Family: our first ministry

Photo courtesy of Julie Macy
Photo courtesy of Julie Macy

Today Im priveledged to be a guest over at She Shares Ministries, writing about the importance of close range missions and caring for the needs in our immediate family of believers. I believe family comes first, above all other committments in our life; if someone is in need in our home, those needs are met while any other responsibilities fall second in line. From within a thriving, healthy family, love is able to be poured out in greater measure to the rest of the world.

Here is an exerpt from this message:

You don’t have to sail the seas

To get on your knees

And pray for the healing of others

You don’t even have to cross the county

To deliver a bounty

Of blessing to those in need

For the missions today

Is only a block away

To show this world the love of Christ

Let my hands and my feet

Demonstrate a sweet

Reflection of your unfailing love

Where movement marries zeal

An expression of love revealed

Where the Gospel is preached

By not words, but by deeds

And in the power of your name

Of which we are to proclaim

Blessings will abound and freedom will reign.

To read more of this post, click here

 

M

 

 

 

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Bluegrass blessings

One of my favorite old-time hymns growing up, was  called “Victory in Jesus”.  My dad was a singer and guitar player in a Christian bluegrass band, and their country rendition of it would send us all to our feet, hooting and hollering about the celebration of victory we have, in Jesus. It was usually the “closer” song at their shows – with the banjo, fiddle, harmonica and several guitars collaborating in this bluegrass favorite. It always delivered.

Lighthouse Band

As a kid, I would watch people dance, clap, throw their hands in the air and sing along in sweet victory.  It was always amazing, always. I would usually run in circles or mimic some strange hopping movement from an old guy in the back – and then roll on the floor laughing.  There was always laughing. How could there be anything less than festivity  when we claim defeat over bondage in our life?!

Well, then I grew up, and found that sometimes a once sweet song of victory is followed by time on our knees and tears filled with hope.  Those days when we really want to claim it, but it doesn’t seem like its gonna happen. You know, facing the reality of what is.  And so, the song becomes less of a celebration and more of a prayer for hope.

I am reminded of this gift that was given to us all:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I love the contrast of each of these fruits: power overcomes fear, love overcomes timidity and self-discipline is the capability to continue to remain a overcomer.

When we identify what it is that  ushers in fear, we can contrast it and consider what the opposite of that fear looks like in our life.  Is speaking in front of others something that stirs up fear?  Consider the courage needed to stand and deliver a message, and then consider that it is waiting for you, to dispel that fear, and move you into the joy that comes from overcoming it.   What is your fear?  Can you put a face to it, look at it, and then envision what the opposite looks like? Now consider that which attempts to hover a fear over us, is really something we are called to overcome!

Faith allows us to believe that power is readily available and that overcoming our fears is even a possibility. But faith without works is dead, right?  So knowing that power exists and not utilizing it is of no gain! I can own a lawn mower, I can clean it, fill it with oil and gas, but if I don’t pull that handle and crank it up and actually move it around my yard, then that grass is not going to get cut.

Start here:  Lord, thank you for your promise, thank you for your incredible love for me that you give me such rich gifts.  And Lord, not only  do I believe in the power you have placed inside me to overcome this fear, but Father, please show me what my part is, my action step towards activating it, today. As your faithful companion, I am willing and ready to walk out in your power, in faith, so I’m asking you to show me what that looks like, just for me, just for today. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Immense love for others gives us the courage to speak truth and life into them.  When we love like Jesus, we would lay down our own fear, pride and timidity, risking abandonment and rejection, in order to save others from pain, hurt or death.

When we sit by in silence and shake our heads at another’s misfortune, pain or damaging behavior, it does not allow our love to shine.  We then, become part of the problem, assisting in the thievery of fullness of joy, in their life. Honest, deep and sincere love comes alongside them, gently speaking truth and life from a heart that radiates love for them. We become courageous. Love that is bold, is seen and heard;  it is felt from near and far. Let your love shine, today.  Do not hide it in fear or timidity.

