Sunday, July 26, 2015

When the Crazy Comes Through the Cracks

This has been an emotional week for me. My sister wife of another husband is moving....far away.
and it just makes it obvious that being an adult friend is really hard work.

What is it supposed to look like when we are running all over the place, and we are so spread out, and time is far more scarce than activity?  When prioritizing is a lost art and friendships are confusing.

See, my friend leaving has reminded me of this thing I have about myself - - i hate to hurt.
HATE to hurt.
Despise hurting.
Will go to great lengths to keep myself from hurting.

But, if I have friendships, I don't get the freedom to not hurt. It's part of the package.
Loving people sometimes hurts.
It means they sometimes are going to move away - or sometimes not come through the way that I want them to.
It means that I run the risk of being left.
It means I might find out that I wasn't good enough for them to stay.

And that exposes this other thing I have about myself --- I hate to fail.
I REALLY, really, REALLY,  H A T E to fail.
Fear failing.
Will go to great lengths to keep from failing.

But, if I say yes to friendships, I don't get the security of not failing.
I will fail. I will let them down.
They will put me in situations where I am accountable to them and how they feel will become important to me.
And sometimes I can't do enough - or won't do enough.
And sometimes I will want to be God and He will remind me I am not.

And then I will realize how little control and I have --- And then the fear.
The fear that they are going to leave me. The fear that I will never be good enough. The fear of not being in control  - - - - the awful, ugly, cycle.
All because my friend is moving.

(For those of you that are thinking I should go to counselling right about now - You are right. Yes. I should.)

So this girl moves into my life, forces me to fall in love with her and her family, teaches me to be a neighbor - and then leaves.
My heart breaks.
And then all the neatly stored baggage I carry around gets jostled up and some more of my "stuff" comes up through the broken cracks - and it very messily lands on the relationships that are around me - and I realize that I only have two choices:
1. I can stuff the junk that came out and pack it away - and some of the relationships it landed on will have to get packed up as well - or
2.  I can deal with it now that it is out and find a place for it in the open.

And herein lies my dilemma:
I don't want to stuff it away - to let it grow moldier and heavier.  I don't want to keep myself from the people that the less vulnerable parts of my being know that I need.
But, I also don't want to hurt and I don't want to fail.
And somethings got to give - because all of those things cannot win at the same time.

And - I hear Him whisper....
Am I real?
Because if I am real, then I know that you hurt, and I care.
If I am real, I know that you want to love perfectly - and I know you are broken and scarred.  I was broken and scarred for you, remember?  I am not ashamed of you because you need Me.
If I am real then it is worth the struggle to be a  friend because you are in the midst of a real war - and they will help you stand.
If I am real - even if your heart is left or forgotten - it will never fall out of my hand.
And, sweet daughter, if I am real - I am enough.  
Let my love heal your broken heart. 

Oh sweet Jesus, my Savior, my King, my Friend.  Give me the courage to grieve well and to stay engaged and to celebrate such a special friendship you put in my life - and to nurture this friendship between the miles.  Courage to believe you to be God in her life - and to remember that I never was. Courage to keep learning.

It's a messy business but I love adult friends. I love doing life with other women.
I'm not going to put away all the baggage that came up.
I am going to show it to God.  Let Him see the mess and then I am going to believe that He can handle it.  That He can handle my tears and my fear.  I am going to engage the pain so I can celebrate the good things and have hope for more to come.
I am going to grieve.
I am going to mess it up.
But, I'm not going to quit.

thank you for doing life with me.
and to my dear sister wife of another husband - thank you for teaching me to be a neighbor.  i love you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I Received My Package, Now What?

Dear, "Receiver of the God is Real Package",

Thank you for taking the time to consider the Bible study material that was sent to you and for visiting our blog!

If you would like to do this study with a group, it is our intention to give away the workbook in a PDF format.  In the near future, we intend to have an easy to find button where you can request the workbook be emailed to you.

For now however, if you know you are interested in doing the study, you can:

Just make sure you leave contact information so that we can get the workbook to you!

If you would like to tell someone else about this study, you can share your promotional package, or direct them to this blog.  Here they can request a copy of the workbook through email and decide that way if it is a study they would also like to use. We really appreciate your help in getting the word about this study to other women who would benefit from considering, "If God is real, then....."

Thank you for your flexibility!  We are excited and honored that you have decided to do this study! You are part of the ground floor, so please know that your comments and suggestions and stories are all appreciated.  We do ask that your words are for the purpose of building each other up, shaping this project's future and phrased with love.  If you forget - that is o.k., we just won't leave your comments public!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I cannot wait to hear from you!


Jodi L. Mikel

Sunday, July 12, 2015

encouragement in droves

We had such a great time at the launch party!  Thank you for everyone who made it and came to give me your support!  I felt like part of a team, so loved for, and so cared about.  Thank you!

I want to share a few more thank yous - this one starts with the girl who is trying to decide what she feels about God right now - you know who you are!  The one that I love.  Well, in her indecision, she was not up for partying a book released in His name, so she missed the party which made me very sad.  But, I want to thank her, because without meaning to, she ended up being a great help to me and the project!  I loved it!! God included her when she couldn't make the choice on her own to be included and it was so great to share that moment with her. Yea God!

