Posted by: lyshaanne | August 22, 2011

Weekend Recap

God is at work through Women of Faith. 

Seriously.

For the past three years, I’ve been under the spell of the “sexiness,” if you will, of our latest church home; with its out-of-the box teaching, free coffee, excited volunteers, giving back to the community, changing the world, and refreshing lack of legalism (“church” and “no legalism” don’t usually fit into the same sentence, do they?), I think I had started to make the lack of religion my religion. Sounds twisted, doesn’t it? After being a bit (well, a lot, if I’m being honest) burned by the place, I found myself completely parched, not knowing where I would go to heal, if I would find another place like it, if I would fit in anywhere else, if I could find a place to connect with God without being bored, etc.

What I found out this weekend was that God meets you where you are through any venue that seeks to honor Him. (Alright, I know I’m not supposed to use second person voicing in any type of writing that isn’t a method of correspondence, but this warrants an exception.) Churches are filled with human beings, so of course they’re fallible. But God isn’t. And He met me in my heartbroken state through a group of women who were willing to tell their stories.

To recap, Sheila Walsh shared another vulnerable story and song. I’m not gonna lie: I love that lady’s Scottish accent. But her vulnerability and message of love was refreshing. My favorite thing she said all weekend was, “It’s not your job to get yourself home; that’s the Shepherd’s job. It’s just your job to stay as close as you can to Him.” (Whoa, that’s deep.)

Drama writer and performer Nicole Johnson put aside her roles to be herself and to tell her story of working through some heartbreak and anger. (Thanks, Lord, for real stories.)

And that Angie Smith. Holy smokes, that girl is hilarious and, of course, endearing. I couldn’t help thinking most of the time, “Wow, she really reminds me of SNL’s Kristen Wiig.” She was that witty and comical, even through her story of losing her precious infant daughter, Audrey. She said at one point that when she cries she looks like a gopher, but I don’t think there was an un-gopher-like woman in the house. Her humor shined through her tears, but her faith in Christ shined brightest. These types of stories almost always strike a chord with me since I have four tiny babies whom I never got to meet, but the hope that was delivered through her story was something that only God could give.

After wiping all of the wasted makeup off of my face from sobbing for a half hour, and consuming another well-prepared and well-delivered boxed lunch, Natalie Grant took the stage. I’ve always loved her music, but I forgot how much soul a little white girl (hey, it takes one to know one) could deliver! A precious thing she did was speaking life and hope into those devastated by the Indiana State Fair tragedy; during the delivery of her song “Held,” a picture tribute to the victims was shown. Precious.

It’s clear the leaders of Women of Faith are not all about themselves; they clearly intended to be a blessing to the city of Indianapolis. They succeeded in more ways than one.

Natalie Grant from our rockstar-quality seats.

Leah and Lysha at Women of Faith. BFFs for 17 years.

And, hey, if BookSneeze wants to send me again next year, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I was incredibly encouraged, uplifted, and, yes, entertained.

Posted by: lyshaanne | August 19, 2011

Stuffed

After stuffing ourselves at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Indy, Leah and I went back to Conseco Fieldhouse for the Imagine conference’s official kickoff.

After having a snippet from each member of the Women of Faith team, my heart was filled with hope. Erica Campbell, who is half of Mary Mary, blessed us with her powerhouse vocals (man, that woman delivers some SOUL, and her voice is smooth like butta), shared a song with her daughter, and spoke joy into each woman in the house.

Erica Campbell of Mary Mary and her six-year-old daughter, Krista

I’m exhausted, but I feel like my heart is overfilled. After some rest, we’ll be back for tomorrow’s sessions, boxed lunches, laughs, and more messages of hope.

Posted by: lyshaanne | August 19, 2011

Groupie Seating

Several things have been pretty awesome about the Women of Faith “Imagine” conference so far:

1. BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson sent me and my dearest friend for FREE. (Well, my “payment” is in the form of some blog posts, but it’s a sweet deal.)

2. Our seats are rockstar-quality seats. Actually, rockstar-quality seating near a stage would be ON the stage, so we’re really in on-floor groupie seating. Also a sweet deal.

3. Women of Faith is blessing the city of Indianapolis by partnering with a local ministry while they’re here. They’ve also been incredibly sensitive to last week’s State Fair stage collapse, which is, hopefully, a soothing balm to those who witnessed it.

