God’s Idea of Perfect…

I was typing an email yesterday and God just laid this in my lap.  We live in a culture of pseudo perfection. We attempt the perfect body, marriage, family, church, country. We  spend countless hours trying to achieve some shifting notion of “just right.” And, frankly, it’s killing us.

Yes, we are spiritually wired for perfection, but it is one of those “not yet” scenarios. When we are fully with the Perfect One, we will enjoy our perfect reality.

But in the meantime. What is God working on?

God-molded-me-for-who-I-am.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

This jumped off the page for me! God has his own goals of perfection. He is not focused on six-pack abs, or 401K totals, or world issues, although He intimately knows and cares about those things. In fact, He graciously “gives us all things” and uses those things to shape us and reveal His love and nature.

But God is working daily to perfect our faith that we might believe in who He is.
All His love. All His power. All His availability. His Kingdom come, His will be done.

Is it possible that our greatest achievement in this life is how well we believed Him?

Perfect in Faith.

Is it possible that the goal is to become and accomplish all that He promised us only because we believed Him more and more with each passing year and circumstance?

Fixing our eyes. Focusing our attention, but also repairing our vision. We are learning to see with Heaven’s eyes, looking through His lens of truth and love.

On Jesus. The only One truly worthy of our trust and adoration. All other ground is sinking sand.

The author. He is in all and over all. “All the earth beneath you, all my life before you.”

And perfecter. His intention, goal and plan is that we would be made perfect in the knowledge of him. Who can thwart the plans of God? Job asked.

Of our faith. “Help my unbelief” the man cried to Jesus.  What a blessing. What a gift. What a relief to know He is actively working to perfect our faith to believe Him more.

I am so struck by this glimmer of God.  I want to respond to what He is actively working on. My faith. I want my heart to be so steadfast, so held by His perfect love, that when I see Him face to face, we won’t be talking about what I did for Him but what I believed about Him.

Pay attention to your life. All of it. And know that Jesus is actively, wonderfully perfecting your faith. Because when you believe Him well, everything else changes too.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your song?

CascadeDo you ever have those moments when you are listening to someone teach and then Holy Spirit starts talking at the same time and then the two of you go off on some tangent? I love when this happens.

So yesterday I  listened to a pastor unpack one of my favorite verses, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6  He  said when our own hearts are hard and full of self that God fights against us and  that we often we feel that  fight in the hardness  we experience from others. Ouch, I thought. Been there, done that.

But God,  more importantly, gives supernatural help and divine favor when we  lay down our rights and demands and  trust Him to transform  the situation. We surrender our hurt and anger to God and ask Him to change both of us.  Then God is free to pour out grace and help to us when we understand that we can’t do it alone, but we also know that only  God truly sees the best way. His ways are perfect.

Okay, that is meaty enough. BUT here is the Holy Spirit revelation.  When the pastor was talkng about how God pours out lavishly into the person who is humble before Him,  the Spirit began talking about singing.  He teaches us new songs about His love. He keeps singing them to us, over us, in us. He sings until we sing with Him. Then we begin to sing it to others.

In a moment He reminded me of the new worship song He is planting in my heart. I heard it “randomly”.  I hit repeat, listening over and over. Then I heard it in my sleep. Then I began singing it.  The other night I was singing it out loud as I was cooking dinner.  My family came in and asked what I was singing?  So we all listened to the song together.  On the way to school the next day, the girls and I sang this new worship song together.  Perfect picture of how He sings to us. All these dots connected for me  in a moment, right? Here comes the kicker.

“What is your song of grace?” He asked me.  Selah.

God  wants our hearts to be so tender towards Him, so empty of distraction by others, that His favor blows through us, as music fills the air.  And when we learn His songs of grace, we can go sing them over others.  All this by way of humility.

Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up  in due time.”  1 Peter 5:6

Here is the beautiful song… Fall Afresh, Jeremy Riddle, Loft Sessions

 

When is enough, enough?

Time to get serious. The WGR class topic of “Appetites, Addictions, and Affections”  is really challenging me about why do we want what we want? And why are we rarely satisfied with what we want?

You can watch the classes online for these revelations about desire gone awry and its rescue. But for a sobering affect, I am sharing this photo from one of my summer cleansings.

