That One Time We Sold EVERYTHING

“I think we should just get rid of it all.”

He looked at me and said, “I was thinking the same thing but was afraid to tell you.”

We were moving back to Texas, and had a house full of “stuff”. A 2800 square foot house full of “stuff”. Toys, clothes, shoes, things to dust. Boxes and boxes of stuff.

And we hauled it all into our front yard, posted the signs and sold it. Well actually, we gave most of it away…and the rest, we might as well have.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just because it was me, but because I had to stand along side my kids while they learned the difficult lesson of materialism.

We loved our stuff. We attached ourselves to our stuff. Those are “my” dishes I bought in Mexico. Those are “my” legos. That’s “my” bag. Mine. Mine. Mine.

We kept a few things. I had a few pieces of furniture that have been in the family. I kept our memories, and school stuff from the kids. Those are still piled in my best friend’s garage in Florida. ( and I can’t wait to go back and dig through my boxes and get rid of more).

We came to Texas, all five of us, with just some clothes and shoes(and deodorant).

We call it “being in transition” but really we were technically homeless. So we shacked up with my bro and his fam for a few months until we could figure things out. Michael was waiting for his job transfer to come through from Florida to Texas, and I was figuring out how to organize the four of us in a few rooms, while feeling guilty for kicking my nephews out of their rooms.

We finally moved into our own space with still nothing but our clothes. We didn’t have a huge hunk of cash, so we financed mattresses, a fridge and a couch and dining room table (which we are still paying on a year later…smack me in the face).

My room has a bed. Yes just a mattress on metal slates. I have a broken tower fan in the corner by my side of the bed, just for the noise–it doesn’t stand on it’s own, it just leans in the corner.

We have the minimal of everything. And have now for a year.

And it’s absolutely freeing and amazing, and I love it!

Well, sometimes….

Sometimes I get caught up in the materialism of the city I live in, because believe it or not San Antonio, Texas is a town that likes stuff, likes to buy stuff, and wear new stuff, and spend a lot of money on stuff.

But most of the time I stay pretty grounded, because none of the “stuff” matters.

That one time we sold all of our stuff changed me forever. Not just on what I should own, or what I buy for my kids. No just about living minimally (Because ladies if you have to clean all the time, you need to get rid of it!) But about so many other things in the world.

I find myself sometimes sickened by the materialism in America. Not just because other countries are in poverty or need. Not because I’m on some high-horse, filled with pride about being able to simplify.

The reason I get sickened is this — people don’t even see what materialism, and wanting stuff, and taking things for granted is doing to them. People don’t see how it completely blocks a flow of the Holy Spirit into their lives. People fight for the wrong things, and work for stuff that doesn’t matter. People ROB THEMSELVES of joy and peace and love because of their Americanized perspectives.

I know, I know. Not you.

It’s just me.

This has been my soapbox lately. This idea of wastefulness and taking things for granted. This soapbox standings is probably why I got in a few heated discussions over the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness and fundraising.

Maybe it will pass, this feeling of being disgusted by our world’s selfishness and willingness to just accept things as they are.

But I hope it doesn’t.

Robin Williams, Heaven & preaching the Gospel

When I think Robin Williams, I think big muscles and spinach. I think sailor suit. I think Popeye. Popeye is how I see Robin Williams. Strong and confident and in love with Olive Oyl. Never ever did we think that Popeye, or Peter Pan or Mrs. Doubtfire would take his own life, which is currently the rumor. Battling addiction and depression, at 63 the comedian and actor decided he just couldn’t take this life anymore.

Yesterday, all forms of social media was on fire with pictures, stories, memories, shock and grief. There were prayers sent up for the family, and genuine tears cried over the idea that such an outwardly happy person would take their own life. No one can truly attest to the condition of his heart. We don’t know about his faith in Christ. So that leaves questions.

As a Christian how do we handle this? How do we handle the reality of darkness of an iconic person who shaped several generations with his personality, wit and talent, not to mention his genuine love for people and support of our troops? How do we balance the idea that good is not good enough? By not knowing for sure if Robin Williams was saved, how do we wrap our minds around the possibility that he may not be in heaven? That even though he may have spent his life contributing good to this world, that he may not spend his eternity in the presence of Christ?

And how do we speak truth to people, the truth that Hell is real? When do we act in love, and when do we use situations like this as a way to show people the preciousness of life?

I’m asking these things because I really want to know your thoughts?

No doubt what has happened to Robin Williams is tragedy. The tragedy is that out of all the joy he brought into the world, he couldn’t find any of his own. The tragedy lies in that for a moment in his living, he felt the only way to end his pain was to end his life. The tragedy IS the lies that he chose to believe: that he was unworthy, unloved, and it was unnecessary for him to continue in this world.

But as a person who believes not only in a loving God but an equally just God, I wonder how we handle the idea that Robin Williams might not have been saved by grace. How do we discuss it with our unbelieving friends? How to we show that equality of God’s attributes in a way where they can see the amazing-ness of His sacrifice for us, and that the sacrifice was not only love but justice?

Some think we just preach truth with the scriptures that talk about the consequences of not following Christ and eternal damnati.on Some want to focus only on the love of Jesus: The grace of Jesus. The mercy of Jesus.

But God is both…

what do we do about it? Because doing nothing is not an option.

Share your thoughts with me…. (With kindness, please, this could be a tough subject to tackle)

I FOUND YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE

At the beginning of the year I signed up for a Women's Bible Study at a local mega church located smack in the middle of the upper class of town. I wanted to go with a friend, I wanted to make more friends. It was the only thing I knew to do to make myself get off my growing-larger-butt at least once week. I deserved to wear clean clothes on Tuesdays.

