Wednesday, December 15, 2010  ::   1 important comment

I know. I've been the biggest blogging slacker on the planet this past month. There is a growing list of topics I hope to blog about rolling around in my brain. Tonight is not the night I plan on clicking the keyboard to post something fantastic for you to read. That will have to come another time.

  • Moxie ladies, I have a some great ideas rolling around in my head for the coming year. I'm So Excited!!
  • Our Christmas Cord of Hope outreach just happened. I have thoughts I hope to communicate.
  • Some good family stories should be documented on this blog.
  • Chad has been talking a lot about Second Mile cliff jumping that I'm hoping to write about.
Mostly I'm putting these topics out there as a form of accountability for me to actually write about something. To be honest, I thoroughly enjoy blogging. Communication is something I highly value. The challenge of clearly and purposefully stating my ideas, opinions, and stories excites me. So, I will get back on the band-wagon. I will stop being a slacker. I will discipline myself to write, write, write.

But maybe after Christmas... :)

Double-Minded Distractedness

Tuesday, November 02, 2010  ::   5 important comments

After a year in Acts, Chad started teaching through the book of James. I'm sad to see Acts go because I learned so much through the year long study. Someday I will try and put some thoughts together on what God showed me. However, James is my one of my favorite books. The straight-forwardness of James' writing speaks the language of my heart. It's going to be a really good 12 weeks. (Chad says 12, but my guess is it will take at least 16 weeks, but what do I know. I'm only his wife.) :)

This Sunday Chad talked about our need for consistency as we follow Jesus, that we can often be double-minded or double-souled as we make our way through life. I was so convicted as he was speaking. My distractions so often come in the form of ministry to people in need. I'm so busy pouring out, or cleaning up, or fixing things that I don't fix my eyes on Jesus where I belong. My desire to ask God for wisdom as I follow him and believe and not doubt was bolstered on Sunday night. I want to know him so much. I want him to know that I am passionate for Him not just passionate to serve him.

A friend of Chad's sent him some encouraging feedback about his message. (He likes to hear what people are learning, just in case you were wondering.) He attached a great example of distractedness. As I read it, I laughed, teared up a little, and felt embarrassed about how it described my brain. I'm going to share it with you. I would love to hear if/how any of you can relate to the described day and what your plans are to remedy the problem. I'm still working on my plans, but I'm hoping to steal some of your good ideas!

Recently, I was Diagnosed with AAADD - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide my car needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only 1 check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke that I had been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I see that the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered.

I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

1) The car isn't washed
2) The bills aren't paid
3) There is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter
4) The flowers don't have enough water,
5) There is still only 1 check in my check book,
6) I can't find the remote,
7) I can't find my glasses,
8) And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.

Yikes! Please share your thoughts and solutions! Let's help each other strive towards wise consistency.

Put Your Jesus Where the Church Is

Thursday, October 21, 2010  ::   3 important comments

I love the Church. I’m often very saddened by horrible stories of condemnation, abuse, hypocrisy, and so on that come out of the church. The bible describes the church as the bride of Christ. This is a wonderful mystery that I often can’t quite wrap my brain around. I choose to believe and embrace that Jesus loves the church and gave his life up for her. People often tell me that they love Jesus, but hate the church. Every single time I hear these words, my soul cringes. I usually offer a sincere apology to the person who received wounds from the church. But, in the same breath I offer an apology to Jesus for his bride not representing who he truly is, what he desires for individuals, and what he desires for the world.

To be clear, when people say they love Jesus but hate the church it is like someone walking up to Chad and saying, “Man, I really like you. You’re funny, wise, a great communicator. You’ve given me so much help in my life. But, let me tell ya, I really hate your wife. Angel is just a pitiful excuse for a wife!” Can you imagine? It’s absurd! Chad wouldn’t be ok with it! In the same way, I’m convinced Jesus wants to love and defend his bride, even in all our sin and stupidity.

If you are not a follower of Jesus and you’ve had ugly experiences with the church, I am truly sorry. My only excuse is that humans make mistakes...often. Please don’t hold your experiences against Jesus anymore. Please give Jesus and a different church another chance. I’m willing to help you find a place to learn and worship in your area. But, to be involved in a church takes participation and commitment in order to feel connected. If you are offended, don’t hold it in. Speak up in a loving way and make sure you aren’t just looking to be offended. If they won’t listen to you, I would love to have a conversation with you.

If you are a follower of Jesus that is still angry at the church, it might be time to work towards forgiveness. Some of you have wounds that may be incredibly deep and may need to be scrapped out in order to find proper healing. Not to be offensive, but in the spirit of authenticity, some of your hurts may just be surface scratches. It’s time to forgive the way Christ forgave you. Ouch. I know. But, let’s just be real. Talk to a leader in the church. I pray whoever you choose to talk to is wise and humble, and that your wounds towards the church will be healed.

For the church bashing followers of Jesus out there... stop bashing and hating the bride of Christ! It’s just time to stop it. Be part of the solution! You will not find a group of perfect people. It does not exist. Commit yourself to a body of like-minded followers of Jesus and affect change! Jesus desires to use communities of faith to do his work. Yes, he can use individuals. But, the Bible says over and over that he will bring redemption to the world through Jesus, through the church, to the glory of God the Father.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

It's Been a Week

Friday, October 15, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Phew. I'm tired. It's been a long, busy, frustrating week. At one point, I even had an ugly cry...with snot and everything. Thank goodness Chad loves me and doesn't freak out when I cry like that.

