Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Unrequited Love

At the sight of his tears I tore out of the crowded conference room like I was suddenly hit with the realization that I was naked. I had to escape. For he would not let me comfort him in the way I longed to and I knew he would be confused and overwhelmed at the sight of the tears welling up in my eyes caused by the sight of his. And heaven forbid that I should have to explain my tears to anyone else. I couldn’t bear the thought of being that pathetic …for I already wondered if I was.

Upon fleeing, I found an empty room in the lodge and curled up in a ball on a sofa. I felt like the thoughts swimming in my head were going to overtake me and if I wasn’t able to come up for air soon I was going to drown. Then, suddenly the dam broke—the words frantically gushed out onto the yellow lined paper as if the words were water, and the paper was dying of thirst and desperately needed to drink in order to survive…

Does he know that when he cries it rips me apart inside and all I want to do is take away the pain?
Does he know that I admire him far beyond what he thinks he is worthy of or deserves?
Does he know that he deserves to have someone who loves for exactly who he is?
Does he know that when he smiles my heart burst with a joy I didn’t know existed before him?
Does he know that when he shares his heart with me, even in the smallest way, he steals my heart?
Does he know that when he is not with me I am counting the seconds till I see him again?
Does he know that the sound of his voice is music to my ears?
Does he know that his weaknesses and areas of brokenness only make me love him more?
Does he know that in my eyes he is perfect exactly as he is, and I don’t feel the need to change anything about him?
Does he know that I could just gaze at him for hours?
Does he know that I want so much to walk alongside him and support him as he grows into the man he was destine to be?
Does he know I can see through him, and past the masks he sometimes wears?
Does he know that I love him simply because of who he is and not because of anything he has done for me?
Does he know that his laugh warms me to the tips of my toes?
Does he know I delight in seeing him strive to be a better man each day?
Does he know that my one desire is to hold him in my arms forever and never let him go?
Does he know I love him more than anyone else on the planet ever could?

Though much time has passed since I wrote those words, recalling it quickly brings me right back to that place and time. I was deeply, achingly in love with a man who didn’t feel the same way about me. I had his friendship and respect and he honestly cared about me, but he wasn’t willing to give his heart to me. I couldn’t share these words with him and I had hit the point when the words urgently needed to get out and breathe because they were going to rob me of all of my air and suffocate me. And once I was emptied of all of the words it was then that I heard a quiet, confident voice, “That is how I feel about you.” “Lord, is that you?”, I replied. “Yes, my love, that is how I feel about you.”, the voice repeated. “Lord, really? Do you really ache at the thought of not being with me? Could you possible yearn for me that desperately? How can you possibly love me when you can clearly see all of my brokenness?”, I asked. The voice replied, “Yes, my love, I long to spend all of my time with you. I wish you could understand how deep my love is for you. I want so much for you to believe that you could trust your heart to me. I dream of you giving me and trusting me with your whole being. I wish you knew that taking that chance would be worth the risk and bring you unimaginable joy.” Ironically, that was exactly how I felt about this man I loved. I felt that if he could just have a glimpse at how much I loved him it would change his life. To even consider that God loved me that wholly, with that much emotion and passion seemed inconceivable.

I still remember how flooded my heart felt the day those words poured forth. And I still find myself wondering how much would it change my life if I could just have the slightest understanding of how deeply God loves me, for it is still so difficult to envision God could love me that intensely. But my prayer is that each day I take the risk of trusting God with more and more of my heart. And I pray the same for you.

Do you know that He loves you? Because He does…far beyond your imagination.


A confession:
Although I would be honored to have God use this post to bless others with a new understanding of how much He loves them, I debated whether or not to share this with the "world".  One of my greatest fears in life is looking foolish, and I can think of few things make you feel as foolish as falling in love with someone who doesn't love you back.  I felt encouraged to take the risk of sharing this chapter of my life story in part because I want so much to win a scholarship to She Speaks – a conference for women who feel a call to write, or speak, or minister to the heart of other women.  If you haven't heard about it you can click on the She Speaks button on the top left of this page for more details.  I have never been to the event, but it sounds AMAZING...so I'm praying a scholarship will come through so I can attend.  Check out http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/how-christians-create-art-she-speaks-scholarship/ if you would be interested in possibly winning a scholarship to the conference.

Oh...and if you wouldn't mind letting me know if this post has touched your heart in some small way; I would love to hear from you. For it would be further proof "that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose". Roman 8:28 NLT

Hugs & Smooches,
Lisa Ann

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Gift of Being Naive

I have the gift of being naïve.  Now I realize that naiveté is not featured as a spiritual gift in Scripture, but I would argue that it is a gift from God none the less, for He has used that gift in enormous ways in my life. 
This most vividly came into play about ten years ago.  I had always wanted to be a school teacher.  In fact, my mother had kept a journal of my school years and in it she wrote “what Lisa wants to be when she grows up” and except for the year in which I said I wanted to be an ice skater (after seeing Dorothy Hamill win the Olympics) I was committed to that goal. But it was not meant to be, and at age 29, I finally accepted and mourned the fact that God was not going to send me down my desired career path.  At that point, I decided to go to San Jose Christian College.  I applied to the school without much thought or investigation.   One day I just decided that I wanted to get a bachelor’s degree at a Christian school, and it was driving distance from home, and they offered night time classes, and I could have it done in two years, and the overall program sounded interesting.  Most importantly, I applied and was accepted just days before the start of the next semester.  So it seemed God was finally throwing open a door wide for me.
My lack of inquiry into the program requirements was actually a blessing.  I would have run for the hills, so to speak, had I bothered to find out which classes were mandatory.  But ignorance is bliss, so it wasn’t until six months into the program I was informed that I would need to do a “Teaching and Preaching” class and a one year internship.  In high school, I had failed more than one assignment that required giving a speech; being painfully shy talking in public felt like I might as well be standing in front of the class naked.   My college professor, witnessing how difficult this was for me, very mercifully and graciously gave me a passing grade…though I am still not sure it was deserved.
But that wasn’t the most astonishing part.  It was the internship that would change my life.  My internship only required that I work 4 hours a week with a Christian organization of any kind.  Just a few months earlier I had started attending a new church, so I went to the Senior Pastor of the 125-member congregation and introduced myself and asked if there was anything I could do in the church office that would be helpful.  He said he would pray about it and get back to me.  So imagine my surprise when he met with me a few days later and asked me to be the Director of Children’s Ministries.  He had heard from his wife that a few weeks before I had volunteered to help out in Vacation Bible School working with the kids in a very minor role, but I never worked with her…so this was crazy!!!  It was beyond my imagination the pastor would ask me to do such a thing!  But I was also overwhelmed with the realization that God was in the midst of this request…I wasn’t going to be an elementary school teacher teaching the ABCs and 123s, but I was going to be teaching the Bible instead!  I had to wonder if every experience of disappointment before was all part of His master plan.  Shocked, I explained to them why this was such an incredible request and then accepted, not having a clue what it would entail.
God grew me in so many ways through that experience.  Little did I know I would have to get over my fear of speaking in public, for speaking in front of the congregation on a regular basis was a necessary part of the job.  I learned how to lead volunteers and found joy in finding just the right role for them.   The highlight was at the end of my internship when I had the privilege of creating a totally new concept for Vacation Bible School.  Utilizing the many church buildings and rooms we created a small town with characters in full costumes where for one week the children daily traveled through the town visiting places like the police station—where they heard a gospel message woven into a mystery to be solved, the snack shack—where they made snacks not for themselves but for other children, the gym—where they learned a memory verse with hand & body movements...and a post office, a toy store, a city hall…and more.  I had no idea when I first present this idea to the elder board that they were convinced there was no way to pull this off, but I was so excited they didn’t have the heart to tell me.  They were certain I would never get enough volunteers to get it all accomplished.  But thankfully I didn’t know it was an impossible task…so I just blissfully and enthusiastically told everyone about it and mentioned how their skills were exactly what I needed.   In the end, attendance in VBS was higher than ever before and the attendance increased each day because kids told there friend about it.  Historically, attendance always decreased each day.  In addition, 80% of the church body volunteered in some form.  Apparently that is unheard of, but I didn’t know that until the week was over and my pastor pull me aside at the celebration dinner and total me about what the elders “knew”—that there was no way it could be done.  So my naiveté along with my love of service has been and continues to be a gift from God.  For anything is possible when God wants it to happen… and if you go along for the ride He just might let you be a part of it.
And just as a side note, while any spiritual gift has pros, there are also cons.  My life the last few days is a testament to that!  Naively, I volunteered to make housing and carpooling arrangements for 36 singles from my church.  We are going to the snow in Tahoe this weekend.  The number of hours and phone calls and emails were beyond my imagination.  Had I known what I was getting myself unto I definitely would have reconsidered taking this on.  But it got done…I think.  We leave in the morning.  Pray for us!

