Monday, October 27, 2014

I Went Apple Picking!

            Yes, it is true.  I went apple picking.  I suppose too many this is a triumph that doesn’t seem to blog worthy.  I suppose too many it’s not.
            Probably about five or six years ago I had the biggest desire to go apple picking.  We were living in Florida the land of the hot and hotter and it wasn’t until this desire hit, did I realize you can’t go apple picking in Florida.  Shocking I know, but I never realized that apples need the freeze to grow and there are no apple orchards that I could find in any kind of drive from the Orlando/Kissimmee area.  I know this seems so minor, but it totally bummed me out.  I even joked on Twitter about four years ago that I was going to move back to Ohio, get a house with apple trees and sell jars of apple sauce with every book I ever sold.  Then I found some Ohio business organization found that tweet and posted it on their website.  My husband and I laughed about the whole thing.  We never thought we actually move back to Ohio. 
When we went this weekend to a local event and found ourselves apple picking I have to admit I found a sweet spot of happiness.  My family had a blast diving in leaf piles, going on a hay ride, and getting lost in a hay maze.  Then my oldest and I took our bounty and made apple sauce for the first time.  I had never made apple sauce before now.  I found out I make a good apple sauce.  In fact Dan and I now want to have a few apple trees of our own when we find the right house to move into. 
Psalms 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I think God has a way of bringing his people to a place where they find they are living the desires of their heart.  I realize that picking apples and making apple sauce isn’t a huge ground breaking desire I had, but it was a small one.  It was something that I wanted to do, and am happy my family and I got to enjoy it together.  I’ve mentioned before that I think our culture has become too involved in observing life, versus living it.  The older I get in the Lord the more I realize that we just need to enjoy where God has us for the moment, and trust Him for the ride.  God has a way with bringing things around in your life, working all things to the good of those that Love Him. (Romans 8:28)  Trust Him with your life.  I believe that he can give you some of your hearts desires both big and small.  Trust Him, and watch what He can do.

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Running Through Alpaca Poo

            This weekend my family and I went to help some very dear friends of ours at their alpaca/chicken farm.  I think it was a great learning experience for all, and of course we learned there wasn’t anything some good soap and water can’t clean off.  For my primarily raised in city kids, there was some great lessons here. 
            Toward the end of our visit my friends decided to get one of their alpacas away from the herd so my children could feel their fur.  It was a great idea.  My kids wanted to do this.  However no one realized how much of a challenge this would be for all of us.  I hadn’t realized before this how much alpaca’s are herd animals.  They don’t like to get separated from the others.   The others do not like one to get separated from them. I’m not sure if I will ever run with the bulls in Spain, but I can now easily say I have run with the alpaca’s in Ohio.  Separating one from the herd wasn’t easy.  We had our little dog with us and he flipped out.  At one point I had to take him out of the area.  Eventually in a time filled with alpaca poo, some alpaca spitting (which my youngest will tell with great gusto), the one that they wanted to show my children was cornered and they were able to feel her fur. 
            I thought about this today, and realized how much we as people need to be the same when members of our herd or pack get separated.  We need to think of people around us like our herd and if something is going amiss we need to come to their aid. 

1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)

26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
            In a world where the norm seems to be that we are all out for ourselves, I think we’ve forgotten the scripture above.  I realize that some can take advantage of others, but it seems to me that we can learn a lesson from the alpacas; that those around, the ones God has put around us, are our ‘herd’.  If one suffers we all do.  We need to stop being so self-focused and realize how we can help those around us.  Likewise, if one is honored instead of being so self-focused that perhaps we weren’t the ones honored, we need to learn to rejoice in the triumphs of those around us.  We need to stop thinking we are individuals on this earth, but realize we are a ‘team’, ‘herd’, or ‘pack’.  We need to start acting like one.  Churches are also to be like families for a reason.  We need to learn to be a family and stick together.  Amen.
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Having a Real Leaf Fight Is Just More Fun!

