Season of Plenty

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Dive into my prior writings and you will find many pieces involving seasons. You could say I’m a big fan of them. How Fall leaves pile up until they crackle beneath snow boots. The way the chill of Winter, gives way to the blooms of spring and then how that growth becomes the wonder of Summer fun, with a few less responsibilities than the rest of the year.

But my Favorite season is Autumn. Its’ changing colors and the smell of festivals and elephant ears that hits my nose when I finally am able to open the sliding glass door because humidity is gone… well, almost gone (This is Florida, after all). Pumpkin is the main ingredient in every dish and my Ikea scarf hanger moves forefront in my wardrobe, begging for me to take the first pic involving the warm colors that fit the season. My Autumn Pinterest board IS the biggest one of all and every latte is made “hot” because whether the temperature calls for it or not, I’m choosing to believe it will soon be football game weather.

And we’re almost there. School has begun. Not that it affects my life that much currently but it is a signal… it says, ready yourself for your favorite season of all. And to that I say, bring it on! My brown knee high boots are nearing the front door as I write…

As I’ve related them in the past, I want to talk about seasons of our lives as well as the changing of our weather. Jesus has placed on my heart, and basically consumed my thoughts, with the idea that Autumn has long been considered a season of harvest… of plenty.

A farmer, which I only understand by way of the 1 acre garden my family planted, and that I was forced to weed, in my teen years. And also possibly because of the many evenings spent reading Little House on the Prairie as a child. Although this does not qualify me an expert, in this post it is a frame of reference for my knowing acknowledgment to the importance of harvest time to the farmer.

He researches his soil, tills his land, sows the right seed, waters the ground religiously, weeds out his crop with the best of them, and then reaps the reward of harvest in due season. Some years that harvest is slim… and others it is plenty. Those profitable years are worth it all and I can imagine him as he lifts his weary head to the clouds that define the heavens, the dust from his brow falling to the earth beneath him, and I can see him praising the Creator of his land and labor for the bountiful provision of that season.

Well, for Sheldon and me, this is a season of plenty.

Those who know our current lifestyle, may be squinting one eye right now to see if they read that sentence correctly. No, we have not found sudden earthly wealth, and no, this next round of anything is not on us… grin. We are working hard, yes. We are learning to budget as a married couple, yes. And we may have just reached the season (over the Summertime), where we finally can say that our bills are being paid on time, as they should be (Can I hear the crowd go wild?!!!).

But “plenty” as defined by Websters Dictionary is not only…

“A large number or amount”

but also…

“The state of having enough of the things that make life good and easy”

and

“the quality or state of being copious”

Hence this post.

We have entered a season, only recently I admit, to where we are feeling ABUNDANTLY blessed. And I’ve decided to write about it. I hope you do not take it as a rub in the face if this is not your current season, because believe me… this is the first time in a very long while, that I have been able to type these words and mean it. I can truly understand where you are if you are not here.

But I must give praise for plenty, if I’m to feel at all okay with my distraught posts about our times of drought.

Plenty for us right now looks like…

1. Our growing in love marriage. We fight y’all… the word “argue” just doesn’t cover it when including my hard head in the match. But still, our decision to put eachother’s needs first continues to become more of a priority than the day before and honestly, I just find my husband sexier and more amazing all the time. It took us both a long time to get together on this planet and now we are doing what we can with every second that God’s gifted us.

2. Deciding that what we have is enough. Even if we only settle into this satisfaction temporarily because we’re human and have to fight the flesh. Right now. Contentment in what we have is here. And we are ever so grateful for our shoebox of a home and our moderately filled cupboards.

3. Our faith in God to provide. I’d be lying if I said this is not a struggle, but even the struggle has made us so much happier in His provision. Trust and faith have lifted us up in this season. And many prayers have been prayed.

4. This time of community. Many years have passed since I’ve known community as I do right now. Are we all committed, all of the time. Nope, but we’re grace filled. I see grace in the community Papa has granted us with in this season. Friendships and family relationships that far out way the fancy ones. Dependable, prayerful… and so much fun! We feel beyond blessed.