Start here:  Lord, I want to be someone who loves and loves well.  Please stretch and grow my heart for others, so I can have the courage to passionately care for them free from concern about looking silly. I want to be someone who encourages others and inspire them into finding freedom, joy and peace in their life.  I want to share what you have done for me, to help someone else find that same victory, in you.  Thank you, Father.  Amen. 

Self discipline is ours to claim over it ALL.  We may celebrate a victory over fear and timidity, but the challenge to remain in that power and love is not easy, it gets harder and harder the more complicated life gets.  I may have declined that second serving of cheesecake today, but tomorrow may be a different story.  Thankfully, that most empowering last word of this promise in scripture  is self-discipline.  The Lord gives us the strength to discipline ourselves, holding captive any thought or belief that does not fall in line with His character.  We are able to arrest those attacks and replace them with truth, according to the discipline we cultivate by practicing power, and practicing love.

Each time we rehearse using these gifts, we become more comfortable using them and more equipped to handle them.  They become our friends, our comrades – lifting us up when we are down, encouraging us when we stumble, and then when we start to actually see the blessings that come from holding them close, we become quicker to claim them over our life in any and all circumstances and situations.

Start here:  God, I thank you for giving me self-discipline.  It is not easy to practice this, and you know this, so thank you for your patience and your understanding with me.  You know my heart, you know that I long to be someone who is disciplined in exercising the power and love that you have given me, so I ask for continued strength to persevere. Even when I fail, I will commit to trying again.  I will never give up on the eternal hope that you have given me.  Thank you for the courage to never stop trusting you and to continue drawing from your strength and your power, in my life. Amen.

 

This verse speaks of freedom waiting to be claimed.  A treasure, no longer hidden but ready to be cashed in for profit.  Its verses like this that remind us of our inheritance that is active and living in us.  You have already received it, it is yours.  So today, take it! This gift has got your name all over it and it’s not even wrapped. No mess to clean up.  It’s perfect for you and it’s just your size.  Its your favorite color.  It smells amazing.  Its flawless and was given to you from a loving Father who knows your every need and anticipates your every desire.

Go ahead, take it.

M

psst…want to read more about how this verse speaks to others?  Swing by Eyes of Your Heart and listen to the beautiful heart of Stacy Voss.

Shame

Maybe I’m a bit hypersensitive in recognizing the intricate and magnificent artistry within our bodies, but after a bout with Leukemia and two natural births, I stand continually amazed at our Creator and the wonder that is our body.  Everything has purpose, nothing is unnecessary. Our emotions are thought to be related to activity in brain areas that direct our attention, motivate our behavior, and determine the significance of what is going on around us.  Some emotions feel good, while others leave us frazzled, nonetheless, all emotions are notifications, meant to prompt us toward a response.  If we continue to dismiss the beauty of its original function, we will grow numb to our own natural alert system, and possibly miss a very important message.

Shame is among those emotions that we view as bad or wrong.  We are taught to subdue or dissolve it, instead of facing the root of its emergence.  What I have learned, is to welcome shame, thankfully.  Its unique beauty has carved a place in my heart that allows me to experience the feelings God gave me and practice stewarding a right response to them.   When we dismiss the power of  understanding an emotion, we also dismiss the potential good that comes from exercising it!  I invite you to consider the delicate beauty of shame.

song_of_freedom_by_littl3fairy-d5cxvas

Shame is defined as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable.  We may feel shame when we reflect on past actions, behaviors, or negative thinking.  In that moment enters discomfort ; a sour instead of sweet; heavy rather than light; captivity in place of freedom.  If we agree that God designed us to live in the sweet, abound in the light and move in freedom, then how can the grisly experience of shame be beautiful?  Because beauty comes in that swift breath following acknowledgement of our shame.  When we feel the sting,  a misalignment of joy is meant to stimulate us toward right living.

