Happy Monday!

Yes! Happy Monday, You Beautiful People!!!

Happy Monday

Thinking of you and praying for you today.  I’m actually praying that we’d be tickled pink to start this day today!  Wouldn’t that give satan a kick in the teeth?!?!!!  I’m convinced that with as many people who dread Monday mornings (or Monday altogether), he thinks he has our joy on lock today more than any other day.  But we can have victory in Jesus.  Remember to take your medicine.

May you have a blessed, encouraged and positive start to the work week–whether you work in your home, outside of your home, or not at all.  I’m praying blessings, effectiveness, provision and fellowship with the Lord for you today.

I’m finishing up Beth Moore’s 10 week bible study called Believing God and it has been phenomenal.  This is the prayer that I’m praying for myself as I start my day today:

My Lord and my God, I thank you for another day to know You and believe You.  Whatever means you may choose to increase my faith today, I commit myself to that end.

~ Beth Moore in Believing God

Believing God takes courage but it also takes us on a fantastic ride.  You may think your life has enough excitement, for good or for bad, but dare to actively believe God in every area of your life and allow the Lord to thrill you with His revelations and His goodness and your life will never be the same.

Pray this prayer with me today?

On Love . . .

on love . . .

Love heals.  Heals and liberates.  I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.” ~Maya Angelou in Mom & Me & Mom 

Thinking about when was the last time I loved on purpose . . . As a mom and a wife, most of the time my love is set on default; it’s just what I do.  Love is in every move I make, every sacrifice, every offering . . .the sweet good morning hugs and hellos, enthusiastically and  intently listening to the same story more than twice, giving lessons, watching movies with tired eyes and a heavy mind, embracing, caring, sharing . . .  But, I asked myself today as I reread this impactful, little passage, when was the last time I made love my ambition, purpose, aspiration, intent . . .my ulterior motive?  In this world of broken hearts and distracted minds, surely there’s someone in my life right now who needs me to consider this . . .and act on it . . .

illustration by my niece, Nazaria Metz

His

All my fears and inhibitions fade away when I recognize . . .

. . .that I am His . . .

. . .my identity is in Christ . . .

. . .who I really am is in Christ . . .

. . .everything I need is in Christ . . .

. . .Christ is my source. . .

. . .Christ is my self-esteem . . .

. . .He is BIG in me!!!!

Hallelujah!  You are BIG in me!!!!

…… lying with the quiet calm that comes with the end of a day.  It’s rather late, so perhaps you won’t read this until morning but my mind is swirling and looping with all of the events, conversations, people and responsibilities that filled my Monday.  However the thought that keeps circling back to the front of my mind is my identity in Christ.

I can sense my savior’s urgent message for me to identify myself by no other standard than by the word of God.  And I believe He wants that for you as well.

I was sharing with the ladies in bible study tonight that for so much of my life I have been running from being labeled a statistic, running from my past, past mistakes made and poor choices executed, doing my best to define and position myself so that I can control how people see me and therefore what they think of me.  I have been able to accomplish and have some good things in my time but they became the standard by which I identified myself.  If I were to list even a couple of these things it would only be perpetuating the very thing that the Lord is trying to get me to pull away from: identifying myself by the standards of this world.  I am nothing more and nothing less than what the word of God says that I am.  I draw my strength, my value and my identity directly from the heart and mind of the almighty God.  

Now, how does that sit with you?  Does finding your identity in Christ and not in the pieces of the American Dream you currently do or don’t possess scare you?  If you lost absolutely everything you have today, perhaps your own version of a Job experience, would you have any clue about who you are?  Take heart.  He wants us to know the truth about ourselves.  As I explore His word to find myself, I am taking refuge in the fact that I am completely His and I’m putting this on repeat:

Gracefully Accepting Higher

gracefully accepting higher

I read this post by Stephanie Bryant in December and it was brilliant.  It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Huni and I recently moved back to his hometown to do full time ministry.  I was hesitant and excited about the move but once we got there I wanted everything around me to rise to our new normal.  I knew that things were going to be different but I wanted to hurry up and discover the differences so that I could contain them, normalize them . . .control them.  Uggggh!  Why oh why do we do this to ourselves?  New marriage, new job, new home, relocation, new baby, new friend . . .whenever there is a change, we look for a new normal and what I have discovered in my recent experience is that, with God, there is no such thing.

