Jesus Wore Pink

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Growing up, we attended a church that was more famous for the pastel color painted on the outside than for what was taking place on the inside. The color of the church didn’t bother me much, although I can imagine many a visiting family’s conversation that went a little something like this: “Sorry family… We simply must find a church that’s less… pastel.”

While there were certainly some who adored Jesus and His ability to transform lives, none were as passionate as my Youth Group Leader. That building may have been pale on the outside, but it was ablaze with a fire for Jesus in this one man’s heart. And that fire spat embers of Life out onto all that came into contact with him.

I’m sure that Jesus wore pink because, over ping-pong and Orange Crush, I met Him. He scooped up my heart and claimed it right there in the middle of all that pastel.

My youth group leader’s influence has been on a my mind a lot lately. What he tirelessly sought to do was make each one feel included.  He brought so many of us tweens to the feet of The Only One who could soothe savaged hearts.  I remain forever grateful for his willingness to reach out to those who felt isolated, outcast, and awkward.

Some of you, who have graciously hung around here for a while, know that we went through a painful church search last spring. We found a church to call home, but it hasn’t called out “Home!” convincingly enough, to me, yet.

And, it certainly isn’t calling out home (or anything even remotely comforting) to Sweetboy. He was the reason for the change. It’s more than a little upsetting to hear your quirky boy, who has trouble connecting to others out there in The Everyday, issue the same indictments week after week. “No one likes me there.” “I haven’t met any friends.” “They’re not very nice there.”

My God!

If we can’t get it right for the least of these, then I think we may be getting this church thing all wrong.

I’m not sure what to do with how I feel about all of this at the moment.  Do I volunteer to be a Sunday School teacher so that I’m “being the change I want to see”? Do I be the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease” and tell the Children’s Pastor my concerns? Do I just keep hitting my knees and praying for God to open eyes and hearts?

Jesus wore pink, back when I was growing up, so I know he has no problem meeting people wherever and however He can.  I keep thinking back on that time and trying desperately to remember what the Sunday School teachers said and did that ushered in a sense of belonging and welcome.

I’m coming up empty, because I’m remembering through the lens of a parent whose child is hurting. And that lens? It keeps getting clouded over with tears. Talk to me. Please.  I need some community right about now.

Let’s brainstorm how The Church can do this better.  How can they meet the needs of the marginalized better? What can we, who believe in redemption for all, do to spur on a better way of loving those who are hard to love? 

 

The Method of the Message

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Recently, I peeled back some of those silly surface layers I pile on around here to share a little corner of my heart that needed some serious light shined in. And it felt like a too-bright spotlight was being shined on just such a space that desperately needed some cobwebs swept away to make more room for God to pour into. And He did.  Oh, how He did!

Actually, He’s still sweeping.

At the time that I wrote about all the editing, I felt some guilt. I’m not gonna lie. We like to call that conviction, around here. It was never my intention to make my daily life a stage.  I’ve spent more than a little time wondering where the line that determines sharing to be known for the rights reasons (making someone feel less alone) and sharing to be known for the wrong ones (do I matter to others?) lies.

But…

I’m enamored of a God who dispenses grace like candy. And, although He does indeed give me a good swift kick in the shorts sometimes, it’s only because I need it.  Here’s the beautiful thing, though – I can always count on Him to liberally apply The Balm of Grace to this convicted little heart of mine, afterwards.

And he did that this weekend.

Listening to a message about the different parts of the body and how they each have a function and each one is necessary for the entire body to function properly, I felt His merciful grace drenching my sore spirit. He whispered gently of how He lovingly created me.  Exactly as I am. And He reminded me of my function and place within the body of Christ.

We are each gifted with a different way to share the message of God’s love with others.

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I felt Him clearly telling me that it’s not a bad thing that I share my message with a side of funny.  That is part, I hope, of what appeals to some of you who so graciously subscribe to my nonsense on a regular basis. (I surely do like me some people with a sense of humor. Thank you LORD for my friends here!)

But… I realize that there are times when, to get God’s message of Love and Hope out there, I have to bring it uninvited.   And, I know this to be true from personal experience. There are so many folks on this here World Wide Web, especially in my little corner of it, who don’t want a full on message of Love and Hope.  They’d rather have a quick little morsel of truth wrapped up in Some Funny.  I get that.  I do. Mostly because, not so long ago, that was me. My heart couldn’t handle the truth.  It literally could not.

