Isolation

 

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This summer I granted myself a sabbatical- time alone to study, pray and think. I did my best to avoid interaction with people. I wanted to be like Jesus and go alone to the mountains. I didn’t have a mountain handy so I went to Nashville. I didn’t feel well in any way- I was depleted. I’m so thankful my sweet husband allows me the freedom to be who God made me to be. He is always supportive of my, sometimes, unconventional ways. It was such a fruitful time for me being alone with God. He began to deal with my heart. I could hear Him in the stillness. Jesus modeled this for us- time alone with Him. I think a great plan when you honestly don’t know what to do is all in the bracelet – What Would Jesus Do? I needed that. We all need that regularly. Isolation.

After an official two and a half weeks of sickness. I’m about ready to get back out there. I was literally in isolation at the hospital last week- the nurse walked in after I had been there for a day all gowned up, gloves, mask, the whole bit. I believe I may have had a skull and crossbones ghost-busters type sign on my door announcing this fact. I looked at her rather speechless from the hospital bed- always a very vulnerable place to be at best. I’ve never been put in isolation before. I’ve put myself in isolation before, but never forced isolation from an outside source. I had absolutely no say in the matter either. Speechless! All of a sudden all I wanted to do was talk to people. One night around 3:00 a.m. a sweet nurse and I discussed all the places we’d been and would like to go someday- not necessarily together but each to our own places. I enjoyed our visit and welcomed her kind touch as she took my arm in her gloved hands and stuck me with a needle. I felt like a leper. It was really a weird experience. Everyone at the hospital couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful, God bless them all, but the fact remained, I was still contagious. I’d apologize and try to think what to do to make this situation a little easier for everyone but I was completely and totally helpless and alone in my isolation.

When I came home from the hospital I was again in isolation in our bedroom. My friends and family blessed me with flowers, notes of encouragement, gifts, and with food. I felt very loved and cared for. “Thank you” seems trite when people are serving you in profound ways. But it is in the thank you that you recognize and honor the source of the blessing and not just the blessing alone. So I say thank you to everyone who blessed me in any way. I feel quite humble and unworthy.   Our church is so giving and gracious and I indeed have a grateful heart.

Luke 17:15-16 is the story of the healing of the 10 lepers…”but one of them seeing that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan.” – Viewed as an outcast even without leprosy! Did you get that? So, out of the ten, one was on the bottom of their cast system, yet, he is the one who came back to say thank you to Jesus for giving him his life back.   It is unimaginable to think a person who was once so sick and contagious, so isolated, and lonely could forget to thank the one who made the healing possible. They had to be thankful!! Seriously, think about it…these guys were literally falling apart like zombies. Jesus instantly heals them and they are whole. They are clean. A second chance at life with the people they love. If it were me, I wouldn’t be able to do anything but look in a mirror and run a brush through my hair as I talked endlessly about what had just had happened to me, about the man who made my life possible- grateful. Who was this guy? What can I do for Him? Grateful! This is just my take on it as a casual observer of humanity…. they were grateful for the healing but they didn’t think to thank the source of the healing, the great Healer- Jehovah Rapha- the Lord our healer. Back to their life, they don’t need Him anymore cause now they are whole. Selfish.

Be grateful and in everything give thanks. Praise God He saved you. You aren’t in isolation anymore! You are free in Christ. Have you said thank you to Jesus lately?

Matthew 8: 14 “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me of Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, for you are my praise.”

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

 

Just Sitting

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just sitting

I’ll be honest, sometimes I get a little bored by the cliché devotions I read about the familiar bible stories from my childhood. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just commit blasphemy, I don’t think… when you have been in the church, in the ministry since birth, one can grow weary of reading, hearing things put in the same way. I was in the store recently and a sweet lady was pushing her cart near me and I heard her on the phone (everyone heard her on the phone!) trying to give biblical counsel to someone on the other end. It wasn’t necessarily totally theologically wrong; it was just annoying to me. I’m sure it was just my take on it at the time; at the place I was in- I was walking around like a zombie (the slow moving kind) sick, tired and bored with the usual. Yawn. God’s word is never boring or stale but sometimes we are.  It’s us- the speaker or the listener…. stale, old, tired, worn out, predictable, –blah blah blah, …rolling eyes bored. I’m just in a new place in my own life where I can’t do the rote memory thing anymore, the expected, the canned version. I need a remake of the old version.

