This Little Piggy Went a Preachin’

A little story about a pig has wrecked me in a big way.

Never have I felt more understood than by this pig. Her story will preach.

I have shared openly here the tension I experience in being a woman called to ministry. I’ve never felt quite at home with my calling. It has simultaneously felt like it would destroy me to do it and destroy me if I don’t. It is a calling that is equal parts courage and cowardice. From this too, Jesus is in the process of saving me.

This weekend I will saunter my courage and cowardice up front and out in front of everyone to teach the church.  It will be my first time (well, from the “pulpit” that is). Everyone asks, “Are you excited?” “Are you nervous?” No. Neither. More like filled with the faith of a scaredy-cat chicken pig. On one hand, I’ve been told for so many years that I couldn’t or shouldn’t, that now that I am, I hope I don’t prove any of them right. On the other hand, the Word is beautiful and my confidence in His faithful ministry to the people is steadfast.

I’m feeling a whole lot of vulnerability. Showing up and being seen is always vulnerable. I will be less than perfect, but enough because of Jesus. Some people won’t like it, but I will still be fully loved and welcomed by Jesus. Inside I will probably feel like dying, but I’ll do it anyways because I am truly believing that these kinds of “deaths” are the only way to true living.  I’m believing that He who calls, equips. I’m believing that there are other women (and young girls) who need to see courage give a good left hook to fear and all the “girls shouldn’t…” rubbish. I’m believing that rejection (ironically the topic of my sermon) is a lesser truth than the grace and glory Jesus seeks to reveal through heartfelt obedience. I am fully convinced that wherever silence has felt like bondage, the voice of truth longs to bring liberty.

In the end, all that matters is not at all what I feel or believe; all that really matters is that Jesus will matter more to those who listen. To that end, this little piggy will preach.

An Unclenched Moment {A Prayer for Fear & Worry}

Gentle me, Holy One,

into an unclenched moment,

a deep breath,

a letting go

of heavy expectancies, of shriveling anxieties,

of dead certainties,

that softened by the silence,

surrounded by the light, and open to the mystery,

I may be found by wholeness,

upheld by the unfathomable, entranced by the simple,

and filled with the joy that is You.

~Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Why must uncertainty feel like fear? Why does it stalk us with unanswered questions and smirk upon our unknowing? Why do our hearts sink so quickly into sands of worry?

Yes, gentle us, Lord. Unclench our moment. Increase our trust.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. ~The Holy One (Joshua 1:9)

What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

It’s been quite a week/month/year.  Yes, the last year has been filled with many unexpected and challenging twists and turns.  Crisis seems to come in clusters…at least in my life that has been true.  They say crisis brings out the true you and maybe that’s what’s so scary about it.  In a crisis you realize how weak, incapable, and inferior you are to control your own life.

While I pride myself {dangerous phrase, I know} in always having a Plan B ready at hand, this last year has left me perplexed.  Many a moment has been filled with a shrug of the shoulder and the now all too familiar what-do-we-do-now look.   I believe I’ve uttered “I don’t know” more times in the last two weeks than I probably have in my whole life. 

I don’t like not having a plan.  I’ve never had a surprise party because my hubs knows I would equate this with novicaine-free dental work.  When we started dating twenty-one years ago my common phrase was “What’s the plan for the week?”  Not much has changed in the last two decades when it comes to my delight in having an orderly, predictable and productive life.

So here I am with everything out-of-order…no idea of the outcome on many things…and feeling as if my productivity would receive the same grade as the Seahawk’s first round draft pick.  {Really, that’s the best we can do, Seahawks?  Carpenter, who?}  (Their grade was an F if you’re wondering.)

What do we do when life gets spilled out like a purse violently thrown from its backseat resting spot?  I sat down last week to write out my plan for moving forward.  I titled it, “What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.”

