Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Risking on Faith

And Samuel prayed to the Lord.The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. ~Samuel 8:7

I have been trying to pinpoint why I felt so disturbed as I wrote about Church #2 for my last post. It was not that there was anything wrong with the church, perhaps more that there was so much right about it. The only initial impression that may have been a weakness is that few people that came up to introduce themselves to us as newcomers, but then the pastor was speaking to us immediately after the service ended, so they may have not wished to interrupt, and we, as well as half of them, had come into the service late so we did not get a chance to meet the people earlier.

What disturbed me is we were in a church that truly is led and seeks to be actively led by the Holy Spirit. It is such a contrast from where we had come. I felt the Lord's presence with me as I did praise and worship at our former church, but before, church was sometimes just a thing we did because we should, even though I wanted to feel and see the evidence of God's presence. Most of the time, however, there was no refreshing of our spirits. Feeling the presence of the Lord churchwide was seldom, often without excitement or even anticipation. It had become not much more that a Christian social club and even in that it was failing as most of the people did not socialize outside of church events...well, at least not with us.

My husband mentioned that at times he felt we wasted four years of our lives, but he is just voicing his own emotions as we go through this transition and we know that we had been called there. The thing I have questioned is whether God had wanted us to stay so long. On the other hand, I know He had not called us out until recently. Being a logic-driven analytical person and seeking the illogical of whisperings, miracles, and wonders as Spirit-led Christian is complicated.

The rub is that we grew in our faith so much in our former church and we felt we were being used by God as an example, probably since we came there. They all had faith in God, but they endured on faith and few really risked on faith. We had also endured on faith when my husband lost his job, but God revealed to me which company would hire him; I asked God was that he would be hired before his last severance check and God said he would and he was. About two years later God asked us to risk on faith: there was the 40-day fast, doubling our tithe, then the blessing of a job offer from out of blue when not seeking one just before we ran out of money from the extra tithing—that was what God wanted from us there: to grow and show. In retrospect, the fast prepared us to take a risk on faith with our finances by doubling our tithe for six months and we were blessed so that we could continue to tithe the same amount and pay off our debt within two years. We acted on faith, we stepped out on our faith, and we were blessed because we grew in trusting our Lord. God gave the other church members the same opportunity to risk on faith whatever He wanted from them, as it would be different for each, but who heard His call? Only one other shared such a thing. No one else did and how does one keep such a thing secret when it happens? How does it glorify God when such things are kept secret?

Our former church wanted a pastor who would lead them, but this desire was not one to be satisfied. God even took that away from them and still they wanted a leader instead of hearing Him directly, instead of hearing the messages He sent them through the guest pastors, and instead of praising Him for how He brought together His messages in the music and speaking without communication between those pastors and me involved! Through the last months we were there, the Lord kept reminding me about the story of Samuel and how the people of Israel wanted a king like all the other nations. I felt I was being led by God every week I chose the songs and led praise and worship. Yet, I was like Samuel, displeased that they were not hearing God and accepting His leadership. I began getting opposition about the songs chosen and God was telling me that it was not I but He who they were rejecting. I was so torn; it literally was tearing me up to be in the middle and to watch it unfold before me.

Last night I realized that I still had something bothering me. I realized that even as I tried to stand strong, the opposition I received constantly made me question if I was hearing God or if I had gone off, as some religious leaders have, on the power of the position and I was the one claiming I was acting on God's leading when it really was just my own. (As I was writing the last sentence, I felt the Lord tell me something else. When the Lord's will is also your desire, His will is your own. There are times when you are desiring as God desires that it seems like you are racing along in the middle of the track and not bumping into any of the side rails. I suppose I feel more secure when I am bumping in the side rails. Perhaps I should ask for a very narrow track.) I fought against my own ego, trying to focus on what God wanted and every Sunday I would see the blessing, the confirmation, that I had listened and obeyed my Lord, so from where did the opposition come?

Who there prayed not for what they wanted but for what God wanted in song and worship? Who prayed that our service would please Him instead pleasing themselves? Who prayed and heard what God had to say on the matter and share it with us all, with me? This is what was written to me: "personally, I would like...." Where is God in this statement? Personally, I would have liked to take me and my personal desires out of the whole thing and just please my Lord...and I worked so hard at this, but in the end it came down to pleasing those who wanted it their way or pleasing my Lord. I chose Him. Which would they rather I have chosen?

