Rest in a Tempest

Thank you God for this gift…and for making me rest in the midst of a tempest. Krissy

I’m sitting on a porch on Grand Cay in the Bahamas. It is my first real vacation in almost 3 years, one I’ve been looking forward to for months…and I’m stuck. No diving, fishing, exploring, hiking, boating, sitting on the beach…because God sent a tempest in the form of 30+ m.p.h. winds and wind chills in the 50’s and 60’s. But this is my vacation!!! I’m supposed to be doing all those things I have longed for for so long…and I can’t. And on day 3, just when I feel like I can’t take it any more, I realize that God sent me a vacation in so many ways if I only stop to realize it.

God sends new friends through every experience. The people here, on this small island, tucked 40 miles away from the resorts, casinos, vendors, peddlers, and tourists, are the most genuine people I have ever met. Many of them were born and have been or are being raised here. There are fisherman who make a living pulling lobster pots, one of the world’s most renowned divers, two churches, one school, and about 150 people who stop by to say hi only because they genuinely want me to feel welcome. They struggle in a poor economy and yet smile and laugh more than anyone I know in my “real” life back at home. They have shown me God’s grace.

God tells us to rest, and when we don’t, He makes us rest. I am constantly on the go. I am a senior executive for the state of North Carolina. I have a house, a dog, a fiancee, work 45 hours a week, go to church, visit my family. And then there is laundry, and writing, house projects, walking the dog, planning a wedding…and a never-ending list of things I want to get to…”if only I had the time.” The first night I was here, I was so tired that I slept TWELVE hours. Seriously…I went to bed at 8 and woke up well after it was light. I have read two books, visited with the locals, read old magazines, talked through all the options that make up future decisions. Today, at 2pm, I took a nap. I NEVER nap. Through the nonstop breeze, God has said “rest, my child” and I am doing my best to comply.

God is never small. I came here because I needed a break. Not another seven days of nonstop work. Through constant prayers, and the beauty of a land, He reminds me that He is not small. If we ask in His name He will deliver. Not always as we hope…not always in the way we expect, but if we are faithful He will provide. He provides for these humble people every day of every year…through generations. The lobster keep running…the hurricanes come and go…the wind blows and dies down…and He is ever present and just.

Thank you God for this gift…and for making me rest in the midst of a tempest. Krissy

 

GUEST BLOG: Supple Soulfulness

Soulful suppleness is sooooo much more lovely than our checklist and our accomplishments.

Women just want to be superheroes. We want to be gorgeous and captivating, smart, kind, and capable in all the areas of life we are responsible for. We want to be witty whizzes and have fun doing it. We secretly want to be the best but we say we are our female friends’ biggest supporters.

One of our greatest obstacles to superhero status (other than the fact that no power comes from within us, but from beyond us), is all that “shoulding” we do all over the place. The should-pile is beginning to stink to me.

We love to tell people about our belly rolls and how we should get rid of them. We commiserate about our messy homes like just-breaking-news (when they aren’t really messy and especially when they are) as if “shoulding” will somehow elevate us beyond the voice of the inner critic.

We tend toward legalism by starting new “plans” to overcome areas of chaos in our lives.

But the most important question is not about our do-gooding. It is: are we listening?

A prayerful life-listener know when the tasks come first. She also knows when the beauty of the mountain sunset comes first. She knows she needs to feed on beauty to be healthy. She knows she needs to hear the wind and the crow and the rain. She knows which day to skip the laundry for a cuddle with that precious little one. She knows when, even though she may be devoted to healthy foods, it is a nachos and beer night.

Soulful suppleness is sooooo much more lovely than our checklist and our accomplishments.

Listen, sister. Listen.

The thing that makes you beautiful and perfect comes from the outside, enters your being, and shines back out. Do you want to appear like a list to others – all choppy and hard-lined and striving?

Or like a flowing river over rocks and moss, glistening and tumbling toward the sea?

 

What is your Epiphany in 2015?

My brother-in-law, Bryan Sutton, is an amazing talent. He has shelves with statuettes of Grammys and International Bluegrass Music Awards.  He has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry.  His guitar playing has been called “masterful”, “joyful,” and “glorious.”

This past Sunday, he answered my parent’s plea and provided the special music to their church’s gathering of about thirty congregants.  He sang a song popularized by the Stanley Brothers to highlight the season leading to Epiphany.

Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shine upon us until the glory dawns
Give us the light to light the way
Unto the land of perfect day
Beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

His voice and skillful flatpicking highlighted the gifts, skill, and hardwork that have brought him recognition as an industry leader.  His playing was flawless from my pew.  And that talent sets him apart.

