Thursday, September 22, 2016

When the Word Tests You

"Until the word of the Lord came to pass, the word tested [Joseph]." Psalm 105:19
I've been meditating on this verse all week. It's a favorite of mine, and in the past I've always used it to encourage us to have faith in the gap.

You know, the gap of confrontation, that hole between when God gives you a word or a dream or a promise and when He accomplishes it.

In that place, you learn to stand on God's word, to declare His truth and His promises over your circumstances, over your feelings, over your enemy.

I know that gap because I've been in it for five years.

We've heard God that we'll be parents, and we know He's going to give us children.

So we continue to wait and trust His plan., and when I feel discouraged, Psalm 105:19 is my go-to verse.

But this week, I've meditated on it for a different gap. Maybe I'll call it the writer's gap.

I know He's put this dream in my heart. In fact, I believe He's called me to write, which is why I named this blog "Obeying the Call."

I'd spent many years hiding from my calling, and I started this blog--six years ago--as an act of obedience.

Do you know what happens when we step out in faith and do something?

Well, sometimes we get tested.

I have so much that is calling for my attention now that it's a test to even write.

I'm not saying that I'm in disobedience if I don't write. I'm not out of God's will if I'm
not popping out book chapters or blog posts.

That's not God's heart.

The truth is, I feel free when I write. It relaxes my mind and brings joy to my heart and refreshes my soul.

Even if I'm not writing to share the words, the act itself blesses me and draws me closer to God.

It seems natural, then, that I might face opposition before getting to that place of serenity, of chosen time, of consecrated words, pushing pen across paper or clicking keys to a screen.

Wiring in this season might look differently than it did this summer, when I could devote entire days to working on and editing my book.

That's okay. In fact, I have to be okay with that.

But I believe writing--finding time to write, regardless if it's to be shared or to be cherished--is a battle I'll have to fight and overcome.

It's a conscious decision I'll have to make, and it's not about the words, where they'll go or what they'll say. It's about me and my heart and my joy.

What about you, friend?

Do you have a dream God has put in your heart? Do you find yourself in the gap of confrontation?

I pray you'll dwell on His word, His truth for your life.

Keep dreaming. Keep fighting for your dreams. He is faithful.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Living Like Royalty

A few weeks ago, Howell and I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Tech football game—in style. We were given passes to a suite and VIP tickets to a private tailgate and an after-the-game celebration. We had tickets, passes, and lanyards around our neck that literally said VIP.

Everywhere we went, we had access to free food and drinks, and we had incredible seats to the game with a great view of the field.

As I was soaking it all in, I thought, Man, I feel so privileged, so important.

And I immediately felt the Lord nudge my heart—You always are.

That night, we felt like royalty, but the Lord reminded me that I’m always royalty. I’m a daughter of the King. His word says I’m a royal priesthood, chosen and called out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

A friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook recently, and I saved it and have looked at it regularly.

Too often, I forget who I am. I forget whose I am.

I allow circumstances and my own thoughts to beat me down and tell me I’m inadequate, but that’s never who God says I am.

He says I’m enough. He says I’m whole, complete, and lacking nothing.

I’ve been reading The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson for several months—maybe even a year. It doesn’t usually take me that long to read a book, but I’ve been having a hard time soaking in the truth.

I have lived with a pauper mentality where I operate out of a feeling of "lack" and try to protect what’s "mine," including sometimes, my heart.

But a prince (or princess) mentality knows that I’ve been given everything I’ll ever need, that I have a rich inheritance, and that I’ll never lack—physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Bill Johnson says it this way: 

"I can't afford to think differently about my life than God does." 

I’m always chosen. I’m always important. I’m always the VIP in God’s eyes.

And He desires to bless me. He’s given me every spiritual blessing in Heaven, and He’s given me favor with people and with my circumstances. Those are the privileges I get to enjoy as His kid.

What about you, my friend? Do you see yourself as a prince or princess? As a son or daughter of the Most High? If you struggle, as I so often do, I pray He’ll whisper truth to you. Receive what He says about you—both who you are and whose you are.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Honor in Marriage (Part 3)

I’m struggling to write this week’s marriage blog because I don’t want to sound judgey when I say what I feel like the Lord has put on my heart.

So, hear me reader—I’m not being judgey. I hope to speak truth in love! We have posted before about honor in marriage—both honoring husbands and honoring wives. This post is related; we want to talk about honoring our spouse in public. 

A few weeks ago, Howell and I were talking with a woman and her husband, both of whom we don’t know very well. They’re perhaps an acquaintance at best.

Within two minutes of the conversation, the woman had managed to make fun of her husband’s intelligence and some other lacking characteristic—and I was done chatting.

I asked Howell later if it was just me or if he had noticed, and he had. His first response was, “I feel sorry for that guy.”

