Monday, February 27, 2012

What About Small Middles?

I have a love-hate relationship with this phrase : Don't despise the day of small beginnings.

Here is the part I love: Small beginnings can have big endings. A small acorn holds within it a mighty oak tree & all that.  

Here is the part I hate: What happens when the 'beginning' was 10 years ago? What if I am in the middle of it & it is still small? I don't mind having no resources, no recognition and no growth at the start. Things take time...but then time goes by & I am now in the middle. I still have no resources, no recognition and no growth. I'm gonna be honest here. I despise the days of small middles.

Maybe you dream of being a photographer & started taking pictures a few years ago while keeping a side job until your business took off. Now it is 5 years later, you are still taking pictures & still working a second job because the photo business isn't growing the way you want.

Maybe your marriage & family life started off rocky. You poured your time & energy into improving it. And yet, years later you are still struggling with the same hurdles. 

Maybe you have spent several years trying to get a prayer meeting going at your church. Every week only a handful of people show up. God promised a movement of intercession...where is it?

Then comes the dread. Am I not as gifted as I thought? Did I miss God's promise? Why is everyone else's project gaining speed and I can't get mine off the ground? Fear & insecurity rob us of any hope we have left.

Sure, there is the chance that what you are pursing is outside of your giftings & skill sets. However, I don't think that is usually the case. So, why shouldn't I despise the day of small middles?

Well, I go back to this verse:
       "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those 
                   who love Him." - 1 Corinthians 2:9

I can't see, hear, or wrap my brain around what God is doing. I get so mad at what God isn't doing, that I don't see what He is doing. I look at the plan & can't fathom why it is so far behind on production. I should have my platform by now...what is the delay?!?! 

What we don't understand is that God's plans for us are much bigger than our plans for ourselves. In our minds 40 feet of foundation is enough to build the things in our hearts. God says "No, you can't do this on 40 feet. You don't understand the scope of what you were made to do. You need 4,000 feet of 
foundation." So, we have to wait. We have to build more faith, more character and more authority. 

I don't know why your beginning was small. I don't know why your middle is small. I DO know that your ending will be big. Grand, marvelous and unmatched. Even if you don't see the fullness of it until heaven - you won't be disappointed.

God has specific plans for each of us & they can't be compared to His plans for someone else. When our middles are small, we trust that God is big. And we trust that He knows what He is doing - because He does.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Syria Gave Me A Gift

Source: Pinterest

Each morning I make time to read the news. Skimming the days headlines I pass by all the celebrity gossip and sports headlines. Why are those on major news outlets anyway? I also notice how quickly I pass by news regarding violence or uprising in the middle east. Sadly, in some ways it doesn't seem like news anymore.

If it happened in Germany, I would absolutely read the article. But, how many times can I read about a conflict in Israel? When I see that there was a car bomb that went off in Egypt, I can easily find myself thinking "Well, surely they are used to it by now."

The thing is, no one ever gets used to violence. They may learn to cope, but they still feel the pain. You can't get used to loosing your parents, or your friend. No one gets used to their son or daughter getting killed. 

In Syria they estimate that over 7,000 people have been killed in the past 11 months. I have been to Syria. Their government may be an 'axis of evil', but their people are beautiful. When I was walking through the streets, I was greeted with an incredible warmth. I went into the mosques and was met with kindness and generosity. 

Jady and I were browsing through the market when a group of children came up to us. They had used what little money they had to buy us gifts. Handfuls of little trinkets that represented the hospitality of the people. We couldn't talk to these little kids, but the exchange of smiles and hugs spoke enough. 

They were lovely. It isn't a nation of crazy people that are reckless and hard. It is a nation of people made in God's image who are oppressed by a ruthless government.

Join me in praying that God would protect the people and bring give them true Justice. Syria gave me handfuls of little gifts. Lets give them a voice that calls out to God on their behalf.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Limitations vs. Boundaries

I wrote this a while ago, but have been thinking about it again. Thought I'd share...

Source: Pinterest

This is an incomplete thought, but it is something that has been stirring in my mind for a few weeks now. I referenced some of the longing felt in different seasons in a blog post a few days ago. In my journey of dreaming with God I have found that longing and frustration are often interwoven. Wanting so badly for something, but hitting barriers in the actualization of those desires.

