The Rose Bush
I shared this story at She Speaks in my message to the Women's Ministry Leaders. It was the last point about trusting God's plans and not our own in my message, The Heart of a Leader. I promised my freind Mary Ann that I'd write it for her, so here it is friend. You are a radiant reflection of God's glory and I love you!

I needed yard therapy. Something about being outside calms my heart and soothes my soul. Maybe pulling weeds and taking care of my spring flowers would distract me, or help me deal with the weeds in my heart. I just knew I needed to get some fresh air and get away from the reminders of what was happening in my life. My dear friend and mentor was moving. My women's ministry leader, the one who had believed in me, invested in me, helped me step out in faith and obey God's calling on my life to write and speak. The one I had plans to serve alongside until she retired. The one who had built one of the most amazing women's ministries in the country. What was God thinking?

I sorted through the clutter in our shed trying to recover some topsoil that was buried under rusty shovels and tangled rakes. As I came out of the shed I noticed our rose bush, planted in the center of our split rail fence, expressing her glory through the display of her pink blossoms across four feet of the fence.

How did that happen? I haven't done anything to care for that bush. I wonder if I should find some rose fertilizer and help her sustain those buds. We had some in the shed that I had never used. I knelt before the blossoming beauty and pulled weeds from her base, clearing the way for plant food to sink into the soil. As I pulled the weeds back, I noticed the base of the bush was divided into four sections. Should I leave them all together? Or should I pull them apart and place them at different posts on the fence. If I seperated them and planted them in fertile soil, and took care of them, eventually their vines would connect and create a blanket of beauty draped across the whole fence. This rosebush would be even more glorious than the current display. I decided that is what I needed to do.

As I pressed my hands into the dirt to find the right places to seperate the root ball, God whispered to my heart.

Renee, do you see this plant? Like the women's ministry, this plant has reached the fullness of it's glory. Each of you has been carefully planted in your giftedness, nurtured and encouraged through prayer, equipped through training, fertilized by opportunities to serve and you have produced fruit...fruit that will last! Now you are ready to divided into seperate plants so that MY glory in each of you will be more fully displayed as you are uniquely and individually planted in new places of ministry.

Is that what God was doing? You mean MaryAnn leaving wasn't the only uprooting I was about to experience? Was there more pruning? I couldn't bear the thought. And yet I knew we had come to place where our Women's ministry was healthy and truly amazing in its impact. Some of the programs were being shared on a national level so that others could benefit from what God had entrusted to us. But I did NOT like this new plan. It was no where in the dreams I had pondered in my heart. I had finally come to a place where I was comfortable and felt the courage to do more in ministry. I was surrounded by women who loved me. We were a team and I just couldn't do it without them.

Yet, as I imagined God's glory like that of the rose bush being more fully displayed, my heart settled into a place that felt very right. That day I knelt on Holy ground in front of my rose bush and surrendered the broken dreams in my heart. Even if it meant letting go of what I loved so deeply, it would be worth it if others would see HIM more clearly. Somehow I knew that with God's care, our vines would cross again in the Kingdom, and His beauty would be more gloriously seen in these new places where He was about to plant each of us.

News I Didn't Want
My mom came by after her routine physical to pick up the boys yesterday. As she was leaving she told me her doctor had scheduled a diagnotistic mammogram and referral to an oncologist after finding an "area" on the bone behind her left breast. She wouldn't call it a lump. We both pretended we wouldn't worry because there is nothing she can do about it.

My Mom had breast cancer 15 years ago. This is not news I was ready to hear. I felt numb after she left. I went upstairs and busied myself with emails by cleaning out my inbox with responses and deletions. Finally the emotions started to surface, my head started to pound and I shut down. I went numb. I couldn't think. I couldn't talk. I knew I needed to let someone know. I couldn't even pray but I knew others could, so I emailed Lysa and LeAnn about something work related. Then I snuck in the news toward the end by asking for prayers. I emailed the speaker team next and headed to Starbucks for a frappachino - hoping it might help my headache.

I called JJ on the way. As soon as I tried to tell him about mom I lost my breath. I couldn't speak, I couldn't even hold the phone. I just laid it in my lap and tried to breath and drive. I couldn't see through the teas in my eyes. Finally the words came out. He just listened. Said he was sorry and then told me he was headed home soon.