You see, God is always calling us higher.  Even when we’re in a season that makes us feel low to the ground, He is calling us higher because He is calling us to reflect Christ.   (Romans 8:28-29)

We’ve been living in our new town for about 8 months and it wasn’t until this week that I really starting getting into my groove and not feeling like a complete nutcase, chasing my tail in a 3 diameter circle going 75 mph.  I have learned, the hard way, that we have to give ourselves the grace of time to allow a change to morph into whatever it is going to become.  And we have to divorce the world’s notion of the new normal.  If the Lord answers our prayers and calls us to something immeasurably more than we can ask, think or imagine, why would we want to relegate it to what is considered to be normal?  

Here is merely a glimpse of the reality that we are called to everyday:

“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.”  ~Philippians 2:15 NIV

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”  ~Daniel 12:3 ESV

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” ~1 Peter 2:9 ESV

Oh that we would learn to live comfortably in His marvelous light instead of the dull comfort that our yearning for normal yields.

We are not called to look longingly out of the window in search of what was good in our yesterdays.  So many times in His word, God likens us to stars!  Reminder: No two stars are alike (every star is unique).  Stars get their light from the sun (they are fueled, daily, by the most powerful source of light).  Their brilliant light shines forth from more than a billion miles away, yet their light reaches us and lights up the sky each night (they are potent, consistent and highly effective).

So, it’s been eight months and I’m just now beginning to get settled in . . .day by day and moment by moment I am going to continue to ease into this season of my life and instead of looking for the myth of the “new normal” I’m looking for each moment presented to me to shine like the star I have been called to be.

Pondering the Gospel

the gospel

I had a friend describe a situation that she was in a short time ago where she chose to divulge to a large group of women some of the things that she was struggling with at the time.  It had much to do with singleness and likely most of the women in the audience could relate, whether they wanted to admit it or not.  The list was less than pretty.  The details, though vague, were of a very personal nature because, in order to tell the truth, she had to expose parts of her person that those not close to her might not otherwise know.  But she poured herself out thin, viscous, and abundant in front of the women anyway.  After the session was done, quite a few women came up to her and asked her, “How did you do that?  How were you able to just tell your business like that?  I can’t believe you just shared all of that with everyone.”  My friend responded with a couple Christ pointed sentences to explain where her “courage” came from but then she ended with the most intriguing response of all.  She said, “I really believe that the gospel is enough.”

I’ve been thinking of my friend’s final response and I’m just really taken by it.

Well, what is the gospel?  According to John Piper, “the gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the righteous one, died for our sins, rose again eternally triumphant over all His enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe but only everlasting joy.

So, essentially, my friend was saying that because Christ, the righteous one, who is eternally triumphant and gives no condemnation but everlasting joy to all who believe, died for her sins, she can struggle in the light. . . with NO shame nor embarrassment . . . and receive strength to overcome the evil one and live victoriously today and everyday. . . and by so doing, invite others to do the same.

yeaaaaaaaaa . . . . my head is spinning too . . . .

The Spring of Things

the spring of things

I think that spring is God’s way of calling on nature to remind us of the sweetness and beauty to be found in new beginnings . . .

     that is, if we dare to receive them . . .

The cycle rolls ever onward;

22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~Genesis 8:22 ESV

We can be seized by the mundane rote disguised as the day to day.

We can drown in our legitimate sorrows and stresses.

Or . . .

. . .we can hope against hope,

(re)set goals,

lift up prayers (even for those situations and people that have been filed away in the “lost cause” pile),

submit plans (tweaked and reworked where necessary) . . .

We can try, yet another day, to begin again.

Even if that means beginning at 1.

After all, spring rains till the ground for some of summer’s most enduring blooms. . .

what I’m trying to say is,

. . . while the earth remains, there is still time to begin again. . .

So, I’m blowing the dust off of the small, black qwerty pegs as I say a prayer for discipline and grace to make a beginning once more.

