For When You Want to Go Down the Dark Road

I find myself in that halfway point between wanting what God wants for me and wanting what I want for me. Right now, anyway, it sure feels like those are diametrically opposed wants.

In spiritual reality, my want is His want.

But, the flesh wants what the flesh wants, doesn’t it?

It feels easy to share the parts of my heart that are dark, in the hopes that those of you reading with darkness in your own heart will know you are not alone. You all help me remember that I’m not alone. The rebellion stirring around in my heart is no less palatable to my spirit when I share it, though.

As if to prove to the rebellion that it doesn’t belong there, so many times when I go to write out of the emptiness, God swoops in and inspires writing that is more joy-filled. Light floods the recesses and all of a sudden, I don’t remember what darkness I was writing to banish, in the first place.

I want to live so that Your will be done, Lord.

Human hearts being the wretched things that they can sometimes be, I find myself returning once again to the words that I originally intended to get out. The ones my flesh want to write.  I string together the thoughts that most seem like they need to get out. I try to stay on the dark road.

He lovingly redirects me by way of joy. He makes hope overshadow all.

I’m able to stay there – in that hope-filled place, for a time. Inevitably, my rebellious heart starts thumping to its own beat again, completely out of tune with God’s heart. And before I know it, I’m headed back toward pondering the angst within me instead of remembering the joy of my salvation.

How long, Lord?

When I do try to head back to that wallowing place, grace always comes. We know this. Don’t we.

There is a verse that never fails to woo me back toward The Light of All Hope. It truly sings the song of my people.

And, I have a feeling it will for many of you, too.

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.” 

Ephesians 5:8 (The Message)

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No more groping along.

It’s the Brightest Light, for me.

Only The Brightest Light.

Yes indeedy.

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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!

SheSpeaks and I Listen

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of taking part in a conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries called, She Speaks“.

It was The Awesome Sauce.

I have much to process.

I know many of you have attended blogging or writing or speaking conferences.  Some of you may even have attended She Speaks.  But this conference exceeded every expectation that I had built up in my head. I find myself overwhelmed, even now,  with the attention given to each individual woman that was there, to the amount of time the speakers and presenters clearly put into crafting messages that were valuable and encouraging, and to the amount of sweet fellowship and care that would go on throughout.

Many affirmations were spoken over the direction that I would like my writing to go. Prayers were offered.  Selfless advice was given when requested. Love was poured out. Questions were answered.  More prayers were prayed.  Songs were sung.  Hugs were handed out like candy.  And new friends, sweet friendships grounded in the Truth of Christ, were made.

My heart is full to overflowing with all that took place over the 4 days that I was in North Carolina at this conference.  I took a few pictures to share with y’all.  And I am sure that there will be many posts to come that prove that as they spoke, I was listening.

But most of all?

God was there.

And He, most definitely, was speaking.

And I am learning to always listen when He speaks.

And then say, “Yes!”.

Yes to being a wise woman.

Yes to being a Writer with a speaker’s heart.  (I’m still unpacking that one, friends!)

Yes to taking part in an amazing Online Bible Study with more 22,000 women from over 120 countries!

Yes to walking alongside those who need to know they are not alone.

And Yes to heeding the call to keep writing for His glory.

Yes indeedy!

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The decor` may have been gorgeous, but the worshiping that went on… OH! And the prayer room with each person’s name placed beside a name of God… Oh. My. Stars!

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A lovely roommate (far left), some shoes, wide smiles and inspiring devotionals and keynote… I have MUCH to ponder.

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Hugging necks and putting voices to the devotionals (and books) that I read from these ladies over at P31 Ministries was a joyful experience!

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I was STARSTRUCK to meet some of the beautiful and willing hearts that take part in P31’s Online Bible Study. Melissa Taylor (on the far right) is the fearless leader and has such a genuine desire to see ladies digging in the Word! Star. Struck.

I do believe that She Speaks was a gift of epic proportions. Thank you so much to the team at Proverbs 31 Ministries for all that they did to make this conference so phenomenal.

I only wish some of you, who wanted to, could have come along for the journey.  

Maybe next year?   

Good Enough

For the days that filling, refilling, and emptying the blow-up pool seems like an endless task; for the days that the string of pleas for another Popsicle bombard you like water balloons; for the moments of weakness when answering questions about why God made kids with allergies might do you in; and drumming up meals for distinctly different and picky palates turns into the carrot stick that broke the mama’s back… For those kinds of days?  I cling to the adage that I only have to be a “good enough parent”.

Back during the time that I was first told that depression and I were going to walk hand in hand for a while; back when I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be a parent, after all; back when I desperately needed to know that I was enough for this life I’d been given, I was reminded that on those particular days, I just needed to be good enough parent to get through the day. I don’t need to be a perfect parent.

That’s an important distinction.  One that I often miss when I set out to do this deeply difficult and important parenting thing.

And this good enough parenting thing? It isn’t for every day.  Just for those daysGod knows we all have them.  And we all know we give God lots of those parenting days, ourselves, don’t we?

But, I’d forgotten this whole principle in my desperate desire to get it right while I’m here. And I about ran myself ragged with All The Trying.

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And now, I’d kind of liken it to my walk with God.  He doesn’t expect perfection.  His goal is to press us on toward Christ-likeness.

My goal is not to be Christ.

It’s to be more like Christ.

And He tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness.

And oh, how I give him ample opportunity to perfect His power!

My job?  My job is to focus on doing All The Things as best I can manage.

filling, refilling, emptying, and refilling that pool
providing food one meal at a time
loving the questioner and accepting the questions that I have no answer for

If I do all of those things through Christ who strengthens me, they are all possible.

And I will find that I am, indeed, good enough for the job I’ve been given.