Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I'm a website!

Dear faithful readers,

There are no words to explain to you how thankful I am for those of you who have walked with me these last five years of exploring inner dispositions.  This little space on blogspot was instrumental in soothing wounds and building a voice.  It was in this space that I gained the courage to speak the words that God planted in my heart knowing that it did not matter how many people they reached as long as they reached the ones He planned for.  Some plant, some water, but He gives the growth and being a part of His plan for another is my greatest joy. 

As a Christmas gift, my husband built a website for me so that I may have a bigger space to share with you and others as well as have a place to prayerfully launch my book that is in the editing process.  Prayers would be much appreciated that it finds a space in the heart of an agent or publisher, despite the small platform this author has.  But I wholeheartedly believe that the same God who took down a might army with a small band of soldiers blowing trumpets and holding lanterns can take this book and make it known, because it will make Him known.

The new space for An Inner Disposition is at  Please come visit, come stay, come continue to follow as we explore our hearts, see how Jesus changes our inner dispositions, so that the light on the outside can shine brighter and farther.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

because we need to speak up: a rewrite of an old post for a new book

When asked a question or confronted with a topic, it takes awhile for me to process an answer, to think of exactly what I want to say, which means whatever the conversation 'was' usually turns into 'had been' as the others kept rolling, immediately knowing the best thing to say to keep the topics and thoughts whizzing by my own. Because of this, I spent years thinking that my words were not important, that I did not have anything productive to add to the conversation.

While silence can be deafening, remaining silent can also make you feel deaf, make you feel out of the loop, make you feel inconsequential. When you spend your life assuming you have nothing to say, you forget how to speak up even if you do have words that need to come out.

But words are not to be tread lightly. Words harm and words heal. The phrase "if you do not have anything nice to say then do not say anything at all" is well shared among the southern states. It is also well known that if you are told hundreds of wonderful, positive things about yourself and then told one negative, it is the negative that will stay with you the longest. It is for these reasons that we are told in Ephesians to be kind to one another and to let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only what is good for building others that it gives grace to those who hear it.

Our lives revolve around communication. Even in the most isolated places on earth there is language, the ability to speak and respond in some manner so that community can work together, rejoice together, disagree with one another, and warn each other of danger. However, unless you are under the age of 4, one cannot just go around saying aloud every thought that comes through the mind. Honestly, the under 4 category probably should not do that either, but so far I have yet to find someone with the skill to enable that filter.

Filters are valuable. They strain out impurities so that what you are taking in holds only that which is good for you. In the world this may be referred to as your conscience. Good 'ol Jiminy Cricket sang a very catchy tune about letting your conscience be your guide, listening to the inner voice telling you what is right and wrong. In Christianity, we believe this is the Holy Spirit. What Jesus left with his children here on earth living inside us and guiding us in our filter. Through it, with knowledge of the Word, filters our words actions, and thoughts, sifting out impurities and changing them to be more like Christ. A point worth mentioning however is that whether we follow the Holy Spirit's leading each time or not, we are still loved and forgiven and never left alone.

I know no one who does not have regret over something they said that they wish they could take back, but it is not the words that you have said that I want to talk to you about, it is the ones that you have not said, the ones that you are holding onto inside.

When Maya Angelou said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you," it does not just refer to someone who desires to be an author, it is for all of us as we are each living out a story We said that each life is a story written by the Greatest Author, meticulously planning and allowing experiences that will mold and shape us to become what He has designed us to be at story's end. But within this life of beauty and despair, joy mixed with sorrow, refining and rebuilding that needs to be done, we often want to pull away when the process gets difficult.

While much concentration is done to learn to filter our words and only let out what is helpful to others, there is an equal amount of concentration by us to hold our words inside because of what others may think, or what consequences may come.

I held my words in for too long. I let fear of what could come and doubt of what might have been happening keep me from speaking up, keep me from letting out those questions and answers that I know the Spirit was filling up my heart with. I have no doubt that what happened in my marriage's past was in no way my fault, but I do know that had I spoken those words out loud long before something would have changed sooner.

I would be willing to bed there is one thing that even right now you are keeping inside, afraid to say out loud because of how it might come across, how it will sound, how it makes you sound, because it may be wrong, or because of what another might think as soon as you finish the sentence.

