Saturday, November 5, 2016

3 Lessons I've Learned Walking Out Grief & Loss

Disclosure: I write this tonight unlike most of my blogs, with a heavy heart. Loss and grief surround me lately as my loved ones are aching for a multitude of reasons. I too have experienced a great deal of loss and grief lately and I relate as one who has ached and will ache again, so today I write with compassion an a tough subject...


Grief and Loss

Woof, Loss and Grief. What a topic to tackle.

I typically sit on topics for a while and mull them over before posting but this one is different. It almost felt necessary that I get it out as if my fingers couldn't contain it. Grief will do that to you. Have you noticed that? That grief has a way of making you do strange things. It's as if it is taking all the little corners of you and exposing them. Suddenly, ways you typically don't react you do or if you're a reactive person you become inactive. 

I don't know about you but for me it's as if loss is nature's own version of shock therapy. Every time I am surprised by it and my whole being rejects it. It doesn't matter what you grieve, loss is loss and every time we experience loss our body, mind, and heart experiences it too.

There have been more than enough words spoken and shared about grief. There's plenty of philosophers, poets, writers, celebrities etc who have shared their losses and experience with grief. The common thread in all thoughts on it? IT HURTS.

Gosh and tonight my heart hurts. It hurts for me, it hurts my friends grieving and it hurts for people I may never know. But if you are reading this, brothers and sisters, I hope you walk away with one take away by the end of this and it goes like this: My dear friend, you are not alone. You aren't alone- how validating is that to hear another person say I hear you and I'm with you? It makes a world of difference! There isn't anything new or ground breaking I have to say about this topic, in fact as Solomon pointed out thousands of years, there's nothing new under the Sun. All I have to offer you as I write this is my experiences, a heart of compassion and prayerfully wisdom from above. So in an effort to speak on such a delicate topic, I broke down what I've learned into three main points on loss and grief with the intent that if you are going through it now or ever- you can release some of the pressure and open up to healing. I pray these words be anointed, here we go!

1. Call It What It Is
First things first, there is POWER in naming your loss. You lost a loved one, you're experiencing the ache of loneliness in a new city/work place, your life suddenly looks drastically different, you mourn over an unmet desire, whatever it is, call it by name. I quote this all the time because it constantly reigns true- what goes unnamed, goes unnoticed. When loss hits and grief floods your whole being, not giving it a name or speaking it aloud allows your loss to go unnoticed and you unknown. Grief demands it be experienced. Just like a wound, when grief goes unnoticed it festers. It is so easy to allow shame or guilt keep us silent and in this case, silence can be deadly. This summer I took a few hits and they were some of  the deepest losses I've ever experienced. So much of my time I spent trying to manage my burden versus sharing it. I felt guilty when I talked about the hurt I felt from loosing my granddads, leaving country, and no longer living in the same city as some of my closest friends. It hurt and I stayed silent and my silence stole life right out from under me. We were never created to carry such a heavy burden on our own- after all, loss requires a lot of us. We need people to come along side of us and remind us what's true, to be patient and kind, to speak words of reason and logic when the pain of loss stings deep in our minds and hearts. You are human and being human means being needy and weak sometimes, and it's not wrong to be needy. Calling grief what it is opens us up to letting people in. Granted there is space for silence and there is room for time alone- but isolation my friend is the devil's play place. Do not stay there, it's not the fun-McDonald's type of play place. 

2. Loss Was Not in our Design, We Were Never Meant to Know the Sting of Death
On the seventh day when God rested, looking on all he created, seeing that it was pleasing and good- loss was not in that design. We were created for communion with God. God made man for relationship with him. Loss is the direct opposite. The word loss is derived from the old English word los which means destruction. It was a term used for the breaking of ranks in an army. The word loss literally means separation and being pulled apart. We weren't created for that. Regardless of where you stand with Jesus, I am here to tell you that you were not created with separation in mind. However, when sin entered our world and we no longer existed in perfect communion with God- loss, grief, and destruction became our current reality even though our design did not change. It is not in our being to cope with the brokenness of this world alone. It means it is supposed to hurt. Loss is meant to take it's toll and grief is our beings way of coping. The world around us tells us to suck it up and get over it, but that isn't the way this work. So when it hurts, it hurts. There is no formula for bypassing it and there is special treatment to cure it there is only the option to experience it. 

