Saying Yes In My Mess

Today is a BIG day. My friend, Kristen over at We Are THAT Family is launching her new book, Rhinestone Jesus – Saying YES to God when sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough.

“In high school, Kristen wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow: much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true reflection of who she was.

Real life and motherhood catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined. There came a day when she stood in the slums of Africa, poised on the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken. And she knew she didn’t stand a chance – unless she was ready to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing.

Rhinestone Jesus is the spiritual adventure story of one woman who went from living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say YES to a deeper, more authentic way.”

Through stories about life as a high school student, her (sometimes difficult) marriage, the hum-drum mundane days of motherhood, and a blogger, Kristen takes us on her journey. As a Compassion International Blogger, Kristen was invited to travel to Kenya where her heart and life was forever changed. After returning home feeling empty and broken, Kristen woke up from the American Dream, and said YES to an unbelievable God-sized dream called Mercy House.

I love that Kristen keeps it real in Rhinestone Jesus. She is quick to admit that her family is far from perfect – even talking about days filled with puke, poop, drama, and bad attitudes (which makes her seem like my BFF) but even through the crazy – in the middle of her messy life as wife and mother, she slowly discovers that God doesn’t require us to get our act together before revealing His God-sized dream, rather He is just waiting for us to say YES IN OUR MESS, wherever we are. Right now.

As a result of her YES – through obedience and love – her family continually strives to glorify the Lord in all that they do. At the end of each chapter, Welch offers reflections and personal challenges for readers – ideas for nurturing our families, serving as a family, and being centered on Christ in all things. She encourages Christians to seek the Lord, and say YES to whatever He is calling them to do, no matter how big, small or messy it may seem.

Rhinestone Jesus has left me wondering what I should be doing. I’m not sure what my YES looks like, and chances are your YES will look different from my YES. But this I know: One small yes can lead to BIG things. God isn’t waiting on us to get our marriage in order, our kids to be perfect, or to keep a neater house. He is simply waiting for us to say YES to Him, right in the middle of the mound of laundry, the toothpaste covered bathroom sink and the LEGO covered floor.

YES.

In the middle of our mess.

It’s that easy.

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And speaking of easy… You can win a copy of Rhinestone Jesus by simply leaving a comment on this post. Two winners will be chosen by Random Dot Org on Monday, May 5th at 9:00 PM EST.

About the Author” Kristen Welch writes the parenting blog, We are THAT Family (you know the ones). She is an (in)courage writer, a Compassion International blogger, and a regular featured contributor to LifeWay’s HomeLife and ParentLife magazines. In 2010, Kristen founded Mercy House, a nonprofit maternity home in Kenya, Africa, which rescues young pregnant girls from extreme poverty. Mercy House is almost entirely funded by readers of her blog. Read Kristen’s blot at We Are THAT Family dot com.

In the interest of full disclosure: Tyndale House Publishers provided two copies of Rhinestone Jesus for me to give away to my readers. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

—–

And the winners are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

8

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:49:35 UTC

The first winner is Commenter #8 –  Jennifer S. who commented on May 1, 2014 @ 9:55 am.

 

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

10

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:51:48 UTC

The second winner is Commenter #10 – Traci who commented on May 2, 2014 @ 5:15 pm.

Congratulations, ladies. I’ll be in contact via e-mail.

 

A Work In Progress

A couple of years ago, I had a disagreement with a friend. It took the wind out of my sails. I was so surprised and sad, I spent several days in prayer. I remember praying to God while running the vacuum and asking Him to let me know somehow if I was in the wrong. I wanted to do something. Or make a phone call. Stomp my foot. Kick. Scream. Something? Anything. Instead, I discussed the situation with McDaddy and I waited.

A few nights later, I was awakened from a sound sleep. I can’t describe it, but I can say it had never happened before and it has never happened since. The split second I came out of sleep, it was as if I heard the words, Exodus, and fourteen.

I got out of bed, grabbed my Bible and went into the bathroom so that I wouldn’t disturb McDaddy.

As I opened my Bible, I sat down on the toilet and wondered if I was going nuts. I had never heard “that still small voice” that I heard so much about growing up in a small Baptist church, but at the time, I had no other explanation for the words that I heard as clear as if they had been spoken to me, and to this day, I still don’t.

Exodus 14.

As I read through the first several verses, nothing really stuck out to me.

But then I came to verse fourteen.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I sat in awe.

So many times over the past few days I had wanted to act.

To react.

To be heard.

To say more.

But now?

I knew better.

It was if the Lord himself had spoken to me and said, “Girl, shut your mouth and be patient.”

Do you know how hard it is for me to be still?

I mean, really still?

Just ask McDaddy.

But this time, I knew that being still is exactly what I needed to do because I had asked God to show me. He wanted me to be still, so that I could be fully aware of His presence.

I returned to bed and shook McDaddy. I had to share what the Lord had told me. I was just sure he would have something profound to say. When I explained what had just taken place in the bathroom, he sat up in the bed and giggled.

Yes, I said, giggled.

When I asked why he was giggling, he simply replied, “Because I can’t think of one person besides the Lord who you’d actually listen to, when told to be quiet.”

He knows me well.

If you know me in real life, you know that I come from a long line of loud and I don’t normally do quiet well. This time though? I did exactly what I was supposed to do, and guess what?

A few days later, the friend that I had the disagreement with, called and asked McDaddy and I to meet with him (and also his wife) to get this situation worked out.

And that is exactly what we did.

Now, every time I see that verse, I am reminded that when I need to hear, I need to simply be quiet. I am confident that “the disagreement” was not about me or my friend, rather, this particular situation was simply about me and the Lord.

At the age of forty, I am slowly learning that when things are not clear, my best bet is to shut my mouth and be patient.

I am, indeed, a work in progress.

Time Is A Trainer

As I sit here tonight, one eye and ear on Dancing With The Stars and one eye and ear on my laptop, I am overwhelmed with emotion.

For weeks, my family and I have been going through a valley. While I am usually pretty open with my personal business here on the blog, I always try to respect the privacy of those who are close to me because not everyone appreciates having their business broadcast on the world-wide web.

With that said, I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you who has called, texted, e-mailed, or sent a Facebook message offering words of encouragement, support, scripture and prayers. You can’t know what it means to us to know that we are covered in prayer and love during this time. It is comforting to know that there are people standing in the gap (and even providing dinner!) for us.

I received these words from my dear friend Cindy earlier in the week. Perhaps they will be of comfort to those of you going through a valley right now…

I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My power and glory at work in the situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.

Time is a trainer….

That’s for sure.

For This Child I Prayed

I have spent many an hour praying for my boys.

Even before I ever looked them in the eye, I prayed for their health, their spouses, and their salvation. I have called out to God in the middle of the night when the thermometer read 102. I’ve prayed silently while listening to the hum of the nebulizer as Alex had difficulty breathing. I prayed last summer when my boy was unconscious in the middle of the street, and again at the hospital when we were told there was a small mass on his spleen.

We prayed with Alex before he went into eye surgery. And I prayed with Stevie as we sat in the ER with a huge knot on his head. We recently prayed over Alex when he ingested a peanut butter cookie.

God loves my children even more than I do.

That is so hard for me to comprehend, yet I believe it with every ounce of my being.

 Today, I am asking you to join me in prayer for a sweet little boy named Colton.

A sweet angel that will be born tomorrow.

For today, I am holding on to His word.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, You are my God.” – Psalm 31:14

Let’s have some church up in here

It is Sunday morning.

10:14 EST.

I should be in church.

But instead, I am home with a sick boy.

Our little church has been in revival all week. We were blessed with an anointed evangelist who preached God’s word on my level, without all the thees and thous.

It was some good stuff and I was blessed.

  •  Because God is love, there are several things He expects from us. God is love, but he despises when we sin.
  • All sin was nailed to the cross. All sin is wrong. Big sin or little sin. All sin is the same to God.
  • God wants to hear “I’m sorry” from His children.
  • We need to get to the place in our relationship with God where we despise sin as much as He does.
  • You could be sitting in these pews week after week and still be in a backsliding condition.
  • You may be here this evening, refusing to listen to God’s conviction. When you are not listening to the Lord, you are not where you need to be.
  • How do we commit idolatry? How many are guilty of crafting a God in their mind that overlooks the sin and fits the way we want to live.
  • In semiaries across the US, people are being taught there is no hell. My friends, the Bible does not change. God does not change. Hell is just as hot today as it was years ago. In fact, Jesus spoke more on hell than he did Heaven.
  • God is love. But His love is tough love. There are consequences for our sin.
  • What we like to do as people is sow our wild oats and then pray for crop failure. The Bible is full of warnings about sin.
  • Sin is attractive. That’s why Satan dangles it in front of our eyes.
  • If the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, you better listen.
  • If you have a difficult time loving and forgiving, you need some rewiring.
  • We as humans are conditional. In our giving, our relationships and even with the Lord. It’s time that we start loving WITHOUT conditions.
  • God loves you! And why you would turn your back on that love I don’t know.
  • There are some of you who sing in the choir and teach classes and are faithful to the business of the church, but you are disobedient to God’s will.
  • Some choices are a matter of life and death.
  • You should try to live closer to the cross than you did yesterday.
  • Who we are tomorrow, depends on the choices we make today.
  • It is time for us to observe the Ten Commandments and not just read them.
  • If you harbor sin in your heart, you should know that God cannot and will not use a dirty vessel. Nor will he bless you.
  • You walk talks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk.
  • We should be laboring successfully. As God’s children, He expects us to work.
  • If you are a lazy teacher, you’re going to be held accountable for that.
  • You are as close to God as you want to be.
  • Sometimes God says no when we ask for something. We need to understand that sometimes that because He is protecting us.
  • There are things in our life the devil will use to get his foot in the door. He knows what your weaknesses are.
  • If something seems like temptation, guess what? IT IS TEMPTATION!
  • We sing “I Surrender All”, but really, we should sing “I Surrender Some” because that’s what a lot of us do.
  • Many of you are saved, but you’ve lost your joy, and you walk around like you’re sucking on a sour apple.
  • If you are unsaved, Satan has complete control of your life.
  • Just about every sin we commit stems from I — I need, I want, I deserve.
  • We like to go about our own business, but that kind of behavior has consequences. My friends, there are always consequences to evil choices.
  • Satan wants to cripple your witness. He wants to disable us and make us ineffective.

Can I get an Amen?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.  – Psalm 51:10-12

Roaring Waves

For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is His name.

Isaiah 51:15

Good Friday Tenebrae Service

As we entered the doors to our church on Good Friday, the lights were dim and the sanctuary was silent. The was a sign on the door, that simply read, “Enter humbly, worship deeply.”

The Old Rugged Cross was softly playing through the speakers and as I listened, I thought about that fateful day.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” Matthew 27:22

It was Good Friday and we were attending the annual Tenebrae Service.

The word ‘tenebrae’ is Latin for shadows, or darkness. The purpose of the Tenebrae service is to recreate the emotional aspects of the crucifixion. For that reason, this is a solemn service. The purpose of this service is to recreate the betrayal, abandonment, and agony of the events. In the end, it is left unfinished, because the story isn’t over until Easter Day.

While we wait for the service to begin, eight candles burn. Seven purple and one white. Music is playing softly through the speakers and the sanctuary is quiet.

As the service begins, the Tenebrae service is explained. Seven readers will recount different aspects of the crucifixion. At the conclusion of their reading, they will snuff out a candle. An opening prayer is offered.

And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:20

The readers, (many of whom are emotional) recounts scripture leading up to Jesus being brutally beaten and ultimately dying on the cross. The last reader – reading from Psalm 22 which Jesus quoted on the cross – snuffs out the white candle. 

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

The sanctuary is left in total darkness—and near total devastation.

There was no benediction.

There was no talking.

Our church family departed in silence with heavy hearts.

But, the story is far from over…..

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.  I Corinthians 15:4

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

Without Easter, we would not have victory in the Christian life. A popular Easter hymn – “Because He lives” – reminds us that we can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, we have victory. Because He lives, we have eternal life through Jesus. 

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

Because He lives, we have a hope and future.

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21

And most of all, eternal life.

Because He lives.

The Maker

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6