I'm not going to give you details of the week. I know some of you want the dirt, but that's not the point of this post. The point is I'm glad it's over. I'm glad Chad loves me. I'm glad God is God and I don't have to be even though trying to be contributed to my long week.

"I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching til morning, waiting and watching til morning."
Ps 130 The Message

I'm not stuck. Being a watchmen waiting til morning is possible because my hope is in God alone.

Sweet Reflection

Monday, October 04, 2010  ::   2 important comments

I can't believe it's been over a week since Retreat de Moxie. To the forty of you who joined me on the journey, thank you. There aren't words to express how you blessed me. Your attentiveness as I spoke was humbling. Watching some of you shimmy up the wall and telephone pole on the ropes course was challenging. Listening to some of you process the tremendous difficulty of feeling like a failure on the ropes course was heart-wrenching. Laughing with you because of our awesomeness in creating music videos was refreshing. Hearing how loud you lifted your voices to worship Jesus was inspiring. I so love the mountain top experiences we have each year on our retreat. Thank you for making this retreat wonderful!

As I was preparing each session, I continued to say to God, "I don't know. This stuff seems so simple. Shouldn't I say something more profound or holy or fancy?" But, I knew what he wanted me to speak about, so I chose to stay the course. Little did I know how much we all needed to hear about our barriers and his overwhelming, true, amazing love for us. I had no idea how much it would affect the entire group. Thank you all for pressing in, allowing him to speak to your hearts, for desiring to worship in spirit and truth. I hope and pray that you are truly changed, that you have a new experiential knowledge of who God is in your life. I pray that the connectedness you found with Second Mile women will compel you to commit and participate as we live out our values together.

Over the last week I've thought a lot about his love. I read John 4 so many times to prepare for the retreat. Somehow I just can't seem to leave the passage. Most days in the last week I continued to read it. It means more to me now. Imagining the look in Jesus' eyes as he talked to the Samaritan woman continues to cause me to pause, reflect, and ponder. I grew up in the church and often heard and sang that Jesus loves me. Preparing for this retreat, speaking about the depth of Christ's love for women, and seeing how it affected the 40 beautiful women listening has taken the understanding of this love to a new level in my soul.

For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to attend Retreat de Moxie with us, have you seriously pondered the love Jesus has for you? Not a Sunday School knowledge, not an I've-heard-it-a-thousand-times knowledge, not a that's-a-bunch-of-crap knowledge. A true, real, ask the God of the Universe if he can show you how much he loves you kind of knowledge. For my female readers, think about how much he loves women. We still live in a world where females are often treated like second class citizens, made fun of, paid less, treated like sex-objects, are under-appreciated. Think about how many women Jesus met and healed as he walked the earth. One woman a bunch of religious men tried to stone because she was an adulteress. Jesus knelt down by her and wrote something in the sand. What did he write? Did he tell her how much he loves her? We can't know what he wrote, but we can see that his posture changed for this woman. He knelt by her. He wrote in the dirt. I'm positive his face towards her was full of love and not condemnation.

One woman had been suffering from severe bleeding for 12 years. She simply reached out and touched his cloak with the hope of being healed. It was so crowded that day, but Jesus knew that someone had been changed by touching him. He called out to find out who did it. This woman fell at his feet in fear. But, he called her daughter! He told her to go in peace and be freed from suffering.

What about the woman who came and washed Jesus' feet with her tears and hair? The religious guys condemned her. Do you think Jesus leaned forward in comfort of her or sat back in an arrogant posture to let her wallow in her guilt? If we believe that he knows how to truly love people, we can be confident that his posture was full of humility, grace, and deep love for this woman. I would so love to see his eyes as he looked at this woman. We can be sure that she was overwhelmed by how he comforted her. She had probably lived a life full of condemnation, but now she had encountered true, unconditional love.

Do you realize that he allowed women to be the first to see him after he resurrected? They were grieving, alone, wondering what to do without this man who loved them unconditionally without ulterior motives. He did not use them. He did not want their bodies. He did not treat them as his culture dictated. They knew he loved them purely. He showed himself to them in all his resurrected glory. Again, they knew the look of love from his eyes. They had grown to know and understand what it felt like to be so loved.

I pray that many of you will pause this week to reflect deeply about Christ's love for you. Let it overwhelm you. Allow your emotions to be affected by drinking deeply of his love. Discipline your mind to truly know he loves you unconditionally. Don't allow lies from past wounds and hurts to captivate your thoughts. Focus your mind on his unconditional love and ask him to help you believe it.

I'm not naive enough to believe that everyone who reads this post will jump around in a happy dance basking in a new understanding of Jesus' love. If you have questions, please contact me. There isn't much more I enjoy more than having a conversation about Jesus with people who are curious.