Friend, if you are scared to say something, that is usually a good sign that you need to say it!

Words can eat at you if you leave them hidden, causing the agony Ms. Angelou so eloquently spoke of. But worse, leaving those words in the darkness, away from the Light, where they can be twisted so violently that you begin to believe the lies instead of allowing in Truth.

I will forever be grateful for the friend who spoke up for me when I was refusing to speak for myself. I will forever love her regardless, but I will forever love her as well for her courage in living out Proverbs 31:8 and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. THere are many things that cause someone to remain silent. There are times when those people are given courage to speak up and there are times when God tells us to speak up for them because for whatever reason, in their present life, they cannot form the words.

I have developed a simple two step process for speaking up. The first step is to find someone to say your words to, the second step is to say them out loud.

Lucky for you, there are two people with you all the time that you can speak to. One is yourself, the other is God. Yes, having a bosom friend or spouse who will listen and love you no matter what you say is a pearl above price, but please do not think you need to drive anywhere, wait for your next girls' night/biblestudy/community group/workout/counseling session or wherever else you might have conversation. The first priority is not to have your words heard, it is to get them out and give them a voice.

Next, say them out loud. Quite often this one small but not so small action is the only thing needed to bring healing and relief to your soul. It takes courage to speak out the things you have hidden and as soon as the words have left your lips there can be peace and understanding that what you have feared so much to say may not be scary after all. This one action is an act of faith and that act is rewarded with a precious peace that passes all understanding.

Everything we say out loud that is bottled up will not be right. We have hearts full of sin and our thoughts will be skewed, our opinions unjustified, our words will be full of envy, or unforgiveness, or doubt. Even if more steps need to be taken to process through whatever the words reveal, they will be out, confessed, given a voice, and brought into the light and THAT is when healing can begin, when perspective is given, when wisdom is gained and when our inner dispositions being to change.

You may say hard things, you may hear hard things, but He is faithful and just says 1 John 1:9. He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I pray that you will give all the parts of your story a voice so He can do just that, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

because you should love anyway

I wasn't planning to write this morning, at least not here.  When asked why not by my husband, my response was that I didn't have anything to say.  I don't like to write just to write, like you shouldn't speak just to speak.  If you don't have anything good to say, say nothing at all, right?  In jest, he said, "why don't you cover something simple, like racism and white privilege."  He is very passionate about this topic and I love his desires to research, meet with friends, and have real talk with others on how to bring about seriously needed heart and action changes.  I have many thoughts, future hopes, and frustrations within that topical sphere as well, but he knows covering such subject matter is just not my thing.  I want to dig into the root of a person, the emotional distress and success, the going straight to the heart of an individual.  It's just you and me looking at ourselves and our hearts and seeing and hearing how our inner dispositions can be changed.  That one sheep at a time method can eventually build a herd that can create change together.  I'm honored to be an early stop on the road of a Kingdom changer!

But then my mind wandered to Christmas shopping, which made me think of Cyber Monday, which made me remember a sweatshirt I saw that I really want because of the words on the front.  Words carry weight and alleviate it, and both are needed.  These two, in an instant, did both.  LOVE ANYWAY.

They did both because seeing this phrase pricked my heart of ways I am not loving others well, loving them despite things, loving them Anyway.  It also lightened my heart with the reminder of the way loving another literally lightens you.  It gives you peace and ease to let go of frustration, of the yuck you may be harboring.  Loving anyway takes the pressure away of deciding how to act or be, it lightens your burden when you see there is no decision you have to make, just a truth you have to lean in to.

I am currently rewatching Friends during times when my hands are more needed than my mind.  There are so many favorite quotes that many people who know, like KNOW,  the show can quip back and forth to each other, but there are a few favorites of mine that I do not know if any one else remembers.  One is Phoebe, in frustration, saying "You big, fat did it anyway!"  Even though in context she was referring to something someone did that she asked them not too, it only requires a slight exchange of letters for my heart to take it as a encouraging command instead.  Just big, fat do it anyway.

Before you brush this off as a simplistic view, a few years ago I did a series on learning to love that you can find here.  If you want a more in depth look at what love is, why we can't love on our own, and other angles, please check that out.  I promise it is worth a glance, I personally have to glance back at it often.  For right now, let's just take those two words and live them out, let's Love Anyway, and let's do it for a very simple reason.  God told us to.

