Archive for the 'Friends' Category

06
Mar
17

Middle of Life Grown Up Lessons

soil and plant

I think I might almost be a grown up.  At least, I’m heading that way. I’m 45 years old, and some might think that it’s about time. But, for me, it’s been a process. And I absolutely love it, and sometimes I hate it. It’s hard, and it’s messy. But I love that I’m here, and I love that I’m learning things about myself that maybe I, personally, would not have been able to learn in my twenties. Some of my growth required time and experiences that I wasn’t looking for earlier, and some lessons I actually didn’t even know existed until now.

I get excited when I get to share what I’ve learned and what I’m learning, because, honestly, growth is not really an age thing. We’ve all seen younger people who seem to be wise beyond their years, and we’ve also seen older people who are still demanding their own way and who act like three year olds in old people bodies…it’s not pretty, but it’s a real thing. So I think growth and grown up-hood is not only a thing of grace, but it also has to do with our openness to receiving the gifts given to us. It’s having eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart that’s open to new possibilities.

Lesson #1:  We all have core value because we are made in the image of God…we are God’s image bearers. That’s incredible. However, we all have core hurts that some of us live out of. And after continually walking in those core hurts, it’s hard to know and feel our own core value and virtually impossible to see other people’s value if we can’t even see our own. We are valuable, and we are worth it.

Lesson #2:  Feelings are not bad. In fact, they are helpful in how we figure out why we do the things we do. We have to be able to feel and to realize what we’re feeling, and only then, can we move towards healing and growth.

Lesson #3:  In order to know and love others well, we have to know ourselves. We have to be compassionate with ourselves before we can be compassionate with others. Jesus said, “Love God; love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Lesson #4:  Boundaries are vital. Everyone has a “yard,” and we get to decide who comes in and out of our yards.  While boundaries don’t initially make things easier, they make things healthier, and eventually, things do get easier with use.

Lesson #5:  We all have a voice. And finding and using our voice is important.  We have to be able to use it for ourselves before we are able to use it for others.

Lessons #6:  We are all unique individuals who have different gifts, and when we grace people with our particular gift, those around us are enriched and encouraged. No one’s gift is better than anyone else’s, so we don’t have to compete and compare.

Lesson #7:  I no longer have to put people in boxes labeled: good box and bad box. If I am establishing appropriate boundaries (Lesson 4) and seeing other people’s core value (Lesson 1), then I no longer have to make people the bad guy and me the good guy. People are just people.

Lesson #8:  You only know what you know. This seems like a very obvious kind of statement. But if we really believe that about ourselves and others, we can begin to not only show people grace, but we can cut ourselves some slack, as well.

Lesson #9:  You are not alone. We are all in this together.  Your story may have different details than mine, but our stories are connected. We don’t have to do this alone.

Lessons #10:  Life is hard. It just is. There is always going to be stuff that we would rather not go through. But as I get older, I ask myself, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” I want to look for the beauty in everything, but especially in the struggle.

Lesson #11:  Everything is connected. If you start looking for the connections, you start seeing them everywhere.

Lesson #12:  “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am” is not just a nice principle or a cute Bible verse, it’s a real, life-giving mystery. And that’s the “following Jesus” kind of church that anyone anywhere can be a part of.

Lesson #13:  Questions are good. I have a couple friends who ask questions well, and I’m learning from them. If we’re willing to ask, there will always be someone there to answer.

Lesson #14:  Things are not happening to me; they are happening for me. When hard things come my way, instead of asking “Why me?” I now ask “How do I get to grow up in this?” If I look at the world through this lens, I no longer have to be a victim. It’s the difference between knowing that God is for me, not against me.

Lesson #15:  I absolutely have to have solitude and silence and wide open spaces. I cannot breathe well without these.

I don’t usually do lists, but I thought this might be a not-so-Kim-kind-of-way to look at how I’m becoming a grown up. A lot of these lessons overlap because everything is connected, of course (Lesson 11). These lessons have not been easy, and I hope to share stories in future blogs about how these lessons came to be.

For some of these lessons, I’m at the very beginning, while others I’m somewhere in the middle, and other lessons have been long and hard, and I’ve had to endure way more than I cared to. But I have a good Friend who has walked beside me and continues to walk with me on this amazing journey. And I’m grateful for the lessons He’s teaching me on a daily basis and for the friends He’s given to walk with me along the way.

05
Sep
13

no more dirty laundry

In one of my latest posts, I shared how God used our broken washing machine to get my attention off of myself and onto people who had to do their laundry and pay crazy kind of prices in some of the laundromats. (where do I even start?)