What I've discovered over this last week as I've rested and recovered from our fabulous retreat is that the more I feel loved by Jesus, the more I love him and people. It's actually kind of miraculous if you think about it. Knowing Jesus loves me does not turn into a self-centered, hoarding, dysfunctional love. I am more patient, kind, not easily angered. I don't hold grudges. I'm more trustworthy, protective, hopeful, perseverant. If you knew my true self, you would know that it is only Jesus' unconditional love for me that allows this miraculous shift in my heart that allows me to love others in these profound ways.

May we all love the way he loves us!

Making Psalm 131 Personal

Monday, September 20, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Please make this true in my life, Covenant Keeper:

My heart isn't proud, arrogant, or ready to fight.
I am content with the hear and now of what you are asking me to do.
I only concern myself with you and what you've asked me to do,
not with the 'if onlys' of life.

My soul is still and quiet like a toddler
who is worn out from an exciting and busy day.
I will rest in you like a content child that rests in a mother's arms.
Thank you for parenting me!

As always, my hope, my full eager expectation, is in you.

I Played the Lottery Tonight

Sunday, September 19, 2010  ::   2 important comments

It has been a long crazy week, so after tonight's gathering I decided to search meaningless websites and let my brain take a break. I came across the Nate Berkus Show website. If you don't know who Nate is, he is one phenomenal designer who takes dumpy living spaces and makes them glorious. I love his make-over shows, although they make me covet just a little bit.

In the random reading of the website info, I came across the 'Be On the Show' section and then stumbled upon the question, "Is your house outdated?" Uh, yeah, it is. Thankfully, last Spring I had already composed a please-help-me-and-my-ugly-house letter to a celebrity, so I modified it to fit the proposed question, up-loaded some atrocious photos, said a little prayer, and hit submit.

Here's a sample:

I smiled at Chad and mumbled, "Wouldn't it be so great?" He just smiled back and said, "Playing the lottery?" Yep! Maybe you can hope with me. :)

The Years Are Short

Wednesday, September 08, 2010  ::   11 important comments

On May 4, 1998 Chad and I became the proud parents of a beautiful 18 month old Chinese girl. Our lives were changed forever. The strange part of our adoption was that we actually had interaction with this child before we knew she would become ours. We had met her a few short weeks before we took her home. I hadn't allowed my heart to fully love her quite yet, but as soon as we stepped out of the orphanage, hailed a dirty red taxi, and made our way to the Friendship Store to buy diapers, I knew there was no going back. Chad and I instantly referred to each other as Mom and Dad, and our new little Esther had a death grip around both our necks.

Once we made it home, the first stop was the bath tub. She had 18 months of gunk in her toenails, and eau de China in her hair.

When I look at this picture, it reminds me of how stressed she must have been. She knew us from the time we had played with her and fed her in the orphanage, but I'm sure she was wondering who in the world we were and why we had taken her from the only home she knew and why did we stick her in this weird container filled with water.
And, why the man we wanted her to call 'Dad' was washing everything so thoroughly. I'm sure she totally gets Chad's cleanliness now. :)
She had a contemplative look a lot for the first few months. I'm sure she was trying to make sense of her new life. I often wondered if she struggled to keep the memories she had already made, words she had come to understand, familiarity in the only faces she had known in her small orphanage room.
A quick way into her heart was through a ball. Some things never change.
My friend John recently wrote a blog about his newly adopted daughter's birthday. He talked about how most adopted people are overwhelmed with thoughts of their birth mom on their birthday. Esther and I have had extensive conversations about her birth mom. We've prayed for her together many, many times through the last 12 years. Because I know Esther is a child who prays, I'm sure she has prayed for her birth mom more times than I can imagine. What has surprised me is how much I've thought of her birth mom through the years. I've speculated about her age, her occupation, her beliefs. I've chosen to wholeheartedly believe that she has continually thought about her little Chinese beauty that she chose to leave at the police station in a basket with an expensive blanket lined with money. I know she grieves as each year passes knowing that apart from a divine intervention from God, she won't be able to meet the child that she gave up 14 years ago. My prayers for her are for peace and comfort, that somehow in her spirit she will know that her tiny baby went to live with a family that loves her deeply and accepts her as a full heir with their birthed children.

Every year on Esther's birthday at least one person asks me if it is her "real birthday." I'm never sure how to answer exactly, so on good days I offer grace and say, "To us it is!" As we celebrated her first birthday with us, two years old, we were wide-eyed, joyful, so thankful that God saw fit to put this precious child in our lives,that he entrusted us to parent her, love her, nurture her.

We are so blessed that Esther is such a lovely young lady. She is responsible, caring, funny, smart, even-tempered (most of the time. She is 14, after all), loves her sisters and brother deeply, looks after people in need, wants to have people over for dinner every night, loves her community, prays constantly, asks good questions, and is a delight to Chad and me. I can't imagine my life without her. Maybe that is one of the reasons I think about her birth mom so much. She is living her life without this sweet, precious child that has so enriched my life. I will continue to ask the God Who Sees to give her hope that her child is loved, valued, and cherished.
Happy 14th birthday, sweet Esther! We love you more than you can imagine!

All or Nothing Kinda Girl

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  ::   5 important comments

I love to exercise. I love to sweat. I really love to make other people exercise and sweat. (Side note: I don't enjoy making people throw up when they work out. I'll leave that to my friend, Angela.)

