Finding Rest In The Midst Of Crazy

Sometimes, life can feel as though you live in an extremely loud vortex. A realm blended with countless unknowns and a whole lot of crazy. Between your work, your family and all the in-betweens, that thing can be hard to find.

And I’m not good at that thing called rest.

And you’re probably right there with me.

In University, us students were taught to rest. I often sat with professors wanting to learn how to do that. How does one rest when the to-do list just keeps getting longer or when expectations never seem to be met. And as you might ask, how does one do that when the laundry is piled sky-high or when the kids you just bathed got into the flour and now look like frosty?

Easy answer? Just say ‘no.’ I know, what kind of answer is that?

Particularly in the field of ministry, this rest thing is complicated. As Pastors, we fight with that more than most things because nothing ever seems to be done. And to be honest, since being hired as a Pastor I’ve had more conversations with God about finding rest than I think I’ve talked to Him about anything else.

My problem isn’t that I have a family to keep me busy when I’m not working at the church, my problem is that when I go home, I don’t have anyone telling me to stop and so I don’t. Because if I stop, I’m afraid I won’t meet the deadlines. Or if I do, I’m worried that what I bring to the table will fall flat. Now I don’t write that for people to feel sorry for me or as a subtle way to ask for help. I write that because truthfully, I’m a terrible rester (which, I’m not sure is even a word).

And that’s no one else’s fault but my own.

However, we are commanded and taught to rest.

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” [Mark 6:30-32]

Jesus. Now there is a guy who understood the importance of stewarding your time and making room for rest.

Yesterday I blew the whole rest thing. So today, my goal was to blow off the whole work thing. And for the most part, I did, but sometimes things are inevitable. Sometimes you cropped-12768391_575580892604330_631067968804145124_o1.jpghave tasks to do on Fridays at six and on Saturdays at two. Important, rest isn’t about being neglectful, it’s about being wise and making space to refuel. 

So when given the opportunity, I jumped in the jeep. Bought a coffee. Plugged in my favorite music. Opened my rooftop window. And just drove. I didn’t have a destination. I didn’t need one. But eventually, I sat on a park bench in the quiet, hearing nothing but rushing water, chirping birds, blowing winds and then Jesus. And when you say no to everything else and say yes to Jesus, you find the greatest of resting places, because His presence IS rest. And when you rest, you refuel.

Relax. Refresh. Recover. Reconvene. Repeat.

So to those of you who too often find yourself afraid to rest, just say no. Every once in a while say no to the laundry and to the kid who rolled in the flour. And say yes to the one who tells you to rest.

I’m slowly learning rest is a choice and that it’s okay to say, “No, I just can’t do that right now. But after I get a bit of rest, I can rock that out in no time.” And nine times out of ten, what I produce after rest is a thousand times better than anything I’ve produced without rest.

 

 

 

I was just on the bus yesterday

Don’t get me wrong, I love people. But sometimes, I’d like to sit them down and say, “I was just on the bus yesterday with a pencil box in my backpack and a bow in my hair.” 

I was recently chatting with an acquaintance and like any conversation I seem to have with curious people lately, the topic of dating was brought up. The topic of dating as well as my age and the, “you know, you aren’t getting any younger” pep talk.

Believe me, I know.

So I’m twenty-four and I’m not married and I don’t have children. But I do have an education and a job. I pay my bills and make my own meals and I recently bought a puppy. That’s got to count for something, right?

Now, I’m not against the idea of getting married and raising a family. In fact, I think I’d rather like that. And I enjoy the, “let’s get coffee” or “watch a movie” moments. So hear me when I say I’m not writing this to speak negatively towards any of that. And by that, I mean dating and marriage. When done well, relationships can be sweet.

But I could have sworn I was just on the bus yesterday headed to third grade praying I’d pass my math test (I was terrible at math). And I thought it was just yesterday I was diving in the river pretending to be a world famous olympic swimmer. And wasn’t it just yesterday I graduated from high school?

Okay, so graduation was eight years ago, but it sure feels like it was yesterday.

And when yesterday feels like I was a little girl, it’s hard to imagine I would even be old enough to consider dating, let alone marriage or kids.

But still, people persist I must start looking as if relationships are a big treasure hunt. And most the days, I find their persistence rather amusing. But some days, I find it insulting (and I mean that with the most respect). Because when someone says, “You should be married by now, or at least dating” it can make a person feel lonely and on those rare occasions, as if something is wrong with them.

