The Martha Struggle…

I am a part of a Bible study going through A Discipleship Journey book by David Buehring.

The book is more or less the type of study that whatever you put into it, is what you will get out of it. On the surface it seems simple, basic, and maybe a bit obvious in content. However, with all the points and across each chapter there is scripture to back it up… and we were encouraged to look up the passages “unless we know them by heart and could spit them out.”

Admittedly, I was more interested in the people in the group doing the study than actually the study itself. However, I have discovered that this study actually does help you to see correlations and scripture differently than if I would be just reading the Bible. The way things are put together and connected helps link themes and threads throughout scripture; which is always interesting to me.

I also find that in my head, I always have more time than it takes in reality to actually go through each chapter. – accidental procrastination at its finest.

Recently, we were talking and learning about hearing the voice of God. In the study, it took us through where and how God speaks throughout scripture… Which of course, also lead us to talking through the various things that get in the way of us hearing His voice.

In Luke, there’s a part that talks about Jesus going to visit and stay with two sisters.. Mary and Martha. Mary is enthralled, and just sitting at the feet of Jesus soaking it all in, while Martha is busy trying to get dinner together and all the ‘things’ involved with having guests come and stay. I imagine she wanted everything to be perfect.. Viewing her diligence and hospitality as being her gifting and how she showed her love and care for her guests.

If you don’t know the story, Martha finally gets frustrated and goes to Jesus complaining and asking Him, ‘Don’t you care that I’m doing all of these things and Mary is being lazy and sitting around letting me do all the work? I too would love to join but things have to get done!’ (My own paraphrase of what she said)

Can’t you just feel her frustration? – ‘No one will eat if EVERYONE just sat around all day listening to Jesus talk! It is just logical and practical!’ (Still my own addition to the thoughts of Martha)

Martha WANTS to sit and listen too.. But her understanding of responsibility requires her to get up and do the work needed.

So, how does Jesus respond?… By essentially telling Martha to leave Mary alone, she’s chosen the ‘better’ path.

Because I love thinking through ‘what would I do if I were in that situation?…

I would be so mad if I were her!

My response would probably have been to cross my arms, get my sassy face on, and say: ‘ok, fine then. I too will sit, and then no one will get dinner and we will all starve! Then what will we do?’
If you know me, you’ve likely experienced my logic and sass rolled into one moment (it happens frequently)!

However, because Jesus is the amazing teacher/God rolled into one, He would likely respond reproachfully. Something along the lines of how I don’t ‘need’ to do anything for Him, His kingdom is perfectly capable without me… and then He would do another miracle and snap His fingers giving everyone a food spread like only God could give…

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And… I would probably still be mad..

But more out of pride and defiance than anything legitimate… Only to be repentant and understanding of how wrong I was late into the night as I mulled it over when I should have been sleeping.

The struggle is SO real.

Things have to get done. Life has to have people who are doers, movers and shakers!.. How can it be that the one who is ‘lazy’ and sitting to learn be the one who has chosen correctly?!
The heart. It all (always) boils down to the heart.

How do we know? Because of passages like Matthew 25 where it was the people who have DONE things and loved people who truly knew him.

It all always boils down to a heart thing.

God does not need our work, we are not doing Him any favors when we get too busy in our ministry to know Him well.

I am in a season of too busy in ministry… Actually no, that is not accurate. I’m too lazy in my free time by choosing to watch tv online rather than open my Bible. 😒

It is definitely a good reminder of the heart of my actions needing to be about taking the time to sit and soak in time with Jesus, and knowing when it is the time and place to do things… But, not to confuse the busyness with being a good replacement of time spent.

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Going to Uganda!

Sometimes I find myself marveling at the things I get to do, which creates an ever increasing gratefulness to my Lord.

As part of one of the bonus elements of where I work, they encourage people to go on mission, locally, nationally, and internationally! In fact, we have 30(something) missions teams going out in 2016!

This year, I am helping to co-lead a mission team to Uganda! We are partnering with Mission4Water to drill two wells.

Why go to Uganda, and why water?

