Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Baring of Soul

One of my favorite worship lyricists wrote this in a particularly convicting song:

"Well I've never been much for the baring of soul
In the presence of any man
I'd rather keep to myself all safe and secure
In the arms of a sinner I am
Could it be that my worth should depend
By the crimson stained grace on a hand
And like a lamp on a hill Lord I pray in Your will
To reveal all of You that I can"

How often do I find my worth in something other than HIS grace?! Way too often is the answer. How often do I neglect to bare my soul for fear of others finding out I have weakness?! Again... WAY too often is the answer.
Am I really "safe and secure" when I build walls of protection around my hurts/fears/failures/weakness? Nope. What does it do instead? It hurts, harms and damages not only my walk with The Lord but also my relationships with anyone trying to get close.
Over time the pattern continues and I end up with a Fort Knox style defense system and a personal expectation set of perfection. Any public chink in the armor becomes a deep source of shame and a new security construction site instead of an opportunity to display God's GRACE in my life like a lamp on a hill.
And the trickle down continues, as someone who works in ministry (here comes the terrifying part), leading and discipling young people, there is a danger for my weakness to be passed on to others. In an effort to not "let others down" by my weakness, I hurt them all the more by a less than authentic walk.
I'm grateful for how Jesus not only reveals these types of patterns in my life, but walks me through healing and eradication of things that would hurt my walk with him.
And I'll be honest with ya: admitting my imperfection in protecting my imperfection causes a knee jerk reaction to protect.... (If that doesn't get your head spinning around, NOTHIN will)
But I tell ya, as the Lord continues to dig out the tough stuff in my life, I pray that he will continue to soften the defenses to allow me to live in the best way I can give him Glory. To proclaim HIS name to the world and as the verse says "reveal all of You that I can."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Passion.

Two mostly unspoken passions: writing and speaking. I would SO love to do both more.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ukulele

I have big news... No, I'm still single. No, I'm not moving. I have now learned how to play the ukulele! Surprised? I've gotten a variety of reactions, my favorite so far was, "I'm SO not shocked that I'm ACTUALLY surprised I didn't think of it first." (Thanks B)
I've been asking God for joy and in faith and for the fruits of discipline to be a result of the power of the Holy Spirit in me!
Here's the story: I've ALWAYS been jealous of people who can play the guitar. I want so badly to be able to go away, close a door and spend time worshiping the Lord! But the several times I've tried to pick up the skill... Well lets just say I didn't get far. So I thought about it, what could I play in worship? And it hit me! Ukuleles only have 4 strings and a MUCH smaller neck! So I set out! I was astonished that as I committed the time playing to the Lord, it didn't seem tedious, but exciting! I WANTED to push, I wanted to play till my fingers hurt so I could build callouses and play even better! God gave me the discipline and desire and in only 3 weeks I had a book full of worships songs that I could play and worship with!
Three weeks in I decided it was time to buy my own. (I had borrowed a friend's). I had Christmas/birthday money saved and it only took one trip to one store to find the beautiful instrument I now call my own. I decided I needed to name it! In the midst of all the transition in life recently, our bible study dissolved. Not for ANY bad reason, it's just that transitional season of life for those of us single in our late 20's. We are just finishing studying Isaiah and I decided I wanted my uke to be named after someone in the book of Isaiah! So I chose the name: Remaliah- meaning "Yahweh Adorned"
I now worship the Lord, on Remeliah daily! Excited to finally be able to worship Him in this new way.
All glory to Him as I find joy in faith and allow the Spirit to drive my discipline!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More thoughts on discipline...

I know in January I left a VERY open ended post as I wrestled with the idea of discipline. I had some thoughts then, but many of those got put on the back burner when other areas in my life were in need of some "pruning" from the Father.
Funny that this season's learning curve started with some of the same thoughts I had in January. Discipline. How to attain it. I've tried to be a more disciplined person, in all areas of life but it seems that in a few of them (waking up in the morning, healthy eating, consistency in the Word) I really struggle! Then, through a completely separate conversation I had a "duh Laura" realization. Discipline (self control) is a Fruit of the Spirit. I realized that this idea I had been trying to attain was something I cannot "attain" in and of itself. So how do I live in the Spirit (as Galatians 5 talks about) in such a way that would result in discipline in my life? THAT seemingly simple question has challenged me to the core and as birthed only more questions about what it is that keeps me from living a life of total surrender. What keeps me from FULLY trusting the Lord?
There are lots of answers to that question, almost all of the coming back to a humanly skewed understanding of God. So I've asked "God, teach me to walk fully in you so that I disappear and your glory is all that is seen." Honestly, terrifying prayer, because deep down we WANT to cling to our flesh, we WANT the glory for ourselves. So now God is teaching me. I've had some tough days with Him as things in life shift and he causes me to choose even greater dependence on Him. Growth is not normally comfortable, this is no exception. But I know that the other side of this is a better understanding of God, a deeper dependence on the grace of Christ and a path walked MORE in the Spirit than ever before.
So, thanks Jesus, for being greater than I am. For having a higher wisdom and understanding, for putting me through things that are uncomfortable and sometimes painful knowing that the result is faith, surrender, peace and ultimately a closer walk with you. Amen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Royal Servants 2012

Want to know where in the world Royal Servants is taking me this summer!? I'll be spending the month of July in..........


