Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 317: How to tell if it's God or just you being crazy

I know that God is really in something when He names it for me.

Let me debunk, unpack, and Eugene Peterson-ize this statement for you: Sometimes it's hard to figure out whether I just had some crazy idea or whether it was a thought from God. But lately [cue angels singing] it has become increasing more clear when something is God's idea and when it's my idea.

When it's my idea: Kinda chaotic, seems cool, involves a youtube video or spray paint, no nam

When it's God's idea: He names it.

I know from all those years of felt-board-Jesus Sunday school classes that names are pretty important to God. He renames people [i.e. Sarai to Sarah, Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter], places, and celebrities [Shawn Carter to Jay-Z, Thomas Mapother to Tom Cruise, Margaret Hyra to Meg Ryan ]. Just a
warning: I am not 100% accurate the Lord had anything to do with those last few examples.

What I am sure of, however, is that (1) God thinks names are important and (2) when He changes someone's name He is giving them identity. I don't necessary mean that God is giving someone a new identity... but just identity in general. God breathes on something and suddenly this thing that, 30 seconds ago didn't have any meaning at all, becomes overwhelmingly important. Or maybe everything has a specific identity, but God breathes on our revelation and recognition of that identity. That's probably it.

Side note: I just looked up about 196.3 definitions of "identity" on the internet and they are all horrendous. Nobody knows what it is, I have concluded, which actually fits quite
perfectly with this blog post. Only God knows and can assign identity... even the definition.

All that to say... He has been naming a lot of things in my life lately:

1. Ministry ideas (when a good idea pops into my head God just goes ahead and names it for me like a chapter to a book. i.e. "Experiencial Teaching". This is how I know that something is going to work before I even do it. True story.)

2. Art or songs

3. Seasons of my life. This is my favorite thing that God does so I am excited to give you this brilliant idea.

I hesitate to tell you about this (how names names the seasons of our lives), simply because it's so personal and so amazing, but it's too cool not to share. This is how He tells me:

1. I find an old book store when I am usually feeling especially pensive and am wearing something that looks like it could be from
ropologie. It wouldn't actually be from that store because HELLO who pays $95 for a belt made out of a shoelace? Absurd. And you can't be absurd on a day like this.

2. You pray while entering the store, "God, I know that you have a name for this season of my life. What is it? I would love to know. Could you please speak to me using these books?"

3. If there's a little, antique-ish sounding bell that dings above the door when you walk in just know that you've hit a potential jackpot. Just from experience.

4. Begin in a section of the store that "woozles" you. Definition of the Justine-term known as "woozle": to feel a particular fondness for that cannot be explained with words. For example, I go immediatel
y to the animal, music, or children's books section. I don't really know why... it just woozles me.

5. Scan the spines of the books. Pray again. You are looking for a title that touches your soul for a reason that you may not know or understand at the time. Also, you're looking for a hardback book that has a cool spine... don't pick out something lame, new or paperback.

6. Go to different sections. You will find it. Or if you don't find one for you, you will CERTAINLY find one for someone else. They make fabulous gifts.

7. Stand in awe when the Lord gives you a book. Take a minute. Then bamboozle your way up to the front and buy that thing. Write the date on the inside cover. You will forget to do it later so do it right away. Why would you do something like this? Because nobody does it, because Kindle can't replace the smell of old books and the Lord loves to do it. Plus, it looks cool on your desk.

About 8 weeks ago I happened to be in my hometown at my second favorite old book store (my #1 fav is in northern washington). I was feeling especially burnt out and confused so I meandered into the shop, casually browsing the weathered books, honestly just needing a break. Then, I stumbled upon it... torn, tattered, and teal... with irony lettering that read, "Gifts of Unknown Things."

I felt this sudden rush in my spirit, grabbed the book, and out the door I went. With haste I put it on my bookshelf upon returning home, but not before I noticed the bookmark that was gently placed inside. I opened my treasure to where the bookmark was resting and there it was...the first chapter of the book entitled, "And the Spirit moves." I about jumped out of my skin. Seriously legit, God. What to go on that one.

I have drawn from the simple title of that book over and over and over again these past few weeks. When I have been angry I have yelled, "Gift of something 'unknown' huh?! I would like to know NOW! Enough with the waiting!" When I have felt disappointed and heartbroken I have whispered, "I thought this was supposed to be GIFTS of unknown things, God? This doesn't seem exactly like a gift to me."
And when I have felt content and still...well...Gifts of Unknown Things sounds just about right.

Try asking Him to name a few things in your life... like... What would you call this friendship, God? What would you name my marriage? How would you call the condition of my heart? What is this season called? Simply, what are you saying today, God?

He's big on names. And if He names it you know it's going to be good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 272: How To Find God's Will For Your Life

Let's be real.

Yesterday I was alone in my car and I shouted at the top of my lungs,

At this purging of emotion, I let out crocodile tears filled with frustration and disappointment. I "yell prayed" some more (this is really okay and totally freeing to do by the way) and sobbed my way into the Jamba Juice parking lot (expensive juice also helps with gut wrenching outbursts).

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Have you ever felt this way? Like you were so desperate to know the will of God that is literally brought you to Jamba Juice...*cough...I mean tears? Well, that's been my life for the past two days. Scratch that... the last month.