4. WoF feeds 7,000 women boxed lunches with excellence. (6,998 other women, though, make a claustrophobic, fast-walking me feel like we’re a bunch of cattle being herded. Moo.)

5. Sheila Walsh has an adorable Scottish accent, profound insight about life’s storms, and a dramatic soprano singing voice (she sang a song after each of her teaching sessions).

6. I’ve learned that it’s possible to be a clinical psychologist, an author, AND be thoroughly entertaining. Dr. Henry Cloud delivered some practical suggestions for finding happiness and reaching “shalom” with a sharp wit and sense of humor.

Most importantly, my heart is filling up like a sponge, and so is my head. It’s great having practical, objective life tools while being reminded of God’s love for me. (And that was only the first session!)

An almost-full house in the morning, complete with a chandelier-esque center lighting contraption thing. (I love that WOF appreciates a little bling in the A/V realm.)

Henry Cloud's witty self from our morning session rockstar-quality seats.

More to come after tonight’s main session!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: lyshaanne | August 16, 2011

Refreshment Available

It’s been F-O-R-E-V-E-R since I’ve posted something on this blog. Whoops. Since I’ve been spending the last year exploring my artistic side, I haven’t written much on the “just me” blog. My apologies to my, well, two-ish readers.

Life has been dumping a lot on me lately: my dad had a massive heart attack in March, my hubby was in a car accident shortly thereafter, I hit a major depressive funk, we’ve been financially strained, and three weeks after I buried my darling grandmother, my husband left his dream job.

Lots. Of. Crap. Happening. Not a pity party or “Please feel sorry for me” campaign. Just Life (and the enemy) taking giant craps all over me and my family.

But my Jesus loves me no matter what, and I know he doesn’t allow us to go through some things if he didn’t intend on carrying us through in the first place. I’m absolutely confident that we’ll be alright, somehow.

My other half and I were blessed with a timeshare to use, and since he found out his employment at his dream job was ending, we took a lovely week-long vacation—just the two of us—to Nashville, TN. Just before we left, though, I got an email from BookSneeze saying that they had selected me to be a blogger at the Women of Faith Conference in Indianapolis this weekend, August 19-20. Yep, just three days after getting back from vacation sans children, I get to spend another couple of days sans children with my dearest, best friend and with my Jesus.

I’ve been feeling so dry lately, spiritually, so this is certainly a provisional thing. It will give me the opportunity to engage with God, reconnect with my “sister” who lives two hours away, and I’ll get to write about it. Sounds like a blissful two days and I can’t wait to be refreshed. (And maybe even entertained a bit.)

Posted by: lyshaanne | May 1, 2010

My Trip to the River

On a spiritual retreat at a beautiful piece of property, I went for a silent walk down the hill. Well, I was silent for four whole hours (pure bliss in my book), but the walk was at the beginning of the period of silence.

I’ve been in a funk lately. I’ve been sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, not at all myself. I’ve had a short fuse—so much that I cry for no reason. I’ve been hearing my three-year-old daughter ask me what the matter is and, “Are you not fustwated (frustrated) anymore, Mommy?” right when I wake up. The past couple of weeks, I haven’t had the energy to get out of bed, let alone care for my two children. I went to the doctor to see what was going on; he said my antidepressant dosage probably needed increasing. Great. More drugs. Not the answer I was looking for. I was hoping something was wrong with my colon or spleen. You know: something that would cause legitimate fatigue and grumpiness.

The day of my doctor’s appointment, a dear friend felt prompted to come pull me out of a Community Group I was helping to facilitate at our church. “They’re doing a service on healing, they’re praying over people, and you need to go,” she said tearfully. So I went. I waited in line to be prayed over. I held my friend’s hand. “You don’t have to do this,” she said. “If you feel that strongly, then yes I do,” I insisted. Three friends surrounded me and one (who had been healed from depression and the medicine required to treat it) prayed aloud for me for several minutes. She even said, “Give Lysh all my joy, God. I know You have more for me.” It was strange, but a good kind of strange. I felt loved. Light. Overwhelmed in a very, very good way.

The next day was a calm, joy-filled day. It was also an antidepressant-free day. The day after that, though, I was back in the funk. Sad, exhausted, crying for no reason, hearing my daughter say, “Mommy, what da matter?” I wrestled with whether or not I was supposed to be healed; whether I should keep taking or stop taking the meds. Then, the day after the funky day, I went for a walk at a spiritual retreat.

