No Excuses Just Choices

I remember my band teacher in grade school used to call me “excuse girl”. I hated it at the time as I felt all my excuses for not practicing were legitimate. For some reason the frustration associated with that nickname has remained in my memory bank. Unfortunately so have the behaviors. I can come up with excuses for anything. These excuses have become my chains as they have led my life. “I can’t do that. I’m not _____ enough.” “I don’t want to be too ______” “I don’t have the time.” “I just can’t.”

My boys love to pretend they are firefighters, squelching the flames of a roaring fire. By God’s grace, I’m learning to be an excuse fighter, combating the flames of evasion.

I am reminded of a fire, a flaming bush, with an old shepherd who had countless excuses for why He couldn’t perform the tasks God was calling Him to. “What if they don’t believe me?” (Exodus 4:1) “I am slow of speech and tongue.” (vs 10) “Please send someone else.” (vs 13). It was as if Moses thought God didn’t already know his weakness and limitations.

God spoke to each of Moses’ excuses. He is the ultimate Excuse Fighter. In fact, Through His servant Paul, He has told us: ” I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:12-13. 

In the same way I am learning to trust God. I am learning to hear His calling in my life. I am learning to fight the excuses. He has given me a new motto. No excuses; just choices. I am not a victim of my circumstances. By God’s grace I can choose how I spend my time, where I put my effort and what is worth fighting for. And, as long as I’m fighting the battles God calls me to, He WILL give me the strength I need to succeed. 


Dirty Feet and Righteous Humility

I looked down at my horribly dirty foot, covered in a week’s worth of filth. If it looked that bad, I could only imagine how bad it smelled, and suddenly I wanted to be anywhere else, asked to do anything else, yet I knew this was exactly where Christ wanted me. What I didn’t know was how profoundly an act of unselfish grace and humility would change my life forever.

It was a Friday night the summer of 2005 and we were wrapping up staff week at camp Alamisco. It had been a week of training, prayer and preparation as we readied ourselves for the hundreds of kids who would come through our campground over the course of the summer. This was my second year at Alamisco as a counselor and I couldn’t have been happier about the opportunities that lay ahead. This summer was already quite different than the summer before and I had no clue what all God had in store for me to stretch me and work spiritual muscles that I hardly knew existed.

It all started the first day of staff week. I joined up with a group ready to saddle up and hit the trails for a nice, relaxing horse ride. To make a long story short, what started as a basic equestrian excursion ended with this rider and her horse on the ground, rider trapped under a wagon wheel, a chunk missing from my knee, a seriously damaged finger and a trip to the emergency room. I started my first day of camp with a pretty substantial horseback riding accident (don’t worry, aside from a few scrapes, the horse was fine 😉).

I heard of accidents like mine where the ridder ended up with a crushed pelvis and extensive surgeries. We knew my pelvis was fine, but my knee was another issue. A very interesting visit to the ER (that’s a whole other post in itself) revealed that I had no broken bones, torn tendons or ligaments. I had a fairly substantial wound on my knee that would need close supervision and care and I had some tissue damage to both my knee and finger that would require physical therapy. I also had a straight leg brace as well as crutches that would be my companions for several weeks, but all said and done, I was quite fortunate.

After discussing the situation with the camp director, camp nurse, and my parents, we decided I would remain at camp. I could still do my job as a counselor if I had a cabin with no stairs. The first few weeks of camp we expected some older kids as SITs, staff in training. We would be sure I was given a very trustworthy apprentice who could walk with my cabin from event to event. I also had a switch of a secondary job. I was slated to work at the horse barn, but my injury matched with strict orders to remain on even ground made working at the barn totally out of the question. Due to the amount of wound care my leg needed and the rest I was required to take, we decided the best course of action was to make me assistant to the camp nurse (which turned out to be a huge blessing as there was an abnormally high level of accidents that summer.)


In less than a week after my accident, I had mastered the stairs with my crutches and the staff was doing a great job a catching on to when I would need a lift on the golf cart or four wheeler. Even though I had crutches, I felt unstoppable. The one thing I hadn’t figured out how to do well was wash my foot. Due to my leg brace I couldn’t bend my knee to reach my foot. I would squeeze drops of soap on it and rinse it as well as I could in the shower. Whenever I was at the lake, I would do my best to dip my feet in the water (though this was a challenging task). At times I longed to reach down and brush off the red Alabama dirt. (I wore flip flops for many reasons and in flip flops, it didn’t take long to have dusty feet.)

Yet, here I was. We had just wrapped up a wonderful vespers service and were ending with communion as a symbol of commitment to Christ to give ourselves that He may work through us to let His love reach these kids. The thing is, in our church communion is almost always accompanied by what we call the ordinance of humility. Just as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the upper room, we wash one another’s feet as symbol of the humility the disciples must have felt as Christ knelt down to wash their feet in that upper room. For them it was a deeply spiritual moment where Jesus was, in a small way, showing them the cleansing work He would very soon be performing in their hearts.

Humility. I never got it . . . until now. When I had taken part in this ceremony before, my feet had been clean. Sure, there was always the awkwardness of someone touching my feet and wondering if they stunk, but that was NOTHING compared to this. My foot was filthy. I couldn’t get close enough to smell it, but I was sure it stunk. It was swollen and ugly from my accident and I was not thrilled about having it be washed by the girl’s director – my immediate senior at work whom I didn’t know very well.

As Megan worked her way down the line of girl’s counsellors, I began to squirm. Suddenly I wanted to be somewhere else, ANYWHERE else. What would she say? How would she respond? I knew her well enough that she wouldn’t refuse, but would I see pain and horror in her eyes as she saw the task before her?

