Friday, January 31, 2014

FMF: Hero

I really don't want to sound cheesy, but the facts are plain:

My husband is my hero.

Don't get me wrong -- he is far from perfect, just like me.  But he is brave.  And he knows I am often, well, not.  And so when I hear God say "take a risk," he's all in, even when it becomes a bigger risk for him than it is for me.

In April 2012, I was offered a scholarship to go to the Speak Up Conference the following June.  But I felt if I went, I should do the writing track.  And if I did the writing track, well, I should meet with a publisher.  And if I was going to meet with a publisher, it might be a very good idea to have a book proposal.

But the only thing I had worth writing about was my journey through my husband's porn addiction.  And I didn't want it to be this one-sided picture of lament and healing.

And so, I asked him to write it with me.

And he said, Yes.

Almost two years later, our book will be coming out in October 2014.  

A hero doesn't have to look perfect on the outside and doesn't have to convince people that he's perfect on the inside.  A hero is just someone who takes a risk, who sacrifices himself for another.

And that is who he is.

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I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The one where I ask you for help (#RiskRejection)

{Amy Sullivan asked us if we would #RiskRejection and try new things, even if we knew we might not succeed.  Amy did not know when she asked me to participate is that I do not even ask for extra condiments if I fear being told "no."  But what Amy does know is that if God relentlessly hammers me asks me to do something, I will, which is why I have been embarking on adventures off the designated trails and into the scary wilderness where I might emerge humiliated badly scratched refined.}
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I'm taking a risk by trusting you.

Yep, see, my One Word this year is FUN! and let's just say I'm a little short of ideas on how to have it.

I'm a pretty introspective person.  I am well-versed in my flaws.  I'm confident in my spiritual gifts.  But when God plopped this FUN! word in my lap, I kinda just stared at it as it morphed into some alien with three heads.

To tell the truth, I didn't want to touch it.  Much like you wouldn't want to touch an alien, I suppose.

God's been super faithful with me so far in this new FUN! adventure.  He told me to go get a pedicure.  FUN!  My husband invited me to go get some Dim Sum, which I had never experienced before, with him on date night.  FUN!

God's also been super graceful with me about it so far, too.  Last week, I defiantly told God I had no time for FUN! and didn't have any at all.  (It ended up being a stressful, sucky week, too.)  But, He's totally forgiven me and is ready to start anew.  He's tenacious like that.

My plan this week is to take myself on a date to Hobby Lobby and peruse the aisles. I love to craft and I'm thinking I'll find something FUN! to do with my hands.

But this, friends, is sadly where my ideas have ended and I'm pretty sure if I don't have ideas lined up, I'll end up defaulting to, um, work.

I sound lame, I know.

But it's okay because it's created a way for me to take a real risk.  And that's the theme of January thanks to Amy.  What is this risk?

I want to try your ideas for FUN!  And I'm seriously committed to trying new things because that's how we get to know what we like and don't like, right?  I need to know myself in the area of FUN! but I need you to help me get there.

So here's how this is gonna work.  In the comments, would you please leave me ONE idea for FUN! for me to try.  I'll try one idea per week and blog about it, letting you know how it went, what I learned, how God met me in that activity.

Some parameters first:

1.  It cannot involve risking my life.  (I have little peeps that depend on my being alive.)
2.  It cannot be cost-prohibitive.  (This blogging/speaking thing doesn't bring in the cash to support outlandish, lavish adventures.  Or things like skydiving.  Plus, you know, the husband has access to the credit card statement...)
3.  It has to be something that you have tried before.  Because, we need to be able to compare experiences.  That sounds like FUN! to me.

(I'm also kinda feeling like this is a risk to even ask you because you might think this is totally lame and no one will leave a comment.  Just being honest with this whole risk-taking adventure here.)

Oookkaayyy -- I'm ready for you.  Give me whatcha got.



Linking with Linking up with Amy for #riskrejection. And also with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer Lee for #tellHisstory, Michell for DYWW,  Women to Women Sharita for Everyday Jesus, and Lyli for Thought Provoking Thursday.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why having FUN! is hard... and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
ALSO, please be sure to check out some exciting NEW announcements at the end of the post!
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Yesterday I cleaned my house.  Out of defiance.

