Thursday, December 22, 2016

What is My Role? Loving It!

As a follow up to the post "Who Am I?" I wanted to share some lessons I've learned and the Lord's sweet answers to my heart's desire to be connected.

* Let's start off with, I love the local church. I love those men and women who are courageous enough to serve full-time in the local body and give so much of themselves. I grew up watching my parents pour themselves into the those they have been called to serve. It is not easy. It can be ugly at times. And it can be sweetness!

* When I was dealing with these "I want to be a part of the body" thoughts, the Lord's voice kept saying, "What are YOU doing about it?" It was hugely convicting and a reminder - be part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

* It is so much easier to just connect with those with whom we are similar! I love sitting and talking with my peers. We are in similar life stages and oftentimes it adds validity and confirmation to those moments and thoughts of "Am I just crazy?" And yet. It is easy to become complacent and too comfortable with those I am like.

As I continue to reflect, I see the Lord's answer. The people He has and continues to provide who are "different" and a larger picture of the family He has called. Here are some ways He has answers, provided, and granted part of this desire to connect with differing facets of the body.

My small group - I love these people! i'm the youngest one in my group and I love it! We are a hodge-podge of retirees, older singles, empty-nesters, grandparents, married couples, and more. And we are from a variety of backgrounds. A plethora of ways our hearts were drawn and transformed by the Gospel. Our conversations inspire, challenge, convict, connect, and push us more to Jesus. And. I. Love. Every. Single. Minute. Of. It. This group also stood with me when I was going through #projectkneegetbetter. They brought meals. Provided rides when I couldn't drive. Sent notes and texts and emails. And prayed. And prayed more. They are a part of my Dallas family. This fall our group changed slightly in the structure and it has brought an even greater sweetness and delight to my soul. We all need people to grow with. And you know what? They are not just like me and I'm not just like them. And it is good.

Mentorship group - this story is a long one, so I won't bore you with the details. Short story - there is no reason except for Jesus that I am in this group. The way I was connected to them and more is something only the Lord could do. Crossing generations and lives and where we are as people - amazing. I learn so much from these women and so value them as friends and their wisdom.

Living with the Zieglers - This is a whole separate post. Can't. Even. Love these family people.

If Table - I love the monthly gatherings of the women the Lord puts across our paths. I love the God-ordained women who come each month. Though there is a different group each time, I believe it is not an accident. Grateful. If we can meet a need for connection, to be loved, to hear truth, to encounter the Gospel - it is worth it.

Work - Daily I talk to people on the phone who love Jesus and yet are so different from me. The stories they hold are often undiscovered treasures. And I'm reminded again how often people long to be heard, known, and a part of something. Also, I love hearing so many people's stories of life - the beautiful and the hard. And there are dear friends that have come from those conversations and from meeting some of them in person (sweet Judy below!).

This list doesn't mention my small group babies (Sunday school kids) and the incredible conversations we have; my amazing family who challenges me and encourages me in life; and the dear friends who talk me off the crazy, remind of God's faithfulness, and spur me on towards Christ likeness. 

And in these few examples, the Lord has shown me how faithfully He provides. How diverse and stunning his family is. Can't wait to see what keeps happening! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Music Favorites: Taylor Swift

One of my most favorite things about Christmas is MUSIC!

Those who know me, know how much I love singing and making up songs, creating parodies to well known tunes, etc.

BUT Christmas music? Whole. 'Nother. Level.

Without further ado, here is one of my favorite Christmas albums.

Yes, I realize it may not cross the top ten of many people, but I love it. And honestly, it's probably because I have amazing memories associated with it.

I purchased this while in Minnesota for a conference in 2007. It was the only Christmas I stayed in Panama during my seven years there. A sweet family in my class allowed me to use their vehicle for the four weeks of Christmas break and this was one of the only Christmas CDs I had.
(Sidenote: the above album cover says 2008 which cannot be true as to when it was released. I know this to be true because I was for sure teaching kindergarten and I had purchased things in Minnesota for K5 and the family who lent me their car had a student in my class. I sure did just google this and I am correct. Whew! Carry on.)

