We unplugged our television. One year ago.

Let me just tell you if we’re going to be really honest with each other:  I was a ” we never watch TV that much” kind of person. I really said that. I really believed that. We are active and do things and aren’t home that much. And you might say that too. But when I finally did not have it, like not even able to be turned on, it was then and then only that I realized I had believed my own lie for far too long. It was ALWAYS on in the background trying to grab my attention every second of the day. You will never know how many minutes it steals from you unless it is gone. 

The truth is, I just got fed up with always having it in the background. I got tired of what it slyly taught my kids, good or bad. I was tired of the chatter.

You know how easy it is to open an account to watch satellite? It takes 10 minutes. You know how hard it is to cancel an account? It took 63 minutes, 3 people, 3 different departments, lots of questions, lots of silence to wrap their brains around my answer to “what we were going to do then,” and one lady from the company that prayed with me on the phone before I hung up. She pressed her button and our TV’s went blank.

If they are going to be blank, they might as well be unplugged and down off the walls. Yes. We did that. When the last TV (yes, we had MANY) was unplugged and taken down, my 7-year-old at the time asked me, “well mom, what are we going to do then after dinner? What will we do before we go to bed? What about in the morning before school?” She looked at me with wide eyes. In slow motion, her first 7 years flashed in my eyes. The TV was her friend. It was the one she played with. The one she interacted with. The one she laughed with. The one she fell asleep with. The one that taught her the beginning of Spanish. The one that told her that she was beautiful. The one that taught her the Presidents name. The one who told her there were starving children in the world. The one that helped her make her Christmas list. People would ask “what do you like” and she named off her favorite TV show. And I was sitting right there next to her “spending time with her” while we watched TV together. In all honesty, I was supposed to get that digital antenna thingy for my husband so he could watch the local news and football. I literally forgot for two months and by that time, I was beginning to like the sound of my kids playing, the washer humming, the furnace running, the birds driving me crazy in the morning, the rain hitting the skylights and the Lords voice all day. So I never bought the antenna. And then we started to realize the repercussions of not having a TV speaking to us; either to our faces or in the background of our minds, all day, everyday.

I see it now. I can acknowledge it now. I whined that I didn’t see them much and then when I did, I spent quality time with them and the TV. I whined because I could not hear the Lord speaking, yet I realize now that every time He was speaking, there was someone else that was talking too. And when someone is whispering to you, you and your world have to be silent to hear it. My TV will not be the reason that He can’t get mine or my family’s attention.

In the mornings, it is silent now. There is no switch to flip on the noise. So we crack open the Bible that before this, was meant for Sundays. Now we read it in silence. We stare into our coffee because what else is there to look at? And then we pray to God in silence, and we can hear Him speaking to us in return. My kids use their imaginations that I didn’t know they had when they watched TV all the time. We have dinner together and talk about everything while we stare not into the TV but into each others eyes. I read. Books. The Bible. Anything and everything. My husband reads. More than he ever has. My children read, more than I knew they could. We protect our marriage by keeping all the muffled voices of the world out. We are in a different place now honestly. It sounds so ridiculous, I know. But it’s the truth. There is no noise in the background to divert our attention from each other. There is no noise in my home to divert our attention from the one thing we live for; God. He lives in our home now. He doesn’t compete for our attention in a battle against the TV. (Or our cell phones. And on that note, my phone is in a basket on the counter and my husbands will be also when he gets home. I implemented that just now.) The Lord is free to speak to me all hours of the day. Uninterrupted by noise.

Listen, before you go commenting that you have a TV and your life and family are JUST DANDY, I do not mean that this is for everyone. I am in no way condemning you for having a TV. This ‘no TV thing’ has deeply impacted my family. MY FAMILY. And you will never know what it will do to yours, if anything, unless you do it too. Don’t tell me it wouldn’t work in your home. You know this because? Don’t list all the reasons why. There are no reasons if you’ve never done it. I dare you. I dare you to unplug. Start with a month. Listen to your children whine and cry about it. They will. You will too. Unplug them. See what happens. See what you find out. See what you hear. See what He shows you. Are you brave enough to do that? See what a relationship with your family and your Creator is like undistracted, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Don’t do something just because you’ve always done it. How often do you hear from Him? During your allotted prayer time? During church? He wants to talk to you all the time. Make sure if He calls, you can hear the whisper; in whatever form that looks like for you.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

(Since the year ago that we removed all the TV’s, we did bring one back in recently within the month for the kiddos to watch DVD’s maybe on a saturday. The Sandlot is too good a movie to deprive them forever. And there are some serious life lessons in that movie. {wink} )

 

 

 

 

 

A soft place to land.

