flying pigs

I spent a little time in the book of Mark this morning. In chapter 5 there is a story about how Jesus went in to a town and was met by a man possessed by legions of demons. He lived in a cemetery and would wail and cut himself. When he saw Jesus, he fell to the ground, recognizing the Lord’s power. After being delivered from the demons, he implored the Lord to go on with Him.

Contrast this with the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10) ,who when asked to give up all his belongings and follow Christ, went away sad because he didn’t want to part with his things.

When I was younger and heard the story of the rich man, I thought I had to be willing to live in poverty in order to truly follow Jesus. Aside from the fact that it would be more difficult to be a blessing to others if we lived in such a state, we are missing the fact that God is multifaceted, and designed us each for a specific plan and purpose. To interpret that scripture in such a way would be to miss some real key elements of our Creator.

When the man freed from demonic control so passionately wanted to follow Jesus, he was told to go home and share what had happened. His purpose was not to be a disciple on the road, but a disciple in his own home. In his neighborhood. To his family and friends.

What matters is if we are WILLING to give it all up if He asks. And, if we are willing to keep and share, if He asks. We have have a specific role in the kingdom and His plan – not only for our sake, but for the sake of those we share this planet with. You might be called to minister to the sick in India, or the starving in Africa. Or in downtown Seattle. I might be designed to disciple my children. Or a struggling neighbor. Never dismiss your calling or question that you have one. Just be willing to go.

 

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sexy chasms

I always marvel at how we can treat our loved ones so differently from how we would let others treat them. You know, “I can tease my sister but you can’t…: We’ve all done it, and most of us would call it relatively benign.

But what about when that attitude translates to our marriage?

How would you feel if someone hurt your husband’s career? Or tried to steal your wife’s wedding ring? Or even began to attack your child, or try to rob them of their innocence? Most of us would say we would do all we could to protect them, and yet we allow others to attack our loved ones like this more often than we would like to admit.

What about when that sexy coworker tells you a risque joke?

Or sends a flirty response to your email?

I mean, who can it hurt to engage in a little office gossip or “business” lunch just the two of you?

Is a conversation about your personal life really doing any form of damage? No more so than taking a quick peek at The Chive’s singles section and thinking about the buxom blond or muscled male actor while making love to your spouse…

It doesn’t take much, or long, for others to move in and create a chasm. As “innocent” or small as something might seem, anyone who makes a move, intentionally or not, into the space that should only be occupied by your family, that person is absolutely a threat. What strokes our ego will soon turn into a poison that robs us blind. Leaving behind those we love and promised to protect. Even just two minutes ago.

The bible tells us to protect our heart above all things. What can you change today to make sure your family is safe?

 

 

 

purpose in the pain

There are days when the strength I have is seemingly insufficient to effectively manage the struggles before me. When even my faith does not appear to be strong enough to carry me through. Often, prayers requests and concerns for others can become such a burden on my heart, that all I can feel is pain.

Others, I might feel out of balance; uncertain of what the root issue might be, or what needs to change, but feeling deeply that something is simply not right.

It’s easy to be independent and joyful when things are going well. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy those seasons of life. But we are not designed to live this life alone; we are called into relationship with one another, and with our Creator. Part of being in authentic relationship is choosing to carry one another’s burden’s.

I remember a conversation I had once with my college pastor’s wife. She shared how she would often become emotional, or experience a pain, and she would begin to pray – not for herself, but for whoever was experiencing true difficulty. Closer still, I have a sister who would often discern correctly when I was feeling blue or sick. Like a “disturbance in the force,” we as Christ-followers are often allowed the insight into the life experience of others. On some level, we truly are all connected.

Sometimes, our temporary pain is for a greater good.

It is not necessarily a bad thing when we find ourselves in need of a power more effective than our own. Prayer moves mountains, moves situations, and moves us towards a deeper awareness of the needs of others. Sometimes, we find our very purpose in the pain…

The other day my teenage daughter made an interesting comment. We were walking with her 8-year-old sister from school to our car and she said, “I remember when I was in 3rd grade, and we wanted to walk home from school alone, but you wouldn’t let us. Looking at Kenda now, I would never let her walk by herself, not even if we lived in that blue house right there (pointing to the house sitting directly on the other side of the school parking lot). She’s just so little.” Initially I reveled in the “see, I was right” moment, until I realized how much I myself needed that revelation. You see, I spend a great deal of time rehearsing how I “know” things need to be. This relationship needs to heal…that person needs Jesus…my marriage/life/friendships, would be better if… Yeah, I got it all locked up, right?? The truth is that sometimes God isn’t ready to give us those things. Maybe we are battling free will and that person doesn’t want restoration. Perhaps we ourselves are not emotionally ready to handle that blessing. In the end, God knows what we can/cannot handle, and what we really and truly need in order for that fulness we seek to be fulfilled. The next time you get a little frustrated with God’s timing, or “lack of blessing,” look to your kids for wisdom. (Or recall your own childhood disappointments). Remember that just as we remind our littles that we’ve got a good 20-something years on them, God’s got a few on us as well. One day it will all make sense. Until then, just hold His hand and trust. 😉

matter

This past week I had the absolute privilege of spending 7 full days in the Bahamas with my husband. To say I was excited to get away is an understatement, and the chance to go somewhere warm (and mostly on his company’s bill!) was more than I could ask for! We had a great time – both alone and with coworkers, and their wives we rarely get to spend time with.

I made sure to create some time for prayer and meditation during his business meetings. The opportunity to leave common surroundings and daily routines behind opens up many a window into reflection, revelation, and true rest. One of the most significant things I learned about myself was how important my friends and family are to my identity.

One afternoon I was accutely aware of the unspoken tension that occurs every time we spend time with this one particular couple. For years now, every time we are in community, the wife makes it pretty clear that she would prefer to not spend very much time in my presence. I am not exactly sure what the clash is, and while I can certainly understand that some personalities do not mesh well, it is difficult to ignore in such a setting. Knowing so few people, and spending endless hours with someone who doesn’t care for you, is actually quite taxing.

Sometimes I take for granted the quality of the people in my life; so many of them share similar beliefs and values, and conversation flows easily. Our goals to lift up, edify and encourage, one another in the absence of competition and cattiness is sadly, not an atmosphere that everyone has the benefit of experiencing. Upon reflection, I remember how I used to view other women as competition and often found, and voiced out loud, the flaws I perceived in others.

It was a tremendously lonely place.

Which brings me back to my revelation – here I was in paradise, with the love of my life and ample opportunity for sheer joy, and I found myself feeling lonely and not myself. What I realized more intimately is the truth that women are relational beings. Who we surround ourselves with, plays a significant role not only in our identity, but in the very lense through which we see and process our reality.

Friends matter.

I am grateful. So blessed. Upon return from Nassau, we got right back into the groove at church and I cried all during worship. It feels so good when you know that you are where you’re meant to be. Time away is always good, but I live in the revelation that this is where God is working out in me who He has called me to be. It might be a little cooler and a little less sunny here, but there is no place I would rather spend my days….