I sure am the rebellious one, aren't I?

But my One Word for 2014 is FUN! and I had had no fun last week.  So with the house a mess, a class to plan, a blog post to write, and an outline for a talk due, I sure wasn't going to start with this FUN! business on Sunday.  There was no time for that.

The whole time I was cleaning, though, John 1: 35-39 kept reverberating through my head.  Not the entire passage, but rather, this line:  What do you want?

Jesus asked his two newest disciples this question after they started following behind Him.

What do you want?
What do you seek?
What are you looking for?

And the truth is, I'm looking for security.  In all the wrong places.

In a clean and orderly house.
In obedient children.
In enough money in the bank.
In food/drink in my kitchen.
In the correct number on the scale.
In things checked off my to-do list.

When you take these things away from me, frankly, I get mad.  If you ask me to have FUN! instead of working on any of the above things, I will kick and scream.  It's not about giving into fun, but about what I'm giving up to have it.  That's what scares me.

I know I'm teaching this passage for my Monday class, so I go there with Jesus.  I imagine following behind Him, Him turning around to me, cupping my face in His Hands, and asking me with gentleness, What is it you want, my daughter?

I roll out my long scroll of things I want, of things I think I need.  And He traces the roots back of all those things with me and they all lead to security.  And He shows  me I am unwilling to have fun because I am unwilling to give up the security I find in worldly things.  What happens when I surrender them? What comes next?  I can't see it and therefore, I am afraid.

I'm standing at the edge of the cliff and I know I need to jump, leaving these worldly crutches behind.  And I know I'll be jumping to Him, but I am still scared.  All the "what ifs" are overwhelming.

I keep reading into John in verses 40-42.  Andrew is so taken with Jesus and so he goes off to find his brother, Simon.  Verse 42 says, "Looking intently, Jesus said, 'Your name is Simon, son of John -- but you will be called Cephas' (which means Peter)."

Looking intently.  The Greek word for "looking intently" is "emblepo" which means a look that is penetrating, one that sees beyond the superficial.  Not only did Jesus see Peter as the fisherman he was, but he saw who he would become -- the foundation of the church.

Jesus sees me as I am right now and all the possibilities within me, too.  All the possibilities that come with following Jesus.

And, well, He's asking me to follow Him to...FUN!  Because letting go and having fun even when the work isn't done is a huge risk for me.

It sounds so irresponsible to me, but as my minister pointed out to me on Sunday, it was pretty irresponsible for all those fisherman disciples to get up and follow Jesus.  They were taught this livelihood their whole lives.  They were supposed to work this job and care for their families.  There was no room for anything else.

Funny.  Jesus likes to make room for Himself in our lives.  Which usually means some other thing has to go.

So, He's asking me to choose.  My security or my possibilities.

I stand at the edge of the cliff and I am scared.  Driving home from Bible study, I hear this song on the radio: You Will Be Safe in His Arms and I remember these words from Jesus calling last week:
"Depending only on Me may feel like walking on a tightrope, but there is a safety net underneath: the everlasting arms.
Getting behind Jesus and following Him feels like jumping off a cliff sometimes.  Do I trust He'll catch me?  Yes.

Will I necessarily like how He catches me?  Probably not.  But do I want to learn how to have FUN!? Yes.

What about your One Word?  What do you find yourself surrendering so you can experience the fullness of your One Word?

Need some inspiration about One Words?  Watch this:
Email subscribers, click here to watch.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS! ANNOUNCEMENTS!  
Are you a KNITTER or CROCHETER?  We need you to help with our 3rd Annual SDG Retreat Fundraiser.  Click here to get the details about Woven with Love.












Want to give a SOLDIER some love and encouragement? Do you know a soldier that could use a few extra prayers?  Fellow SDG sister, Beth, has created a webpage specifically dedicated to this here.  Please be sure to stop by, leave a request or a prayer, and bless a soldier today!




Friday, January 24, 2014

FMF: Visit

I was up early this morning in anticipation of school being canceled.  It doesn't happen often here in central Texas, but the temperature was still way below freezing and I could see the ice frozen hard on the street.  The day was going to go differently than I had originally planned.

I lay in my bed, trying to decide the best use of time -- extra sleep or time alone in the quiet downstairs before the house awoke?

