Monthly Archives: July 2015

LIBS

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Today is my friend Libs birthday!

Our story. I met her in the kindergarten hallway a few years ago. Introduced myself and said what most everyone says to her, “You’re the Loop Lady!” She does the video announcements at church.

She was showing her daughter her new classroom.

Fast forward  a few months. Beginning of December and she was teaching on Sunday morning. She was very vulnerable that day, sharing parts of her family history most people didn’t know. She went there.  I was amazed at how real she was with our church! It was amazing!!!

A few weeks later, I woke up at 4:30am (My normal time) and the Lord laid her on my heart and ask me to pray for her. So I did. This happened over the course of the next 2 weeks. Every day. Same time. First person I thought of. So I prayed.

I finally sent her an email saying something like this,”Libba, I need you to know the Lord has laid you on my heart for the past two weeks. I’ve been praying for you everyday. I don’t need to know why, just know I’m praying.”

This went on for months. Every now and then I would send basically the same email to her, saying the same thing.

One day she replied with some prayer requests.

We slowly built a friendship on this!

We’ve walked some roads together. God hasn’t released me from praying for her. Everyday for the last 5 years, I’ve prayed.  For whatever reasons God has, I’m assigned to her.

I hate talking on the phone. Well, for the most part. They are a few people I will always take a call from.  Most of my conversations are brief. Except to Libs. Libs and I talk 4 or 5 times a day.  Maybe for 2 minutes or 1.5 hours. Just depends on what’s going on.

Libs is my best friend. She’s walked through some tough times with me, as I have with her.

We have whole conversations via twitter sitting next to each other.

I laugh my hardest and cry my deepest when I’m around her. She’s big on seeing your face when she’s talking to you.  Sometimes I get a text that says, “I need to see your face!!” (Which translates into something big she needs to tell me and needs to watch me respond or react to) She loves to be able to read your expressions, hear your exhaustible explanations and see your heart. Hear your tone. Watch your gestures. Hear the off the wall dreams that come out of your mouth.  Call something out in you that you weren’t really sure was there to begin with.  She’s fierce in her protectiveness. 

She sees talent in people and draws all the potential  out in you and is relentless in uncovering it(you) and not hiding you from the world.  When she believes in you, you feel like you can face the world and move whatever mountain is in the way. She’s relentless in this.

She goes from 0-100 between the moment her eyes open and her feet hit the floor.  I’ve never seen anyone like her.

She has more tabs open in her head than anyone I know. She changes tabs about every 10 seconds. I’ve learned to keep up with her. Well sorta. There are times, she switches and I’m still processing the other tab, and I look at her and she just laughs and says, “Sorry I opened a new tab!”

We have the most honest talks I’ve ever had. About relationships, dreams, hopes, and the stories where there are few words and lots of tears.

You will always know how she’s feeling! She cannot hide this to save her life!! Her eyes tell a story that is the most expressive thing you will ever witness.

She has no poker face whatsoever!! I once told her she didn’t even have a poker face when texting. It’s that obvious.

She never stops encouraging. She’s relentless in her love. She’s so generous with her life.

Libs did the most unusual thing last July on her birthday! I planned a lunch with those she wanted there. We all arrived for lunch. We all gave her gifts and celebrated her!!

My friend Libs, is a “word” girl. Loves words. Drinks them in and breathes them out.

Then she did the thing:

I’ve never experienced it before. She gave reverse birthday gifts.  She went on to explain why; we had each carried some weight for her and just maybe brought her back to life…

Her words, not mine. Her gifts, our shock.

Everyday, I’m reminded of my friend, the burdens she carries for me and those I carry for her. I’m reminded today I’m not alone. She’s a hilarious text or tweet away. 

There are a few words that will grab her attention.

Girl.

Shut. Up.

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Elizabeth “Girl” Tullos. We celebrate you 100%! Shut. Up.

Honestly, thank you. For saying yes because it was more alive than the safety of no.  September 25, 2014 at 5am. Wow!

You’ve taught us this.

People like us do things like this.

Tell the pretty girl she’s pretty.

Oh, and for taking the sheer terror out of shopping and buying me wedges, and making me wear earrings, and…….the list is long.

Happy Birthday! I love you Libs!

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BOTH SIDES OF ALONE

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I walked down the aisle when I was 18.

