"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Little did Bilbo and I know...

Today I feel a little like Bilbo Baggins- a simple, unassuming person who went on a great adventure.

Growing up I was the girl that, while all my friends wanted to get out of our smallish town, wanted to stay. I had everything I needed right there, why leave? I was the little girl that cried at night when I thought about growing up, because I knew it meant leaving home.

Looking back at that little girl I smile, for little did she know where God would take her.
Little did she know that she would carry the gospel literally around the world.
Little did she know that she would live in another state for a year.
Little did she know that by saying yes to God and one ten day adventure her life would never be the same. She would never look back at that moment in regret, for with that simple yes the world was open to her.

So yes, this morning I feel a bit like Bilbo as I get ready to embark on yet another adventure. Each one continues to stretch me and change me, but unlike Bilbo; when I come to my last adventure I will not feel thin "like butter scraped over too much bread."  No, I shall feel full, because God is leading me on this journey. He fills me every day as He calls me closer to Him.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Boxes and Bounderies

One of my favourite things about my church is the way we have broken out of the box of what "church" looks like. We have not only broken out, but we've crossed certain boundaries too.

Stop.

Did you noticed the terminology I just used there? Box, boundaries, broken out, crossed. Those words cause me to stop and think a minute. A box has to be broken out of whereas bounderies can just be crossed. There is something significant in that.

I really hate boxes! Bounderies are great. I have bounderies to who I am. You have bounderies to who you are. But for goodness sakes don't try to neatly put me in a box! Bounderies imply space also. Space to roam and grow. Space that hasn't been seen by everyone even me.

A box says, "Here you are. I have you safely contained in these four walls and a lid of who and what I think you are. You can't go anywhere. This is you." The problem with that is it gives me no room to grow, to spread out, to stretch, or to learn. A box has no mystery to discover!

Give me boundaries and I will flourish. I will grow in the space I am given. I will stretch. I will discover hidden things. I may see the sky and decide one day to fly. I may outgrow the boundaries and have to set up new ones. There will be times I'll test the boundaries and maybe even cross them; I will learn.
Who I am is ever changing. My personality is a living thing that needs to have the okay to grow and be shaped by God.

Do not put me in your box of lables; let me roam the fields within my own (God's) boundaries of who I am. Encourage me to grow and ask myself and God who I really am to be. Call me "further up and further in" to who God has designed me to be, but don't be angry or surprised if I choose to stay within my boundaries or instead soar from them.

Even in my changing, growing, stretching, and shaping know that who I am at my core will remain the same. The identity God has given me will not change, it will only be made more firm in all my growing.

Let us learn not to put each other in boxes, but instead be willing to cross some boundaries and learn to love each other where we are.

Friday, May 27, 2016

When 20 seconds of courage turns into 10 minutes

Several weeks ago I was asked to be the speaker at my brother's high school graduation. Well, graduation is over and my brother is officially an adult. I thought I"d share the speech God gave me for the graduates. I left just as I wrote it, in a speech format.

What does it take to change a life? Two things came to mind as I was praying about this speech.
Time and courage.
There are many, many more that others can and have covered, but today I want to focus on these two.

Everything you and I do take time and at least an element of courage. How much time and courage am I talking about? Right now let's take it in a small amount- twenty seconds.
Twenty seconds doesn't seem like much time, but before we keep going I want to give you a frame of reference for it...



There it is. Twenty seconds. Such a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but, as you probably noticed, in a moment it can feel forever long.
So, why twenty seconds? What does this small amount of time have to do with your life, especially now-- at graduation?

There is a great quote from the movie We Bought a Zoo, the main character Benjamin Mee says, "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally, twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it."

What would happen if you decided to make that quote your motto and live by it? What would twenty seconds of insane courage look like in your life?


I know, at times in my life it has looked like starting a conversation, asking to pray for someone, making a decision, sending a note or text, and many other similar moments. (Adventures in Missions visit with Cody)
I could go on to give you more examples from the lives of others, but it really comes down to your twenty seconds, your moment. You will have many of them; it's all in what you decide to do in each one. You never fully know what God will do with those moments.

Since it really is such a small amount of time, what keeps you and me from that twenty seconds of courage?

Fear.
That feeling of apprehension that something unpleasant will happen, whether imagined or real.
It can look different in each of our lives and even at different times of our live- fear of rejection, fear of what others think, fear of inadequacy, fear of messing up, fear of the unknown- in all cases, though, it does the same thing,--- stops us from moving forward in the plan God has for us.

I am sure most of you have heard most of your lives, God has a plan for your life. Well, you are the one that has to choose to walk in it, and that takes courage.

God tells us several times throughout the Bible to "fear not," and a few more times He says "be strong and courageous."

Graduates, you are facing a new future, and it can be intimidating and confusing at times, please don't let fear keep you from God's plan.


I don't speak without my own experience in this area of fear.

After my graduation I pretty well knew I would go to school. Two years later, though, I had my Associate in Arts and no idea what God wanted for me.
That is when fear began to set in. My fear took the form of being afraid I would make the wrong decision. I was constantly questioning every decision I made. 