And then, He came.

He came to visit me right where I was, huddled under the covers, letting my body gain extra rest while He showed me why my heart had been in disarray the past month.

And He showed me that I had been dancing around Him all this time, thinking I was pressing in, but  no...

I have been hiding.  I've been trying to de-stress and self-talk, ashamed of my anxiety, perhaps?  Trying to do all the right things on my own strength because somehow to just acknowledge the stress and the fact that it was actually driving me crazy would mean I wasn't doing life right.

And I really hate to be wrong.

But this morning, being wrong felt good.  Because I could repent and turn back and realize I do not have to be ashamed.  It's okay for me to have my emotions and work them out.  I do not have to "do life right."

All that is required of me is to do life with Him.

photo credit: Maja_Larsson via photopin cc

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I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Ripple Effect of Risk (#RiskRejection)

{Amy Sullivan asked us if we would #RiskRejection and try new things, even if we knew we might not succeed.  Amy did not know when she asked me to participate is that I do not even ask for extra condiments if I fear being told "no."  But what Amy does know is that if God relentlessly hammers me asks me to do something, I will, which is why I have been embarking on adventures off the designated trails and into the scary wilderness where I might emerge humiliated badly scratched refined.}
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I often think of risks in terms of what I have to lose or what I have to gain.  It's a weighing game played on mental scales and most of these scales are only weighing things directly related to me.

It seems as I can be a bit egocentric at times.  You?

I think back to my original risk two weeks ago, how in those 20 seconds I was able to momentarily cease thoughts about me and entertain the needs of the person in front of me.  But in that circumstance, the Holy Spirit caught me off-guard. I didn't have time to weigh every measure.  I couldn't overthink the situation.  I couldn't make the list of pros and cons.

photo credit
But with other risks, they weigh themselves on our hearts for days, months, years, and perhaps decades.  We hem and haw, go back and forth, talk ourselves into things and then right back out of them.  We don't find the thing that just pushes us so far off the edge that we have no choice but to dive fully into the risk.  Instead, we make ourselves weary by retracing the same back and forth steps and we never get anywhere except deeper into our own well-worn tracks.

But what if the thing that finally propels us has nothing to do with us?  What if we were to turn our risk around and see it in a different light?  What if we made our risk not about what we might lose, but about what someone else might gain?

It's no secret that our behaviors can have a ripple effect on the people around us, those known and unknown, those who lie in our beds or pass us on the streets.  So I wonder why I always dedicate so much more thought to how the risk is going to effect me rather than those around me?  Obviously, because I've learned the art of self-protection.  But, I have an interest in shedding that layer.  I have an interest in becoming less like me and more like Christ.  And to allow that transformation, I must attempt to see things as He does.

Take Jia Jiang (the whole reason this thing started).  He risked rejection by walking into a doughnut shop, asking them to make doughnuts in the shape of the Olympic rings.  He expected to be told something like, "Um, sir, I don't really know what you're talking about.  We don't do that kind of thing here."  (I imagine this said in a snooty voice.)  Instead, he got exactly what he ordered.  Don't believe me?  Watch below:

email subscribers, click here to view

So Jia Jiang was pleasantly surprised.  His risk was rewarded with inventive Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  But who else was blessed by this whole experience?

Jackie, the girl who was handed the challenge and rose to the task.  What did Jackie get?

  • High praise from Jia Jiang.
  • National (global?) recognition for rising to the challenge in newspapers and blogs around the world.
  • Declared one of 8 ordinary people who did amazing things in 2012
  • 4,296 likes on a Facebook page Jia Jiang created for her called "Give Jackie a Raise"
  • Mention in Business Week
  • Appearance on Jeff Probst's television show (the Survivor host!)
photo credit: Alana12
Jia Jiang's risk changed Jackie's life.  I bet he never thought about her before he walked into that doughnut shop.  But it sure is proof that our willingness to risk our own failure can lead to someone else's amazing success.  A success that was totally unimagined, a complete blessing, unmistakably a way they could use their God-given creativity and talent.

It's not always just about us.  Your risk is not just about you.

