Decisions

Leaving a Legacy

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I remember when I was growing up, my Dad would show us stuff. He was intent on teaching us to identify trees and plants, like Morrel mushrooms, Bittersweet and Sumac. Of course he taught us useful stuff too, how to back up a truck with a trailer; how to drive a boat; how to collect sap and make Maple Syrup and, best of all, how to fish. Although my growing up years are mostly wrapped in nostalgia and I have few opportunities to exercise those skills, what I actually learned was this: I am limitless in my ability to learn a skill and do it. Dad taught us to be learners, and to not be afraid to try new things.

One year Dad decided to build a cabin on the back edge of our property. Dad was neither a builder nor an architect but he and my lovely, artist-in-residence Mom put their skills together. With the help of generous builder-type friends, the tiny, humble building came together. At the time the cabin served as the best fort and doll house a girl could ask for! We loved it! With it’s steeply-sloped corrugated roof, woodstove and dry sink, the cabin stood on stilts and overlooked the trout stream that ran through our property. My friends and I would traipse around in the woods and slosh in the creek for hours at a time.

It wasn’t until I was well into my adult years that I learned the strain that building the cabin placed on our family. Apparently it wasn’t the most fiscally responsible undertaking, nor was the building designed to withstand 25 years of rugged weather. My Dad has been gone for some time now, and yet the cabin stands perhaps as a tribute to his tremendous influence on our lives.

Talk is cheap and we spout ideas of who we are and what we’ll one day become. The fact is, we are not who we say we are. We are what we do.

Dad didn’t leave behind a cabin. He left behind a legacy of attempts to show us how important we were to him, how deeply he cared and how much he wanted us to love the things he loved.

Plain and simple, Dad wasn’t great at communicating. I still wonder about who he really was, and why he called me Scout.

But I know he loved me.

And I’m not afraid to try stuff.

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Life: A Tapestry of Risks

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Recently I’ve been pondering grad school. You know, the kind of musings that require change-of-address cards, and a new resume. Mind-numbing fear encroaches at the periphery of my thoughts. It’s not that I’m unhappy because I’m not. I love my job and I love my house. It’s been easy to say “no” over the years, to choose the practical and known over the unknown. I’ve let opportunities fade into the shadows but somehow I’ve not forgotten them:

“…. I should take that job in London.”

“No. I won’t make as much money as I do here in the States.”

“… The hiring manager from Amsterdam called. That job could be mine if I let it. What an incredible opportunity…”

“No. I have friendships which mean a great deal to me and I don’t want to lose them.”

“… Rather than a  short-term mission trip, why don’t you stay this time? Quit your job and stay.”

“No. I might miss out on something here. I might miss meeting my husband.”

Not too long ago, I read somewhere that God is bigger than our ability to miss opportunties. I really believe that. Yet sometimes we permit ourselves to miss opportunities simply because we’re afraid. God’s abilities toward me were never intended to enable me to live behind fear. God’s ability to catch and redirect me in spite of my decisions requires that I’m actually making decisive choices of action. If I have made indecision my companion, or compromise has become my bedfellow then I am not trusting God. Instead, my indecision has become my decision to live my life in hues of grey.

Sometimes strength and beauty come from risks taken and conquered.

I think of life as a tapestry, with the different threads having different functions. The long parallel threads -the warp- provide the fabric with stability. The threads which are woven through the warp, called the weft, are of indefinite length and are usually used to form the overall theme or design of the fabric. In order to form a complete tapestry, I need both the warp and the weft. If I have no warp, my fabric has no strength or stability. Yet, if I do not submit to some of the uncertainties, my tapestry becomes purely functional. The rich reds and vibrant greens of a life lived intentionally occur when we step out in faith and become the man or woman envisioned in our heart and mind’s eye.

To be dragged in the wake of the passive flock and to pass a hundred and one times beneath the shears of the shepherd, or to die alone like a brave eagle on a rocky crag of a great mountain: that is the dilemma.  ~Praxedis Guerrero, RegeneraciÓn, 18 February 1911

Your Furry Underbelly is Showing…

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One of my absolute favorite movies is Sliding Doors (1998) with Gwyneth Paltrow and yummy John Hannah. It’s an interesting movie, if you’ve never seen it. The plot splits, and two separate plots develop based upon Paltrow’s decision to force her way onto a departing train or to let it go and wait for the next one. The viewer is able to follow the separate storylines because in one Paltrow cuts her hair short and in the other her hair is long. The two stories weave together at the very end and you are left wondering, even having to decide for yourself, which was her reality.

