Wondering how low I can go

Like most of life, the game wasn’t fair. When the music stopped and the familiar voice came through the speaker, the regulars gathered in the center of Bud’s Roller Rink for the limbo. With nicknames like shrimp and shortstuff you can imagine, I had a distinct advantage. I was tiny. To clear the first several bars I simply ducked my head and shoulders. Toward the end, I hugged my knees in a tight ball and rolled right under the bar without brushing it. If I had any real competition I stuck one straight leg out to the side and leaned below my bent knee to clear the bar only inches from the floor. I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think there was even a prize for being miniature. Now, I’m wondering how low I can go.

Limbo, limbo, limbo

When I got older I learned that’s not how you properly limbo, yet I never grew much so I still maintained my advantage. Besides I could bend like Gumby and my strength was disproportionate to my size, so I continued winning the prizeless game.

Now I hate limbo. No, I loathe it, despise it, can’t stand it. The last two to three years of my life I’ve lived in constant limbo. Stuck between doctor and patient, Mrs. and Ms., here and there, life and death, I want it to end or at least I think I deserve a prize.

Every time I clear a bar and circle back around, someone has lowered it to an impossible low. The bar is precariously perched on pegs waiting for one wrong move before it crashes and I’m out. Honestly, this is about as low as I can go and I’m only inches off the floor anyway.

Wondering how low I can go

Alone in my dark house, I’ve curled up tight in a ball and I’ve bent over backward until I nearly herniated a disc (Gumby isn’t as young as she used to be). But it doesn’t feel like I’m winning. No, it feels more like I’m waiting for the bar to clang to the ground and leave a knot on my head as a consolation prize.

Living in the land of limbo

At least I’m in good company. Abraham lived in limbo after God called him to leave his country and everything familiar.

Oh how we love familiar…

Joseph lived in limbo while unfairly imprisoned, he faithfully served until he became second in command.

Oh how we hate injustice…

David spent years in limbo running from a deranged man he would succeed on the throne.

Oh how we hate waiting..

Are you living in limbo? Between what you’re called to do and doing it? Between knowing and choosing? Between questions and answers and fear the answers aren’t what you want? How low can you go?

Are you on the floor?

Sometimes we know what we are supposed to do but we can’t see a way. Yet God doesn’t often reveal the way until we’ve made the commitment to follow His leading regardless. At least that’s how He deals with me. He calls me to give up familiar, wait for His timing and leave justice to God. But there is a prize for looking up and not staying on the floor.

We know what we are supposed to do but we can't see a way #faith #commit Click To Tweet

He is the lighter of my path

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” HCSB

He is the lifter of my head

Psalm 3:3, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” NIV

And the lifter of my feet

Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” NLT

So I will tuck in tight to God and His promises, then eventually I will raise my arms in victory. Because the Lord is by my side and on my side and He is the prize.

Isaiah 43:2-3, “When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God.” MSG

I still hate limbo. Can we stop and just play The Hokey Pokey now?

A father’s legacy

A father’s legacy

This is for my dad, my kid’s dad, my future grandchildren’s dads and your dad. No I’m not an expert on fatherhood, but I’ve listened to the heart of enough women to know how much a daddy means to his daughter (or son) and I can tell you; dads matter. A lot. A father’s legacy is lived for generations, thousands of generations.

Deuteronomy 5:10, “but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.” HCSB

What a girl wants

When my kids were growing up and Saturday night rolled around, they opened the cabinet and searched for a movie among our collection of DVDs. Though the stack was a foot and a half tall, they usually took a well-watched one off the top. Whether it was “Parent Trap, Princess Diaries” or “What a Girl Wants,” the star was a girl with issues because of her absent father who then entered the picture and redeemed the lost years. That’s what a girl wants – her father.

I asked the question on Facebook (join the conversation here). If you missed out, I still want to know, what is the legacy you inherited from your father? Sure, I’ll go first:

My father’s legacy
  1. Unconditional love

The single most important legacy my dad gave me is unconditional love. Never for one second of my 52 years did I doubt his love. That foundation made it easy for me to accept God’s love.

