Wednesday, April 28, 2010

obediance: because there is no plan B

So it’s been brought to my attention that the blog world has its own time frame, which I've decided is kind of like dog years, meaning it had been a ridiculously long time since my last post. So much has transpired in the last couple weeks I've actually been a little overwhelmed at the idea of trying to put any of it into words. But now that I have posted about Vessels and Flowers I am feeling less overwhelmed and trying to get caught up by posting two blogs in one day. So here we go.

Since sometime around last October I feel like the Lord has worked overtime to show me much in the area of discipline and obedience. Ok, let me rephrase that, he's probably been working overtime to teach me about these areas my whole life but October is the first time I recall making a concerted effort to listen to Him on the subject, and maybe even start to agree that my cooperation with Him may benefit all parties. It's been brought to my attention in the last couple weeks through what I'm sure were divine circumstances that I almost always have a plan B. And here's the thing, according to the world this is a totally normal idea; in some cases, it can even be considered a brilliant, practical, and absolutely necessary idea. But in my spiritual life it can really prove to be a problem. When you are so arrogant that you think you’re resourceful enough to save your own ass, then what need do you have for a savior. Obedience and discipline fly out the window quick when you get along pretty well on your own. You don't need to do all that’s asked in scripture right? Ever heard yourself or someone else say I "interpret that scripture my own way' or "yeah I don't believe that part of the bible is true”? I'm sure you've heard it one or two times and maybe from your own mouth I know I have heard it from mine. Here's the thing those phrases are a good indication that you took a detour and are now operating in plan B. A lot of us recognize early on that we are broken and in need of being “saved". We accepted Jesus as savior, but the dilemma comes when no one explains what to do next. A lot of people are still really confused about what it is to actually walk with the savior. I mean raise your hand if your still confused about how long to read your bible each day? And is it better to read morning or at night? Do I journal and is it bad if I don't? And how many people do I share the gospel with and when and how exactly do you do that again? Can I cuss? Can I drink? Where is that stuff in scripture again? Yeah, I know you probably all raised your hand. The thing is we skip the next part so often. We forget the discipleship. No one starts a job without the proper training. You can’t sell a product without studying it and learning to trust that it works. You can’t do a job or make a table without the proper skills and tools. Our walk with Christ is no different. We are told its imperative to be saved and it is! But after the hype we feel on our own again, only now there's this added guilt and shame that comes when we mess up. The best most of us do is end up with a handful of sentence fragments, we think might be in the bible, but we aren't sure where and can't remember what exactly they say, but they are supposed to give us some direction. Those fragments fail and then we find ourselves thinking I didn't sign up for this, I’m more confused than before. So we end up in plan b.

