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Seemingly Insignificant

Lunch at Burger King that day seemed pretty insignificant, we’d done it a hundred times before, but little did I know how much life would change sitting at a table for two and munching down some chicken nuggets.

Have you ever experienced a seemingly insignificant moment? A moment that seemed almost routine or mundane, only to be completely surprised by the significance it really held. Well, that was me on November 26, 2003. I was working a mundane job, front desk at a hotel. I really enjoyed the position other than I didn’t get to spend much time with Dustin as he was working out of town back then. We were only dating at the time, but that day he had shown up to my work over lunch break and asked to take me to lunch. I ran to the back begging my boss, and he obliged. Soon we were out the door and off to eat. Now, in Dustin’s defense, he gave me the option of a nice meal, but I was craving some chicken nuggets smothered in salt, just the way I like them. So without much convincing, we headed off to Burger King. Had I known what was coming, I definitely would’ve picked somewhere a bit fancier, but my seemingly insignificant lunch had me convinced it was just another day. That is until I pulled my engagement ring out of his coat pocket. So right there, over chicken nuggets loaded with salt, and a room full of retired people seeking the senior discount, Dustin asked me to be his wife (insert Awwwww).

There are so many times in life I have been guilty of taking the little things, or the small beginnings, for granted. And I see this so much in life, and even within the church. It’s almost as if a title becomes more significant than the work does. Dustin could’ve chosen to wait on the engagement because of the setting, but for him, it wasn’t about where he was, but who he was with. I could’ve gotten upset because he asked me to marry him at a fast food restaurant, but it wasn’t about that for me. We could’ve been standing in a dumpster, and I would’ve said yes, although I’m glad it wasn’t a dumpster.

Maybe your seemingly insignificant moment is cutting grass for a company you desperately want to run someday, keep cutting. God may use this opportunity to do something incredible. Or perhaps you’d love to run the women’s ministry at church, but your current role is the janitor, small beginnings, my friend. Right now, in this season of life, just do the work set before you, do it well, and in time and if it matches God’s heart for you, you will run women’s ministry, run the company, pastor the church, write the book, speak to thousands, marry the man of your dreams, etc. Just because it, whatever it is for you, seems insignificant, doesn’t mean it is.

Keep moving forward, friend. I am here rooting for you. God too is cheering you on and making a way through what seems impossible. Don’t give up.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10

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A Big Floating Head.

This is going to sound a bit strange to some of you, but have you ever pictured God like a big floating head in outer space? Well, I never did until I heard a preacher refer to him this way, as an illustration in a sermon, and now I can totally see it!

When I think about God, I may never think of him in this manner; however, I do tend to treat him like a big floating head that’s incapable of doing all the things He promises to do.

Too often I get so busy that my relationship with Him suffers and I begin to forget He’s my father, not a floating head. He longs to be my comfort and peace in times of trouble; He wants to be my shoulder to lean on when hurt and heartache comes my way. He wants to be a source of strength in my weakness, but when I view Him as a floating head rather than my Father I struggle to believe he’s capable.

This past week, my oldest experienced his first broken heart over a relationship. It was so sad for me to see how heartbroken he was. If I could fix it for him, I certainly would have, but unfortunately, I don’t have super relationship powers. What I do have however are arms full of comfort and words of encouragement. And as I sat there holding my not so little boy, God reminded me that He wants to be there for His people like I was for Wyatt. He’s a Father who cares about His children.

I understand there are some of you who may say, ‘If He’s anything like my father, I don’t need him’. And I know that’s real for some of you. Some of you have never known the love of a father, or a mother, for that matter. But chances are you’ve longed for a love like that in your life. Now is your chance. Now is the perfect time to let God, father you. He isn’t some big, incapable floating head in outer space; He is an everyday, ever-present help in times of trouble, and He’s in all things good as well.

If you’ve never experienced a relationship with God, don’t wait another minute. Allow Him and His son Jesus access to every part of you – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nothing you’ve done will scare him away, Jesus has already paid the price for you and your mistakes. All you need to do is accept the forgiveness He graciously offers, and you’ll gain the Father you’ve always wanted.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1

 

Mary, Did You Know?

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:26-33

Even before I had my own children, I was always fascinated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The favor God saw in her and the courage and willingness she showed was inspiring. And since I love her story so much, “Mary, Did You Know” has also been my top Christmas tune. I can’t read Mary’s story or hear that song without wondering that very thing, Mary, did you know? Did she truly understand what God was doing through her? Did she know the hurt she would endure for you and for me? I believe God spared her a lot of the details because if He had told her everything, it might have been too much for a Mother to bear.

I wonder if that’s true for us at times. As a dreamer, I often have giant dreams that only God himself can make happen, and He has done some of them, but to be honest, if He had shared every detail about what I would grow through and how He would work it all out, I may have run for the hills. I think of Joseph and the dream he had, and the terrible things he endured, yet God used it ALL for His glory and ultimately Joseph lived his dream (Gen 37-47).  