Hear me:  I am not saying take the risk because of someone else.  I'm saying that seeing beyond yourself can give you a new perspective.  It can give you a boost of confidence.  It can help you see just how this all might be worth it in the end.  It might be the one thing that gets you off the well-worn path you've seen as both frustrating, but also...safe.

There's no way Craig and I would be writing this book about our journey through his porn addiction if it wasn't for the *possibility* that God could use our story to bring hope to someone else.  All those "someone elses" were what propelled us to go through this (very painful and hard) process.  

Well, them...and God. 

Have you risked rejection and then seen how it has positively impacted others around you?  Or can you see how taking your risk might positively impact someone else?


Linking with Linking up with Amy for #riskrejection. And also with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer Lee for #tellHisstory, Michell for DYWW,  Women to Women Sharita for Everyday Jesus, and Lyli for Thought Provoking Thursday.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Woven with Love and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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I posted in my Facebook status bar this upon completion of this scarf I made for my husband:
This may look like any old LSU scarf, but what it really is is love.#yarnchoiceiscrucial #knittingisnotforweenies #happybirthdayhusband — with Craig Ferguson.
I'm new to knitting.  Well, let me back up a bit.  When my children were MUCH smaller, I attempted to learn to knit using actual needles.  Why I thought I could learn a new hobby while both my children were 2 and 3, I don't know, because all my brain cells went to remembering to feed, clothe, change, and play with babies, and then repeat THAT pattern every darn day.  You see, in knitting, you have to pay attention to how many rows you start out with in order to keep the pattern going.  I would start out with, say, 8 loops, for a scarf.  Ten rows down into it, I'd have fifteen without even knowing how it happen.  It wasn't a miraculous occurrence.  It was a disastrous one.  And so, I gave up.  I am not a knitter, I declared.

But of course, because God has sense of humor, when that once two-year old turned eight years old, guess what she decided she wanted to do.  Knit, of course.  Of course.  But I wasn't about to pick up needles again, so what's a mom to do?

Search Amazon.com.  Of course.  Of course!  Amazon has a solution for everything!

And, lo and behold, a solution to my problem appeared.  The Knifty Knitter.  Catchy, eh?  They look like this:
I learned so I could teach Hannah.  And she loved it, but alas, the attention span of an 8 year old is not so long, at least hers is not, and we ended up knitting the scarf together (which means it was mostly me).  And I loved doing it.  And Craig saw how much I loved it, which is why he requested an LSU scarf.  (It is here that I learned why yarn choice is crucial.  Using this particular yarn was hard.  Not fun. Which is why it is a gift of love since I actually went ahead and finished it.)

Through all the looping, though, I thought how cool it would be for us SDG sisters, who are already woven together in love, to give each other a tangible way to actually feel that love around them.

And so, the Woven with Love Fundraiser for the 2014 SDG Retreat was born.


Here's the idea:  

1.  Make a scarf (yarn and color of your choosing).
2.  Send me a picture of the completed product.
3.  Scarf picture will be posted on SDG link-up days.
4.  Enter to claim the scarf using the Rafflecopter widget and enter the amount you are willing to pay for the scarf.
3.  Using Rafflecopter, I will pick one random winner and contact her.
4.  Winner sends me payment for the scarf.
5.  Scarf-maker sends the scarf to that SDG sister.
6.  Repeat for the next scarf!

(Because I know everyone's budgets are different, I wanted everyone to be able to have a scarf and not lose because she was always outbid, hence the pledging.  Because we all deserve some tangible love around our shoulders, right?)

So, what's next?
If you are willing to make a scarf, will you drop me an email (jenfergie2000 {at} me {dot} com) or leave me a comment?

photo credit: kpwerker via photopin cc (Words added by Jen) **********************************
Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? 
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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Friday, January 17, 2014

FMF: Encouragement from a former porn star

I sat in my chair yesterday morning, tears again escaping my eyes.  The sense of overwhelm and emptiness overtook me and I lamented over and over:

Why does parenting have to be so hard?

I sit there, blanket around me, dog snoring softly and I don't even know for what more to ask of God.

I don't know what I need.  I just know I need something.  Will you give it to me? I promise to look, God.

A few minutes later, I pull myself together enough to start editing chapter 4.  Unfortunately, chapter 4 required more research.  Research into this dark world of pornography.  And so when I go there, I often emerge from the trenches feeling dirty, saddened, and enraged.