Let’s just break this down scenario style. We begin on the path the Lord had for us for the first time and we're real excited. We got our hiking gear, North Face jacket, maybe even some Chaco’s, if we're really serious one of those camelbaks. Man, we're hiking the trail its moderately rocking and hilly but we got this.The scenery is great. The Lords telling us which way to go when to stop for breaks you're getting a little tired but its good. Next day a little harder but you know, next day wow, this is getting a little steep, Lord you sure this is right way? Next day, ok I'm uncomfortable. There are huge mosquitoes and I'm allergic and itching like crazy. Eventually, I’m frustrated and quit speaking to the Lord altogether and I just follow with growing bitterness. We've waded through several creeks and I'm all wet, and one of them was full of leeches. And now I have blisters on my feet. Lord this is too much, I'm going to take a little detour over here, looks less steep to climb and I don't think there are as many creeks this way. The Lord says it’s not a good idea that’s the hardest way. But I go. Next thing you know I'm kind of lost but too prideful to ask for directions. I ran into a thorn bush a ways back and I'm bleeding. And I think I've sprained my ankle. After some hours of wondering I dead end at a cliff. Awesome. Now I'm pissed, after all it’s not my fault, man I didn't know I was signing up for this. I can barely read those old signs on the trail; some old guy probably wrote those thousands of years ago why would I trust that? After I've attempted to make a splint out of a torn piece of shirt and some sticks I realize it doesn't work like TV, liars I think, they're all liars. It’s getting dark and I realize I got to keep going because I have no idea the way back. The top of the mountain looks amazing and if I can just get up there I may be able to see which way is home. I start climbing the scariest cliff I've ever seen because there is no other way in sight. I start to climb and the whole time I’m thinking about  that "I shouldn't be alive show", you know the one where the guy gets trapped in a canyon and has to cut off his own arm. At this point I'm terrified. I'm imagining myself with one arm and I'm too high to climb down or jump but I’m really tired and my arms and legs are giving out. My camelbacks empty and I'm parched. I start trying to remember if you can really drink your own pee. I realize how low I am when I start thinking of drinking pee and so I start to cry. I admit I shouldn't have veered off the path to begin with and that I should've  stuck with the Lord's plan. Almost immediately after crying out I find myself coming up over the top of the cliff into a meadow and I see some signs and realize I've found the main trail. Then I see the Lord waiting. That’s when it hits me, after all I’ve just been through, I realize I made a giant circle. I feel completely defeated and guilt shows up first because I know it was the worst idea to go off on my own against the Lord’s instruction. Shame follows close behind and I’m so embarrassed about my actions and my ankle that I tuck my tail and hang my head. I stand with my head down waiting to be reprimanded. But there is no “I told you so” and I quickly realize the Lords excited I’m back on the trail. In fact he just hugs me and asks what I want for dinner. Immediately my guilt and shame dissipate. The Lord makes a fire and starts cooking. And I find myself looking up at the stars thinking “why did I ever leave?"

 Sometimes we go back to old paths, old habits and resentments. Sometimes we choose our own path altogether. Sometimes we can be found on someone else’s path because we think their path looks better than ours. Other times we simply stop along the way because we won't let go of what we can’t take with us. So the deal is there are two sets of footprints on the path the steady ones are Christ’s. He is always on the path that leads us to the destiny he has for us. We are the ones that take the detours. The bottom line is that only He knows where we are going,  only he knows the way. There is no plan b with Jesus only plan Him. My study the other day shed some new light on an old familiar verse the other day. Psalm 119:105  Beth points out that the verse says thy word is a lamp unto my feet , if you think through that you realize if you were standing in the dark with a handheld lantern you would only be able to see a little in front of you, only enough to take a few steps forward at a time. The Lord means for his word to guide your immediate steps. Then it says a light unto your path, meaning a guide for my immediate future. I often thought that meant with the Lords lamp the whole way would be illuminated, it would practically be day time. But the Lord's word sheds light only on our present path and our immediate future, so we'll know what steps to take, but for further instructions we'll have to hike a little ways today and check again! Its all about the relationship. I have learned that if I get ahead of him, veer off from him, or stay behind him and not walk with him I'll be in the dark. That’s where I have found myself so many times on plan b, path b, in the dark with broken ankles, contemplating cutting off my infected arm, and trying to decide if I can survive by drinking my own pee. From what I’ve gathered the Lord didn't intend for me to have to cut off any of my limbs or drink my own pee or even to hurt my ankles. He meant for me to grow strong on a path cut specifically for me to handle. He meant for me to enjoy the scenery along the way, but not to be so distracted by it that I take off after it and lose him. He did say scratched knees are to be expected. Certainly some calloused hands and feet and definitely some muscle to be built  in my arms and legs. Hopefully, a sharper ear and eye to see what’s lurking in the shadows and knowledge to know the difference between  what's real and whats' a mirage. And even if I choose the detour occasionally I’ve found all I have to do is utter that I'm lost and that my detour was the wrong idea. And the light reappears maybe slowly but surely and guides me back to the path. The Lord has posted signs and He gives daily instruction if I am willing to obediently listen and follow.  His word is the only lamp. All the questions will be answered someday, maybe not all now, but I have found scripture answers just enough questions for me to know I can take a few steps forward. I've been lost in the dark and almost amputated my arm several times and this year I'm trying obedience because plan B has never worked. If obedience is my safety then who knows  I may make it to heaven with minor aches and pains, and few scars, but all my limbs in tact.

in case you were wondering if the Lord still does crazy things

Ok so if you are a follower of my blog then you are probably a follower of Paige's blog, if not add her immediately. Between our two blogs you have heard of our favorite little book "Vessels and Flowers". I know many of you have inquired about buying it after having us plug it so many times. Many of you have actually been "vesseled and flowered" by one of us and some of you may still be waiting to find out what you are according to the book. Well have I got a story for all of you that has just rocked my world! Let me start from the beginning.

