Confession: Church people freak me out a little bit.

candice-18

Photo credit: Lisa Snell Photography.

I use to think church people had their lives together.
So I stayed away from the church.

They few times I accidentally ended up in one I just smiled and kept my eyes from making real contact with anyone. I thought my clothes weren’t right and my kids weren’t lined up perfectly the way they were supposed to be.
I never spoke to anyone because I didn’t want them to find out what a mess my family was or that my marriage was a little out of whack…scratch that, a LOT out of whack.
I thought I needed to tame my hair, hide my tattoos, and buy nice church clothes in order to fit in.
I didn’t want to learn about Jesus because I thought he was for the good people, the ones that dressed right, acted right, lived clean lives, and knew all the verses in the bible. I didn’t want to be rejected by Jesus because I couldn’t get my life together.

Then I met a “church lady” and she was real with me. She sat me down one day and told me what a mess her house was, physically and emotionally. She was real and honest and showed me that you can be broken and Jesus still sees you. I love you for that, Barbara. You saved me.

So I took off my mask.
I realized I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay.

I often get asked why I tell my story, good and bad. I get asked if I worry about what people are going to think when they learn about where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Nope. I sure don’t.
God already knows what I’ve done and what I’ve been through and he loves me anyways. He forgives me and adores me and that’s the beauty about following Jesus.
You can come to him frayed and stained and he opens his arms wide open.

I’ve learned how important it is to not pretend to be something that I’m not.
My kids will never be dressed in church clothes, whatever those are. On that note, I’ll always be the girl in church who makes people wonder what the hell I was thinking when I got dressed that morning.
I’ll always have a tattoo peeking out somewhere.
My house will never be clean, like never ever.
There will always be a wrinkle in my marriage.
I’ll always need forgiveness for something.
I’ll always need to forgive something.

But here’s the beauty of church.
It’s filled with messy church people.
It’s a place for the broken to gather.

If you’re showing up to church feeling like you need to fit in or put on your best face, let that lie go!.
The people on the outside looking in need to know how messy we are.
We need to set an example of brokenness.
We need to show that we are the hurting and Jesus is the healer.
We need to take our masks off for the sake of those who don’t know Jesus but are desperate for what he has to offer.

If you’re on the outside looking in let me tell you about the people inside.

The pastor is a sinner.
The youth leader sometimes wants to throat chop the teenagers.
The Sunday school teachers loves the little kids but doesn’t always like them.
The marriage counselor sometimes wonders why the hell they, themselves, ever got married in the first place.
The lady preaching to the women’s group cusses a little too much and enjoys adult beverages with dinner (sorry, that one’s me.)
Every person in the building has something they need to stop clinging to and hand over to Jesus.

To the people inside the church,
There’s a lady hiding in the back pew. She’s desperate for truth and honesty. Her marriage is a mess and she spanked her kids in the parking lot for not acting like humans. She needs you. She needs you to kneel next to her and say “We’re all jacked up in here. Sorry for pretending like we aren’t. You belong here. Our sweet Jesus loves you just the way you are. Welcome home.”

I’m Right and You’re Wrong.

 

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My sweet friend Lauren graciously wrote for us today. She’s on the mic today, show her some love.  Thank you Lauren!

 

