Tag Archives: brave

the bottom, the basics and the blessing of beginning again

Sometimes………………………..    I wander off.

Even with the best intentions of trying to maintain my footing and the best notions of how to get from point A to B, sometimes after a while, I discover..  I’ve strayed off course.

Maybe I started out fine. But over time, careless distractions or unintentional shimmies, just a hair to the right or left, can eventually lead my heart and head dangerously off course from my God-intended destination.

Can you relate?

Finding myself in difficult places mentally, spiritually or emotionally… at the bottom of a valley or the end of a path I barely remember traveling, I have to stop and ask, “How did I get here?”

Michael Jordan is credited with saying, “The minute you get away from the basics, the bottom drops out of whatever you’re doing.”    Ya know?    Yeah.

The Bottom, Basics and Blessing

It’s been nearly a month since I last wrote in this space. Words have kept flowing into one of several-many notebooks shifting around with me at all times. However,  I’ve felt like I needed to keep them to myself until I could get my heart sorted back out from this place I’ve wandered towards— hardness?   Cynicism?   Fear or even a little (un)holy anger?   I’m not sure it hasn’t been a little of each and more.

In my “silence” I’ve been trying to sort out what IT’s all about. You know— the BIG IT:

Life.

The here and now, mixed with past remembrances and future hopes. Sorting out how to navigate all of IT at this age and stage and in the midst of things we deal with on this temporary island called Earth.

In the meantime, our family has celebrated both a birth and a funeral. Then a week ago, I was notified by the Keeper of the WordPress Clock that this little corner of the Blogosphere has celebrated it’s 4th anniversary. I still recall Day One— where I was in my soul and how far I’ve come since. It’s been worth it.

What motivated me to hit “publish” on Day One still motivates me four years later although, thankfully, it’s a tamer and slightly more mature spirit. Less angry and frightened and more sure of God as the source and substance than ever before. That’s some healing work right there.

Still, I’ve questioned what needs to be written and how I ought to proceed from this point forward. In the midst of the last few months the Holy Spirit has been calling me to pay attention. Helping me to know I’ve strayed and it’s time to revisit the basics— the unchanging truths about the Unchanging Truth in my life and how my identity in Christ must reveal itself in all my roles— especially as a writer— for the remainder of my life.

Because knowing we’re defined by the unchanging Truth makes all the
difference for how we must represent Him in this world

where nothing else stays the same.

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It’s easy to get burned by sparks flying around in today’s politically charged atmosphere, in a world that’s racing from pole to pole, abusing all powers and positions, and tossing aside rules and standards left and right.

Red flags are flying up all over the place.
I’m horrified.
I’m moved and so damn weary at times .. just wanting to look away and ignore it if I only could.

I want to make a difference.
But how?

It’s exhausting— trying to avoid jumping in the ring with all the other monkeys loudly screeching and tearing each other to bits. I have to resist the temptation of becoming purely a pixel-pushing reactionary— all heat and no Light and ultimately doing no lasting Good.

Other times, when there’s good to be done, it’s been difficult to discern if what I have to offer is supposed to be offered on that altar and then sometimes being accused that to make no offering is akin to not caring at all.

Do you feel it too?

Peace and Happiness with God

In the past four years I’ve tried on different ideas for size. It was exciting for a while as I envisioned wearing the “Member’s Only” badges being handed out with the sense that I had been welcomed into a room and to a common table to share from this deep place God’s fire and water has carved out in my soul. It didn’t take long to realize it was a poor fit and that “one size fits all” label remains uncorrupted only when kept and applied by the hands of God alone. (Galatians 4:17)

Here, I’ve recognized how precariously close I’ve come to nearly having the bottom drop out of what I’ve been called to do simply because I’d forgotten the basics. Instead of looking to the Light— so I can be the Light, I began looking at other shiny things and places. I got distracted and drawn off course.                             I wandered.

Do you know this place?

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That’s where I’ve been. 

We artists and writers can be a passionate and temperamental lot and the Christian artist is no different except where our passion ought to be rooted and established. Although the blossoms and fruit will vary, this rooting makes all the difference.

In Christ, it’s distinct, unique, individual….and useful.

I want to be useful, don’t you?

I’m reminded by a few snapshots I carry around in my heart taken from scenes in movies that have changed me forever. There’s that brief discussion between “Gilbert and Anne” (of Green Gables) and a lesser-known moment from another personal favorite, I Remember Mama.

The situations are similar: aspiring authors (Anne and Katrin) are trying to write good stories but they are using ideas borrowed from the world around them hoping to find their success. Katrin is about to quit until Mama consults a local author who, as a “gastronomist”, offers her honest assessment of Katherine’s work over a glass (or two!) of sherry in exchange for the secret family recipe for Swedish meatballs.

Mama reports, “She say, you must go on writing. You have the gift.”
“But,” Mama continues, “She say, you must write what you know.

There it is.
There it is for all of us.

