The “M” word

Since the 21st of March, I have been on a journey that is not unfamiliar to me, but not welcomed. That day, I had my usual six month check up with my dermatologist. And, that day, he found a spot on my chest, very near my collarbone, that he didn’t like. So, the soonest I could get another appointment to get it tested was 20 days later. I really didn’t think it was anything to worry about, although it looked different than any other kind of bad spot I’ve had. If you know me at all, you know I’m a pretty chill person. And so, I didn’t worry about it. I couldn’t really do anything about it anyway, so I waited. And prayed.

So, on April 10 it was sent to the lab, and last Friday my doctor called me to give me the results. Now, I knew it probably wasn’t a good sign that HE called. But, I thought when I heard his voice on the other end of the phone, “Maybe he’s just being nice and doing the calling himself.” Well, that wasn’t the case. He told me that the spot was melanoma. The “M” word. A word that I was determined to not ever hear for myself. And, again, if you know me even a little bit, you have heard me preach about wearing sunscreen. (And you hated hearing it from me every time you went out in the sun.) Plus, I witnessed my mom deal with the “M” word too many times. So, I was actually really surprised to hear my doctor say it on the other end of the phone. “Oh, crap” came out of my mouth. (I mean, I could’ve said worse.) He was patient with me, while the news sunk in. And he even wanted to remove it that day, but it was Friday afternoon, so I had to wait. Again.

The good news is, it was not very deep. And we were both incredibly grateful that he found it early.

At 8:15 yesterday morning, my doctor cut and pulled and yanked at my chest and got that foreign spot out of my body. Now, I pray, with a host of so many of my friends, teammates and family, that the pathology will come back proving that he got it all.

These are all the facts, but I haven’t really shared with you the emotion that emerged within me. From the day it was biopsied to today, so many feelings…

I felt scared. Lonely. Angry. Confused. Depressed. Disappointed. Nervous. And, at the same time I felt peaceful. Loved. Cared for. Hopeful.

On Monday, I just happened to read Psalm 44 and the Lord really spoke to me through it.

O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
    and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
    for you loved them.

You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.[b]
Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
    only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow;
    I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long
and constantly praise your name.    NLT  (Italics are mine.)

 Only by YOUR power can we push back our enemies (like sickness and disease).
Only in YOUR name can we trample our foes (like the “M” word).
I do not trust in my bow (or the doctor’s skilled hands);
I do not count on my sword (or his scalpel) to save me.
YOU are the one who gives me victory over my enemy (cancer.)
And so, I give you glory all day long and constantly praise your name.

This is what I stand on today. He defeats my enemy, which just happens to be a deadly, stupid spot on my skin.

What is the enemy that you are fighting today? By His power and His name, may He give us both the victory we are asking for.

 

 

 

 

 

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amazing grace

 

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Last week was the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing. And when I think about her journey from this life into the next, I recognize how long and painful it was for her. She entered hospice (due to a long struggle with COPD) where this disease finally took her nearly two years later. She slowly went from a wild and crazy lady, full of life, laughter and fun, to being weak, exhausted and frail. Although she struggled with her physical body, her mind (and her tongue) stayed sharp. Like always.

But, with her mind so clear, it was hard for her to just lie there, day after day, in her hospital bed, in her bedroom, and think, not being able to go anywhere except in her mind. She thought about good memories throughout her 86 years, but she also thought about the painful ones. The pain she endured, and, the pain she caused.

The ironic beautiful thing about this, is that she met with Jesus there. In her hospital bed, in her bedroom, in her safe place. She confessed. She processed the pain from my dad and others that hurt her. And He listened and forgave her for everything she ever did. And let me tell you, she was no saint. I bear witness of that. But, she met with a God that was full of grace and love and forgiveness. She met with a God that would take her just as she was. And He did. Just in time.

My husband and I got to be by her bedside when she died. It was really a beautiful thing. I am so grateful to have been there with her. She was so afraid to die. She wasn’t afraid of eternal life, and she was excited to see her parents and my brother. No, she was afraid to miss anything here on earth. She loved life and living so much, that she was afraid to miss out on a celebration, or a party, a new country to travel to or meeting a new friend. But, on February 1, she gave up the long fight to stay alive. She entered Jesus’ arms of love gently, carefully, intentionally.

You see, He didn’t have to take her. She did some pretty awful things. Sometimes her words could cut like a knife. But His grace really is amazing. And it’s way bigger than her sin.

