Labels

***I have recently been given the opportunity to be a part of the writing team of a unique, creative collective online magazine, Kingdom Edge. This is a current piece that I have written for them. You can check them out online by visiting Kingdom Edge Magazine.

Labels

Gym rat.

Food junkie.

Workaholic.

Stay at Home Mom.

Computer nerd.

Trophy wife.

Techie.

Free Spirit.

Addict.

Health nut.

Labels. Labels. Labels. We’ve all been given them and quite possibly, we’ve all stamped them upon the lives of others around us. Between our silly pre-conceived ideas and ignorant assumptions, we place people under certain categories in our tiny little minds and there they must remain. That is who they are and that cannot change. To some, labels may not be seen as a bad thing. Some people may find joy in the fact that a label helps define who they are; it gives them a sense of worth and purpose. As for me, well I want nothing to do with them.

For many years, well into my adulthood, I have struggled through the mindset that my life had to be defined by one specific label. That who I was could only fall into one category. In a way I felt as though that is how I would find my “true self.” If only I could figure out what “label” could accurately be placed over my life. And you know what? No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. To be who God truly created me to be, I could not allow my life to be limited by one single label. That’s how I see labels – as limiting, not empowering. Don’t get me wrong…I am proud to be labeled as a Christian, a daughter of God – a true child of the King. And without a doubt, that is the most important thing about me; a label that I will humbly wear. But being a daughter of God and a child of the King means that I was created for more, intricately woven with purpose, with gifting’s and callings and a DNA that was handcrafted with a future in mind. Inside of me, he placed desires and dreams and interest and longings. And the very same can be said of you.

My God is a creative God. He’s detailed. He’s a master planner and a perfect designer. He only crafts originals, not copies. That truth alone brings me so much joy, and more than anything, it brings me freedom. It’s the freedom to know that I don’t have to be an exact replica of anyone else…I just get to be me. And being me means that I don’t have to fit into the mold; I don’t have to be defined by a single label. I can be anything and all things that God has called me to be. I can be called for ministry and motherhood at the same time. And no longer does a label over my life limit my ability to walk in the calling over my life.

 Those dreams that keep you up at night…those passions that make your heart skip a beat…those goals that you have for your future…they make look vastly different than mine. And that is totally ok. You are free to be you. Uniquely you. You don’t have to wear the label. You don’t have to be cookie- cutter. You don’t have to fit the mold. You are more than just a category. You can be the multi-faceted, multi-talented, multi-called child of God that you were created to be. You can be a free-spirit and still love the beauty of order. You can be the extrovert that still loves her independence. You can be the mom who still wants to minister to the masses.

Beautiful.

Redeemed.

Beloved.

Forgiven.

Capable.

Strong.

Overcomer.

Called.

These are the kind of labels I like, and the kind of labels that I wear gladly bear. May you choose to do the same and walk boldly into the YOU you were created to be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

– Psalms 139:13-16

 

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Take the Hill

 

***I have recently been given the opportunity to be a part of the writing team of a unique, creative collective online magazine, Kingdom Edge. This is a current piece that I have written for them. You can check them out online by visiting Kingdom Edge Magazine.

TakethehillThis past Saturday, I had the opportunity to run in my 2nd ever 5k. Let me preface this piece by stating that I am in no way claiming to be a seasoned runner by any means. I love fitness but the whole extensive cardio outlet just isn’t my scene. However, I have definitely grown and seen progress in my running abilities so I was excited to see my efforts put to the test.

The race started just like any other and everyone was off and on their way. About a mile and a half had passed and I was feeling strong and confident. My friend Christopher was setting the pace and somehow I was managing to keep up. At about the 2nd mile mark, we came upon a rather steep hill, but on we trekked. And on…and on…and on. All the while, Steven Furtick blasting through my headphones and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. Finally we reached the peak of the hill and proceeded to run down the next street. Shortly after, we realized (along with several other frustrated runners) that we had been directed to run the wrong route. Wait. What? That large, daunting, never-want-to-do-it-again hill wasn’t even supposed to be in the mix? All the miles won’t count? And the extra minutes will be wasted in vain? At this point, we had no choice but to turn around and try to get back on track.

