Thursday, November 14, 2013

Be Yourself

"Just be yourself."  How many times have we all heard these words and equally how many times have many of us thought something like "You might not like who that is..." or "I'm not even sure who I am."

I'm writing this blog post in response to a link from Faith Barrista.  See her tag down the right hand side.

I am a mix of two parents, with a heavy lean toward my Dad side.

I am administrative, organized, tend towards controlling and have given up being a perfectionist. I am artistic, sensitive, creative and overly emotional. I struggle with being on time, but hate being late. I love people, but don't always get along with them. I love words (passionately) but they have been the source of much of the pain in my life.

How do you be yourself when you've spent most of your life trying to BE someone else. When your sense of personhood has been wrapped up in pleasing others in order to be accepted.

I pondered all this as I did the dishes today. Thinking of how I (we) fake it and put our make up on our faces and our hearts and hide away who we truly are on the inside and the outside. I think it must make God very sad. After all He made us so why wouldn't we want to enjoy being "ME" and let Him enjoy us being who He made us to be.

I think a good trend is happening. As I read some of my favorite blogs, like this one, I hear women opening up the door on all that locked away stuff. They're sharing deep and it's stopping the lies. Truth always does this.

As truth comes out, it becomes safe to be me.

So here I am, just Ang, who can be kind of anxious at times, but is learning to trust God and let go of some of the past. I love to garden and read and write and be a wife and mother. I'm very insecure at times, but it's worst when I've taken my eyes of Jesus. He never goes away, but sometimes I step back.
I got exposed yesterday in a big error. (See last blog post).  Since then, I've been at peace. Sometimes we take ourselves way to seiously and we lose sight of Jesus. But then He brings it all full circle. After mulling all this I came to the conclusion that it's better to let your mistakes be known, to be honest and real with people. In doing so I am freed from fear and for the need to impress.  Today was another step towards freedom.

Not So Chance Encounters

A funny thing happened on the way home from school yesterday...

But let me just say, that at the start of it all I was looking so forward to the getting home part. The day was filled to overflowing with job training, grocery shopping, errand running and that was on the heels of getting three rounds of children off in the morning to their various destinations.
So I headed up to school to pick up my two and the two little boys I drive home each day (stressing that I had someone else's kids in the car with me). The journey home included dropping the older children off at a play practice. It dawned on me as I headed down the hill that I was going to have a complete hour to myself before my youngest came home and I had to pick up the other two from their practice. An hour! Time to catch my breath, have a tea and start the meal for our guests coming to dinner.  A sigh of relief escaped me. I felt my insides loosen and my breathing s l o w  d o w n.
I stopped at the traffic light and stalled my recently purchased standard car. "I can't believe I did that," I thought. Put in the clutch, into first gear and start the car...start the car...putter...putter...gazed disbelievingly at my gas gauge on empty...OH NO!

My insides clenched along with my teeth and mind and I thought and said "OH NO! Not now!!!"  Kids asked "What's going on?" and I had to confess that we'd run out of gas. Now. Here. On the way to drop children in my care at two locations. And everyone will know I messed up.

Isn't that it?  When it came down to it, my greatest concern was about what others would think.

I saw Susan coming up behind me and leapt out of my car, ran back to her van and as she rolled down her window I asked her to pull my hair out as it would save me the trouble. She agreed to (but didn't) and asked why. I explained. She said she would drop her van load off and come back. She did, picking up her teen daughter from high-school on the way. Then she loaded the two oldest and delivered them to the practice. I was now with the two boys who aren't mine and them wondering what was going to happen. We had already played a rousing game of I Spy. This now turned into sharing the gum in my purse with littlest boy who said he didn't like it minty but "it's good," he told me in his sweet, squeaky voice. The eldest had already chewed enough that day, he said. We played count the cars, find Susan's van ("I think that's her"..."No"..."Oh, there she is"...."No, again"..."Where is she?"... I started texting her after 20 minutes, not meaning to be pushy but "Are you coming soon? My youngest is going to be home in 15 minutes..."). We'd started a new game of who could count the most of their favorite color of car and she rolled up on the other side of us.

"You won't believe it" she said. She'd gone home to drop her daughters off and her oil light came on. Fearing a seized engine she'd taken the time to top it up. This was becoming a comedy of errors.

We climbed in and she drove the boys to their daycare, where their Mom was now waiting and dropped them off with tales of their adventure; then went to my house to pick up the gas can and my son who had just come off his bus.

