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You Can’t Make Me Go To Church

 

Ever heard that before?  From your children?  Maybe even a close family member?

I don’t want to convict, condemn, or guilt anyone into going to church.  I want you to go because you want to be there.  Because you enjoy it.  Because you long to please our Father.

My heart is bursting today with a love of the church that I hope I can convey to you in 1,000 words or less.  I’m not busting out about the 11a.m.service on Sundays with three praise and worship songs followed by a 35 minute sermon and an altar call.

My heart is exploding over the literal church and what it has meant to me over the years. What it means to me now.

Let me explain.

I had a conversation today with a friend about something very personal.  Something I can’t talk about in this place yet.  All I can share today is that someone I love with every fiber of my being is walking down a path never meant for them.

My friend listened intently as I let my burden leak out.  She did not judge.  She offered practical advice.  She told me specifically how she planned to help me pray over this situation.  Then, she wrote out the most beautiful, powerful prayer and sent it to me so that I would know exactly what she is saying to the Creator of the universe, God, on my behalf.

She went above and beyond the “I’ll be praying for you” quote we all use.  She is standing in the gap for me and she’s pulling me along.

This kind of friendship will only be found between two people who share the same Father, use the same book as a compass for living and live with the same goals in mind.  This type of relationship only happens when we have been directed by our Father on how to forgive, how to love, how to encourage, how to hope, how to pray…you name it…we are standing on common ground and that is a only a small part of why I love “the church”.

You see, the church isn’t the building and the programs and the schedules and the suits and skirts.

The church is made up of people who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  People who acknowledge that God is head over all and that His son Jesus died in order to, once and for all, pay the penalty for our sin.  The church is made of people, imperfect people, who live for God because He sent His son to live and die for us.

The church has one head, God the Father, which makes us all spiritual brothers and sisters, and we strive to simply follow Him wherever He takes us.

When we share a common belief and faith in the one true God, something special takes place in our relationships.  God has a vested interest in them and pours out blessings on them.

As my children have gotten older and are now young adults (what?!) I hear them reminisce about being a part of the body of Christ.

They will recall when they were preschoolers being smiled at and played with by Sunday School teachers who were the same age as their grandparents.

They will recall as middle schoolers tagging along with Tim and me to Bible studies and cook outs and ball games with other members of our church.  Helping out in Vacation Bible School and stacking chairs after a Sunday dinner on the grounds.

They will recall as high school graduates being honored with a slide show at church and being prayed over by the congregation as they began this next leg of their life.

My kids are old enough to understand the blessing of hindsight now.

They are grasping that for 20+ years we surrounded our little family with other Christians that we were doing life together with, that our friends were praying for and mentoring our kids and we were doing the same for them.

The relationships that we built over the years of choosing to be an active member of the local church have been the most lovely, meaningful, authentic, blessed relationships we’ve ever experienced.

The church.  God’s design.  Our home away from our heavenly home.

If you are a Christian and you are not attached to a local group of authentic, enthusiastic, Bible believing Christ followers;

” If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…”

I Corinthians 12:26a

We are still a member of the same body even if you aren’t actively involved.  You are still attached but you’re not enjoying the benefits of contributing to the direction the body is trying to move and the other parts (including me!) are suffering for it.

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You.  Are.  Missing.  Out.

I.  Am.  Missing.  Out.

Come into fellowship with us.  Come see who your spiritual siblings are.  Get to know us.  Take the time needed to see who you connect with deeply.  Who you can confide in.  Who can pray for your children while you pray for theirs.

Come on.

There is no part of the body of Christ that can work in full capacity alone.  Not one.

You need me and I need you.

Like my friend I mentioned above;

“Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I want this for you!  This kind of friendship.

You don’t have to make me go to church. I’ve experienced the goodness there that keeps me going back.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Psalm 34:8

There is a place for you in the local church where a future close friend or two awaits. A place where your gifts are needed in order for the body to function properly.  A place where someone else may need you to bring your experiences and listening ear to stand in the gap for them.

Come, see for yourself.

Reflect & Respond:

*If you are not a part of a local body of believers, I urge you to decide today to find one.  You could start by asking someone whose life you admire (because of their faith) where they attend and start there.

*If you are already in a local church, are you making the effort to connect with others in your congregation?  If you only attend an hour each week, inquire how you might take a step towards meeting others there on a more personal level.  Step out of your comfort zone.  You will be blessed.

Praying for you,

Kellie

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What Does It Mean To Be Broken?

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“We are broken”

“Bring your brokenness to Him”

“Come all who are broken”

“In my brokenness, I can ______________”

I see these statements a lot lately.

