Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dear Lady in the Truck

Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

I was in Wal-Mart today. And no this isn't a story about someone dressed for their trip. This happened in the parking lot.

After gathering my purchases I went back to the truck. I was organizing myself for the next half of my work day when something caught my eye.

It was a lady next to me. In a pick up truck. Having one of those phone calls where it feels like if you gesture and point hard enough the other party will get it. 

I couldn't hear her. I didn't need to. I have been in her seat many times before.

Trying so hard to explain something so important to someone who either can't or won't listen. 

Her frustration radiated out of the open truck window. Her gestures ranged through the spectrum of making points to waving off arguments. She held her head. She face palmed. She held her phone up to her face and shook her head. 

What did I do? What we are all supposed to do - I prayed. I took some time and I prayed there for that lady. I prayed that God would have her words be heard, her crisis be handled, that she would know Him in a real and personal way. That she would feel comforted. 

I prayed for her. I prayed for me. 

I have been there. Only last week. Being yelled at. Trying to be heard. Being completely shouted down. Trying to do my job. Sigh

I have been her. And if you are honest you have too.  We all have. 

I wish I could have told her things would be okay - but I didn't know they would.

I wish I could have told her I understood - but I didn't know how.

I wish I could have given her a coffee, some chocolate, a hug - but it wasn't the time.

I am so glad I did what I did. I prayed. And I trust that God heard my prayer, and that woman's heart and day were touched by Him. 

It always bothers me when people say, There's nothing to do but pray now.  

It should be, First thing we need to do is pray people. Who's with me?

The most powerful and amazing thing we can do for another person is to hold them up in prayer. 

Yes it was easy to pray for a stranger in a parking lot. As much as I related to her, it was rather tidy. Anonymous - me and God. Not so easy to pray for the person who only days ago was yelling at me. Nor for the person who choose to yell at me the following day. Not so easy to pray for someone when they are making YOUR day harder. BUT THAT IS WHAT WE MUST DO.

So here I sit, and I am praying for forgiveness for my reluctance to pray for people who are all up in my grill and working hard at making the day difficult. (Yes, there are people I am sure that wake up feeling like: today is the day I ruin another's day)

Dear Lord,

Please give me a prayerful heart. A heart that will hold up the difficult and hurtful people as easily as I hold up those I love and strangers I pass in my day. Forgive me for not praying as quickly for the challenging people and situations as I do for the easy to be thankful for times. 

Thank you Lord. For the blessings of today. For the things that make us stronger and for those things which pass us by.


Who are the hard people in your life to pray for? How do you pray for them? Can we pray together?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why this photo matters #Untangled

1 Peter 3:3-4 [Full Chapter]
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

I am humbled and honoured to be a part of an amazing book, and a more amazing community of women. #Untangled


While in the book I wrote about an entirely different tangle, that doesn't mean I have only one. Oh how boring would THAT be?

No I have a whole section, years and acres of old barbed wire and broken posts, filled with tangles waiting for me. And yet I am learning how to avoid them. To avoid the tangles.

Sometimes I only need to brush a sharp tip to avoid it, other times I am wrapped tight and cutting myself free wire by wire. Bleeding. Crying. And some come from a deeper place - childhood.

And the one tangle I live with, I feel is wrapped around my insides. Grown over and still cutting from within...is this.

How I totally DO NOT meet any of the physical expectations I was raised with. Wandering about without make up. Without a girdle. Or even sucking it all in. Without 'lose weight' diets. No calories counted. 

This photo is important, my darling son. So full of love and life, and joy. And so conscious of what society says about bodies, boy and girls. Learning that able bodied means more than what a body looks like. Learning that being active, eating healthy and having fun is more important than how someone thinks you should look for their ideal. Their comfort. 

So this photo is important....but the one below is the one that matters.

This photo matters. Why?  Because I didn't delete it. OH but I WANTED to! Or any of the others my sweet friend took yesterday. We were having such a grand time at the field trip. Mama's enjoying fun with the children. Truly laughing together, as friends, and with our children. Having something amazing. We had FUN.

This photo matters. Because it isn't carefully staged. Sucked in. Angled. Set up to look nice. Because it is THAT moment. THAT laugh. THAT slide.

This photo matters. Because of what you don't see. You don't see the struggle of a lifetime with body image, fear of looking bad in a photo. You don't see the delicate balance of healthy, in check auto immune disorder and able bodied Mama living life with beloved husband and son. You don't see those things. You don't know the counted steps and little victories.

This photo matters. Because it is a place I thought I would NEVER. NEVER. EVER BE. 

This photo matters because I am comfortable, finally, with me. Candid. Laughing. Living life. Having fun. 