5. A church that serves. A little bit ago, I mentioned to Sheldon that I could see myself raising kids in the church family we’re a part of now. That’s a huge victory for me! Liberty Church North Campus has been redemption for the American church in my mind and our lives over the last few years. It’s been since I was a child that my family was able to stay in one church for longer than one season of their lives and the hopping around made it feel like it wasn’t possible to live a life committed to serving a single body of believers. Now, I say this without too much judgment, I hope! Whatever the Lord has, in our current church or in another, it’s wonderful to find a safe space with real people, who know how to face problems… and get over them. If it’s up to me, I’ll be sticking around for a while. And the way these folks serve the community and one another, I couldn’t ask for a better hands-on approach to the teachings of Christ. Thankful.

6. Jobs that pay the bills… and fulfill our dreams. Becoming a missionary with CODE Ministries has changed my life forever. It’s possible to do what you’re called to do. And there it is. I’m so happy to be accomplishing a goal and carrying out a mission. Ministry is super hard work… sometimes more difficult than any other because we’re working with extreme needs, spiritually and physically. Becoming an employee at my church and working as a missionary is the most fulfilling work I have ever done in my life and I’m so excited about how Papa will continue to provide physically for my family through my obedience in doing the work He’s asked me to do. Sheldon not only works hard every day at a local Credit Union, but he also works hard every night and on weekends to become a better photographer! It’s been inspiring to watch him study and grow. Soon, I know this will be an area of provision for our family… and a dream come true for my husband. I can’t ask for more.

Those six categories of “plenty” are definitely not the only ones but the few that came to mind right away and all of those are new and exciting to accept and snuggle up in. So come on crisp air and come on Jesus! This season is a good one and I plan to click my heels all the way to Winter… and I’m glad to say that Winter will not come early in these parts. Bless God for the lingering Florida heat too. It keeps my pumpkin spice warmer longer.

BeLoved,
Lauren

What is it that you love about Fall or the season of life you are in?

Ready to read a few BeLoved Stories?

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So blessed to be working as a missionary on BeLoved, a grassroot non-profit project with SUCH a future!

 

BeLoved released our first campaign on April 10th called BeLoved Stories! Here are the BeLoved Stories links in a simplified list just for you!!! The first link will give you a direct opportunity to share your BeLoved Story as well… check that out!

Start here >>>> Introducing BeLoved Stories

…and then let the movement begin by reading their stories!

A BeLoved Story: Delaney and Her Dad

Sam’s BeLoved Story

Melissa’s BeLoved Story

Lynne’s BeLoved Story

Will’s BeLoved Story

Bree’s BeLoved Story

Now it’s your turn to write YOUR BeLoved Story! World Change is at your fingertips! Seriously!

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

 

 

 

Just in case…

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Not sure if you have been able to read some of my latest or revived writings at CODEMinistries.org so I’ve included links below for your quick perusal!

June 5th – I am BeLoved

May 25th – Have you looked inside

May 12th – I am undone

April 27th – Seasons

April 10th – Introducing BeLoved Stories

April 6th – Hiking the Hill of Doubt

March 21st – Let the Countdown Begin

March 18th – In the Rubble

 

Papa leads me to write blog pieces and I’m so humbled that He leads you to read them! Blessings!

 

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

 

 

Featured writings on the CODE Ministries website blog…

 

Absolutely blessed to have a writing platform now at codeministries.org!! A few blog posts and devotionals have been released there and I’ve neglected to share them here on laurenap.com!

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Grab your favorite mug, pour something steamy into it and peruse away…

 

 

February 2nd – About My Father’s Business

“How weird would it be if, when asked what I was up to (a normal American greeting), I responded and said that I was “about my Father’s business.” I can hear the reply now.. “…uh… okay.” But that’s what Jesus said (as a twelve year old …” – Read MORE!

 

February 14th – Love Divine

“Sheldon and I will have been married 5 months this February 20th, but even early in our relationship, a year and a half in to be specific (August 2013), God was teaching me something radical about Himself– something life changing– through our relationship. I married at …” – Read MORE!

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February 24th – Pray with CODE: Lauren and BeLoved

“I chose this song because of the incredible question it poses, “What does love look like?” The whole world wants to know! But I also chose it because…” – Read MORE!

