Take a Knee

>> June 9, 2015

I am a frequent visitor of the one mile path around Carlisle Lake. Often I am competing with the voice in my pocket... my runkeeper app on my phone. That voice tells me how long I've walked, how far I've gone and how fast I am moving. I find that I can be very competitive with myself...and the voice in my pocket.

Today I knew my heart wasn't into being competitive or fast or striving to break a personal record. I ignored the voice that reminded me I was nowhere near where I should be along the familiar trek. I needed to go slow and enjoy the peace and quiet. I didn't even "pray". (a.k.a. carry on a one sided conversation with God in my head.) I chose to be a sponge and absorb.

My heart sang with the birds.
My spirit danced with the dragonflies.
My soul fluttered free with the butterflies.
My entire being absorbed the presence of God.

I paused at the end of the lake to sit in the sunshine on the stone bench and listened to the sounds of nature. That's when a voice in my spirit spoke.

"Kneel."

"What??"

"Kneel."

So I stared at the rough log bench that is literally spitting distance from the manufactured stone one (that my bum seemed to be firmly planted on) and contemplated what I heard. Of course I argued. 

"I'm in a public place."'

"No one is here but Me." 

I got up and knelt and let the Holy Spirit's presence wash over me. I whispered an old hymn: 

Search Me, O God.
And know my heart I today.
Try me, O Savior.
Know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be;
Some wicked way in me.
Cleanse me from every sin,
And set me free.

As I prayed and released unforgiveness, doubts and fears, God's words began to slip into my heart and confirm many things.

Who I once was. Who I am. Who I want to be. 
How He sees me. How He called me. How He made me.
What I am doing. What I am going to be doing. What I need to be doing.

I'm so thankful I didn't listen to the voice in my pocket urging the competitive nature in me to step it up. Instead, I listened to the Voice in my spirit, encouraging me to take a knee...and be set free.

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My Alter Ego

>> April 1, 2015

I have the bug today. The procrastinator bug. As a matter of fact, today I declare... I AM THE PROCRASTINATOR WOMAN! *roar* *cough-cough*

I am quickly discovering this could be my super hero in the making. Perhaps I will develop a costume and don a cape. I will make a huge PW emblem so all will know when I wear it that on THAT day.... I am Procrastinator Woman.

I could see it now:


BREAKING NEWS: Procrastinator Woman strikes again!!!

Mild mannered, middle-aged Pastor's Wife trades her  blouse and slacks/skirts and honkin' huge NKJV Bible in for a dirty t-shirt, yoga pants and smart phone while contemplating all the things she could (or could not) do that will distract her from any important tasks.

Her sink is full of dirty dishes (there's a pic on her smart phone to prove it), her toilets need scrubbing (no pic necessary here, you get the visual), and her list of church-related responsibilities is somewhere among the ever growing pile on the end of the kitchen table. There is a stack of books she should read. Shoot...there's two stacks. Appropriately sorted. Fiction and non-fiction. (Both of course reflect her Christian faith openly.)

Her hair is in a greasy pony-tail, yesterday's mascara smudges remain under her eyes,and she is patiently waiting for her espresso machine to warm up so she can sip her iced latte and...well... procrastinate some more.

But alas...every super hero must hang up their cape and go about their daily business at hand. The phone has rang, a request has been made, and she rises from her comfortable spot in her reclining couch and completes the task in time for the friendly knock on the door. All the while trying not appear as frumpy and slobby as she feels.


Sigh...

I do believe the bug was a short lived illness. To which my husband will be thankful. This PW will attack the dishes (after her espresso machine does it's magic) and then see what happens from there.


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My Country

>> June 7, 2014

It’s no secret that I love to sing. I like a wide variety of styles but my upbringing has limited my repertoire to mostly Christian music.  Which isn’t all bad.

It takes more than a catchy tune, snappy rhythm or a hook that will resound long after the tune is over to draw me in. I like a song with passion or purpose. True there are some fun silly songs out there. But if I were being honest, for me to desire to sing it with all I have in me, I need to be able to personalize it.

We often drive over 40 miles, passing many quality places of worship, to attend Cedar Park Church in Bothell. There are several things about CP that we enjoy but the main reason we choose to burn up the fuel? They still have a choir that sings three major productions a year: Christmas, Easter and Patriotic.  

