Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My willingness to Endure

If this makes no sense...just move on.


"My willingness to Endure."

It's the quality I think I like the most about myself, feel the most noble about--my willingness to Endure. And yet, I think it has become something other than noble, perhaps even something destructive.

There is little joy in my life when I'm living like this. There isn't much room for joy in Endure. I think there is a lot of unbelief behind Endure, like my conviction that no one else is going to come through, so I have to. It also feels like Samson's downfall--we find a quality or a strength that helps us get through life, and we make it our idol, put all our trust and hope in it. It's different for everybody, for some it's intelligence, or making people happy, for me it's Endure. But once we make this strength or quality our idol and turn to it for security, it becomes our blind spot--the thing we don't want anyone to look at or tamper with. Not even God...eventually, it becomes our ruin." Walking with God, John Eldredge

I didn't write that but I could have--I should have. Lately these thoughts have been lurking around my sub conscience, when I'm not too busy to think--that's probably why I like busy, and why I hate it.

Too many times I've asked and do ask loudly and boldly of others, "Why do I stay?"
I've boldly announced and preached that I'VE NOT BEEN "UNCALLED!" --my famous speech to the masses that will listen willingly and unwillingly. But now, I ask, have I ever asked God? Have I really searched and asked and fought with my "calling" lately? Or, do I wear the "called" sign on my chest so proudly that I don't even wonder if I still am? Would I be willing to even consider being "uncalled?"

Or, am I so hung up on my willingness to Endure, so defined by it, that I have been worshiping that instead of God? Ouch!

In truth, all my security and identity is wrapped into ENDURE NEW LIFE! but doesn't that just sound ridiculous?

I've been learning this for awhile now. This summer when RT Kendall said something like, "what was once righteousness can become sin" my heart ached because I knew there was truth in his statement.

Forgiveness was the first step--but not the last.

I still don't know if I CAN leave but my heart sure needs to have a holiness make over. I have been like the Pharisees in Matt 6, with my face somber and my clothes torn, parading my anger and self-righteousness for all to see and hear. It's disgusting...I wish I would just shut up!

A humble spirit, a contrite heart... a quiet mouth and a life of prayer.

You've taught me this lesson before-I heard you for awhile, I obeyed for awhile...then I chose to forget. I chose to indulge in anger and self-gratification. To be the martyr and to expose myself to others in the most indecent way--Forgive me Lord Jesus for placing myself on your throne.

A Holiness Make Over...what is that?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

24 colors


There are times in life where happiness can be as simple as 24 colors and a blank piece of paper. And in those times, life is the simplest and the best. It's 10 am, we are all still in our pj's, the coffee is hot and the kids are coloring Christmas pictures. Simple pleasures...

Christmas card it's not... I have black circles under my eyes because I didn't take off my eye make up last night, there are toys all over the floor and last nights dinner dishes are still lurking in the sink.

And yet, everything about this morning is the best. I've even rented a crazy old movie about dial up internet and the birth of email...any guesses? I love this movie!

24 colors...what does that mean to you? My 24 colors come in many shapes:
1. A good cheap glass of wine.
2. New PJ's
3. Sleeping past 6:30am
4. Spicy Doritos
5. A great candle
6. Free Shipping
7. Fresh smelling laundry
8. Moving up on the Bejeweled leader board
9. Laughing like a hyena with good friends
10. Snow falling
11. A good book
12. A long hot shower
13. Diet Coke
14. Warm socks
15. A good joke on the radio
16. All green lights on LaGrange
17. A good neck crack
18. Long hot shower
19. Christmas tree lights
20. "What'd I get in my Happy Meal" excitement
21. dancing in the kitchen
22. sun in December
23. Preschooler Christmas programs
24. A good sneeze

24 colors...they change, sometimes they melt and get stuck in the carpet...but I'm glad that life can be reduced to 24 colors sometimes...sometimes I need it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Being who you were created to be

I just finished the most exhausting weekend of the year. I'm sore, tired, spent and so thankful to have had the opportunity to stretch myself to limits I didn't think possible.

A few years ago, after a long, hurtful and discouraging fight I was placed in a role at our church that has turned out to be a true source of joy for me. I was, by omission, made the director of our choir program. Even though I wasn't a music teacher, didn't have a degree, didn't play the piano and had never really done this job before, God decided that I should take on this responsibility. I had no idea what I was doing except that I had sung in many choirs. I didn't know how to find music, how to run a practice, how to really read music or anything else that goes along with this job...but none of that mattered. In order to take this job, I had to give up the one thing I thought made me the happiest in the world; I had to give up singing. I exchanged singing for silence, being in front of an audience to turning my back on them, something I knew well for something I knew nothing about. None of it made sense and if conventional wisdom would have prevailed I simply would have said, "no." But, I didn't. I took the job.