3. Grace upon Grace upon Grace for your Process
Our heavenly Father knew that once sin would enter the world it would be a long, hard road to redemption because with sin came suffering and loss- death being the ultimate loss. The good news is the grave has been defeated and death has lost it's sting! Christ won the war on sin, but we are still here to fight the battles. Some battles are harder than others and they take a lot from us. So friend, when you wake up the morning after you just lost someone you have loved deeply and it hurts to move so much that you don't- I'm going to tell you there is grace on grace for that day. And a few weeks later when routine is the only thing that gets you through the day- there is grace on grace. And on those days when God in His great mercy lifts the veil and shows you He is near and joy overcomes you- grace on grace and we rejoice together. There isn't only grace for our process, our process is grace: undeserved favor for a difficult task at hand. You will experience a vast multitude of emotions and responses from numbness to anger, weepy to laughter, clarity to confusion and more. As you process through your grief grace will abound and the Gracious One offered you the ability to process to tread through and overcome loss. 

We each grieve differently, loss is like a snowflake- no two experiences are the same. The beautiful thing about the body of Christ is that while yours is yours and mine is mine- we share a spirit. That Spirit, our Father and Jesus Christ won the war and victory is His. Drew Holcomb has a line in his song "Live Forever" that I find so fitting..."take courage when the road is long, don't ever forget you are never alone." The road is long and hard, but because Christ defeated the grave, you in Christ will not be defeated. Praise God from whom all blessings flow that we aren't alone!  We are 2 Corinthians 4: 8-12:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 
 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 
So death is at work in us, but life in you.

OH Glory on Glory that our suffering bears eternal glory! Christ is manifested in our lives and his glory is spread among the earth when we suffer as he suffered. It isn't fun, and it's not felt every day, but what honor is bestowed on us as sons and daughters to carry the mark of the Savior- to suffer as he has suffered so that the presence of God may be known among men! We don't suffer for a man who never suffered himself, and we don't worship a God who does not understand our loss. He suffered first to bridge the gap, we follow to shine that light out of our broken, sometimes devastated, fragile jars. There is purpose and good to our pain. if you are anything like me and you are in the thicket reading this- I pray you are encouraged but you may be angry right now. I say this in FULL CONFIDENCE- If you belong to Jesus he will drawl himself near and will find joy in the suffering (just maybe not today).

And my friend that may be reading this and doesn't believe Jesus is enough, you aren't alone in that either. If you find your spirit a little fussy as you read this because you don't believe in Jesus or you simply don't have faith for this today, you aren't alone. But can I make one request of you? It is a simple one- try Him. If you are angry in your grief- let him know. If you are desperate in your grief, let him know. If you are lonely in your grief, let him know and then revert back to step one. Find a friend- one you trust and share your burdens, because there is life in our design when we live it out. Christ came for the broken, the needy, the sick, and the weary- if that doesn't spell out grief, I don't know what does. 

My prayer as I come to an end is that as you experience loss you experience it knowing you were created for more and there is life on the other side. Hold on to hope. Also know that you can take the pressure off yourself to cope in any specific sort of manner, there is freedom in Christ to not be okay and there is freedom in Christ to experience fullness without shame. Wherever you are at in this process- there is a God who loves you, knows you and made you with a specific design in mind. Grief and loss are tough, no easy way around it but there is life waiting for you to experience even in the thicket. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Minimalism- How one mom's cluttered house taught me a valuable lesson

Where to even begin. That's really all I'm thinking these days...

Where to start with school, where to start with finances, how to start my day and where is my bible? Just an endless feeling of there's something that needs to be done and if I am honest there is an emptiness I associate with my needs. 

Well a few days ago was no different. I set down at the desk with my tore up purple, fake leather bible and journal and started to spend some time with the Lord but couldn't. Like I literally could. not. will myself to open that bible; I couldn't will myself to journal- I had no will, typical apathy. So in true millennial fashion, I pulled out my phone and pulled up my social media apps and just started mindlessly scrolling. I wasn't really looking for anything, more like looking to do nothing. As I was scrolling I happened upon an article, "How Getting Rid Of My Stuff Saved My Motherhood" (intriguing right?). So I clicked and read, I'm not really sure what compelled me to (apart from the fact that the spirit compelled me) but I'm glad I did. This mom Allie, started writing about how clutter was ruining her motherhood. Piles of clothes bearing down on her patience, toys cluttering her home and her soul- stuff, just stuff, keeping her from her family. I started reading and everything she said just struck a heart chord...

When I thought about my days and how I spent my time, all I saw were piles of dishes, an endless mountain of laundry, and picking up toys and books and markers and jackets and shoes and empty water bottles and paper artwork...
I asked other moms, friends, and people I respected if this was normal, how they managed their homes and kids, and if they felt like they enjoyed it. What I was met with was a resounding “oh yeah, I remember those days! That’s motherhood. It’ll be okay and you’ll get through it.” 
“You’ll get through it.” 
But what if I wanted more than to just survive in my motherhood? That’s what I was doing now.