I just simply didn’t go the route of seeking a man to marry first. Instead, I worked hard to pass my math tests and kept diving in the river. I graduated from high school and from wearing bows in my hair. I went to university; sometimes passing and sometimes failing. I b87b6c_648be8b8597542c4aadfddc07fe4a3d9focused on learning and leaping; sometimes landing and sometimes falling. Many classmates married (and they are awesome and I love them), but some of us didn’t. And for some, it was a feeling of not being ready. For others it was simply because yesterday feels like 1st grade. For me, it was always both. So I went the route of seeking a different man. The carpenter who walked on water and understood relationships in a deep and real and different way.

We are all wired diffrently and so there are some who are reading this who managed to juggle school and work and love all at the same time.

But not me.

I’ve spent the last twenty-four years of my life simply learning to love myself. And within those years, also learning to trust God with the deeper parts of me before I sought to reveal those pieces to anyone else. And through the loving and trusting I have learned that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It just means I didn’t want to be the wrong thing for someone else.

We live in a world full of broken relationships and the only way to heal them or to have healthy ones, is to follow Christ’s example. And He loved. I mean, LOVED.

I want to love and be loved like that and I think 100% of us do.

So to all of you who have not married by the age of twenty-one, be encouraged and continue to love you. Pour yourself before God as He pours Himself into you before you pour yourself into any man or woman. Go to college (or don’t if that’s not your thing) and go on adventures. Don’t be afraid to do things alone but don’t run from relationships either. Go on dates and meet new people, but don’t feel the need to tie the knot because it’s the thing to do. Go on dates and meet people because relationships can be good, especially when they are rooted in the God who created Adam and Eve and called them good together.

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7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:7-8;18-24

We are poured on every day

To pour is to rain. To send liquid falling; propelling really. To pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled. Every year should be a year of pouring. A year of seeing cups overflow and relationships filled. Every year should be a year of pouring into those who are empty and being filled with more of Jesus because His water jars are always full.

Pour. I love the word and I love what it can do.

I love the sound of coffee pouring in a cup and I love the sound of rain pouring on a roof. I love that the Lord pours out who He is in ways that make a grown up sqpourueal like a kid on Christmas morning. I love learning and that I get the opportunity to pour into kids who are both eager to learn and equally eager to pour into me.

I love to pour and I love to be poured into.

So each week of this year I have been challenged to recognize the pouring in all capacities because I too often miss it. I miss the moments when Jesus knocks on the door to fill my cup and the moments when He passes by asking me to pour out into other cups. Sometimes I walk too fast and talk too fast that what I pour out isn’t all that good. And sometimes I breathe too little and only open my door a little and what needs to be poured in is left with no space and no welcome.

Pour. To pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled.

It’s easy to say pouring is hard but we are poured on every day. We are poured on when a friend remembers your favorite ‘coffee shop drink’ and delivers it to you (thanks Rasika!). We are poured on when we wake up to kind words and laughter. We are poured on when we are invited in and loved and open. We are poured on when we pour out and we are poured on when we allow God to pour in.

I wonder how different the world would be if we poured the good kind of stuff more. The kind of stuff Jesus poured. You know, the kind of pouring that heals and gives and changes not just life, but lives. I want to pour like that. Because to pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled.

 

Regardless of the calendar year, please keep living

I’ve read that ‘in the beginning, God created’ and I believe without any doubt he did. The earth was formless, full of void. Darkness blanketed the deep. But “God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” A beginning to what was once empty.

With the new year approaching, I am thankful for beginnings like that. Beginnings in which God speaks, “Let there be.” Beginnings in which the morning light rises to remind that He continues to speak and teach and be.

As a people, though, it’s safe to say we are not always quick to listen and learn and live in that being. Because simply put, life gets fast and busy and messy.

Something always needs to be done.

Someone always needs to be undone.

And someday days just need to be redone.

For those reasons, grace is such a gift. It’s one of the greatest lights we have been given. It allows us room to breathe when we are running fast and it lifts our backpacked-burdens when we live in the messy. Grace gets us through our worst days and our most difficult years.

Social media has gone wild with the realities of 2016. And I must admit, I have chuckled at most memes and shaken my head at blogs who are very clear that this year has been…wait for it…The. Worst. Year. Ever.

I’m not sure it’s fair to blame the year (those poor digits), nor do I believe we can label it as ‘the worst year’. Darkness will always seem to blanket the deep if that’s where your focus is. But when you dive down more, you’ll see God blankets deeper. And that’s the hope I enter into 2017 with. With the truth that God is light and God will always be light. With the treasure that Jesus is the light of the world and therefore, darkness has no dominion over the world.

For some who are reading this, it has been a tough year for you. Life turned to death. Marriage to divorce. Friend to stranger. Health to sickness. Job to unemployed. And no amount of prayer or apologies could ever change some of it. But please keep living. Keep seeing the good in people. Keep choosing to see the light because it is there.

