Aug 25, 2015

Known Community...

We grow up known as someone's daughter, sister, girlfriend, roommate, best friend, wife, mother.
We have tags added to our names, adding up over the years and yet many of us are not known... for who we are, deep inside.
Most will never know our deepest desires, dreams, fears.
It's easy to do, hiding behind our tee shirts with words claiming freedom and love. Keys around our necks holding big words, or beliefs someone has suggested we should claim.

Being known is scary.
What if people reject us once they know us?
Once we shed the layers?

I have had the opportunity a few times to be known.
My hometown, where I was a daughter, sister, wife, mama, young widow. 
 I was only half known. Too young, too broken. Still crawling to freedom.

Then a new town where I grew deep friendships, because I was allowed and challenged by many to be known.
I started to see that my deepest longing was to be known as God's daughter.
My purpose was only fulfilled when I looked upward, not inward.

Words put to music are a flame to my deepest soul craving. 
Sometimes I struggle to find my own words.
When I hear my favorite boy band, Needtobreathe, the words from Brother, More Heart, Less Attack, Multiplied, Washed By The Water, The Heat and so many others... I am gut checked.

These deep truths echoed in gravely voices, cut me... in ways that remind me and point me, to what I am about, what I believe, what I crave.
Relationships that leave me raw, because truth is shared. 
Truth isn't neat and tidy, wrapped in a bow. 

It's not always pretty, yet so much better than lies wrapped in pretty paper. When we open those, they crumble in our hands, like old newspaper, leaving us dirty and smudged from time and wear.

Two more moves for me, the first I liken to my time in the desert. Was it worth the effort to be known? Who cared to know me? Looking back, there are a few sweet ones who did care and were my lifelines. 
God and I grew deep roots, me mostly miserable, Him reminding me of His faithfulness. 
Then the move to Nashville. 
As I took steps into this new chapter I looked up, holding my hands wide open. I knew He was faithful and I was confident He was not done with me.
I claim my confidence in Him. I claim all of it, gifts, wisdom, integrity, passion... all of it is from above. 
None of it from me.

A month later, I remember standing at my sink one morning. I spoke out loud to Him (God) suggesting that we were good, but I needed more. Really. I suggested he bring women into my life, to grow community with.
It was time. The final box of unnecessary, but pretty items I surround myself with had been opened.
Time to move on, to the worthy.

Within days things changed. 
And now, looking back over sixteen months... I am in awe.
Awe of what God is willing to do, desires to do and loves to do, for His daughters.
He has created a beautiful space of love, grace, safety. 
A place where we can be known, because it matters. It matters that we become the sisters, friends, daughters, He has called us to.
To be the leaders, movers, game changers He offers us to be.
When we enter into relationship and become known...
we gain Freedom.
Freedom allows us to do ALL that He calls us to.

I believe this community of #KnownNashville is a pleasing aroma to God.
A community of women from diverse backgrounds, where we share this journey of faith, find our voice and calling.
A place to be known and loved.

To walk this journey together is a gift. 
Each of us has the opportunity to offer this gift to those we walk alongside. 
The truth is...
We all want to be included. 
We all want to be valued.
We all want to be loved.

This moment, this space is a stepping stone into community.
Community being built through monthly gatherings and small organic groups we are already witnessing. 
A place where in the words of Henri Nouwen we believe, "The better we tell our stories, the better we will want to live them." 
The story that God is writing for us.

Friends, you are game changers and this God ordained moment is rich with opportunity and blessings. Don't miss it.
Pass it on.  
Let's be game changers for the women of Nashville.

Friends, thank you for being willing.
Willing to walk in the doors each month. Willing to breath deep and share your wisdom.  
Willing to bring friends who are hungry for this. 
Willing to be known.
You are loved.

Aug 9, 2015

A Woman After God's Heart...

1st Samuel opens with Hannah. Grace is the meaning of her name. If ever there was a woman who needed grace it was Hannah. Childless. She prayed continually, at the temple... from anguish and resentment, Hannah prayed. She received. She gave back... what she was given, her son Samuel. 

Hannah prayed:
"I’m bursting with God-news!

    I’m walking on air.

I’m laughing at my rivals.

    I’m dancing my salvation.
Nothing and no one is holy like God,

    no rock mountain like our God.

Don’t dare talk pretentiously—

    not a word of boasting, ever!

For God knows what’s going on.
    He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
    while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
    while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
    while the mother of many is bereft.

God brings death and God brings life,

    brings down to the grave and raises up.

God brings poverty and God brings wealth;

    he lowers, he also lifts up.

He puts poor people on their feet again;
    he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
    a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
    he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step,
    but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
    No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!
God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky,
    crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth,
    he’ll give strength to his king,
    he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!"