I couldn't figure out for the life of me why God wasn't just speaking up and telling me what the blazes to do. I mean seriously... I have the desire to know and do the will of God so what's the problem? Why won't He just show me already?

Well...then this morning happened... and I got my long awaited answer. [Note: This is for you too so brace yourself.]

"God delights in the sincere desire or cry in our spirit to obey Him. Our sincere desire to obey God is a substantial beginning of our victory over sin. It is part of God’s work in you." -Mike Bickle, Song of Songs study, Session 6

Immediately I thought of the run-in I had with my heart yesterday when I heard this message from Mike Bickle (epic study series by the way). It's like I started understanding how God sees my life instead of how I see it.

I see... the crying, seemingly pathetic me who cries over six dollar juice and doesn't get answers right away to the immediate questions of my heart.
God sees...the daughter that He chose for such a time as this, that is brought to tears over wanting to please Him and do His will.

It's like I've never known anything until this moment.

Mike Bickle goes on to say this:
The sincere intention to obey God is distinct from the attainment of mature obedience. The pursuit of full obedience is different than attaining it. The Lord is pleased with us from the time we repent (by setting our heart to obey Him) which is long before our obedience matures. As genuine lovers of God we do not immediately attain to all that we seek to walk in.

Basically it's like this:
"Our spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)

I am utterly convinced that the Lord is more concerned about my spirit being willing than He is about the actual walking-out-His-will part. Don't get me wrong, being obedient to God in its fullness is imperative, but if I walk out His will in shame, guilt, or with a rebellious spirit is it really His will after all?

I think that God loved my "fit" yesterday. Please don't misunderstand, I don't believe that God enjoys our pain in the slightest, but I do think that it is the utter delight of His heart to see one of His children crying out to Him, honestly seeking to obey.

When our hearts get to such a place where we are so in love with the person of Jesus that we would literally do ANYTHING for Him, that "there is no cost too great" (as Heidi Baker the sold-out African missionary would say), and that anything outside of God's will would never satisfy our heart... well... I know, as of this morning, that God's delight in that is extraordinary.

I think I have been panicked for most of my life because I thought that God wasn't pleased with my pursuit or my journey, just the outcome. Consequently, I have been left feeling like a failure when none of it has worked out... like He wasn't proud of me. So, I move on to the next thing hoping to succeed and make Him proud. But, I have gotten the pursuit of obedience mixed up with the attainment of obedience [see more on this from Mike Bickle]. Friends, He delights in the willingness of our hearts and the sincere desire to be obedient. He loves the pursuit. He loves the journey. He loves our desire.

But, I will say is that this epic revelation did not result in me finding out what to do, per say.

The answer I wanted: Justine, here's what to do and where to go and how to do it. Go and have fun.
Jesus' answer: Beloved, you ravish my heart. I take such delight in your willingness. "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you." (John 15:9)

I am convinced that God hasn't given the answers I have sought after because He had different answers in mind for me. And His were better than mine. He answers the cries of my heart and He will answer yours may just not be the answer you were looking for.

P.S. Jamba Juice helps. May I suggest the "Acai Super-Antioxident" that tastes like the glory. Omg.

P.S.S. Today I'm not focusing on what to "do" necessarily, but more on how much He loves me. It's working. I highly suggest it.

BONUS: Here's a song to go with this post... click HERE

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 221: I Refuse To Give Up...A dose of Holy Stubbornness


Lately I've been wondering how much more I have to give. Have you ever been in that place?

In three weeks time I've lost my house, had to move to a new city, almost lost my job, wrought with unexplainable health issues, family drama ( name it), and as of just a few days ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer [just to name a few].
Needless to say, I more than empathize with the football player in this clip.

[side note: doesn't this clip make you want to work out? I felt like running a short (emphasis on the word "short") marathon after watching the video.]

[side note #2: One of my favorite speakers, Patsy Clairmont, says this, "I woke up feeling ready to take on the world. I got up, ran around the block, then kicked the block back under the bed." As I type this quote, I'll admit it, I giggle a little. This is Patsy to the right. Isn't she zippy?---------------------->>>]

Back to the point. Yes, there's a point. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, like THE Coach was cheering me on. I read my Bible and found this gem:
Luke 21:1-4 (Amplified Bible)

1LOOKING UP, [Jesus] saw the rich people putting their gifts into the treasury.

2And He saw also a poor widow putting in two mites (copper coins).

3And He said, Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;

4For they all gave out of their abundance (their surplus); but she has contributed out of her lack and her want, putting in all that she had to live on.

Yesterday at church (in case you were wondering--I go to the best church ever), someone was talking about this scripture in relation to giving money. Yes, I do think that this verse is about giving of your money, but this morning God used these verses to refresh my soul. Here's why...

So many times I come before the Lord in the abundance of my life. I praise Him, I thank Him and I ask Him for more of His heart. These are all great things! But these past few weeks I've felt a little bit like a widow...a depravity of soul if you will. And yet, it's in that place that I want to give MORE. I find myself wanting to praise more, cry more, laugh more, do more, read more and even sit more. I might only have a little bit left after all of the events of the day (like the widow putting in her two copper coins), but I will contribute out of my lack and my want, putting in all that I have to live on.

