Honorable Mention

If you were brought up in a church that had a song naming off all of the books in the bible, you have probably heard the book “Nehemiah”. We know that’s it’s before Esther and after 1 & 2 Kings. But do we ever actually take the time to read it? I know I didn’t. I’m on this new thing lately where God is pressing me to read the books of the bible that not many people really mention, so when my favorite devotional site dropped the news on doing a two-part study on this book, I was overjoyed.

There was one little snippet that I felt the need to share with you, I pray that it opens your eyes as much as it’s opened mine. Here we go:

“Next to them the men from Tekoa made repairs. However, the nobles wouldn’t lower themselves to work under supervisors” – Nehemiah 3:5

Here’s a little back story: The first few chapters of the book of Nehemiah is about a man named….well, Nehemiah, who is grieved because the walls of his city have been destroyed. Here he is, a simple cup-bearer for the king and his heart is grieved to help restore his home. In the first chapter, the king allows Nehemiah to leave and help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. When he gets there, he assigns all of these men to help build certain parts of the wall, which is where I’m taking you to this evening. The verse that I just shared with you above has been throwing me off since I listened to it in the car. It simply states that these nobles, men that of high stature, of leadership, refuse to help rebuild this wall under the supervision of someone “beneath” them.

Got it? Okay, hold that in your mind for a second.

“Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest.” – Nehemiah 3:20

If you see where I’m going with this, you are awesome and deserve a gold sticker. If not, it’s totally okay. You’ll get your sticker either way, but let me explain what I see.

What is zeal? Dictionary definition:

fervent or enthusiastic devotion, often extreme or fanatical in nature, as to a religious movement, political cause, ideal, or aspiration

So in a nut shell, this man Baruch son of Zabbai is working on this wall because this is probably more than just an assignment to him. It’s something he’s beyond passionate about. This is his home, these are his people and if these walls continue to stay down, everything he knows could be gone in a short amount of time. We don’t know what he does for a living, the bible doesn’t go beyond whose son he belongs to, but this man is working his bum off with authentic devotion. He’s probably a nobody, but Nehemiah or whoever wrote this book of the bible thought it worth mentioning his attitude towards his work on this wall. And he also thought it enough to mention how these nobles were working or not working.

You see where I’m getting at? The nobles just got schooled by one man and they don’t even know it! Their focus was off; too much into their title instead of the betterment of the people. Are you like that? Am I like that? Yes, we probably are, at least I know I can be. Is that something that we should be proud of? Of course not.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

 – Colossians 3:23

My conclusion to all of this is simple: if you are a leader, whether in the work place, home or church you must realize that your title does not exclude you from being told what to do. It does not exclude you from getting your hands dirty, but it does require you to set a better example. You shouldn’t think so highly of yourself like the nobles did and if you do, it’s time to change that. What you do sets the standard of those watching you and if there is someone watching you, how you act will most likely be repeated towards you. And if you are a simple person, what most would think as a “nobody”, and you work on things with passion no matter how low the task, keep it up. Don’t think that it’s all for nothing, because God sees your heart and he’s proud of you. The blessings that he has for those that work with zeal are coming their way. Just don’t slow down.

Let’s be people (believers of Christ or not) that work with an undying passion, title or not.

 

 

 

You’re missing it…

arrows

“We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast Peter. It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.

You can’t deny the fact that we all don’t get right on target in certain parts of our lives. In our jobs, relationships with family and friends and with God. We are often consumed with the ending results than the process and that needs to end. I’ve learned in recent events that the journey to get to one place is better than the end, but I’ve run from them because I’m all about getting there.

God has been putting all of us in a places of transition. From one ministry to the next, from leaving jobs into the place he’s called us to be, from being women and men who lived in our past mistakes into being chosen people who live in the present and for the future. It’s an adventure to say the least.

I knew what I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I can’t deny, I’ve been more pumped about the destination than the process. What we all need to learn right now is that the process or the season of being “Under Construction” is so much more valuable than the actual target. The tangible experiences of God’s heart rearrangements in our lives are the purest moments we can ever have on this earth. Yes, the grass is most likely greener on the other side, but your journey doesn’t end because you’ve arrived. It just means your character is ready to endure that season but is still in great need of being constructed for the next.

