On Waiting

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

I hate the saying “Good things come to those who wait.” I don’t want to wait.

Waiting stinks!

Sitting at red lights or in line at Starbucks doesn’t really get under my skin. What I really mean when I say waiting stinks is having a dream of doing something that then takes far longer to accomplish when you

just.

want.

it.

to be.

done.

already!

I’m talking about those ideas that cause you sleepless nights for one reason or another and I’m in the middle of one right now. I announced in my last post that I’m planning to launch a brand new blog, and in my naivete I thought I would just snap my fingers and voila! it would appear. Well, not so much. (Thanks, Michael Hyatt for failing to mention that the reason you think it’s so wonderful to have a self-hosted WordPress blog is probably because you hired someone to do it for you!!–in all seriousness his blog is great, very helpful).

So, we’re back to the waiting thing, and projects taking longer than you’d like. I think that’s the theme of my life right now. I just finished reading Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole and the lessons she shares about the character developed in hidden years is deep and wonderful, and while I’ve found it to be true, it’s still a hard lesson to digest. I want to have already been there, done that. But it seems I’m still there, in the middle of preparations that are taking longer than I’d like, and I’m trying to savor the process.

So, I thought I’d give you an update, dear reader. I’m still working on the new site (I won’t tell you how many tears have been shed because I’m in waaay over my head (what in the world is CSS anyway?!) or how many times I’ve thought about quitting!) and I would love for you to be my beta testers when it’s finally ready to see the light of day. Which hopefully, will be soon. I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you would like to be part of my launch team for the new blog, which would consist of just sharing my posts on Facebook, or to be one of my beta testers for the new site message me on Facebook or comment below. Thanks for being on this journey with me!  You guys are the best!

Please leave a comment too about how you deal with your anonymous seasons, when things take longer than you want them to, and what God has taught you through them!

It’s Growin’ Time!

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Photo Credit: Dany_Sternfeld via Compfight cc

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

It’s almost planting time in Iowa! The promise of a fresh start. I love the flurry of activity this season brings; tractor beams moving, ghostly, through the fields late into the night, as if floating through the open plains. And by day, plumes of dirt trailing behind the lumbering machines like an organic bridal train.

Green nubs are finally breaking through the too-long-frozen ground in my garden, and green tractors are populating our roadways and the fields, turning up soil, preparing it to nurture and grow the promise of a future harvest.  

With the changing of the season, there’s a palpable sense that each farmer, poised with a sense of destiny–a feeling that this is what they were born to do–is waiting with anticipation for the exact right time to plant in order to partner with nature and God to call something life-giving from the dirt. 

This got me thinking about my response to changing seasons within my own life.

Whenever things around me are changing I find I have two choices: embrace the possibilities or fear the uncertainties. And often my natural inclination is towards the latter. So often I miss the opportunity to partner with God to call something life-giving from what, at first glance, appears to be useless dirt, and by focusing on the things that are out of my control I fail to recognize the possibilities staring me in the face.

How can I be so confident that there are always possibilities to embrace?

Because even in my darkest moments I’ve seen the fulfillment of God’s promise to work all things for my good. 

Thinking back to the farmers, I’m sure as they’re planting they could fret about the summer hail storms that will surely come and wreck havoc on all of their hard work, or the potential for a blight of insects. All things completely beyond their control. But in the end, they have to trust that they’ve cultivated enough ground that they’ll be able to withstand the loss.

The same is true of my relationship with God. When I face change, I find that the amount of ground I’ve cultivated with him through prayer, conversation, and experience, is directly proportionate to the trust I put in him in the face of uncertainty and the amount I’m able to withstand. This season I’m looking forward to cultivating more ground with Jesus, and plowing new rows of trust.

How about you? What’s your natural reaction to change in your life? Do you embrace it or do you feel afraid? What areas in your life seem like useless dirt, but God is actually calling you to partner with him to see something life-giving spring from it? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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Let’s Have a Grand Adventure

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“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an adventure is going to happen.” –A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

I was driving the now familiar route between Cedar Falls and Waverly a few days ago when I had a moment of deja vu. My mind went back almost two years to the moment when our family was driving that same stretch of Highway 218, headed into uncertainty and possibility as we went to interview at Crosspoint Church. On that day, Oceans started to play on the radio and as the music filled the car and my heart, Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior, I knew that whatever happened when we got there that I wanted to live those words.

