The Goose & The Swan

I’m in awe of how God can use simple-mundane moments to share His heart with us. Often we become so numb to our everyday landscape that we can be blind to the beauty of God’s truths that He is trying to share with us in those familiar places.

This week God revealed to me something profound in the ordinary through….wait for it…..geese! I know, it sounds a bit simplistic with a dash of crazy, but stick with me here, friends.  Near where I work, there is a pond. In said pond are always several swans, which at first-glance doesn’t provoke much thought. But, the longer you stare, you notice that they are actually fake (the one tilted on its side was the one who blew their cover). Now, I’m not claiming to be a bird expert here, so….my first thought was the swans were simply placed there for aesthetics (please tell me I’m not alone on this one, ha!) but this week, a gentleman who was joining us for lunch asked THE QUESTION. Why are there fake swan in the pond? THANK YOU, SIR. I’VE BEEN WONDERING THE SAME THING!

Someone from our team explained the swans are there to scare off the geese so they don’t go into the pond. With one glance, I could tell he was correct. Hundreds of geese surrounded the pond, but not a single one dared to go into the water with the swans there.

Geese are “Anseriformes,” which is a species of waterfowl. All species in the order are highly adapted for an aquatic existence at the water surface. God created the geese to be in the water, their natural habitat, yet, because of the authority the swans command they don’t dare to intrude on what is meant to be rightfully theirs too.

My dear friends, we have much in common with these geese. God has called us into the water, but how often do we allow the “swans” in our life to keep us safely on the shore?

Swans represent the things that keep us from stepping into our God-given calling. People who have belittled us, people who have positioned themselves as having it all together, wanting us to believe we will never amount to their level, influence or authority, attempting to instill fear and doubt in ourselves. When in reality, once looked at from a different angle, these swans are hollow, a fraud themselves. Yet, we allow them to be the thing that stands between us and our God-ordained territory.

Our own “swan” mentality can hinder us just as deeply. Our own perceptions of who we are and who we are not. We get in the way of our own success by simply allowing the enemy to be the labeler of our life. GEESE, we cannot allow the swan to win. We have been called to step out onto the water, where we are meant to exist, not just dip our toes in.

When we turn to Matthew 14:22-33 we get a glimpse into this internal struggle.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied,“tell me to come to you on the water.29 Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter wouldn’t have dared to step into the waters if it weren’t that there was a firm foundation underneath him to support him. That, my dear friends, is Jesus. We see firsthand in this passage what happens when we go out onto the waters alone, we have a sinking feeling and react with a spirit of fear and doubt. That feeling is draining. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of faith and trust that is life-giving.

Cue Wisconsin “Fall” weather. The very next day the snow began to pour down and little by little the pond began to freeze. As I was driving past, I noticed one goose courageously stepping out onto the frozen water and making its way towards the swan. This goose didn’t have the same courage just a day ago to go out onto the water. It took a firm foundation to step out.

We can move forward in faith into the waters God has called us to, with the same knowledge that Goose had. With a firm foundation we can go out and face the swans. We can wander into what we have been promised and given knowing that the swan is just a deterrent to our destiny. That goose, my dear friends, is you & you & YOU!

May our battle cry be that God may rise up HIS flock to step forward in faith out onto the waters. It’s where He has called us to be, where we are meant to exist.

Habits & Heaviness

Habits. They don’t form overnight. As much as I would like to wake up at 4:30am with a bolt of energy, run 3 miles, shower and have enough time and energy to look presentable, the truth is that won’t all come to me naturally right away. I know, bummer, right? Research shows that it typically takes 21 days to form a new habit. Motivation is what sets your actions in motion to create that habit.

I felt God tugging on my heart, I wanted to know Jesus, not just know Jesus as a list of facts, stories and things spoken, but truly and deeply know Him. I wanted to be extremely intentional in this. I wanted to start bringing my bible with me each day so I would be able to dive into His word and set aside time for Him and I, just like I would with other loved ones in my life. This was going to be the start of a new habit.

Eager to start this new habit, I tossed my bible into my purse as I was heading out the door the next morning. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE big purses, the bigger the better. More room for snacks and I mean, who doesn’t like snacks?! But seriously, my “Mary Poppins” bag has enough room for all of the things to get this girl through her day. Laptop. Wallet. Binder. Papers. Lipstick. Lunch. An 18-month-old child (kidding). Along with my newest addition, my bible.

