Right In Front Of Us

I’m notorious for placing things on tables and countertops only to forget where I’ve put them. When I ask my husband or one of the kids to help me look, they spot them right away (of course!) Often, whatever I was looking for was right in front of me… For as long as I can remember, I’ve had big passions and dreams. Yet, I’ve lived with hesitancy and a strong sense of reservation about them. Whether it’s fear of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, or pursuing something selfishly, insecurity, or assuming that it’s not from God…over time, I’ve put those ideas and dreams to rest. With each passing year, particularly the last 3 years, I’ve noticed that the greatest passions of my life are more persistent than ever. As 2016 was beginning to close, around November-ish, I felt something stirring there…in that dream place where all of my wishes and hopes have been tucked away. One Sunday when I was sitting in church, this came to mind… “You’ve always had to be pushed.” It took me off guard a bit, but knowing myself, I accepted it as a thought from God concerning me. My response? “Well, I figured you’d push me when the time was right, God.” That day began a string of conversations and ponderings between God and I that eventually led me to Matthew 14. It begins soon after the meal for 5,000 was finished… Jesus tells the disciples to get in the boat and begin moving over to the other side (of the sea of Galilee). Jesus then went to pray alone. “Meanwhile,...

Out Of The Running

It’s been a year, and I vividly recall the light-hearted conversation that turned to dreaming and everything from gluten-free foods to writing and fashion. There we sat, two thirty-somethings, coffee in hand at Starbucks. My friend, Sarah B. —she’s something. She is courageous and funny and easy to enjoy. Yet, what seemed to wrap up our chat that day was this: as we discussed the dynamic among women — ambition, insecurity, feeling unimportant—all the feels — she shared something with me. In the moment, when plagued by jealously, insecurity, or the temptation to compete or compare, a friend of Sarah’s speaks this declaration out loud—she lifts up her hand (kind of like a witness in court…think: I solemnly swear ;)) and says, “I take myself out of the running for…” I couldn’t have imagined how this phrase, so simple, would weave itself into conversations and temptations over the coming months. God was up to some stitching, and the degree of detail would leave my heart feeling a little pricked. Most of us are familiar with some form of the following scripture, taken from Hebrews 12, which refers to a long-distance race, with Jesus as our example… “…to strip off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus…” {verses 1,2 AMP} The Message version puts in plainly— “study how Jesus did it…how he entered into this all-out match against sin, and finished!” Friends, this is what...

Infinite

These past few months have found me living in a 6th grader’s world. Even for the mama with less of a ‘math/science mind,’ it hasn’t been so bad 😉 Truth be told, the academics are a walk in the park compared to the social scene (hand over my mouth). That’s clearly a story for another day. Like many of you, our mornings are busy. While we prepare as much as possible the evening before, there’s always part of the morning that feels harried. Needless to say, coming back to a quiet house after school drop-off is kind of a beautiful thing. This morning, as I’m clearing off the kitchen counter, this question comes to mind, and with it, a message… Why don’t you ask for more? Almost simultaneously, I catch a vision of a rubber band, pulled in opposite directions, tight and thin in the middle. Then this word: Divergent. My thoughts turn to my son. He’s been sharing with me about plate tectonics, and how they crash and slide up against each other, making bulges along the sea floor. We’ve also discussed how the plates pull apart, in a divergent boundary. All of these thoughts swirl through my mind in a matter of seconds, but my wonderings suddenly stop when I realize that this is a picture of my prayer life. Though I speak often about the importance of prayer, and the power within, I hold back. In the fabric of my being, there’s a tendency that is woven so deeply there, it is often unnoticeable to me. That tendency? It’s all about ME, and it can look...