  1. Self-worth

My dad is proud of me. Go ahead and laugh if you know him, because yeah, that’s like saying Mt. Everest is tall. I am stupendous and spectacular at everything I do, just ask him. Now I’m laughing, but I’m also thankful. He convinced me I mattered, so I don’t have to go around trying to prove it.

  1. Trust

My dad is dependable. He was there when I cheered Panther football games, he was there when I got married, he was there when I was too sick to sit up and he was there when my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I’m convinced he would give up anything and walk across hot coals to rescue me from harm.

4. Fun

When he walked across those hot coals he would whoop and be silly and make a game out of it. He entertained the neighborhood kids by ripping a fat phone book in half or chopping a metal file with his bare hands. Don’t tell my mom, but he drove and turned his head while we let rolls of toilet paper sail through the trees in our friends yards. So I was proud of him too.

5. Story-telling

Barefoot and wearing a full head dress, my dad sat cross-legged and thumped the floor as twenty wide-eyed 5 year olds listened to “Chief Ten Toes” tell the story of the “Great White Buffalo.” No one can tell a story like my dad. (Click here to read more)

We do what they do, not what they say

When our fathers model love and forgiveness, it’s easy for us to live in freedom. When they sacrifice for us, we learn selfless love. Here is a beautiful testimony shared in response to my question yesterday

My father left a legacy of love and forgiveness, he cared for others sacrificially until he couldn’t then he taught me how to love by taking care of him .

Children walk in their father's footsteps #Fathers #LeadIntentionally Click To Tweet

Proverbs 20:7, “The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.” NLT

What is your legacy?

Daughters, you may have a painful legacy from your father. I had the privilege to mother a daughter whose father was never identified. When I adopted her at age 11, her counselor told me, “If a girl doesn’t feel like a princess by age 2 she spends the rest of her life trying to prove it.”

Maybe your legacy is low self-esteem, insecurity, anxiety or addiction. I’ve seen your tears and heard your stories of abuse, neglect and absence. Often I’m the only one you told, but sweet sisters, you are not alone. There is no shame and it’s not your fault. You are a princess too if you are a daughter of the King.

You cannot choose your earthly father but you can choose your heavenly Father Click To Tweet

1 John 3:1, “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God!” MSG

Being a princes requires an attitude from within. You can’t fake royalty when you don’t own it. I’m my daddy’’s princess  and thanks to my earthly father’s influence, I am a daughter of the King.

Are you?

Joshua 24:15, “Then choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve.” NIV

I feel like I’m losing my mind

I feel like I’m losing my mind. Wandering down a dark alley, I knew better than to open the door. It was supposedly locked anyway. At first it was stuck, but I jiggled the knob and forced it open with my hip. When I looked around I thought, “What am I doing here?”

My mind wanders places it shouldn’t go and before long I feel like I’m losing it. Over and over I push replay on toxic thoughts and wind up where I never meant to be. Oh, you too?

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” NIV

Dwelling

Yeah, that’s the problem, dwelling on the wrong things rather than thinking about such things. Instead of nourishing my soul, I feed the darkness and watch it grow.

Reviewing sin, hurt, abuse or betrayal only further enslaves us to pain. The door gets easier to open but the end result is the same. Why do we keep  going back to the place of misery?

2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” NLT

Prone to wander

Rebellious thoughts form habits and create familiar pathways that our minds travel over and over. Thoughts out of line with what we are commanded to think about lead us to unwanted destinations. Before long, you feel like you are losing your mind. 

Since it cannot be trusted, don’t let your mind wander.

Isaiah 26:3, “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.” MSG

When I feel like I’m losing my mind

I run after it because it’s a slippery thing and I don’t want it to get away. Anxious thoughts swirl in my head and the roads to what-if are many but they are all dead ends. Would have, could have, should have will get you lost quickly. Indulging in discontent and dissatisfaction is a sure path to desperation and despair.

