Delicate white flowers brighten my table and remind me of a sweet night celebrating new babies with friends.
(And cause Georgetta told me to!)
Last weekend our church opened the doors on a new building. While husband and I have only been around for a few months, the church has been mobile for over six years. The church started in a home and later moved to the gym of an elementary school. Everything about the sanctuary was put up and taken down each week. Now we have a home.
There was a prayer and worship service on Saturday night before our first official Sunday morning. It was a time of thankfulness of all that God has done in this body of believers in just a few short years.
I cried buckets of tears on Saturday night. The first tear fell during the first song, and the last tear was wiped away as I walked out of the building. I’m not totally sure what all the tears were about, but I do know I heard a whisper in my spirit.
I got this.
What’s my role, what do You want me to do? – I’ll lead and guide you, I got this.
What about __? I’m worried about her. – Don’t worry, I got this.
Over and over again, I offered my worries, my fears, my jumbled thoughts to God.
Over and over and over again, He whispered back. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. I got this.
The next morning was our first service. The parking lot was full fifteen minutes before service started. Seats started to fill, then chairs were added and finally it was standing room only. A celebratory mood filled the room, any tears shed were tears of joy.
Dr. Walker spoke on John 6, the passage where Christ feeds the five thousand. Dr. Walker talked about the three responses to Christ wanting to feed the people
It can’t be done.
We have some, but not enough.
A boy who offered his lunch.
When the boy offered his lunch, he gave it to Christ and left the results up to God. The boy didn’t worry if it could be done, or if his offering was enough. He simply gave what he had and left the rest up to God.
I got this.
I know these two things are connected. I have to give up my need for control and submit to Him. I only have to offer what I have, my time, my talents, my treasure and allow God to do with it what He wills.
Lying on the floor, face down in a puddle of tears. I cry out to God to help me, to heal me, to take away my anger. You knew before the creation of the world what today would hold and You have me studying and reading about Thanksgiving? About living a life of gratitude?
Last Christmas, husband and I decided not to get each other presents. Instead, we decided to get the piano we’d been wanting since we moved in. He found a great deal on Craigslist and we had the perfect spot in the family room for it. Husband plays a little and I had taken lessons for years as a kid. This piano would give us both a reason to practice and revive our skills.
But I wasn’t counting on forgetting how to play.
A few weeks ago, husband finished the installation of our Endless Pool. This thing is amazing. It generates a current so that you can basically swim in place and get a great workout. He swam competitively in HS, and I took lessons every summer as a kid. We gave up half our garage for this ‘investment in our health’, bought goggles and swim caps.
But I didn’t realize you could forget how to swim.
Now granted I wasn’t passionate about piano or swimming as a kid. I learned how to do it, because that’s what kids do. Learn an instrument; try out some sort of athletics, things parents check off as they’re raising kids. I’m sure my mom never dreamed her hard earned money would go into lessons that would eventually be forgotten. (sorry mom.)
The point is today. Today I have a choice to re-learn. Today I have a choice to jump in the pool. Today I have a choice to sit my booty on a piano bench, fingers stumbling over keys, practicing until they become nimble.
I woke up angry. Angry that another’s choices were affecting me. Angry that I couldn’t control. Angry that I couldn’t make things go the way I wanted. Angry at everything.
In the midst of my angry day, my mentee and I decided to meet up that evening. I’d need to read the next chapter in our book and take a few notes for our discussion.
Eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh’-o) = Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.
I would never experience the fullness of my salvation until I expressed the fullness of my thanks every day, and eucharisteo is elemental to living the saved life.
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskakmp
I was distracted by my anger. I just kept thinking, “Get through the next sentence. Get through the next page.” Anger was choking the life out of these beautiful words of living a life of gratitude, living out the fullness of my salvation.
I had forgotten how to be thankful.
I stopped everything. I lay on the floor and cried out to God for help, for healing, for peace. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for eucharisteo to be a balm, a prayer, a lifestyle.
I rose renewed in my purpose. My anger, although justified, is not meant to rule me. Eucharisteo is meant to be the posture of my heart.
Thankful to love another to the point where their actions affect me.
Thankful when I am given a voice to speak into another’s life.
Thankful that I am not in control. Thankful for a God who is.
Thankful for grace on days when I allow my emotions to overtake me.
Eucharisteo = Thanksgiving.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
There are many young people in my life right now who seem to be on different planets. Some are heading off to new adventures, full of life, full of promise. Some are so hurt and so lost that they are acting out in unhealthy ways. Some are just living, going from situation to situation; just waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
Every day I wonder how best to love each of them.
A few weeks ago, my pastor talked about love. He spoke about our culture’s definition of love; always agreeing, affirming and/or approving of another’s life. He spoke about what a cheap form of love this is.
This kind of love has no heart to heart talks, sets no boundaries, gives no advice and will waffle when things get too hard or weird.
Isn’t a deep and expensive love the thing we all crave the most? The love which will stand up and tell me when I’m wrong, and love me anyway. The love which will sacrifice comfort in order to make me comfortable, and love me anyway. The love which will come beside me when life is hard, catching my tears, rubbing my back and love me anyway. A love which gives encouragement, declares truth and inspires change.