You'll get through it... You'll get through it?? Are you effin' kidding me? 
I was enraged for her. Allie, girl, I want more for you than just- you'll get through it. It hurt to hear. I think that was the moment I connected with her. It hurts to hurt and I could feel it in me. I could hear the agony in her voice- the "there has to be more than this" moan of defeat. Life is life: circumstances, good and bad, come and go, but in the thicket of life there is more. There is always more. Not a cosmic more, a life-altering, all-transforming more and as she ached for more, I ached for more too. 

After another particularly difficult day, I reflected... This wasn’t abundant life, it didn’t feel purposeful, it felt overwhelming and depressing. In that moment, I had had enough. I decided I wasn’t going to let this be my life, and this overwhelm and depression wasn’t going to rule me any longer.
What I did next set my life on a new course, and it never went back to the way it was. It changed everything.

READ THIS BLOG! 

What she did next was purge! She tossed everything she didn't need. Tossed toys, clothes, etc and left nothing but the basics. She started talking about how she could feel the depression lift. She noticed a difference in her kids and her marriage. She quit letting "stuff" control her. She wrote this one line... 
"Our stuff is literally stealing away our joy and our lives" and tears rolled down my face. Stuff is stealing our joy, our lives away and we let it. I let it.


“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts from it.” Joshua Becker


Yes, I'm not a mom


No, I don't I have my own home and "stuff" that is cluttering my life. In fact, I just got home from living overseas and I have very little physical stuff. But it hit in that moment I have stuff constantly calling for my attention. I allow all kinds of things into my heart and mind that distract me. I don't just allow them I invited them with arms wide open. I neglect what matters. Proverbs 4:23 warns against this, "Keep your heart (and mind- I add) with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." 

Minimalism is missing. 

My heart hurts because I have allowed infection in it. I invited things into my life that just distract, they keep from experiencing the fullness of God in all that I do and all that I am. The ache of more, isn't the longing for more stuff to distract. It is my spirit's longing to shed all but Christ in me. See everything around me and within me says- self medicate, self help, self sufficient but the reality is self destruction. I don't have to get through life, I don't need to "just deal" because there is greater out there and He beacons me to come and die. Die to the sin that wants to consume me, die to the world that wants to get me down like a bad hair cut. Die to "self" and let that bad boy stay dead. Like D.E.D, dead. Then pick up my cross and live. Abundantly, my friends, ABUNDANTLY. Christ's intention is the promotion of himself, and the removal of anything and everything but himself. I'm not gonna lie, my heart isn't always on the same page, but the promises of God are true. He who began the work will bring it into completion. The day He returns and there is nothing left to distract, nothing left to take away my affections- no lies or deceit- all there will be is glory. Until that day, I am to choose minimalism. The promotion of what is valued most, and the removal of everything else. I am to stay steadfast and true. It isn't easy. It was never going to be easy. 
But it starts with one corner of the house at a time...

Living room- where I spend my time
Toys- the things I think I need that I don't
Bedroom- my language (music is a big part of this- ugh)

Remember- this is the promotion of what MATTERS, not behavior changes; not cleaning up my act so "guests can come over and I won't be embarrased." This is allowing change to do it's job in me- removing everything but the basics.


"I want this for you, sweet friend. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this for one more day. You can choose a different path, you can thrive, you can love this life, you can escape the chronic overwhelm that everyone else calls normal. I promise you, it’s so worth it."


If this is true for our homes and our families- how much more applicable is it for our spirits? We were made to experience Life (aka Jesus) given abundance! Minimalism- our well spring needs it.


 "Let your eyes look directly forward,
    and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
    then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
  turn your foot away from evil."



Friday, June 13, 2014

Remember who the real enemy is, Katnis....

You know, sometimes life can suck. Plain and simple. Its just like the song "ironic," anything that can go wrong, will...Rain on your wedding day, a thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, or the ever so classic- every light turns red when your running late. If you believe in karma, these are the moments you think, "I really shouldn't have cut that dude off yesterday." I don't believe in karma but I do feel the effects of a plain ole bad day.

Have you ever noticed that things go horribly wrong when you've felt a calling on your heart? Or when things start to get easy? Or when you've just paid off a major debt? I don't subscribe to coincidence. In fact, very plainly I've been told they are purposeful.