…and I sat for a very long time writing absolutely nothing.  “Lord, I need your help.  I can’t figure this out.  It’s too hard.”  In the quiet recesses of my heart I heard the familiar voice, “Not if you do what I have already taught you.”

Then I remembered, and here is what I wrote:

“What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do”

1. Remember your calling–you follow Christ; you don’t have to lead…just follow (I Peter 2:21)

2. Entrust yourself to God’s care (Ephesians 2:4-5, I Peter 2:24; 5:6-7)

3. Love God more than anything (Deuteronomy 6:5; Romans 12:1-2)

4. Love others (John 13:35)

5. Serve others (Galatians 5:13)

6. Consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3)

7. Be gentle, forgiving others (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12)

8. Give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18)

9. Pray without ceasing (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6-7; I Thessalonians 5:17)

10. Rejoice (II Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 4:4)

Yes, I do know these things.  I have been taught these lessons over and over.  Now it’s test time. 

But, I have a plan.  Things are so much better with a plan. 

“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” Deuteronomy 7:9. 

Unless: Remembering There are Worse Things than Failure

He gave up 11 runs in the first inning.  When the coaches moved him to the outfield, he dropped a ball and somehow managed to kick the ball behind him.  It might have been the worst outing of baseball I’ve witnessed in a long time.

For a parent, sitting in the stands and watching your child fail…publicly…is excruciating.  You want to rescue.  Find a good excuse.  Twinkle your nose and make yourself…and your child…disappear.

Unless…

You woke up that morning with uncertainty about the state of that same child’s health.  On Monday, my energetic sixteen year old sent me a text from school that read, “My heart is really hurting.”  I wanted to write back, “Mine just stopped.”  Three hours later we had good reports from the doctor about his tests, but a visit with the Cardiologist was needed.  Having a family history including a heart disorder and a cousin who died at a young age, the two-day wait for the next appointment seemed like eternity.  Aren’t these the kinds of things that are supposed to happen to other people?  Can’t we just go back to yelling at him about missed homework and a messy bedroom?

Sitting in the baseball stands today after more good news from the Cardiologist (although we’ll still need to wait for the genetic testing to be completely sure), I realized failure is a beautiful gift.  If you’re out on the field playing the game it’s because you’re still living.  You have life in you.  “Thank you, Lord, that my son has the ability to not throw hardly a single strike–but he can throw.”  “Thank you, Lord, that he has the ability to try to yet miss catching that ball.”  “And yes, Lord, thank you for giving him the ability and the encouragement to smack that last at bat into the outfield for a good solid hit.”  “Thank you, Lord, for his life.”

Sometimes you need a week like this to put everything in perspective.  Failure is not the worst thing that can happen.  Being unable to try; unable to risk failure…that is far worse.

Go live.  Fail.  Give thanks that you can.

Drawing the Line

Lines.

As children we were taught how to color inside them.

As teenagers we practiced how to cross them.

As adults we recongize the importance of having lines; boundaries.

Those lines that say,

“Stop!”

“No more.”

Lines that declare,

Autonomy.

Importance.

Value.

Safety.

Sometimes we draw lines for others

     …to keep them safe.

Other times we draw lines for ourselves

     …to keep us safe.

There are different kinds of lines: Battle lines, laugh lines, and finish lines.

Everyone has and needs lines, but recognizing where we need them, and how to draw them is not always easy. 

I’ve drawn lines before.  One line I drew with platinum & diamonds when I called my man my husband.  I’ve drawn lines with loyalty to defend friends in need of faithfulness.  I’ve drawn lines with convinction to stand for what I know is right.  Many lines I have drawn with humility on bended knees.  I don’t regret any of the lines I’ve drawn.  When viewed in panoramic, they outline the clearest picture of who I am.

Today I need to draw a line; create a symbol for the emotional threshold that needs its space…its safety…its peace. 

The only question I still haven’t answered is if it will be in the sand or in the cement.

How about you?  What have you learned about drawing lines?  Any that you regret?