Another Esther: Lydia Lee

Meet Lydia Lee, the first “Another Esther” in my new series on people – men, women, children – who step out boldly in their faith for such a time as this.

picture from guest post by Lydia at Emily Wierenga's blog<br />http://www.emilywierenga.com/2013/03/a-dare-to-love-yourself-11-year-old.html

Lydia Lee

Eleven year old Iowa-farm-living-and-God-loving Lydia Lee blogs at “Out of the Ordinary”  and kindly agreed to answer my questions about her bold walk with Christ. So I pray you welcome her, as our first in the series, “Another Esther.”

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We Are The Esthers: Who has been your biggest influence to your faith journey? What is the best thing he or she has done to you?

Lydia: God is definitely my biggest influence to my faith journey, but aside from him, I would say my family is the biggest. They have always supported my ideas and dreams of things I could do to help others, and therefore help God. They never turn these ideas and dreams down. They brought our family to Haiti in January, and that was when God became REAL to me. My family has always encouraged me during my faith journey. If I ever have doubts or worries, they help me to overcome these things.

WATE:  Your blog is called “Out of the Ordinary.” Can you tell those who don’t know what living “out of the ordinary” means? And when did you first know you were living “out of the ordinary?”

Lydia: Living “out of the ordinary” means you are living a life that is.. well, out of the ordinary. You are living a “not-so-average-life”. It means you are living a life for God, following His will for you. He wants us to love the least of these, wherever that may be. I have always wanted to live an Out of the Ordinary life, but I think in early 2010, when an earthquake struck Haiti, I really wanted to do something. One night in Haiti, my mom and I were sitting on a step at the house, throwing stones into the ocean, and I said to her, “I don’t want to live an average life.” And that was when I decided that I wanted to live an Out of the Ordinary life.

WATE: What has been one of your biggest challenges in living a life for Christ? What have you most enjoyed?

Lydia: Sometimes living a life for Christ is hard because most of my friends haven’t seen what I’ve seen during my trip to Haiti. Some of them aren’t as close to God as I am. Don’t get me wrong; I love my friends, but sometimes they just don’t understand. I love living a life for Christ because I grow closer to him doing it. Because of Jesus, I get the chance to touch other people’s lives. And I believe that living a life for Christ is what we were put on this Earth to do.

WATE: Many adults and even children might say that you are mature beyond your years. Can you speak to that? I feel that has something to do with your own calling for “a time such as this.”

Lydia: Sometimes, my writing makes me sound mature. My mom’s friend Sandy calls me an “old soul.” But I’m still a kid. I shove too many Oreos into my mouth. I fight with my sister over the iPad. Stuff like that. But I know God can use anyone, even a child at “times such as this.” I think it’s amazing that God put me on this earth for a “time such as this” because he knows what I am going to do through him, and he has plans for me. And for you.

WATE: Finally, I know firsthand that many children, teenagers, and even adults, feel intimidated about being bold in their faith, like Esther was, like you are. Are there any words you could give those who yearn to step out in faith and “be an Esther” but are too afraid or intimidated to try?

Lydia: If you feel too intimidated to step out in faith, ask yourself this: What is the worst thing that could happen? I’ve stepped out in my faith by starting a blog that I wasn’t sure about at first. But now I’m really glad I did it. If you do step out in your faith, I guarantee that you won’t regret it!

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It is no coincidence that one of Miss Lydia Lee’s favorite books in the Bible is that of Esther.

Lydia is, as you can see, “Another Esther” boldly stepping out in faith.

We find ourselves called upon by God to shine Christ’s light in the darkest of places. As someone who has followed Lydia’s journey to and from Haiti and watched her heart blossom for Jesus, it is clear that this is no ordinary girl. She is rising up to the call to share the love of Christ.

And I can think of no better person to start out our “Another Esther” series than an 11 year old girl proving that you can never be too young (or too old) to love and serve God boldly and with all of your heart.

I pray you’ve been blessed by Lydia’s sharing and will visit her blog “Out of the Ordinary” (link in title as well as on my sidebar).

Blessings to you this day.

