Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Four Simple Words & Cute Shoes

So much resolve and restoration can happen with just four simple words.

“Will you forgive me?”

She really didn’t even have to ask for it because I had already let it go years ago.

Something had to happen recently, a mishap that sparked old memories to rise to the surface. I had no idea it would happen like that, but now I’m glad that it did. Everything always works out. Time really does heal all wounds, but only if you let it.

I’m not sure how old I was exactly. I was too young I suppose, yet discerning and sensitive enough to understand what broken looked like. I understood how it happened, why it happened, and that most of the time it was fear-based desperation driving them to not turn out like the ones who broke them.

It is possible to have so many wonderful memories woven together like the strongest thread. These cords and strands of my life came from so many people in my life, my mother, my pastor, my mentors, and my best friend. They are a part of me, they helped to shape me.

My cords and strands became my own personal journey woven tightly in the faith, grounded deeply in my moments of prayer, and a feisty determination that comes from my Mom who encouraged me to be better.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But, woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc 4:9-12)

Four simple, yet powerful words were spoken. We cried and hugged in the shoe department and then she bought me the most adorable shoes. She needed to say it and feel my acceptance of it. She needed to free herself and explain her reasons behind pushing me so hard. She was the driving force in my life who just wanted to make sure I had the best life. Not just any life, a blessed life. She wanted to make me wake up from what she called my “Dream World.” But, my La La Land seemed a lot nicer at times and every now and then…I still visit there.

Much love!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Loving Big

I am reaping the benefits of God’s amazing joy that comes in the morning. Today has been a sweet day of ministry for me. I love it when that happens. It’s truly what I live for. I was invited into a counseling session and invited into a heart that needed to share her journey to the cross. I couldn’t help it, I just wept. God is so faithful to meet with us in our time of need, He is never late.

I want to be a person who loves big. I’m so thankful that I had two opportunities today to pour myself into the lives of two wonderful women and friends seeking after God. Everyone has a testimony and yet sometimes they feel so limited in what they reveal to the ones around them.

I’m so thankful to the author and the finisher of my faith who has re-written my story taking me from darkness to light!

Share your story with someone this week!

Much love!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ugly Cry and Trusted Friends

Yesterday I blogged about iron sharpening iron, little did I know that soon I would be experiencing some pretty heated sparks from a run in with someone I care so much about. Isn’t that just like life? I’m not really good at conflict. I typically pick up my skirt and run.

Just a few verses up from the verse about iron sharpening iron is this:
Wounds from a friend can be trusted or faithful are the wounds of a friend.(Prov 27: 6)

But, what if it is hard for you to completely offer that trust? Even worse, what if you are the one who wounded someone? Look, I have been one of the walking wounded. I’ve had my fair share of hurts, but who hasn’t? We are all just one haphazardly strung together verse away from a really bad, cry yourself to sleep, tear in your beer Country song.

True, tough love is better than hypocrisy but it still stings from whatever angle you are coming from. I know grownups still wrestling with their hurts from things that happened decades ago. Please believe me, if I shared all the things I have faced in life you would probably buy me a ticket to “The Dr. Phil Show” just so he could get a serious ratings boost from the “circus freak show” that I lovingly refer to as my childhood.

Some people hide behind a mask and allow you to see only one side of them. I used to be one of those people. I felt the need to be perfectly pleasing and sticky-sweet just so people would like me. But, it went much deeper than that. I wanted people to love me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want people to like me. But the girl who based her self-worth on how others responded to me had to grow up and put on her big girl pants or become eternally medicated to keep up with that exhausting and completely unproductive way of functioning.

God is still in the business of setting the captives free and I would be nothing without His love that caused Him to leave the comforts of heaven to bind up the broken heartedness in me. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Maybe you have had a day like mine. I’ve cried more than I care to. Put on a brave face when I didn’t want to and was faced with the realization that I’m still a stinking people pleaser who had her craw full. And when the going got tough…I did the ugly cry. You know what, I feel better already!

So to my sweet friend that has been crying all day and going through a major life change, I just want you to know that weeping may endure for a night, but hang on girl because joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30: 5)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Iron Sharpening Iron

We all have “people” and this is what I love about the people God has placed in my life. They simply care for us and love us in a way that makes them want to take action. I am extremely protective of the people I love. I was like that as a child with my little sister. I could pick on her and tease her, but heaven help the boy that tried to break her heart or the mean girl who gave her grief!

Loving people well requires action and meaning behind the words lest they become empty, flat words with no heart behind them and wasted air. I hear this phrase often in writing, “Show, don’t tell.” You paint a picture with your words allowing actions to speak louder than words.

So, I posted my last blog and got personal. I knew that it would evoke some sort of response and that was the point. I received comments, emails, a phone call, and a text. Most of my peeps responded in a protective way and here are some of my favorites:

One was a phone call from a friend who follows my blog… “Hey, um, you might want to clarify that Jonathan is taking steroids for his allergies, because I know this, but others reading might not.”

