Authentically Imperfect

There is so much I want to say. So many thoughts and feelings and emotions running through me. I’m not entirely sure where to start. The beginning is usually suggested at this point. But the beginning is so fuzzy and multi-faceted.

This may be a similar call out, cry of my heart, post as my Letter to the Church. And while there may be some similarities, there are major differences too. So bare with me while I fumble out my thoughts, desires, feelings, etc.

I found out recently that statistically speaking, the West Coast and Pacific Northwest are the most unchurched population in the United States. Sadly enough, I was not altogether surprised by that.

Normally I like the “why” behind everything. Today, I’m not going to touch that. Because I want to get to Revival. It starts somewhere. Some have sung about how it starts on our knees before God. Some have said it begins in the heart. Or it starts with an individual.

I think all of this is true. The older I get the more I realize that things are not “black and white”, life is not “this or that”. Every aspect of who we are and what we do, as individuals and the body of Christ (the Church), is so diversely layered. It’s simply wrong to say that these are the steps to take to achieve this result.

Today, at this moment, I believe that one of the most important things we need to do as God’s kids, is to do what He has called us to do. He has given us jobs, so-to-speak, to equip the saints, some as pastors, some as teachers, some as apostles, etc. I believe that if we focus on our job, doing what God has called us to do, and do it with love and passion for Jesus. The love and passion we have for Jesus should not create a feeling of drudgery or duty or “have to”. I really believe that God is good, that His love creates joy and passion, and THAT is just as contagious as the “have to” attitude.

So, what if we focused on loving Jesus instead of “doing” Jesus? Does that make sense?

If we focus on loving Jesus and doing what He has asked us to do, then we unintentionally and intentionally impact others. Ths impact (hopefully) spurs them on to do the same.

When we do this, we end up becoming a well-oiled machine. Or rather the BODY OF CHRIST. Think about the body. It has so many different functions that are vital to life, yet it still works as a collective unit. If God’s kids truly functioned as the Body of Christ, then we could have Revival.

Everyone has a different role in the body – we can’t all be hands and feet – we wouldn’t get anywhere. Some of us are meant to be the eyes, the mouth, the internal organs. Meditate on that for a little while, really examine what your role is.

Too often I have felt guilt or shame for not be an “evangelist”. But an evangelist doesn’t fit into a box. We’re all individuals, and we have different ways of doing things. That’s the beauty of being a collective unit. And along the same note, I wasn’t created to, or asked to be a missionary in the “boxy” sense we of the word. I wasn’t called to go to Peru’s jungles, find indigenous people and tell them about Jesus.

I have a different calling than you, and you, and you, and you. Which is not only good, but necessary and useful and right.

Let us individually love Jesus as an authentically imperfect, collective unit.

Andi.


Goodness

Hey there, Beauty. How are you doing?

If we were having a real conversation or passing by in the store, how many of you would have answered, “Good”? And how many of you would have just been saying that from habit?

The word ‘good’ and all versions of have been worn down, used out of context, used incorrectly, and honestly, don’t mean very much in our society. But when you stop to ponder what is good, and who is good, and I mean really ponder. You can find yourself spinning in a web of questions far beyond the basic “good vs evil” that almost instantaneously comes to mind.

Good is neither great nor terrible. At first thought it doesn’t appear to be elaborate or profound in describing anything. But as I began to pursue goodness as a piece of the Fruit of the Spirit, I found that it is quite wonderful.

Scripture is absolutely littered with goodness.

Psalms 119:68 You are good and do only good; teach me Your decrees.

From the very beginning, it was good, all of it. Genesis 1

Just about every other Psalm talks about God’s goodness.

Proverbs itself is an entire book in the Bible devoted to teaching how to live a good and righteous life.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

The Gospel, or Good News is the very foundation of the Christian faith.

