Thursday, December 27, 2007

Your Amazing Story

I just realized that it's been a dreadful, awful long time since I've blogged. So, just to sneak one in for December.... here goes!

It's been an amazing Christmas season. I've had an unusual amount of time away from work. Jody and I have enjoyed our time with each other and friends and family. We've also experienced an abnormal amount of rest and relaxation. It's been truly transforming!

On our way home from visiting family in Texas, we were were scanning through radio channels. We inadvertently landed on NPR listening to a program called "This American Life." Unbelievable stories of people surviving seemingly impossible situations. It was so inspiring... so crazy! I was sad when we crossed the river in Memphis and lost signal.

I was most inspired by the last story about a woman and her two kids who were held hostage in their house for several days. Her refusal to show fear allowed her to stay in control of the situation entirely. You have to check out the story... listen to it online for FREE here:

(It's an hour long episode... her story is last... at the time marking 43:29)

Anyway... as I began to think about how encouraging it is to hear about people stories and the things they have overcome... a thought popped in my head. It was one of those God thoughts I believe...

I'd love to ask you to consider writing up a short account of a time when against all odds, God came through for you. If you're comfortable doing this, just post it in the comments here.

Imagine what faith can be stirred up in all of our hearts! Can't wait to hear YOUR amazing story.


Monday, November 12, 2007

The Shack

I found myself in a rare and wonderful predicament this weekend... home alone with nothing to do. So, when an unexpected package from showed up at my door... I took it as a sign that I should do something I never do. READ A BOOK! (Fiction at that)

My friend had been telling me about this curious and amazing book he had read that really changed, tweaked, and stretched him. I knew the title vaguely. I honestly forgot about our conversation until I received the package the following week. (I have great friends!) I'm not much for fiction, but I trusted his judgement. So, I decided I'd jump into the book over the weekend.

"The Shack" by William P. Young. Hmm... cool cover. What? Eugene Peterson has a very strong quote on the front:

"This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!"

That's an endorsement if I've EVER heard one! Very strange summary on the back:

"Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack..."

I was very intrigued to see how in the world these two statements could possibly be referring to the same literary work.

Sat. 5:30p - I crack open the cover. What???? There's an endorsement from my pastor in the front cover? Crazy. I am definitely supposed to be reading this book. Preface....

Sat 6:00p- I'm getting kind of hungry. Dinner first and then I'll pick up chapter 3. Why oh why did I start this book when it was dark? It's a little creepy to be here all alone reading a story about a murdered girl and a man holed up in an abandoned shack. I've got to know what happens though...

Sat 8:30p- Phone rings. Jody checking in on me. Gosh, had no idea it was all ready so late. "Jody, this book is good. WEIRD. But really good. Okay, talk to you soon." (Click) Ch 8 continues....

Sat 10:30p- Phone rings again. Good night Jody. Be safe tomorrow. (click) Ch 11

Sun 12:00a- Finishing Chapter 14. Hmm... I should really go to bed. But, I really can't stop. I am learning way too much. I've got to know how this ends. There's no way I'll remember it all in the morning. There's so much deep thinking! Ok, I can do it...

Sun 2:00a- reading the website links and how to get involved in the online community. Utterly amazed at how small of a box I have put God in. In AWE of the beautiful way I've just seen the Holy Spirit. So happy that I know Jesus. (And I won't lie... a little scared. WHY DID I READ THIS BOOK AT NIGHT ALL ALONE?)

I almost can't explain how this book has touched me. If you love theology and your view of God, you'll probably
despise this book. It only took me 9 hours to get through the book. But it's quite possible that these truths and challenges will continue to change and mold me for the next 9 years. I have a lot to chew on.

I usually don't like reading fiction because
if I'm going to read, I would rather be reading something that helps me. Imagine my surprise that a fiction work would change my heart much more than any Christian Living book ever has.

"The Shack".


Friday, October 19, 2007

Priorities, Necessities, Dreams, and Distractions

I've been having such an inner crisis with myself for the past month or so. Sparing you the whiny details, I (like every other human being) struggle with balancing priorities, necessities, dreams, and distractions. Pretty much in that order. The tension is unrelenting. What do you do with that?