My amazing friend Jade came to Texas back in October and with her she brought this sweet little book which she swore, as any good basket would, that it would change my life. Little did I know she really meant it! On Tuesday night the 13th Jade "vesseled and flowered" me for the first time. I fell in love with this book. I really believe the ladies that wrote it heard from the Lord because every word it said about me was true to a T. I am a basket and a rose. If you know anything about a rose you'll understand when I say “I just knew" I had to share this book with others and so I asked Jade where to get it, to which she replied that copies were hard to find and she wasn't sure how to get them. She mentioned that her church used the book and that's how she found it. She and her friends had searched all over and only managed to scrape up a few copies. I was not ok with the idea that we couldn’t share this book so Jade and I being dreamers start tossing around crazy ideas that maybe we could find the authors and let them know Vessels and Flowers had been revived. We even went as far as to say we would become the next generation, promote it, and make a website if they would let us and maybe even potentially get it republished with new artwork. (I realize this was a little presumptuous of us but hey we were excited and we are baskets. (Little did I know my flower had just predicted a version of what may be to come) So that’s where it all began in my spare bedroom, kind of a joke but hey maybe serious. So shortly after Jade headed back to Nashville, I and my very used copy started promoting. A week or so after Jade left I headed to Tennessee to stay a week with Paige, she had just become a new mom. I had already shared with Jade that this was imperative we "vessel and flower" Paige. So one day while I was in town we shared the book with her and found she was an orchid and a darling golden pouch. Paige will testify that Jesus used this book to completely change the way she does life. She will confirm just as all those that have been "vesseled and flowered", that it has freed her from the bondage of insecurities and comparison. Once Paige was on board the Lord just exploded this thing! We shared the book with her mom, her husband, Anna, and Alice all that same week I believe! Ever since the three of us best friends discovered the book we have probably "vesseled and flowered" at the least two people a week. We started to get such feedback about the book changing lives and such demands to buy the book arose, that our joke about finding the authors became a serious agenda and we found ourselves laughing as we prayed that if the Lord wanted this to be our ministry then we had to find Brenda and Sally. Well the Lord answered and I just had to share. Jade was here in Texas a week or so ago for my birthday and we were discussing our dilemma, that despite all our best efforts we hadn't come into contact with the authors and we were running out of shady garage sale ways to find copies of the book. One of the last things I said to her on the subject before she left was that if the Lord wanted us to continue Vessel and Flowers then he would have to send Sally and Brenda our way. One thing I know about the Lord without a shadow of a doubt is that He has a great sense of humor and that He loves a good challenge. He begs us to hold Him to His word and to be amazed as He continually proves it true. Jade flew home on my birthday April 18th and only a week after Paige's friend Olivia found the vessels and flowers website!!!! Almost simultaneously without me and jade even knowing the website had been found I received a comment on my blog from "the flower lady." At first I thought it was a joke then I realized quickly it was actually one of the authors of the book, come to find out it was Sally! I thought there was no way she had just come across my blog so I assumed Jade had been in contact with her and wanted to surprise me and didn't say anything. But I was wrong. Through a crazy chain of internet promoting and friends of friends sending emails (aka Jesus trying to impress me) Sally had been told to visit my blog because I had been promoting her book and she left a sweet comment inquiring how we found it! This all just transpired in the last few days. Jade, Paige, and I are beside ourselves! I haven't even had a chance to message Sally back yet but I just had to share with you all first because the Lord deserves all Glory in that He is the most exciting, loving, laughing, and adventurous Father! I don't recall whether I have shared yet that the Lord gave Jade and I the same scripture, on separate occasions, for 2010 that declared that this year would be "the year of the Lord's favor."

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lords favor."
Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61

He has shown his favor indeed again and again this year! I am incredibly grateful and extremely humbled. Many know my testimony and know that it was only a few months ago I struggled and that Satan had almost convinced me once again that my God was neither exciting or adventurous and that in fact following him would be boring slavery. OHH friends how wrong the enemy is!!

"So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent? There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. THERE ARE THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO GO! This resurrection life you received from God is not a TIMID, grave-tending life. It's ADVENTUROUSLY expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!
Romans 8:12-16

Our lives weren't meant for boring slavery friends. Our Father is creator and author of everything on this earth that brings you pleasure, from a simple cup of your favorite coffee or tea to the best book, movie, day, or vacation of your life! He had you in mind and he knows what you love this was a gift from him so you would know him as father not as slave driver. His entire goal is that we wake and ask him with excitement and expectation daily "what's next". He knows I love a crazy story, He knows I love surprises, and that I love to laugh! HE knew I would get a kick out of the flower lady finding me in the craziest way possible and most importantly that I would share it with all of you on the web and promote HIM!!!! He is dear to me if you don't know this crazy Lord seek to know him, I guarantee he's already been pursuing you. I'll keep you posted on Vessels and Flowers and in the meantime go order a book off the website  and keep livin' la Vida loca or in some of your cases challenge Christ to help you start living la Vida loca now, better late than never!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stuffed Portabello's whats for dinner

Ok so I don't have a fancy camera so this pic isn't very good. In fact it might not look appetizing at all. But it was one of the best dinners I've made in a while and I had to share the recipe!!!! Real quick:

4 large portabello mushrooms
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp butter
green pepper
yellow pepper
red pepper
fresh basil
goat cheese crumbles

Clean mushrooms with wet rag and remove any dirt. Soften or melt butter and mix in garlic. Brush half mixture on inside of mushrooms (bowl). Put remaining butter garilic mix in skillet and add peppers, onions, spinach, and basil; saute. Grill portabellos topside down (bowl side down) for about 4-6 min. Then flip and fill with saute mixture. Top with goat cheese crumbles and grill until cheese is very soft or melted!!! Voila! PS also yummy to add a little worcestershire to the mushroom before or after cooking. But make your own worcerstshire don't use the processed jazz !!

Friday, April 9, 2010

consistency vs. intensity

Ok so blogging regularly would be much easier if I had internet at my house. My goal to post weekly has not been met and I'm a little behind. But hey they say "absence makes the heart grow fonder" right?

So I have been trying for the last 5 months to live more simply, as you have read I can tend to be kind of extreme. After much failure and disappointment coupled with lots of grace and patience the Lord has shown me that he is about freedom, rest, and joy. I love alot of things which makes me want too many things. I love alot of people and sometimes take on too much. My own excitement and love for things can be too much for many and I can even overwhelm myself at times. I can feel a little too intensely. Because I'm a basket (ref: Vessels and Flowers) my natural inclination is to scoop up everything and everyone I love and take them for a ride, which usually isn't a bad thing, in fact, it’s what a basket was made to do. But let me explain how it can become a problem. I get so excited throwing things in my basket and just swinging through life that I don't seem to notice when my basket is overloaded. Yeah the basket gets a little heavy but I’m so busy swinging to the next thing I'd like to pick up and throw in, I forget to actually take inventory of what I already have. Soon enough though, I will start to feel the weight. When I look back to see why it’s so heavy is when I realize I've gone overboard! But it’s too late, things have fallen out and are littered along the road, people have fallen through the holes in the bottom of my basket, some are still holding on for dear life, and others have been flung from the basket with no parachute or safety net which has resulted in serious injury.