What are some goals, plans, or works that you’ve set aside and need to return to?  Will you join me?

Support Staff

IMG_2693

It was a beautiful, bright, winter Saturday.  The kind where the air is crisp and wet, thick with the anticipation of some wintry mix threatening to keep everyone inside, fireside bound for the whole of the day.  Except the bright boldness of the sun dared anyone to mention inclement weather, as she spread all her rays out over the earth like a mama’s proud arms, welcoming her babies in to the warmth, love and comfort that only a mama can assure.  Yes, the sun was working her magic and wooing all of the women as they excitedly dressed and prepared to go and wish well another Darling, preparing herself to take on a new last name and a basket full of responsibilities to go along with it.  They were all so excited that though aware of the blue temperatures outside, they were motivated to be with her, share with her, celebrate her and tell her exactly how to be the best wife possible to this lucky man.  So excited they were, in fact, and having done this several times before for a friend, a niece, sister, cousin, that they got caught up in the excitement and familiarity of it all and forgot to consult with their their editor and manager about what they should say.  Surely He cares that much about us, to inform us on how to inform others about how to do His will?!?!  Yet they sauntered out there, laughing, playing happy games, conversing amongst themselves, sipping the sweet, inviting nectar of joy and eating the tenderly baked, enticing confections of comfort and started talking out of turn.  Their guards were down–which can be one of the worse times to speak aloud at all, especially in a group setting and especially when you haven’t spoken with your manager.

No, they weren’t rude or harsh, but they spoke more from their own heartaches and past mistakes rather than from truth.  And Darling, so eager to please and be the wife she felt her lover deserved, took it all in without a sieve.  She swallowed it all whole thinking that it’d be better to receive it all now, soak up the moment and try it out later to see for herself if these platters of advice from the kind, well-meaning women in her community, would lay softly on the palate of her intended.

Seeing that she was a hungry girl, and wanting her to do well in this call, they talked more and more and became braver in their offerings, leaving no room in the house untouched.  From the Kitchen to the laundry room to the bedroom, Darling was told exactly what her man would like and wouldn’t like, and how she should conduct herself if she wanted to stay married. Shucks, it got so good in there that even the younger, unmarried school girls started placing their offerings before her, as if they knew anything about this scared calling for themselves except for what they had been warned against or had seen played out in some version the Housewives franchise.  They meant well. . .

No one seemed to notice that Darling’s once bright, anxious, joyful eyes had now dropped to a half moon, wandering, listless stare.  And those that did notice figured that she was probably just getting tired and wanted to open gifts.

Not all of the talk was unproductive and unedited but one of the comments that I think dimmed her light a bit came from the back of the room, an auntie, older, respected, and thought to be wiser than most of them said,

 “Don’t tell your business.  If anything happens in your marriage, keep that between you and your husband.  Don’t tell people what’s going in your relationship because you’ll choose to forgive him and they won’t.”

If I were a betting woman, I would bet you that all across the world, there is some version of this same bit of advice being told to women all over the world.  But is it biblical?

It just doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me.

Darling finds herself in the position of being recognized as that “good thing” that the gentleman has been searching for.  She is so excited about being with this man and so she sets out to plan her wedding, for some, the day of her dreams.  As she plans, she chooses the women who will stand closest to her on that day.  They smile, cry, tilt heads to the side, clutch hearts and prepare for months of sentimentality and love, anxious for the big day.  Then, after the day has come, they have all celebrated, eaten cake and burned it off with the Cupid Shuffle and the Electric Slide, the couple drives off into the sunset to live happily ever after . . . and the supporting cast members are supposed to just walk away and stay out of their business?

No.  I think we’ve got this all wrong.

I don’t believe that you should share your business with just anybody just as much as I believe that you shouldn’t have just anybody in your wedding.  Marriage is sacred and we should treat it as such from the moment we start dating.

The bible speaks often about community and how we are to conduct ourselves as we live in community with each other.  One example is in Galatians 6:2 encouraging us to: Carry each others burdens…”

I should be able to talk to a select few women in my life, or perhaps one woman, who is close to me, loves me, sincerely cares about me and my marriage when I am happy and when I am struggling to be the wife who respects her husband as I am called to do in Ephesians.  I should be able to go to her and trust that she will keep my confidence and lead me to the throne to receive help and healing for my heart, mind and marriage.

