Saturday, October 20, 2012

Grace for the Road....

I recently read a blog entitled; Grace for the Road: Reveling in the places where Mercy meets humanity...I am a traveler by rebellion and so as I write I will cling to those words.

 

I have said before, I call my blog the prodigal daughter's journey for a reason: because on my road home, I have the tendency to run with all my might in the opposite direction.  As a Sojourner, I like to think I am a seeker of truth but in reality I often times am a fleeting fugitive running from the very thing that will set me free. I run far, and I run wide from freedom. Yet it is for freedoms sake Ive been set free and so for Freedom's sake I let go of the chains of oppression!


In my community group at church last year we did life stories. In fact, the whole church did life stories. So in order to equip people (and prepare hearts)  for life stories, our pastors made a video and in that video they said the whole purpose for our stories is to make God the hero of every detail...the good the bad the ugly. I am plenty accustom to life stories, yet this type of story was unfamiliar in many ways. The idea of being purposeful to declare God victor in my story and not just my story being a flooding of details was new and unveiling. I say that to say, way to often the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart are a flooding of thoughts, words, and emotions without purposeful direction. Not anymore, the veil has been removed and God is the intricate hero that makes up every fiber of my story!!!!

 


As the old Hymn goes..."This is my story, this is my song: praising my Savior ALL the day long!"

 

So,  friends, today a log was thrown on the fire! A rekindling of spirit happened and it happened because of 2 old friends I hardly see and conviction of spirit. Ahhh conviction, you are so good to my soul! 

 

Today I had coffee with a friend, a short conversation, and as I listened as my friend shared life with me (one Ive missed out on out of my own rebellious ways) I felt a new sense of gladness and joy for them. My friend is experiencing abundance and I realized (much later) that I've been missing out on abundance! My friend was telling me all about the Jesus I once knew and chosen to abandon...no worry friends, this is only the beginning of today's journey.


My friend finished their story, and asked me for mine. I began to tell me story and as I listened to myself speak I felt distracted and I felt depressed just listening to myself talk. LAME! God bless my friend for not walking out! I told them about how hard life has been, and how different, and how God wasn't meeting me in the ways I expected him to or wanted him to, I talked briefly about the lessons I was learning and the burdens I'd been carrying. (sounds drab doesn't it? yeah I know! not at all appealing and like I said, God BLESS my friend for not walking out) I could feel the weights as if they were tangibly sitting on my shoulder as I continued to speak. However, for the sake of conversation I couldn't keep on the pity train to Loserville forever, so the word "But" came out of my mouth (I didn't know it then but that word came out b/c Jesus was tired of hearing how pathetic I sounded). And that but was the flip of the switch I needed. 

 

Man, God is good. In that moment, God became the Hero of my story again! I began to talk about the ways God had met me, and How he has used the most unexpected ways to LOVE me! And I felt my face physically lift! I felt my spirit lift, I felt the burdens lift- because Christ chose to glorify himself for me! Fast forward to tonight; after dinner with my brother and his wife and my nephew (which was awesome cuz He is 3 and the coolest kid ever....He did a hulk impression that all of chickfila will never forget and he dresses up as yoda/storm trooper like everyday just for fun....I'm super proud!), after babysitting, to an Email I sent a friend where I told my story again!

 

I told both of these friends the same thing, and now I'm telling You! God chose not to love me through my normal friends, or my family, or younglife these past few months; instead He did better (b/c He always does) He has expanded my love bubble! One of the greatest ways God has loved me (and there are MANY)) is through the kids I have at the day school I work at. (And if you know ME, the fact that I work at a daycare may have made your jaw drop......Well pick it up big homie 'cause there's more!) These kids love me despite me being impatient with them or hard on them, they love me when I discipline them, they love me when I'm not in the mood to love them or for them to love me. They love me when they know I'm FURIOUS at them. They just simply love me. They give me hugs or sit on my lap, they hate when I have to leave, they write me letters....some I could do without. I told my friend at coffee, one wrote me a letter calling me kind. I was flabbergasted! Many things I have been called....sassy, entertaining, tolerable (haha) even nice, but kind is one I don't get often. Kind and gentle are words I desire, words I don't deserve, yet have been lavished on me anyways. I don't deserve unconditional love by any being....God or kids, and yet I have received. To say that THIS is a moment were mercy has met humanity, is most certainly true and humbling in ways I never imagined. I am not special, I am not worthy of the type of affection I continue to be shown.


