Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thriving During Lent. . .and the rest of the year too.

Every January instead of making resolutions I pick a word for the year.

I haven't shared it until now because it's personal (I know that's funny for a blog writer to say)

and in some ways embarrassing too, so, besides my family and a few close friends I've kept it pretty

quiet.

Now, we are in the season of Lent and as I was thinking on Lent and how it related to me (I'm

a good little Baptist girl so the whole thing is still pretty new to me) and how it related to my

word for the year they just weren't coming together.



My word for  the year is Thrive.



I want my prayer, my goal, my aim to be to Thrive in all areas of my life: Health, Family and

Relationships, Ministry-and how this all ties into my Spiritual life.


Health- getting my weight under some sort of control, getting fit-not skinny, getting active.

Well as of today I've lost 34lbs. I've got 100 more to go, but I am making good progress and I'm

excited.  I'm working out 3x a week.  And, this may be one of the most

important components for me, I'm taking my meds regularly (I have Hashimoto's Disease and I

can be a really bad patient).** BTW, thriving, in this area has nothing to do with a number on a scale

and everything to do with control and who has it.**


Family and Relationships- investing in those I love at a deeper level than I have been.

Often I am tired and worn-like any other mom/wife/woman and the LAST thing I want to do

is invest more in people. Even the people I dearly love.  But, I want my husband, kids, family,

friends to look back at their lives and know I gave them everything I could. Not just everything

I wanted to.


Ministry- Can I be honest here? I hope so because I'm going to be and I hope it doesn't scare you. . .

ministry can be draining with a capital D.  I have two sides of ministry: I'm the women's ministry

team leader for my church and also I have the ministry (writing/speaking/listening) of Lessons From

Aisle 12.  (And I also work 16 hours a week at my youngest school-which I love, which is ministry

which I am so thankful for. . .which is draining.)  But, this year I want to Thrive in ministry.  I want to

see the ministry of Lessons From Aisle 12 to grow and blossom-not for personal glory, but the

message that God has given me to be broadcast to women  everywhere, that God sees you, He's right

there where you are at work in your life-Yes EVEN in the aisle of the grocery store.

Big dreams.  Big Big Dreams.

Thriving this year -this life-not just surviving.



So, back to Lent.  How in the world does thriving  have single thing to do with Lent?

Lent which has the connotation of giving something up, of sacrifice.

I could not stop churning this over trying to see how the two could go together.

And then it hit me.

John chapter 10. . .Jesus is talking about why He is here and what He came to do-and this is the

phrase I've got rolling around in my head that I just can't let go of :"I have come that they may 

have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

Abundant life-Thriving. . .that's what my prayer for the year is and so that is what my prayer for this

Lenten season is as well.  

What does that mean on a practical level for me?  Well, I don't have all the answers but I know it

doesn't have anything to do with 'giving up' of something that most associate with the concept of 

Lent.  For now it is taking on the shape of service. Service where it's not expected or where there is

 no personal recognition. For me, this is how I am "Thriving" this Lenten Season.



This is a very personal post, that some will misunderstand, some will mock, but I know for others

they will be able to relate.  Mere survival is no longer an option for me.  For some, that's all you

can do right now, and I get that too.  But, for me, the time is up on survival. It's time to Thrive.

To live this abundant life fully and completely, after all the Savior came and sacrificed all He had so 

that I could.

I would love to hear your personal stories of Thriving.

Walking this road with you,



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Imperfect Hearts

Belle, our sweet 8 year old, made homemade Valentines for her classmates this year.

Which, don't get me wrong-I LOVE that about her-but you should understand that homemade

Valentines take MUCH longer to make than writing your name on a box of 23 cards.

But, that was ok, we had a plan and we were going to work our plan.

While I was at work Daddy was going to print off the saying she was going to glue to the hearts

she'd cut out, then when I got home we'd decorate the Twinkie's to look like Minions.

A little teamwork and we'd be go to go.

And we were.