If you miss the procedures, you prolong the transition. Let’s not be so gung-ho to jump to the finish line, let’s just enjoy the race and the sweat that comes with.

There you are

I am absolutely in love with this scene in “Hook”. The music, the way the little boy touches Peter’s face, the anticipation on the faces of the Lost Boys and how Peter has a look of uncertainty and hope. I often find myself getting overly emotional watching this scene because I know how it feels to forget and search.

I believe we’ve all come to a point in our lives, especially us young adults, where we forget that it’s okay to be human sometimes. I know that I used to. I remember most of my childhood; playing in the dirt, playing pretend and having no care in the world. I watched plenty of cartoons and movies and could recite all of the lines (still do/can) with confidence. I remember those bad moments as well; parents constantly arguing, always getting into trouble or something like that. I don’t remember where I was exactly that I remembered a certain event of my life, way before my brother was born. I was at my babysitter’s house and she often times watched these other kids. She had us go down for a naps and I remembered her laying down blankets for us to sleep on. When she was out of the room, a slightly older boy was laying beside me whispering that he wanted to show me something. I can’t remember every thing that led to him trying to show me how adults play, but I remember feeling like I had to go along with it. At some point our babysitter came back and we pretended like we were asleep. He tried to get me to start again but I kept pretending that I was sleeping so that I wouldn’t have to participate in his game anymore. Several years after that I began looking at porn which in turn became an addiction and then I think I stopped trying to be a kid.

When I find myself thinking back to that day, I can’t help but wonder if it was what held me back. As if it were the start of me feeling like I had to perform all the time even when I didn’t want to. I know that in the movie “Hook” Peter was once the real Peter Pan, the boy who could fly and fight with ease, the boy who declared he’d never grow up because growing up was boring and no longer filled with imagination. I can’t help but wonder if there was an event after he departed from Neverland  had him forgetting all of the amazing times he had as a kid. I think that we often times experience moments like mine or maybe even his that force us to mature faster than we intended . Was there a moment that you were harmed, scared, worried or alone that you have shoved so far into the dark places of our memory bank that its collected cobwebs? If there are, maybe it’s time to search. Yes, I’m aware it’s a scary thing to dig for those dark moments, but they all don’t have to be dark. They can be the simplest moments of your life from years ago and maybe, just maybe, you should take the time to go back and figure out what they were, see if they show you something new about yourself. I’ve learned in the past few years, the moments that I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to search and remember are the moments where all my brokenness made perfect sense and I start to feel more alive.

I think when we just let all of our Jericho walls fall from our hearts is exactly where God meets us. Even though he knows that we’ve had those walls of hurt and hidden joys before we did, I can only imagine him looking at us, touching our faces and saying “Oh, there you are, beloved”

 

 

When it’s too late…

klinectThis is Katie Klinect. You don’t know a thing about her and then again, neither do I really. I met her years ago at my young adult small group at a church not too far from my house. She was sweet, loves God and above all the most beautiful person I had ever met. For the next 3 and a half years, I saw Katie at least once a week for church, twice if she was able to make it to small group. We worshiped, laughed, probably cried and prayed together. Usually in a group setting. Outside of that, I never really knew her and it didn’t phase me to change it too soon.

About a month ago I saw a Facebook post saying that Katie got into a freak bicycle accident while babysitting for a family. She was rushed to the hospital and had to go into surgery to reduce the swelling on her brain that occurred after the accident. For a few days, the doctors  said they needed to do tests to make sure her brain would respond. And she did. I got really excited to see such good news and realized that it was time to make up for the years that I didn’t try getting to know Katie.

On April 11th, my 25th birthday, Katie had passed away. I had prayed so hard for her to wake up, to recover and maybe one day sit down and have coffee with her. But it didn’t happen that way. My heart was crushed and I asked God to forgive me for allowing myself to get so prideful and insecure that it kept me from knowing her like everyone else did.

I told this story to my students in The Landing and I think it hit home for a lot of them. I sensed that we all had, in the past, became so angry, bitter or insecure that it kept us from loving the hurt, broken and angry people who had done wrong to us. We allowed our emotions, insecurities and need to seek revenge to rule how we treat people in the future and that’s not how it should be. What I think myself and my students learned was that life was too short to hold on to things that kept us from being the light in this world, that kept us from having a full heart.