Chapter 4 is not my friend.

I go to Shelley Lubben's site because she has tons of statistics and quotes -- quotes I need from porn stars and producers.  But she asks that before anyone uses any of them, they get permission from her.

I had already asked her once months ago.  No response.

But today, I type out another email and send it off, hoping.

In five minutes I get a return response:
Jen,
You have my permission. Let me know when you have finished the book!!!
Shelley Lubben
Encouragement from a former porn star.  Who would have thought?

But it was exactly what I needed.


photo credit: deeplifequotes via photopin cc

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I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Think God doesn't care about nail polish? Think again.

{Amy Sullivan asked us if we would #RiskRejection and try new things, even if we knew we might not succeed.  Amy did not know when she asked me to participate is that I do not even ask for extra condiments if I fear being told "no."  But what Amy does know is that if God relentlessly hammers me asks me to do something, I will, which is why I have been embarking on adventures off the designated trails and into the scary wilderness where I might emerge humiliated badly scratched refined.}
My One Word for 2014, if you don't know already, is FUN!  For a large number of you, you might think this word is very easy.  Or at least, a word to look forward to on a daily basis.  At the sound of FUN!, your eyes might start to glimmer with excitement and expectation.  You might slip into a child-like state filled with wonder.

Not me.  I'm panicking.  And while I might be in the minority, I do know there are others of you out there that are like me.  After my One Word post on Monday, I got this email from a friend:
"I think your word FUN is great for 2014…

Mine is PLAY, which I often forget to do in the midst of getting one more thing done.  I too would much rather work, I really didn’t know anyone else was like that.  Working is safe, you can see tangible results."   
Here's the thing: I know how to have fun at planned "fun" outings. I can laugh, tell funny stories, dress up like a pirate on theme night with my nieces and kids.  I can dance in the kitchen to Frozen's "Let It Go" while my kids are eating breakfast.  I know how to be fun at the appropriately designated times.

But I have a hard time letting fun in on a daily basis -- a fun that fuels me, that allows me to experience respite from the daily demands of life.  I am a work first, play later, where the playing doesn't happen often because the work never seems to get all done, kind of girl.  I don't often allocate many brain cells to thinking of fun things to do.  Never in a million years, would I have dreamed up something like this.  A doughnut tour?  I stand amazed at the brain who came up with that one.

What I'm sensing from God is that He wants me not only to have fun, but to have spontaneous, seemingly pointless fun.  Fun that happens outside the designated time and place.

But this is risky for me.  Because if I add in the fun, I risk not getting the work done.  And I really like to be on the ball, on top of things, ahead of the game.

Because it's there I find my security.  And if I'm honest, a little bit of my self-worth.  Who wants to risk security and self-worth?  Not me.

But God, He wants me to risk it.  For obvious reasons.  And, He's gone ahead and taken me seriously about this One Word. And He expects me to listen and participate when He puts fun ideas in my head.  His idea yesterday?  Go get a pedicure.  Here's how our conversation went:

The scene, Tuesday. I'm sitting in my chair, doing my morning devotions in the noon hour.  I'm exhausted from a busy weekend, bible study and a hospital visit on Monday, a husband out of town, children who weren't cooperating, and a meeting that morning.  My plan is to work, get ahead, power through until it's time to pick up the kids from school.  Suddenly, God interrupts my plan.

God: Go get a pedicure.

Me: No.  I have too much work to do.  

God:  Go get a pedicure.

Me: No.  I'll go get one on Thursday, after I've caught up on my work.

God:  Go get a pedicure today.  You always put off fun.  You need this.  Your word is FUN!  This is something fun for you.

Me:  I don't have the money.

God: Yes, you do.  Go get a pedicure.

I try to ignore Him and I am not successful, but I don't move from my chair.  My computer stays poised on my lap.  And then, my mind flashes back to the night before when I couldn't wait for the kids to go to bed (re: I was impatient and yelling) because I had nothing left in my tank.

God:  Do you want tonight to be a repeat of last night?

Me: I shake my head "no."  I call the nail salon.  Of course, they can get me right in.  Of course.