I struggled through it, I still struggle through it...but the choir was gracious and encouraging. They continued to show up, they continued to work, they continued to trust me even when I didn't trust myself. They followed where ever I led them; although I have no idea why. The choir pitched in, they gave their ideas, they helped me and they helped each other. If I think about it, we all had been hurt, we were all licking our wounds, we were all gun shy, but together we kept our eyes on the Lord and continued to do what we loved, worship him in the only way we knew how, through music.

And now here I am, at the end of the most exhausting weekend of the year. Looking back on a wonderful weekend of services filled with great, difficult, Christmas music. Together we praised the Lord the best we knew how... I praised the Lord the best I knew how... and I wasn't singing... I wasn't making a single sound. I was directing a group of dedicated brothers and sisters, encouraging them to do their best, banging out a rhythm that helped them stay together. This has me speechless. I love this job more than any other... Thank you Father, for creating in me a love for something I knew nothing about. Thank you Father, for having faith in me and not letting me take the easy way out. I heard the angels singing... I did...but I didn't expect it... Shocking!

Friday, November 06, 2009

It's the best day ever!!!

This is neither deep nor philosophical however, I need to write it down to preserve it! I just went to Jewel, bought a mix of items that were on sale and that I had coupons for...in the end the total came out to $45.04 cents, I gave my coupons and it took my total down to $35.64 and then I handed over $35 in Catalina coupons to make my grand total $.64 and then she handed me $30 more in Catalina coupons!!!!!! My heart was beating so fast, I felt like I had just stepped off a roller coaster! I got in the car, closed the door and screamed! Now, it sort of feels like I'm drunk...I simply can't believe this!!! I hope it lasts!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I wanna make some noise.

It's been a long time since I've sat in front of a blank computer screen and wondered what thoughts I should type out. It's remarkable to me that a few years ago I felt compelled every morning to sit here and share my day or struggles or random thoughts. I saw this morning that one of the children of the blogs was now almost two years old and it shocked me when I had the thought, I remember when she was born! That is a a sign of these computer driven times I think. I think it's strange that I have "friends" all over the country whom I have never met but with who I can celebrate milestones such as births and first days of schools and home purchases.

I have had times when I've fought with my web friends and it's ruined my day, times when a baby is born and I've rejoiced and days when all is silent and I've lamented that I felt cut off from this web of friends that has amassed on the right hand side of my blog. And now this group of ladies has grown apart. It wasn't an event that made this happen or a decision that had been reached just the gradual ebb and flow of life that exists and suddenly what had been the bedrock of my days is no longer and what was once a buzzing interpersonal internet connection is silent.

The sad part of this post is that, not only have my web friend connections been fractured but my "local" friendships seem to have fallen silent too. This is hard. I feel cut off from the source of life that had once been so important to me. Again, there was no event, no fight, no decision that has created this silence. Just a series of life events that have combined to create this hole.

The thing about life is that it never stands still...never stays the same. I know that is not a deep or original thought however, it is a pressing truth that can be a lifesaver or a disappointment. There have definitely been times in my life where I've chanted the mantra, "It will not always be this way. It won't stay this way forever." That chorus has sustained me through many doctor appointments, fights, check book balancing marathons, childbirth even.

However, when this truth of life disassembles relationships and good times... well... I've said good bye to many friends, watched my babies grow into awkward prepubescents, bid farewell to sister-friends as they march off to work and even watched helplessly as relationships that are important fall away and become anemic shadows of what they once were.

And, I wonder why...how...when... Why does it feel like this, how did this happen, when did we stop? Even though this is a pattern that is inevitable, even though this is a truth of life...it still catches me by surprise... it utterly shocks me to be honest.

Again, I come back to things will not stay the same for long... They won't. But it's sad to say good-bye. I guess that's why there are so many songs, movies, TV shows and books about the "glory days." We all have some common experience to long for simpler times, happier times, fuller times than what is right now.

I wonder, do we know we are living the glory days when we are in them...or do they only look glorious once they are gone. Once we photoshop our memories and airbrush our disagreements?

