An Invitation to Live

Hello, Everyone! I’m leaving for a retreat this weekend, and have been taking the week off from blogging in order to prepare for speaking this weekend. I’ll be back on Monday to share about the retreat with you!

I bought Ben an awesome Christmas gift. I’m not sure who likes it more – me or him. Maybe me. But it’s so good!

It’s the book Love Does, by Bob Goff, and I completely loved reading it. It’s a book full of stories and examples of all the ways in which we need to stop saying we want an incredible life, and actually run out the door to start living it – going out and having adventures, finding people who need help and love, and just doing the stuff we sit around dreaming about.

I’ve never been invited to the Oscars or to Paul McCartney’s birthday party or to a space shuttle launch. I’m waiting for my invitation to National Treasure 3. If I got an invitation to any of those things, or for that matter, to the real White House Easter egg hunt, I’d definitely go. There’s nothing like feeling included.

There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors. It looks like numbing yourself or distraction yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven’t really been invited. But you see, we have been invited — every day, all over again.

If there is one thing I want to learn from these years of being a mom at home with my kids, it’s to accept the invitation, and be fully here, with my girls, every day.

reading

Sometimes I need to slow down and remember that the big, beautiful life I’ve dreamed about is actually happening right now, even though it may look a little small sometimes.

Sometimes I need to be reminded about that invitation to fully live, and I need to really think about the fact that these girlies of mine are the most important part of my adventure, even when the everyday stuff starts to feel repetitive.

The little things are actually the big things.

We remember that, and then we keep going, fully present and alive, ready to experience the next adventure together.

I’m sure there will be many more amazing adventures when our girls are all grown up, and there’s no one continually hollering for Mommy, but I bet I’ll look back on this time and think it was my favorite. What is ordinary and everyday right now will someday be a very beautiful memory, but I don’t want to wait until then to see all the beauty.

I don’t want anything to stop me from showing up and being all here.

35 Days of Favorites: Favorite Book

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I feel like this post is a bit repetitive, because if you read my blog regularly, you probably already know what my favorite book of the year was. I only wrote about it three or four times….( An Invitation to Live,Say Yes,  Casting Lots, Some Wet Fleece, and a Crystal Ball)

Love Does

Since I’ve written so much about it, I’ll let you go back and check out those posts if you’re interested, but for now, I will just say that this book has changed the way I think about a lot of things. It’s challenging, inspiring, fun, incredibly interesting, and makes you want to go have an adventure, in the best kind of way.

I’m thinking it’s time for a re-read…

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Say Yes.

Well, today is the big day.

I’m packing my bags, and heading off to Camp Cedarwood to spend the weekend with the ladies of Ridgewood EMC.

tree branch

Many months ago, a lady from their retreat committee sent me an email, asking if I was “available, and capable of deep spiritual teaching”.

My word. It was the “capable” part which undid me. My stomach did some kind of weird lurching thing as I read that email, and my immediate reaction was something along the lines of, “Capable??! Nope!!!”

I fully intended to turn down the opportunity. I’ve spoken publicly many times before, but the words “deep spiritual teaching” were a bit too intimidating, and I could immediately think of a number of other women who could do a much better job.

I sent a polite email back, suggesting we talk on the phone the next day, but I intended to say no.

The next morning, I was reading my Bible, and stumbled across a verse which said,

“Do not fear disgrace…”

And I thought, “That’s EXACTLY what I fear!”

A few verses down, it said,

“You will not be disgraced.”

It was for me. I own it now. You know how that is? When the Holy Spirit just jumps off the page at you, and you know those words are meant for you?

And I wondered if it could really be true….No disgrace?

My phone call came, and I think I still kinda wanted to say no, but the Holy Spirit must have been speaking on the other end too, because this lady I had never met said everything I needed to hear, and I knew this was a God-thing.

I still don’t feel deep. Or capable.

But I feel like God is leading, and for some reason, He wants me to do this, so I will go with a “yes” in my heart.