WOOOHOOOO I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Discipline... take one.

I have many thoughts on this topic and intend to explore them. Maybe here, maybe just in my head. But before I do I'd like to see if anyone will take up the challenge to tell me what THEY think about the topic....
READY..... go.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Speaking of Trust....

As the year begins to draw to a close, take a gander at some of the thoughts I'm sharing with supporters and friends.


You all make ministry happen.
Couldn't do it without you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ruthless Trust

I'm reading Brennan Manning's book Ruthless Trust and can I just say WHEW! While I wouldn't say I align myself theologically with all of Manning's writings (Franciscan Priesthood v. Evangelical Free) I think he is spot on with much of what I have been reading here. 
I've been struggling recently (most of my life) with just giving God all of my un-abandoned trust. Knowing, and resting in the fact that he (God) is HUGE and ABLE. Able to see my needs and meet them. Able to go before me into situations that scare the living day lights out of me. What I have found recently is that I want comfort, God wants Christ-likeness. 
Manning writes this, 

"We often presume that trust will dispel the confusion, illuminate the darkness, vanquish the uncertainty, and redeem the times. But the crowd of witnesses in Hebrews 11 testifies that this is not the case. Our trust does not bring final clarity on this earth. It does not still the chaos or dull the pain or provide a crutch. When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says, as Jesus did on the cross, "into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)"

I sometimes would prefer a crutch... something to fix it and dull the pain. That's not what Christ offers, what he does offer is a promise that he IS THERE. and He is. 
God has shown up, even today. I fell apart a little last night. Scared and frustrated I asked several friends to be in prayer, and today God showed me that he's with me. The presence of Christ in my life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is better than ANY crutch or pain relief.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This month, I choose to celebrate Thanksgiving.

For a lot of people, it's already Christmas time. While I'm not opposed to Christmas as a holiday, I do NOT want to miss Thanksgiving! So I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving for the whole month of November.

Looking at the past year I just have SO many things that I'm thankful for. How bout you?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Staff Conference becomes Labor Camp becomes Training Camp

Just got back from spending 14 days at our Training Camp in Pardeeville, Wisconsin. (Pronounced 'Party-Ville', which is appropriate) We went there for multiple reasons, First, Conference. We talked about how 2011 was, laughed, told stories, and talked about things we need to change or do better as a ministry in the future. Overall, 2011 was a great summer for Royal Servants. These meetings took place in the evenings in what became known as "the clean room", otherwise known as the part of the uninsulated building blocked off with plastic containing two space heaters and a bunch of couches. It was COLD there. we got down in the 40's every night and a few nights as low as 32, in a building with no insulation, heat and covered with windows, needless to say it was a cold sleep.

Our Second reason was to build Training Camp. Our team of 16 Royal Servants staff became construction workers. We did everything from building our Cooking Cabanas and the Food shack, to raking and laying grass seed. We organized the Barn and moved everything from our former location in Lewistown, IL up. It was a huge feat and i must say that the day i realized that we were not only hard core but a little crazy was day 13 when we only had two days left and plenty of work, IN THE RAIN the women went out and put the cedar siding on all the Cabanas. Then when it got dark...still raining... we got our headlamps out so we could finish the job. I had more layers on than normal, but overall stayed pretty dry (pictured right).

Our Third and final reason for the two week sprint, was for time together. Our staff is tight. We all love one another dearly and LOVE to spend time together. We really do see each other as family and when we come in from around the country laughter and joy are in no short supply! We spent time in the Word together and in times of prayer. We had long conversations over work about life, ministry, support raising, and just about ever other topic possible. I walk away amazingly blessed to be working with such an amazing team of people.

I'm now mostly recovered physically, but I have HUGE arm muscles right now and don't know what to do with them! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Glory of God.....

Go ahead, try to define it.
Pretty sure you'll have just as hard of a time as we did last night at Kairos as we wrestled with the topic.
The best thing I think we came up with was something like this: The Fullness of God's Majesty and Perfection. But I feel like even this is missing something. So what do we do when we encounter this? I'm not really sure! fall on our face? total and utter humility followed by repentance and obedience? complete awe?
But if we're in awe of something, we don't ignore it right? so why is it that we are not just ALWAYS fully consumed by awe of God's Glory?
I confess I often let myself be consumed by far too many other things. When we are truly in awe of something, we can't ignore it. I want to live in a place that keeps me truly in awe of the Glory of God.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flyin home.

9 hours into a 10.5 hour flight really gives you some time to think. First, I’m grateful that we didn’t have a layover in London and that we are flying directly to Chicago from Rome. But more importantly, I’m grateful for an amazing time of ministry with some amazing contacts, outstanding staff disciplers, hard working, positive students, and a great cast of senior staff. Don’t get me wrong, the summers always offer their unique challenges, and this summer had a few. Overall it was a successful summer that offered many opportunities for our team to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly, to grow in our walk with the creator of the universe, and have an amazing time with a solid team of like minded people in Rome.


