Leading with Light: Propel

I am so honored to have had the opportunity to share a little bit of my changing mission field over at Propel Women, the amazing women’s leadership initiative launched by Christine Caine.  Their mission is, “Helping women internalize a leadership identity & fulfill their purpose, passion & potential.”

Excerpt from Leading with Light:

My father and grandfather were preachers.  I remember mission Sundays where I would hear the visiting missionaries recount stories of sharing their faith in forests and deserts.  In fact, as a girl in elementary school, I felt called to the mission field and even walked down the aisle one mission Sunday to commit my young self to that path.

Little did I know.

Won’t you join me over at Propel to read the rest of the story?

Pray Anyways

She was so sick.

We had walked through days of fevers and lethargy with her and she was wiped out.  At five years old, days strung together with fever is too much.

So Monday night we kneeled down by her bed for bedtime prayers and asked our God for help.  {I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121}

We boldly asked for His hand to hold her and to relieve the pain and the fever and the exhaustion.  We prayed believing.

Then she woke in the middle of the night with another 104 degree fever.  We dosed with medicine and ice packs, and she limped into bed with us.  When we woke that morning, I told her how sorry I was that she was still so sick here on day 5.  She looked up at me, weakly smiling, and offered, Well mommy, we’ll just keep praying and praying and praying until I get better.

She teaches me every single day.  She teaches me about bravery.  She teaches me about persistence.  She teaches me about deeper faith.

And so I crawled out of bed and got on my knees and we offered up another offering of prayer to our Heavenly Father.  {Your prayers have come as a memorial offering to God. Acts 10:4}

Sometimes that is what prayer is: an offering.  Given with every ounce of faith you have.  Or beyond.

Tonight, just one week later, I found myself on my knees at the door of another child.  With an even bigger offering.

Praying beyond any wisdom I possessed but trusting in a God that sees and knows and can answer in ways I can’t even see to ask.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LordAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…  Proverbs 3:5

I don’t know what you are up against today.  But there is an answer.  Maybe one you can’t see your way to through the hurt or tears or anger or frustration or confusion or exhaustion.  God sits exalted above all of the dust and din that surrounds us.  {For everything in heaven and earth is yours…You are exalted as head over all.  Chronicles 29:11}

It may take everything in you to get down on your knees and beg for answers or healing or a reprieve or restoration, but find a way.  And after crying out in the evenings, when the morning comes, and you still don’t see a way out, you keep praying and praying until it gets better.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:18

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

How Could I Ask For More?

So the trees were all there dancing in the breeze.  Rustling their leaves above the noises of kids playing well below their branches while the moon looked on and the sun fell.

I stood still.  Scared any movement would frighten this moment away.  I struggle living in the moment.  But the moment had me wrapped up in its tangles and I was in no rush to break free.

Our Lenten gratitude ribbons danced on the gate in their blues and greens and pinks and yellows and inspired little bit to her own free-form, wind-blown dance.

I felt such utter gratitude, in the deepest marrow of my bones, as I breathed it all in.

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Grateful for little tee-ball players rounding their first bases of the season.

Grateful for snatches of real conversation held with friends so dear to me over the melee of children’s banter.

Grateful for a church committed to the neighbors on their street and the ones all the way over in Kenya.

Grateful for a husband home safely smelling of the land and sporting three day stubble.

Grateful for the first swim of the spring and the pink cheeks reflecting hours soaking up the sun.

Grateful for children who listened and obeyed and laughed and played and helped and worked and slept and swam and ate and danced and prayed.

Grateful for even the bloodied lip because it meant we were alive and dirty and playing and falling down and getting back up to do it all over again.

 

A song played on college radio two decades ago, and it ran on repeat in my head tonight.  It’s all I could think.  It’s all I can say…

There’s nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon
Waking to the sunlight, being cradled by the moon
Catching fireflies at night, building castles in the sand
Kissing mama’s face goodnight and holding daddy’s hand
Thank you, Lord, how could I ask for more?