One thing I do know is that it is "quiet" at home right now. Seriously, it's not quiet in my house right now...I only wish... but it is quiet in my heart. And I'm not sure I like it. I know I don't like it. But, I'm not sure how to change it...do I try to resurrect what once was? I'm pretty convinced that doesn't work... So then what? I guess that is the proverbial question... What's next? I'm not willing to leave all those relationships behind but the problem is that lately I haven't been willing to be engaged in those relationships unless they looked exactly like they once did...and I guess that's my sticking point. In order to move forward, we have to change, we have to move, we have to adapt. And until we do...well...I guess there's just more quiet to look forward to?

I wanna make some noise...I just have to figure out how?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

1 Timothy Study--work in progress

I'm starting to write a study of 1 Timothy and how to do ministry in team and handle conflict. I've just begun to put some thoughts down...this is post is mostly for me to see what I've written...sorry if I've bored anyone.

I Timothy Study

So Timothy is a young man—a “son in the faith” to Paul- but Paul clearly states that he left Timothy in Ephesus to
“command men not to teach false doctrine any longer”
A statement that infers that these “men” have been at this teaching a long time and that they are significantly older and more established than this “son of faith” He is not only young but new to the appointment as Paul has now left and Timothy is now alone. The next line “these promote controversies instead of faith” Yeah! Conflict, this church in Ephesus is a church in conflict…endless conflict. Let’s look back at Ephesians to get a picture of what the church was like.

Eph 1:15 they have sincere faith in the Lord, which has caught Paul’s eye. But Paul right off the bat asks God to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, to be enlightened and asks for them to know about God’s “great power,” power so great it raised Jesus from the dead. That’s a lot of power….it’s not a trowel, a shovel…it’s a earth mover. Later on in the book, Paul prays that the Ephesians would have (17) Christ may dewell in your hearts through faith…that they will be rooted and established in love to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. This is the book of the Bible where we get this powerful and well known verse, “20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurabley more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” a great verse…but truly what was happening in Ephesus?

The next chapter goes on to talk about “Unity in the body.” 25…put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all one body. The whole book deserves a read…this is a church full of controversy and anger and malicious talk. It is a church body that is limping and falling and turning on itself. A church that needs to learn how to speak to eachother, how to love each other, how to submit to each other and how to “stand firm” against the devils schemes together.

Back to Timothy…My heart goes out to Timothy—he has been placed squarly in the established and well worn lion’s den. You have to picture this poor “man-child” and see what he must have been thinking about his present calling.

“Really? This is what ministry is suppose to be? This is not what I signed up for! Who am I that I should have anything to say to the ‘leaders’ of this church…who have been at this for so long…and yet are so obviously wrong!

And why me? Am I the only one who ‘sees’ this? Paul was here and he couldn’t teach them…what do you think I can do about it Lord? “

Friday, June 19, 2009

Conflict Quotes

"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it...that factor is attitude." William James

"Stay focused on solutions and communication. Admit when your wrong, but stand your ground when you are right."

"Sometimes we have to stand alone for an extended time. Other times the mere act of our standing for what we believe in brings others with us, and we are no longer alone. Either way, conflict can serve to illuminate truth or illuminate differences. In any event, it doesn't have to be feared" ~Tony Dungy

When "team" gets it right

There is an elusive dream that seems to be present in my church of doing ministry in "team." We talk about it all the time, we have read books about it, watched presentations about it even paid big money and gone to conferences hoping to learn how to achieve this pinnacle of togetherness. Yet, we seem to fail time and time again. Always falling to the persistent press of egos and agendas. I've come to wonder if this icon called "team ministry" really can or does exist anywhere; and why does it seem impossible for us to achieve. Is this a problem that is unique to our church congregation or is this a problem at other places as well.

We hold this "team" concept as a high value and I would guess that if we were to take a survey amongst our leadership both staff and volunteer...we would see that "team" would be in the top five of our goals. My suspicion is that we often use the word team to conceal the hurt we have when groups don't measure up to our expectations and we secretly think that by using the word team all of the difficulties of working together should just fade away. If we were getting 'team' right, then the machine would work the way it was suppose to with no hang-ups, hurts or conflicts.

There are many examples around of "teams" that get it right--sports teams that go all the way to the big game time and time again. Ministry teams whose churches exceed anybody's wildest plan. Businesses that continue to produce new and innovative products and have employees that seem happy in their positions. It seems that success is always tied to the concept of "team"; that success and joy seem to go hand in hand with people working together.

One pressing question I have is what happens when conflict arises on these teams. I have a hard time believing that everyone is happy all the time. That people don't hold opposing views. But how do these groups of people communicate their differences without sacrificing some of it's members? How do these teams recover from failure or hurt feelings; how to they protect themselves from agenda's and egos and power grabbing? How do they continue even after everything hasn't gone the way they thought it should? What is the secret? Is it worth it?

above is a book/bible study I am working on...any comments would be appreciated...no editing has taken place yet, so please be gracious

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts about friendship from the land of blog

I did not write this although I wish I had. I just read this on someone's blog and thought it was great.