To the gas station, back to the car and the incredible continued to unfold.

Susan parked on the side behind my car. I retrieved the gas can, went to fill my tank and open the door to dump my purse in the passenger side. Open the key...not in my pocket....not in my purse....OH NO!!!!!!! I peer in the window and it's in the ignition and all my doors are locked. Of course! We were sitting there waiting, the kids and I. The radio was on sometimes and we were playing games and then Susan got there and we got out and I dutifully locked all the doors and this is BIZARRE!

By this time I was actually in tears, hanging in Susan's window feeling like a complete idiot and we were both shaking our heads and laughing at the incredible story unfolding. So we left the car - again. It was pushed off the road as far as we could get it, but it's front end still stuck out. What else could we do? By then it was time to pick up kids from practice so we just went and got them. AMAZING.

She dropped us off at home and said "If you need a ride back to the car when the tow truck comes, just call."  She'd cheerfully driven around on my behalf for an hour and a half without a complaint. That was grace.

So at home I threw the chicken in the oven for dinner, called Frank to pick me up so we could get the car and called CAA who said they'd be there within the half hour. I couldn't reach Frank, but left a message. And when it was time, I hadn't been able to reach anyone, so ate humble pie and called Susan. She was chipper and said she'd be right over. I started walking to meet her on the way. And even that was funny as I crossed the road so she'd see me and I could get in the passenger side. She drove right by as she was looking for me on the other side.

When we got there, the car was gone and there was no sign of the tow truck. But Frank's van was there. He'd been in time for CAA and pulled the car into the parking lot across the road.

We stood on the side and thanked Susan. Frank said "I think I'd better go straight to the gas station. I'm almost on empty!" We laughed in the gathering dusk and relief seeped over me. No tea, no sit down and visitors arriving now. I still had much food prep to do as the groceries had been in the trunk of the car. And I'm sure Susan had an evening of dinner prep and family needs ahead of her too.

But like our Pastor says "It may look like this is what's happening, but God has something else going on."

Within that two hour period, there were moments of grace and the sharing of hearts. There was conversation that wouldn't have happened had we not had this 'not so chance encounter'.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love Covers

Grace is making all things new.

Since I last wrote, there's been a gargantuan shift going on.

I've been moving from the girl who was always concerned for other's opinions. Constantly had a wondering in the mind of what this or that person might think of what was going on and how she was doing it.
I was bogged down and in bondage. Fearful and intimidated. Completely overwhelmed most of the time.

But He makes all things new in His time.

It is time!

Since my last post, talking about Jesus looking in the box and finding those dark misunderstandings and maybe even some truths, He's been going deeper. Letting me know more and more of Him and it's all about Him and nothing else really matters and when we get that....Oh the freedom and how the tangled webs just melt off the brain and soul transformation really is possible.

We went rafting, six of us in the rapids, rushing water and deep rocks and some things went differently on the trip than we anticipated. But GoD redeems every moment when we let Him.
He bared a deep hole in my heart one of those days. He exposed a misguided belief and I have a sister who's strong enough to look me close in the eyes and ask with love if I want to deal with this or just let it rot and stay there.  So we dig deep and we hug tight and we share tenderly and weep openly and let the Savior into the mess and He shows it for what it is:
I believe that when I open myself up to others, when I let them close to me, and trust them, they always hurt me.  So I keep up walls, thick walls. Even with those closest to me. Because those are the ones who hurt the most right?  When you let them in, when you share and let words, hearts and feelings go deep and eyes connect and not waver. When you trust, you hurt.  Judgments, criticisms bite hard and we cringe back and away.
Is it meant to be this way? With a friend, a parent, a spouse?  Is it supposed to hurt to get close? Isn't love supposed to be a kind thing, and gentle and safe?  Yet so often not, it would seem and so many have the same story.
'How shall we trust?' has been the question my heart has wondered and eventually only continued asking in the deep recesses, imperceptible to the ear because the walls had gone so high I couldn't hear it anymore. Just knew to keep the door closed and the pain out.  But it's hard to connect and love and let the Savior shine like a lamp on a hill when it's really a fortress on a mountain built to keep the enemy out.

And who is the enemy anyway and who can we trust but One?

Is my heart really ever safe in the hands of a man or a woman, a friend, sister or mother or husband or even a child. Isn't it going to be disregarded, dismissed, trod on or rejected, and for some abused and jaded?  