Disappointment is a heavy weight to carry...and most of us don't even notice how heavy we have grown. I have had many angry tears shed processing with God about things that I am not able to do or see happen...yet. I say 'yet' because God has a plan. As I have been pondering this issue over the past week I came upon a great realization. One that has brought me peace.

Limitations and boundaries are not the same things. Limitations are based on what cannot happen. My lack of capacity, my weaknesses or the natural restrictions I face. Boundaries are based on God's great strategic plan. They are directional and keep us from wandering around in aimlessly. Limitations are based on deficits. Boundaries are based on love.

Every season of life has boundaries. I can't do everything all the time. I would burn out and be impactless. God has paced my life so that I can run in such a way as to win the race He has set out for me. (1 Cor. 9:24) Cattle are moved from field to field based on which fields have food, which field has the terrain needed to keep the cattle safe and healthy...thats what God does. My boundary lines right now are to be a support leader at All People's Church instead of a senior leader. I can write on a blog instead of speaking to large groups, and I have to store up in prayer for big dreams in my heart rather than act out on them.

My natural inclination is to see through the lens of limitation. I can't be a leader. I must not have been doing a good job at it. Only a handful of people are interested in my life...those few who read my blog. Not large masses. No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to make some of the big dreams happen...Limitation. Heaviness. Disappointment.

Psalm 16:6 " The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places..."God knows all the things seen and unseen. He knows what the next field holds for me. The healthiest thing for me is to live inside of the boundaries I am in. I usually don't know why, but I know Him. He is good and He doesn't hold back on me. Jesus always gives me the best, not the scraps.

Seeing through limitations is painful because it makes us look at ourselves as the problem. It makes single women ask 'what is it about me that is so unattractive.' It causes dreamers to wonder 'why is my capacity so small'. And it slowly convinces all of us that 'God isn't able to meet my needs and satisfy me.'

Our limitations and God's boundaries are not the same thing. Be at peace knowing that where you are is a pleasant place because the fullness of God is there with you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Thief Of Joy

Quote by Theodore Roosevelt

Good word Teddy Roosevelt. And Happy Presidents Day to you also.  I came across this quote a few days ago & it was beyond striking. 

Then this morning I came across this verse:

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought...You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family." -Matt 5 (MSG)

I need to be reminded of this all the time! I am so quick to compare and cast judgement. I hold myself up against the standard I assume I am supposed to live up to. I never measure up. No matter how hard I try to imitate another person, my weaknesses spoil it. I get irritated at myself and my inabilities. I can start to drive myself crazy.

I compare myself with the people around me. I compare myself with my peers who seem to be more anointed than I am. I compare myself with who I used to be before I had kids & started living a sleep-deprived life. I compare myself with the woman I want to be in 20 years & get discouraged about the huge gap between where I am and where I want to go. I look around and acknowledge that if it came down to me or 'them', then they would win. Always. So, I concede. And, therefore, I lose.

Such a fantastic reminder that my true joy comes from being content with God's creation - me. Being content with who I am and who I am not. I am BLESSED when I rest in the truth that God created me & I stop striving to be someone else. 

I am BLESSED when I don't compare or compete with others. I have joy & a security in who God has made me to be.

So, be BLESSED today. There is a place for you & the way you have been carved in God's family. Have JOY in the way God made you...even if you drive yourself crazy sometimes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Election Season Etiquette...It's Not Personal, It's Politics

Source: Pinterest

Ahh. It is that time again. Election season. This occurance happens every 4 years when people become quite vocal about their opinions and everything that is wrong with America. I was a political science major - I love politics. I love that we live in a country that allows me to have a voice. Our views are important and I have no problem with people expressing the things they are deeply concerned about regarding our country and it's leadership. I know that my readers come from all spectrums of political views.

But, as this election season gains momentum, I'd like to suggest a few things to make this experience more pleasant for all of us...

1. Don't Assume You Know What Someone Thinks - you may think that all christians are Republicans and all environmentalists are Democrats. But really, they aren't. You might be surprised to find out what people really think. It gets awkward for me when you are bashing a political party and assuming that I agree with you. Please, don't put me in that position. 

