A Swift Blow to the Head

For about a week I’ve been feeling like I recently got the wind knocked out of me.  Then yesterday I literally had a bucket of cleaning supplies fall on my head.  I just stood there trying not to lose my lunch and trying hard not to cry – although I could not keep the tears from filling my eyes.  I wasn’t sure what to do – should I lay down? Should I sit?  Should I call someone in case I pass out so the girls won’t be left alone with their mom laying limp on the floor – I know, I know – I’m terribly dramatic.  I had no idea what to do.  I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to be held by my big, strong husband and told that it was going to be okay and then I wanted to eat a bunch of cheesecake.  Exactly how I have been feeling all week.  In fact, today I made a pan of cheesecake only to accidentaly spill a cup of lemonade all over it ruining it.  Sad.
I wish I could tell you that I have some profound new understanding of my situation and what I’m supposed to learn through all of it – but I don’t.  I am still sitting here feeling exactly the same way I did at the beginning of this week – windless. 

I have been reading the book of Ruth for the last few weeks – little by little.  I believe that Naomi, and Ruth too for that matter, must have felt something similar although probably on a much larger scale.  I’m sure they felt, when they lost their loved ones, that they just had the wind knocked out of them.  They had left Judah because of a famine and went to Moab. While there, Naomi’s husband died and eventually also her two sons died.  They had left their home, the only place they had ever known and had ended up somewhere entirely new.  After some time there, the new place became a place of sorrow – a place of great loss.  Naomi had a moment, I am sure, where she didn’t know what to do next.  She must have been scared, confused, angry, sad – and a hundred other emotions to be sure. 

I feel that way right now.  I recently left a place that felt like home to me and ended up in another place where I knew no one.  Although I am still certain that I was following God’s leading in leaving my comfortable place and going to the place He called me, I am now fighting with the feeling that it might’ve been easier if I hadn’t gone there at all.  It would’ve hurt less if I had stayed where I was comfortable.  It would have saved myself and my family a lot of hurt if I had just ignored God’s call.  I wonder if Abraham ever felt like that?  Or if David ever thought it would’ve been easier if he had remained a shepherd boy instead of becoming the King that God desired.  Or if Peter, while sinking in the Sea of Galilee, thought maybe he should’ve stayed in the boat?  I know it’s not necessarily the right thing for me to be wondering right now – but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. 

I know that God’s purpose for me remains, and I know that He is as loving as He has always been.  I also know that I am a different person than I was three months ago and that God will work it all out for His glory.
He is, after all, still God.  He is just.  He is good.  Although I don’t understand the why of it all, or what I’m supposed to learn from it all – and maybe I never will – I DO know that I would follow Him there all over again.  A hundred times again – I would.  I love the Lord, Jesus Christ, with all my heart and soul and am committed to living wholeheartedly for him and to following wherever He leads.

There’s a song that I have recently fallen in love with that seems appropriate right now for me.  It’s called What Grace is Mine, written by Keith & Kristyn Getty and is on their album, “Awaken the Dawn“.  Here are some of the lyrics:

So I will go wherever He is calling me. 
I’ll lose my life to find my life in Him.
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies. 
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him.

Learn to do Good. Seek Justice. Help the Opressed…

I read this passage today in my quiet time.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  I know that it’s just sitting there waiting to mess me up entirely.  I hope so.  I can’t wait for God to mess me up.  Here’s what it said…

“Wash yourselves and be clean!  Let me no longer see your evil deeds.  Give up your wicked ways. 

Learn to do good.

Seek Justice.

Help the opressed.

Defend the orphan.

Fight for the rights of widows.

Come now, let us argue this out, says the LORD.  No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it.  I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.  If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat.  But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen, you will be destroyed by your enemies.  I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Isaiah 1:16-20

Not Good Enough…part 2

I’ve been thinking lately. If God’s going to do what God’s going to do regardless of what we do … does it matter what we do at all? Is our effort, planning, hard work, talent, skill, etc important at all in the scheme of God’s plan? It must be – or He wouldn’t give us the skills, abilities, knowledge to do those things.
I know that God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will – BUT He chooses to use us. In light of that…
I believe we should offer our everything. The very best we have to give. I can’t imagine anyone would disagree with that, but how often do we really live that way?
Like the story in John 12 about the anointing at Bethany. When Mary came with her very best perfume, in a very large bottle and poured it all out on Jesus feet – she was giving him everything she had. Holding nothing back. She didn’t bring whatever was closest to the door (most convenient), the one that was easiest to find or carry, she didn’t pick something off the street to bring to Jesus. She picked the very best, most expensive, most treasured thing she had to offer to her King. She wasn’t concerned with convenience, ease or cost.
She knew it would cost her. I wonder what she was giving up in order to bring that offering to Jesus. I’m guessing it was just as much a sacrifice as an offering. I’m guessing that it probably cost her a meal or two or ten – and it meant that she would be questioned, ridiculed, criticized . I wonder if she was afraid what people would think? I wonder if she was wondering how she would take care of her bills/food/family? I am wondering if she thought about anything else at all – other than the incredible privilege of bringing her very best to the One and Only?