 

March 2nd – Community At Its’ Finest

“A friend loveth at all times; And a brother is born for adversity” – Proverbs 17:17 Anyone who comes back from the World Race (or Summer camp for that matter) knows that the feeling of authentic community soon seems a distant memory– virtually impossible to attain …” – Read MORE!

 

Praying God’s presence in your life more today than ever before!

 

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

SnL Wedding Trailer is here!!

SnL are 4 months married strong!! We’ve been sooo excited to share our wedding video with our friends and family all over the world! That moment is finally here!! A big thank you to Caleb Pierce for capturing our day so perfectly! He is such a phenomenal story-teller! (See trailer below!)

“Sheldon, baby, I love you more than words… and that’s saying a lot coming from me. We’ve already experienced more trials in our short 4 months than many do in years of marriage. Thank you for being my rock. Thank you for following Jesus every day. Thank you for choosing me. I am humbled. I am blessed. My Handsome Man, you are awesome. Happy 4 month anniversary, my love!

Yours,

“lil lady”‘

Introducing… BeLoved

 

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Over a year and a half ago… a friend traveling the world with me on the World Race prophesied a new name over me. That name was “BeLoved.”

She knew my passion with Revealed Ministries (A girls ministry I had been involved with for 5 years or so) had a lot to do with our “LOVED.” message. “Now,” she explained “is the time in which you live the next chapter of your story as Christ’s BeLoved.” A new name, representing a new life lived every day under the promise of God’s unconditional love. She even boldly added that this would be the next chapter of my ministry…

 

Click HERE to read the rest of the story!

Day 13.

Today, faith is recognizing that by opening your mouth and using the voice God gives you, you also open doors for others to walk through in their own form of obedience… sometimes that act sets people free.
Below are two photos that my brother, Bhuvan, tagged me in on FB this past week. Pictured are 2 examples of the results of such a conversation as mentioned above. I am humbled to say that a sit down with this awesome man of God in month 7 of my World Race to discuss His unpressed passions in the anti-trafficking movement, has ignited quite a fierce response… he, his wife, and their ministry partners are currently traveling from remote village to remote village in Nepal (The leading country for under-age trafficking to Indian Prostitution rings), teaching/informing the kids and anyone else who will listen, about the dangerous propositions to avoid when approached by “prosperous big breaks.” Aka Stopping human trafficking before it starts. What a blessed concept. Praise God for my friends’ obedience. Praise God for listening ears and open hearts. Praise God for the faith to lift a fragile voice, unaware of its’ future worth.  

So excited for their freedom!!

beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

Would you like to #endslaverynow ???? Please let me know that you’d like to be a part of this huge effort by commenting below and I’ll give you several opportunities to get involved!

Learn more about Light Nepal!

Read more from my 31 Days of Faith!

Enjoy the other 31 Days series writers at The Nester!

Day 12.

See… some people worship God with their voices or their instruments in musical worship. Others choose to worship God with dance, or other giftings that God has blessed them with. I know of quite a few sweet friends of mine who worship God with the words they type or even in the way they rare their children. Really, worship is about living for God and giving Him the glory in everything we do.

Many times worship comes in the form of faith.


In month 3 of my World Race, we faced MAJOR spiritual warfare. We lived in a small village in the countryside where wagons were still pulled by mules down the dusty road outside of little Catholic church we called home. Inside of our home, a soup kitchen was visited daily by the partially infirmed of the local community. Along with a few lonely souls.

The lady who ran the kitchen was possessed. I know you just did a double take… so did I the first time she barked like a dog and turned for the worse before our eyes. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of that experience right now, today at least. I will say that the following days though, were filled with a team of Christians whose’ minds were blown from the existence they had been so ignorantly and blissfully (I might add) living up to this moment. We were scared.

So we banded together to seek the One Who we knew could conquer evil and quiet our fears. We were seeking our new friend’s deliverance, yes. But we were also seeking inner peace for us and a release of what we would experience the next few weeks. Living in Moldova was amazing. I will never forget it and my team and I grew close, as you can imagine.

We fought for each other. We prayed a lot…

And we waved the worship flags in FULL FAITH that God would count this act as precious and would show up because we were obedient to trust Him and praise Him despite our fear.

