Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14

'Just keep going.' photo (c) 2012, Jennifer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I like Paul.  He’s encouraging.  The man did some truly horrible things.  The man did some truly incredible things.  He was used mightily.

He spent a lot of time waiting…in prisons.  Still waiting nonetheless.

But what I love about Paul is that he kept moving forward.  If he couldn’t move forward physically, he moved forward mentally.

Christine Caine tweeted this last week sometime: “There are often many years between being anointed for something and then being actually appointed by God to do that thing #noshortcuts”

I’ll bet that if you asked her what to do in the waiting time between anointing and appointing, she’d say just keep pressing on.  Keep working toward that goal.  Everything will be preparation.

Nothing is wasted.

I think of the days like my Saturday this past weekend.  I spent the better part of it sitting in my chair and reading a book.  I feel like that could have been a complete waste of time.  But my body feels rested.  My mind feels rested.  My day was totally not wasted.

It’s during the waiting season that it’s easy to just coast and not grow.  But I don’t think that’s the point.  I think the waiting season is going to be one of the hardest points in our lives.  We know we’re called for more, but it’s just not happening.  It feels like there’s not point and we might as well give up on what we’re searching for or striving for.

But there is more.

And Paul didn’t have it all together.  He thought he did in his previous life, but then God blinded him on the road and laid him up for days.  He waited.  And it was a relatively short wait, but I’d guess if I were lying in bed after hearing the voice of God and being struck blind, that those minutes would pass by very slowly.  But it was during the waiting that God changed him.  He anointed him.  Paul waited.  Then God appointed him.

He was forever changed by the waiting.

And he continued to press on through the trials of his ministry from that point on.  It wasn’t an easy road, but it was necessary.

So if you’re like me and you’re sitting, waiting for things to start happening; you feel like there’s more, but have no idea when that moment is going to get here, just keep pressing on, my friends.  I know it’s hard.  But hopefully we’ll be able to look back and see that we used the preparation time that God had given us wisely and we wasted nothing.

Because I know He didn’t waste anything.

Press on, my friends.

 

If it’s not intriguing, it doesn’t keep my attention.  Here are ten ways to help me deal.

1.

“A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” ~ Ecclesiastes 7:1

''What's in a name?'' photo (c) 2006, Jack Dorsey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I went to a memorial service yesterday after church.  She had been fighting cancer for a long time, but on the Sundays she was feeling well, she came to church with some of her family.  Smiling.  Kind.

Her name was Jean.  The name Jean means “God is gracious.”

I think it was perfect.

But what stood out to me more than the meaning of her name was the meaning of her life.  The church was full of people who wanted to celebrate this woman and the impact she had made on their lives.  She lived well.  She was remembered well.

The day of death better than the day of birth.  There was something about the service that made me want to be more conscious of everything I do.  I don’t want my actions to be “calculated.”  I don’t want to base what I do or don’t do by how it’s going to look to other people or how it’s going to make me feel.  I don’t want to live my life in order to get people to recognize me as I’m walking down the street.  I want to live my life in a way that when people are at my memorial service they get up and they say that I was kind.  I was gentle.  I was loving.

That’s all.

A good name is better than fine perfume.  The day of death better than the day of birth.

I’m gonna miss you
I’m gonna miss you
When you’re gone
She says, I love you
I’m gonna miss you
And your songs

And I said, please
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how
Every living thing goes away
She said, friend

All along I thought
I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really
I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die

Hey everyone
I’ve got nowhere to go
The grave is lazing me
He takes our body slow

And I said, please
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how
Every living thing goes away
I said, friend,
All along I thought
I was learning how to take

How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really
I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die
Die, die
I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die

Learning How To Die by Jon Foreman

'Blu Ray Dvds' photo (c) 2010, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/This is lame, and I totally know it.  But I’ve been gone from my home since 7:45 Thursday morning and just got home at 9:30 Thursday evening.  It was a long and awesome day, but I’m tired and I’m taking the easy way out right now.  And honestly I’m not that sorry about it.  So here is what I see right now:

1.  The Bourne Trilogy.  Who doesn’t love Jason Bourne?

2.  The Prince and Me.  Honestly, I watched this movie one lazy day a few years back.  I liked it so much I restarted it and watched it again immediately after.  Just a cheesy movie.

