Sunday, January 29, 2017

for when you are learning about love: sunday song

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth, AS IT IS HEAVEN...

Refugees
Missionaries
Children killed, sold, lost, and stolen
Immigrants
Minorities
Majorities
All races
All ethnicities
The Church
Governments
Religious leaders
Everyday citizens

We are a mix of thoughts and desires.  Our opinions overtake our compassion.  The desired end for our own goals supersedes the goals for the good of others.  Even the most outspoken for others battles selfishness along the way.

Not us, but you Lord.  Not our will, but yours.

Help us see that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.

Let that fuel our words and actions more than just help us "survive" the present.  If we know none of our sufferings can compare to the coming glory, we have strength to sacrifice our comfort, our safe cocoons, to live out the gospel in word and deed.

There are those who can not fight for themselves right now.  Let us each find that group that has been placed on our hearts, the ones who at this moment can not fight for themselves. and let us carry their burden; not of our own strength and for our own glory, but with the power of heaven and for the glory of our Father.


Share the Well
Caedmon's Call


Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well, my friend
It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well, my friend



Do you think the water knows
Flowing down to the mountain thaw
Finally to find repose
For any soul who cares to draw



Some kindred keepers of this earth
On their way to join the flow
Are cast aside and left to thirst
Tell me now it is not so



Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well, my friend
It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well, my friend



And all God's creatures share the water hole
The blessed day the monsoon comes
And in His image we are woven
Every likeness every one



From Kashmir to Kerala
Under every banyan tree
Mothers for their children cry
With empty jar and bended knee



Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well, my friend



It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well, my friend



You know I've heard good people say
There's nothing I can do
That's half a world away



Maybe you've got money
Maybe you've got time
Maybe you've got living well
That ain't ever running dry



Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well, my friend
It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well, my friend



Share the well, share with your brother
Share the well, my friend
It takes a deeper well to love one another
Share the well, my friend




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

for when you are learning about love part 1: getting started

God's love for me determines how much love I can hold for another person.  His love is what gives me love and therefore overflows me with love to give away. 

This all seems quite simple and obvious until there is a difficult person in your life to love.  I don't mean on days when your husband forgets to make the bed or your kids disobey all day and whine as if they'll never get another chance to do so or some crazy person takes forever in the grocery store line in front of you.  Those are all moments we are given to show great love but they are short lived and don't cost us too much in the way of heart sacrifice. 

I am talking about people who have hurt you or your family, people who you hear about who have done the unthinkable, people who when you think about them you can feel your blood pressure rise, you can feel your heart drop and you can feel the desire to throw all your beliefs out the window just to hang on to the hard feelings or feel yourself retreat so you can pretend that they're not really there.
  
So many people have others like that where the ache hurts but the cost of loving feels like it could hurt more.  I have that person.  I wish I didn't.  I wish I could say that I love like Christ loves me.  I want to love like He loved me first but it's hard.  On some days it feels impossible.  God is taking me on a journey, an extension of the one he started over a year ago, to help me learn about gospel love.  How to love like Christ in all circumstances and to all people.  It's easy to love the easy ones but we most often aren't called to the easy things.

A little over two years have gone by since writing those words above and still the road to learn to love well, no matter how extensively trodden, is still winding, disappearing into the horizon, the endpoint infinite miles away.  This was to be my own private journey, my lessons in how to somehow, in some way, love like Jesus when most of the time all my will wanted to do was fight, ignore, or defend.  Due to changes in different aspects of life this was pushed onto a back burner because necessity for it at the time, or so I thought, was not as great. 

This is the part where I admit that I just did not want to do it anymore, but was lovingly not let off the hook by God who was telling me to 'big fat do it anyway.' Sigh--slight eyeroll--Fine.  My maturity knows no bounds.

Then after reading some words from my sweet friend Kiley there was that reminder that I'm not alone in my struggle, and not alone in my goal.  

"God calls us to love. Not say we love, but to actually love. This is a hard one for me. I mean, it’s easy to love gypsy children in Romania when I go there each summer. It’s easy to love the innocent 6 year olds that walk into the door of my classroom each day, and the goddaughters whose faces smile when I drive up in their driveway. It’s easy to love the friends that I surround myself with, easy to love the family that loves me back.
But man, it’s hard to love the one who screams words that are everything I’m against. It’s hard to love those who make choices that I believe are just wrong. It is really hard when someone questions my Christianity because of how I mark my ballot. It is especially hard to love when I am so obviously not loved in return...I want to love as Christ so perfectly loves me….we all know good and well that I don’t deserve it. I want people to look at me and know that I love well….no matter what they believe, no matter the color of their skin, no matter how they voted or why, no matter who they love, no matter if they love me back."