I am reminded of a specific time in my life when I abandoned all in worship of that same One and Only. There was a mission trip I was a part of as a teenager – called Houston 2000. I honestly don’t remember what we did there. I don’t remember what the purpose of the trip was (sad, huh?). I only remember that it is there that Jesus met me where I was and taught me how to worship. Not just in song, but in lifestyle. Not just through music, but through thoughts and intentions and obedience. It was in that place that I understood for the first time what it felt like to abandon everything for the sake of getting just a little closer to the Savior. Usually when we pray or worship we bow our heads or get lower to the ground as a picture of reverence and devotion. That’s a wonderful thing. But that time God brought me to a place where I was standing on my tip-toes reaching up as high as I could desperate to be closer to him. My eyes were wide open and I was looking up to that ugly ceiling and sobbing and singing with everything in me that Jesus was my everything. Oh to go back to that place.

I have experienced many similar moments over these last 10 years – but none like that one. It was my first. Firsts are special. The first time I met Jesus was special – I will never meet Him like that again. The first time I held each of my daughters were special – I will never feel like that again with any of them. The first time I held my husband’s hand and looked into his eyes was special. Even though I love him more now than I ever thought possible – it will never feel like it did that first time.

That moment in Houston, TX I met Jesus in a way that I never have since. It was the moment that I understood that He wants my everything. Not just some of me – but all of me. Not just my best – but my VERY best. Not just 1 day a week, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anything less than that is not good enough. My last post was all about how I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of not-good-enough. I hope that won’t always be the case. I struggle EVERY day – EVERY moment – with trying to remember to give God my everything. My thoughts. My works. My family. My job. My relationships. My obedience. My words. My intentions. My feelings. I know He wants it all. I wonder if in our busy schedules, many responsibilities, and all the things we do FOR God we are missing the simple act of sitting at His feet giving Him everything we have heart and soul?

God deserves my best, expects my best and even demands my very best. Anything short of that is not good enough. I pray that today I will make every effort to serve him instead of others, to love him instead of myself, to focus on him instead of all the ‘things’ I need to get done. And I pray that I will learn to rely on His strength and instruction in order to do all of those things. I pray that my life today will be an act of worship of my One and Only. Anything less than that is simply not good enough.

Not Good Enough

I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of not good enough. How about you? It really gets me down a lot of the time. I feel like no matter how hard I work, or how much I prepare, or how badly I want to give my everything – there is always something that holds me back or drags me down. I feel like the more I know God, the more I know about Him – the more ‘not good enough’ I feel.
I don’t think that it’s such a bad thing to always want to give more, do more, be more for Christ. I actually think it’s a good thing for me to feel that way about myself.
BUT…here’s where it becomes a not-so-good thing. My incredibly high standards that I set for myself (and never feel like I come close to achieving) are starting to color my opinions of others around me. I often expect everyone around me to aim for those impossible standards too, and when they don’t I get really frustrated. I KNOW it’s my own issue – and that I should only worry about myself, but have been really struggling with it lately.

In John 21, Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him and Peter keeps saying yes – and Jesus keeps saying, then feed my sheep..then this happened…

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”


It’s interesting that in the middle of the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach Peter – about how to love Him – he gets distracted by someone else around him and wants to know what Jesus wanted to do with him. Jesus says basically that it’s none of his business – and that all that should matter to Peter is what Peter will do. I have been focusing a lot on this passage lately and have been making huge efforts to focus on my service, my job, my responsibilities as a follower of Christ and not worrying about everyone else’s responsibilities. It’s a battle I struggle with almost daily – and I intend to win.

Jesus says to me today…’as for you, Kim…you must follow me.”

My favorite quote

If you’ve known me for very long, you’ve probably heard my favorite quote. I actually have two. One is “The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground.” which goes along with my life verse “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” – Isaiah 7:9

The quote I’m talking about, though is this one…

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I first heard it over 10 years ago in high school drill team. It dramatically changed my life. I have probably quoted it over a hundred times since then – at least. I also about 5 years ago fell in love with Charles Swindoll – his book “The Grace Awakening” especially. I consider him to have had a huge impact on my walk with Christ. I LOVE that the man who has had the most impact on my spiritual walk is responsible for the quote that has had the most significant impact on my character.