We waved the flags in eminent victory. For our friend. For this sweet village. For ourselves and our future, knowing that evil is real but that we have authority over evil in the name of Christ.

You may have never seen a woman possessed by evil forces but you have faced days that didn’t make sense and trials that didn’t seem at all fair. Those are both examples of spiritual warfare on a daily level. Worship is such an act of faith in direct combat to the enemy’s silly plans. I encourage you today, whatever you may be facing that seems out of your control… worship the Lord now with anything you have to offer Him. Not because it’s a give and take… no… because He already gave His life and brought us victory over death. Life is ours to live. So live it in faith.

The following are a few of the pics taken by a teammate and dear friend/brother of mine. Christian Norris. He is a gifted photographer in the making. My beautiful teammate Ali Kendrick and I decided to wave our flags over the hillsides on top of which we dwelt, as an act of faithful worship to our Papa in heaven and in spite of our fearful surroundings. And boy did He bless us for it! You will see from our faces that it was an experience we will not long forget. Worship music played and we waved and danced as Chrish snapped away. He captured worship. He captured faith.

beLOVEd.,
Lauren!<><+

How has worship impacted your faith? OR the opposite! Has your faith taken worship to a new level for you? Tell me all about it in comments below 🙂

Read more from my 31 Days of Faith.

Read more 31 Days blog posts.

Day 11.

There is a lot about faith I don’t know… hence the series.

With that said, I think I’ve figured out the “not by sight” part. Funny enough, it happened today. I figured out a piece of what seems to be a “faith puzzle” today, as I heard the results of my eye exam… the second one of the day.

May the FAITH story begin…

When I was 14 years old… or so…. I was suffering with headaches that would often lead to migraines. Serious stuff. It could have been stress, looking back at the season of life I was nearly just beginning, but it wasn’t. Went to the optometrist, he recommended glasses because of a severe astigmatism. “Prism” glasses were prescribed because of their ability to help my two eyes focus on the same thing at the same time. Bring my eyes to one singular point. How much of a simile that was for my needs in life, at the time I had no clue!

Through college, I wore my reading glasses religiously. Most of the time, it worked too.

As an adult, a very responsible one of course, I lost my glasses. Having no insurance and under no one’s specific care, withstanding my own… I gave up on wearing glasses again altogether.

Last year on the World Race, month 11, I went with friends to a very inexpensive eye glass store and underwent the test to see how bad my sight was… .25. Hm. Weird.

But wear my glasses, I have. They just didn’t seem to help me at all but I thought, well, that’s what I get for having an eye exam in Cambodia without my accurate prescription!

Since being home, you may have noticed, but I write a LOT! I love to write! I’m becoming a “writer” I guess, although people still have to call me that 3 times each before I’ll slightly believe them! Oh, insecurities.

With this embraced passion to be a storyteller, I have begun to struggle with my eyesight. I’ve utilized the tired eyes techniques and taken screen fasts… all of it. But still, my eyes go blurry and these glasses just… well, they don’t do anything!

The Lion’s Club here locally have recently blessed my socks off. I applied with them for eye care assistance, since I was still in financial transition from coming off the field and was gladly approved with a small co-pay. Aka I went to the Opthamologist yesterday with the hope that my basically FREE professional exam and glasses would be fruitful in clearing up my sight issues.

As I sat in the waiting room, that fear that we all have when we know something is wrong with us physically but think irrationally that the Doctor will just think we are crazy between the ears… yeah that, it began to creep in. Actually, I told the Doctor I feared that since I can’t keep anything to myself these days! She smiled and continued with the exam.

As she progressed through the VERY THOROUGH exam, my worst fear happened…

“Ms. Clement (That’s never good!), I am finding literally NOTHING wrong with your eyesight!”

But there IS!!! I promise!!! I wanted to scream it. Instead, I stared at her blankly.

She offered to dilate my eyes anyway for the retina exam. I agreed, attempting to stall my departure in case she reconsidered her findings… after all, I had already picked out my cute new frames!!!!

As I waited, and spoke sweetly to my waiting room ladies, who love to pry into the life of a youngin’ in her late 20’s… I began to think about how I would tell people that all that time, I didn’t even NEED the glasses I had worn and that apparently my old doctor had made it all up to get us out of his office, having left a hefty check on the counter first.