5 things I have learned about friendship

1) Health finds its level: If you are unhealthy and insecure in yourself, you will naturally attract people who are the same. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” If two unhealthy people wallow in their struggles together, they might feel like they are supporting one another for awhile. It often turns into an up and down roller coaster. Sometimes loneliness helps up put things in perspective: God is our ultimate source of comfort and guidance and sometimes we need to “get healthy” in order to be a friend.

2) If you are in a one-sided friendship, it is not a friendship, it’s a ministry: I heard this at the MOPS meeting two years ago and it hit me over the head. I came back to the Proverbs verse. There are two irons are sharpening one another. Each is receiving while each one is giving. The speaker said we have to make a decision whether we want to continue this one sided friendship knowing it might stay this way forever. Can we handle it? Do we have time for it? Will our spouse or family members suffer as a result of our commitment to this person?


3) There are always two sides to every single story: I learned this one the hard way about four to five years ago when two people I respected were in conflict with one another. I felt pressured to take one side over the other. When conflict occurs, both sides have contributed in some way. We have all been around people who have nothing good to say about their friend, their family member, their in-law, etc. Proverbs 16:28 says it is best: A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.



4) The right thing to do is often the hardest: Admitting your faults, apologizing, owning up to wrongdoings, and sacrifice do not come naturally. It is easier to lie, backstab, attack, be passive/aggressive, gossip, pretend like nothing happened, be condescending, blame, dig up the past, argue, withdraw, and hold a grudge. This is one of my favorite verses: For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ - Galatians 1:10. It does not mean we need to stop caring about others and only focus on God. It means that we live to please God. Through coming to know God and seeking to please Him, he gives us the love and grace so we can love others. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in that. I do not have to try to be someone I am not or work tremendously hard so someone approves of me.



5) It is OK to let go and sometimes even neccessary: If a friendship is not bearing fruit, what is the purpose? If it is one sided, what is the point? If the person is only out for their own needs, what role are you playing? Obviously if you are being disrespected, why are you holding on? It's not the greatest movie when it comes to relationships but I love it in Jerry Maguire when Dorothy Boyd says, "Maybe relationships don't have to be so much work." If there is a lot drama, confrontations, arguing, false accusations, and physco babble, maybe it is time to move on or at least take a break.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uncommon

I'm reading the book Uncommon by Tony Dungy...I know it's a book for men...I mean I know that now. I had heard so many people talk about it on the radio that I ordered it from Amazon. It was only after it came that I realized it was written for guys...but why should that stop me? I'm very impressed with this book so far. Have you ever read a book that just resonates with the way that you think and believe? I wanted to write out some of the "keys for developing your core" not only to share with the WWW but also remember them myself.

1. Remember that what you do when no one is watching matters.
2. The means matter as much as the ends, if not more.
3. Hang in there. Character is revealed through adversity.
4. Often we grow as much through the little things as we do through the big ones.
5. Truth is critical. Being truthful is too.
6. Don't rationalize your way around honesty.
7. Don't blow your own horn.
8. Don't be falsely modest; you have amazing gifts. Just recognize that others do too.
9. You are important, but not indispensable. The same goes for others. See yourself as a significant part of the process.
10. Be careful what you do with your resources, gifts, time and talents. You've been entrusted with them.
11. Some of the most rewarding times in life are when you have to stand alone, even if you are uncomfortable doing so.
12. Life is hard. Courage is essential.
13. Never give up. Never.

I'm especially challenged by 2 & 6... I think so often I can rationalize my way around honesty but I don't think I've ever really thought about it. So often I preserve the peace at all costs but then I need to realize and own that the means matter as much as the ends. This is a roadmap for life. I love it...but I am challenged by it. I hope to someday be able to own this list as one that I follow without exception.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My famous husband

http://www.morrisdailyherald.com/articles/2009/03/21/neighbors/252djoleasterseals.txt

Sunday, March 01, 2009

First uncompleted draft...purpose or position

Ok, so you have been asking what I've been thinking and writing about lately...well, this isn't finished, it's dry, it's long and it's incomplete...but I'm posting it cause you've been bugging me Laura!


There are times in life when we are forced to evaluate where we are, where we've been and where we are going. I am fascinated by motivation and why people make the choices they make; why I make the choices I make. Sometimes it's driven by a sense of purpose, sometimes it's driven by a sense of security, sometimes it's driven by what comes the easiest. It seems as if what drives a person's choices is unlimited however, I believe it really falls into two categories: Purpose or Position.

