Friday, January 29, 2016

Giant Baby Steps

We often think of big decisions as giant steps or leaps of faith. In my experience, however, what appears as a big decision is likely made up of countless little choices. Baby steps.

And even baby steps sometimes feel like terrifying, giant leaps.

Three examples come to mind.

I remember laughing once or twice at the cautions people gave us during our adoption process. Something about not rushing in. I laughed because with all of the papers and interviews and fingerprints and processes (and money) involved, I'm pretty sure nobody has ever adopted internationally on a whim. It would be impossible. Every step required effort, from researching agencies to attending trainings to home studies to immigration paperwork. Over and over we made the choice again to pursue adopting our son. It was not one giant leap. There were hundreds of steps involved. (Do I need to say I'm so glad we did it? I'M SO GLAD WE DID IT.)

There may have been less paperwork involved with moving overseas as missionaries, but there were just as many steps and decisions. Like when to... Tell the family. Contact the missions agency. Tell our pastor. Fill out the first application. Tell church leadership team. Don't tell anyone else. Attend the week-long interview. Fill out the rest of the application. Sign up for psychological evaluation. Say yes to the invitation to training. Tell the rest of the church. List the house for rent. Move to Canada for training. Learn to say, "eh?" and drink Tim Horton's. (wink.) Say yes to vulnerability with trainees. Say yes to Peru. Figure out a potential timeline. (I think you get the point.) There were a lot of steps and each one required effort and courage and determination and making a choice. Over and over we had to choose to keep going rather than turn back. It was in that season God taught me this important lesson:
Indecision and doubt are enemies of perseverance.
It is very, very hard to persevere when you haven't made up your mind or aren't sure you can do something.

This is the example I am living right now. Most of you don't know that I have been dreaming for the last several years about writing a book (because I haven't made the choice and taken the step to tell you!) about our journey to Peru and back. I have had this little project tucked away in my heart and our dropbox because I'm scared of showing it to practically anyone. I'm slowly working on it, but have wrestled over and over and over with whether or not I really want to do it. (Remember what I said up there about indecision and doubt?)

Every time I decide (once again), "Yes. I am going to write this book." another choice confronts me. So maybe I'll write it, but will I let anyone read it? Maybe. Maybe I'll get it printed by my friends in Peru and keep the copies in my trunk and whenever I feel led to share my soul on paper with someone I can hand them a copy. (Sounds safe and fair enough.) OR will I sell it online so anyone can buy it? Will I tell The World or just my little world? Will I dare to go to this retreat coming up by some authors I like? Because if I do, I'm pretty sure my safe little boat is going to get rocked and WHAT IF GOD TRIES TO LEAD ME TO ACTUALLY TURN IN A BOOK PROPOSAL TO A REAL PUBLISHER??? (Hold on while I hyperventilate just a little bit, please.)

Even though my email inbox is flooded with the secrets to a great book launch and how to write and market a best-seller, I don't actually want to go there. I've just barely accepted the idea of a quiet, little printing process..... that I can control.

(I typed those last words r e a l l y  s l o w l y . . .)

S i g h . . .

Lord, is that really what this is about? I want to keep control of my story because I don't trust others to be kind and I don't trust You to protect my heart in the process? I'm so sorry.

Friend, maybe you're in the middle of your own Big Decision that is made up of lots of tiny choices. Can we do this together? Even if we aren't quite ready to say "YES" to the next step, can we at least say "NO" to some enemies?

By your power and in your name, Jesus, I say no to fear. I say no to doubt. I say no to my desire to control and protect my story and my heart. I say no to fear of failure. I say no to fear of man. To fear of rejection and to worry and anxiety. And I do say yes to You, Holy Spirit. Yes to your power at work in my weaknesses. Yes to weakness turned into strength. And yes to letting the Family of God encourage me in this journey.

