Tuesday, August 28, 2012

homecoming

sometimes the best way to prepare yourself to step out of your comfort zone and into the unfamiliar is to  spend a little time in the place that is most comfortable and familiar...

clemson will forever be 'home' to me.  i wasn't born there and i don't reside there now but most of my first memories originate in the town where the blue ridge yawns it's greatness. 
from my preschool days until i was one year shy of high school i lived in that picturesque little college town set in the foothills.  it was the place i began my own journey of discovering how my little life fit into a bigger story.  

it was those young, formative years that caused my blood to turn orange - not because of a nationally ranked football team but because of the family roots that had grown deep in the soil and the love for that place and it's people that had grown even deeper in my heart.  
the three and a half years i spent there later only solidified that.  when i began meeting friends my freshman year of college i saw them breathing in that sweet southern air filled with a rich history and a promising future and it pleased me to watch them slowly learn the thing i had known nearly all my life...

...there is a place where cornfields meet modern architectural designs.  and in that place the air is a little crisper, the trees stand a little taller and stronger, the flowers bloom with a little more vibrancy, and the honeysuckle sweetens the air a little bit more.  the people you pass are a lovely mix of intellectual minds and warm hearts.  
that place i call home never disappoints in the homecoming...
that's the thing that anyone who has ever spent much time in clemson will tell you.  
 and so i had my homecoming on saturday.  woke up to a fall morning making an early appearance.  walked along the tree-lined streets of campus and up the hill to the cemetery behind the stadium...the one where my grandparents are laid to rest...the ones who originally planted my family's roots in that town almost a century ago.  i sat under those big strong oaks and let the breeze wrap around me as i breathed in familiarity...breathed in life...as early as i can remember it.
i left that place on saturday evening to drive back home to the unfamiliar that was awaiting me.  as i imagined myself walking up onto that stage the next morning with only my words to offer, the butterflies began to flitter in my soul.  i felt a chill run up inside of me.  but then as quick as they came they were gone...scared off by the warm glow of home that was welling up inside of me.  all those discoveries that started in my childhood...all those chapters written in my home town...they were fresh in my mind and they washed over me anew.  they reminded me that an Author had been at work since before i even breathed my first breath...carefully scripting every one of these steps.  as i looked back on His faithfulness from all those yesterdays i fell softly into trusting him with tomorrow.

where do you go for a homecoming?

Monday, August 20, 2012

as i prepare...


the reality of your voice being amplified for hundreds to hear is humbling…takes you straight to your knees.  next sunday i will be speaking during our services at new charlotte church.  i hesitate to call it preaching or teaching…i haven’t been to seminary and it is yet to be seen whether or not anyone will learn anything from the words I say.
as i prepare for this opportunity something has settled into my spirit…
no matter what words cross my lips i desperately hope those in attendance will see how much i love Jesus...how any good thing in my heart is a result of the work He has done there.  with all my imperfections i pray they will see the perfect grace of christ that has been poured into me spilling over and off that stage and washing over them too.  i hope that the adoration i feel for my Savior and the redeeming work He has done in my own life will be so blindly evident that they can barely even see me through the light of Him.  if i can offer them even an ounce of the power that His word and His presence have had in transforming my own life my time behind the microphone will not be wasted.

would you pray for me this week, my faithful blog friends?  as i review my notes, as i listen for God’s voice, as i plead for humility and wisdom and a peaceful spirit free of fear, as i figure out how to get hours worth of thoughts into 30 minutes of words, as i take these last steps leading me up onto that stage and finally open my mouth for His truth to be proclaimed…would you lift my life and my words to Him as an offering, as i have?

how are you being called to speak truth to those around you…maybe not just through words but also through deeds?  in what ways do you feel prompted to offer some part of yourself up for the benefit of others.  there is weight in that responsibility.  i would love to pray for you too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

what they see in me

i rock.  seriously.  i. am. amazing.

at least for today.

over the past hour the world around me has literally been spinning {and kicking and screaming and crying} out of control.  me?  i'm a cucumber...so cool.  

i just witnessed the most primal fit of rage out of my 2 year old that i have ever seen.  he didn't want to get in the car to head home and was literally acting like a wild animal in the back of my mini-van.  

i started with giving him choices to let him feel some sense of control over the situation - do you want to buckle or me?  would you like to have your juice cup or should i hold it for you?  nothing helped.  i moved into consequence mode - sit down in your booster or i will move you back into that carseat right there.  he responded with blatant defiance that included a swift kick in the arm.  so...i implemented the consequence.  that was the tough part...getting the wild beast into the toddler carseat that he recently graduated from but that i am still keeping in the car for a few weeks just in case something like this were to happen.  it was seriously a wrestling match and we were both huffing and puffing and sweating.  i know people in the parking lot around me must have been staring with their jaw dropped.  i just kept thinking - better that i fight these battles now while i am still physically stronger than when he is 15 and could crush me.  once he was secured in place {and still screaming} i simply said - 'this is really sad buddy.'  that was it...done.  the storm was still raging all around me but i wasn't allowing myself to be pulled into the eye of it.  i hunkered down in my peaceful and calm little corner...waiting the storm out.

the amazing thing about this whole incident was that my blood pressure never even went up {except for a couple of minutes when i was desperately trying to get that last buckle secured}.  this is amazing because...well...quite frankly...this isn't me.

left to my own devices i am easily annoyed, quick to anger, impatient, and sometimes...downright mean.  i reflected none of those things today because rather than reflecting myself i was reflecting jesus.    i know it is so important for us to go into the world and share jesus with lost souls.  i also know that my kids need to see him too.  they need to find him in the most unlikely of places...their broken and imperfect mama...if He can transform my heart and my actions they will know that He can transform their little lost souls too.

i have been logging some serious prayer time with God lately about my parenting.  lately i have felt that i wasn't being the mother he was calling me to be and i knew the changes that needed to be made could not be done on my own.  I needed supernatural, divine help.  over the past couple of weeks i have received it in ways that have blown my mind.  i want to share more about what i am learning with you so this post will have to be continued...

for now...will you celebrate with me?  i'm really not amazing...but my God is.  

i am just a mama who experiences firsthand what it means to 'be still' and know that He {not i} holds everything together.  a mama who {sometimes} miraculously sets my own yucky thoughts and feelings aside so that they would be replaced with the sweet fruit of a heart rooted in the Spirit of the living God.




