Friday, June 24, 2011

Always

I received a call from a very dear friend not long ago that opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. I had said it before, but it hadn't actually clicked until our conversation. She called me in tears apologizing for not keeping up with me as I was enduring the waves of hardships I'm still riding. She said she had been going through a lot in her own life, but didn't feel like her problems were nearly as serious as mine. I quickly responded with, "Someone's always got it worse than you, but that doesn't make what you're going through any less significant. Vent away." I then began to wonder how many of my friends felt that way. Were my waves somehow too big for other people to ride them with me? Was I the "someone" who always had it worse?
My pastor spoke on what it meant to be a part of the body of Christ this week. If even one part of that body doesn't do it's job, the whole thing is in disarray. Much to some people's surprise, the church (body) isn't a building and it's more than just a place to gather on a Sunday. People need people more than they need a pew.
My point is: we're all in this together. If the hardships you're currently facing somehow seem insignificant compared to mine then stop comparing. We need each other just like the left foot needs the right. 1 Corinthians 12 isn't a mistake.


If We Are The Body - Casting Crowns

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Okay

"It'll all work out okay." 

"Buck up - you got this."

"Stay strong."

"Everything will be fine." 

I know people mean well; I really do. But, right now...

It's not okay. 

I haven't got whatever "this" is. 

I'm not always strong. 

Everything is not okay. 

The past two days have probably been the darkest days I've ever experienced. Dark in every way possible. Laying in bed at night trying to find the physical strength to reach for the lamp; crying so hard my eyes were swollen; curling up under a blanket trying to hide my face from my son. Dark.

It's really nothing new, but it all hit me like a cement truck. I buried my face in a pillow and literally screamed at God. I was angry and felt my heart plunge to my toes. I kept thinking of people I could call but I couldn't find the strength to pick up the phone. I was exhausted in every way possible. 

I love when it rains at night. The song it plays on my windows always accompanies my favorite Sinatra tunes so beautifully as I curl up with a cozy blanket and drift off to dream land. I think the thing I love the most about soothing nights like that (other than the most peaceful night's sleep ever) is the morning after. The sun always shines so brightly and I always wish I could bottle the smell of the water logged trees. 


The storm I experienced the other night was nothing short of hurricane material. But, just as it always does, the Son shown bright the next morning. I heard this song as I ventured anywhere... Anywhere my car would take me as long as it was away from my apartment. God never ceases to amaze me with the way He speaks to and through His children. 


This roller coaster I'm riding in my life right now has taught me more than I can even begin to explain. I've learned to be more honest, more vulnerable and accept help. All things that I wasn't very good at before. I've learned that God's okay with me curling up with Him one night and screaming at Him the next. Life is what it is right now. Sometimes the best I can do is survive. And, sometimes... that's okay. 



You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here
Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

How do we comprehend peace within pain?
Or joy at a good man's wake?
Walk a mile with the woman whose body is torn
With illness but she marches on
Oh, 'cause sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

Emmanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
We never walk alone
And this is our hope

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Divided

I wrote this several months ago via Facebook, but thought I'd do a little copy/paste action and share it with the blogosphere. Determining what I believe and why I believe it will be an ongoing journey. And that's the way it should be...

"Christianity is NOT a religion; it's a relationship." More honest words were never spoken. We, myself included, get entirely too caught up in the petty differences we have that we overlook what's really important. It's like the churches Paul talks about in Romans. The Jews were so caught up in the Law that they lost sight of what it really meant to be a child of God in the first place, while the Gentiles were too busy getting caught up in themselves for their new-found faith that Paul had to address and potentially slap them both in the face for their actions. One of Paul's biggest points in Romans is that it doesn't matter who you are, where you were born or who your Dad is... we're all one body. 
Romans 9 is one of my favorite chapters because of the tone Paul uses. You can almost picture Paul's sacastic face in verses 14 and 15. "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" In other words, "God? Unjust? No way! NOBODY deserves mercy or compassion; not even YOU!" Hah, I love it! 

So, what's really important in our faith? 

Here are some of the most common arguments I've heard that have, I'm sorry to say, even caused divisions among bodies of Christ as a whole. 