I have held back sharing because I've been afraid people wouldn't understand my dream and I wouldn't feel validated and that might mean I should quit. I've also felt like I needed to be sure all by myself before I shared with anyone else because I needed to not depend on validation from others. This morning, however, I believe God showed me the third way. (There's almost always a third way.)
Share with others in the Body, not for the sake of validation, but for the sake of mutual encouragement.
What would it be like if I invite you to take this journey with me? What if I let you and others encourage me? What if just being in this with me encourages you on your journey and inspires you to take your own scary baby steps?
What if I stop making this about me and instead make it about God and His people?

That's a lot harder to say "no" to.

If nothing else, I'm sure I don't want fear to be my reason for not making a choice. Even if I take no other steps today, I may find saying "no" to fear is a big enough baby step after all. For today, at least.

Walk By Faith...
Walk with me?

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Whispers of Hope

God has been going out of his way (though really it just is his way!) to speak HOPE to me in the last few days. In books, on walls, in songs, and in Scripture, over and over and over again I keep seeing this word: HOPE.

It is touching my heart in tender, merciful ways. Driving home from Shaver Lake this morning was worshipful. The mountain vistas and rocks and trees and hills seemed to be breaking into song all around. The beauty was stunning. These drought-stricken hills are a brilliant green, for a little while anyway, and I didn't want it to end.

(Can you see the rainbow off in the distance, just over the hill?)
While the green was lovely, I was most captivated by the oak trees. 

It's hard to tell the difference between dormancy and death when you can only see the surface, but there they stood. Survivors of drought and fighters for life, their roots go down DEEP. They aren't afraid of winter seasons that look like death because they know HOPE. They aren't afraid of their true shape being exposed because in dropping their leaves, they let through more light. They lift their bare branches to the heavens in a posture of praise and worship, all the while digging down deeper and deeper so they can keep surviving as long as the drought may last. They are brave, bold and beautiful even in the barest state. At least to me. 

I, too, am still in a winter-like season. I'm not doing any official serving or ministry or leading right now and haven't since we returned from Peru last year. For at least a few more months, I'm allowing God to continue to work on healing hearts and deepening roots, because it's not that kind of fruit-bearing time. Not yet, anyway. We trust with hope, just like the oak trees, that this is truly just a season and that fruit will be grown and shared once more. I hope that as I stand before God with the leaves down that more light will continue to shine and more work will be done where it's needed.

I can't help but compare this season of my heart to the seasons around me and find it intriguing how timely it is. I pass by peach, plum and nectarine orchards several times a week. Like the oak trees, they have stood bare through the winter and recently I have watched the farmers and workers out in the middle of the still bare-branched trees with pruning shears in their hands. It is the season for pruning and shaping. They are removing dead and unnecessary wood so that the best harvest will come a few calendar pages from now. The best time for pruning is now - before the leaves cloud the view. The blossoms are coming, too. Every day I am intently searching for glimpses of the tiny hope-bearers that are about to explode all around me. And they're starting to show up. More evidence of hope.

I will cling to hope, too. Whether it's because the skies inside feel grey or because the pruning shears in the hands of God sting when they expose and thin the dead attitudes and damaging lies that will keep me from bearing fruit in the future, I will hold on to hope. As sure as the oak trees and I are that spring will come, I am sure that someday again bareness will turn to bearing. Fruit and glory bearing will come in due time.

And in the meantime, I have HOPE. And much more. And that's enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Mercies

As I explained last year (oh, about 5 blog posts ago?) while it's become more popular to choose a word for the year to focus on or whatever, for 20 years now (woohoo!) I've been choosing a word I want to learn about for that year. By mid December I knew that the word I wanted for this year was MERCY. Then I thought also about NEW and realized that the two go perfectly together... NEW MERCIES.  

I'm making "desktop art" to keep the verses in front of me as often as possible.  My daughter and I are memorizing verses with Beth Moore's blog community and these are the ones I'm starting with.