The main premise of the movie is that our destiny is not driven so much by the big decisions but our everyday choices. To catch this train or wait for the next. To put ourselves out there, once again, and suggest we meet over coffee. [Segue…] I’m often told that I will meet my husband if only I would get out more, take ballroom dance classes or date online, etc. etc. Really? Do you think that we have to put forth that much effort to meet our lifelong companion, lover and best friend? I don’t. When we give ourselves over to our Father’s purposes He works it out. It’s while we’re on our own everyday journey, pursuing the interests and dreams that He’s placed in our hearts, that He brings us into contact with our lifelong relationships, those people to whom we’ll show our furry underbelly …forever.

Early in the movie, Gwyneth Paltrow drops an earring in a crowded elevator and John Hannah picks it up and hands it to her. For him, it’s a cha-ching! moment. He notices her, and tries repeatedly to strike up conversation. Later on they encounter one another and John Hannah again tries to connect with Gwyneth. On all occasions, she is completely oblivious to his attention. She had just lost her job, and her current man friend, John Lynch, is an all-around cad. He plays the part convincingly. Gwyneth goes through some dark waters before she’s thinking clearly again but since John Hannah persists at being becoming her friend through several seasons, they eventually connect.

I remember deciding to visit a church on the other side of town on the night of a blizzard. Before I began the 15 mile drive, I wanted to bail but decided to go anyway. Having newly relocated from the southeast, I hadn’t driven in snow, let alone a blizzard in ten years! Yet, that evening I wound up talking with a gal who has since become one of my dearest friends. Some of life’s wildest rides have been with my friend Kim, and we’ve howled with laughter until we couldn’t breathe. Good stuff. Would I have connected with her on another occasion? Quite likely. But there are some people who you know as soon as you meet them that they will be in your life forever. Kim is one of those people for me.

Whether a husband, wife or gal/guy pal, lifelong friends are worth waiting for. They are worth fighting for. Our friendship was nearly lost to us through a series of misunderstandings and mistakes Kim and I both regret deeply. For a year we both tried to justify our silence. Authentic sorrow, repentance and forgiveness had to come from the heart, for both of us. We learned so much about ourselves, our natural inclination toward selfishness. It’s a friendship that has been severely tested and tried but it’s stronger as a result. We’re both thoughtful about the way we value one another after all this. It reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice for us. He layed down His life for us, and that’s the gold standard for a friendship, “Greater love has no man than he that lays down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13)

Who are your lifelong friends? Do they know?

Time to Choose – Learning to Live a Supernatural Lifestyle

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Picture a lake with a nice beach and a swimming area, with buoys that mark the drop-off. The drop-off is where it’s over 6 feet deep, so most people would not be able to stand and have their head above water. The marked-off swimming area is shallow and progressively deeper. Those who don’t know how to swim usually stay in this area. There is still some risk in the shallow area; a person can drown in a bowl of soup under the right conditions. But by and large, the swimmer is in control and there aren’t too many surprises.

Our walk with the Lord is like these two swimming areas. While many have been in the shallow area most of their spiritual lives, the Lord has been teaching fundamental things: obedience, His love, His discipline, His glory, His character, the need for Him. All incredibly important things. There have been prophetic words about destiny. There have been some supernatural experiences with His Love and the things of the Spirit. Life is still largely in the natural realm with increasing exposure to the supernatural. It’s possible that He’s given a prayer language; not necessarily.

The main characteristic about one’s readiness to head to the deep waters is the hunger. You want more.

The deep water really represents a departure from living life in the natural realm and stepping into life in the supernatural. When you begin to dabble with the idea of regularly living in the supernatural, you really have no idea what that means. All you are focused on is that you are hungry. Every exposure to the deeper life is priceless. Every prophetic word seems to pierce you and feel like there is a *now-ness* about it. You never dream that there could be lessons and growth areas that stand between you and life in the supernatural. Yet all that God has done in your life up until now has been in preparation for you to make some decisions. This is not about having Him as your Savior. That’s certain. This is not about Lordship, even. You can absolutely live life in the shallow end, and still have Him be Lord. This is about choosing to live a supernatural life, life in the Spirit, moment-by-moment.

Living a supernatural life, a life completely led by the Spirit, to interpret life through His lens, to heal and set free, to raise the dead, to bear incredible fruit … these things require aspects of the Supernatural that many of us have been exposed to but are uncertain about how to live this kind of life, day in and day out. Life in the Supernatural is a bit like leaving the house without undergarments. Most people simply wouldn’t leave the house without…at least without a high sense of awareness. You are completely dependent upon the Father for covering, because you are so given over to trusting Him, so given over to His purposes for your life that you are almost uncovered in the physical realm. It’s that raw.