Be satisfied and don’t allow discontent to steal your joy #JoyHunt Click To Tweet

Colossians 3:2, Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” ESV

Are you losing your mind?

Lock the door to negative thoughts and never go out alone. God walks before us, beside us and hems us in from behind. Meditating on Him and His word protects our minds.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” HCSB

If anxious thoughts make you feel like you’re losing your mind, you might want to read more – click here

You don’t have to know where you are going

Tomorrow I’m leaving. Though I have no idea where I’m going, there’s a ticket with my name on it. Seriously I don’t know my destination and probably couldn’t pronounce it if I did. All I know is it’s going to be fabulous. You don’t have to know where you are going to know it’s good.

How can I be sure?

With a barely contained grin, my son planned the trip and assures me it will exceed my imagination. Our relationship is special and we both like adventure, so I’ll hop on board to who-knows-where with a gleam in my eye too. I trust him because we like the same things and I know he loves me.

How much more should we trust God’s plans when the destination is unknown?

Ephesians 3:20, “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” MSG

Bumpy ride

Events of the last three years of my life are strung together like ugly charms on a bracelet. They are not journeys I chose, but God leads me to good places even when it’s necessary to go through the Valley of Death to get there. On top of the other hard stuff, I recently lost my voice, which thankfully returned 36 hours after I wrote THIS post. (Thanks so much for your prayers)

God always delivers us, though sometimes not the way we choose.

2 Timothy 3:10-11, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” NIV

Worth it

Whenever I travel, the muscles in my upper back spasm in loud protest to the weight of bags pulling my shoulders. Sitting in a hard, narrow seat for hours jams the vertebrae in my lower back together. Unbalanced meals never timed quiet right, coupled with handfuls of medication make nausea my travel companion.

Nonetheless, the destination is worth the temporary discomfort.

Psalm 30:5b, “Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.” HCSB

The destination is worth the temporary discomfort #endure Click To Tweet
Where are we going?

God has a plan for my good and His glory. Getting there is a bit painful these days, but He’s ultimately taking me to a place where I’ll forever be in His presence. Besides, when life flows smoothly, I tend to wander off. For now, I trust Him through turbulence or even a few crash landings because I know He loves me.

He loves you too. Where are you going?

Psalm 119:67, “I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.” NLT

Destination: FUN

While I am wherever-I-am, I’m going to enjoy the company and the destination for the moment because it’s going to be fun when I get there.

Is your journey messy? Don’t get off the plane; close your eyes, listen to praise music and think about how wonderful it will be when you finally arrive wherever-He’s-taking-you. When you don’t know where God is leading, remember, surprise destinations are the best. Trust Him.

2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” NLT

You don’t have to know where you are going

Neither do I, but I’ll find out tomorrow. For the rest of the story, I’m posting my travels pictures on Instagram if you’d like to join me.

 

Looking for a Christian speaker? Seeking the spotlight

Looking for a Christian speaker?

Touting a sold-out show is probably a wee bit misleading. Multiple dress rehearsals and clever choreography didn’t guarantee the hit production. No, I’m pretty sure it was the fact that the number of construction paper tickets I cut with my grandmother’s “good” scissors exactly matched the number of family members present in the house. And besides, it’s not like they had a choice whether or not to attend my debut performance between the apple tree and swing set. Looking for a Christian speaker? Seeking the spotlight…. well it looks like I’ve been doing it for a few decades.

Look at me

I’m just going to go ahead and say this, I like the stage. While most people practice deep breathing techniques and wipe sweaty palms on their clothes before speaking in public, I calmly fork food into my mouth and socialize. It energizes me. Nearly twenty years ago after studying and seeking to know my spiritual gift, I felt God calling me to speak. After one of my early engagements, I wrote what God laid on my heart in my journal.

