Monday, March 29, 2010

Quiet Time...

I just spent an hour in the day being quiet. Wow. How foreign. What a concept.

Don't think
Don't do
Don't accomplish
Don't perform
Don't make a list
Don't make progress
Don't have expectations
Don't judge
Don't plan
Don't explain
Don't schedule
Don't maintain
Don't understand
Don't process

It is exhausting just typing that out. I met with a very accomplished very educated and knowledgeable woman last week. She has developed very successful children's ministries. She has an amazing heart. She hears God. She loves kids and families. This friend of mine is really a divine appointment for me. She confessed to me that when she started out in ministry her entire personal life fell apart. Success for her was getting out of bed in the morning. She had a team of 75 volunteers who she was responsible to... (our team here is about 55). She spoke to me about grace what it really means... to really just cut yourself some slack. I told her I needed so badly to hear from God and what he wanted for this ministry he put me in leadership over. I told her that I am in "fight or flight" mode so for me just making a decision about what to make for dinner is hard... how the heck can I successfully run a ministry? How can I know what God wants for the ministry. There are a million things I could move forward in right now. I could pull off an amazing Easter Egg hunt, I could plan a skating night for kids, I could put a date on the calendar and call on all our servant leaders to come and "revamp" the environment for children's ministry... there are a million things I could do and believe me... I would do them well. I'm good at doing stuff.

But what does God want me to do? Am I already doing it? Is he working right now in relationships, in the hearts of people? Is this time in ministry about me working on me? Is he developing my spiritual character? Stripping me of the ability to move forward... is he asking me to move toward Him? I think so. I think he is saying stop... be quiet...listen.

Today during this 1.5 hours of quiet time... I wrote down all the "JUNK" that clogs my mind. Decisions to be made, people to talk to, appointments, moving details, family priorities, personal problems, baggage, frustrations and after I got it all out of my head... I said a short prayer. I told God I was going to listen. I told him I needed him to be clear. I told him I needed to know it was Him and not me.

After that I just laid on my couch and waited. I could hear myself breathing, then with each breath I heard Him...

I support you
I love you
I am here
It's going to be OK
I love your leaders... tell them I love them.
I love your ministry.
You are important to me.

I cry as a type because I knew with each relaxing breath I took... it was him. It was my spirit connecting with His and when I took the time to listen, God was there. He has not gone anywhere even though my crappy circumstances right now feel like he is far from me. It was like he was sitting right next to me. Breathing these quiet whispers to my spirit and my heart. What a gift. Thank you God for your quiet whispers how you love me and you tell me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A little bit of his love

I posted a couple weeks ago how I was really wanting to understand God's love. What does it look like? How can I feel it? Can I touch it? How is it speaking to my heart and the spirit inside of me?

As I pray about it and love God in the process. I am seeing his love in so many small ways. Things I would have brushed off as cute or sweet or joyful, I now see God in it all. One of the major ways God is showing his love to me and I think for Him it just might be the best way for him to operate is by my relationships. I don't believe for one second God puts someone in your life just as a placeholder. Experiencing the love of God happens when we open ourselves up to the people he puts in our lives.

I have some of the best friends on the planet. I have known most of these people for at the most four years. They are warm, they are loving, they love God, they are obedient to the quiet way he whispers to their heart. For a long time I perceived them as a good example to me of what a Christian should look like. They are people I want to be like. There are things that I see in them that I want more than I can stand. Some of my friends have patience galore, some of them are so wise, some of them are financially blessed, but just give and give. They are constantly looking for ways to give to others. Some of them have so much faith.. it seems like "worry" is a foreign concept to them. Some of them just want to travel and go on missions and give and give to needy people. Some of them throw the best parties with the best food. Some of them are just really good at listening. Are they perfect? Uh... no. But the beautiful things I notice in all of them is so cool.