Love one another. (1 John 4:7) A new command I give you: love one another.  Just as I have loved you, love one another. (John 13:34)  This is how people will know that we are his disciples, if we love one another.

He tells us to love, period.  He doesn't tell us to love the lovable.  He doesn't tell us to check someones background to make sure they are worthy.  He doesn't tell us to scan a person's clothing choices, skin color, body odor, or bank account.  He doesn't tell us to skip those people he knows we can't stand being around.  He tells us to love, period.

When your child is having a meltdown and all you want to do is scream, Love Anyway.

When your friend is snapping back at you or pushing you away because of a hurt going on in their own life, Love Anyway.

When you see or hear someone say something so opposite of what you think it makes your blood boil, Love Anyway.

When you see a person purposely hurt another, Love (them both) Anyway.

When you see another in need but don't want to leave your cozy, safe bubble, Love Anyway.

When your temptation is to roll your eyes, return a comment with sarcasm, or to talk about another behind their back, Love Anyway.

When your desire is worldly justice instead of Kingdom work, Love Anyway.

When it feels like your life is falling apart and you have no idea what is going to happen in the future, Love Anyway.

When everyone tells you that you do not have to love someone else because what they have done doesn't deserve such a feeling, Love Anyway.

Is your heart starting to write a few of its own?

I want that sweatshirt because like the tattoos on my body so permanently reminding me of other truths, I want that reminder to Love Anyway.  That reminder that it's not that I should do it, but that I am ABLE to do it, because God loves me.

We do not have to be scared or nervous or defeated or sad or angry.  We can just love because it does not matter if that love comes back void or full, all the love we need God fulfills and if we spill all of it out on others He will keep filling us back up.

Not every subject has to be ground breaking.  Not every lesson has to be the first time you have learned it.  The most needed ones are the ones you have heard and learned a thousand times over, but still need again.  Today is one of those days.  A day where I am reminding myself that I need to love anyway and that I will forget so I will need to learn to love anyway again.

Praying you find ways today and forever to Love Anyway, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

because even though you can't change your past, you can change someone else's future

At writing workshops, one of the most talked about topics is having an ideal reader.  You need to know who you are talking to in your head so that you can get across the information necessary to that person.  One point that is sure to be made is that you should not make yourself your ideal reader.  You must broaden your scope, be a little more general while staying specific, specifically general, so that you reach a wider audience.  Sound confusing? Well it is.  I have never been good at this, which is probably why I am far from a famous writer, but in my opinion, or at least for my personal desires and purposes, I need to be intimately connected to the topic.  Whatever I am saying has to be something I feel or have felt deeply.  Something that I also need to hear.

To me, if sharing advice or encouragement or knowledge or wisdom, if it is not something you do not also need to hear, you have no business saying it, because you have no understanding from which to pull.  My heart needs to comprehend just how much another heart may need the same words, the same lessons.  If that means a smaller audience so be it. If Jesus can leave 99 to go after just 1, then I can too.

The thing is, if it were possible, I would often make my past self the ideal reader.  What would I say, for example, to the five year old girl so very afraid of the dark, the twelve year old who had no clue how to deal with a friend all of a sudden not wanting to be her friend anymore, the sixteen year old who was trying to balance high school and boys and driving a car without getting lost, the nineteen year old who had her heartbroken, the twenty-two year old newlywed with a new job in a new state, the twenty five year old with a baby completely dependent on her, the thirty-one year old who hit a road bump in marriage so hard it could have possibly totaled the whole thing.

We often say, if we could just go back and tell our past self this, this, and this, everything would have turned out differently, but would it have?  Back to the Future is probably not the most intellectual example to throw in here, but in my recollection, going back and making any changes did not seem to help the future out too much.

Changing our past just isn't going to bring sudden happiness and perfection.  While I do not completely agree with Rafiki when he whacks Simba on the head and tells him it doesn't matter, it's in the past, I highly agree with his next statement, "You can't change it, but you can learn from it."  While we learn, we store away those hard fought lessons for a reason that reaches way beyond our own life's peace.  With our life, we have the ability to change another's.