            Dan and I both grew up in lands of changing seasons.  However we lived in FL for 13.5 years where the only seasons they have is “hot and hotter”.  When my oldest daughter was about three we decided we wanted to give her the experience of fall.  I tore up a bunch of magazines and newspapers in the living room and we let her attempt to pile them up and play with them.  I know the experience didn’t come close it was my futile attempt. 
            Now that we have moved back to the land of four seasons, my children and dog have been experiencing fall with gusto.  We recently had to do some raking of the leaves to have a leaf fight for the first time ever.  As much as Dan and I tried to replicate the experience for our children when we tore up the newspapers and magazines it really was no comparison.  We all had fun.  A few days later my daughters, dog, and I found ourselves in the same leaf pile looking up at the sky calling out what shapes we saw in the clouds.
            I realize more and more that life is so beautiful, and it is moments like the above you just can’t duplicate.  A camera can never fully capture the moment, but instead of a picture the image will remain deeply embedded in our hearts.
            We live in such a society where I think we’ve stopped being livers of life, and started to be observers only.  Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with observing people (in a non-creepy sort of way) or trying to duplicate experiences, but we can’t go through the motions of life just to update our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  None of these things are bad, in moderation, but what are we truly living for?  Is it another like or follower? 
            I recently watched the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and loved it.  I’ll easily add it to one of my top 20 films of all time.  There is a great scene where Walter who had been all over the world trying to find this photographer and then the photographer chooses not to take the picture.  

Here’s the quote of their exchange.

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?
Sean O'Connell: Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O'Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.

          When Jesus went to the cross and died for us, He did it to give us a life in heaven. However, He also wants us to enjoy life here on earth.  He came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10).  Life is a gift.  He wanted us to experience it.  This doesn’t mean to go sin.  But it means to step out of our comfort zones and back away from our computer desks.  It means to breathe in the moment, and truly embrace the ones you love.  Sure, we all get caught up in the motions sometimes, but may we all find ways to embrace the truth.  This doesn’t mean we all need to go backpacking through the Himalayas, but what I’m saying is simply ‘stop getting caught up in life, and start smelling the roses’.  Just like our attempt at duplicating a leaf fight, the duplication just wasn’t the same.  My girls needed to experience a leaf fight for themselves.

            Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is This What Your Church Looks Like?

            I took this picture while we were in Indy.  It’s the top section of the Scottish Cathedral and just found the picture kind of comical. I get that the church is trying to keep bird poo off their doors, and I get that they don’t want birds to hang out there.  Too many people in the world this is exactly what churches look like to them.  They won’t set foot in a church because they see people as abrasive people, or ones that would judge them if they knew the truth behind their smiles. 
            I recently started to be on a Greeters ‘Dream Team’ at our church. I firmly believe in needing to contribute to the church you’re in, and it was something I could do as we are still living so far from the church. As I thought about it, I thought about this picture.  How would I want to be treated if I just started to come to church and don’t know what to expect.  I’m new to our church having just moved in June to be here.  How would I have liked to have been treated on the first day? 
            The Bible has simple instructions when it says to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you? (Luke 6:31)  The words are often quoted yet seldom done.  We seem to all get caught in our own motions that we forget that there are people that sometimes just need a smile or reassuring hug. 
Somehow, I keep thinking about this picture when it comes to church growth in general.  I don’t believe this is my church at all, but in general, how can we all make our own churches not look like this?  Sometimes people will come in, hang out, and get spiritual “poo” all over. How can we all learn to love people regardless of the mess the make, and see past their exterior? 
This is just a random thought I’ve been thinking of late.  I hope you can think about it too, and think about what you can do so that your church doesn’t look like this.
God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

*I’ve been writing these blogs for over five years now.  While I do still have plans to keep writing them, there are some changes that are going to be made.  It may not be as consistent, and instead of 2 times a week in may go down to 1.  I wanted to make that announcement just so people know I’m not slacking off.  I’m going to start mixing things up a bit.  Change is a good thing, and I feel led to break out of the typical 2 times a week way I’ve always done it.  Get excited.  I believe that God is doing great things in the body, and I believe for doorways to open up over my life and yours.  I love you all.  Super Smiles.

Monday, October 6, 2014

We're Not In Florida Anymore...

