Legacy

Last night, after prayer time, this midnight conversation was in my head & heart, so I wanted to get it on paper today.  Often times we talk about being Christ-like. What does that really look like? It’s beyond bumper stickers, crosses on our walls, working in church ministries, or speaking Christianese.

So many times people rush through life trying to hang on for dear life or climb to the top rung of the ladder & completely neglect the weightier matters. Matthew 23:23 defines this as justice, mercy & faithfulness. Many of our races to survive or succeed neglect most, if not all, of those. Some people feel being the best parent they can be; supporting their spouse in the most dedicated measure or simply being a good human is their life goal. Others believe that is degrading & are constantly striving for more. There should never be judgement from either category towards the other.  The last time I noticed, what we choose to define personal happiness & purpose wasn’t a competition! And….it was just that…..personal.

During raw, emotional prayer time before God I realized & confessed to sounding so double minded it was if I had alternate personalities. I think I would give Sybil a run for her money.  Yes, I just dated myself, but……. it’s OK! Being single for 23 yrs has presented a plethora of challenges; obstacles; unbelievable circumstances; tears; fears; anger; uncertainty; doubt; rejection; repetitive failures;  defeat; victories; triumph; success; & miracles. The most important factor of all,  faith in an unseen God who holds my future.

Numerous times I’ve prayed that I wanted a husband & other times I’ve been beyond happy not to risk having another possible heartache or having to answer to anyone for anything.  My dog, Sven, is all the responsibility & accountability I want! Then I want someone else to make decisions because I’m tired of making them. But… what if he’s not making the right decisions?? What if he’s a worse procrastinator than I?  What if…..

hear my cry o God

I clearly don’t need to be rescued, but sometimes want to be, but don’t want to appear weak or appear as a damsel in distress. Can someone just fill up my tank with gas & wash my car??? Or…..help me unload the groceries??? The simplest decisions & activities really suck sometimes. How can God answer any of my prayers when I’m so wishy-washy??? My pride or time honored independence totally creeps in wreaking havoc on my humility!  I can just picture God probably scratching His head wondering, “What in the world does she really want?!?!?!?!” At any given moment He could be directing angels to act on my behalf only to have to call them back to wait…….. I’m so thankful He knows what’s best for me regardless of my fickle mindedness!

In 2009 I was sitting on my love seat petting & talking to Marshall, my son’s Cairn Terrier. The conversation with Marshall happened after talking to a friend having marital problems.  I admitted to Marshall I didn’t want to deal with any of that stuff ever again. My life was complete & for that I was extremely thankful. If I felt the need to fill a void, all I needed was a dog!  Marshall loved that idea!  A dog would love me unconditionally; be happy when I returned home; make attempts to please me; offer emotional support; provide companionship; allow me to spoil them rotten; & most of all…..never question my loyalty to it. Perfect!  Marshall proved all this while patiently & lovingly enjoying his time of being petted.  Notice a pattern? There was more focus on me being happy with the current situation rather than waiting for someone else to make me happy.

Suddenly….. I had a stark revelation that, for the first time after being single 15 years, I was content in my state of singleness. It was a very painful, yet surreal moment. My best friend, Kayline would tell me, “You’ll find love when you’re not looking.” I used to become incensed that she would say that & finally asked her never to tell me that again. I was always looking for love! I loved the union of marriage. I immediately called Kayline to apologize & ask her to forgive me for being a tyrant when she’d mention that. I could honestly tell her I was content & not specifically looking.  The morning after my stark revelation, on my way to church, I made a pact with God.  If I could fulfill my purpose & complete my destiny as a single woman, then I would happily live the rest of my years contently single. If said purpose & destiny could only be completed joined with a husband, then I would trust God would direct our paths to meet. According to simple math, that was 8 yrs ago.  I haven’t stopped pursuing my purpose or just sat around for a mate to suddenly appear.  This reminds me of a famous quote:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt

What do I really want? Besides giving angels whiplash??? In this raw prayer time I determined exactly what I truly wanted. To leave a beautiful legacy just as Jesus did. To be servant minded; a cheerleader for the underdog; be civic minded within my community; love the unloving; participate in social justice; be present & involved more in with my loved ones; be supportive & influential to those walking the same path I’ve walked. To be sincerely Christ-like, not perfect. I simply want to leave a legacy. Like the words of one of my favorite Nicole C. Nordeman’s song…..