To say that I was aggravated would be an understatement. It was deflating and irritating and a part of me just felt like I had been cheated. I just kept thinking to myself over and overThat hill was such a waste.” I was quickly reminded that I serve a God who is beyond resourceful and wastes absolutely nothing…

“Dori. Take the hill. Always take the hill.”

 There will be countless times in our lives where we will face the unexpected uphill battle. And it may even seem that everyone else around you is getting to run the easy route. You may look at the hill before you and think to yourself, “Man, I did not sign up for this. God, why would you map out this route for my life?” Maybe like me, you have taken a wrong turn, you are off course, and you need to get back on track. But maybe, just maybe, the hill of opposition before you is really just a hill of opportunity. An opportunity for your faith to increase…an opportunity to rely on God like never before…an opportunity for God to show up and show off. The hills He allows, He allows for a reason. With God, nothing is ever wasted.

Today, maybe God is asking you to press on, look forward and take the hill. Maybe He is asking you for a season of discomfort so that He can produce in you some much needed growth. I have learned that it is in the breaking of us that God truly does the most making of us. Out of our brokenness, He brings forth beauty.

Always remember that a race ran is never a race lost. The biggest hills will always produce the greatest victories if we choose to take them.

So don’t be afraid.

Don’t cower away.

Take the Hill.

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

April 18th

One year. 12 months. 365 days. So much can change in the course of a year. April 18th, 2017 is a day that I will always remember and one that I wish I could forget. It was one year ago today that my husband answered that phone call. The phone call that would truly change our lives. The uttered words that no one wants to hear and the news that nothing on earth can prepare you for. The news of cancer; a rare blood cancer…Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

And all the while, here we are a year later, with cancer under our feet and victory in our hearts. The thoughts and reflections are many.  I suppose there are many words that I could drum up to share. But I feel most impressed to not let today pass without recalling the Goodness of God. With out Jesus, truly, I have no idea where we would be today.

“Jesus, You are Good. You are Good. You are Good.” This is a statement that I placed on the fore front of my lips over the last 12 months. It might seem simple and some what insignificant to you. Not the catchiest of phrases, I know. But for me, this was my declaration and my battle cry. Those 3 words became my fighting words…words of combat…words that brought forth life. Words that ushered in hope. And 3 words that would eventually lead the way to claim our victory.

It’s been said that every time you say “yes” to something, you say “no” to something else. With every declaration, I chose to say “yes” to the goodness of God and “no” to the lies that surrounded me. “God, You are good in the midst of cancer. You are good in the midst of fear. You are good when all that I see around us isn’t good. You are good and will always be good no matter the outcome. Even if the healing doesn’t come on this side of eternity, yes, even then You are still good.”

This declaration was a choice. A choice that was hard to make in the face of daunting circumstances and ugly realities. I will tell you this…I did not always “feel” like God was good. I certainly didn’t feel like God was a good God when I found out that my husband, at 38 years old, would become a cancer patient. It would have been easy, and some may even say acceptable, to lose faith, to question the God we serve and to allow resentment to set it. But I know that feelings are simply feelings and our faith is not based upon feelings. And at the end of the day, there is a truth that always remains. And we chose to hold on to that truth. It was in those moments where I learned first hand that exalting His Goodness would diffuse every feeling and disarm every lie around me. Jesus, You are good.

I look back today and sure, I can still recall all the yucky stuff. But my heart is most certainly drawn to recount his Goodness. And for that, I am grateful for the last 365 days. With every season, may we learn a new revelation of who He is. With every day ahead, may you too find the truth to be your sword And the truth will always be that He is Good. That’s a battle cry that will withstand the test of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer & Callings

 

“You really need to write a book.”…

”Please tell me you are writing all of this down”…

“You need to journal everything through this journey…

I love to write. I genuinely enjoy the process. There’s something therapeutic to me about allowing each thought to unravel, as each word develops and unfolds into something more. But truthfully, I have neglected this love in a very bold and defiant way. I seldom put pen to paper anymore. Rarely do I position myself raw and vulnerable before the keys in front of me and just allow the words to come. It’s not for a lack of desire. I want to write. But can I be real for a second? I’m halfway terrified of what may come out. What if what comes out is a little too raw? What if I open a wound a little too far and begin to bleed? What if I don’t want to look back and reflect, because it just hurts too much? So I neglect the paper and the pen and put a lock over the words of my heart. And quite frankly, I’m a little mad about it. Is it possible to be frustrated and aggravated and even just down right mad with your calling?