I absolutely refused to use the laundromat, but I still had dirty clothes to wash. And we were kind of getting desperate in the underwear department. So a few days later, I drove to my in-laws and did my laundry at their house, grateful that I had this option. Not having a washer was inconvenient, but we could make do and wait until God provided another one. In the meantime, we would wear our dirty clothes a little longer, and I could continue to use my in-laws’ washer when we needed to. I didn’t know how or when God would show up in this, but I knew He would. We’ve seen Him provide again and again the things that we need. And, really, in terms of the whole rest of the world, whether or not we had a washer that worked was very small.

The day after I washed clothes at my in-law’s house, we went on a camping trip with some friends. As we got to the campsite, my brother-in-law Josh called Jeff to let him know that he had just dropped off a washer and dryer in our car port. We had no idea that this was even a possibility. God had once again provided for us. And so soon….

But the craziest thing to me was how God provided this time. We originally thought that someone was just upgrading their washer and dryer (Jeff and I don’t live in the world where you upgrade something before it breaks. :)) But we found out that the man who owned the washer and dryer got back together with his wife, and they both had washers and dryers and didn’t need two sets now, so the husband gave his set away to my brother-in-law. We were in need of a washer and had not even thought about a dryer. But, by no coincidence of course, the heating element in the dryer we owned was worn out. I hang our laundry outdoors most of the time, but it’s nice to have a dryer that actually works when it rains.

God gets the glory for this couple’s reconciliation and for providing our new washer and dryer. And we get to praise Him for the abundant blessing of it all.

22
Aug
13

where do I even start?

Where do I even start? That’s what I feel like when I write this…it’s been so long, and God has been doing so much that I don’t even know where to begin.  So I’m going to begin with Him. He is good. I know this goodness; I’ve tasted it, felt it, experienced, clung to it. And because of His goodness and knowing His goodness toward me, I started spending more time looking up and looking out.

I’m finally realizing there is no system for this. There are no ten steps to finding God (which is good because by step 3 I’m bored and overwhelmed anyway). But I think this is good for everyone, because there is nothing anyone else can put on you or put on me that ends up becoming a burden and not the easy yoke that Jesus intended.

But as far as “how to” seek Jesus and His kingdom and His righteousness, I know it’s happening for me right now, but the way it happens for me may not be the same way it happens for the people around me. I really thought I knew, but I just don’t. Which is good because when I thought I knew, pride settled in and took over.  I know for me He used a camping trip and someone listening to my long story and openness to Him, but I don’t have the answers, and I’m finding He uses different things to open other people’s hearts.

Not long ago, I came across a passage that pretty much said, Love instead of talking about what you know;  and if you think you know stuff, you don’t have a clue yet; and God really knows who loves Him. (my paraphrase, of course).

I know there is openness and yielding and surrender and waiting and leaning in and repentance and belief and laying down your life and “help me” prayers or whatever other words and ideas begin to open our hearts up to a big God, but I don’t believe this is a scavenger hunt to try to find God. He is there, and I don’t have to make it into a ten step program to get Him to pay attention to me. When I do this, when I make knowing God about a “how to” lesson for me and for those around me, the program, the agenda, the formulas always seem to take over, and I seem to lose the very thing I was after. And many times it seems God is nowhere to be seen in all the organization and practicality and boring-ness of it all. And I’m beginning to start to think that God just isn’t all that practical.  I’m not saying God is not a God of order; I know He is; it’s just not my order, and I don’t get to determine the outcome. And He began to show me that I really wanted to be in control, which is really quite laughable.

So this is my story…my finding Jesus or Him finding me in the midst of all of my junk and my self-righteousness and even my formulas for finding God that didn’t work. It’s just a story, not a prescription or a recipe…

In my early thirties, I struggled to know God, only to see small glimpses of Him here and there. I began to taste grace and freedom, but I didn’t seem to pay attention for very long. I knew He was good; I knew He was God. But in the last year, I feel like I’ve been taken hold of by the Master of the universe, and I now know that He will never, ever let me go. And in Him taking hold of me and me surrendering myself to Him (becoming His slave), that’s where I’ve found freedom.

God began by tearing away some of the doubts and the lies I had believed about Him, about myself, about people, and about my marriage (Marriage: Being All In) that I had allowed to seep in over the years. I began being in community with other people and began to really hunger for God which I believe He gave me, and little by little I began to submit to God and the things He wanted for me. Even though these were such tiny, tiny baby steps, I struggled immensely with letting go of what I thought I wanted and allowing myself to fall into Him.

