Dancing Out of Nowhere

Hand Reaching

Every single day it’s there.

In every story, I see it. In every song, I hear it…

The invitation to step out of my comfort zone. The outstretched hand imploring me to come dance. The whisper to be brave and walk into something I don’t even know.

And every day, I find a reason to stay where I am, feet stubbornly grounded in Nowhere. Because I know that place very well. I’ve actually been impressed at the creative excuses I come up with each day to stay here.

I was reading about a day in Jesus’ life this week. He told his disciples to do two things, both absolutely impossible and absolutely terrifying. First, he told them to feed a hungry mob of 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fish. A bit later, he invited one of them to step out of a boat and join him walking on the waves.

These are stories many of us have heard since childhood and, for me, it’s been easy to read them from a critical perspective. You’re with Jesus, people!!

Well, it really hit me this week…I’m in the same exact shoes and doing a much worse job of walking in them. He is also with ME. He is also beckoning ME into unknown adventures too. And I just sit here looking at Him with reasons why I can’t join Him.

The truth is – like it or not, acknowledge it or not – we are simultaneously operating in two very different realities. One is the natural, which we see with our eyes and touch with our hands. The other is spiritual, supernatural, which we cannot see or touch.

Let me tell you something. It is absolutely terrifying to step out of a boat and expect a firm surface to walk on. Especially in front of your friends, coworkers, and family members.

It is absolutely terrifying to walk into a hungry crowd expecting to feed them with a piece of a breadstick and a fish tail. In the natural, that’s usually what it feels like I’ve got to offer.

What an honor that He asks us to partner with Him to do things that are absolutely impossible in the natural, and that He keeps asking! He reminds me – if He has asked us to do it, He will provide the miracle to make it happen. He will bless and multiply what little we have to offer. He blesses even the tiniest step toward Him.

So today, as boldly as I can, I hold up this tiny bite and ask Him to bless and multiply my efforts. To feed someone hungry to hear it, as it fed me this week. I don’t want to spend any more time in the shadows of Nowhere, no matter how comfortable it may be to hide there. I say YES to His invitation to dance into our adventure together.

“…when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.”
~Jesus, John 16:13 (The Message)

Thistles and Figs

220px-Milk_thistle_flowerhead

Times of transition are challenging for most of us, but for me they can turn dangerous. I find myself in such turmoil that I sometimes throw more than I should into the mix. My subconscious reasoning seems to follow this line – if I’m already going through a time of upheaval, why not just change it all up…try to sneak in a couple changes of my own. Sigh…that has never worked out well for me.

The last few months I have allowed far too many distractions into my life. I’ve been far too preoccupied with filling time, even with unhealthy relationships. I’ve been far too willing to stuff moments with mind-numbing activities, eating up the space that is normally protected and reserved for spiritual growth. Far too open to compromise and smear boundary lines out of curiosity, frustration, and even rebellion, all in the attempt to avoid pulling a few weeds that have been found in my garden.

Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 7: 16-19

Why do I want to hold onto, even protect, a weed in my heart?? I know all too well that bad fruit is unfulfilling and completely disappointing. But look, even a weed can be beautiful when viewed from the right angle at the right time. When a weed is all you know, you might find yourself keeping it around for its moments of rare and fleeting beauty. It takes faith to believe something better can grow there.

thistle

In reality, most of the time a thistle weed is ugly and covered in sharp prickles. Once established, it spreads quickly, replacing native plants. It can spread 10 -12′ in one season (Noxious Weed Control Board, WA State). It doesn’t look good, feel good, or satisfy our hunger.

thistleunflowered

Yesterday it hit me in a whole new way – there are a couple areas in my life that I keep trying desperately to squeeze something sweet out of a weed. I keep getting disappointed when my thistles don’t produce figs, and keep complaining when they hurt me. I’m threatening the fig trees in my garden with a noxious weed and, by attaching such a sick fascination on the untouchable and inedible thistle flower, keeping myself from enjoying the good fruit that is trying to grow for me.