Let’s be honest. This past year was hard. And not a hard, like “I’m having a bad hair day and I stubbed my big toe and got a speeding ticket” hard. Like a gut-wrenching, “everything inside of me hurts and I’ve exhausted all I’ve got” kind of hard.

Watching your husband walk through cancer is something I pray that no one ever has to go through. Yes, we have come out victorious on the other side and my husband is walking in healing and for this, my heart overflows with thankfulness to Jesus. But the journey getting there…that journey was rough. The road to his healing was not an easy one to travel down. When I look back over the last year, my heart still hurts. It still aches. And maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe that isn’t what the response of a faith-filled woman should look like. Maybe I should just “get over it” or whatever cliché saying you want to insert here. But in the name of being honest, I can’t tell you that I can look back yet without still feeling the weight of it all.

I still remember the days and each tormenting thought that went along with them. I remember the moments of choosing to have faith when everything inside of me ached with anxiety. I still remember how badly I wished I could have received every dose of chemo in place of my husband. I remember putting on my brave face each time I left his side with tears in my eyes, knowing that I had to let go and let God. The memories…there are many. Yelling at God in a small condo in Eureka for allowing such an unfair injustice to happen to this amazing man. The constant feelings of failure for not being able to provide the picture-perfect Christmas season my children so very deserved. The overwhelming heaviness of it all…at times, it just felt like too much.

And honestly, I don’t want to relive those moments ever again. 2017 has passed and I’m so glad. So I have packaged up these moments and placed them on the back shelf of my heart, hidden far away, in hopes that they will soon be long forgotten. But I would be remiss and naïve if I simply responded in this way. I know, in obedience, that I must unwrap the memories and unpack the moments and look even closer. I must remind myself of all that He’s done. I must remind myself of the moments when His presence felt almost tangible and I knew we weren’t alone. I must look back and recall the joy that my husband brought into every hospital room that he stepped foot into…what a witness was put on display for the name of Jesus. I must choose to remember every act of love and given-ness that the body of Christ chose to show our family. I must remember that in our brokenness and weakness, we learned how to truly make the Word our source and that it could combat any evil that would rise up against us.

We broke. We ached. We hurt. And honestly, we sometimes still do. But the pain has served as a teacher and we must become the best students we can be. So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will look back and look closer and learn from every test and write down every lesson. Sure, it will hurt to revisit some of these moments and recall some of these memories. But to walk in your calling always requires a cost.

In this next season, it may be the cost of vulnerability to administer healing…the cost of memories to encourage another’s faith….the cost of brokenness so that someone else may be made whole. Whatever the cost, Jesus, help me to say yes.

There are a lot of things I don’t know and understand about this past season of life. I still have lots of questions. But there are a few things that I do know.

I do know that God works all things together for His good and for His glory.

I do know that there is always purpose to the pain.

And I know that the cost is always worth the calling.

 

You don’t get to choose your circumstances. And you don’t get to choose your calling. You just get to walk in it.

 

And the God of Peace will be with you…

Lives that are void of worry and fear. We all want that kind of life. But how do we obtain it? We pray. We praise.

Phil 4:6…”Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

And then we experience one of the most powerful gifts given by our Heavenly Father…we experience His Peace. A peace that goes so far beyond our understanding. When our circumstances try to command us to fret and our situations beckon us to bow our knee and surrender to fear, there we find His Peace. And we can’t comprehend it. It stands as a shield before us and beside us and behind us. That peace sits upon our hearts and we can breathe and be and know that He is God and He is good. And at that moment, it is well with our souls.

Phil. 4:7…”Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

But then, life. The unraveling begins again. The news you wish would never fall upon your ears. The heartbreak that you wish would cease. The announcements full of disappointment. The disbelief of what has become of the world around you. And that peace seems absent, your mind less than guarded and you feel vulnerable to the lies that stand before you.

What changed? Where are those “it is well” moments? Where is the perfect peace like a river that we love to sing about? Where did the shift happen? I will tell you this…God did not change. His peace did not cease because of His doing. The promise is there and it is ours for the taking.

