Category Archives: i follow Jesus

happy day

I love the lyrics to this song, you can find them here…  It is the Greatest Day in History! (on a personal level Easter has never been the same)

Today at my church I had the joy, the pleasure, the privilege of hearing one of the BEST analogies for the gospel…I hope to write about it later this week…I’m still noodling it around in my brain.  I’m still thinking ‘I can’t believe I even thought about keeping those ugly poker chips knowing I could trade all of them for a beautiful pearl.’

New Covenant’s website has a link to podcasts, you can find it here. Today’s message isn’t up yet, but it should be available soon.  I would like to listen again…I took notes, but I really need to take it in and think on it some more.

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so, what’s your story?

a hungry caterpillar...i began journaling in high school, ostensibly as a class assignment, however my love for words and the continuous flow of teen drama compelled me to continue writing beyond high school and through college. today, i journal in a specially selected notebook…the qualities of the chosen one include a spiral binding, heavy lined paper and a cool retro type cover illustration like the ones found here.

more recently, at least over the last couple of years, i have especially enjoyed blogging.  i feel like the blog format allows me some freedom to have a conversation…even if it is with myself…or to provide encouragement and a morsel of humor to a reader or two that happen to stumble upon”Out of the Mud.”

of course, the upside of blogging is that i can write about anything i want, on the other hand my posts tend to be sporadic and not particularly focused on any one subject area. it doesn’t take long for the astute observer to conclude i am hard pressed to remain focused on any one ‘thing’ for any significant amount of time. apparently, there is a term for people like me…a.d.d. or a.d.h.d….back in high school ‘airhead’ or ‘dingy blonde’ was fairly accurate… i suppose i could focus all my blog posts on a.d.d….complete with ‘how to’ and ’10 steps to…’ articles.

mostly, though, i write about my life as a ‘believer’ or ‘follower of Christ’ or the older, less hip term used to describe us Jesus Freaks: ‘born again Christian.’ terminology aside, i do have other interests, check my facebook info page…i have a plethora of interests, but seriously, i kind of get tired of reading/writing/talking about recipes, cool new kitchen kitche, decorating my house, all the accomplishments of my overachieving husband and kids, will ferrell’s latest movie and what not to wear.

i’m a thinker, i suppose, so i could examine and discuss the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, whether bailing out the banks is really a good idea, i could decry genocide in Rwanda, Sudan, or Congo…i could debate the ethics of late term abortion, discuss different treatments available for pre-, peri- and postmenopause, i could analyze the US Forest Service’s current policy on prescribed burns on Forest Service lands or hold a web forum  on parenting and disciplining our children…but–

each of these subjects would eventually lose my interest…unless the discussion, debate, forum or rant had the ‘aroma’ of Christ…then we’d need to brew more coffee and put another log on the fire. because, not only do i love to share my story…i love to hear yours…i think that is why social networks, blogs, etc intrigue me…

becomes a beautiful butterfly...as for me…what i truly love to share with those willing to read or listen is how one Person, the most historic figure ever to walk the earth drew me to Him and in a single moment i realized i am not a caterpillar, but a butterfly…

i love to share the moments i experience in my work as nurse…when i see the work of His hands in the birth of a new family. how it is only because of His spirit in me that i can look upon women and children with His eyes…people whom many would pass by on the street without giving them a second thought, those who live among us who are homeless, jobless, helpless, hopeless…and how this life we live, this very hard bumpy, crusty life is worth every bump and bruise…

in a world filled with contradiction, confusion and injustice, my friend Heather (@ especially heather) describes the One that gives me a hope and a future, One whose mercy is new every morning, Who gives me a joy from within that I cannot manufacture. it’s not about prosperity or the good life…it’s about a peace from within based upon grace at the Cross. it’s about the Greatest Story ever told.

Easter is only the beginning of the Story, will it be the beginning of your story? Everyone has one…will you tell your story to Him, to the One who gives hope and grace?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

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memory monday…or tuesday…no, wednesday


My bloggy friend, Joanne at The Simple Wife hosts Memory Monday…and every Monday I think to myself ‘I would sure like to join in the fun.’ So, even though it is Tuesday {ok, now Wednesday!} I am going to join in with my verse for this week…and next Monday (if all goes well) I will come back and type it in from memory.