I want to leave a legacy,
 How will they remember me?
 Did I choose to love? 
 Did I point to you enough?
 To make a mark on things
 I want to leave an offering
 A child of mercy and grace 
 Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

Regardless of my state of contentment with my relationship status, when the time comes, I want to hear His voice welcoming me home. Simple. Clear. Precise. Decisive. Unwavering.

What does your raw prayer time look like? What have been some surreal moments for you? What type of legacy would you like to leave? Please share!

Blessings,

g

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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

Serenity…

Good morning,

On my drive in to work this morning I was pondering some comments made by others & the Serenity Prayer immediately came to mind.  I looked it up immediately & have to admit, I have only known the first part of the prayer.  The rest of the prayer is what I needed to meditate on today!

While Christmas is my favorite time of year, as a single adult, I know it can be the worst time for some.  I have endured many Christmas celebrations where there was very little money. Except for someone showing generosity & adopting my kids, they wouldn’t have had anything.  The pressure of making sure children get what they want & trying to figure out what can go unpaid to do so is beyond stressful.  I remember when I discovered the blessing of utilizing the Christmas Club Account through my job at the hospital & it quickly became a lifesaver.  I spent money on things during the year that were completely a want instead of a need.  Then……December would find me panicked!  Why?  Why do we allow the most beautiful month of the year cause such anxiety?  Financial planning & discipline can make this year the most enjoyable.  But…..isn’t it more than the gifts wrapped under the tree?

My daughter’s family & I adopted a practice in 2010 that has been a complete blessing.  Giving the gift of presence instead of presents has eased the stress & created amazing memories.  I continued to give presents to Bryce & Sara as they lived in the same community & had just gotten married.  The first year, Russell, my son-in-law, chose Chicago as our trip.  I drove from Texas to Missouri to exercise our first “presence!’  We got up early the next morning, boarded Amtrak from St. Louis to Chicago & had an amazing couple of days.  We walked the Magnificent Mile as Lilli & Kaelleb shopped at their choice of stores.  We ate at Portillo’s and Giordano’s.  The highlight, of course was Shedd Aquarium.   

It snowed the entire time we were there & the kids were amazing.  When we got home we made a Spongebob Snowpants snowman!  They commented it was the best Christmas ever.  There were so many memories from that trip.  My gift to my grands were their tickets to Shedd. I didn’t buy one present for them except for tickets to Shedd & the hotel.  Presence instead of presents.

The next year Lilli & Kaelleb actually asked for a room makeover in both their bedrooms.  I drove to Missouri & spent a week in the sweatshop!  The den in the basement became my sewing room!   We spent countless hours for days sewing, painting rooms & furniture, putting beds together all to create 2 amazing bedrooms.  We unveiled the results & the kids loved it. Today when I see products from that week, it still makes me warm knowing we gave the gift of presence.  We also spread the love by drawing names between our small family.

This year is a little different in that everyone has been in transition.  For the first time in 14 1/2 years my family now lives in the same state!  This, in itself,  is the greatest gift of all to me!  In July Russell & Summer moved from Missouri to Texas.  Bryce  & Sara are expecting a beautiful baby girl, Aubri Skye, who will make her appearance in February 2013.  In October I moved from my loft in the Dallas Design District to a house in Sachse. In the last couple of weeks Russell’s mom, step-dad & sister have just moved to Texas.  We planned a few trips, destinations, etc., that just didn’t comply with schedules, etc.  We’ve decided to enjoy the local Chinese Lantern Festival, draw names again & spend the day at my house having gumbo for lunch!  Some will then go to our new friend’s house for dinner, games & fun!

I know there are many single parents who are fretting over Christmas.  I made a choice, as an act of my will,  to fret not!!   In recent events that have taken place in Connecticut, I’ve learned life is simply too short to fret.  The love God has for us to have sent His only son, Jesus, as a gift is overwhelming.  I’m awed by the obedience Jesus displayed to have left His heavenly throne to come to a humble, earthly dwelling.  Somehow somewhere along the way we need to realize what makes the most impact to those around us.  A star led strangers, kings & commoners to a baby in a manger full of animals.  His presence has continued to change our lives & truly is the greatest present for all mankind.

I encourage you today as a single individual to re-evaluate what is truly important.  Our children spell love  T- I- M- E !!  Enjoy this prayer as it has blessed me today!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

One is a whole number,

Blessings,

g

Whatapizza

Spongebob Snowpants

Spongebob Snowpants

They were glued to the Christmas show at Shedd Aquarium

They were glued to the Christmas show at Shedd Aquarium

The back of Shedd Aquarium on a frozen Lake Michigan

The back of Shedd Aquarium on a frozen Lake Michigan

Portillo's

Portillo’s