Friday, May 25, 2012

And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.

HELLO AGAIN!

So, I've been reading this book, 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voscamp, and prior to reading this book there has been a lot of restlessness and jealousy in my heart...Why, you ask? Well...It is because I've always wanted to travel this WONDERFUL WORLD and experience all the beauty life has to offer and many of my friends are doing this right now... and since my assumption is that beautiful places and people and things can't possibly all exist here in Tennessee I am restless and jealous. (although I must say if you haven't been to Tennessee, you are missing out, and if you live in Tennessee- you probably agree with me.)

So my dilemma has been,
In what context does God want me to see the world and experience His beauty?
And why do I have to wait? and what am I waiting for, God?

But, this book is beginning to change
 my perspective. Thanks to Ann,
I am beginning to see beauty in my own backyard.


Like...

Beauty in wrinkles on a face
...this many lines are a dead give away of this old lady's age. She has seen decades come and go, if only she could talk- oh the stories she would tell!





Old, worn water pumps and the chair that rested my tiny body- both long forgotten.




Hand crafted doorknockers



















 I can't imagine how long it took one man to forge this small piece of beauty only to be taken for granted, over used and not preserved, then out-dated and never used....it is almost heart breaking.





The one plant my dad is so proud of!

All the days spent watering, weeding, fertilizing, and trimming to perfection (after his poor tomato plant failed) just because he got so much pleasure from them...even though he would never admit it....he always claimed it was to make the house look better.






 The most beautiful shades of coral, tangerine, and lemon blended together in a simple, faithful creation.


 My Grandmother planted these flowers when I was a kid one summer after my great aunt Bea gave her some bulbs and she used the left overs along our driveway....this one time planting has produced a plant has has faithfully bloomed for over a decade- every spring. A seasonal reminder of a promise to renew.




Wild flowers. Even God's weeds tell the story of humble elegance.







Nature's toll- the price this canister has paid for being around this long. With combinations of red and green on something else other than a Christmas tree...it is rusted and gorgeous.




 Yellow! The color of my family's legacy...my great grandparents house (they built it in the early 1900's)





The view from where a child stands; when life didn't have to make sense- no worries, goals, or expectations to meet. A time in everyone's life when we are blissfully ignorant to the changes yet to come.






 What's left of an old beloved life....






...and now comes forth new life.







something old,



something new,



something borrowed,
(this isn't our shed but we use it, haha)



ANNNND, something blue!







lightening bugs! the true signal summer has started

tricky little suckers to photograph while they are glowing.

Hands Down, they are one of God's most AHHHH-mazing creatures I witness on a daily basis. Every night I don't have to get dressed up to see a show, the bugs don't want to get paid, they don't care if they never hear a bravo...and every night like time work, they put on the greatest light show. Like an orchestra, they perform without flaw. I have no need to travel to see majesty when my eyes witness the enticing call to mate by one of the most unique insects.




Different species of trees living side by side in accordance...no room for discrimination on this hill side. Nope- they live in harmony with each other and their creator. No fighting for territory, no war for power... NAH, they aren't like us- they obey their master.





There are all these things that are GORGEOUS that surround me everyday yet I still feel discontent, I still think out there somewhere else is where true beauty lies....and it can't be in Jackson Tn.

So, I was on twitter the other day when I read a quote by a theologian. The thought shared wasn't exactly a deep thought, but it was deeply mindful...those words caught my attention. This man's words kick started the wheel of perspective in my heart and mind. I, however, cannot find this quote at the moment. (fail)

In general, the point was that creation is designed to reflect the beauty of Christ, not to claim it for itself....our immediate thought when we witness something beautiful is to stop and think, If your creation, Lord, is this beautiful, then how much MORE beautiful must you be! Which is incredibly true, not a deep thought...but deeply mindful of who God is and who we are....

