Category: How about that

When You’re Afraid Afraid

It’s not uncommon for me to go arms-a-flailing if I think I’m being attacked by a swarm of bees…or a fly. It’s rather grandiose and entertaining to those around me who stare motionless for a half a second, then proceed with a look that says, “What the heck was that?” Many just come on out and say it. When it comes to flying bugs, let’s just say… I’m punchy.

Instinctive fear, I suppose. If it’s flying, I’m flighting.

Fear. So many things to be afraid of. So many things we are exposed to that cause us to get punchy about the future. We might look cool on the outside, but inside our stomachs are full of flying insects and our invisible arms are flailing hoping that we can somehow swat the fear of whatever might be coming our way.

Fear. So many things to hide from. The past. The mistake. The secret sin. Those things swarm us and we whip around looking for where it’s coming from only to find that it really does allude us, and then we cower, waiting for it to come at us again. It’s exhausting.

Fear of what was. Fear of what is. Fear of what could be.

 

IMG_4085

Recently, I went on another hike at a nearby heaven-of-a-place in the heart of Nashville. For this Okie, these are mountains. They are covered with trees. Huge, gorgeous trees. Breathtaking trees. This particular day, I played a podcast that a friend had recommended. A local pastor, Scott Sauls, was on deck as I heaved up the hill one more time.

It was one of those messages. One that came right place, right time. Here’s the takeaway.

He was teaching on the glory of God that came to the shepherds at the time of Christ’s birth. And what do they say? “Do not fear!” Riiiiiight. Apparently the Greek says they were “afraid afraid.” Double afraid. Doozy afraid. Really, really afraid.

I’ve known afraid afraid. Not bugs, but the world of the “What if…..” I hate that world.

But the Glory that shown around them ushered in fear. That Light of God exposed the darkness of the world, thus exposing our vulnerability. The Light that walked in the Garden with The Couple exposed them when they sinned, and they hid in fear.

The Light revealed what Adam and Eve ushered in…. we are all going to die.

We are exposed.
Vulnerable to the instinctive knowledge of our tenure on earth.
And we are terrified.

Sauls said there was the disorienting light that shown and scared the wits out of them, and the comforting light that offered the redemption of the world in a baby.

This light and it’s disorienting/comforting manifestation is made reconciled in one word: Glory.

The Glory of God shown round and exposed all that was. The Glory of God shown round and comforted all, giving peace and favor on all who believe.

(enter revelation in the hike)

When Sauls kept saying “the Light of God” did this and that, and it is the Light of God that exposes the fact that we are indeed vulnerable, temporary, weak and powerless, I was….. RELIEVED!

I realized my instinctive fear and concern for my life isn’t from a place of lacking faith or weak trust, but from the fact that I’m a human who has seen the Light and what it has exposed. It is natural to realize that our lives are fleeting, small, open, exposed, vulnerable, because it is what God revealed to us through the sin of Adam. And, therefore, it is supernatural of us to realize that our lives are bolstered, cared for, favored, blessed, lavished upon, and redeemed because it is what God reveal to us through the grace of Jesus.

Same Light. Same truth.

Vulnerability. Death. Comfort. Life.

IMG_3925(The A-ha!)

If then, all those passing, jarring anxiety-juiced moments when
“was that a lump?”
“what if one of my kids gets sick?”
“does he love me?”
“am I beautiful?”
“am I worthy?”
“do I matter?”
“I’m not like her.”
“I am weak and afraid”

Those moments, when they pass through our minds because of our vulnerable and exposed state, we must say one thing:

God’s Glory is Greater

God’s Glory is Greater, loftier, weightier, heavier, stronger than any shame, any fear, any vulnerable place or thought. The Light that exposes our darkest fears and sin, is the same Light that infuses itself in our souls providing redemption, peace and marks us with favor and blessing.

We are as vulnerable as we will ever be because of the revelation given to us by the Light; and as safe as we will ever be in that same Light.

The weight and majesty of His glory both reveals our tragic weakness and yet lovingly holds us in his Almighty greatness. We cannot escape our vulnerability, and as those of The Way, cannot escape the love of this great grace. We are worse off than we realize and safer than we could dream. This is the great paradox of the revelation of God’s Glory.

Rest deeply in your vulnerable state my friends.

So, You Don’t Have a Tragic Story. Me Either.

1984 6th grdI’ve heard it preached like a million times and it goes something like this:

“Jesus uses the talentless, the forgotten, the screwups, the marginalized, the poor, the least likely to make his kingdom grow and expand and to take his gospel around the world. He will use your weakness and the little you have to offer for himself.”

