Monday, April 28, 2014

Your Story

This past Saturday I attended a (in)RL conference. It was quite unique, something I have never done before.  The uniqueness was that you actually meet up with strangers in a host home instead of a huge arena or another familiar place.  The setting is quite intimate and the theme this year was "Your Story"
Have you ever thought about what YOUR STORY is? I have always thought my story was insignificant and that the lessons I learn are for me only. After meeting some amazing ladies it was evident that no matter what background, religion or differences we share we all had something in common; We all had a story. We talked about community and what that looks like. We shared in the struggles of daily life and encouraged each other with the hope that no matter the path we walk opportunities will come to share parts of our stories. Sometimes this is harder or scarier then we would hope it to be. There is a level of trust when opening up, but also a since of joy and freedom when parts of our stories are used to benefit those who share in the same trials and struggles as you. It allows other the freedom to share their stories as well.  The most impactful story for me this weekend was by Angela Smith (her husband is in the band called Selah)
She explained how she was quick to post pictures of perfect situations, circumstances, outcomes or things she was doing. For instance, She had made this potpie, which she explains that she can not cook, it turned out beautiful just like the picture. She posted the beautiful picture. While taking the potpie out of the oven she had burnt herself.  As she looked at her scar the Lord spoke to her heart and asked her why she wouldn't post the picture of the scar?
Just the same as our own life. We are willing to share parts of our life's that are "perfect" or "good" But what about our scars? What about the pain, the ugly, the hardships? She then went on to explained that the "new pretty" should be of us really letting others see the "real YOU"
What is the "REAL YOU"? Are we quick to share the good things, but fail to share in the pain?
We all have a story no matter how big or small.
Oh, sister you and me
We are community
Laying down our stones
Open hands are free to hold
And maybe it’s your stories that will be the tie
That binds us to each other…
-from the (in)RL theme song

Friday, April 25, 2014

Our Stories

I was listening to the (in) RL encourage webcast this morning, and one of the statements that was shared by one of the speakers was this:

"When we do not share "OUR STORIES" we rob others of seeing God's glory in our own lives"

I pondered on that.... Often times than not, we are comfortable with sharing positive and good things... We are comfortable with sharing how well we are doing or how well our children are doing... But what about the painful stuff, the negative stuff, the embarrassing stuff... The stuff that makes us not want to repeat it in our own minds much less telling someone else about it. 
I, also, will be bold enough to say I think that we have lost the importance of visiting with one other failing to see the enrichment of relationships, especially ones that share the faith.  I walk on fine line here because of the priorities we establish in our own daily lives.  But if we stop to think about it, we create our own schedules.

 In the devotion "Jesus is Calling" a passage reads, as if Jesus, himself is talking:

"I am training you in steadiness. Too many things interrupt your awareness of Me. I know that you live in a world of sight and sound, but you must not  be a slave to those stimuli. Awareness of Me can continue in all circumstances, no matter what happens"

I fall many times to this stimuli of distraction; with the busyness of this world and the things in it.  I have an awareness of God and his presence but not as much as I would like. God is faithful to lavish his peace, mercies and grace daily.  Our openness and obedience is what HE desires. I desire for a relationship with not only Him but for Him to use my story and others to share on the journey of life, regardless of the times. He never leaves us alone... Part of His plan is to align us with friendships that walk along us to share in his design for our lives. I don't want to be responsible for missing the opportunity of sharing His Glory Thus, preventing God to be revealed in the process of telling each other our stories.

There is so much joy, and healing when we are able to listen to each other; to have an understanding of where we are coming from. There may be fear in sharing your story but never has God not met a need!!! 

Angela Smith quotes  "Your new pretty is showing who you really are
We all have scars, we all have been broken and we all have pain... But our pain does have a purpose."

Friday, April 18, 2014

More than a challenge


Writing this blog as proven to be more of a challenge then I thought it would be!! I wished I had the desire to write more often but often times I either wait till the last minute to think about doing it, struggle with exactly what to write, or find that sharing my most intimate thoughts can reveal more than I expect therefore procrastinate in doing so!!  At any rate I thought I would jot down a few thoughts and or things I am going through to keep the blog alive... and like always hope that I continue to write on a regular basis...

1) Mike and I recently went through a valley.. Those closest to us helped pray us through it. I wished I could say that because we are working in ministry it exempts us from trouble but it is quite the opposite! We went to an Art of Marriage conference and a workshop entitled Marriage Matters at our Camp sectionals. These tools enabled us to see what we were struggling with and encouraged us to preserve through the hard and difficult times. When we go through a hard time there is always beauty on the other side. Knowing that Mike is truly my best friend and that we can learn and grow together allows me to see the beauty in our marriage and love and appreciate him for he is......
2) The last few months God has really open my eyes in dealing with balance. This is the word I choose for the year 2014. I wanted to pick a broad word to allow room for growth. I didn't realize at the time that in doing so, God would be chiseling in many areas of my life.  For starters, he is working on the social aspect of my life. Because I am a relational person I struggle with understanding why God has to remove certain people from my life! I have the motto, that "everyone gets along" and "the more the merrier".. which really are false expectations of true friendships. Not everyone gets along, and in some situations the more is not the merrier. These last few months I have needed to rely on him more in this area than ever before. Not only has he removed certain people from my life he has removed ME from activities and situations as well. I was recently explaining to a friend the other day that just because we get served a WHOLE  pie doesn't mean the WHOLE thing is for us exactly, in fact a PIECE of the pie is really what is intended.  Any more than that at a serving would really be gluttony. I started to think about that as a parallel for situations that I have been involved with. I think I over indulged in this area, as I have a hard time letting go. I want to see the positive in everyone, therefore become blinded by warning signs and behaviors that aren't beneficial for kingdom building. God brings people in our lives for seasons, just as the seasons change also the people involved in our lives do as well.   Not only people but situations change.  I was thinking about the level of involvement for me and wondered what had changed with that as well?  After praying about it, I feel as if this too was something I held onto longer than I needed to. When we first moved I needed the comfort of belonging and needed to feel as if I had a purpose. Although God placed me in some activities that was beneficial at the time, it became evident that I relied on those things instead of God. Removing myself from them, was the only way I could really see what his plan was for me and our future. Even though it has been difficult at times, I know that God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.
Another area of balance that I am working through is my health. This has been a difficult area for me because I struggle with chronic pain, often times leaving me on the fine line of self pity.  Symptoms pile on and when it isn't one thing it is another.  My back, my jaw, my blood pressure.... (The highest it's been was 190/170.. It recently is 170/122 so it's coming down!!) It is a constant battle that often times leave me in a pit of despair or feeling guilty. Time in Time again, God reaches his mighty hand and picks me up from the battle ground whispering ever so gently that HE is in CONTROL and that HE HAS THIS!! I am so thankful for his peace in times of trouble!
3) Another area God is working on through balance is my Confidence in HIM. I am currently doing three bible studies: A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, Jesus is Calling by Sarah Young and 3030 Challenge by Joyce Meyers. (More on this one at a later time!!)
4) Lastly I believe that God is preparing us for the next step in our journey. I think of how long he prepared for his ministry and how long he actually did ministry, and think I hope we are not in a "learning season" for 30 years! Both Mike and I want to remain teachable, there is always something to learn in life's lesson, even through the preparations for our next step in this journey: we want to remain teachable, we want to remain faithful, we want to remain focused. My emotional, spiritual & physical limits are being tested and chiseled as I learn to be balanced. Like the writing of the blog, thus too has been proven to be more than a challenge!!