Thursday, March 10, 2011

She Speaks if He wills

She Speaks Conference

Last summer I went shopping and bought some special outfits that I really don't need for my farmwife-stay-at-home-Mom-to-6-kids kind of life. Then I packed these clothes in my new airline-worthy luggage (the well-worn family duffel bags just did not cut it) in anticipation of flying away for the weekend to do something radically different than my farmwife-stay-at-home-Mom-to-6-kids kind of life. I had been anticipating it for months, not just for the break from my summer at home with said children, but for the fact that I knew I was going to a place where I would get to mingle with women like me. While I love my life and have a multitude of friends with whom I have much in common, and while I am daily validated by my husband and these friends, there is a side of me that I really don't have in common with anyone close to me in my life. I've made claims on this blog to be a nut, to have dreams and visions, to want to serve the Lord in new and exciting ways, to have burning thoughts and desires in me that seen to stand in contrast to my farmwife-stay-at-home-Mom-to-6-kids kind of life, and to want to be challenged. And it's all true. So you can imagine how excited I was when, in July of last year, I found a wonderful conference that finally fed these, ahem, attributes of my personality.

I packed my new clothes in my new luggage and went to She Speaks!

She Speaks is a truly amazing three-day conference hosted by one of my very favorite ministries, Proverbs 31 Ministries. In their very own words, "She Speaks is not just another conference … it is a true experience with God and a revival in your calling!" In my very own words, She Speaks is a place where I discovered that I am not that nutty after all! At She Speaks, I found there are countless hundreds upon hundreds of women who so desire to serve the Lord that they are sacrificing sleep, easy lives, and who knows what else, just to speak, write, and lead other women. Of course, the conference was pristinely planned, from the moment I stood at the registration table to the moment I walked away with a tear in my eye. They had chosen a location that for most of us gals was the luxuriously welcoming respite we needed. The equipping sessions were powerful. And the three days of fellowship was incredible. But the very best part of this conference, in my opinion, was the opportunity for hundreds of women with passions and desires and dreams and callings, to be fed by other women living the very same dreams and callings.

I got to stand among them and it was truly amazing.

God is very gracious to give His children once in a lifetime opportunities upon which to build memories, be encouraged, and trust in His good and perfect gifts, and last year I counted myself truly blessed to have been gifted by Him. She Speaks felt like my once in a lifetime opportunity, and has since been a tremendous source of inspiration and strength for me in my life.

So now we have come to the time of year when registration for She Speaks 2011 has begun. And I really want to go. My life is just as busy and my kids are just as demanding, but my heart is yet again yearning to attend. I want to be further equipped, validated, encouraged, and directed by God. I want to dip my toe deeper into my big nutty dreams, and see if I find the Lord's will there.

However, as a farmwife-stay-at-home-Mom-to-6-kids, I take the expense and time of such an endeavor very seriously. Truth be told, this year, things are, shall we say, stretched a tad thin. Money is tighter. The children are just as busy as ever, so with finances as the greatest determining factor, I decided a few weeks back that I could not--should not--pursue attending She Speaks 2011.

As with many areas of life, I must choose to surrender my own desires...stop forging ahead with my ideas of what I think is good...allow God to work...and even surrender my desire to be equipped to serve Him, to Him. I must work in cooperation with the Lord. So, I made the statement recently that if the Lord willed for me to attend She Speaks 2011, I would praise Him and happily go, and if he did not will it, then I would praise Him and happily stay home.

But a scholarship would go a long way.

It was in the middle of this peaceful and surrendered place that I read this post on Lysa TerKeurst's blog. It was in the middle of this peaceful and surrendered place that my heart leapt out of its quiet spot in the middle of my chest, and started to wonder "what if??" It was in the middle of this peaceful and surrendered place that the farmwife-stay-at-home-mom-to-6-kids decided to enter herself in the She Speaks Scholarship Contest 2011, and is now leaving the rest to God.