Driving Force

In a few shorts months, we’ll have new neighbors next door. The constant knocking and sounds of heavy machinery are proof of that. Even now, as I type away, there’s demolition and reshaping of the land within feet of our front door…mounds of heavy dirt and boulders building up a boundary next to a new foundation. Amidst the toiling and tending taking place, my mind is set on its own about-face. A few days ago, I came across this question as I was reading, and I’ve not been able to move past it since. Am I living in such a way as to allow for deep transformation in my life? While living is breathing, it’s also a mind that exists and is alert to, persistent, and ongoing in the pursuit of becoming something. Ultimately, this “mindset” will be the posture in which we live and perceive God. Transformation can begin here. Even so, John Piper explains that for many Christians, change involves behaving differently…maybe changing the to-do list of the flesh to the to-do list of the law. This becomes the alternative that they hope will change their minds and bring transformation. “Because people are having real, and helpful, spiritual experiences in certain areas of their lives—such as worship, prayer, Bible studies, and fellowship—they mistakenly believe that they are doing fine, even if their relational life and interior world is not in order. This apparent progress then provides a spiritual reason for not doing the hard work of maturing. They are deceived.” [Peter Scazzero] [reflect] Like many, my life is buzzing with Christian activity, filled with extraordinary people and...

Trouble With the Joy, Joy With the Trouble

When we’re there [on the battlefield], we only see a small portion of the field in front of us. Given the unpredictability of a raging battle, one is apt to complain…suffer, or feel hopeless. And, it may appear that we lose many battles there, allowing the enemy “to have temporary and apparent triumphs.” {story told by John Piper}. With this in mind, consider how Paul addresses the church at Thessalonica… In imitating us (referring to Paul, Silas, and Timothy), you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great JOY from the Holy Spirit—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble [1 Thessalonians 1:6 The Message]. Given the visual of a battle and the message from Paul concerning joy with the trouble, I’m shaking my head. Admittedly, joy is the very last thing that I feel when I’m losing or feeling defeated. Yet, lately, I’ve been surprised that despite really hard stuff, I’ve felt a sort of calm contentment deep in my bones. In acknowledging that it’s there, it remains unrecognizable. And, I’m strangely happy. It’s perplexing at best, and my conclusion is that this must be the indestructible joy that comes from a grace not of this world, because my capacity for joy and contentment is so very confined. Is it possible that I’m actually experiencing joy with trouble? I believe so. When I look to Jesus, I see that while he was a “man of sorrows, well-acquainted with grief,” [Isaiah 53], he was also a man of immeasurable joy and gladness. You see, gladness doesn’t mean that there...

Worship Between The Tides

This week, my family and I are packing for a beach trip. While I’m thankful for an opportunity to disconnect, I long even more to be in a place where I feel the Holy Spirit is tangible. I’m convinced—these feet are shaped for standing on sandy shores, contemplating the miles of majesty in an emerald green sea. Looking out, there is something perplexing and mysterious, yet certain and timeless. Today, this has me thinking of the tides. What I’m learning is that it all boils down to gravity and forces pulling in and out, causing water to ‘bulge’ in high tide, and later retract in a low tide. There’s meaning here… TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven [Ecclesiastes 3:1 AMP] If we consider the rising and falling of the tides as our lives in highs and lows, we must also think about the ‘between’ time where the ocean continues ‘as is.’ Our lives, as they are, may have us going through the motions. They can seem long and daunting in the between times. Right now, my family is in this place—living between the tides. Maybe you’re there, too. Think on this… He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end. [Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP] Every single change concerning us — the time, season, moments of it —...

