{Church Girl Funk | Yeah. It happens.}

Can you imagine having actually walked with Jesus — for real, dirt between your toes and robes flapping in the wind, walked with Him?  What must it have been like to feel His hand, His actual God-made-flesh hand on your shoulder? I wonder what his voice sounded like? And to hear Him call your name aloud? I can’t even. So, let’s just move on.

God in His wisdom saw fit for me to be here. Now. And, I’m good with that. I suppose I had the best-case-scenario as kid. See, I’m a church girl. I grew up as a pastor’s kid, so from a young age I was taught about God. I knew about Jesus and the Gospel. The importance of Scripture was ingrained in me from a young age. (Anyone else get a tiny New Testament/Psalms Bible when you were but a wee newborn?) We went to church every time the doors were open, at least three times each week. I learned to memorize Scripture, sing worship tunes, to work hard serving others and the church. I knew all the rules. And, for the most part, I kept them religiously. Church girl. To the core. The gratitude I feel for my best-case-scenario knows no bounds. Truly, I am grateful. Here’s the thing: Sometimes, it seems my inner church girl is at a disadvantage. Let’s be real, the privilege of hearing the Gospel Sunday after Sunday means that my exposure to the story was through the roof. The familiarity of the story meant reciting it was as easy and natural as breathing. Some Sundays, though, hearing it again felt like trudging through deep, thick mud. And, then, I’d be stuck. In a funk.

Ah, yes. The church girl funk. It goes something like this:

I’ve heard the story a million times. Do I really need to study Scripture every day? I’ve sang the song hundreds of times, hands raised to the sky, eyes closed. Do I really need to engage my mind and think about the weight of what I’m singing? I’m a Christ follower. I believe the Gospel. I go to church. I try to be obedient. I serve others. Look at all the things I’m doing for Him. 

It’s all familiar. And, when I’m in a church girl funk, I find that I am unaffected by it all. Unmotivated. Unaware. Head down. Shuffling along. Going through the motions. Anyone else?

Thank heavens, God sees me in those moments and comes after me. He reminds me. He engraves the truth ever deeper into my heart. He loves me. And, He wants me to love Him. Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) All my fellow church girls know it’s the great commandment. Love Him. Completely.

We can love Him like that because He loved. We rest in the truth that He loved us before we took our first breath. He sent Jesus to live a sinless life, die a sinner’s death as payment for my sin and your sin because of His great love. Why? So that we could know Him and know the depth of His love for us. I don’t know about you, but when I stop and leave space in my day to remember,  I am completely in awe. What lavish love! It’s from that place (being loved) that He wants us to love Him back, with all we’ve got.

Yes. I know. You’ve heard it all before. But can we hear it again with fresh ears and a soft heart? Can we sit still with the truth for a hot minute and allow ourselves to be utterly blown away by His love for us? The Creator of the Universe loves you with an unfailing, unfathomable love. We belong to Him. Let that truth frame everything else.

See, I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter what we do for Him if our hearts aren’t motivated by our love for Him. He didn’t tell us “If you want to be a good church girl, obey me, serve me, work for me.” No. He said, “If you love me, obey me.”

If you find yourself in a church girl funk, start there. Love Him completely and then let everything else be a demonstration of that love. But above all, be loved by Him. And to do that, sweet friends, you don’t have to do anything at all. It’s already done. Just breathe it in. He. Loves. You.

Now, go. Go and do the things He’s put in front of you to do. Love the person that He’s asking you to love even if they are completely impossible. Lay down the thing He’s asking you to lay down. And know that He has you in the palm of His hand, loving you wildly every moment along the way.

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Remember that time when . . .

Every now and then, something will happen that reminds me that God is concerned with the details of my life. He is concerned with the details because He has a plan. And I know that The Lord will work out His plans for my life. . . (Psalm 138:8)

I love that. You, too?

Someone asked me not too long ago if I felt called to lead worship. At first, the question caught me off guard and it took me a moment to form words. On the inside, I wanted to jump up and down and scream, ‘Yes!! Of course!!’ But I was able to exercise a bit of self-restraint and answer the question with a simple “Yes!”.