I take myself to the salon.  I don't look at my phone the entire time I'm in the chair.  At one point, I actually close my eyes and focus on the massage.  I soak up all this glorious fun and by the end, I feel restored.  Funny, God was right.  I really needed that.

However, I didn't realize just how much I needed that until 8:45pm when my youngest was having an 8 year-old meltdown and I had to keep it together.  And not only did I just need to keep it together, I needed to have access to Wisdom because after all the outlandish tears had finally subsided, she shared what had been bottled up in her little heart -- the hurts, the confusion, the fear -- she had been stuffing in for a few week's time.

I hate to think what I would have been like had I not risked getting things done in order to have a little bit of fun.  But in a short summation, I could have worked, but I would have risked my daughter's heart. 

And there is no contest between those two things.  Glory be to God that things like pedicures matter to Him.

Linking with Linking up with Amy for #riskrejection. And also with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer Lee for #tellHisstory, Michell for DYWW,  Women to Women , Sharita for Everyday Jesus, and Lyli for Thought Provoking Thursday.

photo credit: melloveschallah via photopin cc

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who's Ready for a Little Fun? Well, Me... and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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A just for FUN! photo.  Besides, superheroes must have fun, right?
I'm a very serious person.  I've been labeled "intense."  I'm  more inclined to go deep and reveal too much than I am to keep the conversation shallow and share too little.  I like schedules, routines, and productivity.  I love to work hard so (in theory) I can get ahead.  I consistently say, "When I'm done working, I'll relax and have some fun."  Intrinsically, I know relaxation and fun need to happen in order for me to enjoy life.  But since I prioritize it is as something to only be done after, it doesn't happen on a consistent basis.  

I've been negligent about having fun.

Thus, FUN! is my word for 2014.  It's not a very biblical word. In fact, if you search for "fun" on BibleGateway.com, most of the time you get words like this:

Funds
Fungus
Funeral

Funds could be fun, but funerals and fungi?  Not so much.

Other times "fun" comes up, it's often in the context of poking fun.  Definitely not the kind of fun I want to have.  Or, it's talking about things that are not fun.  My favorite?  This one: "Having a fool for a child is misery; it's no fun being the parent of a dolt."  (Proverbs 17:21)  Sometimes The Message version of the Bible just cracks me up.

FUN! is a challenging word for me, much because there's not a spelled out this-is-how-you-do-it action plan in God's Word.  But I think FUN! is there...I just have to look for it.  In fact, one night while I was praying, waiting for sleep to come, I was thinking about this word and how I was going to live it out.  And I simply asked God, 

"Are You fun?  Can You show me in the Bible where You are?  Because I don't remember reading about it.  And if I don't see You doing it, how will I know it's valuable and good?"

And crystal clear, these words reverberated in my head:

You have to see Jesus with a different perspective.  You have to read the words, set the scene, and think about who He is.  I will show You how I had fun when I walked on the earth.

Suddenly, in my mind, I saw Jesus walking out on the water to greet His disciples.

Now that was fun, I heard Him say.

I'd always read this story while placing myself in the character of Peter -- how I doubt, how I fall, how I get caught up in my reality instead of my faith.  And those are important aspects of the story from which I deeply learned.  There are important characteristics of Jesus addressed in this story that are crucial to my ability to trust in Him -- He will catch me, He calls me, He'll never leave me, even when I doubt.

But now, I can also see He's fun.  He chose to get to His disciples by WALKING ON WATER.  He could have swam to them. He could have yelled at the storm from the shore.  He could have just appeared in the boat if He wanted to do so, I'm sure.

I imagine Him watching the disciples in the boat, trying to weather the storm.  A slow, wry smile plays on His lips.  He thinks to Himself, Hehehehe, what will they think of this?  And then, when Peter sees the fun Jesus is STANDING ON WATER, he wants to try it, too.  It probably looked fun so of course Peter wants in.

Fun is contagious.  Because what comes with good, pure fun?  Laughter, joy, uplifted spirits.  Who doesn't want that?  We know the "joy of the LORD is our strength."  One of the ways we sense God's joy has to be through fun, right?

But, I'm new at all this, so I'd love to hear how you experience God's joy through FUN!  Would you tell me?  I'd love for you to leave a comment, but also, if you are interested in writing a guest post about what FUN! is to you, I'd love to publish it.  If we have enough interest, maybe we can make a series.  