I picked it up and headed out the door and immediately, I could feel the additional weight it added to my daily purse load. My shoulder was aching and pulling, it was uncomfortable! (a tad dramatic I know, but just being honest). Then, ever so peacefully this conviction passed through mind. “You know what else was heavy? The cross.” Gulp. My heart sank. Here I am feeling discomfort for adding a whopping 3 pounds to my load where the King of my heart painstakingly carried the cross for you and for me, and paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can live together in eternity. I will never forget this moment, my dear friends.

The cross was heavy. Heavier than you and I could ever imagine, and I’m not just talking physically. On it bore the sins of mankind. I don’t know about you, but I feel my sin alone would be enough to make anyone’s knees buckle beneath them. The cross was Jesus’s mission, His purpose. Forgiveness and eternity. Like Christ, we each have a mission here as well set in place before you and I even arrived on the scene (or in my Mary Poppins purse)…sorry I had to. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  As I reflect, the work that Jesus did on the cross was good work, but it wasn’t painless. We must not think that our God-given mission overrides our pain throughout the process. It’s through the pain that God is most glorified. “ Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distress, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” ( 2 Corinthians 12:10).

What cross has God given you to carry? Where does it ache? What do you do when you feel like you can’t continue to bear that load?

Jesus is the ultimate cross-bearer. We can turn to him with our pains, our trials; He knows them all too well.

Lord,

You’ve set each of us apart with unique gifts and skills to glorify You. You’ve placed passion in our soul and each of us has a unique mission You’ve placed on our hearts. Forgive us for the times we complain about the heaviness that comes with this divinity. Help us to see the cross that is placed on us not as a hindrance, but as an opportunity to make Your love more evident on earth. Thank you for paying the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for showing us what it means to take up our own cross each day. Strengthen us. Renew our minds. Renew our spirits. Renew our perception.

Amen.

Phew, my bible in my purse isn’t so heavy anymore.

Change Isn’t Easy

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, too long actually. These past couple of months have been a whirlwind, to say the least, and the lessons and trials I’ve been going through are ones I feel most people learn later in life.

I’ve been hesitant and reserved in sharing what God has spoken into my life because honestly, I’m still processing daily what that looks like and what that means. Last Fall I was driving in my car on my way to campus, it was just like any other day, I had my Christian tunes playing in the background and “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin came on. Not thinking much of it suddenly this heaviness and boldness came over my heart and I was brought to sobbing and God spoke to me so clearly “you are going to be part of the change in this City.” Just like you are probably going “huh?” So was I in that moment.

I held onto that truth spoken to me with all that I have not knowing what that meant or where that would lead me at the time. Life continued on as normal and with a successful National Sales competition title that Fall I was blessed with sales job offers coming in throughout the U.S.

I knew in my heart this didn’t align with those bold words spoken to me and I was at a standstill. Come January, I was on LinkedIn and saw an opening for the Executive Director position for Downtown Kenosha Inc. I read through the job description and this sense of peace and purpose flooded my heart. I applied and eagerly awaited a response. The doubt and lies of the enemy flooded my mind….why would they pick you? You’re not even out of college? You’re 23 years old, how are you going to run a nonprofit?

The more these thoughts arose the deeper I anchored my soul to God’s promise. Shortly after, I got asked in for an interview. I cannot even begin to explain or fathom the peace that God placed in my heart throughout the entire process. Although I wasn’t extended an offer until April, the entire time I knew this was what God chose for me, this was going to be me “being part of that change.”

God has a sense of humor, you know that? I’m a complete optimist and it’s hard to catch me down, so naturally, when God placed in my heart “you are going to be part of the change” I automatically thought Woohoo! Change! How exciting! Yay God! Let’s do this!

My dear friends, how wrong I was. Change doesn’t come easy, it’s extremely painful, it doesn’t come with a guide book telling you what to do step-by-step, it has no remorse, and it surely doesn’t treat you kindly.

These past months have forced me to grow more than I’m comfortable with, it’s consumed every bit of my energy, time, and thoughts and in all honesty, I’m ashamed to say throughout this I’ve let my occupation affect my glorification.

God’s hand has been so evident in everything that’s been happening and I cannot help but point all praise back to him. I’m here to bring glory to God in my occupation, not allow my occupation to diminish my thanks to Him.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2