Yes! The resounding answer is 'Yes it will!' 

We came to that conclusion, grown women cuddled up on the couch talking deep and listening for the heart beat of the Spirit of GoD. 

It will be abused and maligned and disregarded. But as Jesus said last time, 'it doesn't really matter if you are in Me. Because when you are in Me, only what I think of you matters.' So I give Him my heart, ask His forgiveness for placing my trust where it shouldn't have been and for not trusting Him as He is the only One worthy. Tears run down, a river welling up and over and grace comes in and the renewing is almost instantaneous right there on the couch. I feel light again and those old thoughts have dissipated. Now the step in front of me is one of giving grace. For Love covers. Completely. No digging up dirt, or peeling back the top to point at the offense underneath. No. Love covers. And nothing else matters and I'm being trained here for the rest of life and it's good.

I have only one enemy and Jesus has already conquered him so my fortress isn't necessary. I can smash down those walls and let the light blaze out, because!

And that happens there. Love blazes as Grace abounds and more walls come down and arms wrap 'round another and there's a willingness to understand and let Him do what's necessary even when I can't fathom all that's going on.

My thinking is clear and the ability to focus is new and all about the One who is Faithful and True.

The funny thing is that my relationships are better. The weight and pressure are dissipating and a freshness and clarity have taken their place.

In Evangelical Christendom we say that we should 'ask Jesus into our hearts'. Really it's about giving Him ours and then all the stars align and all's right with the world.

And it's a continuous giving. In every situation with all people. My heart has to be constantly trained to focus on Him. And therein lies peace and it's not all hard after all.

"You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee." Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just Jesus

Somethings's shifting in the foundation. I'm making myself vulnerable by posting these things, but have a suspicion I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

Childhood scars go deep. Not too deep for Jesus  though.  At times Holy Spirit will root them out, peel back the scar to expose the raw flesh underneath. It's not pretty, ugly in fact, and odorous. But without the peeling to expose and clean, it'll keep on festering and nothing will change. In fact the infection will go deeper, spreading malevolently through the body, bitter roots going deep. I don't want that. I think it's happened a bit already and I want it out.

Children can be mean. Survival of the fittest is often their law. They don't know it. They just live in the flesh and pecking orders happen. Because they're sinful...all of us are...
They talk behind each other's backs, say spiteful, hurtful words...and exclude....
This one was an easy target, already having a wounded spirit.
It's what draws meanness out of kids in the first place. Wounding begets wounding. It seems to be a spiritual law.
So the cycle goes on. Insecurity lodges deep. All manner of sinful agreements made with anger, bitterness, jealousy,unforgiveness, revenge, hurt, fear, and deep, sad loneliness.

Then she grows up and Christ comes in and it's all better. Right?  No!

Because He doesn't just make everything better. That would be nice, but then we'd circumvent the process and the learning to trust, again, and we wouldn't yield our will and repent of the evil agreements made in the heat of pain and our own self centered sinfulness. Let's be honest.

Then the Savior takes her and plops her right back into what feels like the same situation all over again. All those years later. But with grown ups.

And she has a choice. Dig out those old boxes of offense, open up to the stinking, rancid mess and start adding more. More judgement, more rejection, more insult, more misunderstanding, more competition, more SIN (we're being honest right?).


Open the box and let Jesus look. Because that's what He asked to do.
"Move over and let Me see in there." His hand gentle on her back as she's peering in at the hopeless mess.
He digs down through that black, make-me-wretch refuse, looking for Truth.
"Lots of lies in here, hmmm over there...more misinterpretations, let Me shine a Light down there. It's so dark."
He turns and faces her, gentleness caressing with Words spoken patiently.

"Instead of adding more to this, let's do something different this time. All the things you feel are happening...may be happening. True. What does that mean? Nothing much when you think it through, because when you are in Me, what anyone thinks of you doesn't really matter.  Really.  At all.
That doesn't take away your responsibility to love and forgive and be forgiven and function fully as a member of My Body.
What it does is remove your need to respond to the opinions of others. Because outside of Me, other people's opinions are insignificant. You would like everyone to like you. But it's not going to happen and that's okay."

He makes me think of Max Lucado's book "You are Special" about Punchinello. The book that Belinda made me read out loud to her, sitting right there on the step in her foyer years ago. I was too locked down then to let it penetrate or draw a tear.

Now it makes sense and I understand it without a tear because...I'm not sad anymore.
Still sorting it out. Yes. Just learning not to be all hung up on me.