Now I know that I’m not always an overly emotional person (except when I’m watching movies or select tv shows of course) but it’s hard to say good bye to this crew. As I hugged them goodbye, some for the last time, I felt the full weight of how honored I am to get to be living my dream job. I just spent two months on taking mission trip of quality high school and college students to Rome. I get PAID to do this. Yes, sometimes it is hard support raising and stuff, but it is SO worth it. I had the chance to watch this group grow in their faith in such cool ways. I love getting to sit down and talk about what is going on in their lives and what God is doing to challenge the ways they have previously thought and lived. Even the “really good” kids are often profoundly impacted and have their hearts shaken even more for the cause of Christ.

And now the finances are balanced, the medical logs completed, last bit of paperwork given back and major goodbyes done… and with that, Another summer in the books. And as I find myself on this long flight it’s been a perfect moment to reflect before diving headlong into the busy that awaits when my flight touches down in Minneapolis tonight.

Suzanne once gave me a great analogy, I’m now in the blank space between the end of one chapter and the top of the page which will start the next. August has Halbleib’s wedding, a vacation in Florida, young adults retreat at church, and a bit of time at home in Indiana before my Midwest visiting of likely Rockford and Wisconsin. Then, before I know it, September will be here and a completely new chapter for me with Reign Ministries begins. I’m not sure I know a ton, but I know this about the next chapter: I want to live life to it’s absolute fullest, I want to love others with all that I am, and I want to glorify God in every aspect of it all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Prego...More than a pasta sauce in Italy....

The church here in Dragonia is inside of a compound which also houses an apartment building with 3 families from the church. The hospitality of our neighbors is OVERWHELMING. They have insisted on us using and eating everything they own. I'm typing this toay from an auning in the shade of Ester's porch. She lives here with her husband, parents, and sister. What an amazing family. a few minutes ago Giovani (her dad, who speaks very little english) came out to the porch an said to me "PREGO!" saying you're welcome to be here.
I was working on their porch the other day when Ester came out with a bottle of cold water to make sure I wasn't thirsty in the humid italian heat. It kills them to think I'd be anything but perfectly comfortable. They HATE that we eat lunch meat sandwiches and malto meal and if we didn't resist, they'd cook every meal we eat.
The hospitality and generosity of the people in the church has lead to many amazing times of fellowship which almost ALWAYS include a large italian meal. I am forever ruined for Lasagna.... Stoufers will no longer do it for me :) when i asked Ester if i could help cook so i could learn a few tips she said no because they were going to be cooking for 2 days and didn't think i could be away from the team that long!
Our team's schedule has been quite full! in the mornings we're up, ready, eaten and out the door by 8am ready to jump into ministry. a group has been heading into central Rome to the Universities. They walk around the campus and strike up conversations with the students (many of them speak english). God has given our team many amazing conversations and even a handful of people who have committed their lives to Christ!!! The rest of the team (about 7) have stayed here at the church helping run a VBS for the kids in the area. It has been fun to teach them songs in english and help them learn their memory verses in Italian. Everyone then comes back for a siesta and some free time before heading back out around 4:30 to different parks and piazzas in the area to do our street ministry performances. Our students are sharing BOLDLY and i couldn't be more proud as i watch them every day not only share their faith, but grow in it through times in the word and teachings. We get home late and don't normally eat dinner till close to 9 and bed time is rarely before 11:30pm. but I have not heard any complaints!
I have not gotten to be with the team when they're out doing ministry as much as i normally like because I'm pulling double duty as our team medical person and finance person. Unfortunatly we have had to take a few doctor runs. Praise God though that everyone is alright and they've only been minor issues. And as far as keeping the books? well that takes me a little longer than the average person.... for those of you who know me well, know that math is NOT my strong suit. But so far, I haven't LOST any money (i have however managed to gain some... go figure. Maybe I'm better at this than i thought!)
The mosquitoes here make me think i'm back in MN! I am glad I enforced a madatory purchase for hydocortizone cream for our team at walmart before heading over, we've all got at least a few bits on our ankles, lets, arms, or randomly on my middle toe. (i know right?)
As usual, one of my favorite things about Rome is the art and history of the place. I've got my Rick Steve's audio tours on my ipod and i give mini tours to our team as we see the different sights of Rome. Looking at some things here finds my gaze on objects from the time of Christ and BEFORE! The cathedrals and basilicas are beautiful but at the same time heart breaking. The people don't realize that they don't need to work for their salvation, that God offers it as a free Gift through the sending of his son Jesus Christ. We as believers don't do "good things" because we're supposed to, but because we desire to be more in the likeness of God who has given us eternal life.
I hope this post find you doing well, I do have my email and I would love to hear from you.
Your prayers are felt, don't stop :)

Check out more of my pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.556240648759.2048456.163800297&l=20b008f6f0


PS. if my spelling is bad, i'm sorry. my spellcheck is in Italian so it's saying every word is wrong except the italian ones :)