Yesterday I taught at a women’s event where the precious coordinator, Shannon, asked me if I had a biography to help her introduce me. I’m totally fine with, “Hey, this is Lisa..” and let ‘er rip, tater chip. But some people operate a little more efficiently than I and so I directed her to the “About” page on my website.
That’s when I realized I have not published on this blog since September 11, left a somewhat depressing last entry, and have not updated any “About” information in literally years. Embarrassing.
If I were to have a title to last night’s message it would be something like, “Staging a Come Back”. The gist had to do with renewal in our spiritual lives so that we aren’t living with our “glory days” behind us when relationship with God and vibrancy were at their peak. As I told the women there, you don’t get a lesson from me unless it has first been directed at me. The past couple of years have been ones of great transition. Writing as well as public ministry has taken a backseat to the more private focus of the people in the four walls of my home. I am now a part of the traditional workforce and I realize how spoiled I was for a very long time to be at home with my nose in a book and the zeal to then share thoughts and strings of words to those kind enough to read and talk back. I’ve never gotten over missing the writing and missing you.
One of the points I shared last night is that sometimes our Come Backs are not necessarily to the same areas of calling that seem to have dwindled. Sometimes they are a Call To sing a new song that God puts in our mouth based on our current experience. One of the great joys of my past few months has been taking on the challenge of teaching our College/Career class at church. These kids in their late teens/early 20’s who are continuing education and finding workplaces of their own obligate me to faithfulness in the call when I want to use the ‘I’m too busy’ cop out. Lest you think that is a terrible thing to say, we would all do so well as to position ourselves so that we have no option but to keep using the gift with which we have been entrusted even when we don’t feel like it. If you ever stop doing it, you will stop wanting to do it. And then it will be all the more difficult to ever want or do again. The lie we have bought in the midst of busy lives is that numbing our mind is restorative. Numb your mind, and your heart will follow. And thus, we have churches full of passion-less people who are content with looking over the photo albums of their Times of Greatness and not even daring to hope those could come again.
Don’t misunderstand… I’m not talking about personal greatness. I’m talking about those times when Christ has been most evident in us, His Glory most revealed, and those people within your homes and circles of influence the most affected. You know those times of which I speak. I wonder if there be any among you who needs a Come Back of her own?
I am not a fan of the New Year’s Resolution but I do like a start date. A line in the sand that says I will not carry the baggage of back there with me over here. So that’s more or less where I am in this moment. Realizing that I need to do some things in order to want to do them again. Stephen King described doing-until-you-feel-it best in his book, “On Writing”:
“At the start of the road back I just tried to believe the people who said that things would get better if I gave them time to do so. And I never stopped writing. Some of the stuff that came out was tentative and flat but at least it was there. I buried those unhappy, lackluster pages in the bottom drawer of my desk and got on to the next project. Little by little I found the beat again, and after that I found the joy again. I came back to my family with gratitude and back to my work with relief – I came back to it the way folks come back to a summer cottage after a long winter, checking first to make sure nothing had been stolen or broken during the cold season. Nothing had been. It was still all there, still all whole. Once the pipes were thawed out and the electricity turned back on, everything worked fine. “
For all of us, the gifts remain. We just have to decide we are weary of the winter and muster the courage to turn on the lights and get on with it. Finding the beat again sounds nice but knowing the Source of the Joy sounds even better. It is my prayer for my own 2015.
I pray it for you too.
p.s. Next, I may even work on updating my “About” page. Not because I must but because I want to.
This past weekend I had the delight of teaching a retreat for the ridiculously adorable women of North Shelby Baptist. Their fearless leader, Sonja, contacted me a few months back and among other things told me the event would be held at The Summit and wondered if by some chance I may have heard of it. It just so happens The Summit is 20 minutes from my house so BOOM. After praying for 4.7 seconds I said yes and hoped for the next several months they wouldn’t change their minds. About me, not the retreat.
And how do I properly recap the weekend considering this is the only photo I took the entire time? I like to call this one, “Girl drives up to pretty gate and pushes lots of buttons hoping for some magic because UNSOPHISTICATED.
