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?