The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy...john 10:10a


1 peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 



It is no secret...we've got someone against us. Maybe not every bad thing that happens is a personal attack but we absolutely know there are forces conspiring against us. Its not just a cheesy movie line. 


This enemy lurks in the most common places. He lurks in our homes, relationships, jobs, in traffic, in our churches, everywhere...and he LOVES to cause chaos.


BUT, there is always a but....


...BUT I come to give you life abundant! John 10:10b


We may have an enemy who causes chaos and trouble but we have a sovereign God and his heart is for order, peace, and reconciliation. (Amongst lots of other things)


But is that always our hearts? Do I always want to respond to the internal and external chaos the way Christ would ask me to? No of course not. Especially not when that chaos is in my relationships. Because that means I have to lay myself aside. If I'm being totally honest then I have to admit I hate conflict, I avoid it at all cost and when its unavoidable then my shields go up. I dont want to be disrespected, I don't want to be wrong, and I most certainly don't want to choose to let someone else "win".....and there lies the problem.


The purpose of conflict is always going to reconciliation. Always! As long as God is still sovereign. And he is, so there's that. He told told us a long time ago that he would send his son, like a lamb to the alter table, to reconcile us to himself. If he desires peace between him and us, then he desires the same peace for us between each other. 


That peace can't exsist if I choose myself first. That peace can't exsist if I go into conflict looking for a clear winner or loser. That peace can only exsist if I follow in his footsteps....


And no greater love has anyone known than this, that one lay down his life for friend. John 15:13


It stings deep every time I hear it...I cannot be living out Christ's love or His peace if my desire is to be right, to speak my mind unfiltered, or to have things my way. And if I speak or live without love I'm just noise, right? (1 Corinthians 13:1)


Its hard to choose others first especially when life chooses to give you a knuckle sandwich square between the eyes. Or when it seems its all you can do to stay a float. Or when they are wrong. Or when you're the one wrong and humility is not what you signed up for. (Is that just me?) Or when life just gets chaotic and you just want to get to work on time for once. Or when life gets really dark and its clear to see without a shadow of doubt the darkness lurking around.


We have an enemy, family. The God we serve seeks order, he stirs chaos. The God we serve calls us to unity, he stirs up petty strife. The God we serve seeks redemption, he stirs up embitterment and grudges. The God we serve is willing to die for what he loves, but the enemy wants nothing more than eternal death for us.


 So fam, we have to stand resolve. We have to fight for each other, not against- we aren't the enemy here, he is (Ephesians 6:12). Just like in catching fire, when katnis is ready to shoot finnick because she doesn't trust him in the games. But then in a stern, serious tone he yells out to her, "remember who the real enemy is, katnis." Immediately her bow drops because she is reminded that the games is temporary and there is a much bigger foe to fight. She remembers in the midst of chaos who the real enemy is. We HAVE to be able to do the same. So then we can stand together; picking each other up when we fall down. Reminding each other of truths when the other forgets. Speaking the very words of life against the enemy God himself spoke! And taking courage we aren't at this alone!




1 peter 5: 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.


After all, this is temporary. We've been called to something much more eternally significant. A glory that vastly out weighs any glory on this earth!


 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.


And in the end, after we endure all the strife the enemy stirs up in and around us; Christ has a promise for us....IT WILL BE WORTH IT!


So good, isn't it?!





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fruits of the Mouth, Feeding the Soul.




There's nothing quite like language to speak to the soul. No sarcasm intended...

I mean don't get me wrong, there are all kinds of way my soul finds comfort. Oh how I love the warmth of a hot tea/chocolate on a cold day that warms me to my core with every sip! I love a beautiful sunset on the horizon that gives the earth a warm, cozy light right before bed! I absolutely love it when I have found a painting or photograph that evokes emotion that sends chills over my body, or simply draws my eye into it so cleverly that I am captivated by it! Whatever it is, there is beauty all around that ignites passion within our beings but there just isn't anything quite like language...

Like a good book, maybe by Jane Austen, that has this gorgeous language that makes you wish you were British. Or an article you read that has sparked intrigue just within the first sentence. Or an old hymn that  brings you to tears while simultaneously healing. It's within movies, songs, everyday dialog- the sweet spoken words that bring joy.

 


For me, it never fails when I have a good conversation with a friend I always walk away feeling passionate. Whether it's for change or just brotherly love, it doesn't matter it stirs something in me. It is a stirring my soul longs for. It can be found in a good blog filled with truth and vulnerability written so eloquently. I immediately feel a soul connection to that person even if I have never met them. It cannot be helped, language draws in and bonds. They say actions speak louder than words, however words give off a volume all their own. They have power! Power to motivate, to ignite creativity, to inspire, to encourage, to give life!