Something like that.

 

And I always cringe. I want to adjust myself in my chair and I try not to look around because I know people are looking at me because they know.  I kinda scrunch up my face and begin to feel a sense of “Well, looks like I’m out of the game.”

 

Now, before you think I think too highly of myself, I don’t. What I mean when I feel like “I’m out of the game” is that I grew up in a upper-middle-class home on the north side of the city. I went to the “rich” schools and got poked at by my friends on the south side because I was “rich.” My parents are Christ followers who love each other and are approaching 50 years of marriage. Being raised by them was both fun and easy. I have two siblings whom I love and have more good memories with them than bad. I wasn’t bullied. I never had want for money. I had plenty of food and clothes. I had more friends than I could shake a stick at. I cut my baby teeth on the leather Bible cover and the back of the wooden pew. I was never abused or hurt. I was never lonely. I didn’t go without normal pains like friends hurting my feelings, or loss, but I don’t have a tragic story that has left me feeling like I’m a nobody with nothing to offer.

Quite the opposite. I was always told I was a somebody, dearly loved and valuable, full of talent and could be or do whatever I wanted. I was set.

 

 

While I heard that preached many times, I also heard this:

“You’ve been given gifts and talents by God. Some are in your nature and some are spiritual gifts to you by the Holy Spirit. Now, we need to discover those and God will show you how he can use you to advance his kingdom! Go and make his name famous. Do something! Do something great in those talents God has given you. Be strong! Don’t let your weaknesses stop you!”

Got it.

So, God uses the ugly and untalented and least likely, but then he wants to infuse us with talents and make us awesome warriors for the kingdom so that we are strong for him, but be sure to keep your weaknesses close so that you stay humble, but be strong in your talents and gifting and make sure you are taking time to hone those in so you can do a great work.

I’m getting mixed messages here.

Out of one side of our Church’s face we preach that you don’t have to be somebody to do something. In fact, the worse off you are, the better it will be for you in what you will do for the the kingdom. Out of the other side, we couple that with the elevation of the most talented and the most dynamic and and then they, in turn, tell us we don’t have to be somebody to make a difference.

What is going on?

Which is it?

A nobody or a somebody?

 

I know, I know, I get it. But there is still the feeling in me that I’m at risk at being the least compassionate, the most Pharisaical, and the least like Christ because I’m not the broken, abused and marginalized person.

Preachers do not mean to do this. I know. But, it’s very much a thing. And those of us who have been raised the way we have with little tragic tales to tell, begin to feel like we won’t be as effective or as used as others. We get the sense that we won’t understand or won’t connect. And, you’re right. I can’t really connect with a woman who has come out of prostitution or has had an abortion or has been raped. I can’t relate to parents who abandon me or a husband that has walked out. I don’t have the tragic story marked by a redemptive meeting with God. I have some tragedies, but my life isn’t marked by a life of trouble and heartache.

 

I got saved at nine years old at church camp. We all did.

 

But, here’s what I do have.

I have a story of a woman who has testimony to what a family looks like who has been devoted to Christ for generations. I have testimony that when the “perfect” family, or life, has a tragic moment, we cling to Jesus, and to each other. I have testimony that when I chose a life of sin, and I had known the Truth my whole life, God is still in the business of forgiveness and redemption. I have testimony that generations can love and serve a great God for the advancement of His kingdom. I am living proof that the generational blessing is a real thing and I can point to a family tree, though not perfect, that has deep roots, firmly founded in Christ. I can tell you it works.

Stay true.
Stay steadfast.

I can tell you the Word of God is true, and even though I might not be able to sympathize with you, I know a God who can, and does. Even though I don’t share the exact same story, I understand grace, and love and forgiveness. I am a living testimony to the great Word of God being taught from one father to the next and then to his children and that the years in church and Bible college have armed me with the Word of God, rich and deep, for my life and those lives around me. It has saved me from more sin than I care to remember that I even thought about committing.

I am proof that though I don’t fit the bill of the “least of these” and the marginalized, I am still someone in desperate need of a Savior, who saves me from my pride, and a million other things. I am willing to give my all to God, and use both the talents and gifts he has given me, and the failing of my human weaknesses so that he may be glorified.

 

We are all in this together. We have all fallen short.