Bill and I love the movie Sabrina- the new version (which is actually old now). I made myself watch the old version and while I appreciate the original and all that implies, it just wears me out.  I don’t want to watch it or hear it again.    I want the new one, even better, the new new one. We love movies in our family; we have this little game we like to play- if they were to remake a movie who would be the prefect actors to play the main roles. I think they really missed it when they didn’t remake the western classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with Brad Pit as Robert Redford and Matthew McConaughey as Paul Newman.   There’s a multimillion-dollar opportunity somebody missed. Instead, we got Bewitched and Scooby do! Baby boomers, ugh! We think the whole world revolved around us and it did for a long time historically but let’s move on to things new and interesting. I can’t watch another remake of Underdog- let’s do something relevant and meaningful. I’m looking for the new version of my old self. A wiser, smarter, thinner, healthier, more humble, thoughtful, deeper, creative, artistic, focused version of myself.When I was young people used to say Sally Fields was my doppelganger- I was flattered. Somewhere along the way she moved on and I didn’t. I became someone I didn’t recognize any longer- I’m not trying to recapture my youth. I’m trying to find the best version of my self at this age and season of my life, new stories, and fresh insight, inspired living. The version I know is honoring to God. I’m on a journey back to who God made me to be for all the days of my life. Growing. Changing in positive ways fitting for my age and experiences.

My husband, Bill is preaching through the gospel of John right now. He challenged us a while back to read through John before he started preaching. Who doesn’t love the book of John, it’s our go to book for the gospel of Jesus.   I decided to read and study all four gospels on my own last year. In Luke 10:38-42 we read the story of Mary and Martha serving Jesus. Actually it is of Martha serving Jesus and Mary sitting at his feet worshipping him. Classic story we’ve heard and know all the applications by heart. Strangely I was reading it again this summer and for the first time I realized I was Martha. I always thought I played the role of Mary. I thought I was the leading role modeling the example of true spirituality. I couldn’t believe it! I was Martha. Don’t misunderstand; she’s fine and necessary but not the leading lady here. She was a supporting actress doing the necessary things to be a good hostess, a servant, to meet the needs of the situation she was in. I’ve been “doing” ministry my whole life and I thought I knew who I was- I was Mary. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This summer was a change point for me in many ways and I’m so thankful. Just because we have always done something one way doesn’t mean we have to continue in that same deeply rutted path. Now mind you, it is hard to step up and over- to get a foot out, but once you do, you never want to be buried in that path again. I’m forging a new path, a new role, one that I am actually called to play right now- to stop with the preparations and sit at the feet of Jesus. I’m starting this new path of sitting and worshipping Jesus without guilt or pressure to serve. I’m ashamed to say, I literally said out loud this summer, “I’m the only one who can really do this correctly, if I don’t do this, it won’t be done right.” Dear God please forgive me for my arrogance and false sense of obedience and spirituality. My pharisaical piety, my superior attitude- “woe is me for I am undone!” I was serving because it was expected of me.

I’ve been too worried about people’s approval and their criticism. What are people saying about me? I got deeply hurt a while back and the bible tells us to not be easily offended. But I was offended. I was hurt, defensive and wounded. I thought I had dealt with it correctly, but I hadn’t, instead I stuffed it down deep so it wouldn’t show. I put up armor and withdrew so no one could ever have the chance to hurt me again. Trying to please man and not God makes for a miserable life. One of the things I worried about even yesterday after my first blog was one of the very things that kept me from moving forward in writing publically- being offended in some way, being picked apart and criticized by those who don’t love me, or even those who do love me for that matter.  I’ve always felt the need to please everyone- desiring everyone’s love and approval but instead of that need making me lean on His strength and to be propelled forward, like I said yesterday, it paralyzed me. Being bare, exposed and vulnerable…yikes, it still scares me. The feeling like “my paper” wasn’t perfect, I was afraid you’d thoughtlessly ignore the meat, the meaning, the message and instead just red mark my grammar, spelling and punctuation. The old ways, insecurities, yokes, enslavements…. Well, mark away if y0u must, but I’m moving forward even with red ink.

