The People I Meet : Aaron the Waiter

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“I used to have dreads” ~ Aaron said. We gasped. He had the perfect “artsy”
look and I was certain he played the guitar, wrote poetry or painted with oils. “I play video games …. Oh and I read”. I was fascinated by the assumptions & conclusions I made based solely off of his appearance. He was the perfect waiter. Or maybe he wasn’t. He was perfect for us. Hours later I thought , “Oh man, I didn’t even witness to him” . Just a few minutes ago as I came across his picture in my phone the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Yes you did. You SAW him”. #thepeopleImeet @storynashville #amwriting || Sidenote : I asked our waiter’s permission to write about him & take his picture. He agreed. I didn’t show his eyes or list his first name to respect his privacy. I’m not a creeper ☺️ just easily inspired ||

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Experiencing His Word

It took me awhile to even find it.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t even looking for it. I was looking for a novel.
I’d found a 30 minute window for some mommy time, and I hoped reading would lead to napping.

As I began to reflect over the last few days I realized I hadn’t opened its pages in almost a week.

Wow.

I felt a bit troubled.

It didn’t seem like I’d neglected the Word in all of this. The water breaking. The rush to the hospital. The heavy contractions. The spinal that just wouldn’t go in. The c section that seemingly lasted for hours. The recovery. The wee hours. Hadn’t I read the Word?

Hadn’t I taken the time to open its pages and seek?

It was if flashes of an upcoming movie begin to fill my mind.

Jesus when I was scared.
Father when I was in pain.
Holy Spirit in the peace of the night.

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Within every thread of this birth I could feel and see Him….present.

At times we cling to the written word of God, more desperately and consistently than we do the presence of God. As a pastor friend once said , “To honor the Word of God higher than the person of God is idolatry. ”

Interestingly enough, although I’d heard this and deep down believed this, I fought the feeling of condemnation I felt for not having read my bible in almost an entire week.

Until, I acknowledged that THE WORD was present each and every moment of this delivery and continues to be in this recovery.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Jon 1:1 lets us know that the Word has ALWAYS Been. The WORD was not only with, in, and operating in cooperation alongside God….the word WAS God. Jesus…the person of the Word has always been and will always be. Reading the written word is simply a pathway to His presence. Yet, His presence is too big to only have the ability to meet us through the way of the written Word. He reveals in songs. He reveals through trial. He reveals through trust. He reveals in celebration and praise. He reveals in quiet reflection or lament. He is always.

As I held my baby girl last night in the wee hours….watched her eyes open and attempt to focus as my husband and I whispered to her and marveled at her precious little form….the Word was present. I knew then what David meant when he said, “Your word have I treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against you. ” (Psalm 119:11 NASB)

Your written, spoken, revealed person I have treasured, adored, spent time with so that I won’t sin against you.

Wow.

Relishing in the truth of who He is….. constantly being revealed to me and always with me. Jesus….the WORD.

The Waiting Game

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I have a confession.

I’m not very good at waiting.

I pay very close attention to time, and I’m the type of person who likes to have a list made out for the day (even if it’s just in my brain) of tasks, goals, and the time frame I’d like to have them done.

So, picture me… the epitome of impatience….spending a total of 25 weeks of this pregnancy on bedrest…now waiting on this baby to come.

I have contractions daily.

I’ve been to the ER twice in the last week with intense contractions but very little progress.

I average a total of 3 hours of sleep per night.

I’m totally not in control of this baby girl’s arrival, and that truth is causing me to unravel.

Before now you couldn’t have told me I am a control freak. As much as I like to have a time table and make a list for everything, I’m also very spontaneous. But, like any other cluster of unforeseen, imperfect conditions, what’s in you comes to the surface.

This pregnancy has been my hardest by far. For weeks I was on bedrest hoping to keep this baby girl from arriving too soon. Now I’m walking daily in the hopes that she would hurry up and get here. Babysitters are lined up. Laundry is clean and folded. My husband is actually off work this week. In my mind, this is the PERFECT time for her arrival.

On Monday morning while tears streamed down my face as my doctor told me I was only 20% effaced despite the intense contractions….this scripture came to me.

” FOR EVERYTHING THERE IS AN APPOINTED TIME, AND AN APPROPRIATE TIME FOR EVERY ACTIVITY ON EARTH. A TIME TO BE BORN…..” {ECCLESIASTES 3:1-2A NET}

I really felt as though 2 things were happening.