As previously stated, the purpose of my story is to declare God the Hero of it! I am a runner by nature, and up until tonight, I have allowed that to be true of me. I had chosen to be a girl marked by ruin, and yet my father has chosen to pick me out of the muck and place his finest robe on me, give me his ring, and throw me a party EVERY TIME I stop running from something and run back home. Jesus is my knight in shining armor! He sees past the dirt and grime from years of wandering that has hidden my beauty and He has chosen me as wife- to soften, to humble, to love, & to walk with. See the reason my God is the hero of my story is not because He has broken my legs and kept me from running, but because He has given my running direction! He has taken my poor wayfarin' stranger soul, called it his own, and given it purpose... To proclaim God VICTORIOUS and to give good news to the oppressed souls, like my own!

Grace for the Road: Reveling in places where mercy meets humanity (and to whomever came up with that line, I APPLAUD YOU, Sister!)

 

Isaiah 61: 1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come!
 To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

 


 

 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Whispers to and from the King (from long ago)

I found this blog account I started a few years ago under an old email today, coincidentally. I only wrote 2 blog posts on that blog- which Ironically I entitled "Ramblings of a Voyager" (so clearly I've considered myself a sojourner of such for a while now)- and this one I read and could hear the despair in my voice. It's funny because I felt this despair call to the despair that still dwells in me. Then I thought, what better way to begin writing what I'm truly feeling than to share what I already have written on the matter, and then to conquer it with truths! (As you read, you'll see where I already have combat the despair with truths...its just a matter of taking it that one step further, deeper). So here is the old, and the near future will ensue the new.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whispers to and from the King

come to me....
come to me....
come....

hmmmm....that's a thought....go to him.
Go to him...go TO him....just go.

days seem bleak...

hope often feels more like a myth than anything else....

truth is treated as if it were optional or just an idea....

(come to me.)

the world has gone a rye, I feel insignificant and incomplete....

God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change...

the courage for the things i can....

and wisdom to know the difference...

(you don't need serenity...wisdom...or courage...
you need me....
come...)

i look around and everything i knew to be good has the familiar stench of very bad...

the Godly forsake God...

marriages are fading faster than my blue jeans...

perseverance is treated as if it is only associated with chivalry, knights in shining armor, not day to day living....

giving up and walking away has become cliche...

i'm really sad....


come to me...
there is nothing cliche about that....it won't be done in vain...
you know truth, you know it is not a fairytale....you know my soul beacons for you....my love for you and the depth of my involvement in your life will persevere through all time and into eternity.....our hearts are so intertwined they are fusing into one and can never fade away or become separated....

come to me...
listen...hear the stillness in my whisper.....leave it behind and just come....
come. to. me.
come.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Out with the old, in with the new.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

True Love Waits?

I just read a blog about true love waits...incredibly good...and thought provoking.

 I've had a similar experience with church and true love waits, I don't blame the church for my naivety, I blame myself for not seeking truth.

Granted the true love waits symbol in and of itself is a nobel one, one that promotes purity and holiness and not just abstinence (even though, in many ways that's what our bible belt society has turned it into) and those things are good.

 Yet, I cant help but think now, looking back at my own experience with TLW (aka conferences,studies, rings and things), that those things are good, but they aren't God- which is what this girl's point was. She made the point, True Love Waits for what? For a husband? For God to grant our wishes? What's it waiting for? To sum up her blog, We are told to save sex for marriage, to wait a husband, but that isn't what Jesus wants...He wants us. ALL OF US. Not for us to have another to put our hope in. We have true love, His name is Jesus.

 Great blog, Great truth to accept.

I thought about this great Love we have and true love and I thought more on my own experiences and truths I know...and I thought...

Why on Earth, the people who started TLW, would they have ever chose that phrase??

It's SO FALSE!!!

I've said this before and I'll say it again. God is Love. Love is God. It's all the same. That being said, True Love, doesn't wait! True Love, is an all consuming fire and He is out to set the World ablaze, not to wait.

When Christ picked his disciples He said leave everything and follow me, and they did. When one asked to bury his father first Jesus replied... “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt 8:22) Does that sound like the kind of love that waits? 

