Going Through the Motions

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My original plan for this post was to share my goals for the year and the steps I planned to use to meet those goals. As I have had a couple of conversations and then read a few posts and articles on social media, I decided honesty and vulnerability in a New Year’s post would be better than only showing my Type A, goal driven, anal retentive tendencies. You know what I mean, the “Here is the polished, I have it all together side” kind of post. This morning a friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook which states “We need more women who are willing to say, I’ve been there and I’m here. You can always talk to me without judgement.”

So here’s the hard truth. 2016 was a wretched year and I was thrilled to see the clock tick down to midnight and welcome in 2017. Last year the Lord took me through a breaking process and reality is He is still breaking several things in me. I am stubborn as a mule, so this process may take longer in me than in another person. Even though there were times I could see the Lord at work, I spent a great deal of last year simply going through the motions. Many things in my faith that I hold dear either went by the wayside, or I simply marked them off on my to-do list like the obedient, Type A personality I am. I put on a mask with a fake smile and simply did what was expected. There were times last year when I didn’t feel like praying and my Bible became a little dusty. I never stopped believing in the Lord, but many times had to rely on my logic and go with what I knew to be true verses what I felt.

I let a situation a friend had zero control over pretty well ruin that sweet friendship I came to value.I let frustration and jealousy build a wall between us. Truth is that I miss our almost daily conversations/ text messages and spent a good part of last fall feeling lonely. Because this is a friendship at church, it only added fuel to me going through the motions at church. I pray that I can make things right with this friend again and that she will find a way to forgive me.

Last fall when I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies’ life group class on Sunday morning I didn’t understand, especially given where I had been spiritually. Leading a class “forced” me back into The Word. Funny how that works, right? My class is small, but I have come to appreciate spending time with those ladies every Sunday morning. I like having a “need” to be in The Word. Yes, I acknowledge that as a believer, we are called to be in The Word on a regular basis and the Lord speaks to us through our Bible readings, but this class put me back into regular study times.

Through out the course of the fall I was also having conversations with a younger lady in the church, as well as conversations with the person over our groups. Talking with both of them I argued with the Lord over what I was hearing. There was NO way I was going to lead a D-group. I would feel like a complete and total fraud. I appeared to have it all together, but inside my faith was room temperature at best. I knew our church was going to be going through the “Foundations” book and my Sunday morning group had already decided to follow the church’s lead and walk through it with our pastor and other groups.  I had been invited to be a part of another D-group, which would have put me sitting under a lady I have come to have a great deal of respect for and knew I would gain a great deal in that group, but there wasn’t room for me and the other young lady I had been talking with. I prayed the Lord would make it crystal clear as to what I was supposed to do and He did. Around the first part of December, the young lady I had been talking with walked up to me with two other ladies and before I knew it, I said “yes” to leading a D-group.

In our Bible reading for week 2, I came across a verse in a familiar passage that jumped out at me and I’m not sure I ever really paid any attention to it before. “So she named the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “Have I really seen here the One who sees me?” Genesis 16:13. Do you see what it says? “The One who SEES me.” Through all of the things that happened last year, the Lord saw me. Even when going though the motions and feeling invisible to those around me, He saw me and He still sees me. I’ll be honest and say tears came to my eyes. I sat with the verse for a while and it renewed a spark in me that has been missing for some time now. I don’t have everything worked out at this point in January, I do know the Lord is moving in my life and by December I am certain I will be able to see the Lord’s hand on many areas of my life. I see this as a year of change, I also see that this is going to be a year of renewal and restoration. I also feel like the Lord will be opening doors for me I never would have imagined possible. I’m still not sure what this looks like, but I’m ready. I know He sees me and sees what’s inside of me.

Why do I share all of this? For one, I think too many times we feel guilty for pretending like everything is fine and going through the motions. Second, there tends to be shame when we hit this point in our walks with the Lord and lastly, we are pretty sure we are the only ones who feel this way. We let our pride get in the way and we are too afraid of admitting we feel this, which in turns keeps us from reaching out and allowing the Lord to use another person to be His arms. Guess what? You’re not alone. You’re not a failure as a Christian for walking through a faith valley. I am telling you I have been there and am slowly coming out on the other side. Please feel free to be honest with me. Don’t walk that road alone. Find a person you can be completely honest with and let them know where you are. Connection with other believers can renew your spark and put you back on the right track.