Every week became a risk on faith. I had only a few voiced encouragements but no real confirmation that I was following my Lord's desires from the members within the church; confirmation came only from prayerful believers outside of the church and from the Lord. The church is people I respect, who had shared their love of the Lord, who had worshiped with us for four years. Because of that, their opposition and their silence made me doubt I was hearing my Lord far more than anything ever has my entire life. I lost confidence in my own faith and leadership. I doubted that I was hearing God or that I ever had. If this weekly risking on faith was a trial for me, I think I failed. I often wondered if our former pastor felt the same.

Yet, my husband tells me that he was proud what we did there and that he believes we have grown in faith from this experience. He talks about how he planned the Christmas Eve service and how he was going to do it one way, but the night before he could not sleep and felt a strong leading to change it so that it had a portion just for the children and then, without us knowing in advance, we had quite a few children that night, the confirmation from our Lord again. He said it was then that he began to really understand what I had been experiencing every week and how God confirmed what He wanted within the service. Those side rails are reassuring but they can be an ouchie when you begin going your own direction and bump into them.

I was talking to a friend recently and I was surprised at my own passion as I said that I wanted my daughter to see the works of God, to know them, and expect them. I want her to see that God's healings and miracles do not only happen in far away foreign countries for us to read about in books, that He does not hold back His gifts according to geography and every need is equal to Him as is every sin. I felt it was such a shame that three members of our former church had surgeries scheduled in the past few months and not one of them came up to the altar asking for prayer to be healed--yes, healed! They asked for prayer for their upcoming surgeries and healing after the surgery, but not one of them gave God the opportunity to be glorified and for the people to be blessed by receiving or seeing a miracle, for my daughter to witness their faith and God's work. They asked for prayer, of course, but they did not step out in faith, they did not risk. That is not the kind of faith I want for my daughter—actually, I do not want so little faith for myself either.

~ My Lord, You are my Source and my Guide. I wish to be what You need for me to be and risk on faith. Help me to want that even more. ~

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Church #2

There is one grand, all-comprehending church; and if I am a Christian, I belong to it, and no man can shut me out of it. ~William E. Channing

We invited a family from our former church over for lunch as they have become good friends. We ate hamburgers that were half beef and half rabbit. Then their six year old daughter and the Princess played together inside and out, while we adults played a game called Pass the Pigs that is the latest and greatest tickle for my friend, so much that she takes it everywhere with her in her purse—I know, scary but true. Not seeing each other on Sundays mornings anymore, we have lots to talk about and talk we the past the time that we should have prepared to leave to visit to Church #2 at before its service started; we did make it just fifteen minutes late.

This church meets on Sunday nights. It owns the building, but another church meets on Sunday mornings there that we might also add to our visit list; how can we pass up a church with a name like Hearts on Fire? Church #2 is a small church with no children and just a few teens, or so it seems as about a third of the people were involved in another event/ministry that night.

We walked into the music portion of the worship service. The first thing we all noticed is that some of the people had brightly colored, but plain, silk flags that they waved as they were singing as the Spirit moved them, I was thinking. At first it was attention taking because it was new to us, but then it seemed relaxing and almost like a spiritual cleansing of the sanctuary. This was something new and different for us. Since then I have researched it and found that banners are traditionally symbolic in the Bible for various things and recently seemed to be revived in the worship services of some churches.

My daughter was tired after the afternoon of play and made it obvious, as she hid her face by tilting her head down with hair falling around it, that she was not in the mood for a church this different. She felt uncomfortable and did not seem to join in the Spirit of the worship.

I also felt outside of my element, which I found quite ironic. Had I not introduced a number of songs in our former church that the other members did not know? Did it not make them uncomfortable? What did I encourage them to do? To just listen and pray instead of trying to sing? To worship the Lord as the Spirit moved them? This is what both my husband and I did.

Sometimes we sang, sometimes we prayed. Most of the people did exactly the same. Some moved around to different areas of the sanctuary and some swayed, and I would not have been surprised if any had broke out in dance, but none did. We did not stand because we felt our daughter needed extra attention and we both talked to her off and on. She asked about the banners and I encouraged her to ask the people after the service.