Yuck!! These moments of clarity are so gross, but so good. I feel challenged to increase my TRUST – to allow all that is harmful to be uprooted. It’s a no-brainer in theory, but sometimes hard to know how to surrender all I know. I’m thankful for his voice of direction, and that he guides every move we allow. Time to do some weeding!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:21

Shine On

I’ve been doing a lot of grumbling lately, so I want to say thank you AND I’m sorry to those of you who have stood alongside me lately. This has been one of the scariest seasons of my life (and I’ve had some doozies) and I’ve absolutely hated it…but man am I growing.

I find so many parallels in my life and the stories of the early Hebrews. There’s a reason for that:

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…
1 Corinthians 10:11 (NAS)

The last couple months I have related strongly to the Israelites wandering in the desert, delivered a while out of Egypt but definitely not in the promised land. I read something this morning that set me down this track again.

The main source of their frustration and hungry grumbling, I think, was that the “promised land” was just an idea to them. It was a completely intangible promise. FAITH is required to keep walking towards a dream, especially when there is nothing around you to indicate there is any truth in it. They began to question the promise, question how to get there, question the giver.

The same exact tactics used against them are used on us today. In my impatience and frustration, I’ve also pulled my eyes off the promise and resorted to looking around. I see almost nothing that comes close to that dream I’ve been holding on to, waiting for. I’ve started to believe the lie that my dream is too big. I’ve started to consider compromise, just to take my mind off the monotony of sand and manna.

Here is one of the most chilling passages I’ve ever read:

They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
Psalm 106:13-15

The lies we are told are brilliant – just a twist off of truth. Is a diet of sand and manna monotonous? Yes, sometimes it is! The fact is they weren’t MEANT to eat manna forever. God had no intention of keeping them on that diet long-term. It was simply meant to be a gift while they were in transition. He planned on giving them what they were hungry for, but he also had a right time and place in mind. He wanted them to wait until they arrived at the place they were called to occupy.

Demanding and eating the meat before the right time led to disaster – an unsatisfiable craving, wasting disease, leanness in their souls. It diminished their ability to enjoy life.

It’s so crazy how we keep choosing this option just because it’s tangible in the moment! If we would just wait one more minute in the grand scheme of things, we could have fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

I ask the Lord to show me lies I’m believing on a pretty regular basis. Today, I honestly didn’t want to hear it, but I let him talk to me about my dream again. Is it too big for me? Wrong question. Is it too big for HIM?

Oh…I do not love a common, ordinary, under-the-radar, go-with-the-flow, low expectations kind of god. Mine is spectacular! He is deep, loud, and magnificent. He shatters mountains with a whisper. He has spoken to me and through me. He has sent messengers to speak out loud. He is so much BIGGER than what we settle for! He calls greatness out of the common. He invites us to be more, to want more, to expect more, to have more.

Ugh – I’m so ashamed that I know this and yet struggle with faith! That I sometimes wish I could put out the spark he’s given just so I could “live simply” (stupidly) with the rest of society, or so I could justify a fleeting desire. Thankfully, he is not going to let me sabotage myself anymore. Once again, when I seek truth, there it is. Flooding me from every direction.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

Thank you for prayers, friends. Let’s keep believing for things we cannot see. He won’t give us a dream he can’t deliver.

Into a Good Land

promised landThis has been a rough road lately! I’ve watched more fantasies crumple, and found myself both grasping for the shreds of truth they were built on and wanting to throw them all out the window in anger, frustration, and despair. I’m hungry, and I’m tired of waiting.

The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.”
Numbers 11:4-6 (MSG)

The craving for what has been left behind is so hard to resist and so easy to excuse. It’s what we know, it’s familiar. Anything else, really, is just a fantasy, or a promise. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be deceived when you start craving things you were freed from? It’s easy because, let’s face it, it’s what we truly want to believe at that moment. We want to justify a short detour.