So, back to my silent walk down the hill. Down the hill, through these beautiful, green, and tree-covered grounds, sits the Little Miami River. I walked through the green courtyard in my raincoat, wearing my backpack, and holding my umbrella over my head. I slowly stepped down the semi-steep hill and, finally, onto the slippery stones at the river’s edge. The current was steadily carrying the water, loose leaves, and maple tree helicopters downstream to the left. Across the river sat a couple multi-level—and seemingly million dollar—beautiful homes. To the right were more river rocks and loose leaves in water on its way to flowing past me. Soaking in the peaceful scene, I asked God to meet me there. To speak to me. To reveal the simile between nature and my relationship with Him.

I took my time walking upstream on the river rocks. With each step, my flat-bottomed Keds slipped to either side of the rock. I took in the water, the rocks, the rain. The rain had slowed down some, so I folded up my umbrella and looked up to feel the sprinkles on my face. “Drops of joy,” I thought. Slow and sporadic, but still present.

I stepped a bit closer to the river’s edge and observed the water. I knew the rocks I walked on were so slippery because they used to be under water. The water’s motion had removed their bumps, their rough edges. The rocks still in the water were still being worked on, being smoothed.

“Am I like one of these rocks, still being worked on by God?” I wondered.

Maybe. It was still a bit cliché, even for me. I looked down at the shallow water for a bit and noticed a small leaf. Maybe it was birch; I’m not sure. It was floating in the water, but it was cornered by a couple of rocks. That little leaf was stuck. My first thought was that this leaf represented a burden. It clogged the flow of water and needed to be removed for the work on the rocks to be completed. I picked the leaf up and carried it downstream so it could be carried by the river’s current to wherever the water ends up (the Ohio, probably). As I found an unblocked area of current by the river’s edge, it occurred to me that maybe I’m the leaf. The water is God. And the rocks are the burdens, the stumbling blocks, the things that corner me between a rock and a hard place (yes, pun intended).

What hit me the most was that the little leaf was in the water the whole time. Just like I dwell in God’s presence, going along as I should (or think I should), and something suddenly gets in the way. I become burdened. But, He’s still there. He’s moving, carrying me, keeping me afloat.

After I bent down to free the little leaf from its burdens, I walked a bit further downstream. I put my umbrella, backpack, raincoat, shoes, and socks onto a big rock by the river’s edge. I carefully tiptoed out and stood in the Little Miami’s calm waters. (By the way, if you know me at all, you know that I’m not a nature girl; my idea of camping is the Holiday Inn. This was quite out of character for me to voluntarily get muddy and wet.) I immediately got goosebumps all over my body when my feet touched the water, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I stood in water that just covered my ankles and looked both downstream and upstream. Both views looked exactly the same: still, calm waters with leaves and maple tree helicopters floating. Then I looked in front of me, across the river toward the beautiful multi-level homes, and the water flowed at a rapid pace. Leaves and helicopters sped past me in a hurry. What’s funny was that I didn’t feel any of this speedy current swishing by my feet. It felt like I was standing in a still pool.

Here’s what comforts me a bit: God’s still moving. He’s carrying burdens, smoothing me, removing my bumps and rough edges, even when I can’t feel Him. He’s ever moving, refreshing, cleansing, filling, and even forceful. Just like the Little Miami’s current [probably] doesn’t change, neither does my Jesus. There’s no funk too big for Him.

I may not have been healed, yet, from depression, but I was at least healed from skepticism. To me, that’s worth much more.

Posted by: lyshaanne | April 2, 2010

An Interesting Read

I picked up Mark Sayers’ The Vertical Self with high hopes. It looked interesting and poignant; since there aren’t many books out there that take the focus off of oneself, I was excited about giving it a read. Plus, I liked little the red guy on the book’s cover.

I expected Sayers to discuss not caring about what other people think (the reviewer’s depiction of a “horizontal self”), and to focus on what God thinks (the “vertical self”). While he delivered this to an extent, Sayers had a lot to say about the media and how it corrupts our “vertical selves.” In Sayers’ mind, the “vertical self” is really the image of God—who God created us to be; the “horizontal self” is the public image. Okay, that makes sense. However, when Sayers implies that an urban environment dilutes character—once you move from the country to the city, then it doesn’t matter whether you were of good character—I have to wonder what planet this guy is living on. Did he mean that we should all live in the boondocks in order to be who God really wants us to be?

Most of this book discusses how big of an impact the media has on our identities. While this is somewhat true, it doesn’t mean that everyone looks to Britney Spears to find his or her sense of self. Sayers takes an interesting viewpoint in his book. To me, it’s a new genre comprised of New Age and New King James self help. It’s open-minded in some aspects, and ultra-conservative in others. While I think it puts a bit too much focus on the media (which, in my opinion, can be a powerful tool in ministry), it is somewhat truthful and thought-provoking.

To Sayers, life (in the “horizontal self”) is a movie; to me, God’s story is an epic and The Vertical Self is a bit off.

Posted by: lyshaanne | February 24, 2010

Whining is a Four-letter Word.

My three-year-old has been driving me crazy lately. Her whining, demanding, and back-talking has made me see why people start drinking at 9am. Yes, I have a whole new appreciation for the phrase, “It’s 5:00 somewhere.”

I have no idea why, after finally learning to speak understandable English, my daughter, Jadyn, whines more than she did when she was a baby and couldn’t utter much more than, “Ma-ma.” FINALLY, this child can tell me what she wants, but instead of politely asking (that’s not too much to hope for, right?), she just Won’t. Stop. Whining.

Jadyn came into the kitchen this morning saying, “Mommy, I need cake.” Yesterday was her third birthday, mind you.

I replied, “You need cake, huh? I don’t think you do.”

“Um, I need candy,” she added. Great. One more thing she’s going to whine about.

“Jadyn, you don’t need cake and you don’t need candy. So, no. No cake. No candy.”

“I need some miiiiiiiiilk.” Finally, a request that’s reasonable, even if she has an attitude about it. But it’s a statement that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Jadyn knows how to politely ask for something. As soon as I say, “You need milk, huh? Well, how do you ask?” she says, “May I have some milk, phwease?” But does she do this firsthand? Not a chance.

As much as my daughter’s whining and demanding irritate me, I think God’s teaching me something here. So many times, I’ve told God about something that I thought I needed. You know: I needed a certain job, or more money, or a different car, or my husband to do something a certain way, or fill-in-the-blank. Now I’m wondering if God’s about to throw a few back before 5pm because He’s sick of my whining. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but hopefully you get my drift.

Just like Jadyn doesn’t really know what she needs (like candy, cake, watching The Little Mermaid RIGHT THIS MINUTE), neither do I know what I need. Just like I know what Jadyn actually needs (healthy food, water, acceptance, love, etc), God knows what I need better than I do. There’s freedom found in that, I think. Instead of telling God what I think I need, maybe I should just ask. I think asking keeps my heart in line with what He has in store for me. He could always say “no” to what I ask for, but at least asking keeps him in the position of authority in my life. And it also keeps me open to him providing for me in the way he sees fit. His ideas are much better than mine, anyway.

I know if Jadyn came to me and said, “Mommy, may I please watch The Little Mermaid?” I would jump at putting the DVD in and would even go beyond her request to popping some popcorn for her. How much more does God want to do something similar for me if I quit whining and just ask? He really is good like that.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
-Jesus, in The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 7:7-11

Posted by: lyshaanne | October 23, 2009

On Mothering Two

So, I was watching the Ellen Degeneres show this morning (that gal kills me…in a good way) from my hospital room, and she interviewed actress Alyson Hannigan (the band camp girl from American Pie), who is a new mom. Ellen asked her about being a parent to her little girl, and Alyson said something that made perfect sense to me. She said of her daughter, “It’s like every cell in my body woke up just to love her.”

Call me a sap, but that really resonated with me. I adore my daughter, Jadyn; she’s my baby girl. When I was still pregnant with Quinn, I wondered if there would be enough love to give the child in my womb. That may sound horrible, but I’ve heard that it happens when you expect your second child. What I’ve quickly discovered, though, these past couple of days of getting to know my new son, was that the heart just grows to love another. It’s not kept at the same size, and the love given to one child doesn’t decrease. It’s like my heart doubled in size and lots of cells in my body that I didn’t even know were there “woke up just to love” him.

I’m amazed at how much one can love someone else, especially one’s own child. I learned a lot about God’s love for me when Jadyn was born, and I feel like I’m falling even more in love with Him after Quinn’s birth. I wonder if He feels the same way about me, when I’m so completely helpless. I’m not even as cute as Jadyn and Quinn are, and the fact that He is still crazy about me and offers such wonderful freedom to me makes me love Him even more.