Now, that's not to say Jesus never waits, because he did and He does. He waits for us to choose Him. Revelation says that Jesus stands at the door and knocks (incessantly) and whoever answers, He will come in and dine. True Love knew that love could not be forced and therefore He waits for us to chose Him, to love Him. But no where in scripture does He wait stagnantly. He is in a constant state of reconciling the world to himself. He is in a constant state of making His love known and undeniable. He is in a constant state of sanctification of the saints.

He waits FOR us, not ON us. 

He is bigger than us, His love and goodness is not contingent on us, but because true Love decided to sacrifice Himself and His rights FOR us, He waits FOR us to do the same for Him....

 True Love doesn't wait. True love calls Himself out of us and demands a holiness that a ring or selfish ambition cannot produce. True Love doesn't wait until we reach eternity to make us in the likeness of perfection; He has set transformation into motion now. True love doesn't wait to purify us; He has already heated the fire for our cleansing. True love doesn't wait to share Himself with us- in fact true love began before any of us were knit together in our mother's womb (psalm 139). True Love is not limited to time or space, and so true love is not limited to waiting...No, True Love loves to fiercely to wait.

True Love just doesn't Wait. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An Ode to D-focus: Truth Discovered and A Word to Encourage

Another summer done, another fall to begin.

I've talked so much about seasons lately, mostly because I am experiencing the truth of them. One thing about summer ending, is that I have a short amount of time to process months worth of life...or at least that has been true from 2009-2011. I suppose I've never talked about discipleship focus in this forum but if you know me, you've heard those two words. This is a perfect opportunity to share that seeing as how discipleship focus 2012 ended yesterday...

If I were to sum up that program and my experience into 2 words it would be LIFE CHANGING!
That program taught me truth about God and myself, authentic vulnerability (even though I wasn't ready to accept it yet), that community is not only real but that in Christ- it thrives, and it gave me a new found hope. And I write that to say, I, for the first time found the "blessed assurance" type of hope- hope that does not waver, hope that Jesus DOES love me and not just wishful thinking. Before this point I HAD built my house on shifting sand and was sink rapidly yet was too deceived by my OWN heart to see it. Christ used discipleship focus to pick me out of the mire and set me on solid ground. I had a new foundation and it had NOTHING to do with me or my works. In the (few, short) years since 2009, I am living out of truth and real, earnest truth. Not every day and not perfectly- BUT I was made new the day I accepted the free gift of Jesus, and in 2009 for the first time, I slowly but surely picked up my cross and head to Calvary.

It isn't that this place is extraordinary or that discovery is some mind-blowing, unheard of truth because it really is just basic truths...But God lives in that place. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in Pigeon Forge, Tn and Branson, Mo and because He does, it makes the place life altering extraordinary. Discovery may just be basic truths but they are foundational and necessary for our life and race and relationship with Him...basic or not, truth is truth and it belongs to God and it is life breathed by him and it makes that study mind-blowing!

I know that I have lots of friends who would say the same, or something similar was true of their time at discipleship focus...

...I also know a lot of friends would say/are saying right now: my heart and mind are on overload and I just need to process.

Every summer after finishing program, I would literally spend almost a week if not more secluded for 2 reasons....1) because I had just spent 10 weeks NEVER ALONE, in shared space with 7 girls (if you've done program, I know you feel me). 2) Because I had to process...I NEEDED that time to process- to process truth, process relationships and community, process what I learned and how it changed my thought and heart life, to process what I had just been through! I needed to translate what I learned into how I would live life. I needed to hash it out with God. I also needed to celebrate and rejoice and be thankful and I needed to mourn and be sad and ready for transition and I REALLY needed to know all of that was OKAY!

One of my greatest struggles, then and now, has been grace for myself. I have lived out of legalism and unrealistic expectations of myself to the point that I felt guilty for being exhausted, for not trusting God right away, for questioning, I felt really guilty for mourning...I have never been one to transition season of life easily and without hesitation. But some of that came from the fact that I still couldn't comprehend that I was just phasing out from summer and into fall but that both seasons were part of the same year...meaning one season had ended and new one soon to begin, yet it was simply part of life and not my life was starting all over again and again. However it felt so chaotic and I wanted to freeze time and just stay where I was, but God wouldn't have that. Because as chaotic and scary as it felt, I have never been out of His control and He has more for me.