            I have never been a lover of cold weather.  I can remember that when I lived in the north going out to scrape my car windows muttering “Dear God Please send me somewhere warm!”  Well.  He did.  I lived in Florida for over 13 years.  For over 13 years I experienced the seasons of “hot and hotter”.   While Florida weather isn’t ideal, flip flops are a clothing “must have” year round.  I hardly ever wore socks.  For 13.5 years I visited colder weather fondly at Christmas time, and then returned to climates where their idea of winter weather meant you might have to throw on a sweatshirt.  While I always missed the seasons I NEVER missed the cold. 
            My family and I moved to Ohio this year in June.  We all knew this was God’s doing. While I knew the winter months would be arriving, I tried very hard to put all of this out of my mind.  Really one needs to pursue the place and location God has prepared for them over the comfort of the climate.
            Fall has hit this year.  My family went out to see a movie on Saturday and I looked out at my oldest daughter who swore though the sky was producing a frozen rain sleet combo, flip flops were appropriate attire.  Sigh… and I’ll admit my annoyance of everyone telling met this year is supposed to be some insanely cold year that parallels to last year’s polar vortex. 
Ok, I still have NO regret to moving back to Ohio.  However, I’ll also admit to beginning to guard my tongue from complaining.  If God felt this was our land then perhaps I need to watch what I say about the weather and continue to declare “I am graced to be here.”  I mean really, an excuse to shop for warmer clothing isn’t always such a bad thing. . .and we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us…..including to adapt to this climate.
We all go through these kinds of seasons don’t we?  We find ourselves in situations that are not comfortable or ideal.  However the last time I took stock of my life, it’s in the most uncomfortable times, I have grown the most.  When the Israelites began complaining and murmuring about their situation they ticked off God.  Let us all learn the valuable lesson of guarding our tongues and attitudes in those moments.  Really, what is having to learn to wear boots over flip flops in the grand scheme of things?  I want to encourage all of you to adapt to where God has planted you.  Trust him and declare you are graced for your race, and boldly move forward in all He says to do.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Divine Moments at the Museum

I wanted to take a moment in today’s blog to again reiterate how much I love the Holy Spirit.  When we were in Indy, I was to have one more day while Dan was working.  I honestly had no idea where I should go.  I’d done what I wanted to do, and was just being indecisive about what else to do.  I couldn’t, nor did I want to, stay in the hotel the rest of that last day.  Early that last morning as I was waking up I felt as if the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head and dropped into my spirit that I needed to go to this Scottish Cathedral downtown. 
I was sure there had to be some divine reason for me to go to this Cathedral.  Maybe I’d get to talk with some old school Scottish priest, or maybe have a divine moment of speaking into someone’s life, but for whatever the reason I just knew I had to go there. 
However when I got there, the doors were locked.  Have you have done that?  Been so pumped because you were sure you had to go somewhere and then there was no way you could actually get there….so I figured since the doors were locked I’d look around the area and try again.  When I came back about an hour later the doors were still locked.  But when I was on my walk I happened to see the World War Museum and decided that I’d love to investigate it. 
I thoroughly love, enjoyed, was moved to tears in the World War Museum in downtown Indy.  If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time or know me personally you’ll know I have a soft spot for the military. The picture above is on the door going into the museum.  In fact I’m really glad there weren’t a lot of people inside the building because at one turn in the museum I had a God moment.  I felt as if an idea for a future manuscript was literally dropped on my shoulders.  I could see the scenes play out in my head.  I found myself sitting in the middle of a fake trench exhibit from World War I in tears.  I realized the Holy Spirit impressing on me to go to the cathedral wasn’t about me literally going to the cathedral, but it was about me going downtown and going to the World War Museum.  That was the God encounter I was seeking.
How often do we all do this?  That we get so convinced of what and why we think God is doing something that we will often miss what He is actually doing.  God telling me to visit the Cathedral was just a way to get me downtown.  Sure I really enjoyed seeing the big building and I do have a funny blog coming up next week about it, but the goal was the museum.  We always have to stay sensitive and movable to where and what God is doing.  We always need to learn to go with the flow. 
So many people look for the big booming voice of God before they will ever move on what they feel God has said.  But in all the years I’ve been following God I’ve learned that for the most part He speaks with a still small voice.
1Kings 19:11-12 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
I pray today that you learn to hear God in the still small voice.  I pray that you learn to be sensitive to His leading, and to go where He leads….not necessarily where you think He leads.

            Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.