On knees, head low, arms high…

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If you walk boldly in your faith and would like to share your story in this series, please feel free to contact me via email at:

Esther_FourFourteen@yahoo.com

 

* picture of Lydia Lee taken from her guest post on Emily Wierenga’s blog: http://www.emilywierenga.com/2013/03/a-dare-to-love-yourself-11-year-old.html

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When Soap Operas Compete with Jesus: a Treatise on Love

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You

I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet
Then tell me

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”

Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain

And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep

He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding

Love’s definition, love’s definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree
I began to weep and weep and weep and weep

This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is

And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love
He said to me:

“You shall love Me, You shall love Me
You shall love Me, You shall love Me”

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me
And You’ll come alive when you learn to die

What was or is your definition of love? Mine was defined by watching four soap operas every day between the ages of 9 and 16.

I don’t recommend that.

Not only because that much television is bad for the eyes and the brain, but for reasons far more dire than that:

because it can ruin love for a lifetime.

It almost ruined love for me.

Luckily, Jesus came and pulled me out and promised me a new life. He wasn’t going to wipe out my past transgressions, though.

I used to believe that “true love” meant having a soul mate, meant passion 24/7, meant love not accountable nor responsible.

Love was supposed to be fun and exciting all the time and did not require work.

As the song above, written by Misty Edwards, says, I thought love was for the “beautiful and the lucky.”

And Felicia and Frisco from “General Hospital” were, indeed, beautiful and lucky. Their love story spurned many daydreams about my soul mate coming to one day rescue me.

Real love is not about running off impulsively to the nearest wooded area to passionately make love. It’s not about being trapped on an island and, through a variety of coincidences too hard to believe, the man you’ve always loved hops on a boat and speeds to your rescue. Real love is not only for the externally beautiful and thin.

Though I had a fictitious and, frankly, dangerous view of love for my entire life, when I came to Jesus, I had no idea what hit me.

Such a love was unfathomable.

There I was, at my lowliest, dirty with sin and betrayal. At my complete worst. And God looked at me and saw something worth saving. He saw beauty, He saw worth. He saw the woman He created but who I had discarded long ago.

Once accepting Christ’s love in that moment of being saved, literally, I realized that God’s love is full of accountability and responsibility. I knew this would be hard for me to understand because my kind of love had neither of those things. I was impulsive and ruled by my hormones.

God taught me that His love is based on forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

I didn’t need to be anyone I wasn’t, do anything I shouldn’t. I didn’t need to dress up or dress down. I didn’t need to put make up on; on the contrary.

God wanted to make me up.

And while God prunes me, I grapple with my old view of love and how that almost destroyed my ability to love my own husband the way God calls me to.

I grapple with feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and failure.

I grapple with hurting my husband with distance and disinterest.

I realize, though, that it is because of fear.

I thought this emptiness meant something was wrong with me. What if I was in some kind of debilitating depression? I had been before, Lord knows, so what if something was askew in my brain chemicals?

No, I know what true depression feels like. And this emptiness didn’t feel like depression. It brought on discouragement, but I was not without hope. Which meant this was not depression.

What I think is happening is God has emptied me out in order to fill me up.

I have prayed and prayed to truly understand God’s love for me. Why and how He sacrificed for me, such a horrible sinner.

Why on earth did God choose that moment in time, when I was at my worst, on the floor in tears and covered in the mud of sin; why did God choose that moment in time, after 31 years, to open my eyes?

That, in itself, is love.

And my husband was a key player to that door being opened.

Because somehow, in the midst of immense pain, he opened his heart enough to feel God’s pull, to feel God’s urging to tell me about Him.

What does love look like? Love looks like sacrifice. Not just Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – though that is the ultimate act of love – but my own husband’s love for me despite all that I had done.

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Today I spent the morning and early afternoon at a beautiful cafe tucked in the woods.

Cafe in the woods

I listened to Misty Edwards’ music for the first time and my heart poured open like a geyser.

I got it. I felt it. I understood how turned-around my heart has been all this time and how I need to reorient it towards Christ and fill my needs up with Christ and look to Christ for validation and acknowledgement.

And how, once filled with Christ’s love, I can better love my husband.