Over this coming weekend, the awesome gals at Proverbs 31 Ministries will embrace the task of reading many wonderful blog posts, from many wonderful woman, in order to discern whom the Lord is asking them to give the two conference scholarships. I am covering those P31 women in prayer, and have asked the Lord that He would lead them to bless the bloggers who are supposed to be blessed with the scholarship. And now my name is in the hat! I admit it, I'd love to win. But more than that, I pray that God will be God, and in His way will bless whom He chooses to bless. Please choose me if--and only if I--you truly believe I am meant to win.

Thanks for reading my blog. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

c-c-c-c-c-COLD water!

In junior high, one of the blessings of the Denver youth group I so dearly loved was a week-long summer camp with that entire youth group and another 100 or so kids. The camp was called "Hike the Stars" and was held high up in the beautiful rocky mountains. Each day of that week, our groups were given the opportunity to participate in a challenge, and of all of them, the one that most stands out in my mind was the morning I went "polar bearing".

I suspect many people may know what that is, but just in case, picture this is 7am in the Rockies. (Morning temps in the Rockies in June are generally cool [50-ish degrees] and the air is crisp.) You are a scrawny 8th grader who has yet to really by found by the blessings of puberty. You have been pulled from sleep much earlier than you would have chosen, have dressed in layers, and after a bus ride, are now standing on the ledge above a pristine high-elevation mountain lake. A lake fed by spring snow melt. A very, very cold lake. And you are waiting for your turn to jump in.

Such was the scene in June of 1986. I still to this day cannot believe that I actually had the nerve to do it, such the timid kid that I was, but when it came my turn, I did indeed peel off all my comfy and protective layers until I was wearing nothing but a swimsuit over that awkward and childish frame, and on the count of three (or perhaps 11), I jumped in.


Instantly, pins and needles pierced my skin, my breath was stripped right from my lungs, sheer panic gripped my mind, and in a fight-or-flight response unparalleled by any other in my life, I fled as fast as I could for the bank. I could not breathe it was so cold. I could barely control my own muscles. There was no amount of tolerance in a single nerve cell of my flesh that could have kept me in that frigid water, and all I could do was flee to safety. To my towel. To my comforting and protective layers in the warming sunshine. Away from that cold water.

Have you ever been afraid enough of something to flee from it? A big spider? A mouse? A dangerous place? An angry person? Anything? Has anything made you so afraid, or repulsed you so very much, that your only response was to flee for safety?

The Random House College Dictionary defines flee as 1. to run away, as from dangers, pursuers, etc.; take flight. 2. to move swiftly; fly; speed. 3. to run away from. That is scary stuff. Make no joke about it, fleeing is serious business, and in our human experience it is typically reserved for moments when fear has gripped our heart, mind, and body. Fleeing can often feel like the difference between life and death. Now consider this...

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 1st Corinthians 6:18

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 1st Corinthians 10:14

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1st Timothy 6:10-11

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2nd Timothy 2:22

When I read these passages, I am reminded of the heart-gripping fear, and my automatic response to flee, that I felt in the icy lake in those beautiful mountains. The setting gave me nothing to fear, in fact it was gorgeous. The people around me gave me nothing to fear, in fact they were my friends and I trusted them. The pleasure of swimming gave nothing to fear, in fact it was a summertime leisure activity I adored. But in contrast to the setting, the company, and the activity, was the masked danger of that frigid water. That water possessed the power to take my life, should I have stayed in it long enough and allowed it to reduce my body's temperature to the point of no return. Although it looked pristine, that lake was pure danger to my very survival. It may have been an exhilarating moment for me to cast caution aside and in front of all of my friends jump in with both feet, but in reality I did not belong there and could not control the automatic flight right back to the safety of the shore.

Oh, how I wish I possessed that same flight response from all the sin in my life. How I wish I could have the very breath from my lungs stripped away every time I entered into a sinful situation or sinful thought. How I wish I my muscles would go on autopilot when I jumped into sin, so that in an instant I'd find myself safe on the shore again. How I wish the temptations to go along with the crowd, be somebody in front of my friends, or grab hold of dangerous truths could be uglier than the deceptively pretty environment in which we all live.