I grabbed the bale of straw and carried it over to the pen. I cut the twine and put the snips back in my jacket pocket. I removed my gloves and stuffed them in the other pocket. I yanked the twine off of the bale and wrapped it over itself and tied it around the gate. I love spreading out straw. I like to cover the hard ground with something that is soft for the cows. This was my gift to them. I grabbed the first couple of flakes and lifting my hands up, I began to shake them out and spread the straw. The sun was coming into the barn just perfectly so that I could see all the dust kick up. I watched the straw swirling around me in slow motion; it flew up in the air dancing with the sun, suspended itself for just a moment, and began to fall down slowly back and forth, back and forth. It would never “hit” the ground but rather just softly end up there. I went as fast as I could because I loved the show. The straw reflecting off of the sun in the air gleamed like gold. Every piece caught my eye. All was silent in this barn, except for the falling gold all around me. I was doing my best to cover the rough terrain that was here. I was trying my hardest to make sure that the animals had a soft place to land. I was trying to keep them warm; away from the cold, bitter world out there. I wanted them to come in and rest. Even for just a moment.

And then, a thought. It literally hit me upside the head. I looked around like I would see the person running away that brought this thought to me. It was the clearest thought I have had in a long time: This is exactly what Jesus does. He is standing there, calling people in. He wants them (you and I, His loves) to come in and out of the bitterness of the world. The Lord has made a place for us to come and rest. He has done everything He could possibly do to be able to give us rest. He has made a place for us, made a way, and asked us to follow. He never said the world out there would be easy, or happy or free from pain; but He did say to come to Him and He would give us rest. And there He was, waiting for me to come and rest. But I stood outside that barn like my cows do for a long time. That straw isn’t what I am used to feeling. That rest isn’t a thing that is comfortable to me.

“I cannot. I will not. I will solve this. I will handle this. I will make this better.”

I stand outside through the storm. I stand outside while the enemy whispers lies to me. I stand outside watching my world fall to pieces as my “control” vanishes. I stand clenching all the people and things that I think I have to hold so tightly. All the while He is standing there with His arms out calling me to Him, to come to HIS rest, not the rest I think He should create for me.

What is that rest? Well, I finally went in so I can tell you. It is a real place. It is a place in His company. It is a place that I KNOW that He will be near me. It is a place that allows me to put all my worries at His feet and leave them there so I can rest my soul. The truth is, I hate carrying around all the worry and anxiety of everyday and everything. And to be absurdly honest, I do not really like the control that I think I have. It’s a lot of responsibility to be the one carrying the torch all the time. It’s too much to always be the fixer, the mediator, the one with the answer. But really, who am I kidding? It is really a false sense of control.

I stand there, my fists clenched with all my control. The gold falling through the air inside the barn catches my attention. I see Him in there making a safe place for me. I see His hands moving up and down throwing all His light to make a place for me. I watch that light crowd out all the darkness in there. That’s it. I take all my stuff and step over the line. I immediately feel His peace. He envelops me in an embrace I have never felt before. Calm. Peace that no one can explain. Everything is going to work out to His will, and I am not in control of that. Everything going on out there can just wait. A weight physically off of my shoulders. I can feel the hope rising in my soul for a better tomorrow with Him by my side. Not maybe literally better, but better knowing He will never leave me as I walk through it. I hand over all the stuff I have been carrying and I literally lay it at His feet. I am done now. Done controlling. Done asking WHY. Done being shackled to my circumstance. I never want to leave this peace, and guess what? I do not have to. I can live in this peace forever. He wants me to be here forever. He has made this place for me. He has died so that I could be here.

It is a choice. And I choose His rest. I choose His will. Not mine. Ask me, and I will tell you; I will pray about whatever you are asking and whatever step I take because I am not in control of it. And that gives me great joy. And peace that you just cannot understand until you also come in.

So come, bring it all in, lay it all down, and rest. (And don’t ever leave.)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 28-30

It was, after all, just a banana plant.

I thought it was just going to be a normal day. It felt normal. My alarm went off normally, I put my clothes on normally, and I looked at my schedule of clients for the day like normal. I couldn’t wait to get to work. I love standing behind that chair. The Lord has been working a great miracle in me to enable me to do this job. I have shared in loss, triumphs, tragedy, greatness and despair. I have seen people move closer to God and I have seen people walk away. Every ounce of my being cries for the people in my chair. I solely want them to someday experience the life altering, life-changing love that was first shown to me. Like someone eavesdropping on a conversation they shouldn’t be listening to, I listen intently to everything that comes out of the lips of whoever is in my chair. I eat up the words that they say. I cry with them a lot. I get down and look them in the eyes if something needs to be said. I hold their hands. Their pain makes my heart ache. Like a real ache in my chest. I wasn’t always like this. I was once calloused and removed. Simply “doing”. Then the Lord came and ransacked my heart. He showed me what it was to be simply loved. So that is what I try my best to do, simply love; from behind that chair most days. Everyone is hurting. Everyone is broken. Every heart cries tears whether or not they ever show up as tears on the outside. And sometimes, their words make their way to my heart and lodge themselves there forever.

