has just died and Joshua is now the leader of the Jewish people. It is also time for them to enter the Promised Land. There was one problem, though. They knew they were called to move into Canaan and that it was their inheritance from the Lord, but there were some great nations already inhabiting it. Israel was a large group, but compared to the mighty nations of Canaan, they were feeling a little wimpy. So, Joshua decides to send 2 men ahead into the land to spy on the nations in order to create a plan of conquest.

The 2 spies come to Jericho first. And, they lodge at the home of a prostitute named Rahab. Okay, the first question you might be asking yourself is why were they in a prostitute's home? We don't really know. Maybe they were weak and lured in? Maybe this was common practice for out of town guests? Maybe they knew they couldn't just walk into any home seeking lodging because they would be found out, and staying at this home was a good cover? No matter their reason for being in Rahab's home, we quickly learn that they are were where they were supposed to be in order to fulfill their mission.

They are quickly found out. The king of Jericho learns there are spies in his city and someone has revealed their location. The king shows up at Rahab's home and commands her to hand over the men. She lies and says the men have been there but have escaped. Now, we could discuss for awhile the moral implications of whether Rahab should have lied, but suffice it to say Rahab knew she was to protect these men and she puts her life on the line to save them.

Why? Why did this woman, a Gentile and a woman of disrepute, risk her life for two spies from an enemy nation? In Joshua 2:8-13 we learn why, "Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 

The story of what God had done for His people had obviously spread throughout the region. The news had spread to Jericho and people were obviously afraid of what Israel could do with God on their side. But, Rahab goes a step further. Instead of just trembling in fear of Israel and their God, she moves from fear to belief. The stories of Israel's deliverance drew her to faith in the One True God. And, her faith led her to action. She takes the spies into her home, hides them and lies to protect them because she knew that their God was mighty and powerful and would protect her because of her working on their behalf.

And, that is just what God does. The spies promise to protect her and her family when Israel conquers Jericho. She helps them escape and later in the story we learn that when Israel marches into Jericho, they keep their promise and Rahab and her relatives are the only people spared in the city. Because of Rahab's faith and her brave actions, God spares her and her entire family from destruction.

But, that isn't the last time we hear of Rahab. In the genealogy of Jesus listed in Matthew 1, we see Rahab mentioned. She became the grandmother of Boaz who was King David's great-grandfather. Because of her faith and courage, Rahab becomes a part of God's larger plan. She's listed in the line of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Rahab, a prostitute, is used by God to save His people. Wow!

So, what does this mean for me and you? We may look at our lives and think God could never use me. I am weak and flawed and full of baggage, God could never use me. Lies! God loves to use the weak to do great things. That's exactly who He wants to use. He uses those of us who are weak and flawed, but full of faith. He takes our weaknesses and makes us strong. He heals our pasts and our flaws and gives us great courage to do great things. All He asks for is willingness. 

"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Who am I? (Be Brave, Part 2)


Most of us know the story of Moses and how he led the nation of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. He is viewed by people of all faiths as a man of great courage. He took on Pharaoh, arguably one of the most powerful leaders in the ancient world at that time. But, we often forget Moses' story that led him to that point.

Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh even though he was an Israelite. Remember? Moses in a basket as a baby being found by Pharaoh's daughter? Even though he was an Israelite, the people enslaved by the Egyptians, Moses was raised as an Egyptian. One day, as a young man, he sees a fellow Israelite beaten by an Egyptian. In a moment of anger and retaliation, Moses kills the Egyptian. And, out of fear of Pharaoh, he flees to Midian. In the rural town of Midian, Moses is brought in by the family of Reuel and becomes a shepherd (Exodus 2).

One day, while tending to his father-in-law's sheep, he sees a bush burning but the fire is not consuming the bush. Out of curiosity, he approaches the bush and instantly hears the voice of God calling his name. Moses then hides his face because he was afraid. God begins to describe His plan to Moses. He'd heard the cries and groanings of his people and had a plan to rescue them. God wanted Moses to be an integral part of that plan (Exodus 3). God didn't NEED Moses to fulfill his plan, but He desired to use Moses as a co-laborer with Him as He worked out His plan for His people. 

But, Moses' response to God isn't one of excitement and courage. His reaction is a litany of excuses. He says, "Who am I?" (Exodus 3:11) Who was he to go to Pharaoh and take on the whole nation of Egypt? God encourages Moses saying, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (3:12) Instead of being encouraged, Moses gives another excuse. "What if they won't listen to me Lord?" "What if they question who I am and my authority?" 