The truth of the matter is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and therefore we are to flee from sin. We are to turn away, run away, push away from the situations that will cause us to sin. We are to remain on the ledge and peer into the darkness, and then choose to turn our backs without jumping in. Unfortunately, there are too many days in my life when I have not--nor do not--flee from my sin. The sad truth, some sin feels good, becomes a crutch, is a comfort zone, provides an excuse, and, we think, can be written off on Christ's tax return. But the truth is that we are to flee from our sexual sin, our lust, our idolatry, our greed, our envy, our deceptions, our jealousies...all of our if our very life depended on it.

(It actually does.)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Today I pray that we can get out of the lake, wrap up in God's love, and bask in the saving and warming power of Son! And let's have a blast doing it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Laser beam peace

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" John 20:19

Imagine the worst crisis of your life. Everything you hold dear is destroyed, all that was familiar is now painfully strange, the one thing to which you have devoted the most recent years of your life is gone, and your peace is laying in a pile of rubble on the floor. Your heart is gripped by fear, and, having no sense of direction or guidance, you lock yourself into your room to hide in what has now become your only safe place.

Have you ever felt that way, either metaphorically or literally?

Such was the scene in John 20:19, just over 48 hours after Christ's horrific death on the cross. In a room in Jerusalem with a locking door, we find 11 disciples hiding behind that lock for fear of the Jews. Jesus was dead, the Sabbath was over, an empty tomb had been discovered just that morning, and nothing made sense anymore. Before their very eyes, the person to whom they had devoted the past three years of their lives had been turned into a mere object...the object of hate, scorn, wrath, and rejection. They had been powerless to stop it, and despite the love of their beloved Teacher, they were now alone and afraid.

It was in the middle of this scene that Christ appears in the room with them. He didn't warn them He was coming, He did not knock on the door, He just appeared and started speaking. And the very first words He spoke were "Peace be with you!". The gospel of John then goes on to describe how Jesus showed them his scars, how everyone was overjoyed, and how He began to teach them once again. But where I want to stop now is on those first four simple words...

Peace be with you.

On the surface, one may read this account and think, "Well, that was just His cordial greeting. What happens next is the most important part of the story". And yes, that may true. The portrayal of our very doubtful human nature, the joy of realizing that the resurrected Lord is an absolutely real truth, the instruction of the Master-to not just His disciples but all mankind-is the basis for living our Christian faith today...all of those elements are critical aspects of this passage. But I also know that Christ never said anything unimportant, and no words of His, even a simple greeting, can be passed over too quickly.

Peace be with you.

As far as we can understand, infer, or even fathom, peace was probably the farthest thing from those disciples' minds in that moment. Peace? Seriously? Right now?? Have you seen what we just went through out there? Have you already forgotten the torture, rejection, shame, scorn, and wrath we just saw? Don't you realize you have left us alone in an angry, vengeful world? Peace?? Be serious!

Peace be with you. The bedrock of soul-lifting, these are the first words spokes to the beloved disciples after the worst crisis of their lives, and they carry far greater weight than we think. More than a cordial greeting, those four words of Christ's are a command. Remember, this is the Man whose saliva reversed blindness. This the the Man who commanded a dead body to come forth after days in the tomb. And this man Jesus is the Man who calmed a raging sea with just His voice. This Man is the Man...and now He is commanding peace.

Picture once again this scene in John 20:19...the locked door, the fear, the hurt...and now picture Jesus' peace literally literally flyjng like a laser beam right into the disciples' hearts. His peace is real, it is perfect, it is healing, and just like the disciples, it is ours. I pray that this day, no matter what you are going through, you would allow Christ to appear in the middle of your locked and scared places, and command his laser beam peace right into your heart.

Peace be with you.