Today I Got Lost

When I left my house this morning for work, I thought I was going somewhere I never landed.  This isn’t unusual in my job, and the change is one of the things that makes me really enjoy what I do.  I thought I was going to help with a close out in Henderson, KY and go eat with lunch with some great clients.  Those plans changed, and I ended up changing course mid-trip, so I went different places. I took a wrong turn after my first stop for the day, and I was in the guts of Western Kentucky traveling to the deeper bowels of W. Kentucky a totally different way than I normally take.  At one point, I stopped dead in the middle of the road, when I turned on to a one lane road following my GPS.  I turned around and waited for it to recalculate.  It did, and then took me on a loop back to my one lane road.  So, I took the little lane up the hills (praying there was not a fast moving truck or large tractor on the other side), through the fields and landed on a gravel road, where I checked that I had my gun… just in case I got stuck.  I finally made it back to blacktop, civilization, and a couple more school systems before I landed at home.

Turning on to the little lane the second time, I had the thought, “This is a lot like life.”  When we are young, we think there is one destination where we are going.  We have to get the right career, so we can get the right job, so we can get to the right place so we achieve success, or inner peace, or zen, or whatever your thing is.  But, in reality, life isn’t about a destination (cue Amazing, Aerosmith music in your head “Life’s a journey, not a destination!”  Do you see Alicia Silverstone 199something?  You’ve got to go watch the video for old times sake – for those of you born after 1990, videos were shown on MTV and VH1 before reality TV took over the world.  I do think MTV had the first reality TV show, so give them credit… or blame.).  Life happens on the journey, not when you arrive where you think you are going.  This is where the transformation of the person happens. When I arrived at my first destination this morning, I did what I needed to do there, got back in the car and headed to another destination. When I realized I was headed in the wrong direction, I adjusted- granted it took me longer and I ended up on gravel one lane roads, but I got to stop number two, and I saw some beautiful new scenery along the way.

For me, I haven’t been limited to this “Make it to the destination” mentality strictly in my career, but bled over into my home and my ministry.  When I first felt called to ministry, (first of all I didn’t think I should do it because I am a girl) I thought the only way to do ministry was to go to seminary, and become a preacher.  I didn’t realize ministry is so much more than preaching and leading a church.  I felt like I had failed for so long, that I had not followed my calling, that I had forfeited God’s plan because of fear, and maybe I did, but as I have said before, I now realize I did so much more ministry sitting in a chair as an insurance representative than I have done pastoring a church.  I also realize that even though I feel led away from pastoring a church at this time, my time of ministry isn’t over.  In fact, it may be ramping up, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to live my life any more looking at the distant dream, wondering if I am doing the right thing striving for something.  I don’t need to know that next thing, and I CERTAINLY don’t need to know the distant thing, I just need to know today, right now.  I want to be led in the now by the Holy Spirit.  That’s where the joy of the Christian life is, living so closely in friendship with God that he shares his heart with us. We get to see people the way he sees them.

That was the example of the disciples in the book of Acts.  They lived their lives led by the Holy Spirit.  There were many times they thought they were going one place, and things changed and they were taken in a totally different direction.  Check out Paul’s story!

I have a person in my life who drives me a little crazy.  I am sure you love all people without reservation, but I struggle with wanting to lift holy hands and bring them down briskly on some heads upon occasion.  This person has done nothing to me personally, or to my family, but their negativity drives me mad.  I found myself angry and wanting to confront the behaviors, but I don’t have the relationship to do this.  I got to the point that I would dwell on this person when I was driving, in the middle of the night, when I would be out for a walk I would complain to my friend about them.  This is not normal behavior for me, unless someone I love has been hurt by a person, so I became concerned and started asking God what was up with this.  I prayed for the person, maybe that would change my heart… my feelings of frustration only got stronger.  I tried to replace the negative thoughts with positive attributes about the person… my critique became even worse.  I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out why this person was getting to me so badly.  One day I heard part of this scripture in my head

Romans 4:16-17English Standard Version (ESV)

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

God calls into existence things that do not exist.  That includes in his people.  When we believe and allow him to be Lord of our lives, we are a new creation.  He spends a lifetime leading our journey so we become who we were created to be (sometimes with cooperation, and sometimes with great resistance).  He reminded me that he sees me as the person I was created to be, not the one I am.  He did this with Gideon when he called him a mighty warrior when he was hiding in a wine press.  He did it with Moses when he called him to return to Egypt.  So, if he sees me in my fullness, can I see his people with the hope he sees them with?  The answer… not on my own, so my prayer changed from “Lord, bless them, create goodness in their marriage, yada, yada, yada, all the generic stuff I want in my own life” to “Lord, help me see them as you do, complete, sanctified” and I got this picture in my head of this at 75, and I saw them as I see Mary Dye (possible the most positive and uplifting person I know). And, I realized that to look at people in the church as who they are displaying as today makes God pretty small.  To look at them with hope, to see who they were created to be, to call that out as truth and build them up is faith.  It’s faith in something only God can do!  

I cannot get over my negative feelings on my own power.  I had to recognize my helplessness to change on my own power (Can anyone say pride?).  I had to ask for help and God helped.  He changed me, he changed my heart.  I smile when I think of my friend now.  The old feelings are gone, replaced with excitement over things to come, not only in their life, but in mine also.  Isn’t that how all great things happen in life?  We give up our own power and glory and submit to His?