The songs portion was quite long all in live performance videos being projected and we only knew the very last song, but there were lyrics on the screen and they repeated a lot, so we could sing along. I found myself often just listening and worshiping God in my heart—such a sweet anointing there! It was just truly worshiping the Lord in song within the repetition. I don't know what we missed at the beginning that may have introduced the praise and worship, but later the pastor referred to the time as "loving on the Lord." Yes, that is exactly how it felt.

There were few people. It is a very small church, but God is not mentioned as a Someone we hope to impress, a bystander, or the Lord with which we are to get right, but as the God we love, praise, worship, acknowledge unabashed, boldly as if He is honored in every He should be. The Holy Spirit was not a second thought thrown in for good measure; He is the Leader of this church. That is how they talked of Him and I could see it, I could feel it, I loved it!

The pastor and his wife, also a pastor, had spoken as one of visiting pastors a few times in our former church. His messages were always exactly what we needed to hear at the time they were given. They remembered us and thought that our former church may have closed, but we explained after the services that we had resigned and the church is continuing so far.

He said that his gift is in prophetic teaching. Among other things, we were given handouts of the Hebrew calendar and invited to the Rosh Chodesh Adar Celebration on February 10th. Rosh Chodesh is the name for the first day of every month in the Hebrew calendar, marked by the appearance of the new moon. This church observes the Hebrew celebrations, which my husband and I find very appealing also. This celebration is simply a potluck dinner. We were also invited to have a meal with the pastor and his wife. I will be writing them an email thanking them for welcoming us.

They do not have membership and he mentioned that he could not find any Biblical reason for it—interesting. However, they are absolutely open to anything the Lord is leading them to do whatever it may be, even if it is to begin having membership. Such desire to please and obey our Lord! It really is so very rare beyond the talk, but I believe these people do have it.

I really was surprised how accepting my husband was of the differences in worship and how much my daughter was not, although I think if she had been offered a flag...she would have been into it. Although it might not have what our daughter would like, such as children her age, she would have such a good opportunity to learn about the celebrations and rituals Jesus honored and how to come to a real personal relationship with Lord. We could learn much within this church. It is also on our revisit list. It has been in the back of my mind that we might be involved with two churches and this would be one of them, but as they would say, that depends on the Holy Spirit and I only desire to please my Lord.

~ My Lord, thank you for the opportunity to worship You in this unique and loving place. I ask you bless this church and its pastors. ~

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Inspiration

Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity. ~Bo Bennett

I thought my eccentricity was enough for this family, but either I have mellowed with age or my daughter has aspirations that far outpaced me even when I was her age. I think the child has painted and drawn more than I have my whole life and she has begun writing a least ten books of which I know, even finished a few. I would laugh, but a friend of mine was looking for a particular book Who Owns the Sun? and while I was helping, I found out this award winning book was written and illustrated by a thirteen year old and it published when she was fourteen. Not just a book but an award winning book that we cannot find used for a thrifty price anywhere and this written by a young teenager!

My daughter was already inspired but now, between having been given a book from her piano teacher on Akiane's amazing artwork (another book worth reading--see the picture of her self portrait) and this, she believes without doubt that her wildest dreams can come true and she talks of being published often or selling her artwork by the road to help raise money for some project. She even began a gel pen tattoo business charging her friends from 2¢ to 25¢ depending on the size, not very surprising since I have done face painting for charities.

Lately, the child has been into cleaning and reorganizing her room. She read a good portion of a book called Shameless Shortcuts, which she keeps reminding me that I should also read. Give the child a book and she becomes it! (That could be so useful, thinks I in my mama-of-a-tween mind.) Now her room has truly become her own. She decided that it was time to take out the Living Family plastic dollhouse and accessories. She has been buying items to help her organize it her way. Seeing that she is being so responsible with her allowance, I have talked to her father about increasing it, perhaps doubling it so that she will have $4 a week spending money, while saving $4 and giving a tithe of $2 each week.

My aspirations are small in comparison to my daughter's and most of the time, it is the little things that excite me. I also get inspired by an idea then off I go in, perhaps, a more mature way. Lately, I have been thinking critically of why I do not like to spend much time in certain areas of my home. What I dislike about the area and how to change it so that I do like it. As boring as it is in comparison, I know from a lifetime of experience that I am far more creative when I feel my home is organized.

As odd as it seem, right now I am most inspired about my uninspiring spaces and my daughter's energy. This year my husband and I both have made commitments to organize our home and that can be a rather creative outlet of its own making. I will be on the hunt at thrift store, yard sales, and Craigslist for the things that will improve my spaces. I have ideas to repurpose, recycle, and rethink all sorts of things. I even joined Pinterest which was one more "everyone is doing it" Internet fad I avoided, but I see how it can be put to good use to keep me inspired. Additionally, I have changed the way I am using my technology to be inspiring also.

~ My Lord, may we be inspired in only in the direction You would have us go. I feel You want my daughter to increase in her gifts of music, writing, and art. May I be most useful in encouraging and challenging her as well as she, me. let me also give up those things that are no longer necessary and reorganize my spaces so that they can be used for the purposes You have blessed. ~

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Church #1

The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it. ~Charles H. Spurgeon

We visited a church this morning that is a family-integrated church, that is to say that families stay together during service except for preschoolers and under. It seems there is no Sunday School classes segregated by age either. The building they are in was a higher end BBQ restaurant that went out of business within a year of opening. Now the cheaper BBQ restaurants used to do very well in this area, but many people had moved into the area who were not BBQ fans so even many of these restaurnats have closed. This building with river stone pillars was vacant for several years. Our former pastor used to dream of moving our church into that building.

We enjoyed the people and service very much. They are grounded in the Word but they are open to breaking with traditions to be all things to all men. For instance, the service is flipped. Instead of having praise and worship at the beginning and ending with the sermon, they do announcements, sermon, and then praise and worship. Having been the praise and worship leader in our last church, I can tell you that there were times that I wish we had been singing after the sermon! It was refreshing.

It actually is a small church with not many families, but all the families are young...well, younger than we are. We could have been the oldest couple there, but my husband thought he saw two people who might be older--they may have been the parents of the man delivering the sermon. We sang three contemporary songs, two of which were hymns in modern arrangements, which we knew and the last one was new to us, but easy to follow. They have a streamline media and sound set up with several men who trade off the responsibility of running it. There was a guest speaker giving the sermon, one who will be starting their next planted church in about six months--they are seriously devoted to church planting. Most of the men and women wore jeans. While we were being told that the girls near the age of the Princess were not there due to illness, she was out playing football with the boys as the parents indoors were wrangling the little children, who where all over the place!

My family sat together near the fireplace, which was turned off after the building was warm enough to be comfortable. We actually sat together. We sat and stood and worshiped together. I have not sat with my husband in church except maybe for one or two times for two and a half years. He has ran the media every since the our first pastor and her husband left. I felt just as strange standing next to my family singing. I felt out of place or as if I was forgetting something. I felt I should be holding a mic. I realized then that I will miss leading the praise and worship, but I also felt less stress.

We took communion, which was done differently than any other church I have ever been in. It was on a table near the middle of the sanctuary but next to the wall and we were invited to partake during the second praise and worship song. It was completely self-serve. I neither particularly disliked it or liked it; it was just different. I also notice there was no passing of the plate for tithes and offerings, which I have always thought was a tradition set up to shame people into giving instead of allowing people to give out of their love for the Lord and desire to serve. I am sure there was some place for the tithes, but it was not pointed out nor were we asked to give. I prefer this approach. (We tried placing plates at the back of the church once in another church and the giving decreased so they went back to the other way...I guess shaming works better for those who are used to it or expect it.)

Overall, Church #1 was quite enjoyable for us and we felt quite at home there. We like their commitment to planting churches and discipling in small groups during the week, although the pastor mentioned that they are weak in bringing in new members, which I can kind of understand with so many young families. All those children would be enough to keep the parents rather busy, if you ask me. Many of the families homeschool, but the pastor and his wife placed their children in public school this year as it was getting to be much with a toddler and five other children up to the age of fourteen. We did not meet her or their nine year old daughter as they were ill. The Princess wants to go back next week, of course, to meet the girls, but we would like to visit a few other churches as well.

Although this one is on our revisit list, I do not feel any leading to settle into any particular church or ministry right now and when I think about how I was feeling a bit out of my element just because I was not leading in the singing and my husband was not running the media and sound, I realize that we need this time to just visit and enjoy other believers and their ways of worship. I kept thinking today of how I will be spending time in heaven with these people, even though I will struggle to remember their names presently, and maybe that is why I felt so at home.

~ My Lord, thank you for the opportunity to meet a few more of my brothers and sisters. Please bless this church with its growth and planting new churches in commitment to reaching the unsaved. ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coming Back to the Me I Know

Resign every forbidden joy; restrain every wish that is not referred to God's will; banish all eager desires, all anxiety; desire only the will of God; seek him alone and supremely, and you will find peace. ~Francois Fenelon

For the last several months, I have not really been myself. I feel I never lose who I am, I am sure of who I am, but that was not who I was being. Since I can remember, even as a young child, I have been an early riser. I have always liked getting out of bed to have time to myself in the dark, peaceful quiet of the dawning morning.

Of course, I am not really alone. This is the time that my Lord and I spend together the most. I am not saying that I always sit praying and meditating, but that I spend time with Him as I work or write or the rare workout or whatever. I talk to Him about plans for the day, people who might need His special attention, concerns I have, and my gratitude for my family and the blessings He has given us.

We have done this bit together since I was a teenager, so you can imagine how different my life was for the last several months when I would not get out of bed and slept in later and later. When I rarely was up before 8:00 AM and even then often I just sat in bed with my computer. When my daughter and I were getting around to eating breakfast as late as 10:00 AM instead of around 8:00 AM. When I was still wide awake at 3:00 AM even when I again sleeping at my regular time or because I went to bed later and never got to sleep until after that time. Things were just so out of whack for me.

The problem began eroding to this low point after the opposition to the songs the Lord was leading to me to use for praise and worship began in October. The uncharacteristic awake-sleep pattern was well set before Thanksgiving until just this week, until after we resigned from the church.

The one thing I hoped that my daughter would never have to endure was a mother who fell apart and would just resign from her role as mother. I had such a mother. It did not help that I felt many of the things I was doing and not doing reminded me of my mother.

My poor daughter. The child had brought my breakfast to me while I was still in bed just a couple of times. She was doing it out of the kindness of her heart, but she also was enabling me to stay in bed longer too. I welcomed the kindness, although I knew enabling me was not a good thing for either one of us. I suppose it is not all bad for the Princess to realize that it is not the end of the world when people have low times in their life for short long as they are short. That she was getting up before me, though...that was surreal.

The last few days I been more like myself and less on the edge over the little things, but then something will not go the way I think it should and I find myself seriously struggling to keep my composure: either my temper is too short or I find it overly distressing. Also, I do not want to just get back to the way I was, but to be better than I was. I want more peace in my spirit; actually, I need it so desperately. If only I could be like Jesus....

~ My Lord, let all fall away that is not of You. Please give me Your healing, perfect peace at all times. ~

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One Small First Step

Don't agonize. Organize. ~Florence Kennedy

I may need intervention. I still have a clutter problem. However, my schedule has just been decluttered, so now I have the time to declutter other areas.

I am planning on reorganizing my entire home during this year, but the task is so overwhelming that I decided to take it one small step at a time. Today, I completed my very first step! It was nothing big nor particularly life changing, but I knew that once I did it, it would be one little thing that would make one little area a happier place for my eyes to rest upon.

For years we have use a small bright green shoe box (from when our daughter was a probably three years old) to store batteries. The box was beginning to look worn and everything in it would get dusty because the top was never placed on it and bulk batteries packages were tossed into it that did not fit. It has been on the top shelf of my husband's desk hutch for years, which houses lots of other loose items that just gather dust, because he just may need some intervention also.

I began looking on the Internet for ideas about organizing in general and saw this idea that was quick, easy, and cheap. I bought a five-drawer organizer, which was nearly half the price it would be to buy two of the three-drawer types that I saw for this idea. From top to bottom, I labeled the drawers:

  • 9V and Specialty
  • AAA
  • AA
  • C
  • D

Now my battery organizer is sitting on a shelving unit were my old flatbed scanner used to be. We replaced that scanner with a wireless all-in-one when we switched our Internet service from DSL to U-verse just before Christmas (AT&T did not give us much choice in that). The old scanner had to be directly plugged into a computer with installed software and it was getting to difficult with three computers, plus some of our equipment was so old that the software is incompatible with the newer versions of windows and is no longer supported.

Anyway, I now have our batteries in a clean little drawer unit that is easy to dust, keep organized, and reduces that clutter (those dreaded "piles") so that I feel like smiling just a little more when I am in the office area.