For me there is always the temptation to complain about my situation, then in an effort to dig myself out of the whiner’s pit I try to earn favor with God and man through actions or works. However; to the astute observer, my efforts are disingenuous at best, pure hypocrisy at worst. So, as I endeavor this week not just to memorize this group of words, I pray my heart would be transformed by them and my words and actions would reflect what His word has done inside.

Well, that sounds all fluffy and spiritual, doesn’t it?

Let’s put some modern day meat on this scripture …what does this look like today, NOW?

Wesley’s commentary expands on this verse quite well…[modern girl application in brackets]

To do justly – to render to every one their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and oppress none

[Easy application: drive courteously on the streets of Lincoln, yield the right of way when applicable.]

[Challenge application: Oppress none…thinking on this one, much less applying it would keep me up for d.a.y.s. No wonder I need Jesus.]

To love mercy – to be kind, merciful and compassionate to all, not using severity towards any

[Easy app: snuggling with my children after school and listening to them talk about their busy day.]

[Challenge app: Not using severity towards any…does that include politicians? No wonder I need Jesus.]

Walk humbly with thy God – keep up a constant fellowship with God, by humble, holy faith.

[Kind of easy app: daily prayer and quiet time, reading scripture and journaling…I love to have my QT with God, but sometimes it seems life gets in the way and I am off and running for the day.]

[Challenge app: Walk humbly with thy God…this means I have to trust Him with everything, doesn’t it? No wonder I need Jesus.]

Oh, and this verse is from a cute scripture memory packet from a very creative artist, Jeanne Winters. Her gift collection, simply inspiring
is featured at Hallmark Gold Crown Stores. You can read more about Jeanne at her blog here.

For the joy!

ab

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The Truth About Me…part 2

The first time I learned The Truth About Me was the fall of 1993 and I was a single mom and a student at Colorado State University. I had made friends with Allison, who other than her annoying habit of bringing every conversation back Jesus, was on all accounts “normal”. Our personalities seemed to click and we often sat for hours chatting while our children played together. Over the course of time, however a significant contrast between us became apparent. She had something I did not and I could see the difference lived out in her life and family…and on her face. Allison radiated Christ. Something happens when an unbeliever (me) spends time with someone who has the living God dwelling inside them (Allison). Either you are drawn the presence of the Holy Spirit in that person or the Presence is so uncomfortable for you that you find ways to avoid them or even end the relationship. I was drawn into His Presence.

Unbeknownst to me, God had been preparing my heart and He began to reveal Himself through my conversations with Allison. I had begun an inward journey and was searching for answers to the Big Questions. I was able to understand a lot about God but I had a hard time understanding on a deeper level I was separated from God. I knew I wasn’t perfect, a quick survey of my present circumstances revealed that quite well, but understanding my “goodness” wasn’t even close to being good enough for God…was disturbing.

My search led me to scripture and I was met by a holy God. Since I did not grow up “in the Church” reading the “great stories” of the Bible were fresh and new for me. Yet, I wanted to know why Knowing God made Alison so different from me knowing about God.

God met me in my little apartment in the evening hours as I read His Word. I remember the very moment when I realized I would one day give an account of myself to God…it was if time stopped. Every moment, every decision, every s.i.n. would be laid before me and I would be held accountable. I’m no mathematician, but on a deeper level I finally understood [my sin] > [all the good stuff I will ever do]. I was broken. I was afraid. I cried. I could feel my heart aching because I could see there was no way I was going to be able to fix the situation I was in.

It was Romans 14:11, 12 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.'” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God
that brought me to my knees. I was absolutely powerless to remedy my situation. There existed a chasm between a holy God and me I was powerless to cross. There existed no action I could do to change this Truth and there was not one person on the planet that could help me. And in that moment I sensed I was alone with God.