There has always been this abundant life God has been urging me to accept- this life filled with truth and rest. A life of grace and not guilt. A life lived with Him.And as hard as it was to have to leave D-focus for the summer, I had to come to accept that as much growth as I gained, there has always been more...An entire LIFE filled with Transformation!

 I am still incredibly humbled that He chose to bring me to that program (in TN and MO) to bring a permanent change in my life, to re-kick start my journey in obedience and transformation.

Because of Christ and His plan to bring me there, I forever know that...
1) God IS the sovereign God of all, He is the creator and I am the creation- He was kind to create me with the will to chose Him and gracious enough to call me back when I don't.
2) EVERYTHING in Heaven and Earth is for his purpose, God is in a constant state of glorification. hos plans are not contingent on my faithfulness or obedience but when I choose to live in accordance with His Son I become less like me and bare His likeness.  
3) God is GOOD and He IS worthy of praise- He has, is, and will always be good. His goodness is so far beyond our comprehension because we are not.
4)His ways are NOt my ways and His thoughts are not like mine; My heart is writhen with sin and is easily led astray-- which is why He is trustworthy and I am not.
5) I am depraved of an attributes of God because I am sinful man. I came into this world dead and once I accepted him- he breathed life into me. It is so hard to comprehend this but the truth speaks for itself.
6) I am in a Life long journey of being refined and my old self being consumed by the fire. Less of me, more of Him.
7) When I believe and embrace the truth that I AM LOVED, I will find my significance, purpose, and security in CHRIST ALONE!
8) There is a reason salvation is in faith and not works: because not only am I selfish and imperfect therefore my works will always be incomplete, but God is complete and lacks nothing- He has no needs and He has no limit to his power therefore redemption through salvation has NOTHING to do with me.
9) I am infinitely valuable, I was made for an eternity of companionship with my father and my savior. I was made for Him, not for myself. I WAS WORTH THE CROSS! Because I get to share in the glory of His death, I also get to share in His suffering.


John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God..." and because God chose D-focus, I have begun my journey of knowing the word and I look forward to spending the rest of my life becoming more intimate with the Word. There is nothing in this world that can compare to the infinite value of knowing and loving the God of All....



So, to my friends (some I know and others I don't) coming out of this summer, know that this season of great goodness you are exiting you are not alone in. It is okay to process and Mourn and soak in the truths you have learned. Also know that this is not an ending/beginning, this is a transition. There may be newness coming or oldness leaving and it may feel foreign and Chaotic, but you are safe and secure in your loving Father's arms.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter....repeat.

(Disclosure: let me preface this by saying that the way I write is universal but this is a letter of affirmation and revelation for myself and letting others into my processes)

Seasons are a funny thing in life...

We come into the world and pretty quickly grasp that the world is ever changing. As a kid, you know when it's fall, winter, spring, and certainly summer! School's out!

But at what point do we truly grasp that seasons were created for us because we are the ones every changing?

I mean even at the age of 3 we ask questions that are cute and silly and as adults we laugh and say "awww presh!" like, "where did the flowers go, mommy?" or "why does rain fall from the sky?" or "what's snow and can I eat it??" We recognize that the world around us is in this constant state of metamorphosis, but when do we realize the same is true for ourselves?

And I don't mean just physically, like charting your height on a door post...there is much more changing in us than our growth plates.

There has to be a point that we recognize, as ensouled beings, we are subject to changing season just as our Earth is subject to revolving around the Sun. Our Earth depends on the force of the Sun to hold it in place, maintain its temperature, create the perfect conditions for every season in life. I can't speak for you (but I'm willing to bet you can understand or even relate), but for me I have a tendency to look at the Earth and human kind as separate creations, that one was created for the other. That the Earth was created for mankind to exist on; like Earth is our platform for existing. I don't have the perspective to say that we are as much a part of creation as Earth is. Our Earth is subject to the sun for it's every necessity....and since we are creation as well if you think about it, are we really that different than the Earth?

Are we not constantly changing? Do we not go through seasons of growth and seasons to rest?

AND are we any less subject to a force greater than us?? 

Can we escape this force anymore than the Earth can escape the sun?

The answer is we aren't that different.