3.  Love Actually.  I think this was a Black Friday deal for $2.  Definitely worth that in my opinion.

4.  Blue Like Jazz.  I bought it when it first came out.  I still haven’t watched it.  I think I’m afraid I might not like it, so I don’t want to ruin my thoughts for the book.  My friends really like it, though, so I should be good.

5.  The Jane Austen Book Club.  I just think this is a pretty good movie.

6.  Crazy Stupid Love.  Another Black Friday deal, but I wouldn’t have bought it if Steve Carrell hadn’t been in it.

7.  Karate Kid.  The original.  I thought my nephew would love it.  I was totally right.

8.  X-Men.  Hi, my name is Julie and I really enjoy comic book movies.

9.  The Mel Brooks Blu-Ray Collection.  Seriously.  Robin Hood Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, etc.  You get the idea.  The man is a comedic legend.

10.  Seasons 1 & 2 of Downton Abbey.  Unwatched.  A deal too good to pass up.

What are some of your DVDs lying around?

'loving is as loving does' photo (c) 2006, tara hunt - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I wrote a while back about my thoughts on the Good Samaritan as told in Luke 10.  I mentioned that it’s been coming up a lot in my life over the last 8 or 9 months.  Yesterday at church was no exception.  The message was on the same story.  Maybe I just need constant reminders.

The problem, though, that I see quite frequently within myself is that sometime my attitude isn’t quite in check.  It usually happens when I’m tired or a little grouchy that I start dealing with my selfishness.  Absolutely I’ll come over and help you out.  Because it could be in my head that I’m thinking you’ll owe me one at some point down the line.

Sometimes my motives aren’t so pure.

I think that may be why I keep getting reminded about the Good Samaritan.  He gained nothing from taking care of the man in the ditch.  At least nothing he would have known about.  Sure he’s now talked about in the Bible as one of the most popular stories told, but there’s no way he would have known.

Then last night we talked about Philippians 2.  It starts out like this:

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you CARE – then do me a favor:  Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.  Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.  Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.  Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. ~ Philippians 2:1-4 Message

It goes on further to talk about how Jesus was equal to God but made himself a servant.  It’s just been weighing heavy on me to serve lately.  And I love that the story keeps coming up to remind me that it’s really not all about me.  Serve out of love.  Not out of self-service.

As Bob Goff says, We don’t have to write everything we’re doing on a hoodie.  Write it on your undershirt.  Be secretly incredible.  Love Does.

I think my ultimate goal this coming year is just that.  I don’t really want to live a life to be noticed.  I want to live a life to be remembered for its love and grace and service.

'Willow Leitungskongress 2012 - Tag 2' photo (c) 2012, Willow Creek D/CH - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’ve been to the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, GA the last two years.  I’m hoping to go again this year and to bring some friends with me.  I have enjoyed it tremendously over the last two years.  I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of my Internet friends through the conference.  Here are 10 reasons to go to Catalyst this year:

1.  Andy Stanley.  This guy is legit.  I’ve talked about him on here before.  He will probably always be on my list of reasons to go to Catalyst as long as he’s speaking there.  Lead pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta.  Heart for leaders.  Author of 20 million* books.  Definitely look into this guy.

2.  Judah Smith.  Listened to Judah speak the first year I went to Catalyst.  I was sort of impressed, but not overly.  I re-listened to the audio and watched the DVD or the same message several months later, and was blown away both times.  I think I may have been more than a little tired by the time he took the stage, but whatever the case, you need to check this guy out.

3.  Lecrae Moore.  Grammy-winning hip-hop artist.  He’s a rapper.  I thoroughly enjoy his music.  He works a lot with urban reform.  I haven’t heard him speak before, but I’m really looking forward to it.