And part of that means refusing to give up. It's a sacrifice so pleasing to the Lord when we stick it out and persevere, depending solely on His strength. What joy that must bring His heart! Yet, Satan wants everything in his power to see me give up. Well, I have news for everyone on earth and every being in the heavenlies:

I won't give up.

I actually yelled at the top of my lungs the other day, "Satan, you can take whatever you want and my answer will STILL be 'Yes & Amen'!!!" Then I danced around my living room balling my eyes out to the song "So Good To Me." The cat just starred at me like I was a loon.

I don't care what any one says...Thankfulness is warfare.

So, today, oh God, let the praises that I sing be a sweet, sweet sound to your ears, knowing that it's out of the depth of my soul that I sing. May my life offering be worth more to you, Jesus, now than ever before because I am giving out of poverty rather than of wealth.

I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13:6

And Satan is going to regret messing with me. ;) And just in case you aren't inspired enough, watch THIS video. One of the most rock-solid, extreme followers of Christ I've ever seen, Nick Vujicic. Nick has no arms and no legs and travels all over the world telling kids about Jesus. I actually met the dude in a hotel last year and can honestly say he is one of the most radical people I have ever met. Woah.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 212: Fear. When I agreed & then threw up.

I woke up one day and the Lord told me I was moving.

As if that wasn't enough... He said it was going to be soon. I had no idea what "soon" meant until God gently said to me, "As in RIGHT NOW, Justine. Get some boxes. You are going to need them." So I packed up my stuff in faith, really having no idea where I was going or what I was going to be doing. Within just hours I had multiple job offers all in the same city, someone called and invited me to live with them, and I had a burning in my heart for the desert [which really didn't make sense.....I was a mountain girl!]. I took a few days to think it over (but HELLO it was obvious) and moved to the Arizona desert.

Within just one, short day I began to question God.
Why am I here?
What am I doing in the desert?
God, what are you up to?

As I asked these questions in my heart, I started to think that maybe I was nuts. God kept asking me to do these risky things and I really had no concept of what I was doing, I was just trusting that maybe someday it would make sense.

Two days later I ended up on Arizona State University's campus. A man that I barely knew told me that I should go to a prayer meeting there and because God was up to some weird things I agreed to go. I drove around in circles for a while, debating whether I would actually go , then practically drug myself into the building. I walked in and this younger guy (around 18-years-old) met me at the door. This guy seriously looked crazy. His hair was about a foot long and stuck out straight from his head....picture Mozart after being electrocuted.

He introduced himself and then quickly said, "Do you know why you're in the desert?" I couldn't hide the shock on my face when I said, "Um, no. But I'm assuming you do?" He laughed and said, "You are here to worship. You're a musician right?" Then he walked away. I never saw the guy again.

"Here to WORSHIP?!" I said to myself over and over again. "God, you brought me all the way to the desert just to worship?! Are you kidding me?" Then, once I moved on from feeling shocked, I got angry. "I don't want to do this, God! I thought we left that music stuff behind a long time ago." I decided to try to forget about what that afro-kid said to me.

Then I woke up the next day to a Facebook message. It said something about me being called to worship. I was so freaked out that I don't remember exactly what it said because I slammed my laptop shut and immediately said to the Lord, "You have got to be kidding me?! If you really want me to do this you had better give me one more sign."

I thought God had forgotten about my prayer or was hoping that the worship thing wasn't correct when, out of the blue, a man from the church I started attending called me and said, "Hey, I hear that you do worship. How about you come down to the church for practice and you can sing?"

I agreed. Then I threw up.

And yes, the fear was just that intense.

There's a guy in the Bible who, if he were living today, would totally understand my freak out sessions. Meet Gideon.

Gideon was just a normal Israelite in the book of Judges (ch.6). Israel was worshiping others gods and even though the real God was telling them not to, they did it anyway. So, God sent these people called the Midians to oppress Israel until they cried out to God. God was waiting for them to turn to Him and seek Him with their whole heart. Things got pretty horrible and the Midians started taking all the Israelites stuff, so Israel got upset and asked God for help. So, walla-walla-bing-bang, God sends an angel to this guy Gideon.

Check out Judges 6: 11. It says that when the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, Gideon was "threshing wheat in a winepress." You may be asking yourself, "Self, why in the world is this important?" Well, it shows how freaked out Gideon was. Normally, threshing wheat was done in an open field where wind was used to separate the grains of wheat from the outer shell that you couldn't use. But, Gideon was afraid of the Midians because they would have seen him and taken all of his wheat. So, he threshed the wheat in a winepress which was probably located in a barn-like structure.

So, here's Gideon, hiding from the bad guys with his wheat and an angel shows up and says, "The Lord is with you mighty warrior!" Then Gideon starts arguing with the angel. I don't know about you, but that would NOT have been my response. When an angel says something, you had best be believing it right away! Then God speaks to him and tells him to go to war and Gideon argues some more, totally not believing God.

Then Gideon has the nerve to ask for three signs. Basically, asking God if he's going to win the battle. In the process of going to battle the dude totally shows this massive lack of confidence in God, but God continues to give him the signs anyway. Gideon naturally decides it's a good idea to do what God he goes off to battle.