You, with the shattered life story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

You, with the pretty story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

Jesus hung out with a blue-collar hot head, a dirty government tax man, a greasy betrayer, prostitutes, and status seeking brothers. But, he also hung out with a Pharisee, a good man who loved God, but had some questions. He had a doctor write two of the books of the New Testament. He saved a well-to-do, dyed-in-the-wool Law abiding man (though a murderer thinking he was doing the right thing), and made him one of the most famous ministers of the gospel the world has ever known. Rich and powerful women advanced the gospel with their generous giving. Prominent men and women, those we don’t know their stories, made it possible for the gospel to march it’s way through the world.

The rich, the poor, the lonely, the one with the awful story, and the one with the pain free story, we all need him. We are all loved and used by him if we are filled and desperate for him.

Your story is yours.
Mine is mine.

But, both of ours plays a vital role in his

 

To God be the glory.

My New Year’s Resolution

Well, Happy New Year! I realize my blogging has been sparse, to say the least. I’ve been busy. I have four kids and, um, well I’ve have FOUR kids. With that said, here is the time of year we all make our new year’s resolutions. We decided we WILL lose those 40, er, 15 pounds, and we will change our diet and paint that room and not eat that and do that and give here and volunteer there.

It happens every year. And this year is no different.

So, I will now share with you my resolution.

This year I’m going to….

not tell you what I’m going to do.

I watched this video about goal setting and the guy basically said if you spell out your goal to someone and they whoop and holla about it then it gives you the satisfaction that the goal is completed when it ain’t.

So that’s it’s. There’s my new year’s resolution. I’m NOT going to tell everyone when I’ve decided to set a goal and make changes because I AM one of those people who LOVES hearing how FABULOUS and BRILLIANT I am when I come up with something AMAZING. I love the applause of man. This year, I’m keeping all my amazing-ness to myself. So don’t tell me how cool I am about NOT telling you so I don’t get a big head. M’kay? K.

When it’s all done, and I’ve completed my goals, then you can whoop and holla about me. And, if I don’t finish my goals

well…you’ll never know.

Every Spiritual Blessing?

During Bible Study last Thursday we looked at Ephesians 1 where it says we have every spiritual blessing in Christ. So, I got out the white board and together we made a list of what we knew to be spiritual gifts in Christ. Once we got started, we got on a roll.

Here’s what we came up with then I added the Scripture later.

Then I got home and thought of some more.

Then I posed the question: If we can see this truth, why do we not live like it’s true?

I can tell you, it’s made me think. You?

Folding the fitted sheet with flair!

Recently, my friend Christi Donaldson tweeted “I’m not good at folding fitted sheets.” To which I responded, “oo, oo, I’m great at floding fitted sheets! I’ll have to show you my trick next time we’re doing laundry together. …. wait.” And yes, I typed “floding”. Lame

So, I decided since Christi and I don’t do laundry together, I’d make a little video. Then she shoots me a link to a YouTube video that some lady did on folding the fitted sheet. Here, go ahead and watch it if you want, but let me make three statements about that video.

1. It’s done professionally.

2. It’s not as funny.

3. She has ironed sheets! Who irons their sheets?? Maaaybe if you own a B & B, but come on.

4. It’s E-D-I-T-E-D. Mine, is REAL LIFE BABY!

Ok, that was four statements, but whatever.

So, here is your “How to Fold a Fitted Sheet” by Me, the expert sheet folder.

It Was One of Those Moments (and One of My FAVORITE posts)

There are some days when I walk by the mirror I am shocked that I’m no longer a smokin’ size two. I think, however, if I was, I would look more like a Holocaust victim than a mom of three. But, that is beside the point.

What I’m getting at is that my inside, my Invisible Me, as Kim calls it, isn’t the same person in the mirror all the time. Now, before you go thinking I’m having a pity party, hang with me. This is going somewhere.

Saturday night I was kickin’ it at church with my mom and her sister and brother who came to visit. Afterward, we went down the front and were talking to our worship pastor, Trent (who I’m sure will be one of the lead worship pastors in heaven along side Bono). BUT, we were talking and laughing about who knows what, something about our age and how we (read Trent) can say something happened in his life 40 years ago. He was three (sorry man, I gave away your age) but he can remember it.

Trent asked my mom if it was true that time went faster the older you got. She assured him it did. And then she said one of the most profound things I have ever come out of her mouth (and trust me, I’ve heard A LOT come out of her mouth…love you mom)

She said, “You know how you never really ‘feel’ old?”

Trent and I nod simultaneously.

She continued, “It’s because you were created to live forever. Your spirit doesn’t age.”

We stood speechless for a pregnant moment.

Wow mom.