Because who wouldn't want to read about new ways to have a little more fun in life?

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
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Friday, January 10, 2014

FMF: See

I've curled up in my chair, pulled my bible and my journal on my lap, and I'm overcome with fatigue. After my kids have been back in school for a week, I feel more tired than I was when they were home.  I try to figure it out...

How can this be?

And I realize that in one week, I added everything back in that I had laid down while they were home.  I'm blogging and planning for Bible study and editing the book.

And running.  Running, running, and more running.  Because that's what you do when you train for a marathon.

And of course all this fatigue leads me to complaining on the lines of my journal.  And I hear these words...

My yoke is easy.  My burden is light.

And I write down in my journal these whispered words.  And after that, these words:

I need a perspective shift here.  I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I can glimpse it.

I'm thinking it's not about the things I do, but about the state of my  heart while I do them.  The state of my dependency on God.  Are my offerings and outpourings always tied to Him?

Because if they are not, they begin to become my own burdens, my own yokes.

Those are not easy.  Those are not light.

I'm curled up in my chair and I pray for eyes to see, for His perspective to become clear.

To gain that, I just might have to close my own.


photo credit: shoothead via photo pin cc

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I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Risk Rejection? I don't think so. Well, maybe...

If you asked me if I am a risk-taker, I would tell you "no."  And not just a "no" in a "not really" kind of voice, but an emphatic, vocal, "no way Jose" intonation.  You'd think I really meant "no."

It is in my nature to crave the quiet life, one that is predictable and soothing.  I want to take the way that is known, well-traveled.  I am not spontaneous. I don't play the stock market.  I have been at the same church since I was seven and live just one little hop from the city in which I was raised.  I don't even like to ask for extra condiments if I fear I might be told "no."

Unlike Amy, who has challenged us to #riskrejection, I am not sick of the designated trails.  In fact, I really, really like them.  I'm not even adventurous when it comes to food.  My husband had to trick me to get me to eat fried alligator.  (Yes, he's from Louisiana and yes, it tastes like chicken, but tougher.)

You get the picture.  I like stability.  Risk rocks stability.  Therefore, I should not take risks, lest I want to find myself capsized.

But then, I do.  I do take risks despite my inordinately strong predisposition to not do so.

And I do it because I am temporarily blinded to the risk just long enough to put myself out there.  It's only after I've become fully committed that I realize what the heck I just did and start to freak out.  I'm doing WHAT again?

God must have figured out how I work.  If He can just get me to see something His way for about 20 seconds, He knows I'll be in.  He'll deal with my wrath, anxiety, and questions later.

It is in those 20 seconds that I forget about me.  It is in those 20 seconds where my perspective completely changes and all I can think about is how in taking this risk I might change someone else's world or... maybe even the whole world.

Someone else's need begins to supersede my need to be safe.  I become selfless instead of staying selfish.  And I end up battling the selfish for the rest of the time I'm engaged in the risk-taking, sure,  but because I committed, I know that selfless person is still somewhere inside me.  The Holy Spirit is still working and helping me battle out my flesh, keeping His will in front of me, even if it means leaving the beaten path.

The world has a scale for risks, but I'm not sure that God does.  Any time we step out in faith, any time we see His perspective and act, that is a big deal.  To us.  To Him.  Because it means we are choosing to make Him a bigger priority than ourselves.

Last Friday, Hannah had a friend coming over to play. It was the first playdate, so when the mom dropped her off, I knew there would be the obligatory "first playdate" conversation.  I didn't expect much more than the norm -- pick up time, food allergies, etc.  But I happened to apologize for the state of my house due to the de-Christmasfying process, which lead to trash pick-up, which led to tears forming in her eyes because through some other twists and turns in the conversation, we landed on this:  They had just moved here from another state and the truth is, she's having a really hard time.

And immediately, I said:  "I'll be your friend!  Let's have coffee sometime!" (for me, minimal risk)

But then I got that familiar inkling, the feeling there was something more I could offer her.

"Um, well, I also lead a bible study for women at my church.  I don't even know if you believe in God, but that's okay.  We're a great group of women.  You could make a whole bunch of friends.  And we have free childcare..."

20 seconds.