So far I've learned that mercy is much more than I've always thought.
It's lovely. 
It's LOVE.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Big "IF"

It's interesting how I can read things into scripture that aren't really there. Actually, "interesting" is the wrong word. It's actually scary how I can read things into scripture that aren't there. I wonder how often I do it and pray that God would point it out and correct me when I am reading what I THINK the Bible says instead of what the Word really says. 

This is the verse I've had on my kitchen sink windowsill this week (as evidenced by the water spots!) but it wasn't until this morning that I realized I was reading it wrong. 
2 Corinthians 13:11 (NET) "Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice, set things right, be encouraged, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you."
It's all good stuff. I think I'm going to have my kids memorize it this next week. :) Now that Summer vacation is over and we've started homeschooling again, we all need to be reminded to agree with one another and live in peace. We need to remember to REJOICE! (Which by the way, I learned last year doesn't have to mean being noisy and exhuberant. Because let's be honest. I'm not always feeling that way. To "rejoice" can also simply mean to "be glad".  And that makes me glad!) And we need to live encouraged especially when we're in new places doing new things.

But the last part is where I was getting off track. See what it says there? "and the God of love and peace will be with you." I kept thinking that somehow that last part was conditional on the first part, event though it didn't really made sense. (And how could it?) I was thinking that IF we rejoiced enough, and IF we set things right and were encouraged, and IF we agreed with one another and lived in peace that THEN the God of love and peace promised to be with us. "But doesn't it already say He is with us always?" I wondered. So I set out to figure out what it really meant for Him to be with us. Maybe it meant He would be with us in a different, special way. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized that it didn't actually say "IF" in there at all. It's a simple declarative statement. "AND THE GOD OF LOVE AND PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU." It's not true only IF I get it all right. It's true even and especially when I don't. It's actually WHY I can set things right (because the God of love and peace is with me!), why I can be encouraged (the God of love and peace is with me!), why I can agree with my husband and 13 year old daughter and my boys (the God of love and peace is with me!) and why I can LIVE IN PEACE. (You know what I'm going to say... The God of love and peace is with me!)

There ARE plenty of "If, then" statements in the Word of God. I just want to be more careful not to be mistaken about which promises are conditional and which promises aren't. And I trust God will help me... Because the God of love and peace is with me.  And He is with you, too.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just some verses I found...

Scratched on a piece of paper, folded and refolded... probably in a pocket for a day or two earlier this year. In the process of moving out of our house I found this and thought I'd share with you these verses that are possibly songs but are certainly prayers, written a while ago but echoed in my heart today.

More of You

More of You, Jesus, and less of me.
More of your strength, and less of my striving stress.
More of your patience, and less of my snapping restlessness.
More of your endurance, outrunning my weakness and worry.
More of your faith, putting to flight my fears.
More of your love, sweet love, all over me.
More of You, Jesus, filling all of me.
More of You, Jesus.
More of You.

(John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.)


Jesus, You're my shelter
You're my refuge in the storms of life
Jesus, You're my Peace
I am safe when I'm by your side

Don't let me wander, don't let me stray
Without You I can't find my way
Keep me close, holding fast to You
By faith I know You'll bring us through

It's not for me to figure out
It's not for me to understand
My job is to follow You
As You lead me hand in hand

Jesus, You're my Light
In the dark to You I'll lift my eyes
Jesus, You're my Savior
Because I have You all I need is supplied

You are more
So much more than enough
I love You

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Peace Pics

I wrote this post when we were still in Peru and just noticed I never published it! So here it is. :)

I've been having fun this year with an iPad app my daughter found a while ago. (It's called Rhonna Designs, in case you're wondering.) Learning how to use it has been a relaxing distraction and sometimes a way to meditate and memorize scripture for me. If I have something to remember or memorize I'm making it pretty and turning it into my homepage or background. It's fun and helps me remember what I want to remember! And I'm sharing some of them on instagram too, because who can't use a reminder to live in PEACE?

Blessings! (Of grace and peace...)