Because I teach fitness classes four mornings a week, I assumed I was getting the work-out that I need. Turns out, during two of the classes I teach, I spend more time facilitating, checking form, and ensuring safety of the clients than actually exercising. This is actually my job, so it's no big deal, but then I'm left with a dilemma. Do I spend separate time getting the work-out that my body actually needs or do I just keep eating and pretend I'm working out?

Yesterday I decided to do my own thing, kick my own tail, plyometrics, core, cardio, sweat like it was the last time I would be able to exercise. Today.... I can't walk. Almost every single muscle in my whole body hurts.

Chad said that I'm an all or nothing kinda girl. I like to be sore, but this is ridiculous. I'm sure there is a lesson to be learned, but I don't care. I'm going to go jump around like a crazy girl again as soon as I get the chance. Doesn't that sound fun??

Making Psalm 130 Personal

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

I have called to you from the depths, Jesus.
You heard my voice.
You have been so personally attentive to my cries for help.

Jesus, if you remembered my sin there is no way I could stand.
Therefore, I will stand to honor you, to worship you, to acknowledge being forgiven.
In you, there is forgiveness so that you may be glorified.

With eager expectation I wait for you. My hope is in your word.

Even in my dark night, when it feels like morning will never come, I will wait for you!

You love is so faithful.
You fully redeem every part of me.
My hope is in you, Jesus!

To Blog or To Live

Thursday, August 26, 2010  ::   1 important comment

I've thought a lot about this whole blogging venture. One of the main questions on my brain has been, "Why am I just now starting?" From somewhere in the back, dusty part of my brain, I remembered posting on a blog called Walking the Second Mile. If I remember correctly, and there's a good chance I don't, Chad and I started blogging when we first moved to Tucson to start Second Mile. We thought it would be a good way to keep people informed about our exciting new journey. I think we wrote about the church, Cord of Hope, Chad's job at Starbucks, and family.

So what happened?

Four beautiful girls were added to our family for almost two years. My whole world was turned upside down, tossed around, kicked a few times, and completely overtaken with parenting.

I think about these beauties often, but lately, they've been on my mind more than ever. It was the most difficult season of my life to date. Parenting my own four children is hard enough. Taking on four more was more than I bargained for. My time was regimented in a way that allowed me to get things done with efficiency and survival. Tasks like blogging were not only taken off the to-do list, but forgotten they were even on a list.

It would be so beautiful and spiritual if I could say in a sweet pious voice, "Ah, they taught me so much about God, love, beauty, mercy, patience." But that would be a big fat fake lie. I did learn about all those things, but it wasn't sweet and pious. It was down and dirty, in the mud. The kind of learning that is painful and pulls so much inner muck to the surface. I learned about my selfishness. I discovered what an angry person I was, and not angry about what happened to the girls... just plain ole angry. I was obedient to what God had asked us to do, but it was often a pouty, temper tantrum obedience. And, learning to ask for help. Ugh. Talk about difficult!

Thankfully, his mercy and grace walked me through it all. His voice was often crystal clear in rebuking me and in encouraging me. He brought so much inner healing to my heart in releasing me from deep seeded anger. He put me in a situation that I wouldn't have survived had I not asked for help. In putting aside the ministry to women that I longed to be part of, he showed me new lived out truth in James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

It's true that I'm not a long term blogger with full archives and a wonderful internet history. However, in a conversation I recently had with my wise adopted oldest child, she enlightened me by sharing that she believes she, Kyle, Morgan, and Carah have been given the gift of hospitality because they can easily take foster kids into their space, love them, help take care of them, and share with them with a Spirit-filled ease. If the opportunity presents itself, I believe they would adopt another child into our home with grace and love. These lessons were learned by living out the title of our original blog and not just writing about it.

So, it's true. I'm getting a late start in the blog world, but my family is right where we belong in the race God has mapped out for us.

Making Psalm 128 Personal

Tuesday, August 24, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Fear, respecting, revering God brings happiness.
Walking in obedience to God brings happiness.

I must continue to work hard for you.
I can revel in your goodness and faithfulness.

God, your word is a continual thought that isn't fragmented.
I love that bearing fruit is a continual theme.
May my life bear fruit for your glory to build your church!

I will stand in awe of you. Your blessing come to those who fear you.

Enjoying the good life you give me will be a choice I will make.

I will enjoy the fruit you allow me to bear on this sojourn.

The First Week

Thursday, August 19, 2010  ::   7 important comments

The first week of school has almost come to a close. They survived. They always do.

Every year, two weeks before school starts, my blood pressure rises on a daily basis, I find my self growling, irritation almost leaks from my pores. During the two weeks leading up to the first day we spend way to much money on supplies, clothes, and sports. The kids bicker and pester like no body's business. I tell Chad about a million times, "I can't wait for school to start."

And then, that darn first day shows up.

This year my silly children woke up at 5am because they were so excited. Just so you know, they aren't allowed to get out of bed on Christmas morning until 6am. The funny thing is that I asked them to be quiet for one more hour, but I didn't go back to sleep. I stayed in bed and stared at the ceiling.

My brain went berserk for the next hour... and most of the first day.

