Shine on Sis!

Dear Sis,
This letter is for you, and for me, and for us.
Time is short and the shadows are growing long.
We sit here, looking around at each other with the same question on our minds. What lights us up?

Sis if you are like me, you wonder at what “special light” you have to shine in a world just crying out for a little relief from the darkness. And here we stand. Stuck. And here we plant our feet, because there is no clear plan.

Oh Sis, I want to ask you a question, the same question I ask myself.
Was there a moment in your life,
A point of pain in your life,
A place of poverty in your life,
that propelled you into the arms of Jesus?

Did you long to be seen?
Not social media seen, but deep soul seen.
Did you long to be known?
Not known for what you do, but know for who you really are.
Did you long to be accepted?
Not accepted in the perfect Pinterest places, but accepted in the messy spaces where we really live.
Or did you just long to be invited?
Not invited by mass evite, but invited to really connect, heart to heart.

Here’s what I’m wondering Sis.
If we are standing in His light today, searching to and fro for a place to shine, could simply remembering how we once stood in the shadows open our eyes to possibilities?

Because whatever propelled you and me into the arms of Jesus will propel us to wrap our arms around the shoulders of our sisters standing in a similar place.

Sis, don’t we all know the desperate need to believe we are not alone?

Could it be that the answer to what lights you up, what lights me up is waiting to be uncovered in the pages of our own stories?
When we remember that place of longing, passion for compassion will be born there. It will burn there.
And Sis, there it is, the simple spark that grows into a full blown brilliant light.

Sis who knows where that spark will lead you, maybe you’ll share a meal, offer to help with the kids, or even invite someone to sit across the table and have a cup of coffee. And some days it might just be you’ll offer a hug, the kind of hug that says, I’M WITH YOU!

Okay Sis, listen closely here, I want you to hear this…
WE MUST NOT BELIEVE THE LIE THAT SAYS IT’S NOT ENOUGH!

The biggest hindrance to our light is looking for the big things to do. Jesus took a towel and started washing feet, he stopped to talk to a woman at a well, he had dinner with sinners. He paid attention and allowed his path to be interrupted.
What will we do?

Okay Sis, If you’re like me you’re probably wondering if we could do this thing. And in the wondering your mind is wandering through all the ways you could add a little glow to your world.
Let’s be honest Sis, we are girls who like a plan, and if it comes with a list that’s even better.
But, I can almost hear Jesus whispering right into our ears…
Hold on.
Hold on.
Stay with me here.
Because he wants us to remember he isn’t sending us out to shine FOR him…
He’s inviting us to shine WITH him.
So Sis, when we say yes to lighting the day with love, let’s remember Jesus stands beside us linking arms…and the one true God WITH US WILL SHINE THROUGH US.

Okay Sis, do you see what I see?
The only “plan” we need is to stand so close to Jesus everyone we meet will ask us to introduce him.
Because the common cord in our string of lights, the very lights that illuminate the darkest places is Jesus IN US!

So dear Sis, dear you, dear me,
Let’s let go of the plan, link arms with Jesus, and when we feel him nudge us toward someone, let’s just do it! Even if it feels a little crazy risky.

Let’s unleash compassion that grows from the light of His love.
Because Sis, THERE IS NO POWER OF DARKNESS THAT WILL OVERCOME IT!

Yes Sis, your little light, my little light, our little lights will make a difference for eternity.
And His Kingdom will be multiplied!
And His name will be glorified!
Let’s light it up girls! Let’s light it up!

Love,
Your Sister in Christ,
Karen

 

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One Step Forward

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Every beginning carries a little fear. Even when you try to shrug it off and move away quickly, it follows with determination. You have little pep talks with yourself. Positive fragmented sentences. Each word meant to separate you from the heaviness of the unknown.
There lies the factor that is a common denominator in fear. Unknown. How can it have so much power without a name? It creeps in before we even have a reason for giving it power. There is no real explanation of why, how or where.
History has proven fear worthwhile. There is evidence of its value. Other days, other events, other moments gone bad make us sit in this same place, believing history does indeed repeat itself.
What if history had no power? What if we chose to forget? What if we momentarily believed the possibility of a positive outcome? Could we overcome?
If training our minds to take a step in any given direction without apprehension is possible, what could happen? How would it affect our every choice in life?
All moments of hesitation would be erased. Possibilities would quickly become probabilities. Risk replaced by anticipation. Our view would be clear; no amount of trepidation would cloud the vision.
So, can we get there from here?
What does it take? Could it be as simple as taking the first small step?
I saw a movie once that required the hero to take a step into an abyss that had no bridge. He was asked to trust, just take the first step and then the bridge would be clearly seen. Maybe that’s what’s required. The answer to fighting fear in its own arena is to defiantly take just one step.
So here I am today, looking for an option to strengthen my resolve to just keep writing. I long to overcome the fear of another ugly “f” word. Failure.
I may just follow the hero in the story and focus on his triumphal first step.
I won’t look down, ahead, or even behind. I’ll just step out, one day at a time, one word at a time, one sentence at a time. I will leave fear behind with every stroke of the keys.
I realize it’s the first day, the first step and there will come a time when fear creeps in and pulls the words right out from under me. So when that day comes, I will revisit these words and start again. I vow to stop pulling out the history books documenting my epic failures. I will grant myself grace and find words to describe what it feels like to sit in a place of restoration. I will write. Just. One. More. Word. Even if it hurts and it’s ugly and it means nothing to anyone. I will not allow fear to wrestle me into a dark, dead corner stopping my voice, stopping my heart. I was meant to write. I know this without a doubt.
Fear stands in the way of truth. If we don’t feed the monster it will die a natural death. So I take one step forward and leave history where it belongs. It’s a new day.

