Towards Today

On this Tuesday morning, I am moving towards end of summer.  I am thinking about the road trip barely behind us.  Mentally pushing away the road ahead because, the truth is, God has all of that covered.  Reminding me that I have this five minutes to live and breathe and move in Him.

I am thinking about the families that we spent our summer vacation with.  I am thinking about the mothers that are my closest friends.  How proud and humbled I am to call them friends.  To be moms along side them.  My thoughts take me to the uniqueness of the way they each love their children.  The uniqueness is powered by the distinct way God loves each of these women and how He made them.  Their life’s journey with Him constantly sparks the uniqueness of the way they love their children.  He’s leading each of them to powerfully mother the rare, one-of-a-kind gem of a child that was given to her.  Only He could craft a singular journey beginning before time to bless and bless generations over time.

On this Tuesday morning, I am bringing my heart to the small things.  Because these are the things that bring me to warmth and to peace. The small things give me the strength to do the big things.  So, I turn my head towards the road ahead because that is today.  With joy and peace and reliance on His promises, I live and breathe and move in Him, towards today.

Getting Built by Encouragement

There is so much to learn.  It comes from deep.  It comes from wide.  Learning comes from choosing compassion, connection and sometimes pain.  It comes from being humble, bold and brave.  I am constantly encouraged and inspired by great men and women around me.  I hope to become more of who I am by God’s truth and by the path others are walking.  I am getting built by Encouragement.

What I Learned as a Friend: It feels like the stars have come out when you share with your closest friend what God puts on your heart for this season of her life.

What I Learned as a Parent: It is essential to treat your kids equally and to teach them the value of equality.  That way, they will know that nothing is impossible by their own experience and by definition.  Inspired by my own mother and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Malala Yousafzai.

Verse:   Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Deep Thought: Driving on the expressway a few weeks ago, I pushed back on making a phone call.  I finally made a deal with myself that I would make the call when I got to my exit.  The call stretched me and caused a certain amount of relational tension.  Later, I see that change does not happen without connecting.  Without bringing about a certain amount of tension with the eyes of compassion. Change does not happen without being bold and brave.  Thanks in part to Seth Godin’s keynote message at Leadercast 2015.

Quote: You don’t have to be an extrovert or fearless to be a bold leader.  You don’t have to have a specific gift or talent.  You don’t have to be ultra smart or resourced.  You need clarity around an unreasonable commitment to what should beParaphrase from Andy Stanley’s keynote message at Leadercast 2015.

Book(s)/Blog(s)/People that Shape Me: Roarke Denver, US Navy Seal Commander, I love the way he speaks about his family with gentleness, shares his combat experiences with humanity and the way he defines the path to bravery.

My Prayer to You: I pray that we would trust the way God speaks to us and that we would share His insight when He calls us to.  I pray that there would be no sweeter moment than putting words into God’s Book of Remembrance.  I pray that we would remember that all of us are conduits of bravery and capable shaking fear.  I pray that we would remember the call on humanity to equality.  And, that there is no greater cause than laying down your life for your friend.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Beauty of the Body

When the road you are walking on shakes and the thunder vibrates your path, it’s hard to keep your faith from flustering. It’s hard not to question your walk, your direction. It’s hard not to let a dart of doubt strike you – – it’s hard not to have a faith puncture right in your side. It’s the reality of the hardships of this life. We are a human lifetime short of eternity. And, sometimes we feel it more than we want to.

I think about the girlfriends in my life. I think about my own life. I think about how we, in a healthy way, process difficulties. It’s about giving my time and timeline to God. Turning over my thoughts to Him. Hearing Him lead me to scriptures. It’s a process of letting go, giving God the reins and going where He leads. It’s a process of building up faith to the point of total commitment to God’s plans for your life. You are eventually washed in the belief that God is only good and His care for you goes on indefinitely. This is how, for the most part, the believer processes hardship, life’s difficulties.