Samuel grew up in the presence of The Lord. 
Samuel became a prophet, always pointing his people to The Lord. 

The books of Samuel are a history and heart lesson of Israel's story.
Men cried for earthly kings to rule them, instead of the One who had delivered their people out of Egypt, provided manna, fire, shade... every basic need. They still grumbled.

Man will always cry for more.

God gave them what they cried for, earthly kings. David was the second after Saul.

David was called, A man after God's heart. Yet, he sinned, schemed, murdered... and his family was a train wreck. 
Read 2 Samuel for all the dirt. 
Yet, some of David's last words share the wonder that God would use him for His purposes. 

I remember a time, when I read Hannah's story, her heart cry to God. I was pregnant with my first child. A child wanted, already loved and I was already making deals with God. 
"God, I will give her back to you, as Hannah did." 
Okay, she would not be dropped off at the Temple... but still. 
I pleaded and begged. 
I promised I would raise her up to follow Him, love Him, do His work... if he would save her daddy. He was dying, before my eyes as she was growing inside my body. 
I was desperate, as Hannah was. 
Let's make a deal God!

God had a different plan. His plans are always good, even when we are crumbled on the floor. This child of mine, grew to love God, follow God and do His work. God brought her a daddy who loves her, cherishes her, protects her. 
She has another daddy who loves her from above.

God doesn't call the pretty, the neat, the perfect. He calls the willing. He works through our torment, our sin, our pride and worst fears. He works in spite of our train wrecks.

Still... we can be Women After God's Own Heart.

No matter where you find yourself today, crumbled on the floor or arms open wide on the mountain top, God has you. He has this moment in time, and He calls us to be women after His heart. 
Remember the women of The Bible, who never gave up.
These women of strength, grace and fiery will. 
They knew Whom they were loved by.
He loves you sister with a passion we cannot fully know this side of Heaven.
Rise up and fall into His arms. 

Jul 27, 2015

Feed My Sheep. Sometimes A Pizza.

I watch the three young men walk in the church. They welcome people. They stand out. They stand tall. They speak different. They look different. They are goofy, loud and annoy some people. Occasionally they mess up a golf cart.
Cry me a river...
They are a work in progress. Lets help them progress.
They are part of the youth group. Not your white bread, young life camp, singing around the fire youth group.

This is real life for many kids in my neighborhood. The kids that need us a bit more than the kids with two parents and the white picket fence.
Inner City kids.
Dad is in prison, mom is pissed and you better watch out. They know what it's like to sleep in their car, four or more deep, get beat by their mama and go hungry... on a consistent basis.
Reality. Sucks and I hate it.

A couple of the boys and I were talking in between services...

I asked...
Have you been here all day?
Have you eaten today?

Yes, but we had to leave for awhile. (I'll leave that right there)
Because home is a hell hole.
No, but it's okay. No one owes us anything.

They quickly remind me it's okay, they are fine, they don't expect anything, no worries...
I appreciate that and I tell them they should not expect things handed to them, but prepare.
But lets be honest here, if you live in a hell hole how do you prepare? How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and bring it to church when there isn't any bread in your house?
And when did it become okay to put that on children.... especially as the church?
Yes, fifteen is still a child, even if he stands 6'3.

To coin the phrase.... What Would Jesus DO?
Sometimes we have to go to the obvious.
I think as the church we miss the boat, literally.
Raising hand in guilt.
Repeat.... don't miss this please.

We talk about jumping out of the boat. But maybe the church is in the wrong boat.
Somedays the Church boat is bogged down with agendas, mantras, statements and we become fat with fish.
Share your fish Church.
Otherwise our boat is going to start stinking,
and then sinking.

                                 I know everyone wants a piece of our fish... I know it's never ending... but we are the church... we are made for this... created for this... designed for this... have two hands for this.
                                                                     We are fishers of men.
                                                                         Remember Jesus?
       Did He not give us the best proof ever that He will provide all the fish we need, with leftovers
                                                                                 to spare?

Later, two young female mentors take these three tall young men to dinner. They feed their hungry bellies. These young men ask them about their home lives. They ask about their relationship choices. They repeatedly ask, "You have good mamas, don't you?"
These boys are hungry for healthy community, they have been starved of it, just like their bellies.

When it was time to drive the boys home, they dance, tell jokes, anything to put off getting in the car, closing the door on a night of laughter.

                                                    Summer is a long reality for inner city kids.

These boys spent most of the day in the church building. They felt safe, yet they were still hungry. Hungry for food and I wonder also if they were hungry for community.