I’m Right and You’re Wrong
There have been a lot opinions flying around my Facebook feeds, comments sections for blogs I follow, in line at Starbucks, and even at church. Not that opinions are anything new, but lately it just seems that there are a large percentage of people who don’t know how to keep their mouths shut. Let me tell you something about all these people around me – they are all wrong. That’s what I said – every single one. Oh, and I’m right. You read correctly. I’m right and you’re wrong. Now before you go and start sending hate mail and hurling your opinions at me, please keep reading to the end.
Everyone has an opinion. I like mac and cheese and the color green and hate the beach and am not super fond of pizza. Those are my opinions. I can still be your friend if you think pizza was God’s greatest gift to the world and the beach is your number one destination for fun. The world is full of differing opinions on politics and ice cream flavors and favorite actors and colors. You can’t escape them. God made each one of us unique, and, even in public school (again, hold the opinions on school) we all learn that everyone is different and unique and we should all get along and hold hands and sing Kum Ba Yah. Having an opinion is normal and 100% okay! I’m just saying there is a fine line between opinions and judgment.
Just for you visual learners out there, here are some examples:
Opinion: I like vanilla ice cream.
Judgment: I can’t believe you don’t like vanilla ice cream. That’s weird.
Opinion: Public schools are best.
Judgment: I feel so sorry for all of those home-school kids. They have no chance at success in life.
I could go on, but you’re smart people, I’m sure you get it. The Bible is full of verses about not being a judgmental ninny (my words, not the Bible). To name a few, Matthew 7:1-5 talks about not judging others who have a speck in their eye when you have a log in yours. John 8:3-11 is the account of when Jesus says the famous “If any one of you is without sin, cast the first stone.” James 4:12 says there is only one judge and, guess what? It isn’t you! Ephesians 4:29 says this: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
That one is my favorite. Allow me to paraphrase, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So stop being a Judge-y Jane (or Joe) and remember the difference between your opinions and judgment.
Remember, way up at the beginning I said that I was right and you were wrong. I’m serious about that. I already touched on the uniqueness of each one of us. I’m sure you are all familiar with Psalm 139: 13 and 14. That’s the one that says God knit each one of us together in our mother’s womb, he created our inmost being (which I am sure included our personalities and ice cream preferences) and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Some translations say remarkably and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t. Even when it seems like He is wrong, trust me, He is right. Not only are we each uniquely made, God has a plan for each of us. Another favorite verse of mine is Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Let me walk you through this.
1. God made each one of us unique
2. God has a plan for each one of us that looks totally different from the plan for anyone else because we are all different (see above)
3. If we are all unique and we each have our own plan laid out for us then the things I do are right for me and then things you do are right for you.
4. You shouldn’t pass judgment on God’s plan for someone else. You are basically telling God he is wrong or made a mistake.
So when you are furious that you are having to make alternative vacation plans because your new sister-in-law hates the beach – stop! God just made her like mountains. When you can’t figure out why none of your kids like sports when you were the star player in high school – stop! God may have given you a poet. And when you are sitting there telling someone who their kids are high maintenance through the anonymity of the online world – stop! They may seem high maintenance to you because they aren’t part of your plan. When you are laying into someone for homeschooling their kids – stop! Homeschooling isn’t for every family and I’m guessing if you are harping on them for choosing it for theirs, it isn’t part of your plan. Obviously, we can’t make the internet understand this concept and it is hard when you are dealing with the negativity and misery of some people. I think that is when we need to stop and pray for them that God moves in their hearts. You can’t change people, but you can change the way you think about others.
Lord, my prayer today is that you teach me to hold my tongue and still my typing fingers when I come across a situation that I am eager to pass judgment on. I thank you that you made me who I am and that you have a plan for me. Please help me to remember that my plan and opinion are unique to me and it is dishonoring to you to pass judgment on your plan for someone else. Amen.

Speaking Of Jeans

Speaking to the crowd

 

I’m not one for public speaking. I am just not very good at it. I guess it goes hand and hand with my writing skills.My early life was spent bartending and training staff so you would figure that I might be good in front of crowds but I’m not.

A few months back I delivered the sermon at a friends church. It would have gone just fine if I didn’t have three of my precious W3 sisters sitting in front of me crying their eyes out. I did everything that I could not to look at them but they were my support and I needed to remind myself that they were there.

The congregation said it was a success but I suspect that they were just being nice. They were after all some of the sweetest people that I have ever met.

When I spoke in front of my own church my hands were literally dripping with sweat. My daughter was there and it made me extremely nervous.

See, now I’m just making up excuses.

Preparing a Eulogy

When my father died I knew that it was going to be up to me to arrange a funeral service. I don’t think that there was anyone that expected to have a service for him.

He wasn’t very popular.

My oldest brother and I had been talking about what we were going to do when that day finally arrived. I mean that we had been talking about it for many years. We figured in the end we would be alone, responsible for handling his body and any other responsibility that come with someones death.

I knew that my brother would never stand in front of anyone and speak about our dad, not becauce he is hateful or mean, it’s just really not his thing. So, I was in the drivers seat.