4.  Passion will be leading worship.  Don’t know who they are?  Have you been living under a rock?

5.  Jen Hatmaker.  As far as I know she doesn’t make hats.  But having become recently acquainted with some of the things she has her hands in and her viewpoints on ministry and life in general?  I think I’ll be checking her lab out.

6.  Bianca Olthoff.  I keep running out of time before I can meet Bianca.  When I think of an anointed speaker and teacher, she is one name I come up with.  Plus, she quotes me on her blog occasionally, so obviously she’s totally awesome.

7.  Ann Voskamp.  I have a hard time reading her stuff sometimes because it’s written so beautifully poetic.  My mind is pretty simple, so sometimes the combination doesn’t work.  But I downloaded her book, 1,000 Gifts on audiobook and loved it.  It doesn’t take long for your to hear or read her heart.  It’s right there.  Ready to love and teach and guide.  Will definitely be checking out this lab, as well.

8.  Bob Goff.  He wrote Love Does, a book calling Christians into action.  Love doesn’t just sit around talking about doing awesome things.  Love does awesome things.  One of my favorite things he says, though, is to be secretly awesome.  I shared a Tweet he sent out about the very same subject.  It may be one of my favorites of all time:

“We don’t need to put everything we do on the back of a hoodie; write it on an undershirt – be secretly incredible.” ~ Bob Goff

9.  Priscilla Shirer.  She spoke on the main stage my first year there.  She was one of the last speakers, and I had no idea who she was.  And I was completely blown away, not necessarily by the words that she was saying, although they were very good, but I was more blown away by the Spirit that took over as she was speaking.

10.  Surprises!  One thing I really enjoy about Catalyst are the surprises.  You NEVER know what you’re going to be watching.  Last year Kid President showed up and just made everyone smile and laugh.  The first year there was an acrobatic performance by some people that performed on America’s Got Talent.  And then last year Michael W. Smith showed up, did a couple songs and then took off.  No announcement.  Just came in, led in some powerful worship, and then left the stage.

So, yeah, those are just a few of the reasons, and not even close to half of the speakers.  Plus you get to go and hang out with some friends if they go with you.  Our hotel we stay it is right across from a really good restaurant with the best drink I’ve ever had in my life.  Seriously.  Best rates end pretty soon, so if you’re interested in going with me, let me know!

Have you ever been to Catalyst?  What did you think?

*I may have exaggerated a little here.

 

'Love' photo (c) 2007, jm scott - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I left you hanging.  I’m sorry.  Because I know you wait eagerly every Monday and Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. to hop out of bed and read my new posts.  But I didn’t post.

Really, though, I’m not so sorry

See one of my twin nephews contracted some sort of infection and was sent over to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis.  It was actually a pretty emotional week.  But they’re home.  He seems to be doing well.  We were playing in his living room just a few hours ago, and he was smiling.  They both were.  Man, I love those faces.

This past week was my birthday.  I always make a big deal of my birthday and give stuff away, but I couldn’t be here and be with my family all at the same time, so just know I’m always going to choose them.  I’m sorry, but that’s just going to be the way it goes.  But I did something cool a few months ago for my birthday.  I read about a site called Future Me.  Basically, what you do is you go in and write an email to yourself and then set the date to email you sometime in the future.  I chose to send it to myself on my birthday.  However, it’s Sunday night and I just sat down to read it.  I thought instead of our regular birthday bash here on the blog, I’d just let you read what I wrote to myself.  I promise we’ll do a giveaway sometime, but right now I’m mentally drained.

Hope you enjoy my birthday email to myself!

Dear FutureMe,

Just so you know, it’s your Jesus Year. You’re 33 this year. Jesus saved all mankind when he was 33. He wasn’t around too long. His grace was too radical for people to accept, so they killed Him. And more than likely you’re not going to be crucified on a cross, but I want you to focus this year on grace.

Grace so crazy and love so deep that people think you’ve lost it. I want you to really try to figure out this love thing. The unconditional part is going to be the hardest thing you’ll probably ever do, but I want you to dig deep and try.