Of course my human self being what it is, it was not until just recently--last night as I was falling asleep--that it was placed in my head in no uncertain terms that it was time to broach the subject again.  Not just on my own time, but during these times with you all, so that together we can go deeper into the art of love.

Two separate conversations happened recently on a topic I swore, and still swear, I will never write about. Talking about 'it' is also something I vow to do as little as possible, but the situations arose and, for whatever reason, the heart led words to come out and once they are out there it is impossible to bring them back.  
Through the extensive conversations on the topic that will not be named, I thought of trying to come up with some witty comments or fantastic point dripping with well-read knowledge full of facts and the droppings of qualified names in hopes to gain a bit of respect and to not show a lack of intelligence or a seemingly naive outlook.  Both of those options escaped my abilities because the heart took over and in the end what came out was Jesus.  The Gospel.  His Word.  Letting it apply to all.

Jesus Juke jokes aside, after some frustration, a slight bit of temper flaring, and a little soul searching I've come to the conclusion that it is an honor to be that person.  As Christians, redeemed, restored, and renewed, we have no place to stand except on His righteousness.  Thankfully, there will be times others will need to bring my stray thoughts and extensive subject knowledge back to this core center as well.  It's why we have many parts but are of one body.  Living in Community leading and following and walking alongside.

The older we get the more we realize we know so much, yet know so little.  As eyes are opened to a bigger world with equally as big successes and failures, the need of guidance in my life just grows that much bigger.  Loving.  Learning to love, better or at all, is one of the many that will be broached in the rest of our life here on earth.  Why not let it be now.  

So a warning, one that should not surprise you, but needs to be placed front and center.  I will be bringing Jesus into all of this.  Every post.  Every lesson.  Every struggle.  Every time I feel unloved. Every time I feel unloving.  Every moment when it does not seem worth it anymore.  Every moment when He reaches deep into my heart and reminds me of how worth it it truly is.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

This my friends is not a subject I am an expert on, far from it.  We each have immeasurable experience with having to love, being asked to share and show love to another, but we each have the same immeasurable number of experiences when we failed miserably at times and not completely miserably at others.

Wisdom does not come when life works out perfectly, it comes when you fail but then get up and try again.

Let's try again.  This time not on our own strength but with the strength given to us, living in us by the Spirit, sent from the Son.  It will be hard but I can not think of more things that are worth as much as this. 

Loving others and showing others how we are loved.

In the weeks ahead, will you stick with me?  Walk with me?  Learn with me?  Fail with me and then get up and try again?

I'm praying for you and the future lessons we will approach, pray for me.







Wednesday, January 18, 2017

because emotions are dangerous

Confession; many times in my writing I stop just short of full transparency. This is a difficult thing to admit since my desire from the very beginning of this venture has been to be transparent. To let you see the real me in hopes that you yourself will become more transparent with your thoughts, with your feelings, and with the words and the story God has given you was a personal command given and a promise made. The burden of not having always fulfilled it is a tough load to bear, and one I long to put down, after first seeking your forgiveness for not encouraging you to be your completely true self when I did not quite make it there myself.

Revealing all that is within you is one of the most intimidating things you can do yet one of the most freeing. To let all your dirt shine, as mentioned in the past, is to understand, admit, and say I am not in control. I do not care what others may think about me. I know who I am and I know whose I am. My identity is fully planted in the name given through relationship with Christ. His daughter. His own. I was bought with a price. I am His daughter. I am His.

One thing in particular tempts us to keep things inside. It causes us to misdirect others from our core and mask the real with a farce. Or even, despite command and promise, let 99% of the heart show while keeping that last little piece to ourselves, that last little piece that will reveal the whole picture, and truly letting go of all control.

Emotions.

The human heart, human soul, is full of them. Being a female I am tempted to think we are able to stake claim to a million extras but research revealed that while we, as a female species, are a little more sensitive to negative emotions there was actually not that much difference between guys and girls. So fellas, this is for you too!

While emotion is just one seven letter word, the noun in its essence manifests itself in a hundred ways. Varying from simple to complex, and sliding through the whole spectrum of positive to negative, we are full of anger and envy, excitement and love, frustration and shame, caution and boldness, confusion and loneliness, expectation and hope. And through each of the many emotions, parts of our heart will show. To live with and through each emotion while exposing a heart planted in the abiding love, protection, and grace of Christ requires an understanding of two different ways emotions can be dangerous.