This Jeremy Riddle song has really meant a lot to me, when I think of my mom and the grace Jesus showed her.

“This is amazing grace.
This is unfailing love.
That you would take my place.
That you would bear my cross.
You would lay down your life, that I would be set free.
Jesus, I sing for, all that you’ve done for me.”

I know He did it for her. I know He took her to heaven to be with him, because He loves her like crazy and because that’s just who He is and why He came. But, when I sing that last line of the song, I also thank Him for doing that for me too. He gave me a gift, by forgiving my mom and taking her to paradise, because nothing means more to me than that.

Someday we will celebrate in heaven together. But today, what would have been my mom’s 90th birthday, I will celebrate her here.

Because I’m pretty sure there’s a party for her in heaven today. And she probably planned it!

How has this amazing grace touched your life lately? How have you been shown this kind of love? I’d love to hear.

Don’t miss it

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Typically, as a new year approaches, I like to spend some time with God in anticipation of the new year. My husband and I will make some plans for the year, put our travels on the calendar and talk about our priorities and passions. We pray together to get God’s heart for what He has for us in the year ahead, also asking for things on our heart for the same.

I also like to ask him if he wants to say anything to me ahead of time about the new year ahead. Maybe a word or phrase to live by, to be reminded of. If not, that’s ok too. But I just want to hear his voice, and maybe be alerted to or step into something he might have for me.

 

So, I did that this past week. I’ve been pretty sick, so I’ve been sitting around more than normal, but positioned to hear from the Lord in that place for sure. As I took a bath to relax and feel a little better, I started asking the Lord if he had something to say to me about 2018. I didn’t hear a word. I didn’t even hear a directive phrase. But, a prayer came out instead.

 

Because what also informed my time in the tub, (you know you have random places where God meets you too) was the news of a friend of mine’s death on Christmas day. I didn’t stay in touch with him after high school much, except we both went to San Diego State, so we crossed paths there a few times. But I do know that Rick loved Jesus. I saw on FB that he was married and had a son. And it’s just not ok with me that he is already gone. Life is too short. Way too short. He left this earth too soon. So, when I asked the Lord to speak to me, this prayer came out.

 

“Lord, don’t let me miss a thing that you have for me.”

 

I don’t want to miss something that God is up to.

I don’t want to miss an opportunity, a moment, a prayer, an encounter, a friend, a relationship, a leader, a chance to go somewhere, a chance to share you with someone, an opportunity to heal or be healed, a truth, a word, a connection, your voice, a divine appointment, an answered prayer, an event, a celebration or even some fun.

 

I don’t want to let fear keep me from anything that God has for me, or what he has for me to give to or do for someone else.

 

I want all that God has for me in 2018. And, I’m realistic enough and been around long enough to know that it’s not all easy or fun. And I’ve also been around long enough and taken enough risks to know that it’s totally worth it. For me and hopefully for someone else.

But, I just don’t want to miss a thing. And with it being January 1, 2018, and this is on my mind and heart, and knowing that Jesus will answer my prayers, I’m pretty sure I won’t miss a thing. (Unless I’m stubborn, or lazy or not paying attention, which has definitely happened.)

 

How about you?

My encouragement to you is don’t miss anything that God has for you this year. Step into whatever he says, does or invites you into. He is trustworthy, and actually, in control of what happens in the end. But, as one author puts it, “We just don’t know how fast the grains of sand are dropping through the hour glass.” But I do know, it sure seems like they are dropping fast.

 

So, let’s not miss a thing. This new year or any year.

890 Jantail Court

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This past week we sold our house in Redding. It was kind of an emotional week for me.

 

I have learned to grieve through the years. I don’t enjoy it, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but I know it’s necessary. And maybe it seems weird to grieve the loss of an object, but it wasn’t just that. I mean, I loved our house. It was a perfect size for our family and a great neighborhood with awesome neighbors. We even got to write scripture verses as a family on the framing of our house while it was being built. It was definitely built in love. I also loved my kitchen where I had the room to create some new dish (which happened often! Thank goodness my kids were always game!) I learned to garden there and love it. (Even in the Redding heat with red clay soil!) Plus, my pride and joy was the maple tree in the front yard that all of our neighbors loved! Living in a cul-de-sac was amazing for our boys who loved to make ramps and skateboard in the street the with all their buddies.