1. God was reminding me that He has a sense of humor. I mean…c’mon. The first activity addressed was “A TIME TO BE BORN”. womp, womp, womp.

2. I also felt like God was correcting and aligning me with a resounding reminder that He is sovereign. While we have been given the incredible privilege of seeking and agreeing with Him in prayer, He knows best and His will takes precedence over our preference. Every. Time.

So, I continue wait. I spent a half hour or so crying this morning. And, I’ll need to cross over the caffeine limit today in order to endure a homeschool field trip this afternoon. But, it’s working for my good. My flesh has no choice but to submit to my spirit which genuinely desires to allow the characteristics of God to be prevalent even in this. Plus, baby girl gets a chance to “cook” a little while longer with less chance of issues post delivery.

Tell me….are you good at waiting?

The Truth. Nothing but The Truth.

Over the weekend a friend of mine shared a podcast with me from her church. The topic of the podcast was one I really didn’t want to hear or think about. But, I trust her. And one of the things I really respect about our friendship is that she always challenges me to see things from a different perspective then my own.

On Monday, I listened. I wouldn’t say I was convicted. I can truthfully say in the complicated situation I’ve been dealing with for 6 months now ( and the fact that it’s been 6 months still seems unbelievable and ridiculous to me) , I’ve tried my best and done my part to remain prayerful, do the hard things even when I didn’t feel like it, understand or at least see the other person’s perspective , and reconcile. While I wasn’t convicted, the message did bring about a lot of emotions and energy that I really wasn’t up for.

I shared my feelings with my friend after listening. We began a healthy, but intense tennis game type texting frenzy back and forth. She was determined to help me remain positive, hopeful, and to keep allowing my heart to be open and free instead of closed.

A few hours later I sent her a text along these lines.

“I apologize if I seemed short and irritable. I’m tired. I can’t keep fighting for (this situation ) when right now I need someone to fight for me. “

And there it was….all spilled out….the truth.

We’ve become these robots, right? Social media gives us this platform to connect with others whether our relationship with them is surface or deep. We post and share the things we want other people to see or experience along side of us. And at its core, it’s a good thing. I keep in touch with family and friends who live hundreds, even thousands of miles away , via Facebook and instagram. I keep up with friends who have 3+ kids, and really don’t have the time to catch up on the phone for a half hour. I’m able to share the insight God gives me on various topics, and engage in healthy conversation with others. As long as we’re posting the best of us, all is well.

But the truth is, there are days I am hurting so badly that even picking up my bible seems like a chore. There are times I find myself unable to speak audible words in prayer…only tears. There are days the same children I just posted about the day before….telling the world how much I love and enjoy them…..those same children seemingly lose their hearing and run like wild tigers through my house. And on those days I don’t want to hold them close or laugh it off and say “They’re just being kids”. I want to hide in my room, lock the door and be alone. That’s the TRUTH.

When people post pictures of themselves at the hospital, crying tears, or tell us how they’re hurting or lonely….you know what we do? We call them attention whores and accuse them of needy.
The ironic part is that often we criticize people….we even make meme’s and twitter updates about how people only show us what they want us to see on FB or instagram, and that most of it is fake. But the question is,
If people have the courage to tell us the truth….nothing but the truth, will we still love them? Accept them? Respect them? Stand with them? DO WE EVEN CARE?

When I texted my friend the other day, a part of me was nervous. I was a bit nervous that she’d disconnect when I blurted out that the bottom line is I’m just swimming through so many emotions at this point in my life (plus I’m 8 months pregnant), and at any given time I may be short, irritable, rude, and disenchanted because I’M TIRED. I’m tired of being the one to tell the truth, lay it all on the line….take me or leave me….only to be made to feel that I’m “too much”. AREN’T WE ALL? And yet and still, we have this power….this very person living inside of us as born again believers who empowers us to love one another in spite of our humanness.
The question is…. ARE WE WILLING?

I don’t want fake relationships. I don’t want to see a person’s highlight reel and never know their tears. I don’t want people to only feel comfortable quoting scriptures with me, but never knowing me well enough to know they can talk to me when they’re doubting the very same scriptures they know by heart. I want the TRUTH from people. I give people the TRUTH of me….nothing but the truth. And I desire the same in return.