See, two years into this adventure of pastoring at Crosspoint I’ve had the joy of getting to know some of the most amazing people and calling them friends. But on that day two years ago, I had no idea what was ahead. There were any number of good reasons not to even interview. What if my kids didn’t adjust well to a new school? Would we be a good fit for the church? What if we move there and then they decide they don’t like us? We love what we’re doing and it’s going really well. Why should we give up the certainty of Chi Alpha for the uncertainty of church planting?

All I knew for sure was that I saw God opening a door, and I had a choice whether to walk through it or stay rooted in my own comfort. I don’t believe it would have been disobedient for us to continue in Chi Alpha, but I do think we would have missed an opportunity to go on another adventure with God, missed a chance for our faith to grow deeper and to be stretched in new ways. I’m so glad we chose to open the door to adventure.

Is God calling you on a new adventure with Him? Are you willing to step out into uncertainty with Him?

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

Tears That Will Change the World

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Photo Credit: theirhistory via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: theirhistory via Compfight cc

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

Recently, midway through the ten hour drive home from our annual summer pilgrimage to Memphis, buns numb and legs aching to be anything but bent, I was devouring Shauna Niequist’s book Bread & Wine (if you’re not a fan of Shauna already I highly recommend her lovely, honest writing) when I stumbled on a phrase that got me thinking. On page 74 she says these words, “…tears are a guide…when something makes you cry, it means something. If we pay attention to our tears, they’ll show us something about ourselves.”

I don’t know if you’re like me (probably not, I’m pretty weird), but I don’t really enjoy crying. And I definitely don’t like for other people to see me cry. I know, I know, sometimes it’s therapeutic and you just need a good cry. But generally speaking, I just don’t like it. So I’ve spent years ignoring my tears, and I’ve certainly never allowed them to be a guide–using them to help me find my passion and calling. So this was a revolutionary concept indeed. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, Um, yes! How could I have been so dense all these years?

Back in 2009, when we were missionaries to India, a group of young adults came over on a short-term trip to work with us. While there, they visited a school that was located in a heart-rending slum and for many of the children the only food they received for the day was what they got at school. When the team arrived the well the school had been using had run dry and the children were going hungry because the staff couldn’t prepare their meals. Instantly, the team got together, each person gave, and they raised the money to dig a new well. That act of generosity still brings tears to my eyes.

I don’t like to think about children going hungry or a mother having to bury her child because she doesn’t have access to clean water. That makes me cry and it makes me angry.

A few days earlier on our trip my husband, Jonathan, and I had sat down with our two kids to present an opportunity. He had earned some money mowing lawns with his brother and we wanted to instill some principles of giving and generosity in the hearts of our kids. Eyes wide, they yelped when he said he wanted to give them each one hundred dollars. Their smiles flickered a little when he said, “But…this money is for you to give away, and we want you to pray about what God wants you to do with it.”

The next morning they came to us, wearing smiles as wide as stretched taffy, and said they wanted to start a family savings account to raise enough money to dig a well in Africa. That, my friends, brought tears to my eyes. 

What makes you cry? Have you thought about your tears being a guide before? Could they be leading you towards what God has uniquely gifted you to do? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Look at Me

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 Photo Credit: renedepaula via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: renedepaula via Compfight cc

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

Summertime, for all it’s lovely qualities, can get a bit frantic. Daylight hours stretch and expand giving me endless opportunities to stretch and expand our schedule to fill the sun-soaked hours, baseball games and practices, camps, play dates, the list goes on and on.

As I head into this frantic season, my heart keeps circling back to something that I read several months ago in Exodus, something that brings a sense of calm in the chaos. Moses was heading into an overwhelming season that would begin with the frightening prospect of ordering the Egyptian Pharaoh to release God’s people from years of slavery and then leading them through the desert to the land that God had promised to give them. And at the end of chapter 6, Moses is arguing with God, explaining all of the reasons why he’s not good enough for the job, and maybe God would do better to find someone else, thankyouverymuch. But the words that God utters to Moses have stuck with me, and keep rattling around in my brain. I want to share them here, so maybe they can rattle around in yours too! 🙂

Exodus 6:30 (The Message) says, “And Moses answered, “Look at me, I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

Um, yes. I can relate to Moses, I’m a pro at finding all sorts of reasons why I can’t (or won’t) do the things God’s asking me to do. Stuttering sounds like a pretty good excuse to me. And yet God says three words that stopped Moses cold, and it stops me too. Every time. Whether I’m obsessing over a schedule, event, or writing. He says in Exodus 7:1 “…Look at me.” And just like that, the argument’s over. If I’m looking at Him the impossible thing I’m facing seems plausible and miniscule, but if I’m looking at me…well, let’s just say things aren’t nearly as comforting.