~ My Lord, thank you for reminding me that the littlest change in the right direction is inspiring for the largest tasks ahead. ~

Monday, January 14, 2013

After All This...

Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church. ~Bridget Willard

Even when I know how things are going to go, even when I know that people will believe whatever they want to believe, I am still hopeful that people will get it. That they will hear the words being spoken to them in full context instead of hearing only the parts they wanted to hear or seeing what is being said as a confirmation of what they wanted to believe even though it is contrary to the truth.

My husband went to the church board meeting to resign and he talked for several minutes about how we knew the Lord was telling us to go. He explained in detail what we had written in our resignation letter. He even told them that we would not put the "reaching up and reaching out" tagline on the website, because it did not fit with the church. Nothing he said was news to them. They have heard and even have said the same themselves for the last three years.

We wanted them to understand this was not about what we wanted but in obedience to our Lord. We wanted them to understand this was not about our daughter being one of the only two children, but that we were failing in our God given mission to reach the unsaved and unchurched. We wanted them to understand that when they were praying about our church to grow that they were really asking God to provide everything while they changed nothing instead of being willing to change according to God's will.

That is what I hoped they would hear and understand, but what did they say to my husband before he left?

"You have to do what is right for your family."

It has bothered me every since my husband told me.

No one said "you must do what is right in the Lord's eyes," or even " if you feel this is God's will, then go in peace," and wouldn't it be absolutely wonderful for any one of them to say "although I will miss you, I also know you are following the Lord's leading."

I suppose we are doing what is "right for [our] family," because we are choosing to obey our Lord, but...that statement just seems so lacking in any acknowledgement of God, as if He is not really involved let alone the reason we have resigned.

And if He is not the reason, would not this decision be based on our own selfish reasons? Is that really what they are thinking of us, we are being selfish? No, they would never say it that way, but it comes down to this: either we are being led by God to leave or we are leaving against God's will. There really is no gray area here. My husband and I spent months praying and making sure that this was God's leading.

It seems that they will tell themselves, and each other, is that we left for whatever reasons, but certainly not because God was leading us, as that would mean coming to terms some things God has to say to the church. I will continue to pray that they hear God clearly on His purpose for the church for it all really has to be about what God wants for it to work.

~ My Lord, every time I have second thoughts and I question if we really were called by You to leave, something is said that is another sign from You that we are doing what is right in Your eyes. Thank you for the confirmation for us, but Lord please help them to hear You clearly. ~

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Have a Kindle Fire HD!

Men have become the tools of their tools.
~Henry David Thoreau

All I wanted for Christmas was an eReader. My husband had SkyMiles so, at no cost to him, he ordered a Kindle Fire HD 7-inch. This was far more than I wanted. I just wanted something so I could read eBooks and Kindle Fire has a high gloss screen making reading in sunlight difficult. However, I have since gotten a matte screen protector that works well so that I can read in sunlight. The negative side of that is that it slightly dulls the HD effect for games and movies.

Oh, yes. The Kindle Fire HD is actually a tablet that allows me to watch movies, play games, access the Internet. Just ask me how many books I have loaded. Two. Ask me how many I have read. NONE! That is why I wanted just an eReader. I know my weaknesses. However, one of the books is the Bible and I have read some of it...okay, technically it is a free app with various versions of the Bible.

I have loaded several free apps. I have an app with all my most favorite recipes syncing with my recipe box as I even have one that allows me to take hand written notes with a stylus or my finger. I use it for when I am in a store and jotting down expiration dates so that I know when the items will be marked down or for sale dates and prices. Very handy! I dislike typing in everything with one finger.

So I have plans, lots of plans, for my Kindle Fire, like taking place of my chore index cards and planner system that did not get past the morning chores stage. There are actually apps for housekeeping lists, but they just have not made the app I really want yet. Did I ever mention how picky I am in that way? Hmm. Maybe it is a control issue? So I decided the best thing would be for me to try out the free ones and there is one I like but I would have to write all the chores and put in what days and so forth, because I do not like their schedule.

Until I decide what to do about the Kindle, I have decided to work on my lists in OneNote, cross referencing so that things are listed by rooms, clutter spots, days of the week, intervals, etc. Yeah, really detailed...which is why I have not done this for the three years I have been thinking about it. I have three rooms, the garage, porch, and deck to yet add. I also plan to add seasonal things like deep cleaning, gardening, and more.

