Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Power of One

Did I mention that I love our Wednesday night Bible Study? LOVE IT! Our room is decorated with daisies (EVERYWHERE!), lime green and sunshine yellow transform the white cinder block walls, and middle school and high school girls are seeking the Word.

Which ONE of you would not want to be a part of that?! It is simply AWESOME! Who would have EVER thought that this chic would be a youth Bible Study leader?! NOT this ONE!

Our study on Biblical characters and a recent
Chris Tomlin concert got me thinking..."God head three in ONE, Father, Spirit, Son." If you know the words to "How Great is our God" then you are probably already singing it now, am I right?! But, when my buddy Chris, (after sharing a worship experience from section B6, seat 17, do you think he'd mind if I call him "buddy?") was singing it LIVE in Salem, Virgina this time last week, all the names of Jesus were scrolling across the jumbo tron. As my tears followed them, I thought, "How great are You! The ONE Almighty God can be ALL these names to ALL these different people in ALL parts of life!" WOW! Savior, Lord, Shepherd, Rock, Redeemer, and the list went on and on. ONE name that stood out to me was "JUST." Did it mean, "justice?" or "fair?" or just "just." Sometimes, there is just ONE thing I need and it is just GOD. So simple, but yet eternally complete.

Likewise, sometimes there is just ONE thing that GOD desires - the willing, the obedient, the broken, the contrite heart. Do you know it is possible for ONE person to extend the love of
Love itself? Through Jesus, we are able. In that ONE love given, there is grace, mercy, forgiveness, and healing. You know, there is an entire chapter of God's Word that is written on how we do this! Click here, I'll share The Message.

Are we that ONE that God desires? Ephesians Chapter
ONE amplifies this for us. BUT...are we a willing ONE, an obedient ONE, a sacrificing ONE, a broken ONE, a loving ONE? To be honest, in some areas of my life I am. In others...I am working on it. But, I want to be ONE, not divided.

I am sure that my very smart mathmatican friend (don't worry...I am sure know her, she is the ONE who cuts coupons, always finds stuff on sale, and will drive the extra 10 minutes for the buy one, get one free know her?) could tell us about the power of ONE...a prime number, every other number is divisible by it, and it is right before you hear "BLAST OFF!"

Trust me, I am NOT into reading a math textbook, are you?! The girls in my Bible Study would not approve. Instead, for the next couple of posts, let me share what we have discovered about the power of ONE from REAL, vulnerable, and very human people in the Bible! And, I'd love to share with them (and here)...
What have you witnessed from the power of ONE?!

Take your shoes off and stay a while...I promise it will be a BLAST!

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Balance and Solid Footing, Part 2!

So, last week I was learning about the barefoot running movement. Neat! Would you believe, that this week brought me right to the sidelines 2 stellar athletes. Both barefoot. And thus, I share, Part 2!

The one line from last week's magazine article that quickened my heart rate and even my pace was, "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground." Wanting to be more in step and run my destined race with less pain and injury, I pondered this q

Q: Being barefoot, should you run barefoot in the mountains? or in the valleys?

Index card after index card covered her skirt stained with wet tears. My friend was visibly touched that we encircled her and her husband for prayer Sunday. But as she brushed tears away, I was caught up in my own moment. (You know the ones where you are in a crowded room, but suddenly you see something that makes you feel as if you are the only one there noticing it!) I saw those wet drops on her lap be immediately covered up as friends handed her index card after index card - white, yellow, lined, unlined - stationary sealed with a sticker, pieces of paper, and cards in envelopes. Each enscribed with verses from God's Word. Each meant to abide with her. Each would have to be a purposeful read because when facing giants, "cushion" would be required in the coming days.

This was not my first experience with "Index Card Love."

I distinctly remember hearing the flip and shuffle from one index card to another as a mother waited while her elementary aged son was in pediatric neurosurgery to remove a brain tumor. In a family and friend filled waiting room, I heard each flip thinking "and another hour has passed." Each hour she would silently read and mediate on a verse from God's Word never failing. There was no other "cushioing" that day.

What examples of faith you are to me! What athletes as you share your most vulnerable times of your life with me! Your race allowed me to see how you you set your you navigate the terrain. Praise God! A giant slain! A boy healed! You felt each and every step along the way and did not rely on your own strength at all! Thank you for helping me answer my question this week.

