How To Find The Invitations Hidden In Fear

The invitations are everywhere.  We’ve been invited to God’s very best.  There is a bouncer who calls Himself fear, and he’s scary.  Or she is.  At first she seems nice.  As crazy as it is, I think that we’re friends.  It’s a mystery to me because she never lets me in.  I guess secretly, I presume that she values me.  It’s as if  she wants to protect me from something inside.  I trust her.  Because clearly she knows better than me.  She’s loud and quick on her feet.  She knows things I don’t and catches all the tricks.  Fear is bossy and seems to know all the answers.  She tells me where to go.  Every detour en route is her turf.  She is there.  It makes me feel safe.

Something feels wrong, but I can’t place it quite yet.  There’s something Fear isn’t disclosing to me.  I begin to fear what she doesn’t say more than what she does.  Surely it’s too scary even to mention the unmentionables inside.  For my own good, she keeps quiet about these perplexing unknown to me factors.  This guard of the doors keeps me quite distracted.  So I never get too close to the truth.  What is it?  What is she hiding from me?

I can’t shake my curiosity.  I must know.  I stalk her, looking for clues.  I check all the places where I’m usually quite certain to find her.  I search each location for hard evidence.  Something I can take to my lab.  Night and day, I probe.  I dissect.  I dig, and I study.  What am I missing?

With intense obsession, I comb all this evidence.  What do I see?  Where does this trail eventually lead?  I follow these breadcrumbs to other people like me.  Many I’ve seen before now, and I thought they were threats.  I’m compelled to look closer.  I uncover the cords attached to their souls.  They’ve been tricked.  Fear has mastered the art of pulling these nearly invisible strings.  These people are victims.  Her fingerprints are smeared across each and every misdeed that begs to be seen.

Her prey doesn’t know that she’s played them.  They’ve been used, and they don’t even know it.  Each does exactly as she plans.  They all do.  Some are far better at keeping these ties to Fear a secret.  She’s there too.  There’s no doubt about it.  I brace myself to prepare for what I’ll see next.

I move closer.

From a distance, these marks seem like the usual suspects.  It’s the same story.  I’ve heard it all before.  There’s nothing new to see here.  I find myself wanting to maintain a healthy detachment to all of this.  I’d rather not get too personal.  Why is that?

Then I start to stir inside.  Something is trying to surface.  Why am I suddenly so anxious?  The sweat beads cold just under my skin.  What’s the reason for this clamminess now filling up my insides?  My chest is pounding.  I’m queasy.  I know something I don’t want to know.  These victims are me.  I’ve been fooled.  She played me.  All the places we went were a lie.

What didn’t I see?

It was the blessings.  All the glorious blessings.  I missed them.  There’s so much reward that I’ve missed because of this Fear.  I feel sick.

I start to rehearse all the things I should have done differently.  There are all these ways I could have prevailed and taken hold of these many good things.  I grieve.

That’s when something else becomes present with me.  It’s comfort.  This feeling is something I haven’t known before now.  It’s something other than this world.  Something other than what I can even understand.  This presence makes me feel strangely secure.  A certain peace which I cannot describe seeps deep into my being and spreads calmly throughout my entire body and soul.  Why is my spirit so quiet and calm?  Nothing seen has been changed.

The inaudible whispers wrap me like a warm blanket.  Suddenly, I know.  This is Love.

I’ve been soothed by something- Someone- more certain than Fear.  I still feel her nearness, and yet I’m not afraid anymore.  Love can be trusted.  Somehow, I know it.  No longer do I need it explained.  There’s a knowing so deep in my bones, that I sense it’s always been there.  He never confused me with a pretense of posture and answers.  Or pushy demands.  No less, He was there.  I just didn’t see Him.

What does this Love now wish me to see?

The blessings haven’t gone anywhere.  They’re right where I left them in the very start.  Now I know what Fear doesn’t want me to see.  It’s right there.  It’s all there.  It’s still there.  Love is here, to lead my way.  He shows me a new way.  Love is the way to everything good.  Fear taught me that.  Thank you, Fear.

