Monday, November 28, 2011

My Grownup Christmas List & Coveting

She must have known. The tears begin to fall softly and I'm grateful. Let them come, because I know the power of liquid prayers. As I sift through the emotions and glance at the time. I know I should be sleeping and bear-hugging a pillow instead of staring at my husbands dated laptop. I smile, it's the best of both worlds: the dated laptop and my iMac in the room where he sleeps peacefully. The state of gratitude that I feel and the war of frustration I feel when I think about want verses need. I don't want to get it, because she raised me better than that.

Sometimes Mother really does know best.

I can honestly say I don't know what it's like to be truly hungry, but I know for certain that in my childhood we had less, although dirt-poor could not be an accurate description. I didn't walk uphill in the snow both ways to school. I had nice things and clothes; clean long hair while my sister sported the girl mullet. (It was the 80's and apparently that was in.) Honestly, if we flipped through some old family photographs my sisters horribly wrong hair cut would be the only indicator that we were “poor.”

I had nice things because I had a mother that sacrificed so much. What she couldn't give me in material things, she taught me by telling me the classic one-liner. Money doesn't grown on trees. Heaven help me, I'll probably say the same thing to my daughters as I teach them not to covet and do my best to instill the fine art of being thankful for what they have.

I'm trying to make my grown-up Christmas list and I'm wrecked. This once impulsive buyer looks at things through different eyes and it clicks.

She knew.

God was faithful to speak to my mother's heart and whisper words that would help her let go of a little girl who was called to a different life. Mom told me when I was in Junior High that she knew I was called into ministry. I was ironing; I hate ironing. I was frustrated, trying to communicate what she already knew…that I was different. Somehow I hoped that my future wouldn’t include a domestic, tied to the kitchen life. I was trying to explain to her that I didn't want a normal life; I wanted to be in ministry full-time. No one enters ministry thinking that they are going to be rich, unless they are crazy. So, thanks Mom. Somehow I don't think either of us imaged the call of God would look quite like this.

What I didn't know then was that the call of God looks like so many things. It looks like a stay-at-home mom. It looks like a working single mom trying to juggle life and kids, wants verses need. It looks like a missionary in the heart of Africa with battle scars and a love that makes him release his grip on comforts for souls and empty eyes that light up when they hear the good news. The call of God takes on many shapes, chiseled by different seasons of life. We do the same things with callings, titles, and positions of authority. We covet, looking down our noses at the role that God has blessed us with, counting talents, burying them, wasting them.

Want verses need. Gratitude verses covetousness. My grownup Christmas list? I might give you a few hints later, maybe a teaser, but brace yourself…it’s not normal.

Much love,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Surrendered Soul, Abundant Harvest

For days my thoughts have turned to the farmer in Africa, here in the states, and abroad sowing seeds while his family suffers from hunger, sobbing from the nothingness that fills their bellies. They have nothing and so they cry.

I think of the single mom who measures out her children’s portions giving herself less so that they can have more. They have next to nothing and she feels the weight of it, crying herself to sleep at night.

I cannot understand or wrap my mind around suffering, yet I know their tears are not wasted and unnoticed. For God is there, with the broken and contrite heart as the tears run down their faces. He is the same Jesus moved in his gut with compassion while the widow grieves the passing of her only son.

He is moved deep within, churning with action as He raises her only hope for provision, the one she used to cradle and comfort. It seems so delayed, but it’s not. Not for one second is our God not thinking of His loved children.

A spirit of brokenness while sowing seeds brings about a harvest of results leaving them with joy uncontainable- but not for the present, no, it’s the gift and the promise of tomorrow. Today you will cry, fearful that you cannot provide. But your harvest is coming so you throw out what you would rather cling to. There is not another choice.

They wept and planted, in their diligence they pressed on longing to remember the taste of joy. Brokenness within personal famine leads us to a breakthrough like none other. Delayed gratification that lingers with empty ache while the Lord sees, deeming their diligence as pleasing.