Trent and I began sayin, “Yeah, you’re right! Man, that makes sense.” Then I said, “Pinch, poke you owe me a coke.” (not really)

But, think about that. How beautiful is that– our spirits don’t age! Our outward shells are failing. Knees giving out. Crow’s feet scratching at our eyes. Waist lines expanding. Gravity taking over.

But, that Invisible Me stays young, vibrant, alive in Christ. She is everything my physical body wants to be. And one day, Invisible Me will be raised with Christ, and

she. will. be. glorious.

Thank you, mom. That’s one for the record books.

The Six List

There for awhile I was a Mary Kay Consultant. Yes, yes I was. I learned some great things from that company while working with them, one of which I’ve decided to incorporate right back into my life.

You see, Mary Kay was a mighty fine business woman. She knew how to do what when and how to teach others to do it. One of her methods was to simplify your day. My life is becoming increasingly busy. Not like flying-around-the-city busy, but I have many things that I need to focus on over a week. I have things I need to plan out, such as, a writing schedule, homeschool stuff, housework, ministry, marriage, you know the drill. There’s a lot in my mind that needs to be reigned in so that something won’t fall through the cracks.
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It’s called the Six List. Mary Kay began a practice early on of writing down, the night before, the Top Six things she needed to get done on the next day. If something was important enough to make it to the Top Six, then it was going to get done. If it fell below that number, she would put it at the top of the next day’s Top Six.
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This is the trick I’m going to incorporate back into life. It simply puts what’s flying around in my mind down in a concise, manageable number and amount of work. Yes, it has to flow well. I can’t put down “paint the living room” and “write ten blog posts” on the same day. Won’t work. Won’t happen. Just stick to the Top Six Most Important Things. If writing is important, and maybe it’s your blog, then put down “One blog post” as one of your items.

I’ve decided they can’t be in order of importance because I need to have that sense of a little bit of free flowing, but if you need to list it that way, well then, alrighty.

I’ve just taken a regular ol’ sticky note pad. I write down those six things and stick it to my desk right here by my computer. You can stick your list anywhere, but keep it handy. Might work best in your computer calendar, or your paper calendar (which, by far, is better than a computer calendar, just sayin’).

What’s on your Six List?

On Monday I talked about how I think about all the people I don’t know, never knew, and will never know. Sometimes I walk around my neighborhood and am overcome by all the “strangers.”

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a thinker. If you know me in the for real life, you also know I don’t shy away from a good gatherin’ of fun people, or boring people, whatever. I love being in the mix, being in the know, and laughing loudly with those I’m with.

However, if you know me even better, you’d know I love the quiet solitude. I love a new spiral in my lap with the perfect pen that writes the right way. I love to think long and hard about things. I love to mull topics over and over and study a subject for weeks on end. I’m a student at heart. A learner. A ponderer of all things ponderable.

The Bible is the best subject I can find. I tear it apart looking for themes, topics, passages that ring truth from Beginning to End. If it’s in there, I want to know about it.

You might not know it if you knew me in passing, but my waters run deep in thought. This is where my God meets me, in thought. I hear Him in my thoughts. He speaks to my mind because that’s how He wired me.

He also speaks to me there because I have surrendered it to Him a half a million times. My mind is not only my greatest strength, but my greatest weakness. Many times I have to “throw of that which hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” me. But, in His grace, this is where we meet. We “think” together and I hear His voice in my “reading voice,” you know, the voice you hear in your head when you are reading. 🙂

I’m a thinker, a laugher, and ponderer.

What are you deeper down?

Swimming at 35

I went swimming yesterday, and well, let’s just say this body ain’t what it used to be.

We arrived to see a four foot pool wrapped up with a nice, high fence. Already I like it. More than that, the pool was tucked away in the woods of Oklahoma on some land that only the airmen from the local air base could see in, that is, if they looked out the AWACS as it flew over.

However, this was no ordinary four foot pool. No, this one came with a 10 foot slide. Do you know how many years it’s been since I went down a water slide? Let me rephrase. Do you know how many pounds it’s been since I went down a water slide? About 20. Years too. But, I couldn’t resist.

First one: by myself, on my butt. wee!!
Second one: I grabbed Monkey, we went down, I flopped the left side of my face on the water as we hit so her face wouldn’t go in. But… it did. Sorry Monkey.

Oh, there were more.

This pool belong to my friend Janna’s in-laws, so she knows the ropes of this slide. We’re bobbin’ around in the water, looking like moms, loving on Monkey in her little floaty, when the kids want us to try the “on-your-back-head-first-into-the-water-slide”.

“Oh kids, we can’t do that!” Well, Janna did.