The Vacationers : A Book Review

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I’ve got a confession to make. I often buy books based on their covers. Occasionally, I’ve been disappointed to find an obnoxiously boring story inside. But usually, the cover says it all.

I was drawn to this cover because of the Spanish blue water illustrated. As I got into the storyline, it seemed the blue cover was a foreshadowing of the immersion of circumstances each character lived out in these pages.

The beauty of this story is that it takes place during a two-week vacation in Mallorca {a spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. } Franny and Jim {swimming through a troublesome time in their marriage}. Charles and Lawrence {swimming through a decision that will change the course of their life}. Bobby and Carmen {swimming through the complexities of being in a relationship at two vastly different stages of their lives}. And Sylvia….{swimming through the toils of teenage life just before college}.

Their troubles are spilled out, confronted and some even resolved in front of each other. What binds each character together is their uncertainty.

I like novels that create a sense of reality. I don’t want to read the words and feel as if I’m being carried away to a fantasy world. I want to read and relate. This was no doubt a book well written and easy to connect to. The author ; Emma Straub, uses the detail of emotion and scenery in a way that makes you feel present at each meal, each trip to the beach, each argument, and each decision made.

Certainly this book lived up to its cover. All consuming. I enjoyed every moment.

Empty Book Shelf Challenge 2015
1. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Rating : A
Age Group : 18 +
Minimal sex, Adult issues, some language

Is being Relevant….Relevant??

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about the church, its purpose, its message and the way in which church is advertised, presented and “done”. I’m personally thrilled that there’s dialogue about something that has been a taboo subject for way too long.

I grew up in a pretty strict denomination. Salvation came with a list of do’s, don’t’s, behavior expectations, and dress code. I have a solid foundation of bible basics as well as church protocol. I can dress the part with the best of ’em.

It hasn’t been until the last 5 years that I’ve began shedding the layers of condemnation that come with a salvation of “works”. You know…the idea that you can earn your salvation. The perception that God loves you based on how often you read your bible, pray, attend church, and of course; the length of your skirt.

I’ve read a few tweets, FB rants, and instagram posts about churches being too concerned with being relevant.

“Jesus doesn’t need any help”

“The lights and videos take away from the star of the show….Jesus.”

“We’re missing the point of church”

I’ve taken some time to ponder these thoughts. I actually used to feel deeply that these thoughts were correct. But, you see….I’ve gone to almost every type of church you can imagine. The strict church. The pastor centered church. The “just enough” Spirit church. The black church. The white church trying to seem black. The grace church with wonderful worship, wonderful teaching, but lacking in outreach and fellowship. I’ve even done the “I don’t go to church because I’m sick of church but I love Jesus” church.

Finally, my husband and I have found a church that suits the needs of our family. After attending for a year we recently became members, and both of us are now actively serving.
Guess what? It’s a “seeker friendly” church.

Lights.
Video presentations.
Preppy dressing pastor.
Lively music.
and coffee. Lots of coffee. Because coffee is important.

You know what? I LOVE my church. I love that my husband is excited to go each week, and is now actively using his various gifts in video, sound and music production in our church. I love that my children are actively growing in the Word of God and meeting new friends. I love that the music ministry is presented with both passion and excellence. I love that my pastor speaks plain truth applicable to every day living and very much Christ centered. You know what I love the most? I’m not afraid or ashamed to invite strangers or unbelievers to my church. I love that there are plenty of care groups and community groups to be involved in to assist with growing in God’s word and actively living out the commission as not just believers, but disciples. I love that my church isn’t boring.

Maybe the question we should be asking isn’t “Should the church be relevant”, but rather…”Who is church for?” When I think back to the various churches I’ve gone to before now, they all had one thing in common. There were rarely any visitors who were unbelievers.

Hmmmmm….

Aren’t we supposed to go out into the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in? (Luke 14:23) What’s compelling about a lecture? What’s compelling about coming to a place where you feel uncomfortable because you’re not dressed like everyone else? What’s compelling about a building falling apart at the seams and a pastor that takes up 2-3 offerings in one services and drives away in his luxury car?