God also began speaking to me through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. I had a thirst for His Word and for Him that was almost unquenchable.  Some of the words that I couldn’t get out of my head that began to reach down and take hold of my heart were:   Stop saying you love people and do something about it. (my paraphrase again) So what in the world does that look like? What does it mean to truly love God and love my neighbor? Because loving my neighbor is loving God. The two go hand in hand.

So, one of the first things He worked on me about was gentleness. And the hardest place for this mom to be gentle? My own home. “Be gentle” showed up everywhere I looked for months. I realized I was powerless to do this in my strength, so what did it look like to do it in His strength? Honestly, I’m not really even sure. It took months for Him to make it go from my head and sink into my heart and gradually I noticed “gentleness” began to really be a part of every day.

Even after God’s gentle treatment of me, I started to think that I knew something or at least more than other people did. So, I got this whole self-righteous thing going on, and it manifested itself in bragging about reading the Bible and pushing other people to do the same. What is it about us humans that want to take the good things we are learning and shove them in other people’s faces? We want to be the “haves” and show the “have-nots” that they don’t understand God’s grace and love. Which again is just laughable, not to mention ironic. But God is good, and He opened my eyes to my sin, and I was able to repent and ask forgiveness from one friend who had taken the brunt of my holier-than-thou attitude.

During that time, God took away every source that I had to lean on, and I learned to really lean into and depend upon Him; I took everything to Him. I had no one else to take stuff to, but I realized in my frantic journaling/praying that He alone could take my stuff and give me peace in the midst of whatever I struggled with at the time. Sometimes my anxiety or anger still threatens to overwhelm me, and giving those things to Him sometimes takes longer than I think I have, but I continue to sit until I am able to walk away in peace knowing that He will take care of my heart much better than I can take care of it myself.

I’ve begun to be thankful for everything, even the things that don’t look so great because I now realize that difficulties are the opportunities to really grow and lean heavily into God more and more. This is no big deal, but our washer broke a few weeks back, and I had been putting off going to the laundromat for weeks. I finally loaded a few basket loads of dirty laundry in the back of the van early the other morning and drove there. I haven’t done laundry in one of those places for close to 20 years, so I was stunned to walk in and see that to use the largest washer cost 9 dollars, and that price did not include hot water!  I couldn’t do it. To use even the very smallest washer was over 3 dollars, and that would have washed about ten items on cold. I walked out. As I got home, my heart did a turnaround, and I realized that this washer dilemma was no longer about me, because God showed me that this is what the poor have to do all the time. They have to go to the laundromat and pay, what I think are, exorbitant prices to just be able to have clean clothes. I got angry, and then I started crying for them. Over laundry. Yep, that’s what God used this time to get my focus off myself and my own dirty laundry.

So that very morning, the washer opportunity led Jeff and me into a discussion about boldness and what it looked like to love our neighbor. So we began to pray for boldness, and three hours later we were driving near our home in north Nashville trying to see if we could help our most recent flood victims. God showed us the needs and directed our paths in a neighborhood that I would have formerly driven through with my doors locked. A day later, our family was able to go back and help these families. The physical part of the job we did was important, but the spiritual aspect of encouraging people who had just lost everything and praying holding hands in circles in their front yards is kingdom stuff. And this is what God does. He takes my shock, my outrage at the poor being taken advantage of, and He uses this to get me off my couch and out of my comfort zone for one moment. And things happen, and my eyes open to His love, His crazy kind of love for me and for all people, and that makes me want to shout for joy and thank Him forever.

I realize more and more that everything God does is for our good and His glory. And, some days, that’s all I’ve got. But it’s enough.

This I know: God is for me. (Psalm 56:9)

12
Jan
13

Who’s Willing to Carry You?

In Mark 2, Jesus taught at someone’s house, and the house was so packed with people that no one else could squeeze in to hear what Jesus was saying. Even the doorway was crowded with people. But there were four men that day on a mission. They knew they had to get their paralytic friend to Jesus because their friend needed what Jesus had. And so, these men figured out what they had to do in order to get this dependent, needy person to Jesus for healing, body and soul.

But it struck me, that there had to be four people who were not just willing to carry this man to Jesus, but people who cared enough about him not to be deterred in their mission and who also came up with a plan to get him in when it looked impossible. They could have gotten to the door of the house, realized there wasn’t any more room, especially room enough for a person lying on a stretcher, turned around and made their way back home. But they didn’t. They took the roof off of the house and lowered him down to Jesus. They did what it took. And seeing their faith, Jesus forgave the paralytic man’s sins, and then He healed his body. This man was healed because of their faith, their persistence, their love. They were willing to carry their friend to Jesus.