66. Actually 66 pairs of shoes. There’s a good excuse or story about each pair. Sure some of them are old. Sure some of them are “special occasion” only. Some were from Goodwill, some were gifts. But stilll…66 pairs of shoes? Really?

I made myself pull them all out on the floor and look at them. It was gross. It was excessive. It was gluttony of a different kind. I had a flashback to high school when I had only four pairs of shoes. I had a flashback to my Zimbabwe trip in 2010 when the children and adults had No pairs.

So, when is enough, enough? shoes

I want to share part of my personal mandate.   It was a holy moment when Jesus whispered a secret in my ear of where we were going together. (Only in part you understand, He rarely gives us full detail.) And after a moment of incredulous joy I took a deep breath and said, “Wow, how are we going to that?”

“You must reorder your life,” He said.

That was in December 2011. And in the last 13 months He has continued to refocus my energies and attentions. He has brought books about simplifying, fasting, and letting go. He’s revealed moments of just how deep the affection for “more” really is in my heart. One moment was while we were on vacation. The beach condo we stayed at had a wickedly beautiful  walk-in closet. Chuck and I walked in and giggled, “Yeah baby, how about this?”  “This is what I need,” I said. “I hate how small our closets are at home.” I have an ongoing battle with my clothes being hung and put away, therefore clothes are often in piles on the floor.

Fast forward a couple of weeks through times with the Lord and some very pointed books about excess. I stood in front of my small but sufficient walk-in closet and I said out loud to the Lord, “How about I get rid of enough clothes to fit in my closet instead wanting a bigger closet for more clothes?” I felt Him nod in happy agreement.  Hence the reason my floor was covered in shoes.

Does it sound noble that I whittled my collection down to 33 pairs? Can I actually stomach the thought of that many pairs of shoes even though some of them are only worn once or twice a year? This is just one area of balancing that I am going after.

Here is what I am doing. You are welcome to join me. I am flushing my excess throughout my whole life. We swept  our bedrooms, including the girls’ rooms. If I don’t curb my “more” appetites, how will they learn they don’t “need” every toy, shirt, shoe, and stuff, stuff, stuff. They are so much happier now that there is room for “them” in their room, instead of their stuff. Then there are the books, our junk piles, my food choices. (Perhaps, just perhaps, Starbucks and Diet Coke is not a constitutional right.)

I asked a ministry that serves the homeless if they would take our clothes.  “Gladly, the homeless wear coats all year long,” she said. I put two coats in the box and was thankful and humbled that I had so many to choose from.

Here is the bottom line. God is asking me, and maybe you, to slough off those “things” that require our time. What do I spend time doing? Is it really necessary? If I didn’t have that, would I live? Would I have more time? more space to think? more energy to be with Him?

Not a hermit mindset, but a free one. More is really attainable. But it probably starts with less.

 

You can watch the  WGR class topic of “Appetites, Addictions, and Affections.”  online for more revelations about true freedom.

Appetites in the Hands of God

jesus+good+shepherd+3As we think about appetites this month it is good to know that you are not bad for having them. It is more a question of what do you do with them? How do you sort whether they are good or bad for you? Be sure to check out our first two WGR classes as we mull over some tough questions.

But for today let me relay a God story. He has such a sense of humor…

This weekend I  turned over two different calendars since we just began  February.  And to my surprise the verse was the same.  I have never had that happen before.

An even greater surprise was the selected verse — Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”

Isn’t He funny? We have talked about that verse for the last two weeks in WGR class. One translation is: I lack no good thing.  Here we are talking about appetites and God is already giving us a clue to the answer. Because God is my shepherd, I don’t HAVE to want. Re-read the first three verses of Psalm 23.  Then work on believing them. Don’t just blow past this. Soak in His truth so your truth system will line up…

Stay tuned. More to come.

Confessions of a Woman in Process

I enjoyed preparing for three celebrations at my house recently, a bridal shower, a baby shower, and a team work retreat for my husband’s company. The cooking and decorating stirred my heart in different ways.  I thought I’d share with you what I wrote for the bride to be:

“Preparing for this shower was a good time to reflect, marvel, mourn,  and give thanks. It began with the tablecloths. Looking through my tablecloths was like peeking into my past. Some I bought, some were gifts, some I made. One cloth is from my friend. It is a patchwork, diverse and beautiful. Like our friendship. There is the one I paid too much for and have never really liked. But I keep it because it is neutral and necessary. A lot of life lessons are like this: expensive but useful. Then there is the outside cloth, the lace cloth, the zebra cloth, the red cloth that used to be a curtain but I loved the color so much that I converted it.