Join His Team

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Favorite quote of the moment: “The great commission is the great invitation to JOIN GOD!”

God doesn’t send us out on our own. He has a team plan.

Jesus stepped down from the beauty of heaven and huddled up with us so we could learn firsthand. He said, come, follow me.

He coached us on what love looks like.

He coached us on what love does.

He made it so simple and easy.

It always started with relationship building that looked a bit like this:
Notice, really pay attention. He saw people for who they could become.
Pray, cooperate with God.
Listen, hear the whole story. Meet people right where they are.

We have made it hard and complicated with rules and expectations. We have made it a “program” instead of the game of life.

In our striving to do it all right we have “organized” His simple plan into departments wanting everything to fit neatly into specific ministries.

But, Jesus didn’t fit neatly. He was loving in the risky, messy places in the world. He didn’t follow the rules.

He played the game of love recklessly.
Here’s another favorite quote from the “Love Does Stuff” conference:
I think Jesus must have said this, “I don’t need your plans – I have my own.”

I love the simple game plan!
Follow Him!
Do stuff in love! Join His team!

Do not merely listen!

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James 1:22-25 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed by what he does.”

Growth is sometimes an extremely slow process isn’t it? We stretch long and thin, trying to become something better and bigger and brighter as a Christian. We resolve to BE different. We long to be the very bright light on a hill that God speaks about in His word.

We are inspired by dynamic speakers, roof-raising praise and worship and we are sure so very sure that what we have to offer could never have that kind of impact.

So. We. Give. Up.

We somehow convince ourselves we must not be “called” to be the light. God just didn’t equip us for it.

But, here’s the catch.
God said, don’t just listen…do what I say!

If you find yourself looking intently into God’s word, His word that gives us complete freedom, and you realize that you can’t live unchanged by that extreme gift of grace, you’re ready.
You’re equipped.

It’s time to stop avoiding that quavering feeling when you hear God whisper, “Do what I say.”

It’s time to trade uncertainty for confidence in your Savior.

Living by faith is dangerous with exposure to chance of injury. But, here’s the insurance, the absolute assurance–God promises you will be blessed.

If you are looking for a risk-free existence, don’t follow Christ, because faith requires taking “leap off the cliff” chances. Here’s the blessed guarantee…”fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

This my friends, is cause for courage!

What’s courage look like?

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Rocks, lots and lots of rocks! Big ones, small ones, tall ones, short ones. All have sharp, jagged edges, edges that could wound. It seems a little reckless to be climbing up with all risk laying there exposed for the viewing. Choices to be made, daring to be determined.

With heart beating, we take one step at a time. Looking forward and upward with boldness. No turning back. There’s no room for the meek, no room for the timid. Just enough space between the rock and the hard place for a little fearlessness.

We climb with positive resolve, not because we are unafraid, without anxiety, but because we look to trade uncertainty for confidence.

We shrink back from the unknown, untried, untrue. All the while we hover in fear and limit ourselves by living in this sheltered, shielded stance. At what cost?

Courage never grows from security. It’s a trait that is developed by danger.

We are confronted by the challenge of choice today. Will we stop avoiding that tight, trembling feeling? It’s that feeling we get when we are forced to climb exposed to chance.

Ah, but here’s the one true assurance, the one true insurance. When we relinquish the control to the One who has all control, we stop quavering and our steps become steady and sure and the threat of stumbling is eclipsed by His promise. There’s an outstretched hand and it offers an opportunity to live dangerously by faith.

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Take hold of that promise and live brave and bold my friends.
Living dangerously by faith, that’s what courage looks like!

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