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The Flower In My Yard

Flower in my yardWe moved into the house we live in now about 11 years ago. It was just me and Cheryl and Trinity back then, and we had plenty of room for all of our stuff – my books and tools, Cheryl’s piano, Trinity’s toys and baby bed.

I love doing yard work, and this yard was a challenge from day one. It was a combination of Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, with a few weeds thrown in for good measure. So I had a choice – do I used the yellow bag of weed and feed, and kill the St. Aug, or do I use the purple bag and kill the Bermuda? Purple bag it is –

For the first 3 years, it was an unholy struggle. I was out yanking weeds almost every day, all spring and summer. Yanking, pulling, digging, patching in new sod, watering, fertilizing, spraying. And in the 4th year, our yard was amazing! We had a four inch covering of thick beautiful grass, front and back, and I was so happy!

Except for one little thing – no matter how much I sprayed or pulled or dug, this one stupid little white flowery weed always came up in the yard, every year, always in the same spot. I used to tell Trinity to go pull it, and she did, then one year she thought it was pretty so we left it. I mowed around it once a week, and when it got hot in the summer it would go away.

11 years I’ve been hating that stupid white flowery weed.

And now we are selling our house. We’ve been cleaning and painting and patching and throwing stuff out and hauling other stuff to storage for weeks, maybe even months. And about a week ago, that stupid white flowery weed came up in the yard. I saw it and sat down and cried like a baby.

Our first daughter was barely 6 months old when we moved here. It’s really not much of a house, and we actually couldn’t afford it at first, but we made it work. This place has seen the best and the worst of each of us. 5 years in, and little Zoey showed up. It was a tough pregnancy on Cheryl. Right about the time she was supposed to deliver, I got a kidney stone and missed almost a month of work with it – long story – and at the same time, the church we had been planting shut down.

I’ve had 5 different jobs since we moved here, Cheryl’s had 4. We had to declare bankruptcy about four years ago – another long story – ¬†and almost lost it all. It was so bad that winter, within about a 3 week period, our lights were shut off, our water was shut off and Cheryl’s car was repossessed. But we made it through.

We have been happy here, we have been depressed here, we have recovered here, we have been set free here. This is not just a house, it’s a home.

Don’t get me wrong – I want to move. It’s too small for the four of us. And I’ve never lived in one place this long. It’s an old, small house, and in spite of our past, our present is awesome, and our future, although unknown, is so bright we have to wear shades. We have faith in a great God who has brought us here, who is propelling us into a destiny that he set up for us before he even created a thing. He is steadfast even when we can’t be. He’s the rock, and often we are like the weeds.

So, in spite of the things that happened today (taxes, toilet overflow, missing work to stay home with a sick kid, spilling paint on the floor, and about a dozen other things), we are moving on. And we won’t look back. There’s no time for that, but I may look down every now and then – on the foundation that was built while we were in this place, and for that stupid white flowering weed…I cry every time I think about it. I will never forget it. Not as long as I live.

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God Thinks I’m A Loser

 

I was standing in the front of the church, weeping. Sobbing. I had been through the whole church service – from the first song to the final prayer. A nice lady sitting in front of me went and got me a box of kleenex, which I used up. So in addition to being screwed up, I thought I also owed God a box of tissue.

The man I was standing with had a gold badge on. Don’t remember his name. He held up his hand, and a man with a silver badge came to stand with me. He said some things I don’t remember, but one thing I do remember, quite well. “How do you think God sees you?” And my answer was, “God thinks I’m a loser.”

I came to this point in my life after years of struggle. I was a pastor in a church, and the staff was fired. I had sent out resumes, had interviews, had some hope, too – at first. As the months and years went by, I lost all hope, gave up and didn’t even care anymore. Then we found ourselves standing in front of the church at Gateway.

The minute we walked into the building, my whole family sensed something, but we didn’t know what. Later we knew, but at first it was foreign, but a good feeling. When the service started, we just stood there listening – we knew a few of the songs, but the impact they were having in our hearts prevented us from saying a word – we were broken and alone and for the first time we actually understood that.

And when it was all over and the pastor invited people to the front for prayer, we were the first ones there. I think we even ran a little bit. We didn’t even see it at the time but for the first time ever we were actually running toward God.

For years as a pastor, I thought I knew everything. I always knew what to say and do – several times in my 15 years, I was called on to preach at very last minute (like right before the service started!) and I would take my bible and go up and the words would just flow out of me. That’s part of who I am – I just always know what to say.

In all of that, I looked good on the outside – like I had it all together – but on the inside I questioned everything – my calling, my salvation, if God was really real. What I discovered was, although I was saved, I never really knew Him at all.

That changed, quite dramatically I should add, that day standing down in the front of Gateway Church.

I found out that God created me as I am on purposed, for a reason, and that He loves me no matter what. That pastor went a step further – He said, “God is love and He loves you, but you know what? He LIKES you too!”

I never felt like God liked me. I thought my purpose was to be an example to others of what not to do with your life. Believe me, that was the enemy. I had listened to his lies for so long that they became who I was. I was living a lie.

It took almost 2 years to work past those lies. Some victories came immediately – healing started that first day at our new church home. Others were fought for and won the old fashioned way – with heavy artillery. AKA prayer, fasting, more prayer, counselling and prayer. And lots of praying.

Now, as opposed to thinking I know everything, the only thing I am truly aware of is this: I am God’s, He is mine. I can see who I am to Him, and I am wonderfully made, powerful because He resides in me – I am the temple! And I take His power and His image and His Kingdom with me everywhere I go. And wherever I go, I am called to do the same thing Jesus did – make disciples, bring peace and rest – and to take dominion. Not to dominate, but to let His Spirit so work through me in every place and every situation, that all those around know that His Kingdom is at hand.

“Come to me,” Jesus said, “And I will make your burdens light! When you can’t carry your load any longer, I will give you rest!” Can you believe that, for yourself, right now? Can you begin to see who you are, through God’s eyes? Take a minute and ask Him right now – “Who am I?” And listen for His answer – you might just be taking the first steps on an incredible journey to freedom!

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I’m a human being. Of course I’m going to fail. Should my focus be on my failures or on the good things – God’s blessings – in my life?

Which do you tend to focus on? Why?