Take Me A Little Deeper

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Yesterday was a whirlwind. Such is my life. It just figures. What do I expect when the youth group that I lead is called Hurricane Youth Crew and the motto is Center on Christ then take Him to the world. Did I think I would have to walk our that message? lol

Our church recently launched a campus and our lead Pastor was there on Sunday morning. I was asked if I would give the message. Our Pastor was on the theme Frequency and the importance of hearing God’s voice.lynnq1

I wrapped up this theme with the main focus:

A word from God does 3 things. It propels us. It prepares us and it will come to pass. 

I also spoke of how we hear God’s voice, revealed some things that get in the way of hearing God’s voice, touched on some things that are helpful and practical to hearing God’s voice. I hit a main point about hearing God so that you can be able to hear for those who cant. So that we can confirm His word to others. This thing isnt just for ourselves. It is for the one’s next to us and the lonely, the lost and the hurting. We have to know his voice.

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It was a good message and I am glad it’s over.

But today as I reflected about what all I had said. I realized what the Lord was really doing. He was waking us up. He was waking me up. I had known for a couple weeks that I was going to be speaking. I started writing some notes but the previous week at church the Holy Spirit took our service in a completely different direction than normal. We worshipped. We prayed. People gave testimony and exhortation. But Pastor Lynn did not preach. So it was kind of up in the air on what would happen the following week. He told me he was going to have a talk with our campus pastor and he would get back to me. So Wednesday morning I met with him to discuss. Now, I am not one to back down from a challenge but I was a little like “really……reallyyy…..3 and 1/2 days to get this down.” I went home with bullet points. That afternoon I read the section of scipture and then had to get ready to lead midweek worship and the youth bible study.

The next morning after I spent some time with my Grandma I sat down with my bullet points and I read through it again. I could not see the connections. For a person who loves to write and is pretty well read that was disturbing to not be able to see how this thing would go together. I was freaking out. I started to cry and then I did what I have done everytime I have been backed into a corner with no way out and no option give up. I prayed!

“Failure is an option but giving up is not!”

Side note: I actually made myself a shirt that says failure is an option. I remember being so upset when that started to become a slogan. I remember thinking “What are they doing? They are going to cause people to never try things out of a fear of failure.” There is not a whole generation who is afraid to say what they think less the give the wrong answer and become a failure. Its crazy.

Anyway, God also gave me a dream and a word for someone with a song to go with it. That I was obedient to pass along.  The Lord has a way of making us walk to talk so that it is authentic. He gave me the message but what I am walking away with is I need to hear from God everyday. Not just the days that I am speaking or writing a paper or putting together youth stuff but He wasnt to do something more in me. We need the Word to be alive on the inside of us. So that living water flows through us. Anyone else feeling this call to come deeper. To dig the well deeper. Its hard work and are we willing to pay the price to have more of God in our lives? I want to.

This year I have added sitting in silence into my life, prayer on my knees because I heard the Lord say to me one day when I was driven to my knees “this is the place where you will get retooled for your day.” I have become more diligent to write and blog this year. I also have been stepping out and speaking His words as they rise up.

How about you? Do you rely entirely way to much of spiritual snack food, social media scripture quotes and your own strength and understanding. Are you ready for more?

Thanks for listening,

Starla Smith

 

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Live Out Loud

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Living vulnerable is never easy! Yet, living with an open heart is freedom! 

How many times have you just not said what was really going on in your life? I am going to guess…a lot! Me too! I have had the sign LIVE OUT LOUD in my bathroom for 9 years as a reminder for me to really show up in life. Why? Because few women ever live but we all die and for some of us it has been a slow death for years. I want to live! I have lived hidden in the quiet place of my heart where I alone know the truth in me. I would rarely let others in. For some of us, it is the orphan heart that the Father in heaven wants to come heal. For others, it is the burns and scars we have carried from this life that we need to forgive. For me, it was both.

Are you ready to stop hiding? 

Being truly vulnerable is hard! The fear that washes over that I will be rejected or looked down on tries to lock my heart away every time. The tremble and shudder I feel caused me anxiety and missed opportunities for connection.

Here’s the deal! Can we really live without a true connection?

Paul said this to the Colossian church:

 I wish you could know how much I have struggled in prayer for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for my many other friends who have never known me personally. This is what I have asked of God for you: that you will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love, and that you will have the rich experience of knowing Christ with real certainty and clear understanding. For God’s secret plan, now at last made known, is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the mighty, untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossian 2:1-2

Paul’s prayer was that they would be knit together by strong ties of love so that they would experience Jesus. This kind of love between people expresses a hidden treasure of wisdom and knowledge that we can not learn any other way. This way of loving and relating to one another guarantees that we would know Jesus. Can we even really know Christ if no one knows us? I don’t think so and I will tell you why. Because alone all we know is ourselves and while self-knowledge has its uses. It is in the trenches with other imperfect creations that we learn Christ! While I have been through many trench moments. The Lord is walking me through a new one. Have you ever struggled with asking for help?  We all like to be the person who can help another. Yet, when it comes to needed help. Asking is hard. I don’t fear to ask for volunteers. I don’t fear to ask leaders to work a job for a youth event or some other delegated tasks. But I do fear to ask for help when it comes to money. I fear that others will think I am weak or irresponsible. It’s a pride issue. I know it.