I figured that there would be a few people that would show up to my church in support of my brothers, sister and myself. What in the world was I going to say. I would be standing in front of a group of people who didn’t like the man I was going to speak about. I also had my minor siblings that I had to honor and respect.

Here was my chance. This was the one time in my life that what I said would truly matter and I knew that I had to choose my words carefully.

I had to not glorify a mans life that didn’t earn glorifying. I also had to let my little siblings know that their dad meant something and that he was loved by someone despite his flaws.

I was about to stand in front of people and needed to make sure that I said something that made sense and made an impact. As it turned out, the church was pretty full that day.

It wasn’t just me and my brother after all.

The people who came to support me and my siblings were more than I could have ever imagined. I ended up talking about my dads Levi jeans, because I am an idiot.

I had a choice the day I spoke. That day is the one day that I had to make sure I said the right thing and make sure that it mattered. Maybe I wasted half of it talking about those stupid Levi jeans that he wore or maybe that’s exactly what people needed to hear. I wanted to remind everyone in that room that he was a human, he was a dad, he was a brother and a son.

For some reason his jeans seemed to make that connection. I also needed to remind everyone that forgiveness is the ultimate healer and it was time for everyone in that room that was holding on to bitter feelings for my dad to finally let go.

Your Words

What would you say if you had one chance to speak in front of a large crowd. If you could talk about anything that you wanted to would you take a chance or take it safe? Would it depend on the crowd? Would you say what you thought they wanted to hear or would you say what you thought they needed to hear?

When crowds gathered around Jesus he didn’t go for the popular vote. He went straight to the heart of the matter. There was no candy coating when Jesus spoke. He was pretty straight forward.

He told people what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life—” (John 12:23-25).

Basically Jesus took his time in front of this crowd to let them know that our earthly things do not matter and that they need to let them go ab be followers of Him so that they can be with Him in heaven. He was letting them know that they needed to die to themselves and live through Jesus Christ and without that they would produce no fruit.

What Jesus? Let go of our earthly things? Are you serious? Haven’t you seen all the cool stuff we have? Haven’t you been on Pinterest?

The point is, Jesus didn’t go for the popular vote, He went for the truth and to make an impact on whoever He had a chance to be with.

Would you do the same?

Would you rather get the popular vote and make everyone comfortable or would you rather spit the truth and possibly make everyone a little uncomfortable. It’s not just about your words for large crowds. Your words mean something every time you use them. They matter in front of a larger crowd and they matter in a personal conversations.

How will you use your words today?

Let’s pray

Heavenly Father thank you for giving us the gift to be able to spread your word. Help us to have strength to speak the truth and to take a chance when we have it. When we get tongue tied and scared gently remind us that our reward is in heaven and not here are earth. Give us the courage to stand in front of a crowd and tell them what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear. Make us your hands and feet. In Jesus name, amen.

If you get the chance to speak to a large crowd I have two pieces of advice. Don’t picture the crowd naked like everyone says and don’t talk about Levi jeans.

If you’re curios about what I really said at my dads funeral there is a copy in the notes section on the W3 facebook page titled Now I Lay You Down To Sleep.

I Ran A Marathon Yesterday And Ate Nothing But Health Food.

