All posts by asudermann2015

Stepping out of the Junk

Today, during my centering prayer time, I saw Jesus.

I was standing in my yard surrounded by my “stuff”

Not material things.

My baggage.

Shame,

Regret,

Impatience,

Frustrations,

Self Doubt,

Judgements,

Depression.

 

All littering my space.

Distracting me. Dragging me down.

Killing my spirit. Paralyzing me.

 

When I looked up I saw Jesus across the street.

He beckoned.

C’mon, my love.

Cross the divide.

Leave the junk.

Just focus on me.

You remember,

The one who died for you.

The one who carries you.

The one who wipes away every tear.

 

I took the first step…..

Spider Webs

When I was listening to God this morning, I saw the image of a spider web.  Almost invisible, but strong, and blocking my way.

Maybe you have walked through a spider web. An observer can find it somewhat humorous, watching the unsuspecting human flail about, trying to get through that sticky, barely discernible web. Once through, you can still feel the remains clinging to your hair, your lips, your eyelashes, your fingers.  You hope beyond hope that the resident of the web has not also relocated to your body.

We know enough to slow down for speed bumps, avoid potholes, and stop at walls. We can see those blocks. Our minds react with alternate routes.

The barely visible spider webs of life are more difficult. We need to move forward, but don’t know where to start, and there’s the spider.  Someone or something that will be disturbed. Sometimes it is just easier to stay put than to go through. But staying in one place doesn’t encourage growth.

I have been trying to identify the invisible blocks that are keeping me in one place.

Doubt

Fear

Overthinking

Schedule

What ifs

Uncertainty

Opinions of others

The spider webs, the invisible walls, of our lives keep us from experiencing the very best God offers to us.  What might your spider webs be?  What is keeping you from moving forward in your faith, from drawing closer to God.  How are spider webs paralyzing you in your life?

For me, there will always be spider webs, but recognizing they are there, and stepping forward in faith will keep me from being paralyzed in my own fears and growing ever closer towards the person God created me to be.

Watch Your Language!

Did you ever hear “watch your language!” as you were growing up, raising children, or maybe even out on a sports field?  I sure did, and I hardly ever swear.  Yep, hardly ever.  I love Jesus but I cuss a little.  Very little, but you can still pray for me.

It has been 12 years since my first mission trip, and in those 12 years I have been learning a second language.  Not Spanish, Thai, Serbian, Arabic, Japanese, or any other ethnic language of a country I have visited.  Not at all.  I have been trying to learn the language of mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and human dignity.

How do we, the church in the USA, talk about short term missions?

Are we going to do something for someone? Or are we walking alongside them, supporting what they are already doing?
Did we decide to go somewhere?  Or were we invited by a missionary or national partner already serving in the area?
Are we talking about what can we give to the community we visit? Or are we interested in what we can learn about the community, God’s work in the world, and the faithful brothers and sisters reaching others with the gospel?

Hmmm…
do something vs walk alongside
decide to go vs invitation
giving vs learning

Our words and actions carry a great deal of weight.  When we enter a community with the attitude that may convey “I’ve got it but you don’t” or “I am here to do it because you can’t”, we rob our brothers and sisters of dignity through our best efforts to help.

As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, meet God in the place of grace, and practice mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and lifting up human dignity, I am becoming more consistent speaking my second language when talking about short term missions.  I am not perfect, not by a long shot.

I invite you, sisters and brothers, to hold me accountable and to join me in watching your language as you talk about short term missions and put into practice this second language… and make it our first language, rooted in love, respect, and grace.

reposted from my Volunteers in Global Missions blog 2014

Lighthearted Venting…

I was inspired to write this after my morning walk…

Walkin’ round the hood
In the early morning sun,
Talkin’ with my friend
And havin’ lots of fun


When I got home 
I was feelin’ pretty blue
I smelled somethin’ awful
It was dog poo on my shoe 

Walked around the house
Before I sniffed it out
Spent an hour cleanin’
Tryin’ not to pout

The carpet and the floor are clean, 
The poo is off the shoe
They mystery is how I got that
Poo stuck in my shoe

I guess I’ll never know whose dog
Left a treasure on the road
But I have a favor to ask y’all
If I may be so bold..

Please clean up after your dogs
When they poo upon the road
Your neighbors would sure appreciate
clean shoes, cause poo gets old.

Scribbles on the Pew

I was watching a little girl in church on Sunday.  Not quite three, she was an engaging child, sitting with her mom and older sister.  Well behaved, and minding her mom….. or so it looked..

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the little girl doing something.  Mom spoke to her, I couldn’t hear the words, and then the little girl bowed her head against the pew in front of her and burst into tears.  Inconsolable, heartbreaking tears. Mom quickly slipped out of the service with her sobbing child in her arms.

It wasn’t until after the service did I learn what had happened.

The little girl had drawn a beautiful loopy line in pencil on the back of the pew.   Mom had said quietly and gently, “Did you draw that?”   The little one bowed her head in shame, she knew that was a no-no, and then her overwhelming guilt burst forth in tears.  Mom wasn’t mad, instead gathered that little bundle of remorse in a hug to comfort her and reassure her.

We’ve all been there, right?

How many times do we have lapses of judgement ourselves?  Like a child who knows not to write on the furniture, sometimes we forget.

We do stuff we know we shouldn’t..

We say things we know we shouldn’t..

We fail to do things we know we should…

The difference between us and the little child is that we seldom burst into inconsolable, heartbreaking tears in remorse.  Yet, we know that we are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Will the little girl have lapses of judgement again?  Of course.

