Friday, May 31, 2013

Five Minute Friday-Imagine

Five Minute Friday

It's that time again! Five minutes to write, then stop and share. Click the button above to join in :) Today's prompt: Imagine

Imagine if you were her. Picture yourself waking up in the morning, just thankful that you've survived another night. Or maybe fearful of another day that stretches long and scary before you. Imagine getting dressed without seeing the clothes you choose, because who's going to care, really, what the girl no one sees is wearing? Or standing in a closet full of clothes- not clothes, costumes, disguises- what will you choose today to cover up the lonely, scared little girl inside? Imagine watching life from the outside, dying to fit in but no clue how to really start living. Imagine walking by a church and having no hint of the hope that lays inside. Imagine having never heard the name Jesus. That girl over there? The one who's showing too much skin and trying way to hard to catch a passing eye- imagine you were her. What if you knew her story?

Imagine if if every time you looked, it wasn't your eyes you saw with, but HIS. Imagine seeing beneath the facade, the disguise, the excuses- seeing the heart. Would you see differently?


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday: View

Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday Time! Today's prompt is: VIEW

Sometimes I miss it. I'm right smack in the middle and all I see is mess and noise and the ticking clock and the list of "to dos' that goes on and on...  My baby yells "mama look!" but it's the hundredth time that day and I fail to see before the moment has passed. Life rushes on.

Then I catch it in a strangers smile. They've peaked into our traveling circus as we pass by and it moves them to smile.


What are they smiling at? Them- my sweet babies, caught in a moment of normal, but so wrapped up in cute that it causes a stranger to pause, then carry away some joy.

LOOK Mama.

Dear Father help me not to miss it. Help me to see through their eyes. Thank you for the beautiful mess that fills and colors my view of the entire world. Thank you for the beautiful view of everyday life you place before me each morning. Thank You

Sunday, May 19, 2013

When your vessel is cracked

    I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to attend a women's retreat put on by a church my friend attends. She went last year by herself (I know right right? She's one of those "brave girls") and came back so excited that she quickly convinced another friend and I that we HAD to attend with her this year. I am SO glad we did! I'll be honest, I was pretty nervous about it leading up to it. I'm the girl who hangs out with guys- a weekend with 500 (and it actually became 700!) women?? Wouldn't typically be my first choice. Also, I'm a minister. I wasn't sure I'd know my place at a church event where I had absolutely no responsibility- would I spend the weekend feeling out of place or counseling a bunch of women I didn't even know? Those were the issues I admitted right up front, but the deeper one, the biggest, the one I didn't even realize was an issue until I got there is that I've been really. really. REALLY dry. Maybe that surprises you if you know me, maybe it was obvious to everyone but me, but I was barely in the door of that place and I suddenly KNEW that at the first trigger I was going to bawl like a baby. I'm not even sure what it was really but there was already an atmosphere about the place that, even in the midst of 700 excited women whispered "PEACE" "REST" "This time is for YOU"  I guess it was like when you don't realize how hungry you are until you catch a whiff of some really good food. Suddenly I realized that I was ravenous for peace, and joy, and comfort.

   Here's where I get real...

   We have been in a hard hard HARD phase of our life. Not that there hasn't been good, there's been a LOT of it. We are continually so blessed and God just continues to heap provision on us and keep us aware of His presence in our lives. Some of our deepest prayers have been answered in the last few years; which is why, even though we've also been fighting some of our biggest battles, I felt so guilty that I was continually losing my peace and joy. I yelled in frustration just the other day that I keep thinking I've been filled to overflowing with the good stuff and then one little thing (or 50) happens and suddenly my vessel is bone dry again. I wondered what was wrong with me. I'm typically a happy person. I'm one of those annoying people that smiles and laughs ALL the time (truth- it's a coping mechanism. Yes I am joyful for real, but I also revert to it when I'm lost as to how I should really be acting) SO it really bothered me that more and more lately it wasn't myself that I was hearing, but instead it was a mean, angry, bitter woman. I didn't like me, how could anyone else? How could God find pleasure in that? So I arrive at this weekend  that was completely tailored for renewing a woman's spirit with all this baggage in tow. Not very far into the first session it hit me between the eyes- my vessel was cracked. Not just a tiny crack towards the top either; no, God showed me an image of it and there were not only cracks, in a few places there were entire chunks nearly busted through.  While I was certainly shocked to see that, it also suddenly made everything clear.