Yet again, Bob Goff sums it up for me:

Am I the right guy? I don’t know, but I’m the guy being asked, and the last thing I want to do is miss an opportunity or make God mad, so I just keep saying yes. Maybe God is doing some inexplicable things in your life. Each of us gets to decide every time whether to lean in or step back – to say yes, ignore it, or tell God why He has the wrong person….We were all meant to save many lives. God is always trying to save lives, and it seems like He usually uses the least likely people to do it.

Have you ever felt unqualified? Afraid? Incapable?

Say yes! You don’t want to miss anything!!

(Ben and I talked about whether I should wait to post this after the weekend – first find out if I’ll be disgraced or not!! Then we decided that honesty and transparency is a good and beautiful thing, so I’m laying it all out there! I’ll let you know how it went on Monday!)

Casting Lots, Some Wet Fleece, and a Crystal Ball

I came across a random, interesting fact as I was doing some reading on the book of Acts yesterday.

It had to do with the practice of “casting lots” in the Bible, which I never really understood as a kid. It always seemed strange to me that major decisions were made using different lengths of sticks, or whatever it was that they did, exactly.

As I got older, and had to start making major decisions about my own life, suddenly the idea of casting lots started to look a lot more appealing. An obvious, visible sign of what I should choose to do with my life? Yes, please! Those lucky people in the Old Testament, with their sticks and stones.

But that brings me back to my fun fact of the day:

In the Old Testament, “casting lots” is mentioned 70 times, but in the New Testament, it is only mentioned 7 times.

That is an extreme difference. And guess when the practice came to an abrupt end?

It was when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.

Isn’t that amazing? When the Holy Spirit came, there was suddenly no further need for games of chance. In a moment, everything changed for Christians forever, and we were given everything we need to guide us in any decision we will ever face in this lifetime.

Now that we have the completed Word of God, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us, there is no reason to be using games of chance to make decisions. The Word, the Spirit, and prayer are sufficient for discerning God’s will today—not casting lots, rolling dice, or flipping a coin. (source)

So why is it still so appealing for us to beg for a sign? We talk about “laying out a fleece”, or joke about lightning bolts from Heaven that will make all things clear.

I could not count the number of times I’ve had conversations with people who are desperate to know God’s will, and don’t have a clue how to find out what it might be. We long for enlightenment, and certainty in decisions.

And yet, I keep thinking about the abrupt ending to “outside” methods of determining God’s will. It became all about the heart, and drawing close to Jesus – growing more dependent on Him, seeking after Him.

I came across an interesting question the other day: Do I really want to know God’s will, or do I just want to know the future?

Do I want to draw closer to God, or am I actually just longing for a gypsy with a crystal ball to tell me what’s coming next?

And do I really need to know what’s coming next, if I’m drawing close to Jesus?

Love DoesI love what Bob Goff writes in his book, Love Does:

I think God passes by me a lot, and it serves to show me the direction He’s going. We don’t always know where He’s headed or what to expect along the way. But I think direction is the point, the part, and the whole of it. He wants followers, not just onlookers or people taking notes. Plus, I think God know that if I found out more than just the direction He was going, I’d probably try to beat Him there. 

If we live life with the Spirit inside of us, and we continue to get really close to Jesus, and we keep asking for His desires to be put into our hearts so that we can follow Him, I think we end up going in the right direction.

And I think it’s okay if we don’t know much beyond that.

Oh, there is a part of me that still longs for a sopping wet piece of fleece, and I’m a little jealous of Gideon, who kept asking for all those specific signs – he got them all, PLUS he got an angel!

But he didn’t have the Holy Spirit. And that makes all the difference.

So these days, I’m trying to silence the questions that want to pop up, because most of the time, they have more to do with wanting to know the future than with getting close to God.

If I live in this moment, in this day, I already know what God’s will is for me:

It’s to know Him, and glorify Him in all I do.

It’s to think about today, and not worry about tomorrow.