Isaiah 42:8, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another…” HCSB

He won’t share

That was 2001 I think and sadly not much changed afterwards. I spoke some then it fizzled out and it’s just as well because I was busy being a mom, wife and doctor. When the kids grew up and I lost my career and found myself home alone, I pulled those old journals out and starting sharing my struggles right out here in public. Now that makes my palms sweat.

2 Corinthians 1:6b, “For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.” NLT

What applause?

Naturally people wanted to know more of my story so I started speaking again. Did I mention I love the stage? I do, I can’t help it. I joke; you laugh. I share; you clap. I know it shouldn’t but the applause just encourages me to get back up there. Preparing to launch into speaking last year I returned to the “She Speaks” conference but I never returned to a whole home. You know, the spotlight just didn’t matter anymore. No one really knew what I was going through and I didn’t share but invitations kept coming to get up on the stage. Instead of energizing, it drained me – physically, emotionally and spiritually. If anyone applauded, I didn’t care, I was just trying to be obedient. One night after an event where more prayers were spent than dollars, I left the stage and hid behind a partition while musicians led worship.The spotlight aimed upward where it belongs and hot tears flowed down my cheeks. I told God, “This is what I want to do,” and He spoke gently to my soul, “Don’t you understand, this is what I want you to do?”

God had to get the me out of me before He could use me Click To Tweet

The breaking of my heart squeezed the me out of me. Finally I felt Him nudging me to pursue a speaking ministry. I partnered with a wonderful assistant, Jasa, had a one-sheet graphically designed and hired a video producer.

Then I lost my voice

Please don’t feel sorry for me when I say this, but loss is a way of life for me these days and I’m really okay.

Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him…” ESV

Because I believe God called me to speak at this particular season I am launching my speaking ministry – without a voice. When I say my voice is gone, I mean I can’t speak at all. Either God will restore my voice or we can sit and look at each other. Maybe I could even lip sync. If all else fails, I’ll cut some construction paper tickets and meet you out between the swing set and apple tree.

Acts 18:9, “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you.'” NKJV

I know I’m not Paul and I didn’t have a vision, but literally a friend texted me this verse as I was writing this paragraph. Anyway,  if you are planning an event, I hope you click here and visit my Speaker Page. I would like for you to meet Jasa too.

 

This is risky business in more ways than one. But my heart is right and part of Jasa’s job is to make sure it stays that way. God won’t share His glory, if needed, He will shut my mouth. He scares me sometimes.

Luke 1:22b, “for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.” NIV

Remember Zechariah? When his miracle happened his voice returned and he praised God. Sounds like a pretty appropriate response, don’t you think?

Luke 1:64, “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free and he began to speak, praising God.” NIV

Can you hear me now?

For details on speaking email Jasa@vickiepetzhenderson.com

What did you say?

 


What did you say?

I’m not asking much. Just a token really, a trifle. You’ll never even miss it. What I want from you is your voice.

My voice?

You got it, Sweetcakes. No more talking, singing, zip.

~Ursula and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”

Zip pretty much describes it. For nearly a week I’ve been silent. Well, not completely silent, I can clap, whistle and whisper but I have not spoken a single word out loud in 6 days.

Since the surgery went well, my doctor is puzzled. He advised rest, drink plenty of fluids and try not to talk. Seriously, he said try not to talk. Do you know me? Previously the voice specialist told me I talk too fast. Perhaps she doesn’t understand how much I have to say. My dad says I was born talking and haven’t shut up since. So I have the gift of gab, but now what? Obviously, I have a problem.

Matthew 12:36, “I tell you that on the Day of Judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.” HCSB

Careless words?

I’m in trouble. Goodness, accounting for the careless words I speak in one day could take an eternity. When I think about what I most regret in my past, it’s words, always words. Words intended to poke, jab, slice and tear down.

Imagine a world where every word spoken was kind and encouraging; helpful and beneficial for building others up according to their needs. What if only necessary words were spoken? Well, I think there wouldn’t be nearly so much noise. What did you say today?