I continued to read, flipping pages from Old Testament to New Testament…hoping to find something in the pages of scripture that would soothe the very real ache I held in my body. I quickly scanned Psalms and Proverbs. Nothing. I looked in Revelation…it was if it was written in Spanish. I read a little in Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah. It was fear that gripped me…the chasm could not be navigated by my good deeds, self-improvement techniques or promises to straighten up. I feared I was too late…and I feared God was too holy and I was too sinful.

With breathless hope I turned to the first chapter of Matthew and began to skim the pages. And then I read “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I read it again. And again. And once again. I knew a moment of decision had come and I agreed with God about The Truth About Me. It was settled the chasm was closed and I ran to Him for the rest He promised. The ache was no longer there, it had been replaced by a sense of peace I had never before known. I was experiencing the unmerited grace of forgiveness from a holy God. I rested there, on the floor of my apartment for hours, in complete silence and awe.


 

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The Truth About Me…part 1

In our small group we are reading a book that is having a rather profound impact on my heart and my relationship with Christ. It’s called True Faced: Trust God and Others With Who You Really Are. This post won’t really be a book review, but rather how God is using this book to teach me the Truth About Me.

In addition to reading Scripture, I can sincerely tell you I have read every “how to be a better Christian wife/mother/sister/hostess/football fan” book ad nauseum since I decided to follow Jesus in 1993. I am a full on kind of person and when I pursue something it is with passion and intention, thus the extensive reading list. But over the last couple of years, beginning probably around 2004ish I began to sense there must be something more, something I am missing…my relationship with my God seemed…distant. I wanted change, growth, maturity, holiness, godliness…to be like Christ, to be Godly, to live the disciplines…I wanted to please Him above all else.

For those of us on this journey of following Christ, the journey is one of choices. At some point between 1993 and the early 2000s I made a choice. I made a choice between two divergent paths in this journey with God: on the left– the path of Pleasing God and on the right– the path of Trusting God. There is no third choice; no “door #3” and one cannot jump back and forth between the two paths. These two paths represent the inner motives of the heart, the purpose behind the practice. Ultimately, motives become values and values become action. I chose the Pleasing God path. For me, the Trusting God path seemed so esoteric, so “out there”, so intangible…and kind of scary. But the Pleasing God path is one of action, it is about experience, to many it’s the sold out for God way to go! Passionately, I set my foot on this path and the journey began.

True Faced describes the Pleasing God path as one that leads to the Room of Good Intentions. Over the entrance to the room a sign reads “Striving to Be All That God Wants Me to Be” and to enter this room one must turn the knob of Effort. From the beginning of my walk my deepest desire has been to be the person God intends me to be, to be the person He has called me to be. It makes sense I would grab the Knob of Effort with gusto and walk right in. …I will be all He wants me to be…whatever it looks like, whatever it takes…I want to please Him! My walk with God will be just like in the books I’ve read, it will be like Paul and Peter, Ruth and Naomi. My goal is to be godly, I will persevere, I will be disciplined, I will fast and pray and do Bible Studies…and we will have this close relationship I have always wanted with God. And I became comfortable in the Room of Good Intentions…at least for a while. Then I got tired. Real tired. There seemed to be this rather uncomfortable, but permanent mask adhered to my face and on the faces of others in the room. When we inquire among each other “How is it going? How are you doing?” a pained “Everything’s fine, just fine, we’re doing good, yup, pretty good” echoes among us all in this Room of Good Intentions.

I lived in the Room of Good Intentions for quite some time…a looong time. I invested in relationships that seemed to go beyond the mask, but in Truth the masks remained. My experience in the Room of Good Intentions was littered with half used homeschool supplies, Bible Studies left incomplete, futile attempts at perfect tea parties, gallons of mismatched paints and fabric for decorating, scratched up mediocre Christian music CDs and multiple copies of the Bible in the search to find the most accurate version to carry to church. I began to feel stifled…the mask was on pretty tight. And I claimed to be authentic. I was tired. Very tired…of myself, of the others in the Room and of feeling like I was never doing enough, never getting it quite together. There always seemed to be this cloud over me, this nagging feeling I will never be the person God intends me to be. The intimate walk I thought I would experience after choosing Christ seemed to have faded into the pages of the well intentioned books I had read and placed upon the dusty bookshelves in the basement. All the concepts and strategies I had read about had ultimately left me…unchanged.