"I wonder what kind of people their teachers are. Will Morgan and Carah make friends easily at their new school? God, give them favor with their new teachers. Please help them to actually learn about triangles not half-squares this year. Oh no! We forgot to ask where the bathrooms are at open house. Kyle is sure excited to see his friends. I hope he isn't disappointed. Will he continue to lead them or will that begin to change this year? I've heard his teacher is a yeller and he hates to be in trouble. Please, Jesus, help Kyle to not get yelled at. And Esther, 8th grade, *big sigh*, keep her on the path of purity, God. Give her favor with the group of kids that don't care what others think. Steer her away from mean girls. Oh, thank you that she loves Morgan and Carah and will play with them still and tells them that she loves them. I'm glad they love each other. Do they really have to go to school today? I can't protect them there. Jesus, you love them more than I love them. Please, please, please protect them, keep their hearts turned towards you. Speak to them through-out the day. Help them to love you deeply and love the people around them."

On Thursday evening, with one day left in this first week of school, they are exhausted, difficult to wake up in the morning, eating so much because they use so much energy during the day... AND... they are content, finding favor with their teachers, making new friends, mindful of praying through-out the day, and looking forward to a great year.

Me? I'm grateful that Jesus loves my children more than I could possibly imagine. I'm trusting him that this is going to be the exact year for them that He intends for it to be. The victories will give them confidence in Him as we worship him through those experiences. The difficulties will teach them that He is refining them to be people who are dependent on Him. The plain ole normal days where nothing much happens will teach all of us that He will give us peace as we faithfully put our hands to the plow and live our lives for His glory alone.

Making Psalm 127 Personal

Monday, August 16, 2010  ::   2 important comments

If I am trying to take over for God, everything I do is in vain. He has to have control of the pen.* He has to be the builder of my family. He has to be the builder of Second Mile, Moxie, Cord of Hope. He has to be the builder of my relationships.

I need to take care of myself, take time off, get enough sleep. God loves me and wants to take care of me.

My children are a reward, a rich inheritance to me. But, God also gives me so many other people in my life that are mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons. Jesus, please help me love, nurture, and depend on them.

My kids will defend me. My Second Mile family will protect us. We will all stand strong together as a the enemy seeks to defeat us.

*Inserted after Chad's message on 8/15/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

"We sabotage our happiness with selfishness."
-Chad Haynes

Growing, But Still So Much to Learn

Thursday, August 12, 2010  ::   2 important comments

Sometimes I still struggle with legalism. In college I could definitely be described as a legalistic person, but that was many moons ago. My motives back then were pure (most of the time), but my methods were complete insanity. Don’t speed. Always use the cross walk. Never miss a 7:00 am prayer meeting. Never watch rated R movies. Only listen to Steven Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris, or Maranatha Praise Band cassette tapes. Read the Bible at least 30 minutes a day and pray on my knees in the tightest prayer ball I could physically muster. The grossness of it all is that I could not for the life of me understand why others weren’t pursuing “holiness” with all their might the way I was. I longed for a great spiritual awakening in our country and believed we had to prove to God that we were holy enough, deep enough, spiritual enough, intense enough to desire his Spirit to rip through our country with fire and wake everyone up. Whew. It was such a huge burden for my young 18-20 year old self to bare. But, looking back, at the end of the day even though it was wrought with insanity, I really did desire to please Jesus. I had made so many mistakes. I so desperately wanted to pay for what I had done.

I remember during my Junior year of college driving in my car during a thunder storm and completely losing control of my emotions. Someone had challenged me to look at the depth of my sin (I did that continuously for three years. It was HOR-RI-BLE.) Another person had also challenged me to look at the depth of love Jesus displayed on the cross for all of my mistakes. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that part for awhile. Searching through the depths of my sin with no understanding of the cross was exhausting and full of condemnation. At one point the ‘look at the depth of love Jesus has for you’ part of the assignment returned to my memory. (Thank you, Holy Spirit.) After months of praying for a glimpse of his love, I realized in that moment during the pouring rain that Jesus truly loves me. Almost with the flashes of lightening across the sky that night, I had an epiphany that he knew the depth of my depravity, even deeper than I had contemplated it, yet he loved me and wanted an intimate relationship with me. During that time, the story of the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair became one of my favorite Bible stories. That night was the first of many, many nights I’ve literally sat at Jesus’ feet washing his feet with my hair in humble gratitude that he has not kept the long list of my wrongs.

I guess I could say that I’m less legalistic than I used to be. For me, the legalism enters my life when I start thinking that I need to be doing more for Jesus in order to gain his approval. As I type, I’m shaking my head at how absurd that really is. His fatherly love is already freely given to me. I so long to honor Jesus with my entire being. I want to run the race, throw off everything that hinders, love him with all my heart. The depths of his grace pushes me to the floor in silence on a regular basis. The thought that I can stand with my head and hands lifted high and sing as loud as I can in honor of him thrills my soul. So, why the legalism? Why do I still struggle with the need to prove to him and others that am a devoted follower?

Maybe it’s the fear of taking his grace for granted. Maybe it’s because his holiness makes me almost nervous to the point I feel I should whisper. Maybe it’s knowing he knows my inmost thoughts and it is embarrassing to think the God of the Universe is listening to my depraved mind. Maybe it’s because I love him so much and a key part of who he made me to be is a humongous desire to please those in my life I love.

