Thursday, March 31, 2016

For whatever reason, I have always been able to see irony in a situation. Call me jaded or negative if you want, but I don't usually see things as they appear, rather as they seem

That's why I am laughing at myself right now. 

Like so many women my age, I like to get my nails done. Can't do the fake ones. They don't stick to my nails. Pop right off. But my natural nails on their own split and are very painful, often bleeding. So, I go get them trimmed, filed, and painted every few weeks. Sometimes I like color, but mostly I like the "French manicure" look. Never long-- always pretty short and simple. I do that for two reasons. 

First, I think there is little more pathetic than a middle-aged woman trying to hold on to her youth by way of her fingernails. Sorry if that causes you to twinge or press the esc button, but let's be honest: having nice nails is NOT going to lose you ten pounds or conceal your roots. The second reason I like simple nails is that I am too rough on my hands. (And by too rough I only mean that I am terrible at wearing gloves.) I like to wash dishes with my real hands, prepare meals with my real hands, and, on occasion, plant a flower with my real hands. 

So here's the dilemma: I got my real hands very dirty and part of the painted nail peeled off. I have an event this weekend and I wanted to have my hands look nice. But I am in battle with myself over the fact that I want to have my nails re-painted to look like a real pretty fingernail so that no one can actually see the real fingernail that is peeking out from under the broken one. Does anyone else see the irony in that? Read it again slowly if you need to; it does make sense- trust me!

Here I am, trying to cover up something real with something that only looks real. 

What in the world? 

The beauty isn't in my fake nail. The beauty isn't even in my real nail. The beauty is in getting my hands dirty by being real. 

So, I'll get my nail fixed. But I'll also be ready to get my hands dirty with any opportunity the Lord sends my way. Even if it's as simple as talking about Jesus with my nail tech. It all comes around. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hiking on a New Path

In case you were wondering, I'm still here. I know I've been a little quiet lately. I haven't been very busy, but God has been busy with me. With us. My husband and me. We've been in the valley and we've been on the mountaintop. We've been in the weeds, the pit, and on the right path. We've been all over the place for the past few months. And I wouldn't trade a moment of it. Because, as you see, I said, "We." My husband and me...and God. 

It began over a year ago, this particular journey with God. Born out of our prayers and petitions every morning. Seeking God's will for our lives and His direction for us in all manner of our life together. You see, we are His first, so why wouldn't we ask Him to show us what He wants for us? Hand-in-hand, sometimes silent, sometimes whispered, often teary-eyed pleas for God to make Himself so obvious to us that there would be no mistake-- that we would know without a shadow of a doubt that we were following Him alone. 

As I have mentioned before in this blog, we like to hike. Now by hike, I must be totally honest: we like to walk in the woods. As much as I enjoyed climbing as a child, I do not cherish it now. Mostly because you have to climb back down. We have learned this both the easy and the hard way. Some maps are more honest than others about the difficulty level of the terrain. One man's "Moderate" is another man's "DEATH TRAP!" So this God-journey was the most difficult "hike" either of us has ever been on. We did not choose the terrain nor the difficulty level. God did. 

So we prayed. And we prayed. And we PRAYED. 

I wasn't ready for the answer that came. It hurt too much. Cut way too deep. I was confused. Scared. Sad. I denied it. But yet I kept on praying, asking for His will to be done. Praising Him for His goodness. Serving Him with gladness and hope. And He kept working on me. 

Obedience is a funny thing. The thought of it seems so monumental. The enemy tells our brains that it's way too difficult. We are convinced that there will be days and nights of agony and despair and that we will never be the same again, that we stand to lose and lose too much, once we take that leap of faith. Well, sisters, I am here to tell you that the leap of faith is a step on the most sturdy and stable ground that you will ever take. God will never lead us to something that will not be for our good and for His glory! I am telling you that the enemy is filling you with doubt and fear that are lies and that are meant to make you weak and keep you from serving the only One who can provide freedom in the midst of obedience! 

You don't have to leap- just take one step!

One step toward obedience. One step, trusting the One who is leading you. And then let Him do His mighty work in your heart and in your perspective. At once my heart was healed and my spirit was soaring with the notion that I wasn't walking away from anything but that I was running toward something new and beautiful and with a purpose! He had only my best interests at heart as He always has-- and He has plans for me, even still. Jeremiah 29:11  promises me that He wants the best for me and He has shown me that my entire life. I just needed to obey Him first to see it. I just needed to seek Him first, to be rewarded with it. (Matthew 6:33)

The blessed Scripture that He left with us teaches us that we are not to be afraid. 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that we are not given a spirit of fear. Don't be fooled. 

Don't be fooled into thinking that this has been easy, even after the Lord did His work on my heart. I still hurt. I still cried (and still am). But I have no resentment, doubt, or bitterness in my heart at all! I am free because of the power of Christ and I know that this is a journey that we will not regret taking. Because, no matter the terrain, we will stand on the Rock and proclaim His goodness. 

Thank you, Jesus, for providing access to the God of all. And thank you for this new path, a hand to hold, and a heart trying to be as much like Yours as it possibly can.

Why I Choose to be Southern Baptist

These have been tough days for those of us who call ourselves “Southern Baptists.” I won’t go into all the details. I don't think it’s S...