NOTE: Over the next few days/week I will be working through The Truth About Me….and I won’t not post for months, I just need to process stuff a little…this is too exciting to keep inside, just getting it out in a coherent manner is a longer process than I thought… Jab


 

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The Journey Inward…

Faith…my response to God’s presence in my life.

Journey…a process or pursuit.

This morning in Sunday School (actually it is called “Discovery Class” individuals considering membership at our church go through this class) we discussed a book titled The Critical Journey by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich (Second Edition, Sheffield Publishing 2005). In the book, the authors examine the journey we embark upon when we respond to the presence of God in our lives. I have not read this book and this post is really just my thinking out loud…a lot of thought generated by a discussion and diagram.

The spiritual journey, as described by Hagberg and Guelich is based on the stage-model theory, of which I will direct you to this page for more on that topic and a more thorough discussion of the book by someone who has actually read the entire text.

Through the magic of computers, I was able to sort of reproduce the diagram from our handout.

All credit to the authors for the original and this reproduction.

The Wall…as shown in this diagram should really be a dark line only, but the idea remains. Most of us cycle from stage 2 to 3…learning and serving and learning and serving and…well you get the point. But, to grow, to journey deeper with God, we have to get past The Wall. And the only way out…is through.And that is what got me to really thinking today… for some time now I’ve been hanging out at the Wall. The Wall is kind of comfortable, you don’t go too deep, don’t feel too much pain, you coast. I’ve been through the wall before, yes, but only long enough to journey inward and outward and back to learning and serving and learning and serving. In some ways, it has been an easy place to stay because going through the wall is not without pain. But remaining at the Wall is painful, too, because metaphorically you just “bang your head on it” but only hard enough to bruise yourself, not hard enough to actually break through…and that, my friend is misery.

My journey over the last two years (at least) has been a journey through the Wall. I mean I had been hanging out, like I said before, but I got bored, frustrated and miserable. I had been getting frustrated with the learning and serving routine, I did not believe the pinnacle of spiritual maturity rested in my “Christian Activity Resume.” I began to doubt and question what I believed; why I believed what I believed, wondered what was it that was truly essential in my relationship with Christ and what was clutter I picked up along the way. Was I a Christian or a Christ-follower…is there a difference? My quiet times seemed to be another activity to complete, rather than a time to connect with my Lord. I had been unsettled and restless. I yearned for something deeper, but was too fearful/lazy/comfortable/uncomfortable/proud to go through the Wall. It took a crisis to push me through…and then another one…and then another one.

I might not have known I was “at the Wall” but I did know I was not really growing or going deeper with God…and I wanted to, but knew it would take something more than just “wanting” it for true spiritual growth to happen. So I prayed. I asked God to do whatever it takes to draw me closer to Him…whatever it takes so that I would grow and trust Him more…whatever it looks like and whatever it takes…I yearned to be in a new place with Him.

That is a hard prayer to pray, but trusting Him is harder. I knew He would answer that prayer, I had no idea what the answer(s) would look like…I just had to trust Him.

So what happened?

On this journey inward there has been pain, loss, joy, peace, grace, sadness, fear, gratitude…you know, the messy stuff of life we all deal with. As I expected. But in this whole mess, I have experienced a deepness with the Lord I could have only experienced by journeying through the Wall. This place, which I think is stage 4, is hard to describe, it is a place where “heart work” is done…where spirituality and psychology collide. It is a place where Truth is revealed about who I am and who God is. This place is a place of trust…of prayers sent up fervently and with hope, a place where I cannot go forward on my own strength, but one in which I have to believe His promises.

I know He loves me.
I know He is sovereign.
I know He is my Redeemer.
I know He hears me when I call upon Him.

Looking at the diagram, stages 5 & 6 loom ahead…I am not there, I am pretty sure. There is a lot more decluttering of unresolved issues between me & God, between me & me, between me & my husband…I’ll be hanging out here for a while, I am pretty sure.

And that is okay… He promises me this…

“For I know the plans I have for you,”

declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:11,12

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