Whatever the reason may be, I pray fervently that my motives, your motives in pursuing the God of the universe are ultimately because we love him. I hope that I/we live to honor him. I strongly desire to make daily decisions that draws me closer into his presence, that our worship would be pure and focused on his glory and not our own.

I’ve also been contemplating the opposite of legalism... but that is for another day. :)

Making Psalm 126 Personal

Thursday, August 12, 2010  ::   1 important comment

The times that you've brought me out of captivity have been like a dream! Because of my new freedom I sang, laughed, danced. I was completely filled with joy. And, people noticed the great things you did for me!

You have done amazing things in my life and I am joyful!

Because I've tasted your goodness I am so ready for you to do it again.

God, bring your rain into my dry life.
Bring your rain into Second Mile.

As we sow tears of weariness, you promise that there will be shouts of joy in the harvest.
You will lift our heavy heart with laughing and blessing.

We wait for you on our knees with faith and patience. We desire to be good soil. We won't eat the seed and never sow it for harvest. We will sow your seed into our lives and we will reap bountiful loads of blessing.

A Person's a Person...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010  ::   5 important comments

Dignity is something that I often find myself contemplating. It is such a mysterious trait of humanity. We bestow the right of dignity on people as if we are the ones deciding to whom it belongs. I personally believe that being human alone should afford the right to be treated with dignity. When I think about Adam and Eve walking the grounds of the garden with complete confidence, totally naked, I can’t help but to envy how free they must have felt. The funny thing is they didn’t know anything different, so they probably didn’t appreciate it until it was gone. Once they ate the fruit, discovered they were naked, sought to cloth themselves because of shame, and hid from God, our dignity was forever corroded and humans would spend the rest of our existence determining who was worthy of dignity and who wasn’t.
A few months ago I walked out of a home goods store and saw a man who probably didn’t have a home walking down the sidewalk a few stores away. He looked jittery and very skinny. I decided to walk a little slower to my car so I could see if he needed anything. As he came closer it looked as if he was trying to decide whether or not to ask me for some spare change, so I took the initiative. Asking him if I could by him lunch at the Hardy’s nearby took him by surprise. He looked up and then back down stared at the ground for what was an uncomfortable period of time. Finally, he broke the silence and in what I thought was an act of honesty, vulnerability, and bravery said, “No, I just really need a beer.” I thanked him for his honesty and told him I only had a dollar and some change, and then gave him what I had in my pocket. When I asked him his name, he again stood in shock and silence. He quietly answered my question in the form of a question. “Steve?” he said. I stuck out my hand to shake his and with a smile and hopefully, visible sincerity replied, “Nice to meet you, Steve.”
Do you ever think about the dignity of the people you walk past in the grocery store parking lot that need spare change because “their kids are in the car and they are just trying to get to Phoenix?” What about the dignity of the young lady who is wearing a very, very short skirt with the word ‘juicy’ written across the bottom? Or how about the dignity of the person who is holding the protest sign that says “God hates -insert horrible slang here-?” What about the dignity of the mother who doesn’t have the right papers to stay in this country legally, but humbly takes any opportunity she can to provide for her family?
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Matthew 25:31-45 is a story that you may be familiar with. The ending is beautiful, convicting, prompting, provides opportunity to daily holy moments. To paraphrase Jesus it says, whatever you did for people in some sort of need, you did for me. Isn’t that exciting and terrifying all at the same time? In looking at people with dignity, giving to others in need even if it is just a smile and a handshake, you are doing the same thing to Jesus. The terrifying thought is every time I look down my long judgmental nose at someone, refuse a bottle of water, roll my eyes at the scantily clad girl, scream at someone to go back to their own @#*$ country I’m doing all of those things to the Jesus I love so deeply.
My heart aches to be obedient in the split second decisions I’m given on a daily basis to love Jesus. He has showed unfathomable grace to me. He has clothed me with strength and dignity. My security is found in him alone. My prayer is that I will intensely reflect these precious gifts to people around me and lead others to do the same.

A Full Heart

Monday, July 26, 2010  ::   6 important comments

I pray for my family Second Mile family consistently. I pray for authenticity, unity, and vulnerability among us. I pray that we will be very aware of what God is doing in our lives on a daily basis. I ask God to make us ready to engage in worshipping him together during our Sunday gatherings. Specific people from our church to pray for come to my mind on a regular basis. I love praying for my church family.

Last night I was allowed to see specific answers to my prayers. Four people stood and shared with us something God has been teaching them through the Acts series. The authenticity and vulnerability was rich. These four people shared tangible ways that God's word was alive and active in their lives. The stories were genuine. None of the sharers were trying to impress us, only to encourage and be part of a true community.

Musical worship was unified. People stood and sang... loudly! From the stage, which often feels terribly distant from my family, I could literally hear everyone raising their voices to the Most High God. It was a beautiful sound. Second Mile engaging in uninhibited worship will be a continual request I bring to God. Last night was a beautiful step in that direction.

I love my Second Mile family. Last night I was reminded of the specific reasons I love these people. I'm so thankful God has allowed me to be part of a wonderful, imperfect, continually growing community that seeks to love God and love people. My heart is full.