This photo matters because that day I showed my son that having fun, being kind and being able to laugh was important. Not how I looked in my clothes. Or how the camera caught each roll. Not how I wasn't like the other Mama's. I still think they all looked great, you did girls. You really did!

He got to have a fun day, in his words: BEST DAY EVER!  When I asked him what made it so 'best day ever' special his answer was something that brought me to tears. Because, Mama, we had fun together. You slided. I slided. You pedaled go carts. So did I. We did it together. 

So I won't delete it. I won't even wince too much when I scrapbook it. Or share it here. It's out there. That's me. Laughing as I go down a slide. Not missing a single fun thing because I'm tangled up in something like how I look. Or how someone thinks I look. Or should look. Or should act. 

Every tangle can be untangled. Sometimes strand by strand. Delicate work. Sometimes a sharp cutter slices through. Sometimes we have to wiggle through, and bear the healing of the cuts so the scars can remind us that we are His first. And He loves us. 

No shirt size, shoe size or pant size will change how God loves you.

No ability or disability will make Him love you more, or less.

He doesn't desire anything from us but our love. 

Grace. Love. Freely given to us. Not earned. 

Not bought except by Jesus' blood, once and for ALL. FOR ALL.

FOR ALL. You. And you. And you way in the back feeling tangled up, and small. And you. And me. 

Join us in community at: http://untangledwomen.com/ 
or find us on Facebook.

Just to be 'real' and honest. This photo is one I would happily share, and there is NOT ONE THING wrong with it except that I am comfortable with it. And I need to be REAL WITH IT and know it's my best side.  The side I am happy and comfortable sharing. Not because it is how I want you to see me, but it is how I want to see me

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brahma Calves and Arm Bars

We used to raise Brahma cross cattle, and one year a rodeo company wanted to borrow some calves for tie down roping (calf roping). If you have ever watched a roping at a branding, or at a rodeo, you know what happens. The horse and cowboy chase, they throw a loop and if they are lucky it lands around the neck of the calf. The horse stops, the calf falls down to be treated, branded, etc.

But this time something different happened! The calves felt the rope tighten and they turned around to run back up the rope towards the horse.

If you know anything about calf roping horses you know they love their routine and they don't appreciate things like misses, stumbles or falls. It can unravel them if something completely wild happens! 

The whole rodeo went awry! The horses balked and bolted, the cowboys tripped and cussed. The calves chased. Snorted. Ducked their heads and tried to bunt anyone who got in their way.

I always cheered for the calves, and this was one time they beat the odds. They did the unexpected and changed everything!

One thing, no one ever used Brahama calves for roping again. And those horses took a few head to calm down. And those cowboys never assumed that a run would go the way the others in the past had.

Our son loves jiu jitsu. He has practiced it for years, and is a yellow belt.  At his new gym his Sensei has brought out a fighting spirit, a determination, a real passion in him.  He is practicing, sparring and fighting like never before.

He is also learning to gauge his opponents, and use their habits and weaknesses against them. Most people who learn a tap out technique like an arm-bar tend to use it as often as they can. It seems unbeatable. Own the arm, own the body is what we learn.

But you also learn that if you get caught in an arm bar you need to move towards your opponent. To make room to counter their move. Moving towards the pressure instead of pulling back gives you room to move. To escape. 

Like running up the rope, rolling into an armbar or other hold can give you a space to make a new move.

Now I know you are wondering, how does this have anything to do with our walk with Jesus?

Lately, for me, a lot.

Like a Chinese finger trap, the more I struggle against certain things the more they seem to cling, to grasp, to tighten up on me.  The more I pull back from them the more they hold me tight.

In leaning back I am struggling against my pride, my sin, my __________________.  And I am struggling against God.

But what if I lean in. Relax. Let God show me the next move and the path away?  Instead of losing my cool. Or feeling like fighting. Struggling with frustration. With people and their agendas. 

Instead of giving all my energy to fight against it, what if I just surrender my struggle and let God show me His way?  His path and not my own?

Human nature encourages us to go the easy way. The path is wide there. Paved. Poisoned. Filled with traps. Deadly.  Human nature tells us to fight against this. Fight against that.

God tells us to let Him fight for us. God tells us not to worry. God tells us to trust. To do as He guides us to.  

To run back up the rope. To roll into the attempted arm-bar. To pray instead of argue. To choose grace over revenge.

To be like water and wear down the stone by persistence instead of brute force. To pray for hearts and hands instead of shouting and wielding fists.