All of them have their place and lesson. They are a passage of time, tastes, and stories — lean times and plenty, discoveries of what I liked and who I was, stories that captured a mixture of emotions.

The pink gingham cloth came from my grandmother. It is precious to me.  I don’t use it often but it is a constant in my drawer to choose from. And though it is stained and so out of date, I cannot bear to part with it.

Do that with some of your traditions. Treasure them. Keep them. But don’t feel bound to use them every day.

People whom I loved, studied, mentored, and learned from, all ate at my table with these cloths. We laughed together and cried together. Some of these  people  are now dead or  they’ve moved on to other friendships. It was good for me to serve them. They are forever part of my life,  marriage and  legacy.

Learn to enjoy the beauty of people eating at your table. It is what God himself has done—invited us to feast at His table.

The napkins also caused a lot insight. For a long time in my life and marriage, I wanted everything to be perfect, to match, to be just right.  In fact I wouldn’t let people in my house, and honestly my life, unless it was. The napkins reminded me of that. I’m glad I don’t do that anymore. I’ve relaxed. I’ve got different priorities and values than when I started. I don’t mind the tatters and stains so much. Peace lives in me now, instead of that hounding jackal called perfectionism.

I realized cloth napkins are a lot like marriage. Some of them are durable, they wash and wear easily. Like our daily lives. We need attitudes and beliefs that can stand up to daily use. Some of the napkins faded pretty quickly after use much like expectations and demands we have for each other. Some of the napkins are silky, for romantic dinners at home. I have to remember to keep pulling those out. I have to keep my heart centered on my marriage so that kids and life and work don’t overshadow the love story that began the whole journey in the first place.

There are seasonal napkins, formal napkins and paper napkins. They all have their place in time, in marriage, in life.

Finally, there was the dirty napkin. I have no idea how long it has hidden in the cabinet. But this is October and it is a Christmas napkin.

It reminded me  that I am learning to be nice to me. There is dirt. I may or may not know about. But it will surface sooner or later. And there is grace for that too. For all of it.

By their very nature, napkins clean up messes, beautifully. Expect to have messes on this journey.

But above all enjoy the meal. Enjoy the conversations, the laughter and tears. Listen and learn from those who sit at your table. Young and old. Savor the seasons. Each person, friendship, meal is a gift of time. Learn to serve. Learn to be served. Be nice to yourself. The pressure is off.

Give yourself time and permission to Learn how to love. Marriage, and life, doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make sure you have lots of napkins along the way.”

The Promise of Transformation

I am not sure anyone ever questions that a tomato will turn red. From its gangly green stalk to its delicate yellow flower, the idea, the goal is always the same.  A red tomato. Sooner or later. We watch for them because we have “faith” that it will become what it was planted to do.

As this tomato ripened on my deck, going from green to red, I watched the gradual change. I couldn’t discern the change daily. But over a “season” of time, it warmed up and graduated into its best self, a vibrant red beauty.

All of nature does this “ripening” process. Going from one stage to another, but always with a certain goal.  For sure there inhibitors—bugs, lack of rain, ground rot. Life. But none of these deter the goal for which the plant was created.

We were created for the process of transformation. We all get to watch and observe the miracle of God in us. We may not be able to see it daily. But God is “ripening” all of us. In due time, we will able to see His life revealed in us. His goal is that we would be seen for who we were always intended to be: His vibrant beauties. It is His great promise to all His children.

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
      in the exuberant earth.
   Stay with God!
      Take heart. Don’t quit.
   I’ll say it again:
      Stay with God.

Psalm 27: 13-14,  The Message

 

 

Hidden Masterpieces

Never question the unseen work you do. For God sees. And God enjoys.

I was struck this morning by the heavy fog. Hard to see much of anything until the sun began burning off the haze. And then, at just the right angle, I  noticed along the roads were these beautiful cobwebs strung between the power cables.  If you drove right up on them they disappeared. But with the donning of the dew, you could see their delicate artistry.