That's the crux of it all isn't it. Who am I thinking about? Because if it's me, I'm in trouble. Then I go back to those boxes and start pulling out insecurity which is really just the flip side of self sufficiency and pride. Two sides of the same coin.
Thinking about me...not so good. Thinking about Christ is good and I get His perspective on it all. It doesn't change anything about the situation, but it does change everything.

Leaning thankfully into His understanding.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Today I'm full of questions, seeking answers and there don't seem to be any easy, formatted responses. My son wanted to see a movie with a friend a while back. When we looked at a review it indicated that there was some sexually inappropriate content and swearing including blasphemy.
So my husband and I in agreement with each other told him 'no'. He was livid. To his credit he did listen to us but didn't speak to us again until well into the next day.
At church the topic came up with someone who had seen the movie and confirmed the content that had caused me concern, but with very little concern or conviction on their part. Their children of the same age had seen it too.

Herein lies my first question.
If I feel that this is wrong for my son to see, is it wrong for everyone? Is it the same as in the Bible when Paul tells us not to get all hung up about not tasting and not touching? Is it the same as me not drinking alcohol in front of someone who struggles with it? Is it the same issue as not causing someone to sin by your example?

Another question follows. If God tells us something is wrong in His Word, do we need to pray about it or just obey what He says, not needing specific revelation on the topic as He's already dealt with it?

When God says in His Word to 'flee the appearance of evil' what did He mean? What is evil and how do we flee it?
Do we shelter ourselves and those we love, especially children with impressionable minds from as much sin as possible. Do we avoid opportunities for them to be introduced to what is in the world or do we gradually and gently introduce them so that they will know how to navigate the world once they are of age?
Are we called to navigate the world once we're old enough? Or are we called to come out from them and be separate. God chastised the Israelites when they assimilated into the culture they lived in. How then shall we live?
Are our children in danger in this culture if they are naive to what it offers? Yes! So how do we teach them to live in the world but not of it.
How much swearing in books and movies is too much? How much is acceptable? When does it become evil? If there are sexual inferences in the movies are we to be content and blind to the impact it has on us? Are we to think that our young people are above these influences when their minds are still forming and they don't fully understand the consequences of their actions.
What does God mean when He says "Be holy as I Am Holy?"
What does He mean when He says "Without Holiness you. can. not. see. God." ?

How many of us are like the frog in the pot. It's getting mighty warm in here, a little humid even, but we can't even see it.
What makes us different? Our statistics are the same as the 'world'.

What makes our Christian organizations and schools different when some of the books and music being offered are the same as what you'd get in the public school. Some of those may be okay. And some are not. Is anybody awake?
We are supposed to be different! And as I say that I keep my fingers carefully tucked in so not one is pointing at anyone else, otherwise the other 9 would be pointing straight back at me.

But how shall we live? It's not just in the not tolerating movies, books or music that pollute our minds. It's asking the question about who is my first love.
Jesus rebuked the church of Ephesus (Rev. 2:4) because they had left their first love. So I ask myself when I am tempted, just to sleep a bit longer instead of sitting with Jesus before my day explodes into activity, can I, will I say..."I love You more."
He has already completed everything on the cross, but in some ways it seems that we are choosing cheap grace and excusing our choices for unholiness.
God, will you show us how to live and give us the grace we need to understand that we don't need to work anymore? You have done it all. But help us not to spend that grace on less than You had in mind. Reducing your sacrifice to a blanket covering for whatever we're unwilling to give up. In Jesus Name. Amen

Stay in the conversation...

Moody Skies

I could hear this morning's sky coming down before I even threw the sheets back. Slipping quietly into joggers and out the door, leaving family sleeping I was greeted by the canopy above angry in swirls of black and grey, broad streaks of temper stretched across the palette, matching my mood. It was stale, not moving. A movie on pause at the dark part. Rumblings and flashing bursting out and retreating. Rimmed on the east side by a red sore. Sun rising on the wrath sky like Jesus exposing the unforgiveness stored in this angry heart.
I've got to be honest. Too much hiding behind the proper English upper lip and 'fine thank you, how are you.'    Not always fine actually. Too much stuffed and not worked out. Not sure how to in the middle of attempts at perfection and appearances and that vain seeking to fill the bottomless chalice of approval. Drink it down and the thirst remains, dry, edgy and insecure. Too personal yes. But write it out and maybe the honesty will ease the need. Maybe there's a place of peace where the hunger's filled and the pastures stretch green forever. Maybe even as I write  there'll come a place where it won't matter if anyone likes these words or not, because I'll just be content to let them loose on the page slipping out of me into the blue of His will and where He'll send them, if anywhere and if He likes them that's all that really matters anyway.