[Sidebar: I just dumped my iPad over onto my wireless keyboard. Of course, it managed to “post” my draft…oops! And, I’m sorry if you received a link to a half-baked, unfinished post!]

I walked away from that conversation feeling encouraged because it seemed someone else recognized that God had a specific calling and plan for my life that involved worship. God always offers encouragement at just the right moment. I needed it that day.

So, I started thinking.  I’m writing this to serve as a memorial of one time in particular that God blew me away. A time when He reminded me that He was aware of and concerned with the details. A time when He reminded me (again) that He is working and has always been working.

He gave me a piano. A brand new (off the showroom floor), beautiful piano. Delivered, free of charge. I had a beautiful baby grand piano, but I was going to have to sell it. The baby grand was purchased used a few years earlier. I rarely played the piano during that season of life, but found comfort in knowing it was there. (Weird, right?) I was going through the painful process of divorce, downsizing from a giant house to a tiny house. Space was limited; the baby grand piano simply would not fit. I tried to figure out a way that I could use it as the kitchen table, but that just seemed like a bad idea. Besides, the kitchen was too small! I was sad.

I called and left a message with the piano dealer asking if they would be willing to broker a deal on my behalf or even take the piano back. When they called me back, I hesitated to answer. I simply did not want to talk about it in that moment. I answered anyway.

“Mrs. Lewis, we would be glad to help you sell the baby grand; but, first let me ask, would you be interested in a trade?”

I had no idea that was an option. Of course I was interested in a trade. I assumed I would get a much less expensive, much smaller piano. We talked a few minutes and arranged for pick-up of the old piano at my old address and delivery of the new piano to my new address. I had no idea what I was getting. The new piano showed up, and I thought there must be a mistake.

It was a brand new, full-size, professional grade, upright piano. Shiny. Beautiful. Perfect. Unbelievable! What’s the big deal, you may be wondering. This new piano was far more valuable when compared than the original value of the piano I traded in. So, if I had walked into the showroom to buy either piano (brand new) the baby grand would have been less expensive (at full cost). Am I making sense? It would be like taking a 10 year old car to the dealer and making an even trade for a brand new 2015 model, When does that happen!?

After the delivery guys left, I sat down at my beautiful, new piano – eyes full of tears, fingers fumbling across the shiny new keys – and was overwhelmed with gratitude. Even though I was too shy to play with people watching, i played for Him.

It would be years before I stepped onto a platform to play while people sat and listened. (Never mind playing and singing or playing and leading worship.) But He saw that moment well in advance. In His perfect faithfulness, He worked out the details like only He could. So, I played (and sang) at my mamaw’s funeral, in honor of her – but still, playing for Him.

Here’s the thing: Not only did He see that moment, He has seen every moment since. And, He’s working out His plans for my life.

I am so thankful that I belong to Him.

Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1

Fix Your Eyes

20140327-223140.jpgHello, sweet friends.

Today was one of those days. That may be an understatement. The past few weeks have been rough. Really hard. Challenge upon challenge seemed to slam down on my head in unrelenting and unapologetic fashion day after day after day.

Then I remembered.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalms 16:8.

In trouble: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

In heartache: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

In plenty or in need: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

When I feel pressed: I will keep my eyes always on the Lord.

When I feel tired: I will keep my eyes always on the Lord.

See, He is the only sure thing. He’s unchanging, unfailing, and good. He’s my help, my strength, my joy, and my provision. He is HOPE.

I am so thankful that I belong to Him. 


 

On another note:

On my ride home today, I was listening to my new Kari Jobe CD and feeling a little blue because I would not be able to see her on either of her upcoming tour stops. She is in Lexington tonight and will be in Louisville next week, but there was no way we could buy tickets to either event. (Winter has been really long.) These were sure to be powerful nights of worship and I really, really wanted to be there.

Then, I opened my mail.

Some kind and generous soul sent me tickets. The flood of tears burned my cheeks. I could not find my words. My sweet husband had no idea what had just happened.