And the question I ask myself– Are there people willing to carry me? Are there people willing to carry you? I’ m not talking about family here. I’m talking about the people we’re in community with. That means that we have to allow people into our lives so that they can see our needs, and we also have to be willing to let these people help. This means putting away our independent, self-sufficient attitude and pride and allowing ourselves in humility to be loved, to be helped.

The paralytic’s problem was obvious. His friends knew what He needed. But do the people around me know what I need? Do yours know what you need? It’s hard asking for help when pride and fear of rejection get in the way, when we’re so afraid we might inconvenience someone, or that they might not want to really help but feel that they have to out of obligation or duty. It also means we have to reveal ourselves and open ourselves up to the people around us and identify our struggles. We have to admit weakness. And in doing that, we’re admitting that we don’t have it figured out.

The flip question can also be asked. Am I willing to carry others? Once again, this means that I have to be in community with people. I have to be close enough to see people’s needs and be involved in their lives. Not only so that I can know what the needs are, but also so that those people could feel the freedom to ask. I don’t know if the paralytic man asked his friends to take him to Jesus or if these men volunteered, but  Jesus recognized their faith and healed their friend.

In carrying their friend to Jesus, these men demonstrated sacrificial love. They bore his burden. We all need community that can help carry us to Jesus at times…to bear our burdens; we need those people to show up and love us the way Jesus would, not just in word or speech but in truth and action. (I John)

14
Dec
12

Walking With People Toward Jesus

And He began to send them out two by two… So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. (Mark 6)

This is what Jeff and I are called to do. We are being sent out to walk with people towards Jesus. We are doing discipleship with people, showing them how to repent and believe, urging them to listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling them they need to repent of and what He is telling them to do about it (not in a legalistic kind of way, but rather Holy Spirit-led, growth kind of way).  And this is done only in the context of community.

God has put us in community with other believers who are seeking Him. This happened almost overnight. He called us to take small steps, and we simply had to listen and obey. This was not easy. It felt like there was much opposition; there was fear and doubt and insecurity on my part, but we obeyed and put one foot in front of the other. And God is flinging His kingdom wide open here in Nashville. We are letting our light shine so that people will glorify God and the great things He has done in us and through us.

In the eight weeks since our community started, we have seen God’s Spirit break in, and there is life. Beautiful, abundant life. The people in our community are starting to really love each other, not just in word but also in action. And Jeff and I are committed to walk the journey out with these believers.

And this is just the beginning. God has put in our hearts to start these small communities of 20-50 people all over Nashville. One of the guys Jeff is doing discipleship with already wants to start one on his side of town. We are excited to be a part of God’s kingdom here in Nashville…we are simply blooming where we have been planted.

The word for what can happen in our culture with these small communities, focused on Jesus, loving each other and caring for one another, is virus. If people get a whiff of the life that happens when surrender occurs, following Jesus with other believers in these small communities could go viral here in our cities, states, country. This is the way it’s already happening all over the world. I’m humbled and grateful that He has called me to give my life for this.

He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.  (Mark 6)

Jeff and I are called to put on our walking shoes, take our walking stick and put on our jacket. But how does this translate in our culture? How do we “earn” a living doing this?

Simply put, God’s provision. The expectation is 100 percent on Him to show up to provide for our family’s needs. However, He uses His people to share their resources with those who are ministering, and as Paul urged the Philippians, he said it was to their benefit to share in the work of the ministry. I’m excited to see how God does this. Because this is not done out of duty or obligation but the Holy Spirit working and His people listening.

Our family is called to this. And everything else is a distraction. I feel an urgency to share our journey with others and see others grow up in Him. I am very much in process, but I know this–that Jesus and His kingdom are worth giving my life for.

Please pray that we would continue to stay grounded in God and the things of God, that we would have listening ears and receptive hearts, and that our community and the others that are started would bring glory to Him. And consider being a part of what God is calling us to do. We’d love to hear from you.

For the love of Christ compels us…that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor 5)

Jeff and Kim Darnell, 1045 Fontaine Drive, Goodlettsville, TN 37072

lovegracepeace@gmail.com

03
Dec
12

overflowing

I cannot believe where God has brought me. I cannot believe He’s using me. I don’t bring gifts and talents to the table. I don’t sing, lead, counsel, yet in my weakness He’s strong. I’m humbled and beyond grateful that God IS. And I just can’t even fathom this at times. In my wildest dreams, I had no idea that this, this community life centered solely on Jesus is what it’s all about. I mean, people say these words, but I’ve never really seen it walked out.

