Monday, May 30, 2011

Honestly... I'm Broken

Memorial Day weekends are notoriously low attendance Sundays at Cornerstone.  They are also one of my favorite weekends.  This year proved to be no exception.  We tend to be much more layed-back on these holiday weekends - "unplugged".  

Brian never got to his teaching for this week.  He began by reading a letter to us from a former attender that moved to another state several years ago.  She was thanking us for the impact that our Body had on her life during her time here and the effects it has continued to have in her new life.   It was a blessing to be reminded of the profound ways we can impact another person and not even know what we've done.  Or what God has done, when we're willing to take the time to invest in others...

The "planned" teaching never came after that - what followed was an open, honest discussion within our Body.  The discussion itself was confessional, encouraging, exciting,-- and it really got me to thinking about how we interact with one another as a Body. 

 It seems to be almost universally true (at least in the American church), that when life becomes hard (and it will), our first instinct is to turn inward; we pull away from those around us; we begin to think that no one else understands - no one else has gone through this - no one else really cares, God can't love me now, they can't love me now, etc.

Why do we do that?  Scripture tell us - "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience." (1 Cor. 10:13)  Yet, almost the first thing we do is decide that no one else gets it...  We're such prideful people.

Am I really the first person to go through this?  Is this really the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone?

The next part of that verse - "And God is faithful." - He knows this is going to happen.  And He gave us each other to help fight it!

To be fair, we sometimes make it hard for others to open up to us because we put up such self-righteous "I've got it all together, thank you" faces and cause people to feel like maybe they are the only ones fighting this particular battle.  We need to stop that too.

If I'm honest about my brokenness, two things will happen:  I'll get the help I need - that God has provided in the Body of Christ - to get past that thing.  AND  I'll make it easier for the next guy to be honest about their brokenness, because they've seen it work in someone else.

Being honest is really hard, really scary... because honestly, sometimes it bites you in the butt and you end up getting hurt.  But other times - most of the time - it's beautiful, and so worth it.

So here's another of the courageous things I want to do... I want to be more honest about my brokenness... how about you?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today's Brave Act

Moving to the lighter side for a day.  My courageous, brave action for today?

This creature was in my closet this afternoon.  I went in to begin my spring cleaning (a little late, I know) in preparation for a garage sale, and this hideous beast was waiting for me when I picked up my running shoes.  You can't tell it from the picture, but it's as big as a small child...  

Okay... I'll be honest...  I measured him, and he's a little over two inches long when he spreads out his hideous, hairy legs...  but it felt much larger than that at the time.

We have many, many wolf spiders around here, so my first thought was that it was the biggest wolf spider I'd ever seen, kill it, move on...  As I looked at it again, I realized that it was not a wolf spider, but was, in fact, a tarantula!  This puts an entirely new spin on things.

Faced with two choices: kill it, or let it live... I chose to be brave and let it live.  I called my son in (never taking my eyes off of the beast) to get a pickle jar, and we proceeded to catch him and feed him a bug.  Dylan wants to keep him a few days to watch the carnage, and then we'll take him far, far, away from my home and let him go.

I felt very brave - at first.  

I am finding that there is going to be an ongoing need for courage as I consider the following:  just how did this hideous beast get to my closet? (The closet is almost the farthest point in the house from any outside entrances.); did it have babies somewhere in my house?; is it a baby with many other siblings waiting for me to pick up what they're hiding under?  The list is really endless...

Please pray for me... I have lots of cleaning that I really need to get on with. :)

What's the scariest thing you've ever found in your house?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Love is the final fight.

Psalm 106  -- “They soon forgot what he had done, and did not wait for his counsel…they gave in to their craving… they exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass.  They forgot the God who saved them,…they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise.  They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord… They yoked themselves to the Baal and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; they provoked the Lord to anger… But Phinehas stood up and intervened…

Romans chapter one correlates to this so well.  We just keep making the same mistakes over and over – walking away, exchanging the truth for a lie.  It destroys us; it destroys our world.  You can see it everywhere.  But Phinehas stood up and intervened…

This guy is a Phinehas.  

Let me start by saying that I’m ashamed that, until last week,  I’d never even heard of him – or the impact he has had on changing our culture. He is a civil rights activist.  He loves Jesus – he loves the Church – he loves people.  And he has lived it his entire adult life.  The son of a sharecropper, at 17, he fled Mississippi after his brother was murdered by local law enforcement – vowing never to return.  But then God invaded his life, and he knew he had to go back.  He has lived his life on the front lines of this spiritual battle.  He is 81 years old and still lives the fact that God said we are here as His ambassadors – ministers of reconciliation.  Man to God; man to man.