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Entertainer’s Wife in December

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This post deviates a little from the things I typically write about. I have had this conversation several times in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would go ahead and make a blog post. If you are the wife of an entertainer, or a husband who is self-employed, or you may be self-employed then you may understand where this is headed. In our home, like so many others who walk this path, there are only 2 seasons in your home. They are feast or famine. After a while, you begin to see a pattern emerge and you know how to properly plan for those times of famine.

I have a love/hate relationship with the end of September to the start of December. I love that it’s my husband’s busiest time of year and we can afford a few extras and small splurges. It’s also a time where my husband is thinking about the fact that January and February are coming. While we try to save year round, this is where we throw what can into savings, so we are covered the first of the year. It’s also the time of year where the kids and I rarely see him. My husband works hard all year, but this is his marathon season.

While he is out working hard to provide for our family, what is my role in preparing for the first of the year? Stockpiling. No not crazy coupon lady, but slowly filling the pantry and hall closet. It also means that Christmas shopping starts in August for us.

When I look at our biggest monthly expenses on a personal front, what do we use the most? For us, that’s toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and milk. We joke that our kids are milkohoclics because they go through 5-7 gallons of milk a week. While I can’t stockpile milk, I can toilet paper and our laundry stuff.

When looking at some of the smaller items like toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo, bar soap, deodorant and things like, those are things I can throw in the hall closet and they won’t go bad. I even think about things like hair bands for my daughter and may or may not pick up a pack or 2, if she needs them.

Other smaller things that I can start picking up in October are canned goods. Those typically have a great shelf life, so slowly buying a few cans here and few cans there are easy to do. The kids eat a fruit cup almost every single day with their lunches and Kroger often marks those 2 for $4. Their other snack packs can be bought at Wal-Mart for under $5. My kids also love Ritz and Graham Crackers. Wal-Mart sells the family size boxes of those cracker and I will make sure we have at least 2 full boxes by the end of the month. I will also make sure our brown and white rice containers are full and that we have several boxes of pasta noodle in the cupboard. You can make a whole range of dishes with rice and noodles.

With it being December, I am now working to stock our freezer. It’s not huge, so I can’t go crazy. I wait for Kroger to put their frozen vegetable on sale 10 for $10. Corn dogs and pizza snackers are sold in the freezer section and hot dogs freeze well. These are things my kids love. We also freeze our extra turkey bacon. I will have a full bag of chicken breasts, ground turkey and  types of sausage in our freezer. Because we enjoy wings during the National Title game, I will also make sure we have a full bag of wings in the freezer.

The ultimate goal is to only need to buy perishable items as the year starts. The fridge will be full come January 1st, but I can’t stock 2-3 months worth of perishables in there. We already have one Kroger gift card ready to go and I will probably purchase at least 2 more, in case of emergencies.

I shared earlier in the post that Christmas shopping starts in August for us. By that time of year, there are some things the kids have been asking for since the first of the year. It also helps that things are most likely to be fully stocked. This year, we did run into an issue with a gift for our daughter, but she will receive a special letter from Santa letting her know that the gift will arrive sometime in the spring once he has had a chance to restock the workshop. Thanks to my mom, my kids never go without at Christmas, even if things are tight on our end.

I don’t share any of this for sympathy, but to give a shout out to all of you are married to, or are someone who is self-employed. This is a reality and a way of life for many of us. There are times of the year when we are able to say “yes” because we can swing things financially. There are other times when we have to say “no.” It’s not anything personal, it’s just not going to fit in the budget at the moment.

I’m guessing several of you out there can 100% relate to this post. For others, I hope you see what it’s like for those of us who are self-employed or have contract positions. We have to look at and prepare for things in a different manner than those who have consistent salaried positions.

God, Friendship and the Election

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To state this election has been tumultuous would be an understatement. While the past couple of elections have been heated, they have nothing on the one we are currently experiencing. Hateful words have flown from both sides of the aisle. Insults have been hurled. Morals and values have been tossed out the window. Friendships have been damaged or destroyed. It’s an election where most of us feel we could use some healing and some breathing room to cope. It’s also left us wondering if God is anywhere near us?

When I look at our two major party candidates, I’m still a little shocked they were the last two standing. The prospect of one of them sitting in the Oval Office is enough to send chills up my spine and makes me wonder what it means for our kids and their futures. I have honestly felt a great deal of fear over the past several months. There seems to be so much riding on this election and so many decisions will be made based on who wins. It’s hard to know for certain what will happen.