“Is the really what God wants?"
"What if I'm wrong?"
"What if God is telling me to do something else?" 

These questions haunted me every time I started to take a step, big or small. Then one Tuesday afternoon I shared some of my thoughts with my spiritual father.

(Sidenote here guys, find a man or woman of godly wisdom to mentor and pray for you) 

Anyway, he shared a quote with me from his spiritual father, "God can fix your mistakes, but He won't tolerate your disobedience." This changed my life. No longer did I have to worry about or fear everything going wrong or not. 

Graduates, as long as you truly are pursuing God and listening for His direction He will not lead you down a wrong path, and if there is a mistake that needs to be corrected, He will show you. Just don't let fear cause you to disobey His direction.


Now then, I echo the poet Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
You, my friends, are about to step out on a new adventure of your own.

Some of you have been preparing for this moment for the last five years. You've got it all planned, out and you know what you're doing. That's great. Now have the courage to trust God and walk in His calling and do it.

Some of you may have no idea what you are doing now, much less come fall. Have the courage to ask God, and as you ask be willing to wait for His answer and then do it.

Whatever it is that is coming next, remember that it will take time and courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather trusting God and taking action in spite of that fear.

This life you have now will be the only one you can live. Don't let fear hold you back.
Live.
Live your one wild and precious life as you walk courageously in the God's will knowing that He will direct your paths. 

After all, sometimes all you really need is twenty seconds of insane courage.


Monday, April 18, 2016

I'm Giving Up God's Promises.

"That's it. I'm done. I'm throwing in the towel. God gave me promises, and I don't see them happening. God has asked me to do things, and they don't make sense."

Those are probably things that came to your mind when you read that title, but rest assured, that is not the vein in which I'm moving.

I'm giving up God's promises, because He has so much more for me. I am a entering state of surrender, or at least I'm trying to. You see, I've come to realize that while God does keep His promises, sometimes, oftentimes, they don't look the way we want or expect them to look. Sometimes we get so focused on the promise we forget Who gave it to us, then it becomes an idol.

Would I be willing to go in a new direction even if it means letting go of a promise?
What if God is leading me on a path and we take a sudden detour that seems to lead directly away from the promises of God. Will I still trust Him?
What if I told everybody God is leading "here" and then, by God's direction, I end up somewhere else. Am I willing to stand the questions and look foolish before them?
What if God started to fulfill a promise and then asked me to give it up? Oh, flashbacks to Abraham and Isaac...can I do that? 

So what does it mean to give up God's promises?
To me it looks like opening my hands so that God may give and take away as is His plan. He may empty my hands; He may fill them.
It looks like climbing each mountain before me with my hands wide open. Giving up God's promises looks like throwing a stone in the depths and seeing the effects.

I am giving up God's promises that I may have God Himself.

I will fix my eyes not upon the promise, but upon the Promise-Giver.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Call

O Christians, rise up!
Do not lay in the ditch of defeat. Your enemy cannot trample you; he does not have that power.
Reach out; take the hand of you Captain. Let Him pull you to your feet and renew your strength.
We are the victors; that is already set. We need now to claim the territoy that belongs to the Kingdom. Whether it be a whole nation or a small field of beans, let us fight until the sword sticks to our hands and the enemy is driven back!*

Sound the battle cry- Rak Chazak!

*2 Samuel 23:8-23

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This Side of a Challenge

 A year ago I was in Zambia.

This is the week God did one His biggest works in my heart on the Race.

This is the week we were challenged by our squad leader to become more vulnerable with our teammates.

This is the week I faced my hardest feedback on the Race.

At the beginning of the week I opened up to my team about being unsure of how to tread this new terrain of having guys on my team, being vulnerable, and still guarding my heart .That night instead of our usual feedback we were asked to write some feedback for each of our teammates. When I later received my notes my heart fell. Several of them had to do with the very thing I had shared with my team. I was upset, mad, hurt, and wasn't sure what to do with it. I took it to God, but I was a little upset with Him too. After several minutes of tears and question I finally stopped long enough for God to speak. He asked one question.

 "Who has been guarding your heart all these years, you or Me?"

It took a week of struggle before I finally admitted the truth. I had, often in my own strength, tried to guard my heart and not completely trusted God. I still argued a little bit, but it finally came down to another question. This one I had heard often.

"Do you trust Me?"

I immediately knew that I had to. Not that God was making me, but because I knew that He is so much more qualified for the task than I am. When I finally relinquished it to God the freedom was so sweet. No longer did I have to fear crossing an indistinct line, because I was trusting the One that knew my heart better than I did, and He would guard it well.

That feedback turned out to be the hardest of my year, but also the best. It challenged my comfort zone and beliefs. It caused me to see that I needed to surrender so much more to my God and Beloved and allow Him to be my strength, provider, and guard. That week in Zambia taught me the freedom I can have when I walk in God's truth and not man's rules.

That lesson is still very precious to me now.

I still have those letters, and they are some of my favourite memories from the Race.