I really should just begin every blog entry that way: What the Father is Teaching Me, insert date. Because that's what is constantly happening. He shows me something, I share it. He shows me something, I share it. That's really all I can do, is relay what He is doing in my life. If I did it every time, I would blog several times a day because that's about how often I hear His voice, but there's just not time so I wait until I have time and then think, wait, what was that He told me the other day? Let me look in my journal. . . :)
He is just so good. So present. So real. My job is just to listen. He speaks through His Word, through circumstances, through other people, constantly. If I will but listen and watch and be teachable.
This weekend I have had the awesome privilege of joining Brian at a conference for C12, a group of business leaders who encourage each other to walk with God in their businesses, following Biblical principles and the Spirit's leadership as they go out into the marketplace. The founder, Buck Jacobs, has a basic message that you don't have to be "in full-time ministry" (aka, have a seminary degree) to be in full time ministry. The marketplace needs Christians who do ministry in their business, as they are fulfilling their calling in the workplace, not just more preachers. It's embracing that WE are the Church, the Bride of Christ, being the Church as we conduct business and interact with regular people every day. A pretty wonderful way of thinking. In fact, a Biblical way of thinking. I wasn't able to be in every session, as 7 month old Bethany has learned how to use her voice every second she is awake :), but Brian was telling me that he learned in one session that the actual meaning behind "radical" is "of roots", as in, going back to our roots. Radical is really just getting back to the roots, the basics, the simple truth. Such as, I am the Church as I am going about my day.
(For more on that topic, you can also download a PDF of the book I Don't Want to Go To Church Anymore here. I would love to hear your thoughts after reading it!)
As always, the Father was so very good to me and allowed me to meet some really neat people who said some really cool things. We slid in late to the first session, which included a dinner. At the break I was introduced to the people we happened to slide in next to, and they own the company that grows all the organic berries and citrus fruits for Trader Joe's. They are especially passionate about the blueberry. The lady who actually owns the company, Karen, of Thomas Creek Farms, told me that blueberries have 16 phytonutrients just in the skin that facilitate enzyme activity in the body and that her mission is to educate everyone that they need a cup of blueberries every day. (Good thing we have a few pounds of blueberries in the freezer from our summer picking, and we went to Trader Joe's yesterday and bought lots of freeze dried and dried blueberries from her company. It's just the Trader Joe's brand. They are the farm that grows those and they are Christians, FYI. :)) As we approached the line to get our dinner, we fell in behind a Hispanic family. The beautiful mother, Leonor Suarez, was speaking a few words of English mixed in with a few words of Spanish to her three year old son Miguel who was with them. We bonded over attachment parenting issues and I marveled that her three year old was bilingual. The food was so delicious and nourishing. (Everything is delicious and nourishing when you're exclusively breastfeeding a seven month old. Food just tastes better then. :))
The next morning at breakfast, we met a couple who owns some RV campgrounds in North Carolina. They have TEN children. All by adoption. They parent SEVEN teenagers. And homeschool them all! I had to get my picture made with her. :) We bonded over our thoughts about the unecessity (is that a word?) of college for every person, breaking the chains of cookie cutter expectations for each unique individual made in the image of a very creative God.
During the first session, I had to go into the hallway and nurse a very fussy Bethany, who for some reason didn't want to hear about Affordable Health Care? Can't imagine why? :) and who should I "run into" (almost literally), but Rick Santorum? There were only a few other people in the hall. He went over to a nearby hand sanitization station, sanitized his hands, and asked if he could please play with Bethany. He held her and goo-goo-gah-gahed with her as we talked. He didn't even act like he was in a hurry or needed to be somewhere else with any other person. Once again, I had to make it awkward by asking a passerby to take our picture. :)
At lunch, I met the newest Huntsville C12 member, Kellie Andrews of the Huntsville Hub. She provides office space and resources for small companies, kind of like the new collaborative work environments that are springing up for new business starts. It's a really cool thing. Another fellow homeschool mom, she was such fun to talk to. I was sitting in the ladies room on a couch with a sleeping baby on my lap during one of the snack breaks, and a sweet lady whose name I don't even know, brought me coffee and scones. :) Bethany woke up just in time for us to make it to a few of the ladies only sessions for wives in the afternoon. The first speaker talked about the story of Lazarus and how it applies to us. Lazarus was dead, which in everyone's eyes meant that his story was over. But Jesus showed up and rewrote Lazarus's story, awakening him from the dead. He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" and in Jesus's resurrection power, He did. Jesus told Lazarus's friends to unwrap him and let him go. And strip by strip, they removed the binding cloths that had Lazarus bound up. We talked about what keeps us bound up as women, and how Jesus can remove those things and set us free to come forth. She said, "Everyone has pain. You have to be a good steward of your pain. Because pain that is not transformed by Jesus is transferred to others in one way or another."
After that I tried to stay for holy yoga, a kind of new type of yoga that is set to praise music and meditations are on Scripture. I want to try it sometime, but it was much too quiet a setting for Bethany :), so we went back to the room and after she nursed to sleep, I spent some time reading and talking to God. In reading through the Bible, I've been finishing up Jeremiah and starting Ezekiel in the OT; finishing up Philemon and starting Hebrews in the NT. I've been meditating on a verse at the end of Philemon that says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." We've talked about that Greek word for grace, charis, and all that it means. It's more than saving grace, although it includes that. It's the everyday grace that comes from God and becomes the essence of how we conduct our lives. It's a deep thing for the charis of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with our spirit. Then in the beginning of Ezekiel, the Word says that as God's spirit indwelt Ezekiel, it "put him on his feet" and "sent him to the captives". I've been thinking that's what we're called to do. Like Lazarus, we are dead and bound and without hope. Jesus comes along and tells us to come forth, remove those things that bind us, He sets us on our feet, indwells us with charis, and tells us to go to the captives. What a beautiful thing.
That evening there was a reception for Rick Santorum, and as Brian and I were standing there eating hors d'vours alone, a girl asked if she could stand with us. She introduced herself as Lori Windham and asked if I was wearing the Ergo or the Beco. I have the Beco, she chose the Ergo for her daughter. We talked about babywearing and breastfeeding and being mommies. In conversation I realized, wait, this is the attorney Brian was telling me about that I missed hearing, who was like kind of a big deal. :) She is a Senior Counsel in Washington D.C. with the Beckett Fund, of the Center for Religious Liberties. She is passionate about preserving our religious freedoms in the courtroom. Yes, I made it awkward and asked to have my picture made with her, too. :)
The main thing I went away from this weekend sensing was that my Heavenly Father is just so very, very good. So concerned with all the details of our lives. There were several "anxieties" in my heart that I hadn't really even voiced in prayer, yet of course He knows all about them and He spoke to me softly and tenderly about them. This seems small, but one evening this man came up and stared at Bethany for a few moments. Then he said, "Seven months? Eight months?" I nodded yes, and he said, "I knew it! She looks great!" and walked away. Brian whispered to me that that man is a pediatrician. God knew I needed the reassurance that Bethany is doing great. :) Little things like that, but God knew how much I needed them.
He is good. He delights to bring us joy. And He is all around, speaking to us all the time. If we will but have ears to hear it and eyes to see Him.