I believe the shift always begins with us. We locked eyes with fear for a little too long and now our faith is weakened. We lent an ear to doubt and worry. We listened to the lies being sung over us and compromised them in our hearts as truth. We lost focus on the Giver of the gift. We have become unfixed. Our focus has slowly shifted.

Phil 4:8,9…”And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. And the God of peace will be with you.

I feed what I’m focused on, or better yet, I feed what I’m fixed on. When I allow my thoughts to be fixed on every ugly thing put before me on a day-to-day basis, I will feed myself full of anxiety and fear. And, not only do I feed myself the wrong things; I forfeit the best thing. Bottom line…when I choose to worry instead of pray, I forfeit the peace of God over my life. Ouch. Lord, forgive me.

No, you and I can’t change the circumstances before us and we can’t change the series of events that will unfold around us, but we can choose where we will fix our focus. I can choose to fix my faith upon His word and every promise that He has for me and my family. I can choose to fix my thoughts on His goodness; a goodness that is so tangible I can almost breathe it in.

So fix your focus. Lock your eyes on Jesus. Set your gaze on things above. With an unwavering faith, refuse to be discouraged by the temporary circumstance, the fleeting moment.

And before you know it…

Here comes that beautiful promise….

In walks the “It is Well” moment….

The rushing rivers of perfect peace…

And the God of peace will be with you

 

 

Magnified

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This past week, we had the chance to get away and spend some much needed family time with my Mom and Dad in Springfield. Our week was full of special trips and exciting outings where many new, fond memories were made. Although these trips may be minuscule in length, they are moments that I will cherish always.

One morning while we were there, I was getting ready to go – doing the usual “womenly routine”. Ladies, you know the drill – hair, make-up, and the list goes on. I was starting to “paint the barn” as my husband so kindly calls it, so my Mother offered to let me use her magnified mirror while I was applying my make-up. Hmm…let me think about this.  A large magnified mirror that’s going to give me a front row seat to view my every little imperfection up close and personal? Yea, no thanks. I’ll pass.

I know lots of ladies who love these kinds of mirrors, but honestly, I’ve just never been a fan. I am a Type A perfectionist, and I know that what will glare back at me via my reflection is going to be far from perfect. And I suppose that on a typical Monday morning, that is just not a reality I want to come face to face with. So instead I choose to daily see myself at a further distance; where the blemishes don’t take center stage and the imperfections can’t scream at me so loudly.

I fear that as a Christian who desires perfection in herself, that I have done this far too many times when searching and examining my own heart. I fear that too many times I have taken the easy route of examining my heart from a comfortable and convenient distance. It’s almost effortless when I view my heart and motives with a quick glance…Good Christian? Check. Pastor’s wife? Check. Read the Word? Check. All sounds good and well to me.

But what if I took that magnified mirror, placed my heart before it and looked a little closer? What ugly realities might I find glaring back at me? Is pride trying to show its face and I’m just blanketing it with a cover up of Insecurity? Is offense hiding behind a fake smile? Are my motives looking a little mired? Yes, these questions can be deemed as uncomfortable, but if we truly want to live pure and spotless lives before the Lord, it’s imperative that we have these magnified moments with our hearts.

There is so much beauty hidden in all of this though, so we need not be afraid to have these thorough examinations of our hearts. The beauty is this…even at our ugliest moments, blemished and scarred, He looks at us and calls us lovely. He sees past the shallowness of our hearts and He still calls us beautiful. He knows us. Every part of us. And even still…He loves us.

I challenge you today to bring your heart to Jesus and ask Him to magnify those hidden places; to illuminate those areas that need further attention. May our hearts daily become more like His as we look longer and gaze deeper into that magnified looking glass.

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Psalms 139:23 &24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

It Works & Jesus

It Works! and Jesus By April Dillow

 

I’m sure you’ve seen the “It Works” craze that is sweeping the nation right now. If not, I suspect you’re in really good shape, don’t have a Facebook account, or your friends just aren’t that ambitious.

It Works is a company where independent salespeople, like you and me, can sign up to sell products such as “The Crazy Wrap Thing” or the “Cleanse” system to promote health and weight loss!

It looks like a fantastic company, and I have many friends who are reaping the benefits of improved health, financial status, and time management skills from this business.