Now, to be clear, I do believe that our first move should always be toward the Lord, in prayer.  We shouldn’t ever get into the habit of running to friends and family for help when our God has already set Himself up as everything that we need.  But the place where most people get mixed up is in forgetting that God places people in our lives who we are to grow with.  He will often use people to show us His love for us, to show us His hand of provision, and even His hand of correction can come down through the people in our lives.  Don’t shut people out because you have been told to cover your relationship like a newborn child in the middle of a war zone.  Be wise about the people you have in your life, and trust God to use them to lead you into His call for you, which is holiness.

I have some of the most amazing women in my life.   Truly.  They love me.  They like me.  They applaud me but they also challenge me.  They know who I am and they know that I aspire to be pleasing to God, so they never let me compromise that. I am free to pitch a 60 second fit but they are are there, one (and sometimes two) at a time, to gently get my head back in the game and get back on point.  They are consistent as I parent, in my friendships, my work, relationships, goals, and yes, my marriage.

I think that we should talk more about this and unravel it a bit more.  We’ve got to debunk this myth and see what the Lord has to say about it.  While it has some value for keeping the sanctity of your marriage, I believe that it has taken a turn and put more of us in bondage than anything else.  I believe that there is a reader who needs to be free and know that she just may have someone in her life that she can be completely transparent with about her marriage, to the glory of God and the edification of her and her husband.  I also believe that for some of us, it runs a little deeper and we need to clean house and get some new Frans ’cause the ones we have on staff have taken an extended, paid vacation.

Oh, but there’s more!

“That’s the only reason why I’m a Christian,” she said, “So that I don’t go to hell.”

My heart sank just a little bit after hearing her words.  But it wasn’t weighed down by judgement.  No, my heart sank as I thought, That’s all you think there is to this?

Please don’t misunderstand me, I know that being saved from hell is a very, very good thing.  It’s a real thing.  It’s an eternal thing and it’s a logical beginning of salvation for many people.  Some are frightened by it and come running into the arms of Jesus out of fear of the unknown, fear of this horrid hell that imaginations have painted red and the bible has described as a lake of fire.  And although many people shun coming to the Lord out of fear, I stand alongside Paul who accepted the preaching of Christ no matter what people’s motives were, so long as the gospel was preached, and I say, come to Him, ALL of us no matter our motives, so long as we come because once we come, truly come, He changes everything.

But I still found myself moving out of her vision with brow furrowed, mouth agape, head cocked slightly to the left and mind bewildered at how she could have missed that we were saved for more.  That He saved us not just from hell, but to be in relationship with us, to show us His love and have us recognize it and revel in it once we realized it . . . to give us power to live beyond ourselves . . .to do the supernatural . . .to make us worthy of having His spirit placed inside of us . . .to show love to others, even the most unlovable so that they too would come to know Him . . .to see His goodness in the land of the living . . .to have joy, unspeakable joy, in the midst of trying times . . .to have peace that surpasses understanding . . .to know that we have a savior who came to bind up broken hearts, heal the sick, make whole the broken . . .to live with purpose and intention, no days on earth wasted . . .to have hope . . .

. . .and then it dawned on me . . . that’s why I moved here–to be an example of this very thing.

See, I know that people are speculating, what’s the real story? who in their right mind would move from there to here?  I bet they ran up on hard times and just needed to move back home for a while.  hey, it happens to the best of us. . .   But there are no secrets.  We really did change everything and give up everything to come and be salt and light.  We came for moments just like these– to live among people and show them the more that God is calling us to.  To wrap our arms, minds and hearts around the harvest of souls waiting for a glimpse of recognition from the Father.  Yes, He sees you.  Yes, He wants you.  He stands at the door and knocks and it would serve us well to answer.  Answer because you are afraid of what’s behind the other door.  Answer because you are afraid not to answer at all.  Answer because you want Him and what He has to offer. Answer because you’ve answered everything and everyone else and you’ve been sadly disappointed every time.  Whatever the reason–Just don’t miss out on your opportunity to answer.  And when you do, I pray that I’ll be ready to be used, should He choose to use me, to demonstrate that being saved from hell is just beginning.

