Sunday, October 30, 2011

I have a friend who is two. Her name is Lily. She happens to be in love with my husband, Shaun. He happens to love her too.

I noticed something about Lily. I notice it in most little children...

They are rarely stressed out.

For instance, Lily and her parents are going to South Africa for a few months to reach out to orphans and others in need. They will need to figure out housing, food, ministry partners, and all sorts of other details about the trip. But here we are, 2 months from their departure date, and Lily has not once freaked out about what she will be eating in Africa. I have yet to see her cry about what she will wear once she arrives there. Its interesting. She just trusts that her parents, Robert and Jenny, will do their job to provide for her every need, because they are parents, and that is their job.

I am different though. When my parent, God, (He calls Himself my Father), tells me I am going somewhere, then my tendency is to freak out and go crazy with questions like, "How will this work?", "Where will the money come from?", "What about food?"... Yet Jesus, when He walked on the earth, told me to be like a little child, and trust that I will be taken care of.

So I think my encouragement for today is that we all think a little less like grownups, and learn something from Lily. Trust our Dad in heaven to care for our every need, because its His job and He says He will do it.

Matthew 18:3

The Message (MSG)
 2-5For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.

Matthew 6:31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Monday, October 10, 2011

While Shaun and I were sitting on the bench with our soup he said something worth documenting. We somehow ended up on the topic of death, and how the reality that life ends helps us to live meaningful lives. He started to tell me about his funeral... I will try to type it like he said it,

"I think about my funeral pretty often. It helps me to know how to live my life. Because I think about the types of people that I hope will show up at my funeral. When I imagine it.. I hope that homeless people show up.. and drug addicts.. and alcoholics.. and skate park kids... and people who were in jail, like Duffy.. and broken.. hurting people. I want those people to come because I want to have made a difference in their lives. I want them to be able to feel it when I go to heaven, because somehow my existence made their time here better. I also want my friends and family to show up, but thats a given. Knowing all this helps me to live the right way. If I want homeless people at my funeral then I need to be developing friendships with them now, and writing to Duffy in prison, and pouring into the skaters, and helping the guys at the park get off drugs..."

Shaun wants his funeral to point to the fact that he lived a meaningful life, that he constantly shared the love of Christ with people who desperately needed it. Most especially people who are easily overlooked. Shaun is a rare kind of man, his love for God is evident in everything he does. He is an evangelist without a doubt. He views every interaction with every person as an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus through both words, and loving actions.

Last night Brian Sumner said something that I thinks sums up the way Shaun lives,
"Don't pray for a "divine appointment" to share the good news of Christ with someone. Take advantage of the fact that your entire life is a "divine appointment". Once you leave this earth you won't be able to share with anybody else about Christ, so make the most of every opportunity."

Let's make a point to live meaningful lives. Let's go beyond just loving our families, and our close friends. Let's get uncomfortable. Let's love those that are desperate for love. For Shaun its the homeless, the drug addicts, and the skaters. For Mrs. Wetherby its the students of Rampart High School that stroll into her office late for class everyday, so caught up in life's issues that they've forgotten to care about others. For Shane, Christina, and Leah its the high fashion models that are dying to be successful, and losing themselves in the process. For Conrad and Bonnie its the young people that come through YWAM LA every year, giving Christianity one last chance before they walk away for good. For Nova it is the artists, the entertainers, the famous.. the ones that have gained the world at the cost of losing their souls. For Hayley it is the people of Afghanistan, for JP, Daniel and Kimberly it is the skaters of China, for Bobby its the Thai. Who is it for you? Who will you go out of your way to love? There are people in your life that are longing to be loved, people that may not otherwise be reached if you don't do something.

So be bold sweet one, being afraid and remaining comfortable isn't worth it. If people were never bold with me, I would not be here. Neither would Meredith. Don't allow fear of what others might think hinder you from being a light. Just shine. In whatever way that looks for you. You are going to be great at it. You were made to love. If you end up reaching out to someone and it goes badly, don't even worry about it. We call those "fail stories"... everyone needs a few.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm still sweaty and not as fragrant as I could be, but dance class just ended a few minutes ago and I am too excited to shower. 

Okay. I will tell you a secret. Before today only Jesus and I ever talked about this. But you can be part of it now too. So...I was thinking about quitting dance. Not abruptly, just slowly, discreetly... and spiritually haha. It would look something like this...

I would stop taking as many classes as I once did. I would change my focus to the other "gifts God gave me". I would eventually change my role at YWAM so that I no longer incorporated dance into what I do. Then I would be so engrossed in my "other passions" that dancing would simply become a memory. It would be good though, I would talk about "God's heart for me to focus on the other things that I am better at". Maybe I would say it was writing, or speaking, or hanging with models, or being a wife. Who knows. It doesn't matter though, because the main point is that I would phase dance out of my life, claiming it was God's best for me. 

