Chosen

I have to share with you what I experienced last night. I began attending a new church in November 2014.  I knew the moment I walked in the building I was home.  There was a familiarity about it that just caused me to take a deep breath, exhale & smile. Since that first day,  there hasn’t been a time that I’ve left unaffected.  You have to understand….I’ve served in the local church faithfully since 1984.  Now that I’ve totally dated myself, you can gather I’ve seen quite a few trends come & go.  Real. That is what I’m gravitating toward now more than ever.  Real people; real faith; real purpose; real motives; real love; real acceptance; real challenges to help me grow spiritually; real life; real humility; real servant leadership; real Jesus. Real.  Now that I’ve typed that word so many times it looks like it’s spelled wrong!

Every week I find myself telling my daughter, “I’ve never heard that taught like that before!”  or “OH MY GOSH!! I’m blown away finding out about yet another ministry they offer!”  Seriously it’s like a new experience every week & yet at the same time, such a feeling of belonging.  Hope that makes sense!

Last night is no different.  There are sooooooooooo many connect groups to become a part of that every excuse for not developing relationships within the church body is completely annihilated! There is a group for women, named Journey. Within that group are options for different nights of the week or lunchtime meetings, prayer groups, & etc.  Any of these choices promises to fulfill whatever  you are searching for.  They planned a combined meeting for all the groups to come together & it was awesome.

Actually…..it was my first time to go & what a time to pick!  After praise & worship, four ladies were introduced.  Normal Disciples of Christ Prison ministryladies. When each began to give explain their ministry, I was awestruck.  How is it possible for me to still be finding out about things to participate in or know what gifted talent is here?  I’ll give just a summary of what they disclosed:

Lady #1- Founded Disciples 4 Christ Prison Outreach Ministry. She was incarcerated for 5 years & now the DOJ contacts her to hosts meetings & conferences across the state. She decided to offer hope to those who are walking in her shoes.

God of all comfort books

Lady #2- Published the book, God of all Comfort,  describing the loss of two of her children within a few months apart. They already had a special needs child & this new grief experience was certainly overwhelming. Instead of this journey destroying her life, it changed it.

Lady #3 -For the past 15 years, along with her husband, has developed a ministry of devoting time & attention to pastors children.  If you don’t think these relationships are vital & beyond priceless, talk to a PK.

Lady #4 – Corporate Executive who wanted to bridge the gap between the churched & unchurched.  Created a YouTube presence called Real Issues. Real Jesus. She addresses common questions in normal, everyday terms while exposing the listener to the Bible.

Lady #5 – became a blogger, published 3 devotional books that is available in 35 countries & translated in several Laura devotionslanguages.  She wasn’t actually present to talk, but her books were.

These ladies were just the opening part of the meeting!  As you may or may not know, I want to write two books.  I felt so beyond empowered being surrounded by these phenomenal women! Each of them were so humble & simply began pursuing their purpose while walking through their valleys & finding their passion.  Their obedience, however small it may have felt in the beginning, is an enormous act of faith for many women to emulate.

I could’ve left at that point & been full of courage & strength.  Of course…there was more.  The main speaker was a lady who grew up so intimidated she literally became beet red & broke out in hives while reciting her wedding vows.  Her description of herself growing up was a fair complected, red haired, overweight, shy girl named Lucretia.  Talk about having a complex!  She felt like God had given her a story within this past year that she wanted to share with all the ladies. She is recently a widow & yet found strength to continue walking in what God is doing in her life.  Amazing.

Her message was straight from Revelation 2: 12-17.  I’ll give you the short of it!  God edified & then chastened people from the church in Pergamum for partaking in the practice of the Nicolaitans.  God hated the deeds of Nicolaitans.  Strong words, but He hated, nonetheless.  In essence, the Nicolaitans straddled Christianity & paganism.  This rendered the people powerless preventing them from fulfilling their identity.  He mentioned giving those who overcome a white stone with a name written on it that only He & that person will see.  In that particular dispensation of time stones were used in the judicial system.  White stones signified acquittal while black stones sentenced condemnation & guilt.  Throughout the Bible you can find God changing the names of people.  Those names are what He sees in them or anticipates who they’ll become.  Many times people don’t know who they are or their true identity because they’ve been called everything else. We also tend to wear badges that identify seasons in our lives.  Single, widowed, divorced, rejected, depressed, bitter, angry, forlorn, etc.  Such badges lead to entitlement mentality in how we expect people to treat us.  We are holding black stones.  God doesn’t see us in that sense.  As a child of God, He sees us through His son, Jesus.  Acquitted.  Black stones & badges prevent us from fully embracing who He’s called us to be & prevents us from elevating God to the place He belongs. God wants to do an exchange of stones & show us our new name.

Relationships can enable certain identities to mask who we really are.  Even if we have left certain people or severed all relational ties, we are still “in bed” with those things that were spoken over us.  We are an overcomer & God already calls us that.