We don’t like to think about it, we don’t like admitting it, but it’s the truth.  We aren’t just imperfect people, we are broken people.  We have cracks.  We have flaws.  We are not whole.  Things can leak in and out.  We are vulnerable at those cracked places for further damage.

The Bible makes several references to God being the Potter and mankind being His clay.  References are made about how He is shaping us, how we came from the dirt and how He knows what He wants to make us be.

 

If you’ve ever made pottery you’re familiar with the process of going from what looks like a pile of mud to something beautiful that has purpose and attracts the eye.

 

It’s a beautiful picture of the intimate care God takes in planning ahead what it is He has for us, what we will look like, what purpose we will serve, and working all of that out through the moving of His hands.

 

*A potter has a vision before they start working.  They know what they are going to do with a particular piece of clay before they even turn on the wheel.

*A potter knows what ingredients are needed to make the clay pliable.  Water.  You gotta have water in order for the clay to move at the direction it is pulled and pushed.

*A potter doesn’t takes its eyes off of the piece it is crafting.  Imagine looking over your shoulder while trying to form and fashion something beautiful.  One small slip of one digit and the entire piece can get all out of wack.

*The clay has to remain centered on the wheel.  If the potter allows it to slip and move about, the piece will tilt and in one quick second, it can be demolished as the wheel continues to spin.

*The potter sees when there is too much clay in one area of the pot.  He can pinch off what is unnecessary and will keep the piece from achieving its full purpose and throw it into the trash pile.

Ever felt like life was pinching you?

When  a potter makes a pot, each one is different…unique.  And if you look close enough, most have flaws or weak places.  But to the potter, each piece he has made with care and time is beautiful and was worth getting soar hands from kneading the hard clay and the re-starts or do-overs necessary to get the piece exactly how he wanted it.

 

Do you see how intimate this process is?  God, the Master Potter, has His hands on you and on me with a vision in mind and His foot on the pedal while constantly massaging and pinching and shaping us so that He can use us for His purposes.

This process will go better for us when we relax and don’t try to buck what He is doing.

He knows we are flawed.  He uses those broken and weak places to bring all eyes to Him.

When I study scripture about being broken, it takes me back to this being a sin issue.

We all know that we are in fact people born with a sin nature, but we don’t like talking about it do we?

Psalm 51:17 says

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

 

To say that we are broken simply means that we are cracked.  We are not whole.  Only Christ is whole and complete.  Our sin makes us in need of repair.  In need of some TLC from our maker, the One who lovingly crafted us.

Psalm 51:17 says that He will not despise (dislike or turn away) a broken (shattered or cracked) and contrite (remorseful) heart.

To say that He will not turn us away implies that He wants for us to come to Him with our brokenness.

Do you see it?

We have cracks but He longs for us to come back to the Potter’s House and have those repaired or reworked.

As we go to Him with our sin and remorse He knows just how to make the repairs needed to our spirit.  It may feel uncomfortable, it may require a little heat or scraping, but it’s ultimately for our good.

What does God get out of it when we go to Him with our brokenness?

He gets to be intimate with us again.  It seems that when we have sin in our lives, it pushes us away from our maker.  We’re embarrassed or busy doing things our own way and it takes us out the door from Him.  Taking our brokenness to Him brings us back into fellowship with Him.

He gets to show off.  God is the only one who can take our cracks and weak places and make something beautiful out of them.  Only He can take our imperfections and mistakes and suddenly turn them into something that will get the attention of others to turn His way.

When He begins to work on our brokenness, His spirit that lives inside of us will shine through our cracks.  Others who are broken in their own way can will watch from a distance.  They will see His light inside of us shining through those cracks.  Healing.  Restoring.  Relieving.

You see, clay is solid in color.  It’s impossible to get a glimpse of what is inside of a clay pot.  But these cracks, these broken places,they allow people to see inside.

Cracks in clay can be mended with more clay or some type of putty.  Sometimes He fixes our cracks and it’s just between He and us.  Maybe only a small scar is left behind that no one else would ever know is there.

Other times, He fixes our cracks with something that is opaque.  Something that will strengthen us in what used to be a weak place, but causes us to keep walking around with a visible crack.  A reminder of our past.

It’s all so that others can see what a great work he does re-working, restoring and re-purposing what we once thought was bad enough to cause Him to just throw us to the side and dispose of us entirely.

We are His masterpiece. He set us above even the angels.  He longs to help us in our broken places.

He knows what He’s doing.  And there is nothing we can do or experience that is so bad that He cannot fix, re-enforce our weak places and continue using us for something beautiful.

