11 September 2019

socks, texts, and other gifts

At the risk of coming off as self-absorbed, it's time to confess:  sometimes I struggle with feeling invisible.  Forgotten.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I get stuck thinking if I'm not purposeful enough in my relationships, my existence will fade.  The struggle is real; at least it is for me.  Don't misunderstand, it's not that I want to be the centre of everyone's universe, but I mean let's be real here, it's nice to know we're loved.  Right?

Most of the time, I can talk myself out of the funk that comes with believing I am unimportant to everyone, valued by no one.  I AM loved, of course.  And anyway, my value does not depend on others.  I find my worth in the eyes of my Jesus.

But here's the thing:  it helps to hear it out loud sometimes.

Awhile ago, a friend and I got together after she had come home from vacation, and she handed me a little box.  Now, I LOOOVE presents, but I was taken wasn't my birthday or Christmas, and my friend is not normally a "gifter" like me.  It was totally unexpected.  She just kind of laughed and said, "Open it!"  Inside was a pair of socks with sloths on them.  Yes, bring on the trumpets and fanfare!  What the heck for? you might ask.  Well, not only do I LOOOVE presents, I LOOOVE sloths.  I mean, the sloth is my totem animal.  But more breath-taking to me is that this friend, who is not into sloths or presents, saw this pair of socks in a gift shop and immediately thought of me.  She was away on vacation with her husband, when of course I would never expect to be on her mind.  Are you getting how valued that made me feel?

Another recent happening was that out of the blue one day, I received a text from a friend, saying she had been thinking about me and was praying for me that day.  Thinking about me?  Why?? I didn't text her.  I hadn't seen her in awhile.  I wasn't working to make sure I was on her radar.  Why on earth would I have come to her mind?  And then, not only did she think about me, she lifted me up to Jesus.  Again, I felt my value, all the way to my core.

My God never forgets me.  His eye is always on me.  This means that he is capable of bringing me to the minds of others when he knows I need "encouragement with skin on" because I'm feeling like I don't exist.

How lovely to be that gift of encouragement for my friends and loved ones.  I want to be a sweet reminder to others that they matter, that they are valued, that they are loved.

29 August 2019

getting it "right"

I worry about navigating through life the right way.  All.  The.  Time.  Am I alone here or can I get an "amen"?

- ??? -

Right according to WHO?

IS there a right or wrong way to get through one's junk?

Are you worried as often as I am about messing up?  Do you feel like you have to achieve someone else's standard in order to legitimize your own process?  Do you wonder why you feel like you have to justify - your trauma, your healing journey, your interaction with God, your moods...everything?

What if my process is unique to ME, and your process is unique to YOU, because that's how God orchestrated it?  Maybe not one other person on the planet would come to a place of healing by your road or my road.  It could be that someone else would never understand, never make an ounce of progress toward wholeness the way you or I have.  Maybe God works with another person in a way that is unique to their relationship and how he created that person.

So what if other people don't get it?  Do we really have to care if other people judge our processes as "not the right way"?  Rather, can we call it God's way for you (or me, or him, or her)?

Now look, I'm not saying this to gain license to go do whatever I want.  There is a verse in the Bible (Galatians 5:13) that speaks to self-indulgence and chasing after anything you want - that's not what this is about.

But, I'm beginning to wonder if I need stop looking around to gauge the temperature of the crowd, so to speak, and start giving Jesus a closer look.  This is what I see:  God made me.  I am a creative and an empath.  Maybe he is bringing me through this journey of life in the most effective way he can, unique to who I am, for maximum value, maximum impact.  For me.

So, who are you?  What are you like?  How did God make you?  What are your gifts and talents and characteristics and flaws and likes and dislikes.... And how is he carrying you along on your own growth journey?

Could we stop worrying about getting it right ourselves, and instead thank God that he gets it right, every time?

26 November 2018

God showing up

It's so interesting to me, how God shows up.  I'm constantly surprised (why surprised? is my faith so small?), sometimes delighted, sometimes ambivalent, but always, there is the "Ahaaaa!"

This past summer, I participated in a Bible study called Big Fresh Faith by Lisa DeVries.  For six weeks, my group studied the power and presence of God in our lives.  Driven deep for me was the certain knowledge that God desires intimacy with me, something that generated fear down to my marrow.
To order Big Fresh Faith, follow this link:
As I wrestled with the idea of allowing myself to be fully known by God, my church life group chose the book for our fall course of study:  He Calls You Beautiful by Dee Brestin.  Not surprisingly (but I was still surprised) it is all about intimate relationship with God.  For the past 7 months or so, I've been swimming, immersed, awash in, drenched by this concept.  Clearly, God wants to get a point across, and he knows that I take a long time to come to trust.

Part of my reticence toward intimacy with God is rooted in self-loathing on all levels:  physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.  I recognize the problem and I do long to come to a healthier place.  With that goal in mind, I recently started a 16-wk health and fitness program that focuses on changing perspectives of food and body.  
To order He Calls You Beautiful, follow this link:
"Coincidentally" (not), I am now preparing to begin a Bible study in January called Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg.  It's all about food in the Bible, and I can already tell it promises an overhaul of my perspective of food, eating, mealtimes, and more.  I am acutely aware of God's timing and his gentle guidance over the past half-year.  I'm eager to dive into this new study by Margaret Feinberg.  I'm certain he's leading me to healing and I'm curious to see how he will use Taste and See to accomplish his purpose.

To preorder Taste and See, follow this link:

It all comes back around to his desire for relationship with me.  He has a fascinating, unique way of leading and interacting with each of his people in order to bring us to deeper understanding and closer relationship with him.  How have you seen him guiding your path over the past 6 months??