In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul is speaking to the believers at Corinth and he is very transparent. He talks about the way in which he approached them, “not with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I was determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” This is someone who desperately wanted to carry the glory of God to this body of believers no matter what it cost him personally. He wanted the believers’ faith to rest “not on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God”. He talks about how the wisdom of God is wrapped in mystery, and that we learn life in the Supernatural only through the Holy Spirit, and only to the extent that we release our hold on our natural mind. In the event that we miss the point here, he reiterates it in Ephesians.

“…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”   Eph 4:17-24

If I’ve kept a journal about my life, and I have for more years than I even know, with entries as often as I can. Something that surprises me when I look back through the weeks and months is the realization that I’ve not recorded major events, major decisions, etc. There’s simply no way I can record everything. I can only put words to paper, and even inspired words, cannot always capture everything about the essence of my LIFE. In the same way, this walking in the deep waters of the Spirit is about deciding to live LIFE in the Spirit, to not insist that it go the way that I think it should go, to not quarrel when it feels uncomfortable, to simply go back to the Father, in the quietness of my personal times with Him, and to wrestle through my questions there.

Everything about the Supernatural is foolishness to man’s way of thinking. There simply isn’t a line and verse for everything about life in the Spirit. It’s almost a guarantee that everything about going into the deeper things of the Spirit will go against everything you’ve assumed about God, and how this journey is supposed to go. Yet, you don’t have to go. The main thing that I want to convey is that this bit about choosing to live life in the Deep water of the Spirit is just that, a choice.

I offer what I know from my own experience. I’m still learning to swim in the deep. Sometimes I lose heart and slip back to the shallows but it’s not long until I’m out in the deep, learning to rest in the Father even though the water is over my head, and I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s 100% relational. In 1 Timothy, Paul called Timothy his “son” over and over. It’s completely about choices. You don’t have to do this but once you decide to pursue this kind of a life, you make commitments with people and they take you at your word and you stay with it. You have to find someone that can lead you into this lifestyle. It may not be in the circles in which you currently gather. You may have to search for someone with whom you have a connection, someone you can grow from. It might be in a house church but it may also be in the traditional church. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” They won’t come and find you. You must find them. Then you need to make a decision about their role in your life. There is nothing wrong with simply being friends. Or you can turn it into a learning relationship. Then you need to decide to respect their authority as a leader in your life and actually let them lead you. This might go on for a year or so, but there will come a time when you shift out of that relationship, by your choosing, and move into another growing relationship. Don’t run, though. That friend will stretch you, and you will be uncomfortable. But be intentional.

We have friends with whom we have been meeting as a house church, and they have modeled so many things about the supernatural lifestyle; they have modeled hearing from the Father, deliverance and freedom, healing prayer, prophetic blessings…so many things. Now we’re at a crossroads where each of us needs to make a decision about whether to go forward with Father into that deep supernatural lifestyle, or to stay in the shallow swim area. Both in Scripture, and in our own lives, we can see that the Lord frequently has us choose what it is we really want, and whom we will serve. You may decide that your current fellowship can’t take you there, or that you are not ready. But honestly? Find someone. Find a place where you are going to grow, and then be “all there”. Set your phones and computers aside. Maintain eye contact and really commit yourself to sharing your lives together.

Once this choice is made, to grow in the deep things of the Spirit, there will be more than one person who will influence you. But allow yourself to become committed to just one person for now. Grow with them. Be humble and become a Timothy to them. Timothy came along beside Paul and learned from him. He was not worried about his reputation. He actually encouraged Paul a great deal. And Paul recognized him as his son, and sent him to cities on his own, in his place. What an honor! I have done this many times in my life. I’ve recognized that a woman has a bit more maturity in the Spirit than I do, and built a relationship with her. I’ve taken the time to encourage her, to learn from her. I’ve cooked and cleaned many houses as a way of just spending time with another woman. This stuff is caught not taught.

I think of a baby bird sitting in its nest, demanding that the worm that is brought to him be just so juicy, about so long, and be brought to him on-time. Well, that’s a pretty safe place in the nest. We can be the very same way, insisting that the things of the Spirit be “just-so”, and that everything fits into my paradigm of how it should go. The Kingdom of God is truly an upside down kingdom. I guarantee that you will offend and be offended over many things until you begin to swim in the Deeps, trusting the Father.

Even if you don’t enter into a mentoring relationship with someone, please know that the way to really grow and bear fruit in life is to become connected with another person. The Bible demonstrates both mentoring relationships as well as covenant relationships. These are relationships where one person says, “I’m with you for the duration of the journey. I am committed to your success in your journey with the Father. I want to be there to encourage you, through thick and thin.” The world has nothing on this. It’s not something where you assume that they “feel close to you” and you “feel close to them”. Real community in the Spirit is verbalized by you, not by those who lead you … “We are in this together. I want to learn. I’m going to listen with an open heart. I’m not going to be like that baby bird making demands.”

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves