Shut Up Already

I remember my very first writing assignment in first grade. I had a cutout of a girl, who I had to color and decorate to look like me. Her body served as the place I would write a few paragraphs all about me–the things I liked to eat, the places I liked to go. Since then, I have been hooked on the 26 letters that can form new thoughts and ideas. Simple words that can make people laugh and bring people to tears.

I've been asked the question: If you could do anything in the whole world you wanted to and not have to worry about money what would it be?

Of course, for me, the answer is writing.

I have prayed over this desire of my heart. I have began three different novels, or maybe four. I have a notebook full of ideas–some I have seen written already by other authors. And God has blessed me with the opportunity…and now, for the first time ever, the motivation.

He gave me an idea…then His word to back it up.

Then during my fast…he slammed me over the head. Like for real. Like when you are playing with one of those bouncy soft, big summer balls with the kids outside. Somehow your son gets sidetracked and starts staring off into oblivion. You call his name, you call his name again. And then you realize you have the ball in your hand so you chunk it at his head to get his attention? No. That's just me?

So Jesus slammed me over the head with the ball, because I just haven't been pay attention. I may have been playing around with this writing dream, but I haven't really engaged in it.

In the midst of me fasting and praying–crying out to Jesus to give me a true purpose. And he did. My focus on writing was all wrong, it was about me, what I could offer and what I can write. When truly everything I do is about Jesus, and is simply an overflow of all he has done for me.

In my journal, I wrote these questions:

IS THERE WONDER & AWE AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE?

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU?

When Peter and John went before the Council in Acts 4, their goal was to shut up the Spirit led men so the message of Jesus couldn't go any further. Peter and John were warned–keep your mouth shut. This was there response:

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”

I can just see them responding in the same way I tell my kids:

“I hear you. I hear what you are saying, but No, it's just not going to happen.”

Calmly, respectfully.

It's like what the council was asking was impossible for them. It's like they were saying:

Have you seen what Jesus has done? Do you have any clue how he has changed me, redeemed me, used me? There is no way I can shut my mouth about that, even if I tried.

And that is how I am trying to live my life. This is how I am planning on writing, with an overwhelming amount of compelling of the Spirit to tell all that Jesus has done for me. I pray that you can do the same. You will have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness of what Christ has done for you, and you just won't be able to shut up about it. Not to your kids, your family, friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store. If you know me at all, you know that I don't really shut up anyway–so this should be easy for me.

Do you need a word from God? Do you need Him to show you something? FAST WITH US!

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

He speaks when we empty ourselves. Comment and commit. Then invite 3 people you know to fast with us!

Ever felt like you just can't shut up already about Jesus? Comment and share! I want to know!

 

HOW TO DO SOMETHING DRASTIC FOR CHANGE

A fast can defeat you before you even begin. I wrestled with the idea of not having pasta and bread three nights a week, what it would feel like to not have my morning caffeine and all the other reasons I just couldn’t for months before I committed to it. God would prompt me, I would say, “Yes, LORD!” But then every time I would think about what I had to sacrifice or what “events” were going to “get in the way.” I would talk myself out of it. I just couldn’t do it.

My commitment to fast was strictly out of obedience. Jesus fasted. If Jesus did it, we are not above it. I also was in a place where the pain of my circumstances outweighed the fear of the sacrifice, or the change that would become of it.

BREAKTHROUGH CAN HAPPEN WHEN PAIN OUTWEIGHS FEAR

I needed something different and I needed more of Jesus because I was just too much. Even for myself to deal with. And when you can’t even deal with yourself, friend, you better do something drastic. I still stand with an abandoned heart needing Jesus to seep into certain areas of my life.

Do you need Jesus to seep?

Into your marriage?

Into your husband’s heart?

Into your child’s life, so they can be free from that addiction?

Into your bank account?

Into your daily self-doubts?

Into your health?

I implore you–do something drastic with me. Commit to fasting with me –and dozens of others–on

July 1, July 2 and July 3.