Mary may not have known everything that would take place, you and I may not know or understand everything that will take place for God to use us, but that’s ok. God will only ever use things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28). Mary had to be broken at the sight of her broken son hanging on a cross, but even at that moment, God was working it for her good. The child that she delivered would soon deliver her. This Christmas my prayer is that you will open your heart to the Father who passionately loves you and has only the best for you. I pray you do not worry how things will work out or when, but trust that God has the best for you. Trust in Him and His promises for your life and let’s leave the details up to the all-knowing.  

May God bless you and yours this Christmas time and all through the New Year. I pray this be a Christmas full of miracles for you. Merry Christmas.

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Silent Night

As a mother of three crazy children, when I think about a silent night, I think glorious. Since the year two-thousand and five when my oldest was born, quiet nights have been few and far between. Our youngest is almost ten, and we’ve just now convinced him that he doesn’t need to climb in my bed every night. So silent nights sound like a glorious thing to me. However, as I began to pray and search scripture about the silent night Christ was born, I started to realize that a silent night was far too familiar to God’s people. Silent nights were probably the exact opposite of what they needed and wanted to have. Let’s take the shepherds for example:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. Luke 2:8-9

Here we have the shepherds, going about their normal routine, one silent night after another; same thing happening night after night. But I wonder, were they living with the expectation of something new? Were they going out night after night hoping tonight would be the night the Messiah would come? And if that’s true, if they lived with expectation, why were they terrified?

It had roughly been 146,000 nights, over four hundred years, since God had sent a prophet to speak to His people. So I can imagine they may have grown weary in expecting God to speak, or move, or send the Messiah anytime soon. I feel like the shepherds and us have a lot in common. They waited for Jesus, just as we wait for His return and wait for Him to work on our behalf and in our situations. I’m even willing to bet that we wait like they may have – weary and without much expectation.

But before you get down, thinking it’ll be four hundred years before God moves on your behalf, let me show you what else I see in these verses: do you notice the word SUDDENLY? The shepherds were faithful in tending their sheep, one silent night after another, and while it’s possible they may have grown weary in waiting, they didn’t stop doing the work. They kept working and then suddenly, God showed up and rocked their world. Not only that, but God’s glory shone all around those lowly shepherds. They were considered poor and without much value in those days. But God saw value in them. He chose the poor, socially and spiritually, to be the first to hear and share the good news that would forever change the world.

I don’t know how many silent nights you’ve prayed for your miracle, perhaps you’re feeling weary from all the waiting. I get it, me too sometimes. Maybe you’ve spent night after night praying for a lost loved one or a prodigal child. Perhaps you need a miracle in your marriage or a healing in your body. Maybe for you, it’s financial and your silent nights are filled with worry. I have had my fair share of silent nights waiting, and I still do. There are many things in my life I believe God for, but silence is all I hear right now. But can I encourage you (and me) to keep working, keep praying, keep believing, and keep expecting because eventually there will be a SUDDENLY.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

 

Manage It

Have you ever taken a personality test? I’ve taken the DISC test a couple of times and just recently retook it. As usual, I was a D which means Dominate or Decisive. The D is also referred to as the personality of a lion. That pretty much sums me up in so many ways.  I’m one who likes to be in control of whatever situation I find myself in, to know what’s going on and make sure things are getting done. It can be an excellent trait to have in leadership, but it can also be a challenge for me to be led or share in a leadership role. And in the realm of kingdom work control over things is seldom the case. God wants control over our lives and situations.  And while I may be a lion according to the DISC test, He’s the lion of Judah! As hard is it may be for me to understand and let go of control, He sees what I don’t, He has a plan already laid out for me. There are too many times I’ve thrown a tantrum wondering why things aren’t happening for me or happening the way I planned for them too. And the truth is, they never will. It’s not about me and my plans, it’s about Him and His ways.

Right now, I’m facing so many different things he’s compelled me to do, and when I’m obsessed with controlling them, I can quickly become overwhelmed.  If I’m not careful, I begin to question what I’m even doing, after all, it seems so far above what I can do. And when it’s so far above my control and I’m not willing to hand over the reins to the waymaker, and the promise keeper, I end up tempted to quit. Lately, I’ve been closer to quitting than u can even imagine BUT then God whispers little reminders to me that I’m not meant to do it all alone, but I am merely a vessel for Him. What He speaks to me is HIS work, he’s just asking me to manage it. But If I quit, I quit on Him; I quit on the hundreds or thousands of souls who will be affected by the work He’s entrusted to me. My cousin Jacob recently said to me about a situation, “people’s lives and spiritual walk are hinging upon what you do or don’t do.” That’s heavy, but that’s kingdom! So as hard as it may be to raise money and build a dream center, as tricky as it may be to find the time to write to you each week, as crazy as planning a retreat for women (!COMING SOON!) may sound, as exhausting as youth pastoring may be at times; there are lost and hurting people depending on my obedience! And people depend on your obedience as well. So, what will you do with the crazy dreams God’s given YOU to manage?