Currently, we are preparing for Patriotic Sunday on June 29th.  I have found myself in deep thought evaluating my level of patriotism beyond being a native born American. It makes me think of the Chevrolet commercial from my childhood. I love the atmosphere of a baseball game, even a hot dog once in a while,
and of course I’m an apple pie girl. Shoot, I’d even drive a Chevy. I enjoy BBQs and fireworks on the Fourth of July, I feel a stir in my heart when I pass military cemeteries on Memorial Day, and I hold our military Vets in high esteem…but am I patriotic?

I’ve grumbled about our president. I hate to pay taxes. I'm ashamed at some of the atrocities in our nation and the hell-bent activism towards self-destruction all in the name of freedom.

I’ve recently wanted to bear arms (real guns, not my flabby bat-wings) just because I should be able to. I want every Christian child to not just BE free but to FEEL free when they pray for their food in public schools, read their Bible during their free time in class and say the name of Jesus with sincerity...not as a curse word.

In choir I have a new friend. Adrunodhaya (Aruna) is from India. As we sing songs together like This is My Country, or You’re a Grand Old Flag, it has stirred in me a fresh view of my country. Rightfully so, Aruna's heart leans towards India where her family is. Conversations indicate a twinge of awkwardness for her as we diligently learn our alto parts together. But for me it is a twinge of guilt.

The clincher in the program…for with our directors, there is always a clincher…we will be brought full circle from the fun diddy’s of Yankee Doodle, to the respected Arms Forces Medley, and focus our conclusion with great passion on excerpts like: For Thine is the Kingdom, If My People will Pray, and God Bless America.
This IS my country. Land of the free. Home of the brave.  And even though I don’t feel very free and I certainly don’t think I am particularly brave, my Mama taught me right and I do know how to obey.

Humble and pray. Heal and Bless. A familiar message of our obedience and His promises.

“If… My God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 MSG
Will you join me in obedience? Let's be activists, knee-bent towards preserving our freedom!

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The Fish Bowl Effect

>> February 5, 2014

With freedom comes responsibility. With responsibility comes trust. Trust is earned.

These were parenting thoughts we instilled in our children as they walked through their teen years. Looking back on those child raising years I see areas where I might do things differently now. Sometimes I cringe when I think of the times I spent screaming at my kids, dumping guilt trips, or placing expectations on them simply because, as pastors, we had expectations placed on us.
 
In parsonage life this is known as The Fish Bowl Effect.


You know those times when you see people drive by your front room window? Perhaps in the evening when the lights are on, curtains open? They see what you are watching on your HD flat screen TV, where you are sitting in your living room, and heaven forbid…what you are or are not wearing in the summer heated evenings…

Yeah. The fish bowl. People staring into your “space” and knowing…or think they know who you are.

I inwardly screamed to be free of the fish bowl known to us as parsonage life, so I can only imagine how my kids must have felt as they spread their wings and left our nest. Or is that wiggled their fins and swam to new and less conspicuous waters? Whatever analogy pops into your mind works here, just keep swimming with my thought line.  Eventually I found freedom; freedom to be myself without the fish bowl or legalistic expectations and without judgmental eyes on me as a parent, wife, or ministry leader.

But with freedom comes responsibility. While the looking glass in the hands of congregational or community members’ seems to be lifted from over my head, I realize that my responsibility is still to live a life pleasing to God.

I’m not saying I’ve had epic failures in the freedom/responsibility area of my life, but I see where I have allowed myself to become selfish in my freedom. I’ve worried too much about me, me, me, and wanting all that is due to ME in MY freedoms and lost focus on being responsible for the things God has placed before me. My attitude has become one of selfish service. Simply put, like my kids in their teen years at times, I find myself obedient because I have to not because I want to.

With responsibility comes trust and trust is earned. Our kids learned that if they messed up when we trusted them, it took awhile to earn our trust back. Restraints were put on what few freedoms they did have and there seemed to be an invisible barrier below the surface of daily living. A barrier that stole the joy between parent and child.

Today I am examining the invisible barrier with my Heavenly Father. One that my selfish desire for freedom has made me shirk the responsibility to be who He called me to be. I want the joy between Him and this freedom seeking child to be restored. I want Him to trust me again. I want to be the wife, mother, grandmother…and yes…ministry leader he desires me to be.


As a reader, may I encourage you to allow ministry leaders in your life to close the curtains on their fish bowl and allow them the freedom to swim? God has called them and He trusts them to keep their hearts in tune to be responsible to that calling. They are on a journey in their faith just like anyone else.
"I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments."                                                                                                                                     ~Psalm 119:45 (NLT)

In freedom, responsibility, and trust...
Mari

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~Psalm 77:6 "I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart,and my spirit makes diligent search."

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