When I survey the damage I am devastated and then depending on my spiritual state I'll do one of two things. First one is to start trying to collect the treasures on the side of the road I've dropped while trying to piece together the items that are shattered, help those people that have been hanging on for dear life back to safety, and apologize profusely to those that have actually flown out of my basket, while trying to get them to let me pay their hospital bills. Or two I will freak out, get depressed, lay down my basket and try to pretend it wasn’t mine to begin with and then blame whoever gave it to me saying "how can I be expected to know how to use this, it’s not even mine" or "maybe you shouldn’t have given it to me in the first place." After repeating this cycle several hundred times I realized something wasn't quite right. I knew the Lord had called me into a life of peace, rest and joy but where was it in this crazy cycle??! Knowing there had to be a better way than the chaos I've just explained above, I began asking honest friends and the Lord to search me and know me so I could know myself. What I have found is that there is indeed a better way than what I had been trying. I learned that the definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same actions over and over while every time expecting a different outcome. How often we do this and how insane!! I've come to realize that it’s silly, no downright stupid not to look to the creator of the basket for instructions and specifications. Case in point, I wouldn't buy a porch swing without checking to see how much weight it could hold. I mean what if it was actually made for a small child and only held 80lbs. I weigh 150 this would be a problem. And how fast can this swing go and how high without the chain breaking and sending its passengers soaring to their death. And how silly would it be if the swing were to break and I tried to fix it on my own with no instructions and only a picture of what I think it should look like in my head. Not taking care to learn how to assemble, use, and maintain something properly, especially something that comes with a free manual is just silly, exhausting, prideful, often disappointing, and sometimes downright dangerous.

After many failed attempts to make my basket look how I thought it should look and do what I thought it should do and after filling it to the brim with things I thought it needed to be filled with, the Lord has lovingly and tenderly shown me that His word is an instruction manual containing all the information I need to operate my basket properly so that I can have the freedom, rest, and joy he promises. This brings us to the title of this blog after many tears and frustrations I have learned that endurance is achieved through consistency not through intensity. How many times, for instance, have I decided for NY resolution I am going to completely change my lifestyle and start working out? My basket starts swinging and the next thing I know I'm out getting a gym membership and perhaps paying hundreds for a trainer and then heading to Old Navy or Target and stocking up on the appropriate workout gear only to end up quitting the gym after the fourth week and heading to a Mexican restaurant to gorge myself with the queso I've been deprived of. If only I had been okay taking it slow. Perhaps if I had built up to the gym membership by taking walks in the neighborhood or by hitting the elliptical consistently for a few weeks before deciding on a trainer. Or how about if I had allowed myself queso once or twice a week as a reward for working out, maybe if I hadn't been so intense the pressure would be absent and I might have actually been able to follow through instead of ending up right back where I started feeling worse; and who knows maybe I would've even enjoyed the process. I tend to find myself thinking I have to hurry up and get it together in my walk with Christ, I'm trying to get better fast. I’m trying to get myself cleaned up. I realize pretty quickly I have no idea how to to do this. I've started out intensely determined, I've bought all the gear and signed up for all the right bible studies, I've volunteered for all the right ministries, and I've talked to the right people and told everyone I'm going to change. Then after a few weeks I realize despite all my efforts my heart is still the same wicked heart and my head is coming up with the same condemning lies, why is nothing different? Where are all those promises in scripture?

Scripture describes sanctification as a much slower process. I found the Lord whispering "slow down" and "simplify" This is where he gave me the phrase it’s not about intensity it’s about consistency. The Lord is in the business of changing hearts. He said give your business to me. Dedicate yourself to me consistently and I will clean you up and make your chaos calm. I will teach you how I intended your basket to work and what my purpose for your basket is .I delighted much in making you to be in perfect harmony with everything else in my creation. So slowly but steadily over the last 6 months I have tried to slow down and work this consistency into each area of my life. I have seen much fruit from it. I have felt more calm and more joy. I have battled it out with the intensity of my flesh and still do every day. I have found freedom in knowing Christ expects nothing out of me but humble vulnerability and honesty in coming to him. If I trust Him he's got it, after all He made it.