Ephesians 4:29b, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” NLT

Necessary words

Since the doctor told me to “rest my voice” (whatever), I use facial expressions, you know, my own personal set of emojis [insert eyeroll]. When absolutely necessary, I whisper, although the doctor advised against that too [insert exaggerated eyeroll]. I am forced to stop and choose whether my words are absolutely necessary [insert weary face] before I speak whisper. Yeah, I think it eliminated about 90% of my speech [insert shocked face].

Ecclessiates 5:7, “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.” NIV

Practicing the pause

I may be on to something here. Stop and think before speaking; choose words carefully and don’t say unnecessary words. Raise your hand if that sounds like a wise plan for all of us. Will you join me in fasting from unnecessary words? [Insert speak-no-evil monkey face]

Hateful words

Bitter words

Complaining words

Arguing words

Griping words

Gossiping words

Criticizing words

Whining words

Bragging words

Sarcastic words

Please pray my voice is restored soon but my negative speech is forever eliminated. Ironically, I am launching a new speaking ministry (check out my Speaker’s page here). Hmmm, a speaker who cannot speak. I figure God wants me dependent on Him for every single, solitary word. In the meantime, I’ll whisper. After all, people listen intently when you speak softly and even God spoke in a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19: 12b, “there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” NLT (that’s a pretty cool story, you ought to read it all)

Praise Him in the silence

Actions speak louder than words anyway. So I offer God a sacrifice of praise, thankful for a season of listening, pruning and maturing. He is making me who He wants me to be.

2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words.” NLT

Now, what did you say?

I didn’t say anything this week because I can’t. But somehow I think the message still gets across loud and clear. Thanks for your overwhelming support on my Facebook page.

What you don’t say sometimes speaks loudest #practicethepause Click To Tweet

When it feels like Jesus didn’t show up

When it feels like Jesus didn’t show up

Best I can tell, none of the mountains I’m facing budged so much as a millimeter. Despite my prayers and pleadings, I don’t see a big miracle of deliverance. The mountain still sits in front of me and reminds me how ineffective I am. I never claimed to be righteous apart from Christ but good grief, I have a little faith, some days I even have a lot. In the end, what difference did it make? When it feels like Jesus didn’t show up.

Matthew 17:20b, “For I assure you: if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move?” HCSB

Problem is, I haven’t seen any movement and I’ve been shouting at the mountain at the top of my lungs. But it feels like Jesus didn’t show up.

Ever brave enough to admit you feel that way too?

Continue reading

The power of sharing

the power of sharing

Three days from now, they are going to slit my throat. Don’t worry, it’s not the first time, but it’s been a while and there are a couple of things I’d like to know. How long is recovery? What’s my scar going to look like? Of course I’ll feel pain and I know healing takes time. Nothing helps more than a personal encounter with someone who experienced bright lights and cold steel and now has a well-healed scar. If you are brave enough to show your scar, I need the power of sharing your hurt and your healing.

2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” MSG

SCAR REDUCTION

My new choker neck shirt will cover my wound nicely. Oh how we carefully hide our physical scars and emotional ones too. According to “Human Skin Wounds” (NCBI*), Americans spend $25 billion dollars annually on scar reduction. If we fork out that much on skin wounds, what is the price tag of covering up human heart wounds?

Psalm 109:22, “For I am afflicted and needy; my heart is wounded within me.” HCSB

ME TOO

When we hide our scars we deny the power of, “Me too.” I get it, pretending I’ve got it all together is way more appealing than mustering up the courage to risk exposure. Some days I don’t feel so brave, but my pretense of smooth sailing will never encourage you when you’re battered by waves. My advice is far more credible when you know I’ve been there, and lately I’ve been here, there and everywhere and I’ve got the scars to prove it. What would happen if we quit concealing? Wonder how many would be surprised to know YOU struggle with:

Insecurity?

Depression?

Marriage?

Addiction?

Abuse?

Kids?

Faith?

Doubt?