Except I forgot to mention to Daddy that he might want to show her how to fold the paper in half to

cut the 'perfect' heart, instead of free handing them.


When I got home this is what I found


Adorable, right?

You know what I was having a hard time getting past? The imperfect heart.


She was so proud, they were almost done, so I didn't say anything.  

I've been thinking about those imperfect hearts though these past couple of days as the

world celebrates love and personally The Mailman and I celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.

Two imperfect hearts.  Yep there's probably no better way to describe us.

Two broken kids (that's what we were at 20/23-CHILDREN I SAY -who let us out of the house??) 


carrying a lot of baggage  were either handed or packed ourselves.



About has imperfect as you can get.  But in the middle of ALL the imperfections we've found

love and a whole lotta grace there.

Perfect people don't either. We need more than our share.

So, today and tomorrow we celebrate our imperfect hearts made perfect by a loving and oh so patient

God.  

All the tears, fights, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. . .all the kisses, love and three beautiful 

babies, all the hospital stays, sleepless nights and fatigue, all the adventures and misadventures, the

wild nights and the quiet ones.  The laughter that outweighs the anger.  The tenacity to stick it out and 

hold on even when it would've been easier to let go. The love that gets better and grows deeper every

year.

Every time I think of Sis and those imperfect class Valentines, I'm going to think of my own

imperfect heart and how God took two broken imperfect kids and wrote them a love story where they

could only point back and give all the credit to Him.


And, if I may be so bold to offer a word of advice. . .stop waiting for the perfect valentine. . .whether 

you're married to yours and waiting to find them.  There's no such thing.  And the beauty, love and

overwhelming grace you find in the imperfections . . .well it's just about perfect this side of Heaven.



You are deeply and dearly loved,













Friday, February 6, 2015

Peace and Quiet- and the reality of that never happening.

My blog has been hugely ignored for almost a month now.

Not out of desire but necessity.

Hubby had knee surgery and because of some complications what was supposed to be on outpatient

surgery landed him a couple of days in the hospital.

As soon as he got home, two other family members had ER visits, both of them physically and

emotionally draining.

Oh and the day of an event I was facilitating and speaking at,  I fell down the stairs and broke my toe.

And it was 5:00 in the morning-

talk about insult to injury.

All the while trying to balance work, home, family and ministry.


In the middle of all this chaos I am reminded of Galatians 5:22 where I am told "Peace" in a

Fruit of the Spirit.

My reply, "Ok Lord, bring on the peace! I'm here and waiting-make everything and EVERYONE

around me peaceful!  If these people could just get it together I WOULD BE THE MOST

PEACEFUL PERSON EVER!!"


And yet it just never seems to quite work that way.



(Maybe your family is different, maybe you've always got it together. But, that's not life here

at the Wilkinson's and I hope my honesty doesn't terrify you.)

__________________________________________________________


As I've been pondering these thoughts about peace over and over in my mind, the Lord kept brining

me back to Peter.  Boisterous, impatient, impetuous, imperfect Peter-who was loved and chosen,


 flaws and all by Jesus and who followed Him-even in the middle of the storm.

__________________________________________________________

Mathew 14:22-34 tell us the familiar account of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on the

water to Jesus.

And, if you're around my age and grew up in church you can see the flannel graph characters clearly

in your mind.  But, we've got to remember these were real men with real fears.

________________________________________________________

When we read or remember the story of Peter walking on the water, I think in our heart of hearts

many of us would say we want that kind of experience.  A grand faith explosion-but what happens

is instead of walking on water we're waiting for Jesus of calm the storm around us.


Listen I know we've all got storms, whether they are financial, health related, relationships or

emotional-- or maybe we've got all of them at the same time.  Storms are apart of the broken world.

Either we've just passed through one, we're in the middle of one or there's one brewing on the

horizon.

Just like storms were apart of the Faithful Fisherman's life they are apart of ours as well.