   Lets look for a moment at how you would treat a glass or clay vessel. When I think of myself I think of one of those tall, orange clay jars that curve in a then flare out at the neck, a little like this.
photo from

   Picture yourself as a vessel of this sort. You could certainly sit it up on a shelf and only disturb it when you dust it clean. Or you could have it in a safe place still, but filled with some pretty flowers. I don't know many women whose lives look like that. This is a sturdy vessel. It's made for everyday use, to withstand a few bumps and jostles. That looks more like a woman to me. But what happens if you take it and bang it up against another one? (you know like when we, as women compete against each other for the "IT woman" award and tear each other down in the process) Or if it gets knocked from the counter and falls to the hard tile floor (sometimes, for whatever reason, our dreams or our present joys get ripped away from us and it leaves us free falling) Or what if a careless person gets a hold of it and knocks it into stuff and throws dirt on it and piles stuff on top of it that is just too heavy for it to bear (sometimes we put our hopes and dreams and even our very lives into the hands of people who have no right to such a gift and we end up battered and bruised, if not completely shattered) There are so many ways a vessel like this could be misused and because it's strong, yet delicate, (hey Lady!) it's not going to look the same way after years of use as it did the day it was created.
   I won't go into the details of how my vessel got all of its damage but it suffices to say that all of the above and then some would apply. The problem is that I'm a minister. (just gonna throw in a side note here that the only reason I say it that way is because you all know that means I'm actively involved in ministering in a church- the truth is that we're ALL called to be ministers, but that's another post...) But I spend all this time helping other people learn to trust Jesus and find healing and move past the disappointments they've endured and I'm walking around with entire chunks missing from my jar. All that good stuff that God has been pouring into us wasn't any less good because it was so short lived in me; the problem was that my cracks were placed just so, so that if I was being used gently or sitting quietly on a shelf, it didn't drain out too fast, but when you pick up a cracked vessel and shake it a little, or a lot, well, you know what happens.

   This weekend, when I walked away from everything else for a moment and finally recognized the damage my vessel had sustained I was in the prime place to get it fixed. I could have looked at it and said "I'm damaged beyond repair, put me in the junk pile!" I could have been angry about all the things and people that had caused the damage (and in doing so, added to it) But THANK GOD I was in a place where it was right in my face how good God is and how much He cares for ME and as fast as I could I handed that dirty pitiful jar over to the master potter, my Daddy.  Isaiah 64:8

   Here's the thing with that: before I could be repaired, I had to be cleaned.  To the best of my knowledge, clay vessels of that sort aren't cleaned with soap and water, they're cleaned with sand. A handful of sand is rubbed into all the surfaces and it smooths away the dirt and grime while also removing some of the scratches and imperfections. Have you ever tried to wash sand off of you, or used a salt or sugar scrub when you have a sunburn? It doesn't feel so good, especially on damaged skin. YEAH Here's where the crying started. I felt God's hands, so gentle even as it hurt, as He rubbed away the dirt and the damage and the scratches. Oh man, was it so hard and SO. VERY. GOOD. as He cleaned me up. And then He began to fill the cracks and the holes. With love. With truth. With grace. With friends. With peace. With all things good. And then He filled me back up to the top, overflowing.