One of the major phrases flying throughout this election has been “If you are a Christian, you can’t vote for ______.” People have turned this into an election of shaming others and demeaning them for choosing to stand by their candidate. I wonder how many believers walked away from the polls and wondering if the Lord could really love them or consider them His child because of how they voted? Is it theologically sound to question the salvation of another based on their vote? Is it correct for us to sit in the judgement seat based on a person’s vote? The answer is “no.” There is no vote that will cause the Lord to love you less or for you to lose your salvation. By the time you read this, the votes will be in and we will have to find a way  to move forward as a nation. This also means looking at those sitting on the opposite side of the aisle remembering the Lord loves them and many of them have a personal relationship with Christ.

My pastor has been in Ephesians for a couple of weeks now. As I read chapter 1, I couldn’t help but think about where we are as a nation. Yes, this may be seen as a stretch, but hold on with me for just a minute:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ;
4 for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love
5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,
6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him
10 for the administration) of the days of fulfillment-to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
11 In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,
12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.
13 In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation-in Him when you believed-were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

The passage has a great deal of us and them in it, then as it nears the end it jumps to “our.” Technically, this passage is talking about the Jews and the gentiles and then the body as a whole. I think if we’re honest we have been throwing out us and them throughout this whole election, when in reality it is about “our.” Just as Christ died for ALL of us, our president sits in office for ALL of us. No, I am not making our current president or president-elect out to be the savior of our nation, but under our president we are one nation. I think the sooner we adopt the “our” mentality, the better off we will be.

This post is a little weird because I started it as Americans headed to the polls and am completing it the day after. It was a long night. Many of us rode the crazy roller coaster. We waited until the AP called it a little after 2AM and then waited another 15-20 mins until Fox had called it. For better or worse, Mr. Trump is our next president. As I have scrolled through social media today, my heart has been broken. This is not necessarily because of the outcome, but be because there really is a line in the sand between the left and the right. Insults are still flying and the division appears to be even greater. We have 2 choices. We can choose to repair broken relationships with those on the other side of the aisle, or we can allow the line to become the great divide. How awesome would it be to work together and then at the end of the next 4 years to look back and realize we came together in unity and put an end to the hatred?

My challenge to you is this, reach out. Talk to the person who has polar opposite views from you and really listen to what it is they have to say. I’m not saying you have to agree with them, but let them know they’ve been heard and you care. In the areas where you can, find a way to compromise. Create ways to extend the olive branch and build bridges. I think this will go a long to repair relationships broken through this process and create the nation of unity we all so much desire. I also encourage you to remember that God is The King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. Regardless of how the next 4 years play out, HE is still on HIS throne and we are still His children.

Right or Wrong Way to Worship?

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Monday night I went to see Bethel in concert over at the Opry House with several friends. I will be honest and say it wasn’t at all what I expected. There were a couple of times throughout the night where I was uncomfortable. The atmosphere was different and at one point, I am pretty sure a couple of people were speaking in tongues. I grew up in a ultra conservative Southern Baptist Church where we didn’t raise hands, or yell out “Amen.” As I grew up I attended a couple of SBC churches were raising hands is the norm and you might hear the occasional “Amen” from someone. The church where I am currently a member, the raising of hands is the norm on a Sunday morning, but nothing overly charismatic.

We sat behind a group of college students. Given the college they attend is associated with Church of God, I am guessing they are definitely more charismatic in their worship. The one student was talking to the girl next to him and telling her all about how he sees demons and has watched them fly towards him while he is driving. When Bethel was singing these students were shaking their heads and dancing all over the place, while wiggling their fingers. When Lisa Bevere got up to speak, they shouted out, shook their heads and raise their hands. At one point, after the music started again, another guy was curled up on the floor in between the pews. Throughout the evening they were never still. Worship was active and almost interactive for them.

This little SBC girl wasn’t overly sure what to think. I have attended many worship concerts/ events over my lifetime. This one reminded me of the Acquire the Fire conference held in my hometown when I was in high school. That conference was sponsored by the Assembly of God church. These are not worship experiences I am used to at all. After having a little over a day to reflect back on that night, I had to make myself take an honest look at the thoughts that went through my head that night. No, not all of them were positive. Much of that had to do with the fact that it was a different kind of worship experience for me.

Looking through scripture, you see many examples of people dancing before the Lord and in celebration. I, myself, am a part of the dance ministry team here at our church. Just because we don’t dance in every single service doesn’t mean dancing as a response to worship isn’t incorrect. Throughout Monday night, people all over the Opry were dancing.