I think of Ecclesiastes 3 about there being a time for everything, a season… I don’t think I was always off base. I think when I was starting out I was doing what God called me to do with a genuine heart. I think I thought because I was on this one path, that it was my path, my thing, the same thing that people expected me to do. The way I should be forever.  I was wrong. Jesus came to set us free and I am free indeed. Being a public figure as the senior pastor’s wife, I thought I had to do it all…. especially the older I got because age implies a wiser, seasoned, deeply spiritual, worked out pastor’s wife.  Wrong. I was older, stale, tired and weary. Jesus said to me, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy –laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I couldn’t do it anymore; I had nothing left to give, just flat worn out in every possible way. I’ve been trying to play the same role I played when I was younger. I couldn’t lug Saul’s armor around anymore- it didn’t fit. I was broken and shattered, at the end of my personal rope, at a crossroads, a change point. I decided to stop worrying about my role and to just sit at His feet, like Mary, without guilt in not offering to get up and help with the dishes. So that’s what I’m doing right now, I’m just sitting without guilt at his feet. I’ll use an app to bring take out food on paper plates but I’m not getting up until He tells me otherwise- until I’m stronger. Right now, I have to just sit. That’s all I’m sure of.

What’s your role in this season? It doesn’t have to be mine, what’s your role right now? Freshly cast, newly inspired, directed from God to you?“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”Psalm 27: 13-14

“In your unfailing love you will lead people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your dwelling.”Exodus 15:13

 

Just Jesus,

Sheri

RECLAIM & REPURPOSE

 

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Welcome to my new blog.  I have been a private blogger for some time and a quiet”journaler” before that.  I love my life and re-main grateful for all God’s grace and mercy in my journey these years.

I decided to start fresh, to leave the old blogs behind and forge ahead to claim new territory.  The little prefix “RE” is fascinating to me.  According to the dictionary it occurs originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” and “again” to indicate repetition.    I love all the “RE” words-re-doing, re-claiming, re-purposing, re-vising, re-organizing,  re-furbishing, re-living, re-storing, re-generating, re-storing, (oops, I re-peated that one) re-deeming, re-calling, a re-write… I could go on and on but I think you can see where I’m heading.

The whole concept of a do- over,  a re-do is freeing.  Let go of past mistakes.  Re-leasing the burdens carried around far too long.  Feeling my soul being re-stored to live again.  To re-visit the places that once brought joy and laughter.  The places that got covered up with the scars from the long journey, the mistakes, the sadness. The disappointments, the misunderstandings, the madness of life that seemed inescapable.

A re-do!

I am a self confessed list maker.  My daughter laughs at me and thinks it’s a waste of time when I carefully write a list of things to do only to re- write it neater, clearer, with a better pen, a more functional notebook.   The first time was thoughtless, not thematic, somehow it seemed prosaic, and incomplete. For me, it is in the re-write that I find clarity and inspiration.

I feel confident I will re-visit this theme from time to time  as I am intrigued by the concept and the depth and breadth of meaning.  In the mean time, It is my goal to blog at least once a day to fulfill a long lived desire to be a writer.  I’ve put it off for so many years because I felt it could always be better-I was never able to commit to the product, I knew I could do better but instead, I did nothing at all- paralyzed with indecision, discontentment in the work.  This past year was one that marked big changes within me.  Nothing special about it.  I didn’t change decades or locations, no deaths in my family,  just a change-point, a crossroads in my own personal life.   I needed to re-work myself.  I didn’t like who I had become, I felt hidden in the identity of who I claimed to be but could no longer see.  I was lost.

So this is my journey. I invite you to join me and see where it takes us.  Let’s re-deem the time….  (Ephesians 5:19)

Sheri