Quinn is amazing. I can’t stop staring at him, can’t stop smooching his cheeks. I’m thrilled to have even more proof that God exists living in my household. Yeah. He’s good like that.

“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.” -Psalm 113:9

Sweet little boy with his eyes open

Sweet little boy with his eyes open

Posted by: lyshaanne | September 8, 2009

On Pruning

I have a black thumb.

Seriously, anything living, pretty, and flowery in my house will kick the bucket within a week, maybe two weeks depending on the type of plant. It’s usually because I just forget to water the plants, or I hold off on watering for awhile then pour way too much water on them and drown the poor things. This is why I’m surprised that I have two living rosebushes in front of my house. Even more amazing is that one looked like it was toast a couple of months ago and now it doesn’t.

A couple of weeks before Tom and I moved into our new house, there were two gorgeous rosebushes, one on each side of the front steps. They were both filled with bright green leaves and hot fuschia blooms. When we moved in, though, the left one had started looking pretty sad. Its leaves were brown and droopy, the flowers had wilted and fallen off, the stems brown. Our landlady said, “Hey, would you mind watering the left rosebush? It’s looking pretty dry.” Yeah. You think?

So, I watered the left rosebush. And watered it some more. Dumped some Miracle Gro on it, watered it more, and scratched my head. Then, I wondered if the water I was pouring into the ground was going to the dead leaves. So, I went to Home Depot, bought myself some pruning sheers, and went to town giving this thing a healthy trimming. After I got done fantasizing about becoming Edward Scissorhands, I realized that this bush looked even more dead than it did when I started. But, I dumped some more Miracle Gro on it and watered it regularly for a couple of months.

Then, last week, I actually noticed something green on my poor little project’s dead-looking stems. A couple of days later, there was more green and even a little rosebud.

I think God used that rosebush to teach me a little something about life. In order to bloom and grow even more fully than before, you have to get rid of all the dead junk all over you that’s sucking up all the good stuff you’re being fed. It seemed stupid to keep watering that rosebush when it looked like it would never come back to life. But, I kept doing it since it’s not really my rosebush in the first place (we’re renting), and now it’s growing rather quickly. Thankfully God doesn’t think it’s stupid to keep pouring Himself into me when I look like I’ll never come back to life.

I think there have been (and probably still are) things in my life that are dead that I don’t want to rid myself of. It’s easy to do. I’m human; I’m stubborn like that. I think we have to cut out the dead things in our lives, look completely dead and useless for a bit, and just receive grace and love (like water) without producing obvious growth first. Then, after being built into (or watered) for awhile when others may think we’re a lost cause, we grow. And we’re more beautiful than we were before.

Posted by: lyshaanne | April 7, 2009

All You Need Is Community

They love you despite your screw-ups, your bad decisions, your annoying little ticks. They bail you out before you know you even need bailing. They don’t see through you, they see you. They speak the truth in love, not out of spite or the desire to always be right. They watch your child when you’re deathly ill and your spouse has to work. They make you dinner when there’s been a death in your family. They’re your family away from family. They’re your “normal” family when your actual family is, well, pretty dysfunctional. They hurt when you hurt. They let you in. They share life with you. They go into battle on their knees for you, and mean it.

“They” are members of your community. Not just people at your church, where fellow church members can tend to turn their noses up at you if you actually admit to drinking a beer or two and actually enjoying it. Not fellow parents at your childrens’ school who are on a first-name basis, but not quite a life-sharing basis. Not “friends” who judge you when you’re dealing with something heart-wrenching, something that would typically be swept underneath the rug. Nope, they carry you through the ugly. They pull you through the thick. They don’t throw the stones, they catch the ones thrown at you. They don’t lecture, they validate.

And when do you know the difference? When you find yourself doing the same, and wanting to serve in the same way you’re being served, without even being asked. It’s more than friendship, more than family, more than church. It’s the body of Christ at its best, the way it was meant to be. It’s experiencing grace and love through others. Even if you think Jesus is a figment of someone else’s imagination, it’s a glimpse of who he is, even if you don’t know him yet. 

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardley recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” -Job 2:11-13

That’s what it’s all about. And I’m so thankful to be experiencing it finally. It’s all I need.

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