But I must admit, life gets fast. I have so much to do in one day, I forget to listen. I forget to stop. I forget to feel, honestly. I see their faces but I don’t look into their eyes. I hear what they say but I don’t have the time to let it settle in my heart. Sometimes, frankly, and let’s be honest here, I do not have the time to simply love because I did not have the time to simply stop and feel HIS LOVE. This was one of those days.

It was busy. And by busy I mean that I had not a moment since I crawled out of bed to even think. I was so busy doing all of things I needed to get done, I forgot about Jesus. And come to think of it, I forgot about Him the day before and the day before that. When was the last time I bowed down on my knees and thanked Him? When was the last time I read His words and He spoke to me? When was the last time I was simply a human just being? Admittedly, I could not recall. And that’s when she walked in my door.

Her voice lights up any room. Her southern drawl commands attention and a speck of a laugh. She is confident and sure. She is REAL. She has lived life and won’t hesitate to tell you all she knows to be true. And she was about to sit down in my chair. I cannot recall what she and I were talking about to begin with. I do not remember the chatter before the monumental statement. I do not remember what day of the week it was. I do not recall what the weather was. But as she spoke, I heard just one sentence that I would remember for the rest of my life. It jostled me out of the thoughtless stupor I was in.

“I heard it move. I literally heard the banana plant leaves opening.”

Wait, what? I envisioned what a feat that was to actually hear that happening. I imagined how slow that would actually be. I thought about what it takes to even be in the room as it was actually taking place. I stopped mid cut. I put my hands on my hips and backed away from the chair. My mouth was wide open, “How in the world did you hear that? That has got to be the quietest sound ever, quite possibly.” It was, she agreed. The funny thing was, she has owned a banana plant almost all of her life and she has NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, heard that thing make a sound. Until that day. Until the day that she desperately needed to know that her Savior was near.

She looked around for a minute confused about what that noise was. Her eyes darted around the room at what could possibly be making that unusual noise. Then she caught a glimpse of that banana plant. She focused in on it. She heard it again and felt it. She half-laughed out loud. “I hear you, Lord.” And then she heard it again. The leaves were slowly opening and she was there to hear it. It was so quiet that she could have heard a pin dropping onto the floor. She could have heard the wind seeping through the cracks in the windowsill. She could have heard the drop of the water out of the faucet. But she has heard all that before. It would be just that; hearing something normal. It wouldn’t have moved her. He wouldn’t have felt so near. It was in that exact moment that He gave her what she needed the most. To know that He was near. She didn’t need a sign nor words from Him. She just needed to feel Him. She felt Him move around her. She smiled. She laughed to herself. He was waiting for her to just stop. He was waiting until she could really hear.

You know why a banana plant has leaves that won’t open? Because the growing conditions are less than ideal. You know why you and I can’t feel the Lord moving? Because our feeling environment is less than ideal.

I was in that moment, jostled from my fast-paced reality. I knew what I was missing. I had to change my feeling environment. I had to be still, and not in a half-praying, half thinking-about-the-laundry-at-the-same-time kind of way. Really, truly, desiring to experience only Him in an intimate, only He and I kind of way. I want to show my devotion to Him by simply handing back my time to Him in a ‘here, Lord, I have no plans for this time, so you use it how you see fit’ kind of way. After a while, those small minutes of time turns into hours that you give back to Him. Then those hours turn to days, and days to weeks, and weeks to years. And after a short period, you have given over every second of every day of your life to Him. And every single day, before your feet hit the floor, you tell Him, “Lord, this is your day. Use it how you want. Use me in these minutes to do your work. This is your day of my life.”

We all have a banana tree. It sits somewhere away from humanity and life and doing. He will speak all the time, wherever you are. But to really feel Him? Sometimes you just have to find that banana tree. Is it outside hearing the leaves blowing? Is it finally hearing Him in the birds chirping? Is it stopping to feel the breeze out of heaven that rests for a second on your skin? Is it the clouds billowing in a sky you missed seeing today?

He is already there, you just have to be ready to listen. Like really listen. Ready to hear. And feel. And if you’re quiet enough, you might even be able to hear Him moving the leaves on your banana tree.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

It’s not just coffee.