To be good is, as the original Greek puts it, to be inherently good. From the depths of your life, from your heart, right down to the core. Enter in, my all time go to verse, Proverbs 4:23Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. If we desire to live a “good” life, then we must be certain that what we are putting in is good. And where does goodness come from, except the Lord. I believe that the Bible backs up this statement tenfold.

Take some time to really reflect and meditate on what is good, who is good, why is good.

Upon my own time meditating on goodness I discovered that it’s not such a colorless word. It’s really quite extraordinary, because simply put, God is good. He is good all the time. And for me, any word that is used to describe God is anything but bland.

May His goodness be reflected in your heart and life.


Patience

It’s often joked about in Christian circles not to pray for patience. We say this for our own comfort because we know that when we ask for a trait, God often teaches us through object lessons. And because we’re being honest with ourselves, we know we don’t want to be put through a trial for something like patience.

We totally make excuses for having a lack of patience. “What’s the big deal I get agitated in traffic? Everyone does.” “So what I tap my foot in irritation and sigh audibly when someone is taking too long to order their coffee? It’s not as if they heard me anyway.” “It’s no big thing if I’m a little short with the cashier; after all, can’t she see I’m in a rush!?”

Hitting close to home? Jog your memory of how you are impatient throughout your day? (And, yes, I would say getting frustrated with technology counts).

These seem like obvious, no brainer impatient moments. Your “typical” impatience.

So then, if there is a typical impatience does that mean that there is an atypical impatience? Or perhaps it’s an impatience we don’t fully understand nor often recognize.

Impatience with God.

At the core of impatience I see a lack of grace and a lack of trust. A heartitude (attitude in the heart) as my husband and I tell our daughters. When we have a lack of patience with our situation we ultimately are saying we disagree with or don’t trust God. I make this conclusion because there is a level of peace that happens when we are fully trusting and relying on God that can ease all those daily agitations and annoyances and issues.

This is so hard!

Have you ever prayed for something for so long and not seen any answers in the way that you’re praying? I have. For years I have prayed and seen essentially nothing. Or at least, what I perceived as nothing. No answer from God, maybe one step forward but then two steps back, no lasting positive change. Can you say disheartening!?

I came to a place where I was impatient of waiting for change; I became angry with God; I wasn’t trusting His process.

I have learned that when I am feeling impatience in situations I’m generally focused on the world portion not the spiritual portion. I’m focusing on my own time table and not trusting in God’s.

So what should we do when we have reached impatience, when we stop trusting, when we have forgotten grace? Lean in. Bring whatever it is you have to God. Even if it’s as little as, “God…” Remember that He will use faith the size of a mustard seed (which isn’t much bigger than the period at the end of this sentence) to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Hang in there girl, I’ve been there, and God does hear even when all seems gone, lost and hopeless.

Here are some verses to meditate on:

Romans 5:3-5

Galatians 5:22-25

2 Peter 3:9

Psalm 40:1

May our God, who is always good, dwell richly in your heart, dear sister.


Seasons of a Tree

A good tree produces good fruit; a bad tree produces bad fruit. Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” are true believers. You will be known by your fruit.

Yet, trees are not always producing fruit. There is a time for growth, for soaking in nutrients and a time for rest. Growth leads to fruit, fruit leads to needing nutrients, storing nutrients leads to rest, and rest allows the tree to once again grow and flourish.

There is a season when the Gardener will prune and weed and trim and whack and dig and uproot. While these may seem like traumatizing, destroying actions the Gardener actually has the trees best interest in mind. He sees the potential of the tree and must make decisions that will allow the tree to grow to its fullness. He may even prune branches that are producing good fruit in order to redirect growth to the branches that are the best and will yield the most abundant fruit. The Gardener may also prune fruit bearing branches because He sees how vast the tree has spread, and perhaps if it’s spread so thin the quantity of fruit may be much but the quality is not much.