Brokenness is the place where God works to make us more like Christ and in which other people see that only He is perfect.

There is no one who doesn’t have cracks.  There is no one who isn’t susceptible to being broken.  No one who doesn’t have weak places.  No one.

There is no cracked-pot that the Master Potter doesn’t yearn to hold in His hands and sooth and repair and re-purpose for His glory and our good.

Let’s not let our cracks keep us from Him.  The longer we stay out and expose our weak places to the elements of this world…the opinions of others, our own insecurities, the lie that we have to fix ourselves before going to Him…the more damaged we will become.  The more fragile we will become.  The more worn and tired we will become.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Galatians 3:3

We cannot fix ourselves properly. It would be like trying to dress a wound in the center of our backs.

I’ve got some cracks of my own that need tending to, will you meet me at the Potter’s House?  He is watching the door waiting eagerly for our arrival.

Reflect and Respond:

**What are your cracks a result of?  Your own doing or something that was done to you?

**Talk to Him right now about your brokenness.  Call a trusted friend who can pray with you if you don’t want to do this alone.  You don’t have too.

Praying for us all to recognize our cracks quickly and respond by falling on our knees, oh how He loves you and me,

Kellie

 

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Hope For the Weary Mama

Anyone who has been called out by the Lord to write words to point people to Him know how hard this can be.  He asks us to expose our lives for the sake of others.  To lay down and become vulnerable.  To reach into the deep places of where we have been and where we are and use our journey…our imperfect lives…for His purposes.

 

 

I now have the privilege of something called hind-sight.  It’s a beautiful thing!  As I look back at the triumphs and struggles we have had as a family, I see things we did well and things we did not do so well.  I see people who stepped in to encourage me and people who just kept smiling while slightly turning their backs as if to say “we don’t have problems over here so you stay over there“.

 

I don’t want to be in that clique.  They had problems too, they just didn’t want to admit it.

 

I read a lot of other blogs and books.  I need inspiration for my own daily life and it helps me to see how other people write.  I learn from their stories as well as their writing styles.

 

Recently, I realized that most of the material I’ve been reading has sometimes made me feel like they’ve got it all together and I just don’t.  What I was doing was reading from moms who still have school aged children.

 

Do you ever catch yourself comparing your life to someone else’s only to find out you’re not comparing apples to apples?  I know we’re not supposed to compare but let’s face it, it happens.

 

When the light bulb went off, I was both relieved and terrified.

 

 

You see, my children are college age.  The days of “hand me your cell phone” and “we don’t like that friend so NO MORE” and “apologize to your sister” are OVER!

 

 

I can’t write much about this new place in my life because my children read my posts.  But, they know, I am struggling with some of the decisions they’re making.  Not all.  In fact, most decisions are going to turn out well.  But, although they honor me with respect, they respectfully disagree with some of my opinions now.

 

Double edged sword.

 

I want for them to make their own decisions.   But, often times it takes falling on your face to learn.  This is that time for them.  They fully own their actions now.  The good and the not so good.

I find myself thinking “if they would just keep doing what I say, it will all be okay!!”

 

If you are here with me, feel free to reach out privately and let’s get a coffee!  I’m being dead serious.

 

I share all of this with you to say this…those of you who still have your children under your wings, in your nest and under your authority, your parenting privileges will change at some point.  You will always be your child’s mama but your role will change after high school.  Your opinions will be just that…opinions.  NOT the authority.  NOT the bottom line.  NOT the giver outer of consequences.

 

A friend of mine posted today that she wished we (Christians) could be more vulnerable with one another.  That we could share hard stuff without worrying about judgment.  Hard stuff that is internal.  A mental struggle.  A family struggle.  Things we keep quiet most of the time.

 

This is a platform for me to do just that.

 

I have two great kids.  But, when they were in school, we had struggles that I did not talk about very often.  There are still things that I’ve never spoken of.  Words vomited out that hurt.  A teenager landing their fist through a wall.  Threats of “I’m leaving!” and “There’s the door!”

 

This wasn’t every day.  But, it was here.  As I get older and allow things to spill from the cracks of my heart, I am learning that there are a lot of good families who are struggling.

Like, really struggling.

 

I’ve been there.  I’ve questioned whether my child needed professional help.  Whether I needed professional help.  Whether these things, these confrontations, went on in other homes.  The list could go on and on.