I carve out time every morning to stare into my coffee. I just laughed when I wrote that because it sounds so ridiculous. Okay, I don’t do it intentionally, but every morning I spend some alone time with just myself and my coffee. I don’t mean to stare into it, but it always gets the best of me. I click my fingers off of the counter and my foot keeps the beat of the coffee machine clicking away. My dad always made instant coffee when I was a child and I couldn’t wait to grow up and make some of my own. The non-instant variety. So here I stand, marking off my bucket list one cup at a time. Sometimes if my son is up with me, he and I dance to the beat it keeps for us. And sometimes, I make it brew more just so we can dance a little longer in the kitchen together. But that’s neither here nor there…After my dancing I pour a little white heaven into the cup and watch the darkness engulf it. I watch it churn together so slowly at first that if I turned away, I would miss the mixing of the two. I wrap my fingers around the smooth handle and pick up the cup. I give it a swirl just out of habit now I guess. I sit down and look away for a minute. Then, the contents inside that cup always draw me back to watch. What is happening in that cup that makes me stare at it? What about it draws my attention every single day?

I will tell you that it’s not the coffee, nor is it the creamer or the smell as it hits my nose. It is not the color or the steam that billows up from the contents and clouds my view. The miracle happens when I see the dark coffee rising from the bottom to be overcome by the creamer. It makes me smile. I smile because what is going on in my cup every morning has happened in my real life. I know that sounds funny. A little insane perhaps. But, let me explain myself before you put down these words and take me off your reading list.

The same mixing that happens in my cup is the same thing that I have felt in my soul. I have seen what this looks like in the real world outside of that delightful cup of joe in the morning.

I watch the darkness swirl up from the bottom of my cup and at the same moment, the touch of heaven engulfs it and makes it a different color. It takes away the pungent taste and tames it. There is nothing that resembles the original dark that was brewed after the liquid heaven touches it. But, it doesn’t do it quickly. It’s like slow motion going on here. Sometimes I wish that my cup was clear so I could really see what’s going on in there. The light crowds every corner and finds every dark hiding place. If you think there might be some dark hiding at the bottom, you dip a spoon in and stir up the hidden spots to mingle them with the light. You have no doubt that the darkness will be overtaken. You pour it in knowing that the light will do its job.

I know that when the Lords light pours over someone, it will begin to churn their heart so that all the dark is roused from its hiding places and overtaken by His light.

How do I know this? This is me. My heart. My soul. I gave Him my life long ago and ever since then He has been pouring His light into my darkness. Just the same as my cup of coffee, He is working at transforming me into His light. He has been crowding out all the dark spots that make their home in my soul. All those spots that the enemy wants to go unnoticed. All the fear and shame and regret about the past. All the unforgiveness. All the bitterness. The enemy will hide these things way at the bottom of your heart so you don’t know that they are there. They form the goopy dark matter that is so difficult to scrape off if left unattended for too long. But listen to me; He will work tirelessly to get you to see what’s down there. He wants it out. He wants it overtaken by The Light. Sometimes He even pulls out His spoon and really stirs up your heart revealing to you all the heavy darkness that seeps to the bottom and wants to reside there. When He shows you this truth, the choice is yours as to what to do with it. Do you leave it there, unable to be strong enough to see it for what it is? Do you pour more on top of it and hope it’s covered for a while longer? Or do you give it over to Him and let it be consumed by the Light?

Listen to me, the dark matter at the bottom of your heart will only begin to build until you can no longer disguise the hurt and the pain. If you have a giant cup of coffee and pour in only a teaspoon of creamer, it is nearly impossible for the creamer to penetrate every spec of that darkness. In this same way, if you let that darkness build, it makes it very difficult for the Light to work in the way It wants to. It wants to consume your heart and soul. It wants to transform all the dark and get it out of there. It wants to make you look and talk and think like Him. I trust that just like in my coffee, His light is strong enough to overpower the darkness. I just trust Him. I know that His plans are best. I have seen it with my very own eyes. I have felt that power. (And that doesn’t always mean I get what I pray for.) I understand that the enemy lies to me and wants to defile the plans the Lord has for me and all the ways He has protected me in the past. He wants me to look back and see nothing but pain at the hands of God. He likes it when I get out my shovel and dig the darkness a little deeper.

If you are brave enough to let Him stir up all the goop down there from years of a very lived life that was hard and unfair and downright awful at times, then He is strong enough to transform all of that into real, true, honest joy that only He can give.

I know what I am telling you is true. I know what He can do. I know that His light can overcome your darkness. His light overcame my darkness. It was rough. And hard. He showed me the dark and I had to bring it all out. In the open. To be seen. I had to feel it all again to give it over. With tears and heart ache I gave it over and watched it be consumed by His light. It was gone. For the first time in forever, it was gone.

I pray fervently that you will never look at your coffee the same ever again. I pray that every single time you see your coffee, you will ask the Lord to stir your own heart. What is hiding in there that maybe you don’t even know? What crevice needs to be searched out and overtaken? What lies have you listened to for so long that you now drink them as truth? Some of you might know that right now. It might be a nagging that you have disregarded for years and if that is you; take this as your sign in the clouds you’ve been praying for. He wants you to be free. He died on that cross to free you from that sludge at the bottom of your heart! Your darkness is not strong enough to stand against His light if you open the door to it. That’s what my coffee and my bible say anyway. And that’s the truth. Let His light overcome your darkness. It’s time.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

The Question.