Stops and Starts

Well, I am hooked back on Pepsi full time (like 2-3 a day), and I drank one with dinner. (Supper if you are my husband.  My mom called the 3rd meal of the day dinner, his called lunch dinner.  He corrects me every time, but he is asleep, yet I still hear the reprimand  in my head.  I guess that is what 20+ years together will do for you.  He doesn’t even have to be here for the conversation to happen.)   Pepsi is a great way to gain weight (I’m up almost 10 pounds from my lowest weight), but I have a serious addiction problem with it.  Usually, I don’t partake after lunch, yet tonight I did, so tonight is a good night to write.  Tonight is a good night to write.  I’ve had a lot bouncing around in my head this week.

School is letting out in the next couple of weeks.  Summer is starting as school is stopping.  This year, school letting out is a bigger deal at my house.  Ty is graduating from high school.  I AM NOT THIS OLD! There are a lot of stops that will be happening.  He will stop living in my house full time in a few months.  I will stop knowing where he is most of the time.  I will stop having friends who see him daily and can let me know if there are problems (not that this has actually ever happened, but the idea of it brings some peace of mind).  With all the stops, some starts have to come.  I have to (and have had to) start letting go of my need to know everything. I have to start trusting him to foresee mistakes coming down the line without me there to comment.  (I have to develop more grace for mistakes because I forget what it was like to be 17, and how much I didn’t know!)  He starts a new job for the summer.  He starts college in a few months.  He starts his adult life, one where I am a smaller piece, and that’s ok.

Emma is stopping middle school and starting high school.  I expect this will be a very different experience than it has been for Ty because they are very different people.  She has stopped soccer, at least for this season to let her knee heal a bit more.  She is going to start babysitting for the summer.  I expect boys will start showing up more – GUYS, SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO DATE UNTIL 16.  So, don’t get any ideas.  I am not afraid to shoot if I don’t like the looks of you.  And trust me, I won’t like the looks of you unless you love Jesus and want her to be all that He has created her to be more that you want your own happiness.  Ladies… I have the same expectations of you if you want to date my sons.

April had a lot of stops and starts for me.  I stopped being thirty something and started being forty something.  Again…  I AM NOT THIS OLD!!  After a great visit to Houston, I stopped being someone on disability and started working again.  I stopped being someone who has cancer and started being someone who had cancer.  (Actually, this isn’t true.  I was very convicted early on that I always refer to myself as having HAD cancer, not HAVING cancer.  I wanted to declare my healing!)  So I will say it this way.  I stopped being sick and started being well.  It’s a harder mindset change than I expected.  I didn’t realize I embraced sick, but I guess I did.  I guess I had to for a bit, lacking appetite, lacking energy.  But, as I’ve been back at work, I notice when people as how I am, I answer that I am doing really well, but I always add that I get tired easily, and have to take naps.  This has been true, but I am curious why I add it to the conversation.  Is it an excuse because I don’t want people to expect too much of me, or am I reminding them that I’m still sick?  I’m not sure, but I think it is time to STOP THAT.  Hey!  I did also start to grow hair on my bald streak, which gives me kind of an edgy look (which makes me look YOUNGER!!) and my favorite worship leader, Jessie Early released an EP.  You have to soak in Restless Heart.

I’m thrilled to be back at work.  I love the people I get to interact with daily.  They bring me great joy.  I knew I liked my job before, but I appreciate what tremendous people we have working in our school systems in Kentucky.  Just quality people!  Being back at work means I’m out of my insulated bubble.  Cary and I went to Grace Center right after I was diagnosed.  We received a word from a trio of students who didn’t know anything about what was going on in our lives.  Part of that word was that a woman saw us in a bubble, insulated, protected, and then we would be thrust into something new.  That description has really been the picture that has described the last six months.  I have felt very protected and like we were just to rest and receive for a time because something was coming after all this.  I’m not feeling thrust into anything new, but I do want to be open to God’s leading in every area of my life.  I don’t want to fail to dream his big dreams because I am too logical or practical or scared, but honestly this is a struggle for me.  I dream big dreams, but I let them disappear because I am scared of the sacrifice they will take, or that I will fail.  I want to stop this way of thinking.  I want to learn to take risk.

More stops and starts are coming.  I am going to quit pastoring the church the end of June.  This is a hard decision, one that leaves a lot of questions in my head.  I have felt called into ministry since I was 18.  I have battled what is okay for women in ministry for most of the years since.  I finally have accepted that I am called, gifted and designed by God, as a pastor and teacher, and it is time to leave.  Can I be honest though?  I did A LOT more ministry and made A LOT more impact for the Kingdom in my sales job than I have pastoring a church.  I was in touch with hurting people daily who didn’t need religion or programs, but who needed a touch from Jesus desperately.  I don’t know that true ministry happens in a pulpit, or even in a church building most of the time.  True ministry happens one on one, when we share people’s lives in our everyday world, and we bring Jesus into the room.  Maybe we bring him in when we listen to people, or when we offer to pray over them with they share difficulties, or maybe we just bring peace and acceptance where there is none.  What will I start after I stop at Shaver’s Chapel?  I don’t know.  I have some ideas.  I feel like we need to work with married couples in some capacity.  We have learned a lot in the last 20 years.  We do marriage well most of the time, and I think we need to share that with our community.  I also have to stop only doing the convenient things.  That probably means starting home meetings back up.  My kids are desperate for them.  It also means we start looking for the church God wants us in next.  That should be interesting…  blessings

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens