Wednesday, November 30, 2016

for when you have spiritual scar tissue

It is the last day of November, a month that holds so much joy from birthday celebrations, where distinct seasonal changes finally become apparent in The South, when thankfulness, though desperately needed for our hearts each day on this earth, takes a central role in the themes of life all around.

It is also a time where your heart feels constantly at odds with your body and mind.  Every part of the being inside longs for slowness, for the chance to sit, enjoy, and appreciate the leaves and the wind, the little and big ones alike are excited about time off of normal schedules, and the Advent Season that has begun with all the joy and beauty it entails.

Your heart wants to soak it all in, but your mind and body are trying to accomplish all of the tasks deemed needed so that there is something on which your heart can soak.  It can feel, quite often, like a never ending battle, between the undertaking of tasks and the triumph of appreciation.

Currently I am sitting in bed on a quiet morning, heating pad firmly pressed on my lower back, as I attempt to be still long enough to recuperate from aggravating a decade old injury.  All around me both physically in view and the long list in my head, are mounds of to dos loving to make themselves known and mock that they still sit uncompleted.  The living room has tools and supplies piled in corners waiting for their turn in a fireplace remodel that will hopefully be finished before stockings need to be hung.  Tables, chairs and coolers from our son's birthday party before Thanksgiving are sitting on the porch needing to find their way back into storage.  Paraphernalia from our two youngests' homemade zip line complete with beanbag crash pad are in the yard soaking wet from the rain that finally showed up.  A dead squirrel, the conquest of our newest kitty, most definitely needs to be disposed of.   Pecans need to be picked.  Suitcases put away.  A toilet needs to be fixed.  Clean the house could go on every list every day for every person for now until forever.

When your mind desires to process through words, everything is fodder, everything is noticed and analyzed, much to it's dismay and appreciation.  And so goes it with the reason I am resting right here instead of working over there.

16 years ago, almost to the day, the middle of my body was injured in a car accident.  Parts were compressed that have no business being pushed together and breaks happened, 5 to be exact.  All of them were in places that couldn't be stabilized so there were no casts, no outside visual of any injury, except for the crutches needed for a couple weeks.  However, inside was a mess of bones fusing themselves back together all the while producing scar tissue around them in hopes of building up protection against any future injuries.  Though it was common to have tinges of discomfort, normal movement seemed to have been present until a day recently when the scar tissue popped revealing underneath that what was thought to be healed didn't in fact come back together the right way causing pain, lack of mobility, and mega frustration.

Research showed me that this is a common problem, that protective layer that built up actually restricts and hinders the performance of intended functions, it binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely.

Jeff Dunbar said "Your physical life is the laboratory for your spiritual life to grow."  Is it any wonder then why the first thought was this, what other parts of  life built up a protective layer around them only to have actually hindered true and complete healing?

Ask that question aloud.  See what happens.

It's a tested method so no worries.  I did the same thing,  I asked it.  At first there was fear of what would come up.  Would there be an onslaught of guilt?  Failure?  Would my mind feel as if it would explode from the sheer number of memories rocked?

Quite the opposite is what became true.

Just as a hot beverage can be felt warming the body slowly after a deep drink from a cup, warmth can be felt slowly as your heart feels the comfort from a Spirit longing to comfort, help, and heal.

Very few times in  life is there ever a quick fix, especially when dealing with emotions and character.  Almost all changes involve work, hard work, dedication to the task, presence in the solutions.  More often than not the reason we don't open ourselves up to change is because we know the hard that will come, we are aware of the adjustments needed and that things might very well get worse before they get better.  That is exactly how the scar tissue is formed, that is exactly how we become hindered from functioning the way we were intended to, the way we were designed.

All of life is sanctification, all of life molds and shapes to create a heart ever growing, ever striving to become more like Christ.  What happens in the physical translates immediately to the spiritual.  What happens to our bodies affects our hearts.  And beneath them both is a God already working to heal completely, changing our inner disposition, restoring us day by day.

Friends, it can be so hard to let go, oh so very hard not to build up your own protective layer trying to block further hurt or injury from any angle, but with Him we can "humble ourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.  Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)"

I'll be praying for you, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

for when you desire to change your inner disposition

All actions do not begin with a dream to accomplish.  Most decisions, most plans, most daily deeds are determined by the need of the moment.  What is necessary to be completed immediately?  What has to be taken care of and checked off to ensure that the machine which is life is running smoothly?   Before preceding to the wants and desires there tends to be a mass of responsibility always in the way.

On my counter is a daily to do list full of calls to make, errands to run, and chores to do.  Whether you write yours down or not, I would bet there is a similar one for your life as well.  Elsewhere, longing for attention, there is a list of projects I want to tackle, places I want to go, friends I want to catch up with, books I want to read, a future I want to cultivate.  Again whether or not you write that down, I would hasten to guess that there is also such a list for you set to the side, desiring a glance and a little attention.

One of the things my lips most complain about is the desire to build castles instead of parking lots. What I mean by this is that there is this yearning to build upon what has already been done.  To, like my son and his wooden blocks, continue to stack the pieces one upon another until an architectural masterpiece emerges.   What always seems to happen is that as soon as the first few levels are in place something comes along and knocks it all down again so that over and over the shape seen is flat with little productivity.

A rule in our home when the boys were very young was "Do not knock over someone else's build"  It's simple.  If someone else builds it, leave it alone.  Often it seems as if this is the problem, someone keeps coming along and knocking over my build.  How many times will this happened before I begin to realize that when I build something myself it will always be knocked down?  When I realize that an unmatched castle of the Kingdom of God is being built no matter how many parking lots of mine I see?