If you've read the past few entries here, it's no secret that I've been trudging through this journey. It's not for lack of desire. I wouldn't even say lack of effort. I know that God sees me right where I am. There's obviously something to be uncovered here in this waiting. It's getting almost humorous. I'm just awkwardly waiting here. Still sweating it out. I'm desperate for a breakthrough. Yep. He knows it. But, I am still waiting. He is still silent. It's unnerving.

One of the verses from church this morning brought me a lot of hope.

Psalm 145:19
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

There you have it. Enough hope to keep on waiting! I'm kind of eager to see how this will all go down. I'll keep you posted!

Hear the sermon: The Fear That Blesses


Friday, October 5, 2007

In My Absence

In my recent absence from this space, there has been a lot going on. A lot. I've wanted to write so many times. But, I can't explain it. I just couldn't. I'd try to think of something clever. Nothing. I'd try to just post something real. I just couldn't.

I started reading another blog. A blog of some friends. I am so inspired by their story. I am so inspired by her writing. They just had a baby and have lost her to a chromosomal disorder. I should have posted this for you all to read sooner. But, please check out the link or find it in my "Lani Links" section and pray for them if God puts it on your heart.

While I sat in Copeland's Memorial service we sang hymns I've heard a thousand times. But in that moment I was so keenly aware of eternity- I listened with new ears. They touched me in the deepest place of my heart. Of all the songs to catch me of guard... "Jesus Paid It All."

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Jesus. He's real. He's everything he said he was. He's the only reason to have hope in spite of tragedy.


I Miss God

I was just thinking today how much I miss God. On my way to work today I passed a flashing sign that said:

Romans 11:29
for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

And then when I got to work someone sent me this verse:

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:7, NLT

Funny that out of no where I get those two random verses. I guess he misses me too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Best!

I was telling Jody how terrible I felt for discouraging a friend the other day. I can't believe I would do that. I am awful! I told him how I am often disgusted with myself.

"You shouldn't be. You are great."

I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting him to be disappointed. He wasn't saying it was OK for me to go around putting people down... he was just loving me inspite of me.

A few years ago, I was on my way home from a day trip to Dallas, TX which was about 3 hours from where we lived. I pulled over at this lake/park that I had seen a few times when I’d driven through. It was just such a pretty day and I’d always been kind of drawn to this place and said one day I’ll stop. I made it a point that day. There’s something about being surrounded by beauty that brings all the life in me to the surface. But, as I got out of my car and walked around the park I began thinking about all of the undesirable things that were in my life. It’s like beauty was challenging me to get rid of the ugliness inside.

Earlier that week our pastor had challenged us to ask God what He saw when He looked at us. I thought it was kind of a hokey question. But it was the only thing I could think of that would break the tension I was feeling. So I stopped and walked out onto the rocks and just sat down.

I didn’t expect much, but I asked God,

“What do You see when You look at me?”

I just thought He was going to say something like,

I see you searching for me and keep it up!

I was still wondering what the answer was when this phrase popped in my mind.

“I see the best.”

I was kind of in shock and giddy. That was not my thought. It was totally how God chose to answer me. He sees the best in me. That’s what He looks at. That’s all He can look at. He won’t look at my sin. He said He sees the best in me!!! He sees the best in you! Let’s do a round of cartwheels! When he looks at us he sees the best!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When the going gets tough... the tough get growing

I've had my share of work experience over the years.... from life guarding to accounting and a variety of jobs in between. I've punched my time card in the Corporate, Small Business, and Self Employment machine. Still, I entered the world of music management ill prepared.

I recently reached a breaking point. My back and neck were constantly stiff. At some point each day my stomach would end up in knots. I thought through scenarios instead of falling asleep. I became a walking complain-a-thon. Work stress. fun.

I recounted some of the wretched details with a friend last week. Relieved that the stress is now only a bad memory, we laughed at the whole crazy situation. I'm not going to lie... I hope I NEVER have to deal with something that complex again. However, talking it over made me realize something. Something I don't want to acknowledge. Something good.