But lately, God is giving me new eyes to see how important my relationships are in my life and in him showing me his love. Relationships are elevated. Jesus didn't say, " that you know about me and what I have for you and all I have taught you, go hang out by yourself and worry about yourself and feel sorry for yourself and don't tell anyone the things that are going on in your life... keep all of it to yourself and focus inward." NO HE DIDN'T. He said... go and tell others about my love. Pray for people, heal people in my name, love your neighbor, love children, take care of widows and orphans. And how does it all get accomplished?

Through relationships. Through being honest, through accountablility, through laughter, tears, hugs, hurt, talks, food.

God gives me billboards (because I need them) this week's billboard is Jen... get off your duff... stop worrying about everything and get out there and love my children, love everyone I love. Show it to them. Be nice to them. Give them grace. Because my grace is sufficient for you. Forgive them. And watch how much I love you...experience my love through them.

Again... if there is one thing I can count on in this life it is my awesome gasp giving mountain moving awe inspiring God of the universe who is showing me his love.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Little things....

As I navigate this situation with moving I am reflecting today on the little things that God has done in providing us a new home to live in.
My hearts desire was that this move would not disrupt the kids too much. They love where we live, they love their school. Hermosa... the area we live in is expensive. It's expensive to buy, it's expensive to live, it's a beautiful valley. I adore it.

So when we started looking for a new rental I was doubtful I could find somethng we could afford in the same area. God knew that. He also knew what we could afford. He knew how much we wanted to pay for a rental.

But I saw in he paper a mobile home for rent in Hermosa for very cheap. It has 3 bedrooms 2 baths...perfect. I called the landlord and asked him the address of the mobile. He told me the address and when I got to it, it did not look like a mobile to me. It was a stick built home with a little masoned chimney on the side. It looked like a cabin. It reminded me of the cabins we would go to when I was little. An "up north" cabin.

I was confused but the landlord said it was open and we could check it out. I walked in the house... it has a fireplace (i love fireplaces) the carpet was nasty... the kitchen was older... the bathroom was REALLY old. The rooms were a decent size. The kids room were doable. There was no furnace. and one wall was a mustard yellow. I kept praying... what's up with this place?

I called BK and told him to come look at it. He was not impressed. We kept looking.

Then the landlord called me and told me he was putting a furnace in the place, new laminate in the living room and recarpeting the kids rooms. We went back and looked at it after that. Bill told me, "It is growing on me". He had painted the rooms, the living room looked nice, he tiled around the fireplace... the mustard yellow was painted over with this really cool deep red. I was starting to see God's hand creating a special place for our family. Taking care of all of those details. Taking care of the things that were not only important to me, but important to my husband.

I kept telling Bill this place was perfect. A place we could live in without having to take the kids away from their school, their friends, their community. He was hesitating. He had a dream of us living with my Dad, helping him, taking care of him as he grew older. He wanted my Dad's dream for his land to be completed and he wanted to help. My husband is an awesome man. He woke up Friday morning told me to call the landlord, tell him we would take the place. I was half asleep. He said, I want you to be happy. Call the landlord. It was like music to my ears. What a beautiful wonderful husband I have. What an awesome man who loves his family. Here we go Lord...

So Friday night the landlord called me. He told me that he and his wife had walked through the house. They were excited we were going to rent it. They wanted it to be nice for us. He decided he was going to carpet the master bedroom too and after looking at the bathroom, he decided to renovate the bathroom this week. He said that the kitchen cabinets would be replaced in the fall and the windows to the home would be replaced before winter. Please note: Bill created a beautiful garden at my Dad's house. He worked very hard to make sure it was dirt he could harvest yummy veggies and stuff. I was sad he was leaving his garden. But on the phone the landlord said to us, Oh yeah... and this place has THE BEST garden. We put manure in the garden bed and the spot we have it in is perfect for growing lots of great things. I hope you like it... (another detail and prayer answered). So, Shawn the landlord told me that he would call me at the end of the week when they were wrapping up renovations. He would call me and we could work out the details.

The bottom line is that God's love is evident to me. All the details that need to be worked out are being worked out.

BK reminded me today of our home in Buffalo we had a Cherry tree we planted in our back yard. It was a tree from his Dad's funeral. Last night they had fundraiser at Grace's school. We bid and won a photograph of a canvac picture of a cherry tree. We will hang it in our new living room to represent a new beginning for us. A new season... an exciting time as we watch God provide detail after detail and we seek him in all we are doing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

God's Unending Love...

Well I am not sure if anyone even reads these anymore as I am so not good at keeping up on them. But for me blogging has become a bit therapeutic and so I have a moment today to do it. Here I am.

The past couple of weeks have been very very difficult. I prayed two weeks ago that God would help me understand his love. I understand his provision, protection, I understand pure joy from him and even peace... but do I recognize when he displays his love to me? (as I type... it dawns on me)

My father and I do not have a relationship. When we do communicate with one another, it is strained, business-like and not at all emotional or caring. My Dad comes from a generation of men... (I think) who believe their main responsibility as a father is to provide. Anything beyond that is the job of a mother. My Dad did a good job of providing and protecting and truly cared about me. He taught me right from wrong and some good foundational stuff for life. He taught me how to set goals and achieve them, he taught me how to make a plan and follow it and he believed in me... that I could do it. He believed I could do anything I put my mind to. And for that I am forever grateful.

Today, however my Dad has severed our relationship. As I've mentioned before... I rent from him... so I am his neighbor. We pay our rent ontime, Billy mows the lawn all summer for him, we have helped him with things around the yard as needed. I painted the trim on the house and we installed brand new carpeting in the house. I think I'm a pretty darn good tenant if I do say so myself. But alas... God has a new plan for me and this family of mine. My Dad likes his friends Jack Daniels and Pabst Blue Ribbon more than he likes me and my family. It is an addiction that grips him with all it has.

That being said.. I am grieving. I am grieving the loss of my earthly father. I am sad that it has come to this. I was hopeful for change. For a change in our relationship, for a miracle to heal him. There have been moments in the past four years (and I stress moments) where I have seen my Father... the man who raised me. I'll give you an example. Before I planned the barn party... my Dad came walking out onto the driveway... I was off.. to roll out this huge event. He had his robe on and a coffee mug in hand...he smelled like coffee... he had a twinkle in his eye and he looked at me with an abundance of love. He handed me a cowboy hat he was wearing and told me I could have it. He told me I looked great in it and hoped I had fun at the party. He laughted heartily and warmly. His heart was soft and good. After he walked away, I shot a little arrow prayer up to God and thanked him for moments like that. Most of the time when I am with him however, I do not see that man. I see someone else, someone who is hurt and angry, someone acts like he hates me. Someone who can see nothing but the ways I have wronged him, betrayed him or have let him down. So I'm torn. How am I Christ-like to someone who has hurt me so deeply? How do I forgive? When do I forgive? Can I forgive? For now I will heal.

It will take some time to heal myself and heal the fact my father has rejected me and my family. It will take some time for me to understand God's plan in all of it, but I know our amazing awe inspiring gasp giving God will be faithful in his plan for my life. He already has the plan paved out. Although I cannot see it... it is there and it is good. I just need to continue to pursue Him with all I have. Rely on him with my heart and spirit and seek out his will for my life and the life of my family. I need to release "my plan" and be OK with his. Being in ministry, I have to admit I have talked to other people about doing this. I have sat with friends and have said these words... God has a good plan. But when I need to surrender it all, and rely completely on God to get me to the next step... it is much harder when you are walking it out in your own life.

God loves me. What an amazing gift to begin to unwrap and experience. When left with nothing else on this earth... I can rely on the fact I have a big huge God who created all things wonderful. Who rejoices in me... who loves me just how I need to be loved.