Archives for September 2014

31 Days of Letters {To Divorce, Shame, Fat, and Much More}

For the past few years I’ve participated in the Nester’s 31 days.  Each time I’ve set a goal:  Less Me, More Jesus or More of the Gospel.  Some direction to face with renewed hope and purpose.

However, this year, I am writing 31 letters  {OK, I might not make it to 31, but it’s a worthy goal.}  I am writing letters to divorce and unkindness.  To fat and food addiction.  To my dad and to a friend.  To shame and injustice.  I also have a few friends who are joining me with letters of their own, so this should be a cathartic sharing of both hurt and happy hearts.

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Why letters?  Because when {for example}I get mad about divorce, I can’t really walk up to it and say…you suck, divorce.  I can’t touch it or talk to it. But, it’s time to tell it what I really think.  It’s time to explain to divorce how much it hurts me and my kiddos.  How much it hurts families and friendships – and churches.

It’s time to tell fat what it’s like to live with its company.  To tell my dad that I still miss him.  To tell shame that she has no place in my heart or head.  To tell unkindness that there’s no room for it in my life.

My prayer is that in each letter – each sharing of my heart toward a topic, there will be healing for you and for me.  And, you will see and I will be reminded of the hope that we have Him  – firm and secure – for He is the conqueror of all including shame, divorce, hurt, and loss.

He is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Through all struggle and doubt and fear and joy – He is unchanging.

If you’d like to get some stuff off of your chest by writing it a letter, I would LOVE to hear from you and read or share your letter.  Let’s just get it all out!  Chances are good that someone else needs to read it too!

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Late this afternoon I had a very good friend call me and ask me to bring her daughters home as she rushed to the bedside of a loved one who didn’t make it.  A very tragic death.

So, perhaps I’ll write to death, lamenting the unfairness of today.  The unfairness of tragedy.  The burden of so much suffering upon one person’s shoulders.  I’ll admit that death ultimately has no sting for those who love Jesus, but in this moment, it’s stinging.  It’s cutting deep.  It’s almost too much to bear.

I might ask death why nowWhy him?  I might tell death that those left in his wake hurt deeply.  Still…I would end with the hope of heaven.  The hope of a life beyond this one where death is defeated and pain is no more.

In the meantime, can you join me in praying for my friend and her family?  They need held.  Thanks, friends.

A Miracle Meeting {I Mean, It was CRAZY!} {Wow, God!}

Last Thursday speakers, planners, and the worship team gathered to review the day’s messages and agenda for the Women of Purpose conference {I am part of WOP’s Creative Team}.  The gathering served as everyone’s chance to meet, aligning messages and music.

At the meeting, I met one of this year’s speakers for the first time:  Veronica King-Cunningham.  She and I showed up wearing the exact same gold cardigan.  I figured we were soul sisters or something;)

Throughout the evening, we spoke of our team’s travel to Honduras in November. Our team plans a one-day conference in the states for the first Saturday in October while also planning a four-day retreat for English-speaking missionaries living and serving in Honduras.  The retreat, Revive, is the first week in November.

As we talked, Veronica said she’d love to go to Honduras someday.  She continued by sharing a story of a lady with whom she had lost contact. This lady lived and worked in Honduras, and when Veronica’s husband died tragically, this lady had contacted Veronica.  She said, “I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I read your blog.” This lady went on to tell Veronica that her story had inspired a team to build a house in her late husband’s honor.

Veronica was overwhelmed.

A house in Honduras would be built in memory of her husband, Jeremy. The lady hoped to build houses in the future as well, calling the project King’s Quarters – a place to honor two Kings:  Our Savior and Jeremy. Veronica desired to travel to Honduras and see this home – and any future homes – but lost touch with the lady.

Years passed.

We sat in a room Thursday night as Veronica recounted this story, and we were all thinking, “how cool that she’s connected to Honduras!”

And, then, Jen- a member of our creative team – says:  I am the lady.  It was me. 

Huh?  What?  YES…it’s what you’re thinking!

Jen, who used to live and serve in Honduras, had felt God calling her in 2011 to build houses in Jeremy’s honor even though she’d never met him or Veronica.  Her desire was to tell Jeremy’s story, encouraging Honduran men to be the honorable, faithful fathers and husbands that Jeremy had been.

So, in a small room at an agenda meeting for a women’s conference, Jen meets Veronica. Veronica meets Jen.

In person.

The gal who lost her young husband to a heart attack so suddenly meets the missionary who followed her blog and desired to honor her story.

And God’s hand is evident. {I mean, really?  Only God could orchestrate this!}

Veronica asks if Jen will take her to see Jeremy’s house in Honduras, and we ask Veronica if she’d like to go see it in November.  And after talking to her husband (she’s now remarried) and raising over $1,000 for her plane ticket, in about 24 hours, Veronica has joined our Revive team.