I came to the point where I realized I couldn't even do my job with out God's help. That was a new concept to me. Until that time,
if I needed God's help it was because I needed a better attitude towards the difficult people that came across my path. I'll just say it... the stupid people. I didn't really need His help to perform my actual tasks. Wrong-O. wrong. wrong.

I was so busy I wasn't getting to bed on time. Since I wasn't getting to bed on time, I wasn't getting any time to myself in the mornings. I was squeezing out every last nano-second of sleep before I had to get up. I was literally on autopilot- work, eat, sleep, repeat . The perfect formula for a meaningful life. Right.

I had to make a change. I had to get up earlier, exercise and hang with God. The prompting of a friend and my husband confirmed it. But, how could I possibly do that? I had no energy all ready. I was exhausted! The first week, I gave it a try. Wow. It worked. I don't feel terrible. The second week... the same... and so the cycle began. The past several months, these common sense steps have pulled me through.

Looking back, I had to live through the stress to understand my need for God at work. Sad. But, that's how I learned. I cringe to admit that the bad turned out for good. It's so cliche, I want to roll my eyes. But, it's true. To add one more to the cliche pile... I guess I've learned that when the going gets tough... the tough get "growing."


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Keepin' It Real

I laughed today when I found this very honest, very real prayer in an old journal entry. It kind of tied in with "The Thrill of The Chase." I thought I'd be extremely transparent and post it just in case anyone needed to know that it's ok to pray what's really in your heart.

"God- why do I feel like such crap inside? I need more of You.
You’re kingdom- it’s coming. What am I going to do with my life?
Why am I letting everything be so hard? Yuck- it’s all I feel.
Am I doing anything at all that is real? Eternal Reality?
God, give me a heart that honors You.
I want to seek You with all of my heart. "

I've probably prayed similar prayers a million times, maybe worded a little more reverently... but these are the questions my heart is always asking. I have a feeling that somehow even in these moments that there is more going on than I can see. I think my roll in eternity is developing more every day even when I don't "feel" it. I'm just trying to keep it real!


Friday, August 24, 2007

The Thrill of The Chase

Remember tearing wildly through the playground chasing after a classmate? The pursuit itself was the adrenaline rush, nevermind who was actually able to catch up.

Lately I've been feeling a little lazy, a little lost, a little left out spiritually speaking. It's extremely frustrating. Just a year ago I was hearing the voice of God more clearly than ever before. And now.... nada. zippo. Maybe an occasional twinge of His presence, but for the most part the silence has settled in. Where did He go? He was just right here and now I don't know where He went. What did I do? Maybe I "wandered away" or did something so awful He had to leave. So now what?

A few weeks ago my eyes fell on these ancient words "Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek Him" -I Chronicles 16:11. (Guilt and Shame enter stage right.) Unexpectedly, in the moment just before i began to beat myself up, a thought popped in my head that radically changed my understanding of the words. It became clear that if I'm being told to "Search for the Lord" then God must be the one on the move... or I wouldn't have to seek Him! Maybe it's not my screw ups that chased Him away. Maybe it's more like a game of chase that little children play and I'm the one pouting on the sidelines because I couldn't keep up. I got tired and worn out or just distracted from chasing Him... which brings me to the next amazing part of the verse that says "search for the Lord and for His strength." What? He knows that I get tired and distracted? I can find strength and focus to keep going? Ooops! I've just been searching for the Lord but definitely not for the strength to do it. It totally makes sense that I tucker out. Which brings us to the amazing ending of the verse. "Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him." If I really tapped into His strength, I would be able to continually seek Him. Wow.

- Continually seek Him = He is the one who is always moving.
- He's moving = I need to get up and follow Him.
- Ability to keep chasing = strength from Him.

I wish I could say that since this amazing revelation, I've conquered this. I've still barely begun to apply the lesson... but, I'm seriously thinking about dusting myself off and losing the pouty lip. Every time I see Him whizzing by, it breathes life into me.

Things aren't that different from when I was young. It's still the thrill of the chase that keeps me wanting more.