Making Psalm 124 Personal

Monday, July 26, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

I have a new understanding of You being on my side!
I want to sing and shout it! God is on my side!!
And if you hadn't been...

-I would have been swallowed alive.
-I would have been bitter and angry.
-I would have been overtaken by greed and sex.
-I would have been an over-bearing angry wife and mom.
-I would be drowning in ministry.

Praise you, Covenant Keeper! You haven't let me be ripped to shreds, but through the circumstances of my life you have made me more like Jesus.

I've escaped the enemy that hunted me. I've escaped my own self-destructive ways.

I am free!

My help comes from the One who keeps his promises.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth.

Invisible Magnetic Force Fields

Thursday, July 22, 2010  ::   2 important comments

I love floating in the pool… alone. No one else around. In the quiet. By myself. Yesterday as I enjoyed gloriously floating on my brand new mesh floating device, I realized that I was actually thinking about nothing. It was such a surprising revelation. I never ever think about nothing. There is always something swirling around in my head, conversations I’ve had with Chad, conversations I would like to have with my kids, strategic ideas for Second Mile, Moxie work that needs to be done, character issues I need to work on, counseling and prayer that I’m having with women I invest in. This only skims the surface of my never-ending thoughts. On a really busy brain day, I’m pondering creation, the depth of my own depravity and being a full-heir with Christ. I wonder sometimes about the existence of God and the deep issues of my own faith. Often I’m praying and praying and praying about every thing that comes to my mind, a friend I had in kindergarten to the new women I met in my spin class, a missionary I know in Thailand to the people undergoing devastating weather in a third world country. My brain almost literally neverstops. Until I’m in the pool. Alone. No one else around. In the quiet. By myself. On my brand new mesh floating device.


I think there is a invisible magnetic force field around the perimeter of the pool that silences my thoughts. Or maybe it is the Holy Spirit allowing me some peace and quiet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

When our lives are immersed in Him, every ending, everything we believe to be the death of us is instead a hand-engraved invitation to a new beginning. God is so much better than He has to be. The kinds of things God chooses to do in our lives that are “immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) are not out of obligation. They gush from unbridled affection.
Beth Moore

Making Psalm 123 Personal

Thursday, July 22, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Psalm 123

On my knees I look up to you

Because you are the King on the throne!


I will hold your hand like a servant girl,

And keep my eyes on you,

And not give up until you show me favor.


Grace our family, Covenant Keeper, Grace our family!

We need your favor, help, sustaining power.

We’ve had more than enough ridicule and disrespect.


Sometimes the mocking is simply feeling alone, but we aren’t.

You are our King. We lift our eyes to you.


Keep my gaze on you, Covenant Keeper.

Remind me to pray when disrespect takes place towards anyone.

Remind me to pray before I take action.

Finally Stepping Upward

Thursday, July 22, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!


My soul has been in a very dry place for the last few months. Turns out, I have the terrible habit of fixing my gaze on circumstances around me instead of on Christ. Hearing the deep troubles of those I have the privilege of ministering to, as well as my own deep struggles caused me to feel empty, lack luster, and worn out. The timely arrival of this study proves God’s unyeilding, personal pursuit of his children. Each day I spend time studying one of the Psalms of Ascent (Ps 120-134), I literally feel like I’m ascending out of the dump that I’ve been in. Can I tell you that it is such a great relief?

Beth Moore wrote the study in such a way that we would spend two days on each Psalm symbolizing taking steps up to meet God putting both feet on each step. During our own personal study time, we read the Psalm out loud, work the Psalm by underlining, circling, highlighting the meaningful words and descriptions, and then at the end of the second day, we re-write the Psalm in our own words as a prayer. The last step was the most intimidating to me. I’m not much for re-wording things I read that are already perfect. I can quote Psalms as prayers fairly easily, but for some reason re-writing them as my own prayers revealed some insecurity in my spirit. Well, good news! This is turning out to be the highlight of my study time. God is truly making each Psalm so personal in my life. I study them for two days, gain a rich understanding of the history and purpose of the chapter, and finally, make deep personal application to what God is revealing to me.

I’ve decided I’m going to share a few of my prayed through Psalms. It is personal, but I believe that God teaches me to make me more like Jesus, but not to just to keep it to myself. I won’t type out every Psalm, only the ones I feel the Spirit asking me to share. Again, I’m so grateful for the timing of this study. He always knows exactly what I need, exactly when I need it. Psalm 30:6-12

Making My Way Through

Thursday, July 22, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Making my way through...

The Old Testament is not the place in the Bible I’m drawn to, especially the parts about the law, the offerings, the genealogies. But, alas, I choose to not neglect half of the Bible. I’ve actually been contemplating the complicated matters of the temple quite a bit. It is true that I do not understand most of it. I mean, why in the world did they have to rub blood on the priest’s big toe? Seems very strange. Thankfully, God in all of his glorious detail understands my inability to sift through the nitty-gritty and teaches me in big moments with big concepts.