She will get to see Jeremy’s house.

And she will get to build another house in his honor on November 5.  Each of us will pound nails and saw boards side-by-side with Veronica as we create a home for a Honduran family and tell Jeremy’s story – His story – encouraging the man of the house to be a loving and faithful dad and husband.

I know.  WOW!

It’s overwhelming to consider our sovereign God who has walked with Jen and Veronica.  Who planted ideas in hearts and connected two women for such a time as this.  Neither considering that one day – years later – they would meet in a room while planning a conference.  And from that meeting, our team would revive King’s Quarters and continue building a legacy of love.

If you’d like to join us in building King’s Quarters on November 5, we’d be honored to have your help.  The house we plan to build costs $1,600.  To donate, visit the Women of Purpose website or comment.

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NOTE:  You can read about the day Veronica’s life changed here and her blog about this meeting here.

You can read Jen’s original email to Veronica explaining King’s Quarters here.  It’s dated November 11, 2011:  November 11 – the day we will travel home from Revive. (Yes, I am screaming – can  you BELIEVE THIS?:)

Just Too Busy {A To-Do List Rooted in Fear}

I’ve been away from this space for a few weeks as I’ve settled into a new season of life.  Being a single mom with a full-time job has its challenges, but I am thankful for friends who have helped the three of us settle into a new routine.  Hannah is dancing, Owen is playing tennis, and I am teaching and working with a few ministries, including Women of Purpose.

As I texted with some of the Women of Purpose Creative Team this weekend about our Sunday afternoon meeting, I admitted to struggling with “time.”  Time to catch up with laundry and compose lesson plans.  Time to rest and listen to my kiddos talk about their weeks.  Just time to…{insert so many to-do’s here}.

I know one thing for sure:  If I start noticing the pressure of too many to-do’s, feeling as if I am working all the time, Satan is winning in my life.  He knows that me plus a full schedule equals less time focused on my Creator, less time focused on what’s important, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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Sure, some seasons are busier than others.  Our Women of Purpose team is much busier in September and October than any other months of the year as we plan for both a one-day conference and a four-day retreat in Honduras.  And that’s understandable.  Yet, I find that when seasons are naturally busy – suddenly – tasks emerge from all sides, adding to the normal busyness.  I say yes to this and that – small things to serve others or self.

Then, bam!

I am stuck in a mire of tasks that aren’t important and certainly do not line up with my priorities.

So, yesterday, I took a deep breath.  I got up a little earlier and spent some time in an old devotional that I’d worked through in 2012. I began reading Hinds’ Feet on High Places again during my lunch.  I listened to students more carefully and left all papers in the car while watching my son’s tennis match.

I took time to be.

I still completed some to-do’s, but my focus shifted away from the “what’s” in my life to the “who’s” …to those around me whom I love and consider important.  And to the supreme Who, my Father in Heaven.

Today, my soul feels much more quiet.  And, I wasn’t surprised when God greeted me with the following passage this morning as I opened Everyday Prayers:

It’s not difficult to see that my drivenness and busyness are rooted in fear – the fear of not being enough and having enough, the fear of losing face and losing control, the fear of missing the mark and missing out.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.  Your perfect love alone can liberate this poser, performer, and perfectionist.  Drive out my fears by a greater grasp of your grace.  You lived a life of perfect obedience, for me as the second Adam, fulfilling everything God requires of me.  You died a death of perfect love for me as the Lamb of God, exhausting God’s judgment against my sin.  Your resurrection from the dead on the third day is the firstfruits and guarantee that one day I will be as lovely as you and as loving as you, Jesus. 

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.  1 John 4: 18-19

Rooted in fear.

Is your busyness – your to-do list – rooted in fear?

Fear of missing the mark or missing out?  (if your house isn’t clean enough or your children aren’t involved or talented enough)

Fear of not being enough or having enough?  (if you can’t have three cars and a nice house or you’re not considered “enough” of a servant)

Fear of losing face and losing control?  (if you don’t get to make the decision or lead the way)

I will always fight my inner performer and perfectionist. The one who thinks she can do it all – alone.  The one who needs Jesus daily, not just when she begins feeling overwhelmed.  The one who fears missing the mark, not having or being enough, and losing face.

I pray for your to-do’s today – whatever is motivating them.  I also humbly ask that you pray for mine.  As I juggle many roles alone, the tasks increase. My heart is to complete the necessary tasks while never becoming too busy to sit at His feet, listening and learning.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the doing and subconsciously move Him to second place.

I am praying against that…for me and for you.

{It’s good to be writing again.}