I watched her climb the stairs, step onto the platform, sit down and begin the yoga moves to, first, get backward, and then second, lie back. A few adjustments with the swimsuit, a few wiggles of the hiney, slowly lie down and…

“AHHHH!!” squeeeeek! ooph! splash!

I laughed so hard watching her come down that slide! Of course, we watch the wee ones slide down gleefully into the water, and our inner spirits, our inner us who doesn’t age, figures we can do the same thing.

nar nar

Janna decides I need a turn. “Oh, no. Really. I’m watching the baby.”

Up the stairs I go. Sit down. Turn around. Pick a bale of cotton.

The sitting down was the easy part. Luckily, some other older person was thinking because there were some handles on either side of the slide to grip on to. I held tight and leaned back slowly. Seeing as how it was a slide that faced east and the sun was at about 10:45, it was beaming down as to taunt me and to make fun of me and to throw me a curve. Not only was I trying to lie on my back, head first down a slide, I couldn’t see a darn thing.

I flattened onto the slide, stretched my arms as far as they could go, craned my neck around to see if I could get one more look. Cutting through the sunlight was a few bobbing heads in the glittering water. Janna yells, “Come on, Nat! You can do it!”

My life, well, more like my day flashed before my eyes. If I got hurt how was I going to get home? What if I busted my back at the end of the slide and bruised? What if I just looked stupid? Well, that was a given.

Another voice, “You have to let go!”

Right.

At this point, my body is practically half way down, so letting go is simply letting gravity take the rest of me into the pool. I do it.

I remember screaming, “Oh, help me Jesus!” as my body skidded a little where the water couldn’t quite make it up the side of the slide, then I bounced, er flopped off the end, and went flailing into the water.

Now, here’s the thing. Had I done that same thing at, oh 15 or even 18 years of age, I doubt I would have “felt” the entire experience. The body just doesn’t really behave like my spirit wants it to. It hurt a little and I’m sure I looked like what I thought I looked like, but hey, what’s a little bump and loss of dignity when you’re having fun!

Next time, I’ll do it again, and then maybe try something crazy like handstands under water.

"That’s Like a Dollar an Hour!" Napoleon Dynamite

I decided to make a little money. I mean, I have a lot of little nick-nacks and junk that surely other people would want to purchase. Honestly, who doesn’t want a little snowman mini-cookie jar that would only fit about four Oreo’s?

What about a sweet, nearly new copy of Top Gun on VHS? Come on, that’s a good deal! There was also some sort of material I found that I used to cover my piano with once. Old wine glasses, partially used candles, one pair of shoes, used florescent lights (with bulbs!) and a weed eater that doesn’t work.

So, I hauled out all this out to my drive way, not my garage, because I don’t like people nosing around in my garage when the stuff in there isn’t marked with a price tag, for the love….

A couple of tables were all set up in my living room for a quick and easy move outside. Item’s marked, coffee brewed, change in pocket, BRING ON THE SHOPPERS!

“chirp, chirp” (crickets, you get the idea)

I seriously think I sat through the lamest garage sale I have ever given. Not only that, but hurricane force winds decided to blow in and blow over and shatter one, count ’em, one of said wine glasses from a wedding gift, twelve years ago, candlesticks included.

Oh, a few people came and bought some stuff. Poor things, when they were riding away, all I wanted to yell as I was waving was, “Sucker!” But, I didn’t because that would be rude, and I needed them to keep driving away with their new stuff.

I did get a hug from one lady visit from a near-by city. She was nice. We’re best friends now. I forget her name, but she was nice. Visiting her sister, you see. She bought a plastic 3-drawer unit thing. Thanks. That’s three dollars.

Hey! There’s some people! Dang, they speak Spanish and I feel like a ninny. “Um, sure,” I say, so eloquently. “You’re baby is lovely.” And there they go with toy and baby swing.

More wind, more coffee, no money. Some came by and chit-chatted about the wind and all the other sales around the area. Others didn’t say a word and just looked over the items and silently walked back to their cars without a “Hello” or “Have a nice day,” but most people were nice enough.

One guy had on a shirt that said, “Bimbo,” and I’m not sure if it was an insult or a soccer shirt. Still wondering. Others had on shorts, t-shirts, skirts, flip-flops, hats and still others needed to be on an episode of “What Not to Wear” (myself included).

All in all it was pretty lousy. I made fifty bucks. Yep, fifty. At noon, I loaded all my stuff back up in boxes, drug in the tables and chalked it up as “one of those days” and swore “I’ll never do this again.” The upside? I made fifty bucks and got a little sun.

Now, what to do with all this junk….