I don’t know why I never looked it up to see who wrote it – but I am so glad I now know. Here is the whole quote:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.

It is more important than the past, than education,
than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes,
than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.
It will make or break a company … a church … a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day
regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.
We cannot change our past.
We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude …
I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.

~ Charles Swindoll

Thanks to Rachel Rowell for the information – it made my day (maybe even my week)

Pain is a good thing

I’ve decided that pain is a good thing. In our bodies, pain is an indicator of a problem that needs to be addressed. Without the pain, we don’t know anything is wrong. Without knowing the problem, we are likely to keep on ignoring it -and it’s likely to get worse. Sometimes much worse.
8 years ago, Ricky had a stomach pain that he couldn’t ignore. We thought he might have an ulcer or something of that sort – so after several days he finally went to the emergency clinic to have it checked out. They also thought it was an ulcer – but since he hadn’t been to the doctor in so long they went ahead and did a blood test. They called him later that day to tell him to run to the emergency room b/c he most likely had leukemia. Crazy, right?! If it weren’t for the stomach pain (which turned out to have nothing at all to do with the leukemia, and also went away immediately after seeing the doctor) he wouldn’t have found out about the leukemia – until probably much later. If he hadn’t found out as early as he did, his prognosis probably would have been much worse. See, pain is a good thing.

I think the same is true in our relationships. I think conflict and difficulty are important to the maturing of the relationship. Like muscles, they have to be put under strain in order to grow stronger. In a weird way, I’m grateful for all the fights, hard times and sad times we’ve gone through as a couple. Each year we grow stronger. Each year we become more solid. Every couple goes through hard stuff. It’s how you react to the hard stuff that determines the outcome.

I Will Go

I just got back from church. I help with the worship at the weekly youth service. Tonight was kind of a big night because most of our youth are leaving for Honduras on Saturday early am for a mission trip. We introduced a new song tonight – my very favorite song in the world right now – it’s called “I Will Go” by Starfield. It is incredibly appropriate for the youth right now – it’s all about being obedient to go wherever God leads you. I cannot begin to describe how much I love this song. After we sang it tonight I got shaky. It has always been my dream to “go”. I’ve always envisioned myself going all over the world to tell people about Jesus. However, I have never been anywhere. Seriously. I’ve been on a plane one time and that was a short 45 minute trip to Corpus Christi for a work trip several years ago. I’ve never been out of the country. In fact, I think the farthest I’ve gone from home is Illinois (for a family reunion when I was a kid).

Last Sunday morning we had a special time of prayer for the group that is about to leave for Honduras. Only moments into the prayer time, I found myself sobbing. For a bunch of reasons. One of which was that I so desperately wished that I could go with them. I was sad that I was not able to go. My mother went to Africa many years ago and I wanted to go with her. She almost went back a second time and I prayed hard that God would allow me to go then. There have been so many opportunities – and each time God has made it clear that I was not to go. I’ve often found myself acting like a little kid that wasn’t allowed to do something that their sister was able to do – pouty and whiny that I didn’t get to go. Sunday morning – God gave me an attitude check. I realized that although I have not been allowed to go up to this point – I have been allowed to “go” right here. For this season in my life, I am to go and tell to all of Jerusalem – and I have to be good with that. I am not called to Honduras right now – or Peru – or Africa. Although I still hold out hope that someday God will allow me to “go” a little further from home – right now I am excited about my Jerusalem. I am excited that God would choose to use me right here. I will be content with where I am – and allow God to use me to reach the people right around me. I will go – wherever He leads.

“I want to live for You, go where You lead me,
I want to follow You…
Take everything I am, I’m clay within Your hands
I will go, I will go, send me!”

The Importance of Journaling

I pulled out my old journals last night. Before I get started in what I want to tell you I need to make sure you understand what a journal is to me. It is more of a prayer journal than anything else. It’s a record of my walk with God and journey through life – acknowledging where God is, what He’s doing and what it has to do with me.

The first one I looked at I had actually started a few days before I met Ricky (my husband). It was so interesting to see what I had been learning and thinking during that time and how much it spoke to my situation. I then read through the journal that I kept during the time that I was pregnant with my daughter. Then the one that I started right after she was born. Good stuff. Emotional stuff.

