Be My Valentine…

Since Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I felt a tug on my heart strings to blog about this wonderful day. I am sappy. I wouldn’t say a romantic, but maybe a little gushy squishy. I am not artsy and poetic in thought, where everything is rainbows and unicorns and love comes riding in on a stallion made of cloud dust….

I am practical.  I like a good reality check. Ask the hubs.

And yet, when we talk of Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth my heart melts. No one can deny a good love story. In fact, many girls dream of how their love story will unfold. They play dress up when they are young and imagine what Prince Charming will look like. What will their wedding be like? How many kids will they have? Dogs or cats? The list goes on.

They create a fantasy world of expectation that often leaves them disappointed. I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris as a teenager and at the time it caused me to go into an extreme anti-dating mode. Which continued for a number of years after this as I fed myself with all of those wonderful Christian dating advice books. And they are wonderful. The only problem was in the interpretation of them. You see, as a young Christian woman who valued her purity I was dead set on never dating until I met my husband. Which if you think about it, doesn’t quite make sense. How are you going to know if it’s your hubby if you don’t even say Hi? 

Don’t live in an illusion that thinks Mr. Wonderful is going to plop out of the sky with a pocket full of diamond rings for you to choose from. Don’t barricade yourself behind a wall of unattainable expectations. Dating can be a touchy subject in the Christian sphere with extremes on both ends and so I will tip toe around it slightly and just let you read my story… How does that sound? I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, I’ll just share with you what happened in mine.

And remember this Valentine’s Day if you don’t have the “one your heart longs for”… God’s does and His timing is perfect.

(Follow the link to Part 1 of “How I Met My Husband”)

http://wp.me/p2DOFf-9

prince charming

When You Don’t Make the Cut…

I am not your typical Preacher’s Wife. Or so they said…

I didn’t make the cut. There were others that could sing, play an instrument, dance, even had a better speaking gift and with stories to tell. I may not have been as smart as some or even as artsy. The only thing I had was raw desire and a dream…

When I was 18, it came time to make a decision about my future. What would I do? Where would I go? Thanks to my parents, impossible wasn’t in my vocabulary. So, would I attend a Christian College, Art School, travel with a ministry team in the US, or intern overseas with missionaries. These were all viable options and I sought the Lord for His direction.

Before I made my decision, I met with a few youth ministers. I wanted guidance and their opinion mattered. One in particular was an Evangelist. The fiery kind. You know, one that sparks hope and faith and courage to be whatever it is that God called you to be.

Standing in the lobby of my church, fumbling, awkwardly, for the right words to say. I said… I want to go into ministry and you’ve made such a huge impact on me. After I graduate high school, can I participate in your year long program and travel with the group of young people you take all over the nation?

He didn’t take much time to respond, other than to ask me a few questions….

Do you sing? No.

Do you play an instrument? No.

Well…….. I know your brother does, so maybe he should travel with us.

In that pivotal moment, it felt like a cold slap in the face. When I looked around at the other young adults that had joined and were seeing lives transformed by the power of the Gospel, I thought…. no one told me I’d need a piano.

How many times have you felt the cold slap of rejection? Or almost gave up on a dream? The problem with rejection is that it feeds off an illusion. The illusion of what should be or what the right mold is, and if you don’t fit into it, you are left feeling less than. It doesn’t see beyond that. It can’t take into account the unique design God placed inside of you. You’ll never be cookie-cutter, because, let’s face it, no one is.

If you feel rejected today, you didn’t make the cut this time around… don’t give up! Kick rejection in the teeth and face your fear head on. Continue to dream and dream big!!!

Wrecked.

To celebrate yesterday being Charlie’s 13 years of living radically for Jesus Christ, we have a guest post from him! Enjoy 🙂

Image

There I was, eighteen years old, a freshly born again believer sitting in my friend’s house talking about revival when all of a sudden the girl to the right of me began to weep and shake under the power of God. A wind began to blow through that little house and I found myself lying on the floor because of the sheer weight of His presence. At that moment I was taken into an open vision. There, I was in the Holy of Holies and directly in front of me was the ark of God with the presence of God burning between the cherubs.

 Out from the midst of the fire came a man dressed in full armor riding on a horse. The man’s eyes where burning like hot coals. A holy fear gripped me as he stopped for a moment to stare into my eyes. He lifted his sword and pointed it straight at me. Then, without a word spoken between us he began to charge full speed toward me. I stood there, not moving, still in shock from what I was seeing. Just when I thought I would be trampled, the horse and the burning man who sat upon it entered into me.

Within moments I found myself back in the small living room with my friends. By that time they were laying all over the place, weeping and laughing, inebriated under the power of the Holy Spirit. A heavy cloud of God’s presence seemed to rest in that room. I knew from that day on I would never be the same again. The Jesus that I came in contact with that day was a fierce warrior that was looking for an army. I had come in contact with the burning man and in turn I became a burning man.