Not everyone has hit the milestones you have, not everyone has gone through the same suffering that you have, and not everyone who has gone through similar sufferings and experiences have made it to the other side of them.   There is always someone farther ahead of you and there is always someone coming up behind.  One of our jobs as believers is to accept those hands that are there to pull us up and also to reach back with our own hands and pull up another.

We can not do anything about what is done because, as they say, it is done, but we can do something about how we use what happened for not only ourselves, but the ones around us.  By living in community, sharing our stories, and saying out loud the things we know we need to hear instead of pretending as if we have it all together, the ones we walk alongside will see, will hear, will have the opportunity to learn without it having to come in the hardest ways.  Like Hamilton told Eliza, if I had to fight a war just to meet you, it would have been worth it.

My birthday is tomorrow.  37 years.  Dang, that seemed so old when I was in elementary school, but seems so young at this very minute, because of all I know I still have to learn.  Regardless, it's been another year of life on earth, another year of making mistakes, another year of successes, another year of growing, another year of seeing how tightly I am held in the hands of my creator and that abiding in Him truly is the best place to be.  In honor of this milestone, privilege, I want to share some of my hardest earned lessons, the things I would love to tell my younger self, but can't.  Instead I share them with you, the things I want someone else to know in hopes they can learn in an easier way.

*  It's ok to be afraid of the dark, it doesn't make you weak.  It most likely means you have an overactive imagination which just happens to be an amazing character quality.

*  Friendships are hard, but they are worth fighting for.  If there is someone you want to remain in your life, take the time to let them know that.  

*Friendships are hard, and sometimes they need to be let go, and it's ok if it still sucks even if it's also a relief. 

*Friendships are hard and sometimes friendships end and neither of you know why or really wanted it to happen, it just happens.

*  Some boys are insane, emotional, and careless with you heart.  Some boys are kind, thoughtful, and careful with your heart.  That second group of boys will still do stupid stuff.

*It's okay to forgive someone for anything. It doesn't mean you'll still be in each other's life.  The forgiveness is more for your heart anyway.

*  Being an introvert is a dang good character quality and never apologize for it.  It just means you were created to serve this world in a different way with a different view.

*  It's always a good idea to have the conversation.  Even if you're nervous, even if you're terrified, even if you will cry the whole time you are talking.  It's better than leaving needed words unsaid.

*  Almost everything is hard the first time you do it, that's why you need to do it a second time and a third and keep going until its easier.  Except if what you are doing is illegal.  Just stop that now.

*  If something comes easy to you that doesn't come easy to others be thankful.  You found one of your gifts.

*  You do not have to prove anything to anyone.  Be confident that you can feel what is best for you.  If you don't want to do something, don't do it.  If you want to do something, keep at it.  Friends will encourage for both sides, non-friends will pressure you on just one.  Stick with the encouragers.

*  If a boy breaks up with you because you get scared at scary movies then he is an idiot and you are better off without him.

*  If there is something nagging you, deep inside, telling you to do something, it doesn't make you feel better to ignore it.  Step out in faith knowing the one who has called you to it is trying to do something beautiful somewhere.

*  Lifting weights is super fun and makes you feel like a super hero.  And even though you know it is super cliche, throwing them down every once in a while is the best feeling!

*  Parenting is all kinds of hard and all kinds of beautiful and all kinds of exhausting and all kinds of sanctifying and pretty much the best thing I have ever been allowed to do.

*  If you're feeling like a hot mess, say you're feeling like a hot mess.  If you're having a crappy day, say you're having a crappy day.  If you are in love with where you are in life, say that you are in love with where you are in life.  Your honesty is sure to help another be honest as well!

*  If one day it feels like life is falling apart, well it might just be, but that doesn't mean it won't get built right back up again, usually in a different and better way.  

*Pivots in life don't mean you chose wrong the first time, it means that part is done and it's time to move on to the next thing.

and lastly,


I would love to hear some of your hard earned lessons, but until then I am praying that you will learn to use them for others and have the opportunity to see how they can change a life, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

for when you need to know the big picture doesn't matter as much as you think

Our oldest has been introduced to Google Earth and he's obsessed.  I am still not sure if this is a male only obsession or if I'm just a female who happens to not get into it, but either way the introduction came from his daddy who is just as obsessed with it and has been since college.  One day I was walking in our old town main street towing two little boys at the time when the Google car with all it's cameras atop the roof came past us.  One of the two times I have checked Google Earth on my own was sometime after that to see myself on the street.  The other time was in my olden days of being a second grade teacher before smartboards so we all huddled around a desktop to see a visual representation as we were learning the differences between continents, countries, counties, states, and cities.  Every other has been my husband yelling come here and then showing me a view of something somewhere that is obviously amazing enough to interrupt whatever I was doing.