When the Lord walks me down a pathway and into new territory I want to run away and hide away. I want to go back to my default setting which is “I will just go over here by myself and figure this out on my own.” I have one thing that stops me. It is my personal life statement! This is a statement I developed in a leadership training class using my life experiences, my unique lessons so far, and my values. My statement is:

Fearless in living, Faithful in everything, Forward regardless!

and so I keep going trusting and believing that if He brings me to it He will bring me through it. I will not worry about tomorrow because He is already there.

The pathway started with a statement of love:

MY BANNER OVER YOU IS FAITHFULNESS

Those words became the statement for my 2017 year. Then as we continued on in the year. Life went crazy and now husband has been out of work more months than he has ever been. He has put in applications. He has been to interviews. Nothing. We have had some money put away in the bank for times like this. We are pretty conservative type people. Friends and family have helped us out by giving my husband odd jobs and such. Some have just brought over groceries and handed us checks. I am floored and in awe of the love and faithfulness of the Father through His people. This past weekend we were able to get a haul of apples from a friend. So hubby started canning as he usually does. Here comes the vulnerable part. We decided to put out an offer on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in canned apples for a blessing donations. Why? Because God provided apples and we have a mortgage to pay in November. Plus, in our family, we use what we have and we do what we can.

I simply said:

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That was one of the most vulnerable things I have ever posted! But we need help. So I asked.

The journey has been interesting and wild. God is good and has provided all along the way and with my statement to help keep me on track I set out to find as I have many times before my whys and whats:

Fearless in living: We are struggling and need help. 6 months no work is hard to deal with and I have empathy for those who have been here and will be here. A connection is a goal.

Faithful in everything: The Lord gave apples so we will be faithful to use what resources He provides. He is good and faithful to us.

Forward regardless: I will not stop and hide away my heart. I will live out loud and keep moving forward. Growing in connection with others and in Christ.

How will you move into vulnerable living with others?

What do you need to bring out of hiding? 

Thanks for reading friends, 

Starla

 

 

His Great Faithfulness cont….

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Faithfulness doesn’t come in prepared boxes with perfect labels, proper tags and on my timetable. Faithfulness with a capital F means that it is delivered with a handcrafted touch by the Creator of the Universe. Still so mysterious this Creator is to me. While one side of my life seems to be laid barren and wide open to the elements of the world. The other side is being painted colors of beauty inexpressible and hard to express the thankfulness I have to put into words. His packages are full of goodness to us. Trusting the Goodness of God is something we must wrestle our fickle hearts into full acceptance.

Years ago in 2008. I just had my son David and the flood in Cedar Rapids ravaged our house. Again it was a moment in time of one side of my life being laid bare and exposed to the prowling wolves and the other side so full of the glory of God wrapped up in one little boy. Through that trial and testing I heard the Lord say to me:

I am breaking the bondage that is in your house. I am breaking the bondage in your relationships. If you will say “Yes, Yes! to me.” I will build your house and I will build so much more. 

I said Yes! Life is so different now than it was then.

So while our financial situation is in shambles and we await what the Lord will do to show Himself strong on our behalf. My dear sweet Sarah got engaged this past Saturday. Her sweetheart Jon, who had his eye on her since she was 15. After 2 years of hanging out, 1 year of no talking and parental “take a break” enforcement and 1 year of dating. Over the summer while she was away at a camp internship he asked her Dad if he could marry her. So this day that I am writing is the day! He took her to a pumpkin patch. It’s cloudy and a little rainy.  She loves fall colors and it’s afraid of playing in the rain. He told her that he got two free tickets to a corn maze for today but was upset it was going to rain. She smiled and said, “I love the rain, we can wear our boots!” She always sees the upside. He has helpers hiding in the wings. They will set up a beautiful spot to pop the question and secretly take photos of the moment with a photo shot afterward.

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I can see how God in His Faithfulness is doing something good. She is marrying our Pastor’s son. The character of this family is truly God-breathed humility. I have come to love them all so much. I have learned so much from them. The love of God in them is something to be admired. Everything I had prayed for in a young man for my daughter is exemplified in Jon Furrow.

When Sarah was growing up I would say to her, “when you decide if you are going to date a boy I want you to remember 3 things”

  1. Watch how he treats his mother. That tells you how he will treat you one day.
  2. Pay attention to who he chooses as his friends.  That tells you a lot about who he really is because the bible says you become like your friends.
  3. Listen to how he talks about other people. That will tell you if he is a kind person.

All through high school she measured boys up to this list and would pass them by after evaluation. So imagine my shock when she was 16 and finally decided she had one she might consider. After Jon had told her he liked her and wanted to be intentional about “one-day” dating she was deciding what she thought about him. I asked her what she like the most about him. I was waiting for “he is tall or super cute!” Her first response was “What I like the most about him is he hugs his mom anytime she is near and I have never heard him say an unkind word about anyone!” Then she said “He is funny and his smile. He has the best smile.”

Today is the first day of a whole new life for her. I pray that as God has been Faithful thus far He will continue to be Faithful to them as they prepare and ready a space for a union of two hearts.