How can I give this deep, expensive love to the people in my life?
As I look back through my prayer journal a piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Romans 12:9 - Love from the center of who you are. (MSG version)
My head holds my intelligence.
My face will change depending on my mood or circumstance
My heart houses my emotions and feelings.
But my gut is the center of who I am. My soul. My conscience. My truth. The undeniable point when I know that I know.
Love is to come from my gut.
If I am to love the people in my life well, my love for them has to come from my gut. The center of who I am. The piece of me given over to a Savior who has promised to guide me. The place where divine truth is planted and where my identity can be found.
My gut, my center, my core is where absolute truth resides. The place where my opinions, my fleeting thoughts and my wishes come to die when held up to the blistering light of absolute truth.
Do I have the courage, the strength to love the people in my life like this?
Love from the center of who you are.
When others disappoint you.
When dealing with loss.
When crying in anguish.
Love from the center of who you are.
When dancing for joy.
When embarking on adventure.
When laughing till it hurts.
Love from the center of who you are.
Let Christ be my truth.
Let God be the center of my being.
Let the Holy Spirit communicate love through me.
Love from the center of who you are.
There are piles and piles and piles of books all over my house. Many I have read, and many more I haven’t. Books from library sales. Books received as gifts. Books purchased because they’re classic. Books purchased because I’m sure they’ll be classic someday. Books in my office. Books on my nightstand. Books stacked in the room we’ll make into our library one day.
I have a problem and today I’m coming clean about my addiction.
Two bloggers I follow have recently written about the same problem. Both have decided not to purchase another book until their specific stack has been read. They didn’t know it, but it was a challenge directed right at me.
Girl, read these books instead of leaving them in stacks all over the house!
Here’s my list of twelve. Not another book purchased until these are completed.
Read Sara Bessey’s post – In which I have a (not so) serious problem.
Read Sarah Askin’s post – For the Infinite Collector of Books
I bought two books at full price, well Sam’s Club full price, but still. I NEVER buy books at full price. Why would I when the Barnes & Noble sale rack is always full, and there’s an amazing used book store in Nashville full of words, pages and books which I need? With these two I couldn’t wait.
Inferno by Dan Brown
Mr. Brown was on the Today show about six months ago talking about his new book. In my pre-coffee haze I missed the part where the book wasn’t out yet, so I had been looking for it on bookshelves since then. He appeared on the Today show again in early May with a release date for the new book. Finally! The book I’d been searching for was finally going to be available.
Dan Brown did not disappoint.
A virus threatened to be released on a global scale. Robert Langdon being chased after and shot at. Transhumanism. The World Health Organization. Art, literature, history and a handful of words I had to look up to be sure of the meaning.
To me it read like the first Bourne Identity book. Robert Langdon is unsure of who is chasing after him, why they’re chasing him and isn’t sure who he can trust. Short chapters and cliff hangers kept me reading till late in the night and all of the next day.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
I read Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns because Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer. Both were hard to read, but real and intriguing. I am drawn in by the descriptions of a culture completely foreign to me. I will read anything he writes.
And the Mountains Echoed is another piece of Mr. Hosseini’s brilliance. The story follows the consequences of choices made. Choices which reach out and touch a number of families and cities around the globe. Choices which echo into the past and into the future.
Another book for which I ignored my life until I had taken in every word. It left me in tears at the beauty and heartbreak represented.
It’s a thing I send to my best girlfriends when we’re texting and have to say goodbye. “Love you.” “Love you more.”
I say this to my mom or my sister when we’re ending a phone conversation. “Love you.” “Love you more.”
So when the words came out of his mouth, it brought immediate tears to my eyes.
“Have a great week pastor, love you.”
“Love you more.”
Three small words. Three small words which crumbled my heart into a happy bit of rubble.
My pastor loves me.
Really, this shouldn’t be such a big deal. A pastor is supposed to care about the people in his church. A pastor is supposed to teach, lead and guide. A pastor has many ‘things’ to do in the life of a church. And a pastor should love the people in his church, unfortunately many don’t.
Then my pastor said “Love you more”.
I wrote awhile ago how we had started the search for a new church. We had visited a few churches in the area, but nothing seemed to stick. So when husband said we should check out the church down the street, I figured the same thing would happen again.
We’ve only missed a handful of Sunday’s in the past six months.
We walked in and found a place where ‘real’ness and sincerity met. We walked in and found a place where safeness is a goal. We walked in and found a place where it’s OK to be broken and healing. We walked into a family, we walked into a home.
Terror filled my spirit. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being hurt again. Fear of being disappointed. I wanted to run away, the risk seemed too great.
But each week, I return.
Leaders are showing themselves to have integrity. Teaching is deep and challenging and biblical. The people are sincere and willing to come along side and walk life’s journey together.
Each confirmation, each step forward causes me to shed tears. Tears of freedom. Tears of healing. Tears washing away the stain of hurt and bitterness. Tears that drip down my face and chin, leaving their trails on the front of my dress. Tears which are breaking down the wall I built for protection.
My pastor said, “Love you more.”