I tell you about these things because they’re true. But it’s only half of the story. There is another piece to a walk of hardship. God’s hand also holds you through the body of Christ. Recently, God has shown me the beauty of the body. I want to share with you a few examples of the body of Christ working in the lives of me and the sisters I have the privilege of knowing.

Many of you felt the tremor of our former pastor’s resignation last Spring. The open wounds and sadness were sort of like a Florida summer weather report where the constant rain and heat feel indefinite. But then came the ladies retreat at end of summer. I had a moment of taking in the hundreds of ladies worshipping God with pure hearts. With the kind of Crazy Love that Frances Chan writes about. With the kind of abandon that you only find when you know you have been saved by a Savior. As the Lord was allowing me to take all of that in, my faith was built in the way of the faithfulness of the body of Christ. No matter what happens on the top, where man sometimes fails, the body of believers has the ability to remain intertwined and faithful to the Living God.

Have you ever hit a brick wall? It’s the place where your faith and your life circumstances intersect. You know that God is good and His word is right, but that doesn’t gel with the facts you are facing. I had a period where my marriage seemed to be at the end. We could not see eye to eye on nonnegotiable issues for both of us. The reality of that brought me to my breaking point. At my weakest moments, I laid out my rock-and-a-hard place personal trauma. My best friend C said we are going to fast and she did that with me. Other close friends prayed and called me and took action to circle around my hardship. God worked through all of the efforts of the body of Christ to knock down an immovable brick wall.

I also see the body of Christ faithful in the way of meeting needs. And, you know, my sisters, the need is great. I think of my friend S whose dad’s life on earth ended. I think of my friend Y whose husband just had another serious surgery. I think of the 11 year old girl in my son’s class who just lost her dad unexpectedly. I see the body send meal after meal. I see the body send cards and give cash gifts to help with expenses. I see the body jump at the opportunity to be there in times of need.

What I know is that no person is an island even with God at her side. He is our sustenance. Our breath. But He made us to also need each other. Sometimes it feels like a leap of faith to accept food or money or prayers or help from a sister. It’s not natural in our culture to turn your back on complete self sufficiency. But, in God’s richness, He gives deeply through His body. I pray, I really pray, that whether you are on the giving side or the receiving side that you genuinely take in the love of Christ offered to you through the body.


When Your Next Step is a Blur

I don’t know any one who sets out to make the wrong decision.  In fact, most of the time, we take great measures to make the right decision.  But, what happens when the “great measures” taken still leave you blurry?

I have a back pack full of decisions waiting to me made.  They are the interconnected kind – – can’t make this one until I make that one . . . this one depends on the outcome of that one . . . It goes on like that in a chain of about a dozen decisions.

I am thankful for the direction when I know I’ve got it.  What I mean is that I typically wait for God to give me the go ahead – – on the big move.  Once I’ve got the go ahead, faith starts pumping through my blood.  Then the confidence makes it’s way to my mouth and brain.

So now that I have my direction – – I still have my whole back pack of interrelated decisions!  For me, that’s heavy.  It’s heavy for you too.  You’ve got your big life decisions like who to marry, what type of education, life long work.  You’ve got your personal decisions like worthwhile passions, friendships, faith.  You’ve got your daily decisions like what to eat, when to exercise or when to drop the schedule to take up another’s burden or just be a good listener.  It’s hard to deny that most of our decisions are interrelated with varying degrees of weight on our backs.  And, sometimes, the path of decision-making feels like a blur.

But blur in my book is a good thing.  The good kind of blur means – – I’ve got my direction, but I can’t see the whole way there.  The journey starts out as heavy and hard, but with God, it ends up light and adventurous.  This is the opportunity of faith.  Go ahead and embrace the blur.  I got the good feeling that end of a thing is better than the beginning.