I'm a very visual person, contrast, colors, textures (which is totally not visual), depth, and vibrancy capture my attention on a regular basis. When I walk outside the first thing I do (most of the time) is look around and take in the day- then continue my business. But when I do, I do not always think How much MORE beautiful GOD MUST BE, no. I think "how mighty he is" and "how creative he must be," but I miss the beauty of the one that created beauty....

In my research on beauty, I've noticed there is a reason we say "beauty is more than skin deep." Author after author, thinker after thinker, pastor after pastor all agree...beauty runs much deeper than skin cells


"Beauty is but the sensible image of the Infinite. Like truth and justice it lives within us; like virtue and the moral law it is a companion of the soul."- Richard Bancroft


"Beauty is the gift of God."- Aristotle 
(one of the greatest thinkers to live knew that simple truths are profound in themselves and therefore need few words)


"True refinement (beauty) is not mere outside polish. It goes deeper and penetrates to the very foundation of character. It is purity, gentleness, and grace in the heart, which, like the perfume of flowers, breathes out and bathes all the life in sweetness... that which really refines is purity of mind and heart." ~ from Homemaking by J.R. Miller, pages 166-167


The verdict is out, beauty is not ours to claim--we value it, we work hard to obtain it, we convince ourselves it is measurable against others. Here's the secret I've learned for myself (which is not a secret)....Beauty, in its' true form, is not an adjective- it is a noun- proper noun. Beauty is not found in magazines; It is not found in the young or lost in the old. No. It is a person. Beauty is the Lord. (the Lord, not just the Lord's) Beauty is just as much a part of transformation as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-control. WE, in and of ourselves, are not beauty; we cannot possess beauty- just like we are not goodness. But because God, in his goodness and beauty, created us in his image to be a reflection of his beauty. Meaning we are all beautiful- full of beauty. OR as dictionary.com defines it..."having beauty;  having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc." 

Full of beauty? Having Beauty? 

Like Full of the Spirit? Like having the attributes (qualities) of God? 

Like beauty lives IN me?

Yes, just like that. 

Eucharisteo (thanksgiving) for Kallos (beauty), is not found in my backyard- but in the heart of Kallos God has given me to appreciate the beauty he created to reflect his own beauty...because Beauty is not something to be found, it is someone to become like...which is why beauty is not skin deep, it is heart and soul deep

So,
 You know what a heart of Kallos looks like? 

It looks like this girl name Marlo at my church who has found home in Haiti- who has been faithful to go where she is lead...it looks like my friend Kacie Lynn, living with the contents of her pack and
each month, not knowing what changes she will face...it looks like the face of my dear friend Racheal, who has been called to trust the Lord to provide for her while she pursues the passions she has been given...it looks like my little sister Kim, who is living in Pigeon Forge this summer because that is where she is supposed to. You know what Kallos looks like? Me. My heart of Kallos looks like me walking in obedience, and walking away from one home to wait for God to provide another. A heart of Kallos doesn't have to be in people doing or going to extravagant places, no. What does a heart of Kallos, true beauty- beauty that is heart and soul deep, have to have and does have in common with these people mentioned (and myself)? REST! Resting and waiting for God to show up and leading us to the next place...finding rest in knowing that God knows the struggle....beauty is found in a heart at rest.

"Beauty is found in a heart at rest!"


I heard a wise lady say this at a women's night through my church. The context was women finding beauty (and especially women who are aging) in the boundaries of their marriages. Despite the context, which was great and incredibly encouraging, I began to think of this in the context of my own life...If you have read my blogs from the beginning, you can see where my life goes in waves of contentment to discontentment-- I think back a few months ago when I wrote about wanting to be "on the mountain top"  but being called to stay here "in the valley"....and I think about now....in both places I want to see God somewhere else besides where I am. I want to see beauty in Africa or Central Asia or Western Europe, but God never fails to take the callouses off my eyes long enough for me to see the beauty in my own yard. Eight months ago, I wanted to see God use an orphanage or backpacking through Europe to change me; today (well last week) God uses my back yard to change me and remind me my calling hasn't changed.  Really what it all boils down to is that I am in the process of transformation. And in my process, when I take my eyes off Christ the focus is put on myself-- and my ability to change myself and who, what, when, where, and how I think best to accomplish this (which is completely impossible, since I can hardly make myself behave). What I forget, in the midst all of my selfishness, is that transformation is not about me. Transformation is the process of Christ making me like him for his glory....

so, what does transformation have anything to do with pictures from my backyard?