21 August 2018

big fresh faith

I just finished this study called Big Fresh Faith by Lisa DeVries.  Let me tell you a bit about it.

The study is broken into six weeks - but let me just say, even though we kept to the six-week time frame, my group could have easily spent twelve!  Each week starts with a short video, and then proceeds with five days of diving deeper.  

And boy, will you dive!  We hashed through belief and unbelief, intimacy and reverence, mercy and atonement, abundant life, and more.  My group's meetings were filled with thoughtful questions, sharing, lots of "yeah but's" and "what about's", light bulb moments, rabbit trails, and self-evaluating.  All of us came to the end with a fresh perspective on our faith and excitement for the continuing faith journey.

Watch the trailer.  Read the reviews.  Get the book and start your own journey through it.  I believe it is well worth the investment.  Come back and comment when you're done.  I'd love to hear what you gained from it.

26 May 2018

remembering Sharon

You've filled my thoughts since I woke this morning, your name on my lips, your face in my mind's eye.  I've thought of you on this day through more than twenty passing years.  Your birthday, and this year you are memory.

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, so Alfred Lord Tennyson supposed, and it's true.  The earth is richer for your presence; the legacy you left behind is lasting and beautiful.  I feel your absence with a keenness that surprises me; ours was a friendship that flowed and ebbed, and I didn't expect to miss you so upon your leaving.

Our first days together swung largely on the whims of others.  We were young, our children were small, our mates were alike in nature and interest, and we found ourselves together.  Kindred spirits, you and I were not...but we gained more through the crucible of years:  we became sisters.

Our last days together:  sweet gifts, all.  We spoke from the heart of love, faith, grace, forgiveness, paradise waiting.  We sang and prayed together in worship to our common Father.  These precious moments of sharing are memories dear beyond measure.

Today, a rose for your earthly resting, fond thoughts spoken together with others touched by your life, prayers of love for your family and for ourselves in the grief of missing you.  We carry on in hope; may your legacy of faith, love, and friendship be continued with us.

12 March 2018

smacked in the face with mortality

I feel like I've been smacked in the face with mortality.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the memorial service of a friend's mom.  She was a spicy lady I met only one time, a little rough around the edges, who made me smile.  I hoped she would recover so I would have the chance to know her, but no.  Her service was a lovely glimpse into the life of a giving and loved woman who followed the Lord with practicality.  I felt like I got to know her a little, in listening to the memories, laughter, and tears of her friends and family.

Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a young mom from my church, who died unexpectedly.  We were casual friends who didn't walk life intimately, but still, I was jolted over and over last week with the odd feeling that I was going to wake up from a bad dream, that I would walk into church on Sunday morning and see her vibrant smile.  Of course, no.  Her service was full of memories, tears, love, laughter, faith, and the call to follow Christ.

Very soon, I'll be participating in the memorial service for a long-time friend who is approaching the end of this life.  We've spent precious time together over the past 4 months, wrestling with questions about suffering and death, sharing thoughts about life and eternity, encouraging one another in the pursuit of Jesus.  I've treasured the enormous privilege of ministering to her through song as she's grieved loss and battled pain.  Her service will be a beautiful testimony to a life well-lived.

Earthly life is a vapour; how am I spending mine?  Someday I'll wake up to my real Life, and I want the memories of me to be sweet.  I want to be known for my passion for Jesus.  I want to be remembered for love.  kindness.  compassion.  generosity.  integrity.  authenticity.

How about you?

01 March 2018

meeting Jesus

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the bleeding woman in the Bible.  Her story can be found in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, and Luke 8:43-48.  Here's a Jes-version paraphrase:

So this woman has been ill with some kind of bleeding problem for 12 long years.  She's gone to doctor after doctor and spent all she has on finding a cure, to no avail; in fact, she's sicker than ever.  She's heard about the man, Jesus, who heals people from disease, and today, she finds out he's come to her region.  She longs to get close to him.

[Now understand, Jewish law was super-strict about cleanliness.  A bleeding problem would mean you were unclean and could not be a part of the community.]  Imagine if she's found out:  an unclean woman, entering a crowd, touching countless people and making them unclean!  But this woman is desperate.  If it's true that he heals diseases, she could be freed from this curse forever.  She decides to brave the risk because after all, what does she have to lose?

Off she goes, and soon she reaches the outskirts of the milling crowd.  She can't call out to Jesus, because that would draw unwanted attention.  She thinks that maybe if she could just manage to touch his clothing, she will be healed, so she eases her way through the crowd until she's behind him.  She reaches out and brushes his robe with her finger and immediately feels it:  SHE'S HEALED.


There's more to the story, but here's where I went today:  I thought about my life as a follower of Jesus.  I think when I'm not careful, I settle for being a part of the crowd.  I walk with him, ride the wave of ministry, enjoy seeing him in action.  I marvel at his good work and feel glad to be a part of the family of God.

But if I'm just a part of the crowd, I miss out on experiencing him personally.  I lose touch with my own desperation and forget just how badly I need him in the every day.  The bleeding woman has nothing left and she knows Jesus has what she needs, so she very purposefully reaches for him.  She seeks to touch him in faith, even afraid, and receives healing.

I'm just like her, so often.  I'm so afraid in the crowd of people, afraid to be noticed for my unclean state, afraid to be denied what I so badly want and need.  I love how Jesus responds to her.  He notices her even in her attempt to stay hidden, knowing she's unclean but not exposing that truth to the crowd.  He doesn't shame her, but he commends her faith and calls her daughter, giving her acceptance and love.

What a sweet, intimate meeting in the middle of the chaos.

Yes, please.