________________________________________________________

Peter didn't wait for things to calm down before he got out of the boat, in fact if you look back over

the entirety of the chapter it is remarkable to realize what all the disciples have just gone through in

a very short amount of time.

Verses 1-12 they learn about their friend and Jesus beloved cousin, John the Baptist had just been

beheaded.  They go from grieving to the crowds pressing in to hear and see Jesus (verses 13-21)

and finding themselves needing to provide dinner for 5000+ with only two small loaves and 5 tiny

fish.  From witnessing and experiencing that amazing miracle, they find themselves being put

into a boat in verse 22 and Jesus sending them off.

And then that little boat finds itself and it's occupants being beaten about by the wind in the middle

of the night. . .

I don't know about you, but after reading how quickly those events followed one another in

succession, I need a nap.

But, when Jesus said come, Peter didn't ask  Jesus to calm the storm, he got out of the boat,

and because of that was able to experience an event like no other that has gone down in the

pages of time.

________________________________________________________

That's where I find myself these days, and I'm guessing many of you do as well.

The storm swirling all around us and even IN us and Jesus says, "Come".

Now, don't get me wrong, He CAN calm the storm too, but we have to wrap our weary souls, bodies

and minds around the fact that He doesn't have to for us to have peace.

Our circumstances do not dictate our peace.  Our peace comes from The One in whom we put

our trust and hope.

So, whether we rise up to face the wind, or find ourselves dropping to our knees in humble prayer

let's hide these words from Isaiah 26:3-4 deep in our hearts:

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Our circumstances may never be peaceful this side of Heaven, but we fix our eyes on Jesus-because

He is our peace.

Join me in praying these words from Psalm 29:11 back to the Lord:  The Lord gives strength to his people ;the Lord blesses his people with peace.

We are promised strength and peace and we find them both in one name-Jesus.

May our minds and hearts be fixed on him in the middle of our storms.




Journeying with you,





Friday, January 9, 2015

When Mean Girls Grow Up

We've all know at least one.

Maybe we've even been one.

You know the one.

The Mean Girl.

No matter what you do, you're not cool enough, you'll never have it as together as her and you

certainly can't sit with her at the lunch table because you just aren't quite up to her caliber.

We blame it on childhood. On adolescences.

But, I've noticed a very real phenomenon of Mean Girls growing up to become Mean Women.

One of the worst aspects is that they tend to do their cutting down with a smile on their face.

And if they are a believer in Christ, chances are their knife is one hand and their Bible in the other.


Oh the Mean Girls may have grown up and now know that looking someone in the face and

making fun of them is unacceptable behavior, so now they've become passive aggressive Mean

Women.

____________________________


Recently on Facebook I watched a Great Grandmother and Grandmother-a mother/daughter team in

 their 60's and 40's respectively, out and out make fun of someone growing through a difficult season,

 'Because she brought it on herself'.

Can I just be very honest and frank here?

 *Most of the troubles and trails I've had in my life, I brought on myself.  And I thank God everyday

for friends and family that loved and supported me anyway.

* These women quote Scripture, Homeschool, talk about what Bible Study they are doing. They
should be different.

Yet, it's as if none of it matters.

In response to what I saw and some other things I've witnessed recently, I posted this on

Facebook.


"When I see grown women, mothers, grandmothers, great grandmother's being passive aggressive snarky and hateful on fb my judgmental side can raise its ugly head and make me want to smack some Jesus right into them.
And makes me as hateful as them.
Women's ministry is my passion, my calling. Watching women be plain out mean then put 'lol' like it's no big deal, makes me angry then breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. Girls we are all called for so much more than this. So much more.
If you know someone is hurting why Why WHY would you be snarky about it?? Girls who claim to know and love Jesus, can we love each other fully, deeply flaws and all? Isn't that the mark of Christ-"they will know us by our love"? Let's be grace bearers, mercy givers-until it hurts. Until we've given all we can and only Jesus can fill us up to give more.
Let's show the world that Jesus really does make a difference in our lives."