To stop being mad at early mornings, instead cherishing the quiet moments before the wild ones awaken.  To stop being frustrated that they won't do it my way, but to be glad for the efforts of genuine heart and love.  To treasure the moments by moving into them, instead of pulling back and away to the next thing on the list of things to do.

What are you pulling and fighting against?  What are you struggling with alone?  Go up the rope! Roll into the arm-bar. God will show you the way once you stop struggling. We have to be still for Him to fight for us. Be still sisters. Be still brothers. And when He says SHOUT! walls will come down!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Guest Post: Fast Food Faith or Feasting with The King

We are a busy bunch aren’t we? Our plates our full, and we say yes to a plethora of activities without ever checking in with the One who fills our plates with good things.
I am not equipped to live this life apart from God.
Neither are you.
I cannot be the woman, wife, mother that God wants me to be apart from prioritizing Him having His way with me, IN ME.
My default is self, and I grab the reigns for this ride of life because (I believe) if I don’t who will? I buy into the lie that I am the one who needs to take charge and my God grows smaller as I push Him off His throne of grace and seize the day.
I charge into the day, having read a few words from the Bible and getting on thinking I am good with God, and I am all set for the day. Then I find my fuse short, my day long and I wonder why I feel a rumbling hunger in my soul, unquenchable angst of the heart.
I have no desire for Him, unless I spend time in intimacy with Him.
Like food, we acquire a taste and appetite for more of that which nourishes us and tastes good! Time with God nourishes us and tastes good. It provides for us what we need to get through the day with energy and zeal. But I confess, that the taste must be aquired, and there are a number of  forces competing for our attention.
The question becomes, do we want more of Him or more of Self? I have lived a good part of my life allowing self to reign. I think sometimes we kid ourselves into believing we are too busy for God, or sometimes we allow other things to squeeze out our desire to prioritize spending time with Him. We don’t say we are too busy for Him, we are to pious for that! No, we just get through the day like a stray dog begging for scraps, instead of recognizing our place at the King’s Table.
How can we who have this One Faithful Loving God ready and available to us, yet settle for fast food faith that doesn’t satisfy?
Are you spiritually malnourished or nourished at His table?
Take time to sit at the King’s Table today, will you- you won’t regret feasting with Him.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. Song of Solomon 2:4

Special thanks to Dawn from http://enthusiasticallydawn.com/ for guest posting for me this week. Please stop by her blog for more great posts and poetry too!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Expectant Believer

I keep coming back to the Message Bible describing Joseph of Arimathea as an "expectant believer". He lived expectantly, on the lookout for the Kingdom of God.

Am I? Am I abiding in Him in such a way that I am expectant of His presence, of His promise, made real? Am I phoning it in, or taking the easy skimming way? Am I expecting to see Jesus in my life in real ways, or am I 'hoping He has time for me'?

In a world of negative, of looking for the worst, we need to be expectant more of God. It is an active faith, a living faith. One that seeks. One that searches. One that lives.

I am learning, slowly, that this walk of faith has so many layers. We talk about going deeper like we would the ocean, assuming there is a bottom. A depth where we stop. I think there is no bottom. The deeper is like going deeper into space - we keep going and going. Closer and closer to Him to be sure, but how can there be limits with a limitless God?
I rest in my faith, right now I have to.  No rock of 'a map'. Just Him. And taking the next step even though I can't see the one after. (and the planner in me HATES that sometimes, most of the time. But we are learning to trust.).
That not having a Plan B or Plan C, but going all in for Plan A terrifies and thrills me. Win, lose or draw I'm going with God. He has this. And I just need to saddle up and ride.

As our Pastor Kevin Weatherby of Save The Cowboy says, you have to choose to tie on hard and fast to Jesus. We can have a looser dally for somethings, but our faith needs to to tied on. Don't let go. Don't lose your stirrups or drop the reins.

And the post that got this one going is found here: http://www.joannfore.com/intimacy-with-god/ 
Stop by and have a read. And be blessed. Don't miss the great conversations happening in the comments.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seasons and voices

So far I've written and deleted this post twice three times. I wanted to write a sweet tie up to our journey with Jo Ann and the amazing #VoiceBloggers.

But that isn't what God wants me to share today.

And the more I struggle to NOT share it, the more deleting and retyping I have to do.

Not everyone is happy when we find our voice. They don't like their comfort being upset by growth. By change. By something new.

Some are happy for the change. But not for us. They see our voice as something to use. To manage. To own. They are watching for us to fall back on old habits. Their quiet cynicism a sharp barb. They expect us to fall. We are fallen people.  

So they wait. 

And watch.

And sharpen their barbs.

I KNEW you couldn't keep it up. A tiger can't change it's stripes.

