I constantly, constantly, constantly restart and renew the idea of this blog. To this day, my most successful post is my Dobby-Themed Matchless Sock Holder. While I am certainly proud of that particular craft and I love how it turned out, I don’t know if I really want my craft project about Harry Potter to be the defining post about my life. I often write in this thing really, really randomly, and I pretty much always make some kind of comment along the lines of “I’m totally going to write in this like all the time more now because it is so rewarding when I do and I’m such a talker and this’ll be a great way to get all the talking about of my system while trying to glorify God and connect with other people and then maybe someday people will start to read it and be touched and God will use me in a super awesome way to bring His glory on earth while I’m in the process of wearing cute aprons, pearls, and heels with four perfectly behaved and well-dressed children who are making age-appropriate crafts around the table but who are obviously enormously talented while quoting bible verses and inviting friends of all faith backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds into our appropriately sized house that isn’t too big to be materialistic even though we’re super rich but just big enough to accommodate said ‘needy friends’ all while I cook a delicious 5-course homecooked meal for them which they eat all of without complaint because my vegetables are deliciously worth eating and basically everyone looks at me and says, ‘Boy, they are really God’s work on the earth’ while I smile with dazzling white teeth that I remembered to brush that morning.” Honestly, just typing that made me exhausted. But anyway, I always say I’m going to write in this more, and I always have best intentions about it. There was even a period about two years ago where I put reminders in my phone that went off four days a week and gave me a topic to sit down and write about, which I would promptly ignore every single day because I was always doing something else or in another place when the alarms would go off. And then I wonder, “Why hasn’t God been using me? I’ve felt this calling to write and speak for such a long time, but nobody wants to hear me talk. And I really am not doing much for His kingdom right now.”
And then, this weekend, I went to an amazing event called the If: Gathering. Now, this is basically a women’s conference for discipleship training – the purpose is to equip women to become leaders in their hometowns and church families to serve God and live as He has called them to live. I haven’t been to a women’s conference like ever, but I knew the basic gist of “well-known people speak about Scripture” and “worship music being sung” and “lots of emotions probably because this is a giant room full of women who are probably emotionally scarred and unsure of themselves.” The coolest part of the If: Gathering is that they stream it on the internet live, so you can attend one in your hometown called “If: Local” and not have to go super far to get very excellent training from well-known speakers and it is very inexpensive because of that. Win-win all around, I say.
Anyway, I’m not super emo, like I mean I have feelings and everything, but I’m not all “waaahhhhhhhh feeeeeeeeeelings” and I actually tend to view too many feelings and too much emotion as weakness (the same way the rest of the world does), so while I knew that I would likely really enjoy the conference and learn a lot from it, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be for me (in the sense that I would be super cynical about all of the crying that was bound to happen). One of my closest friends, though, has gone every year for a while (or I should say has hosted a local gathering in her home) and she was going bigger this year – she combined with the women’s ministry at our church to put together a large-scale event. Out of support for her and this brave, big, scary thing she was doing, and of course, a desire to get away from my kids for a whole weekend (God bless ’em, I love ’em so much, but it was HUSBAND’S TURN), and, you know, the desire to hear some amazing speakers and dig into God’s word, and also a real desire to actually get to speak to other grown-ups for like 12 hours (okay, so I basically had a lot of really good reasons to go), I decided to sign up. Funny how God uses things to line up exactly right in life to get you where He wants you.
Because He was there. These humble but very talented speakers, each with her own niche – some very artsy and flowery and poetic, many with Scripture-based messages for those in different kinds of pain, some soft-spoken and raw and emotional, others hilariously comparing Martha in the bible to a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx with big hoop earrings, all with perfect hair and adorable outfits and gorgeous earrings, some cracking lots of jokes while others cried from the heart, one who absolutely did not want to speak but in obedience to God stood on the stage and then proceeded to wreck my heart with the story of Abraham (almost) sacrificing Isaac, one who stepped out of her comfort zone and started a movement toward racial reconciliation with Christ at the center (there’s the piece we’ve been missing), and Jen Hatmaker, who doesn’t need any other description except her name at this point because SHE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. Also they showed a video of Joanna Gaines talking about how God has used her life and I about peed my pants because I am the love child of Jen Hatmaker and Joanna Gaines (can I have my HGTV show now, God?)…anyway, I digress. Through all of these different women with different talents and personalities and skin colors and hair colors and feathery-leafy-boho earrings, the Holy Spirit guided my heart. It was like, “Remember how you love to write, but you’re lazy? Confess and lay it down. Remember how you are super proud and selfish and think of yourself and your dreams first all the time? Confess it and lay it down. Remember the struggle you’re having with giving up music for me? Confess and lay it down. Remember how much you ache for parents to feel confident in raising their children in the Lord and not leaving it for the church leaders only? Confess your pride and lay it down. Remember how your strongest spiritual gift is teaching with discernment as a close second? Confess that you are ignoring My gifts and therefore maiming the body of Christ from doing its work in the world.”