As she reached me, Megan looked up at me with her genuine smile and began to wash my feet. Both of them. She was oh so ginger and careful with my injured leg and made sure she wasn’t hurting me. I have to admit, the warm water felt good. She didn’t just splash some water on my foot and move on, but she gently rubbed off the gunk and grime that had built up from the week. As she prayed with me and continued working on the other girls, I sat in silence and wept. For the first time I really got it.

Before this experience, I had always come before Christ as I had come to footwashing. I may have felt a little awkward, but my feet were mostly squeaky clean and it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until this experience that I realized what humility was all about. Now, I can’t participate in the ordinance of humility without tears. I imagine Megan kneeling in front of me with her bowl of water, gingerly, lovingly cleaning the filth off my feet. Then, I realize the filth in my heart, the wretched, stinking dirt caked on my soul. This is how I come before Christ. He takes my heart and gingerly, lovingly cleans the filth off, replacing it with peace and love like never before. What a gift. What a sacrifice. What amazing love. Now I get it. Each time I participste in foot washing, I am filled with righteous humility and it is beautiful, oh so beautiful. I am aware of my filth and it makes me ashamed to come before my God, but He never rejects me. Each time he tenderly washes me with a smile on His face and joy in His heart.

A New Beginning

Act II: A New Beginning | Sowing Joy

I posted this a few days ago from a joint blog my husband and I started a while back. There is a lot going on in our world right now. 🙂

Transplanting the Withered Soul

photo by onthegogo

“The sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed some . . .seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” ~ Luke 8:5a, 7-8a

Today is June 15, 2014. I’m sure I won’t post this today, but the date of writing is very important. You will see why. 

Look up there ^^. What do you see? It’s my blog’s title and tagline. “At Jesus’ Feet: Learning daily from the Master Teacher.” To be honest, I haven’t been a good student.  The last four years of my life have held the greatest blessings, but have also held a great many challenges. I have struggled through many trials, and unfortunately, I have let these thorny difficulties choke me out.

I am so thankful that the Master Teacher is also the Master Gardener. He is pulling the weeds in my life – exterminating the thorns and transplanting me into good soil. In the process, some of my roots have been damaged, but he cares for me. He will continue to tend me and by his hand I will grow and “produce a crop a hundred times as great”.

Throughout this process, I have been learning about myself. One thing I know for sure is that I am a thinker, a learner, a researcher and a teacher and I care deeply for people. It is these very traits in me that make blogging so valuable. You will be seeing more of me, but things will be different.  As I write, I want to be truly candid and share with you some of the same kinds of things I have been sharing all along.  You will still find posts about gardening and homeschool. You will still read devotionals and reviews. Many things may look similar.  The difference is that I will lose the fluff.

You see, fluff is the very weed that has grown and tried to so tightly strangle me in my life. We live in a world where so much information is at our fingertips.  We can quickly time something and at it to our blogs or facebook and garner immediate feedback. We can google anything and find out best methods and practices.  We can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. So much of what we discover, however, is mental diarrhea, and sifting through and consuming it all clogs our minds, sucks or time and causes us to strive for a reality that is simply unattainable (and very often, undesirable when we really stop to consider).

It is my desire to truly share with you what I am learning from God, but in a way that adds value. I will be writing regularly to fulfill my own needs to learn, process and share, but I will set limits.  I will edit and research and take time so that the posts I add are quality – things that fertilize rather than choke.

I am excited about the ways God is working in my life. thank you for being a part of the rids as God transplants this withered flower into the good soil of His love.

Flipping the Church Service

I found this video a while back about “flipping” the classroom. The basic premise is that rather than lecturing for class and then having students apply things on their own (often when there are the most questions and interaction), they watch the lecture on their own and come to class ready to apply what they have learned.

I love this idea! It makes so much sense to me. Today I was thinking, in today’s technological era, could this apply to church? It seems so sad that we come together with so many people on Sabbath morning, but get little deep heart, true interaction as we sit quietly through Sabbath School and church. Sure we may be able to share prayer requests during that short segment of Sabbath School, but it’s hard to truly take advantage of the fact that we are together with so many others who desire to worship and honor God.

What if we took time during the week to listen to/watch a sermon, thinking about questions, thoughts and applications to share as we join together on Sabbath. What if we truly take advantage of the fact that we are all together?

What do you think of “flipping” the church service? What would it look like? How would it accommodate various ages and life stages? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pick the Fruit

I was talking to Samuel about the garden. He didn’t want me to pick the peppers because he wants the plant to keep growing. I explained to him that picking the peppers makes more grow. If we don’t pick them, the plant will stop producing, then die.

We talked about how the same is true in our spiritual lives. If we don’t share blessing, gifts and spiritual joy with others, our joy will eventually die; but the more we share, the more those things will grow.

This is hard for me as a mama of a toddler and a newborn. I am so overwhelmed, how do I share? Where do I find the time? The energy? The answer is simple – start at home. Share smiles, laughter and joy with my kids. Tell them and my husband what God is teaching me and the prayers He is answering.

Of course, if God gives me other opportunities to share, I should take them, but just like our little family garden was planted primarily to produce food for our little family; so, at this time in my life, my spiritual fruit may mostly provide spiritual nourishment for our family. And that is just what the Gardener intended for now.

How do you share your spiritual fruit at home?

Taking a break

I will be taking a break from the end of June possibly through all of July.  I will likely not be posting any blogs (although I won’t say in stone that there won’t be any posts at all.) I am also taking a break from Facebook, YouTube, and general internet surfing.

Remember the priorities I posted about? I’m taking a month off to really focus on those in a pretty extreem way.  I am eager to take a break from everything else for just a little bit.

If you need to contact me during this time, the best way will be by e-mail. 🙂

Have a happy July!