"Let us build for the years we shall not see" ~ Sir Henry John Newbold

Years ago there was placed in my heart, spoken through the words of a counselor, and developed by the Spirit within, three words.  An Inner Disposition.

Your inner disposition is who you are on the inside that comes forth in words and actions on the outside.  The question we should ask is what things do we see on the outside that give us a desire to make changes on the inside?

Each of us is a unique creation, placed together in a way that makes us exactly and perfectly us. Within us are placed a combination of talents and gifts.  We can not control which of these things we get, but we can cultivate the ones we are given.   However cultivating them alone is when what we build comes crashing down.

There is, in this world, a constant state of renewal.  Each day on the shore the tide will go out only to come back in again, but with it, the water brings food from the depths up to the shallow waters so that those who depend on it for survival do in fact survive.  Life cycles, water cycles, changing of the seasons, rotations of the Earth, it all exists to show the need for renewal, that things end only to come back again, that dying to one thing is the only way to produce another.

...though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16.  The words prior to these are my favorite.  We do not lose heart; that is why we do not give up.

Do we not give up because of ourselves, because of the things we are building?  No, the things we build will pass away, become as vapor.

The only true way to change your inner disposition is to deny yourself and follow Him.

We do not give up because we have a treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.  We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.  The treasure is Christ, His Spirit within, producing something in us that far outweighs our trouble, a castle that stands eternal.

God holds hearts.  His Spirit through the sacrifice of His Son is what is inside.  Day by day He is making them new.  Day by day he is guiding them to different places in different ways.  Day by day He is examining, not so He can beat us down with what is wrong, but so He can create a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within.

He is changing my inner disposition, and I want you to see how He is changing yours as well.

From that comes the well spring of life.  From that mouths speaks.  From that, tell of His wonders.

From those few years ago and that short phrase, many words have been written, and are still left to write, that desire to show and encourage transparency so that the light will shine in on any dark places, so that we see the ways we are falling short but also he love that encapsulates us despite them, and we begin the opening of ourselves towards renewal.

On the outside, at a glance, I may look the same, you may think you look the same, but look closer. You will see the difference He has made, the difference He is still making, the difference we have Hope that he will continue to do until completion.

I'm praying that you can not only see it, but that you will continue to seek to be made new, to see the Kingdom castle being built, and the ways you have been created to place your pieces.  Pray for me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

because we each leave pieces of ourselves in the world

Handmade, handcrafted, lovingly put together in a mother's womb, each piece was delicately and beautifully positioned.  Into the world emerged a young life, a young soul, and no matter the actions behind conception or the emotions of the earthbound parents, a Creator smiled down knowing His Child was created perfectly unique, perfectly themselves, perfectly fitting in a story ages old that stretches to eternity.  Beginning there but never ending...

Meandering down the rows of another cute boutique during a day meant for rest and friendship an item caught our eye.  Printed upon the canvas of a zippered pouch was a paragraph of encouragement ensuring the onlooker that they were beautiful the way they were, created for purpose, loved beyond measure.  The hint of sadness was not hidden in my friend's voice as she spoke forth words of desire for her daughter to believe such words when they were said to her.  The only response I could muster, as the litany of reasons that caused the same disbelief were being hurled at my heart once again, was that there are many who have trouble believing the good things about themselves.

Imagine our Father, lovingly looking down on each of us, sharing that same desire, that we could believe all the words He has said to us.

To live life resting in and believing all Truth with unwavering precision would bring a feeling so comforting it is doubtful it could even be imagined.

Somewhere along the road the sojourner of life stumbles creating bruises outside and within that stay for a time and become reminders of missteps.  Straying off the path and getting lost only to have to delay by turning around and back tracking causes doubts and uneasy steps in the future.  Spotting fellow travelers on the road ahead of you make one wonder why you are traveling so slow.  Seeing others behind you gives a sense of boastfulness for the false thought of being ahead of the game.

It is these continuous circumstances that shift our view from Christ and with it results in the loss of peace that comes from focusing solely on Him and the ability to see ourselves as we are seen. All things of this world will send you places as far from truth as can be taken while all things through Christ will take you to places far out of this world.
The good news, always the good news, is that a journey is exactly what you were created for, continuously being redeemed, day by day, experience by experience, and the lane you are in is for you and you alone, perfectly crafted, personally planned, for the only soul who can live it out.

You are not what you were and though you are what you are now, you are not what you will be.

Mike Kinnebrew, a long time friend of ours, has pursued music for many years in the midst of his own journey of stumbles and side paths.  Each of his songs brings Truth in a way that requires thought and reflection upon the lyrics flowing within the beautiful melodies.  

This is all, all I am, and all I'll be.  I'll sing my song, I give them to you, these pieces of me. 

These lyrics, favorites of mine, speak to these thoughts of believing you were created with care and purpose and loving who you were meant to be.  Each of us pieces perfectly fit together.  Each of us pieces of a bigger story being told.  Each of us leaving pieces of ourselves for others along the way.

Reading through 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 brings comfort in the differences, beauty to design, Hope because of the promise that you are brought together no matter how different you may feel. one Spirit we were all baptized into one body and all were made to drink of one spirit.  For the body does not consist of one member but of many...But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose...

Each created for purpose.  Each unique.  Each brought together with other unique beings.  Parts of a whole.

Think about your role, your part, the pieces of you that the world needs.

Using those pieces so carefully created, God puts us into the narrative, guides us to take part in Kingdom work so that we can see Him more clearly and feel His presence more closely as we leave pieces of ourselves in the world.

I'll be praying that you can believe this of yourself, pray for me.