If we look at the different seasons of a tree we can see four distinct times, just like our climate. Expanding on what I mentioned above, let’s look briefly at those four seasons. There is a time for growth, when we begin to see the life within the tree show itself to the world (spring). There is a time for produce and fruit, when others are blessed by the abundance of the tree (summer). There is a time when the tree begins to shed its outer appearance, so that the inward may soak up the nutrients needed for the next season (autumn). And there is a time when what you see on the outside of the tree is no reflection of what is happening within, this is a time of rest and hibernation for the tree (winter).

As I look over the past several years of my life I see this pattern of seasons. I was most recently enjoying my summer season; fall came and past quickly, and this winter seems to be the worst I have ever experienced. But I have been reminded in this moment that my Gardener has my best interest in mind, there is a reason for this winter, and one day, one glorious day, spring will come. Life will return to my heart and soul. Color and beauty will once again be a part of me. Until then, I must remember that God’s Word is true, powerful, the most important weapon I have, and needs to be louder than any other voice.

May the Lord reveal His truths to you in your season. May He grant you peace, satisfaction, understanding, and hope where ever you are in your journey.


Resolutions, Change, Truth

In order to remove a bad habit, a sinful style or consistent poor choice successfully, it must be replaced with something good, better or healthful. One can not simply remove the bad and expect to flourish. A gardener doesn’t just remove the weeds, they replace within the soil seeds that bear good fruit. A builder does not simply tear down a decrepit house and leave but instead replaces it with a habitable home.

Just the same as the physical world so it is in the spiritual world. Read More


Depression Sucks

Life is hard. Life without Jesus is even harder. 
I’m a believer, for sure, 100%! Jesus is my Lord. But I don’t always live that way. Sin easily creeps in. Lies begin to penetrate the Armor He has given me. 
How is it that someone can go from such a strong foundation in the Truth to crumbling under the weight of life? How is it that someone can be so sure of God’s calling to wanting to throw in the towel? How do we get so lost from the path that God is leading us on? What is it that causes us to detour? 
How is it that I have ended up in a pit of dark depression when I have walked in His great peace, His beautiful truth, and unfailing love? How did I become so focused on everything except Him? Why am I back in this wretched place; I thought we conquered this once and for all, God.
I may never know the answers to these questions. At least, perhaps, not this side of eternity. 
This is the beginning of a post that I started back in May. God knew where I would be today, writing about that very abyss I had been avoiding over the last year or more…
Several times this year I have been taken to the edge. The very edge of what looks like a black abyss. A place where there is no hope, no peace, no joy. Not death. At least not physical death. Perhaps crossing over the edge could have led to a slow spiritual death. I will never know, because my God is a good God. He is faithful to answer prayers and bring us to place of hope and healing. As a friend reminded me, “Joy comes in the morning. It may not be the next morning. But it may be the morning of whatever season you’ve just come from.”
God is good. (All the time. He never changes). And He is good at being God. It is I who has changed. So where have I gone wrong? 
This is a question only Holy Spirit can answer, and I’m not going to find the answer in my Pastor, or my friends, or my husband. No. This answer needs to come from the Author and Perfecter of my faith, the Finisher of my Salvation, my Rock. My God.
Have you ever come to a place like this?
Remember the Truth. As hard as it may be to stand at all today. Remember you are can stand with His strength, on His truth, and on solid ground.
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of the darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken’ struck down, but not destroyed…
(2 Corinthians 4:6-9)
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.
(Matthew 11:28-30)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7)
For me, I know the His Truth. But I haven’t been living in that Truth. And life circumstances made a storm great enough that I found that black abyss. But God is good, and He is bigger than any storm I will face.