You would think that these women I speak of are my life long friends, but not so. As I arrived along the sideline of each of their races, I barely knew them. Divine appointments brought me into these runners' lives. There was no denying it. As our friendships were merely in a blooming season, we shared the Word, a "cushioning," if you will.

New and old friends, let's answer!

A: Remember the statement, "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground." It is true! Think about it...Why do I want to know if I am feeling a mountain or a valley? Dealing with rockey or rolling? Slippery or smooth? Muddy or mellow? Up or down? He will bring me through! I will not dwell on the terrain below, as He directs my paths ahead. I want more "cushion" from the Word to feel less of the ground below. I want more of the Truth. Terrain may change. It will. But, Truth says, He is ever constant, never changing, and faithful. So, let's be vulnerable enough to feel less ground!

I think these 2 verses go together like a pair of "new balance:" First, Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways (mountains and/or valleys) acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (even make'em straight, if crooked). But, who is "He?" That brings us to the second verse. In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," John 1:1. No matter how high, how low, how wide, how deep, the grinding race gets, nothing can separate us from the Love of God. He, and in Him alone, is the firm foundation.

For less pain and injury we have to do our part. We have to rid ourselves of all the false lies that harm our hearts with fear, anger, guilt, shame, injustice, pride, jealousy, malice, hate, selfishness and any other hurrdle of sin we might face. Each is like a burning blisters in bad shoes, you feel it in each step along the way. This week...I have to admit, I have had a couple of hot spots and raw places. :( Sometimes others saw, but always God!

The runners of the world say, "The more cushion, in your shoe, the less you feel the ground."
That is true.
But, the readers of the Word say, "The more "cushion," in your soul, the less you feel the grind AND the MORE you feel the SOLID ROCK!"
That is Truth.

Loosen laces of lies. Kick off barriers. Set your eyes on the prize. Hurrles will come, we are promised that. Look to the sidelines, share your pain (with God and others of God), and let them "cushion" your steps with the Word. It helps. Run to it. It provides the GREATEST "cushion." Remember, GREATER is He who is in the race with you than he that is "lying" in the way!!!!

That's what I witnessed from 2 girlfriends, and they have the bare feet (and index cards) to prove it! Well done, good and faithful ones!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Balance and Solid Footing

Did you enjoy the whirl wind tour of my laundry room showcasing my weakness?! How many people do you know enjoy blogging about their dirty laundry! HA!

My hubby came home that day and kissed me on the cheek while I was cooking dinner and asked, "Still crying over the laundry?" I have to admit, I was somewhat confused...I am not crying over the laundry, I'm making dinner...pork tenderloin even, what is he talking about?! He smiled coy and said, "Don't think I don't read your blog!" Well, Romeo, what do you think of this, ?! Love you and your support...this blog is with you in mind!

This week, as I waited to pick up our preschooler, I noticed my husband's favorite FREE magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, was in the car. Hmmmm... guess it is my turn to read something of his!

First, let me say, outdoor adventure is another "not one of my strengths!" My husband is quite at home in the woods (for days!), but I on the other hand, enjoy more complex comforts! The picture on the front of the magazine looked just like the recent "Happy Birthday Hubby Hike" I survived to this waterfall, so it caught my attention.

I started fanning through the magazine (back to front, ever do that?). Then, this article drew me in, "Is Barefoot Better?" Wow! Seriously?! An article just for me in an outdoor magazine! I quickly read on! As I read the debate to run barefoot or not, I was fascinated. Some like shoes, others don't. Some think too much shoe causes injuries, others say not enough does. Some think less is better, others want more and then some. So, take a look at these that prefer being barefoot:

The Tarahumara runners wear thin rubber soles and run multiple marathon distances into their late 80s in Mexico's canyons.
Then, there are several versions of these running shoes marketed to barefoot runners who compete in ultra marathons. You mean there is something more intense than just...let's say...a regular marathon?!
And then, there is just plain barefoot running. I love the barefoot part, not the running! :)
I wear a pink New Balance and blog about being barefoot, so needless to say all this got me thinking. I try to live a barefoot life: vulnerable before God, free from the enemy lasing lies, and hopefully leaving a print as I follow my Master's footsteps even if in my pink tennis shoes. I even blog about it. But, do I run barefoot?! Do I live or run?! They are different, right?!