God responds to Moses excuse and says, I am who I am.” And he says, “Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.’” (3:14) And what does Moses do after being told that the Lord would be with him and that he would go with the authority of God backing him up? He gives ANOTHER excuse! He says that he knows the Israelite elders won't believe him. God then gives him a variety of signs to be displayed so that they will believe Moses (Exodus 4). And again, Moses gives another excuse. This times he says that he is not qualified for this task. He explains, as if God doesn't know Moses from the inside out, that he couldn't speak well so clearly he wasn't qualified for such a great task. 

At this point God reminds Moses, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (4:11-12) And what is Moses' response? Please send someone else!!! For good reason at this point, God becomes angry with Moses and tells him that he will also use Aaron to help Moses complete the task. This satisfies Moses and he goes.

Oh, how I want to judge Moses. He lacks so much courage and he doesn't take God at His Word. If God spoke to me and wanted to use me in such a way, I would jump at that responsibility. But, in reality I do the same as Moses. When God calls me to do something BIG for Him, I often respond to him with excuses about why I can't be used by Him. Honestly, it's not because I'm lazy but because I'm a coward. 

I use excuses like "Who am I?", "No one will listen to me.", "I'm not smart enough, good enough or qualified enough." I'm scared and lack courage. Ultimately, in those moments, I don't believe God when he says He will be with me and will qualify me. God calls me to be courageous for Him, but not by building up courage on my own. He wants me to be available to go when He calls, but He wants me to lean on Him to BE BRAVE and of good courage. I'm not meant to take His call and then lean into it on my own strength trusting in my own abilities. I'm meant to hear His calling, respond with "I'm here God!" and then move forward trusting in His ability to qualify me and make me brave.

"God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." Christine Caine, Undaunted 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Go! And, I will show you... (Be Brave, Part 1)


In our first 8 years of marriage, David and I moved 7 times. 7 times in 8 years!! (Thankfully, the last 8 years we've stayed in one place. Praise Jesus!) Every time was hard and presented its own set of challenges. There is a good reason why "change in living situation" is high up on most stressful life event scales. Whether you move across town or across the country, moving stinks. There's just something about taking the entire contents of your life, packing them up, moving them to a new spot and unpacking them in a new place that can wreck you. It's the very definition of upheaval. That's not even accounting for the other changes involved in moving- new job, new neighborhood, new friends, new church, etc. etc. etc.

Every time we've moved, we've felt called to where we were going oftentimes not knowing completely what would be waiting for us on the other end. When we were first married, we made the big move from College Station, TX to Fort Worth for David to begin his career and for me to begin the first step in God calling me into ministry- seminary. Talk about stressful! We were newly married and new college graduates beginning our new careers and new studies. In the midst of the stress and upheaval, we had to trust that we heard God clearly and we had to be brave.

Our next major move was cross-country to Atlanta. On the surface, we were following the call of David's career, but in hindsight, we can see that God was calling us to Atlanta because He was calling us to a new life and a new plan. Describing all the ways that we can now see God's hand in moving us here would take more words than a typical blog post can afford. But, suffice it to say, God had a big plan and we had to step out in big faith. It is so hard to leave your family, your country (and yes, I said country because for us Texans, Texas is a different country), your friends and your community. But, we had to trust God to make us brave.

When I think of big moves from a Biblical viewpoint, I think of Abraham and Sarah. In Genesis 12, God says to Abraham, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land I will show you." (vs. 1, ESV) God didn't say to Abraham, "Here's a picture of your new house and your new friends and your new land. Isn't it beautiful?! Look at all I will give you and at all the blessings you will receive. Here are all the intricate details of your new home. Now, don't you want to go?" Nope. He says, "Obey me and then I will show you what I have in store. I promise you blessing (vs. 2) but I'm not giving you all the details right now. You just have to trust me. Be brave. I am with you."

God calls all of us to new things, whether large or small, continuously throughout our life here on earth. And, most of the time the path is fuzzy and the endpoint is no where in sight. We have to remember that when God calls us to "move", He always promises to be with us even if He doesn't plan to give us details. As you read Abraham's story, you see how often God appears to him, guiding and redirecting him, as He leads him into new life. God wants to do that for us, too. Our end of the deal is to obey and to bravely trust that He will be with us on the fuzzy path, guiding our every step.

"Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (The Message)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Be Brave

Every year I try to pick a word or a phrase that is my theme for the year. This year my phrase is "Be Brave!". And, as He always does, God has continued to make this a thread through my life this year. I attended a writer's retreat in February and as a gift, I received a necklace that says those exact words- Be Brave. I wear it around my neck almost everyday and it serves as a reminder of what God has called me to this year.

God has taught me a ton over the past few months about bravery and courage through the stories of heroes in the Bible, heroes in church history and real life heroes that I encounter on a daily basis. Last night I was struck that maybe what I've been learning should become a post series on my blog. So, over the next few weeks to months, I will be exploring this topic of bravery with God.

We all need to be braver in our daily lives. Some of us need to be brave as we parent, some of us need to be brave as we fight for our marriage, some of us need to be brave as we step out in a new career or as we fight to save our current one, some of us need to be brave as we care for aging parents, some of us need to be brave as we serve in our churches, in our communities and in our schools and some of us live on the other side of the world and need to be brave because our life is at risk as we worship Jesus.

Wherever you are in life, I'm pretty positive God is calling you to be brave in some way. My prayer is that as God is teaching me how to be brave; I could in turn encourage you as you fight the good fight courageously day in and day out.

Join me on this journey to becoming braver Christ followers!


"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 (ESV)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hi, I'm Rebecca and I'm a Perfectionist

One of the things I've done as I've been working on my writing, is try to learn more about how my personality affects my writing. I've done a lot of research in this area but the one thing that has helped me the most is to learn my Enneagram type. (To take the test for yourself, visit http://www.exploreyourtype.com/details.)

So, I'm an Enneagram Type 1. Type 1 is called The Perfectionist. Those of you who know me well are probably not shocked by this revelation at all. :) I wasn't actually shocked by my type, but I when I started to read about Type 1s, I couldn't help but think, "Get out of my brain writer of these descriptions. You know me too well and it makes me uncomfortable!" It's always fun to find out your strengths, it's not so fun to learn how your weaknesses affect your work and others around you. And, giving that I'm a perfectionist, it's even harder to admit that I'm not actually perfect.

The wonderful aspects of being a perfectionist is that perfectionists are responsible, improvement-oriented and self-controlled. But, negatively we can be critical, resentful and self-judging. The biggest ouch is having to admit that down in my core I struggle with the incorrect belief that I have to be good and right to be deemed worthy.

In some ways I already knew this about myself as much of the book I am writing is about this struggle, but as I dig deeper into this aspect of my personality I continue to be struck by the fact that this is an ongoing struggle. It doesn't only affect my relationships with others, or my writing, but it also affects my relationship with God.

Mentally, I know that my relationship with God is only dependent on His love for me and His grace that covers all. But, in my heart, I constantly believe the lie that I am not worthy of His love unless I do XYZ. When I look in the mirror, I often only see the failures and if I don't, on a daily basis, preach to my own soul that I am worth it, that I am loved and that I don't have to strive to measure up to be wanted by God; I will get stuck on the hamster wheel of constant striving. And, man does that wheel get exhausting.

Actually, I should probably get Psalm 139 tattooed on my forehead (not really, but metaphorically).

Psalm 139:13-16

[13] For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
[14] I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
[15] My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
[16] Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (ESV)

They say that the first step to healing is admission. So, here goes- Hi, I'm Rebecca and I'm a Perfectionist.




Some days you're tired of trying to measure up
You see a girl whose not enough
When you look in the mirror
Some nights all you wanna do is hide
'Cause every time you look inside
You're face to face with failure
But you are loved, oh,
Not because of what you've done, no,
Even when your heart has run the other way
Nothing's gonna change His love
And you are wanted
Not because you are perfect
I know that you don't think you're worth that kind of grace
But look into His face you'll know
That you are loved, oh

Read more:  Ellie Holcomb - You Are Loved Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Calm Before The Storm



My family has spent the past week on the gulf coast of Florida for Spring Break. Every year God speaks to me through my time at the ocean. This year we've experienced a series of storms with calm days preceding and following the stormy days. Oftentimes our walk with God is similar to this pattern. God uses the calm to prepare us before the storms of life inevitably shake us. He also uses the calm after the storm to remind us that He is in control and He alone can calm the raging seas. But, God is not only with us in the calm, He is also with us in the storm. The calm days just serve as a reminder that He is there and that He is in control even while the storms rage.

"On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)