I’ve struggled for a very long while because I’m a woman. I mean, not to sound whiny or anything, because it seems like all women do is complain about how they can’t do anything because they are women. But seriously, when I was 16, I wanted to become a Minister of Music, just like my dad was. I love music so much, and I love praising God through music more than anything. When I think about singing with all of God’s people in heaven with perfect music and with the angels and with God singing alongside us, I literally start to weep with joy and hope and expectation. When I’m on the worship team at church or singing in the choir and I can hear the regular ole’ people in the congregation lifting their voices to their Savior (especially those who aren’t particularly musically skilled as the world tends to define it), I am moved EVERY TIME. Don’t even get me started about kids singing to Christ. I’m totally a wreck. I cry so hard I can barely conduct. Music for Jesus is the thing I’ve wanted most forever (with attention on myself and pride in it being a close second, but that’s a whole separate topic for another day). But, see, I’m not allowed to be a pastor because I’m a girl. Many churches in 2003 wouldn’t even hire a woman to lead the music. I’ve been a member of a wonderful church that would let me direct the choir but not lead the worship music. When I told my dad that I wanted to become a Minister of Music, he told me, in kindest words, that it would be very difficult for me to get a job because I’m a girl. I mean, he was telling me the truth in love – there was no malice in his heart about it – he was just telling the truth, and I appreciate it. But the struggle started. Why would God give me gifts that I’m not even allowed to use? Scripture says that women are supposed to be quiet in church and are not permitted to teach. It says that women will be saved through childbearing, which I interpreted to mean that all I could do the serve God was raise babies (which is totally a thing, by the way, I just thought that was all there was for me)(by the way, I believe this is actually a reference to Genesis when Eve was told that her descendent would crush the head of the snake, aka women, and men, for that matter, are saved through a man who is also God, aka Jesus, but anyway…). I gave up on serving God in ministry right then. I didn’t even seriously consider a Christian college to get a theology formal education; I considered a music one. I didn’t even serve in the Christian ministries at my not-really-Christian college. I professed to be a Christian while I was there, despite totally not acting like one about 75% of the time, but I was struggling heartily. “God doesn’t like girls.” “God blames women for sin.” “It was the woman, after all, who ate the fruit, not the man.” “Women should be known for their quiet spirits, not their clothes or jewelry.” “You can’t really be gifted in these things because God says women can’t be teachers.” Do you see how some of those thoughts are truthful Scripture but others are sinful lies? See how Satan twists things to make them all sound the same? I gave up on ministry because I figured the only way I could get to be in ministry was by being a minister’s wife and having minister’s babies, so I just figured I’d marry a nice Christian boy who wanted to preach and we’d probably go live in Nepal and have 14 children (honestly, Husband, if you feel called to that, it still sounds fun to me!). This struggling part of my testimony is really for another time, because I can’t go into all the details of how God has shown me truth about how he feels about women (how about that they are equally made in His image as men are?), but over years and years and through a joyous, God-blessed, incredible marriage to an amazing man of excellent character who does not, in any way, feel like he is called to be a pastor, God has shown me that the whole point is that I want to be glorified as a woman more than I want to glorify God, and when I get those priorities in the right order, then my dreams will start to make sense. I’m not sure if God will make all of my dreams come true – I still don’t know for sure which ones are my dreams and which ones are His. But like Abraham sacrificing Isaac, I’m not sure of the ram He’ll provide, but I’m sure of the Lamb He provided (that’s Angie Smith loosely quoted from If: this weekend). I don’t know exactly how He is going to light me up and make me alive for His glory, but I know that He will when I say, “Here I am.” And, most importantly, I know that the whole point is for Jesus to be preached throughout the world and for disciples to be made.
All of this yapping aside, the point is that God has gifted me, and because I’m lazy and undisciplined and doubting and female, I have stopped/never started living with the calling He has given me.
So here I am again, stating that I have got to write in this blog more. This is the clearest calling I received this weekend. I have to teach God’s word in the way He wants me to. I have got to be obedient and disciplined. This is going to take some work.
This weekend, Angie Smith said something along the lines of, “I don’t want to get to heaven and stand in front of God and say, ‘Sorry, God, that I lived my whole life trying to look like other Christians instead of trying to look like Christ.'” In keeping with that incredible thought, I want to use this amazing tool called the internet to bring Him glory. I want to spread His message. I want to use what He has given me. So here’s a new focus for Chronicles of the Concomitant. I’ll come alongside Christ to serve the way He wants me to in His name.