Paul spoke about running a lot in his letters to the early churches. You know, the guy who was inspired to write over HALF of the New Testament! Probably should lend an ear, don't cha think?! Think he was a runner? He compared living for Christ as a race several times. I love all these verses that I share with our cross country girls in Bible Study:
  • Hebrews 12:1 "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
  • Phil. 2:16 "as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing"
  • Gal. 5 :17 "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
  • 1 Cor. 9:26 "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."
Such encouragement! Let not just live, but run! Let us not just endure, but run! Let our hearts not just worship, but raise our arms and run to Him! Let our hands not just serve, but follow through with our feet and run to others! Don't worry about how you are going to do it, JUST DO IT! (That make even me laugh out loud!)

Much of the article's advocate emphasized the importance of how the foot (us) connects with the solid ground (God). Running barefoot (vulnerable infront of God) improves comfort, speed, endurance, strain, and more technical factors than I even understand. "The more cushion, the less you feel the ground," he explained in his argument. Is there some deeper merit to this?!

Check out a friend's recent devotional about her "run" and let's think about this and talk about running blessed and better barefoot soon!

Father God, thank you for different races.
Thank you for giving me my own unique course!
Thank you for your streams of living water to refresh me along the way.
Lately, I have seen how you have quenched the parched!
Thank you for cheering friends who call out our names from sidelines of prayer.
Thank you for the freedom to choose how we run,
but always ready to provide the direction of our paths.
Thank you for the promise of crowns when we cross the finish line.
May I leave only Your Footprint behind me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Laundry: My Weakness!

So,what am I doing bloggin' in the middle of the afternoon? I know...CRAZY!! Well, I have spent the day with these two ladies who have done an amazing amount of work and brought me to tears!
Yes, many who know me know that laundry usually brings me to tears because as I share, "it is just not my strength, girls!" I can get the beds made, pick up the house, take out the trash, dust and vacuum, plan menus, grocery shop, and keep the dishes done (almost everyday), but the laundry always lingers undone! So, after a week with a hubby and his terrible cold, a preschooler with an unexpected accident at 3 am, and a week including a 4 mile family hike complete with waterfall, preschool pumpkin patch field trip, and day trip to West Virginia...the mounds of whites and darks turned into moun-tains!

Today was the day! I was so proud of this accomplishment! I know there are women out there who know how this feels! :) Hooray!!

(Notice that I took a picture of the completed pile, not the numerous piles in the laundry room floor! We all know how THAT feels, too!) So, I am not done with the laundry, but it was somewhere in this basket that the tears came and I just HAD to share!

I came across one wash cloth and thought, "Wow, really rugged around the edges." Then another towel and thought, "Boy, you have seen better days." Yes, I was talking to the laundry! All the while, I was envisioning opening beautifully wrapped boxes with glittery bows Christmas morning filled with lush white linens as I inhaled the fresh Bounce scent...HINT...HINT!

But then, I picked up the dish cloth. I think he was used as a oven mitt in the heat of getting dinner ready one especially busy night. Although freshly brightened with bleach, his navy blue stripes were ignored due to the enormous black (maybe burned) stain in the upper corner. For a moment, I thought, "Need to throw THAT ONE out for sure" and then I just couldn't do it. It just wasn't that bad. Whether it was still a dish cloth or a new dusting rag, it hit me. I felt sure, "It still has a lot of Life in it!" Then, the Holy Spirit washed over me!

Doesn't Jesus use us with stains...marks, even scars?!

He knows that we are all different to begin with, right?
And, He gifts us all in different and various ways through the Holy Spirit!
Plus, we all go through life with different loads, too! Ever thought of that?!
But today, as I folded that little dish cloth just as nicely as the newer ones and stacked it up to be placed in the linen closet...I thought, there will be a time I will use you.

[Sniff, sniff] Yes, I cried over the laundry. I needed a break. I was overwhelmed with "my laundry."

I took the break. How many times have I been guilty of thinking that God can't use me or worse, doesn't want to use me? I have been mistaken to think that I need to do something in order to be used...I just need to get a little bit better, or I just need to organize my time more, or I just need the right motivation, or....

The TRUTH is that God wants to use us. Right now. We need to let Him work in us, not us dictate what the to-do list is for Him. Let Him decide what needs to be washed, removed, freshened, softened. He will show you. One load at a time. He will do the work. He will get the laundry done. Ask.

Paul said it best as he wrote to the church at Corinth, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." God knows that I fret about the laundry. It is just never done. And that is ok because He wants to perfect us, renew us, even change us from glory to glory . Until then, get in there! Get going! Be usable! Be open!

I am. Friends, spiritually and literally, there are more loads to do. But, I am glad that I don't have to do them ALL!