With an entrance like this you know there is nothing but awesomeness on the other side. The Summit is an estate previously owned by Teddy Gentry of the country music group Alabama. LifeShape (a ministry arm of Chic-Fil-A) purchased the property and has turned it into a leadership retreat center. Every detail is luxurious and yet completely cozy, the chef-prepared food is decadent, and the surroundings serene. The perfect setting for giggling with your favorite girlfriends and hearing that still small voice when all grows quiet.
Speaking of girlfriends, I am so happy to have so many new ones. Each group I have the privilege of serving has something special that sticks out about them. These girls excelled on many points.
First, Sonja. It was apparent from day one she was seeking the Lord on behalf of her women and would settle for nothing less than a perfect weekend for them. The details were spot on and that doesn’t happen accidentally. Well done, friend. No wonder they love you so.
Secondly, door prizes. Oh MY word. I have never. Every woman present went home with a gift and I don’t mean a bottle of lotion or a notepad. Megan and Team completely outdid themselves in gathering the goods. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say the crowd ooh’d and aah’d every single treasure. I scored a lovely hand-painted canvas that is now proudly displayed in my family room. Best door prize ever.
And music. DeeJay Kelcei is my new favorite forever. At the end of one of the worship videos an impromptu obituary photo flashed across the screen. The room grew quiet and I got really uncomfortable for poor Kelcei. Was this her dad? A beloved uncle? Would she grow sad at the reminder of her loss? Imagine the relief to learn the tribute was for Rich Mullins that was tacked on to the end of that particular YouTube video. Rest in Peace, Rich. We are grateful for your lyrical stylings and are so glad to now know what you look like. And that you are not, in fact, Kelcei’s dad.
Girls, thank you so much for opening your hearts wide and welcoming me inside. You are forever in mine!
Through this little ministry the Lord has appointed to me I’ve had the ridiculously fulfilling opportunity to serve many women’s groups by teaching at various events and retreats. I look forward to every single one. The heartbreaking part of each meeting is that I’m typically with a group just long enough to fall in love with them only to realize that I may never see them in person again this side of heaven. It’s not fair that we can’t stay in one another’s dailiness. Of course, I’m being presumptuous. You may not like me as much as I like you.
But then again, there are those rare times when I get to reconnect with a forever friend which is precisely what happened this past weekend when I had the joy of serving my friend Christy and her church girls in the gorgeous Tennessee countryside. Christy and Derek are Bible college and seminary buddies who – even though we’ve not seen them in years – remain one of those couples we will adore always. I told her this weekend they are touchstone friends. Ones that call you back to a time when life was a little simpler primarily because our entire focus was preparing for the ministry God had for our families. A lot of life has happened since then and at times a girl considers quitting. Seeing people like Christy cures thoughts like that.
I had some lovely pictures of the home where the retreat was held but unfortunately, I shattered the screen on my phone Saturday night. In order to pull them up and get them to the computer I would have to cut my fingers to shreds. Rather, please imagine with me a gracious family with a cabin nestled against the Tennessee mountains with a grand view of blue sky and green hills. Imagine walking through the door and feeling immediately at home and knowing if you decided to stay a week this precious family would be delighted. (Thank you Tom, Cheryl, and girls for your hospitality. What a rare gift!)
Christy’s church girls were fantastic. Just took me in like I was one of their own. I hesitate to call names because I don’t want to leave out all the great girls I met but I MUST call out Jeannie, the church administrative assistant, because y’all, she actually “knew” me from my blog before she figured out Christy and I were bff. That may have happened only two times EVER so that makes you special, sister! One of a very small group..ha! Which begs the question, why didn’t we get our picture! Gah!
Saturday came much too quickly and when it was all over I was thinking, “Really? That’s it? Can’t we make this thing last a little longer?” Yes, it was way too short but what it lacked in length it made of for in depth. Meaningful doesn’t cover it. I deeply hope I get the chance to connect with all you girls again soon. Christy and I are going to move heaven and earth to get the husbands in on our next meeting.
One other thing I want to share with you. Christy and Derek are adopting two boys from an orphanage in Ghana and she has a wonderful blog chronicling their journey. I know she would love for y’all to connect with her there at Just Like Us.
Okay, it’s time to shut this thing down and get some sleep. Pray you had a great weekend, too! What kind of fun did you have?