No, not that aisle.

The aisle to the front of church because I felt God calling me to full-time ministry.

I went on to be a youth pastor several summers during my college years.  I was highly involved in The Wesley Foundation at Texas Tech while I went to school.

I was alone.  Free to be all God wanted me to do. Free to be involved in whatever I had time for and even what I didn’t have time for. I loved it!!!

This alone was carefree and trusting God to move.

No restrictions. 

I got married when I was 24. For a time, we were both involved. Our children grew up and knew what it was like to serve.

But over time, our children’s activities, work, and more work took over our time. I’m not saying it was a bad thing, just a season. We all have seasons, where life happens. Then it stopped. Period.

I was content to not hear the voice of God calling me.

Sitting there, blending in.

Leaving as the closing prayer got started.

There came a point when I was 48, I was ready to jump back in. Wanting to be obedient and yet trying to balance what was going on at home and my desire to get plugged in.

Aching for connection.

Longing to make a difference.

Knowing God was pulling hard.

You have probably been there. May be there now.

Listen.

At the time I was going to therapy. Yes, I still go, but not as often.

I was holding back. Waiting on permission. Conflicted.

I told my counselor this. Told him flat out, God was leading me to lead a life group.

He asked me why I hadn’t done it yet. I told him I was waiting. He asked me on what.

I just looked at him. Didn’t know how to answer.

He looked and me and said, “ Toni, if you need permission, I’m giving you permission to lead a group!  You are quite capable.”

You need to know I sat there stunned! I didn’t have to have to wait? I could go and do this?

For some reason, I believed you had to lead together. I literally carried the weight of guilt and shame around like a badge. Guilt in the fact, I would be doing something that didn’t involve my family. Shame in that, I was not qualified or know enough to do it. Shame for leaving my family a couple of hours a week to step out and just do it.

Shame for doing it alone. It’s hard.

There was  guilt and shame because I didn’t believe for one second God could use me at all. I walked around with this garment of shame and unworthiness draped on me like a toga.

This is the other alone.

The one you go and do what God has called you to do in the midst of all your mess.  He’s not using you for the people in your life, He’s doing it for you.

This other alone requires you to lean in and trust Jesus.

When He has set His sights on you, you cannot run or hide forever.

This other alone requires you to tell all the miracles you see happening in your life to Him.

This other alone asks you to you to meet His eyes. He is there. He hears. He wants to see you in action. He wants to see you obedient.

I find myself back in the aloneness of being single.

Could I still be used in ministry? I’ve had such  major doubt and fear about this. Walked in it and believed it.

I thankfully, have surrounded myself with godly people who for reasons I cannot understand, believe in me. It’s humbling. It’s rare. This unconditional love to walk me through this and know God has called me to something bigger than myself. Something only He can do.

I’m amazed how He drops people in your life. Unexpectedly!

These two sides of alone are really just one. They merge together and try to get you to believe you are nothing. Can do nothing. This is because  being alone cannot be fruitful. Belief you have no worth.

Lies.

The truth is, God will use  you despite your mess.

Even when my heart struggles.

Even when I’m not perfect. Even when I say things I shouldn’t. Even when I doubt. Or fear. Or worry. Or sad. Or if I don’t have it all together. (I mean it, really, who has it all together?)

My worth is not measured by anything but that cross He died on.

I’m learning this. A theme. For over a year now. God is showing me daily in my head and heart. I’m grateful He is gentle with this hard head of mine.  I’m so thankful He doesn’t shake the sand from His feet and say ok, this one is hopeless and walks away!

No! I’m worth it! There I said it. Not sure how much belief there is in typing it, but today, I’m going to walk in it.

Not try. Walk.

I’ve been wading back in for the past year.  I had no confidence and belief that I could do this.

Some days are quite shaky.

Some days, it flows as if I’ve been made for this.

I’m still negotiating and investigating what lies ahead.

Slowly plugging in.  It feeds me. Nourishes me. Breathes life into me.

Made these dry bones come together and be alive again.

I sense you may have been down this road or like me are just trying to find your way.

The one thing I do know without hesitation is wherever you find yourself, God has put that desire in you.

You have permission to go. To do. To be obedient.

He’s not asking you to sacrifice your family.

He’s asking you to lead where you are gifted.

Where you find delight.