Paul David Tripp in one of his daily devotions from New Morning Mercies mentioned not letting you live your life for the moment and by the emotions you feel at the time because "in a moment, your thoughts can seem more important than they actually are. In a moment, your emotions can seem more reliable than they are. In a moment, your needs can seem more essential than they truly are." In a current world of 'yolo' and quoting 'carpe diem' from the past, this is a radical thought stemming from the oldest of truths.

Emotions that come from the immediate are more often than not untrustworthy. They come from snap judgments. They come from first instincts. They come from a defensive mess. They come from Fear. They come with little thought. Truth can be found underneath, but it takes time, more than a split seconds worth, for wisdom to appear; for Hope to rise up. Though 24 hours of wait is a great idea it is not necessary for every situation. What is necessary is remembering the life we are asked to live, and for whom we are asked to live it, is one that stretches for eternity. Though there are hills and valleys producing every manner of emotion, the One guiding us is there for more than a moment. Those little moments may mean much to our human hearts at the time, but in the end it is the long marathon for Him that matters.

Because there are two sides to every coin, we also must delve into the other danger emotions can cause, and it happens when you do one simple act, ignore them.

We all have a line drawn in the sand, a line that cannot be crossed without repercussions of some kind. The problem is, we draw it before we should. Gripped with fear or whatever other emotion, the line is drawn in the spot where our two feet are still comfortably standing. A spot that where no discomfort is felt. Many of us need to extend that line out a little bit farther to a spot that takes us out of ourselves, a place where a step of faith must be taken.

Amidst the desire for going deeper, there is no more skimming the surface. Not giving into the emotions, not understanding them for what they hinders and hindering is what I have been after. I realize so very often I don't give in, don't let my emotions in as much as needed, don't let myself feel them the entire way because of where the unknowns they will take me and of what I might learn about myself when I see them through.

There is a big difference between giving into your emotions and understanding them. If you are going to let God reach you where you are you have to understand the full depth of where the emotions have left you.

It is at that point where growth happens, where inner dispositions begin to shift and change.

So pay attention. Pay attention to what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, and what makes you feel all the feels in between. Then take that vast array and lay them down at the feet of the one who rescued you and keeps you in his hand and let him pick them up for you and show you where to go.

Praying for each of you and the emotions you find surrounding you, pray for me.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

for when you are being taken to deeper places

It's been a year of waiting, a year of being asked by my all knowing Father to just wait.  Yes things are going to happen He said, Yes I am still working, always working, He promised, but you my girl, you need to just wait.  Wait for what is to come.  I spent the year waiting, waiting for what I did not know, sometimes thinking there was a giant party around the corner and if I sat still and patient the whole time He would jump out with a big gift and yell SURPRISE!

In the end, there was not exactly a party and then again maybe I should have thrown one myself because now sitting here and listing--obviously a list is involved if its me--the events of the year I can see His hand through it all and how the hardest of hards and the best of the best and even the sprinkle of surprises mixed in can only be designed by the one most creative of Creators and the Spirit within who thankfully navigates my directionally challenged soul.

Within this past year marked the second hardest event of my own life with the closing of my church and the loss of the stability of my church community, these people who have seen me and known me and me them through the darkest of times and the joyous of moments.  It also brought about a wealth of His good things, the first being a new calling in my life, a trajectory that only His will could vastly change.

Adding to the statistics of the year from the severe doubts that come with loss and confusion to enjoying my friends and family more as I fight to let go of the control I was never supposed to have, was brought about a better understanding of patience with life itself and the lesson that immediate solutions are not always, and honestly almost never, necessary.  Except in a true emergency, and not just what we want to place urgency on, there is always time for thought and prayer and the learning that what is happening will be clearer, or even over, after a mere 24 hour wait.  Added also, is that what seems broken, whether in a relationship, a requirement placed on yourself, or just a piece of furniture, was either not a needed item and can be let go or needs the time and care to be placed right again, something only the Gospel can bring.

Have you taken the opportunity to recognize the Good from your year?  Specifically those treasures hidden in the rock hard things bring.  Focus on that for a moment, look for His Good.

With every ending comes a beginning whether we are at the end of a year, the end of a day, or the end of a moment.  In the short journey for a new word to place as a compass for life in this next 365ish days there was a leading towards so many directions that it was assumed somewhere the world's magnetic pull had disappeared sending the needle spinning wildly.  Thoughts of the need for contentment rose in the most uncomfortable of ways and in the midst of reactions that do not drip with pride.  The desire to give what we have to others and take--accept--the treasures others have to give sent a warming smile throughout my being.