Hugs & Smooches,
Lisa Ann

Friday, March 11, 2011

She Speaks with a Sparkle Attitude

What does a woman with a sparkle attitude look like?  How does a girl who glitters for God behave?  Well, she definitely has a voice.
She Speaks…with faith that God will put the right words in her mouth.
She Speaks...honestly about her weaknesses, as well as her strengths.
She Speaks...with hope during life's ups and downs.
She Speaks…words of encouragement to others for their benefit.
She Speaks…prayers in order to draw closer to God, not just with a “To Do” list for Him.
She Speaks…truth tempered with wisdom, compassion and empathy.
She Speaks…up for others who cannot speak for themselves.
She Speaks…words of love to those who have known condemnation.
She Speaks…with joy that comes from believing in the unending, incomprehensible love of God.
She Speaks…with patience; resisting the temptation to have her voice heard above others.
She Speaks…as a light in the darkness, even when light is unwelcome.
She Speaks…with vulnerability and the ability to laugh at herself.
She Speaks…praise to her Heavenly Father even when the rollercoaster that is life is on a downward slope.

She Speaks…in order to connect with others rather than with selfish motives.
She Speaks…with an authenticity and genuineness congruent with who she is when no one is watching.
She Speaks…with respect, keeping in mind that others may have different viewpoints.
She Speaks…of God’s faithfulness to her and acceptance of her despite her brokenness.
She Speaks…with humor without ridiculing others.
She Speaks… giving honor to God when and where is it due.
She Speaks...but her actions speak louder.

She Speaks…but she also knows when to be silent and just listen.

A girl with a sparkle attitude also appreciates the chance to make friends with and learn from others who speak, write and minister to women...and places like the She Speaks Conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 ministries are built for exactly that purpose.  A girl who yearns to glitter for God hopes He will confirm she has something worth saying by blessing her with the means to go to North Carolina and attend.  So that girl will take the chance she might win a scholarship simply by posting a few words on her blog.

Living her entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area, a very unchurched land, has conditioned her to camouflage her faith.  But recent experiences, which she will share with you at another time, have challenged her to live her faith out loud.  Connecting with other women from all over the country at the She Speaks Conference could be exactly the encouragement she needs.
Hugs & Smooches, Lisa Ann

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wanted: A Devoted Husband and a Perfect Bra

As I was reading the blog http://cantcookalick.blogspot.com of my new cyber friend Carol today, I found words that resonated with me.  She shared from the heart about how the dreams of her past had been dashed and left her unwilling to risk dreaming again.

Being a 41-year-old single girl who would love nothing more than to be married to a fabulous, devoted husband, there is one question that strikes a nerve every time it is presented to me.  No, it is not “How come a wonderful woman like you hasn’t been snatched up?” …or some variation of that question.  The inquiry I hate above all others is, “Where do you see yourself in x number of years?”  I’ve made a habit out of spinning my answer so it sounds as if my inability to answer the question is the direct result of my faith in God.  I respond with phrases like “Only God knows” or “I’m open to wherever God leads me”.  In reality, my answer oozes of pessimism and resignation that hope is just a set up for disappointment.  This outlook is the result of years of repeated disappointments that I won’t bother to unpack for you at this time.  But certainly a major factor has been hearing over and over and over and then over again for nearly 20 years that my husband is sure to be waiting for me just around the corner and that I was destine to be a mother; and yet that reality still appears to be as elusive as finding a four leaf clover… or finding a comfortable and pretty, yet structurally sound bra.

I adopted the word “courage” as my motto for 2011, but it wasn’t until reading Carol’s post that it dawned on me…being courageous is a spiritual discipline.
By reaching for the dreams I have put out to pasture, I can practice resting in God and trusting He loves me and wants good things for me.   By taking risks I can exercise acceptance that my failures and/or the things I lack do not determine my value.   For I believe in the God of the Bible who has told me my worth come from the fact that I am a daughter of the King and His unending love is what I need to feel whole.  So I am going to take chances and celebrate each risk I take in the coming year with the hope of growing closer to God in mind.  Whether I succeed or fall short I am positioning myself to take flight on wings of faith.
May I truly come to know and rest in the truth that "God has not given [me] a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Tim 1:7 NLT

Hugs & Smooches,
Lisa Ann