Monday, October 31, 2011

Cardboard Testimony

I'm in a Bible Study right now on the book Who I am in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. It has been an awesome way to dig into scripture and cling to truth.  Last week we watched the original cardboard testimonies video. The videos show the transformation from what the world or ourselves tell us versus who we are in Christ. Here's the original one:

It reminded me of Easter Sunday at the Austin Stone a few years ago when they did this. I was singing in the choir and they started playing the video. Tears were running down my face.

We were encouraged to come up with our own cardboard testimony for where we are right now. I came up with a few, but one was this:

Broken engagement, Shattered dreams.
:flip over:
Revelation 17 and 21. Betrothed to Christ, He makes all things new.

What would your cardboard testimony be?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


No really, I am. On multiple levels.

I'm a hot mess because I'm a girl and I sweat a lot. By a lot, I mean that this discussion ACTUALLY happened last week between myself and the dapper Zachary Gilbert whilst sitting on the couch next to one another at Connection Group:

Zachary: Anna, are you cold? (we were sitting next to an open window)
Me: *snorts* um. no. I'm anything but cold.
Zachary: Really? Okay. *he looks kind of awkward and confused*
Me: Why, are you cold? If you're cold, we can shut the window.
Zachary: *confused look* I just thought you might be since you're wearing a sleeveless shirt.
Me: Oh no. I have rivers of sweat running down the backs of my arms right now.
Zachary: *laughs* Yeah right, good one.
Me: *serious face* no. really, I do.
Zachary: nahhh. You're fine! You do not!
Me: *passes Zachary a note I had written to give to one of the girls in my group once we finished discussion and prayer*
I have sweat dripping down the backs of my arms right now. The prescription strength girly version deodorant clearly isn't doing the trick. I think I need to switch to the guy version...what was it? Certain Dri?
Zachary: *starts laughing* Oh man. You WERE serious!
Me: *also laughing* yup, I'm a hot mess.

Isn't this true of all of us? We have things that haunt us at the most inconvenient times. For me, it's the fact that I get hot really easily. I sweat. It's awkward...especially in mixed company. I try to wear clothes that I can layer to combat the problem, or wear sleeveless shirts to prevent getting hot altogether. My temporary fix for the problem SEEMED perfect- no sleeves, no sweat!? It ended up helping to a point, then made things even worse. I couldn't hide the sweat. It had nowhere to go but out of my body. Isn't our sin like this? We can come up with temporary fixes like avoiding people, or starting a gossip session by saying "I don't want to say anything to slander anyone BUT..." or justifying away indiscretions by convincing ourselves it will only happen ONE MORE TIME.  We can seemingly hide our mess for a season, but it will come out in due time.

The Lord wants us to completely rid our lives of the junk. Not in our own strength, but in HIS. He wants us to depend on all that He is to define all that our lives ARE. No more clinging to partial solutions. No more peeping one toe out of the dark shadow of sin you're lurking and caught in. STEP INTO THE LIGHT! When we call sin SIN, we disarm Satan. We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to wage the battle against Satan with us. God's already leading the charge, but it sure is nice to have other people in the trenches too! 

So in the same way that I have to call my hot mess problem SWEAT and find the BEST SOLUTION possible (Certain Dri or some other miracle sweat sucker), I also have to call things like lust and jealousy and gossip and pride what they are: SIN. I have to combat them with the BEST SOLUTIONS available to me if I want any relief. The best solutions are confession to the Lord, heart-level repentance (an actual TURNING AWAY from the behavior or action and RUNNING TOWARD my Savior), confession to a sister in Christ, scripture (Philippians 4:8 has been HUGE for me), and constant prayer.

I'm a hot mess, but the Lord has me covered.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Daring to Hope

I started to write this post a few days ago, but just couldn't do it. I wasn't ready to commit to what I knew this would be about. My heart wasn't all in and it wasn't true.

I have now been waiting just under 3 months for news about the job I applied for back in July. I've been posting a lot about the waiting process (a lot, okay- 2 posts. It seems like a lot in my blogging deficiencies). The waiting has shown me a lot, some nice things and some not so nice things. 

I extend grace to others more freely than I extend it to myself, especially with life expectations.
My ego is huge.
I struggle with not having a plan or next steps.
Every time I try to succeed in my own strength, it ends with me face-planting on the ground.
Satan wants to use the valleys of my past to whisper failure into my present. He wants to crush my spirit and kill my hope. His biggest victory is me being unwilling to get up and try again.

As my focus changes again, I will choose to see things through the lens of the season the Lord has me in. I will live in the now, learning to take in the journey without knowing the destination. The road trip isn't always about the place you're going. The joy, the stories, the slogans on the t-shirts, the bonding-those happen on the way. My story and my journey have already started--I'm not waiting for it to begin. Dreaming of the "next steps" isn't productive, it hurts my current relationships and the possibility of forward motion. Living out what MIGHT happen is counterproductive.

So in this season..
  • I see my brokenness, but am focusing on Jehovah-Rophe, the God that heals my crushed spirit. 
  • I am taking joy in Jehovah-Jireh, the God that provides. He has made it possible for me to live with my parents for this season. There are no bills coming in to pay, no pressing need (other than my own pride) for me to move out and no need for shame. I am loved and my parents delight in providing.
  • I am seeing Jehovah-M'Kaddesh, the God that makes me holy and sanctifies, refining me through the hurts and disappointments of unfulfilled dreams. I am surrendering those dreams to Him. He makes ALL THINGS NEW, even my dreams. 
  • I recognize that I am not alone, Jehovah-Shammah, the eternal God who is there, is with me. He has not abandoned me. He has purpose for my life and is walking me through this season. 
  • In my days or moments of feeling distraught and not quite knowing what path to take, I can trust in Jehovah-Rohi, the Lord my shepherd. That name holds so much! He's my guide. He leads me. He comforts me. He feeds me. He seeks after me when I run. He is tender.
  • Lastly, when I turn inward and try to succeed on my own, then fail; instead of being despondent in my inability to be my own champion, I can depend on Jehovah-Nissi, or the God that is my banner and standard of victory. My attempts will NEVER be enough. His will always be more than enough. His victory covers every failure of my past, present, and future. I win because he won for me! 
Satan had a hey-day with me last week. His lies crushed me. I stopped wanting to hope. I was afraid of more disappointment. Through the grace upon grace lavished on me by my parents and friends, God challenged me to hope again. To believe that His plan is better than mine. To hope in that which is certain-that God has my best in mind.

So thanks Mom and Dad, for taking me out for a pre-celebratory dinner on Thursday night. For telling me that even though I don't have a job yet, God WILL PROVIDE in His time and that we were going to celebrate that FACT together. For knowing that I needed you to hope for me.
And thanks friends, for your hugs and prayers. For helping me laugh. God is using you in big ways.

I'm daring to hope again. Risk causes the potential for disappointment and hurt, but risk is what makes life an adventure. I want to LIVE my life, not watch safely from the spectator seats in the nosebleed section.

Picture Dump

A Bridge in Madison County w/ Morgan
Yes, that is my first Turkey Leg.
Wedding happies with my friend Danielle
Babysitting my cousin's kids...oh Iowa :)
Wine? Yes please.

Ever wonder what Jr High Ministry looks like? THIS!

More wedding happies--my pledge daughter's wedding!
More Community Group fun at a bridge
Labor day weekend visit with my sister and her hubby