 

Dream Maker or Dream Breaker?

As I sit in my living room on my over-sized yellow chair, the baby is napping, the house is quiet and my walls seem to fade into the background…

I am now sitting in the middle of my bed, legs crossed, indian style, like when you’re  a kid… because I am 14. The walls in my room are painted an eggplant purple with pictures of friends plastered around the edges of my mirror. I stare at myself until I can no longer make out the distinct features of my face, but rather they swirl and distort into a blur. Still sitting there, I blink. Slowly. Deliberately.

My eyes refocus and I ask… “What is my purpose? Why am I here?”

I’m not sure who I was asking. Myself or God, maybe both?

You see, a few years prior a missionary to Cambodia had come to my Sunday school class and told stories of her life. The adventures she had and heartache as well. Before praying for the class, in her conclusion, she passed out small cards and asked us to fill it out if we felt God was calling us to missions. I didn’t move, head bowed with eyes tightly closed. My chest was on fire, my heart bursting within me. I left the small classroom, walked right out. Yet, as I walked out I felt as if I was walking away from something, from someone. I quickly turned around and raced back to the room where I filled out my card and put it in the kind missionary’s hand.

I had a dream birth on the inside of me in that moment.  A calling of sorts. A purpose.

Flash forward to me sitting in my room just two years later with a door of opportunity in front of me. It was closed, but I was determined to open it. There I sat, crossed-legged, thinking about my predicament. I was 14, and I had just quit our 8th grade track team to get a job. You heard me, a job. I picked up my brother’s paper route and delivered newspapers promptly by 4:30 pm on week days and by 7 am on Sunday. All my hard earned money went directly into a jar that set on top of my dresser. I didn’t spend any of it. I was saving it for the missions trip my youth group was taking that summer. The only problem,  I wasn’t supposed to go.

The age cut off  for the trip was 15, and my birthday was not for a few days after the group would return. I submitted my application anyway. The rules didn’t apply to me, which is probably why I ended up in that one-on-one meeting with my Youth Pastor in his office. I had to write up an essay of why I wanted to be apart of this particular trip, and we were there to discuss it. I had explained in my essay that I was called into ministry and knew that someday I’d be a missionary. I didn’t know how, but I didn’t want to wait and since this was my purpose in life, why let my age restrict me?

He sat across from me, hands clasped loosely together, fingers interlocked. Staring, silent for just a few moments after I had spoken, as if rehearsing in his mind what he’d say next. I remember the tall metal filing cabinets making the room feel cold and the large calendar smack in the middle of his desk, scribbles marking up the page … that’s where he rested his arms. With a twinge of concern in his voice, he asked me to think about the trip again… The leadership was concerned about how I would act overseas. I had shown a bit of an “attitude” at times and what would I do in an unfamiliar nation when asked to obey? Would I be rebellious? They were unsure and didn’t want to take any chances.

I sat there, stiff, frozen in my chair. His words swirling through my head making me dizzy. My young heart had never been crushed. Not like this. I knew what disappointment was, even failure. But I was taught to get back up and try again until you succeed. I knew this feeling from my peers, friends that betray, but adults? A Youth Pastor. The person that is supposed to look at me, see inside, and believe the greatest things can come of me? To come alongside and encourage me into my destiny in God. I was speechless, but only for a moment. I swallowed hard, choking down my embarrassment  and requested he reconsider, since this was MY dream…

He agreed to meet with my parents…

… and they ensured him that I would be on my best behavior.

Spring had passed and I continued to deliver newspapers all summer long until August finally came. My Dad had taken me to get my passport along with a very large suitcase. My  mom helped me to pack everything on the recommended list and then some. I was about to take a journey that would lead me to my destiny. In front of our church, two youth groups boarded a large tour bus for our 5 hour trip to New York City. From there we would board the plane that would take us to Venezuela.

I could write so many things about this trip, recalling details even these 15 years later. But, today we are talking about dreams. Not the kind you have when you’re sleeping, but the ones you have when you are standing up, wide awake. The ones that burn deep in your soul. The kind that imprint an image of a little girl in another nation, living out of a cardboard box, thankful for the small piece of candy and sip of water you give her.  The face that haunts you as you ask yourself, ‘Why? Why am I here?’. It is her face that drives you to keep going when others tell you that you don’t fit the mold. That maybe you don’t have the right skills or talents. Because you know, if there is one like her than there are others…

Tears roll down my cheeks and I am overwhelmed thinking about the gentle faces of the lives we changed that summer. I think, what if I had never be gone on that trip. Too prideful to say I will listen and obey, too embarrassed to push my way through that closed door. When you are young, you believe you can do the impossible. You believe that with one spark, God will ignite a fire. You dream the grandest of dreams, but you are at the mercy of those who will dream with you.

So…

Will you be a Dream Maker or a Dream Breaker?

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT) says,”Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”