It has EVERYTHING to do with it....everything in Heaven and Earth is His!

For the longest time I thought of beauty as a quality to be attained...I thought of wisdom as measurable...I thought of joy as something to fight for....I thought of love as a two way street....I thought faithfulness was something to be earned, worked for, like in a marriage....I thought peace was like a game of "i spy," something you have to find. All these assumptions I had of life and the things in it that made life worthwhile- things that are considered good- are completely off! 

Beauty makes life worth living, Love makes life worth living, Joy makes life worth living, Wisdom makes life worth living, Faithfulness makes life worth living, Peace makes life worth living.  

BUT,
 and this is a big but (pun intended)

The REASON these things are what make life worth it, is because these are not things at all!
Oh NO! These are the PERSON that makes life worth it! 

LOVE IS A PERSON!!!! Love is a person who died for me, for humanity. Love is a person that allowed an imperfect version of Himself to enter into our world so that we would desire Love Himself. Love is a person that has allowed His name to be misused and misunderstood so Love could prove Himself the only perfect Love. Love is a person who has no equal and yet continues to share Himself with us. 
Love is not a street at all.


WISDOM IS A PERSON!!! Wisdom is a person who gives freely of Himself so that the poor may be rich. Wisdom is a person who gives light to darkness. Wisdom is a person who shuts the mouths of the wicked; who seals and unseals lips. Wisdom is a person who sacrifices Himself for a foolish people. 


 JOY IS A PERSON!!!! Joy is a person who has designed all things in life to give Him glory. Joy is a person who wants everyone to know and experience His name till it shakes the very core of their being. Joy is a person with passion for every life. Joy is a person not to be mistaken for a feeling, or happiness. JOY is a PERSON worth fighting for!


FAITHFULNESS IS A PERSON!!! Faithfulness is a person that unites, that creates common ground, that holds Himself to a standard. Faithfulness is a person who stirs up life in His creation. Faithfulness is a person who designed hearts to follow Him in humility and obedience. Faithfulness is a person who pushes me to fight for the things that bring Him Glory. Faithfulness is a person who fights for my heart!


PEACE IS A PERSON!!! Peace is a person who calls me to go to places that allow me to focus fully on HIM. Peace is a person who transcends all understanding, because Peace is a person who is in full what we are in part. Peace is a person who wants the restless to seek Him. Peace is a person who wants to encompass the world.

 
BEAUTY IS A PERSON!!! Beauty is a person that shares himself with an old tree, an old water pump, an old rusted canister, an old house, and an old chimney. Beauty is a person that designed a faithful flower to be a reflection of himself! Beauty is a person that thought of me when he decided to create all the things in life He knew would visually draw me in closer to him. Beauty knew I would desire Him so much that I would WANT to travel the world just to be that much closer to Him. Beauty knew that the WORLD, not just I, would want to be the physical representation of Himself (as well as all of creation). Beauty also knew that we are fallen, and even though Beauty gave us this spiritual desire to be more like himself, we would distort beauty and try to conform ourselves to Beauty, instead of being transformed by Beauty. Beauty is chasing me, not the other way around....

SO, when I allow myself to fall trap to the lie that beauty is anywhere and everywhere I'm not, I fall away from Beauty. I go back to living in darkness, I believe lies about myself and other people. Thus meaning this process of transformation continues....

Next chapter.