I've decided the one constant factor in every life giving communication- song, literature, conversations, art, sign language, all of it- is the precious, rare exchanging of hearts! In a culture like ours, going morally bankrupt, where everyone values privacy due to the mass exposure we experience everyday- it's so rare to be given someone's exposed heart. The one and only soul of a person, intricately knit by the Almighty, it's more precious than Gold! What makes this exchange so precious? It's the fulfillment of one of our core desires- to know and be known! It's what we are all looking for right? Intimacy with another?

 Oh but how quickly I can be to forget and fail to realize. I forget the intimacy in the GIVING and RECEIVING of a heart. I fail to realize that in the stock market of life there is a vast shortage in the exchanging of souls. I forget the value in lifting that soul up and if I am not careful I fail to seek the value in another. I forget the language I use, day in and day out, verbal and non, is the tool I've been given to reflect light and life....it is a delicate tool, too.

"Wise words are like deep waters;
    wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook."

"The mouths of fools are their ruin;
    they trap themselves with their lips."

 "Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest."

 "Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose."
                                                       -proverbs 18


But I don't want to forget! I want to always remember that I am to be the hands and feet that bring the good news. That I want the meditation of my heart to be acceptable. I  always want to be a safe place for hearts to find rest because of the great kindness and love of the most high King! I want my language to be nothing more than the arrow that points back to our rock, our  salvation, and our redeemer! My hope is I never choose to feed people poison. But my abilities are weak and fainting, so my prayer is this..
.


  Jesus, be the discernment I need to know when to speak and when to listen. Always remind me of the intimacy in giving and receiving hearts and to find sacredness in every soul I come in contact with. Let your gentleness be the symbol I wear, let your purity be my adornment, and your love be the song on my lips. Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies. Give me clean hands to carry the gospel and put righteousness on my feet to go to the broken and weary. You be the fruits of my mouth and keep the worldliness inside me and around me from speaking poison. For the sake of your people and for your glory, protect my heart from being a vessel of death, but instead make me an ambassador of light. Your name is higher than the rising sun, and I pray the world see your light and is forever changed by it just as YOU said!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Welcome to adulthood....you're in for one heck of a ride!

So in the car the other day, as kim and I headed to jackson, she looked at me and said I don't know what I want to do with my life." To which my response was "welcome to the club!" If you are 20 something (or older) you know the club I'm talking about...

After that what followed was a simple but loaded question...What does it mean to really be an adult?  Taking into account I am no expert I cautiously approached the question.  I shared with her what I've learned/am still learning... And now with you. Please, bare with me as I process!

Well from what I am learning, being an adult doesn't mean having your life figured out. It doesn't mean having the right job or a family or house or a college degree. Even if those things are obtained, does that necessarily mean that adulthood is obtained with it? As a kid I always thought that I would grow up and go to college and get a great job and build a big fancy house and have everyone I loved live in that house with me and my 4 dogs. Yes, 4 dogs. I imagined lots of land and a pool and a good life. However, I never imagined what it meant to be an adult.  I just assumed that it came with the title, that I would grow into it. But truth is, it just doesn't work that way.


Kims response was such a great way to summarize this thought. She said "so it's when paul said when I was a child I thought like a child, I acted like a child but when I became a man I put away childish things." Yes, yes it is just like that. I love how well kim easily brings scripture into perspective. She's a rock star.


As children we live in fantasy.  Nothing wrong with that at all, we need it. Children desperately need imagination and adults could use a little more of it. However, there inevitably comes a time where I have to put aside the childish reasoning and desires and begin looking to a new way of logic. I have to mature. We all do, Paul makes that clear in his letter to the Corinthians. But what does it look like to walk that out?

Well I'm still learning, still seeking scripture and guidance. However, based on the conversations I've had with mentors revolved around this very topic there are 2 conclusions I've come to...

My first conclusion is this,  life is not a road map and at each check point you get better, finding out the answers to life with each stop as if we are on a perpetual upswing. (We all know life is much more like a pendulum.)  The "we get better as time goes on" isn't always what it seems....yes, with age comes experience and perspective and yes, there are good, practical life skills that come out of those experiences but life is a lot messier than that. Growing old doesn't necessarily mean growing up, and it definitely doesn't mean maturing. There is only one place to find the answers to life and to maturation and it reassures us constantly that this world just ain't got it! If I cling to life experiences on earth to navigate me through adulthood and expect it to give me what I need; I, my friends, am in for a rude awakening.