Thank you also to the donor of ALL of the postage!!!  What a blessing - and equally as important as the money you gave was the way that your donation became a statement to my heart that God was involved and moving - and providing. The encouragement that gave my heart was priceless.  Thank you!!!

And finally, thank you to the sweet post office lady who was greeted with nearly 50 packages (some are going to be hand delivered!)  40 minutes before close.  This kind woman had to individually enter each address and print and place a label - one at a time....47 times in a row.  It took the rest of her shift!  She did it with a smile, which she assured me was because she had to - but I know for sure that is not true - I've met too many people in this world to believe that she had to be kind because it was her job - but I am so glad that she was.  I worked very, very hard not to make eye contact with anyone behind me in line.  Strangely, most of them did not share our enthusiasm about this project :)

They are all in the mail!  On their way to fifty different churches and individuals!!!  I cannot believe this is actually happening.

This is the GREAT post office lady who helped with a smile! So blessed to be at her counter!! (p.s. I got her permission for the picture! She said as long as you say nice things!!! Nothing but!!)
 I want to talk just another minute about the launch party day.  Many people came and shared this experience with me - without them, the work would have taken so long, the addresses wouldn't be so pretty and the packages would not look so great!

These will be arriving in your mailboxes this week!  A team of talented women put these together and gathered to pray over them.  Lord, God, I don't deserve this life!
That day was a big day for me and I wished I could have enjoyed it more, but I felt crazy most of the day.  So much emotion. I sometimes despise this part of myself, but no matter how I feel about how I feel - it is who I am, and it came with me into launch day.  I was worried about everything! Worried I wouldn't get everything done - worried no one would show up to help - worried no one cared.

My brain was fried - I literally showed up to the church for the party without the booklets, twine, scissors, or tape....(what did people do before frantic texting was a thing?!?!)

When I was giving a short benediction over this project with the warriors who were packaging the booklets that night - I remembered that two friends had contacted me that morning to tell me that life was getting the best of them.  The frantic, emotional me laid herself to rest and the power of the message of Corrie's testimony and the hurt in my dear friend's lives reminded me what we were doing.

Believing God is real is the hardest work you and I will ever do.  Sometimes it means that we will have to wrestle through doubt and hurt - many times it means we will have to die to ourselves for the greater life that He gives to us.  And, once you know - once you taste His freedom, see His goodness, submit to the wholeness of His holiness - you can't unsee it - you can't not know. Even when life is screaming at you that He doesn't matter - you will know in the deepest parts of your soul that He is the only thing that matters.  And that might tick you off because you will not be able to find the deep satisfaction you long for, outside of Him.

By sending these books out we are bringing the fight to doorsteps, and maybe they didn't know that they were signed up for a fight. I reminded the group that what we are teaching is emotionally costly and equally as precious.

Friends - let the journey that starts by having the courage to ask the real questions - never end until we see His glory and know His embrace.  I love you. Thank you for being a part of my story and a reminder to stay in the game.  You are worth more to me than I will ever have the words to express.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

When Headache, Exhaustion and Church Collide

Today as exhaustion and headache met church - I felt the message in addition to hearing it.  Our Pastor,  Mark Leech talked about intimacy, and not just with God, but with each other.

This hits open nerves.  We don't want this, but we desperately want this. I am positive that God is trying to teach me that not only is intimacy important for the health of our church, and as I am prone to care most deeply, our women - it is part of His plan and our design.  It is for our wholeness, and our freedom. And a lack of intimacy in our relationships exposes us.

I am deeply convinced that every relational issue that we have - every wall that we keep up, every anger we harbor, every hope we don't explore - end up between us and God, even if they began between us and the people we don't want to hurt us.

And women - as a rule, we are hard.  We throw things between ourselves and our Father like it is a sport. We even clean it up and celebrate it.

So the questions I seek to find answers to as I move ever closer to mail date and ministry design team date - What are the critical aspects of intheVine that will put us in the best position to follow God's calling in our lives?  How will intheVine help women move closer to engaging in their lives and knowing their God?  We need each other, I am deeply committed to this truth.  And, in the constraints given to us here on earth, I want to be part of a ministry that breathes life; learning to share ourselves for the sake of something greater than ourselves is going to be part of the answer I am looking for.

I want to see God's love multiplied as we continue to learn to hold each other up in an atmosphere where women believe for each other in the dark times and, with great care and love, push each other not to minimize issues to just the issue itself - but rather to find God in the struggle. To ask each other the real questions - to walk beside each other as we wrestle with the harder reality of our faith and our rebellion; our hope and our surrender. I cannot stop seeking to follow God through the wreckage of earth to believe His hope and life.

He has so much left to bring to this world. Oh, that He would teach us to believe so deeply - so deeply we couldn't not.

I need His wisdom intensely; His wisdom and His creativity.  I want intheVine to never become something that just fills space or adds time on a to-do list that is already too full.  Lord, Father, teach me, and make me into someone who can learn. 

His timing.  His way. His women.  These are the things I go to bed thinking about tonight.  Well, these things and a to do list greater than the time left to complete it.  T-2 days!  Ready or not!! It's coming!