Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There once was a crazy year (4)

Before I knew what was happening, my house was selling and I had to be out. Quickly. It all happened so fast I hardly had time to process the words being said before I was tossing the contents of the entire house into throw, keep, and thrift store piles. I didn't know where I was going. I'm on a small budget. I panicked for a small amount of time. It's kinda like having the wind knocked out of you. I was crying about this with Jesus, telling Him I felt like everything I love is being ripped out from under my feet, when He asked me one simple question. "I thought you said you love ME. What happened to following me to the ends of the Earth?" Conviction. Huge conviction. I remembered something Jesus had said to those claiming promise to follow Him. That even animals have dens and nests, but "The son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." So the attachment to my house needed to go. Okay. "What're we doing, then?" I asked. I threw up my hands and stopped planning. About an hour later, my phone rang

I was told about an opportunity to be involved in some ministry in an area right here in Modesto that is often overlooked and neglected. The west side. Dangerous, yes. But desperate for Jesus to infiltrate. And very quickly, things fell into place. I found out about a house that is overseen by City Ministries Network (Did you know there's a board comprised of people from all kinds of churches and ministries in modesto?) that is currently housing interns with Youth For Christ and is looking for another person to move in to be more involved and close to ministry that goes on in this part of town. So I talked with several people and once again things happened fast. I'm already moved in. Well, mostly.

I have no idea yet of all that I'll be involved in. But I'll tell you what I DO know: That this will be the first year I'll be focused on ministry as my priority rather than working up a ladder with a corporation. I've always put work first. That's what I've been taught. The shift that has happened within me is one of refusing to listen to everyone around me and trust that the King over every dime and dollar will provide if I pour myself into following His lead and being His hands and feet. This is just like being a missionary. That's basically what I'm beginning. I just happened to move to West Side Modesto rather than South Africa or Papau New Guinea. (Which I'm totally wanting to do too someday!) I know I'm good at encouragement-especially of people who're knee-deep in ministry. I want to do something with that. I know that we are planning to hold Zumba classes in the new Youth For Christ building next to Modesto High. I pray people come. I pray they encounter Jesus through it. I don't know what other things I will be involved in. But my hope and prayer is that I will find those who know ministry. Who've been doing it. Who will take me seriously and train me up to do it well. I am focused on figuring out where I fit well and working in the trenches of ministry every day. That's my calling. That's what I'm wired for. I have a feeling this year will be a lot of new. A lot of learning and a lot of change. But I'm excited to see where He places me. Let the adventures begin!!!!

There was once a crazy year (3)

It's the hardest and the easiest decision I've ever made-both at the same time. The easiest because when you know what you're created to do and what The King calls you to, it's the easiest decision in the world to simply say "okay, then" and follow. It settles all kinds of dissonance within you. And you can go with confidence- to the ends of the Earth. Literally. The hard part isn't actually in making the changes. It's in the way people tend to react sometimes.

I've decided to commit myself fully and completely to ministry. This is what I hear the Lord tugging me toward. I got to the point with Beth this year where I became aware of how incredibly messed-up I once was and how brilliantly He's turned everything around and how incredibly different and new I am as a result. And in the same moment that I realized that, I realized that this could not all happen without me turning around and being a tool in which others get to encounter the radical transforming power of Jesus Christ. I can't help it. I'm in love and we all know how foolish love can make one act. That being said, I told Jesus I am all in. No more half-butting my time doing ministry. I'm committed-whenever, wherever and however that may be. I told Him 2012 is it. The year I'm determined to dive in. Little did I know what was waiting for me within just a few days.....


There was once a crazy year (2)

For the first part of the year, I was just frustrated and wondering what the heck was going on. I was overwhelmed, overworked, and dry as a bone. Then this summer I went to a Beth Moore conference and it ended up being a crazy weekend unlike I expected. Part of that weekend involved hanging out with Beth for a bit and her saying something to me that was undeniably and completely of Jesus and meant to grab my attention so hard that the wind got knocked out of me. That moment I heard God say, "This is it, Baby Girl. You've come completely through and are on the other side. You've arrived. You're free. Healed. It's time to begin something new and huge." This was overwhelming because of the way it all hit me. He did it big. I mean, coming from the mouth of Beth herself was HUGE because the day I saw the extent of my unhealthy state and desired to get out of those pits 5 years ago was the first day I ever heard her speak. I began thinking and processing and then I was hit with health issues. An interesting thing happened when I was weak and not able to be as active. I lost a lot of "friends". It's funny who shows up or supports you when you're just too weak to handle life. And it's heartbreaking and shocking to see who doesn't. Sometimes I think we in the church get so focused on whatever "our" ministry is, that we become blinded to the way others around us in the body need our support. I did a lot of resting which left me alone a lot. Which made me wrestle like crazy with Jesus over everything. Over my life and what it is and where it's going. It changes everything when you spend most of your time with only Him. I had to face all kinds of things I had been avoiding. One day it hit me that I'd been hanging out all day every day with the most powerful King in the universe and He was crazy about me. (Have you had the blessing of this eerie, awesome experience yourself? If not, I ask you to. Don't miss out on Him!) And after months and months of wrestling things out with Him, I accepted what He was saying to me. He was telling me and showing me what I've been wired for. Groomed for. Brought up to do. I'd known it somewhere deep down for a long time. I just avoided facing it and the hard parts I knew would come with that.  But I've finally made a firm decision. 

There was once a crazy year (1)

A desert. A huge, hot, dry, desolate, windy-in-a-painful-way-that-chaps-and-dries-every-inch-of-you desert. At first I was simply blown over and devastated by this response and condition of life. I ask for huge adventure and I get plopped in the middle of......well, not much of anything to be exact. In the beginning, I was just angry. Angry that I seemed to be isolated a lot on all sides and angles. But as 2011 started to run it's course, I began to see a theme. It took a bit to get it. To actually open my eyes to what He was up to. Sometimes it's hardest to see even the most beautiful things when you're sitting IN them, is it not? I began to hear whispers of the theme He had for me. It was in conversations with customers and co-workers. It was in messages and sermons I listened in on. It was in books I read. Pages of scripture that would fall open. And in the voices of teachers that I encountered and learned from throughout the year.

There was once a crazy year (Prologue)

For the entire year of 2011 I have been asking Jesus for high adventure on a grand scale that goes much further than my imagination could conceive. I've asked Him to strategically place me in a spot of influence with those who have not yet encountered Him in the raw and breathtaking way that He longs to infiltrate their lives. And He did. The effect of this on me was more painful and entirely different than anything I anticipated.....

Thursday, December 22, 2011


The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.

On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess--the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver,she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.