Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gig on the Grass

Y'all. About 3 weeks ago I went with some of my girlfriends to Gig on the Grass at my church. It's an event that serves as a safe environment to bring friends, a frisbee, a picnic, and a blanket to sit on for the nights' events. The evening is nothing but fun music sang by godly Christian worship leaders here and elsewhere. Candi Pearson Shelton was there singing powerfully enough for the stars to hear. (I love her heart for the Lord; so she's a favorite of mine). One of the purposes of the night was to be able to create an environment for non-church going individuals to step foot into this world - well, more likely step foot onto the grass lawn of the church. Thus, your safe, clean secular music was played throughout the evening that included 80's, oldies, country, and every girl's (I like this song even though maybe I shouldn't be belting it) - Beyonce's 'Irreplaceable.'
I have no idea why I've made a post out of this. Maybe because it made me laugh and I wanted to share it with you. Maybe because many of you probably don't know that I have a dancer's heart and have been dancing for 18 years. Maybe because I want you to know that I love Jesus more than life itself, but am just as naive and human as the next person. So, here I am, sharing my embarrassing photos with you.
You will be less worried to know that no one could hear us singing (the music was too loud). CLEARLY though, I was having a good time. CLEARLY, the music had a good beat. CLEARLY, God was wise in not giving me the gift of singing because I think He would slap wear Himself out trying to keep me humble over it. BLESS HIM! He knows what He's doing! (It's always been a dream of mine to be an egg-shaker for Jesus though...LOL. Mandy, who actually IS a songwriter and musician, FINALLY gave me an egg-shaker this past year for my birthday.
It was such a fun night. We danced our way through most of it out in the warm Atlanta weather under a night of bright stars. I mean seriously...girls do just want to have fun :)
PS - And yes. That is a cell phone I'm using as a microphone. I had to make do!
PS Again - And yes. Not anyone else in our photo background is standing up singing foolishly like we are. But since we were more concerned about our quality girl time than picking up cute guys, and don't have to take ourselves too seriously, we opted for the stand up singing sessions. It was so worth it...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Nope - you're not hallucinating!

PS - Sorry for the blog design change with no warning! It's not b/c you haven't had your coffee today. I'll try not to change it again without an official warning! (Well - 'I' didn't technically change it. Mandy was super nice and took the time to do it for me. You know you got a good friend when you let them change your blog :) Besides, she's totally artsy and creative and a singer and an artist, and I'm totally not). The former lighthouse background made me feel like I constantly needed to throw someone a life preserver. Seeing as I have zero upper arm strength, am a pathetic 'savior,' (trust me - Jesus is so much better) and couldn't climb the stairs to the top of it anyway, I just had to have something new! Thank you for bearing with me. Love you siestas!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stealing your spotlight

"Now Deborah, a prophetess...was judging Israel at that time...Now she sent and summoned Barak, and said to him, "Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, 'Go and march to Mount Tabor and take with you ten thousand men...I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army...and I will give him into your hands." Then Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go..." She said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman." (Judges 4:4-9)

Barak serves as the hands of faith for Deborah's heart of faith. Both serve as deliverers for the sons of Israel during this time of the judges. I love Deborah (we're friends; she just doesn't know it!). But Barak captured my heart tonight.

{Disclaimer: Forgive me, as I have no scholarly commentaries on my hands and I have yet figured out how to work my Bibleworks. (Shout-out to Bibleworks: It is an absolutely amazing bible language and commentary program , so I end up in tears with the little bit of time I have spent trying to learn it, and thus don't get very far.)}

But just between my Lord and I, I fell in love with the heart of Barak. Not only does he answer the summoning of the LORD's call to him through a woman, he also refuses to go to battle without her. But what made me want to weep was his acceptance to fight this battle, lead this battle, be 'the man,' and do so knowing he would get no glory for the victory - a woman would! (And she does - see verses 17 - 22). Now contrary to what you may be suspecting, I'm not about to go on a feminist or anti-feminist soap box here. Don't miss it dear sister: The honor would not be his, yet he fought anyway.

God is a Jealous God. He wants more praise. He wants more glory. Please know that His jealousy is one of the greatest things that could ever happen to you or me. Praise Him that He loves you deeply enough to care about where your affections are centered. To place them elsewhere after He (The God of Host, the God of all Creation, the Sustainer of Life) has told you that He would be your God is a missed blessing sister.