The other encounter happened Wednesday night. I was cornered in the bathroom by someone who has loved me from the very beginning of our ministry at BVAG. Let me just say...I love church ladies. If we ever move, I’m taking her with me. She finds me terribly funny and laughs at all the right moments appreciating my mad-skills with comedic timing. She prays with me and cries over me when I am hurting. And even though she thought I was just a trophy wife at first…she has gotten to know the real me…and she still loves me.

After giving me a huge hug she said, “Tell me. Who hurt you?”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. The blog.

Me: “I can’t tell you that! But, I promise we are SO over it.”

My favorite Church lady: “Just give me their initials.”

Church ladies don’t play. She wanted names.

Me: “They don’t attend our church.”

Earlier that day I received a text with promise to deliver reinforcement if needed, which made me smile. I love having back-up. I love feeling supported. But, I also truly appreciate a friend who sharpens me. When the wounds were still fresh I confided in someone who gave me a word of caution. She wanted me to remain soft, to not build up protective walls to keep others out, and backed up her thoughts and feelings with the word and her own personal experience.

Proverbs 27: 17 says that, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

The battle calls for sharp weapons, iron sharpening iron, to make the tools more effective and purposeful. Battles play out on the movie screen and there is always a preparation period before a battle. You see the army gathering to ready their equipment. Sparks begin to fly heatedly as the iron grinds against the iron.

The greatest weapon I have is the word hidden deep within my heart. I seek out the things of God. I wonder if God sees me as a warrior in over-sized armor and then places someone in my path to actually lead me, mentor me, and even correct me.
We have a personal, all-access God. He knows our needs for community and the deep desires that we have to belong and be understood. He uses others to pierce through the heart of me and when that happens I am better for it. I am lover not a fighter, but when I must… I want to fight knowing that the battle does not belong to me.

In the words of Elmer Fudd, “I need my spear and magic helmet.” But, I also need that trusted friend who sharpens me and makes me want to be a better person…even if a few sparks fly in the process.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rug Burn

Recently I had the rug jerked out from underneath my feet. I often try to think the best of others until they prove me wrong. I’m painfully optimistic about feeling like love is enough and that love covers a multitude of sins. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt and hope they will do the same for me. I am not easily offended or easily angered. It truly takes a lot to tick me off, but once I’m mad. I’m mad.

A week ago I felt like I had the worst rug burn ever from rejection. As if being knocked down isn’t bad enough…just go ahead and drag us across a sandpaper rug and leave us raw. The rejection wasn’t aimed at me. It was aimed at my man. So I took his offense as my own and carried it until the sting wore off. I went from grieving a loss of someone I dearly loved to anger in a matter of minutes. As confused tears began streaming down my face Jonathan explained the situation to me, background details, and did his best to help me process everything. He handled the hurt beautifully. I didn’t. I was ticked and I knew that with my husband I didn’t have to be guarded. I could just let the frustration spill out.

He said, “Jennifer, I’m okay with this.”

“Well, I’m not!” I wasn’t okay with it and I couldn’t fake it.

Later he came back into the room. I’m certain that I was still stewing. He hugged me and said, “Thank you for being offended for me.”

It was sweet. He needed to know that someone had his back and that person is me. I told him that I’m his biggest fan and even when we are experiencing a disconnect because of our crazy schedules and the fact that he is on steroids, easily angered, and has the appetite of three line backers…I still love him, I’m still on his side, and I’m the girl cheering the loudest for him. I just love him and even though he is wearing me out, I just keep on bringing him plates of food. (Wink)

Tonight I read Psalm 91. His word nourishes my thirsty soul. No one can love me like He does. I need a spiritual attitude adjustment, I’m painfully aware of that. I long to stay soft and moldable in the Potter’s Hands and yet sometimes it’s not His hands that I feel wrapped around my neck.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, In Him I will trust.” (Ps 91:1-2)

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” (vs 4)

In a time when I feel like my protective mode is in high gear and feel myself wanting to push people away instead of embracing them, I must lift my eyes to where my help comes from without question. My help comes from Him, the maker of the heavens and earth. He alone is my shield so I’m running to His secret place, seeking His shadow, not to just hide but to find rest.

Psalm 121 verses 1- 4 say “I will lift up my eyes to the hills- From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved, He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

So I will rest in the God that never slumbers or becomes weary from my petitions. What a great God!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Please Pray

I’m broken right now and need you to lift up a friend of mine and her family. She is a beautiful woman of God, wife, and mother of three boys. Her name is Daranda Golden and she has stage 4 melanoma cancer. She and I attended youth group together and went to High School together. She is dearly loved by so many and has a face that lights up a room. Please pray for her complete healing and for strength for her family.

Much love,