Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Here, Lord, have my Pinterest project

This is NOT the blog I intended on writing today, or the blog I intended upon writing this past week.

But, God interrupted my life today, and I can’t say no.

In fact, that was the whole point of today. Being a missionary is being someone who lets God interrupt your life. And I want to be a missionary.

Oh, not your classic outdated jumper-wearing, braided-hair, frumpy missionary wife in need of a pedicure, or the iconic Victorian era outpost with the white folk who went out to “save the natives from uncivilized behavior,” carrying with them equal portions of the white man’s burden and their larger than life Bible.

I want to be on mission with God. I want to be an active part of building His Kingdom. I don’t want to come to the end of my days and find that what I show up to the pearly white gates with is a really neat Pinterest project worthy of a DIY blog, or some really rock hard abs from my days as a gym rat or Crossfit chick.

So, allow me to explain what I mean. Today was just a whole heaping, steaming, helping of conviction. It started with me realizing what a crappy wife I am. I didn’t want to go the “Go Conference” my church was holding today from 9am til 1pm for a variety of reasons. Number one being my semi-arrogant assumption that it would be a bunch of “Misisons” information I’ve heard before in my trainings for my many previous “missions trips.” I also wanted to sleep in, spread a blanket out in the back yard, and enjoy some sun for a few hours on my Saturday. I wanted no agenda but mine. I think you see where this is going.

My sweet, godly husband, who most times only asks to do things because he perceives, and knows, they will benefit us, REALLY, really wanted to attend this conference. God has been increasingly growing his heart for the nations, and I, like an idiot, was poo-pooing this. I, who ironically, for many, many years prayed and beseeched the Lord for a man with a heart for missions was discouraging my brand-new, fresh out of the oven husband, from leading our family into doing something that would enable us to engage in undertakings much larger than ourselves. Being a part of God’s story, not just our own, is something we prayed for at our wedding, something so many people prayed for for me faithfully for a long, LONG time. Shame on me.

I got to church, we got to church, because the Holy Spirit was convicting me of my selfishness, even though I was still battling my cheerfulness at being up and at it by 7:30 on a Saturday morning. Instantly, the convictions rose higher and higher, like the description in the super trendy “Oceans” song by Hillsong right now. I almost cried, tears welled up at how good God is to me for giving me a man who leads me into days that are just what my heart needs, and how utterly gallingly human I am for almost dismissing and discarding them, and him. I leaned over, whispered to him, and apologized deeply.

And then I leaned into the rest of today’s message, and it was just what I needed. The statistics on the number of people who need Jesus, shoot, who just need to have a word in their own tongue for God Himself, are staggering. I’d heard them before, and the many biblical reasons why “Missions” is THE pivotal role of the Church, but today things rang clearer than they have for awhile, and today, my desire was renewed to be on “Mission.”

Today, I came face to face with the opportunity to begin seeking out relationships with the many nations who live right here in my hometown and attend our local universities. It would take merely a few hours out of my week to spend time building a friendship with some of these folks, helping them with their language acquisition, and providing them with places to go for the holidays, or when they just need a friend. The reality that so many international students arrive to America every year and do not ever get invited into American homes is sobering, challenging, and downright heart-breaking.

So, of course, in light of this great need, here’s where my mind goes:

“But, uh, what about the time I spend at the gym. I don’t want to get chubby or flabby.”

“And what about all the house projects we have going. I just need some time to establish our home.”

“And what about the fact that I already feel like I don’t have any extra time and we don’t even have kids yet, just two retrievers.”

Ahem, interruption.

That’s what it means to live a life for the Kingdom, for others, for the glory of His name. Because here’s the thing. Am I really going to show up, at the end of my days, and be satisfied to present to Jesus some super nifty craft I made with letters and decoupage? Or, flex my biceps and impress Jesus with my incredibly ripped body? Hey, Lord, yeah, so while I was doing my time down there, these things were pretty important. And then He points to me and asks, “Where are they now?” [Those things that rust and fade, or sag and age?] And meanwhile, he steps aside, and as the nations walk past me, He asks, “Where were you when they…[needed a meal, a friend, the Gospel]?

