Potato Bug Season

When I was a kid my grampa would have us pick over his potato plants for those little black and orange(ish) striped bugs. As I grew older they became less creepy and more fascinating, but that’s beside the point. Picking potato bugs eventually became a game. Whoever found the most was the ultimate winner because gramps would dump out our rusty old cans of bugs on a rusty old barrel and he would count them. For every bug we found he would give a penny. One dollar doesn’t seem like a whole lot now but to find 100 bugs was the greatest of victories then!

When I was in my teens I did a few ride alongs with my grampa on his paperoute. While everyone was sleeping both him and my grandmother delivered newspapers to people wanting to keep up on current events. I used to think they were a bit like Santa Claus because no one saw them when they came and they delivered packages that held goodies: comics and crossword puzzles.

My grampa would wear a sly smirk when he did something just to get a reaction out of my grandmother. He wore blue Dickie pants and suspenders almost every day I saw him. He had a great laugh and he wasn’t a fan of spaghetti. His ‘junk‘ yard full of old cars was the greatest of hiding places and his knowledge of dairy cows would blow your mind.

Sunday my grampa had a stroke and was in the ICU unresponsive for a few days. Yesterday afternoon he stopped breathing.

I will miss his love for counting bugs.


I can’t say my grampa is with Jesus because I don’t that. But I do know his death is teaching me to live. It’s teaching me to live seasons to the fullest because each season brings new color and different light. They bring new people and we celebrate those whom we don’t take into the next season with us. We remember and we forget. We grow up and we remain childlike because who doesn’t like reading the newspaper comics every now and then?

Some seasons are filled with collecting pennies while others are filled with Charlie Brown never learning his lesson: Lucy is NEVER going to let him kick the football. But taking the good along with the bad (collecting potato bugs or falling flat on my face) I choose to live and love and believe, because seasons really are a gift and we get to choose how to live them.

So to those of you who are wrestling with loss (in any capacity), you are being prayed for tonight. Know there is more beyond where you are in this moment. Know healing IS a tangible thing and you are not alone. Know in Jesus name, there is a garden FULL of victories for whatever form of loneliness or pain you are facing in this season.


Tonight at worship practice the team sang, “Your promise still stands, great is Your faithfulness. I’m still in Your hands, this is my confidence.” Walk your current season shouting, living and believing that because God is true to His word. He never leaves and He never fails. 

This world isn’t all there is and that truth makes mourning bearable because weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morningIMG_9817

 

“Kid, I make all things new.”

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My favorite passage from scripture is Psalm 139:5 which says, “You hem me in, behind and before…” There is this underlining message of God completely surrounding David. And that’s what I felt that snowy morning when God became real.


Ten years ago today I woke up in the mountains of Maine. Only one more week until Thanksgiving, Autumn surrounded the farm and snow was coming soon. I had so many plans for the day. I was going to walk to the river, learn how to juggle with a third rice bag and write new lyrics in my journal (yes, that was my dream day as a fifteen year old). Our parents had left for the night so us kids had planned a low-key evening drinking hot cocoa.

Low-key quickly turned into high-strung when smoke started rolling down the stairs. The farmhouse was on fire.

From there the rest of the night faded in and out. Firetrucks and red lights. Sirens and shouting. People. SO MANY PEOPLE. We stood in my grandparent’s living room and watched the flames disappear into the sky. It’s one of those nights you think someone is going to pinch you and you’ll wake up but then realize you’re already awake so the only thing left to do is keep living. And when you keep living you move on and realize the best really is yet to come.

I could share so much more about that night but the morning after was monumental to my faith and my belief in Jesus so I’d rather talk about that. Sometime within the night the sky had opened up with snow and so when I woke on November 18th, 2007 everything was blanketed in white. The mountains. The trees. The mud. The dirt. The ashes. And in that moment God showed up and covered me. He covered and said, “Kid, I make all things new.”

It’s been 10 years and He still says that me. Those words are a foundation to my faith and the more I lean into Jesus the more I learn it’s the foundation of who God is. He restores and rebuilds and makes all things new.

I used to mourn that season in my life because you can’t go through something like that and not be changed. But now I celebrate it because you can’t go through something like that and not be changed. My being was shaken and stirred and moved to live different. To seek God in a whole new way. To learn to see the good even when it’s raining bad.

My family sat down for Thanksgiving that year with little. I had a pair of khaki jeans (flared, I might add) and a white knitted sweater with giant pink flowers on it (seriously, it was so bad…), but I had Jesus. And when Jesus is all you have, you realize He really is all you need.