Then there is an app to help me keep track of the items in my pantry. If the app were on an android phone with a camera it could scan the barcode, but the Kindle Fire HD does not do this so I have to type in the UPC numbers, but still it does not take long and instead of trying to remember what is in my pantry, I have the inventory with me as I shop.

Yes, lots of plans all of which enslave me to a device that is meant to be a helpful tool. Yes, yet another addition to my growing love it/hate it list of technology.

Still, I am really liking my Kindle Fire HD!

~ My Lord, let not the tool become the master. ~

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reflections of the Past Six Months

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."
 ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1943

Also called "This is What Happened When I Did Not Listen to My Lord."

In retrospect, I have come to the conclusion that I just could not fit everything I wanted in my life into...well, my life. What was important to me—what had become too important to me—was apparently not in God's plan and while I was kind of thinking that I needed to drop a few things, I just did not want to do so.

So what happened is I shuffled through is some short-seasoned, all-consuming tasks to help me quit things I liked doing and people were counting on me to do them so I had difficulty with the idea of quitting.

In August I had been asked to become the praise and worship leader of my church. I felt the right way to do this was through much time spent in prayer and listening to music. I would prepare lyrics and chose from a growing assortment of music videos, CDs, and MP3 downloads to place on a thumb drive to upload to the church media computer. It was a very time consuming task and within just a few weeks, I knew that I would have to quit taking care of the horses and barn on Tuesday mornings. I quit the barn just three months ago, but it seems like a year already. Oddly, I had felt for several weeks before that I should quit the barn, but there was that thing of not wanting to quit anything, so I realize now that my Lord made it so I had to do so.

Within a couple of weeks of quitting the horse barn, my husband bought me a new laptop computer. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted a new computer but it was not until I was preparing the praise and worship services that I really needed one. However, setting up a new computer with the programs I use and transferring data was another time consuming thing to do just as the holidays approach!

Still, I tried focusing on the praise and worship services and homeschooling until Thanksgiving. I usually do not have the Princess do much homeschool seatwork from the week of Thansgiving until after the New Year. There are other things for her to learn and do. For instance, since she was quite young she has been designing the Christmas cards every year. We print them out in full color with a nice greeting in each. She has been able to address envelopes since she was quite young also, but I do the Christmas card envelopes and she does the addressing of her own thank-you cards.

We also have lots of extra baking and social events, but for the last two months we have not been to any of the 4-H events and that would be because I was still too overloaded emotionally to fit in anything. The Princess said she wanted to continue with 4-H, but she was not asking about it. I began thinking it is likely that was something else of which we needed to let go.

Princess is also preparing for the annual judging for piano. If she gets five points this time, she will get a trophy...and she really wants that trophy. The child is so capable at this point, she can do anything but the attitude is of a tween and most of the tween attitude is toward me. Considering that I have been on the edge emotionally and rather busy, we both needed some quality, quantity, together time just being mama and daughter, which we did more so after Christmas.

I was really looking forward to preparing the praise and worship service during advent, but by mid December I was hating it. You know that I rarely use the word hate so that it has the weight that it should have. What made me hate it was a combination of things. I felt the Lord's leading to prepare my church, the members in particular, for younger newcomers and children, however opposition was voiced repeatedly. It was just one email now and then, but the sentiments were obvious during church service as well and constantly weighed on me.

After breaking out in hives, having anxiety issues with a few panic attacks to boot, and some scary things happening with my vision, I was praying quite a bit, but I really did not welcome either answer my Lord could give me. Either I would feel trapped or like a deserter, so I prayed but at the same time I would close my heart to His answer. Now as a parent, I have experienced the flip side with my own daughter and it is very frustrating; at some point I would just not bother to answer and let her stumble around until she was finally ready to use the advice I prepared to give her. Likewise, I think God let me stumble around while my health issues increased, because He knew these would get my attention and break me down to be willing to accept His will.

My husband and I felt that the vote regarding a name change for the church would be the last test indicator of whether the church really wanted to change. The vote was taken on December 23rd and that evening an email was sent out with the results: 3/5 against. We knew then it was very likely that the Christmas Eve Service would be our last. It was not, though. We led last week, the first Sunday of the new year, but it was our last.