Loss and Life

 

tulipsYesterday was sad.

Sad and happy.

Dark and light.

I’d been praying for this one friend.  Every morning believing for big miracles.  You see, for all my childhood up close and personal with divorce, I haven’t seen a lot of it in adulthood.  Not up close with those dearest to me.  And her news this weekend of packing her things had me down on the floor.  Heart rending with hers.

Then another dear one to me facing death up close and personal again.

I then I read about this momma who has led a brave, press into Jesus, fight against C lost her battle.  In lieu of flowers you can help support the four littles she had to leave.

And I swing wildly at the skies and cry on Bray’s chest and beg the God of all mercy to pull back a little of that veil between there and here so I can understand or put words to the heartbreak and questions and gulf of sorrow.

I kept moving.  It was Sunday and I had life and I was grateful, so we planted.  I took the eldest and we bought these boxwood plants and filled up the empty bed at the front of my house that now welcomes neighbors over.  He picked out happy yellow and white blooms to settle in front of our tree.  We dug holes and I was muddy earth from head to toe.

I took the youngest to the grocery and we bought food we could grill outside and picked out big beautiful fruit.  He asked to buy flowers to set in a vase on our beat up kitchen table, and I said, sure, because we should do that today and not wait until we’ve saved more money.

We all five sat outside and ate our juicy burgers and thanked our God for the life He has allowed us to live that involves new growth and messy faces.  We tied our Lenten thankfulness ribbons around the gate with simple offerings of gratitude that nearly leveled me all over again.

I read these words out of the pages of my Bible early this morning, these words of a prophet speaking life over a broken community commanding them to “Be Strong!”   He says:

This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’  This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.  I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2)

I don’t understand why and I haven’t seen past that veil, but I know that God works all things together for good for those that love Him (Romans 8:28) and I will trust that and say thank you for every spot of dirt and tulip bloom I have.

The Construction Site

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This is a picture just outside my office.  I’m working in a brand new office building this year.  A new campus.  It’s lovely.

Well, parts of it are.  The gym is finished and amazing.  The main food court is completed and serving a global explosion of cuisine.  Most of my building is done, but on my walk to the front door each day I pass ten feet tall safety fences and PPE-required signs while men in hardhats make sure I don’t cross the barrier to the unfinished.

This muddy mucky construction mess is my view for a few more months.  Even as I walk out of a break room with freshly ground coffee and into a conference room with state of the art technology.

It’s unfinished.

I sat staring out at the scaffolding and thought how much it resembled my life.

There are really pretty parts of my life.  I have a good faithful husband and three healthy kids.  (They’re the tricked out conference room.)  I have a great job I enjoy and work with people who have become personal friends.  (They’re the freshly ground coffee.)  I get to write books and blogs and kind people have me come and encourage audiences of women to lead well and hang in there.  (That’s the new building.)

But it seems there’s muddy mucky scaffolding over other areas still raw and undone and into which you should not wander without full personal protective equipment.

Areas like unloading the worst of myself on my husband and kids even though they love me more than anyone.  Areas like lacking self-control about what I spend or what I eat or what words I choose to use.  Areas like offering up judgment instead of mercy and inflexibility instead of forgiveness and selfishness over service.

Yuck.

Even surveying all that mud and debris and piles of unfinished material, I hope.

I still hope.

Unveiled Faces

I serve a II Corinthians 3 God that offers hope of transformation day-by-day.  A transformation that leads to ever-increasing glory; His glory:

Such confidence we have through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God…For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold… Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

We know that the construction at long last will be done.  The scaffolding comes down.  The fences are packed away.  The dirt is replaced with lush grass and trees.  The roar of power tools is replaced with birdsong.

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Every day I walk to work and see the progress.  And every morning I wake and see a new thing He is doing in me and know there is progress.  It’s slow, but it’s worth the wait.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5

Photo Credit: Dallas Morning News