Thursday, January 28, 2016

Holland Tunnel!

DH and I got to attend a worship conference together this week. It was so nice to get away for the day with just him and to worship and be refreshed together. There were some amazing speakers and insights--I laughed with Mark Hall from Casting Crowns,
 I cried with Steven Curtis Chapman as he shared his heart,
and I chewed on the insights from Montel Jordan.
 But before I even entered the room the conference was being held in, the Lord had an interesting encounter for me...

I was standing in a hallway type area waiting for DH as he took something to our car. As I was standing there, a lady walked up to me, no introduction.

"Where's the restroom?"

I glanced down at my lanyard,
 wondering at first if she thought I was a volunteer, but then realizing every person attending the conference was obviously wearing the same thing. Thinking maybe I had heard her wrong or just wasn't understanding if she was actually talking to me, I looked up at her and replied, "Ummm...I'm sorry?"

(Lady) "Where's the restroom?"

(me) "Oh...ummmm...I don't know."

(Lady, laughing) "Well you better find out!"

I was so caught off guard at first, but then I realized my obvious "great with child" stature. I replied, "You're probably right!"

(Lady) "I figured if anyone would know where the restroom is, it would be you!"

I nodded, looked around, spotted the restroom, and pointed her in the right direction.

As she walked away, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as I immediately recalled a Brian Regan bit that my family has quoted multiple times. (It was a total "Holland Tunnel!" experience!) I re-told the story to DH, we laughed, and then we headed into the conference to find a place to sit...

In that first session, the speaker talked about how there is a difference between "leading" and "directing." He said, "If you arent in the presence of God, then you're only able to direct people to God, rather than LEAD them to Him." He challenged us, asking if we were giving the right impression of how to get to God. I couldn't help but think of the lady I had just recently encountered. I had given her the impression of being someone who would know the answer to her question, but I was honestly just as lost on the matter as she was! I then found myself thinking, "If I am giving the impression to the world that I'm a Christian, I sure better know how to lead them to Christ!"

You see, so often we wear the shirt, we quote the popular Scripture passage, or we share the "right" articles on our facebook wall, giving others the impression that we are followers of Christ. It's easy to just point someone in a general direction, but if someone were to start following me around, where exactly would I lead them to? Would I lead them to that flustered place I often find myself in when it seems none of my children are listening to me? Would I lead them to the chair I often plop down into when the exhaustion of trying to do it all hits me? Or would I lead them to the foot of the cross?  I think we often think the foot of the cross is found at the place where we have our quiet time, or at the alter at church, but I was reminded this week that the foot of the cross is anywhere. You see, we don't have to invite God to join us each day--He's already there! As Montel Jordan spoke, "We are called to RECOGNIZE God's presence!"

So where can I find Jesus? I find Him at the kitchen sink when I'm doing dishes...I find Him at the dinner table when I'm eating with my family...
I find Him in the living room when my kids are playing...I can even find Him at the bathroom of a worship conference! I can find Jesus anywhere, but the question is, am I acknowledging His presence in every aspect of my day? Because when I do that is when others will be able to find Him, too.

As someone who leads worship alongside my husband, I truly do pray that I can be a part of leading God's people to His throne, but I realize that doesn't just happen at our church--it has got to happen at my home, too! So my desire is that my children will see me acknowledging the presence of Jesus in our home, and that they'll desire to follow me to His feet. Because when I'm acknowledging Him in all of those mundane, every day tasks, it's a lot easier to show patience and love and joy and grace to my kids, because I have the very essence of those qualities right there with me. Jesus isn't far away--He's always waiting to meet with us. The question is, will we acknowledge His presence? Let's not just direct others to where He's at--let's lead them...even if that means to a bathroom stall! ;-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Tap Light in the Fridge...

I remember the first home DH and I lived in. It was about five steps away from the church doors on a busy college street that liked to party on the weekends. (I still remember people at school telling me that they would warn each other not to touch our house when they were all partying, because DH was a minister! ;-) It was a very cute house on the outside--it looked like an old barn--and it was certainly a nice size for just the two of us. But it definitely needed some repairs! The house was actually deemed un-insurable, and we would often spend around $600 or more each month trying to heat it in the winter because it was so drafty. (I still remember burning my feet multiple times standing on top of the vent grates trying to warm up.) I'm not complaining at all-we were thankful to have a house near the university and church! But it had lots of little quirks that I often think about now. I remember when we moved in, the church ladies had worked so hard to try and make it homey for us. We have carried one of those decorations to every house we've lived in since,
 and I always feel like it makes our new dwelling place a home to settle in at. We endured lots of cold temps in that house, a roof caving in (for six months!), a smashed in front door repaired with duct tape...just to name a few.

We also got to see a beautiful deck built on the front though, and we welcomed many students into our home for B.Y.O.M. (bring your own meat) Survivor watching parties, girls nights in, youth gatherings to play video games, etc. I am thankful for that first home we got to live life in and for the many ways God has taught me through the stories that unfolded within.
Perhaps one of my favorite memories is when we first moved in. There was possibly the ugliest and oldest fridge sitting in the kitchen that I had ever laid eyes on. It was an interesting shade of brown, and even a short person could tower over the top of it. Its main flaw was not its appearance on the outside though, but the inside. When you open a refrigerator, you typically see a light pop on automatically, but with this one, there was no light. Some sweet ladies in the church wanted to fix it though, so they placed a tap light in it so we could have some light in there. I never had the heart to tell them that within hours, that tap light quickly gave up the fight. The temps and the condensation quickly got the better of it, and it wasn't usable anymore. 

So what's the point of all of that? Well, I found my heart very heavy for my kids today. We received some news that I knew would be very disappointing for Lucy, so we tried to explain it to her as best we could, why we could no longer support something that she really enjoyed, because it was promoting values and things that don't please Jesus. It truly is getting increasingly harder to learn how to be in the world but not of it. I found myself asking, "So, what is the answer?" It came very quickly and clearly to me though:


I want my children to want Jesus more than anything or anyone else in this world--more than a friend, more than a job, more than a placement, more than a comfort or a luxury...I want them to want Him! So how do they do that? And that's when the Lord reminded me of my role as their momma--the greatest role I've ever been given. It is my job to guide them every single day to the foot of the cross. It is my job to show them the example of someone so in love with Jesus that it guides their little hearts to want to do the same.
Do I want Jesus more than a full time job with security for my husband? Do I want Jesus more than any friendship to fill a void of loneliness in my life? Do I pursue Him more than any other dream that I have, trusting His ways are so much better than I could ask or imagine? Am I willing to make tough decisions to ensure no one takes His place in my life? 

The Lord directed me to the following passage in 1 John 1:15-17...

And I was reminded of the verse I have prayed over Lucy throughout her life... 

You see, it's easy to say we want to be a light for this world, but when the "elements" come into play, just like that tap light in the cold fridge, we often burn out. Oh, how I pray I won't do that, and oh how I pray that my children will desire to stay on fire for the Lord! May my desire for Jesus shine so brightly that it leads others to desire the light within me--the light of the world, and not the tap light in the fridge...