Identifying that which pinches our peace enables us to face it, when we face it we are able to dissect and interrogate it.  What is it revealing? Is this a truth or is it a lie? Does it call for grace or an appropriate action?  These questions allow for the light of Christ to penetrate its existence, casting out any deception and releasing its weight over us.  Darkness is dispelled and the enemy has to flee, at the mention of His name.  Even the slightest whisper of “Jesus” when we experience shame, will radiate a luminous light through our emotion, exposing truth.

All too often we use grace as a license to continue poor behavior,  limiting the power of the presence of shame. This misconceived reaction keeps our shame hidden and covered, allowing it to grow and surface, repeatedly. We must become alert to the encounter for it to work goodness through us; where the fruitful labor of experiencing shame can bring us into a place of complete grace and mercy!

When we experience loss in our life, it is extremely healthy and healing to grieve that loss.  We are encouraged to “move on”, “forgive and forget” or some other cliché that urges you to ignore what you have just experienced. Sometimes, due to our hurried lifestyles,  we must be given permission to grieve. If you have the courage to face the uncomfortable feelings of grief and shame, you will be able to take  steps toward uncovering your most radiant self.

The strategy for releasing our shame is made clear in Psalm 34:5 :

“Those who look to him for help, will be radiant with joy; No shadow of shame will darken their faces.” – Psalm 34:5 (NLT)

Shame is referenced here as a shadow that darkens our faces, but when we look to him for help, we will be radiant with joy!  The help we are seeking from God is the very thing that will lead us out of the behavior that induces our shame!  Our father longs for us to live in freedom of shame and guilt, but to do that, we must experience the shame, and look to him for help! When we dismiss its notification, me miss out on curative treatments waiting for us.

“Now to Him

who is able to do

far more abundantly

beyond all that we ask or think,

according to the power

that works within us,”

– Ephesians 3:20

Whatever we need, to release us from shame, God is able and willing to bring to us.  To become “radiant with joy” is the complete opposite of “covered in shame”, but unless we act upon the delicate prompting of this beautiful emotion, we are not extending an invitation for Him to come.  We are called to live a life of abundance, to receive fulness of joy.  Our words, actions and responses get in the way of receiving that fulness of joy.  The beauty of shame tells us, seek Jesus’ help, he desires to give you peace… (John 16:33).  

For freedom,

M

Let’s Party.

International Women’s Day was March 8th, guess I didn’t hear about the party.  I hope I spent that day doing something womanly and having a joy filled time, but chances are, I was either doing laundry, cooking for little mouths or changing a diaper. Maybe for next years celebration I will actually put it on the calendar and intentionally celebrate amazing women in my life, in a very thoughtful way. But wait!  There is one way we can celebrate one another or celebrate women who empower and encourage.  It’s not too late to consecrate the value of great women in our lives, and I know just the way to do so.

If you have ever been stung by a friendship gone sour, you are like many of us who truly desire honest and sincere relationships, but may be a bit guarded.   That was me 8 months ago; depressed and tormented by an unhealthy friendship.  At that very moment, God lead me to two amazing women whose ministry is a network of women helping women, and whose mission is to encourage, edify and inform each other while building healthy, honest, and genuine relationships.  They provided a safe place for me that was free from gossip and competition, where friendships  flourished through the number one connector: Jesus, always, always, Jesus.  This is She Shares Ministry.

She Shares was founded by Rabecca Barth and Sarah Harmony-Powell.  These women are speakers and authors, and have a radio program that features stories about real issues, from women  who are connected within the growing She Shares community. This community expands, daily, because of Sarah and Rabecca’s heart for women;  inspiring us all to be who we need, in each others lives; to treat each other as God treats us, like a daughter of the Mighty King; choosing restoration over resentment.  Peace over pride.  Grace over gossip. This is She Shares Ministries.

she shares3

This community has been a rock for many, and I invite you to join us as we extend an invitation for you to enter into a fellowship of sisters, daughters, mothers and girls alike, who are waiting to know you, bless you and be blessed by you.

