The Storms that Soak

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A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to a major project we’d been planning.  We purchased an old beat up canoe, cleaned it up, and planned to make it a planter.  But, I could never decide what I wanted to put into the canoe.  So it sat. Empty.

Then one day, out of the blue, my husband said “Let’s go finish the canoe project”.  We ran to the local nursery center and I shopped with wild abandon.  Grabbing an assortment of colors, textures, etc.  The beauty of starting with an empty planter is that the project didn’t take long to complete.  There was nothing to clean out, just something to fill.  Holes drilled into the base for drainage, rocks added to assist drainage, soil, mulch, compost.  Then I filled it with a variety of flowers.  My husband asked, “is that enough” and I reassured him the flowers would fill the empty spaces over time.

Then the rains came.

A lot of rain.

Like every single day, all day long rain.

If you step into my yard right now, water rises up around your feet because the ground is so saturated.  So is the canoe.

And yet, despite the dreary rain… all the water… gray skies… interruptions to my plans…

I’ve been able to witness the beauty of what water brought to that canoe project.

The flowers are in full alert, growing, and filling out.  Color jumps out at me, and I smile every time I see it.

However, to get this moment… we needed the rain.

To see the beauty in the rain.  To see the growth in the rain.

Sometimes, we need the rains and the storms.  They nourish us and encourage us to grow.  Maybe we need to stop viewing all the storms (trials, complications, obstacles) as bad things… but instead as a force that will create momentum in our life.

Even the storms that seem to wipe everything away and knock us off our feet, will be followed by new life and new opportunity.

Isaiah 58:11

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

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Reflecting on #Amazing18

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This weekend, I attended the #Amazing18 event at Christ Fellowship, hosted by CF Sisterhood.  The event theme was Flourish.  In addition to an amazing Worship team, ballet performance, and just an overwhelmingly welcoming environment… there were two great speakers that really spoke to my heart.

Just that morning, I was praying on my way to the event.  “Lord, give me a Word at this event.”  I was struggling through something, and I needed God’s guidance because I had no idea what to do next … what decisions to make.  Apparently I needed more than 1 good word, I needed many.

The first speaker, Julie Mullins (of Christ Fellowship) opened up the event and introduced the theme “Flourish” through an illustration of the 2016 Death Valley Super Bloom.

In 2016, Death Valley experienced a Super Bloom. This is the hottest desert in the US. For most years it is barren and desolate. Yet, beneath the dry rocky soil, lay millions of seeds just waiting to bring new life. California experienced a series of incredible weather that year. Driest summer. Coldest winter. Wettest spring. As a result of the volume of water that spring, these seeds sprouted into not just a bloom… but a super bloom.

It was as if this dry, rocky, arid place was covered in a blanket of flowers. Some of which are only found in Death Valley and only when a super bloom happens. According to most, a super bloom may happen only once in a decade. For many seeing it is a once in a lifetime experience.

* The word flourish means to grow vigorously as a result of favorable conditions. We often think that favorable means easy, wonderful, perfect… but in the case of the Super Bloom the favorable conditions were actually a result of a series of difficult seasons.

* There were millions of seeds below the surface. [ My own notation: All of the affirmations that have been spoken to you, all of the words of wisdom, the Scripture you have read, the prayers others pray over you, etc. are all seeds just under your surface. You can’t see them, but they are there… waiting.]

* Isaiah 35:1-2 — The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

Isaiah 35:6-7 — Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

When I arrived home, I knew I wanted to write about this, but I also wanted to understand more about the super bloom.  I dug into some reading and videos on the topic.  After doing so, and unpacking Julie’s words, here is where I’ve landed:

Do you feel like you are in a season of dry, rocky ground? Where you a desperately thirsty and it seems like you can’t find water anywhere. You feel as if you are drying up?

There are some who say that nothing can ever survive in the valley, but in an instant the Valley of Death becomes the Valley of Life.

Why?

1. The seeds that are underground were designed by God to endure the harshest droughts. They have a special coating on them that keeps them from blooming when only short and shallow rains fall.

2. It will take the greatest storms to crack through that coating.

Even though you may feel like you are in the dry valley, the valley of death… inside of you are seeds that are waiting for the RIGHT moment to germinate and come through the surface. But for some of us, it is going to take an extraordinary set of circumstances to cause those seeds to break through. And the result will be a sudden burst of new life, beauty like anything unseen. Some of us need extra storms, extra trials… double the rain…. a series of extreme situations to unlock what is coming.

What seemed like a sudden burst of life to those who witnessed it, took a decade or more of preparation. The result was beyond any expectation.

But, know what you are up against!