I wonder though how often we fight the spiritual battle hoping we'll get a little glory? The life-stripping sin of pride steals the life-changing glory of God as we seek to show off our gifts, gain someones attention, hear someones approval, or seek to find a compliment on our spiritual Nike running shoes that have kept us running this race so fast and 'well.' Sister - pride is a stinking thief. It robs you. And it robs God.

I pray that Philippians 2:1-11 would be written on our hearts. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves...having this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (vs. 3-4)." We need a little Barak in us - willing to join the battle with Christ and make it nothing but a grounds for Him to get the glory. Make our hearts nothing but a stage for which the spotlight to shine on Him. Make our steps be nothing but hidden behind the path of the cross.

He deserves the applause. He deserves the encore. He deserves all praise, glory, and honor. For He is the head of all things, and in Him, all things hold together. May we sit our rear ends at the foot of His cross if we can't fight with the attitude of Barak. I take that back - may we sit our rear ends at the foot of His cross if we can't fight with the attitude of Christ. For He had come to do His Father's will, disrobed Himself of all glory to walk amongst us in a body of flesh, and was crucified.

Dear Glorious One, make my life a stage for which you can receive all the glory. You are Glory. Humble me. I say 'yes' to walk and fight for You, knowing ahead of time, that the Glory is all yours. Defeater of Death and Risen One, to whom else could I compare You? I love you sweet Jesus...shine King of Glory! Shine!

PS - Jennyhope reminded me that I needed to return to blogville, so this late-night entry is for you :) No wait...I don't mean it's FOR you b/c you need a lesson on humility and are stealing Jesus' thunder or anything, but I meant that I love you and your heart enough to be delirious at work tomorrow so I can talk about Jesus tonight with you and my other siestas! I'll catch everyone up on my wonderful trip home this weekend real soon. Sadly, my camera has been sent off for surgery (the lens is messed up), so I have no pictures. I've missed you girls! My dog is snoring, so I'm going to go straighten him out before I go to bed...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Home, home on the range...where the seagulls and porpoise play

Sweet sisters,

I just wanted to let you know that my blog may be on hibernation mode for the next few days. I'm leaving for home tomorrow (St. Simons Island, GA) and will drag myself back Monday afternoon for work.

I am so looking forward to my time there. It's the middle of the summer for me, thus my body is screaming for some rest. I've got about 8 restaurants calling my name, along with the beach, my sweet doggies, the pool, and my friends and family. I intend to eat A LOT, play hard, and probably not sleep as much as I should. (I have some dear friends coming into town from Boston and Nashville; seeing as my primary 'love language' is quality time, I'm going to be soaking up the fellowship).

I love home. I love the way the marsh smells. I love that you will always see someone you know (okay...well maybe this is one of those 'love/hate' moments depending on if I looked like I just rolled out of bed or not). I love that I would rather eat at the family-owned restaurants than those that make up a chain. I love that it encompasses a myriad of historical sites (i.e. - Battle of the Bloody Marsh, Fort Frederica, and Epworth by the Sea). I love the giant live oaks whose branches are a canopy to our winding island roads. But most of all, I love the people there. They are the most authentic, imperfect, all- or-nothing Body of Christ that I have ever encountered. And that is why it is the most 'home' I have on this earth of ours.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm a blonde on the inside

My past couple of days...

1) I am 'house-sitting' for a precious family this summer that spends the majority of their summer in Panama City at BigStuf Camps. (This is a camp for youth with a heart of worship and incredible teachings by Louie Giglio, Jared Herd, and Stuart Hall (the latter being the one for which I am house-sitting)). My Jehovah-Jireh cannot be false to Himself or His Word, so staying here this summer in order to save up for seminary in the fall is nothing but a testimony of His glory.

Now that they're gone, I am sole caretaker of their two dogs: Kaaeman (a black lab) and Rocky (a mixed Shitzu and Poodle = Shepoo :) ). I love dogs and the extra alarm system they are, but I'm a college graduate needing to get used to the 6 am bathroom and breakfast call they need.

Night #1 with the boys (the dogs) = me with a pillow over my head because one of them decided to serenade me with his snoring.
Night #2 with the boys = (bark bark bark!) I manage to roll out of bed realizing that this means it's time to get up to let them out and feed them. I don't know how, but I somehow managed to get down the stairs without tumbling down. I felt like a truck had hit me. I'm walking towards the door and scratching my head at how dark it is outside. (Can't make it make sense in my sleepy state). OHHHH - WAIT! That would be because it's 3 o'clock in the morning! ROCKY!!!!! Get IN THE BED! (I know they probably laughed at me).

2) Kaaeman apparently thinks that I have dry skin. At least twice during the hour he embraces my legs and thighs with his slobbery cold nose :( I have tried to tell him that I use Jergens.

