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Ask Away

My 5-year-old son posed one of my favorite life questions in a car ride last month:
“Mom,” he said. Pause. “We’re rockin’, right?”
As I cranked the music volume up a couple more notches, I smiled widely and responded:
“Yes, son. We are!”

I’m building a legacy here. As a musician, this moment felt epic! My heart beat to each sound of the drums, feeling the depth of the bass in my bones. My soul rejoiced in the innocence of such a simple, fun question — one of a million questions to date from him in five short years.

Questions. Questions. Questions. My oldest boy is full of them! I guess he’s a chip off the old block in this way. As crazy as they can be – the inquiries AND the kid – the truth is that I enjoy fielding my son’s questions. His asking is funneled through my open ears and an interested heart because I love him. This one inquiry a few weeks ago about pop/rock music was an easy answer. Some questions require much more thought. And others challenge me to my core! The challenge is welcomed because I want him to explore the world with me. He’s growing and trying to make sense of this place, of his world… as am I.  So, questions are welcome here.

If he’s the chip, I’m the block. Despite my laid back demeanor, my mind is a chatter box! The more time I have to think about something, more questions arise. The more time I spend with a person, the more I ask. Maybe it’s the journalist or philosopher in me? I just want to know MORE. I want to wrap my mind around “it” (whatever it is). I seek answers and understanding. I want to go deeper.

Where do you take your most important questions? Who do you entrust with hidden heart inquiries? Each of us needs a trustworthy, wise and available confidant if we intend to grow.

What I’ve grown to love about God is how gracefully He handles my questions. All of them. Grace. I can ask away. No filter.

(Timeout here. Talk to God? Yes.)

I wasn’t born ready to knock at God’s door with all my concerns. Life got me there. God found me in a very tired season when I had exhausted my questions and had no answers. For a moment in time, I had actually stopped asking… I call it a “tangled hanger” season — no matter how hard I tried to find the problematic root, to pull out the source of the tangle, the mess remained intact. How frustrating! The sad truth is I had already spent years confronted with these “tangled hangers” struggling under the oppression of nagging health issues. Doctors had not yet cured me and the Internet confused me with so much hypothesis. I become lost in the pursuit of knowledge while my body, soul and spirit suffered. So tired of dead ends, I stopped my pursuit of healing to rest. My efforts to fix myself had failed.

Sometimes a dead end can redirect us to truly experience the spiritual reality that God’s door is always open. And I needed to open my life even more to Him. Tired but desperate to become unstuck, I realized I had to ask God some REALLY hard life questions to find peace. I had to become completely honest about the struggle before I could grow from it.

So, with nothing more to lose, I made an event out of seeking God. I decided to press into Him harder then ever before! I remember the two seater small table in the bustling coffee shop where I sat and journaled to God looking at the empty chair in front of me (His place). I sat there in this caffeinated seat to hash “it” out. (Fascinating that God got there ahead of me and proved Himself ready and waiting. I think He was holding that last free table in the back corner for me! Little did I know this gut wrenching practice of complete honest dialogue with God — just writing to Him, periodically looking up at the empty chair as if He’d show His face — would become several years of table talk.)

When I sat with God that day and wanted to spill my guts, it felt intimidating to be completely honest! Before I ever wrote Him a single word in my notebook, a few questions haunted me: Was I in fact going to question the God of the Universe? Who was I to demand answers from God? I wasn’t brought up this bold in the church. Talking to God was much more polite. My questions seemed less reverent and way more gritty. I was going there, to the hard places. What would He say? Would I even hear from Him? I had to find all this out for myself. I put my ability to hear from God to the test! I took a risk.

Surprisingly, His immediate response changed EVERYTHING. I heard one simple and profound reply:

“I can handle your questions. Ask me.”

Can you imagine hearing these words? Have you?

God raised the volume of His voice to me a couple notches. It still astounds me! This open door response changed my relationship with God in a moment and began my healing journey. It brought me deeper into prayer and ongoing, honest conversation with Him. I better understood then that I am His child and like my own little boys now, I also need to press into Him as children do to their parents. He could handle me. No filter.

Now when I look back into my notebooks, I had so many “why” questions at first. (Which is so like my other son, the 2-year-old! One of his first words was in fact “why”!) And in time — as I asked God questions and read His word — the “why’s” turned into “what” questions:
What should I do in this circumstance?
What do I say to him? To her?
What do you want me to do for you God?

Because God met me in my “why’s”, I grew to trust Him with the “what’s” of my life. And then I gave over the “who” and “where” questions. The often most difficult “when” questions came last! I learned that the door to God is open and yet His response timing is His own. If I haven’t heard His voice or seen His response, I can trust He is still working on my behalf. After all, I’m His child.

“No question is a bad question.” I still hear that elementary encouragement because I stored it in my heart. We expect and encourage little ones to press in. Go ahead. Ask away. But when we “grow up” some of us inquire less. And with the hardest questions, we may wait to ask God or not ask Him at all.

Today, if you’re holding onto deep unresolved questions, take a leap of faith! Take a risk and talk openly to God. Ask away. He can handle you! Then wait and see how He responds… He’s waiting with open ears and an interested heart because He loves you.