When people have hurt us or we when give them more power than they deserve, it takes a bit of our hearts, leaving us very little to live with or give away. And then we try to hold onto the pieces to protect when we learn there is nothing we can do with them. Accept putting them at the foot of Jesus and not attempting to pick them up and mend all the pieces back together on our own.

After Katie’s packed out memorial service I had to lay my insecurities, my pride and my hurts at the foot of Jesus for the last time. I had picked them up several times because the shards of my heart-felt great on my skin, despite the cuts they had put on them. Brokenness feels great when it’s all you know, despite the discomfort, holding onto anything else isn’t something we leap for joy for. But I wanted to let them go for good and allow Jesus to put the pieces back together, clean it, polish it and in the process show me how to love without trying to go back to the old patterns.

Although I wish that I could easily shoot a message on Facebook to Katie and see how she is doing, I thank God that through the hurt he showed me where I went wrong in my thinking. Death has a funny way of doing that.

Katie, I’m so sorry that I let myself get in the way of being a friend to you, but this is not a goodbye. It’s a “See you later”. Let’s have coffee when I get there 🙂

 

“Never Not Be Afraid”

I’m not the biggest fan of taking bold steps that have no back up plan. I have to have something to fall on in the case that things fail to turn out the way that I want it to.

Clue word “I”

I’ve been waiting on the big rescue from God. I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about: the action of God swooping in at just the right time. It has happened a few times in my life, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to happen this time around. I needed to get out of my job, but straight up leaving it without a plan was not going to happen.

I had been working with the company for 4 years, and as much as I enjoyed working with my co-workers and some of the management in that duration, I was not feeling like I was fulfilling my calling (whatever it may be) in those four walls. My faith and character had been stretched, molded and changed in some way, but never broken. I had learned more about myself in those  years than I can really share in this post, but I’m not the same as I was before. I knew that when this year started God was going to shift what I was familiar with, what made me feel safe, I didn’t know for sure that it would be my job. Little things had started happening within the company along with sermons that I was hearing at church that challenged me in my faith. Do I leave? Do I trust God? What am I going to do?

My frustration had mounted to the point where I simply gave my two-week notice and didn’t try taking it back no matter how much I wanted to.

I realized that my job was my safe zone, my disease and my terrible boyfriend. I believed the lie that I was bound to the company for life and that I was not good enough for anything else outside of it. When I had enough in me to just throw in the towel most days, I didn’t trust God with the details for the afterwards. So I tried to plan and plot the “just in case” and “what ifs”. God wasn’t for that.

How about I take care of you?”

“How about you let me be God in your life?”

“How about you trust me with the details?

and the kicker…

“How much do you really love and trust me?”

Trust. Because I hadn’t been given a reason to trust someone and that drove me to not trust God. Because I believed the lie instead of standing firm in the truth that was preached to me all the time, I could never let go of the toxic environment that was Ross.

I was watching the Croods with the kids at my new job and I teared up at how well it portrayed my thoughts and struggles. I’ve lived my life in the safe zone, to never try anything new, never living without a plan within the boundaries of fear, inwardly saying “Never not be afraid”. All the while I’m so curious and jealous of how people my age take leaps of faith and just go for what they want, trusting God in every step. I wanted to be like Eep who really wanted to get out and explore and bathe in possibilities, curiosities and adventures. My inmost being craved that life but my fears muffled them out.

I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was how God showed me that although my calling was something he placed in me, it wasn’t about me. It was never about my selfishness and fears and what I can and can’t do. It was about His will to bring his kingdom on earth, I’m just the vessel. He needed me to pull me out of myself and into his trusting, secure arms and just take that step. To really live a life of never being afraid. Because he’s got this, he’s got all of this and it’s not for me to doubt him because he knows more than my mind can fathom and doesn’t have to give me all the details.

So right now, I am no longer working in bondage to Ross, I do have a new job and it doesn’t pay me as much as I would have liked, but I’m happy. I have time to write, think and dream. I have that much-needed God time that I never really had. I have true peace and freedom and man it feels so good!

If you’re reading this and you are in the same spirit of fear that I was in, I challenge you to take a leap of faith. Let’s not be afraid together!