Because he is home, waiting. He is home, hurting, feeling my distance and pain. He feels lonely and discouraged.

And now I must dash off, leave these wooded arms, and go home to 3D Man and hold him tightly, reassure him of my love, now that I have a glimmer of what love is.

This felt like an earth-shattering day, but all I did was open my heart to feel what God had been pouring down on me since the beginning of time.

I read some books, looked at some blogs, listened to a lot of music, scribbled down a poem-of-sorts, and wrote in my journal.

But the most important thing I did was open my heart to feel God.

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I was trapped on an island. Jesus hopped on a boat and came to my rescue. Only Jesus is my Savior. Only Jesus is my One and Only.

“And You can love me more in a moment

than other lovers could in a lifetime.”

~ Steffany Frizzell in “The More I Seek You + Spontaneous”

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1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

On knees, head low, arms high…

On Starting the Beginning in the Middle: a Welcome!

On Starting the Beginning in the Middle: a Welcome!

When I became a Christian a little over two years ago, being a writer I, of course, started a blog. That blog chronicled all my questions and ruminations about the new faith and love that God had placed on my heart.

As my faith matured so did my desire to change my blog. Thus, We Are The Esthers was born.

What does that mean? Well, many things.

My aim in this blog is to talk about how everything relates back to faith: parenting, marriage, our life’s calling, emotional well-being; every decision we make in life comes back to the faith we do or do not have in God.

I lived approximately thirty years not believing in God, being an “ignorant God-liker,” as I say. I liked the idea of God, but I never realized the commitment, accountability, and bravery it took to become a Christian. I knew what that life of “not believing” felt like and the struggles it brought me.

Now that I believe, I don’t find that my life has any less struggle, but I find a peace and comfort I could never imagine. And, yes, I do believe everything circles back to our belief – or unbelief – in God.

The Biblical heroine, Esther, was a nobody who rose to be quite a somebody.

I think God specifically chooses those types of people to glorify Him.

I believe we are all Esthers – women and men: called to rise up from our everyday ordinariness and claim who we are in Christ: someone extraordinary. Someone loved, someone cherished.

Someone Jesus Christ gave his life for. Yes, friend, He gave His life for you.

Right here. Right now. Jesus calls you to do something big.

Now before you get all nervous and intimidated, you should know that words like “big” mean something entirely different to our God. God sees you give that homeless man a bottled water and that is “big.” God sees you bandage up your child’s cut elbow and that is “big.” God sees you go to that job you need but might not love at this moment and that is “big.”

Esther probably didn’t know that she’d save the lives of an entire race.

Whether you change the life of the one child entrusted into your care or whether you work out on the missionary field and spread the Gospel to hundreds, even thousands – it’s all “big” to God.

Right here. Right now. For such a time as this.

I love that phrase, for such a time as this. It comes from Esther 4:14 and speaks to Mordecai telling his niece that perhaps she was called to royalty right here, right now – to save all God’s people.

Can you imagine what Esther must have felt?

But God carried her through all those nerve-wracking, crying-out-why-me feelings. He walked with her as she approached the king. God carried her all the way and led God’s people to victory.

So, too, will God carry you if you walk those brave steps toward tomorrow which is the “such a time as this” place.

We are needed, you and I. As children, as parents, as friends, as spouses and co-workers. We are needed right here and right now.

Because you just never know what kind of “this” a time will be.

You bless me with your presence here today. Won’t you return often and converse with me? I yearn to be a beacon of the light Jesus has placed in my heart.

I love the broken because I am broken, too. I love the needy because I am needy, too.

And I am called to reach out to those who hurt and hold them with my words and my prayers. Won’t you let me do that for you? And I am not above accepting words and prayers, even questions and challenges, from you, as well.

I will also be starting different series about certain things dear to my heart.  For instance, I hope to share my struggles with parenting (particularly stepparenting) as well as my emotional struggles – all in hopes of connecting with any up-and-coming-Esthers or Already-Esthers who might need some encouragement or a listening ear. I also hope to spotlight some pretty amazing Esthers I know in my real-life and online.

I look forward to getting to know you better.

On knees, head low, arms high…