Reflections of Allume

Now that I’m home I have been able to digest things I wrote while I was at the conference and here’s some of what came to me:

This blank page cries out to witness to the fact that it is here waiting for the words to be etched upon it.

Words that bring hope, love, freedom, charity, community, joy, healing, consolation, encouragement, commiseration, appreciation.

Words that banish shame, pain, wounding, bleeding, breaking, pride, arrogance. Words that express facts over the emotions of the moment.

Words that say balance, seek first the Kingdom, and write to your reader. 

Words that remind us to be generous, to walk with that sister out in the dry and lonely places, and to lift another up in prayer.

These words were also spoken without a sound- the look exchanged when a word made the connection, a hug, a squeeze of a shoulder, a casual arm around the waist, a fleeting smile, the deep down belly laughs waiting for the next pic to snap, the tears flowing.

And then, the words in metered rhyme across the page spoken out bravely and the stories told. The true expression of community’s meaning in the midst of the living, breathing community- we are here for you, we want you to give out your words, we want to hear them and breathe them in as you breathe them out, and  breathe them out again when we go back home. You have touched us in our inmost parts with the words The Word has given you to speak over us.

We left with clarity, joy, fulfillment, purpose, vision, new friends in real life, and so much more that He has graciously given from His Hand- and knowing we are better for it.

I realize this is fragmented, but those days were fragmented- I took the bits that were offered and they were indeed as nourishing as those cupcakes and cookies were- sweet to the taste!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

 

 

Allume: Lit Up and Shining

This past week I experienced a very large dose of sisterhood. 400 women in the same space, of the same mind, in the same spirit, of similar humor all talking at once. I have learned from past experiences that all of that fun and joy spilling out can be a bit much for my spirit to be immersed in- so I escape, and sit back and observe until I can re-enter the fray so to speak. However, there is joy in observing, too!

The fun was watching those beautiful ladies laugh, love, hug, hold onto, and pray with each other and for each other.  We came not knowing what, if anything, to expect other than to hope to recognize the real person from their FB and twitter pics.  The joy was seeing that it was Real Love in action, authentic, transparent, see Jesus shining through them {Love}.

Our hearts resonated with the words balance, pride, bigger, smaller, community, Blog schedules, RSS, SEO and a multitude of other terms that I now have to refer to in my notes.

Our hearts bled and broke with the stories we heard, especially from that sweet grown up baby girl of a father in prison who experienced love through Angel Tree of Prison Ministries. All because of a promise and a present at Christmas time over the years.

I’ve been blogging for about a year and whenever I meet other bloggers for the first time they always say: “So, what’s your blog about?” I hem and haw, searching for the appropriate tag for it, but failing miserably, I mumble “I just don’t know how to describe it.” 

I think people have been asking me that question all my life- “So, who are you anyway?” is how it usually is thrust into my face. Haven’t been able to answer that question either – except with surface answers. You know the ones: wife, mother, nurse, Sunday school teacher, bible study attender, etc.

But something has been happening over the past year in my life- God has started showing me about me- and since the conference I do believe that I’ve been able to put words to who I am-

I am the encourager, I am the one who sees God in every situation, I am the mama-surrogate hugger, I am the one who “gets it” when I look in your eyes.

And Why?

Girls, I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, that dark side, the side where if only someone would really look in my eyes and understand, the side where I’m the exhausted mommy and can’t put three words together in a sentence, the side where my heart is breaking because of family, the side where I’m the only stay at home on the street, that feels left behind when the “girls” go to lunch during work and I have the kiddos so that won’t work, the side- well, you know, all of you know.

I was blessed by God immeasurably by those few, those Godly women who came along side at the critical moments in my life. And I’m here to tell you- I will be that woman if you need someone in 3D or over the phone for a phone hug and need to know that someone is out there praying for you. I’m in your corner. You can all do great things – that is after all what you were called to do- YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. 

Love,

Your Encourager

Community

The word “community” has been floating to the surface recently in the language of the church in the same way that the word “engaged” took on new meaning in the education world a few years back. Community is a challenge for me. Community is what I desperately needed as a child in a world I didn’t understand.

“Why?” you ask.

I was a transient child. I went to 14 different schools between kindergarten and graduation. I learned early on that my safe place was church. But even that came with a caveat. You see shunning doesn’t only happen in the Amish way of life. At church, I was the outsider usually, the “new girl”.  I didn’t warm up easily, and perhaps my behavior revealed just how starved I was for normal.  I struggled for some sense of identity and belonging even though I didn’t understand it then.

Community has a lot to prove to one who has discovered she is still not sure she trusts in the meaning of that word. I realize that I’m happy as a clam all alone most days and I’m ok with people I know really well; that is my true comfort zone.  The easy route would be to stay at home in a velvet prison of my own making.

I’ve been in community. I’ve been involved in work that required my accountability and made me responsible in ways I was no longer willing to accept. I stepped out of that community when I stopped working and have been floating alone and with family and I like it. “But,” I hear you say, “family is community.” Well, yes, it is, just not the community I’m talking about here.

The idea of being a part of a community implies more accountability and responsibility and frankly, I’ve been worn out by those two words and taking that on willingly- well, that means stepping back out into the unknown It goes beyond the ties of blood out to ties that bind our hearts to one another through the Holy Spirit. God has told me that He designed me for community and that I have something to contribute and He wants me to be a part of a community.

So, Lord, what does that look like in Your eyes?