If you have known me for a few years, you will likely remember that a few years ago, I “donated” a birthday to Charity Water and then, I asked people to donate money for clean water rather than give or do anything for me. Donating my birthday was such a success and I loved getting to do it, and getting regular updates! However, it took two years from the time the money was donated until the well was finished.

Clean water is something that I care about, and this time around I get to be the one going and doing the work!

The average Ugandan walks 6k to get water, and it’s not even clean.. Plus, it is typically young children and girls.

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There are 10 of us going to Uganda in August. Our goal is to drill two wells, and then leave the resources that will allow Mission4Water to drill an additional three wells.

Which means, when all is said and done, we will have provided clean water for (around) 1,750 Ugandans for life!… All because of 8 months of preparation, partnering with dozens of people and businesses, and 2 weeks worth of hard work! – Worth it.

Please be one of the people to partner with us and help us to change the lives of hundreds of people!

What’s the cost play out to be?

$12 = 1 Ugandan clean water for life!

$4,000 = 1 Clean water well (serving around 350 Ugandan’s clean water)!

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We will be doing more fundraisers later* (some super fun things are in the works!), but given the amount of money we need to raise to reach our goals, please consider partnering with us now!

You can partner with us by donating here.

You can also keep up with the whole team’s story here.

#UgandaExcited #onmissioneveryday

Thank you.

*If you donate $100 or more, I’ll send you one of our team t-shirts later this spring (if you want one)!

Heavy Days…

The Wounded Healer implies that grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

Some days are just heavy days, full of frustration, heart hurt, aggravation, not being enough, and being helpless to fix it (whatever all the “its” are). Heavy days for me becomes an exercise of sheer will in order to be kind and fully invested in those who are not a part of my heavy day.

I have found that I cope mostly through praying… or rather, I slip away as much as I can and allow my thoughts the chance to let go of the clutter, which creates space for prayers to float their way through my head. I also spend a lot of time intentionally focusing on setting aside feelings and engaging well in my day.

Heavy days are some of the worst days for my heart because I have no solutions, no ways to make things better, so my heart just hurts, my head cannot seem to orient, and my body hurts more on heavy days. Yet, despite the struggle, I find heavy days good for me because they are the days that my heart is the most open to communication with my Savior.

On heavy days the Holy Spirit speaks to me differently, His voice is sweeter, softer with much more tenderness… and on heavy days, those are the days I feel God’s affection towards me. On most days tenderness is not particularly an attribute of God that I identify with (nor communicate to those around me), but on heavy days I feel the calming presence of His tender presence.

I never wonder why God allows heavy days or bad days, because those are the days that I do not have such carefully constructed walls around my heart and He and I communicate better.

All I want to say to you is, ‘You are the Beloved,’ and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being— ‘You are the Beloved.’” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

Rabbit Trails Jacked up on RedBull…

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Last week, I met up with a woman who through a series of events, unknowingly became my (quite possibly forever) mentor three years ago. You see, in 2012 we were supposed to meet so she could be my coach for a short timeframe. Then, a huge storm hit DC, and we were left trying to connect when basically all of the DC area had no power. I was convinced she would reschedule, that’s the only thing that made sense. Instead she was determined, and we worked for an extra 45 minutes simply trying to locate a place we could connect that had power.

I knew right then, if she would work that hard through the obnoxiousness that was our situation, I could trust her.

We sat at a random Korean bakery and she saw me. No matter what answer I gave, she kept peeling back the layers of me and my situation. With each layer, she gently stood there waiting for me to stop struggling against the exposure and allow her in to help me. She understood. She had been there, she related to my struggles. Every. Single. One.

Then I moved away two months later. The chaos of life for a couple of years kept both of us at the edge of having a basic knowledge of what was happening in the other’s lives.

Well, as only God can do, He orchestrated everything for me to return not long ago, which then had me run into her at a weekend event. All of a sudden we were back, she saw me, she understood me.. and despite her insane chaotic life, she stood there and talked to me insisting we make time to get together.