You’ve pointed the way, and now you’re in the way.  It’s time to say good-bye, to you.  Now I know how.  I don’t need you anymore.  You’re just something I got used to.  I’ll get used to this too.  The invitations are mine, and you can’t have them.  I’m taking them back.  I want to use them.  I intend to take them inside, all the way in, to where God has told me to go.  I’m invited.  It says it right here.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

I’m afraid you’ll have to stay here, Fear.  I’m going in.  You can chase me inside, but I’m still going in.  The thing is, I’ll already be in.  And once I’m there, perfect Love will cast you out.  He told me so in His letter to me.  It’s there in my memory.  I just forgot for awhile.  But thankfully, my Love never forgets His promise to me.  Even if I do.

Knock.  Knock.

“It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory;  it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You loved them.”  Psalm 44:3

 

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My friend, the invitations are written, but we have to receive them.  Do you struggle with that?  I wonder if Fear keeps you just on the outside of everything good.  All God’s best is waiting for you.  What might Fear have to teach you if you listen in close?  I wonder.  Will you let the whispers of Love finish your story?

Will you knock?  Love wants to meet you on the inside.  What are you waiting for!

Let’s reach for abundance.  Let’s reach high and wide for Love poured out, over us.  Our Savior’s come to rescue us.  Let’s not keep our Love waiting.  It’s time to go to Him.  Will you come with me?

3 Reasons Why It’s Super Hard For Grown-Ups To Play

More than most anything else, I want to be a person that knows how to play.  But I struggle with that.  Do you?

When I consider all the things I’d like to see in my life, it seems to me they’re the by-products of simple play.  It’s giggles and adventure.  It’s the spontaneity driven by connectivity.  It’s something kinetic and electric.  I crave movement.  And yet, I resist it.  Why do I do that?

First and most obvious, I would say, is the issue of time.  There never seems to be enough.  Still, I manage to make more than enough for the lesser things.  Why is that?

I like to compartmentalize everything.  I want to wait until it’s designated fun time.  But fun can’t be put in a jar and perform on demand.  It happens on the way out the door.  And under a time crunch.  It happens right in the middle of things.  I have to let it in as it is and answer the door when it knocks.  It’s sad to admit how rarely I do.

Second, and perhaps more telling for me, is maybe the why.  I have to reach deep inside myself to access the place where this stuff is found living and breathing.  The treasury I seek is hidden the vulnerable.  I have to confess it exists to enter into it, but I prefer to keep this place guarded.

Third is the most crippling I think.  It’s the presence of others.  I allow the potentially distasteful and probably unlikely thoughts of others to immobilize my truest expressions.  But no emotion is complete until it’s expressed.  Love isn’t.  Neither is joy, or even sadness.  None are finished inside me until I’ve let them be felt.  I walk around only half full of the glory that waits- even beckons- for me.

 

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Every day I have a choice to make about how I begin my day.  Saturday I felt like I made the wrong choice when straight away I reached for my mom’s phone instead of my Bible.  If you don’t know the story, my phone was recently stolen.  Yes, I wrote about it.  You can read that story too if you’d like.  It’s titled “Can A Stolen Phone Be A Gift From God?”   Now I use my mom’s phone.

I thought it would only take a moment, and I totally had in mind to keep with my schedule.  Bible time with coffee, then a jog, were at the top of  my list.  Daily writing practice was of course part of this line-up.  There were all the things, and just a little time.  I finished checking my messages pretty fast and moved on to my computer.  Again, I thought it would only take a moment to do this quick thing that I had wanted to do.  I still totally had in mind to keep with my schedule.  I’m addicted to checking things off my list.  Check.  Check.

Of course, it took a little longer than I’d planned.  Just a little.  I still would have had room to salvage the time that remained.  By now, I’ve half-way gotten involved in a movie my mom’s watching.  So I half-way read my Bible for the day, while still kind of watching “The Wedding Date” with Debra Messing.  It’s not a great partner to devotion by the way, but nevertheless, I digress.  I’ve still had no coffee at this point, and the tension is rising inside me.  I’m becoming quite irritable as my time runs shorter.  I can feel it.  The vibe is totally off.  I knew it from the start.