Mom and Dad came to spend Christmas with me that year.

And a few days after they left, Aunt Lisa and Dana came to visit and we went to the islands.

And this CD kept me singing and loving Christmas that year.

It's a short one, but so fun and good.

Favorite song: it's a toss up between "Christamases When You Were Mine" and "Christmas Must Be Something More".

It's a must listen every season for me! And I still might blare it!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Who am I?

This burning question hit me like a ton of bricks the night I sat to type this post.

I was gathered around a table with other Jesus lovers, battling the ever constant personaly insecurity of "I don't know these people. Do I share what I really think or hold back? They all know each other, I'm unnecessary." Those constant lies which plague our minds.

The time was designed to allow for feedback, conversation, and input regarding vision casting for the church. I had been asked because I serve on a team. (I couldn't figure out why I was invited to this and then found out this was the reason).

It came up. Those questions I cannot ignore, the ones the Lord keeps bringing up regarding purpose.

I dared and spoke up. And gosh darn, my voice got all wobbly and I nearly burst into tears (hormones I blame - for real though).

Why is it church has defined ministry by demographics?
This is my current struggle.

There are these little segments of the body sprinkled throughout and often never rubbing shoulders with one another.

I remember when I first moved back to the states and going through the church finding process.
At one particular "welcome-connect-hub-gathering" spot, the greeter asked the following questions when I asked for guidance in visiting a class.
* Are you in college? (Thank you for thinking I looked that young).
* Are you married?
* So I'm guessing you don't have children? (But what if I did?)
* Can I ask how old you are? (code for: are you too old for our "young adult" class. Answer: yes).

This was the process for discovering where I might "fit".
What about the place called - "I love Jesus and want to be part of the body." That's what I'm looking for.

So as I was sharing part of this passion about demographics tonight,
The words, "I just want to be part of the body" came out of my mouth.
I encountered the looks of pity. The murmuring accolades, "We understand."

At the very end, the lady across from me whispers, "We are single," pointing to herself and the two ladies near her.

That wasn't the point. The Lord's taking me on a sweet journey of this path of singleness. There is such beauty. The lessons God continues to teach me as ones I wouldn't trade. (Full disclosure - yes, it is still hard at times).

The point is, I'm watching others in this same life stage struggling.
This question of "where do I fit?" is unanswered and often brings about dissatisfaction and frustration.

I just want to be part of the body. This is the underlying question.
I'm one of those singles who wants to hold your newborn baby. Who would love to push your toddlers on the swing and talk about homework and school with your third grader. Who wants to be sarcastic and love on your awkward teenager. Who would process the scariness of talking about relationships and insecurity with your high schooler. To process transitioning to college with your 18-year-old. Who wants to watch your marriage and learn from you. Who wants Christian brothers to add perspective. Who wants to watch how to age in Jesus gracefully. Who wants older women to demonstrate what walking with Jesus looks like in different life stages.

And as I cried to Jesus about this, I realized this.

What I'm seeking from within the church walls, I have only ever experienced outside of it.

The sweetness and authenticity of intense Jesus relationships have occurred around dining tables, during car rides, at desks, on sofas, while playing games, on walks in the park, in homes, and a myriad of other locations.

Moment of conviction. I left the meeting very discouraged and headed to play volleyball. As I changed into my v-ball clothes, I pulled out my "identity" shirt.
It's the one Roo and I designed for Kid's Camp two years ago. And the theme was focused on the question "Who am I?"

None of the answers we discussed related to demographic. They related to who I am in Jesus.

And I was reminded.

I am more than my singleness.
I am more than a mid-thirties female.
I am more than a profession.
I am more than a demographic.
I am more than I perceive to be lacking.
I am more than the blessings the Lord has showered.

I am His.

Maybe it's time for our questions and our answers to change.