I think back to the book of Genesis and the way God took His time in creating the world. Day. Night. Land. Sea. Animals. Colors and variation everywhere an eye could see. I doubt for one second that God thought to Himself, “Maybe I shouldn’t make the beautiful body of water…turquoise and flowing….because it might take away from my beauty. ” Are you kidding? A) There’s no comparison. B) The beautiful , turquoise water is just another element of God’s person. He’s creative. And His creativity is another tool to draw us into Him. Why can’t it be the same with our presentation of vocal, music, lighting, and video gifts in church?

The message of Jesus can be heard, felt and received in so many ways. I think we do ourselves and those we are trying to reach a disservice when we assume it can and should be delivered in only one way.

“It’s Almost Over”

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Her text should’ve encouraged me.
It should’ve been the very thing I needed to hear.
It should’ve brought me comfort and relief.

(Her) : Hey u! How’s that baby?

(Me) : She’s good. I’m on a 72 hr bedrest . Boo 😦 Gotta get my blood count up. But, she’s great! Such a little fighter.

and then she said it….

“So glad she’s well, and you’re well. IT’S ALMOST OVER.

and the tears came streaming down.

You see, I’m 30 weeks. It’s been a very difficult pregnancy.

5 trips to the emergency room. 8 weeks on bedrest. A hemorrhage. Tumors.

It’s been a journey to say the least.

But, this is my last baby. The last time I’ll be pregnant. The last time I’ll have a chance to feel a life moving around inside of me. The last time I’ll have a “pregnancy glow” (although I’m pretty sure I skipped that stage this go around). This is the last time my husband and I will sit up in bed at night holding hands and discussing baby names. This is the last time.

When we found out I was expecting, we hadn’t necessarily planned it. But, we hadn’t been against having another baby either.

Things were good. My husband had just received a small, but needed raise on his job. I was teaching voice lessons and had 6 paying students, plus I’d started teaching a toddler music class that met once a week. Sure, we hadn’t been saving and we were preparing to move, but we’d be fine. I was confident.

Just 2 weeks later I found myself bleeding…not spotting….bleeding through my favorite sweatpants and waiting to be seen at the ER…sitting in a wheelchair all alone. I’d prayed and cried the whole way there, trying my best to remain calm and positive for my children who were sitting in the back seat. But, even they knew the sight of blood wasn’t good….and my 5y daughter started to cry. My son grabbed her hand.

Once at the ER, my friend came to pick up my kiddos. Her van was already loaded up with her 4 kids, and after adding my 2 to the bunch she turned and blew me a kiss through the ER window.

My mother in law came eventually to sit with me. We have a pretty good relationship, but it wasn’t her I wanted to see. I wanted desperately for 1 person to be there, and 1 other person to call. I wanted my husband there beside me. And I wanted my best friend to call. My husband finally got there….just in time for the ultrasound. We were able to see our baby swimming around just fine with a healthy heartbeat. We both let out a sigh of relief. But, my best friend never called. We’d had a disagreement? Misunderstanding? Falling out? I really don’t even know….just 2 weeks before…and hadn’t spoken since.

I’m now 9 weeks from my c section date. Things have changed. I haven’t been able to get back to teaching voice lessons. Even teaching my toddler music class has been a struggle. My income is pretty pitiful, and my husband is taking care of everything. (a huge burden). I’ve worn my regular clothes through the majority of this pregnancy…with the occasional splurge on a maternity top or sweater. I’ve purchased 3 little outfits for our baby girl. My best friend and I still haven’t made amends ( I don’t think. Sigh…so complicated) . There have been so many trips to the ER, wonky test results, and scares. I’ve spent so much of this pregnancy worrying…that I’ve really just started to enjoy it.

Sure, I want to see my baby girl. I’m so excited to smell her skin, nuzzle my face against hers, and look her in the eyes and tell her much I love her. But, she’s my last. And I had so many expectations for this pregnancy. A lovely, extravagant shower was my hope. Instead I’m putting on a small sprinkle with cold cuts and veggie trays for a few friends. Dressed to the nine in cutesy maternity clothes. If you call my husband’s college sweatshirt and yoga pants cutesy…then I’m your poster girl. I wanted to be reconciled with my best friend, so she could be apart of this pregnancy. I don’t know if reconciliation is even a possibility ….for reasons I don’t even understand.

As I sit here reflecting….I don’t have an insightful scripture to insert. I don’t have a deep revelation to share. I just have my feelings. It’s “almost over”, and that makes me terribly sad.