Write again

I haven’t blogged in a long time. For me, writing is very close to my heart. In brings me in touch with who I am and it helps me make sense of the world around me. When sense can’t be made, it allows me to at least express my emotions in the midst of chaos. I don’t know why I have not blogged. I have thought of it every day. Everyday. My confidence in writing has been kidnapped. My ability express my thoughts temporarily hijacked. I have felt like I have had nothing to say…nothing worth any “value.” This morning, I believe I may have turned a corner. Why am I afraid? My words, my writings are me. They are my thoughts and emotions and ideas. And yes that leaves me feeling vulnerable and exposed…but that’s ok. My words have value because they are mine. They may not come out in the most eloquent manner – but according to who?

Over the last many months, I have found such a treasure in reading Ann Voskamp’s words. She inspires and challenges and pretty much blows me away with every sentence she pens. And while I am so thankful for the time I spend reading her thoughts, and for the peace and joy her words bring, I have allowed her words to make me feel like I just can’t write. I have said it jokingly often that after I read Ann’s beautiful musings, that I will never write again. She can make doing dishes sound poetic! But those little quips of mine actually became my reality. I have let comparison kill my desire to do what I love. I will never be a great writer. I will always be…just me. But that’s got to be okay. I love writing. It makes my heart happy. It brings peace to my soul. I can’t allow myself to be shut down because someone else does it so much better. I have to learn to turn those feelings of inadequacy into feelings of inspiration. My thoughts are important – if to no one else – to me. My desire is for my writing, in a way, to be a form of worship to God. I can’t let any feeling of “less than” hold back that desire.

So here I am…typing furiously, tears flowing, convincing myself with my own words that its time for me to write again.

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Seeking God

I started a new devotional this morning. It seems that lately I keep seeking to find inspiration through people who I admire…people who I know are way further along in their walk with Christ and can maybe help light my path. Sometimes I beat myself up for this. This need to be inspired by someone else’s writings and thoughts. Why can’t I seek and find inspiration on my own? I go back and forth on what this says about my walk and my “study life” as far as God goes. I don’t think that being inspired by others is necessarily a negative. There are some amazing people out there who God has given beautiful gifts to and I am thankful they share those gifts. Then I sometimes think that if I can’t just merely sit down and open up the gift that God gave me – my Bible – then something is lacking in me. I am missing something if His inspired word is “not enough.” Yes – this is what I do – argue with myself, beat myself up, etc. After much reflection this morning, I actually think that a balance between studying the word of God and reading other’s words and thoughts is healthy and good for my soul. I don’t have to be a Bible scholar, but I can spend time reading my Bible and it WILL speak to me. God WILL reveal himself to me through those pages. I can also receive blessings, encouragement and inspiration through other people and will hear God through their words. I thank God for his guidance and instruction he inspired through the Bible. Time spent in those pages are time spent with my Creator. I also thank him for gifting people with such creative and insightful spirits whose words touch me and  make my spirit soar. Writers like Ann Voskamp are so talented and produce such beautiful thoughts to share that there is no doubt in my mind she is speaking out her gift from God. I spent this morning reading Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Recorded for me there is a picture of true adoration of God and the words of David inspire me to live a life that praises more, worships more, thanks more, and adores more. And then, in the same time of study this morning, I read from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts Devotional” about her understanding of thankfulness and what God has revealed to her about being truly thankful, and I know that her words are a gift from God as well. So as I continue to reflect on my walk and my relationship with God, I am realizing that I am doing ok. I know that the desire of my heart is to seek God in all that I do. And it is ok if I seek him in many ways, places, and words. His Holy Word will always be my ultimate authority. But I also realize that he can and will reveal himself to me through others. For all of it, I am truly thankful.

Biggest Fan

I am a soccer mom. A football mom. A basketball mom. A baseball mom. I am my kids’ biggest fan. I love watching them do what they love to do. I am so proud when I see them pour so much passion into their sport. I love watching them succeed. But guess what…when they struggle in a game, or when they don’t score, or when they mess up out there,  I don’t love them any less. I still love them will all that I am. No question. No doubt. The more goals they score, or catches they make – that doesn’t make me love them more either. This may sound pretty simple – and really it is. It’s called love. Unconditional love. But as simple as it may seem on the surface, and as logical as it is to my brain, I sometimes forget that my heavenly father has the same kind of love for me (only on a much deeper level that is more than my brain can comprehend). So if I know how I love my children regardless of how they “perform,” and I know that God loves me as a child of His, why is it so hard for me to accept and embrace the fact that God loves me regardless of how I “perform”? I don’t have to try and please God just to make him love me more. He loves me infinitely regardless of my actions. He already proved that love when He sent His son to die for me. I WANT to please God and live a holy, sanctified life – but let’s keep it real…I’m very human and I will fall, try again, and fall some more. And even in my failures, God doesn’t stop loving me. God doesn’t love me less. And when I try to please and “do” and try some more, God doesn’t love me anymore. He can’t love me anymore than he already does. My kids don’t have to earn my love by “doing” things. It’s free to them. It doesn’t change based on their actions. I don’t have to earn God’s love by doing…I just have to accept it. I can stop being so hard on myself and accept that I am a beloved daughter of God and that He loves me for exactly who I am. He is my biggest fan.

carty zach

Sweet summertime

photoThe house is quiet, the coffee is hot and filling the air with a “comfortable” aroma. The date at the top the page reads July 24th. Summer is speeding by…moments like these will be packed away soon for another season. Bible study has become my favorite part of each day – but especially int he summer, when I’m not really on a schedule. On a summer day I can dig into the word and get lost in my study time – not having to worry about getting ready for work, for being on time, the day that lies ahead. I can let the word lead me from one subject to the next, as prompted by the Spirit. To me it has become beautiful time of discovery. About my God, and about myself. I am so grateful for these quiet moments in the morning spent with my creator.