2. Discuss, don't bash - America is a fantastic place that allows us to openly discuss what we believe and our reasons for believing it. I love hearing about different points of view & why you don't want to vote for someone. Just be respectful as you do it. 

3. Social Media Overload - Please post your thoughts on FB and twitter. Just remember that the voting age is 18 & your posts should sound like someone over 18 wrote them. Let's not make a political statement followed by LOL! or OMG! Just a thought to consider...

4. One Really Is Enough- This applies to yard signs and bumper stickers. Yes, put a sign in your yard! If you have a Ron Paul sign in your yard, I know who you support. The same with stickers. If you have a bumper sticker that says OBAMA, I know that you think he is the best candidate. Putting 10 stickers for Obama doesn't make me think, "Wow. He really MUST be the best candidate." It makes me think" All those stickers...what are they gonna do when they want to sell their car???"

5. Get the facts. Pray. And Vote. - I highly suggest reading the actual transcripts of the debates and not just getting your opinion from political commentary. Make sure you know what someone really thinks about an issue. Pray about who to vote for. Then go vote. 

Alright. Those are my thoughts on that. At the end of the day we are all in this together. Let's be nice as we exercise our rights.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It Is Valentine's Day After All

"Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts." -Prov. 4:23

Well, it is that day. The day that is covered in hearts and roses. This afternoon I had to make a last minute run to the grocery store. I was staring down endless aisles of candy and all things red & pink, and I remembered the scripture listed above. Between convincing my children that they did not need candy and convincing myself that I didn't need it either, I began to think about my heart.

Not in the romantic way, in the identity way. My heart is the truest identity I have. The soul, the dreams, the most vulnerable of places. My heart is the core of God's design in me. That is why I asked God to come into my heart. The deepest, clearest, most unique expression of me. My heart.

My heart has been snagged by failure, wounded by rejection, misinterpreted beyond the point of confusion. My identity has had an identity crisis. Years of other's input, self-doubt, and many occasions that give proof to my greatest fear. My fear that I am not who I think I am. That I will never be that which I have dreamed.

I haven't been the best at keeping watch over my heart. Keeping watch over my identity. I have not defended myself against the places of pain that have shut me down. 

Since leaving the grocery store I have been giving it much thought. I feel stirred to love my own heart more. To nurture it and watch over it like Proverbs says. 

So, no matter what your Valentines day has been like - know this. Your heart matters. Your truest identity has captured the eye of God. Don't be lazy and let the world chip it away. Celebrate the things God has created in you.

Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Go Ahead. Admit It Was Lava.

Source: Pinterest
I so did this. What is funny is that I remember the genuine panic I would feel if slipped off the couch and into the lava. Thankfully I never died from the lava. My friends and I would say "Oh, you landed on a log! Hurry get on the couch before the log sinks." Or if it wasn't a log it would be a bird who swooped under me. Amazingly I never died from lava burns. There was always some fantastic escape from the fiery doom. Which is fortunate because I fell off the couches a lot during these games.

Now I have my own kids & we play these games together. The huge alligator is coming or we are firemen. I had forgotten what a beautiful thing it is to pretend. Even at 30 it is fun to perform surgery or play restaurant. Imagination. There is something hopeful about it. Something that reminds me some future possibilities are playful and fun. There is wonder not anxiety. Most importantly, it reminds me that even if my endeavors fail - I will be okay. If the pirates do get me when I go back for food on the island, then I will surely find a way out. And what an adventure that will be.

I need to imagine more. 

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.
                            - George Scialabba

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Top 10 Reasons You Should Accept My Bribe

Here is a photo taken by Anchor & Key. This is what will happen inside my little heart if I win.

Oh, get ready people. This is my SHAMELESS attempt at a bribe. Don't judge. You have no idea how fantastic the prize is and how badly I want it. Anchor & Key is a top-knotch photography biz located in Boston. They are giving away a photo shoot for Valentine's Day. What? Yes, you are right. I don't live in Boston. They travel regularly to NYC and Austin, so if I win, I will haul my family to Austin for the day. 

In attempts to convince them that they should pick ME, I have listed the Top 10 Reasons I should win. 

1. I am nicer than anyone you know. Well, maybe not. BUT if you pick me, I will be the nicest person to you.

2. The last time I won something was at my senior prom & it was a stereo. I think we all know that my senior prom was a LONG time ago...

