Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Winds of Adversity

I've been dreaming a lot lately. Not the imagine your greatest wish kind of dreaming, the actual literal, pictures in your head while you sleep kind of dreaming. And it's been all night long, right up till when I awaken. It's been the kind of dreaming that I will see things, snapshots, pictures, hear words, and see stories kind of dreaming. Sometimes I've even woken up in the middle of the dream and been able to lay back down and go back to sleep and continue the dream kind of dreaming. Makes me wonder if I might be losing my mind kind of dreaming, and I've even been wondering if it's the God has something to say kind of dreaming. (Yes, He does that.)

This morning I had a very clear picture I saw and I heard words very clearly just before my alarm went off. The picture was this, a flower in the wind.

Fist I saw the flower being overpowered, bent and crumpled by the wind. Then I saw the same flower stretch out into the wind, and it was like the wind expanded it instead of bending it. Every petal was stretched out in all its color and glory, it looked powerful, beautiful and strong. Then just before I woke I very clearly heard the words. "It is beautiful when it stands against adversity."

I stumbled across my room and turned off my alarm, the words resonated. "It is beautiful when it stands against adversity."

I looked up adversity this morning. It's a pretty broad definition: distress; affliction; hardship. Who among us isn't dealing with adversity in their lives? Who among us isn't consistently under some level of distress or hardship? Affliction?

My current adversity is eclectic and widespread. Just this morning was a morning of adversity. It's the kind of day when you actually wonder to yourself what you were thinking when you decided to have children adversity (if you never entertained the thought for even a moment, your children are too young.) It was the kind of Murphy's law morning where everything that could go wrong did- the miss every light, leave five minutes too late, get stuck in traffic, nothing goes your way kind of adversity.

This morning, I bent under the wind. I grumbled and fussed, I was ruder than I should have been, angrier than I could justify, I was crumpled, ugly and overcome with adversity this morning.

Then my dream came back to me. I was driving away from what threatened to be a meltdown from adversity (it wasn't but it was close) and close enough I wasn't very proud of myself. Then the Lord reminded me of my dream. I was not letting the wind expand me, I let it break me. (What would I do in a real crisis I wonder?)

It was a moment of decision, and an opportunity to turn into the wind and I did. And things didn't get better. There were more red lights, more long lines, more challenges and difficulties, but I didn't bend. I laughed it off, let it go, remembered that I am "but dust," and needed to be moving in the same grace I am saved by. Giving grace, letting things go and standing.

On my way back to work, in the last long line of adversity before I got here, I was laughing, light, joking. A woman behind the counter thanked me for making her day better. I couldn't help but think of my frustrated stares and angry crossed arms that may have made another woman behind another counter and how I may have made her day worse. Sad when I can see and consider what a simple decision on my part made a difference.

Whatever we face, any adversity at all-- little things like in my day, or big challenges that cannot compare-- "It is beautiful when it stands against adversity."

We are beautiful when we stand against adversity, because it is then that Christ is able to be reflected in us and in the world around us, even if they don't know that's what it is. IT makes the world a happier place for us all.

Stand against the wind, and let your colors in Christ shine.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Broken People

It's been a while since I last posted. I've been busy-- writing my second book. My first book i self-published and has sold a few copies, mostly people I know. I won't be retiring from my day job at this point, but I am writing because I feel the stories I am telling are important.

My first book "Homecoming" deals with some pretty intense social issues. Someone I know casually is reading it, and we crossed paths and she mentioned it. I asked her if she was enjoying it and her response was, "it's intense." I didn't know how to interpret that response and so I asked, "Is that a good thing or bad thing?" Her reply was again open to interpretation when she said, "It's not your typical Christian fiction."

I've been chewing on that exchange ever since. This is what I have decided: too many of us in the church prefer life that plays like "typical Christian fiction." But the thing is, life's not like that. As I have been thinking about the "synopsis" for my second book that I hope to release in the next few weeks, the description that came to my mind was-- it's NOT typical Christian fiction, because it's not comfortable Christians, it's for Christians who still remember their own desperate need for a Savior.

The truth is that my books are full of broken people-- even CHRISTIAN broken people. The reality is, that's what churches are full of. Even those of us who try to put on a good show at come across as the "perfect Christian," we're just exhausting ourselves and pushing away other broken people. We are all very aware of our own brokenness. Even if we think we have other people buying into our facades, we are all works in process far from the completed masterpieces God is creating, that we will never see on this side of eternity.

Easter has just passed. It's a time of outreach and "sharing Christ," but what are we like a week or two later when the broken people who come looking for the Jesus we have proclaimed. Are we suddenly back to being focused on the status quo? Do we get back to a place of not wanting to make disciples of Christ, but rather disciples of ourselves? Do those who come needing Jesus find Him-- the one who loves them unconditionally, and accepts them as they are, broken? Or do we greet them at the door with a list of "to do's" that says, "Change your life," "Be this way."

Jesus came for the broken. He called those who knew their need for Him, and wanted to receive what He had for them. What He has for each one of us is different for each one of us. He sees our brokenness and He is the answer. As a church, we are but a tool to direct the broken toward Him. We need to embrace our own brokenness to truly be able to embrace the broken. (And I will encourage you, if you don't think you are broken, look harder-- you have not arrived.)

So I am glad the my book is considered "intense" and atypical, because that is the reality of life. I hope my book will be read by just one unbeliever who will realize that Jesus came for them. I pray my book is read by just one believer who has avoided accepting the unconditional love of the God who sees beyond their facade.

WE ARE BROKEN-- CHRISTIANS ARE BROKEN!! We struggle with sin, we don't like ourselves all the time, we struggle with depression, anxiety, we have pasts-- we are people who desperately needed a Savior, the only difference between us and the rest of the world is that we found Him.

If you're interested in my book, you can find more information about Homecoming - The Redemption Series (Volume 1) at (Available on Kindle and in paperback at Coming soon: Fallout - The Redemption Series (Volume 2)