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick…
Jeremiah 17:9

Manna – the food from heaven, the bread of angels. A truly free gift, not one that comes with a yoke of bondage. Delivered straight to your doorstep, abundant, and all you need to survive the wilderness. I would love to say that I am always satisfied with it – I almost always am. I’m close enough to Egypt to remember what it’s really like there, but far enough away to romanticize some of its familiarity. The spices. The meat.

Oh man, I really get their whining. To be delivered so miraculously from one reality only to realize the promised land is a long time coming. A place you don’t even know is real. You’re free!! But wandering, waiting, with nothing to chew on but manna, manna, manna. It’s hard to keep waiting for a dream when a beautiful, tasty bird has fallen at your feet.

I’ve noticed the temptation to ask myself what the worst possible outcome of a situation would be…pretty safe since I can’t even fathom some of the repercussions of making a choice like this out of anger, apathy, or greed. This morning, the Lord had me ask another question. What is the BEST outcome that I would be sacrificing for this tempting meal? As much as I would love to close my eyes and ears and stumble into a familiar feast, I don’t want to end here, in the grave of craving (Numbers 11:34). And while the fantasies continue to shatter around me, the promise of a healthy, joyful partnering still stands. No matter how hard I beat at it.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

I’m so thankful for his wisdom, even when I don’t want to hear it. I am fully aware that we don’t want a way out of our temptations…we are not tempted to do things we don’t want to do. But if we let him, he’ll remind us of something better. There is so much strength to be found in that.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing.
Deuteronomy 8:3, 6-9

The Lord is good. I can barely see where my next step is landing, but he knows my future far beyond this life. He has allowed me a tiny peek into what the good land will look like if I decide to choose it. It is going to be well worth the wait.

Bitter Root

I’m in the middle of my first fight with my best friend. This is the fourth year I’ve known him, and I’m livid. And so.so.sad.

I’ve always hated to listen to people’s fight stories – I’ve never understood blaming someone else for the way your own choices shaped your life. Especially God. But today…Today I can relate.

See, I’ve given everything to him – my life, my heart. With abandon. With struggle. With joy. I have chosen to walk in radical obedience. To trust his promises. I have believed that he would give me the (new) desires of my heart, all of them, which are pure and good.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

He has drawn me deeper to his heart, taken me to new heights, opened my eyes and ears. I have loved my time alone with him, but I am still a human being. I long for physical, spiritual, emotional intimacy; companionship; a spiritual covering for my family.

So for over 3 years I have waited, with shocking patience, for this disciple. I go to an amazing church and I look around – where is my man?? The women are so strong, so grounded, so empowered. But he’s nowhere to be found.

Who can cover me? The deeper I’ve gone with the Lord, the narrower the pool has become. It feels like the most precious gift has backfired in my face. There is no turning back from here, nor is there any desire to. I just want to find someone who gets it.

This week, I thought I was just sad. But I realized to my great distress that I’m seriously angry. Pissed off at the Lord, for wooing me to this place where no one can reach me. For giving me desires that, looking from my perspective, can only be satisfied through severe compromise.

What I find so interesting and comforting is that Jesus isn’t threatened by my anger. What we have is REAL. It’s a real relationship, and this is just another phase we’re going through which will leave us stronger in the end. And he isn’t Mister Stand-Back-With-His-Arms-Wide-Open either. He is fighting back! He took me to Hebrews tonight to remind me what bitterness and anger will do, not just to me, but to anyone I touch while it’s in me. He has called parts of me weak. Lame, even! Ha! He has encouraged me to stay strong and be patient, because I’m getting dangerously close to a slippery slope.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
Hebrews 12:12-15

And still, he is with me, just waiting for me to stop looking through my tiny periscope. He is still squeezing me hard when I let him. And he is crying with me as I throw my tantrums about this sad, broken world.

