he called ME the church lady?

Tonight my son was working on homework (yes, on a Saturday) and my husband read it out loud.  I can’t recall it verbatim but I distinctly recall the paragraph boasting about “hiking and doing cool things with my dad … oh and my mom works for our church, and she makes quilts.”

I don’t know why I got sad when he read that. Because it’s all true.  Dad takes the boy on really cool outings, as it should be with a dad and his boy.  Mom … well, she works for our church and she makes quilts.

So what’s the problem?
Well, apparently I’m the church lady.

When did that happen?  I don’t feel like the church lady.  Sometimes I don’t even act like the church lady.

I am officially the girl who doesn’t have fun at clubs or bars. I don’t really want to get roaring drunk. I don’t want to constantly be complaining about things in my life.

This whole thing really baffles me.  Because I love Jesus and I still struggle with cussing and laziness and greed.  See, I’m not the church lady … or am I? Now that I take an inventory I notice that I am more comfortable living a life similar to the one that Jesus tells us to live than I am saying “oh well – we are all bleeping sinners!”  And I have no idea when I crossed that line!

When I get stressed, over-tired, or hit my shins on bed rails I struggle with the F-bomb (I know, the LEAST church-lady-like word of them all!), I struggle with anger, and I struggle with not thinking the best of people.  I struggle with thanking God for my blessings – like the boy toilet that I would never use, for example.  And this is real.  This is me.  Just as much as the church lady is me.

Yet, I am at a place where I can SEE my worldly self and not feel so great about who she is.  Before? Before I just didn’t care.  I actually called a friend a Bible-thumper several years ago, and she prayed for my salvation anyway because she “got it” and I didn’t.  She was on the other side of the line, the same side on which I now find comfort.  I now pray/say things like:

  • “God help me love her like you do.”
  • “OH MY GOSH I’m gonna blow a gasket and I NEED you, Father.”
  • “Dude, I can’t do this on my own – shower me with your wisdom!” (yes, I say dude in my prayers – perhaps that’s another line I need to cross at some point?)

Do I have bad days? Um, you can ask my “church lady” coworkers, my sisters, my husband, and my crafty friends … they will say YES!

Am I willing to give up certain behaviors to live more like Jesus? … well … yeah, I am. Some of them I keep picking back up, but I’m making progress. I need Jesus and His forgiveness just as much as the next Jo… Ann.

So what’s on the other side of the line? Growth
And that’s not a bad thing. I’m not claiming perfection and touting that I’m batting 1.000 is simply not true. I’m still human and I will still make mistakes. And will still hit my shins on bed rails.

How many lines are there to cross? This side of heaven? An infinite number.

What if you slide back down the hill a little? Dude, that’s what your people are for!  If you don’t have people, find some. Get in a group at your church, get to know your neighbors, meet other moms at school — find people.  We will ALL slide back down a little, thus the beauty of the word grace.

It’s a pretty big deal for this sinner to be called a church lady by her own son who sees the worst of the worst. Even he can see that I’ve crossed some lines. I’m still weirded out a little that I’m the church lady, but I’m celebrating progress. I don’t know if you’ve been burned by church before but I will tell you this: churches are being run by broken people who are going to make sinful mistakes. Accountability is a must so I urge you to find a church that keeps things real. That’s where growth happens, in transparent places.

Bless your hearts,
The Church Lady

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but I can barely remember my own name!

My husband is a history buff.  He knows names, dates, places, and all the carnage that ensued from wars.  He knows heroes, villains, and the colors of their capes.  He remembers things he read and he remembers how to get to someone’s house without having to look it up each time.

I can barely remember my name.  No seriously, I’ve been married for 13 1/2 years and I still sign with my maiden name … often.  I can’t remember phone numbers.  I certainly can’t remember historical dates (don’t try to charm me with your catchy little tunes because I will still mess up the dates).  I can’t remember what I’m supposed to get at the grocery store, or which day is crazy hat day at school.  Oh my gosh, I’m HORRIBLE at remembering birthdays – except for my sister’s because it’s the day after mine.  Thank you God for planning that out so nicely for me!