His will is for me to care for my family, and for orphans and widows.

His will is for me to love a lot, to be joyful, to pray without ceasing, to have a thankful heart.

It’s to do what is before me, to keep heading in the direction He’s going, and to stay flexible, so that if another opportunity pops up unexpectedly from Him, I’ll be ready to put down the “To Do” list, and follow Him.

If I start with all that, I’ve got enough to keep me busy for awhile. I guess I don’t really need some sticks to show me what to do next!

***************************************

What do you think? Do you ever wish you could still cast lots, or pray for some wet fleece?!

Let’s Go Have a Surprising Adventure

These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s will.

It’s something I often think about, but even more so right now, because I’ve been asked to speak on the topic at a ladies’ retreat in March. And suddenly, every verse I read, every book I pick up, every sermon I listen to, relates to the topic, and it feels like there’s a ton of thoughts simmering in my mind, all slowly coming together and shaping my thoughts in new ways.

And lately, that new shape to my thoughts has to do with God’s will being like an adventure, and a surprise…

god

source (Oswald Chambers)

That’s new for me. I’ve written before about how I was a girl with a plan. I like to be in control of each and every detail, so the idea that the unknown could be a “breathless expectation”?? This has not come naturally to me.

I love how Bob Goff writes about it in his book, Love Does:

I think a father’s job, when it’s done best, is to get down on both knees, lean over his children’s lives, and whisper, “Where do you want to go?”

Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.”

Most of my life, I’ve been almost paralyzed with fear when making major life decisions – What if I make the wrong choice?? What if I MISS God’s will for my life?

But I don’t think it works that way, anymore. I don’t think He wants it to be something that causes stress and uncertainty. I don’t think it has to be such a big deal. I want to do God’s will, and He wants me to do His will, so I pause and listen, get close to His heart, allow Him to speak to mine, and then He takes my hand and we skip off into the world to have adventures.

Ooooh, there’s part of me that still feels it might be wrong to even say something like that – so flippant and careless! We must be so serious about God’s will, after all!

I seriously want to be in it. Now let’s go do it, and have some fun. We’re going for joy and exciting surprises!

What about you? Do you see God’s will as a stressful mystery to solve, or an exciting surprise to discover?

An Invitation to Live

I bought Ben an awesome Christmas gift. I’m not sure who likes it more – me or him. Maybe me. But it’s so good!

It’s the book Love Does, by Bob Goff, and I completely loved reading it. It’s a book full of stories and examples of all the ways in which we need to stop saying we want an incredible life, and actually run out the door to start living it – going out and having adventures, finding people who need help and love, and just doing the stuff we sit around dreaming about.

I’ve never been invited to the Oscars or to Paul McCartney’s birthday party or to a space shuttle launch. I’m waiting for my invitation to National Treasure 3. If I got an invitation to any of those things, or for that matter, to the real White House Easter egg hunt, I’d definitely go. There’s nothing like feeling included.

There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors. It looks like numbing yourself or distraction yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven’t really been invited. But you see, we have been invited — every day, all over again.

If there is one thing I want to learn from these years of being a mom at home with my kids, it’s to accept the invitation, and be fully here, with my girls, every day.

reading

Sometimes I need to slow down and remember that the big, beautiful life I’ve dreamed about is actually happening right now, even though it may look a little small sometimes.

Sometimes I need to be reminded about that invitation to fully live, and I need to really think about the fact that these girlies of mine are the most important part of my adventure, even when the everyday stuff starts to feel repetitive.

The little things are actually the big things.

We remember that, and then we keep going, fully present and alive, ready to experience the next adventure together.

I’m sure there will be many more amazing adventures when our girls are all grown up, and there’s no one continually hollering for Mommy, but I bet I’ll look back on this time and think it was my favorite. What is ordinary and everyday right now will someday be a very beautiful memory, but I don’t want to wait until then to see all the beauty.

I don’t want anything to stop me from showing up and being all here.