At the beginning of the message we were handed black stones .  At the end, we were encouraged to take our black stones & exchange them for a white stone of which had names written on them. The names were not visible, so we didn’t know what we were picking up.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but the name I received was exactly what I needed to see.  My daughter already had a name in her head & that was the exact name she picked up.  Not only did the name mean something special, but it was a major confirmation that God is ever present in her life.  From a mother’s perspective, it’s a huge blessing to see your child being well so taken care of & honored.

geneva chosen

Here’s my name. Chosen.  Of course you could say that’s nothing special!  The Bible calls Christians a chosen generation or states how we haven’t chosen Him, but He’s chosen us,  so….big deal.  Well….I beg to differ.  Lemme splain…..Being single now for 21 years & currently believing God for my husband to suddenly appear lets you get a glimpse of the rejection I combat feeling.  Seeing friend after friend get married & microscopically picking myself apart as to what could really be wrong with me.  I’m too picky with unrealistic expectations. I’m healthy, but not skinny.  I’m middle aged. I’m not pretty enough.  I’m whatever! Or…..what about applying for a new job only to get a rejection email the same exact day of this meeting.  Of course…I’ve spread my net far, but….still. For more years than I dare admit I’ve quoted, “I am accepted in the Beloved.” Anytime anything attempts to separate my belief in how much I’m loved by the perfect Father, Husband, Friend I have in Jesus, I quickly remind myself of this.   Getting the new name of “Chosen” takes that to a whole nutha level & was applicable in more areas than I dare to explain. Besides…..even if all those badges were non-existent, I still love the fact that out of all the people in the universe, God chose me.  After all….I am His favorite daughter!

Whew……I mentioned loving my church for being real & I just word vomited my negative self talk.  Trust me…..I have a mantra I repeat as often as necessary to combat any / all of those words.  I refuse to become identified with them.

I encourage you to lose the black stones of guilt, condemnation, unworthiness, hopelessness, abandonment, rejection, low self esteem & confidence, deception, or whatever haunts your thoughts & see yourself acquitted.  See yourself loved, forgiven, chosen, accepted, capable, beautiful, wonderful, gifted, talented, & etc.  This blog was lengthy, but I’ve learned it’s times when I don’t share my “eureka” moments that someone could really use one of their own.

Have an awesome weekend.  Come to church with me wherever you are!  We’re also available on Vimeo!

Blessings,

g

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Kids & Self-Entitlement

After Christmas I began seeing quite a few blogs regarding the way we raise our children without creating brats or little humans displaying self-entitlement mentalities.  I found them very interesting & agreed with quite a few suggestions.

I have successfully raised two wonderful kids ages 25 & 36, both of which have children of their own.  When they were young I probably paid them for chores until I realized chores were a part of being a family. Everyone is responsible, pitches in & does their fair share or at least age appropriate fairness!  If there was a particular situation where they needed money for a project such as camp, I would suggest “working” for someone else or I would assign special chores in which I paid them for doing. I divorced when Summer was a senior in High School & Bryce was in first grade.  It was vital  to institute a plan that worked for everyone.   I will never forget when Bryce wanted to make money for something he deemed important & he created his own list.  Each contribution to daily chores were carefully calculated in cent values.  It was priceless!

When it came to gifts, I encouraged my kids to buy for parents, friends, etc.  When Summer was young, many of our gifts were handmade as we were very creative.  Bryce had the luxury of being raised as an only child after Summer married & had privy to all my spare change throughout the year.  He saved diligently & purchased gifts Christmas for friends / family.  Hearing his description of how good it felt to give to others is forever etched in my memories.

We were very involved in church & had many opportunities to sow into the lives of others.  These type of activities didn’t always include monetary donations, but rather time.  At one time, Summer & I were both enrolled in Bible School.  After my graduation I went on staff as the assistant administrator of the Bible School.  One of my duties included being the program director for community outreach & Saturday Sunday School was one of our largest ministries. On Saturday mornings, throughout the city, several student groups would host meetings with children of all ages.  We had praise & worship, played games, performed skits, offered time for them to ask for prayers & salvation.  We fed them lunch & left with indescribable feelings of love & gratitude for having the opportunity to serve such precious kids. I was a clown!  Of course I was! It was the greatest, most uninhibited freedom ever!  Summer was responsible for a group of her own. Every other weekend Bryce accompanied me & participated in every activity.  In addition to Saturday Sunday School, Bryce & I accompanied a group that visited a local Boys & Girls Clubs each week.  Our time was consumed with being others focused. One Saturday we blitzed a neighborhood where we would begin a new group.  Our conversation afterwards, describing his observance of the people we talked to that day, is another etched memory.  You see……we must give our children the chance  to understand how they can make a difference & in doing so they become extremely grateful for what they have.  

The Bible compares our children to arrows in the hands of mighty warriors.  Why do we feel like we are not giving them enough & continue to stress over it?  Arrows pierce.  Our children can & should be the greatest force in the world around them armed with confidence, validation, courage & purpose. Instead…..we allow the world to pierce or wound their little spirits.   ALL THE TIME I hear how people want to give their children things they never had.  Let me ask you some questions?

  • What kind of adult are you?  Responsible?  Irresponsible?  Complacent?
  • Do you work & provide for your family?  Do they have the basic needs – food, clothing & shelter?
  • Are you concerned about their well-being?
  • Are you protective of their associations?

As you ponder these, please think about what was so horrible as a child & what you didn’t have that fuels this drive to over produce for your children.  Going without “things” often creates a sense of determination to succeed & easily recognize the needs of others. Not having adequate supervision often creates a sense of responsibility & concern or protection for others.  The struggles you feel you had as a child could have affected the adult you are now.  I was raised on a farm & we pretty much had to be self-sufficient.  I worked during the summer helping my daddy with the crops.  I couldn’t do any activities until I completed my responsibilities.  My mom sewed our clothes, canned/preserved food for the winter, & we raised our own animals for meat / dairy consumption. When friends stayed over, they helped too.  Please evaluate what was so terrible about your childhood?  Chances are you are extraordinary & I’m confused as to why you won’t allow your children to develop the same amazing qualities.  In providing a hand out to our children instead of a hand up, we alter their ability to discover who they really are & what they’re capable of accomplishing. The result of producing clones mimicking the world around us is very frustrating. How many times have you told your children how ungrateful they are?  Why are they? Don’t get me wrong. I have seen some children who have been given every opportunity to show gratitude & simply won’t.  I was determined to help my kids discover & practice gratitude. Here’s a story!  Once we pulled in a drive through window at Burger King & as soon as Bryce got his kid’s meal he pitched a fit.  Not over the food!  He was mad because he already had the toy he just received in his meal.   At that moment I reminded him his behavior of being ungrateful was unacceptable & has just cost him the privilege of getting kids meals for quite a while.  When I finally allowed him to order them again, he never once pitched another fit!  We created a basket to collect duplicate toys & donated them to toy drives.  Again…..giving to others.

We, as adults, have self entitlement attitudes in in-quantifiable magnitudes.  Remember…..from the second we enter the world as an infant it’s all about us.  We’re hungry & we cry.  We’re wet/dirty & we let the world know.  The world revolves around us because our nature dictates so.  As we grow, we develop a learned behavior that quite possibly there are others who have needs as well.  This is a hard revelation for some!  I won’t begin to list the growing number of adults in our nation who continue to believe the world revolves around them & demand everything. We have a tendency to scold our children for being ungrateful or unappreciative, but in reality……they could be mirror images of who we are.

ImageI encourage you to chart a new course for 2014.  Find community opportunities that will allow you & your children to participate in serving others together.  Before getting new toys, have them give toys away to others. Instead of you throwing them in a trash bag & dropping them in a donation station, have them sort, pack & actively give them away.   Involve them in local seasonal activities such as Angel Tree gifts, back to school, Easter, etc.  Allow them to help you prepare meals.  They learn to appreciate the time & effort spent on your behalf to provide something for them to eat.  Suggest making meals for shut-ins & allow them to help you prepare it & accompany you with the delivery.  They can create the artwork for get well / thank you cards & have them write letters or cards to our military serving away from home.  Perhaps you could participate in a group clothing swap.  Instead of you spending time purchasing teachers gifts, involve them in making gifts from the heart!  When you financially prepare for sending your children to summer camp, provide a scholarship on behalf your child to assist with tuition for another child to go. Be sure to involve you child in making the money to do so!  I’m sure there are unknown hundreds of ways to accomplish your new course. Please feel free to share ideas, projects or technics you practice with your children.

Our children are only in our care for a few short years & the cycle they continue is critical. My childhood responsibilities on the farm has made me very independent & appreciative of my ability to embrace the natural basics of life with minimal transition.  I used to tell Bryce I wasn’t raising just him, but I was raising a father & a husband.  What I did may not have made sense to him at that time, but prayerfully it would later!  Today, I am so very proud that he is an extremely responsible father & husband!  The creativity I used to involve Summer in has paid off with undeniable dividends!  Over the years we have done some unbelievable projects & just spent New Years Eve creating our own whipped body butters, toothpaste, day/night creams, room sprays, shampoo & etc.  She is one of the most giving, talented & resourceful women I know.  As a single mom, I never felt I did enough & I certainly wasn’t a perfect mom.  I felt like a failure on so many levels I can’t even describe them. Somehow….my kids were resilient & are amazing!

At this point in my life, I feel beyond accomplished.  You can’t measure it materialistically, but that isn’t always what counts.  There is one thing you & your children are entitled to…. this feeling & living a life dedicated to serving humanity!

Blessings,

g

Regarding your children. The days might be long, but the years are short. – Andy Stanley