It was humiliating. It was confusing… and I felt it was just wrong! I know my body after all!!

Then the drops in my eyes set in.

Sheldon told me that he can drive when his eyes are dilated. I know, I told him he shouldn’t. Mama then confirmed that she mostly functioned fine afterwards…. but that some are more sensitive to it (She’s my  mom so she’s the main one that is supposed to make me feel like I am sane after all!). I told them both that I literally couldn’t see. Oh, dramatic me.

The man that had helped me pick my frames was standing near by and I asked him to find my mama’s contact on my phone for me. He said, “You can’t see it at all?” Nope. That’s why I asked. He quickly pointed to something else and said, “What about that, can you read it?” Apparently there was something on that poster that I was supposed to be able to read. Nope. He chuckled and said, “You aught to tell the Doctor how affected you were by those drops!”

I didn’t have to because I straight up tripped coming in the door of her office. But for good measure I simply inquired, “Dr. Brennen, is there a reason that some people are more highly affected by the drops than others? I just can’t see hardly at all.”

She looked at me for a second, or so I suppose because there was a stirring silence following my words. She responded with, “Well, let’s just see.” She began step 1 of my previous eye exam from 30 minutes earlier.

After a few seconds of flipping those lenses right over my long eye-lashes, she exclaimed, “Well, look a’there!”

Yep. I’m far sighted. Really, really farsighted.

She explained to me, after having started from the beginning of the exam again, that I had learned to control the muscles in my eyes with great excellence and furthered her explanation with how amazed she was at the control I had on my own body. Ha. If she only knew! I did share with her that my family had been through a lot growing up and that doctors tended to state things like that to my sisters and I every time we went for a check up of any sort. It’s just our life and how we’ve overcome.

So yeah, ladies and gents, I will get to wear my cute frames after all and hopefully will no longer be plagued by my own creative craft with headaches and extreme blurred vision! Praise the Lord!!! The drops did it, I actually relaxed enough to get an accurate account of what I had known all along.

What I learned through the process was even more valuable, I do believe. God showed me something about faith and how even when I can’t see… or am told that what I know to be true, isn’t. I can still trust. I can still believe… I can have faith that it is. Because it was. And He is. And I have faith that He will confirm in me His identity, as He skillfully unveils my own.

Faith. You can’t see it. But you can know you have it by trusting that God is Who He says He is and He’s not going anywhere. You can hear Him speak. You can feel His love and peace. YOU CAN have faith even when you’re not “supposed” to.

Sometimes it just takes giving up control. A lot of the conferences I have been a part of, have been so very effective because the people there were willing to give up what they came in with for something new. Something better. Something true. Someone Who has always been. I’ve seen them lay on the floor and wait for a transformation in their hearts. Vulnerability was called out and affirmation of what is flowed in. A give and a take. Giving up what was or is for something better. A Better and truer future, based on the love of a great, great God that has been here all along… waiting on us to relax and give HIM control of the life He created in the first place. Sometimes it takes a bit of patience with ourselves to let His truth sink in… you know, the waiting room of our hearts’ desires. But when it does, we can see clearer than we have ever in our lives! And there’s just so much to see!! You may not agree with me as you’ve read this but that’s my account of what I learned on day 11 of this month of faith questions and answers!

This experience has made me stubborn to what other humans want from me. An acknowledgement that He may not be who he says he is and what I’ve always believed in… yikes. So much humiliation, confusion… but wait… He is. There it is. Truth.

Try and prove to me that my God doesn’t exist. I dare you. I won’t argue with you. Nope, don’t have to. I know He does. I’ve experienced Him personally. I choose to have faith.  I choose to have faith.

beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

If you would like to experience Him, please email me, find me on FB… ask a trusted friend to tell you how you can, something! And today! Today is THE day that you accept this gift of truth!

Comment below with your recent “faith” account!!! Do you see clearer about a specific topic of faith than you ever have before? Again, share below!

(To read more in this 31 Days of Faith series, click HERE!!! Or to read the collaborative efforts of 31 Days writers, click The Nester!!)