All around me, every day I see His kingdom breaking open and shaking loose. It’s beyond exciting. Last night at midnight after spending the entire day with people who desire Him and are seeking Him, I had this crazy desire to gallop around my yard shouting praise to His name. I’m serious.  But I imagined myself twisting an ankle in the dark, so I settled for the three hours of sleep I got and awoke to think and pray and laugh and sigh and cry and hardly contain myself over the things, kingdom things, that are happening in front of my very eyes.

As a former teacher of fourth and fifth grade students, many times I watched the light bulb click on in some of my students’ eyes as they grasped what a verb was or learned how to do long division. But this, this is way better than long division or English. This is a shot of pure joy to watch people in my community latch on to Jesus and not because of anything I did or said. It’s Him; it’s all Him. He is doing this work in us and through us. And I’m able to share in this…His kingdom stuff, and I’m overjoyed. If words could jump off the page in praise and joy, my own would be flying at every person reading this.

Jesus is real. And as we lay our stuff down in front of each other and ask for prayer and seek a Father who loves and understands us, I see some beginning to hold hands open to the things He has, and words cannot describe this. I’m beginning to see why His disciples laid down their lives for Him. Unspeakable, indescribable joy to be His.

I’ve never really been driven to do stuff, like have a career. I enjoyed teaching, but it wasn’t like it was my purpose in life. Teaching was available, so I just kind of fell into it. I enjoyed my students. But if you asked me what my dreams were, I couldn’t really answer that. I knew I wanted to have a family which is a calling in itself and one of the most important things,  but I didn’t have other dreams, as such.

And it’s God’s kindness that after 41 years, I realize I am walking in exactly what God has called me to with my family and also with other people. And I cannot even express the utter peace and joy and overwhelming desire I have to walk with others toward Jesus. This is it. This is my calling, to walk this out with Jeff, with my children, with women, with families.

Jesus said, come and die. I get it…following Him is worth my one wild and crazy life.

Do you feel the darkness tremble
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokenness

And here we see that, God, You’re moving
A time of jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide, you heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

-Matt Redman

14
Nov
12

act two: on the other side of this wild ride

Last year, my story was the age-old story of walking around and around the wilderness, like the children of Israel, bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t leave but trying my best to get out, sort of.  I couldn’t stop wallowing around in my own brokenness and believing the lie that Jesus wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t release the idols that I had begun to think were part of me. And I was thirsty but refused to come to the well. And then, I couldn’t even find it anymore and complained that it had been moved. I felt numb and unable to pray or really even care.

But, enough with the clichés about where I was…

This is act two of my continuing story, and this is the story of freedom and grace. This is a story of the love of God and His marvelous work. This is a story of being set free.

I can’t tell exactly when this happened.  I can’t give a prescribed treatment of how this all started or how to get here. It’s not like I did something. I certainly didn’t earn my way here.  It’s God who led me back to the well. And I can’t get enough. I think God just started breaking me apart little by little. And because of His great love, I slowly began to lean in again.

I’ve been in this spot before. I’ve tasted His goodness. I’ve had my hands open to what He has. But this time, I realized I had people to lean in with. And I think that’s what made the difference. I have this little bitty community covenanting with me to love and good works. Other believers are so very, very important to what we our called to do. We need each other so desperately in the Body of Christ, and yet we don’t act like we do. We’re called to encourage each other daily so that we won’t succumb to the enemy’s lies and sin’s hardness. And as long as I’m grounded in the things of God, others can lean in too, because He cannot be shaken.

For we have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith. (Hebrews 4:2)

So, the  isolation that I assigned and resigned myself to for the last year was not a God-thing. It was my own selfishness, refusing to reach to God and to others for help. I was the one who was needy and struggling, and I was disobedient  and threw a whopping big pity party. I believed the lies. But, I believe, everything can be redeemed.

A month ago, I got on my face, and I repented of my sin of isolation and lack of trust. I trust God, and I’m in process of letting go of everything but Him. It’s uncomfortable at times, but He is making all things new and absolutely beautiful. I’m so thankful for this God, my Abba,  who loves me this much to draw me back  to Himself and to His people.

Go in peace to love and to serve…And take to the world this love, this hope and faith; Take to the world this rare, relentless grace; Go, and go far; Take light deep in the dark; Believe what’s true; He uses all, even you. May the bread on your tongue Leave a trail of crumbs To lead the hungry back to the place that you are from.  -Derek Webb

But we can’t give away what we don’t even possess. So, I’m here. Ready to receive once again from His hands what He has…no matter what. It’s His burden, His yoke, and I’m having the time of my life walking in that, but this time I’m not walking this thing out alone…welcome to act 2.




time flies

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