And, honestly? I still wrestle with The Truth sometimes.

So, I write about the mishaps and the grace that always follow because I want to be reminded that it’s True.

God will always shed grace.

Always.

We can really only share what we have authentically experienced ourselves, right?

It turns out that Shakespeare was pretty stinkin’ smart.  Our entire world really is a stage. Each of us truly is an actor of sorts.  We each have a message inside.  And we are each gifted differently for its delivery.  The method of my message will continue to be delivered in a way exclusive to what God lays upon my heart and the way He has wired me to deliver it.  The same is true for you.

As I vigilantly watch for that swift kick before it connects with my backside,  I will continue on with my message.

The mishaps will continue to be a’plenty – I’ve no doubt.

But there is always grace galore.

Yes indeedy!

Doing It Scared

There are just so many things.

So many things that I, daily, do scared.

Want a “short list”?

  • Attempt to walk in heels higher than an inch
  • Cook
  • Wear anything white
  • Exercise

And then there’s the more serious stuff:

  • Parent
  • Believe in the promises God whispers through His Word
  • Speak up on others’ behalf
  • Make choices about media, attention and adoration
  • Trust that it really is all Good for those that love Him

And, friends?  That’s the Short List.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how super-confident others perceive me to be.  And yet, how very little confidence I truly possess. (I do believe some folks confuse the Gift of Gab with the trait of Confidence, but that might well be a different post for a different day.)

I can’t help but wonder if God is allowing me glimpses into all of these things I hold so fearfully in my heart because He is preparing a way for my heart to gain more confidence. True confidence.  In my heart. Where it needs to be.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is beginning their next Online Bible Study on October 13th.  It’s called…

Wait for it…

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. 

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Can I even tell you how God-orchestrated this study seems to be for the current health of my heart?

Will you consider joining me? And a “couple” of other women from around the world?

Click here to sign up.

And if you’re doing it scared, know that we’re in this together!

Just Do Something!

It’s in the myriad bloggers and authors, musicians and artists, and everyday men and women who are choosing to use their platform for God’s greater good.  Right here, on this earth.

Each time I see an Exodus Road badge on a blog, every time a musician donates proceeds to World Vision, every time a church sends a team to build for Habitat for Humanity, each pair of shoes brought to children who have none by people working on the ground floor of Samaritan’s Feet, I see it.  And it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

It’s in the neighbor that mows our lawn because our lawn mower is in the shop for the fourth week in a row.  It’s in the community leader who organizes a rotation of meals for the family that has been struggling with medical bills from a surprise life-threatening diagnosis.  I see the mom offering to watch another mom’s children during a much hoped for job interview.

I’ve been praying “Anything!” And, I want to do what I can, when I can, and how I can.  At this stage of life, though, with two small children and one who needs my presence more often than typical children do, I feel limited in my ability. I don’t want to use my family dynamics as an excuse for why I “could never…”.

But, I’ve noticed something as my eyes continue to be opened to the need around me. If I continually pray for awareness of those needs, and if I stay open to the Holy Spirit’s nudgings, there are needs a’plenty. And, I can certainly do something while I wait to do anything.

I am able to donate baby mattresses to a local Domestic Abuse Shelter.  I can mention a Christian Sports Organization like Upwards to those lamenting the onset of Sunday morning games in my community. I can offer free tutoring services to the single mother who struggles to make ends meet, let alone help her child succeed in school.  These are all things that point people toward Jesus.  And they are all actions that allow me to just do something.

Are you waiting for a big anything?  Are you missing a million somethings?

Can I encourage you to open your eyes to what you can do, to be the hands and feet of Christ anywhere you can?Because, the true blessing, whether physically or spiritually fulfilled, that you will get from doing something for others? It’s immense. And immediate.

Who doesn’t want that?

I am reminded of the passage found in both Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4  that tells us, “For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

And, I recall the story of the widow in 1 Kings 17:8-15 who heeded to call to give even what she didn’t believe she had.

God further challenges us, in Malachi 3:10, directly, to test and see if He won’t “…pour out so much blessing we can’t contain it all.”

As if that’s not enough of a call to just do something, I want to please God. I just want to please Him.  That should be enough of a reason, right there, shouldn’t it?

Yes indeedy!

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What is one thing that you can do?  Or that you already do? Please, share!  Give us more ideas for ways to be the hands and feet of Christ right where we stand?  Or wherever we are being led!