Except, he then did something that captured the moment most fully. He invited all of us to join in with him. And, it was in that moment that the song was made perfect.

Often, we think of an invitation, a call, as going out to those with talent, those with gifts, those with previous training, and perfect pitch. Instead, it is the invitation of the flawed to join in with the flawless. The choir of voices, some strained, many off-key, and several hesitant, provides the beauty of the experience. When he invited in our flawed singing, he captured the heart of the song.

And, that’s what Epiphany is all about. Through Epiphany, more are invited. Through Epiphany, the chosen few are no longer.  The invitation is not about hesitation. It’s not about being good enough, talented enough, nor even hardworking enough.  It’s about being guided to the One who has been given the talents. It’s about joining in on the work of the One who leads without flaw.

All too often, however, we focus not on the leader, but on our own doubts and lacks. As a person who was once asked to only mouth the words in a choir, I understand the temptation to shrink away from the invitation to sing. Maybe you pull away from the calling to speak up with your ideas, or to join in a ministry, or to apply for a new position.

When we do that, and we all do, we’re missing the point of the invitation. In Jesus’ work, as in great music, there is no need for us to be flawless.  He has that covered.  Jesus knows fully the power of us joining in on the journey.  As long as He is leading us, with His perfection, we provide the choir of voices that points to Him as the true talent—and He works through our lack of harmony to change the world.

 

 

Where are you holding back?
Where are you invited to join in,
but you’re timidly mouthing the words?
Where are you refusing to bring a joyful noise?
What might Epiphany be telling you in 2015?

guitar

Em Courses Launching

“When we look at a violent and suffering world. . .Should we lay the blame at the feet of a compassionate God, who has been sending life-enhancing visions to millions of leaders all over the world? Or should we lay the blame at the feet of a large number of gutless, cowardly leaders who aborted the misery-alleviating visions that God could have blessed wildly had there been the leadership courage to give them birth?”

These words, spoken by Bill Hybels during the 2013 Global Leadership Summit, nudged my theology in a profound way.  What if, as Bill questioned, God whispers the answers into each of our ears and the path is provided to end suffering?  What if each of us has a divinely chosen calling, divinely whispered path?  What if it’s provided individually?  What if we ignore the nudge, the whisper, the call?

My thoughts had centered on a belief of God as a coach with infinite possibilities for players.  If one wasn’t getting the job done, He simply substituted in for another. If I wasn’t making it on the first string, I could park myself on the bench and let those with more talent get the job done.  Let the theologians, the brave, the talented, the smarter, the more beautiful, the richer, the more prepared, the less tired, the prayer warriors, those who don’t curse, the folks with highlighted Bibles, the kind women, the better people take care of God’s work.  I’ll cheer them on and tell their stories.

The problem with this fractured theology is that it isn’t Biblical. We aren’t given examples of God going to the Varsity. We’re given examples of ordinary humans given extraordinary plans of God. The flawed are called to work for the flawless.

Within weeks of betraying Jesus, Peter is told that he is the rock upon which the church will be built. What if Peter had tossed that aside? What if his doubts and guilt and pain had prevented his work? Jesus didn’t state that He’d choose someone else.

When Jonah refuses to go to Ninevah, there’s not another prophet in the wings. It was Jonah or no one—and he became fish food to make that point.

Jesus himself became human to fulfill the plan of God. In his Gethsemane words, we know that Jesus asked not to drink from the cup, but knew that He was the one chosen to end suffering. Jesus is our most perfect example of living out the individualized call of God.

When Moses said that he wasn’t the person for the job, God provided help. He didn’t provide an alternative.

Our world is filled with pain and suffering, injustice and threats, poverty and malnutrition, disease and destruction.  Our world is also filled with people who are being whispered to and nudged and prepared. God used Bill Hybels to nudge me out of wrong thinking. Through that nudge, No Ordinary Women came to be. As much as that nudge scares me, it fills me with hope.  I am hopeful because I know that attuning our ears to our callings and learning to live them is the key. I know that God is preparing the way to do that. And, I am super excited that the launch of that work is just around the corner.

Through our Em Courses (EmPowerment and EmPurposement), women will learn to remove the baggage and the junk that is holding them back. We’ll toss aside our fears that we’re not worthy of a call from God. From there, we’ll learn how to discern that call and begin to articulate it. Finally, we will learn how to live out that call. Until we embrace that we are a crucial part of God’s plan, we will continue to be spectators who spend days in numbness, and doubt, and pain. Along with that, our world will miss out on the plan that God has for it.

Over the next days, our Blog will focus on women who are hearing and living the calling.  Read their stories. Pray for their work. Ask God to reveal to you where He wants you working in the world. Where are you being nudged? What has been created specifically for you since the moment that time began? Where are you called?