This last Easter weekend I had the privilege of reading Isaiah 53 to forty of my closest Cord of Hope partners. We were about to worship God together through singing, giving gifts to people who may not know Jesus, and praying. As I was passionately reading this beautiful description of Jesus, I was struck by verse 10 that says Jesus made his life our guilt offering. Leviticus talks a lot about guilt offerings, and I, on some intellectual level, understand why they were necessary. But, in that sweet moment of remembering Jesus on the cross I was struck in a new and fresh way that Jesus is my guilt offering.

The big moment in front of my closest partners moved me straight to a huge concept. The reason the old testament is so full of detail in how to approach the Most High God of the universe is because his holiness is far too great for us to understand. Jesus, the one and only Son of God became my guilt offering because the holiness of God demands meticulous detail just to simply approach him. Saying that I wanted to fall on my knees in that moment is an understatement.

God teaching me in big moments like these is such grace to me. Making my way through the Old Testament has not been an easy journey. I much prefer James, Romans, one of the gospels. But, the desire to see deeper into his holiness draws me to my reading each day. I confess there is so much I don’t understand. But, my thankfulness to Jesus for becoming my guilt offering intensifies as I see the attention to detail demanded of people just to approach God. I will make my way through…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

If you ask me, the separation of truth from meaning is a dangerous game. I don’t think memorizing ideas helps anybody unless they already understand the meaning inferred in the expression of those ideas. I think ideas have to sink very deeply into a person’s soul, into their being, before they can effect change, and lists rarely sink deeply into a person’s soul.
Donald Miller

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Thousands of years later, I think most of us would also choose a physical Jesus over an invisible Spirit. But what do we do with the fact that Jesus says it is better for His followers to have the Holy Spirit? Do we believe HIm? If so, do our lives reflect that belief?
Francis Chan, Forgotten God (John 16:7)

Cord of Hope Origins

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  ::   3 important comments

In Sept of 2004, I received a newsletter of a ministry friend who lives in Waco, Texas. At the time, my family and I were living in Lincoln, NE. In her newsletter my friend began to describe a new ministry that she was involved with and how it had grabbed her heart. She described feeling like she had no choice but to join God in taking the message of Jesus to the marginalized of society, the places that the church often shuns or turns from because of shame and embarrassment, the places where Jesus himself would go if he was walking around today. The description of beautiful gift bags filled with fragrant lotions, cute jewelry, pink lip gloss, fancy nail polish, and of course, delicious chocolate taken in and handed out with extreme, non-judgmental, freely given love captured my attention. But, what captured my heart was that they were taking these gift bags into men’s clubs to pass them out to strippers.

As I was reading the article in the newsletter, I began to cry and asked God to give me the ability, means, and passion to take gifts to women in the clubs in my city. The story of the woman that washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears continued to come to my mind. You see, I am that woman. I’ve come to Jesus so many times with shame, guilt, and self condemnation. He continually lifts my head, looks at me, and offers his grace and forgiveness. As I was praying for the opportunity to be part of a ministry like this I continued to picture women bowed at his feet, and Jesus taking them, lifting their heads, and changing their lives.

My family along with ten friends, moved to Tucson, AZ in November 2004 to start a church called Second Mile. We were basing much of our ministry philosophy on Matthew 5:41 where Jesus commands that you serve people not in just the first mile, but you go ahead and go two miles. Because I’m a very passionate, outspoken (some say loud-mouthed) person, I immediately started talking about taking gifts to men’s clubs. In Tucson, it doesn’t take long to notice that there are men’s clubs everywhere. As a church, we decided Easter would be our first trip to a club to meet and give gifts to dancers.

I’ll never forget the first time I was sitting in the parking lot waiting to go in and ask the managers permission to bring gifts to the women. It was the Thursday before Easter. We were hoping to bring the gifts to pass out on Saturday night. My friend/accountability support was coming from work, so I had the opportunity to sit, pray, and shake. What would I say? Would the things I had rehearsed easily come out of my mouth? Would the manager know I was sincere with no ulterior motives? Would he believe me when I told him that we didn’t want to preach, just give out awesome gifts? Would he in fact give us permission to come back on Saturday?

The look on his face when I began to tell him that we were from a church called Second Mile and we wanted to bring these gifts (I carried a sample for him to look through) to give to the dancers the night before Easter was priceless. “You want to do What?” I explained that we knew the dancers would work long hard hours and probably wouldn’t have time to do the “traditional” Easter thing, so we decided to bring Easter to them. I again asked permission. Through his shock he said yes, and then showed my friend and me around the club so that we would know where to go when we showed up with 50 beautiful gift bags that weekend. It was the beginning to a journey that I could not have predicted, understood, or imagined.

We have grown to giving out 120 gift bags, 15 manager gifts, and 25 baked good bags for bouncers and male employees. We will be adding another club, 50 bags, at Christmas. Our main gift giving happens at Christmas and Easter, but we will start taking much smaller gifts throughout the year starting in October. We pray, weep, strategize, and continue to ask Jesus to give us his love for these women. We go to them not because we think we are better, not because we think what they do is evil, not because we want to get them out of the business. We go to them because we truly desire for them to experience the extreme, non-judgmental, freely given love of Christ. We go to them because Jesus has asked us to go EVEN IF we never see anyone give their life to him. We go to them because we believe Jesus is on the move and as we are passionately pursuing him we must be on the move with him.