“When, the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream.” (Ps 126:1)

The picture of Zion is symbolic of safety. Our sweetest dreams are best entertained when we feel certain of our provision, not with barren soul and soil. The dream drains out, salty tears and scattered seed on rocky soil. But, when freedom from captivity comes, freeing us from the things that hold us back, it releases chained humanity bringing with it our joy. The dream that refuses to die…the little girl who dreams loud as she twirls filling up her now grownup shoes as she gathers up her abundance, carrying in the sheaves. God never wastes our pain.

“He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps 127:6)

We sow seeds of surrender by releasing what we hold dear. We wait and watch as God waters the soil with our tears and when the tears no longer spill out, we feel the sunlight again. Bursting forth, our harvest comes in abundance.

We will never taste anything sweeter than the fruit of surrender.

Perhaps you are holding onto the seeds, something of value- a relationship, a friendship that you want to work out, a job, your children. Afraid to scatter in surrender, you hold it tight-fisted and red faced.

You feel like you are about to be swallowed up by your situation, but a seed cannot grow in a cupped hand.

Plant with the hope of an abundant harvest, surrendered souls; you will not taste anything sweeter than the fruit of surrender. Doubtless, your joy will return releasing something far greater than a scattered heart. Safety and surety awaits you, giving way to that dormant dream that God hasn’t forgotten.

Much love to you,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beautiful Surrender

Have you ever noticed that the leaves on the trees are more breathtakingly beautiful right before they surrender? Their colors and hues make me weep as I stand in awe of a world that God set into motion through His spoken words. He breathes in and says, “Let it be” and it is. And it's glorious.

The weather affects the autumn colors. A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seem to bring about the most amazing colors. The amount of moisture that seeps into the soil enhances the colors. The leaves are beginning to sprinkle the ground and yet some still remain on the tall branches in a display that is captivating. But, soon enough the wind will turn colder encouraging them to let go as they fall to the ground signaling another season passed.

I feel like the leaves ready to surrender, a new level and layer of letting go. Perhaps we surrender in layers just like we heal. Our Master Gardener peels back layer by layer, going deeper into a place that is familiar with pain. He shakes off the clumps of dirt and rearranges me so that I can flourish where He plants me come spring. I am no longer afraid of winter and things stripped bare.

Shake off the dust and soil. And graft me in, Master Gardener. I wither without You, fading without purpose.

Winter may come, but warmth still remains because I am hopeful, more respecting of even the seasons that chill me to the bone. In the past, my seasons of spiritual winter
left me wanting, feeling barren and cracked, and unproductive. But each season in our spiritual lives give way to something greater, a new level of letting go and deeper surrender.

So, I let go even if the color drains out of me.

I let go even though I would rather remain in higher places.

I let go of the familiar to step into the unknown that I know God is calling me to; beautiful surrender, more of Christ and less of messiness of me.

The leaves may fall to the ground much like our tears, but they are not wasted. They decompose and restock the soil with much needed nutrients. Our wintered soul cries the tears of surrender until what once was calloused and cracked runs smooth. The winter is coming bringing bare trees, but not barren trees. They will still be strong and tall without the decorations of color that I much prefer.

“In spiritual winters, our fullness is thinned out so that, undistracted by our giftings, we can focus upon our character. In the absence of anything to measure, we are left with nothing to stare at except for our foundation.” ~ Alicia Britt Chole (anonymous)


Let it be in me just as it is in the leaves right before they release their grip on the strong tree that fed them and held them in place for so long. Let me be a display of your splendor, a woman who lives in surrender. Seasons change, but You remain the same. A God of wonder, a God I seek after, a God who is still speaking me into motion and making something beautiful out of the mess of me. I’m not afraid to let go anymore! Amen

Who needs the colors of autumn when God longs to decorate us with a crown of beauty instead of ashes? Joy instead of mourning, a garment decked out in praise instead of a withering spirit of despair. We will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Is 61)

It’s time to embrace beautiful surrender!

Much love to you,