Yet, because both of our lives are crazy, it took a couple of months to finally connect. And, once again, when we did, she saw me. Regardless of my answer, she sees where I have been, she understands my journey, struggles, strengths, and with the wisdom that only someone who has weathered the same storms, she knows the direction I am going.

Our conversations are something similar to rabbit trails jacked up on RedBull… We ebb and flow through conversations and back again at an alarming rate, yet she never loses the anchor or the heart of what is going on and how everything ties together.

This amazing woman is who I want to be.. she loves fiercely, flies from one thing to the next so she can love as many people as possible, while taking the time to boldly direct people to Jesus and share the real thoughts and struggles that most people hide away… And then laughs off the craziness that is her schedule.

I cannot help but look at her and be amazed at how Jesus has created her to be, with the spirit that I desire to unleash in my own life. I am so thankful and amazed that she has stepped into my life to move me beyond my yesterday, towards a better version of myself tomorrow.

Trees…

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Over the last year and a half I have become slightly obsessed with trees.

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Especially cool looking trees.IMG_1243

But, my obsession is not just because I all of a sudden noticed trees, or had an encounter with one, but because God used trees… Or specifically one tree to show me His plan for my life.

It is a little odd now to think about, how much I used what I came to decide and call a prophecy given to me at such a low point in my life to cling to hope… You can read more about what was said to me here.

You see, there were some seriously long periods of time that felt like I had died or that I had nothing good, helpful, or beneficial to offer.. or as my sister-in-law puts it, I had become like a “little sad grey piece of paper”. Which is about as accurate a description as they come.

But, even during those times of struggle, I knew God would use what was happening to me, and even all of my failings throughout, and He would take it and He would grow it all in the ways that only He can.

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Then slowly, over the course of about six months He began to reawaken me. It was as though He knew it had to be slowly in order for me to survive and not undo or break the ways He had grown me. I mean, it makes perfect sense, He is the one who set up how the world grows, the laws behind the health that takes place in a tree after a severe pruning. He did all of that… It only makes sense that He would then apply those same rules to the way in which He began the re-growth phase of our journey. In the process of cutting away, and then in the slow-growing back, my already deep and wide foundational root system grew and strengthened. I learned in new, painful, refreshing, and restorative ways how God provides for me… Especially when I do not deserve a thing.

Then, ever so slowly I began to realize that the grey had dissipated, and maybe, just maybe beauty would return to my vision. Maybe I would see and feel deeply once more. Possibly, I would once again revel in joy in ways that I had grown to expect throughout my life. Laughter would return easily and sit in my heart for longer. Life, beautiful overflowing life would allow me to dance my way through it once more.

Then, out of the blue, I was gifted the picture below. What a special little I love you drawing from God delivered from a new friend. She said she was praying for me, and she could not get away from a tree, but specifically the roots, and that God is regrowing me. She had no idea of my past, and certainly did not know anything about my tree.

And just like that, God reminds me that He sees me, and then tells me exactly what we are doing this year.

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I discovered a while ago that I tend to get tattoos when God changes my life. Not in regards to physically changes or when He moves me or anything similar to that… But, when He changes who I am, the deep down makeup, and especially when it is so dramatic that it causes me to be totally changed… Those are the things that spur me towards a tattoo. Almost like a forever mark on the outside showing what He has done on the inside. I equate it to the Old Testament temples and name changes whenever God encountered His people.

I have been slowly piecing together what my tree tattoo will look like, who will do it, where it will go, and all of the meaningful elements that will tell a story within it. I am so excited to get it (sometime soon) and share it with you all.

I have been forever changed, and while I am not done regrowing, I have begun to feel the beautiful new fruit that is coming.

(As an FYI, and to be totally honest I did not take two of the pictures in this post)

Journey Towards Health

So, I turned 30 a couple of weeks ago, and since my birthday falls so closely to the beginning of the year, I tend to take on both the year and my goals combined as though they are one.

So, this year, I have a plethora of goals and things I would like to accomplish, but, more than previous years, I am creating this year as a course correction of sorts for the future.