But back to my original question, When do we as people understand that we are a people of seasonal change? And does it take us coming to this understanding to succumb to the power that controls our seasons?

To an extent yes.

Because we are creation- we are subjected to force of the Son. Our ever changing lives are caused by the perfect axis God has placed us on that makes everything work out for His good. We were created for a life of seasons because we were always intended for a life of transformation. Our Earth is a physical representation of the spiritual journey our souls experience...Our Earth goes through seasons, our earth is aging, our earth is awaiting the day that it is made into a new and perfect world. We really aren't that different than the rest of creation....surprise!

I really do think, just by measure of observation, that it isn't until we accept that this is true of us- that we are subject to the force of the Son (that we are an ever changing, completely control-less being that rely on our God to maintain our lives), that we fully allow ourselves to submit to the force that clouts us. When I distinguish myself as an entity of God's creation and therefore am subject to His climate changes, I not only acknowledge my identity, I acknowledge my purpose (that being a part of creation, my job is to live in accordance with my creator.)


Brittany theology here, but how we are called to have a child like faith- I think there is value in us have child like curiosity. If I keep my mind open to questioning and curiosity, My questioning changes from simple questions about the world around me to deep questions about the world within me...I go from curiosity about where the rain comes from to curiosity about how the rain affects my growth. I go from a desire to know about seasons to a desire to know about the seasons of my life. I go from wondering where did the blooms of flowers go to wondering how the environment around and in me affect the blossoms of character in my life. I go from asking mommy to asking my Daddy, the creator and nurturer of my life. My child-like curiosity keeps a freshness in my heart and mind, an openness to truth and revelation. A continual fascination with the never ceasing junctures of life.

Seasons are a funny thing, aren't they?


Monday, July 30, 2012

CommUNITY...

Relationships are sticky...I'll be first to admit I've gotten caught in a few webs before. They consist of sinful people whom primary goal in their natural state is to serve themselves as god. We are a messed up people and our attempt at relations with one another only highlight that truth about us. So why would God make us relational knowing we are sinful???


 It makes no sense we would be a people created for unity...



 


We don't live to insure tranquility amongst each other. We don't live for humility and peace in order to preserve what is holy. We have no interest in picking up the weak and the wounded on the side of the road, because we have other things to do. We don't live to serve the world around us, looking to others as greater than ourselves. We have no interest in Godly things....

We strive to keep our pride intact. We live to maintain the truths that serve us well. We seek justification for ourselves and our pain. We brood hate and conceit against those who have wronged us. We seek to do things in our timing when they best suit us. We continue in impatience on a daily basis because the things and needs that surround us aren't as important as our own. We make pure things cloudy constantly.
We are self-preserving, self-satisfying, self-aggrandizement, and we are selfish...

...And I promise you don't want to hear that anymore than I do. 

Because the Evil in us has no desire to be exposed.

SO why would God create us to be relational beings when He knows and sees better than I do the evil that lurks around me and in me? It makes no sense when He knows we are never going to want to follow his instructions on living in commUNITY...

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others....

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.1If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.



Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.


We aren't built that way....Or are we?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1



 I can say from experience in any type of relationship when the going gets tough...the weak run away. It gets gross and messy and filth is everywhere when we attempt community. Community means being completely exposed to other people and with exposure comes sensitivity. Sensitive people make for sticky situations and sticky situations demand a proponent. Because we are flawed and yet we have been called to relationships and those two things don't mix- the necessity for transformation is apparent.

No wonder God calls us to community, because just like we can't save ourselves or transform ourselves, we can't unify ourselves either.  NO ONE in their "Adam" state desires to lay down his life for his friend much less an acquaintance...and we are a desire-driven people. We desire superiority over humility. We are in a constant state of comparison out of the need for self importance. So for God to call such selfish people to unity is like demanding a pig to fly- it's against our natural state. Therefore posing the need for the supernatural. Just so happens that's exactly what God is, and it just so happens God is in the business of making the impossible, possible. We suck at relationships but our God is the author of them, and once again He is proving that ONLY He is capable of creating a mass of people into a body. ONLY He can make totally depraved beings into a divine family. ONLY He can take the dirty, self-centered, sinful heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh that desires unity over self preservation.

ONLY GOD IS IN THE BUSINESS OF TRANSFORMATION AND UNIFICATION!