We need to do something

believe
Hi there! Me again. It’s been 3 months since my last blog. I am ashamed of that but I’m back and starting again. I think I have had lots of thoughts and ideas for posts in the last three months, but I haven’t allowed myself to sit long enough and make them happen. But then today, something that I said to Brian after lunch kind of collided with a few things that Pastor David spoke about in his sermon this morning and I knew I needed to explore them here.

Brian’s dad, Dennie Suman, is battling cancer. He has been for a few years, but about a year ago it was “under control” and he was on monthly “maintenance” treatments. Recently it has begun growing again, and now the doctors are finding new tumors. He is rapidly losing weight and honestly, things do not look good. It’s sad to watch. Brian was moved to go spend some time with his daddy and really ask him where he stood with the Lord. He was able to pray with Dennie, and invited him to church today. I’ll admit I was a little surprised when I turned the corner this morning and found he and Pat (his longtime “girlfriend”) in the lobby. I had feared that he would just be too tired to get up and out the door for church – but he made it! I did my best not to let the shock of his sunken face and dramatic weight loss show on my face. I was thrilled they were there to worship with us.

Pastor David continued his series entitled “Who We Are” and spoke of how the world views us as Christians. Are we a people who would walk to the other side of the road and right past someone in need? Or do we stop and help people out of their ditches and love on them and let them see Jesus in us. (Okay…there was much more to his sermon – this is what really  resonated with me). Are we, as Christians, telling people what they need or are we showing people Jesus in our actions and in our lives?

So – here is where these two parts of my world came together today. After having lunch and a tearful, tough goodbye to Dennie and Pat, Brian and I quietly came home – both kind of fighting tears (he may not admit that). I told him that I just feel helpless and that we need to do something for his dad and Pat. Maybe I could cook some dinners, maybe we could go do yard work or clean their house. Whatever!?!? I just felt like we needed to DO something. But why? Of course any or all of those things would be nice things to do – and I’m sure they would be appreciated and helpful to them. But those things were really about me. Why did I feel the need to just do and do and do? I guess because I don’t know what else there is…If I could run out and find a cure for this horrible disease, I would certainly do that. But I don’t know what else to do! And then I was reminded of this morning’s sermon…maybe I don’t need to necessarily DO….maybe I need to show. Perhaps what Dennie and Pat need the most right now is to be shown the love of Jesus. Maybe they need to see Him in the midst of our prayers and tears. Should we be showing them our belief that if it’s God’s will that he will heal Dennie. Can we show them God’s love for them through us in a prayer-filled visit?

As these words flow through me to this screen, I’m thinking – well isn’t helping them with daily chores a way of showing them Jesus? Can’t we be the hands and feet of Jesus through small acts of service? Yes – those are ways of showing love – but what if what they need is more than simple chores done around their house! To me that is showing – and doing out of love. But I think that sometimes there is more. Can we show them our faith through this storm by not wavering and by leaning in to God through these scary times? We can show them our worship and praise to a God whom we KNOW is bigger than any of this on earth. I believe that if we really need to DO something for them at this point, it should be by SHOWing them that we believe in our heavenly father and will follow him and trust in him to make all things good, so that he may be glorified.

Sewing leaves

figOk….this is the fourth attempt at starting this post. I know what I am trying to say but the words are just not coming out in any logical fashion. They are coming out like cheesy cliches – and that is NOT how I want to sound or what I ever want to share in this forum. I am weighed down this morning by a sadness that I can’t seem to express. Why do I read…hear…and almost believe the idea that its ok to be who I am – but can’t seem to actually own that reality and live it every day? Why am I unable to drown out the voices that incessantly chirp in my ear about my shortcomings? Why is the “bad” always easier to believe than the good? Who am I to think that I am ___________ (fill in the blank with anything…worthy, beautiful, okay, able, – you get the idea). I know that I am told that I have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:14. I read that…I believe it because it is from God…but there are many days where I DO NOT live it. I know deep in my soul that God loves me. I feel his love carry me through dark times and joyfulness. When I am alone in my fears, I cling to His love to sustain me. I do. But I still have doubts at times about ME. I’m not sure how that makes any sense. Perhaps when I fall to the dangerous act of comparing myself to others – it is then that I feel “less than” worthy. Comparison kills confidence for sure. When I am asked to step out and be bold I shrink and hide behind my insecurities. I become like Adam and Eve in the garden – sewing fig leaves to hide their reality. Ashamed of who they were and what they had done, they attempted to hide themselves from God. What do I need to hide? What am I afraid of revealing to the world? (As I type these ramblings of questions – I truly am not sure I can even answer them. As I reread and edit – I am not sure this even makes any sense). I guess my take away from this time spent pondering is that I don’t have to hide from the God who created me. He knows what I am attempting to conceal from the world – my endless insecurities and fear of failure. He knows and yet he loves me anyway. It doesn’t matter what the world sees or thinks, or if they judge and hate. I am broken. But with God I am whole. I am afraid. But with God I have not a spirit of fear. I am insecure. But with God I can do all things. I am weak. But in my weakness I am strong through Christ. I need to stop sewing leaves to hide myself from the judgement of others and stand strong in who I am in God.

Belonging

homeYesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.