And so today I celebrate the last 10 years. I celebrate the victory of learning to juggle with a third rice bag and clothes that don’t have giant knitted flowers on them. But mostly I celebrate the gift of learning and living and moving on to the best that is still yet to come.

 

Creative & Crazy

“One of the difficulties with the creative life is that when we have creative breakthroughs, they may look and even be experienced as breakdowns.” – Julia Cameron


As a kid I had to chase them; those moments too good not to capture through word or paint or camera. I lived for those moments. Those glimpses when the rest of the world seemed so small and the creative breakthrough so big. To me those moments made complete sense and I just knew I was created to run after them. But to those around me I was confusing and hard to understand. I was different and maybe a hint of crazy  because I’d leave a party to sit in a quiet corner looking up at the stars. It was who I was.

I didn’t always embrace the creative being in me, though. In fact, many of my – childhood corner staring up at the sky moments – were hidden in a stash under my bed deemed as creative nonsense that makes no sense. And for the longest time, I thought (or rather, believed) that’s all my being would ever be. Creative nonsense.

But so often the things we deem as unusable, God breaks right through and uses them. Learning that has been the biggest breakthrough of my life. Because I am a creative being and I’m not afraid to own that now.

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I’m a Creative Arts Pastor with which comes great responsibility in sharing those moments. Those ones too good not to capture through word or paint or camera. I chase those moments more than I ever have because it’s become a necessity. It’s why I was created. And the reality that I get to do that now as a living, completely blows the mind of a little girl with crushed dreams who threw her box of creative nonsense in the trash. Back then I was so far detached f rom understanding that God goes before; now I’m so detached to that truth I cling to it. And my creative box has multiplied and it sits on my desk and overflows on my kitchen table and on the walls and onto a church platform.

Not everyone gets it, the creative soul that is. I don’t either but I’m learning. Julia Cameron is one of my favorite authors and she captures the artistic soul in such a brilliant and breathable way. Taken from her book The Artist’s Way Every Day she wrote:  “One of the difficulties with the creative life is that when we have creative breakthroughs, they may look and even be experienced as breakdowns.” SO. MUCH. TRUTH. Because when you create, you breakdown what was there before. It’s like you’re tilting the world, turning it upside down and shaking it until some sort of spiritual truth falls out. Most of the time something does fall and the creative being in me has to pick it up and show it too you. That’s why I do what I do.

I believe the Spirit pours out stuff all the time for us to pick up and share with those who missed the pouring. I mean, I’m so grateful for men like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who took the time to write histories most terrifyingly beautiful moments. I’m thankful for those who craft songs or paint pictures or tell stories all across the globe that lead me to worship Jesus. Moments like that have brought me to where I am today. Still creative and crazy, but that’s a good thing.

Friend, if you find yourself in one of the moments (which may be different for you than they are for me) chase them. Seriously. And don’t stop until you have a breakdown. Because we need breakdowns for breakthroughs. 

And another thing. Stop throwing yourself away.  I know that can be hard when this world though wonderful, is confusing and sometimes painful. One day you’re well, the next you’re in a hospital bed. One day you’re a family, the next you’re a divorce statistic. One day you’re a kid in a happy home, the next you’re in foster care. One day you have a job, the next you’re at the unemployment office. One day you’re planning a wedding, the next you’re not. One day you’re lonely and the next you’re lonely again. But even when you find yourself in the harder days, press on. Don’t be too quick to throw yourself away. Take the world and shake it upside down. Seek to find the moments when the Spirit pours out and God scoops you right up and says, “Kid, I’m breaking through.”

Because He is.


Also, I think we should look up at the stars more often.

Cheers To Kindnees

Loving people is hard. We know this. We know this when unkind words come across our screens or when neighbors blare loud music at two in the morning. We ache in this when family seems impossible or friendships unreliable.

To love isn’t easy, but it’s a necessity. It’s what we were created and called to do…even when our beings fight the want to do so.

Over the course of this month I’ve received harsh criticism and called names I would never write here. I share that not for pity but to be real in saying, loving hasn’t been easy for me this summer. Words are my bread and butter and when they show up moldy, my soul deflates and when I deflate, I don’t love well.

With that understanding the Lord has been teaching me to love in a different way. Even in the midst of unloving moments, I am still to love. And believe me when I say this, the last thing I want to do is love a leper. But Jesus says to love the leperAnd with that I’ve come to learn, the moments when loving is the hardest are the moments I need to love the most. That in itself is hard. But that’s hesed love.