Unity

It’s my prayer and hope that we at Healthy Follower may spark a revival by the inspiration of Holy Spirit as we write, and that we as the women of His Church would stand united in love, walking in a manner worthy of our calling.
     Ephesians 4:1-3 “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 
     Let’s pause there and consider what this calling is that Paul is talking about. I think it’s easy to look at this passage and think that it’s for those who have been called to a “high”position-pastors, elders, church leaders, missionaries… but that’s not the case. Paul is writing to a church, not the pastors. We are all called to something. 
     You cannot begin to assume that this Scripture is only for the leaders of the faith. God did not call us all to be pastors, or elders and deacons, or worship leaders. Look at Ephesians 4:11 “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors, and teachers…” (no, this is not a comprehensive list…) But for what reason did He give us a specific calling and gift? “…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” We all have our own calling, in order that the body of Christ, the Church of Christ can grow and flourish. So that we can help our fellow brothers and sisters develop in their relationship with Christ so that they too, can help His Church grow. Love begets love, discipleship begets discipleship. And this is what creates unity. Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for [sisters] to dwell together in unity!”
     Can I just point out here in this piece of Scripture in the Psalms, that there’s an exclamation point? You don’t see that often in Scripture. I’m an expressive writer and use exclamation points probably more than necessary, so this should really grab your attention. At least, it grabbed mine.
     But have we fully answered the question: what calling is Paul talking about? 
     If we look at the beginning of His letter to the Ephesians we can see in the very first lines he writes that we are called to be holy and blameless. We have redemption because of this calling. We are called into His love. It’s the calling that I know many, if not all, of you have answered. As my dear friend tells the little children, it’s when Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart and you answer the door to let Him in. 
     God has called each one of us into His family. We are His workmanship, his prize possession, His creation that is, in His own words, “very good.” He has predestined us for adoption into His family to be His daughters. We are wives, mothers, grandmothers; we have all been called by God Himself into a role that no one else can fulfill. That’s why He created you. Because He needed you to fulfill a part of His eternal plan. This is your purpose, and this is His will for your life. He is your calling. 
     So then, that leaves the question: how do I walk in His calling? There are so many ways when you look at our lives and the Church. So many ministries, service projects, volunteer opportunities, hearts to touch-where do we begin? Or as I have often cried out to God in desperation, “How do I do this life!?” I’m glad you asked, because my buddy Paul has the answer! We start with our own hearts. If we don’t love God, we can’t truly love others, because God is love. 
     We are to walk with God in humility, gentleness, patience, and showing tolerance for one another because we love, AND we are to be diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Simple, right? … Maybe if we weren’t so sinful.
     These characteristics and traits that are mentioned appear to be outward actions. However, God has taught me over and over again that the outward actions of man (and by man I mean me) are an expression of what is happening within. So as I said before, we start with our own hearts. Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” These qualities are your“springs of life.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is the “Love Is” passage. Love is patient, kind, long-suffering, not easily angered…”springs of life.” Fruit of the Spirit, Proverbs 31, Titus 2-”springs of life.” All of these traits and attributes are a direct result of your relationship with God, good, bad, or needing improvement. 2 Timothy 1:14 “Guard,through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” Use the armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness, to protect and guard the treasure you’ve been given. 
     However easy it is to say to guard your heart, guard the treasure, it’s not always that simple or that easy, is it? God didn’t call us in order that life would be easy. He did call you with a tender voice and hand, with compassion dripping from His lips as He said, “Come to Me because I see that you are weary. I see that you are burdened with the weight of your sin. I see the burden you carry that is your marriage, your addiction, your need for control, your need for perfection. I see you. Come with me, rest in My presence. I will hold your hand as we walk through this together; I will carry you when you’re too weak, I will pick up the broken pieces of your life and replace them with My love and truth.” 
     This calling is not easy. Our calling is to be holy, blameless, set apart. Our calling is to be in the world but not of the world; to be the salt and light to a tasteless and dark world. Jesus talks about sin in the most extreme way. There is no place for sin in our lives. He said to pluck your eye out, cut your hand off if it is causing you to sin. What’s your eye, or your hand?