The one that I most enjoyed, though was the one that I kept during the time that my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. He has been in remission now for 5 years, so no need to be concerned. I am only sharing this because I noticed something in that journal that was different from the other journals. In that journal, I wrote every day. Sometimes multiple times per day. I wrote longer entries than in the other journals and I acknowledged and praised God more often. I noticed that during that incredibly difficult and depressing time – I noticed God more often than during the wonderful times in my life (meeting the love of my life – and preparing for the birth of our daughter). I knew God better during that time – obviously because I talked to Him more often. I made time for God because He was the only stable, solid and good thing in my life at that point.

This is the stuff that James was talking about in James 1 – (consider it pure joy whenever you face trials). It is during these trials that we find out more about God than the surface level stuff. We get to experience for ourselves the love of the Father – the comfort and the strength that He gives. That’s why journaling is so important. Last night I was taken back to that time – through my own eyes. I remembered the emptiness I felt and the way God filled it with His love. It was like reliving the experience – but most of what I wrote focused on God – and not on me. It was like drawing closer to Him all over again.

Journaling is important – it helps us to remember the ways God has provided – it helps us to not make the same mistakes we did back then – to look forward and to be different – to be better.

Go find a journal and get started – I’ll do the same.

Changed lives change lives!

I just read a post from Steve Dilla called “Conceptually Speaking” (great title, by the way), and I wanted to share it with you. You can find it here.

In his post, he included the following quote from Erwin McManus: “people are not interested in sermons, they are interested in experiencing our experience with God.”

He followed up Erwin’s quote with this:

“Have you been changed by the Truth? If you have, you could sit down with me in any coffee shop, on any day, and tell me about that change – unprepared, unpracticed, just working verbally through what God is doing in your life. It is often the moment people experience the Holy Spirit working in someone else’s life that they long the most for it. It is when our public speaking comes full force from our spiritual journey that the doors swing wide open for life change.”

WOW – really well said!

People won’t take us seriously unless we speak from experience. Why should they? I wouldn’t. Speaking from experience gives us a certain authority on the subject. I can dispute ideas and theories all day long – but when someone speaks from their own experience – from their heart – I am WAY more likely to care about what they are saying.
BUT – in order to speak from experience – my primary focus HAS to be on my personal relationship with God. Seems like a DUH right? In ministry, there are so many things that need to be done – that won’t get done unless we do them – that our own spiritual health sometimes takes a backseat. When we make them our primary focus, we become less effective as influencers. When our primary focus is on God and knowing Him better and loving Him more – then we will be able to love and lead others in a real and powerful way.

Leverage

I read a post today from Jason Berggren who has made a recent announcement about changing careers to pursue his passion. Here is a paragraph:

“Truth be told, the thought that in 10 years I could be looking in the mirror wondering why I didn’t try to pursue my passion more aggressively also haunts me. We have one life. Let me say that once again. We have one life. One life to leverage all that we can to make a difference with all that we have.”
The above paragraph – especially the last sentence – really hit home with me. Not because I am realizing that there is something more that I am supposed to be doing – but because I’m doing it now. My entire life up to this point has been preparing me to do what I’m doing now. I am absolutely certain that God has put me in the place that I am “for such a time as this”. (I’ve been really taken with the story of Ruth lately – incredible story – you should check it out.)
The underlying passion throughout my life has been music. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive without it. Over the last 3 years (especially this last one) I’ve been learning how to worship through music. Really worship. When I’m worshiping in that way it’s like I’m doing what I was always meant to – like it’s the reason I was created – and that I’m preparing for eternity when I’m singing to God in worship. I am constantly amazed at how much I’m learning in the middle of this ministry. I am just SO honored to be a part of it. I don’t understand why God has allowed me this opportunity – but I am definitely going to give it everything I have – for as long as He lets me do it (forever would be fine with me).
I’ve also never felt this sense of urgency before – that if I don’t tell them about Christ – no one will! My husband and I prayed last night that God would give us scripture to pray for the people of Roanoke – we were drawn to the story of John the Baptist and the calling of the first disciples. When God said, “follow me” – they immediately did. Not because He looked cool, but because they already knew who He was and when He came to town they were ready to give their lives to Him. John the Baptist came first. To tell them. There was something different about him. He was wild and obviously passionate. He was constantly saying “I am not the Christ – but I can tell you that He’s coming – and you won’t believe how wonderful He is!” That’s my passion right now. I want to connect with the people of Roanoke in such a way that they will know that I have passion – that there is something different about me. That there’s something different about Compass.
I have gone off on a tangent – I know. Here’s one last verse from Jason’s blog. At Compass we’ve come across this verse a few times in the last few months – it’s really meaningful to me.
“And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:10-12