In Hebrew hesed is

  • a deliberate choice of affection and kindness

And that is raham love. In Hebrew raham is

  • to have compassion, brotherly love

It’s a choice to see beyond the hate and fear. Beyond criticism, differences and insecurities. It’s a choice to simply love when it’s not so simple because (at the risk of sounded stereotypically corny) that’s what Jesus would do.

We are so good at tearing apart and cutting each other down. We are good at making our opinions known and making sure they are the only ones that count. We are good at judging those in charge (so much so that we forget to pray for them). Speak truth, yes. But make sure it’s drowned in love. 

I know I’m not always the most lovable person (which makes me incredibly thankful for grace and friends who choose love me in hesed and raham ways). Knowing that has turned my prayer time this month into a consistent asking of the Lord to teach me to love better and speak kinder. I pray that for our nation too.

This isn’t a done process, so there is no pretty bow to tie around this blog. But friends, cheers to kindness. May we love beneath the surface and be vulnerable enough to admit the moments when we don’t and seek God to teach us to do so.

Jesus, meet us.

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When We Depend More On Coffee Than We Do Jesus

Let’s be honest, most of us at one time or another have struggled with image and value. We measure our image by what magazines portray and we find our value in what we do and how much we’ve accomplished. When I was in college, I strugged with image. Since graduation, I’ve struggled more with value.

Being in the field that I’m in, there is tremendous pressure in knowing solutions and having answers (all the while executing in grace). But the truth of the matter is, I still need solutions and answers and a whole lot of grace. And when I feel I miss the mark all accounts, my worth goes right out the window (because I give it permission too)!

My value graph lately has been anything but consistent, which drives me completely crazy (insert sigh). These days I’ve felt like a messy being. Like a being who doesn’t know her right foot from her left. A woman with nothing to say and nothing to offer. Some of those factors have to do with age, job, relationship status, and family scenarios. Some of those factors simply have to do with my soul being focused on all the wrong things (you know what the factors are for you). And with that being said, I feel the need to share this: the scale we so often place our value on is complete comparison nonsense. There is no realness to it. No foundation. No depth. No truth. Because value isn’t defined by looks, objects or status, it’s defined by the God who breathed us into existence.

While seeking the Lord in this wrestling through value, I stumbled across Acts 17 and it hits home for me (maybe it will for you too). Paul is in the city of Athens and while he’s there he was deeply distressed over the amount of idols he found. He says to the people,

“22 …’People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’.”

Maybe you should read that again because I’ve needed too. In Him we live and move and have our being. In God. Yahweh. Jehovah. Our Father. In Him. Not in things. Not in graphs. Not in comparisons. Not in other relationships. Not in ourselves. In Him.

That’s vital to living and I know that. But sometimes I struggle to really KNOW that. I fight it because it’s easier to place value in the quick fixes. It’s something entirely different to be still and seek the Lord in ALL things. In seeking His timing and boundaries for our lives. In seeking His wisdom and His words of who we are and who we are to be in Him. And that…that takes intentionality and intentionality takes time and we all know, ‘time is money.’ So instead we let our scales be measured by how busy we are, how much weight we’ve lost, who notices us and how successful our business is etc. When we get tired we say we need a cup of coffee. When we don’t want to deal with a problem we turn on the television. When relationships get messy, we find new ones with people who won’t challenge us because we’d rather stay comfortable.

Let’s face it. We have our own Athens idols inscribed with ‘unknown god’ all around us and they distract us from our real value in Christ. And when we depend more on coffee than we do Jesus, something isn’t right. Our scales are imbalanced. Our souls suffer and so do our relationships.

I’ll be the first to admit, I spend too much time measuring my own scale and not enough time giving who I am to the Lord, trusting His time and His ways. Which is ridiculous! I mean, if He could make all nations from one man, how much more could He do through both me and you?


Today I was handed a gift. It was a white frame with a mint green picture that simply said, “You are so loved.” And when it was handed to me, the gifter said, “I just wanted you to know you are seen.”

That was the Lord saying, “I’ve seen where you’ve been walking this month, and I love you. But I’m God and you’re not. Place your value in Me. For in Me, you move and live and be.”

20542967_862477410581342_918361442_oFriends, let’s not just be a religious people, but rather a people who know the God they worship, a people who seek Him and a people who turn to Him before pouring a cup of coffee. 