Am I really going to have the audacity to present that those “accomplishments” to my Lord? No, I am not. I am sometimes foolhardy, and stubborn, and selfish, but I just can’t be that disobedient. I can’t be that unwilling to be interrupted.

So, here, Lord, have my Pinterest project, and my body, and my time, and my money too. It is yours. Interrupt me, please.

Fit 3.30

I suppose I’m like most girls. It’s approximately two months before my wedding day, and I’ve upped my usual 5 times a week to the gym to 6 times a week. I’ve limited my sugar intake (quite the fete for me), and I’ve invested in some good skin and hair care products. I’ve got fitness and health goals from here until next Thursday and back.

And so far, I’ve been pretty successful. At the physical anyways.

What I’m realizing tonight is that my spiritual goals are lagging somewhere far behind, like some sad senior playing on the JV team.

Currently, my one spiritual goal for now until March 30th (in 51 days and 18 hours) is to finish a Bible study I’m doing on the life of the Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. If I work on my study 5-6 days a week for the next 7 weeks, I should be able to finish it before the Big Day. And what I’m realizing even more than just the ridiculous difficulty in keeping that one spiritual goal when I can squat my own physical body weight, is that that one goal is probably far more important than all of my physical ones combined. The aspiration, task, journey towards being spiritually ready for marriage, if met, or at least in process, is probably a much more profound, long-lasting, and selfless achievement than any number of inches counted around my waist or pounds dropped on the scale. Those external things, in comparison to the internal things, are much more vain, shallow, and fleeting than a Proverbs 31 woman would claim, for a noble wife, who can find? Her worth is far greater than kettle bell thrusters, heavy deadlifts, and Chanel perfume.

And the thing about studying John is this. That man loved Jesus. He was the disciple that Jesus loved, but boy, did John love Him right back. He loved Him. In a He is my best friend and my big brother and the man whose mother I will care for as my own kind of way. In a everyone else has left Him, scared, but I follow Him to the cross and I watch my Hero die an agonizing death because I love Him too much to ever leave Him, even in His darkest, most unutterably painful to be a part of hour kind of way. Perhaps it seems weird, but Jesus’ life, seen through the lens of John, as though I can kind of channel John’s soul for a few weeks, helps me see Jesus as my own Hero, Best Friend, Big Brother, and Savior better. I am beginning to grasp more of what it means to be a good friend. And to want desperately to be one.

And this, this is an even greater gift than the one I could give to my Zachary on our wedding day. To be a faithful friend to Jesus. To be the bride adorned for her heavenly Bridegroom. Not that I could ever give Jesus a gift He needs, but I think this is one He probably desperately wants. My spiritual fitness, my faith, my forever “I do and I will, til death does NOT do us part, and I am Your’s Lord, forever.”

If you are a friend of mine, I ask you, help me stay accountable to pursuing spiritual fitness and faithfulness to Jesus these next pre-nuptial days, and all the happily ever after ones too.

Paradigm Shift: Confessions of A Pharisee

This blog has been a long time in coming – maybe 20 years in coming…

Let’s just say that for the last couple weeks, (week especially), the Lord has really been putting something on my heart, and today was the culminating and all captivating epiphany moment.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about legalism, and how I’m a legalist. Not in the traditional sense of “Hey, if you dance you’re a sinner,” or “If you drink even a sip of that amber liquid you’re going to hell,” or “Oh no, did you say what I think you just said…” No, it’s been more in the grown-up-in-the-church-my-whole-life-have-never-really-felt-like-a-sinner-kind of way.

And I think I finally do. And, in a weird way, I’m glad.

