Totally Worth Ten Bucks

Wednesday, August 31, 2011  ::   6 important comments

I listen to worship music often. Actually, that is what I listen to most of the time. Last week my iPod was dead and I never got around to charging it. By the end of the week my emotional and spiritual bucket was pretty empty. The light finally clicked on that I hadn't been listening to music on my very long drives to and from school and to and from meetings I had during the day. To put it in perspective, each week day I spend almost 2 hours (sometimes more) in the car. That's a long time if you ask me. Therefore, music about Jesus' greatness and glory is a must. Focusing on Him lifts my spirit because it gets my mind off myself, circumstances, to-do lists. Worship music in my life puts Ephesians 4:8 into tangible action... whatever is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, think about such things. The only thing I know that fits all those categories is Jesus. That is one of the reasons I love worship music.

Matt Redman has a new album out called 10,000 Reasons. You really should buy it. Go to iTunes or your music store of choice and get it. I usually love 3 or 4 songs off every worship album I buy, but this one is different. On iTunes you have to buy the album to get the song Holy and you really, really need this song. Oh, it is good. The lyrics in all the songs are so focused on God. Every once in awhile songs come along that move me so deeply to ponder the character of God, and this album is full of these songs. I can't even tell you which one is my favorite because I love so many of them! Just buy it. Please.

If you would like to hear insight into the album from Matt Redman himself go watch this video. Or if you want to listen to the title song which is amazing go watch this video.

Let me know what you think of the album. I pray God uses it to encourage your heart and magnify Him in your life the way He has used it in mine.

Clean Slates and Short Accounts

Tuesday, August 30, 2011  ::   6 important comments

Relationships are messy because people are messy. Show me one person that has it all together and I'll show you someone in denial.  I only know this from personal experience. Selfishness, pride, insecurity wreck me on a pretty regular basis.
Lamentations 3:19-23 rings profoundly in my ears these days. "I will remember and my soul is downcast with in me" resonates as I remember my life without Jesus' grace. When that passage comes to my mind I almost hunch over in deep yearning with a downcast soul, and then the Holy Spirit brings His sweet reminder: "YET...this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Whew. That passage gets me right in my guts. The longing to know his new mercies so that I don't focus on my failures wells up within me and spills over through tears and sighs of relief. 
I used to agonize when my past would come to mind. Lately, I choose to take those thoughts captive and use them as a reminder of God's grace in my life. He also uses the daily facts of imperfection in my life to teach me to love people. It is no secret that I can be impatient. I can be insecure. I can be stubborn. I can be vengeful. I can be judgmental. I can be downright unloving. So, when conflict arises (and it does for all of us if we are honest) I face the choice to respond in my flesh, hold grudges, and leave conflict unresolved. Or, I can choose to live by the Spirit and deny the desires of my old nature.  
I bring all of this up because another verse has also been swirling around in my heart. Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." I'm often convicted in the realization that I've forgotten that his mercies are new to me every single morning, yet I withhold mercies towards others because of difficulties that divide and because of pride in my heart.  
Being in women's ministry, I've heard plenty of relational conflict situations. Some are massive and will take years to overcome. To be honest, some of our conflicts aren't massive, but misunderstandings and drama in our hearts make it massive. Let me encourage you, as far as it depends on you... 
  • Make amends with those you can.
  • If you know someone has something against you, call them, get coffee, and have a real conversation. Be specific, especially if you know how they are hurt. Discuss and apologize when necessary.  Don't hide behind the excuse of "I didn't mean to hurt you." I sometimes bump into people in the grocery store. I never turn to them and say, "Well, I didn't mean to!" I say, "Oh excuse me. I'm sorry." Just because we didn't mean to hurt someone, doesn't mean that they aren't hurt. 
  • Don't talk about the relational conflict with others. If you have a trusted mentor or confidant, talk about ways you can make the situation right, but not how your conflict partner is a jerk and completely wrong. 
  • Ask God to teach you to extend a speck of the grace towards others that he's extended towards you. 
  • Realize that not all situations will be solvable. The verse says as far as it depends on you, make every effort which implies that sometimes it won't depend on you. Sometimes some people don't care to have peace in relationships. 
  • Don't hold grudges. Get over it. Believe the best in people instead of choosing to think a person intentionally hurt you. 
Taking it all back to Lamentations... "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the  gall. I will remember and my soul is downcast within me. YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." If He will do that for me, far be from me to deny new mercies for people in my life. I pray that I will live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on me. What about you? 

Less than Stellar

Friday, August 26, 2011  ::   4 important comments

Writing blogs lately has been difficult. You could say that I'm in a bit of a blog fog. Ministry life can be complicated, and many of the issues I sort out in my mind aren't appropriate for the blog. Raise your hand if you would like me to blog about the conversations we've had in the last few weeks?  That's what I thought.  I don't see any hands.