Spider webs. Between power lines. If you can visualize it, because they were so hard photograph, the spider’s masterpieces appeared to be on display, an elegant hanging gallery.

But who would see them, except for the dew?  And yet they spin them.  Whether seen or unseen. It is their work, their calling.

“These are hidden masterpieces,” I said to the Lord.  The Spirit whispered this verse, “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6)

What are your hidden masterpieces? Will you do them just for the reward of His pleasure? Just for His enjoyment?

When God Speaks…

Instead of asking does God speak, what if we asked, what do we do when God speaks.  I am convinced more and more of His desire to be known, explored —enjoyed. And I am also increasingly convinced of the “two-way street” reality of our relationship. It is not just me going to Him. Or Him pouring out on me. But instead it is a beautiful exchange, a passing of ideas and thoughts, a stirring in both hearts, mine and His.

In the same way that I am hopeful, even fervent, for His response, He is eager and awaiting mine. The word is giddy. Think excited kid before she opens up a present. Think a bride and groom before the pastor announces “the kiss.” Think grinning. Clapping hands. Raised eyebrows.  A giddy comment of  “Soooo, whatcha gonna do?” from Jesus.

This catches me off guard.  I love getting touches, kisses, insights, direction from the Lord.  But in recent months, these affections have  changed from a delightful act  to an incredible invitation.  My reactions have moved from “You are too sweet. Thanks, Lord,” to a head shaking, heart pounding, “You are joking, right Lord?”

Jesus is always inviting us into More. Holy Spirit is always revealing the Way into more. The question remains, how will we respond?

Just for fun, here is the crazy conversation He revealed on the way to the beach and home, via billboards.  If this isn’t crazy enough, look at the invitation to more that requires an answer.  And who, in their right mind, can refuse this Crazy Loving God??

Rest is required
Make outside the place to be
Fall in love all over again
Economic forecasts tend to be shovel ready
Change the way you advertise
Become a fan
Quality without question
Let me be your guide.
Why settle?
Unlock your future.
Whatever it takes. Wherever it takes us.
Uncommonly made. Uncommonly good.
Take home more. Be home more.
Going strong.
Ignite greatness.

 

Relationships Need a Real God

It is always a challenge at first to follow God into a new teaching topic. It is not the study or the actual delivery of the spiritual download I tremble over.

It is the living it out first in private before He lets me share it in the public.

Therefore you can imagine my hesitation to teach on healthy relationships. No, more than just healthy, He is going after loving relationships with others, even the “others” that I can’t stand, can’t forgive, can’t believe will be different.

I can talk about a loving healthy relationship with that Lover Boy Jesus all day long. But when you get into other peeps or my family, ouch, this cuts a little too close to home. And yet. Isn’t this precisely the way of God? To so overwhelm us with His love and affection that we spill out and over on others? Proverbs says “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And we need to hear Jesus speak healing into every relationship we have.

So this new seminar  on June 9, is very simply a time plant a few seeds of Jesus in our lives. Most of us have been through some sort of counseling, even Bible studies. Yet most of us would say our relationships don’t change much. I find that to be so counter to the way of God.

When people in the Bible had an encounter with Jesus, their lives were changed. Some instantly, some over time, but all were changed because He put something in them that produced His life.  Real Life. That is what we are going after.

Plan to come with a desire to pull weeds in your heart, and to let God plant His healing and wisdom instead.

Real Life. Real Relationship.
June 9, 9:30-Noon
Fuse Church, Midpark Drive
Open to All: women, men, couples, singles
Love Offering Event
Pre registered Childcare Only.

 

A Picture into the Future

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would post one of my favorite photos of the Spicka Chicks. Shot nearly five years ago,  I love is how this picture captured the “Who” of them before they came to “Be” them.

Salem, the oldest, is the strong, not so silent type.  Her face is full of thought and her gaze on others and life is straight forward. Today, we see this is growing more and more. Charis, the youngest, here is just beginning to “strike a pose.” But now we know that she is  full of color, sass and joy.

I love that God knows them and what they need more than I ever can. I love that God loves being Our Father and that we all get to journey together for a season.

If I had to pick one of the 1000 pictures I have taken over the last fourteen years of this amazing madhouse journey of motherhood, this one stops my heart every time. I love my girls. I love being their mom. And, I am so thankful that God heard my cries and gave me children against all odds.