You know what I’m tired of? Faking it! What would happen if we decided to post nothing but the truth on Facebook? YIKERS! What would happen if the words that came out of our mouths were only the truth and we had no control over it. Ever seen the movie Liar Liar! I’m not calling us liars but I think that we tend to pad the truth. God forbid we actually admit that there are dirty dishes piled in the sink or that we want to punch our husbands in the mouth sometimes. Why do we do that. Why are we so concerned with everyone thinking that our lives are all roses instead of getting honest, getting deep and getting real. It’s not going to make people walk away from us and if it does then those people weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. I’ve listed some of my confessions before on here but let me give you a few more. When my kids scream my name, I sometimes pretend that I cant hear them. When my boss asks if I stopped by a certain account I sometimes lie and say that I did, yep read it and weep boss, its the truth. I hope I don’t find my “pink slip” on my desk tomorrow. I don’t necessarily iron my clothes, it’s more of a hard shake and if I have time then they spend about 10 minutes in the dryer. Dinner sometimes consisted of frozen waffles, cooked of course but not really cut up with syrup, we call them circle waffles and it makes them sound fun. Instead of emptying out the blow up pool and putting fresh water in, I put a cup of bleach in at night and consider it to be a chlorinated pool. I do not run every morning and I certainly don’t track it on an app and post it so that everyone can see how ambitious I am. In all honesty my running tracker would track me to the refrigerator and back and that’s about it. I eat cookie dough straight out of the tub but I wait until my kids go to bed so that I don’t have to share. There is about 5 pounds of crumbs, hair bands, spoons and cheerios underneath my couch cushions. Now deeper and more honest. I’m obsessed with my fathers suicide. I pretend that I’m not but I am. That hotel that I said I stop going to, that might not necessarily be the whole truth. I drove by it today and saw that the maid was in there cleaning it with the door open. If I didn’t have another person in the car with me I would have stopped and peaked in. My marriage was two minutes away from divorce. Okay I lied it was about one minute away from divorce and I didn’t care. One night when my two month old daughter was up ALL NIGHT LONG with pneumonia, my husband had been out of town for 9 days and I had not slept at all, I turned to her sweet face and told her “You have got to shut the F&$@ up before I freak out.” And that is a direct quote. I can almost hear child protective service pulling in to my driveway . I sometimes hate parents that will never have to deal with an autistic child. I’m jealous of people who have money to burn. I suck at my job. Sometimes I suck at being a mom and even more than that I suck at being a wife. I get mad at God. Are you ready to click the X in the right hand corner of your screen and get out of this post yet? I am, but I think that I’m just now starting to get fired up so hold on! I got an email from a friend two nights ago and it started just like this “Ok…so I’m fixing to be REAL honest! I’m angry! I’m angry that I was abused and abandoned as a kid. I’m angry that I was told I was a fat, b$#$@ that was stupid and ugly! ” Thank you God that I am not the only one! What a blessing to get a message like that. Thank you to my sweet sister in Christ for sending me a message that was real. I am not alone. You are not alone. Not only am I confident that God is always with us but I am confident that every single one of us has a cross to carry. Jesus carried the heaviest cross that there ever was and He was without sin so who do we think that we are to think that we are entitled to anything, especially a burden free life. I would love to sit here and pump you up and tell you that everything is going to be sunshine and butterflies but lets be honest, it wont. God gives us test so that we will have a testimony. Without a testimony how do we lead others to His kingdom. How can we listen and council to friends if we cant relate. I am thankful that God took my marriage to the edge and threaten to push it off if we didn’t get our act together, get right with Him and get right and real with each other. I am even more thankful that he took my marriage to the edge when I get an email from a friend in need of support because hers or his marriage is being tested, thank you God for giving me the tools to relate. I have gotten to the point that I welcome and almost beg for God to give me trials so that I can grow, learn, heal, reveal, relate and testify because without any of that nothing about this life would make any sense. In the email from my friend she also wrote “I am and I do , but inside I just am screaming will someone please validate and reassure me that I am worthy to be loved and God has a Huge Plan for me and my kids!!!! Ugh! Pretty pitiful eh?!?!?” Pitiful? Not a chance. Brave, absolutely. To my friend: You are worthy. God loves you and not because of how amazing you are, how much you give, what a wonderful mother you are, how brave you are, how faithful you are or how unwavering in your love for Christ you are. He loves you because you are flawed, because you are honest, because you cry out to Him and because now matter what test He put in your life you remain loyal to Him and Him only. Ahhh what an amazing daughter He must think that you are. He must call the angels over and have them watch you throughout the day. He must turn to them and tell them all that He has put in front of you and how you have stood strong in your faith and continued to cry out to Him. I bet He brags about all of the people that you testify to. It is music to His ears. Rest now sweet sister, He is carrying you. Lets pray “Merciful Father, bring peace to our heart when you give us tests and help us to stand tall in Your word so that we can be an example to those whos faith is wavering. Give us trials that we can turn into testimonies so that we can help fill your kingdom with more an more angels. In Jesus name, amen” . One last confession. My inspection sticker AND my registration on my car are expired! I’m living on the edge!!