When the Super Bloom happened, all of these flowers and plants also brought an influx of other new lives into the valley. Bugs, insects… they began to thrive. The beauty that rose up out of the dry lands created provision for the creatures. It also brought predators, the lizards who eat the insects and the birds who eat the lizards. In the moments of beauty, there will be predators who take advantage of what it brings.

Lord, let the rains fall and fill our dry valleys. Let your living waters seep deep into our bodies and reach those seeds that have been waiting for so long, so that we may flourish and thrive. Give us patience and confidence as we endure the trials knowing we are waiting for our super bloom moment. In your time, not ours. Amen.

Who Me? God has to be kidding…

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The Lord has a very weird sense of humor, when it comes to the ways He chooses to work through my life.  I also find that when I am at church and our Pastor issues some sort of a challenge…

… inevitably I am about to be moved out of my comfort zone.

The interesting thing to me, is that the more I look at what He is doing the more I realize that it is not something He was suddenly doing in my life.  Instead, the Lord was preparing for me it long before I even knew what IT was going to be.

But, I’m jumping ahead of myself.  Let’s start here….

My Pastor began a series called “If I Wasn’t Afraid” (you can watch each of the messages on vimeo from the link above).

In the course of the series, we were challenged to “Be Brave, Don’t Cave”and:

  1. Accomplish a personal adventure.
  2. Have a God honoring and needed conversation.
  3. Take a step (or leap) toward a God honoring commitment.
  4. Make a God honoring contribution.

Those who know me would hardly consider me as someone who is afraid.  For the most part, I’m not.  As you get to know me though you’ll realize there are many things I can do… there are many situations I’m bold in… there really isn’t a conversation that I won’t have.  I’m not afraid to share my opinions, to try new things, and to even have difficult conversations.

I am, however, terrified when it comes to talking about my personal life.  I can share about how I struggle in my walk as a Christian.  I can share my parenting difficulties and whatnot.  Yet, there is a line.  When we get too close to talking about it… I get uncomfortable.  I’ll change the subject.  I’ll make a joke.  I’ll find an excuse to duck out of the room.

This would be the exact subject that God would call me to conquer in the challenge our Pastor issued.  You see, this will be a personal adventure for me.  I’m about to enter a world that I am terrified of… that one area that has been off limits.  It is going to require me to have a God honoring conversation with myself, my husband, and with women just like me.  It is going to take a commitment to see this through to the end, no matter how many times I want to run and hide.  And, it is going to be a contribution that will hopefully help other women.

By now, I am sure you are all waiting with bated breath for the big reveal….

Ya’ll the Lord has called ME of all people to talk about S… E… X…

Sweet cheese and crackers.

So this week, I’m going to be reading the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon).  I can’t lie… this is the only book of the Bible I have avoided.  However if I am going to stand before anyone and claim the authority of the Word of God… that all parts of it are God breathed for instruction and correction… it must include Song of Songs.

All of it… every word… is important.  Whether I ever wanted to admit it or not, God cares about our sex life.  It is no wonder we live in a world of sexual brokenness… when we are afraid to talk about it’s holiness.

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At the beginning of this post I shared that I realized the Lord had been preparing me for this long before my Pastor issued the challenge.  Did you know that the Lord does this quite often.  In the book of Nehemiah, there was a lot of preparation going on between the time the Lord burdened Nehemiah’s heart and when the Lord actually said “GO”…

For me, this process started two years ago when a book called “Pulling Back the Shades” came across my lap.  It was a simple book review, that would have profound impact on me.  A book that would cast off some scales and force me to take a hard strong look at my own past and beliefs about sexuality.  That review would lead to me becoming a part of a launch team to promote the book as the 50 Shades movie was about to release.  Thus, establishing a relationship with @AuthenticIntimacy that would lead me to volunteering for a women’s conference, launch teams for two more books (25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Sex, Surprised by the Healer), another live event, and then a leaders training.  It would put me in touch with a network of women who have become amazing friends, and sisters in the battle to take back this ground.

I would find myself sharing with women things I never imaged I would share with another human being.  Then, the Lord pushing me out of my comfort zone, to the point that I would be leading a study on sex in marriage… IN MY CHURCH.  Having candid conversations with women in my church about how important this is (and how broken I am) and quite possibly the most awkward email I have ever sent to a Pastor… IN MY LIFE.  Why?   Because, my Pastor recognizes how important this subject is.  For our church.  For our community.

I am afraid, terrified of this subject.  I know that in short order this last hidden part of myself is about to become absolutely transparent to the women who attend the study.  The Lord has a lot to say about being afraid too.

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Isaiah 41:10

It is ok that I am afraid, that I am scared, that I am even terrified.  This means that I am going to be leaning and relying on the Lord more than ever.  Please pray for me, and the women who are going to be walking this journey with me.  Lord, bring healing. Redeem the broken.  Heal marriages.  Amen.