I have no idea who sent those tickets. I have no idea why they sent them. But, I am so grateful that they did. Whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart. God used you to encourage me today in a great big way. I am overwhelmed by your kindness, by his kindness shown through you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Truth Behind Tradition

Happy Monday! And, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (And, happy birthday Mamaw!)

Throughout the weekend, loads of Americans donned their best (and sometimes not quite) green attire and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by attending various parades, visiting Irish pubs, and drinking lots of Irish beer. Confession: I wore green today, accidentally. 

St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who actually hailed from Britain. He was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish marauders and held captive for years. During his time there, he converted to Christianity and after escaping vowed to return to Ireland to rid the land of its pagans. He did return to Ireland as a missionary. March 17th marks the day of the religious feast in his honor and also marks the date of his death in the 5th century. And, so we celebrate? I assume this holiday is like others that have been consumer-ized  (I think I may have just invented a word) almost beyond recognition. We wear green and pinch people who do not. Some drink beer and many enjoy parades. We talk of leprechauns, shamrocks,  and the luck of the Irish. But, I wonder how many people know the real story. I am sure many people do, but I could not be counted among them! Blue was actually the color associated with Saint Patrick.  The Shamrock (which does not exist but resembles clover) was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity and was worn later as a symbol of Irish Christianity not luck. Am I the only one who didn’t know?! No matter.  

I never knew the history behind the observance of St. Patrick’s Day, nor did I know the story of the man Saint Patrick until a few years ago when something piqued my curiosity. I heard, for the first time, a portion of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate prayer. And, wow. It’s beautiful. And, powerful. This beautiful prayer reminds me of one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 139.

A portion of the prayer is to follow. I pray the words are like balm to your soul and remind you that He hems us in and has laid His hand upon us. (Ps. 139, NIV) That is good news. Happy news. It’s one of the greatest reasons I can think of to celebrate.

So, celebrate big sweet friends. Jesus knows you. Jesus loves you.

From Saint Patrick's Prayer

*Note: The historical info I included came from History.com. 

#ModelStatus – Guest Blogger, Maddie Grace

My sweet girl, Maddie Grace, wanted to write a little post for my blog. She is only twelve, but what’s she’s talking about here is important; and, I am glad that she wants to use her voice to encourage others to reflect Christ. She’s growing into quite a beauty, inside and out. God’s masterpiece. It makes my heart smile to watch how He’s working in her life. Thanks for reading!
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The teacher was late. 10 minutes late. It was 7th period spiritual life class. Me,Daisy, Malcolm and Dalton took action, we ran to the wall and struck awkward model poses. They were very, um…disturbing or model-ish as we might say. We stood frozen, and then the teacher came in.
“Hey guys sorry I’m, oh…” He said with just one glimpse of us. We all burst out laughing. Then I started thinking about what a model’s purpose is: to “advertise” clothing and make people want to buy it.
In the same way, we are God’s models. He uses us to go and to advertise his word, his truth and make people want and need Him more.
We are called to be a model for God. We are made in his image, specifically for His purpose. You don’t have to have the greatest hair or the prettiest face! So just remember, the next time you get an opportunity, model God’s truth the best you can. #modelstatus

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Five Minute Friday – Let’s Give It a Whirl!


Five Minute Friday  I've been following 5 Minute Friday with my friend Mary Hess for some time. I thought I might give it a whirl. Every Friday, Lisa Jo posts a prompt. You write for 5 minutes - no starting and stopping, no editing. Just write. Sounds like BIG FUN, doesn't it!? So, here it goes . . .

GO.

Afraid.

I have been afraid.  I have walked through seasons of life paralyzed by fear. I remember the first time I recognized it.  I ignored it and justified it, and it ruled me.

Every time I was faced with something new and different. Afraid.

I was always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. Afraid.

I finally learned that I didn’t have to be afraid.

The Lord is my light and my salvation, why should I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, why should I be afraid? 

I’m still learning. Learning to trust. Learning to believe that He is exactly who He says He is. He has me in the palm of my hand. He loves me with an unfailing love. Some days that seems easier than others. Today I needed the reminder.

I don’t have to be afraid.

Stop.