I want you to show grace above and beyond what you’ve ever done before. You’re going to feel like some people don’t deserve it, but then neither do you. And you’ve been forgiven. So you must forgive. Always forgive.

But I also want you to remember that Paul felt the hurt when someone offended him. Don’t ignore your hurts, but always forgive. And there are times it’s going to really suck, but I believe you can do it. So do it.

You’re changing your life. You’re living an incredible story. I believe that this year may be the key for your journey for the rest of your life. Get ready to hustle. I know you’ve been working hard for a while, but that’s just working hard. Hustle is working hard with a purpose. And this is your Jesus Year. I think Jesus hustled, so you’re gonna, too.

Your life is going to change dramatically this year. I can feel it.
Whenever you get knocked down, get back up. Whenever you feel like you can’t go on, take one more step. Whenever the hurt is too much for you to handle, gather your friends and ask them to help you.

And speaking of your friends, they’re awesome. Don’t take them for granted. Love deeply.

And your family? They’re pretty incredible. Choose grace and love in every situation.

And don’t forget to love yourself. You give grace easily to a lot of people. Give it to yourself, too. You’ve been forgiven and you are loved. Don’t ever think differently.

You’re going to get out of debt this year. You’re going to hustle to do it. Your future is going to hinge on your ability to go and do, and if you’re in debt, you’re not going to be able to go and do. Hustle, hustle, hustle. Work with a purpose. Work hard with a purpose.

You are doing a great work and cannot come down. Don’t be distracted.

So I guess that’s it. Unconditional grace and unconditional love. They’re going to change the world. And you’re going to play a big part in it. Get yo hustle on, girl.

Cheesy?  Yep.  I’m okay with it.

If you had a chance to tell yourself something in the future, what would it be?

'Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20117' photo (c) 2011, Steven Depolo - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/This past weekend was the 5K I’ve hosted the last two years through my other blog.  When I set out to help some friends raise money last year, no one told me that it would work.  But no one told me that it wouldn’t work either.  Although my thoughts were if I could raise a few hundred dollars to help out my friends, I could help them facilitate this change in their lives.

So this year when I decided to do it again, I still wasn’t sure how it would go.  I guess I was feeling that after such an over-the-top successful first event, that there was no way the second year could ever measure up.

Boy was I wrong!

We didn’t have as many entrants overall running the race, but through donations and the like, I believe that we’re going to be a little bit above the total we raised last year, which was just over $3,100!  Being that this family was local this year, we decided to get together to run it again and 45 people showed up to run!  I was and am still so completely beyond amazed.

But no one told me that we couldn’t make a difference in my community.  No one told me we couldn’t changes peoples’ lives a little bit at a time.

So I started.  Because no one told me I couldn’t do really cool things.

And the only thing I regret?

Not starting sooner.

Go do what you’ve been wanting to do.

I’m going to go for another year…because no one told me I couldn’t.

pink lakeActually, there are more than 10 things that I think are crazy, but since I had to limit this, there are just 10.  And by the way, crazy in my head means ridiculous as well as incredible.  I’ll let you try to figure out which ones are which.

1.  Open heart surgery.  My grandmother had double bypass surgery on May 24.  May 26 she was up and walking.  May 29th she was discharged from the hospital and could have gone home, but chose to go to a skilled care unit in our hometown for therapy.  Today she is heading home.  Two weeks ago they cut her in half basically, stopped her heart, put it on a bypass machine and did the surgery.  From start to end, including prep time the whole procedure took about four hours.  And now two weeks later she’s home.  Still sore, but home.  Crazy.

2.  Skydiving.  If you get me up in a plane, you can bet the last thing I want to do is jump out of it.  I don’t care if there’s a parachute or not.  It may malfunction.  Crazy.

3.  Mud runs.  Seriously, if I wanted to go run a 5k in the mud with obstacles, all I’d have to do is go out in the field behind my house after a good rain.  Especially like the ones we’ve been having lately.  There is no reason for me to pay good money to do something I can do at home.  Crazy.