BUT, then comes Judges 7:
2-3 God said to Gideon, "You have too large an army with you. I can't turn Midian over to them like this—they'll take all the credit, saying, 'I did it all myself,' and forget about me. Make a public announcement: 'Anyone afraid, anyone who has any qualms at all, may leave Mount Gilead now and go home.'" Twenty-two companies headed for home. Ten companies were left.

4-5 God said to Gideon: "There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I'll make a final cut. When I say, 'This one goes with you,' he'll go. When I say, 'This one doesn't go,' he won't go." So Gideon took the troops down to the stream.

5-6 God said to Gideon: "Everyone who laps with his tongue, the way a dog laps, set on one side. And everyone who kneels to drink, drinking with his face to the water, set to the other side." Three hundred lapped with their tongues from their cupped hands. All the rest knelt to drink.

7 God said to Gideon: "I'll use the three hundred men who lapped at the stream to save you and give Midian into your hands. All the rest may go home."

8 After Gideon took all their provisions and trumpets, he sent all the Israelites home. He took up his position with the three hundred.

300 men! Are you kidding me right now?!

Read verses 8-15. What did God do for Gideon in this passage?

[note: God is SO cool.]

Now read verses 15-21. What was the result of fear in this passage?

Fear always gets you all freaked out and confused, while faith in God makes things infinitely clearer.

To go back to my story about worship... I had gotten myself all wigged out like Gideon was when the angel came to him. I asked God for signs, just like Gideon, that what He had spoken was actually true. God confirmed the worship thing over and over and over again. He said that was what I was supposed to do. Though I did NOT want to go, I showed up to worship practice.

Basically God had something HUGE in store for me that I knew nothing about in the beginning when that crazy guy told me that I was in the desert to worship. God encountered me there, worshiping and playing music, and I've never been the same.

God was/is victorious (just like with Gideon) and now the best parts of my week are when I GET to go worship at the House of Prayer.

What are you afraid of?
What is God calling you to?
What has been your response?

This post is taken from a segment of the REBOOT retreat for high school teens, written and hosted by Jeff Schadt & Justine McKnight. For more information on REBOOT go to

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 204: Jimminy Christmas we need the Holy Spirit!

We need the Holy Spirit...Because He LEADS us into all Truth.
The Word IS Truth, but we need a Guide.
To say or not depend fully on the Guide is pride and arrogance.

Psalm 10:4
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

I believe in the authority of the living Word of God, revealing the character and nature of God. Make no mistake in what I am saying.
However, we cannot JUST depend on the inherency of the scripture.
We need the Holy Spirit to be able to GUIDE US through the Word and to bring wisdom and revelation to that Truth so that it becomes APPLIED and not just LEARNED.


Because knowledge, in and of itself, gives glory to the one who learns it, not the God who created it.
Because knowledge, standing alone, will only frustrate and confuse people you try to share it with, no matter how hard you try.
Because knowledge, on it's own, puffs up. 1 Corinthians 8:1 "...Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

I am honestly a little tired of having to defend the Holy Spirit's presence in my life and make some "intellectual argument" for the need/existence of the Holy Spirit as compared to the importance of scripture. I have tried exhaustively, but here's the fact: the Spirit doesn't need a defender any more than a lion needs a defender [thank you, Amy Campbell for making a reference to this at one time that I never forgot.]. The Spirit and Bible go hand-in-hand. End of story...or rather the beginning of the story. ;) The Bible is the "SWORD of the SPIRIT" here, folks.

I NEED the Holy Spirit. Not occasionally, not once in while, not in small doses, not just when I can't figure something out, not just when I'm in pain... I need the Spirit all the time, everywhere, in my waking and in my sleeping and in NO small doses. I mean, cheese and rice, people, I'm honestly kind of an idiot when it comes to the things of God, even after years of studying theology and writing some pretty good papers/speeches on the subject. But I'm not going to pretend for one second that I have all of the answers or that I can figure things out simply using my mind.

That's important.....USE THE MIND GOD GAVE YOU.... Read, study, talk to others, know your stuff! I am a big fan of knowing what you believe and why you believe it. But it's not knowledge that changes hearts. Knowledge might get the attention of the heart, but it's the Spirit that changes. It's the love of God that radically alters lives.

1 Corinthians 8:1 "...Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

Wanna see the people around you changed by God? Wanna see your own heart transformed? Ask the Holy Spirit to "Bring It!" Then prepare in great expectation to get whacked by God and see the people around you dramatically changed.

OR you can keep throwing that theology book at 'em and see how well that one works out. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 165: Throwing Muffins... and other godly activities.

We need to have a serious talk about muffins.

Why muffins? Because everybody likes muffins. It's like parfaits, Labrador puppies, and the smell of clean laundry... it's unknowingly irresistible.

Muffins are also important. I had this startling realization the other night when I was praying for a good friend of mine and all I kept thinking about what a basket full of muffins. I thought I was having a breakdown and was in desperate need of some carbs or something, but low and behold that was not the case. As it turns out, God just really likes muffins.