The She Shares community would also like to invite you to join in on a very special party coming up…She Shares is turning 1!!  This ministry has had an amazing year of milestones: a network of prayer warriors, a community of authentic Christian women, a book, and a radio show. And now…she is celebrating her new non-profit organization!  We want you to be there!  Come meet Sarah, Rabecca, and many other She Shares girls, and help celebrate what the Lord is doing, and will continue to do, through this ministry!

She Shares is hosting a fun birthday party filled with entertainment, great silent auction items, and most importantly, real connections.  If you want to connect in a community of great women, come!  If you want to support and encourage great women, come! If you want to promote women’s ministry events and outreach within your community, please come!  This is also an open invitation for all who are interested in partnering with a ministry that builds women up.

she shares

Here are the details, my friends:

She Shares  – Celebrates one year!

Saturday, August 10th from 6 – 9pm

Schomp BMW in Littleton, CO

Tickets: $15 click here 

International Womens Day went by this year without so much as a quiet hooray in my world, maybe yours too?  According to Wiki How, there are 6 ways you could celebrate this day: think about the women who you would like to thank, tell women why they are important to you, do something for an important woman in your life, think about a nice gesture or gift, or give money to a charity that supports women.  Celebrating with She Shares would touch on each and every suggestion listed!  So there, no excuses!  Come get to know good women, who are looking to make a difference in each others lives!

One of the greatest ways you can support this ministry, is to share it within your circle of influence.  Mike and I are a proud sponsor of this event and we hope to see you there, however, if you cannot make it, consider making a contribution to this ministry here, posting the event to your Facebook page here, or sharing this blog via twitter, email or FB, below.

So now…let’s party.

In love,

Melinda

When “I DO” becomes “meh…”

It was the part of the wedding where the priest was leading the bride and groom in their vows and all the promises of “I do”, some comical and others deeply sincere.  I felt myself tear up as they gazed into each others eyes and spoke soundly, with a direct and affirming response.   Then, the priest turned to us, those who came to witness this union and celebrate this holy matrimony.  He asked us to respond to a vow:

“Do you, friends and family who gather alongside this couple, promise to support and encourage this marriage?  Will you be a part of strengthening it and spurring them on in their journey?”  And the crowd echoed, “we do!”

I may not have mentioned this, but I did not know the bride or groom.  I was a simple minstrel at the ceremony, who got lost in the love of it all, and teared up at the touching moments. Surely, I did not see myself as someone who would be an active role in their marriage, but it got me stirred up, nonetheless. While it may sound assuring and powerful to have  a whole congregation stand in solidarity over your marriage, what would that even look like?

I doubt the priest was referring to the adorned jug, next to the guest book, that asked for writings of marital wisdom to be dropped in. I would say he was speaking of a much more active role, one that might entail speaking up when you haven’t been spoken to; allowing your love for them to be greater than your pride; possibly being available, at the most inconvenient times; and maybe, simply to follow through on your vow to them, with intention.

The rest of the ceremony was beautiful, however,  I became consumed with wrestling these thoughts of what  living intentionally even looks like.

We all crave intimate friendships where we can bare it all, be real, and still be unconditionally loved and supported, yet I have seen marriages and friendships dissolve as a result of offense from sincere and truthful words. I see a culture that speaks of beliefs, yet lives out what is valued.  We believe in truth, yet value flattery; we believe in quality, yet value quantity; we believe in health freedom, yet value medical dependency; we believe in honesty, yet value our reputation; We believe in family, yet value careers; we believe in fitness, yet value TV time; we believe in leadership, yet value management.

You may need to shed all that you have learned about life, love and identity, to uncover the real truth of who you are. I wrote about getting naked in that sense, here.  After you have let go of all the garbage of your past, its time to look forward. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Who do I want to be remembered as, and what do those qualities look like in day-to-day living?
  • Am I taking care of myself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually? How can I improve these areas?
  • What is my area of influence? Family, marriage, children, friendships, career, ministry, etc…
  • What commitments in my life are becoming obstacles to living intentionally?

When we are able to honestly evaluate our lifestyle, we may see that we are living what we value and  it may not truly reflect that which we believe.  A desire for authentic living is common, but it is the action poured out of that desire which creates a culture for  intentional living.