One of the things he said that has stuck with me is that we tend to define success by overcoming the poverty or pain of our past and leaving it behind, never to return.  Success is truly found, when having been rescued and healed, we go back into it – back to bring the answer, to bring the source of healing and wholeness.  "Success is stepping into the deep pain of others and helping them find healing."

I want to be a Phinehas.  Numbers said he stepped in and intervened out of honor for his God and God saw it and turned from His anger.  The evil looks so overwhelming and so dark, so powerful.  I see time and again in scripture, God using one man, one woman, to change the course of generations.  We can do that, if we’ll just honor the name of our God – His righteousness.  

Our battle is no longer against people - flesh and blood.  It is against evil, against a spiritual enemy, but it is just as real.  And the battle must be fought... John Perkins says it will be fought with love, if we're to win.  Jesus said something like that too... They will know us by our love.  If we’ll stand in the face of unspeakable evil, God will win the battle for us.  

I guess as I continue in the search to see what brave thing God is calling me to, I want to keep looking at people who choose to live bravely - people who believe when it appears all the odds are against them - people who remember that when God is for us, it doesn't matter who is against us.  Oh, God, help my unbelief. 

Who inspires you to be brave?

“Love is the final fight.” ~ John Perkins

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That's My Story - Am I Sticking To It?

“What story do I want to tell?  What story do I want my children to see?”

When Brian went to Catalyst last year, he brought me back a necklace.  Leather “chain” with a key and a charm on it.  It was a reminder to support and pray for the A21 Campaign.  They are a group that works to abolish human trafficking, their primary work being in Europe.  I looked them up, cried, prayed for them and the girls they’ve saved - a few times… And. Did. Nothing.

I moved on with my life.  I took care of my husband and my kids.  I educated my child still at home.  I worked.  I served at church.  I cleaned my house.  I worked out.  I watched TV.  I read books and laughed and cried.  And rarely thought of those girls – trapped in the worst horror I can imagine.

I went to Catalyst with my husband this year.  Two of the speakers were Gary Haugen, with International Justice Mission and Christine Caine, with A21 Campaign.  (If you don’t know what these people are doing, I beg you, look them up.)  and

As I sat there, listening to them tell their stories, watching the pictures that played behind them of children, real children, that have been pulled from slavery through their organizations’ efforts, some as young as 8 and 9 years old, my heart was broken.  Christine ended with the statement that in the 30 or so minutes she had been speaking, eight girls had been taken by sex traffickers.  All I could think as I listened to them was that I had spent the last months knowing, knowing and - Doing. Nothing. 

I came home and began to read.  I’ve read about the problem here – in our state, in our country, in our world.  My heart is still broken.  But now I must Do. Something. 

Here's the truth.  God has called us the Body of Christ.  And I HATE trite little sayings, but, really, what would Jesus be doing?  Faced with such unspeakable horror, would He go on with a safe, simple, middle-class life?  Would He turn away?  He has called us to be His hands and feet, to be known by our love, to be a light in the darkness.  I don't want to live safely anymore.

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea what that is supposed to look like yet.  I know God has called me to the life I live now – to care for my family, to educate our kids at home, to help my kids go to college, to serve in the Body of Christ where I am and I know that is important and changes lives…  But I also KNOW I have to be in this battle.  So… I’m praying, really praying this time, that God will show me what a primarily-stay-at-home mom in the center of middle-American can and should be doing.  And I’m praying that I won’t forget – that my heart won’t stop being broken…

“What should I fear?  I should fear waking up and not knowing that I am in the center of God’s will.” 


I am writing this blog at the encouragement of my husband.  For whatever reason - God's quirky sense of humor, maybe - I have been blessed with many, many strong opinions, but whenever I attempt to share them, I tend to start crying and can  no longer speak.  (Just dawned on me that perhaps it may be God's way of shutting me up...Hmmm.)  Anyway, my sweet husband has been encouraging me to write - to say what I'm thinking about this.  SO - here's my disclaimer... If this whole thing goes south on him, and I become like, maybe the JamietheVeryWorstMissionary version of a pastor's wife - remember - he started it.