Speaking in tongues in something I struggle with and I have yet to be comfortable on that front. Our own convention is starting to take a different view. Where it used to be there was zero acceptance of tongues, a group is now looking at whether or not it’s acceptable. The view of this does vary from church to church within in the SBC.

If you look at the denominations across the board, the worship style varies. Even within a denomination you may see a wide variety of worship styles. In the SBC, there are still many churches who hold tight to their hymns and refuse praise and worship music. Others may do more of a blended service, while churches like the one I attend tend to lean more towards a contemporary style of worship.

The guy talking about demons did have me concerned about his theology and that he may lead the girl he was talking to down an incorrect view of theology. Other than that, was there anything really wrong with what I witnessed that night? Just because most of those who were there worship differently than I do, does that make one group of us right and the other wrong? The answer to that has to be “no.” As long as there is a true heart of worship and people are focused on the Lord, there really is no right or wrong way to worship. I have lived my SBC bubble for so long, that sometimes it takes going to an event like this to 1) get me out of my comfort zone and 2) to be reminded there are multiple ways to worship.

Because I was so caught up in looking at those around me and was caught up in being uncomfortable, how much of a worship experience did I miss out on? Would I ever had done what those around me were doing? No. If I had closed my eyes and focused on the Lord and only the Lord, how much more would I have received that night? In the second worship set, Francesca Battistelli came out and started singing songs I actually knew. It was little easier for me to relax and try to worship, but still a challenge with all that was going on around me.

All of this to say, look around you. Explore how your friends worship. I am not saying to change what you do when you worship, but be open to exploring at how others worship. Also, ask the Lord if there is anything holding you back from worshiping Him how He desires you to worship. This may be nothing more than walking into a service with an open heart truly desiring to seek Him. For others it may be time to raise your hands in worship.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

 

Sometimes it IS About You

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Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, it IS about YOU! Society teaches us to to put others first. We are taught at a young age to put others first and to only think about those around us. If you grew up in church, especially a Southern Baptist Church, you were taught the prayer model of JOY. This means you repent and thank the Lord for blessings. You then pray for those around you and finally you pray for things you need. We are taught that putting ourselves before others is selfish. We are told that our thoughts and opinions should take a back seat to those around us.

There are times when we need to take a step back and care for those around us. There are times when a family member or friend are in crisis and they need us to be strong. As parents, we often put our kids first and ourselves on the back burner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, BUT I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely OK to put yourself first every now and then. Sometimes you NEED to put yourself first. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that your opinion is valid. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that while you love them, you really can’t be there for them and that you are taking a step back.

Your opinion IS valid. What you think matters. I will give you a semi petty example of this. At this point I have 2 kids in our county school system and our 3rd will join them next year. On the county school page there was debate going on over a proposed change. A parent said that because I was a newer parent to our district that my opinion didn’t count. Honestly, the issue isn’t a hill I want to die on. That being said, my opinion does matter and it is just as valid as hers. How many times, when it comes to larger issues, have we allowed another person to tell us that our opinion doesn’t matter? How many times have we shut our mouths and walked away, even though it really was a big deal for us? How many times have you felt that you aren’t experienced enough or good enough to have your opinion count? It’s acceptable for you to share what it is you think and allow your voice to be heard.

Your past experiences DO matter. There are times in the valley for all of us. While our valleys may not be as low as others, it doesn’t mean that your emotions and experiences are any less valid. Yes, your valley may have seemed a little easier to another person, but that doesn’t mean you were really walking on a plateau. How many times have you shared a valley experience and had another person tell you “it really wasn’t that bad,” or “That person had it much worse than you and you should be thankful that it wasn’t as bad.” It stinks to be told your emotions aren’t valid and you shouldn’t feel a certain way. It’s acceptable to stand up for your emotions and let others know your past experiences count.
Taking time to care for yourself is important. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you will eventually lose steam and crash.There are times when you need to take a step back from your activities and take time for yourself. It could mean it’s time to find a counselor you trust to talk through and process whatever the situation may be. It may also be time to take a trip to your PCP to have a conversation about an anti-anxiety, an anti-depressant or some sort of mood stabilizer. It could also be doing something as simple as signing up for a class at the gym, or a class in another area that interests you. Sometimes you NEED to take care of yourself and you need to be honest with your spouse, or inner circle about what it is you need. If you don’t speak up for yourself, how will those around you know what you need.

This post flies in the face of what most of us have been taught. Remember there were times Jesus went off to be by Himself. He needed time alone. There were other times when He went off with just Peter and John. Time alone and time with your closest, inner circle is not a bad thing. You just need to brave enough to speak up for what it is you need.