I wonder how many weddings I have attended where I, too, shouted out the hurrah of “I do!” in response to my commitment to their marriage, unconsciously pledging my allegiance to the greater good of the friendship.  I wonder if we really comprehend that we do play a role in the development of others?  Our friendship can either be a help or a hindrance when friends argue; Our faith can either encourage or discourage others in their faith journey; Our love can either confirm or deny whom we believe in.

” But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:15( NIV)

To live intentionally is to live by a choice of beliefs, upheld by a lifestyle that values those beliefs. The path to living intentionally is a practiced route, meant to be re-evaluated after time and passing seasons. The culture may change around you, but what can stay constant is who you are, and how you live.  Just as all things change, what always remains steadfast is the character of God. We bank on His unfailing love, justice and truth – it’s what gives us hope.  The fact that His words are always backed by his actions, allows us freedom and peace to call upon him, trust him, love him, and value our relationship with him.

I desire to be a woman of noble character, one on whom others can call upon and receive an open door, an open heart and unconditional love.  When I speak, I desire my words to be reliable, where yes is yes, and no is no.  I choose to be someone who, when asked to vow a promise in upholding a friends marriage, will do so even when its uncomfortable or inconvenient; where my love for others precedes my own pride of reputation.

I believe our greatest testimony and opportunity for evangelism, lies in our day-to-day practice of intentional living.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16

Its never too late to start living intentionally, and practice becoming the person you truly are and desire to be; it will be the most beautiful you, that you will have ever known.

M

Unintentional

 

 

babyI belong to a generation who is no longer  interested in commercial, social-club churches and ministry.  We want raw, we want real and we are not afraid to question our leadership.  Some of us have, and some are ready to.  This poem is meant to empower and equip my generation to not settle for casual, comfortable “church” going – but compel each other into deeper relationship and greater purpose for Kingdom living.

 

Aborted and Adopted

New life, transformed – and in such great community

Friendships and bible studies, even dabbling in ministry

Welcomed, ushered, into opportunities to serve

Overeager hugs and handshakes, experiencing nerves

Until being “real” as was constantly encouraged

Created uncomfortable, uneasy, scrimmage

“Unity! Peace! Let’s converse”, I protest

“I’m with great hope we can search the heart of this mess!”

Yet what was received, was no such rest,

Silence; cold shoulder; displays of detest

Business as usual, it would be seen

Could these Christ followers, really exude this type of mean?

While the heart beat still pumped, the abortion took place

To distance, to kill, and then save  face

With large, plastic smiles and doe-eyed gazes

Doors which once swung wide were now closed in faces

Swiftly slammed shut, locked with a key

Keeping the “enemy” out, they say

You see, the enemy was me

Here sits an orphan spirit, the abortion is complete

The attendees have all washed their hands, and are ready to feast

Mangled in the trash bin, the fetus hears them sing

As they go about their worship, in the presence of the King

“I’m still here!” I scream, “Over here, down below!

It’s cold and lonely here, and surely not time to go!”

The large plastic smile and doe-eyed glaze,

Appeared to twitch for a moment in a nervous haze

“Has anyone heard, or seen what was done?”

She quietly whispered to another one

“I don’t believe so; I think we are clear,”

They answered, confirming no one was near

A wipe of their brow and a sigh of relief

For they had killed the enemy

You see, the enemy was me

But wait! Purpose had been declared, a magnificent plan,

Spoken in confidence from the mouth of man

Falling to ruin, as humanity did not stand

Pulling out  promises, as healing waters emptied out

Leaving an empty vessel, prey for fear and doubt

The ugliness is gone; the stain cannot be seen

The evil has quietly been removed

And the evil was me

As tears pat down, upon the delicate hollow – the orphan surveyed

The damage, the loss and unbearable pain

Weary eyes catch a glimpse of a mark within this shell

A small, yet raised imprint that laid foundation of this well

“Property of the King”, it read, “chosen and called”