I laughed and said to my friend in the middle of my prayer, "I know you already think I'm crazy so this isn't going to bother you, but I just keep seeing this basket full of muffins when I pray for your life." Then, it was like God sent a squirrel to hit me over the head with a giant nut of revelation.

Instantly I understood completely. "It's like this," I explained to my friend. "God had this recipe for your life. He brought you people that poured knowledge of the things of God into your life. Then He gave you the revelation of His Word, experiences, conversations, dreams, and visions (like the blueberries, eggs, and flour in a muffin recipe). Then there was this harsh clash of the things of God (like water in a muffin recipe) and then the things of this world (like the oil) in your life. Normally those two things don't go together (oil and water), but God used them to bring about so much good in your life. You struggled as God allowed those ingredients to mix together to make something so delicious. Then He poured out the sweetness of His Spirit into the recipe of your life and made it utterly irresistible to others."

[Note: I think God added a couple of "nuts" into the recipe of her life as well... I mean...after all, I am her friend. ;) ]

I finished explaining this part and then I saw muffin dough going into the little tins and being put into the oven. This the heat of the refining fire of God burning away any impurities (woah. Check out Malachi 3:1-3) . Then I saw the muffins come out and be placed in a basket, hot out of the oven. I told my friend that I then saw her pick up the basket of muffins and start giving the muffins out to people. Sometimes she would give them to strangers, sometimes to family, sometimes to friends, but always with joy.

I think this is how the seasons of our lives work. God uses certain people to pour Truth into our minds, words to ponder in our hearts, dreams, jobs, new relationships, etc. and it makes this beautiful treat. Sometimes (okay, oftentimes) we have no idea what He is doing (can I get an "Amen!"), but in the end everything just makes sense. Kind of like a muffin recipe...

Then we get to take that season/muffin of our life that God completes (Note:GOD completes the season...not you) and watch as He turns it into this irresistible, delectable, little nibble.

"And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you." -Philippians 1:6

Then we get to take that season of our lives, that God in His infinite sovereignty carried to full completion, and hand it out to others. That way, maybe things God did in you and through you will be done in them. Bill Johnson says it like this:

"Any time you've had a breakthrough in the things of the Lord, it automatically positions you in a place of authority to serve...if you've tasted victory, then you are positioned to serve people that very meal that the Lord gave you...the Grace that brought victory to you in that cancer situation, the grace that brought victory when everything looked like it was falling apart in business..." etc.

Basically, ole Bill is talking about throwing muffins here. :)

Examples of "Muffin Throwing":
  • Praying that others come to the realization of the Truth of God's Word (like maybe you did at one time).
  • Telling someone about a particular situation in which God really impacted your life.
  • Talking to teenagers about your horrific dating life and how God redeemed it (*cough...yes, this is one of my muffins) and that He can do the same for them.
Basically, in humility and joy, gifting people a full, cooked, sweet recipe of the things of God in little snacks [note: I did not say a whole meal. Nobody wants a lecture. loves mini-muffins! And people always end up eating like 13 mini-muffins and not even realizing it. If you have done this know that you have a friend at this blog.].

Then, as they eat of wisdom and revelation that has gone through the heat, you can say, "TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD." -Psalm 34:8

Man, I love muffins.

[note: This story freakishly resembles a dream had by Julie Meyer in her book Invitation to Encounter: A Journey Into Dreams and I didn't even realize it! The book rocks and you should probably read it. The Lord gave Julie fruit... I got muffins. What can I say.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 146: Milestones and Motherhood

Many of you may recall the day that you got married as the most significant milestone of your life. For others, it may be the day that you graduated college or took your fantasy vacation or found your dream designer, mustard yellow handbag at 75% off and watched as an old lady stole it from you in plain sight (*cough*-There's part of my heart that still mourns this day.).

For me, I can mark today down as an epic milestone, along with these memorable days from my past:

1. The day I found out that the guy I liked for 2 years in college had a twin. [I thought this was God's gift to me. Then, come to find out, his twin is a girl.]

2. The day I tucked my dress into my underwear at a 5 star resort.

3. The day I announced publicly my belief in Big Foot.

May 26 (that's today) will forever go down in infamy, one that can be added to my list of epic milestones. Why? Because today I decided I wanted to be a mom.

Was it a cute baby at Target? Was it watching a rerun of A Baby Story on TLC? Was it feeding orphans in Africa? No. It was one comment from one pastor in one Q&A session. That's all it took.

Yes, I know what you may be thinking... "All those years of people trying to convince you that motherhood is a good thing and sermons and teaching and babysitting...and all it takes is a Q&A session? You've got to be kidding me." Well, it happened that way.

It was this statement:

"My goal as a parent is to make my family safe
so that they can enjoy God."

-Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, CA

I started thinking about this and it kind of wrecked me. REALLY wrecked me. I started lining up my 20-something-aged friends in my mind and was going through each and every person birthed out of this parentless generation. In my mind I walked up to them and asked, "Did your parents nurture you in a place of emotional and physical safety so that you could freely enjoy God?" Almost every person I asked in my mind would respond with a sarcastic, wounded laugh.