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

P.S. Check out these great Dream Center t-shirts HERE. It’s an inexpensive way to help support the dream and give back! 

I’ve Got Rhythm, Bye Bye Blues

“Hurried people aren’t happy people.” I recently heard this statement on a podcast I listen to, and it took me for a moment. It really spoke to the situation I have been praying through in my life.

For months, God has been teaching me about rest and rhythm. I finally understand how to take a real rest with Him, but that doesn’t change the busyness of life. It doesn’t cease all the commitments staring me in the face. Rather, it allows me a place to go when the anxiety of the calendar weighs on me. So I am grateful for rest in Jesus! But as grateful as I am for rest, I began asking the Lord about His rhythm of life. I began to search scripture for a hint of how He lived. Because from what I can tell, He was also a busy man: always moving around, healing people and teaching others. The man barely had a moment away by himself!

What I noticed in scripture is that Jesus was a simple man. He didn’t require many possessions, he had no permanent home, and He never really took anything with him on his journeys, besides his disciples. And although He was busy and could’ve been more concerned with himself and His needs, He was always joyful and available. And that simple discovery led me to the question – How can I live this simple, joyful, available life in today’s busy world?

I often beat myself up for the lack of time I have to connect with people during these busy seasons: whether it’s friends, new families or some days even the family in my own home. With crazy schedules it seems impossible and overwhelming to add one more thing to our calendar. But in my praying and searching for answers, God reminded me of a story in scripture:

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many warned him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; he’s calling for you.” He threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Rabboni, ”the blind man said to him, “I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.” Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road. Mark 10:46-52

Jesus, unlike myself, didn’t get out his calendar or call a meeting with His disciples to determine if there was time for this blind man. He simply ministered to him as He went along. And this thought challenged me.

In this season of busyness I’m experiencing, I can still minister to others. It’s as easy as ministering as I go. When I’m at a ball game, I can sit beside people I don’t know and connect with a new family. When my husband and I wait two hours for a practice to end, we can run out for dinner together. When it’s been a long week for a friend and I’m cooking dinner, I can invite them over. I mean, I’m already cooking anyways. I am capable of being joyful and available for those around me. Busyness doesn’t have to mean unhappiness. I may not always be happy about the busy, but my joy isn’t determined by my calendar. My joy comes from the rest and the rhythm I find in the Lord. And when I rest in the Lord, I learn His rhythm; I become effective in the kingdom, despite how busy I may be.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Matthew 11:29

This verse is one of my favorites, especially the way The Message version puts it. Here’s what it has taught me: the rhythm of Jesus is that of relationship, not works or rules. And that’s in keeping relationship with Him and with others. We put way more pressure on ourselves than Jesus ever would! There is not a right or wrong way to connect with others, just connect. Our relationship with others in this busy season doesn’t have to be specific or perfect, it just needs to be – full of grace because that’s the rhythm of Jesus!

 

Faithful and True

I don’t know if you knew this or not, but YOU are the only person who can stop God’s plan for you. Wow, what a way to jump right in there with such a heavy thought, huh? I apologize, but I want you to really grasp this thought.

You don’t have the ability to stop anyone else’s plan or purpose, only yours. And don’t misunderstand me, God’s big enough to do whatever He wants and needs to do, but He won’t force himself into your life. He wants your love for him to be genuine. Just like you want those who you love to be genuine about their feelings for you.

If I learned anything this past year, it’s this simple thought that God is faithful to keep His promises over my life. He will always keep His word, but when I begin to doubt His trustworthiness, I begin to lose sight of the vision set before me. If I’m not careful I start to forfeit the plans He has for me. And the thing about God’s plans for us is that His timing and His ways often don’t seem doable to us. We are a hurried people, and often times our rushing causes us to doubt God’s ability. We get stuck in thinking it must not be God because things aren’t happening quickly enough. Oh, how I’ve been there every other day for a solid year now. But let me remind you (and me) of this: God’s faithfulness is not measured by a clock. And we must make a choice: either we let God be God and believe in what He says about us and His plans for us, or we keep playing god only to forfeit the goodness that the faithful God has for us.

This year has been a struggle for me to believe what God says about me and the plans He has for me, but I am determined to keep moving forward. I choose to trust in Him and His word over my life. Maybe there is something God promised you long ago and you since lost sight of it, or maybe you’ve been in the way of letting Him work in and for and through you. I encourage you today, stop looking around at all the reasons why it won’t work or can’t happen, close your eyes and see the vision, hear the words spoken, and believe again.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalms 33:4