This being, this purpose, this soul, was recalled

Purchased in love, from the King himself

There was no one other, to compare with his wealth

Of riches, and strength, and power and grace

Of His words, of His love, he exposed to my face

As radiant drops started pouring within

Dry walls, wetting, spackling begins

To strengthen, to smooth, resisting pressure and weight

Living waters spill in – purging bitterness and hate

Residue of sin and leftover pain

Rinsed out, removed, and making way for his rain

Here sits an orphan spirit, whose abortion was complete

New life began, just in time for a feast

Raised up from the discard, placed by the hand of  fellow man

Redeemed, nourished, alive – strengthened to stand

Able to laugh, with a voice that hums to sing

While continuing this journey – in the presence of the King

An adoption recalled, my name, my right

Full access of joy and fullness of life

My inheritance of faith, fitted as a shield

To guard against deception – of which the enemy will weild

Then a flash of hope, something very much real

A portrait of an enemy, whose mission is to steal

Family’s and friendships; promise and truth

Dividing a community, from wisdom and youth

The Kings voice whispers, “Yes, the enemy is real

And it is not one of us, though you may feel

His presence will remain, but his tactics must be fought

Don’t you remember, all you were taught?

Put on my armor, each day, anew

Be protected and discerning – guarding and shrewd

It’s my voice you follow,  living water you need

To stay full and peaceful, walking in good deed

For strength and for power, for breathe and for life

Practice hearing my voice, you will know it is right”

With purpose restored, a magnificent plan remained

Spoken in confidence and flowing through my veins

For no man can dismiss that which the King proclaims

A purpose, a plan, a space, for every man

Be mindful of those whose jewelry and clothes

Proclaim all the symbols and verses they know

Shouting allegiance to the King, and his throne

For even the smiles and the doe-eyed gazes

May still remain broken, mistaking the enemy for faces

Be vigilant, be wise, it’s our gift for this journey

Meant for safety, steps sure and sturdy

“You are not a misfit, if you hear you don’t belong

That you are a lone ranger, trust Me, they are wrong

Just listen to me, you are stunning and smart

Important and valued, my finest work of art

You were crafted for greatness, my spirit concurs

You must remember this, when trials occur

People will  attempt to discard my treasure

What man ventures to ruin, I find great pleasure

Watching and helping you rise from the heap

The trash you were tossed in, however far or deep

My spirit will lift you and give you strong wings

Equipping to rise above, and see greater things

Ignore the shallow flattery, and seek out the truth

A glimpse of my glory will restore zeal of  youth

You may not be liked, even mocked and hated

But my spirit will sustain you, and for this, you were created

To live in such a way that my glory is known

It’s how you survive, and its not on your own

Alongside a King, a royal calling that is yours

Where your presence is unmistakable and cannot be ignored 

Sift through the voices, and the crowds of peoples

Shouting my name on their man-made steeples

Seek out the ones, who are moving below

Under the pulpits and platforms of show

This is my tribe, whose hearts are on fire

Moving and giving and loving, to no tire

Where no one is lower and no one is higher

Than each and every brother, each sister on fire

They walk alongside the young and the old

The poor and the wealthy, the hot and the cold

Look for my tribe, and test it and see

For at the heart of every action, in word or in deed

Is love, great and mighty – and in the center, is me.”

The test, I did see, was failed to a “t”

As the mangled up mess in the trash bin, was me

Thank you, father, for wings to fly outta here

For the strength to move on, not remaining there

Grieving a crime is healthy and good

Fighting for unity, every believer should

Allowing truth to arise and the heart revealed

Of every church body whose leaders have failed

To show Christ’s love to each one, the same

Regardless of prestige, of power or fame

“Rise up, young warriors, fearless and brave

Question your leaders who call on my name

For wisdom is humble, it welcomes a search

As should my leaders, watchmen of my church

Listen close to the response; is it philosophy, feelings or meaninglessness?

Is it my heart? Is it my nature, or just frivolousness?

Test it against my very word, you will never miss

And consider you are here, for such a time as this.”

M