I think I may be about to find out…

I’ve been given an opportunity to throw myself into community in a big way this week; Allume is a conference for Christian women who are bloggers. Like me, they write, type, and carve out their feelings, their impressions, and lessons they’ve learned along the way to share with others who are traveling similar paths. They know that the Father is the Author and Creator of the universe; they share the same Spirit with me. We are IN Christ. Some have become entrepreneurs or published writers as a way of providing income and the ability to stay at home with their children.  Most of these women are much younger than me and may have babes in tow and new recipes, and ways to parent on their minds right next to finding the best bargain ever.

I’ve lived through that part of the journey and am in a different season of my life. I have no expectations from these few upcoming days other than to learn, to see how God fits me into community, and to walk away knowing a few new Christian Sisters who are on the same journey-seeking to be a part of community.

If that’s you, I feel like I know you already!

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

 “Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

Five Minute Friday: Look

It’s 5-minute Friday time again! Today’s prompt is:

Look

Look. “Look at me!” the child inside says. The adult in me says “Don’t look at me!”

I am uncomfortable with attention, yet I crave affirmation.

The truth is – inside – I really want you to look at me, to see me for the real me, not just the package I’m wrapped in.

Because I’m very insecure inside this wrapper. I need someone to say I see the real you and I like you. 

If you are like me –on the inside- I suspect there will be a lot of us at Allume next week – we will all be looking for the real us inside the wrappers we are wrapped in.

May I make a request? Will you make your wrapper fit the real you? So I can see and recognize the sisters I long for when I look at you?

{lest you get worried that I mean no makeup or perfumery or nice clothes- that’s not what I’m talking about here- just so we’re straight on that} J

 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27

 May we all be as lilies, just the way God made us!

Ding.  

 

Insignificance

 Posit: That we all feel insignificant, harbor insecurities, feel we’ve been left out of the game, and are worthless at least once in our lives.

We ALL battle this oppression imposed on us. It comes with the territory- this earth that we are bound to while we are breathing. This world that is dying, doomed, twisted and flawed because of its own sin. This world that is straining against the will of the evil one imposed only because he has been allowed to wander this place.

Whether it is only fleeting or it comes to dwell on our shoulders off and on throughout our lives, there is that sense of insignificance-that we are nothing or less than nothing. That feeling that we get when we look up into the face of the stars on a moonless night, that we are a grain of sand on one of a thousand beaches.

I sense that within us all there can be that part that doubts whether we can completely accept the gift of redemption and forgiveness from the hand of God that we received when we believed that Jesus paid the price of our sin and disbelief. If only because we doubt our worth to Him

“Amazing love, how can it be? That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”- Charles Wesley

 

Who am I that You, my God, would die for me?

 

Shouldn’t I be doing something? Making a mark on this world? Make others see my significance? Wouldn’t that make it more certain? My salvation, that is?

 

Oh, dear friend, we still have to get past the doing and simply be.

 

Be His. His alone.

He loves. He carries. He holds. He comforts. He heals. He is enough.

He is coming. For us.  Me and You. The worthless bag of bones that we were – is no more.  Because we are significant to Him. Because He loves us.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1: 18-20 

“ But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 17-23

The Battle Within


Battlefields.

The lines are drawn. The soldiers are engaged. The populace is watching. Waiting. Waiting for what? A winner? A loser?

Does it feel like this in your heart? Are you watching, waiting, wondering who will win this time? Can you make it through another battle? What or who is pulling at your heart? Who wants to claim it as their territory? Do you even realize a battle is raging?

The way I see it, there can be only one winner. 

As a believer I’ve struggled so much within to maintain control without. I think I’ve allowed myself to be deceived by thinking what I want is what God wants. After all, I read the Bible, I pray, I study with others regularly, I do my best to walk the walk.

But if the devil can claim victory in the small things-every day things, our resolve in the really big things can be worn down. We compromise and don’t even realize it- our filters are out of focus.

To have the filters in focus 100% of the time I must be surrendered to God’s control 100% of the time. That does not require self-assurance of my own ability to see and know how to choose. It does require total dependence on the Holy Spirit. 

Because all things have consequence and are significant.

God made this world whole and complete to provide all we need. He guarantees it in His word:

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Matthew 6:31-32

But in my own bull in a china closet mentality I continue to struggle with doing it my way; even when I know it hurts another’s feelings. Of course, once the damage is done, I stop. And realize – I’ve done it again!

 

Exactly what I wrote about not doing just 10 minutes ago. Where are MY filters? In the heat of the moment, in the heat of the battle of will, my ears are closed to the Holy Spirit. But as soon as it’s over, I’m cut to the quick with regret and repentence. And back I go to the Throne asking forgiveness for hammering in that nail:

Knowing I provoked something, that really, I shouldn’t.  

Knowing that I’ve injured another’s heart.

Knowing that I will ask their forgiveness as well.

Knowing that just because my insecurities about not having my way and wanting my opinion respected are boiling up inside doesn’t mean I let them out to wreak havoc.

Knowing that I’ve turned a deaf ear, even when He is saying don’t go there.

Knowing that I’ve been disobedient and have not only caused pain for another person I’ve wounded the very One who died to cover the sin I just committed. 

Knowing I’ve truly missed the mark. Again.

Because it really isn’t all about me. Surrender to self is not an option. It’s about winning the battle to let go of me to become me in HIm. 

The battle is raging-put your armor on.