There are times when it IS about YOU!!!

A Glowstick Season

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Last week I was searching images in Google and came across a meme that said “It’s ok to be a glowstick; sometimes we need to break before we can shine.” Since I read the meme, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head and it seems appropriate for this season of my life. Think about a glowstick for just a minute. Unless it’s broken, it can’t be used. It HAS to be broken in order to fulfill its purpose and glow. Many times the Lord has to break us in order for us to function and glow as He desires.

It’s hard to believe that I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. In October I will only have a single year left in my 30s. My life is changing. The Lord is breaking certain things in me and I can tell a new chapter is getting ready to begin. Since I resigned my job as a school based therapist back in May of 2013. I feel like I have been in a holding pattern. It’s been a chapter of waiting. While I don’t have all of the answers, I can see where the Lord is breaking me and He is slowly changing my circle of friends.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine knocking down walls one has spent almost an entire life building. Different circumstances and events have added bricks and reinforcements in my own wall and it almost resembles a fortress at this point. I am now watching the Lord bring people into my life to start tearing down that wall. Yes, I have some great friends, but many of those relationships aren’t what they used to be. Part of that has been me pulling back. Part of it is life has pulled us in different directions and other times it’s just part of the natural ebb and flow of life. There are days when it’s hard to see that some of those relationships are not what they used to be. In some ways I look at how life has pulled certain people together and while I haven’t been left out completely, the relationships have changed. Here lately, I feel like I am on the outside looking in when it comes to certain friends.

Two years ago, the Lord allowed me to walk into a Christian Women in Media Association regional dinner. I had no idea what I was walking into and had no idea the blessing I would receive from this group. The beginning of this year the Lord brought an incredible small group of ladies to a regional dinner. While we are all still getting to know each other, I am grateful for the time spent with them this past week in conversation and a ministry event. These ladies are all beautiful in their own rights. They have amazing testimonies of how the Lord has moved in their lives. I count it a privilege to cheer them on in their current projects and am grateful for their encouragement in pursuing my own dreams. I’m excited to spend more time with these ladies and get to know them better. I’m also excited to watch the Lord expand all of our ministries with the support and encouragement of each other.

I have spent almost 2 years attempting to write a book. The first time I was about 3 chapters in when my computer ate the whole thing and refused to let it be recovered. Last fall I started writing again, but stopped almost 2 chapters in because I was terrified of failing. If I didn’t finish the book, it couldn’t be rejected and I wouldn’t be seen as a failure. Fear has never stopped me from pursuing anything in the past, but I have dreamt of writing a book since I graduated from college and the fear of moving forward is almost paralyzing. The Lord never hands us fear. He only gives courage. In my season of being a glowstick, He is trying to break me of my fear. At my age is almost embarrassing to admit that fear is even a factor in pursuing my dreams. “Do not fear,” “Be courageous” is something I have heard repeatedly over the past several months. Without a shadow of doubt, I know the Lord wants me to release all fears and trust Him to move forward with the dream He gave me.

The Lord is also trying to break me of my independence. I don’t mean this in a way that I will start being codependent and not able to function on my own, but breaking me of the mentality that I have to do things alone. When I rely on my strength and my strength alone, I will fail every single time. When I rely on the Lord, things fall into place in a way that only He can make them work. When I allow others to be His hands and feet in my life, it takes bricks out of my wall. It opens me up to genuine relationships. I have been stubborn and independent my entire life. Granted, there are times when it’s helped, but too many times I stumbled because I was too proud to ask for help.

Allowing the Lord to bring you into a time of breaking is hard and can be somewhat painful. While it can be a lonely season, especially when change is involved, lean into Him because it will be worth it in the end.

Allow the Lord to break you my dear friends and shine!

Courage and Obedience

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This is probably going to be one of the most honest blog posts I have ever written. The Lord has had me one a journey for 2 years now. Honestly, I still have no idea as to how all of this is going to play out over the next several years. It’s weird to be on the downhill slide to 40 and asking the Lord where I’m headed. I feel like I should be in the middle of my calling at this point, but feel like He is getting ready to write a whole new chapter for me.

The last 2 weeks our pastor has continued to preach out of Acts and has talked about stepping up to serve as well as courage. Last week Pastor Mark gave reasons as to why people won’t serve. These include “not feeling led,” “not having time” and “not wanting to take away from family.” This week, he talked about the courage of Paul and how Paul knew what was coming and was willing to go for the sake of The Gospel anyway.