4.  Lake Hillier in Australia.  It’s a pink lake.  Pink.  The water never changes color.  If you take it out and put it in a separate container, it’s still pink.  Australia is on my bucket list of places to visit, and now I think I’ve added another stop to the tour.  Crazy.

5.  Lake McDonald and Flathead Lake in Glacier National Park.  My friends have been there.  They’re crystal clear and you can see to the bottom.  Looks like you can walk all the way across without ever going under water.  However, Flathead is 370 feet deep and Lake McDonald is over 400 feet deep.  Crazy.  flathead

6.  Birds that constantly keep flying into windows.  I know they can’t really comprehend what they’re doing, but one would think if you try something once and run into something hard and knock yourself silly for a couple of seconds, then you may not want to try it again.  When I was living at home, my bedroom for a few months was in the basement.  Every morning for about two weeks we had a bird that tried to get into our closed window about 20 times each morning.  He’d hit the window, get knocked silly and then try again.  For two weeks.  Finally I think he did it so often he ended up killing himself.  I only bring this up ’cause one just flew into my window.  Sad, but crazy.

7.  Abandoned amusement parks.  It’s like they close and people just walk away never to come back again.  You need to do a Google image search for abandoned amusement parks.  Guliver’s Kingdom in Japan is creepy.  They do make for some cool pictures, though.  It reminds me of some of the scenes in Revolution.  Crazy.

8.  My allergies this year.  I’ve never had trouble with allergies.  This year every time I mow I get sick.  Horrible headaches.  This week I started taking some allergy meds for the first time ever, and I feel so much better.  Like I can breathe and I haven’t had a headache in days.  Crazy.

9.  My new cell phone case.  It’s called mophie.  You plug in the case every night.  It charges the phone AND the case.  You can turn the case on or off.  If my phone battery gets low, I flip on the case, and it starts charging the phone with the battery power that it stored up during charging.  So far I’m in love.  Crazy.

10.  The fast-food infatuation in our town.  It’s crazy.  You can’t go to a restaurant at the noon hour that isn’t ridiculously full and backed up.  Especially the drive-throughs.  Not only are we (and I’m including myself some days) too lazy or tired to cook our own meals, we don’t even want to get out of the car to pick it up.  Especially after my grandmother going through her surgery, I’m just frustrated with our society and how we think and what we think is appropriate and okay.  It’s not.  We’re settling.  It’s crazy.

What do you think?

'If Your Pants Are On Fire, Being A Liar Becomes Less Important' photo (c) 2009, Byron Villegas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I started a new small group last night at my house.  I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous about it. What’s ridiculous is that this isn’t the first time I’ve started a small group.  In fact, the only reason I’m starting another one is because the first one was too big to really accomplish the main goal of small groups (no credit to me.  God and good people!).  Once you get too big, it’s hard to really fully engage everyone at the group and hard to give everyone an opportunity to speak up.

But I was definitely nervous.

On the other hand, my house was mostly clean.  I hadn’t been home in a week, so I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to pull it off, but it’s actually cleaner than it has been in a really long time.  So that’s definitely a bonus.

I guess the main reason for being nervous is that I think I was just scared that no one would want to drive 10 miles out of town just to come to my house to meet.  It’s not a horrible drive, but when you’re running short of time, like most people are these days, it can seem like a chore just to make that drive.

And, I guess if I were being completely honest, I didn’t have a plan.  We were going to watch a video and then talk about what we wanted to study, but I like to have things in order before I jump into something new.

But fear is a liar.

The reason that some of us don’t do incredible things?  Fear.  I’m tired of letting fear dictate parts of my life.

I know that starting a small group isn’t huge on people’s fears, and it’s definitely not on the top of mine, but it’s just one of those things where it would be so much easier just to sit back and let someone else take the risks.  But a life without great risks is a life without great rewards.  I think the rewards are going to be quite a bit of fun, so I’m diving in.

Oh, and last night went great.  People actually showed up.  I think we’re going to have a good time.