If you saw them yesterday, did you reach out to them?
Did you feed His sheep?
They are all around us, no matter where you live, attend church, streets you walk.
Invite them into your life.
At the end of the day, my sweet brothers and sisters we must remember our mission.
We are the hands and feet of Jesus.
                                                         We must not forget the faces in front of us.
                                                                                     Look up.
                                                                            From your phones.
                                           The sheep are all around us. Feed them, sometimes a pizza.

Jul 24, 2015

Friends... I'll Be There For You.

When I texted my new friend today, the one I met last month. The one who wore a British cap, leggings (yes, they make those) and brought half (yes, half) a British ice cream cake to my house in 100 degree temps. She texted me from her car, after leaving her son's birthday party. 
His birthday is in January (I think) and asked if I had freezer space. 
Where do we start with that?
The birthday party... the freezer space? 
She was on her way to my house along with 75 other women and this is what she asks. 

If you think for minute there's a chance I could not have this woman in my life, no way. 
This is my kind of quirky, crazy, bring it on friend
 I need more of.
 Let's go. 
So I texted her this morning and her response... "I can't talk right now, I'm about to go on TV." 
So, there ya go. Can I pick em or what?! 

The one who asks me to help her with something
 in her house, and we get together with our sweet husbands and share dinner. 
They are solid, the husband is crazy.
 (I like that)
"How exactly did your hot air balloon land in Canada and you get arrested?"
 This woman I find I have much in common with, she is so easy to be around. 

The one I met through the one I love, who invites me to the Hillsong concert and her small group and her life. She is going to be a life long friend. I can feel it. 

The one who goes to the Tomato Festival with us for a second year in a row because we are family. This time with a baby tomato on the way (sorry:)) This family that I love so much. 

The ones I sit on my porch with on evenings and share life, heartache, joys, sorrows. These souls that laugh loud and make my stomach hurt. They are mostly young and I love them so. 

The one I met who writes beautiful words. We connected because of loss and we fill something in each other. I will never be her mom, but there are moments I want to hug her and call her daughter and tell her how much her mama loves her and how proud she is of her. 

The one I met and immediately knew her character and integrity. The one who's mom is dying and I tell her I am here for her, though I know I cannot do anything... really, but I care so much for this sweet woman, who loves her mom so much. She is a good daughter.  

The ones, neighbors who ask if they can get married in our backyard. We have rich conversations about important things and we love them. 

The one who went through a serious illness at 23 last fall, slept many hours here, binge watched Friends on Netflix, never complaining, only smiling. This same one laughing on our porch last night after sharing with me how she has been accepted into Law School. 

The ones who walked through our gates Tuesday night, to connect with other women. Seventy six women... who sat on the floor, shared space and gave voice and ear to one another. The ones who held cameras and phones and did new things and were not afraid. The ones who spoke because they knew what they had to say mattered. 

These new friends. Each one of them I consider a friend, and I cannot wait to get to know them better!

I gotta shout it out! When you tell God you are totally available... watch out!!
He brings the goods and thankfully it's in my love language... People!!

We don't forget, the people we love who we raised our babies with, who we share blood with and who we did life with. We are all still family. 
But we add and multiply and we share the joy of this sweet life. 
I must shout out my praise to my God because I am grateful, always grateful. 

Jul 16, 2015

I'm Cheating On You...

Hey sweet blog. The one who held my heart and formed my words when I was in dark places. The one who reminded me that I was enough, could fight through, claw my way up. The one who made me laugh and cry... yada, yada... Yeah, you.
I remember you. But... I've been cheating on you.

Of course you've noticed. Late nights and early mornings when I didn't show up, my side of the screen blank, obviously never logging on.

I traded rich words for clever phrases... profound pictures (most with hands cupped into a heart, sun streaming behind) but can you blame me? No one wants to read a blog anymore... they are too busy connecting to Periscope, tweeting and checking their bio on Crystal.

Instagram stole my heart. But I'm sure it won't last. There will be others who come slinking around, peddling their empty promises, wrapped in hearts popping into the air as I share truths and...?

Periscope, you are calling me with your sultry words.... Carol from Denver "do you like clowns?"
Nancy from Des Moines, "butter or margarine?" Sheila from Jersey, "What do think of those housewives? We don't really tawk like that!"
That whole thing terrifies me... I've never been good with a filter, I mean without one... and well, you can't stuff it back in once it's out there.

Maybe we can share our worlds dear kind hearted, nurturing, key sucking blog.
I'm not leaving you for good. Just don't want to go steady anymore.

I'm at  thegirlnamedale on instagram.
dale carroll-coleman on Periscope... when I dive down that rabbit hole.
Twitter too... but who cares? I'm looking for the next big thing.

Let's connect.