Anybody brave enough to raise their hand? Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see your wounds, I’m licking my own. But when healing is complete your scar gives us hope. If you healed, maybe we can too. No one will know if you cover it up and never let anyone see your scars. Those of us hobbling along this broken road need the healing power of seeing hope. When you’re on this side of the knife or heartbreak you’re looking for survivors. Anyone willing to admit they’ve been broken?

You never find wholeness until you acknowledge your brokeness Click To Tweet

Imagine what would happen if we were honest and real.

Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” NIV

*National Center for Biotechnology Information

Why I quit going to church and what they did about it

Why I quit going to church and what they did about it

I quit going to church for nearly a year. Go ahead, raise your eyebrows, I’ve seen that look before. My friend who sits across from me every Tuesday morning over coffee is a pro at that look. If she had known she would have busted down my door and dragged me out of the house by the ear. So don’t scold me, she took care of it already. But we go to different churches and she didn’t know. Besides, I had my reasons and I still contend they were valid.

My church is truly family. Enough food to feed the entire state flowed into my kitchen during my surgeries and chronic illness. When I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, text messages and voice mails flooded my phone. The cards stuffed into my mailbox are now stored in bulging manila envelopes. They love me well. The church I’ve attended for the last 20 years is one of the most biblicaly-sound, mission-minded, discipleship-focused churches I’ve known. So what happened?

After years of involvement, not casual involvement but committed involvement like teaching adult Sunday school, weekly attendance and mission trips, I quit going.  What did they do when I quit going to church? Nothing, they did nothing.

2 Corinthians 7:3, “I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.” NIV

Yes, it’s a big church. Of course I was involved in a small group/Sunday school class/life group/whatever you want to call it. And I’m quite familiar with the Bible’s command:

Hebrews 10:25, “not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” HCSB

Many Sunday mornings I put on my dress then cried off my make-up in the bathroom before I gave up. God looks at the heart and He knew I wanted to go, I just couldn’t. Plugged in to Bible study and fellowship with strong believers, my walk with God didn’t derail because I failed every Sunday morning. But did the church fail me?

Deuteronomy 22:4, “If you see that your neighbor’s donkey or ox has collapsed on the road, do not look the other way. Go and help your neighbor get it back on its feet!” NLT

Did the church fail?

The answer looked at me from the mirror. Yes, the church failed. You see, I am the church. The Holy Reminder nudged my memory of a godly woman who was suddenly absent. I knew her well enough to know the color of the wallpaper in her kitchen. She attended regularly without her husband who worked long hours. Until she didn’t. Wondering what happened, I did nothing. Guiding me further down the rocky road of memory lane, there was the couple in my Sunday school class who took on leadership roles and sat on the front row every week. Until they didn’t. I joined everyone who asked, “Have you seen the so-and-so’s lately?” But did nothing.

Genesis 4:9b, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” NKJV

Guilty

I’m a little curious, did you miss me? Did you ask about me? The interrogation was interrupted by the guilty party’s reflection in the mirror. You see, I did nothing and I am the church. By the way, so are you.

Church is not a building; church is you and me #church #fellowship Click To Tweet
Weak excuses

I am fresh out of excuses, but I am sorry. Perhaps it was none of my business. Maybe I assumed they moved to another church or went to the other service. I knew he worked long hours/traveled/went to the lake/fished/played golf/attended ball games on Sundays. Worse, I thought she was backsliding! Gasp.

Growing up, if we missed church we received a stock postcard saying, “You heathen, you weren’t here this week.” Okay, that’s not exactly what it said, but at least the absence was acknowledged. Of course when you returned, people said, “Well look who’s here, stranger.” Nothing makes you feel more welcome condemned.

DEAR CHURCH FAMILY,

I love you dearly; thank you for loving me. When I returned, tears welled in my eyes as an old man vigorously embraced me. His voice said, “I’m so glad to see you here,” but his eyes spoke louder. It meant the world to me when a dear lady grabbed my hand and refused to let go until I was seated right in the middle of her family’s regular pew. My one friend who knew my secret struggles fielded a few of your questions without telling my story. And there was one text message, “Are you okay? We’ve missed you.” No, but thanks for asking.