Predestination vs. Free Will
KJV vs. NAS (or any other version)
Alcohol vs. No Alcohol
Women in Pants vs. Women in Skirts/Dresses
Drums in Church vs. No Drums
Dancing vs. No Dancing
Denominations

And those are just a few. 

What's the answer to those, you may ask? 

Predestination vs. Free Will... Yes.
KJV vs. NAS (or any other version)... Yes.
Alcohol vs. No Alcohol... Yes.
Women in Pants vs. Women in Skirts/Dresses... Yes.
Drums in Church vs. No Drums... Yes.
Dancing vs. No Dancing... Yes.
Which denomination is "right?"... YES. 

Here's how I know. 

We. Are. All. Different. 

I'm a very firm believer in the Holy Spirit and His convictions. I'm also a very firm believer that He convicts everyone DIFFERENTLY. Because... WE'RE ALL DIFFERENT. The key is to listen and obey. After all, we are CHILDREN of God. These are some of those 'Honor your Father' things. 

Now, don't misundertand me. I'm not saying that other religions are legit. On the contrary, it goes back to that quote up there... "Christianity is not a religion; it's a relationship." But, your convictions may not line up with mine. And THAT'S OKAY! 

So, what's really important? Here it is...
1. Jesus Christ is God's Son.
2. God sent His Son here. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived His life so we would have an example, was crucified, buried, and rose again. All so we could have a great place to fellowship with Him later. 
3. Even though we don't understand it - God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one. 
4. The Bible is true. All of it. 
5. Accepting Christ as your Savior is not a prayer. It's a daily, life-long relationship. 

Everything else is petty. 

So, listen and obey the Holy Spirit. 
Believe what He says. 
Wear what He says.
Drink what He says. 
Read what He says.
Move how He says. 
Play what He says. 
Go where He says - regardless of the name on the sign.

Those are my two cents. What are yours?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home

In 2004, I got the news that Micah had decided to go to school in Longview, Texas. Before that, I had no intentions of continuing my education and I couldn't even pronounce "LeTourneau." School was never my forte and the idea of being away from what I knew was frightening. But, I knew I had to follow my guy and that's exactly what I did when I graduated high school in 2005. Six years, a wedding and a baby later... we're still here.
I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. Micah grew up in California. We met when he and his family started attending our church. I was 15; Micah was 16. (I'll fill you in on our story another time.) The beach has always been home to us, but it took moving to dear, ol', land-locked Texas to help us realize that. I guess you could say it was a "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" moment. The idea of moving back to the coast has been just that... an idea. For the last six years, we've been dreaming of the immaculate creation we left behind. When Micah first took this job with AAI, it was easier to stay in Longview. We had planted roots here whether we liked it or not. Now that his one year contract is almost completed, we've been trying to figure out where the Lord wants us next. It's become abundantly clear that Micah's mission in this war zone isn't over yet. He's been approved to deploy 3 months at a time with a month off in between. So, he'll be home in August; deploy September, October and November; home again in December and so on. We're excited for two big reasons: the financial stability that this job has allowed our family has been an amazing blessing, and Micah won't have to miss Benjamin's first Christmas and will be home just a few days after his first birthday. With the added heartache of missing his son, period, it was really important that he be here for those two big events.  
With that part of this journey confirmed, we had to decide whether or not we wanted to stay in Longview. I'll be honest; it's never really been home. Yes, we planted roots. Yes, we will miss our Texas family. Actually, there are a lot of things we'll miss, but we really feel the Lord leading us back to Florida.  My parents are still in West Palm and his family is in Georgia and North Carolina. We've always enjoyed visiting the west coast of Florida and my aunt, uncle and cousins are close by. So, Tampa - here we come! This past weekend, I left Ben with my in-laws and ventured to our dream location. With the help of my aunt and uncle (thank you!!), we were able to find an amazing house to rent in Riverview (about 30 minutes south of Tampa and only a short drive to amazing beaches like St. Pete and Anna Maria Island).
Join us as we embark on the next chapter of this adventure. Heaven only knows what kind of stories will unfold!


"If you have a book in you, for God's sake -
 WRITE IT."