A Fresh Experience

I love to cook. Even more, I love it when a recipe turns out perfectly. Truthfully? When anything I do turns out better than I expected it to, I write it down, step by step, and save it. No matter what anyone suggests, I will do it exactly the same, every single time because in my mind, if I don’t deviate, it will always come out perfect.

This morning we sang a couple songs and in both songs the phrase, “Spirit of God fall fresh on us” hit my heart like a gong. The words literally stopped me from singing and I didn’t understand why. So, I started praying and I knew I was hearing from God, but it was different this time. Immediately, I thought about all the times that I had one those “goosebump” moments with God. Those moments have always seemed so perfect to me and this was different. It was a very matter-of-fact conversation between my spirit and the Holy Spirit.  And when I could feel myself getting frustrated that it was one of those perfect moments with Him, I felt Him comfort me saying, “If every moment we had together was the same, it would get boring.” This was a fresh moment I was having with God. But, because I am not perfect, I didn’t get very excited about the fresh moment… I kinda wanted the goosebumps. Then I realized this…

Last night I made an amazing salad full of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, and chicken. It was perfect. On the menu tonight was steak, sweet potatoes, and corn. If I had showed up with the fresh ingredients from last night, it would have been good, but it wouldn’t have made sense for tonight. I needed something different to have an equally amazing experience at dinner. And at the same time, something different, something fresh, in my experience with God today.

 

Clear Lessons from a Muddy Creek

Growing up, we lived near a creek and I would sometimes spend hours playing there. Frequently, I’d come home with dirty socks or wet pant legs and occasionally a scraped knee thanks to the mossy rocks.

I loved to sit by the creek and watch the way it flowed, skipping over the small rocks, small ripples ever moving. From time to time, “stuff” would threaten the flow of the creek. A tree limb after a storm. Trash after a birthday party. A large rock from the middle school boys. The funny thing about the creek is, it didn’t let this stuff stop it from doing it’s job.

Maybe it slowed down, made a decision to go under, around, or even over the stuff. Maybe it spilled over the banks creating a new path for a short time. Sometimes, the strength inside the creek would actually move the stuff out of the way. A few times, I even helped the creek out by removing those obstacles. But no matter what, it never stopped and it never went back.

What’s your stuff today? What’s my stuff today? Do I go over or around it? Do I create a new path? Do I reach inside and find the strength to move it myself or do I let you help me move it? Let’s decide not to stop or retreat. Let’s keep going forward, no matter our stuff.

Restoration

My partner, Marsha, owns a painting and wallpapering company in Tulsa.  For over 20 years she has fielded calls and emails that ask her to “restore” the old to make it new.  Whether it’s just a fresh coat of paint or new drywall, she approaches each request with personal attention to the individual and to the process.  And the restoration process almost always begins with needed repairs to the existing condition.  Sometimes she fixes cracks in the wall, or sands down areas that needed to be painted over.  She can never make anything look new without first fixing the old.  If she did, it would fall apart and, over time, look exactly like it did when she started.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  Many of us have wandered away, did our own thing, and in doing so we might not have done the necessary maintenance on our spiritual lives to keep it in good shape.  The good news is that with one call, God will come in and personalize your restoration based on what you need.  But don’t think for a minute that He’s going to come in and make things like they used to be.  Oh no!  He cares for you much more than that.  He knows that doing so would lead to cracks in the relationship and He doesn’t want that!  Instead, He’ll come in and fix the cracks; sand down the areas that need smoothed; soften your heart, and wrap you in His arms.  Whatever you need before that fresh coat of paint.

And just like Marsha’s clients must be ready for the restoration before contacting her, you will know you’re ready when you cry out to God.  He’s waiting for your call.

Dig Deeper

Recently I have started gardening.  It’s nothing fancy but I have a few herbs and a tomato plant that I tend to every day.  Now, I’ll be honest – I don’t know a lot about gardening.  Aside from water, sun, and soil, I have searched the web and asked questions to find out what I needed to do to grow the best plants.  The herbs started out as seeds and recently I had to transplant them to larger pots as their roots had no more space to expand and growth had stopped.   Common sense told me that if I pulled the plants out of the original container and just laid them on the ground, they would never receive everything they needed to grow bigger and stronger.  I knew immediately that I needed good soil and that I would need to do a little work and dig a little deeper to reach the nutrients the plants needed.

The same holds true for our relationship with God.  Digging deeper into His Word and spending time in fellowship with Him provides us with the nutrients we need to grow bigger and stronger.  And just like my little garden won’t feed me if it’s not growing, I can’t feed others if I don’t remain in the soil of a loving, living relationship with God.

Encourage Each Other

OK – Confession time.  Marsha and I are in love…with award shows!  From the Oscars to the Grammy’s to the Tony’s and all 42 country music award shows in between, we love to watch them all.  It’s so bad, we will even print off the official ballot and choose who we think will win.  She usually makes the right picks.  So it wasn’t surprising that on Sunday night we sat in front of the TV watching the Tony’s.  The music, the costumes, the acceptance speeches were all amazing!  Then I noticed something that I had never really seen before.  When a winner was announced, everyone nominated in the category was generally excited for the winner.  At times, people would leap over aisles to give a handshake or a hug.  There were those who jumped to their feet whistling and clapping for the person taking home the award.  There were nods of encouragement and smiles from ear to ear.  These weren’t people who came to support the winner, this was the competition – the other actors nominated in the same category.  It was enough to cause me to still consider this behavior two days later.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure there was disappointment.  As human beings, no one wants to walk away empty handed; to be considered a loser.  It feels good to win.  We would rather be hoisted up on the shoulders of our teammates rather then being left to sulk on the bench.  But on this night, I didn’t see any sulking.  It was almost like each person in every category would have carried the other on their shoulders to the stage and stood by like a proud mom or dad as the winner gave their acceptance speech.  There was less competition and more comradery as they continually encouraged each other to build each other up; just as instructed (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Remain In Me

