Break. It. Down.

My dad and I hunted for that particular refrigerator box all over the city.

I had this fantastic idea that involved glow-in-the-dark paint, black butcher paper and blowing away the other kids in my science class. It all hinged on the box.

My plan was to create a solar system room. As the cardboard door closed behind you, your eyes would be astounded by the glory of nine {because there were nine then} planets revolving around the sun.

After a day of searching, we came home victorious and I stored the box in the garage.

Overwhelmed by the size of the project, I procrastinated. As the two week lead time dissolved, my fear took over and nothing seemed to turn out right. The styrofoam planets wouldn’t hold the paint. They also wouldn’t hang right.

I grew discouraged.

Eventually I cut out and glued some construction paper planets to a butcher paper covered cork board during my science class to earn some points for a 2-day late project.

Things had not turned out as I’d planned.

::

I have grand schemes in life.

Schemes…as in plural.

Yet over and over I find myself staring at a giant refrigerator box. Overwhelmed by the thought of making that first cut or painting the first stroke.

“What if I measure wrong?”

“What if I waste my resources?”

“What if it’s not enough?”

I’m tired of it.

The problem I’ve discovered is that I act as though each tiny step is going to significantly impact the ultimate outcome.

That a single impatient word will ruin my relationship with my child forever.

Or finding the perfect school and master’s program will guarantee my future dreams.

The weight of the decision crushes the idea.

Sometimes it’s just about breaking it down to find out what’s next.

And then doing it.

Light, Dandelions & Sin

Yesterday I had a moment in talking with a friend where I felt God shine a spotlight on an area in my life that needs to change.

Have you experienced that? It’s extremely uncomfortable. You’re going along doing the instinctual, trusting that what’s natural is what’s right, and then suddenly you’re blinded by a floodlight piercing your eyes. As I wrote that last sentence I am struck by the similarity to Paul’s story. You know, when he was still Saul. And killing Christians.

He was living his life the way he’d been raised, and doing it very well. He had clout.

Listen to him brag about himself…

“…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” {Philippians 3:5-6}

Paul was the man. He was doing what was natural. Then, God beamed His spotlight on him and Paul was blind. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said He was the light of the world.

::

So, I {like Paul} was making my way through my day — although, to be clear, I was not pursuing and killing Christians — when all of a sudden God lasered in on an area of my mind that is wrong.

And instantly I felt guilt. Well, maybe guilty isn’t the right word

exposed

ashamed

remorseful

Before you begin imagining all of the awful things that I could have been doing, I’ll tell you.

My priorities were off. I was selfish. I thought of my own needs before the needs of others.

Even that makes it sound worse than what I intended, but isn’t that how those little sin areas in our life always are? We justify, or even overlook, them because they float like dandelion puffs through our mind. The problem that I’ve discovered with dandelion puffs is that as innocent as it looks when my kids are blowing “wishes” around the yard, those seeds take root and now we have a bunch of weeds.

Courtesy of photobucket

As the evening progressed that moment replayed in my mind, and I allowed the shame and guilt to settle in. It tucked itself in with me last night and drug itself out of bed with me this morning.

I need to be different. That has to change. Lord, help me to change,” looped in my brain.

Most mornings I don’t have the time {make the time} to soak in the Word. The chaos of four kids dressing, brushing, fighting, tying, and rushing takes over; I let it. This morning I took the ten minutes necessary to read and journal.

And God spoke.

The verse isn’t necessary, because the words weren’t important to the epiphany. Well, it was to me, because my reading illustrated someone doing right what I had done wrong the day before. It felt like the floodlight was now trained on that portion of scripture, which reflected right back onto the sin in my life.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” {Isaiah 6:5}

But…

before more guilt could set in, God said, “I’m showing you this so intentionally because I am changing this in you. It is not to make you feel ashamed, but rather so you have a milestone to look back on.”

We all feel exposed, ashamed, remorseful and guilty when the Holy Spirit’s light shines into those dark places. Rather than run and hide like Adam & Eve, we must welcome the burning coal to our lips.
He will do the work to change us, He shows us so we can see how we’ve changed.

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Five Minute Friday: Gift

I got my pastoral license in the mail last weekend. Staring at the official seal, and my name under the words “License to Preach,” I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. As I thought about Lisa-Jo’s prompt for today’s Five Minute Friday, the verse about children being a gift from the Lord cycled on repeat through my mind.

Can I be honest and admit that sometimes I forget my kids are a gift? When “mom, mom, mom” rings in my ears, my car is carpeted in goldfish crackers one day after I vacuum it, and “please just let me have one moment’s peace!” The constant need terrifies me, because I am human and I lose patience and fall short.

And now, I am a licensed minister, with an appointment in my church to oversee the spiritual formation of other people’s children and to build community. That’s a lot more need. This place I’m in is one I’ve worked towards for decades, and it truly is a gift! God dropped it in my lap and it’s the perfect type of gift: one you’re not asking for, but that so accurately meets your needs. Yet even here, I can forget for a moment what a precious thing I’ve been given.

That’s what came out of my mind today…

GO

There’s something about motherhood that triggers so many spiritual lessons in me. I think God gave me four children because He knew how much I had to learn, and that this was the only way of getting through to me.

When I first have a hint that I may be pregnant, that little question in my brain feels like a present. Sitting there, wrapped up tight, possibilities untold. The anticipation of new life is exciting; whether it’s the physical new life of an addition to our family, or the spiritual new life of roads less traveled and paths unexplored. Then the reality of the situation falls on your shoulders. Aches and pains associated with growth, uncomfortableness and strange cravings abound…and let’s not even touch those mood swings.

It all seems to be too much to handle, too overwhelming, never-ending. And it’s all out of your control! You begin to wonder how much of a gift this really is. And then the moment of delivery occurs. All is right with the world, and you can only stare in wonder at the amazingly perfect thing that God has brought forth. Those first few hours, days, weeks are spend basking in the glory that God would entrust something so special and fragile to your care.

Over time, the idea of your gift fades as the newness wears off and things get tough. You struggle and fail. Things seem out of your control. Pain happens, and it hurts more than you could ever have conceived. Guilt that you’ve destroyed God’s perfect creation, and shame that you would have ever tried to steward it in the first place.

But God reminds: I have chosen you. This is where I have you. Keep moving forward, and follow my lead.

Whether it’s with our children, our marriages, our ministries, our careers…whatever He has conceived and birthed in your life…it’s a gift. Sometimes it just takes some reminding.

STOP

Just in case there’s any question or confusion…no, I’m not pregnant and I have no plans to be pregnant again. I wanted to make that very clear, because I know sometimes my five-minute rambles can leave people wondering if there’s a hidden meaning.

Happy Friday!

What does “gift” mean to you?

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