Hid With Christ

If we are deeply rooted in the unchanging Truth of God, then offering whatever we have to give from there is sharing the most Light,
doing the most Good
and is the most honest thing we can do.

And me?

With the Apostle Paul I can only confess:

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”
                                                                                                     1Corinthians 2:1-4 (NLT)

This is all I know. These are my basics. What about you?

In weakness– timid and trembling,Lorretta signature

Linking @ TellHisStory

Growing Up and Growing Old

Today I invite you to come with me into the back rooms of Lorretta’s mind to the file drawer labeled “Crazy Thoughts and Panicky Moments.” It’s the one right before:”Stuff I Probably Shouldn’t Say Out Loud” and right after, “Things I’d Do Differently if I Could.”

bravely growing older

I don’t know who makes the rules for these things but apparently a new car depreciates in value by nearly 30% in it’s first year off the lot. I googled it. #truestory. The same is apparently true for mobile homes although that doesn’t seem as surprising.

There are days I feel the weight of depreciation –especially when it comes to my writing and ministry. I want so badly for these offerings to hold Kingdom value and to KEEP working miracles in my life. I want them to produce healing miracles in the lives of others as well. Any edgy shard or fragment– I so desperately want God to use. Because otherwise, it seems like a big waste, you know?

Fear of depreciation sometimes keeps me from ever beginning. I get stalled on the water, stuck at the gate, too afraid to move on.  But if I have to be honest, probably my greatest place of personal wrestling has had to do with personal depreciation. Getting older.

Our culture places a ridiculously high premium on youthfulness and looks down on aging as something to be avoided.  As if only the new thoughts, new ideas, new methods or new stories hold any weight or value?!?

Seriously?!?!

Trust me, I’m not looking for the Fountain of Youth. I’m not interested in lipo-anything or the “lifting” of anything besides my Spirit or hands in worship. (Although I did buy some cream the other day……)

Because if I’m looking to hold on to “value” the shaping and shifting of my outer self isn’t where my value lies. Don’t get me wrong;  I still take care myself but I recognize there’s a fine line between “fashionable” and “foolish” and I’ve reached the age where I oughta know better!  KWIM?

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No, it’s deeper than that. See, a few years back I came to what Henry Blackaby refers to in Experiencing God,  as a “crisis of faith”.  A lot was involved in that period of time–there was no singular event to refer to–just a whole host of things got real “muddy” and even a little dirty.

It wasn’t that I doubted or stopped believing or lost my faith in God but honestly,
I just couldn’t see how to sustain it into old age.

Being a teen or young-adult Christian woman, a VBS and homeschool Mom, a “valuable worker bee” in the Kingdom hive– I knew how to do all that and the church has wide open arms in these departments. But growing older and keeping an ACTIVE faith? Not so much.

Then, honestly? I looked around  the Church and I saw very few older women I wanted to become. I saw very few older women involved in much of anything outside their comfort zones or interacting with anyone outside their own age or financial bracket. I couldn’t find many living much further beyond the “been there-done that, complainin’ about it” mentality.

Where were the older, wiser,
warrior women for Christ?

Symphony of life

I swear, I’m NOT judging. But I got …well …TERRIFIED. Because I thought, “Is this IT?!!” Once you turn the corner, round the bend and go over that hill–  then what?!?

God led me gently into that temporary place of wilderness where I learned a whole lot about His purposes for my life at any age or stage.  Among other things, God showed me that how I see this purpose and these next stages of life is a choice. There are some things I don’t get to choose but my attitude is still one of them.

Getting older is inevitable,
being old is a choice
and growing older is the goal.

He showed me something else our entire society–churched and unchurched– seems to have forgotten: aging is a privilege. Like work, getting married, owning a home, having children and a bunch of other things– aging is a privilege not afforded to everyone.  I need to be thankful for the opportunity.

God also helped me to shift my focus away from my self, and to look more lovingly and carefully for the women who could mentor and model for me what these next stages of life need to look like. Not perfectly–but faithfully.

I begged God to send older women who’d understand this need and wow… God placed several fine examples in my midst. These women  challenge my walk and my witness. They listen hard and love me well, honestly share their hearts, hard-earned wisdom and Christ-submitted struggles…and pray–they pray for me and ask me to pray for them too.

I’ve got Jane and Jan and dear Paula, who spent her life on the mission field and whose goal is simply to become a “sweet, little old lady” (emphasis on the sweet!). She doesn’t want to become anyone’s sermon example although she continues to live an active sermon before me and so many others as she tirelessly works and loves missionally right where she lives.

These women continue to inspire and encourage me, spurring me on to the next moments of my next stages of walking with Christ, however long that may be.

The challenge now is to recognize my role in this equation which is expanding in both directions. Because somewhere out there are younger women who need to see what living a real Christian life and growing older with God looks like and some may be watching me and checking my pulse for signs of life too!

I don’t want to fail them… or my Lord.

Something tells me that I won’t if it’s more about God than me. He will be my guide.

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

God’s Word reminds me that as long as I keep bravely focusing on the Truth with the Word of God as my guide and His Kingdom as my goal,  He will not forsake me–even into old age.

“My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.” Psalm 71

I pray I’m well on my way to bravely becoming a sweet, little old lady too …an older warrior woman for Christ.

Lorretta signature

 *This post originally appeared on LiveBrave.com in April 2013. It’s a word worth repeating here today.

 

 

 

 

an unfading glory

We’ve rounded that sharp bend in the calendar, barreling straight into 2015 with images of 2014 quickly receding in the rearview of the mind. It’s been an unrealistically amazing year in my world with so many things I can point to and know:

THERE…those moments    right   there… they shaped my life.
Changed me deeply.
I’m marked and branded more eternally by them.

Although markings include the painful news regarding a loved one, a ministry opportunity taking me half way around the world and back— and the exciting addition of a new family member, one person has had more shaping influence on my life than most any other in this last year.

an unfading glory 2

She wouldn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.

We’ve never met and it’s doubtful….very doubtful, we will ever meet on this side of heaven.  Yet, without a smidge of exaggeration, I can tell you this woman has made an eternal impact on my life in ways I pray I’ll never forget.

Since discovering her story online, pieces of the Jesus in her have met me in my moments all throughout this past year, carrying me through many things frustrating and fantastic. They’ve met me in the months leading up to the holidays and all the typical calendar crazy, combined with the preparation for an out-of-state wedding. 

Additional pieces were gifted during quieter moments of recent holiday celebrations and I thought about her often while I worked through the final week leading up to my daughter’s wedding day. When that day came,  I smiled w i d e r.  I loved harder  and I danced in slow circles with my husband— all while her Jesus whispers settled in my soul.

I thought of her— and her daughters— a lot that night.  I was humbled.

She didn’t ask to be there in the ways she was there. I mean, I’d gladly have invited her to come,  but the way it has happened…the way it seems that it has to happen…. Well, I know I’m one of so many who wish …..  it could be different.

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I’d want to be her friend in real life.

I want to imagine we could share all the things: flowers and tomatoes from our gardens, recipes and accessories. We’d swap stories and all those grubby nuggets and precious pearls of hard-won wisdom about how to live and love well.

We’d argue sometimes but make up easily. We’d cry a little and we’d pray and laugh a lot. I’d like a friend like that. She seems so real in these ways…even in her earnest and honest struggle with life, love, cancer and now dying— God’s love through her is so evident and real.

Without even trying, she causes me to ask myself the hard questions:

Could I do this?
What do I have to complain about?
Can I live the remainder of my life with this kind of love for others?
Apologize?
Forgive?
Serve selflessly?
Point always to Jesus?

Her real life friends are struggling too. 

They’ve sat by her in the long dark hours of chemo. They’ve held her hand, made her smoothies and loved her husband and children. They’ve laughed and listened and have possibly argued a little along the way. They supported her while she wrote and released her second book. They’ve watched her make up her mind to fight and live. They’ve stood by her decision now to love well and die with grace. 

With grace…. IN Grace.

The cup of life

I so grateful to know her in this pathetically small way I do.

It’s been her gift to us all— teaching us, leading us and guiding us as she is taught led and guided along the Isaiah 42:16 paths we can barely understand or know. She’s done her best to show us that God is here… now. With her husband right beside her, she’s given us the greatest gift:

the courage to live and die… well.

She’s also given the gift of perspective. Last night I read how she clearly remembers driving for the last time although then she didn’t realize it would be the last time. I thought of this tonight, as I drove myself to the grocery store and exercise class with my hands about frozen to the steering wheel from the bitter cold.

And I thanked God for the van and the cold and the privilege…the health I have to simply drive. Her legacy is a life of chosen gratitude. I want that to be mine too.

Not long ago, she also wrote about how she’s not a hero. I won’t argue with her. I understand. All the world loves a hero and there are plenty of media outlets willing to exploit and make a hero’s story out of many. But this woman– she’s not trying to be anyone’s hero.

As the most Pro-Life and Pro-Love person I’ve ever witnessed, she’s simply courageously spending her last days pointing us to the One who is THE Hero: Jesus. She’s invited us to draw closer to her story and as a result, she’s invited us to draw nearer with her to God, allowing Him to use her journey to teach us how to love Him and one another better and trust Him more.

Rekindling the fire

She knows time here is shortfor all of us really,  and though her story here on earth will soon come to a close, it  continues— on another page and in an unending chapter at Home in heaven.

Where someday, we will most definitely meet. I don’t know if there will be chairs in heaven but I’d like to think there are many. If so, then I’ll draw one up close beside her and there I’ll say,

“Thank you, Kara. Thank you for being my friend.”

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” John 12:24-26

**UPDATE Kara Tippetts went home to be with our Lord today, March 22, 2015. Well done dear Sister.

Grateful,Lorretta signature