I KNEW you'd lose your cool.

Can't you just________________for once?

They miss the transformation. They miss the change in our hearts. The voice is only part of what we have found. 

I will mutter. I will growl at inanimate objects. I will probably take a computer crash personally. That isn't my transformation. That isn't my voice.

I will see where my voice is not needed, and speak love as I leave.

I will refrain from going to an argument I've been invited to, and speak peace as I walk away.

I will brush away the cynical barb and instead of tossing it back, I will give it to Jesus.

These stripes are mine baby. No one really cares if a tiger is black on orange or orange on black. 

I wrote a poem last week.  This is part of it:

I don’t know where we are going, or when, limbo is so strange.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t miss this adventure for anything!
Praying for broken hearts and praising in the hallway.
On the other hand we have much to be thankful for.
Thankful for what makes us stronger, what passes us by.
On the other hand I fight against that which I can’t change.
It’s futile, I know, running back to a closed gate.
On the other hand sometimes I can be a hard learner.
We are told to praise in the hallway, waiting can be so hard!
On the other hand He never said not to make windows.

I am not a pretty church girl from a poster. 
I'm standing in the hallway dreaming of a chainsaw to make some windows. 
To cut a new door. To move this thing along. 
I wanted to use my voice like a chainsaw the other day. I am so thankful God stayed my hand. Quieted my voice. Stilled my heart.
I wanted to know why I was no longer wanted. Why I was reduced to thanks for your interest. Why I wasn't worthy of more information. Better communication. I wanted to stomp my feet and toss some barbs of my own.
Ugh. Ugly, no? Yeah. But I didn't. That's the transformation. I didn't.
I accepted them for where they were at. I asked the questions. I left the answering to God. 
And walked away.  Unfollowed the page. Restricted their access to my life. 
Guess what? They haven't noticed. And guess what else? That's okay.  It isn't about me. It's about them. And God. And God working on them. 
Mostly though. It's about me. And God working on me. 
Come over and see what the other amazing #VoiceBloggers are sharing today on our last link up with Jo Ann. Don't worry though, there are more amazing things coming that we will do together! Promise. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Paper tiger teeth

I feel like I've been busy pulling teeth from paper tigers - the words, lessons and false messages of my past ambush me in the strangest ways. Less than before for which I am so thankful to Jesus. But still when that acid hits my stomach and the FIGHT defense comes up so fast I hardly know what to do.
And I instantly regret it. The outburst. The frustration. The hard face and harsh voice. It seems all my life I have failed in those areas, like God gave me a short fuse and said, "Okay have fun with that!" knowing it would take me 30 some years to figure out I need to stay away from people with matches. And lighters. And other open flames. Even if they are family. Even if they are friends. Even if they say they mean well or they are doing God's work. And I need to stop lighting them when I feel frustrated and want to blow it all up. BOOM.
Sharing my story, well honestly parts of my story, has been done to share my healing journey not because I did anything special but because God did. To share my beliefs that we need to speak up. To advocate for those with no voice. And encourage them in finding their voice. And then listening when they do. Giving them ownership of it. Building them up like the walls in Nehemiah and guarding them.
I'm a much better encourager than a sharer. There are two kinds of unhealthy responses to sharing our hurts: the drama lovers. They want the details, every blood smear and tear drop. They don't want to hear the healing but have you relive the hurt. For their entertainment. The others are the 'get over its' when they hear you have a story their response is: It's in the past, let it go. Move on. Leave that ____ behind. They don't care to get messy. Or involved. They want you as is comfortable for them. Not you.
God brought me through. I'm on the healing path. I'm an encourager and advocate. I'm a reforming (daily? minute by minute more likely) ogress. I love passionately and lean on my Lord, unworthy and yet completely redeemed and loved. Yeah it makes me cry. And yeah I fear moving forward with story, sharing and *gasp* community where all the vulnerabilities come out. But God moves me and I'm learning to go. Sometimes dragging my feet, sometimes making excuses but I go.
I am thankful for this community, for these women. We laugh together, create and pray. It is a huge blessing to me. A life changer.

~  ~  ~

This post was originally a comment here: http://www.joannfore.com/online-study-9  Jo Ann said in her reply it was a post on it's own. So I decided to give it some wings and let it fly!  This is raw. This is real. This is right now.

Want to know more about this story, and the stories of other women who are Finding Their Voice?  Join us at JoAnnFore.com for the ongoing study of her amazing book When A Woman Finds Her Voice.

Join in for the blog prompts, leap in for the study, join us on Facebook, read posts by the encouraging and real #VoiceBloggers and be encouraged. Be real. Be loved.