I didn't want him to come home. I felt a desparate need to be alone. To escape. To deny what was going on by not talking about it. It was my only method of prevention. If I was with a human, I would have to talk about how I was feeling. I would have to process my emotions and thoughts. And I didn't want to. I wanted to do that alone at home in my silent sanctuary. JJ offered to order pizza and take it to mom and the boys at her house.

When I got home with my frappachino, I sat on the back porch. My mind raced down different paths that might unfold in the days ahead. I looked at our large yard and tried to figure out where we could add on a room to the back of our house for mom. I decided if we didn't have enough time, she could stay in the study and we'd turn our dining room into her sewing room. She hadn't even been diagnosed with anything! What had sent me into such a planning frenzy? Is that my way of controlling or predicting the unknown? Does processing the possibilities help me to also process my fears.

I learned something about myself today. I felt guilty for wanting to be alone. I didn't want to talk to anyone, not even God. But now I realize that my emotions are held at bay if I don't talk with someone. I can mentally process fear, anger, doubt, confusion, etc.. But if I talk out loud to someone, my emotions are completely uncensored and surface like a tidal wave. By being alone, I could avoid dealing with it. And honestly, I don't see how I can deal with it right now.

I don't know what is ahead for mom, and I already have so much on my plate already. Something like this can consume me and paralyze me from doing the things I've already committed to. She Speaks is next weekend. We've worked on this for the past year. There is SO much planned. So much to do!!! And on top of it all, I feel so inadequate to be teaching the leadership message on Friday. All I can do is pray and I guess now I am ready to do that....

Remind me today Lord, that you do not call the qualified, you qualify the called. Give me the word you have already planned to bring good news to the impoverished places in these women's hearts, to set them free from expectations, programming, people pleasing and lead them to a place of delight, beauty and freedom. Use me Lord to help the blind to see, the captive to run free and the prisoners to be released from whatever keeps them from being the women you designed them to be!

Lord, I place this "area" and concern for my mom in Your hands. I cannot carry this. I cannot be consumed by it. I trust you and your timing. I seek Your peace and complete focus in the next week as we wait for her appointment after She Speaks. I know that you have already given me a full list of assignments and I will be faithful to do them one at a time and trust you for those that await me when She Speaks is done. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Climbing or Coasting?
It's Monday, the last Monday of school this year. The kids have been counting down. So have I, but for different reasons. They can't wait to stay up late, wake up early, play all day and be free from homework! I can't wait to go to bed earlier, get up later, and be free from homework histeria. But I am quite concerned about what we're going to do all day, every day!

I want this summer to be filled with life lessons and fun family memories like the one I had this weekend on a bike ride with Joshua, my twelve-year-old. We have this "mini-mountain" that leads out of our neighborhood. I decided we needed to conquer it on our bikes. It was great comic relief as I peddled up the incline. My bike was in 1st gear. I was peddling so fast, yet moving so slowly, that I looked (and felt) like I was on a stationary bike! I was happy to entertain those doing yardwork or driving home from soccer games. I saw a few grins.

I struggled up the long hill cheering myself on with a silly ryhme - "'Going up is a killer, but coming down will be a thriller!"

I thought about how sometimes climbing life's mountains is the killer. I used to believe the hardest part was walking at the bottom of the mountain, in the valley. But as I pondered some of my most trying times, I remembered that it was climbing to the next peak that was so hard. How often have I wanted to give up? It is often the new horizons and assignments that wear me out and convince me that I don't have what it takes to get to where God is leading me.

But like that bike ride, when I have stayed the course it has been worth the pain once I came to my new "peak." Celebrating the climb and the thrill of riding down is always the best part! I love letting go, lifting my legs and just coasting on the momentum of time and energy spent to get there. No effort, just enjoying what I worked hard for as I depended on God for His gain.

We rode down the hill and Joshua shouted, "Hey, let's do that again!"

"Forget it!" I thought. I wanted to ride on level ground, where only moderate effort would be required at least for a little while. The coasting never lasts as long as I want it to!

We ended up riding for another 2 hours. We made it all the way to a nearby Target to shop for a gift for Joshua's friend. We shared a soda and daudled around looking at cards and toys. Just being with Joshua was a treat. Lessons I learned about climbing and coasting were just an added bonus!

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