My pastors’ doors (both office and kitchen) were always open. No, of course they did not approve my absence either. My church probably prayed for me too. They’re like that you know. I guess mentioning it seemed awkward. And it’s okay anyway, I have a support network strong enough to hold an elephant tiptoeing across a swimming pool cover.

Although I haven’t talked to everyone I’ve talked to enough women in my situation to know not everyone is thick-skinned. Sorry about your toes, maybe now I’m talking about your church. I’d like to give you us another chance. I’ll be there regularly now, so please don’t worry about me, but look around and see who isn’t. Give them a call or text. Send them a card or one of those tacky postcards. Because together, WE are the church and it’s a family business.

Proverbs 24:11, “Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, ‘Hey, that’s none of my business,’ will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know – Someone not impressed with weak excuses.” MSG

Calm in the chaos

My house looks like McDonald’s. No, I don’t have arches and I’m not making french fries or apple pies. Part of my house is in total disarray, yet I didn’t even notice until I was Skyping a podcast interview and glanced past my own reflection to the wall -kinda yellow and red striped. I’ll tell you the rest of the long story later, but it all started with the toilet (click here if you missed that part). Suffice it to say, everything in my life is in limbo which is a special kind of torture for people like me. But if I can find calm in the chaos, so can you.

ARE YOU OKAY?

My friends are worried. Seriously, I’m afraid something is wrong with me too because I have no right to feel this way. I am okay. Really, I shouldn’t be, but I am. My eyelids open before the sun rises and surprisingly I sleep all night and wake to feel the warmth of peace deep in my soul. Well, at least most days I do.

Philippians 4:7, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” NKJV

GRACE

My superwoman cape is at the cleaners this week. I gave myself a break. Double digit voice mails and text messages went unreturned (sorry about that). My inbox is full of unread messages and fortunately most of my bills are autopay or I would be paying late fees. At the last minute, I bailed on my parents to travel to Cajun country for family Easter, uncharacteristic behavior for an over-achieving perfectionist who thinks she can do it all. This new coping technique is grace to self.

We always need grace, sometimes we need to give it to ourselves #grace Click To Tweet

Without it I don’t think I could function. Honestly, after the brutality of the last nine days I’m still trying to figure out what day of the week it is. In fact when I recorded my podcast, I got the month wrong (The host was addled, but the guest encouraged my socks off if you want to listen, click here, but remember it’s unedited). Sorry, I checked out of life for a while and now it’s time to check back in, if I can stay calm in the chaos.

Matthew 11:29, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” MSG

TRUST

My dear friend took both of my hands in hers to pray one of my favorite prayers,

Dear Father we thank you that you knew exactly what was going to happen today before we ever got out of bed

Calm in chaos is rooted in trust. Do you trust God with whatever today holds? Get over that hurdle, then there’s tomorrow. I know God loves me, knows what is best for me and knows the end of the story and I certainly don’t. I don’t even know if I’ll continue to live in this home that’s been wrecked in more ways than one, but God does and He is trustworthy, all the time. My guest on “My Journey of Faith Radio this week brought tears to my eyes when she reminded me of the truths she reminds herself:

  • God’s grace is sufficient
  • It’s not about me

Yeah, that. I needed a reminder too

ON THE RUN

While some are worried about me, others see joy that doesn’t match my circumstances and they know why. It’s because I run. I’m not running from my problems, I’m running to the arms of my Heavenly Father because if I take my eyes off of His sufficiency for one second I quickly come to the end of myself. Anyone know how that feels?

We can compare notes if you want. Bless your heart if you’ve had a week like mine. If your life is in chaos and you feel like running away, start running to your Heavenly Father. And when God seems far away remember, He’s probably not the one who moved.

James 4:8, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you…” NLT

There’s more to this verse, but you probably ought to read it for yourself. That’s what I’m going to do because when I wrote this I felt it, but now I need a refresher.