Second, and on an even deeper level, sometimes being an adult means doing whatever is necessary not desireable. In fact Sunday in my financial peace class Dave Ramsey said this, "part of maturing means delaying desire." I'm going to be 100% transparent here. I really struggle with this one. I've had this conversation more times than I care to admit. I've been called out on living frivolously and I've had to really learn how to face things in life that I just didn't want to deal with. My fall in action is running away in fear and ultimately out of selfish preservation. But I can say this with deepest sincerity, delaying the inevitable only causes harm and it is NOT living out authentic adulthood. As a wise woman once told me, there is just something to doing whatever it takes to (insert need here) and you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. I can't speak for you but I can for me and I am so incredibly thankful for mercy, deep abiding mercy in these moments because I really have to expose my depravity when it comes to walking out a Christ centered adulthood. Simply put, I fall short.

See Christ calls us to face the world head on, not to shy away from it but rather to invade the world around us. When paul says to put away the child his following statement is that nothing else will last in this world but faith, hope, and love. The greatest is love. In order for me to love the world around me well I have to set aside my childish desires and frivolous living. I have to learn to walk out taking care of myself so I can play my part in taking care of the body; so we can go together out into the world and be the hands and feet of Christ. I am called to this, I am not asked- I am commanded to go to the world with the gospel. I can't do that if I can't be a good steward of every resource he has given me, especially myself. We live in a cause/effect world and as a christ follower I have a responsibility to it; it simply cannot be ignored or ran from.

Feeling encouraged yet? Neither was Kim. Nor I, when I've had these same conversations. I struggle not to feel condemned by my own sin and not to feel overwhelmed by all the things I "need" to change or do in order to live all this out right. My mind cant help but replay all the ways I do this life all wrong. Well here's where I can be encouraged and where I pray you feel encouraged as well....

I AM INCAPABLE OF DOING ANY OF THIS ON MY OWN AND GOD NEVER ASKED ME TO!!! I  CANNOT be better, I can't change my nature, I am unable to mature on my own, I will not love on my own accord, I can not carry the weight of the body of Christ on my shoulders. I can't but He can. He did. He does. He will continue to. While I find it impossible to accomplish just one of those things on my own, Christ has already accomplished them all and so much more! I could sit around feeling sorry and bad about myself because I have come up short, or I can choose to lay it down and do what he does ask of me. The same simple request he made to a couple fishers, a tax collector, and some other random dudes he asks of me..."Follow me." I can put down my nets, let go of the past and start out by just simply going where he goes. Following him wherever he leads....one step at a time trusting him.

 I struggle to walk life out well, to live out authentic, transparent adulthood. I'm no where near perfection. But I'm encouraged by the fact that I was never asked to be perfect yet Christ promised he would create perfection in me anyway. In spite of all the times I fail him, fail myself, fail the people around me he still chooses to do life with me. He chose to come here and show us what it looks like to walk out adulthood perfectly then chose to go home to his father where he sent his spirit to do it with us if we just choose to get up and go. What an incredibly gracious, loving, giving, patient God. How humbling he chose me!

So like I said, I'm no expert. I claim no authority over the answer to the complex question over adulthood that has been asked time and time again. The only claim I make is that Christ has all authority in heaven and earth. But I will gladly share what I've learned about this adult club we all have waited so long to join- it will look bumpy and messy a lot of times. It will be hard and not at all what I or you expected other times, BUT you aren't in it alone and Christ lived and died to give us a full life, not an imaginary life. I gladly tell you all this in hopes you are encouraged and if at the very least to say, welcome to the club! I sure hope you choose to join in....there's nothing else on this earth like it!



Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10



1 corinthians 13: 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year Has Come!

Happy New Years officially!