A year ago I dreaded entering into the new year; fearing and seeming so small. When the clock struck midnight I was standing outside staring up at a dark sky searching for answers. Seeking to be made whole and needing grace.

God met me. God met me and said, “Let there be.”

Then Jesus just seemed so big.

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Yes, 2016 has been a different kind of year. There have been new and wonderful and scary things, yet every year is a different kind of year filled with new and wonderful and scary things. But still, regardless of the calendar year, Jesus is so big and beginnings are not all that bad. Let there be tremendous hope in that.

For beginnings give hope to mistakes and pain and life. They heal endings in unexplainable ways and open doors for friendship. They break down walls and allow room for love.

Beginnings give birth to a baby in a manger. They turn water into wine. They heal the lame and the blind and the sick. They turn confusion into peace and death into life. And beginnings have a way of resurrecting who we were and are created to be, even in moments and years that seem to be the worst.

I wish you all a year full of beginnings like that. Beginnings that resurrect. Beginnings in which you are overwhelmed by love and filled with grace. Beginnings in which you learn more about yourself and adventure with all that is new. Beginnings in which you are made to laugh until your belly hurts. Beginnings in which the Lord speaks light to what is dark.

May this year be one filled with the words, “Let there be…”

Buy A Ticket & Get On The Plane

It’s getting harder to reach back into the heart of that 15 year old kid. The one who didn’t usually have answers nor the voice to speak up when she did. She wasn’t smart enough. Pretty enough. Bold enough. She wasn’t enough. That 15 year old me.

15052122_709487112547040_2080644508_oBut it seems I hardly know her anymore and believe me, that’s a good thing.

You see, I was the timid kid with an adventure soul. The child who had wild dreams but pursuing them meant leaving what I knew and living into what I didn’t and back then, that terrified me. But the truth is, the most exciting things in my life have begun with unknowns. With the things that absolutely terrified me.

That’s how I ended up in Michigan. New job. New address. New license plate. New people. And when everything is new, it means nothing is familiar. Nothing is home. And so I’ve spent the last year trusting God to make it home. Trusting that this calling He has on my life is richer and more sacred than what my 15 year old self ever believed the unknowns could bring.

I go back to 15 more than I do any other age because that year was pivotal. That year God spoke deep into a little girl who just wanted a home.

November 17, 2007 firefighters responded to a call. A two story farmhouse was on fire and needed immediate attention. I was on the other end watching the colors evaporate into the sky. The ground was cold. And seven kids all under the age of 15 watched the known turn to dust. But the dust taught me. It taught me that if God can breath life into something like dirt, how much more could God take the mess of that day and the mess of me and turn it into something as good as a home.

This week marks the 9th anniversary of that day. 9th. How did the years evaporate so quickly? How does one go from making a cup of cocoa in Maine at 15, to making a cup of cocoa in Michigan at 24.

Well, I have curious little girl and a God who showed her that new isn’t always scary to thank for that. And that is why this week is an anniversary. It marks beginnings for me that I could never fully explain. It marks the parts of me God rebuilt and restored. And I sit here in an empty church completely baffled that this place has become home.

I haven’t disposed all of the 15 year old me because to be honest, I still want to jump on the bed and eat chocolate chip pancakes for supper. I still want to catch snowflakes with my tongue and eat lemon pie for breakfast. I still want to travel the world and write stories and dream. But I am so thankful God continues to breathe into the dust of who I am making my life new, over and over again.

God takes the dust who we think we are and turns it into the sons and daughters He knows us to be. So to you who is reading this, don’t settle because you are terrified. Buy the plane ticket. Oh, and get on the plane. Because new could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Shame On Us For Expecting So Little

Where to begin? The last few months have been full of adjustments and learning curves. All good, but all challenging. Radiant Life is now a two-service church and many of our fall programs have14625751_686317248197360_1702811024_o launched, programs I like to call ‘babies’ because they are new and still in the developing process.

I’m not one to walk into new things with high expectations, I tend to set them pretty low and then am pleasantly surprised when things get knocked out of the park (in a good way).

Our new kid programs (Glow & Illuminate) launched on September 21st. With little expectation (shame on me), we had 45 kids show up! The following Wednesday, we had the same give or take a couple more. But this Wednesday, we had 75 kids in count! I’m sure I looked like a crazed lunatic running around for more materials and space. But shame on me for expecting less.

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” Go and make, that’s more, not less. So why do we expect so little of God when it comes down to our finances, our families, our futures and our jobs? If God can do a new thing and Jesus can multiply, why do we not live into that truth? Why do we plan new programs to grow the Kingdom of God but expect only a few to come? Why do we commit to changing our lives but give up too soon because there is no way God can redeem? Why do we tuck our struggles in closets (like children cleaning their rooms before parent inspection) and pretend that we don’t need accountability or the power of Jesus to intervene?