We start a project or a goal or a life choice rooted and clearly focused; excited by purpose and firmly plant our feet where we believe we should be. But like standing at the edge of the ocean while the tide changes, we can suddenly be surprised when we finally look down and realize our feet don't align with where they had originally been planted. The tide has either passed us up and we see our feet covered in sand and water and find ourselves standing knee deep in water surrounded by no one or the tide has gone out and we are left standing in the sand pretending we are still in the ocean.

Often our original starting point, our original motivation does not stay the same. So many times we find ourselves months or years or even decades into a life choice only to look back and realize that we are no longer on the same path we set out on. Something has changed, the road took a turn or our direction has subtly yet drastically changed. Somewhere in the work of it all, in the day to day decisions, in the small crisis' that demand our attention, in the monotony we will discover that we have swapped our original intent with something different. Although this swap was intended, it wasn't a stated goal or a set of prescribed steps; it was a gradual, slow, seemingly innocent series of choices that have resulted in our taking control of our own lives.

Now, taking control of our own lives seems like a lofty and well intentioned goal. Certainly Oprah and the current pop psychologist of the day would overwhelmingly approve of taking destiny into our own hands. Everywhere you turn you are told loudly or subtly that you are the keeper of your fortune, that you make are the only one who can make things happen in your own life. It is easy to buy into this philosophy because we love to control things. According to The Secret, if you don’t want “it” you don’t get “it” however, by believing hard enough “it” it will happen for you. This belief will grant you fortune, relationship, power or position. In this vein of thinking, everything is controlled by you for the good or the bad. At first glance it is incredibly attractive but deeper study will reveal that you are the keeper of your position and if your position is horrible then you are horrible.

As Christians, we openly reject books like The Secret. We laugh at the ideas presented and deem ourselves above such philosophy…more enlightened and protected from such ideas. It is my argument that this type of thinking can and does slowly grow into our seemingly iron clad Christianity and if we are not intentional about weeding it out it will overshadow our belief in God’s will for our lives until we have been overtaken by our own will for our lives while we shun God’s will. Again, it is intentional but it is not overt: the danger of this philosophy is it’s subtlety.

When does this happen? I believe it happens when we exchange position for purpose. We believe that God the Father places calls on our lives. As Christians, we seek to know His will for us. We spend many hours in prayer and conversation with others searching out where He wants us to be. We hear calls from God. We follow those calls to places we would not ordinarily go. We believe in his Sovereignty and in his personal involvement in our lives; like Moses who followed God’s call into Egypt or David who took his position of King, like John the Baptist who baptized those in the spirit, or Jesus who died on the cross.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Words on the Wall

I think that's what Jana calls it?

Wesley: "Mom, I want to go to Disney tomorrow."
Me: "We aren't going until it's warm out honey."
Wesley: "You need to ask God to make it warm."
Me: "It doesn't work like that honey."
Wesley: "Yes, it does Mommy...you can talk to God in your head...just ask him to make it warm outside tomorrow...that's all."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life at the end of your rope

This morning I read this:

"Jesus seemed to think backward about everything. "You are blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." Every New Testament writer echoes Jesus' words. All of them tell us that we can rejoice in our most difficult moments because Jesus will be working things out in those seasons that we would never let him touch when all is well. He didn't tell us to rejoice for the bad times, but in them because he would convert our pain into his glory. The truth is we only grow in trust at moments of extremity. If we can do it ourselves, we will! If we're sure we can fix things we won't listen for him. If we have enough money, time, energy, talent--or know others who do--we'll try that first.

If our freedom to trust God hinges on our ability to get everything right then we are back to trusting ourselves."

Something to think about today...

Taken from "He Loves Me! Learning to live in the Father's Affection" by Wayne Jacobsen pg 168

Monday, January 12, 2009

The great Rolando and Governor BloJ

This is my home state...I'm so proud! It gives and it keeps on giving!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Civic Literacy Test

This is just for fun. I posted it mostly for Jen cause I know she loves history, government and politics more than I do... I scored a 78.79% tell me how you did.

http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Quote that has me thinking...

"I learned a lot that night. For example, that part of being the magician's assistant means coming face-to-face with illusion. That invisibility is really just knotting your body in a certain way and letting the black curtain fall over you. That people don't vanish into thin air; that when you can't find someone, it's because you've been misdirected to look elsewhere."

Taken from "Vanishing Acts" by Jodi Picoult

Friday, January 02, 2009