It's been a good year as always. Even when looking back over the year and seeing all the the ugly and hard and sad days; they still can't compete with the joy of knowing Christ is my savior and he is good! Not to mention he made me a promise that even those days would be valuable in my life. So yeah, It's been a good year and I hope you are reflecting back on your year and you see God's faithful provisions in your life as well. Maybe later I'll tell you about mine and how he has been good to me this year.
Anyways moving forward, which is exactly what new years celebration is all about. Forward moving, leaving the past behind and looking to what's ahead! Straight out of Philippians 3! I know that now as an adult. I see how on the the last day of the year looking at the past 364 days squeezed into a short series of thoughts and assessing its worth or lessons, its turmoil and providence, is a fairly big deal. As a kid I never understood the occasion. I didn't understand why I had to miss out on sleeping to watch a ball fall out of the sky, and lots of people dressed up like its Marti gras make out, popping bottles, and blowing obnoxious horns wearing obscene hats. And then our family would talk about their resolutions for the year which I definitely didn't understand. Why make a promise just because tomorrow's date has a different number on the end? Granted I was a child and for me the best resolve I had was to get in less trouble. Nevertheless, it's still, in my mind, a plausible question. Why make a resolution? Do we even know what that really means to be resolute?
Resolute:
1. firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion.
2. characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, action etc.
synonyms: earnest, firm, fixed, steadfast, unwavering, undaunted.
That, in my opinion, is some pretty hefty stuff. It's not simply a, "this year I want to..." It's a total take over, complete change. A resolution marks us, it identifies our character, our spirit, our action, etc. It was intended to be set in determination for accomplishment, something that there are no backsies or crossed fingers on. Like our founding fathers for example; they resolved that this nation would be its own, belonging to its people, following its own standards of justice, a network of people held together by a common conviction and for them to fail was not an option. They lived, breathed, ate, were the resolution they wanted to see at all cost...including their lives. When have I ever felt the earnestness of soul to BECOME the embodiment of the change I want to see? Really? I can tell you this-its not often and for me its not once a year either.
In one hundred percent human honesty, I don't believe I have the innate character to dedicate myself like that. There are lots of good things to resolute and lots of things in our ever-changing society that tells us we should resolve to: new bodies, social justices, time worthy activities, etc. But for me, is it worth it?
I don't know if that is true for you but for me in the very same breath I speak that level of apathy my spirit sings His praises. I serve a God of fervent, NEVER CHANGING conviction. In a world where resolution is to much of a commitment for me, lives the God who resolved before time began to commit himself to me. Where I feel anxiety by my character being marked or defined by my resolution, sits a God on his throne that branded his character loving, good, and constant for all of eternity. I serve a God unaffected by changes in time. A God who isn't apathetic like I am. A God who is out to make me like him.
He wants me to love my brothers and sisters and to earnestly seek to serve them. He wants me to be resolved in telling the world of his loving kindness. To boldly go make disciples in his name. He wants me to obey him with firm conviction. He wants to give unwavering hope in a chaotic world. He wants to give me a heart of flesh not stone, hands and feet to serve, and eyes undaunted by the evils of this world. He is out to give me himself. My inherent nature may be to shy away from such commitment, but Christ being greater than me is in the process of purging that sinfulness and giving me a contrite spirit. He is giving me a resolute spirit like his own! He won't settle for my weak, pathetic soul. No, and since he knows I can't produce the ferocity it takes to become like him; he is good enough to take my life-less being and breathe newness into me! He is good to define me by his character not mine!
While my heart is still hard towards new year resolutions, his heart is privy to being resolute in changing me all together for all of eternity- one day, one year at a time until we meet in perfection face to face. But If I'm not careful I will miss all of this! I see best looking back, he sees all time mapped out before his eyes. This process that I often only take once a year to observe is going on all day everyday in the secret places of my heart only he knows. So if there is anything I need to resolve, it's to observe more and seek Him more- remembering He will bring about the changes in me because I can't.
So on the first day of 2014, looking back over the last year of my life I see where God has been faithful: faithful to provide, purge, convict, change, love, remain, grow, and lead. But mostly, I see how he has been faithful to give me more of himself and take away more of me. Just like he promised.
                     Hindsight is always 20/20.


If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation, The Old Has Past The New Has Come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stop looking for Mr Right

Just read a great blog about modesty. It was written by men to women, so sweet and so encouraging! Its so sweet to be reminded that men do value modesty in women and not just in our clothes. And so encouraging to be reminded that modesty is something I'm called to! It makes it a lot easier to live a life of modesty and not just wear a wardrobe of it when it has eternal significance!

 Speaking of significance, let me translate my thought. As one man said modesty is deeper than our looks or clothing, its the way I carry myself, what I choose to draw attention to, how I speak, and how I choose to live life with the people around me. Externally, you can chalk a lack of modesty up to "daddy issues" or "attention seeking" but the issue is deeper than that, much deeper and deserves to be acknowledged. All women struggle with modesty and sexuality. Our natural bend is to believe our worth is based on our bodies. We evaluate our value and others based on outward appearance and an inward lie. Now whether or not that manifests itself in our wardrobe is another topic but in some form we all fall prey to it. Ladies I know every one of you can attest to this in your own life some way, internally or externally. Whether it's a woman's struggle to want to flaunt it cuz she got it or a need for some sense of intimacy. Or maybe it is a self loathing based on insecurities so we tell ourselves "at least I'm not her" or "I will loose the weight this year." Whatever it is its doing damage.