Our expectation bars are far too low when it comes to our faith in Jesus Christ and what He can do. It’s no wonder the enemy thinks he has it easy.

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:16-20]

This is the Great Commission and our mission, not only as a Church, but also as a people of God. We are called to go and make. That’s more, not less. But even in Jesus’ time, followers doubted. Still Jesus said, “I am with you always.” And I believe that expands beyond proclaiming the word of God to the nations, I believe it applies to proclaiming the word of God to ourselves and to our expectations of what God can actually do.

Allow me to explain. There IS power in the name of Jesus, there IS hope in the Holy Spirit and there IS life in the Father. So often we say we believe that, but don’t live as if we do. So let us be challenged. Let us work diligently and dust off our struggles and expect Jesus to heal. Let us lift up our finances and our families expecting God to multiply and redeem. Let us plan our programs and our dinners and our days, expecting God to show up and do a new thing and behold, “He is with us always.”

Shame on us for expecting so little from a God who offers so much.

Ahead & Behind [Mighty Warrior]

14495466_680773605418391_8175604016432728904_nI was recently told, “You’re so ahead of your time.” A compliment but an amusing one because I can count on fingers and toes the ways in which I am so far behind. And I hate that. I hate that being ahead is such a stretch for me. It’s one of my greatest weaknesses. My best ideas always come right before the deadline and my greatest fears always arrive after I’ve submitted the work.

Because I know the expectations and I know my limitations. And I know the latter usually interferes with the first.

And some of you, who for whatever reason are reading this, get that. You get that because you’re there. You get up in the morning, you look in the mirror, and you see defeat before your day has even begun. You see that your limitations far outmatch your giftings and you have no idea how you are going to manage the workings of the day.

For the past few months I have wrestled with that. The more I work in ministry, the more I see my weaknesses and the more I want to run. Fortunately, I’m not runner (physically anyway) so I have begun to walk through my weaknesses with the Lord instead. Because even though I’m far ahead and yet so far behind, God is always on time.

This morning our church launched two services. We have grown as a congregation in so many ways and it’s all breathtakingly exciting! Lives are being changed, souls are being saved, programs are growing, and us pastors are learning what it means to walk with the blessed and with the mess.

But as a fellow pastor who knows her limitations, the growth is impeccably challenging. I work with our kids and they get me the most. Because when I see them, I see myself. I see the kid I was when I was their age and I want so much for them to live beyond their weaknesses. I want them to trust that God is good and He has remarkable plans for them.

So today I taught them about Gideon. A man destined to save Israel. But Gideon pleaded with his destiny proclaiming that his people were the weakest and that he was the least in his family. But God said “I will be with you, mighty warrior.” And God was. The Midianites were defeated, but not in a way anyone would expect, and Israel was free once again.

I so relate with Gideon. I get his fear. I get his intimidation because he knows where he comes from and he knows his greatest weaknesses. But God did too. He still does. And I love that. I love that despite knowing His children’s limitations, God still calls us to great things. He still encourages us to do what we don’t believe we can do when we look in our morning mirrors.

The Lord has done some unbelievable things in my life and I am living a pretty incredible journey, but I have never been more challenged to believe in God’s words as I am today. Before I shared Gideon’s story, I asked our kids to answer a few questions on slips of paper. I asked the following:

“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?”

“What or who do you want to be when you grow up?”

“If you could pray for anyone or anything, who or what would it be?”

“What would you say is your greatest fear and why?

After telling the story of Israel’s victory, I told the kids that even though Gideon had fears or doubts of that victory, he still believed God’s word enough to run into a scary battle. A battle he once saw as defeat. I then asked the kids if they believed God could take them to the places they would love to go. I asked them if they believed God could mold them into who they wanted to be when they grew up. I asked them if they believed God could answer their prayers and calm their fears. I asked them if they believed God enough.

And though I was asking them, I found God was asking me.

“Do you believe enough? Do you believe that despite your limitations and where you come from, you can do great things for My Kingdom? Do you believe that I can answer your prayers and calm your fears? Do you believe I can take you to the places you want to go and mold you into who you want to be when you grow up? Do you believe enough?”

I don’t always. You see, some may say I’m far ahead, but often I am so far behind. And maybe you’re there too. And that’s okay. Because despite how far ahead or how far behind we are, God is always, always on time.

So let us hold one another accountable. When we get up and look in our morning mirrors let us hear Him say, “I am with you, mighty warrior.” And with that, may we lay our limitations before God and let Him do what He says He will do through us.