3. Your pictures are beautiful, you make everyone in your pictures look beautiful, and who doesn't want to have a gorgeous picture of themselves?

4. Okay, going back to #2. I just remembered that I did actually win something last summer. It was a free shave at a barber shop. But, I don't have a beard so it was pretty much a non-prize for me. All that to say, it is high time I win something.

5. I follow you on twitter ( @anchorandkey ) and I like your Facebook page. And I am now telling everyone who reads my blog to do the same. You really won't regret it people.

6. I am adopting two new kiddos and I would LOVE to have some great family pics with my new additions. (can you tell I am going for the heart?)

7. Did I mention that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures you take?

8. I make a really good eclair dessert & if I win, I will bring you a piece to the shoot.

9. This is a valentines day give away. Valentines day is my favorite holiday. Well, no. It isn't my favorite holiday, but if I win - it will be.

10. I should win because my husband and I love to show people pictures of ourselves. If the photos were taken by you then it would be loads of free advertising.

Okay. That was my first bribe I've ever done. This could be addicting.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whoops! A Belated Birthday Thank You

Source: Pinterest
If I were going to throw a party for you all, it would look something like this.

Today I was looking over my blog and realized that last week Lark & Bloom turned one!  I just want to thank you for reading. The interesting thing is, I started this blog as a way to keep up with my friends who are located all around the globe. However, I am pretty sure that very few of my close friends actually read my blog. Ha! 

What has been the biggest blessing of this blog is meeting new friends. I have loved getting to share my life and thoughts with those of you I never would have met otherwise. Your words of encouragement and funny comments mean more to me than you know. 

Thanks so much for reading and sharing life with me. I love you all! 


Friday, February 3, 2012

Susan G Komen, Planned Parenthood & all this mess

My beautiful grandmother. She is a breast cancer survivor.

Remarkably, Susan G. Komen foundation has managed to upset nearly the entire United States in just a short time span. The first half got mad when they cut funding to Planned Parenthood. The second half got mad when the changed their minds and included Planned Parenthood as a recipient of funds again. 

I am not going to tell you which half I am. I understand half of the you think it is wrong for Susan G. Komen to send money to an organization that includes abortions as one of their services. The other half say it shouldn't matter if they offer abortions, the point is they offer breast exams & that is what Susan G Komen is supposed to support. 

Did you know that only 50% of women get their annual recommended health exam? Each year in the U.S. over 202,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

The moral of the story is that women's healthcare is important. I know everyone is up in arms (understandably), but lets also use our arms to dial our doctors and set up appointments. If you haven't started doing regular self-exams. Start doing them.

Many women in this country don't have insurance. Find an agency in your area that shares your moral views and services low-income women who can't afford to receive preventative care. Get behind them and support them.

No matter if you are pro-choice, pro-life, pro/anti Planned are pro-women. Lets get behind women & their health. 

I'm not taking lightly people's convictions on the issue of abortion. Not in the slightest.  I'm saying whatever you feel about the issue, find a way to support women's health care. If you are husband, take a long lunch and watch the kids while your wife goes to get her yearly exam.

Now, that I have said that. You can all go back to arguing about what Susan G. Komen should do with their funding...but, not on my blog comments please. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm So Embarrassed...10 Things I Don't Want You To Know About Me

Except, I can't. I can't speak Spanish.

I don't know. Maybe its a part of my charm. Or just plain weird. Either way I have no idea why I am about to tell you this... Here is an admonition of ten things I Don't Want You To Know About Me.

1. Sometimes I check twitter during my time with Jesus. Not for long. Just a peak.

2.  It took me TWO years to learn how to make a baked potato. I know, right? But it did. Foil or no foil? Poke holes? Temp & time? Just so you know: 2 hours @ 350. No foil & no holes.

3. When I was in high school my youth group went to six flags. A few of us did a Chinese fire drill in the middle of the antique car track. ( To my defense, they moved so slow. No one was going to get hurt) Because of this we were kicked out of the park. As they were escorting us out of the park, we made a mad dash. They couldn't catch us. In the process I got a nasty cut on my knee. In fact there is still a scar. We hid out until it was time to meet the group and go home. I'm pretty sure I never told Carl & Blair about that.

4. I have really scrawny ankles. For this reason, I look stupid in capri pants...well that reason & several others.

5. I made it all the way through college without ever having to take a math class. I found a loop hole in the system. Ask me about the United Nations, but DO NOT ask me about calculus. Or pre-algebra for that matter.

6. When I was younger I was convinced that the man from the electric company who took the meter readings house to house was a terrorist. He was planting something in the boxes attached to everyones house. So, I went door to door behind him and warned all the people that the man had just placed something (most likely an explosive) in their meter. The neighborhood never did blow up. Most likely thanks to my heroic measures. I was Woodway's version of Paul Revere.

7. I once started a massive food fight at my table in the elementary cafeteria. The principal thought it was my friend Shanna & didn't believe Shanna that I was the one who started it. So Shanna and my other friends were sent to the Principal's office. Since I was so sweet & well behaved the principal bought me an ice cream cone. No lie. Apparently I look really innocent.

8. In computer class my junior year of high school I sat in between two friends. Our teacher wasn't the sharpest lady I had ever met. Over several weeks we unscrewed the walls of my computer cube. When the final screw was removed, our friend Ginny faked a seizure. (She actually did have epilepsy so it was pretty realistic) While the teacher was attending to Ginny convulsing on the floor, my friend and I snuck the ENTIRE computer cube out into the hall and into the janitor closet. When the commotion ended I asked, "Ms. Lacy! Where is my workstation?" No one found it for days. 

9. I was a tour guide at the Dr. Pepper Museum. I would lead tours of up to 50 people and would make up a bunch of stuff. One time a group of Germans came in. For some reason the museum manager was under the impression that I spoke German. Yeah, I don't really. But, they came because they were told they could get a German tour. I had taken a year of high school German. So, I did my best. "Heidi's blouse is blue. The weather in Dusseldorf is quite windy..." If a video of it ever surfaces on YouTube, I might pass out.

10. Looking at #3 #7 #8 and #9, I clearly had a problem with lying. 

Thats embarrassing. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Your Cold & My Pneumonia

Source: Pinterest

Whirlwind, grumpy, pouty and sensitive. That pretty much describes me driving home today. Just a bit off in every sense. To be honest, my heart is a bit tired.  My brain hurts. I was listening to a podcast as I was in the car and the man said something brilliant: Never Develop A Wounded Spirit.

Ouch, sting and weep all at the same time. Dear God, I thought. I don't want a wounded spirit, but I think I may have one! My poor little spirit. She has been through a lot. This past year has been one of magnificent highs and crushing lows. Three states, four houses, and too many adjustments to count. An unbelievably full 12 months.

While the presence of God has been with us, and the journey full of His goodness - there were moments that hurt. And those moments stuck to other moments that had hurt in the past. Similar types of hurts. Being misunderstood, not feeling needed and grieving the loss of something dearly loved. The pain of realizing that life will never be the same again. The pain of doubting that God knows , really knows, what He is doing.

Those sorts of pains stick to each other. Each new experience is absorbed into the previous one making the scar more and more prominent. It adds up. Little offensive are swallowed into other little offenses resulting in one big offense. The pain grows.

Grief is appropriate. Grief can take time. Grief is healthy. A wounded spirit, however, is not. A wounded spirit sits around waiting for something else to affirm it's place of pain. It limps along with a bitter hobble reflecting on the situation that gave us the limp in the first place. A wounded spirit holds on to pain because it wants vindication somehow. A wounded spirit is never peaceful and it is grieved when someone else is satisfied. Most of all, the wounded spirit always has something to prove.

Our wounded spirits want to make others look bad too. Nothing overtly painful, just put a bit of a crack in their foundation. Our wounded spirits want to bring others down instead of rising up ourselves. Instead of fighting to get healthy, we are happy when others get sick too. If they have a cold, then maybe no one will notice my pneumonia. It is a twisted way of thinking.

Thankfully God can heal our spirits in a moment. Make them light, beautiful and strong again. He is our Redeemer after all. Maybe some of you (like me) need a bit of redeeming today. Determine never to develop a wounded spirit or mindset. Throw off the broken-down version of yourself & cling to promise of God for your life. He is enough for you & can handle all your pain.