Will we?  Of course.  Daily.

Will we be forgiven?   Over and over and over again.

May we know the sting of guilt, the pain of remorse, and the deep, deep love of Jesus.

 

Jesus dies for your sin and pain.

Lift your head from shame to grace.

May the God of hope fill you

With all joy and peace in believing,

Wo that by the power of the Holy Spirit,

You may abound in hope.

Martin Rolfs Massaglia and Romans 15:13

Release

 

Release:

To allow or enable escape from confinement; set free.  Allow something to move, act, or flow freely.

When I was a little girl, I would go hiking with the Girl Scouts.  I remember standing on the side of a mountain, looking down, looking out, and wondering what it would feel like to just fall forward.  Mind you, this wasn’t suicidal!  I just wanted the feeling of freedom, of flying.  Of course, even as a child, I knew that wouldn’t end well.

As an adult, I was able to finally experience that feeling of freedom and flying when I went tandem skydiving.  That feeling of having my toes at the edge of the open door, my hands hooked into my shoulder straps and falling forward was the realization of a life long curiosity.  The combination of hurtling through the sky at 120 miles per hour, exhilaration at doing something unusual, feeling the adrenaline rush, and living to tell the tale was more than checking something off the bucket list, it was a growth experience.

I had to let go of fear.. jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is not normal.

I had to let go of outcomes..  It did have the potential to end poorly.

I had to let go of opinions.. phrases like  “you’re crazy” and “don’t do this” could have stopped me from jumping.

To be clear, this was a calculated risk and not completely insane.  I had a very experienced skydiver man strapped to my back. I would not have jumped without him.  That would have been insane.

So for 2016, my word is release.

Release from my expectations, both mine and others.

Release from what I hold so tightly… my time, my desires, my judgments.

Why release? 

When I open my hands, my head, my heart and release what I want, I am ready to receive.

When I release my expectations, I shake free my desires and open up to unlimited possibilities.

When I release my time, I see each day as a gift, grace filled minutes to glorify God.

When I release my desires, I can shift my focus from mine to God’s

Release can sound like giving up, lowering expectations to the point of not caring. For me, release takes the form of holy indifferenceHoly indifference is the inner freedom that allows one to be open to God’s call, unattached to specific outcomes and open to as-yet-unimagined possibilities.”  Courtny Davis Olds.  Marina McCoy shares that “Holy indifference is not about giving up or stoically renouncing God’s good gifts, but rather about making room to be receptive to the new gifts that God constantly wishes to offer”.

I am looking forward to my year of release, of holy indifference.  I invite you to walk alongside me, keep me accountable, and try some releasing of your own. Let’s be surprised by God together!

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Witness Protection Program

Witness Protection Program or  “Why I don’t have a fish bumper sticker on my car”

I try to be a pretty nice person. Most of the time.

I try to see the bright side of things. Most of the time.

I try to see the better in people. Most of the time.

But then, I fail. FAIL. Miserably.

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.

But my failure is not just about me.

Its about what others are witnessing when they see me.

It’s about who I want to be a witness for.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I was relieved when I traded my Ford Focus in years ago. Relieved because I couldn’t live up to the witness that the little fish emblem on the back of the car implied. I got my only speeding ticket in that car. I ran very yellow lights.  I may have annoyed my share of other drivers.  All while I was proclaiming “I’m a Christian”.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I caught myself the other day.  After long days in airports, which I actually enjoy, I had a chance to volunteer to take a different flight.  Why not?  For once, I finally had the freedom in my schedule.  It wouldn’t bother me to go at my scheduled time or take the next flight.  No biggie. But wait.  They couldn’t tell me if they wanted me to actually volunteer until everyone boarded. EVERYONE.  It seems they had to weigh the plane.

I had a great seat.

Extra leg room.

On a regional jet.

Carrying a backpack.

And there was NO room in the overheads by the time I got on.

NONE. NOWHERE.

Everything I was carrying had to go under the seat.

Where my feet go.

So my knees aren’t under my chin.

It is easy to be a good witness for Jesus sometimes.

This wasn’t one of them.

I was ticked.

I didn’t cuss, but I am sure that Jesus didn’t like my attitude.

I sure didn’t. Grumpy. Sarcastic. Snarky.

And what’s worse?

My seatmate was chatty.  Nice guy.  Funny. Interesting.  We showed each other pictures of our kids and grandkids.

And then… THE QUESTION

“What line of work are YOU in?” he asked.

Uhhhh….

“I work with volunteers.” I said.  And changed the subject.

FAIL!!

I love talking about what I do, and I love Jesus.

But at that second, I needed a Witness Protection Program.

To protect the guy in 4B from my bad witness.

“I love Jesus” Angela was a sharp contrast to the grumpy, snarky, reeking of bad attitude Angela that this nice young man was sitting next to.

So I was quiet.

I was a non witness instead of a bad one.

Score for Witness Protection Program.

It was amazing and humbling to see how fast my desire for wanting some leg room and overhead space spiraled into grumpiness.

At the end of each day I know I have unintentionally offended and hurt more than I have encouraged and lifted up.

The lyrics to this Casting Crowns song echos in my head

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away

We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing

Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded

A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

 “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”, Casting Crowns

“The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me”

Yep, I admit, I don’t have it all together.  My cheese is slipping off the cracker.  I’m ok with with being broken.  I’m not ok with tripping people on their way to Jesus.

So here’s the thing.

Maybe the answer isn’t having a bumper sticker to show I am a Christian.

Maybe the answer is to live more intentionally like Jesus.

How?

“And what does the Lord require of you? Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8