I sit here outside the barn, feeling spring in February in Indiana. No stocking hat to cover my ears from the bite in the wind. There is no bite. There is only a breeze; a familiar one at that. It blows my hair back and moves the limbs on the trees with no cover, for it is February; despite what I feel out here. I glanced up when I heard the song that I remember so well. Don’t ask me what bird sings the song because I couldn’t tell you. A storm is rolling in, and even if I couldn’t hear the thunder that’s being kicked up, I could sense it. The pitter-patter of single rain drops hit the tin roof above me. I have taken my seat at just the right time; out of the corner of my eye I see a bolt of bright light and then in slow motion, I see the clouds rolling as if dancing with the light. I jump when the crash of thunder jostles my mind completely awake. The smell of the straw stacked last fall filters through my nose. The cows get up when they hear me set out my old chair. They know what I am doing. I came here to visit Him. I know it seems odd because after all, “God is everywhere.” I know that, and you know that, but sometimes I just need to stop. I need to stop to be able hear and see all the amazing things that I missed yesterday and the day before. I missed the sunrise and yet it happened. I missed the geese flying south, and yet they did. I missed the leaves falling off of the trees, and yet they fell. I missed the ponds freezing over and yet they froze.

I missed what it means to be a human being because I am always a human doing.

So I come out here to be a human being. I do nothing except sit and listen to all the things that I’ve missed. Except today is an exception to all my rules about coming out here. I always just bring myself. Nothing else. But today I will write because He asked me to. What will I be writing? I, of course, have no idea. I planned to have a wonderful date with my Savior. Just He and I. Just me and Him. Just us. The thunder rippled across the sky and the breeze got cooler. I should’ve brought a jacket. I watched everything around me. I wanted to never forget all that I have missed. And then. The question. It caught me off guard to be honest. I heard my name first. He got my attention. I was not expecting to be asked a question. It was simple really. Probably a question that to many, would require not much thinking. But, it struck me. He knew the answer so why was He asking? Why would He possibly ask me that?

Kristin, why do you love me?

I opened my mouth to give my best Christian answer, but, nothing. I knew what to recite and I knew ways to make it sound so sweet but nothing would come out. I sat there in that old chair bewildered by this so-simple question. I knew all the verses to tell Him as to why I loved Him. I knew all the stories about my life that I could share, with listed reasons as to why I loved Him. But, He didn’t want to hear what I thought He wanted to hear; He wanted to hear my heart. Beating. Living. Pumping. For Him. I could almost see Him standing there in front of me, waiting for my reply. I felt the water fall from my eye. I felt the goose-bumps developing on my arms. I felt my mouth go dry. I searched through the file folders of reasons in my brain and it wouldn’t give me anything but a jumbled mess. He asked me again, “Kristin, why do you love me?”

I began to sob, so overcome with what He meant to me that I fell to my knees. Out came my reply. Out came what He wanted to hear. Out came what I needed to hear.

“I love you Lord, because you saved me. You saved me when I was about to walk off the ledge because my enemy convinced me this earth was better off without me. You saved me from the enemy’s lies that were truth to me. You saved me when I didn’t think I could be saved. You came up beside me and told me that I was good enough for your love. You cried with me. You died for me. You begged me to see your truth. You came beside me and told me that everything that I had done was forgiven. You told me that you chose me. Me! This awful, sinful, chooses-everything-but-you, me. And the truth is, I have never been good enough. I have never been chosen. I have never been first. I have never been this person that you see. I have never been this person that you are showing me exists. I have never been alive. You saved me Jesus. From myself. From my never-ending shame. From my overbearing guilt. You saved me from living a life of just doing. You saved me from being separated from you for eternity. I don’t know how I could ever repay what you have done for me. I don’t know what I could ever say to thank you enough. I have not the words to adequately tell you what your love means to me. These words are all I have for you: You are my everything. You are the reason I live free. I know what that prison feels like, and I know now what it means to be free. I love you, Jesus, because you freed me.”

And with that He said, “Never forget what you have just said to me. Never forget who you are in Me. Never forget to tell everyone why you love me. They will see Me in you and I will come to them and free them. Never forget how much I love you. Never forget I chose to die on a cross for you. And them. All of them. Never forget Kristin.”

Go and be a human being. Do not lock away why you love Him like I did, because after awhile, it is you yourself who forgets the reason. Do not make Him pull it out of you. After all, it is not even yours to keep. It is yours to spread. Answer why you love Him. Write it down. And when you’re done, show everyone. Tell everyone. And never forget to be a human BEING.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

 

Take the Next Exit. Now.

