Thursday, September 26, 2013

World Changer

My mom posted this video to Facebook.  It's worth a few minutes of your day if you're a woman, know women, have a daughter, a mother, a sister...

But if ain't nobody got time for that - there's a part in the video where he talks about strong and courageous women in the bible.

He says,  "Esther, Ruth, Martha, Mary - These women changed the world forever.  And inside of each and every one of you is a woman with that same power, and that same strength, and that same world changing capability and your responsibility is to find that woman and to set that woman free."

I stopped for a second to consider what it means to be a world changer.

After all, these days, I'm a woman who can barely make it through the day with her emotions intact.  I'm huge and pregnant, tired and sore, achy and exhausted from 9 months of tossing and turning and 3 weeks of a toddler who is on sleep strike.

And it's more than that.  Since the day Todd & I got married, behind every nook and cranny, around every corner of our lives I feel like one or both of us have been putting out fires. Ministry, a blended family, raising children, unexpected pregnancy, pregnancy loss, pregnancy after loss, financial stress, personal tragedy, family tragedy - at times I feel like life will not let up.  Like God will not let up.  I know pretty much anyone reading right now can identify.  We are no different than you.  Ever hear about spiritual warfare?  Some days I feel like Satan has an arrow pointed directly at us.

With all that going on - how can I be a world changer?

And then I remembered two stories - I remembered two moments in my life where I felt God speaking directly to me.

I'm not the kind of person who has those types 'interactions' with God.  I have faith and I work on my relationship with Him - but I'm not having experiences where I HEAR him very often.  So these have stuck with me.  The first involves sitting in a church service and God whispering something to me that told me I was to marry Todd.  It's personal and it's not a story I share often but I knew Todd would be my husband from pretty early on in our dating relationship.  It actually even involves one of those world changing women from the bible that was mentioned earlier.

The other time was one night, not long after we'd gotten married.  Like I said - we've had a rocky go of it.  The beginning was tough.  I never believed in a fairy tale romance or wedding or life - I'm not that kind of girl - but I was not expecting the battle to be raging from the moment we said "I do".  And no lie - family tragedy occurred the night before our wedding.  So one night, I remember lying in bed crying out to God for relief, for understanding, wanting to know why.  (You guys see I do this a lot, right?)

I was confused.

He told me marrying Todd was the right thing to do.  So why were things so hard for us right from day one?

I have since learned that very rarely is doing the right thing the easy thing.

But on that night, God made something very clear to me about marriage.  Anyone reading this that has been married for a long time will probably already know it.  But it was a revelation of sorts to me.

He told me that marriage was not designed to make me happy.  Marriage was given to us because it's one of the most perfect ways to learn to become like Jesus.  My job as a wife and mother would be to mirror Jesus in my day to day dealings with my husband and with my children.  To view these precious gifts from God the way that He does.  Unconditionally loving, patient, understanding, and unbelievably filled with grace.

CS Lewis said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"

This has been a challenge that I have remembered OFTEN in my marriage.  To look across the dinner table at the faces that join me there and see them just like Jesus does.

I promise I haven't gotten off on a tangent here.  What I'm trying to say is - that right now, in this season of life - my ability to be a world changer happens right here, in my home.  It happens at the dinner table, in the car with my kids, in late night conversations with my husband.  It starts with hugs and kisses and smiles and reassurance that these people who share my life are loved by me, imperfections and all.

Am I perfect at this?  No.  Am I even good at it?  Probably not.  No one ever said being like Jesus was easy.  And it's not.  But it IS something I remember often and try to put into practice as much as possible.  To change MY world - the little world inside my four walls - as best I can.  And as a result, these people that I pour into on a daily basis can take that outside these four walls and start a domino effect that just might change the world.

So if being a 'world changer' overwhelms you, start with a spouse.  A child.  A friend.  Pour into them, see them as Jesus would.  Change your heart and it WILL change the world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


(Yes, that is me on the bottom left - younger, thinner, tanner, blonder.  Heh.)