As you begin to prepare, here are some things that are true about fasting:

  1. You can always talk yourself out of a fast or doing anything that requires any level of self-discipline.
  2. Events, holidays, birthdays are always right there. You might have to forge through.
  3. You can’t think about what you have to sacrifice, you must focus on what you will gain
  4. You really can’t do it. If you can give that food up on your own, you need to consider sacrificing something more difficult.
  5. Fasting is about sacrificing FOOD.
  6. FASTING is a form of deep prayer. If you give up food and don’t pray you are simply starving yourself.
  7. Fasting is NOT a diet or a means to lose weight.
  8. Your dietary sacrifice can be anything that is challenging to you. You don’t have to go all out and not eat at all. (Especially if you haven’t been cleared by a doctor.)
  9. You must begin praying NOW about what your fasting commitment should be.
  10. You must be specific in what you are going to pray for.

Can you do it?

Yes

Because…

We don’t do anything alone.

We do life together.

Jesus commits to being there, to helping, to loving, to listening, to bringing freedom.

 

Let me know if you are IN by commenting. And then share this and challenge 3 friends to fast with us!

To our lives changing, because they will, my friend, they will.

Tiff

HOW NOT EATING CHANGED ME

At the beginning of May I entered into a 21 day fast. It was the second time I've done this crazy thing. But what I found even crazier is that there are people who have been Christians forever and ever and ever who have never ever fasted before.

Now I'm not super Christian who fasts all the time and does everything right and who is always obedient–in fact I'm quite the opposite. Just a few nights ago you could have found me fully clothed, sitting in an empty bathtub with the shower curtain closed screaming at God because he doesn't seem to be listening.

This was the very reason I began my 21-day fast because I needed God to listen, and more than that I needed Him to speak. I have been drowning in grief and confusion and every voice I heard was muffled and water logged, so I exhausted myself wondering if it was God speaking, or simply one of the echoes of my temper tantrums that daily emerged. I needed to empty myself…to empty my stomach…to remove distractions and caffeine and all the things I love so the sounds of my heart could maybe become audible.

This fast: no bread, no sugar, no meat and water only. Not quite as strict as my last one, but no less difficult–I love me some caffeine…I LOVE me some bread, I adore, absolutely addictively adore, sugar. I knew my soul needed Jesus more than my tastebuds needed anything. And so I embarked.

For twenty one days:

I prayed and prayed.

I read scripture.

I cried.

I yelled.

I discovered some really ugly…like really ugly parts of me.

And He answered.

Not every single thing in the way I hoped, or in the timing I wished for. In fact daily I'm still going before the throne and praying for a specific miracle. But I emerged with a new perspective, well..mostly.

With every fast comes the specific requests. Mine were personal and filled with hope.

Please lift depression from my daughter and give her vision for her life.

Please give me some sort of vision for my own life, because why do I wake up every morning?

Please please please break this financial bondage that we are in. Too many years, too much stress, too many curses.

Please just fill us. Empty our lives of us and fill us up with you.

God has answered my prayers for my daughter, given me a new hope in him, even though I hate it here still. He has filled us up, drawing us each nearer to him–however, we are still broke.

Fasting isn't realllllly about having Jesus wave his wand and bless you, answering all of your prayers because you so sacrificially deny yourself of something you love. What it's reallllly about is you becoming less like you and more like Him. He will answer prayer, but only if it's in your best interest. He will answer prayer but only if you have a heart change first. He will answer prayer but only if it transforms you–making you less and Him more.

Him more. In your mind…your heart….your thoughts…your requests.

I'm not hating because he didn't methodically check off my list of requests. I'm loving because I am free in a way I wasn't free on April 30th.

I'm a work in progress–and so are you

So plan on fasting with me.

For three days:

July 1

July 2

July 3

And the rest of this week I will convince you why …. I will show you how he worked in my daughter's life. I will envision you with the vision He gave me. I will explain the importance of obedience and fasting and obediently fasting. And we will do it together…Changing our hearts, and changing the World…solely for Him.

Are You In?

Comment and Share with me your emphatic or reluctant “YES!” And stick around the blog this week…

LG|LP Tiff

 

A Pug-napping From a Dog Hater

On Friday I was driving home and received a call from my husband.  The conversation went something like this:

Him: “Umm, Precious is Gone.”

Me:  “What? You’re kidding right?”

Him: “No, someone stole her and her kennel right out of the garage.”

Me: “NOOOO!” (the hysterics began)

Him: “Yah, Cody had given her a bath and put her in her kennel in the garage. He left the garage open, of course.  Someone must have come by and taken her.”

Me: “No, No NO!” (Alyssa, in the passenger seat begins her hysterics.”