Buuuuut I suspect you already knew that, or else you wouldn’t have clicked on this article, wondering how in the world It Works and Jesus are connected (and if you didn’t, you should know that I just gave you a terrible definition up there… let me hook you up with my friend Rebekah at the end who can help). Well, here are a few of my thoughts…

 

They both cleanse. As I was sitting in my dorm room this weekend, lamenting the fact that I completely ruined any attempt at living a healthy lifestyle this weekend since I somehow managed to stuff an entire pound cake, several rows of Oreos, a few (few?) bowls of ice cream, a handful of M&Ms (handful??), and a piece of some sort of cheesecake down my throat within a two day period, I found myself where I often find myself before Monday morning—sitting with Pinterest open in front of me and hundreds of Juice Cleanse pins staring me back in the face.

Juice Cleanse?? When did I ever get this desperate?

 Maybe you’ve been in the same boat before. So consumed with guilt over something that you’ve done. Something that is in the past and can’t be changed. Willing to do ungodly things (like juice cleanses…no offense to you cleansers out there- I have the utmost respect) in the hopes of feeling any hope and happiness that will dull the ache of disappointment… disappointment in yourself for not living up to your own standards.

As Christians, we know that Jesus can wash away our guilt. He can cleanse us. And better still, He wants to wash us up and give us a new start.

Sometimes we need to cleanse our physical bodies in order to start fresh and make a new commitment to health, and it is the same with our spiritual selves.

We need to look to Jesus and confess to Him our guilty feelings, our shortcomings, our disappointments, so that He can come in and wash us clean. Sometimes it takes time and discipline (you know, like sitting down with Him, reading His word, giving Him a chance to speak to you), just like sticking to a juice cleanse can be both satisfying and brutally uncomfortable. However, I promise you that He wants you to be set free from guilt more than you know. Just give Him a chance.

 

Both wrap you up. How could I talk about It Works without bringing up the Crazy Wrap thing!? The way I see it, sometimes you just need to cover up your insecurities, bind them up with something soothing and healing…

Just like the Crazy Wrap binds up your problem areas and works without any effort on your part, I feel like Jesus’ presence, His Spirit, works the same way (stick with me here, I know this is a stretch!)

Another thing I learned was how the wrap works by ridding the body of harmful toxins, and in the same way the Spirit works by uncovering the sins, or “toxins”, that we need to address and let Him take care of in order to make us clean and healthy inside.

His Spirit can come in, wrap up your heart and heal your wounds. How do I know? Because He has done it for me. And that leads me to my next point…

 

Both have to be experienced. You can have a million people telling you that It Works is the best thing that has ever happened to them, but until you experience it for yourself, will you ever be convinced?

Let me tell you, I am the world’s biggest skeptic. Sometimes it’s annoying for my friends, I’m sure. Heck, sometimes I annoy myself!

So trust me when I say that occasionally the only way to gain that convincing personal experience is by taking a step of faith.

Have you ever tried It Works? If you haven’t, how do you know it isn’t the answer to all your weight loss/health problems? We can argue back and forth forever, but I think without giving it a try, any arguments can be refuted fairly easily.

It’s kinda like when we were little and our parents wanted us to try that casserole at the church potluck. “Mom, I don’t like that!!” “Honey, you haven’t ever tried it before.” “I know! But I just know I won’t like it!” Common, we’ve all been there.

So let me ask you, have you given Jesus a try? There are so many factors that influence our view of Him and the whole Christianity thing, but unless you have given Him a wholehearted, honest chance, then how do you know for sure you aren’t missing something?

Taking care of extra body weight is an important thing, but making sure your soul is right with God is something else entirely, something far more important.

You don’t want to miss knowing Jesus just because you weren’t willing to give Him a try.

 

I know there are many more analogies we could come up with between It Works and Jesus… one of my favorite being that they both have ambassadors who post on Facebook A LOT and can’t say enough about their product…

But more seriously, they both require commitment, dedication, time, a passion for connecting with others, and a focus that remains steadfast through the ups and the downs.

So, even though I can’t give you a free sample of It Works, I want to gift you with this free sample of Jesus. He says,

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark,”

and

“…those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 12:46, 4:14).