Where you need life again.

Just a few weeks ago I walked down the aisle again. No, not that one.

Our Pastor during a worship night, asked those called to full time ministry to come to the front and be prayed over.

I’ve known it and knew it, so I went.

It truly is as Scripture says, “God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11.29

Same call at 18 and 51.  You do the math. 

Regardless of the alone you find yourself in.

Go. It hasn’t changed. It’s never too late to start.

I’ve been on both sides.


YOUR WAY LED THROUGH THE SEA

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Psalm 77.19

“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters-a pathway no one knew was there.

The sea is all around me. Well, not exactly, since I live in North Texas, but for the last few weeks the reference to the sea is daily.

Whether it is in a song, scripture, or quote someone sends me, the sea is in front of me.

My verse for this year has been Isaiah 26.7 “But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and You smooth out the path ahead of them.”

2015 has been the year of my path.  I’ve been thinking about the path I’m on.  I’ve thinking about the path you might be on. It never occurred to me the path led through the sea. So uncharted!

You see, just like the verse from Psalm, I didn’t see the path. Was unexpected. Really? Through the sea?

Just like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. They thought they were at a dead end. Literally.  No way they would make it out alive! The Egyptians would either kill them all or they would drown. The fear and panic must have been at an epic high!

My path has been an interesting. I’ve had some total God hovering moments these last couple of months. God is showering me with opportunities and blessings.

One of the things I’ve been praying about for over a year now is whether to get certified as a Life Coach. Through a series of meetings and consultations, I met a lady who, in a hours time, infused enough courage in me to act. (I sometimes wonder if God gets frustrated with me and my snail pace in decision making.) I left her office in awe of what could be! She put me in contact with a lady who would lead the certification training.

As I left her office that Wednesday afternoon, I had a one-way conversation with the Lord. It went something like this: “Lord, I really feel this is the direction I need to go in. I can’t do it the weekend after next, but could get the money together for the September one. It’s very doable.  However, if the money comes in all at once I will know this is where You want me.”

THE END!

That week was crazy busy for me. I had basketball camp in morning and afternoons that week.

At some point during the day on Thursday, I got a message from my apartment complex that there was a package for me. The office was already closed by the time I finished and I was leaving town the next day before they opened.

So Monday morning, I went straight over there to pick up my package.

This is what was in it:

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This was delivered the day after I prayed that prayer!!!! Unbelievable!!!

So I called the trainer and  we talked for about 30 minutes and I signed up for the weekend course!

Within the first 45 minutes on Saturday, I knew I was in the right place. No question. No Doubt. I was so overflowing with emotion at the end of the day, I cried the entire half hour ride home. I knew this was right! Knew God had His hand on me and was hovering over me to see what a new path looked like.

What is your sea? Can you see through the water? Sometimes, all we can see is our present circumstances. The water is cloudy and we can’t see the bottom. It’s too deep.

Will you trust God to walk with you through he sea? Will you trust Him to go through the sea even if you can’t see His footprints?

You may be 18 and headed off to college in the fall and not sure what you need to study!

You may be in your mid- twenties and have got the degree nicely framed and working in a career you wish you had never chosen.

Or, your complete career does a dance and you never saw your partner until today.

Doesn’t really matter what your age is. Your life changed and the path you were on has shifted. You are standing on the edge of the sea, and as the water breaks the shore, the sand shifts under your feet. Drawing you in. Come on in , the water is fine.

Here’s my thoughts on it: (so glad you asked) Don’t ask God for clarity. As I’ve been reading about this: I’ve discovered that asking God for clarity is our way of trying to control. It’s our lack of trust in Him to do what is best. We have to know next steps. We must have our hand on the doorknob. Take it off. You can’t fix it: you can’t open a door God wants closed and you can’t close a door He wants open. It will be a huge waste of time on your part.

I am an expert in this field. I need to see next steps. God’s reply is: “no , no you don’t. Trust Me!!”

Listen, I don’t know what your “sea” is.  I do know this: There is a path through it you can not see. It has your name on it. Don’t think for second He hasn’t gone before you.

He loves you. He sees your worth. He knows.

His ways are higher than yours, than mine.

His thoughts are wilder than your wildest imagination.

So, step on in the sea. Follow the path wherever He leads. I promise it will be worth it.