     Is it the TV, phone or computer that’s distracting you from time with God or time with your family? Is it a friend or a group of friends that without fail always ends up gossiping or bad mouthing someone or chose to live in such a way that leads you down a crooked path? Getting rid of your sin has to be extreme. But it will still look different for every single woman here. 
     One of my biggest sin struggles is laziness, and it is directly tied to the TV. I’m an all or nothing kind of personality too. Netflix has new episodes of my favorite baking show? I’m binging! I watched just about an entire season in one day. I could pat myself on the back and say, “Well, I’m improving. At least I was doing housework during this binge.” Or I could be honest and say I knew better. Especially with some of the content that I was exposing my young daughter to. Why would I knowingly choose to expose my daughter to a show (or anything for that matter) that normalizes homosexuality, adultery, and premarital sex? Because I’m selfish. Really, though? All of that in a baking show you ask? Yeah, in a baking show. You can’t escape the devil. But you can protect your family from him, you can guard your heart, your life, your treasure, and your calling from his schemes. 
     Let me tell you what. With the reminder of my selfishness, and another TV mishap that had horribly inappropriate content…I’m done. I’m taking a break. Fasting from TV. And really, what’s the point anyway. There is so much more I can do with my time and with my family than watch a rectangle with lights.
     Check out verses 20-24 in chapter 4 of Ephesians. In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” 
     Ultimately, sin, no matter how small it may seem to you, distracts and separates us from God and from our calling. This then begins to disrupt the unity to which we are called as the body of Christ. We limp through life rather than run with endurance; our sight becomes dim to the things of Heaven as we focus on the things of Earth. Peace turns into dissension, gentleness into anger, humility into selfishness and pride, and unity turns into denominations. 
     “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:14-15, 17‬
     I pray that we would remember the grace that was so freely given to us. For unto “each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” The gift of His life. The sacrifice that Jesus made can not be earned-you can’t earn a gift. That’s why it’s a gift, isn’t it? Because someone loved you so much that they were willing. Jesus was willing to die for you. AND He was willing to live for you. That’s why He came back to life 3 days after He was crucified. All you have to do is be willing and open to accept that gift; to open your heart and life to Him. 
     The point in all of this is that Jesus is your calling, His Father, God, called you, and Holy Spirit is there continuing that call everyday. When we daily commit ourselves to our calling then unity is possible. But how we live that calling out will be different for every person here. Thank You, Jesus. Because I cannot see myself being doing my call in the kitchen; bless all of you who enjoy cooking. It is not for me! Although, maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud, God might hear me…We all need to fulfill our own calling, and it’s ok if your calling now is different than it was 3, 10, or even 20 years ago. I have had several different seasons of specific callings: serving in Nursery, Youth Group, serving my family, serving women. It was all for the same purpose-to build others up, spur them on, allow them to grow and develop so that one day they would also contribute in the same way to ultimately build the body of Christ. 
     Do you know what I really enjoy about this passage? My man Paul doesn’t leave us guessing at how to accomplish our calling. There are practical tips right here, and I didn’t have to think of them. Verse 25: don’t lie, speak truth, if you’re angry don’t sin, quit stealing and freeloading and looking for hand outs, work hard, don’t say anything that will give you Hand Foot Mouth. Pastor Cary Wacker calls it Foot Mouth Disease; you say something and realize you’ve just inserted your foot into your mouth. But we as women tend to be a bit more expressive, but the concept‘s the same. [Hand clasped over mouth, expression of horror]. Hand Foot Mouth. Scripture says that instead our words should be be encouraging, uplifting, and imparting grace to any who might hear. Imagine your life, your family, the Church would look If we held every word to this criteria. 
     What is Paul’s next get fit quick tip? Verse 30, don’t grieve Holy Spirit…listen to this translation. “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.” ( NLT). We are to live in a manner worthy of our calling. I’d like you to understand what it means to grieve God’s Holy Spirit. Genesis 6:6. Psalm 78:40. Isaiah 63:10.
     As we finish out our time here in Ephesians, I will let God’s Word do the remainder of the teaching. Ephesians 4:31-5:2, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
What is Holy Spirit stirring in your heart? What sin is He calling you out of? What freedom is He calling you towards? What ministry is the acting out of your calling?