No, it was grieving ­– actually more the loss of a season of our lives. It was about the zillions of memories that it held. You see, our home was known as a house of peace. A retreat of sorts. It was a retreat for my husband and kids, (that I strived to create), a safe place from the outside craziness of all of our lives. So that when they walked in the door, and closed it behind them, they could be themselves and relax. No judgment. No outside expectations. Just be. And I really felt that this was important as a pastors’ family.

 

890 Jantail Court was a place for our family of five to laugh, cry, create, dream alone and together.

It was a place where many ministries were born as emerging leaders gathered in our living room. They deconstructed the church and then recreated it. They were also allowed to dream big and they did. And then they actually acted on it.

There were many meals and talks over the counter in our kitchen. So many conversations where we celebrated together and some conversations that were difficult. That’s real life.

So many fun memories at our dinner table with our kids every night. They made us laugh so hard, and it was a place where we processed our days. Probably a little too much sarcasm but we tried to keep it in love.

I loved our kids coming in at night into our bedroom where they would run down the hall and fly into our bed, (quite literally) where we talked about the day: the boys’ girlfriend problems or our daughter’s issues with the mean girls. High school was amazing and hard. For all of us.

Some of my favorite memories are of the countless Christmas parties for our staff and leadership where we took all of our furniture out of the living room and then lined it with long tables where we ate and celebrated what God had done that year at Risen King and in our lives. (Except one year I had so many guests that I had to put a table outside on our patio. It was a little cold. But, I did have a heater out there. Just didn’t ever do that again!)

 

So, now, we hand off 890 Jantail Court to a new family. One that we know and love. And they are honoring those memories, the legacy that we are leaving of peace, equipping and loving on young leaders, and raising kids in a house of grace. I am so grateful for the life we had there. Now, it’s time for our friends to take it and go beyond where we went. Pretty sure they will.

And, so we are released to truly land in our new house, already making some special memories in a new season of our lives at 17128 Solomon Drive.

 

 

yes or no?

 

Jeremiah 1:4-10

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell youAnd don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
    destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
    and plant.”

 

I just read this passage this morning and I love it. Our purpose and assurances are all summed up, right here. This is God’s call on my life. On your life. And all you have to do, is say yes or no to it. Simple as that. And if you say yes, this is what you are saying yes to.

  • Go where He sends you.
  • Say what He tells you to say.
  • Don’t be afraid.
  • Remember that He is with you. Everywhere you go. All the time.
  • Remember that He will give you the words to say. Every time you open your mouth when He tells you to.
  • Reassure yourself that He is protecting you. Without exception.

 

Pretty simple. Yet, huge.

 

We are appointed to do kingdom work. And if we say yes, then things will happen. Really happen. Things will be uprooted, torn down, destroyed and overthrown. Because He told you to and you said yes, and did it. And it’s only through His power, nothing of our own. And because of His direction and anointing.

Some things will be built up and planted, things will be in existence because you said yes. That’s a pretty big deal. And because He gives us everything we need, we don’t need to be afraid of anyone or anything. I know it may seem impossible, or at least not that easy. And maybe you think it’s for someone else, and not you. You might think you are too young, or too old, or not gifted enough or don’t know enough. That’s a lie. And it says here in this passage, we will have everything we need for this.

 

The thing is, if you say yes, lives will be different. And I’m guessing your life is different because someone said yes.

 

So, please say yes. Today. Don’t waste any time. There’s a lot to be done. And not a lot of time to do it.

Time keeps moving….

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I recently had a birthday. Not a big deal, except for the fact that I am realizing that I am getting older. Duh. I mean, it’s about time I figured that out. But, I am at the age now that I always viewed my parents and in-laws. Only they are in their 80’s now or deceased. Yikes. So, it’s probably good I face the inevitable. I’m getting older. Which is actually a good thing, because the alternative is not good.

 

The other reason that I have been thinking about the passage of time is that my daughter just gave birth to my 5th grandchild. Pretty awesome. Ezra James is pretty perfect. No, really he is. And, it makes me think. As I am aging, and now in the matriarchal position in my family, new life keeps coming. Time keeps moving. New life starts to replace old life. Which is how God designed it. (Sort of.)

 

I read Genesis 1:26-2:9 today, and meditated on God’s creation of humanity.

When He created human beings, He called it “very good” as opposed to “good” when He created the rest. Plus, He created us in HIS image. That’s something to mediate on right there. He loves His creation. He is so proud of what He made. And we are His favorite. He created me at a particular time and place and chose me to be in this family.