 

If you are a weary parent…like, you are reading this alone and you think you’re alone because what would everyone else around you say if they even caught a glimpse of what may be happening in your home weary…you are not alone.  You are not alone!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

 

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If we were sitting at Dunkin Donuts together in our yoga pants curled up in a corner booth together, let me tell you a few things I would be saying to you out of this place of hind-sight I’m now in…

 

*Do not give up!  There may be times that it would be easier to set your kids in front of the TV or send them to live with their dad or let them quit high school at 16 or let their attitude rule your home-DO NOT!  Your children do not know the long-term consequences of their behavior when they push you like this.  But, YOU know the long term consequences.  You’re the adult.  It’s your job and mine to stay the course.  No TV until chores and homework are done, keep them close, do whatever you need to for them to finish their education and if they are seniors in high school who STILL think they can get their way by bullying you, you stay on your feet and hold your ground!  Call a friend.  Call a grandparent (we did!), call a coach, call a Youth Pastor, reach out for help.  Get creative.  Find ways to discipline that speak to your child.  God honors our efforts when we don’t give up.  He’s got your back, I promise.

 

*Keep trusting Him.  God wired the brains of our precious little people.  He knows what’s going on in their heads better than we do.  He purposely made you the mama to your little tribe.  Purposely!  That means He has equipped you to do what you need to do.  He’s given you resources.  He’s placed the right people in your life at the right time.  He knew you would struggle.  He knew your child would challenge you like this.  It always helped me to keep in mind the big picture-it’s not even ALL about me-it’s not ALL about you-it’s not ALL about your child.  Every bit of the struggle is to bring you and that child closer to your Creator.  All of it. Those challenges you are facing, they are temporary.  I promise.  Not only that, but it is in our struggle that we get more and more desperate for God and as we lean in to Him and in to those that he has placed in our path, we will grow.  We will learn.  You will one day encourage another parent that it will all be okay.  Not perfect, but okay.

 

*Pray.  We went through some times here that I call “dark”.  I call it that because I couldn’t see the light.  I had to rely on my faith.  To make the conscious decision to trust what God says and anticipate each time we turned a corner that the light might be waiting there.  I prayed “Lord, I believe, but please help me in my unbelief”  A lot.  Stay close to Him.  It’s okay to get mad and question Him, just keep talking to Him.  And be thankful. Be thankful for the privilege to parent that challenging child (or children).  Be thankful for your resources and that you can trust Him.

 

When we were being faced with challenges early on, I told a friend that I was continually hoping that my child was going to turn out alright.  She too was in the midst of her own parenting challenges.  She responded by saying “honey, I’m not hoping this turns out alright, I’m counting on it!”

 

That was a turning point for me.

 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

Do you see the wording here?  They.  Will.  Not.

God never promised not to give us more than we could handle.  He will.  We were not made to handle it all on our own.  He wants in on the deal.  Invite Him in to your life and family and watch Him work.

Reflect:

Are you struggling in your home and in your mind with parenting issues?  Reach out to someone you can trust and let it pour out of the cracks.  Relieve the pressure.

Can I pray for you?  It’s possible I’ve walked down the road you’re on now.  Reach out, I would love the privilege to take your name to the Father.

Praying for you specifically today who are barely holding it together,

Peace, hope and courage,

Kellie

 

 

 

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That Time God Asked Me To Be Carried

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”

Luke 5:18-19

 

A few years ago my husband took a bad fall at work.  He fell off of a roof while working alone, landing on his head and knocking him out cold!  When he came too, he had no idea where he was but he did manage to call me in his drunken stupor.  That was one of the scariest days of my life!

 

After racing to be by his side, with our two small children at my hip, we watched him be transported to the local hospital.  I drove as quick as I could and arrived at the E.R. just moments after my guy.  To my surprise, I was greeted by a handful of men from our church.  In all the frenzy of getting Tim help, our church was alerted to begin praying and all of the staff jumped in a car to meet us as we arrived.  Wow.

 

By the end of that day, we were all back home.  My man had a lump on his head the size of a baseball, but no permanent damage was found.  We contemplated that if he had fallen just a little to the right or left, he could have easily been stabbed by the tools in his belt, or something worse.

We were blessed.

 

My husband and I are servants.  We make dinners.  He uses his skills to bless widows.  Our home is always open to those needing some rest.  We especially enjoy taking care of things and people when no one is watching.  When no one is aware.  We are perfectly content to find out later how an anonymous blessing effected someone rather than tie our name to it.

That’s our wheelhouse.

But that day…

That day, God asked me to take help instead of give it.

Can I tell you, it was a little uncomfortable.

He asked me to stop worrying that I may be putting someone out so that they could help our family in our time of need.  He asked me to relax, to be thankful and to let the people in our lives take care of us for a day or two.

He asked me to let our friends and family carry our mat.