 

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Today I awoke and lingered a moment before rising from bed.  I let the excitement of a book I’ve been expecting in the mail lure me to open my eyelids.  I go straight to my computer to check my email for confirmation of it’s arrival.  There was no news, and I closed my computer.  I was short on time before my mom left for work, and I wanted to see if there were Marco Polo messages from my friends before she did.  There were.  Yay!

I listened to them with great delight and then sent my mom off with happy greetings.  My three-year-old niece asks my mom for a kiss.  “A kiss, not a hug…” cause she’s wet.  I had some laughs with my sister before she left for work too.  I hadn’t rushed to my Bible today as I commonly do, but this felt different somehow than Saturday.

The dog keeps keeps running out the door, and usually this is no big deal.  But the neighbors have recently installed a wooden fence that doesn’t serve to keep our dog out.  This means I have to inform the neighbors to retrieve the dog.  This is not something I wish to do.  So naturally right when my sister’s walking out the door, this brilliant dog makes his escape.  I guess knowing full well that I must catch this outlaw BEFORE he makes it to the alleged fence turns me into Catwoman herself.  I duck and dive and jump over plants to cut him off right at the slat he was going for.  A fantastic rush of adrenaline expresses itself in glorious laughter.  I roar with it.  I won.

After everything has settled, I read some Scripture from the 40th Psalm about how God has lifted me out of the pit and given me a firm place to stand.  I’m reminded how He blesses the person that makes Him their trust rather than the false gods which are the lesser things.  It says that many are the wonders that God has already done, and that the things He’s planned for ME no one can recount to Him.  The Psalmist tells me that were he to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.  Our redeeming God has put a NEW song in my mouth!  Great is His love and faithfulness!  He’s quick to save me in my needy condition because it pleases Him.  May we who seek Him rejoice.  Make us glad in Your presence, O Lord.

I did some good reading on the porch while it rained.  Later I ate a jalapeno from our garden and went for a run.  My nieces and I discovered the art of peeling a peach without breaking the peel.  It looked like a red-orange snake.  I learned also that I can distract the 3-year-old niece from being hurt by providing assistance while she does a well rehearsed flip.  She says, “Stand on your tippie-toes…”  This means get ready.  She uses me as an anchor while she lifts herself up for a back flip followed immediately by a front flip.  We finish with high fives and clapping and squeals.

We went for pizza… because it’s Tuesday.  I invite all the whimsical conversation that the children like to make.  I wish I could remember all the fun things they say.  Earlier today, the 7-year-old says, “What’s wrong, Jelly Bean?”  It’s something she’s heard from me.  Isn’t that fun?  There were woo-hoos and big cries and lots of “I love you”s.  They came from right out of nowhere.  And I smiled until my cheeks hurt.

Why was today different than Saturday?  I wonder.

Saturday I reached for routine.  Today I reached for delight.

What do you reach for, my friend?

I hope you said joy.  And goodness.  I hope you said Jesus.  I pray that you know deep in your soul that His joy is full when yours is complete.  I hope you know that He’s in His glory when it’s Him you enjoy.  But because you can, not because you must.  I pray that you reach out for the gifts He has given because He’d be sad if you didn’t.  We can enjoy what He’s given, both for Him and with Him.  That’s how all of the gifts become gifts we get to give back.  It’s called joy.  And all the rewards are still ours.  Because that’s just how He likes it.

If the day was new, and the slate was totally clean, what might you do with it?  Just for the fun of it.

The 3-year-old tells me, “Today was a beautiful day!”  It certainly was.  I think I might sit for awhile.  Just for the fun of it.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

How The Shortcuts Can Cheat You Out Of Lasting Friendship

I was kind of smart when I was a child.  Not “gifted” smart, but smart enough to be weird.  Maybe you know someone like me?  Maybe you are me.  I never did fit in, no matter how hard I tried.  And believe me.  I tried.  Oh, how I tried!  I just didn’t quite fit.  I’m not saying that no one ever sat next to me at lunch or spoke to me on the school bus.  It wan’t like that.  It’s just that the people sitting next to me were often the same ones that enjoyed poking fun at me.  It was the very same good citizens that seemed interested in being my friend that led the pack in their teasing of me.

We were just children, and for the most part children just follow the leader.  That’s not uncommon.  I say all this to point out how confusing it was for me to figure out if people really were my friends.  I was always questioning if their efforts were sincere, and I made a lot of adjustments to myself in my efforts to avoid being dumped by my peers.  I would pretend not to get it when they made fun of me.  I played dumb.  I tried to just ignore them, like my mom always taught me.  Still I couldn’t get away from those taunts.  They were all there, looking at me and laughing.  Whispering.  The whispers weren’t a secret to me.  Tears were frequent to follow me home.

I couldn’t switch classes every time I got picked on.  I had to learn another way to cope.  I needed an ally, and the teachers were my best shot at that.  I was called the teacher’s pet.  It was a grand addition to my “cool credit.”  I’m sure.

I tested once to be advanced ahead.  I could potentially have skipped a grade.  This compels me to wonder if things might have been different had I been smart enough to advance.  Would that have yielded a peer group that wasn’t threatened by me?  I wonder.

I studied hard, but I didn’t make the cut.  I went back to my same old classroom where I never had fit, and I was the same weirdo I was before I’d failed that test.  Now I’d just been singled out for it all.  You know, to see if I qualified as “special.”  I didn’t.

Now why do I tell you all this?

It’s about shortcuts.  When does it benefit us to take them?  And do we ever suffer because we did?

I always longed for that friend that made me feel like the rest of the kids seemed to be with their friends.  I wanted to know the things about them that proved we were friends.  I wanted them to know all those things about me.  I tried to force it when it wasn’t there.  Have you ever done that?

The problem with that is that some systems can’t be cheated.  The friendship I long for deep in my soul isn’t like that at all.  It’s not an instant connection, but rather something much deeper.  It’s a bond that’s proven in the staying.  And the truth about me?  I never stayed long enough to forge this kind of bond.  The kind that is lasting and true.  I was a runner.  Afraid.  And I was pretty good at hiding.  I hid from them and lost myself.  I never gave friendships a chance to grow into the something real and beautiful they’re meant by God to become.  I ran and hid from the true and lasting because I was afraid of what I might see.

Is it just me?

I’ve gotten a lot better at all that because God is so very good.  He’s brought me a long way from that lonely little girl that refused to let others in.  This is what I’m discovering.  The good stuff takes time.  You can’t shortcut it.  It comes through the staying.  The uncertainty of showing up when it would be way easier to just give up and  start all over again.  The best stuff can’t be rushed.  It’s all the awkward in betweens that craft the splendor in due time.  Without all the questionable middle parts, there’s no meat in the finish.  Do you get it?  The key to great friendship is NOT in the manageable and safe.  It’s NOT in the instantly clicking and overly predictable expectations.  It’s in the pushing past all of that to be who we truly are.  So we can do it all together.  Because we’d rather do that than not.

Relationships take time.  It’s okay not to know all the things.  It’s okay to feel all the weird things you feel on the way to the sweet spot.  It’s coming, you can trust it.  Because you’re doing the time.  Even the very best pretending can’t do the work that you’re doing by sticking it out.  All that fades.  What you crave is the end game.  That’s what we all crave.

It’s the sitting with someone in the silence because you’re totally secure in the absence of words.  It’s the coming and going freely without checking in for even years because you never question the strength of your bond.  Or maybe you do, but you show up anyway.  Because that’s what friends do.  It’s the knowing without a doubt that, from time to time, must even express itself in a scream or a shout.  A special knowing that lets you feel the ugly feels.  Those are feelings too, and even they need somewhere safe to be felt.  What we all need is friends that stay when things are ugly.  It’s not the “me too” besties we crave in our souls like we all seem to think.  It’s the regular, nothing special.  Just there.  There anyway friends we need most.

The good stuff isn’t meant to be managed.  You have to let it in as it is.  And it gets good.

If I had passed that test to skip that grade, chances are I would’ve been in over my head.  I likely would have totally bombed.  Shortcuts don’t always benefit our purpose.  They can’t bear the fruit of all the hard work in our learning as we go.  It wouldn’t have served me to cheat that system.  And it doesn’t serve me to cheat friendship either.

Life is richer with friends to enrich us.  As they are, and as we are.  The getting there together starts with being here first.  Give it time.  Keep showing up.  Just trust it.  Be totally here, and feel all the feelings.  That’s all part of what’s coming.  The staying’s where the fruit is.  So stay the course because your blessing is coming!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”   I Corinthians 13:13

Can A Stolen Phone Be A Gift From God?

It’s a Saturday night, and the power is out in my home due to storms.  I’m at work.  I decide to charge my phone there before I go home.  I return to find the charger right where I left it.  There just isn’t a phone attached to the end of it.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not feeling so holy in this scene.  In fact, I’m feeling quite the opposite.  Which is strange only because my purse was recently stolen.  And I was way more rational about that.  What’s worse than that, is that not even my dad’s passing in March stirred such a strong and immediate reaction within me.  I am sick.  Something ugly has surfaced.  It’s my addiction.  I’ve become completely dependent on this pocket-size boulder to which I am chained.

Fast forward to Monday.

It strikes me here in this not having my phone, that I have used that (and the other things too) as a super power of sorts.  It’s like my cloak of invisibility.  It’s strange not to have a thing in front of me.  A distraction for when I’m surrounded by the others, for when I’m thick in presence.  It’s that place where I’m left to just absorb all the feelings that rise inside my awkward center.  It feels weird to be looking at them, while they’re looking at me.  All my feelings feel totally uncovered.  And I feel exposed!

Quick! Give me a book, or a notebook.  A piece of cardboard, or a straw.  Anything.  Just something.  I need somewhere to put my attention.  Anywhere but here, with all of these people.  And my thoughts.  All my thoughts, of their thoughts.  So many thoughts.  Help me Jesus!  This struggle is real.  Without all the things, I can actually see it.

This is a good thing.  Because the seeing is key.  When I see it, I can change it.  Well, maybe I can’t.  But God can.  And He wants to.  I’ve been personally invited to ask Him.  He’ll do what I can’t when I invite Him into my struggle.  The trouble is I can’t well ask for the things I don’t know I need.  In His great and unfathomable loving kindness, He lets me see what I don’t want to see.  So that He can have my permission to access the places where my soul needs us most.

Have you ever been there?

I like to hide those places from Him, if I’m honest.  Although, I really don’t know why I do that, my friends.  He’s never been anything but gentle with me.  That’s even when He is correcting me.  He’s not harsh, that’s me.  I’m the one that judges both myself and others harshly.

“{We}, therefore, have no excuse, {we} who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point {we} judge the other, {we} are condemning {ourselves}, because {we} who pass judgment do the same things… Or do {we} show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads {us} toward repentance?” Romans 2:1 & 4  {personalized for effect}

I project my attitudes onto Him.  It’s the human condition, I guess.  We can only see things through the filter from which we choose to see them.  And we can’t pick and choose that filter.  The one we use most is the one we use always.  That’s just what comes natural to us.

His desire is in setting us free.  From all of that.  He wants to speak life and truth over us.  The beauty of His character is that in that, He wants us to choose it.  Freely.  He’s willing to allow for our error in judgment and cover us in grace until we finally get there.  Willingly.  He wants us to be ready for what He longs to do in our hearts and our lives.  He wants us to want Him.  And all His good things.  He doesn’t wish to force Himself upon us.

We’re the ones that are needy and demanding.  That can’t allow room for growth and mistakes along the way.  It’s us that can’t bear to face misunderstandings securely. We’re not content in that we’ll get where we’re going when the time is made right.  We don’t believe that it will all work out in the end.  We’re the ones that don’t trust ourselves or the others in our lives.  These people that by the way have chosen to be there.  That’s even if said people are family.  They still count, and they’re there.  They want to be.  That’s all  us.

Father God is not like us.  Isn’t that wonderful?  He is patient and kind.  He’s comfortable with a little uncertainty as it’s a fair part part of our journey.  He knows that we’ll get there.  He knows that His plans for us won’t change.  He knows that His love for us won’t change.  He’s not afraid of our shortcomings.  He knew what He was signing up for when He first arrived on the scene to save the day.  When He first set out to rescue you.  And me.  He knew about all the things that we think are secret.  He’s not afraid of that.  Any of it.  He loves you just the same, my friend.  Right where you are.  Today.

What might He be leading you to see, if you’re honest?

If you knew that you knew, that He loved you right there, how might that change what you see?

I wonder.  You tell me.

I think if we dared to look bravely into the heart of our God, we’d see something truly wonderful in there.  I think we both would.

I need to see that out there is where life is happening.  I need to be part of all that.  And friend, I have a secret for you.  You need to be part of it too!  I don’t have to live in this bubble of judgment for both myself and the others I so want to love.  And neither do you. We can repent and be free.  We really can be free!

Are you with me?

We’ve got some amazing places to go, and all sorts of people to love out there.  God’s prepared us to live among people that need our stories of hope.  They can’t wait to return the love we send out to them.  The sharing our lives is a gift.  Let’s not take it for granted.

How To Turn Your Detours Into Grand Adventures

I wanted a nap, but clearly that wasn’t happening.  I was confused about how to respond to what I was feeling, and I began to feel dizzy.  The children were spinning ’round and ’round.  One was screaming, the other was shouting, “Look at me!”  I decide here that quiet is necessary to recover my brain, and I consider taking a walk by myself to recharge.  “That’s what I need,” I think myself.

I’ve been contemplating over a story that I am working on, and I take pause at this thought I’m circling in my head over ‘detours.’  I ask myself where I would go if I had nowhere to go.  I want to know where the wind inside me might blow, if not for this insatiable lust for destination.  But I’m tired, and I can’t think.  I just need a walk.

About this time my infectious niece, who I cannot refuse, says to me, “I know what we should do!”  This is a routine dialogue of ours.  It’s my cue to ask her what, which she promptly follows up with, “We should take a walk!”  This is our running act together, and it’s famous.

Now in case I haven’t mentioned it, I refuel with solitude.  By this I mean that the walk I had anticipated was most certainly meant to be enjoyed alone.  But I cannot refuse this kid.

So we’re walking.  Her mom was home briefly on lunch, and now she’s heading back to work.  She and her adult son are exchanging their thoughts on a matter in slightly elevated tones of voice.  Not yelling at all, mind you.  And you believe me, don’t you?  Because we never raise our voices in my home.  Ahem.  I digress.

We’re about halfway down the street from our house, and this sweet child says that her mommy’s upset.  (She’s fine.)  To my three-year-old niece, this is serious.  She says, “We should help her feel better.”  I agree of course, and tell her that’s a great idea.  I ask her what we should do.  She says, “Let’s ask Jesus.”  Do you see that puddle in your mind’s eye?  That’s my heart, totally melted.  She says, “Let’s do it now…  Jesus, help Mommy feel better.  And brother too… And that boy is mean.”  It’s a different boy, not her brother.  But who doesn’t love the prayer of a child?  Now ask me if I still wish that I was walking solo.  We continue on our adventure.

Just ahead, we pass some “yellow grass’ and “more yellow grass.”  This is getting exciting!  She picks up a few pieces, naming the people she’ll give them to.  She doesn’t forget to mention me either.  We move along.  She cleans each blade of ‘yellow grass’ individually with her cotton swab.  You may refer to this delightful stuff as hay.  And no, I don’t know why she’s carrying a cotton swab.  I smile.

We’re nearing the mailboxes where we generally take our rest, and it occurs to me that I have more time than I usually do. I think it’s a perfect day to visit the corner store for some cookies.  I have cash in my pockets.  Pockets usually wouldn’t be present in this scenario, given that I frequently take walks in my pajamas.  Do you think she has to think about her answer when I ask if she wants to go to the corner store?  I think you know that answer.

We arrive, and I consider that it would be a nice day to show her the air hockey table.  But I keep that idea a secret.  We choose some chips and some cookies.  We add a handful of beef sticks and a big pickle. That’s a bonus!  I exchange a dollar bill for quarters, give her two, and she says thank you to the store clerk with a big smile.  We take our things to the back of the store where I show her where to put her quarters, and I introduce my life-loving niece to air hockey.  She loves it!

On our way back home, we come up on the trees near the mailboxes where we usually stop.  She anticipates with joy the “yummy snacks” we will eat.  “Let’s eat our snacks outside!” she declares.  We park ourselves by the trees and take off our shoes.  We see leaves falling like rain from a tree across the way.  It’s brilliant.  “I wonder where they come from,” she says.  We enjoy our snacks in the soft grass.

She tells me to lie back because she wants to lay on top of me.  The leaves and the limbs look to me like  a kaleidoscope.  The birds are singing.  My brain is quiet.  I enjoy thoroughly the company I keep.  This is nice.

We see a huge flock of birds taking off for flight, and we’re totally relaxed in the shade of this tree on this perfect heaven sent day.  We play a little Ring Around The Rosie, and fall back free of care on the grass.  I chase her a bit, and spot her feet as they dangle in the air when she tries to convince me in action that she can in fact fit into the large mailbox.  This simple play is delightful.  The magic is everywhere.

She crosses her legs and licks her beef stick like a cat.  She says, “This is like a picnic.”

“Yep,” I tell her.  “It sure is.”

She climbs on my back and offers me some dried up dandelion flowers she’s picked from the grass.  She whispers things in my ear that she wants me to say.  She’s having a grand time.  So am I.  Her joy is full.  So is mine.

And I wanted to take a boring walk by myself?

This is a perfectly refreshing afternoon filled with wonder and slowness.  It is pure, and rich in its treasure.

 

~/~

 

I was struck by this notion of ‘detours’ just a day or two ago when I was jogging into the beautiful scenery just ahead of me.  I hated to turn away from that moment.  I was so completely enjoying the being refilled that was soaking into my bones.  I could sense God’s nearness, and the solitude was restoring my over worked brain.  He was whispering refreshments into my spirit, and I didn’t want it to end.  But my time was short.  So I turned back for home.

Now I had turned from this vision of where I was going, but the whispers packed into that quiet were still there.  God was still speaking.  It occurred to me that it wasn’t so important where we were going, but who I was with.

 

~/~

 

God has slowed me down extremely in my time with His Word this season.  And I mean like one verse a day slow.  I’ve been in the Psalms, and I’ve felt that nudge in a couple chapters already to put on the breaks.  When I finished the 27th Psalm, I totally thought we were just going to pick back up with the usual speed.  You know, like a chapter a day at least.  I mean it is the Psalms after all.  There are 150 chapters!  I get restless to see where we’re going.  But this slowing me down thing has been good.  So good.

Here I am, ready to dive into the 28th Psalm, and He does it again.  It’s the same thing, one verse at a time.  I think to myself, at this rate I’ll make it through the Psalms before I make it to heaven at least.  And I laugh.  But it’s okay.  No really, I mean.  It really is okay.  Because He’s still speaking.  I’m still hearing from Him, and the journey is good.

 

~/~

 

Back to that picnic scene with our ‘yummy snacks.’  Bugs are biting me, and I’m ready to go.  My niece is NOT ready to go.  That is until I ask her, “Don’t you miss you’re sister?”  To which, she promptly puts on her shoes, and we’re well on our way.

It was a great day!

The moral of this story you might ask?  It’s not what we’re doing or where we’re going, but the company we keep that matters most.

“To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me.  For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”  Psalm 28:1

God is still with me, and the journey is good.  He’s with you too, my friend.  Just enjoy the journey, because He’s the good company that you get to keep.

“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy.”  Psalm 28:6

Wherever it is that He’s leading you… it may not be quite what you were expecting.  But it’s going to be great!  I bet it’s even be better than you ever imagined.  There’s so many places that He wants to take you, my friend.  The route that He has for you can’t likely be charted with your GPS.  The magic lives in the detours.

Now when my precious niece asks me what we should do, she tells me with glee that we should go to the corner store!

“Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.”  Psalm 28:9

Discover Your Battle Cry!

This is a battle cry.  The following words have been inspired by the #BattleReadyBook written by Kelly Balarie.  I am here.  It may not be fancy.  It may not wet your eyes with brilliant “me too” glory.  You may think I need to repent by the time that I’m finished.  And maybe I will.  But what if I spilled my guts anyway?  I mean what if I just poured out my story, exactly as it wants to fall out of me.  What would that look like?  Would you want to see all of that?  Well, I hope so.  Because here we go.

I’m here anyway.  That’s where it starts for me.