The Big Wait

  Sisters…in the great casting call of life, all of us are waiting for something: a new thing, good news, a reward, a beginning or an end. And, in the wait, are we intent on becoming, or beholding? Sigh. It’s a heavy question. Before I met my husband, I was a lady in waiting. Then, I was a college graduate, in waiting, for a job. I waited for the job, landed it, and found out a few months later that I was pregnant. A new wait began…a momma-to-be in waiting. In the ups and downs and round and rounds, we wait. And, it’s often about what we’re becoming, isn’t it? Not that it’s a bad thing to anticipate change and growth and maturity and even righteousness. These things make waiting a little more bearable, because it keeps things exciting. But, we all know that the longer the wait, the less exciting it becomes. And THAT is the point of contention. Recently, our family made a big decision. And, at first, there was a great deal of confirmation and adrenaline with it. But the wait became long — longer than expected. Gradually, the big wait felt more like, um…the big weight. So, I did what any upright Christian lady would do (being sarcastic, of course): I got a little bothered by the long wait and got a bit wordy with my prayers and petitions. Do you do that? Suddenly, I had a lot of genius ideas about how to get the ball rollin’ and begged the Lord for signs and more confirmation. I acted out. So Jesus did what only...

{I AM} Unchanging

Most of us are unfamiliar with the technicality of Bible printing. It is complicated at best. From transparency to the fibers dispersed on each page, to the light allowed through—we pinch thin corners and turn pages, watching them fold over and lay down. Today, I’m in a campfire scene of sorts with Moses. Can you hear the crackling of the burning bush from the delicate pages of Exodus? Illuminating here is a story as holy as the ground beneath Moses’s feet. So, slip off your shoes and turn the silken page to chapter 3… “The angel of God appeared to him (Moses) in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up. Moses said, ‘What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?’” [Exodus 3:2,3 MSG] In a blaze, God invited Moses to the grounds of His presence. You may already know that God gave instructions to Moses here on rescuing the Israelites. Personally, I cannot shake the image of the burning bush. Given the obstacles that Moses would later face, what does a blazing bush, one that does not burn up, tell us about God? What can we believe about Him today? For you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind right now? I’m currently at my desk. It’s early in the morning. The kids are at school. I’m well aware of time on days like today, because I have a long list of “to-dos” and a short amount of time in which to do them. The...

Faith That Can Rest And Move

I pride myself on being able to say the right things at the right time. Okay, I know how this sounds…and that’s why I’m clenching my teeth as I type it. For the record, I don’t see myself as wiser, more intelligent, or more sophisticated than anyone else. And I definitely do not have my nose in a crystal ball…if I’ve ever said anything relevant at all, only God could’ve imparted those words. In truth, this admission comes because of the old bones of doubt that have resurrected in my heart as I’ve longed and wished to say the right things to a dear friend of mine who lost her 4-year-old son. Our recent conversation stirs fresh in my mind. At one point I said, ‘I don’t understand God’s ways, but I know that He is good.’ Later that same day, the statement replayed in my mind, but in a question. “Do I really believe that God is good? Is He good when a child dies?” My throat burned with questioning. I felt like a liar. I was confused and altogether troubled at how difficult it was to answer with a resounding YES. How could I have told her something in confidence, when I was harboring doubt? So, I’m going to ask you the same thing…Do you believe that God is good…no matter what happens? If you are squirming as much as I am, do not lose heart. In John chapter 6, verses 60-71, the disciples wrestled with believing and accepting the words of life, spoken by Jesus. They were hard to swallow. “When many of his disciples heard...

Dead of Winter

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple [Isaiah 6:1 ESV] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And, I (Isaiah) said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips….” [verse 4,5] for I have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” **One of the seraphim flew to Isaiah, having in his hand a burning coal that had been taken with tongs from the altar. ‘And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” [verse 6,7] **Isaiah is encouraged and reassured by the touch of the burning coal. He is at freedom to respond to God… And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” [verse 8,9] For the past month, I have been in the temple with Isaiah…imagining this overwhelming account of seeing and hearing the LORD. I’ve found myself stung by Isaiah’s response…it seems almost involuntary. As I remember a particular moment of my childhood, I swell with thoughts and memories. You should know…as a young girl, I was painfully shy. I wasn’t the one who would raise her hand to give an answer, much less volunteer for anything. The thought was terrifying to me. But, one day, when my teacher asked a question,...