But confusion came next due to those words feeling awfully familiar.  After a bit of research through past writings, the mystery was solved as those were both words chosen in past years.  Contentment, give/take, and slow were each contemplated during the first three years of choosing a word to lead my thoughts.  Explore and enjoy was begrudgingly settled upon at the beginning of our year of infamy  and then after months and months of not understanding why I always felt so unsettled God in his violent love blew life up so that He could rebuild it.  Abide, onward, and wait took up the three years after taking me down roads never ventured that felt oddly comforting even in their unfamiliarity.  So here, this day, if my heart is hearing correctly which, lets face it, is never a guarantee, I am choosing the word deeper.

Deeper.  Deepening all parts of life.  Delving under to the depths of not only more that each of these words hold, but more of the parts of life given to me.  There has always been a temptation of skimming the surface; of doing what is expected, getting the jist, making it good enough for now until I can come back later and really invest.  Well that time is now.  Going deeper will take time, commitment, and discovering what is a priority and what is just distraction.  Going deeper is also not a place to venture alone.

When you choose to go deep spreading yourself thin is not an option, when you choose to go deep it will have to involve choosing less.  However, in the choosing of less, you will automatically get more.  More knowledge of a topic, more understanding of a person, more enjoyment from a moment, more gratification from an accomplishment, and more familiarity with a Father who has given your these opportunities to begin with.  

Madeline L'engle wrote "The times I have been most fully me are when I have been wholly involved in someone or something else; when I am listening, rather than talking...I look forward to deepening relationship with my husband, my children, my friends but knowing more of Him.  
That will be the best deepening of all.

So taking each of those past words chosen, I will rely on Grace given to delve deeper.  One at a time, a month or so at a time, starting with contentment, because in a life desiring to run hard after Christ that is where it needs to begin.

"One of the most beautiful fruits of grace is a heart that is content, more given to worship than demand and more given to the joy of gratitude than the anxiety of want. When you are satisfied with the Giver, because you have found in him the life you were looking for, you are freed from the ravenous quest for satisfaction that is the discouraging existence of so many people." Paul David Tripp

I hate to even attempt to guess how many times I will stumble, fall, and fail.  They will be countless.  I can promise you that, but I can also hold on to the promise of Hope that those new mercies do come each morning.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; [because] GREAT is [His} faithfulness. Lam. 3:22-23.  

Please remember there are an infinite number of endings that can happen in life which just means there are an infinite number of beginnings following them.  Choose next steps slowly, carefully, forgiving yourself when you hesitate, giving yourself grace when you falter and fall, all the time remembering that you were not meant to do it alone and not meant to accomplish all the things, just one at a time.

Find the one thing God is calling you to do next and go after it trusting that even if it feels like no progress is being made that He is working, always working, in the midst of everything; crafting in your heart, in your mind, and in your habits the emotions, thoughts, and skills needed to put into bodily action what is being prepared in Spirit.

I am praying for your next thing, for finding the direction you are being called, and for being able to delve deeply into it. Pray for me.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

a song for sunday

As I, as we, continue through this world knowing that what is a mystery to us is a carefully laid plan to our Creator I long to rest in Him alone, to put into practice what my mind knows to be true that in Him alone comes rest and hope and if I pour myself out for Him, He will be gracious and merciful to continue to fill me up.
Psalm 62
Aaron Keyes
My soul finds rest in God alone
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.
O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.
Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.
I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.


O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

because it is a new year

Happiest of New Years to each and every one of you!

For one who desires to be ahead of the game, I always found myself feeling behind as soon as January 1st rolled around.  It felt as if everyone already had Christmas packed up and put away with a house simplified and cleaned out and resolutions written, posted, and beginning to be checked off.  The rushed feeling within was quite unwelcomed after a season of nothing but.  

A couple years ago I made a conscience decision to slow down.  To take each step not quite as quickly as I would have before and give myself, and my mind, time to be quiet, to listen before I began to plan, to speak, to act.  What resulted was the ability to have an unhurried Spirit even if life around continued to bustle at it's usual pace and there is no time that it is more appreciated than this day, the beginning of a new year.

Here I sit, still reflecting, smiling over and enjoying the memories of a December spent with family and friends celebrating the birth of our Savior, not feeling as if that is a time done and gone but one to relish and let settle before moving on.

Yes, sometime in the next few days there will be cleaning and organizing, planning and budgeting, and pondering of goals and desires for the year to come but for now there is quiet and thanksgiving that an old year has passed and a new one has come and spanning them both is my God guiding my vision for both.


Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

naught be all else to me, save that thou art -

thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.


Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.


High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my vision, O Ruler of all.