Also, the start of middle school for Kyle has been less than stellar. His core subject teachers are long-term substitutes. His elective is exploratory arts, and his teacher is reviewing 3rd and 4th grade math instead of exploring art. Making contact with the school has been next to impossible, so I went to the school this morning and told the office ladies that I was going to plant myself in the waiting area until I was able to speak with someone. After having a strong conversation with the office manager, (who, by the way, is very good at her job) I was assured I would receive a phone call from the principal within a couple of hours.  The principal did call. We had a decent but not helpful conversation, so I have a meeting with her on Monday afternoon.  I'm very confused about which direction to pursue for Kyle.

The point of this post is that I'm feeling a bit discombobulated.  Moxie needs some attention. I would like to make a to-do list, but I'm not sure where to start. My kids schedules are in overdrive. Kyle's school is disorganized and I will advocate for him. My house needs a good cleaning. Our internet is broken, and the swamp cooler makes our house a sticky wet mess. If anyone needs to humidify your plants, just let me know.


This stuff is small potatoes. Kyle's education is definitely important.  The women of Moxie are one of my priorities.  But, who cares if I have a dirty house or internet or a swamp cooler?  Because of God's great love for me and his new mercies every morning, I will not allow drama to overtake my heart. Do you ever experience that gnawing feeling pressing down, that feeling that sneaks up and makes everything feel huge, overwhelming, and impossible?  I don't want to over-simply because some situations are huge and overwhelming, but I'm not going to get bogged down in the drama my heart sometimes tries to create.  Asking God to provide my family's daily bread, not leaning on my own understanding, and not worrying about tomorrow minimizes drama in the best way.

I pray that you are able to discern situations in your life that need attention or are just drama filled distractions.  Prayerfully, my mind will soon be a place in which I can blog about a good meaty topic! Or maybe something really good, funny, and embarrassing will happen about which I can tell the world! But for now, I'll keep thinking, praying, processing, and surrendering.  Thanks for being patient with me.

My Big Kids

Tuesday, August 16, 2011  ::   7 important comments

The summer is gone. Well, not the weather. Tucson still has a few months of summer to come. The lay around, swim, watch movies, not get dressed until noon summer is gone. This time of year is bitter sweet for me. A couple of weeks ago my kids needed school to start. They were antsy, grouchy, picking on each other, ready to see their friends. Starting school and routine equals peace and happiness. Also, I will be able to live guilt free. In the summer I often feel guilty if I leave the kids too long to work-out or work in my Second Mile job of strategizing, reading, meeting with women. I also feel guilty when I have to say no to Second Mile work because I want to spend time with my kids. It's a vicious cycle. It will be nice to order my days towards investment in others while they are at school and investment in them when they are home.

This was the first year that all four kids didn't start on the same day. I must say it felt a bit anti-climactic. Morgan and Carah started school last Thursday. Kyle and Esther started yesterday. It was strange to start in stages, but it was also good for my heart. Stages of sending my sweet kids out to the crazy world eases the tension in my heart. You can read about the first week of school stirrings of my heart in last year's first week of school post. Prayer for my family is my main role and the middle of August brings fresh intensity for each of them. As they get older, my prayers change and grow. I don't know if you realize this, but it is a crazy world that would like nothing more than to chew us up and spit us out. I pray that my kids will know they belong to Jesus, will make decisions to honor Him, and even in their deepest temptations will rely on the Spirit of God to keep them on the path towards Him.

A first week of school post would not be complete without some first day of school photos. Let me satisfy your desire to oo and ah over my big kids.

Morgan and Carah are now fourth graders! They had an enjoyable first week of school. Their only complaint so far is that it is too hot during the day! With mercy and compassion I told them to suck it up, that the weather wouldn't be changing anytime soon.  They both like their teachers and have friends in their classes. Morgan has already written a letter and made a friendship bracelet for her teacher. Carah is excited to have a man for a teacher this year. Apparently, he's very funny and keeps her attention while he's teaching his lessons.  I'm praying they completely rock fourth grade!! 

Esther is in high school, ninth grade, talking about getting her driver's license and what college she wants to attend! I'm not ashamed to admit I had a good cry when I dropped her off for her first day of high school. She reported that she had a good first day and that some teachers are going to be really hard which I think is great because she's smart and needs a challenge. Thankfully, she also made the freshman volleyball team. They made final cuts on the first day of school which, if you ask me, is totally stinky because now some kids will always remember their first day of high school as the day they got cut from the volleyball team. Lame. So glad it didn't happen to Esther!  