When I was a little girl I loved going to Arkansas to visit my mom for the summer.  She lived in the country and it wasn’t unusual to find me fishing, tending the garden, catching fireflies, and feeding the pigs at any point during the day.  I know, the girl who loves her heels, feeding pigs. 🙂  When I’d come home to Oklahoma my friends would always tease me for a few weeks because of my accent.  It only took a couple weeks in Arkansas for me to add a little twang to my “y’alls.”  The longer I remained in Arkansas, the more characteristics I displayed similar to the people by which I was surrounded.

I’ve seen my children change and adapt their behavior – good and bad – according to the friends they remain close to.  I’ve seen my own friends and family members to the same.  When I am around someone who is soft spoken, I speak softly as well.  However, when I am around my friends with boisterous laughter, I laugh a little louder.

Seeing how much we adapt to our surroundings, it makes sense that Jesus would continually remind us in John 15 that “remaining in Him” is the way to go.  In fact, he tells us to remain in Him 4 times in 8 verses.  You think he really wanted us to understand how important it is?  The more time we remain in His Word, the more we begin to think like Him.  The more time we remain in conversation or prayer with Him, the more we begin to talk like Him.  The more time we spend in fellowship or getting to know Him, the more we begin to act like Him.  The more we combine our efforts to become closer to Him, the more we bear the same fruit as Him.

 

Reflection

While on my morning run, I had the honor of observing a spectacular sunrise over the city of Tulsa.  At the same time the sun was coming up over the buildings, I happened to be close to a pond with an equally amazing reflection of the same sunrise taking place in the sky above.  I took note of how the colors of pond changed as the sun rose higher.  The pond became lighter and more colorful, reflecting the same red and orange hues of the sky.  I imagine that the water became a bit warmer in the areas that reflected the light and could even see more bubbles as the fish rose to the surface to take in the warmth.  You see, the pond never actually became the sun, just a mere reflection or image of its majestic beauty.

The same holds true for us and God.  In Genesis 1:27 God spoke and said, “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature.”  So what does this mean for us?  Even before Christ walked the earth, it was in God’s nature to love, show forgiveness, exude peace,  reflect holiness, remain faithful to His word, and to offer goodness and gentleness.  The same characteristics that God has possessed from the beginning of time are the same characteristics that are weaved into the fabric of our being.  And just like the pond never became the sun, we will never become God.  We can, however, reflect an unforgettable image of who God is.

See You At The Fence

I was outside working in the yard when the neighbor’s dog, Max, came out to play.  With one loud bark, my three dogs, Fancy, Riley, and Butch jumped up off the couch and ran to the fence to greet their friend.  I watched as they ran up and down the fence, barking at each other with their tails wagging profusely.  I had to smile as I thought about what the conversation might sound like to them:

Riley:  We’re so happy to see you!  Where have you been?
Max:  I had to wait for my person to come home for lunch.
Butch:  I know we just saw each other this morning but it seems like forever!
Max:  I know!  Did you guys get any treats today?
Fancy:  No!  Our person is busy mowing the lawn.  I’ll bark really loud later and maybe she’ll share her lunch!
Max:  Good luck with that!  I have to go guys!  See you tonight!
Riley:  OK!  We’ll see you later!  Bye!

And with that, they all went their separate ways.

In our lives, there will be friends you see everyday and friends you see once every five years.  While we wait for the next time, we find multiple ways to keep in touch. Phone calls, text messages, cards, email, and social media become the “fence” we run to in order to greet each other.

I don’t know when we will see you next but until then, consider checking out our social media pages.  There you will find encouragement and the opportunity to experience life, love, and family with us!  We’d love to connect with you!

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/housechurchtulsa
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Real Rest

Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle with asking for help. It would almost seem that I enjoy juggling the roles I hold in life while adding the word “Super” before each – spouse, mom, friend, employee. Every day I placed unnecessary pressure on myself to complete every task on every list all by myself when, in fact, no one expects me to. The idea of delegating responsibilities is as foreign to me as the idea of quantum physics. But every once in a while, I am forced into a corner and left with no other option.

Yesterday it was absolutely impossible for me to be in 3 places at one time. I had to stay at work so I called my spouse to make a trip to the grocery store and my friend to pick up my daughter from school. Once they said “yes”, I trusted them to do those things. I was able to focus on my work and I didn’t think about those responsibilities again. My mind was able to rest.

Did you know that God wants us to ask him for help? Like our friends and family, He has never expected us to do anything, much less everything, on our own. He wants us to delegate responsibilities to Him. Our worries, our struggles, our unease, and our unrest. How do we know this? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Freely and Lightly? Get away with me? Real rest? How awesome does that sound!

Here’s the key – once you ask someone to do something, you have to resist the urge to still do it yourself. It would not have made any sense for me to show up at my daughter’s school at the same time as my friend. Talk about confusing! The same goes with God. If you give Him a task to complete, don’t take it back. Let Him do His job and you do yours.