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

haiti...according to haley


last week i shared that my sister, haley, and two other friends were in haiti.  now they are home.  when i saw haley for the first time back on american soil i hugged her and we both began to cry.  in that moment i wondered...why am i shedding so many tears?  i was happy to see her but i have been away from her for much longer periods than a week.  here's why i found myself so emotional....
as i squeezed her tight i knew that the girl i held was not the same one i said goodbye to a week earlier.  i knew her life had changed...forever.  i was so overcome with joy for her and also grieving with her for what i knew she had left behind in haiti.  i asked her to share a little bit of her life change with you...so here it is...in her own sweet words...
It's been four days since I arrived home from Haiti.  It is tough. I wasn’t expecting this…but then again it was my first mission trip, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But here’s what happened: the Lord showed up. in so many ways. I learned how big this God I serve really is, and even in that greatness, how much He cares about details. During church on Sunday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. With everything in me, I was trying to restrain myself from the “ugly cry” (unsuccessfully). In the middle of beautiful worship in Creole, a Haitian woman walked on stage welcoming first time visitors. She said, “We may speak a different language, but we worship the same God.” I looked around and I realized that these people knew and loved the same Jesus that I do. I so often put God in my own little American box, and I am so thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to His greatness this week.   As a Christian, I believe that God has a plan for me – one with a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). As much as I believe that, I believe that God meant this for ALL. He has a plan for ALL of us. No one is exempt from this wonderful plan. Praise Jesus. EVERYONE deserves to know the hope that they have in Christ.
[church of hope]
After a week of loving on kids at vbs, doing work projects, and village ministry, I’m back home. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with myself. My room is a wreck and I’ve been going to sleep with makeup still on my face…two things that rarely happen with my type A personality. I just want to be back in Haiti with my hair up, sweat covering my body, feet immersed in dirt, loving on kids and walking through villages. Nevertheless, I’m home…..In a new mission field…..The mission field that God has called me to for this season in my life. So I’m making a resolution to do three things, with God’s strength: Abide. Love. Be intentional. And I have to admit, all three things were so much easier to do in Haiti.
Jesus says in John 15:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

With fewer distractions, it was easier to abide in Haiti, but I believe that God wants us to abide always...no matter where we are physically. I also choose to love. The moment I got on the plane to head back to the states, we had a rude flight attendant, and let’s be honest…I wanted to slap her. However, I am learning that people in America need to know about God’s love just as much as the people in Haiti. At the mission, I prayed that God would allow me to see everyone through His eyes. Now that I’m home, I’m having to pray that prayer continuously. Lastly, I choose to be intentional in my relationships. The sweet community that I experienced with my amazing, God ordained team of 6, “The Gimpy Chickens”, is something that I will never forget. I want to banish surface level conversations. I desire to truly get to know others and hear their life stories.  
[gimpy chickens]
You better believe that when the Lord presents the opportunity for me to return to Haiti, I will be jumping on that plane in a heartbeat. But until then, I’m in Charlotte…I’m at Winthrop…my new mission field.

Friday, August 3, 2012

friday faves :: mission of hope

i've been on my knees this week for my sister and two other sweet friends who have traveled across the ocean to visit the people of haiti.  people i have met.  people i love.  people who have blessed me more than i could ever bless them.
i felt that my family needed me home this time around and i don't take that responsibility lightly...the mothering one.  but there was a tender, hollow spot in my heart on the day those girls boarded their flight for port-au-prince without me.
there is an inner struggle that battles in my heart during this season of life.  there is a great desire and need to serve my family and the people in my immediate community here in my own country...God knows there is plenty of need right outside my own front door.  there is also a tugging that draws my care and attention back to the web of villages i have visited on an island in the caribbean.
if you've been around here long you have heard me talk about mission of hope.  it is one of my favorite organizations on the planet.  they serve the people of haiti well because they serve alongside them.  they change lives because they have allowed their own lives to be changed.  
the last time i visited mission of hope i had a moment of wishing i could stay...for good.  i imagined joey and i going home to pack up the kids and a few things and then making a home in haiti.  crazy, right?  it's not what God is calling us to right now but i did see the appeal of that.  it wouldn't be easy...but i guess that's the point.  it's really hard for me to see beyond my comfortable north american life without being there...where comfort takes on a whole new meaning.


and so i have an ongoing dialogue going on with God about where He wants me.  i know He can do His work in haiti without me.   but i'm thankful He has invited me there to be part of something bigger...something eternal...something that i would never experience if i stayed home.  i also know that i have a mission field right upstairs sleeping soundly in rooms filled with fairies and tank engines.  their needs are different but equally important. so i continue to try and balance this calling to be mother and missionary...home and abroad.  i make no commitments except to answer my calls to serve day-by-day.


today i ran across this post by ann voskamp...a kindred spirit fighting to preserve a heart of true compassion.  her words say all the things that i couldn't.  and she has some great suggestions of what we can do...right here, right now.  oh that i would care enough to go when called...and that it would be right on time...soon enough.