I love this tool and I love his interest.  Watching my boy visually see and seek out places on this earth that are different from his is wonderful for this mama heart.  This quote by Mark Twain is a favorite, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."  Seeking out new places spurs the desire to see new places which opens your heart to learning much about all the people and places God created and placed purposely in this world.  But the best part is not zooming out to see the big picture, it's zooming in to look at the details.

We are often after the big picture of life.  We want to know what's going to happen or why is this happening.  Lord, we pray, just give me a glimpse of the big picture and I promise I'll be able to follow more faithfully.  Truth bomb, it's not really the big picture that we're after, it's the right picture.  We want to see what we want to see.  We want to zoom out in hopes of a glimpse of the finish line, how things will end, we're not really concerned about what it's going to look like on the way.  Confession, if I had been given the gift I so longed for, to see the big picture of my life, I can already tell you I would have planted two feet in the ground as hard as possible and refused to move on.

Seeing the big picture does not matter as much as you think it does, what matters most is the infinite number of little spots that build that picture.  The purposefully, perfectly placed small stories in the middle.  Those are what truly show God's faithfulness. 

In numerous places in the old testament it talks about the Babylonian Captivity, for anyone not familiar to that story this is the jist...Israel was continually ignoring God and was going to be punished by being exiled to Babylon, held captive, taken over by another country and no longer allowed to lead themselves for 70 years.  This got their attention and many wanted to run and hide, but God told them through the prophet Jeremiah that if they would surrender to Babylon they would live, but if they ran and hid they would die.

I say this to explain that the big picture sucked, the big picture was being exiled, away from the country and place you loved, and being ruled by another, but if you get past the big picture and zoom in more and more you can find one person, a man named Daniel.  Daniel is one such perfectly placed spot in the middle of the story.  You see Daniel loved the Lord and God placed him right alongside of the king and used this one person to impact the heart of several rulers who then were able to impact the lives and hearts of their kingdoms with God's Kingdom.

Zooming down through the messy picture of powertrips and war and captivity is a single spot of love and grace working and growing.  Daniel is not the only spot.  Ruth was one in the middle of the time of Judges. One story of one woman, who became great grandmother to King David in the lineage of Christ.  Paul was one in the middle of torturous persecution.  Jesus, the brightest spot, came in the midst of terrible Roman rule to an obscure place in the middle of a tiny insignificant town.  We are each one.  Each of us in the middle of what feels like a mess are a single spot, perfectly placed tangible examples of God's faithfulness to His people and His promises.

Life is ever changing, human leadership is ever changing, we are ever changing while constantly learning, growing, and being made new.  Some days we feel as if we are being held captive in our own Babylon, some days we feel as if we are basking in the sun of the promised land.  Some days two people looking at the same event are feeling both extremes simultaneously.  If given the chance to see the big picture we most assuredly would not look through it with the same eyes God is able to, so instead of worrying about the big picture, focus on the single spot you make in the midst and do that work He has given you well while ever glorifying Him.

Praying today that you not only see the spot you have been placed in, but grow to love the purpose you hold while there and see the beauty that is being made.  Pray for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

because you need to remember why you started

Once upon a time, before he reached his current level of maturity and contentment in his wisdom, my husband was 'famous' for saying he had read certain books when he truly had not.  In order to seem just as well-read as others in our small group he would always respond with oh yeah that's a good one when someone would talk about a very deep spiritual book they had read.  The day he finally confessed this, in the same small group environment, was hard for him I'm sure, but ended up being hilarious because it was not the big deal he had built up in his head.  No one automatically doubted his opinions because he had not completed the nonexistent list of required reads written by spiritual giant in order to become a spiritual giant.  To this day, the subject still comes up occasionally in a lighthearted way.

I am the opposite, I never claim to read something I have not, but I will completely avoid reading certain books or authors out of fear that I won't be able to grasp their points.  If I don't read them, then I won't have to face that fact that I'm not as smart as another who not only read it but can recount and build upon the philosophical meanings.  No, neither one of us was going about it the right way.