Sometimes honesty's too naked, but I think it may be where the healing begins.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


It caught my attention as I walked the sidewalk this morning, cleaved moon still loitering in the sky.
Must have been rainy last night as the worms were out. Some crusted over with drying in the growing sun and others moist with life wiggling their way to life giving soil. One was stuck by it's back end (hard to tell) to the sidewalk, half crushed and dying, wriggling to get free from death.

Feels like me... sometimes. Life pulling me on, that great cloud of witnesses cheering, urging while the crust of deadness holds me to the road.

"Casting off everything that hinders..." (Hebrews 12:1).

 Yet why does it seem as if those things are still so much a part of me...sometimes. Expectations, unforgiveness, impatience bind me to the hot cement, yet His mercy pours cool on my soul, alleviating the heat so I wiggle free and press on beside Him leaning on Him, drinking in the moisture of grace.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Did It! Joining the Chorus of Morning

I'd read about it. The reports were marvelous from those who'd done it. But changing over into the new way was daunting. It loomed a mountain, for years. Today I did it. Took the first step, first day and tomorrow will be the next. Because what I found this morning rivals, blasts any other experience out of the water.
Get out of the way O sleeper, I've become a morning person. Get out of bed and live. Awake, awake!

There wasn't just one, but an entire congregation waiting. The morning announced by hundreds of hidden participants. I walked up Boyne and the spruce were live with song. I knew if I grabbed a branch and shook there would be a burst of action, a launching of singers to the wind. Feathered flash mobs positioned everywhere, mixed in the middle of this glorious dawning day. Red breast enthroned on the the peak of # 136 warbling sweet passion to the sky.

And I did too, couldn't help but worship in the breeze not caring if those masked in cars slipping by saw my lips moving, thought I was a lunatic muttering to herself, crazy woman walking, talking in the morning. Yes. "In the morning I will sing of your love." (Ps 59:16)
I will set my heart before You and ask You to order my steps for this day. This gift You have given.

I asked and found Him faithful. "I need someone to be accountable to in the morning," I told those sweet sisters as we walked the trail another day. Encouragement bloomed. A garden of supportive words growing. But it all happened online. Watched the incourage webcast and found the HelloMornings Challenge. Awesome! I've signed up for an online group of girls who love to garden and read and want to book it into the mornings early like me.  Wow!  Thank you GoD!

"Ask and you shall receive." He says.
"Knock and it shall be opened to you.
"Seek and you shall find."
(Matthew 7:7)

I've entered a new realm. A different world is out there and I've stepped through the door.

See you in the morning.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Finding Truth

Words are to me like air to the dying, like rich earth to the worm. So I read, voraciously, night table stacked up high in volumes I sometimes finish. I'm learning to write in the dawn and read myself to sleep; the final sip before drifting off reminding me of the Great Love that greets me with fresh grace every morning.

My shelves are rich with names; Milton's Paradise Lost, Tolkien & Lewis, Bunyan and now Rob Bell and George Barna battle for space on my desk. Both Beveres line up with Jan Karon who I escape to when life squeezes too tight. Phillip Yancey's on the edge of my tub and Tony Campolo greets me cheerfully in the proverbial library. Phil Callaway's there too for when I need to laugh loud at life and our family. Charles Spurgeon awaits on the low shelf by the rocking chair in the study. And Anne Voskamp is in my inbox with Holy Experience.

Sounds impressive yes?
I've only read some of it. I want to read all of it.
As I read the questions grow.

Debaters whisper and rage, fools and sages flaunt their wares for the price of a bent ear and the influence wielded.
And if anyone knows me I can be faulted with strong opinions too.

Is this age any different than when Greek philosophers persuaded the times. Or when Roman debauchery reached past the limits of sanity and all thought was considered relatively acceptable. Relativity is not a new invention, just a renaming of something old and discontented.

Through all this fog of human debate I reach. I long to push back the clouds of my own understanding and reach into heaven, pulling down the Almighty so I can look Him in the face...and the heart.

So let's read all the books but not forget the One book. Let's stay in the dialogue and find understanding. I think that the conclusion of the matter may be different than expected.