Today I had an awesome realization of how ridiculous I am. See, my desire to quit dance had nothing to do with God. It was all me. It was an idea that birthed out of months and years of quietly comparing myself to people I love. I have watched my close friends pursue dance and thrive at it. I know so many beautiful people that are extraordinary dancers, like professionals that are sought after and doing incredibly well in it. I would watch their videos, or go to their shows, and be in awe as I adored their gift. They are breathtaking. 

But then I would get back to my home, go to my classes, or perform in my shows, and I'd wrestle with feeling inadequate... even sometimes embarrassed. Though I could see positive things coming from my dance, like hearts being touched, and lives being impacted. I still had the images of my friends and their abilities playing in the back of my mind, and all I could hear was that I was making a fool of myself.

So then last night actually I was trying to be "mature in my thinking", and I figured that pursuing dance was an unwise decision for me. I am not the best at it. Perhaps spending time doing it is actually a waste and I would be better off doing something else.

But just now I went to dance class. (Actually dance class came to me- we have classes on the YWAM LA campus on Saturdays now... so its basically at my house.) About 25 people came and the instructor is a professional dancer who loves God and is passionate about using her craft to bring Him glory. So she was not shy to talk about Him during class. At one point she basically read my mind.. 

She said (to all of us, but it spoke to me), "You are looking at the people around you and trying to measure up to their ability. But God's not doing that. He has given you a certain ability and He wants to know if you will be faithful with what He has given you. Don't look at the others in the room, or compare yourself to the professionals on TV. Use the gift God has given you to its fullness, that is what God wants for you." 

That was it for me. I have been so caught up in comparison that I was willing to forfeit the gift God gave me, even though He has been using it to encourage hearts and change lives. God is not comparing me to my close friends, He is simply asking that I be faithful with the gift He has given me. He can even expand the gift if I will be faithful with the little I have! 

So now I am just excited. Ready to live this out. I am ready to stop comparing. I am also ready to be faithful with what He has given me. I will dance when I can, and do my best, no matter what it looks like. I will also be more excited to see me friends dance, because it all points to God being awesome and beautiful in His creation. This applies to other things as well, not just dance. Today I will try to figure out other areas of life that I can be more faithful.

What have you been given? Are you being faithful with it? Perhaps it is  a gift of dance as well? Or a sport? Or an intelligent brain, a unique creativity, or a compassionate heart? The gift of encouragement or hospitality? We have all bee given gifts that are meant to be used to the glory of God. 

Look at your life. Where are you living? Who are the people you interact with daily? Both in person but also through facebook, blog, texting, or phonecalls. How can you be faithful with what you have been given today? I will do it too. Let's try to find ways to use the gifts we have been given to make the lives of others better, and to glorify God in our faithfulness. 

Oh and don't bother comparing yourself. Its all lies anyway. You are enough. Just be the very best you that you can be and may God bless you extravagantly today! 

 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones." Luke 16:10 (NLT)

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16(NIV)

I was looking for some great videos to share of my friends tearing it up on the dance floor. I couldn't find any recent ones on youtube of Kala Bruce, Melissa Danley, Bethany Spengler, Ashton Grant, or Bethany Gunn.. But I put up some older favorites of Hillary and Kala. I also liked this older one of Audrey! Basically I am just posting these to share my love for these people and the fact that I deeply believe in them. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You are quite lovely. Strong. Wiser than you know. It is going to be okay. All of it. I know it is difficult not to worry. But try. Perhaps today instead of worrying.. just pray. I know things look scary, and you often wonder if you are good enough... but just breathe. You are exactly enough. Your dreams are wonderful. You can even dream bigger if you would like. Also, be more gentle in the way you think about yourself. You are harsh and it is not necessary. Be more kind toward yourself. You are kind towards others. You are more valuable than you realize. You have been doing a great job. When you look in the mirror today, find something to enjoy. Less criticism, more grace. Remember to believe in yourself, the world has plenty of terrible things to say about you, you don't need to add to it. Your life is short. Your time on this planet will be over before you know it. Try to spend less time impressing people that you don't like, less time pursuing things you don't need, less time chasing things that won't satisfy. Be a blessing. Love extravagantly today. Buy someone a treat. Write a love note. Pick up rubbish that isn't yours. Smile. Live a life of meaning. A passionate life. You are so adored. If you weren't here, we would be missing out. You are not simply a life in motion, you are a gift. Each breath that you breathe is evidence that your loving Creator delights in your presence. We delight in your presence too. Be present. Don't worry about the future, or dwell on the past. Be present. Here right now. 
We love your presence. 
You are adorable.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Britt Nicole- The Lost Get Found

"Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
Matthew 5:3-10 NLT