________________________________



Why is this so difficult for us as women?  Perhaps I am generalizing, but I've seen enough examples

to think that I am not generalizing by much.

And the example I despise the most? The one starring back at me the mirror.


Do not mistake my passion on this subject as perfection.

Oh no, I have a long way to go.

I am not perfect, but I am prayerful.



Prayerful that my life would be marked by love and grace and compassion.  Yes, even for those

who I believe may have invited the drama into their lives.

I pray that mercy would flow, even when it's difficult or inconvenient.  Even when I've given and 

given and been stretched and pulled and just don't think I have one more ounce to give.

Because, that's when Jesus meets us both there.  If it was easy to do these things, let's face it, we all 

would.  But, when it becomes draining and time consuming and we are vexed down to our core about

how we could possibly be called on one more time to help this wounded soul, that's when Jesus 

shows up and shows off.  That's when I am reminded that never once has He told me 'I've helped 

you enough, I have nothing left to give.'  Never have I shown up and poured my heart out to him for 

10th time and He has said 'your chances are up. I am through with you.'  I've never been to broken,

battered or flat out crazy and He's written me off and just replaced me with someone else.


I've never been to much of a mess for Jesus.

So, that's how I pray I will love.

___________________________________

But, here's where it becomes tricky. When we pray those prayers,  God's going to believe  we  mean

them. He's going to give us opportunities to practice.

So, let's do it.  Let's practice together.  

Especially, if we say we know Jesus. Let's practice love. Grace. Mercy. Peace and Compassion.

All those things we say we love, that give deep meaning to our faith.

In all areas and people groups of our lives.  Not just our church friends, our Bible study girls . . .the 

'cool girls'.

__________________________

Jesus doesn't have a 'cool table'.  He has a feast.  And I can guarantee you the one He's inviting to sit

next to Him is a mess.  Oh how Jesus loves a mess of a person.  Even ones who make the messes

themselves.  (just read about a few a favorites in Scripture: Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Mary 

Magdalen, Peter, Paul-ALL messes at some point.  All used by God.)

It's time for us to grow up.  Put the Mean Girls to rest, leave a legacy of kindness for our daughters.

Live a life marked by extravagant, unearned love.


Ephesians 5:1 - 2 MSG
Wake Up from Your Sleep Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.


Let this be the year that we cast the Mean Women inside of each of us aside.

Let this be the year we chose love over judgment and envy.

Let this be the year our Bible study and church attendance marks a visible difference in our lives.

Not so we can have any credit at all.  

But, so we can loudly proclaim "It's all because of Jesus!" !




Practicing with you and Praying for us all on this journey,


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waving Goodbye

We all blinked and 2014 is about to be nothing but a memory.

You hear it all your life. . .about how time fly's, but you absolutely do not understand until you are a

grown up.

2014 has over all been a good year to the Wilkinson 5.

We've laughed some, cried some, yelled some, taken leaps of faith, tripped over baby steps and

learned along the way.   Some days we loved each other more, others we weren't sure what

we were doing and why we were doing it together.  But, everyday God was there.



Jerry and I celebrated twenty-two years of marriage.  It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, romance

and candlelight, but grace has flowed and God's been patient with us - and we even survived our

first ever major house remodeling project as we gutted our hall bathroom.  We laugh more than we

cried and we loved more than we were angry. I call that a success.


This year we crossed some thresholds has parents.


Chose a new school path for our oldest-who also had the audacity to turn 16- which hasn't been easy

but has been very rewarding.  Saw that same kiddo through a major eye surgery.  And let him set

out on a grand adventure with his friends were he spent six days canoeing in the remote Boundary

Waters of Minnesota.


Our Middle is stepping his toe into the Tween/Teen years, and we are gearing up to hang on.

Watching him become a man of prayer and a loving friend and big brother has inspired me on

many difficult days.  He also pushes me and makes me think which often leaves me tired and worn

out-but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  He recently finished up playing one of the main characters

in the school Christmas program. . .something so far out of his comfort zone, but he did it and did it

well.  I want to be as brave as him when I grow up.  And if I could just siphon off some of that energy

--well, I'd be rich.



Our precious baby girl, isn't a baby anymore.  She's eight and growing into a beautiful, smart, fun

young lady.  I see the 'mean girl' thing beginning to creep into her peer group at school -and oh if

I could I would shield her from every hurt.  But that is a mother's heartbreak, we can't protect them

from everything. So we teach, and love and listen.  As I watch her discovering who she is and

watch her gifts unfold, I marvel at how I could be this fantastic person's mother.




Personally, this has been a somewhat difficult year for me.  I've struggled with some health issues that

landed me in the hospital in March and still are giving me the business.  I've taken on more hours at

my children's school, which while a blessing, has also been an adjustment. I've lost a friendship

along the way that has still left me somewhat broken.

But, each step, God has been there.

I was blessed to be apart of the launch team for Beth Moore's newest Bible study, Children of the Day

and speak at a few churches and ladies groups-which I pray I never take for granted.  Women's

Ministry, and doing it well, burns deep in my bones.  The blog is like a faithful friend, even when

neglected it's still there waiting for me and I've been blessed to have several new readers and

encouragers this year, which I do not take lightly. The fact that people would take their precious time

and read my words and then comment or share them with others is a wonder and a blessing to me

each and every time.  So, thank you Dear Readers, you are more precious to me than you know.


2015 is a blank slate.  Just waiting there for us to put our stamp upon it.

Dreams and passions to pursue.  Goals to conquer.  Laundry to fold, bathrooms to clean,  groceries to

be bought--


 and grace to find in the everyday and ordinary.

What will this year bring?  I don't know. But,  I know who goes before and I know He has a plan, for

me and for you too.

Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come.



Blessings to you, My Friends, in this new year to come.  As you wave goodbye to 2014 I would

love to hear some highlights and how you saw God at work there.


Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Of All the Places in All the World

Christmastime is here.

Homes are decorated, city governments even have trees and decorations throughout, Linus and

Charlie Brown are on TV,  churches are filled with  music and candles-there is no denying it

we are in the throws of the season that means everything to many of us.


Each year I like to ponder and mull over a particular part of the Nativity story.

God poured so much detail into every aspect of that Holy Night, if we're not careful we'll miss it. . .

after all this is a story most of us have heard since childhood and could recite backward

and forward.


This year I've been thinking quite a bit about the Place where it all happened.

Bethlehem.

A town, full of sheep and shepherds and a harried inn keeper.

Bethlehem, 30 miles from Jerusalem -but it might have just as well been 3,000.

That little seemingly insignificant dot on the map of Israel, but where God chose to

give us Hope wrapped in clothes and laying a feeding trough.


As I've been pondering Bethlehem  I think the thing that has struck me the most is it's

seemingly insignificance to those around it.

Although, it did have a claim to fame in being the hometown of Israel's greatest king and poet, David,

those years had come and gone.

The word that keeps circulating though my mind when I think of how those who lived and worked in

Bethlehem during that time is --insignificant.

Insignificant place full of insignificant people-at least to those who didn't know better.



And as a person who has been able to recite Luke 2 since I was 5 years old this thought has struck

me in a fresh and powerful way this Christmas time.

Maybe because I found myself in what to the outside world looks like some pretty insignificant

places.

Home with babies, folding laundry and cleaning bathrooms.  Trying to stretch a dollar farther

and farther at the grocery store.  Wonder how all of 'this' could matter to the kingdom.

Perhaps you work in what my Sweet Momma has termed a 'cube farm' and you wonder how

what you do and who you are could possible matter to anything in the light of eternity.

Single, Widowed, Divorced, New Mom who hasn't figured out how to a get a shower in every day.

Sure others are doing big things for God, but you? You find yourself in the most insignificant place

you can think of.

Oh! How I love that about God! How He bends down to the most insignificant places and changes

everything.



On that night, so very long ago when the world changed forever, God sent his son, Jesus 'The Bread

of Life', to  be born in the little insignificant town of Bethlehem 'The House of Bread'.

Thirty miles away from royalty -both of kings and religion.  But, God chose that places to cradle

and care for his one and only son.

Maybe no one else-not even can you-can understand how the place you're in now can be one  of

any significance for the kingdom.  It doesn't matter.

God is writing his story.  His story that includes you.  And He knows.  He's always known.

Just like he knew Bethlehem would be the birthplace of his son--

Micah 5:2a The Lord says, “Bethlehem, you might not be an important town in the nation of Judah. But out of you will come a ruler over Israel for me. 



He knows where you are, He sees you.  There is not one place that is insignificant to Him.

Be on the lookout-just like that night so long ago-He might just be ready to change everything.

Now, to the those rulers in Jerusalem  or the farmers near by, nothing physical about Bethlehem 

might have changed, but those who saw and believed -they knew-OH how they knew-everything

had changed.

God might never pick us up and physically move us. Our outside position may never change, others 

might always see where we are what we do as insignificant, but we know Who has come and the 

work He  is doing.

So, change those diapers, cook those meals, file those forms, do what you do and know that

no where is insignificant if Jesus is there.


Peace,
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Deep Waters

My oldest son  and I have adopted this song as our theme for the current school year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

If you spend anytime at listening to Christian radio I'm sure you've heard it as it's become an anthem

for many of us.

But, as I was listening the other day the line that struck me as a fresh word was

  " Your grace abounds in deepest water". . .


I've been thinking about that deep ocean water.

Deep ocean water is uncomfortable and can be scary.  Often times it can even hide the beauty of the

ocean because you become so  focused on survival -especially if you're not a strong swimmer.

The shore, ankle deep that's comfy.  That's doable for just about everyone.

I'm not keeping my eye out for the lifeguard when I'm ankle deep.


I might be able to swim or tread the deep water for awhile, but after a time it will be become

to difficult to handle alone.

There has been some deep deep water in my life: some I've drifted into, sometimes waves have

swept me into them, other times I've jumped in with both feet. . .but I'm not sure I've prayed to swim

in those deep waters.

As I thought these past two weeks about that specific phrase,  it has been proven true in my life over

and over again. The deeper the water, the bigger the grace appears.

Don't get me wrong, there's grace along the shore line too.  There's grace ankle deep or even shoulder

deep, I just tend to not notice it as much, because I can handle most of the swimming there myself.

Am I alone in this?

But Oh! How I need that grace in the deep murky waters.  The waters that terrify me the most. The

waters full of unknown things.

Yet in the middle of all those scary, unknown things-- Grace surrounds me, and when I clearly focus

on the Grace Giver  and not those deep waters, instead of swimming in them I find myself walking on

the waves that once threatened to pull me under.



Choosing not to be scared of the ocean is a daily battle for this momma, because of course I'm not

swimming alone, I've got three little ones (well they're not so little anymore but they'll always be my

babies) swimming out behind me.  And as much as I'd like to keep them on the shore their whole

lives, deep waters come whether we want them to or not.   How I would much rather have them

see the beauty and grace in them than be terrified of those deep waters.

How about you?  Have you found yourself in the deep water recently? Are you currently trying to

tread water or are you swimming beautifully through the grace that abounds there, or have you even

found the courage to stand and walk on them toward the Grace Giver?

If you find yourself in any of those three categories know that I'm right there swimming along side

you-one moment  treading -sometimes even feeling like I might be sinking, other times swimming

like I'm Michael Phelps-even daring to try and stand and walk.   But, no matter what phase each of us

is in there is comfort in knowing the Holy Lifeguard-the Keeper of the Waters is making sure the

waves that threaten to overtake us never do.

Yes, I believe it. . .His grace does abound in the deepest waters.


Swimming in the deep with you,