We have all tasted the bitter taste. We have all drank the soured portion of it remaining after years of failing to finish it. We never want to do it. We push and pull and veto it. We refuse to discuss it and drag it around behind us declining to even look at it. We black out that part in our reflection so we don’t have to see it. Or own it. It’s the elephant in the room. The thing we’d rather not chat about. What has this power? Change. Or lack thereof while I have you here. Why does it have this power? Because we live in the false and deeply concerning reality that we ourselves have nothing to change. It’s our society. It’s engrained in who we are at this point, right? Our churches do the same things they’ve always done. Our hands touch the same things they’ve always touched. Our mouths speak the same way we’ve always spoken. And those feet that are supposed to take Jesus to a hurting world? They stopped going years ago, hindered by the lie that if ‘they’ need Jesus they’ll come, right? That heart that was created for you to be searched by God to make sure you are who He wants you to be? You quit asking Him to search that a long time ago. The change in anything begins with you, and if you will not allow the Lord to change you, then who?

Let me just tell you who I was. I was sure of myself. (So I thought!) I knew who I was. I read all the books and could define myself to exactly who the world said I was. I had learned from my past and I could tell everyone who I was from that! I took all the tests and knew exactly what personality I was. I knew who I would work best with. I KNEW ME! And in turn I thought I really knew my God. I thought I learned “enough.” I thought I knew Him. I knew all the right things to say about Him. I knew all the prayers to pray. I thought I knew what He wanted from me. I was Kristin. I could list all the things I knew about me. Go ahead and ask where I would work best. I would tell you. I put myself in a box and had no idea how stifling it was for the Lord in there. 

Then a woman who I greatly trust, said something monumental to me. I was in a situation where I refused to be the one that needed to change. Her words stopped me in my ‘holier-than-thou’ boots. I stared at her in disbelief. She looked me straight in the eyes when she spoke.

“If you constantly search for all of the things that someone else needs to change, you will miss the change that needs to happen in you.”

He smacked me upside the head. You know when you back-talk your momma and she gives you her best side-sweeping hand gesture straight to your noggin’? Yeah, that’s what happened to me only it was the hand of God. I realized that I had defined myself for so long with a definition that God didn’t give me. (My life had given it to me.) I guess I didn’t know who I was. I was missing something huge. I was always missing it. I would jump from one thing to another constantly searching for what He wanted me to do but never asking. Did it “feel” right? No. Moving on. And again and again and again. Did I even ask? And if I did ask, I never listened for a reply. (Let alone a reply that I didn’t want to hear.) I just WENT. Wouldn’t He want me to just go? Doesn’t He want me to just walk? Doesn’t He want me to do something BIG for the kingdom? Sometimes the season of life is traveling the highway with Him. You are going and moving and doing! Then sometimes He asks you to take an exit and rest in Him. Learn a new direction He wants you to go. Get off the going and doing and rest for a moment. If you are always on the highway, how will you ever go a new direction?  I was always feeling like I was flailing, but NEVER admitting it to myself for Pete’s sake! “I was not flailing! I was working for God! See me working?!” Unbeknownst to me, He had taken a back seat to my mapping skills. Not the place you want Him to be. Believe me. 

And then I stopped. I stepped away from it all. I got off on an exit to get out of the car and take a breather. I stepped away until I could see Him clearly. I had to stop to let Him back in the driver’s seat. I stepped away from who I thought I was. I stepped away from what I thought I should be doing just because I call myself a Christian. I sat down at my bed for the first time and asked Him what I needed to change. That’s all I asked. What inside me needed to be different? Turns out He had been waiting patiently a LONG TIME for me to ask that. He had allowed me to flail so that I would land on my knees. He wanted to show me what I was to do in life. He wanted to show me who I was. He wanted to show me where I would work best. But that wisdom is a lot of responsibility to have. And frankly, if I couldn’t hear Him tell me I needed to change, how could I handle the responsibility of hearing Him tell me where to walk? 

I asked Him to search me. Search my heart and renew me. Teach me who I am. Show me your ways so I can walk in them. At the beginning He asked me to quit everything I was doing and just sit and listen. He asked me to REST IN HIM. Rest? But I have so much to do for you! I have so far to GO for you! It wasn’t up for discussion. I rested for 5 years. During this time I learned. I still ‘did’ things but I learned to give up control. That is very hard for me to do. I knows it’s hard for you, too. But I had to get to a place where I knew Him and was not flailing any longer. I learned to fervently and passionately pray. AND to HEAR HIM SPEAK TO ME. I learned what His voice sounds like. I learned what He expects of me. I learned He has a VERY SPECIFIC plan for my life. I learned to read His word and soak it up. Hide it in my heart. I read all the stories of everyone else that was created by Him and rested, and walked, and changed, and rested, and walked, and changed. I found who He was in this quiet time away from everyone and everything. I learned to TRUST Him with anything He asks me to do and anywhere He asks me to go. I have traveled with Him A LONG TIME and it was not until then that I learned ABOUT Him. Not knowledge, but wisdom and understanding. Turns out, there’s a big difference.