We had already decided before Christmas that we would take the last Sunday of the year off—actually, my husband insisted. The week of Christmas was relaxing. My husband was on vacation time and without having to prepare for the next service I was able to decompress. That is when I really came to terms with how bad my anxiety had really become by comparison. With a clearer mind and a broken heart, I was finally able to listen to what the Lord had been telling me and I began writing our resignation letter.

We are leaving the church we have attended for four years. I do not know where we are being led to at this time, but I do know that we are being told to leave this one. On Wednesday, my husband informed the man who has been leading the church so they would have time to prepare the service on Sunday and he plans to go to the board meeting to read our resignation letter and hand in his key. I am not certain if he further edited the letter, as he thinks the reasons should be left out and only given to those who ask, but here was my final draft of it:

Our friends and family in Christ, we wish to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as board members and on the praise and worship team. Each of you has been a special blessing to us. It is with both deep sadness in our hearts and anticipation in serving our Lord in a new capacity that we are asking for you to accept our resignations from all our positions, including membership.

We have been prayerful, cautious, and patient in determining God's leading in this, because we felt such a burden knowing how our parting would affect the future of this church and our relationship with you. We wish to thank you all for being of service to God in making His will clearly known to us when we were stubborn in not accepting His leading. So that there is no speculation or misunderstanding, we wish to be completely open and truthful about how God has shown us that we are now to change the direction of our service for Him. We welcome you to ask us questions directly to us should this letter leave unanswered ones.

It was not through any one particular sign but through several small ones over a long period of time, but we will share the three that indicated to us without doubt that the Lord wants us to make this change at this time.

We have heard members say for years that we need to do some things different because what we have been doing is not working, yet whenever changes were introduced at the board meetings, they rarely went beyond discussion. Recently, comments regarding the website symbolized this continued resistance to change or recognizing the need to change to fulfill God's purpose for the church.

While we were in prayer and preparation for each praise and worship service, we were met with opposition, as expected with any major change. However, accompanying it was increasing depression and anxiety for Linda. Still, we felt the Holy Spirit leading us to introduce contemporary Christian music to help all church members come to appreciate what is the most appealing to younger newcomers and our own children. We were amazed how the Holy Spirit confirmed through the flow of each service that we were doing as the Lord wished. However, we were also amazed that this was not growing into welcomed change and the tension went beyond a spiritual and emotional struggle to a physical one when Linda began to break out in hives and experience other uncommon health issues. It has been confirmed through words from the Lord coming from trusted intercessors and prayer partners that the physical issues were allowed to bring us to this decision to follow the Lord as He was leading us away from the church.

The vote declining the church name change was another sign to us. The name change was probably not going to put the church on the map, but it would have served as an inspiration to focus us in the pursuit of attracting the lost souls from outside of our church. We prayed about this and felt that a majority "no" vote would only confirm that the church as a whole would not be focusing on its God-given mission to reach the unsaved. It was the final confirmation for us.

We feel that you all wish to serve God, but the church as a whole has been hampered in fulfilling its stated mission of "reaching up and reaching out." We were hopeful when the church participated in the 40-day fast two years ago and we witnessed the Holy Spirit moving powerfully in the personal lives of a few...because we did something very different and earnestly sought the Lord! For us, that fast was the one of the most spiritually awakening experiences of our lives and it profoundly changed us. It made us keenly aware that we have desired to have heightened spiritual walk with God, sharing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit with believers who desire the same and are willing to act on faith in agreement with the Lord, because the End Times are fast approaching.

We feel we have not just been released from our service here, but have been told to leave by our Lord. We finally recognize that the Lord has been very patient with the church when we have resisted focusing on the mission He wanted for us and we personally accept the blame that we were part of the problem, asking your forgiveness as well as from our Lord.

We will miss worshiping with you all very much and will keep you close in our hearts and prayers. Please know that you are welcomed to call, email, and come by anytime.

I will be passing on the website information so they can work on it, but it is formatted and done as far as I can go without the content and images for which we asked.

So now my life has been completely decluttered and prepared for whatever my Lord wishes us to do next. For now, I will be focusing on my health, home, family, and listening better to my Lord so we go where we are supposed to be.

~ My Lord, I truly do have a special place in my heart for each of the members so leaving is a difficult thing to do, but it is my greatest desire to follow where You lead and be of service to You in bringing the unsaved to know You. Please make your will known in regards to the future of the church and for each individual there. Help me to keep my heart always open to You, my Lord. ~