 

 

Snake Skin

Sometimes I’m a feet dragger. When things grow uncomfortable or seem to be too much, I hide in my skin and slither away. Because let’s face it, life isn’t always ice cream and syrup (or peaches and cream). Sometimes it’s more like walnuts, and I strongly dislike those. 


This week a group of us have been at NTS (Never The Same) Camp with students from Radiant Life Church. I’m mainly the photographer and video catcher, but I do get to lead a small group of young ladies who are nearing college much faster than they would like.

There have been moments of deep belly laughter and moments of gut wrenching tears. There have been hundreds of conversations; some that make perfect sense and some that make absolutely no sense because sleep was little the night before.

But God has been here. 

Santes Beatty (our speaker for the week) has been declaring we are all witnesses for Jesus. We have been encouraged to show up, speak up, and told to not give up. Each message has been moving and if applied to your walk with Jesus, could be transforming. Last night, eleven students applied that to their lives and committed to following Jesus. People all over the worship center cheered and cried and prayed. The Spirit was there and everyone seemed to sense it. Students were confessing, praying to be made new and shedding old skin. Shedding skin is an amazing thing to watch. Not always pretty, but powerful.

Pastor Beatty shared a story about a man who said he felt like a snake. He felt like a snake because he was shedding old skin and being transformed, putting on new skin in Jesus name. I LOVED that analogy. Mainly because the caterpillar turning into a butterfly is the go to analogy for being made new. But shedding skin doesn’t mean your changing your whole self, it means you are transforming bit by bit and putting on new skin. And as Laurie Northrop shared at breakfast, “It’s not a one time thing. Snakes shed their skin over and over again.”

I am SO thankful that we never stop growing and learning and that the Father doesn’t stop teaching even when we resist the shedding. The skin I wear now looks completely different than the skin I wore when I first met Jesus. I had coffee with mentors this week and took a walk down memory lane to when I first met them. I’m the same person as I was then, but walk in completely different skin (thank you Lord)!

 


To those of you who may feel as those you are hiding in your skin, don’t be afraid to shed it. Let Jesus walk with you and in the midst of what is uncomfortable or terrifying. Exposing yourself isn’t ice cream and syrup (or peaches and cream), but it is freeing. It’s freeing to know that who you are now, isn’t who you have to be. It’s freeing to know that when you are rooted in Christ, the Father continues to make you new, over and over again.


“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” [Colossians 3:9-10English Standard Version (ESV)]

 

Patricia

Photo Credit: Emily Gardner

 

To The Moms Who Have Heard Those Three Words

We love those winning moments. Those ones that make you smile wide and jump high. Those moments that seem to say, “You did it.” and, “You got it right.” But then there are those moments that make you frown deep and lay low. Those ones that seem to say, “You can’t do it.” and, “Wrong again.”

Today I had a kid tell me he hated me. That was a first and I walked into my office feeling rather depleted. Were those words really meant or were they just a knee jerk reaction from an angry little being because I had dared to say, “No.”

“I hate you.” I’ve never heard a child say that in real life before. Television and movies? Yes. Storybooks and songs? Yes. Real life? No. But I know parents all around the world struggle with little beings who sometimes say those three words.

And as I’ve read through your mother’s day posts, I’ve thought a lot about all of you moms. You who have heard those three words and those of you who someday may hear them. I’ve thought about you moms who have kids who dump glue on rugs, throw chairs and break crayons (all of which happened today in kids church). I’ve thought about you moms with high anxiety children and you moms who are at a loss at what to do with your little beings who carry bursts of energy and bursts of anger. I’ve thought about those of you who now have kids in college and those of you who have kids that are now moms. I’ve thought about you moms who have lost a child and you moms who feel like you’re losing yours. I’ve thought and prayed for all of you and all I can say is, thank you. Thank you for daring to take care of those little beings of all ages and in all stages. Thank you for loving them even in the hardest of moments, because I’ve gotten to meet several of your ‘little beings’; some younger than me and some older and I have to tell you, even though words are said and things are broken, your kids adore you and I adore that.

I asked several Radiant Kids today what their favorite thing about their mom is. And they had ALL kinds of things to say:

“She feeds me.”
“She is stylish.”
“She does my laundry.”
“I don’t have a favorite thing because I love everything about her.”

So to the moms who have heard those three words, here are three more:

You. Are. Amazing.

Press on, and happy mother’s day!

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