Kyle is in middle school, sixth grade, also talking about what college he wants to attend. On Sunday he asked if he could play games on my computer and then I caught him researching the top 100 universities in America. What in the world?!? This kid has some serious ambition. It takes a ridiculous amount of self-discipline to encourage him to dream big and go wherever God takes him. Admitting that it probably won't be near Tucson is something I'm working on. Chad optimistically says, "It will give us an excuse to travel!" Ugh. No thanks, er, I mean Absolutely!! Kyle's first day was a little less stellar than his sisters'. He had a sub for math and science, his favorite subjects. His elective class teacher only wanted to talk about math he learned in third grade and told the class she didn't want to make it too difficult so "their little brains didn't explode." I already made a phone call.  I'm also hoping today is much better than yesterday. One more bit about Kyle, when he got home from school, he set up a desk in his room, complete with office supplies, a white board for brainstorming, and surround sound classical music. It is a strange thing to parent a freaky genius.  

Even though they didn't start on the same day, I had to get all four of them together. Each year for one photo they pose tallest to shortest. We all agree that this is probably the last year with Esther in the tallest position.  Kyle may not be able to handle the fact that Carah may earn the first spot and not him. 

Oh, these kids slay my heart!! I love them so! I'm so thankful they love their parents, and I'm truly grateful they love each other! 

Praying the 2011-2012 school year is the best yet! 

Moxie Memorizers

Monday, August 15, 2011  ::   16 important comments

Oh Dang!! I've been so busy with first day of school thoughts, that I didn't even realize it was time to post our verses for the 15th! Sheesh! I better wake up and pay attention!

Thank you all so much for stepping up, being honest about your journeys in memorizing scripture, and staying the course in what we've committed to God and to each other.  I wouldn't want to do this without you! More than 25 people posted on the August 1st post! If that doesn't encourage all of us, I don't know what will! Let's keep up the good work. To be honest, driving my kids to school and picking them up gives me built in discipline time to review and to memorize. Don't worry. I keep my eyes on the road. I just steer with my knees! Kidding!! I'm kidding. Come on, lighten up a bit! 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been contemplating leadership. The verse I will be memorizing over the next 15 days reflects what has been stirring.  

Psalm 78:72  And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; 
with skillful hands he led them.

My hearts desire is that I will lead with integrity, care for people's hearts, and God will increase my skills as a leader.  I'm so glad His word is full of applicable wisdom.  

What about you? Don't be shy. Post your verses and feel free to share any thoughts that may be stirring in your brain.  

A Privileged Responsibility

Friday, August 12, 2011  ::   2 important comments

I haven't blogged in awhile. Have you noticed? I have come to this exact space to write a new blog for the past week only to leave with nothing written. Thoughts on leadership, a person's capacity to serve, repentance, and fighting the beautiful battle are swirling together in my brain like a brewing storm.

I've been contemplating leadership quite a bit for the past few months. From the time I was a kid in the 4-H club, the idea of being a leader was thrown my way. The adult leaders in our club would often talk to me about leading the other kids or working hard in my projects to set an example. In junior high I began to pursue student council and other activities that required leading. One time a teacher who happened to be one of my mom's good friends pulled me into her room and challenged me with befriending a couple of girls and leading my other friends to do the same.  In high school I had the privilege of attending Student Council Camp. Being from a small town, I was star struck with all the "cool city kids" that came from exciting places like Dallas and Austin. The idea of leadership was thrown around that week in songs and skits like candy from floats in a parade.

At the suggestion of my good friend Jamie (who is an exceptional leader), I recently started reading The Making of a Leader by Dr. Robert Clinton. The book is causing me to reflect on my leadership journey. It is exciting to be able to see patterns of growth and stretching through the last 20 years or so. I've been encouraged to be able to pinpoint circumstances, events, and seasons God has used to grow me in leadership. This book is just right for this season of my life because it isn't just challenging me with theories to apply to what I'm doing now or will do in the future, but it is causing me to bite off huge chunks of my life and chew through the gristle-y mistakes, the undercooked naivety, and the nicely seasoned successes of leading God sovereignly served on my plate of life.

The one constant on which I've continued to reflect concerning leading is that through it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly, God's main purpose has been to change me, not use me to change others. His desire is to make me more like Jesus. Period.

In the church Romans 8:28 is often used as a cheer to ease a circumstantial difficulty. "All things work together for the good" is said as sort of a substitute for "Bless your little heart." I'm not trying to be snarky, just truthful. It is absolutely true that God does desire to work all things for our good, but not in the way we may be hoping. "Good" doesn't mean the bills will be paid, the friendship will be salvaged, your dream job will be offered, or the kids will call you the greatest mom in the world. Context is everything.

When we keep reading, it says all things work for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose, to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. The purpose of what we go through in our life is for us to be made into the image of Christ. (Rom 8:28-30)

In applying this passage to the way I've led over the last 15 years of ministry and more than 20 years of random leading opportunities, I've been completely humbled and spent some time in extreme gratitude and definite repentance.