It was in that very moment that I realized I have the tools to raise a child. Now, I'm not married, I don't own a car seat, and if you asked me how to cure diaper rash I would have no idea, but I enjoy God. I enjoy God with every part of me. And if you have a parent who truly enjoys God (I'm not talking about going to church on Sunday and doing an occasional "quiet time" here), but a parent who genuinely ENJOYS God ... then you have a recipe for success.

[Enjoy: to take pleasure or delight in; to live in happiness; to relish the pleasures]

I also value safety. But I hear you saying to me, "Doesn't everyone?" Okay, well then answer me this: Do/did you feel welcome with your parents? Could you talk to them knowing that you wouldn't be judged? Do/did you feel freedom and a sense of belonging? That's the kind of safety I'm talking about valuing...the kind that our culture is allergic to...the kind of safety that only exists in trust.

I want to be able to walk in front of that same line of people in my mind someday and see a transformed generation. A generation that knows the heart of God, delights in His will, and feels safe enough to enjoy their Father. So much so, that in the future they can stand in that line with their children and confidently say, "I made my family safe so that they can enjoy God." Then, I can look at their children, and ask them, "Do you enjoy God?" And instead of words they just dance.

I hope my children become dancers...

So, here's my vow, public and electronic, that I will make my family safe so that they can enjoy God. If that's what being a parent means then sign me up for motherhood.

Today is the milestone of motherhood. Day 146 of 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 144: What's the point in having confidence?

I have had a significant amount of people talk to me at length about confidence in the past two weeks. Any time I have asked, "What's the Lord teaching you about in this season of your life?" it almost always begins with confidence. Is this a freak occurrence? I think not.

So, then tonight I was sitting on my back porch, soaking up the last bit of freak cool, desert weather and the Lord tells me to go check out 1 John 3. What does 1 John 3 talk about? A lot of great stuff (you should really check it out), but specifically confidence. Another freak occurrence? No way, Dr. Dre.

Here's the part of 1 John that hit me over the head like a shovel [speaking of this... you have simply GOT to check
this video out. I have always wanted to do this to someone!]... it's verses 19-22. It says:

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him...

If you are feeling significantly overwhelmed, but know that these verses are important please raise your hand now [note: my hand is raised]. It bugged me that I didn't get I did some research and here's the breakdown... (which, btw, is totally up for discussion).

Assure/Peitho (Greek): to make confident, to free from fear or doubt

Heart/Kardia (Greek): thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience (which is what "heart" primarily means here-- conscience).

Condemn/Kataginosko (Greek):
to incriminate, condemn, disce
rn against another, blame.

Confidence/Parresia (Greek): Confidence or boldness particularly in speaking

Insert these meanings into the verses and you get:

By this we shall come to know that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify, make confident, to free from fear or doubt) our hearts (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) in His presence,20whenever our hearts (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) in tormenting self-accusation and blame make us feel guilty and condemn us. For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].21Beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse and blame us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness, especially in speaking) before God, 22And we receive from Him whatever we ask...

To put it simply...

1. What prevents/comes against confidence? Our heart (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) condemning/blaming us. When there's all kinds of false self-blame there is really no room for confidence!

2. When our heart, thoughts and emotions start blaming us we don't even have to do it alone. These verses say that "He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]." So, don't get caught in the pit of thinking you gotta do it yourself or that you're not worthy or you deserve it or whatever kind of lie comes creeping into your mind. He is above and greater than all that blame and condemnation and your reasonings/thoughts/feelings that bring condemnation must submit to the King and be destroyed our mighty God. Don't put up what that stuff! God has a bigger plan for you and it's called CONFIDENCE.

3. When there's NO blame---BOOM-SHOCKA-LOCKA there's confidence.

4. What's the point of confidence? Not to walk a little taller and not to "feel good about yourself" (although those are great things and totally of God!). The point of confidence is to be bold in prayer (Heb. 4:16, 10:19, 1 Jn 5:14) and proclamation (Heb. 13:6).

Beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse and blame us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness, especially in speaking) before God, 22And we receive from Him whatever we ask...

That's the point, folks-- to approach the throne of God in boldness and trust that whatever we ask of Him will be done.

Sign me up to ride the confidence train.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 132: Blindsided. Tackled by a football player.

I knocked a linebacker out cold.

One freezing, dreadful morning in January of 2007 I was walking in the hallway of a university gym. Note #1: I was walking the HALLWAY. It was early, I was cold, and I certainly wasn't paying any attention. Suddenly, out of NOWHERE, meeting me head-on at the intersection of two crossing hallways, came the 6'6" linebacker that would come in contact with my face. Note #2: He was running at top speed.

I had no time to react before my face smashed into his chest, fracturing my nose and cheek bone on his sternum and giving me a level 3 concussion. My left hand was also injured and due to the force of the hit, I fell backwards and hit my head on the hard tile, giving me ANOTHER level 3 concussion. Count 'em...that's TWO concussions.

But check it out: I'm so short and he is so tall that I "clothes-lined" the dude. He flipped over the top of me somehow and hit his head on the tile, knocking both of us unconscious. By the time the rest of the people racing with him (they were running wind sprints in the hallways of the gym) caught up they discovered the two of us out cold on the floor wondering what had happened.