 

I couldn’t tell you about juice cleanses or even It Works… but I can tell you that Jesus works. He wants to cleanse you, wrap you up, and give you a fresh start.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through

Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 6:23)

 

Jesus: http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Bible-New-Living-Translation/dp/1414309473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462642591&sr=1-1&keywords=nlt+bible

It Works: https://www.facebook.com/bekahmen

Wheelchair Worship

I’m not necessarily what one would call “the athletic type.”  Although lacking athletic ability, I can usually muster up the necessary courage and find great strength of heart, but then with the execution typically comes the fall. And in this case, literally…

In a matter of moments I went from enjoying the fresh spring waters of a beautiful Trinidadian waterfall to staring down a cliff that seemed never ending. Granted, it was only about 40 feet, but at the moment it mine as well have been the height of Mount Everest.  I had caved under pressure of my stubborn, 30 year old self and decided that I too could make this jump and boy, would it be fun. Boy, was I wrong. Long story short…I crouched down to jump, got spooked and didn’t jump out nearly far enough. Half way down, there is another ledge that managed to clip my foot ever so graciously before I hit the water. Well, maybe not ever so graciously.  Lets just say I am so very thankful it was just my foot that came in contact with that ledge and not my face, or any other part of me for that matter. My foot was crazy swollen and immediately changing to a lovely shade of purple. But the team came together using their skills and man-power and we managed to slowly but surely, maneuver our way through the fierce terrain of this mighty jungle. So out I came, via piggy back, and headed off to get some much needed medical treatment. Spoiler alert…my foot is now fine. I have some torn ligaments, but nothing too serious. It is healing up well and I trust that it will be 100% in a few more weeks. But for the remainder of the trip in Trinidad, I found myself taking up residence in the seat of a wheelchair. No. Fun.

I’m not one who typically likes to sit off to the side and observe. I like to participate. I like to be actively involved. So having to sit in a wheelchair was not really my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong…being waited on and served was quite lovely and has its perks but is only appealing for so long. Sunday morning came along and I was excited to head to church to hear my husband speak and of course, participate in worship. As we entered the Sanctuary full of music and song, I realized just how frustrated I was going to be having to sit down during the worship time. So there I sat as everyone else stood around me clapping and jumping and moving and expressing themselves in these grand, exuberant ways. Had I not been in a wheelchair, that would have been me. I said to my friend next to me, “It’s gonna drive me nuts to sit in worship.” 

Within moments, this sweet, tender, convicting Voice spoke right into my heart of hearts…“Dori, sometimes it drives me nuts that you don’t sit in worship.” Bam. “Sometimes it drives me nuts that your worship comes from a state of repetition instead of a stature of reverence.” Ouch. “Sometimes it drives me nuts that your worship is more about your surroundings and less about your surrender.” Guilty.

So there I sat. Being ever so gently reminded that I serve a Holy God. A Sovereign Savior. A Worthy King. And sitting was the exact the posture that I needed to remain for the morning. I needed to remember that my worship should not now, nor ever, be about me and my ability to perform.  A real worshipper, who worships in spirit and in truth, can worship the Lord with all that they have whether they are sitting,  kneeling, standing, jumping,  or you name it. It’s about the position of my heart before the Lord, not the position of my flesh.

Somewhere along the way I gravitated toward the idea that my worship before the Lord would be contingent upon my capability to give worship, not His capacity to receive it. If I’m at my best, then I can bring my best worship…not realizing that even at my worst, I can still bring my best worship. “Dori, there may be restrictions on your body, but there are no restrictions on your heart.” Regardless of my disposition, He is always still positioned to receive my very best, and nothing less than that. He is always worthy, always ready, and always waiting.

I believe that sometimes the Holy Spirit allows those “wheelchair” moments to teach us and realign us as He sees fit. I am thankful that I serve a Good Father who deals graciously with me and loves me enough to confront and correct me. Always live with open eyes and an open heart to see what little lessons may be rolling on by on that wheelchair of inconvenience. Sure there is joy in the jumping, and fun in the leaping, but there is much to be learned in the process of sitting.