FF NOv 11

Through Thick and Thin

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

As I read AbbyA’s blog yesterday about her mother and her tremendous amount of loss, I was reminded of Job. Like AbbyA’s mom, Job lost his family, his fortune, and his health. I was recently surprised by a pastor saying that many experts believe that time of testing in Job’s life to be a period of nine months! I was surprised by that as I expected it to be a period of several years. But nine months is a short time to lose so much, as I’m sure AbbyA’s mom knows too well.

But when I think of Job’s story, I also think of Job’s “friends.”  Friends who rather than comforting him and supporting him through his loss, only pointed fingers at him, asking him continually what he had done to incur God’s wrath. Sadly, often these things still happen today, even in the church. Rather than ministering to those around us, we judge, gossip. At the end of the book of Job, God judged Job’s friends, admonishing them for their response to Job’s predicament.

Often it is during the most difficult times in our lives that we realize who are true friends are. The fair weather friends quickly disperse when the clouds of a storm loom over our heads. They are nowhere to be found. But true friends stick with you, through thick and thin…for better and for worse.

I think of my life and how often already difficult situations would have truly been unbearable without the support and encouragement of my friends. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by people who truly care and support you!

So for today, I am thankful for the blessings of friends. Friends who’ve held my hand when I was scared and some who’ve even carried me when I could not walk. Friends who’ve stuck with me through the years. I am thankful for the blessings of my fellow blog sisters, AbbyA and JMathis, who have encouraged my writing aspirations and encouraged my walk with their writings. I am thankful for the friendship that has arisen out of our shared blog and shared passion.

Lord, thank you, for You truly do make all things beautiful.

Eternal Friendships

By AbbyA

The friendships we form on earth are simply types and shadows of what our Creator wants from us, desires from us, needs from us. Friendships provide a mere taste, a slight glimpse into the very best God has specifically and uniquely designed for me and you. – JMathis

Types and Shadows.  Shadows of His Perfection.  Types of the way His Spirit reaches into our hearts and minds.  Types and Shadows.  He speaks to us in languages and through forums.  Ways in which we can know Him.  Through the Distance of Time.  Through the Seemingly Opaque Door of Eternity.  Through Friendships.

There is a seemingly opaque door with a window or maybe a linen screen.  There is a way in which to see in.  Through dreams in the night time.  Through views of nature that are so beautiful, you feel you can walk right through them.  Through places you see in your thoughts.  That you cannot place in reality.  But know undeniably they are there.  Through Friendships.

The neat thing about friendships is that it is one of the few things that we will take with us to eternity.  Many things will pass away as unnecessary when we trade in types and shadows for the face of Christ.  But Friendships.  It only makes sense that in our spiritual form, we will know one another.

In our spiritual form, we will have ways to share Me-Too moments that did not occur to us here.  We will have an entirely new set of Me-Toos to open up the door to shared purpose and shared experience.  In that perfection, in the supernatural way of the Father, even the forgotten pain and mutual hurt will deepen the closeness available through eternal friendships.

Perhaps I spend too much time in the possibility of what is to come.  But I cannot help to think that in the space of my imagination.  In the space that I dream about my Father’s home.  I am clothed and covered first in Him and then by . . . Friendships.

Thank You, Lord!

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Thank you, Lord, for friendships. Without them, Childhood would have been sadness. Adolescence would have been torturous. And Adulthood would have been meaningless.

Thank you, Lord, for friendships.Even for friends long-gone from my life.Whose absence once saddened my heart now waft in my mind like the lingering, nostaligic scent of a sweet memory.

Thank you, Lord, for friendships. For friends of today who were unexpected blessings. For AbbyA and her beautiful poetic words. For JMathis and her sharp writer’s sword. For the time you have let our pathways intertwine into one. Searching, learning, growing…together. An earthly trinity whose eyes strive to stay heaven-bound.

Thank you, Lord, for friendships. For future friends we’ve yet to meet. For the secrets we’ve yet to share. For the prayers that have yet to be prayed.

Yes, thank you, Lord, for friendships. For laughter. For tears. For joy. For sweet sorrow. For only you, Lord, could have created something so, so beautiful.