6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:6-10 The Message)

Take Your Medicine

It’s Sunday night, a night of bittersweets. . .

Most of us have enjoyed a beautiful day alone or with family and friends . . .the house is quieting down, lovers may be cuddling up for a movie, friends may be finishing up conversations . . .preparations for the next day have been made . . .or not.  No matter how we feel about it or how we’ve decided to address it, we have all realized by now that tomorrow is Monday.

Seems like most of us dread Mondays.  Lord knows I’ve had some times where I was downright depressed about Mondays.  I’m not even joking.

But, Frans, I’m trying something new that I wanted to get you in on.  I just discovered that I have a drug that I can take that’ll help me deal with Mondays, Tuesdays, Bluesdays and all the other days too.  Check this out:

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body. (Proverbs 4:20-22, NASB)

So, are you trying to tell me that reading the word brings me health and life?  Oh yes, chile.  Yes, I am.

No matter what Monday holds for you, or any day for that matter, you can face it with joy, confidence, security, and love by taking your medicine.  Read the word of God, listen to scripture, write it down, memorize His words, soak them in!  Soak them up!  The thing is, unlike any other medication, there is no danger involved in overdosing.  Try and see.  Put the word of God on everything you are facing.  He is so worth it.  You can take Him at His word.  His word is His bond.  He is trustworthy and His word works for our lives, NOW!

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NASB)

Not sure what Monday holds for you but you don’t have to bow to it.  You serve a very big God who has put His spirit in you and left His word for you to wield as a mighty sword to combat Satan, call him out as the liar that he is, take over your day and be victorious in all of the things that He will put your hands to!

So, which verse or set of verses will you look up tonight?  All the power you need lies within you through the holy spirit and can be activated by encouraging your faith through the word of God.

Take some time to get into the word then stand up and shout with a voice of triumph, “bring it on Monday!!!”

Tonight I Tripped Over a Barbie Doll

It was pitch black dark in the den.  After a long day, tired and frustrated I was making my way down to the breakfast room for some sense to be talked into me.  For some words of prayer to be spoken over me.  And there she was.  Just a smiling.  All sprawled out on the hardwood floor like that’s where she belonged.  Like I was in her way.  Of course because it was dark, I got a little nervous about what exactly was lying on the floor that sent my feet into an impromptu jig that could have rendered my body bruised and scratched tonight.

Then I realized it was her.  And a funny thing happened.

I didn’t get mad.  I didn’t think about how she got left there or who it was that should have picked her up.  I fought the temptation to use that as a time to run that movie in my mind where I play the thankless mom who cleans up after the girls and cares for the huni and am often overlooked.  Because it’s a reality show that plays on repeat in my head most days.

But not tonight.

My immediate thought was gratitude and thankfulness.  I smiled at that ole barbie.  Because I thought about my little girls and the great joy that they bring me everyday.  I thought about how much fun I have playing with them and how much happiness I receive when they are happy.  And let me tell you, after a day like today when we run out of time for afternoon naps and have to endure each other in our sleepiest, crankiest of states, these were gooooood thoughts to dwell on.  And a sure blessing from God and a sign of His growing me that these were among the first thoughts to spring into my psyche.

This job of being mom and wife is hard.  And everyday carries with it a new challenge, a new opportunity for me to get over myself and enjoy this life I have been given, to see my children and husband as gifts, not burdens and to realize that I am so blessed to have this family of mine.  On the sunny days and the rainy ones.  While the babies are napping and when they’re running off of remnants of last night’s sleep.  Oh, Pamela.  That you would count it all joy.

Tonight I tripped over a barbie doll and instead of wanting to throw her out of the nearest window, I smiled, placed her in her “bed,” and thanked God for the little girls who clamor to play with her each day.

Rock on all you wives and mamas out there.  You are never overlooked.  He longs to be gracious to you and He always sees you.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)