But I think there is something to be said about all that. And that something is that we have misplaced our significance. Kind of like we misplace our keys or wallet or cell phone. We  know where it is for a while until one day we get careless. Slowly but surely we no longer go to the same place everyday to find it, instead we begin to treat it as if it were dispensable. We seem to forget the cost to replace it is just TOO costly. There in lies the problem. For believers we know exactly with whom and where we can find our worth but even then after time its as if we never had it to begin with. And before we know it our significance is gone and we are in a frenzy trying to find it.

But why? Why do we continue to fall prey to something we know to be as disastrous as this! One major reason is that we choose to not believe what's true of us. As women our fallen sin is to make the choice to question our significance and our identity CONSTANTLY.
One mans response was how attractive it is for him to see a woman put all her identity in Christ and look to him for it because he knows he never can be that for her. But that is EXACTLY what we do! We look to someone or something else to tell us we are worthy when we've already been proven to be! But deeper still we must go...

If we know Christ alone can give us worth and identity why are we still searching? Why do I still search? A couple things come to my mind...mostly because I don't believe it to be true. That truth hasnt shaken the very foundation I stand on! It doesn't resonate in the deepest parts of my soul. I know it in my head and yet my heart still remains numb to it. Because I'm not secure in my identity as a beloved daughter of God and beautiful bride of Christ, I look to myself or the world. Whenever one fails the other is my default not my beloved. So when "miss independent" is no longer gratifying then to the world I turn, as my nature would have it.

The world tells us women one of two things. One, we have to use our bodies to get the attention, love, and significance we desire. That if you're not putting something out a guy won't come around or he won't stick around. And if we don't fit the criteria then just move along and if we do we can measure ourselves up to another. It isnt true and only produces vanity and/or self loathing. Second, going to the opposite end of the spectrum is the self-righteous world that tells us, you're too good for putting yourself out there physically. You are a great catch and any guy would be lucky to have you. Your humor is appealing, your beauty is beyond, your intellect is superior and every guy should want you but just hold out for the perfect one. And how often do we reinforce that in each other? I'm so guilty of it. I'm so quick to tell a friend there is only one perfect male specimen for her when the truth is that's not a realistic expectation. We aren't perfect for them yet we wait for one to be perfect for us to meet our needs for value and identity. Its self serving and not love at all, not to mention that a guy never can be for me or any other woman what only Christ can be. As another man put it "when we know that Christ's blood has made us pure then we adorn ourselves in purity. And that's the most attractive dress you will ever put on". As a woman that is a tough pill to swallow- to really meet my desires for love and significance face to face for what they really are; but the reward of being brought back to a truth as sweet as those two sentences is worth it!

Because at the end of the day I am still a sinner unworthy by nature. There is nothing about me or within me that without Christ is attractive. For the first lie, my body gives me no worth without Christ indwelling it. And we are made in his image...its his image we mimic and if there is anything about mine or any ones body that makes it naturally attractive its purely because he designed us to reflect his beauty. For the second lie, there is absolutely nothing about me internally worthy of perfection from anyone else and yet Christ still chose to give me himself! My heart is decietful, selfish and stone. It doesn't desire to lay down for another and it doesn't seek the best of another. Anything good within me is nothing short of Jesus and his transformation which I cannot take credit for either. The same is true of men, they are just as human as I am. Now not to say Christ won't use a man to call us into deeper intimacy with him and that he won't use two becoming one to do HIS perfect work in us- but to long for a human to be what only Christ is just won't work.

So ladies, we have got to stop holding out and looking for Mr Right and realize He already has found us and he already chose us! He has called me his and compares my beauty to no one else! He has given me identity as His father's daughter, significance as His eternal bride, and purpose here to share His beautiful truth with the world I come in contact with. So ladies with all the grace in the heavens I say, stop searching and seek Christ alone! He has adorn you with his finest jewels and robe, he has prepared a feast in your honor and home like no other! So let's bare the weight of glory and not our mid-drifts. Let us show the world a beauty unlike anything this world can ever know and put the clevage away. Let us carry righteousness with us and not a bitter heart. And may we always know our "prince charming" found us, laid down his life for us, and before the world began he knew us!

 Because as the scripture says, beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Christ is out to create that kind of beauty within us and he will not settle for anything less! You are loved, you are worthy, and you are BEAUTIFUL!