Many of us ask the Lord “change me, Lord! I will do whatever you want me to do!” (As long as it is something that I planned, and built, and I am comfortable doing. And won’t you just tell me? You mean I have to seek out what you want? It won’t just “happen” to me?) If He asks you to be silent and just stop for awhile would you? (Well I NEED to be out there! I do!) Why? Doing what that He has asked you to do?  If you are flailing with no direction, would you stop and listen? If you keep getting disheartened because all you do for the Kingdom never works out, would you take a minute and make sure it’s what He wants you to be doing? Just stop. Are you driving or is He? Stop defining yourself. Stop putting perimeters on where you could go or what you could do. What change needs to take place in you? What needs sifted out of your heart so you can see His vision clearly?

You might need to step back and just listen. Just be searched by God. It might take awhile of it being just you and God.

The Lord says I am loved and cherished and forgiven. Aside from that, I don’t care to know anything. By limiting the definition I place on myself, I allow Him full access to whoever He wants me to be. In whatever form that takes, ministering to whoever He calls me to talk to. Going wherever He wants me to go. And believe me when I say that my world has LIT UP! I am going places I never saw myself going. Places I could not have even imagined for myself. I never knew this person that I am now! This was NOT who I thought I was. This is not doing what I thought I would be doing. Ask me who I am? I will tell you point-blank I am a loved, forgiven child of God. He is molding me and changing me everyday. I can be silent in Him or leading for Him. Whatever He wants me to be. His plans for me are so much bigger than my plans for me. And if He ever wants to re-route my purpose to something else? I will do it. I will go. I do not fear change any longer. I seek attention and approval from no one other than my Father. And it feels so good that those things do not direct my path for me any longer.

Wake up. Today. Learn to embrace change from Him. Throw out everything you know about you and ask Him. We are products of our past; defined by all the things that we have lived through. Let that definition go. You are a new creation, it’s time to act like it. Don’t just live with His fire; live with His fire to do the things that He has planned for you.

Take the next exit.

“Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23,24

 

 

 

 

I know He died. I know.

It started off as any other day would have. The sun rose in the sky just like it had the day before. I tied my left shoe and then my right just like I had the day before. I splashed water on my face and looked at my reflection in the mirror: Yep, same person I saw yesterday. It was by all means and accounts, an ordinary day. It would be gone like the sound of a hummingbirds wings when they fly off; you saw it, you heard the hum of it, and you watched it go just like you had a handful of times before. And then you forget about it. But this day wouldn’t end like that. I would never forget this day. This day had been planned for a very long time by someone who I had no idea was walking that far ahead. Before I even woke up that day the Lord had a plan for me. Before I even put my feet to the floor the Lord was walking ahead of me. He knew what I needed to feel.

He knew that if I kept moving along, never fully acknowledging the enormity of the sacrifice that He gave for me, I would never come to the realization of how much I was loved and through that lack of feeling, I would never gain the ability to fully express to others how much they are truly loved.

Isn’t that the point of why we do what we do? Isn’t that the point of why we say what we say? So that others can feel the love of Christ radiating through us? So that when we look in the mirror, we do not see ourselves but a direct reflection of Christ? Truth be known, I didn’t radiate the love of Christ. I wasn’t a reflection of Him because I was supremely unaware of the gravity of the CHOICE that He made for me. I had not come face-to-face with my Savior’s choice to die for me. He knew I needed some gasoline poured on my fire. He knew that my cause for Him was growing dim. My enemy had unplugged the power cord from my heart to Jesus and I didn’t even notice. He nonchalantly made his way over to the outlet and very slowly unplugged me. Frankly, I didn’t even notice he was walking over to it. It was a slow enough fade that by the time he unplugged me, I didn’t even feel it. He pulled the plug before I could even see clearly. 

This is my story. This is about me. Myself. In the mirror me. Letting you all know, me. I won’t hide anymore. If this is you, looking a lot like me, I hope these words plug you back in.