As I have chewed on these sermons and looked at where I have been the past 2 years, I can’t help but think about other reasons why people don’t serve and why I am still sitting where I am. Yes, I have been actively involved in dance ministry, worship choir and Summer Jam. I have also been serving in a contract position as the Family Assistance Coordinator with responsibilities in our automotive ministry. If you asked me, I would tell you that when it comes to ministry I am doing what I need to do. Sadly, it’s not the truth.

4 years ago, this month, when my husband and I walked into The Glade Church we were church hurt and had walked through crises in 2 other churches. We were over the whole church thing. We knew our kids needed to be involved in a solid theological, evangelical church. We knew we needed to be surrounded by a solid body of believers, but didn’t necessarily think we could find a church we could trust. The Lord only brought us to one service at The Glade and we felt at home. It was scary, but we trusted. We needed time to heal. Up until the beginning of this year, I would have said I was completely over the hurt of our experiences. It’s funny how the Lord uses circumstances and conversations to show you that your aren’t really where you thought you were.

I acknowledge I have a wall around me, but didn’t realize how high and reinforced that wall was until late February, early March. When talking with one of the pastors on our staff about situation, I was hit with a startling reality. People at our church, even the staff around me, don’t know me at all and it’s all because I have refused to let anyone in. While I have been involved, I haven’t been serving with my whole heart. I have only been serving in partial obedience. I realized that I have an entire set of talents and skill sets that our staff and others at church have no idea even exist. I have kept my relationships at church on an extremely shallow level because it’s been the safe route to take.

Obedience. I am the Major’s Daughter. I know what it’s like to be the daughter of a soldier. I know the importance of receiving marching orders and then following them without question or hesitation. While I have always said I don’t care what others think about me, I realize my drive to be the “good girl” and “do as I’m told” comes from a desire to please those around me, but it’s not necessarily been to please the Lord even though I have acted as it has.

Around the time I graduated from college, I knew the Lord was calling me to eventually write a book. He called me seminary to prepare for ministry. While I was still working as a full time school based therapist, I knew the Lord was calling me to women’s ministry. I have only completed about 2 chapters in the book and am honestly terrified to keep on writing because I don’t know how it will be received. I am still waiting for direction on women’s ministry. I know that on the women’s ministry front I have not been completely obedient, but am earnestly seeking His face for direction.

Last summer, I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies Connect Group on Sunday mornings and I gave the Lord every excuse under the sun as to why I couldn’t do it. In the past I have taught little ones through high school, but never adults. Yes, I have taught at conferences, but never taught adults on a regular basis. While I was never overly rebellious growing up, I did have my moments. My past doesn’t necessarily look how I think it should and have struggled with wondering why anyone would think I was qualified to lead in that area. I love singing in choir, but used it as a reason as to why I couldn’t step out during the first service and serve. This past spring there was a string of events and the Lord used those events to kick my tail. I said I would start teaching in May and ended up putting it off until the first Sunday of August. Yes, I am teaching class out of obedience, but it was delayed obedience and I’m not proud of that fact.

While I think Pastor Mark hit the nail on the head with some of the reasons why people don’t serve, I think there is also a different set of reasons why people won’t/ don’t serve. While he was talking about the courage of Paul this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how many of us sit silent because we lack the courage and confidence to serve. We don’t sit on the sidelines because we don’t desire to serve, or lack of calling. We sit on the sidelines because we lack the courage of Paul. We lack confidence. Too many of us sit sidelined due to fear, guilt and shame. We don’t think we have much to offer. We also sit sidelined because to get up and serve means to be authentic and vulnerable to others.

Where do I go from here? I have a document sitting on the Google drive at my computer at the church that needs to be turned into one of the pastors. I need to faithfully continue to teach the Connect Group I committed to teach. I need to continue writing the book the Lord has laid on my heart. I also need to pray the Lord would remove the fear I have struggled with over the past several years and move forward in confidence.

The verse that jumped out to me this morning and one I underlined in my Bible was Acts 23:11 which says:

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

“Take courage!” Yes, courage. This means to put aside fear and walk boldly in what the Lord has called you and I to do. This means not worrying about our past or what others may think, but rely on the Lord and only the Lord. HE is the sole source of our confidence. Once we embrace the confidence that can only come from the Lord, we can then walk boldly in obedience. It may not always be easy, but we can know with no uncertainty that we are being 100% obedient and that is all He asks of us.