Keep Teaching Me, Little Ones

It seemed like just another typical Friday afternoon but little did I know that we had become “that house”. It all happened rather quickly, unfolding itself over one weeks time. A few new faces in the front yard, here and there. A few popsicles handed out, here and there. A juice box or two on occasion. And now before I know it, we have a daily occurrence of little friends that come and view our front yard as their own personal playground. It’s pretty much like clockwork. We arrive home and sure enough, there are these sweet little, sun-kissed faces waiting ever so anxiously to play with my 3 little ones. And of course, my children are pleased as punch. Sophia absolutely delights in sharing her toys, her playground, and is always quick to jump the gun to serve up snacks and drinks. She’s my little hostess with the mostess. =)

As I said earlier, these sweet little friendships all evolved within one single week. Before first names were even introduced, the bike rides had already commenced. Before there was talk of age or grade, snacks had already been served up. Before there was sharing of secrets, there had already been sharing of toys.

This is where my children truly inspire me. And many Jesus-loving children, for that matter. They just know how to love people. It just naturally flows out of them. They know how to throw themselves into relationships. They know how to naturally form community. They know that the best way to make a friend is to be a friend. I believe their precious innocence and childlike faith allows them to see at a greater view of how Jesus must really love people. 

Some where along the path of becoming “mature adults” we picked up the habit of sizing people up before a single word even falls out of their mouths. Before names have been introduced, relationships have already been written off. The walls go up as we reason with that voice that whispers that we don’t need relationship. We see people with a blurry perspective that has been tainted by past disappointments, unmet expectations and failed relationships. And so we reject opportunity after opportunity to show what the love of Christ really looks like all because of our fear of relationship. Our fear of vulnerability. Our fear of realness. Our fear of intimacy. Our fear of accountability. 

This has always been a challenge for me but it is one that I have decided to be deliberate in defeating. If I want to be Jesus-minded then I must be people-minded. And that is not excluded to a single clique or group that meets my standards or likings. That means that I can love the un-lovely. That means that I can laugh with those who are un-like me. It means that I can befriend the un-friendly. And it means that I can willingly embrace each and every new relationship that God brings into my life without hesitation or reservation. His perfect love casts out every fear – even relational fears. When I operate and function through His perfect love I don’t have to fear mans rejection, but I can rest in His acceptance. I don’t have to fear vulnerability, but I can rest assured that He knows me and loves me.

Needless to say, there is much to learn from those precious littles ones running around you. Yes, they undoubtedly have their moments of what seems to be endless bickering and frivolous fighting. But amazingly, in the very next moment, they are back to being best friends.

Keep teaching me, Little Ones. Momma’s watching.

Keep talking, Sweet Father. Your daughters listening…

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.

Romans 12: 9-10, 14-17 MSG

When the Lights Go Out…

We have spent the last 4 hours of the evening amidst the flicker of candlelight and led by the aid of battery powered flashlights. Yes. We randomly lost power this evening with no apparent cause that we know. But let it be known that 4 hours without power may have just been with this Momma needed.

When the lights go out, we no longer have the liberty of spending endless hours gazing into a rectangle full of meaningless apps and mindless games. Any existing battery life must be preserved, so instead of playing games that just cost us something, we play games that are worth something. We remember how fun it is to create a shadow on the wall. We remember the silliness of playing flashlight tag. And we remember that tickle fights should become apart of our daily routine.

When the lights go out, cooking dinner for a family of five is no longer a chore but an adventure. A meal around the table has now become a fireside camp out where PB&J’s are a must and bbq chips are a treat. The pressure to cook that hot, home-made meal has now subsided, and instead of being the “cooking-Mom”, I can now be the “sitting-Mom”. The “conversational-Mom”. The “listening-Mom”. I think I like that Mom the best.

When the lights go out, bedtime can be scary and extra cuddles must ensue. The nightly routine that can seem so rushed now calls for a few more hugs, a few more kisses and a little extra love. There is no need to rush. There is no need to hurry. There is nothing else to do but just appreciate that very moment where you currently lay; falling asleep next to your son knowing that there is no where else you have to be but right where you are.

When the lights go out, the laundry has to wait. The un-packing has to be put on hold. The chores have to stop. For a brief moment, a matter of inconvenience becomes a matter of opportunity. An opportunity to stop all the stuff and once again focus on what truly matters.

I still have no idea why we lost power tonight, but I do know that I am glad we did. I am thankful that in the midst of the quiet and the darkness of the night, Jesus could shed some light on my sweet, little family and ever so gently remind me of the beauty of the lights going out.

© Dori Lynn French and A Mom…A Wife…A Consecrated Life , 2014.