 

And He created you with the same thing in mind. He put you in this world when He looked over the span of all time, for this time. And He put you with the family you are in and even where you live. He is sovereign. He is timeless. And He also has your days numbered. He knew when we were going to be born. And He knows when we will move from this life into the next. He’s got it all planned out. I’m just glad I don’t know when that is.

 

Because today, I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to walk in all that God has for me, even if I have a few more wrinkles and a few more ailments. I want Him to use me in the lives of others, to make them better. I want to enjoy my kids and my grandkids and take advantage of the time I have with them, helping them be all that God has called them to be. I want to keep taking risks. I want to make these years count for the Kingdom. And I want to drink good wine. (He made that too, remember?)

 

You should too. Take time to meditate on how much God loves His creation: YOU. Meditate on how He has planned out your life, every bit of it. And He wants you to do and be, all that He had in mind when He created you the day you were born.

 

This is the thing, it’s never too late. Even if time keeps moving. Because it does.

 

Spiritual Authority

 

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On “the boat” on beautiful Lake Powell 

It just seemed like the smart thing to do. So, without hesitation, I went up to Sam Metcalf, the president of CRM (and someone that I love and trust) and asked him if he would be open to praying for me. We happened to be at the same place at the same time, and I thought, “Why not take advantage of the moment?” So, I did. He got a few others to join him and together they prayed for me.

 

I had been struggling with an issue with my voice. Not exactly sure what it is, but it is really frustrating. I can’t project very well. It’s ok for a short time, but when I need to get louder or if I’ve been talking for a while, it is like trying to push air through a thin tube, that just keeps getting thinner and thinner. I have had all kinds of prayer many times through the year that I’ve been struggling with it and I have seen some breakthrough, but not complete healing. I really want to be healed. I mean, it’s my job to talk. So, I kinda need my voice to be at full capacity.

 

Here is another reason that I asked Sam, specifically, to pray for me. I have wondered if my struggle with my voice is an attack from the enemy. Because I had many prophetic words that I have a voice and it needs to be heard. Interesting that my physical voice is the very thing that needs healing. So, curses have been broken and lies have been renounced. But, still no healing. And here is where Sam comes in to the picture.

I have been a part of a denomination for over 30 years that limits women. I love the people that I have known and worked with but they are wrong. Actually wrong, by not allowing women to take their place of God-given leadership and be who God made them to be. It makes me sad. And it’s affected me. I have felt like there was this ceiling over me, keeping me from the full potential of who I am as a woman of influence. Sure, in the local church I could do whatever I wanted, since my husband was the senior pastor. And he believed in me. And my church loved me and loved hearing from me. But, as far as going any further, there was that ceiling. So, I was content. I was good. But, stifled.

After joining CRM, a mission agency that not only accepts women but encourages us to do whatever God is calling us to do, and celebrates that, well, it has been freeing to say the least. And, I can be smart sometimes. I put 2 and 2 together and thought, “Maybe Sam could lift that ceiling off of me, as the leader of CRM and authority over me, and set me free. And maybe even healing could come to my voice!” So, I asked him to pray and just give God an opportunity to do something in me.

 

As they gathered to lay hands on me to pray that afternoon, I sensed the presence of God powerfully. There were many things prayed that were significant to me, including physical healing for my voice. I have not received the healing that I am looking for, but something else really important happened to me that day. It’s been 8 months since that warm day on Lake Powell, but I have had a hard time putting in to words until now, what I think happened.

 

The spiritual authority that Sam carries was imparted to me that day. He removed the ceiling. He called me forth. And he released me to be all that God has created me to be, for this moment in time and for the future I face. He invited me to “soar” as he put it. He cancelled any assignments (and there were some, I know) that the enemy had for me and anointed my voice with the power of the Holy Spirit for the task give to me with CRM and beyond. He honored me. He released me. He gave me spiritual authority.

 

Today, I am a different person. I still struggle with my physical voice. And I will continue to seek healing. And I also know that if I am not healed, I might be like the apostle Paul, still serving with a “thorn in my flesh.” But, one thing I know right now. My spiritual voice is something very different. I walk in greater authority. I am confident in the place at the table that God has given to me. I am certain God is going to use me. I am free to be me. To be the woman God has always wanted me to be. Part of that is because I am embraced to be that woman, by the leadership and authority over me. But, more importantly, because of Jesus.

 

I believe we must recognize the authority that God has given to us. In whatever our realm. And give it away, so others can walk in it as well. And thus, make an impact on the world, or at the very least, your world.

 

Matthew 8:5-13

Mark 6:7,12,13