Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When God Speaks

Last year I walked through a season of overwhelming despair.

And so I took pen to paper and did the only thing that I know how to do when that feeling hits.

I wrote to Him.

I wrote and journaled and let my heart empty out the things I didn't have the courage to even so  much as whisper in a prayer.

I shared with Him what I felt like were a series of mistakes that I had made during a really painful time in my life last year, as well as some really hurtful relational things that happened at the same time and I didn't know how to overcome them. I couldn't fix them. I couldn't undo them.

I also shared how unqualified and ill equipped I felt with anything regarding writing or blogging or ministry or marriage or the raising of children or even just life in general.

I highlighted my many mistakes, just in case He had failed to take note of them.

I also told Him that I honestly had no idea what He wanted me to do with The Pearl Event, with this blog, with the piles of notebooks filled with pages that could be books, the bible studies and teachings and lessons that I had been writing for the last ten years.

I shared with Him about how He needed to give it to someone else.

Someone more capable. Someone more qualified. Someone with ten degrees hanging on the wall. Someone with a huge realm of influence and big time platforms and blogs and callings. Someone with a famous husband or famous friends or the ability to just make phone calls and create backing and support and the like.

I'm not your girl, I told Him.

It shouldn't be this hard for this many years.

This feeling that overwhelms my heart every year of having to push through a giant wall of adversity and obstacles and doing the work of ten people solo to create an event to bless His daughters.

I'm a Mama and it's all I've ever done and it's all that I know how to do and there are days where I fail miserably at just that.

Lots of days, actually.

So I felt that for now, I should just try and focus on getting that right. After 24 years of parenting, I am still trying to figure out the mystery of motherhood and the raising of beautiful children.

I flipped to the last page and wrote whatever I felt He was speaking to my heart.

"I am the only connection you need. Stay connected to the source. I can make happen for you in a  moment what it takes people years to achieve on their own." 

And while I have never been nor will I ever be, the blogger who blogs with the "what's in it for me mentality" I couldn't help but wonder about what I thought He had called me to do, especially where The Pearl Event was concerned. I have spent the last six years blogging to give, not blogging to get.
Which is the complete opposite of most of the blog world.

But I have struggled as of late with feeling like a failure and with everything feeling really, really hard and even feeling like maybe I just completely missed it. Big time.

To create something from nothing.

One hundred percent grass roots.

Without mentors or huge influence or help or financial backing and with truck loads of naysayers waiting in the wings.

It is not for the faint of heart.

And so after many years of trying and failing, in my opinion, on New Years Eve this year I gave it all to Him. 

I carried it to Him, along with mountains of what I considered to be failure of epic proportions and I placed it at His feet.

I apologized for my failure and shortcomings and mistakes and for clearly not being able to execute whatever on earth it was that He wanted me to do.

I talked with a couple of faithful friends and shared with them that I was walking away from everything with the exception of my family.

It was time.

No more writing or speaking or blogging about Him. 

No more encouraging others through His word.

No more ministry.

No more Pearl Events or anything of the sort.

I'm leaving all of that for the perfect people and the experts and the qualified.

And so on Jan. 1 this year I told Him these things and said these words...

"Unless you tell me otherwise, I'm done." You have to do it Lord.

If you want me to do anything else ....You have to do it, so that I know it is all You. I can't do this any more."

I then wrote a blog post about editing your life and home stuff and didn't write anything else for nearly a month.

I was too busy walking through a crisis of faith.

Evaluating the last 10 years I had sown into the lives of others. The years I gathered women in my home every Wed. to love on them and share His word. The years of Pearl Events. The six years of filling the pages here with post after post all for His glory. The countless, endless things - all in His name. 

As well as rehearsing the mountain of mistakes I've made, which just so happens to be one of my spiritual gifts. 

I recounted them one by one, and tried to make some sense out of everything as well as justify it all.

And then, in spite of all of my shortcomings and mistakes and my walking away on Jan. 1 this year...

The Father came in like a flood.

He woke me up in the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 29th and asked me to write a post called "The New Church Lady."

To which I immediately replied with something along the lines of "NO WAY."

There isn't anything about me that would qualify me to write something like that- I am not a good church lady when meant in a good way and I struggle and fail miserably and have made way too many mistakes and besides, those words have such a negative connotation attached to them. Those words make people cringe, Lord.

Church ladies are notorious for excluding and judging and condemning and 
running the "Holy Huddle" at their various churches.

Why would anyone want to read that? 

No way.

And He whispered and wooed and prompted and guided and led and I relented.

And together we wrote. Just like we have nearly every post here these last six years.

And then because He is God and He is looking for willing and obedient and not perfection.

He sent nearly one million people here to read and share and forward that post- all in a manner of days.

And I went into a full fledged panic attack.

People from all over the country reached out in various ways, Pastors and leaders and clergy, asking permission to share it in their pulpits, and their Sunday School classrooms and with their bible studies and women's groups and in their newsletters and church bulletins.

They wrote and shared their own experiences and some even shared their own reasons for walking away from the church and ultimately from Him.