Because of this fear there are many things I have had on my to read list that have stayed there, one of which was A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson.  His passing this week and the many beautiful words others have said about him and his life's work inspired me to finally pick up this book that has been sitting on my night stand since last Christmas--my courage had lasted only long enough to put it on my wishlist.  It took exactly one paragraph for me to get hooked and exactly one day for me to be inspired in my own writing from reading his.

On page 1 of chapter 1--I told you it didn't take long--he categorizes the difficulties we face into three categories.  One category is the world and our inability to recognize the world's temptations in our lives and how, in sometimes subtle ways, it changes the way we live.

I talk a lot about the world and the way it defines words differently than how God defined them, words like joy and hope and that it's not just semantics, because how you say something to another is just as important as understanding the true meaning behind what you are trying to say.  And then there was last week, and the concept of looking for the beauty and purpose of where you are instead of letting the world convince you that another place is always better.

Peterson says that "one aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once."  As we live lives where we can fail over and over or get side tracked again and again which leads to questioning and doubts that we really are on the right path, we can't see the beauty of now without remembering why we started that way in the first place.

We do not start our jobs, we do not open new businesses, we do not initiate new ventures without being spurred on by something.  Whether it was a dream we always held in our hearts to accomplish, a calling we felt placed heavily on our hearts, or a gift that was given to us through the spirit that we felt compelled to use, we all started with excitement and dedication to the task.  Like that fresh faced early adult, we skipped in the world with our ideals and aspirations ready to conquer, assuming like Peterson said, it could be acquired at once because of the nobility of its cause.

So what happened?  Adversity.  You inevitably faced adversity.  Setbacks, challenges, failures, pitfalls, misfortunes, road blocks.  Whatever the word, and whatever the degree, something stood in the way and left you reconsidering not just your current state, but your entire existence in your present field. 

As you sit, in the middle of the questions and doubts, there are two choices.  The first is to quit and start over with something completely new and maybe, at times, that really is the right choice, but not because you failed but because you were guided elsewhere.  The second is to stop and remember why you started.

That idealistic youngster isn't someone to laugh at, it's someone to learn from because they hold the initial information, the reason for beginning.  Taking your early self's initiative and pairing it with your experienced self's knowledge creates the person God will used to accomplish the initial task He planned for you. 

If you find yourself bogged down in a place that began as a dream, but has begun to feel as the opposite I want to give you two steps to follow.

1.  Identify what is weighing you down

     Do not ignore the hardships, the little or big things that are standing in the way, whether it is a person, your attitude, finances, etc, give each and every one of them a name.  Call them out, write them down, look at them.  They, tangible or intangible, are real and until you seem them you cannot stand against them.

2.  Identify why you started

     Follow the trail back to the beginning.  What initiated your desire to start, what did you want to accomplish, what gift of grace lies in your skill set that made you the exact person God desired to finish this work. 

Your dream, calling, and/or gift did not run out or disappear, it is just buried in the muck of the world.

There is a reason Adversity is a word used by every player and every coach in every post-game interview ever done, because it is every where in every situation on any given day.  Just this morning my CrossFit coach was explaining his current training method as adversity training, putting our bodies through short periods of intense work and then rest so that they can learn to handle harder things in the future. 

God is training our hearts and minds to be able to, through Him, accomplish short periods of hard work so that we can handle harder things in the future.  The lie of the world that everything worthwhile is easy to accomplish is there so that we will quit doing the worthwhile things when they become hard.  But if you remember the words of Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, "the hard is what makes it great."

Paul knew this and reminded the churches of it often.  Keep striving under persecution, because that is spreading the gospel.  Do not worry about what I (Paul) have been through, what has happened to me has helped progress the gospel.  Our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed later.

Denzel Washington, in an acceptance speech at the NAACP Image Awards, spoke of striving forward and said if you "fall down seven times, get up eight."  Just do not try to get up on your own.

The work you are doing is Good work and God will complete it in you.  Let the beginning callings spur you through the current muck to get to the glory, His glory, revealing ending.