Maybe you’ve already spoken to God about an issue in the past and received no answers. My guidance is the same: Take another leap of faith! Keep knocking at His door. Or don’t knock at all because the door’s actually open wide! Walk right in and share your heart. Again if needed. No filter. He’s expecting you and has a two seat table waiting for you! Take your seat at the table.

Relationships starve on silence. Don’t silence yourself. Don’t turn down God’s volume. Seek God out. Ask away. My hope is that God speaks personally to your heart and soul. And in these divine moments your spirit will find strength.

 

 

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One Next Step

Two things I hold dear to my heart sleep to the side of my bed: a stunning jazz bass and a draft of a book I’m writing. I rarely touch them. These two neglected loves have had so much rest lately that I guess you might say they’ve gotten better sleep than me! Surely I show some respect by dusting them off now and again. It’s hard to share that I’ve kept two of my dreams a foot from my face every night for almost 5 years now…and counting…

As these heartthrobs both sit untouched on account of “busyness”, I still admire their beauty. My blond wood Fender bass guitar with a tan leather strap beckons to be played. I remember how exhilarating it felt to pull the strings not even knowing where any notes were positioned! It just felt right. I can imagine that even greater joy is in store for me when I know the instrument better…

The book I drafted over 5 years ago sits idle for a “good time” to seek publishing. Somehow two cities and two babies later, I’ve yet to find a free season to move forward with this project. Yet, the pristine printed copy held inside a leather black binder reminds me that it exists. When I take hold of it in my hands — with the same fingers that gave my words life — not knowing where it may go, I hold onto wonder. It just feels right. I can imagine the excitement of seeing several other projects in binders waiting for me after I learn what to do with this one…

What keeps the dust collecting on these two dreams? Maybe that I’ve been too comfortable resting by them! Am I too patient to press forward? What would shake my stillness?

It’s clear now. It’s actually more simple than I’ve ever made it out to be:
Take ONE next step.

Whatever we are meant to do is simply begun by taking the next step. One move. Big or small. Do you have that step in mind for yourself? When are you planning to move on it?

The good news: One step at a time is feasible. I can manage that! After all, I’m not going on a worldwide band or book tour tomorrow! Right now, I just need to walk things out: Next step. Another step. One more step. Keep going…

Sometimes the next step is asking for help to come unstuck. In my case, I need some music lessons and more guidance in the arena of publishing. I need only one step here and one step there like I’m dancing with my destiny… until it feels right… because standing still on my dreams feels so wrong! And I don’t want to lose my footing either.

After all, what’s really holding me down?

I’ve recently discovered a bothersome voice inside of me that insists:

“You can’t keep up with your dreams!”

The truth is that voice I’ve listened to at times is a liar. Sure, the task list and days are long right now. The waking (and some sleeping) hours are full of care for others. Yet, when I listen more intently, there’s a smaller still voice that whispers:

“I’ve created you for a purpose.” That voice feels right.

In my faith journey, I’ve also seen how taking one next step keeps me moving forward. At times I’ve chosen what came next. In other seasons God chose for me. And sometimes life throws me challenges that tempt to pull me back a foot. Especially, in these critical fights for progress, do I have to choose to step forward in faith through the obstacles. I’ve come too far over much terrain to walk backwards now.

Living out your God given dream is only one step away. It may look like choosing joy by getting out of bed with a whisper of gratitude — or — as bold as starting again in a new city. (I’ve done both!) With God, what once looked impossible will become possible. We just need to take the step in faith and then keep in step because His plans are fresh each day. They don’t get dusty!

What is the next move in your spiritual journey? Make it known. Take that step.

As I look next to my bed, I see one more beloved item: my Bible! Paul, a devout follower of Jesus, says in Philippians 1:6 (NLT) to those who have spread the Good News of Christ, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

It’s my choice how I interpret this scripture for my life. I either deem this concept as important or irrelevant. Do I actually believe God will finish the good work within me that He has started? Yes, I choose to believe, to be certain of this. Then, can I place my dreams (big and small) into His loving hands as an offering? Yes, because when I loosen my grip on my wants I surrender my way to His work. Surrender is also a step. It doesn’t cause these passions to become less or lost but found in the hands of an ultimate artist who will create things of beauty in my life. For me, this feels right.

I guess God is my dance partner moving me into my destiny. I ask Him how to move and then I take one next step. He moves. I move. Whether that makes me a musician again or an author one day, only God knows. But what I do know is that wherever the path goes or the dance moves, with my lead’s direction, it will be good. He doesn’t do anything less.

What is your bass guitar or book draft — the thing that you can’t shake from your soul? And what’s the next step? Name it. Move.

Today, it’s one next step for me (or maybe a foot). I’ll  reach over and pick up that beautiful bass or beloved book. And I already know in my heart two things:

It will feel right and it will be good.

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Pressing In

Pressing into God.  Why do I do it again and again (and then again)?

I press in for wisdom, for understanding and for guidance, realizing I always have room to learn.

I press in for healing, for health and for hope, recognizing my Creator knows best my design and what I need.

I press in for breakthrough, for strength and for sustenance, knowing all too well that this world will give me more than I can handle in my own efforts.

I press in for joy, for peace and for perspective, craving the ability to see miraculous hope in everyday life.

I press into God because only He can handle ALL of me — the questions, the hopes and dreams, the desire to walk out a life of great impact in small shoes.

I press in for me, for YOU and ultimately for Him.