I was blindsided. But I went to the beach to "recover" so it was okay. Notice the black eyes and sling.
Then two weeks ago I was hiking with my dad, summiting a large mountain in Arizona. We got to the top, started to head down, and he proceeds to have a heart attack. What the heck. We all didn't know it was a heart attack at the time, but, needless to say, a week later I get a phone call from my mom and she said I had to drive an hour and half to the hospital, that dad was in bad shape. I get to the hospital and the doctors announce that he has to have a DOUBLE bypass.

We were blindsided. But not quite like the movie.

It felt just like getting tackled by the linebacker. It's like, one second I was walking along and then two seconds later I'm laying on the ground wondering what happened. I felt taken out, helpless, and honestly... kind of mad waiting in that hospital room. I kept sitting in the waiting room thinking in frustration, "When can I get out of here?! I just want to leave!" It was uncomfortable, worrisome, and heart-breaking (no pun intended). Having to wonder every day for a week straight if the last conversation you had with your dad would be your last isn't exactly my idea of a good time.

I just wanted out. Have you ever felt that way? As Patsy Clairmont says, "I didn't raise my hand for this!" I kept thinking, "Who thought that this was a good idea?! I don't want to be here!" I wanted to go back to normal, every day life where my dad climbed mountains and things were okay. I didn't want to eat hospital omelets. I didn't want to hug people I didn't know when they tried to comfort me. And certainly, every time we were in the waiting room I didn't want to wait... I just wanted to run away.

Have you ever felt like certain things in your life are just taking too long? That you just want the season to be over so you can move on and get to the fun stuff? This was one of those weeks.

Then the Lord gave me this verse last night: ..."patient in affliction..." -Romans 12:12

What in the world does that mean? Romans 12 talks a lot about being a 'living sacrifice' and love and stuff and then all of sudden it says to be "patient in affliction." The Justine translation? To be patient in the stuff that flat out sucks.

But then I started wondering...what does PATIENCE really mean anyway? What does it mean to have patience in affliction?

I looked up that particular word in Greek and as it turns out, patience in Romans 12:12 means "to remain under, to persevere, to endure persecution or miseries in faith and patience, to remain privately, to stay behind."

To stay behind? To remain? Let me tell you what... to REMAIN and stay behind in the midst of my dad's heart attack was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to endure. I didn't want to have patience. I just wanted it all to be over and for my dad be okay.

But check this out: that word that's used for "patient" in Romans 12:12? I looked up all the places in the New Testament that it comes up and almost every time the Bible talks about JOY before it talks about patience or endurance. Even in Romans 12: 12...

"Be JOYFUL in hope, PATIENT in affliction, and faithful in prayer."

I started thinking last night that if there's joy involved in the process then sign me up. I mean, thank the Lord that we don't just have to endure, but that there's joy there! Seriously legit. I'm not trying to be all fluffy-bunnies-and-roses on ya when I say this. I mean it will all sincerity. There's nothing better than joy in the midst of the things we must's like a kiss from God.

Then I got hit with this doozy. When I was looking up other verses that had the Greek word that's used in Romans 12:12 for patience I found this one:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him ENDURED the cross."-Hebrews 12:2

That word "endured" right there in Hebrews 12:2? That's the exact, same word used for "patient" in Romans 12:12. Add the definition of the Greek word to the verse and you get this:

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him REMAINED, STAYED, HAD PATIENCE, AND ENDURED the cross FOR ME. -Hebrews 12:2 (with expansion)

He stayed there/remained and endured the cross for me. It has hit me over and over again today...what if He wouldn't have stayed? What if He would've just left? And I realized...that if He stayed on the cross for me...I can stay at the hospital and endure the pain of watching my family go through the agony of waiting.

Through this I am realizing more and more that being "patient in affliction" is much more than sitting around and waiting until the sucky things in life pass. It's staying put until it's over, it's seeing it through, it's investing in the moment, it's staying when everyone else leaves, it's dealing with the hard things in my heart and not running from them (that's a big one!), it's not giving up and throwing in the towel just because it's not comfortable or convenient, and it's remaining when everything inside seems to be screaming, "Get out! This isn't fun!"

And it's allowing the Holy Spirit to remind me & you over and over and over again that if He can endure/remain/be patient at the cross for me and be joyful about it...then I can be patient here too and watch His joy overtake my soul.

This doesn't make it any easier...but it makes it worth it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34: Born a Movie Star. Seriously.

It was a cold day in the desert on February 3rd.
Hearts were racing.
The doctors were pacing.
A miracle they were facing.
At least that's what I heard.

I'm now questioning whether that rhyming pattern (ABBBA) was a good idea. Whatever. You get the point.

On this blessed day known as my birth I have been reflecting on the strange nature of my existence. My mother insists that my life only got weird later on in life, but I beg to differ. Things have been weird from the womb. Here I will build my case:

1. My parents weren't "supposed" to have any more children.

2. When it came time to announce my
mother's pregnancy to my two older brothers my Dad prayed this at the dinner table: "Thank you for this new, little life growing inside of Shelley." My brothers both sat there in confusion. Then Dad asks them, "Would you like a little brother or sister?" My oldest brother, Brent (age 17 at the time), says, "I hope it's a hunting dog." That's weird no matter how you shake it. Could this have been the moment (even in utero) that my love for animals developed? I wonder.