They wrote and shared about their own church hurt and the countless ways they had been excluded and rejected from the very place that should welcome anyone with open arms.

And I wept.

Because I laid it all down and considered myself a great failure in every category and I walked away and told Him that I was done.

And He decided that wasn't enough...

I was then connected with a wonderful agent and by His unmerited grace, I am now officially with Premiere Speakers Bureau and they will be booking any future speaking engagements and Pearl Events in various churches and cities.

And I wept.

Because I saw a glimpse of what He must be doing.

Because I never imagined that through this blog or through a small piece of my own testimony, He would speak with such volume.

And then, 

Because He is God all by Himself and there is no other .....

I was connected with a literary agent in Washington, DC. and by His grace, I am humbled to share that I am currently working on my first book proposal.

The agent will then pitch the book to various publishing houses in hopes of a book deal.

And that is when I nearly collapsed.

Because it feels so undeserved and so meant for someone else and also, so unbelievable.

This certainly was not meant for someone who has my testimony and who isn't a perfect church girl.

But when God speaks.

When God opens doors.

When God moves.

When God decides and orchestrates and sets things up according to His purpose and plan, no one can deny it.

This much is true.

And so with all humility of heart and knowing full well the mountain of mistakes I have made in life, I am, by His grace, writing whatever words He asks me to, and I am praying that He would simply have His way, that He would move and speak and orchestrate in whatever ways He so chooses through the pages of this proposal and through any upcoming speaking engagements and Pearl Events.

I would like to ask you to pray, if you feel led to, that God would pour out His spirit and His great love onto the pages of this book proposal and that He would supernaturally enable me to write it.

In between kissing babies and refereeing sibling arguments and folding loads of laundry and preparing lots of meals for our family, just to name a few things....

Thank you in advance beautiful friends.

With a heart in complete awe and wonder.

"I created you with a longing in your heart that only I can fill." Psalm 90:14

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Centerpiece of Lent

It was the fortieth day or the last day of Lent several years ago and I happened to be standing at the checkout counter in our local grocery store and couldn't help but notice the lane right next to me and the commotion going on.

 Seeing how it's usually my lane where all the commotion is.

At least when I take all five of them into the store with me anyway.

But on this particular day, the commotion was one lane over from me.

The checkout lady laughed with the gentleman and made a comment about how he must just really love potato chips.

She was busy laughing and ringing up at least twenty bags of every type of chips known to man.

And gracious I love chips. 

But what really struck me in that moment were the following words.

"I gave up potato chips for Lent."

And as someone who has great respect for the Lenten season and with full understanding that it is customary to give up something, a personal sacrifice of sorts, during this beautiful season....

I couldn't help but think about the main thing. 

The centerpiece of Lent.

The purpose and the reason and the whole point of these forty days.

Every, single thing during the forty days of Lent is to serve a greater purpose.

To strip us of ourselves and our own selfish desires and to press down the flesh.

For the "less of me and more of you" Lord purpose.

So that we can possibly even grow closer. Know Him more deeply. More intimately. More wondrously.

So that He can speak in some way and we will actually know His prompting, His leading, His guidance.

And for this.

So that we can love more deeply and serve others in a more selfless way.

So I'm just wondering, if potato chips and the like serve as a hindrance in our walk and we give them up for forty days....

Why on earth would we ever take up the eating of potato chips again?

If we are really sacrificing and laying aside real hindrances.

Isn't everything we do during those 40 days really about what happens on the 41st day?

And then every day after that?

Are Diet Coke, chocolate, potato chips, shopping and Facebook the real hindrances?

And if they are....

If those really are the things that keep us from growing closer to Him which keep us from loving others well and serving others with the right heart and the right spirit....

Why on earth are we standing in line to consume it all again on the forty first day?

And if those things are not the real hindrances ...

Which things are? 

Isn't that what we need to sacrifice and give up and lay aside....permanently?

Do we really want to love others well and do life with a heart of servitude and be quick to listen and slow to speak and meet the needs of those around us? Do we really want to know the prompting and leading and guidance of His sweet spirit in our lives?

These are just a few of the things I've asked myself this week.

Am I quick to just dismiss others when they hurt me or do I love others well- even in times of suffering in friendship and relationships?  Am I careful with the hearts of my family members and loved ones? Am I any kind of an example of the love of Christ to my three daughters? Do I demonstrate His great love to my three sons? Do I love my husband well at all times, no matter what? Or am I quick to want to be understood instead of seeking to understand. Am I a voice of reason and love and compassion toward others or am I demanding and insisting on my own way? Do I handle conflict with love and kindness or am I looking to be right and to be heard? Am I serving others and encouraging hearts or am I showing up with my own agenda? Do I speak life over others or am I quick to complain and point out their shortcomings? 

I know for certain that there is more than forty days worth of flesh that needs to be stripped from my own heart and I want to be willing and obedient to lay aside anything and everything that serves as a hindrance during this beautiful season.

May He be moved into the rightful position of centerpiece during the next forty days for each and every, single one of us sweet friends.