I’ve heard so many stories that sound better than mine.  These women seem braver and realer, and whatever the something else is that could be better than me.  You name it, I think it.  Do you feel that tension?  Do you recognize that pull toward the something ugly and competitive that lives deep inside me?  It’s called insecurity.  And the being here in this vast mass of anointed from heaven, stamped-by-God voices that are sure to surround me presses into me, face to face and butt up against that ugly inside me.  Hard.  It’s all around me.  The reflections of my own inadequacies are everywhere I look.

That is, when I’m all on my own.

But Jesus…

He changes the script.

So in spite of all that, I’m here.  I’m showing up and connecting.  I’m building others up, whether I see the benefits or not.  Which I totally do!  There’s a blessing in store for me to support someone else.  There always is.  The blessing is mine for the sharing of God’s wealth.  That’s how it works.  Can you believe that?  It’s true.

Whether I deserve it or not, I want it.  Whatever God has for me.  Because it’s there for the taking.  It’s there for the receiving.  I don’t want to miss what He has for me anymore.  That’s what I was doing before when I counted myself out, before I even stepped out.  Why not try something different now?  Why not come out to play with everyone else- win or lose- cause I can’t lose?  I get to put my voice out there, within the mix of the masses.  I can let it out, for whatever it is.  It can count!

This is me showing up, and reaching out.  For whatever God has.  All of it.  For myself and the others that I get to champion.  What an honor!  I’m taking hold of the victory that was won for me at cavalry.  We are.  This battle belongs to the Lord Almighty.  He’s the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  I’m on the winning team!

My enemy may try to get in my head.  He talks a big game.  But that’s cause he’s scared.  I do not battle all alone.  I march out with an army.  This enemy has discounted me for far too long.  This showing up is me- and ALL my Battle Ready sisters- rising up!  Together.  We are a mighty army.  A force to be reckoned with.  It’s time that our enemy fear US.

We’ve got business to do!

What I’m doing here, these declarations about what God has for me- and not just everyone else- this isn’t natural for me.  I have to  push back against the voices that tell me nobody cares what I have to say, that I’m too this or too that.  This is me, pushing back.  WITH all of you.  It’s us!  WE are the push back that the enemy fears.  Just showing up is how that happens.

Good stuff is for others, but it’s for me too.  And I don’t know if you know this, my friends.  But the same is true for you.

#BattleReadyBook by Kelly Balarie is full of resources to help you discover your very own battle cry.  It’s available for purchase at https://amzn.to/2NbzQrc  And make sure you visit http://www.iambattleready.com for your free Battle Ready bonuses!!

What You Need To Know About Taking Action

Do you ever wonder where it all takes form?  Where does this Christian life start to move things?  I think maybe it all dials back to relationship.  The Bible teaches us that the Word comes to life in practice.  “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what is says.” James 1:22  Our relationships are where we carry that out.  We can’t practice loving God and others completely, without inviting others into our walk.  Maybe for you, that’s a challenge.  It is for me.

This is where we must persevere to see the fruit of our labor.  It serves well to establish some techniques that will help us to push through the things that are unnatural to us.  Because that’s where we tap into God’s supernatural power.  Sure, it takes a little tenacity, but this is where the good stuff starts to surface.

It might feel a bit weird at times because faith in action compels us to do strange things that may not get any feedback at all.  But it’s never wasted.  Any time that we’ve trusted God with our feet serves purpose, and has value.  He blesses that.  Whether we see it, or not.  It grows up our faith vision.  Which is really cool at night.  Meaning, it’s quite helpful when we find ourselves trekking through the dark.

Are you getting that, Friends?

Maybe you’re like me, and you catch on to things a little later than most.  I was always late to the party.  By the time I arrived, the parties were over.  I got used to doing life solo.  Maybe that’s you.  But that’s not how God calls His girls to do life.  Not anymore.  We’re His kids!  He wants to lead us into MORE.  He wants us well watered and deeply rooted in our walking with Him.  That happens more abundantly within the nourishment of healthy community.  We’re missing out if we’re doing it solo, and He wants to help!

Will you let Him?

Connection starts HERE.  It’s always right here, wherever that is for you.

Reach out to someone.  Ask God how He’d have you trust Him, to try something new.  You’ll be surprised to see how He shows up for you, Friend.  You’re His treasure.  He wants the very best for you.

Do you believe that?

His promise is true.  His promise is for YOU.