I have begun to budget meticulously, so that I can pay off large chunks of debt this year… Plus I am excited to take a class through work that will help me be successful even more.

Through a friend and co-worker I’ve discovered MindMeister.com and am mind mapping goals for this year… All of them, big and small.

I have finally stepped out and contacted a cousin for guidance on my diet and exercise… I also bought new shoes (cause my others were broken a long time ago).. and I will be joining a gym this week.

I have also started reading my Bible and actually studying it.. not just reading it for informational purposes.. Or worse, to get my time “in” with God in order to move on, but, instead genuinely to focus and spend time with Him to grow and be cultivated.

 

I feel like it is time to pull myself together on multiple fronts at the same time. Up until now, I have slowly been learning to budget, and slowly monitoring and focusing on my health. However, I have also sort of just done it in a bit of a loosey goosey kinda way.

Already, six(ish) weeks into 2015 and a few weeks into 30, I am beginning to feel better. More stabilized and balanced with significantly less worry in my heart on multiple levels. Some days still being full of worry and stress, others not at all, and then the rough back and forth between stress and peace.

I think when I stop and look at the things that are causing me the most stress, it almost always boils back to finances. I find myself every so often begin to spiral into worry with questions like:
Should I spend the $20 a month on a gym membership or apply that to debt?
Should I budget for going out or put that into savings?
Should I put money into cheaper foods to save, or spend more on the healthier foods I love?

Then, a few weeks ago it dawned on me… I didn’t get myself into debt quickly, so I must give myself the space to live well (meaning healthy, not in abundance) in order to create joy and refreshing that can counteract the stress and worry for the long haul of paying off debt. Especially since, the primary debt I have is educational.. And the rest is mostly a carry over from being unemployed for so long.

I have been intensely purposeful lately about letting go of my anxieties and relaxing the stress that I have been holding onto every day.

You see, my theme for this year is health… I haven’t been able to come up with a good rhyming hashtag since “thirtyflirtyandthriving” just doesn’t quite hit the mark for this year. But, thirty really does seems like a great year to gain my health back on every front in order to move forward in a new decade!

Sweet, sweet health. I am so looking forward to walking in your direction consistently this year, and creating healthy habits moving forward. Physical, emotional, and spiritual health, those are the things I am aiming towards this year.

Regrowth…

Goodness has it been a few weeks! I feel like I have been in warp speed mode for weeks now, I basically collapse into bed every night and wake up begrudgingly too soon.

I have been actively pushing myself to step out of and let go of the second nature of survival mode I have felt for so long. I have been asking God for a lot of things, but mostly right now I have just been working to sit in His presence again and find peace and comfort.

Reconnecting and finding my peace and faith built up and restored has sorta become my focus… Usually while I’m walking the millions of miles I have been walking due to getting my car fixed (for the last 2+ weeks).

I desire a deeper richer relationship, but I have also found that I have a pretty strong reservation for indulging and allowing myself to feel strongly. Survival mode strikes again.

Last weekend I helped put on a conference for 500+ people, and it was awesome. Such a great time.. exhausting, but so great. I got to connect and meet so many people, listen to amazing sermons, and worship. It was fantastic.

However, the most profound part had little to do with any of the actual program, aside from the space we created for people to do business with God. At the end, we had a wonderful commissioning sermon, and then we worshiped, and offered communion to those wanting to take and remember, and then we had people lining the room to pray over anyone wanting prayer.

For more than an hour people worshiped, took communion, and let go of burdens, received confirmations, wept, and were encouraged.

What a sight to watch hundreds of people at the same time and place connecting with God; that more than anything else moved my heart in a very real way… What a lovely sight and feeling. For the first time in a long time I felt the shift in understanding God’s love and tenderness.

Tomorrow I turn 30, and I am excited. I am looking forward to starting a new decade, to hitting the refresh button and allowing myself to settle into the stride that is my life and my journey thus far. I am looking forward to this year, 2015 is the year of regrowth for me.

Below are the pictures I doodled while listening to the various people’s sermons last weekend… They are not necessarily connected to what was being spoken about.

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