I entered into the estrogen pep rally with as much postive-i-ty as I could squeeze out of my soul to find the kind smiles of women, garbed in Lilly Pulitzer carrying their Michael Kors bags. I found it comical when the leader announced that last sessions complaints were about worship and that there wasn't enough protein options on the snack table. I wasn't sure how I felt about either, honestly.

Then we were asked to do this exercise where we picked a word to focus on during the year. I actually had already been thinking of this, because it's big in the blogosphere of the Christian-girl. Some picked obedience (good luck), one lady picked humility (ha-ha!) and another patience (to which internally I screamed NOOOOO, trying to save her from the mistake she was making. All Christians KNOW to never ask God for patience)! Then it was my turn.

Mine was simply Love.

I am certain all the women were wondering what type of evil person I was that I had to focus on love. But I knew I had to learn to love again because, frankly, for the last few months, since we moved, I pretty much hated everything.

I hated church. (Yah, I said it!)

I hated this city.

I hated our circumstances.

All in all, I hated life.

True story. I hated it.

And my life wasn't all that bad. I lived in a nice house (still do). I have a husband who adores me (who in the world knows why, I'm not easy to love). I have kids who spend time with the family, don't use drugs, make good grades and love Jesus. (Seriously, though, I'm waiting to see how I've screwed them up).

But still, my heart was filled with this black, dark regret and unbelief. I figured if I learned to love God with a new passion and His people with a clear heart, then I would be okay once again. So I decorated my cute little heart stamped bookmark with the word — L.O.V.E. And with every intention to love once again.

Since then, I am simplifying my life, and God is flushing out my idea of purpose. And in the meantime, I still find it hard to get off the couch somedays, and I still cry to my husband, because I am, after all, a crybaby (Seriously, I am).

“Wah, Wah, I have no purpose.”

“Wah, Wah, I have no friends.”

“Wah, Wah, God has forgotten me.”

Wah.

Wah.

Wah.

My husband told me in so many words, to suck it up, put on my cape and get to saving people.

When my girlfriend asked me what I did all week, I told her, “Ohhh, just fighting the devil.”

Cuz sister, that is so what it is! When we want to love, the devil wants us to hate. When we want to be patient, the devil wants us to demand things. When we want to be humble, we have all the reason in the world to be boastful. And when we want more of Jesus, the devil tells us that it's the things of the world we need that really satisfy.

Lies. Lies and more lies. And I think I washed them away with all these tears I've cried over this last year.

So currently, I am ironing my cape, because there are people in this world, in my world, that need some Jesus-saving-love. This is my job (to love, not save) and the simplified version of yours:

Move God's Love into the lives of anyone and everyone within your reach.

The God's-Love Movement

#theglovemovement

 

Let's do this! Just look around you, and notice. God will do the rest. Comment and share your thoughts— you think you can be a way that God moves His love this week??

 

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 Live Recklessly: Lessons From A 3 Year Old

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some kids. Adults can get on my nerves, with their well thought out opinions, thinking they know what they are talking about. Kids, most of the time, actually do know what they are talking about. Kids are so much better.

Yesterday I spent the day in the Fiesta Texas water park with my youngest and two nephews. For hours, me and this little were BFF’s.

Fearlessly, he ran through water, climbed up rope ladders and swam deeper and deeper. We walked into the pool, that gradually got deeper as you walked into it. With every step, his little heart raced, becoming more and more excited at the adventure that lied ahead. I wised up pretty quickly and rummaged through to find a small enough life vest. He moved his little arms and legs as fast as possible, not knowing that it was me who actually propelled him forward.

He was swimming.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ”

As we reached the shallower areas, he would just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I would say, “Blake, put your feet down.”

He realized he could touch the bottom.

He would jump, jump, jump, letting his vest bob him along the shoreline.

Then off he would swim.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After three hours in this pool we trekked to the wave pool–and for anyone who has been at Fiesta Texas and pushed a stroller from the bucket play area to the wave pool know the trek I’m talking about. Oh, my friend, I’m thankful to not have to use a stroller any more.

The waves encouraged a whole entirely new level of courage in that little person. He bobbed along, jumping, allowing the waves to push him in and out, up and down. The waves would get the best of him, and he found himself under the water. I would say, “Blake, you have to hold my hands.”

His little fingers would grasp tightly around mine, rebuilding his trust in himself, knowing I would not let him go.

The water would come crashing, forcing out giggles and wonder.

One little hand would surrender.

Then the other.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.”

He would bob along, and closely I stood, as he was determined to master the pool himself. The water would come crashing…and again I would gently remind him, “Blake, You have to hold my hands.”

Come,” he said.

Then he would see “the Guys” splashing and playing several feet away.

“Guys! Guys!” he would yell, quickly letting go of me, his safety, and “swimming” as fast as he could toward the big guys, ignoring the crashing of the waves that threatened to fall upon him.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Oh I want to be like Blake, like the child Jesus wants me to remain.

I want to move my arms and legs as fast as I can, knowing Jesus is guiding me forward, closer to him, closer to fulfilling all he has for me.

I want to run as fast as I can, not even knowing I can put my feet down to walk.

I want to jump out of the boat when I hear the voice of Jesus, letting go of all I know that I know is safe, ignoring the crashing of the waves, recklessly ignoring what my mind would see as treacherous.

Everyday, I want to pursue Him so fiercely that I am completely exhausted from the joy of being in his presence.

Kids are so much better. Live Reckless. -Tiff