 I'm the oldest of four.  I have 2 younger sisters and a younger brother - and my brother was born with multiple medical issues.  I won't get into them all here because they are complicated, and even after 30 years of being his sister I'm not sure I understand them all but I will tell you this - he had brain tumors and has been through multiple brain surgeries.  He dealt with seizures for most of his childhood.  Behavioral and impulse control problems resulted because of the tumors, surgeries and endless medications.

As a child, I remember our house almost always being in a state of emergency.  My brother was, in many ways, a normal highly spirited and impulsive little guy.  But a lot of that impulsivity was exacerbated by his condition.  Sometimes I'm not sure how my parents made it through those years.

We have legendary stories to tell about my brother, but this is one that always strikes me. I think he was maybe 3 or 4 years old and disappeared one afternoon.  This was pretty common - he was a magician at finding ways to sneak out of the house and take off from a very young age.

On this day, my Mother got into our car to head out and look for him.

In the city we lived in at the time, there was a busy intersection at the bottom of a big hill.  And when I say big, I mean BIG hill.  It was a 4 way stop, 2 lanes at each light - heading into a busy shopping center.  She recounts her experience of sitting at the stop light, waiting for the light to turn green so she could head into the shopping center to look for him.  I believe it was around rush hour, because she tells of how busy the intersection was.  Cars whizzing by, constant movement.  As she sat there, she noticed in the rear view mirror a blur coming down the hill that was my little brother.  Perched on his big wheel, and completely oblivious to the absolute danger that awaited him, he went careening down this hill full speed towards a busy intersection during rush hour traffic.

I can't even BEGIN to fathom how her emotions took over at that moment.  I can almost feel the dread in my own stomach as I think of one of my little ones heading full speed ahead towards such obvious danger and destruction.  As she sat in her car, panicked, stuck in traffic and unable to stop the tragedy that she was sure was to unfold, I'm sure she could do nothing but pray.

The second my brother hit the intersection, it was as if time stood still.  The road fell silent and cars seemed to vanish.  No cars whizzing through the lights, no cars turning into the shopping center.  Just a happy, oblivious little 4 year old boy on a big wheel flying through at break neck speed.  He made it through that intersection without a scratch and as soon as he hit the sidewalk on the other side, my Mom will say how almost immediately traffic picked back up and cars began whizzing down the road again.

I think of that story often - the way he was protected as he unknowingly careened towards what should have resulted in certain death or at least severe injury.  I think of our Heavenly Father looking over him at that moment - seeing my Mother in the car, fear grasping her heart.  I think of Him casting a tunnel of protection over my little brother in the moment he flew through that busy intersection, keeping him safe.

I wonder to myself how many times I have been like that oblivious little boy on a big wheel - without knowledge of what certain destruction was waiting for me.  I wonder how many times my Heavenly Father cast a tunnel of protection around me and let me fly gleefully through what should have been a terrifying and devastating moment.

It is easy to focus on the moments we know went wrong.  It's easy to be angry over things we KNOW caused us pain and despair and tragedy.  Those are tangible, in your face experiences.  I, like so many of you, find myself crying out to God demanding to know WHY He put me in this place.  I want to know WHY He wasn't there to protect me from it.

But the truth is, I am sure He has been there countless times before when I had no idea.  Deep down, I know He is always there, always with me. I will probably never know just how many times he paused life around me and let me experience happiness and pure oblivion.

T. D. Jakes once said, “That thing that is not coming to you may seem good. But either the timing is wrong, or from His position He can see that the future of it is bleak. I have always believed that people who thank God only for delivering them from what happened are just scraping the surface of praise. The real praise comes when you start thanking Him for what could have happened but didn’t because of His swift grace!"

Today, I choose to praise God for his unending grace, love and protection.  I have no doubt it has been rained down upon me in moments that I was completely and utterly unaware.