3. While out to dinner, my second oldest brother, Brandon (age 12 at the time), gets a prophetic fortune cookie. It reads, "A short stranger will soon enter your life."

4. While I was marinating in amniotic fluid my mom became a Christian. I can basically take credit for the whole thing. She started going to Bible study (with her also pregnant best friend) and started loving Jesus at the same time that she started loving me. My love for Bible study obviously stemmed from this.

5. Then comes the day of my actual birth: February 3rd. Basically nothing monumental happened in the world on this day. I think the Lord reserved the day just for me. Lord knows my birth was monumental in and of itself. The only thing that is even remotely exciting that happened on Feb. 3 was that tickets to see the Statue of Liberty went on sale for the first time. The fee? $1. The price now? $11.50. God bless America.

However, my birth was exceptionally weird. Why? Because I was born a movie star. I'm not talking wimpy home movies here... I'm talking about a real live, legitimate motion picture.

I was born at 7:40pm, 6lbs 11 oz, 20 1/2 in. long (for those of you who are into details) and exactly 14 hours later I was the star of a movie called "Bathing Your Baby." No kidding. [By the way, check out my mom's great eye shadow in this picture--just minutes after giving birth to me. Way to go, Mom!]

There was this zippy, little woman who approached my parents and said, "I heard that you have had the most beautiful, wonderful, adorable, precious baby in the hospital. Could we use her to star in our movie in the morning?" [She said something along those lines. Don't quote me here.] My parents were touched and honored. So, they gladly handed me over. To this day they still hand out the video in the Phoenix area. Someone called my mom and told her that they had seen it not too long ago. See? Legit. I was born with a flare for the dramatic. It's not my fault I was born this way.

6. I was born with a hole in my heart. The pediatric cardiologist freaked my parents out with the news and then says, "But the good news is that it'll close up with time." My parents give a relieved sigh. Then he says, "One more thing...I just had a baby boy and your daughter is beautiful! Could you give me your name and phone number and maybe in 18 years we could hook them up?" Seriously. This is word for word what happened. My dad took me home immediately.

In conclusion, I was born with weird written all over me. It was inevitable. See, Mom? Thank you, God, for inventing blogs so that I can write about this weird stuff.

This is my birthday. Day 34 of 2010.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28: Doppelganger-Giada De Laurentiis

In ode of "Doppelganger Week" [The word "doppelgänger" has come to refer (as in German) to any double or look-alike of a person.], I would like to pay tribute to my proposed "twin," Giada De Laurentiis.

Me and Giada go way back. And by "way back" I mean since 2003 when her show The Everyday Italian aired on the Food Network. Then me and "G" (I call her "G") really got to know each other well when she published her first cookbook in 2005.

This is when people started asking me for my autograph.

It all started with cashiers at the grocery store mistakenly thinking that I was Giada...then people at airports...then friends...then my family. I think I may have caused a few family members near heart attacks when they turned on the Food Network and saw "G" making her crazy chocolate and brie paninis and thought it was me! I've been told that we not only look alike, but we have similar mannerisms too (which really freaks my mom out).

After about the 418th person to tell me I looked like Giada, I started to think that maybe they might be onto something. So, naturally, I had to be prepared. ;) And it was a good thing that I was... because I got to make an elderly couple's day.

I was hiking in Sedona, AZ, adoring an orange hiking hat, and stopped for a quick lunch with a friend. I noticed an older couple in the corner of the restaurant who kept peering over their booth in my direction and giggling. I was feeling significantly awkward until the waitress came up to me and said, "Ma'am, they think that you're Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network." It took all of two seconds for me to realize that this was a moment too good to pass up. So, I leaned in, put my finger up to my mouth, and whispered to the waitress, "Shhhhhh...."

You should have seen her face. Priceless.

Then, as I was leaving, I walked up to the elderly couple's table, knelt down on the floor to be at their eye level, and asked if they had a pen. They starred at me for a second or two and then handed me a pen. I grabbed a napkin and wrote on it, "Enjoy your time in Sedona. Bon Appetit, Giada." [Good thing I had "prepared" ahead of time and memorized her signature!]

I know that this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but you should have seen this couple! I've never seen two people more excited in my whole life. Then the older man shook my hand and said, "We love your show." I smiled and replied with a quick "thank you," walking out the door before my friend had the chance to burst out laughing.

"Operation Shock and Awe" was complete.

Some other Giada-Look-Alike Perks:

1. I got to go to the front of the line at Disneyland (I wore sunglasses and had friends taking pictures with me----so the Disney staff took me right to the front of the Indiana Jones ride to get away from the "paparazzi").

2. A photographer in Arizona contacted me and asked if he could take pictures and enter me in the TV Guide show "Celebrity Look-Alike." Nothing ever came of it and to get on that show requires you to fly to Canada for filming, etc., but it was fun nonetheless.

3. People automatically assume that I can cook.

4. When I have children someday my birthing picture will OF COURSE look just like this (perfect makeup and all):

5. My Dad offered to fly me to LA with him this year to go to the filming of "Giada At Home." You can bet that there will be a blog post about that one. Stay tuned.

This is Doppelganger Week. Day 28 of 2010.