The details of that day were taken care of without an utterance of concern from my lips.

My husband’s truck was retrieved and deposited back into our driveway.  I still don’t know who did that.  My children were taken care of by someone else while we waited on test results.  I honestly can’t remember who had them.  Our dinner that night was taken care of before we ever arrived back home.

 

Looking back, it was as if we were literally being carried on all 4 corners.  We were given the freedom to focus on what was most important that day.  My husband’s well-being.

 

I’ll never forget how loved we felt.

 

Most women I know are mat carriers.  They jump in and do the work.  They bring the meals.  Watch the children.  Organize the help.  Prostrate in prayer.  Fill the gap.

 

Have you ever been asked to lay down?  Have you ever been put on a mat involuntarily?

You keep trying to get back up but the Lord has someone place their hand on your proverbial forehead and tell you to lie still?

 

Sometimes it’s necessary.

 

Not only for you and me to lie still, but there is a blessing in store for those carrying your mat.

 

We have to be careful not to steal that from others.

 

There is a time to serve and a time to be served.

 

Let’s try to do a better job at recognizing where the Lord would have us.  If He says to pick up someone else’s mat, let’s pick it up.  If He says to lie down, let’s lie down.

 

*Do you carry your friends when they need help?

*Have you ever struggled with being carried?

 

Praying for you,

Kellie

 

I’m participating in #livefreethursday today.  Link in side bar if you’d like to check it out!

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Marked…On Purpose, For Purpose

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“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

Acts 17:  26-27

 

The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts that beginning with one man, God marked our appointed times in history and our boundaries.  He knew from the beginning when you and I would appear and how far He would allow us to go.

 

He providentially marked it out.

 

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time and it was just magic?  I have!

As the Summer of ’88 was winding down I got a call from a friend.

“I’ve got a date tonight.  We were fixing up my date’s best friend with another girl and that girl just bailed on us, can you be ready in 15 minutes?  He’s super cute!!”

I threw my hair up in a pony tail, brushed on a little mascara and ran out the door.  That night was unforgettable…sighhhhhh.

28 years later, the young man I met that night has been my husband for 26 years, father of my 2 children, my dreaming partner and biggest cheerleader.

There are other stories to share, but that one is my favorite.

 

Everything that comes into our lives ultimately has one purpose…to shift our gaze towards Him, to move closer to our creator and bring as many with us as will come.

That one night has resulted in a million “thank you’s” in gratitude and two children who have been brought up to love Jesus.

 

These moments, these seasons we are in, God knew before the beginning of time we would be here.  Nothing catches Him off guard.  Nothing surprises Him.  He is in all and over all.

 

Whatever circumstance you are in today, you’re there on purpose.

 

When we are running around in circles trying to fix everything and make things happen and cause what’s already in motion to stop, we wear ourselves out.

I’ve been there.  I’m there now as a matter of fact (but I’m working on it).

 

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 15:5-6

When we don’t get it, He does.  When we can’t see the big picture, He can.  When we can’t see the point, rest assured, there is one.  When we’re scared to death, He’s already handled it.  When nothing makes sense to us, it all comes together perfectly for Him.

Whatever circumstance you are in today, it has a purpose.

Sometimes those magical moments happen and it’s easy to look back and see God’s hand all over the whole deal.

 

Most often though, we have to walk through something hard before we can look back and answer the “why me?” and “what for?” questions.

 

Sometimes he allows us to walk through something because He knows ahead of time how many other lives will be influenced by our actions.  Sometimes He allows us to walk through something because He knows it will draw us closer to Him.  Sometimes He allows us to walk through something because He knows the eternal effect it may have on someone 50 or even 100 years from now.

It’s not always about us!

Those boundaries were marked out before any of us were born and they apply not only to us, but to those that we love and the unlovable.

Those kids you are worried about…

That family member who is going off the deep end…

That boss that is treating you unfairly…

That teacher that your child was purposely placed into their classroom…

They have boundaries too!

They are here, in our lives, on purpose, for a purpose.

He has set the example of a loving father, setting boundaries up for His children.  If we, or our loved ones, get too close to those lines, He will gently correct us.  He will mercifully turn our shoulders back in the right direction.

He made the map, the boundary lines, the people.  He knew the history before it ever came to pass.

History is HIS-story.

There is freedom in knowing that He drew the lines before the beginning of time.

Let’s take a breath and trust that He knows what He’s doing.

Reflect:

*Have you ever felt like you were in the right place at just the right time?  Thank Him for His graciousness.

*Have you ever felt God nudge you away from someone or something?  Thank Him for His mercy.

Praying for us all to rest in this,

Kellie