Thursday, May 25, 2017

Warming Up to Winter

I grew up in a seasonless place, Miami, Florida. 

No fall.

No winter.

No spring.

Always summer.

When I moved to Georgia I was seasonally challenged, so it should have come as no surprise to me when I was seasonally resistant to the Lord. I did not want to be in a different season, especially a difficult one. I always wanted it to be summer.

Sweet tea.

Green grass.

Slower pace.


I was giving in to the mere-exposure effect, a psychological oddity that occurs when people develop a preference for things because they are familiar to them. I like familiar even the worst kind of familiar and God was trying to break me of that. Honestly, He still is.

In the past when the Lord moved me into a different season, I would always try to go back. It took me getting stuck in an elevator, in a place He had called me out of, for me to see it. He told me I was stuck because I kept going back to places He had called me out of. Sound familiar? Ouch!

I cried -- because He was right.

I sobbed -- because I had been doing it all my life.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.
Exodus 14:11-12

Naturally, I did what any person experiencing a psychological phenomenon would do, I asked Him, “Why do I keep doing this?”

He answered.

He told me it was because I was afraid.

He told me it was because I did not trust Him.

He was right on both accounts.

He does not always remove something from our life because it is bad, sometimes He just has something better. Sometimes He just wants us to grow in our walk with Him. Sometimes He just wants us to trust.

Fear will keep you holding onto the good instead of receiving the better. Fear will tell you that you cannot trust Him and you should just stay put. Fear will tell you a myriad of things to keep you from experiencing the fullness of the seasons He has for you.

Seasons are not just weather fluctuations, they serve a purpose.

Seasons serve a purpose.

In creation.

In me.

In you.

So, I am trading my preference for His plan and warming up to winter.

For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven: 

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, May 22, 2017

Four Things I Learned While Transforming My Yard

Messy makes us uncomfortable.

We hide it.

Ignore it.

Cover it.

We walk around it hoping it won’t touch us as we pass by. We close our eyes or look at something else.

The first thing Adam and Eve did after they hid from God was cover themselves. Jesus came to free us from having to cover anything, essentially He has it covered.

Recently, as I took a visual scan of my yard the messy overgrowth was pronounced. I had been looking at these messy places for two years, so why did I see it now? I believe God allows us to see things at the perfect time for Him to show up and change us. He had prepared me for months to see it and do something about it.

The foundation had been laid and I was ready to do what needed to be done to transform my yard, little did I know the Lord was about to teach me some valuable lessons as I got my hands dirty, dripped with sweat, bled from thorny vines and scratched late into the night with chigger bites. Although, the process wasn't pretty the results are breathtaking. Much like my messes that I have hidden, in my heart or a dark corner of my room, He invited me to participate with Him to clean-up these areas, one at a time, creating something beautiful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
 Ecclesiastes 3:11

Four things I learned while transforming my yard:

1. When God is about to do something He will usually ask you to uncover something.

He knows everything, but our Father is relational, so He wants us to dialog with Him about our messes and struggles. If we listen He will usually uncover things that we don’t see that will free us.

2. Covered things make us feel safe and scared all at the same time.

If we can’t see it we don’t have to deal with it is the motto we sometimes follow when we are overwhelmed by any kind of mess. Not knowing the extent of the mess makes us feel safe because we don’t have to deal with it and terrified because we don’t know what we are dealing with.

3. Uncovering a mess leads to transformation.

When we decide to tackle the mess we almost always feel better afterwards. Sometimes we even discover something amazing lying just beneath the surface. Whether it is a physical mess or relational mess it takes courage, determination and sheer hard work to clean it up. If I we commit to the process we are always changed on the other side. If we have a behavior that is not serving us well, we just might discover a better part of us when we address it.

4. Sometimes a mess is hiding something beautiful.

When there is a big mess and we can’t see what’s underneath our default is fear which leads to avoidance. If we face that fear and tackle the mess the rewards can be amazing.

I tackled the messy areas of my yard and I found a flagstone pathway and peonies (which are one of my favorite flowers). It took about 40 hours of my son and I’s hard work but we did it. We cleaned up a mess, uncovered beautiful things and transformed our yard.

I took this picture with the table in it, so you can see how close this beautiful walkway was to where we spend a lot of time. Amazing what we miss when we won't look at or tackle our messes. I have had a flagstone pathway for two years and didn't know it. What treasures have you yet to discover?

As I ventured into this unknown area I learned a great deal about myself, my son and God. God always uses something tangible to teach and show me what He is doing in my life. He is walking right beside me as I tackle these messes and He is there beaming with pride when I uncover the beauty underneath.

Our Savior didn’t die and live again for us to stay covered. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, so that we might be uncovered before Him to live victorious.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why Redemption's Champion?

Imagine my surprise at a recent ladies tea, when I turned over my place card and there were four words written on it, two that “echoed” in my spirit for days...

It was like hearing my name for the first time.

Mother Teresa said, "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." This phrase echoed in my spirit and I knew what I need to do - start blogging again. Blogging has been a part of my life for almost 10 years, but this is the first time I feel led to launch a blog.

I was in a season of "white knuckling it" and this phrase instantly changed the trajectory of my life.

Redemption’s Champion is a place for His to Spirit to move freely. A place for hope and healing. A place for me to be transparent and ask you to do the same. A place where we can share our struggles and our victories. A place where we can grow in relationship with Him and each other.

This is a safe place.

This is a place to celebrate with you on the mountain top and encourage you in the valley.

A place to encourage you to steward your victories.

This is a place of fellowship.

Over the last year my dreams have been reawakened. The Lord gently beckoning me to dream again, step out, trust and be who He has called me to be. I have found that chasing your dreams, will expose your fears, especially the fear of failure. This is the first step, in my journey, to overcome fear of failure.

I am stepping out in faith to do things I am terrified to do, things I may or may not be qualified to do and to pursue a dream until His will is accomplished. I am attempting to do what would be impossible without Him.
Samuel set up a stone, an ebenezer, to honor what the Lord had done for the Israelites in their battle against the Phillistines. 1 Samuel 7:12

Here at Redemption's Champion, I raise my ebenezer.

This is my God given dream.

My way of living my inheritance this side of heaven.

The story must be told, we have a Redeemer.

He redeemed our lives from the pit.

He restores the years the locusts have eaten.

He gave us eternal life through the greatest sacrifice, His son Jesus.

What has he redeemed you from? How does that free you to dream again? Will you? What is your dream?

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Launch Pad

Today marks the end of an era.

For the first time, despite the fear of doing it wrong, all the reasons why I shouldn’t and decades of stopping short - I hit publish and a blog was launched.

There were a half dozen posts already written, but they weren’t the beginning of this blog, honesty was.

The truth is, I am terrified. I have no idea how or when I will do this, I just know, that I know that I am supposed to do this. Now.

Last Saturday I stood on top of a platform that was eight to 10 feet from a “blob” on the Swanee River. I had invited a friend and lots of strangers to join me, but I was first.

I froze.

The paralyzing fear kind of froze. The "I think I could throw up kind of froze." They cheered me on as did my friends from the shore, but it wasn’t helping. The battle in my head was louder than any of them could ever be - years of messages playing on repeat in my mind.

It is okay, even normal to feel afraid when you challenge old mindsets, the important thing is what you do next.

The lifeguard offered to push me, but this wasn’t a time to be pushed. It doesn’t take faith or require change to be pushed. I had been pushed long enough.

God was pulling me out of something
and into something.

Then, there were the naysayers making sure I knew there was a snake in the water. Never mind, the huge sturgeon jumping too close to the blob and the alleged alligator just across the river. Critics, the world is full of them. Our families are full of them. The church is full of them. My head is full of them.

One of my thoughts was, “What if I do it wrong?” How crazy is that? Think about what you are thinking about and challenge it, don't let it go. Unchallenged negative thoughts will become strongholds.

We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

It was a defining moment. I looked back at the line of women cheering me on, waiting for me to jump, so they could jump too. God will use us to show others it can be done. He brought me to this river, these women, this moment to change me and to show them change is possible.

After 15 minutes on the platform the lifeguard said my friend could jump with me. She made her way up the stairs and as soon as we stood shoulder to shoulder my fears ceased. I was ready. And you know what it had to be 15 minutes, I needed that time. I desperately needed that time.

Time to work it out. Time to challenge my thoughts. Time to overcome.

When we support someone by just being present, we allow them to experience God for themselves. 

We jumped.

My friend graciously slid off into the water, so I could be launched into the air ending with a splash into the Swanne. That is what I needed. It is what I had to do. I crawled across the hottest plastic ever and got into position.

Then a stranger jumped and I flew into the air and landed in the dirty, smelly water of the Swanee River.

But I flew.

For just a few seconds I was airborne and that is exactly how it had to be. I had to experience freedom from anything holding me back.

It was symbolic.

It was cathartic.

It was healing.

When a baby elephant is chained to a metal stake in the ground, it learns that any attempt to escape will result in injury and cause pain. As the elephant grows and matures they attach the chain to a wooden peg in the ground, but the elephant remembers the pain. So, although this mighty creature could uproot a tree, it will not attempt to move too far away from the wooden peg.

Sadly, that is who I had become, the terrified elephant afraid of the memories of pain from the past. Memories that kept me from being who I was created to be.

I must walk away from the wooden pegs of the past and face the fear of pain. I need to just keep moving forward, start running toward Him, with the wooden peg dragging behind.

Now, I know that I can fly.

Now, I know that I am free.

I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
Psalm 119:45

If we can be honest, is He asking you to jump? Are you afraid? What will you do next?