So why on EARTH would I try to memorize scripture????
I’m literally giggling out loud as I type this — because it really does seem like a waste of time for someone who can’t commit things to memory very easily, right?

My friend Anne pretty much told me straight up that I was going to memorize scripture this year.  And she had good reason for being so pushy (in love of course).  When scripture is committed to memory it changes things.  It changes our perspective.  It changes our prayer life.  It changes the depth of understanding that we have in regards to who God is and how to see Him in our lives.  And one of my favorite things is that it changes the way we help others.

I’ve been known to say stupid things to people who are brokenhearted or going through awful things.  Yes, some of that is human nature, but a lot of that stemmed from the fact that I didn’t have scripture on the tip of my tongue so I floundered like a fish out of water when I was asked things such as, “Why did God make this happen?”

But just yesterday a friend of mine was struggling through a high stress situation and guess what I was able to do immediately?  I was able to text this to her:

Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I didn’t have to fumble through typing and erasing and typing again and wondering if what I was saying would be in alignment with what scripture teaches.  And I didn’t have to Google “stress, scripture” to find just the right verse.  I KNEW that I knew that I knew that God cares for her and that she could make the choice to give her anxiety to God.

So how does a Forgetful Frances go about memorizing scripture?  Well of course I have an app for that.  Yes it cost me money, and yes it was worth every penny.  As you know I struggle with spending far too much time playing on my phone.  You’ll be happy to hear that I am doing VERY well when it comes to games – I’m down to 1 game and I hardly ever play it anymore.

Instead of keeping zombies from eating my brain, when I get the urge to reach for my phone I open my Scripture Typewriter app instead of my Plants vs Zombies app. #dontjudge  I have learned about 22 scripture passages this year.  I know this isn’t mind blowing and people have probably memorized entire books of the bible in the time it took me to learn 22 passages —- HOWEVER, since Betty isn’t invited to this party I am pleased to share that I am very proud of myself!

If I can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can.

Do you memorize scripture?  What motivates you and how do you commit passages to memory?

where I saw Jesus

I went to a Women’s Conference this weekend and I experienced something I have never ever experienced before.  I saw Jesus.

There were 12,000 women all singing praises to the Lord, and I closed my eyes and suddenly it was as though it was just me and the band in the room.  Just us.  Alone.  I wasn’t aware of any other voices around me.  No one else breathing or clapping or stomping or anything.

MercyMe was the band.
They were singing “Hurt and the Healer” which happens to be my #1 go-to song on the days that my pain is eating through my patience with teeth like piranhas.  And then we got to the lyrics that make me reach for Jesus every… single… time.

“Breathe.
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do.
With pain so deep that I can hardly move.
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on you.
Lord take hold and pull me through.”

And that’s where I met Jesus.  And then the following happened within my soul.  It was so real and so close that I could barely breathe – but not in a bad way…. does that even make sense?

I wish I could draw this for you — I’m going to reach out to a friend of mine who is an amazing artist and see if I can describe to her what I saw.  Until then, I pray my words help you realize that He is reaching for YOU too.

__________________________________________________

Jesus is reaching for me
I can see His face
His hair covers his right eye
Sweat drips from his brow
His right arm reaches over the edge of the heavens
He is reaching for ME!

His muscles are tensed up
He wants me so bad
Yet He only whispers
He never yells

Everything is in black and white
The colors of heaven must be too great
for the limitations of my imagination

I am standing up on my toes
I am jumping up and down
I reach until the tendons in my arms hurt
and I have tears running down my face

I want you too, Jesus!

He is looking right at me.
He wants me. Me!
He doesn’t care about my past.
It’s all forgiven.
Redeemed.
Wiped clean.
White as snow.

I see you, Jesus!
I hear you whispering my name!
I will never stop trying to reach you!

“You already have me.” He whispers.
“But you often forget
that I am with you.
I’m alive … In you.

“Never stop looking for Me
Acknowledge Me.
Call my Name.
Reach for me.
Always.”

My tears drip down my chin.
They stain my shirt.

“Always, Jesus.
I will always reach for you!
Thank you for being there,
even when I forget to look for you.”