   So you're probably sitting there thinking, "well that's nice, unfortunately the rest of us missed it and we can't just take off for the weekend like that anyway and. and. and....." Yes you missed this weekend but that's OK because this weekend was for ME (and the 700 other women there...) but the good news is that God doesn't have to have a special weekend away to heal you. I believe this particular event worked so well for me because it got me completely out of my zone, where I couldn't get caught up in ministering but I had to sit back and be served. So what CAN you do?
   1. Recognize if you have cracks in your vessel.
   2. Understand that while God may have allowed them to happen, He did NOT put them there.
   3. Hand your vessel to Jesus. However that looks for you. Maybe simply time in your prayer spot- or finding a prayer spot. Maybe creating a mini getaway for yourself. Maybe getting with a trusted friend and walking through it together. Ask God, I believe He will show you.
   4. Hang in there while He's doing the work and DO NOT pick your vessel back up out of His hands. Let yourself cry. Accept that it hurts. Lean on your heavenly Father and let Him pour His love out on you.
   5. Don't get discouraged. If you try this and nothing seems to change, reach out for help. Go to your pastor, find a church, find a friend to help you. If you're reading this and you know of something that could help someone, please share it in the comments!
   6. Read your bible! It's His love letter to you, you can't stay in it very long and not begin to feel Him moving in you.
   7. Last, but should have been first- PRAY PRAY PRAY and if you're praying and praying and can't hear His voice, be quiet and LISTEN. Listen until He speaks, because when you most need it, He will. Because He loves you so much. Because He made your vessel and He called it good.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Minute Friday- Comfort

Five Minute Friday Five Minute Friday time again! Five minutes to sit and write, no over thinking or perfecting, just simply write. This weeks prompt is Comfort.

Some things, many things from childhood have been relegated to memories that only surface when I have a photograph in front of me to spark them. It bothers me, because I'm a cherisher of moments. I love to stop and revel in the second that is happening right now and do a mental stamp of it in my brain, hoping against hope that it will stick good enough for me to pull it up again later in full clarity. Unfortunately, very few things have actually imprinted well enough for that to be the case. There is one though that is still so close in my heart that I don't even have to close my eyes to bring it up- my mama's hands.  I can still feel them, small and firm and cool as they brushed my hair back from a fevered brow or wiped away a tear. I always loved it when she had a reason to gently caress my forehead. 

Fast forward to now, my own little ones who too often take to their beds to heal; when I walk in to check on them or comfort them, each of them without fail take my hand and draw it to their face, as they nuzzle in I watch peace wash over them. I look down and realize, I have my mama's hands.

Happy Mothers Day to my beautiful Mama, whose strong, gentle hands have wiped so many fevered brows and tears and bottoms that I'm sure you lost count ages ago. You've helped to raise so very many children but I am thankful beyond measure that I'm the one little girl who gets to call you Mom. :)
My baby and my Mama

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Five Minute Friday- Brave

Five Minute Friday Five Minute Friday again! This one is raw, and I'll tell you, the prompt is BRAVE, and that is what it took to hit post on this one. Only because I know I'm not alone, and maybe some others need to know that we're not choosing brave alone.

Some days I feel like a super hero because I manage to get my house (mostly) clean, and do something fun with my kids and make it to the evening with everyone tucked in with smiles and satisfied sighs over a day that went simply "well." Those are the days I long for. The days I wake up in the morning hoping for. Too often those days are replaced by hurry and loud and fear and yes, all too often, mad. More and more lately, as the tightness of the details of motherhood wrap around me, I forget to cherish and instead get lost in strive. I push and pull and scream and plead and yell, doing my best (or worst) to force those around me into my mold. Because I care? Because I simply want the best for them? Because I want to make sure they get life in the best way they can? Those are my excuses, but they are not my reasons. They are the lies I tell myself to make up for what I'm really fearing deep down. That I'll fail. That life won't be the beautiful, rosy story I picture in my head. I push so hard for perfect that I miss the lovely that is all around me. I cry for the lie that has stolen the truth of blessing that showers over my life. So today, instead of fear that steals kills and destroys, I'll take my Daddy's hand and choose brave.

Because when I fail He is strong.

When I fall He lifts up.

When I cry He captures the tears.

When I doubt, He has a perfect plan.

When I fear, HE is brave.