Pearls of 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 4.51.00 PMHello Sweet Friends,

It is New Year's Eve, and many of us are pondering the year behind. Some trying desperately to forget some of it,  while others celebrating a year of blessings perhaps? A day many begin with hope believing 2014 will be better or different or the year of breakthrough. Truly a day to reflect for many of us. So of course, I have been:)

I teach from experience. How can one teach He brings beauty from ashes while holding ashes? How can one teach no weapon formed against you shall prosper when you feel completely conquered? How can you teach those who have forgiven much love much if you have never handed over your past in exchange for such love to know it?

  With this being said, I wanted to share what I learned this year. Not simply truth in His Word, but truth of His word manifested in life. I would call this my PEARLS OF 2013!

If you want the quick version, you can read the list. If you prefer my reasoning, read on:)

1.) When God calls you to "Release and Trust" do it! 2.) You Can Bloom Where You Are Planted! 3.) Confession Vertically Brings Forgiveness; Forgiveness Horizontally Brings Healing 4.) Pain Has New Purpose 5.) The Prodigal Son is More About A Prodigal God- Needed Lesson! 6.)We Are Most Often How Jesus Shows Up 7.) He never called me to judge; He called me to love and love wins! 8.) Sometimes it is in Storms that we see His face best 9.) Too many people have been hurt by the church. 10.) The most Jesus like people in our world or those we may never know.

First, When God calls you to “Release and Trust,” do it! If you have heard me speak, you know that I often call women to an altar to lay down their pearls and this year He asked me to lay down mine. And though I will admit that I clung tightly at times, I did, and I learned the true gift of obedience.  I would come to know the words of 1 John that speak His love is made complete as we love and obey. It is true. He rewards obedience not always with what we can touch but with what we feel. Though He did both for me this year, I learned that nothing materially compares to what He is doing with us internally. His love made complete!

You CAN bloom where you are planted. I have used this saying probably too often, but for this year I have seen the truth of it more than ever as I watched a middle school catch the spirit of revival. As much as I love to travel and share my heart with women, I wasn’t prepared for how seeing the desire for Jesus on the face of our local teens would touch and change me. There may be no greater calling than a teacher who touches the lives of our future, and we need to honor teachers more.  I believe we need to  be rewired that ministry only happens in a church, because truth be told the one we are to follow did most all of His ministry in places where life the streets, fishing, weddings, drinking water, so why don't we?

Confession vertically brings forgiveness; confession horizontally brings healing. Confess one to another so that you may be healed. Though I knew this scripture by heart, I would come to understand it more fully in 2013 as I have walked it with someone that I love. Too many of us battle darkness hidden, but something happens when we can become vulnerable and expose it to another, and I believe this was the intent of this verse...healing happens when we confess it to a brother. When we can bring the very thing that entangles us to light, it loses it's grip. I have seen it! Thank you Jesus you can set us free!

Pain Has New Purpose. "Pain has purpose" is a song I have sung for years seeing it so clearly in my own journey, but this year I found a new verse to this tune, so to speak. I could say that in my life I have seen that pain has had purpose to moving me closer to my destiny, but I see new pain today. Think about this...when something is wrong it usually hurts so that you know to go to the doctor to get relief, right? I think this year has been a year of seeing some pain, but pain that revealed that something isn’t right here, so that it too can be handed over to the light. For example, why is something offending me so? The offense hurts! When we look to the root, we may find that pain of offense is His way of getting the "goop" out of us. We too often avoid pain instead of seeing the value of it, and truly we should surrender to it instead of allowing ourselves to become numb to things that eat away at our very souls.

The Prodigal Son is more about a Prodigal God. I was wrecked by Timonthy Keller’s Prodigal God. I would come to see new light in a story I had believed my life was simply about forgiving a wayward son. I admittedly even struggled with how a father could reward so greatly the son who squandered all of his wealth so foolishly, and I even took sides with the righteous brother. However, realizing in further studying this text that the only one that missed the feast with the father was the “righteous” one. Hmmmm…..How many in effort to do things right, have still missed the blessed presence of dining with the King?

We are most often how Jesus shows up. I saw a Christmas play at a little small town church in Mississippi the Sunday before Christmas of the Christmas guest. You may have seen it too? A man is promised to be visited by God on Christmas, but rather finds a beggar, and lost children and a tired and hungry woman. He wonders where God is, and then he is informed that God was in the faces of all of his Christmas guests. Though I had seen it before, it stirred me anew. A year of God showing up not as expected, but showing up no doubt. And realizing that if we are obedient, God will use us to show up in the lives of others, and desperately needs us to.

He never called me to judge; He called me to love, and love wins. I have lived most of my life with a “keep out” mentality. If you don’t look like me or act like me or believe like me, then I should keep a distance. Heaven forbid someone thinks I associate with sinners, right? But then that doesn’t quite fit the model of Jesus does it? Wasn’t Jesus called the friend of sinners? Didn’t He seek out the marginalized rather than put them out? If I seek to be more like Him, then I must do as He instructed to love Him and love others, and this year I have seen more people that were hurt by the church seek Jesus because I chose to love them rather than judge them.

Sometimes we see God best in the storm. It has been the times of greatest need that I felt Him most, and I have truly celebrated this year every struggle of my past seeing fully now that because of the trials,  I know intimately the Provider and Healer and Prince of Peace and Comforter and Lover that His Word proclaims. I dare to say at times I even felt the wings of His angel about me.

Too many people have been hurt by the church. When there are more growing churches of people that have been hurt by the church than traditional churches, something is wrong! I dare say something is wrong!

The most Jesus like people in our world or those you will never see. I close this year out seeing the face of Jesus in the most unexpected places. While I traveled this country this year speaking to women, and believing that I was living fully a calling to serve, I spent the last two weeks working with Hospice Compassus in McComb, Mississippi. I visited and prayed with those dying with nurses and social workers and chaplains. I watched the most precious women bath and love on and care for the dying in a way that I have never seen nor even know if I am even capable. I watch their words and their touch and see their hearts, and I see Jesus like never before. Again, God allows me to see that ministry is doing every day duties in extraordinary ways. And I thank Him for this opportunity to be a witness of the amazing men and women in our little community that serve Him though no one else may see.

I pray that the year behind made you one step closer to the woman He called you to be, and I know that He can use anything and everything for His glory and I am believing with you that He will!

If you have a story from this year of how God has showed up for you in the most unexpected way or a lesson that you have learned, I encourage you to share it with us.

Blessings to All,