When women put their husbands down publicly, I am turned off immediately. Every time it happens, I cringe a little. It feels uncomfortable. I’m not going to laugh, so now there’s this awkward silence. The husband shrinks a little, if he’s present, and no one quite knows where to go from there.

Somehow the practice of making fun of or putting down our spouse has become common, even in Christian circles.

As wives, we play a powerful role in honoring and esteeming our husbands.
I’ve been thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman (for a great post on this passage from a dear friend, read here). We know a few things about this woman’s marriage:

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life” (v. 11-12).

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (v 28-29).

And we know from v. 23 that “her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” He has an honorable reputation, and she becomes a famous figure: she is, to us, the epitome of a wife—who works with her hands and provides for her home; who creates and makes and cares for her household, her children, and her husband; and who is praised and beloved for all that she does.

I think there’s a connection here. She does her husband good all the days of his life. He praises her. And both of them are recorded in the Bible with an esteemed reputation. Look at how they’ve honored each other!

When we honor and praise our spouse, we affect the reputation they have; we can affect how others see them.

I’m not saying that we can’t be sarcastic or give our spouses a hard time. Certainly Howell and I do this to each other regularly, and we’re both good natured about it. But it has to be in the right context—with close friends or family, people we trust who know our heart and who know each of our character.

And even in those spaces, we’ve always been careful not to correct each other. This was a particular pet peeve of Howell’s, and when we first got married, he asked me seriously if I would agree to not correct him in front of others. If he did something wrong or if he mis-remembered an event or if he said the wrong thing, he asked that I would tell him privately, but not publicly.

There are so few things he’s ever asked me to do, and I’ve taken that one seriously for over eight years.

Public spaces are not places to correct, condemn, or cut down our spouse.

I encourage you to guard your mouth and filter everything you say about your spouse to others.
If it’s not honoring, uplifting, or positive, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be shared.

I also encourage you to surround yourself with men and women who honor their spouse, who speak lovingly and positively about their spouse. I have many great women friends, and one of the things I love most about them all is the way they talk about their husbands.

I hope you hear my heart in this post. We’re certainly not perfect, but we are intentional with our words in this area. If you struggle with this, the best advice we can give is that practice makes perfect. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rain That Refreshes, Renews

Sheets of rain are pouring down as I work on this blog post, and I’m thinking about the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” 

I’ve felt that way a little these last few weeks as I’ve recently had a lot of busyness, uncertainty, and ever-growing ‘to do’ lists. 
But rain can also be refreshing: the ground soaks in the moisture while thirsty crops catch drops of water on glistening, bright green leaves.   

 For me, the rhythm outside my window calms me, and I’m renewed, revived. 


Be still. 


I’m in your midst. 

I hear His words in the beat of the drops on my windowsill. 

And after the rain stops, after the stormy clouds and unpredictable precipitation recede, He washes me clean again; he restores my soul. 

Sometimes I wonder why I ever stress at all. When it’s all said and done, He’s always taken care of me. He’s never let me fall. 

I breathe in fresh, clean air. Don’t you love the smell of rain? 

I breathe in more of His Spirit, His grace, His strength. 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

His grace is sufficient for me.

Friends, if you’ve been near me these last four weeks, I’ve been a hot mess. But today, it’s as if the Lord hit the reset button with all this rain, and I get to resurface with a renewed purpose and joy. 

If you need to be renewed, I pray the Lord would rain sweet drops of grace and mercy over your soul today.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Happy Birthday to Superwoman (a.k.a. My Sister!)

Sisters are God’s gift to us, built-in friendships that last a lifetime.

I was recently talking with a friend about one of her daughters, and I said something like, “Well, at least she has her sister. That’s what saved me through those weary junior high and high school days.”

I meant every word. My sister and I watched many friendships come and go, but we always had each other. I can’t describe the comfort it gives me to know she’ll always be there.

And since today is her birthday, I wanted to especially honor her for all that she’s done for me! (For another sentimental birthday post, I once wrote my 30 favorite memories of us.)

But first, some pictures... (because that's her favorite :))

Y’all, my sister is superwoman. She works all day long—leading, inspiring, managing, and encouraging her team. She does everything with excellence, and I respect her for what she does every day at work.

Then she comes home and starts round two. As a wife and a mom, she has to think about dinner, laundry, cleaning house, packing lunches, scheduling shots and check-ups, grocery shopping, play time, bath time, and bed time. And again, she does it all with grace.

She doesn’t always have it together, but sometimes that’s my favorite part. She’s not afraid to be vulnerable. She’s not afraid to ask for help.

She is loyal to others, even if she gets burned for it. She’s one of the most faithful people I know.

She makes us laugh. Most of my childhood entertainment came from sitting around—the table, the living room, the porch—and laughing because Michalea had us all going.

She encourages me just when I need it, and I know she does the same for many others.

She is truly ONE of a kind.

Today, I’m thankful for her birth and for her place in my life. I can’t imagine my world without her in it!

Happy birthday, Sister!
I love you!