There have been some really good comments made at Bible study, and conversations with friends, and then finally this morning’s service, that have really challenged the paradigm I’ve been living in all my Christian life. What I’ve realized is that I’ve been living a very subtle, but very dangerous lie. All the head knowledge in the world has not gotten quite to the heart of this matter for me until just now. It’s as though slowly but surely I’ve been sitting in a dim room, where the light has gradually been growing brighter and brighter until finally now it has flickered gloriously into a brilliant ray of revelationary luminescence.

See, here was the problem. As a kid born and bred in the “Church” (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for), I have had this unconscious worldview of “levels.” I have fallen prey to evaluating my life, and others according to this unseen standard of spirituality. In my opinion, some people have attained certain glorious levels, while others, have, poetically speaking, remained in the dark, or at least the dim. I have analyzed my own “spirituality” in terms of service done, Bible-reading accomplished, prayer spent, decisions made, actions done, words said, or thoughts had. If I begin to slip and fall backwards in any of these ways, I have found myself thinking I am somehow less pleasing to the Lord and therefore less worthy of offering advice, or ministering in some capacity, or even worshipping for that matter. And, if I am excelling in any of these areas, I tend to think myself more worthy of ministry positions, service projects, and divine worship experiences.

Oh, how wrong I’ve been. The Christian life is not a ladder in which each rung represents another gold star next to your name in the Lord’s throne room. God is not sitting there noticing a good deed or bad deed and thereby ripping stars off or placing new ones on accordingly. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or make Him love me less. No “good deed,” no “great deed,” indeed no “divine deed” I’ve ever done could have merited His mercy and grace. And, when it comes to sins, well, quite frankly, as if one “truly bad sin” could ever displace me from His favor when all I am is a sinner in the first place, flat out! I’ve always been in need of His grace – on the good and the bad days. I’ve never done anything to fall into His favor, and I’ll never do anything to fall out of it (because that presupposes that a good thing could merit falling into it in the first place, and it doesn’t!)

Along with this, I’ve found myself in a position of envy. Not envy in terms of clothes, jewelry, cars, money, etc, but envy in terms of a relationship with the Lord. I’ve placed certain people on pedestals based on their external relationship with the Lord – the things I see them “doing” for Him. Now, I happen to know these people’s hearts, and know that they are truly, genuinely seeking Him. But let’s face it. That’s just me being a legalist again. I’ve found myself wondering, “Wow, how do I get to the level they are at? What is their secret? I wish people could think of me in such terms as people think of them. The spiritual giants so to speak.” Some amount of adoration in people’s pursuits of the Lord is good. But, what happened to me, over the course of my life I think, is this built up understanding of those levels again- that ladder. I’ve thought that if I can only reach a certain spot that someone else I perceive has reached, then I’ll be good. I thought that would put me out of the “danger zone” and in this happy, flower-filled meadow with the Lord in which He will truly look down upon me in all majestic happiness. Silly me. All this has done for me in reality, is create guilt for unmet expectations and a humanistic fear of man.

So, after listening to last week’s sermon and today’s sermon, I’ve shifted my paradigm. No more looking at my life as a person climbing a ladder. No more guilt for somehow making God “less pleased” with me for not reading my Bible enough or not making the wisest decision in a certain area of my life. No more “feeling good” after having a great conversation with someone, as though I somehow can take credit for that. I just want to need God. I just want to be totally dependent upon Him. I want to be like the little children who will see the kingdom. I want to be like the persistent widow described in Luke 18.

Everytime I start to think about my relationship with God in terms of levels achieved, I’m going to go back to the cross, and remember that under that tree, we are all on the same level before God – absolutely wretched, and absolutely forgiven. It is our heart for Him and our dependency upon Him that He cares about.

For all of you Pharisees out there with me, or all of you tax collectors who have beaten yourself up over your sins for long enough, sing this song with me. “Jesus, your love is enough, sufficient for me, all I have needed You’ve given for free. Your love is enough; don’t need man’s applause. I know what I’m worth , I remember the Cross.”