It’s not his fault. I’m still thankful. I love him more.

p.s. Thank you for allowing me to be real here. The anger I found in my heart took me by surprise, especially being such an introspective person. It made me realize how easy it is to hide these feelings that seem “bad” from ourselves, when all God wants to do is bring it to the light. I really hope I didn’t offend anyone with my process! Love you.

Open the Heavens


The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand.
Deuteronomy 28:12

For three and a half years now, I’ve been on an accelerated path. I started at ground zero, but rooted fast in the Father’s love. These last years I have learned so much about humility, about love, about true identity. I have been invisible to men and to leadership. The Lord has had me all to himself, and that has turned out to be the biggest blessing of my life.

I’ve learned to trust authority. I’ve learned to ask to be under someone’s covering. I’ve learned to allow someone (multiple someones!) to speak freely into my life without taking offense. All this is new for me.

And now, just now, I have stepped onto a new platform. He is finally allowing me to give back, to be seen and encouraged. As someone just said to me: I’ve been asking God “When? When? When??” and he is saying, “Now. Now! NOW!”

It’s so true – it’s like everything over the last few years is coming together, aligning and exploding into reality.

Last Friday, an opportunity opened up which for me is a dream come true – a trip to South Africa with my church’s Messianic pastor to work with Zulu children. When it came up, my spirit just leapt inside me. But instead of embracing the joy, I fought hard to avoid anything other than fleeting thoughts of the trip details. See, I’ve struggled in the past with feeling unworthy to represent the Father, especially to join a team “like that”, whatever that means!

Even after prayer and confirmation and being invited to join the team, I find myself even today trying to keep myself from thinking about how exciting it is, about the trip agenda, in case it turns out not to be the time for me. There’s something not quite right about that.

I decided to go straight to the Lord to see if the excitement and the JOY at the prospect of going to that place with that team was from him or from me. Do you know what he said?

Yes!

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Psalm 37:4

It’s so cool that when we align our hearts with his, our desires become the same. We find joy in the same things. If we walk and talk with someone long enough, we end up walking and talking like them. We are meant to live Psalm 37:4 firsthand!

I just want to shout it out! There is nothing more exciting than experiencing that shared joy. I can feel his heart bursting too –  the heavens have opened and blessings are pouring down. After all, he’s the one who tucked those dreams and desires into my heart in the first place. Let it rain!

For Such A Time As This

butterfly stages

Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.
Esther 4:14

This is turning into a really interesting year. I feel like I have spent the last three years in a chrysalis – protected, hidden, being transformed, strengthened, and prepared for the next stage of life.

I have found myself struggling with the weirdest problem. I am so thankful for this journey and for where I am NOT, that I find it hard to even consider asking for more. My career is amazing. My relationships are thriving. My home is comfortable. My body is healthy. My heart is still on fire for the Lord.

There is a difference between being grateful and being stagnant in a comfortable world. The Lord keeps asking me to ask for more, and not just for others! For my own life too.

“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!”  ~Jesus
John 16:23-24 (MSG)

He’s not saying to ask for more stuff and he’ll give me more stuff. He wants me to ask for what he’s revealed and promised me, and believe that he’ll deliver.
He wants to make my joy complete.

This morning I read about Saul, the man chosen to be the first king of Israel. When he was given the promise privately, he objected that he was not good enough
(1 Samuel 9:21). When his family asked what he had been told, he kept it to himself (1 Samuel 10:16). When it was time to receive the promise publicly, he was afraid to step into it, literally hiding in a pile of baggage (1 Samuel 10:22). The promise just seemed too big, too good to be true for him. He never got over his insecurities or learned to trust God with the promise…and he really made a mess of it!

I don’t want to make a mess of my promises.

I feel perched on the chrysalis, ready to take flight in faith. He has developed and prepared me for this very moment. He is giving courage to trust him with the dreams he’s placed in my heart. He is encouraging me to live fully. Faithfully. And to fly boldly where he has called.

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

butterfly

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