God has allowed me the privilege of leading. I've made mistakes, huge ones, relational mistakes, as well as completely bombing some tasks. Each mistake, whether I realized it at the time or not, gave me the opportunity to choose to rely on myself or on God. Thankfully, He has given me opportunity to succeed, not in a look what I've done sort of way, but in stepping back and being completely humbled by the beautiful symphony of harmonious pleasure that only God could have orchestrated.

As I continue to look back, reflect, and reminisce I pray God will reveal more and more of what he has done to mold me into Jesus' image. In my current leadership responsibilities, I pray that I will never rely on my own strength or will, but be taken to the depth of my guts to know him, be found in him, and to lead with a upright heart and skillful hand so that He is lifted up.

The future is obviously unknown. With each new opportunity God gives, whether to serve quietly in the background, be a supportive active follower, or humbly lead with reliance in Him, I so pray that I will be fully aware of what He desires to teach me, and not just of what I'm doing.

Reflecting on and analyzing my own leadership is extremely challenging. I've reset my mind and heart on growing in the gifts God has given me. I'm praying 2 Peter 1:3-11 for Chad and myself with great fervor. Click on it. Look at the qualities. Read slowly the verse that speaks of possessing these amazing qualities in increasing measure. My hope is that God will build these characteristics in mine and Chad's life and that He will give us the responsibility of leading others to do the same and the privilege of becoming more and more like Jesus.  

God's Creativity

Tuesday, August 02, 2011  ::   4 important comments

We are constantly bombarded by the media pelting us with bad news. It is an ugly world full of lying, cheating, scandal, hate, and murder. To know what is going on in the world is important, but sometimes I get a belly full and feel like vomiting. In the times of wanting to withdraw and hide, I often make myself look around at people.

The Bible continues to talk about God's unfailing love. It doesn't matter what we do, His love does not fail us. We may reject it, abuse it, take it for granted, but it doesn't change There are so many verses about God's unfailing love that it would take you awhile to research them. Unfailing love has become one of my favorite characteristics of God. 

When I'm overwhelmed by the muck of the world, I choose to remember that He is God, He is in control, His love is unfailing, He loves me and wants me to love Him and other people deeply. A continual prayer that I pray for myself and my family is that we will love God and love people. 

I took these pictures because of my love for people, and because it is often very difficult to love people. Looking into the eyes of people I don't know challenges me. To know the lives and stories of others compels me to meet new friends and go deeper with older relationships. The pictures that you are about to look through aren't only meant to make us think, "How sweet," or "How interesting," or "How weird." They are meant to challenge us to look at all people with the eyes of God. 

He knows the stories of every person we pass every day. He knows the horrible news we hear about and all the terrible stories that are never told. He knows our joys, sorrows, victories, and defeats. He knows every single person in the pictures I took of the beautiful people of China. That's why I took these pictures, to remind myself (and hopefully you) that He is a God who loves people deeply and made each person with purpose. He desires for us to know him intimately and for the people of the world to be clothed with the strength and dignity that comes from knowing Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Look deeply at the photographs. Spend time thanking God for His love for you and for all of the people of the whole entire world. Ask Him to give you a deep love for people He so creatively crafted.  

Psalm 33:4-5  For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice;the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Moxie Memorizers

Monday, August 01, 2011  ::   27 important comments

August 1st. The last month of summer. Already. I know people always say it, but I can't believe it's already August. I think spending the latter part of July overseas contributes to the time lapse I feel. Time keeps on will start soon, the weather will change (ok, maybe not in Tucson), and before you know it, it will be time to put up our Christmas trees. A little dramatic maybe?? 

As you know I was gone from July 16th-27th.  The ten days were packed with wonderful conversation and exploring. The days were not packed with memorizing and reviewing. I'm sorry for that! For the first two weeks of August, I will re-focus myself on the commitment to take in scripture.  Please know that I made this commitment to God, to myself, and to you! I do not take it lightly! I hope that you are staying the course with me. 

I didn't memorize the verse I posted last time, so I will memorize it for the first part of this month. Here it is again:

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (ESV) 

I hope that you are spending the necessary time to take in His word. I was so encouraged last night during the gathering at Second Mile. Derek, Tyler, and Regan shared their hearts with us. A recurring theme was the importance of the Bible. Derek shared how God had convicted him to live with purpose and to know God's word. I continue to pray that as a church we will love the Word of God, will long to know what it says, and diligently live out what He reveals to us through time spent with Him corporately and individually.  

I'm looking forward to reading your verses. Again, if you haven't posted in awhile, jump right back in! There is no condemnation in this group called Moxie Memorizers, only encouragement and accountability! Love you all more than you know!!