Then join us on Saturday, January 10th at 10 am to launch together this path as No Ordinary Women.  Our friends at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville are ready to help us set the paths.  We’ll see you there.

 

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Give us this Day

On Sunday, I bowed my head and began to pray as Our Father has taught us.  “On Earth as it is in Heaven,” I prayed with the remainder of the congregation.  “Give us this Day our daily rest,” I said.

After finishing and saying “Amen” I opened my eyes to see both of my teen kids staring at me wide-eyed.  They had me bookended in the pew and were more than happy to point out my gaff.

“Our daily what, Mom?” my daughter asked.  “Did you say Daily Breath?” asked my son.

I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times.  As a former pew sitter in multiple denominations, I can get confused as to whether I am trespassing, sinning, or debting.  But, I’ve never just botched the prayer.

The thing is, that it is in Jesus that I do get my daily rest.  I find rest when I know that I am loved and protected.  I get rest when I remember that I am good enough and know that I am a child of the King.  I get rest when I’m snuggled by my sassy and snarky kids listening to insights on God’s word.  I get rest when I recall our example in Genesis and claim each day as good.  I get rest when I take a sip of hot cocoa while wearing fuzzy slippers. I get rest when I am living the purpose that God has given me.  I get rest when I remember that God has it in his hands.  I get rest when I remember that love wins in the end.

I need my daily bread.  As much as that, I need to set aside the world and gather into Jesus’ arms for my daily rest.

And, all things the same, a slipped up version of THE Prayer isn’t nearly as embarrassing as the time I turned up the Communion chalice and took a giant swig.

So, how about you?  How do you claim your daily rest?

 

 

 

A Journey on the Road Most Taken

A friend once gave me a great postcard.  “Well Behaved Women,” it stated, “Seldom Make History.”  Surrounding the quote was a list of amazing women who had changed the world.  Everything in me wants to be one of those women.  I want to open the world for rights of women, end human trafficking, eliminate poverty, stop war, provide social reform, bring education to girls being denied the right, equalize pay based on gender, basically I wanna change the world.  I want to stir things up and set the world on fire.  I want my name on the postcard.

Instead, I am a middle school teacher, married twenty-years to a teenage sweetheart, living in a small town thirty minutes from where I grew up, and raising two teen kids.  From all angles, I look pretty well-behaved. I’m a traveler on the road most taken for women.  I tithe and welcome people one-Sunday-a-month as a children’s area greeter at church.  I cook a great cornbread and drown under mounds of laundry.

So, how does that make me No Ordinary Women?  On my own, I am not.  There are two things that radically alter my life in the ordinary.

Number One–I am fruitful.  Yep, you read that right.  Not, I am busy nor I work hard nor I am overwhelmed nor I am driven.  I am fruitful.  As a Christ-follower, I know that He is the one that makes my life go beyond ordinary.  I stay grafted to Him and He produces fruit through my faith and work.  My weaknesses are overcome by His strength.

All too often, there’s a thought that we should fit a mold. We women should be quiet and thoughtful.  We should be kind and nurturing.  We should be some female ideal–bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan. All too often, it becomes a delusional story of the 3 Little Bears where we’re all trying to find some JUST RIGHT and keep thinking that we are too much or too little.  In the loving text that God gave us, I read that I was thoughtfully and wonderfully made.  I read that I was knit together by God’s skillful hands.  I know knitters–they love to create and love their creation.

And, that means that I was made with a loud voice and crazy hair and super long toes and really strong thighs by a Loving Father who intended me to be just that way.  My quirky sense of humor, desire to eat peanut butter by the spoonful, love of the beauty of math, and tendency to start five books at the same time were planted within me.  It is only by beginning to understand God’s loving creation of me that I can embrace fruitfulness and dance in the un-ordinary.  It is in allowing God to guide my path, and accepting that I am starring in my own role, that I move beyond the status of up in the morning, falling into bed at night, and then rinse and repeat the next day.

Number Two–I belong to a group of dedicated women partnering together to expand opportunities locally and globally for women.  “Through mentorship, education, and resources,” states our mission, “women will determine and embrace their unique purpose and values.”  I am not alone on this journey.  Instead, I am working with like-minded sisters who also know the world needs their talents and dedication to the call.  Each one of us has been given our instructions.  I partner up with the people who are making the world a better place. That partnership reminds me that love wins in the end.  Margaret Mead famously said that we should, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

So, what is the dream that God has placed in your heart?  What extra-ordinary thing has He planted within you?  What is He planning through your fruitfulness?  Join us.  We can’t promise you’ll be printed on a postcard or a bumper sticker, BUT we can promise that we won’t expect you to be well-behaved.

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