She could have told me she'd look into it with a "yeah, right" kind of mentality.  She could of told me that wasn't her speed.  She could have walked away, come back to pick up her daughter, and that could have been the end of it.  I could have ended up rejected because of my silly "I'll be your friend!" comment or because of my faith or because she thought I was making assumptions about what she needed.

But she didn't.  And she's coming to bible study.  And I think we'll be good friends.

For 20 seconds, I forgot about how she might perceive me.  All I could see were her tears.  All I could feel was the Holy Spirit.

I risked rejection and we both reaped rewards.

(And why did I use 20 seconds?  Because this is one of my favorite quotes: "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it." - Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo)

Linking up with Amy for #riskrejection. And also with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer Lee for #tellHisstory, and Women to Women today.

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Monday, January 6, 2014

What I Learned at the Zoo and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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At the Cameron Park Zoo on Saturday, December 28th, I realized in a powerful way why I do what I do:

I blog because I love.

Because I love God.  Because I love people.  Specifically, you people.

That Saturday in December, I told my family we were driving an hour and a half north to Waco to meet another family none of us have ever met.  My conversation with Craig went a bit like this:  "The woman (the lovely Kristin Taylor) is my blog friend who lives in Kentucky and she's visiting her sister in Dallas.  So of course, we must seize the opportunity to take our friendship to the IRL level!  And she has 2 kids and a husband, so it will be great!"

(Bless my husband for just going with it and because it's his birthday today.)

Long story short, our husbands hit it off.  Our kids hit it off.  And lo and behold, Kristin and I hit it off.  And I found out so much about her in 3 hour parade of fighting tigers, bucket-playing orangutangs, really loud gibbons (the kids tried to give them a run for their money, though), and a plethora of food at the Collins Street Bakery.  It was incredibly fun, unawkward, and real.  And this introverted, non-risk-taking girl did it all for love.  A love born from countless blog posts, prayer requests, heartbreaks, rejections, joys, and miracles.  A love that taught me people are so much more than just a Facebook "like," a comment, a page view.

And why is this such a powerful revelation?  Because it's the ticket to freedom.  It's the ticket I can clutch in my hand that let's me get off the SEO and Stat train and board the "I-Don't-Care-About-Those-But-I-Do-Care-About-You" train for good*.  My world won't be rocked when Facebook changes how they do or don't promote posts.  I don't have to feel sad if someone unsubscribes to my blog or if less people link up.  I can deal with the fact that I almost never use Twitter because I just can't seem to get to it.  And on and on and on (because let's face it -- social media's ways of telling how you do or don't measure up are endless).

For the first time since I entered into blog and speaking world, I feel like I'm out of the shifting sand of worldly approval and stepping on to the foundation of love.  God uses the blog world and Facebook and Twitter simply as tools to let love bloom.

Does that sound cheesy? I don't know.  Probably.  But the feeling isn't cheesy.  I love the fact that I can do this all for relationships and love instead of numbers or scales or money.  

This morning I was flipping through my journal and came across this entry from August 6, 2013:
"Sometimes I think I work toward goals automatically -- goals I don't think are truly valid.  I have these goals because everyone else seems to have these goals.  So, God, do I need to be concerned about numbers?  About shares, reach, comments, Bible study attendance, etc.?
Revelation:  Numbers and stats -- I use them to bring me comfort.  They tell me if I am okay.  Oh, what incredible power I have given to them.
It's my job to love the people God brings into my life, whether that's my blog friend, my IRL friend, the homeless guy on the corner, or my next door neighbor.  When I let a number supersede the importance of the relationship or when I let them tell me whether or not I'm doing a good job, I have lost the point.  I have ceased to be guided by love, which means I have ceased to be guided by God.

Soli Deo Gloria means "To God alone be the glory."  And so I fall on my knees in thankfulness for the community of love that He has built here, whether it consists of two or two million.  Because He is the Creator.  He is the giver of words, of creativity, of the breath in this space.

Let us go out, sisters, and love well.  Immeasurably well.

*Your train may not be the SEO or Stat Train, but maybe the Scale Train, the Checklist Train, the Grade trade, etc.  Wherever you see numbers as having an impact on how you feel about yourself, perhaps that's the train God wants you to examine.

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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? 
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