3) I am also trying to learn the language of ShePooLa (Shitzu + Poodle + Lab). We don't know each other well enough. Hence, when they come to me in full slobbery cold nose force, I don't know if they need to use the bathroom, want to go outside and play, or if I'm in their spot on the couch. You will find me walking around doing all sorts of things to determine what their needs are. (Again - I am sure they are laughing at me).

4) I set the house alarm off the first night of my stay here. No mam - not your typical - hmm...the alarm is going off - moment. I'm talking you would think a parade of 500 police sirens had just landed upon the house to join in a terrifying 'whoop whoop' sound (Not Kirk Franklin style). I ran around the house like a chicken with my head cut off and it took me the rest of the evening to calm down.

5) I have been asked twice in one week (as well as twice the week before) from which highschool did I just graduate? :( NONE!!! Because I'm 24, not 17!!! I particularly liked the stares I got from the 16 year old boys at the movie gallery. What's a girl to do? :( Is it that bad!!!!

6) A kind gentlemen asked me (his waitress) last night what kind of drink the 'Mandarin Blossom' was. (Now, please know that I don't have the time to explain to you right now why my job may appear to you as an official 'stumbling block' if I serve alcohol in my waitressing duties. To be short: God has called me to the restaurant world a number of summers now; it is one of the darkest places of ministry I have ever had to fight in, love in, and depend upon Him in. You could not imagine the depravity behind those closed doors.)

Back to the 'Mandarin Blossom' gentlemen...Uhmm...My response: It's one of our premium fruity cocktails sir. (Holding my breathe hoping that answer would suffice). Nope...He wants more details and asked a handful of questions I couldn't answer. Thus, I had to go ask the bartender.

Now, if this poor gentlemen could even fathom my overly-analytical mind and alcohol ignorance, he would have politely excused me from even attempting to answer such a question due to my previous alcohol serving experience.

For a straight entire summer, when I had guests asks me for a 'Long Island Iced Tea,' do you know what I brought them? (Insert - for those of you who don't know, it is one of the strongest mixed drinks you could have featuring about 4 different kinds of alcohol). I wasn't sure what it was and was tired of asking others about the many things I didn't know. So, using my great skills of deductive reasoning, I knew what it MUST be!
Thought process = Okay. We get a lot of tourist from up North down here (in southeast GA). So, they must be 'yankees' (no harm here). And Yankees are like, from the state of NY, which equals Long Island! And in Long Island, NY they don't have sweet tea! So they must be wanting UNSWEET TEA!!! Yes, that's it! They want unsweet tea! I can do that!!!
Yep. The alcoholic drink, if made correctly, is even supposed to look exactly like an iced tea would. (Who would've thought?).
So, if you're wanting any alcohol from me, you're going to get an unsweet tea. And this guy that wanted a Mandarin Blossom might as well have been ordering a bouquet of flowers from me.

I awoke at the appropriate 6 am this morning to let the dogs out (officially). I stood outside lifting my eyes to the opening sky taking Jesus in and letting Him minister to my heart. And bless Him - He loved on my 'blonde' heart a little with some of His glory. He brought TWO DEER into the backyard (A major highway is behind the yard, so this is NOT typical deer friendly land. I have no idea where they were coming from and even now I'm trying to figure out if I was dreaming!). They stole my breathe away, and then scampered off.

I waved my hands in the air doing a sleepy morning dance to my Jesus. I kept excitedly asking Kaaemen and Rocky if they too saw the deer? (No this point, I am sure they just think I am an idiot.)

Our God is quite glorious is He not!?? I LOVE how He loves us. I love that He keeps me humble enough to be a big God to me. And I love knowing that He doesn't care if I don't know what a 'Long Island Iced Tea' is, nor if I know ShePoLa. He loves me just the same.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My holy fit against unbelief

A few nights ago, I got mad with the tribe of Judah. Yes, you are allowed to laugh at this situation, but it is true. My heart was racing. I also got mad at the tribe of Benjamin. Then, I got mad at the sons of Ephraim, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Don't even get me started on the sons of Asher.

Now you should know that I am not one prone to anger. I wasn't transferring anger from another situation to this one either. I had a holy fit though. And I haven't been able to speak to the beginning of the book of Judges for a few days now. I will confess; I gave the tribes of Israel a bit of the silent treatment and ran to talk to my Jesus.

The tribes of Israel have finally entered Canaan, their promised land. They are to take possession of it and remove the enemies from their land of inheritance. God has promised to deliver their enemies unto them. He has promised to be their Captain of Host. He has "given the land into their hands." (vs. 2). And then it happens...

vs. 19 "Now the LORD was with Judah (don't miss that point)...but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they (their enemies) had iron chariots."
vs. 21 "But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites ... so the Jebusites lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day."
vs. 29 "Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer; so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them."
vs. 31 "Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob, so the Asherites lived among the Canaanites..."
(You get the point...)

The tribes of Israel, the people deemed His treasured possession, got me in a tizzy. They forfeited part of their inheritance, and 'settled' in their settlement. They allowed themselves to live amidst the very people that God had commanded them to drive out. He had been clear that they were to destroy the altars of their false gods and make no covenant with them (2:2). Yet the Israelites allowed them to stay. A people group whom God had said would be a snare to them, lived in their land of promise. And they permitted it!

I'm no scholar, but I'm going to propose that the generational sin of unbelief roared its ugly head again. They saw the 'iron chariots' (vs. 19) of these 'giant' Canaanites, allowed fear to direct their steps, and gave in. They didn't even fight. They "did not drive them out."

Did not drive them out...did not drive them out...did not drive them out.

Sigh...don't we do the same dear sister? God has promised us a life of purpose, a life meant to be victorious in Him, a life that bears much fruit, and yet we've been lazy or fearful, and decided not to fight. We have not driven out the "little foxes that ruin the vineyards" (SoS 2:15). We have walked in the sin of unbelief, deciding that this 'thing' is too big or difficult to be free from, and allowed it to live in our God promised land of inheritance! We have accepted our strongholds, addictions, and unhealthy states of mentality, allowing them to be our own "iron chariots," whose grandness in our minds is really only a pretense that needs to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Might I add that several of the tribes even made some of these 'enemies' servants and forced labor. Sweet sister, those sins taking up space in your promised land that you think you have control over may not be as much under your reign as you have been hoping. Dare I say that we are the ones enslaved, if we are not absolutely bound to the freedom of Him and His law? Dare I agree with Him that those 'things' will become a "snare" to us?

Dear friend, we do not have to 'settle' in our settlement. It is our absolute right as a child of God to walk victoriously in the land of freedom that He has promised to deliver to us, if we would just work with Him! BELIEVE God to do what He has promised to do for you, and cease allowing the 'giant' in your promised land to remain there. Oh, would we but uncover the revelation of who He is by believing Him! May we fight in Jesus' Name! May we destroy the altars and break covenant with those false gods.

Our Yahweh has sworn Covenant to us. By His might, we can fight the 'Canaanites' in our lands of inheritance. Take possession of what He has called you to sister. He is faithful to His Word. And your Deliverer. Believe Him.

And PS - I have forgiven the tribes of Judah. Grin.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thankful for unfulfilling cisterns

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (NIV)

I have not been loving my temple enough lately in regards to exercise, so I have finally picked up running again. Now before you go comparing yourself here on this one, I should let you know that my fast-paced walk with flailing hands is faster than my jog. (Yes - I am sadly that out of shape). Life had thrown my heart a blow these past few days, so I was desperate to go be with my Jesus. At that moment, a jog was the only venue I had to be alone with Him. I threw on my tennis shoes and bolted out the door.

I poured out my wounded heart before Him. I told him all about it. All about it. He got a spiritual ear full before I could even began turning my heart to start claiming who He was (which is what I probably should have started out with). In the middle of confessing who He is, shattering the dark with the light of His Truth, I approached a park in the new neighborhood in which I now live. I veered off the pavement and followed the winding gravel road.

It was absolutely beautiful. The Lord totally started showing off and I slowed myself to a walk to enjoy His glory. The sun rays were dancing through the trees. Blue jays and red robins flew diagonally back and forth ahead of me, inviting me further back into the woods. The Chattahoochee River roared to the left of my path. I sat on a bench and watched fish jump, heroins swoop down into the river, squirrels chase one another, and the birds continue their aerial dance.

My heart was only slowly unwinding, allowing my tender Physician to finally press His nail-scarred hand upon the open wound. I finally shut my mouth (I am sure He had been waiting, tapping His foot on His throne...wondering when in the world I was going to stop chattering) and listened for His voice amidst the praise of His creation. And I heard Him. Loud and clear in my own spirit. Firm, yet tender, with an "I love you". (I think my heart skipped a beat). Again, and again, and again. An "I love you" from my Father. It was very clear that I needed to sit on that for a bit. So I stayed on the bench, letting the everlasting arms of my Savior embrace me, love on me, and hold me tight. I basked in it, reveled in it, and let it fill every empty crevasse of my soul.

Don't miss it: "I love you."

When I can "know and rely on the love that God has for me," it is unnecessary to look to another thing or person to fill my need for love, affection, or acceptance. The KJV renders "know and believe the love that God has for me." To know it. To believe it. To lean up against it. To let Him devastate me with His love.

I realized how much of His glory must be a stake when I do not know and believe His love for me. "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Jeremiah 2:13 What is your cistern? Where are you digging for love, only to arrive empty? Your job, your performance, your ministry, your marriage, your children, your image, yourself? If we could grasp who He is, these competing sources of fulfillment in our lives would be exposed as the mirages that they really are.

Dear sister! I beg you to cease digging cisterns. Cease sowing the things of this world. And let the love of Your Mighty Heavenly Father be sown into your heart. Let it absolutely ruin you, so that no other affections can even compete. Let Him steal your heart each new day with the wonders of who He is, and the marvel that He loves you as tenaciously as He does. When you can grasp this, the cisterns around you fade...the shallow water you had tried to keep sustainable in them dries up...and you look to the Fountain of Living Water. You behold the One who satisfies your needs in a sun-scorched land (Isaiah 58:11). You taste and see that the Lord is good! To never thirst and hunger in Him. Dig away Beloved into the richness of the Bread of Life. Dig away into the endless marvelous feast of who He is.

And you'll find His love. He will whisper your sweet name. His merciful love will rock your mundane world and steal your breathe away. Oh how I want Him to be the Lover of your Soul!

His glory is at stake. Get rid of the shovel that digs your cisterns, and grab hold of your sword. Wield it. Believe it. Walk in it. Dare to believe that you really are loved by Him. He will not fail you. He is the Fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 17:13)

I eventually pulled myself from that moment, and turned towards home. Forgive me, but I'm a Jesus brat. When I am getting all loved on, and reminded that I'm his favorite ( insert smile), I don't really care to leave! I mean...I'm HIS for crying out loud! Life called, and I left. I started running back. No........skipping :) I couldn't help it. For He loves me so...

Monday, June 4, 2007

A wee spiritual soap box

"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." John 1:11

I had dinner tonight with a dear sister of mine at On the Border. I have been blog-frozen for a bit, and I must confess that I miss you ladies. My lack of online life has been due partly to the fact that I have been moving, and my room still looks like a tornado hit it. The other half is because I am unable to articulate the burden God has placed on my heart. I don't know if I just wasn't feeling well tonight, or I finally gave heed to this burden, but after a good round of chips and salsa, I couldn't even touch my en tree. You know when I pass up my Mexican, something is troubling me. I sat and listened to the season of intense suffering that God has allowed this precious one to experience. And to paraphrase her situation, 'her own has received her not.'

Received not...received not...received not. I know there are far more intense tragedies to be listed, but this one touches at a core and tender area of who I am, and thus who Christ has fashioned me to become. Though application is possible for expansion, I'm going to speak to this particular instance of parental rejection if I may.

Dear 'rejected' one, cry out to your El Roi who sees the wounded state of your fatherless (motherless) soul. The One who has promised to bottle your tears knows what it is like to have come into His own, and His own receive Him not. You have yet to hear your Daddy say 'I love you.' You have yet to earn your mother's acceptance. You have yet to be a 'delight' to them. Your undeniable spiritual passion for Christ alone is deemed a mockery, lie, and of ignorance. You have been threatened, ignored, ridiculed, abandoned, and wounded. You have been forsaken, disillusioned, disappointed, and teased. You have been emotionally orphaned, (if not more), left, and isolated. You have been forsaken by your mother and father.

And yet you have been received by your God. (Psalm 27). You have been offered the privilege to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. You have been deemed the apple of His eye. Your spiritual heart has heard 'I love you' by the beautiful scandalous act of His death. You have been accepted into the Beloved. Your undeniable spiritual passion for Christ alone is powerful, honoring, glorifying, truth, and of resounding Kingdom impact. You have been chosen, rejoiced over, blessed, set apart, called, and approved. You are beautiful, holy, and a righteous daughter of the King. You house the very Presence of The Living God. Indeed, you are of great worth.

You belong to Christ. Christ. You belong...

The One who has spoken the stars into being has whispered your name. The hands pierced by a nail have your very name written on them. The One who has fashioned your being together is dancing over you (Zephaniah 3:17). You are deeply, unconditionally, and tenaciously loved.

Climb into the lap of the One who knows the most rejection of us all...and touch the scars.