Love changed everything. Real, true, with no preconceived notions kind of love. Love that just loves. A realization of this kind of love changes things. No longer am I defined by the things of the past. No longer am I defined by the terrible, awful circumstances that I was in. No longer do I believe that because of my pain the Lord had left me. No longer do I  believe that I had been “too-bad” for the Lord to forgive. The love I feel permeated through the cracks in the wall around my heart. The wall that was built so I wouldn’t get hurt. The wall that was built so no one would get in. But what I failed to see, what the enemy blinded me from seeing, was that this wall not only kept people out, but it kept me in. It did not protect me, rather it caged me. It did not allow me to love. It did not allow me to feel. It did not allow me to walk. How could I hold the hand of Jesus with a wall separating the two of us? How could I fully love without knowing I was fully loved myself? That wall was not meant to keep others out like I had believed while building it; it was built by my enemy to keep me in.

I had heard all the stories. I heard it for a really long time. I saw pictures of Jesus dying on the cross. I listened to countless sermons, I watched countless movies, and I read all of the books. It was as if I had been filled with so much information about Jesus dying on the cross that I just digested it as knowledge and not life-changing truth. I never let it consume me. I never let it change me. But that day I was sitting on my front porch, reading another article about His death, it finally hit me. This was the day that the Lord had chosen. It was summer in Indiana. It was a mild day, so it was comfortable to be outdoors. The sun was warming my legs. I was bent over reading the article. I remember the breeze blowing the pages of my bible sitting next to me. I remember wondering how I came across this article. I wasn’t specifically looking for an article about His death but here I was, reading it anyway. And then there were the words that caused my heart to skip a beat for just a moment in time. I felt it skip as my eyes skimmed over the words.

He CHOSE to die for YOU.

He CHOSE to? I thought He kind of had to. I thought He kind of couldn’t NOT do it. I thought at the end of the day it was God’s choice and He had to follow suit. I knew HE DIED FOR ME…I just didn’t know the choices involved. The love that was meant to change my life was dwindled down by my enemy to be not a choice made from perfect love, but an act that Jesus was essentially made to do. But, like countless other times before, I was lied to. In a huge way. As I read those words, I was standing at a fork in the road with Jesus. He was standing there holding out His hands to show me the holes. It was His CHOICE to do that for me. His very own choice. Truth came flooding in. I could feel it raging around the walls that I had built. It took the breath right out of my lungs. I finally FELT the truth ransacking my idle soul.

At any moment He could have asked His father, God, to take Him out of that awful situation. He could have asked His army of angels to rescue Him. But He did not. He CHOSE to stand in silence while the crowds screamed for Him to die. He CHOSE to allow Himself to be spit on. Have you ever been spit on? Some say it is the most degrading thing someone can do to you. And He was silent. He CHOSE to allow Himself to be demeaned. He CHOSE to allow Himself to be whipped; over and over and over. He CHOSE to allow them to split open His back while He took the blows. He CHOSE to let Himself be mocked. He CHOSE to let a crown of thorns be slammed into His skull. He chose to bear it. He CHOSE to allow Himself to be beaten within an inch of His life before He CHOSE to carry His cross. My cross. Your cross. He CHOSE to let someone get out a hammer. He CHOSE to let someone use that hammer to pound nails through His flesh. Try to just imagine some of that pain. Try. He CHOSE to hang on a cross so that I could be free. He CHOSE to die a slow, excruciating, deliberate death so that I would not have to pay the penalty for my sins. There is no greater love than this. There is no greater love than someone giving up their life for mine. I am THAT loved. I am THAT chosen. ME! YOU sitting there. That’s you. He CHOSE to die to cover all your sins. He CHOSE to die so that you would know perfect love. It can free you from the pain of your past. It can free you from that wall you built so no one could hurt you. This love that CHOSE you; it can set you free. If you CHOOSE to let it.

 If God made Him do it, it would not have been an act of love. But it was. The greatest Love of all time.

He CHOSE me when He died. He CHOSE you when He died. He arose 3 days later and is sitting at the right hand of God today. He conquered death for me and you. The grave could not hold Him. Death could not chain Him. He is victorious and so am I through Him. Everything about me died the day that I chose Him as the ruler of my life. I refuse to tell Him anymore that His death was not enough to unchain me. I refuse to not see His death for what it is; the one and only choice that sets me free. I saw it. I accepted it. I felt it. I sobbed through it. It was real, finally. His death was more than a story. More than a movie. More than a sermon. More than a picture. More than an afterthought. More than the cross hanging around my neck. His death is life for me. And for you. His death is chain breaking. His death is wall destroying. His death is victory. His death is REAL. His death is freeing. His death is the real-life battle against our enemy, defeated. His CHOICE was really for you. And me. And that changes EVERYTHING that I know.

When I  look in the mirror now, I see me in Christ. Chosen. Redeemed. Loved. Victorious. Righteous. Forgiven. All of this because He CHOSE to hang on that cross for me. His blood flowed down from Calvary out of the very human veins in His body. His human heart pumped the blood that would seep out of His wounds and cover ALL of my sins. His story is my story.

And now I will live like I am free. Because I AM. And SO.ARE.YOU.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21