Him: “Yah me and the boys are gonna try and figure this out but Precious is gone.”

I hang up and weep as uncontrollably as possible when driving down 1604. My daughter begins asking all the right questions through her tears, “Why would someone do that? … Do you think they will hurt her?….Where is she?….Is she scared?”

She would cry loud, then I would ball.  Then I would weep, and she would wail.

Precioius the Pug

Right as we are exiting, my phone rings.

Him: “We found her, she was at the neighbors. She’s fine.”

Me: “What the hell?” (Immediate calmness)

Him: “Some teenagers rode by on their bike and thought we were abusing her and she was wet with sweat.  They pulled out the kennel.  Our neighbors saw and took Precious from them.”

Me: “Ok, I’m glad she’s okay.” (trying to sound like I hadn’t been howling and bawling over my dog.)

What the hell?  is the question I really asked myself.  Has I just became totally out of control hysterical over a missing pug?  If you’ve really known me for any length of time you know that I have spent most of my life as an animal hater.  I don’t hate them like in wanting something bad to happen to them.  I have just never had any compassion, tolerance or patience for animals.  I have never loved them….until now….until Precious.  I mean who can blame me?

2011-07-30_13.40.03

I see people at the gym, friends who are losing weight, and even me, I’m trying to shed a few winter storage–I asked myself,”Where do all the pounds actually Go?” The changing of a body is pretty miraculous.  But the changing of a person is, well, divine.

I thought of all the other ways in my life that I’m not anymore…

-The Liar

-The Thief

-The Yelling Mom

-The Compassion-less

-The Cynical

-The Fearful

Instead, God has redeemed me–Freed me…and I’m now…

-The Seeker of Truth

-The Giver

-The Patient Mom

-The Understanding

-The Forgiving

-The Faithful

There is not one self-help book or show of Oprah that changed me.  I didn’t try harder, or just simply grow older…No it’s so much more.  I have been transformed –changed into something new.  Over the last 15 years of my life, I’ve gone through a conversion.  And like our bodies, when our pounds simply disappear, my old ways–and the desire for my old ways–have completely vanished.  And they’ve been replaced with something new, and hopeful and filled with life.  I once was…but now I am….  Praise God!

How about you?  Comment and tell me …. I once was ___________ but now I am___________.  Praise God!

LG|LP Tiff <3

 

NOTICE: No Pug was harmed in the making of this blog post, nor during the kidnapping.  Precious is alive and well, currently in the middle of her six hour daily nap at my feet. 

 

 

When a Church’s Shoes are Too Small #churchplanting

One of the things that always surprises me is how fast my boys grow.  From July to November, my nine year old’s foot grew from a men’s size 7 1/2 to 10 1/2.  It was only when I bought him new running shoes that I realized that he was playing basketball in shoes two sizes too small for him.  I asked him why he didn’t tell me his shoes were too small, to which he expectantly replied, “I dunno.”

My other son, who is 14, is now just at 6 foot tall and wears the same size pants as his dad.  I have no idea when that happened.  And no idea how my budget will be able to keep up with this kind of growth.

When I visit new churches, I notice lots of things–but this growth issue is one of the most prevalent.  Too many churches are completely unaware of their size.  Church plants often follow models set forth by other churches and don’t do well at properly assessing how their model fits into their area and their numbers.  Or, a church grows at such a quick rate, that a larger church still operates as a small church, having an elite core group of people, and poor communication.  Or a church is a satellite campus, and attempts to have BIG worship, BIG media BIG BIG BIG, just like the main campus and it just doesn’t translate well with the amount of people in the worship service.

One of the most detrimental and painful mistakes a growing church can make is not truly understanding it’s size.  The new year is a good time to assess what size shoes your church is wearing and whether or not it’s time to buy a new pair.  You should assess your church size if:

1.  You haven’t reviewed your numbers and your systems in six months or longer. 

2. You have three or more new families visiting every week. 

3. Visitors attend but do not return.

4. You are losing families. 

5. You have new goals for the new year. 

I don’t want my kids playing ball in shoes that are too small, and you don’t want your church operating at a size it is not.  Just like my nine year old, your church isn’t going to tell you.  We can love people better, and honor God more if we are acutely aware of the growing pains of our church.  And loving God and People are what the new year is all about!

How’s your church doing?

LG|LP- Tiffany