I am praying that you can remember, pray for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

for when you need to pay attention to what you already have

Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are located in southern Utah on either side of a town called Moab.  Our family of five, feet donned in brand new hiking boots, took one step after another over the red rocks and sand to take in views of and around arches created by God through the natural elements of wind and rain.  Decades upon decades, centuries upon centuries have slowly at times and quickly at others shaped a landscape that is ever changing and defied our sense of gravity as huge rock are upheld in ways that seem to be impossible because of the smallness of the pillars that keep them there.

From this land of red that towers over everything around it, we drove north to the area surrounding another natural phenomenon, a salt lake no where near an ocean.  The mountains here towered as well, but instead of the red of the south you could see the snow caps vibrantly contrasting against the dark gray of the rock and the green of the trees.  On a hike, that pretty much went straight up, we traveled from fall to winter and were greeted with a Narnia-like atmosphere as we reached the snow line as clumps of white clung to branches and flakes fell on our faces.  At the end we were given the breathtaking--and not just because of the cold--view of a mountain lake surrounded by snow reflecting the peaks in its waters.

After spending five days across the country in an area that touts one gorgeous view after another, it is easy for your heart to find fault in where you are or to find longing to be elsewhere.  I am ashamed to say that when we were in the airport on our way home and our sweet son wondered which passengers around us were here to come home and which were here to visit I scoffed that I wouldn't think anyone flew across the country just to visit Atlanta.  I, in that moment, crushed a bit of his spirit and love for a place that he still finds joy in visiting and gave an example of judgement and displeasure that I do not want to instill in their minds and hearts.

When we go somewhere, whether across the country or just a new friend's home, two reactions can occur, we either look down on it because it is not as good as where we are from or we elevate it because we think it is way better than what we have.  The goal would be to enjoy the beauty of other places or dig to find the beauty in other places while being able to simultaneously do both in your own backyard as well.  Whatever side we are standing on, we need to remember that every patch of grass has a weed or two and that any empty lot can hold a treasure inside.

When talking to the relative we stayed with a few of our nights, I learned that there were million dollar homes nearby whose views were nothing but factories and smoke stacks, that there are specific months of the year where they know they will not be able to see the mountains because the smog is too thick, and that there are certain sides of town that you do not want to live on, not because of crime or poor school districts, but because you will be swarmed by bugs the minute you step outside your door in the summertime.  This information did not take away from the beauty that was there, but it did bring reality to the perfect image my mind had almost instantly created on its own.

Real life, when we were looking at all the beauty the arches had to offer we were doing it wearing rain coats praying for just a bit of blue sky or just a relief from the drops falling in our eyes, but because we had flown across the US we were determined to not let the weather cloud our eyes from the beauty there was to see.  I began to think what if that were my every day, what if I refused to let the the 'weather' tempt my eyes to see anything but the beauty of where I am.

This idea was transferred to a different aspect of life this week while listening to an episode of The Pivot featuring Missy Wallace who founded and leads the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work which helps people see how their given gifts should drive their job search and how using those gifts you have been given can advance the Kingdom in any and every occupation.  When more than a minute is used to explain the way a spreadsheet compares to the character of God, you know she believes wholeheartedly in the concept.

Regardless of the goals we want to achieve and the places that we will be taken in the future, the here and now of where we are is the here and now for a reason and we must search for the beauty of it and our purpose in it.

It is not a coincidence that Colossians was in my reading when we returned home.  At the end of a book that I have read countless times and love so much was a verse that had not yet ever caught my eye.

Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it. Col. 4:17

This one line was written to a specific person but it is included in this holy text for us all.  We have been given a ministry to be done with the gifts we have been given.  It will not be easy, we will not be perfect at it, there are times where we will look at another in their work and become envious because we think their job is better or easier or more special.  There will be times we elevate ourselves because we think what we are doing is better or easier or more special.  In truth, they are all integral, because there is a need for His people in every aspect of life, every career, every hobby.  In each, His love can be shown and His gospel can be told and the grassroots movement that was started long ago will continue to flourish.

I can be just as thankful and overwhelmed by the beautiful mountains in the west as I am by the pecan trees right outside my door.  I can be just as purposeful to God in the painting of furniture, the typing of words, and the mothering of my children than is the doctor who helps them get better when they are ill.  You are no different.

I am praying for you, praying you see the beauty in the here and now, even if you do still long for the future and praying that you will be able to pay attention to the ministry you have received, so that you can accomplish it.  Pray for me.