So right now, in this moment, I’m refocusing, making space to look at Him instead of me and some things in my life that seem too big for me to wrap my head around. Taking time to breathe and read things that turn my eyes towards God, and quietly reminding myself when I get off track to look at him.

What about you? Do you find yourself overwhelmed, looking at what you need to accomplish, or feeling the narrow pinch of a harried pace? Have you been telling God, “but, this and this….,” making excuse after excuse about why you’re not good enough or up to the task he’s given you and God is saying to you, “Look at me”? Do you need to refocus today? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment about what God’s saying to you!

The Long Pause

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Photo Credit: JobotDaRobot via Compfight cc

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit–taking a long pause. Rebooting. Catching my breath. I’ve been reading and thinking, wondering and questioning. Mostly about the journey of life and how we can’t control or predict any of it. And how much, sometimes, I wish that weren’t true.

In the vein of adhering to the new tagline of my site, finding beauty in the brokenness of life, I have to be honest. I don’t have it all figured out (insert gasp of surprise here). Lately I’ve been searching for some beauty in my own situation, and realizing that sometimes honesty is the most beautiful thing I can give to you and to myself. When I entered my book into the Re:write writing contest I prayed that God’s ultimate purpose and plan would be done in the process. And I meant it. So I didn’t feel immediately disappointed when I didn’t win, because I trusted that it was God’s plan and he had other things in mind. But as I was coming down from the high of the writer’s conference, some questions and doubts began to nudge their way into the back of my mind, just like a rude line crasher that pushes her way into the line that you’ve been waiting in for 20 minutes while your kids beg you for every piece of candy in the bins by the checkout. Questions like What if I’m just not good enough? or Maybe I’m not ready, or What the heck do I do now? Seriously, what do I do now?

As I pondered these questions one thing became abundantly clear: this writing path is not going to be an easy one. And if I’m being completely transparent I want the easy path, the road with the least amount of roadblocks and hurdles. The one that gets me to my destination without my ever having to break a sweat. Where every door I come upon is swung wide in promise of grander things. The road where I don’t have to pick myself up from the floor most mornings and talk myself off the ledge of despair. What I’m learning is it’s always easier to trust God when it seems like everything is going my way. But this road, the difficult one, where I’m sweating it out like a P90X devotee, is the one where I’m learning even more about trust and I still believe that God has a plan, even if he hasn’t shared it with me yet.

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward, and if you’re honest, a little (or a lot) disappointed that you have to take the difficult path. How is God building trust in your relationship with him through this? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Because I Was Scared

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No More Fear

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

I was scared this past weekend. I sat down with a lovely woman at the Re:write conference I attended to gather some information about possibly self-publishing my book Holy Doubt. She looked at me and uttered these words that sent ice through my veins: “What’s your vision for your book?”  Seems like a rather innocent and obvious question to ask, doesn’t it?

But I sat there speechless. I couldn’t answer intelligibly. I’m pretty sure only gibberish came out! Because up to this point I was just being obedient getting the words on the page and hadn’t given much thought to what would happen with it afterwards. I think I imagined it dwelling in some nebulous cloud and then magically dropping into people’s hands at the right moment. Great marketing plan, right?!

Her question sparked something in me though. I went back to my room and asked God for his vision for my book (because I wouldn’t even have a story if it weren’t for him)And then I remembered why I hadn’t done this before! Um, Scary. The same kind of scary that made me scream at a decibel that would shatter glass and (maybe, possibly) piddle on the carpet when my husband burst out of my daughter’s closet yelling “Boo!” while I was tucking her into bed a few weeks ago.

God’s vision scares me. It overwhelms me. I hadn’t asked, because I generally like my own smaller vision better. The one that I can control and manage myself. I rarely realize what a control freak I am, but I’m human and I like to know what the end game is, calculate my risks, weigh all my options. But how much are we missing when we don’t ask God what his vision is for our lives, including the specific things he’s given us to do?  I had been obedient up to a certain point and then I chose to leave God out of a process that he had been integral in from the very beginning. Wow! Not what I had intended to do at all. Funny how God can use a single question to rewrite our lives!

So now I’m choosing to step out of the fear and into God’s vision.  What about you? What has God given you to do that scares you? Ask him to help you move beyond the fear.  The world is waiting for God’s vision to be lived through you!