safest & easiest

28 Oct

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Reminded again in this season of life that the safest and easiest options are not always the ones that lead to the most life and freedom.  I get scared of being hurt, of not choosing the right way, of new things.  The easiest and safest option is to just not do those things.  To avoid uncomfortable and go the route already taken that already feels comfortable.

As I look back at the last few years though and think through all of the times I finally chose the harder and more uncomfortable option, I become more and more convinced that this is the way to go.  When God invites me into new places, it’s worth the risk.  It’s worth what may or may not happen because even though the outcome is uncertain, I stand on the certainty that He will be with me through it all.

That although this isn’t an invitation to be foolish, it is an invitation to trust in a deeper capacity.  To choose again that God knows my heart and only leads me into the things that bring freedom and closer friendship with Him.  That although all I want to do is go with the easier option, I know that He is faithful. And if I choose to risk with Him, I will come out on the other side much more victorious than I would if I went the easy way.

Here’s to the courage today to go the way that doesn’t feel safe or easy.  To choose the risk if Jesus is inviting.  Here’s to finding freedom by doing the things that make us afraid.

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living less loved

8 Sep

He loves me! by Wayne Jacobsen is a book you must read if you’ve ever questioned God’s love.  I know, how could you ever questioned God’s love… but we’re not talking theory or ideas.  We’re talking how the core of your heart responds to situations.

Jacobsen writes:  “When we worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice, we live less loved.  When we indulge ourselves in sin, we live less loved.  when we give into anxiety in the crush of our circumstances, we live less loved.  when we try to earn God’s favor by our own efforts, we live less loved.  Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to him, we live less loved.”

So, naturally I asked myself and God where are places that I’m living less loved?

It hit me harder than I was expecting.  I came up with a list of 5 places that seem to be my struggle points.  The places where I believe lies about the most, the places I have to fight for truth to reign over my emotions, the places I have finally gotten brave enough to talk to God about.  The places of anxiety about the future – a job and a husband.  My perception of myself and my response to conviction to sin.  The raw places in me that are easy to walk timidly around.

Then I asked God how I get to the place of living loved?  I couldn’t get past Ephesians 3: 14-19.  I find myself here often, but today it held a new weight.  In the amplified version, it continually comes back experiencing God’s love.

“My Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!  May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.  That you may have the power to be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it; that you may really come to know [practically, through experience for yourself] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!]”

Really come to know – practically, through experience for yourself.  Which then surpasses the knowledge which is without experience.  I know I’ve experienced the love of God time and time again.  But I felt an invitation while reading it to ask God to allow me to experience His love in those places where I’m specifically living less loved.  I can try all I want to get myself into shape and conquer these places on my own but that’s about as ridiculous as it sounds.  It defeats the whole point God is trying to show my heart.

It is only be looking to Him, offering those places to Him and giving Him access to my eyes that I will live fully loved.  For it is never His love towards me that changes – that is constant and extravagant.  It’s how I see and receive it.  Something I know and have heard in church but a place I want to fight for to be real.  To be apart of my story.  Of how God took eyes that merely knew without experience the love of God to standing securely and being flooded by God Himself – a love that holds no barriers, no boundaries and no dimensions beyond deep, wide, and high.

Thankful Thought Thursday

5 Sep

Glimpses of Texas in a small store in downtown Leogane

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Fun days with fun new friends

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Imagining the stories behind this simple beauty:

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Lunch time laughs with these people

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Abundant bananas in our backyard

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Goats down the street that are hilarious and adorable

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Diet coke runs with our driver

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Sights like this

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And a recent thankful find: Multi-funcitonal mosquito-killer-bat.
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Happy Thursday! Hope it’s full of things you’re thankful for!

in discovery mode

3 Sep

I’ve had a hunger rise up in me for reading lately. I’ve been soaking words up and flying through titles.

It’s reminding me of old days.  When I was little we would vacation for weeks in Cape Cod and most of my suitcase would simply hold books. Piles of them. But it was okay, because really all you need in the cape is your swim suit, beach towel and a few change of clothes. On that small island it is perfectly acceptable to wander into stop n’ shop or dunkin’ donuts in your swim suit.

One of my favorite memories of summers on the cape though is this little old musty book store my mom would take us too. It was like finding gem after gem, in this old dimly lighted place. It felt cozy, worn in, like so many others before had skimmed the same titles.

This hunger for books and stories died down as I got older… When reading for school took over my time and attention and in my spare time reading for fun just didn’t seem fun any more.

Until I arrived here and all this space and a new stirring in me to soak up knowledge has left me hungry for the words, stories and wisdom of others. To let my mind be shaken and stirred by the thoughts other people have wrestled with and fought to become true in their own lives. To discover what others have found in their victories and failures.

I’ve read cheesy Christian romance stories that seem silly but help my heart wrestle with God in tender places. I’ve read about poverty and God’s story happening in the midst of situations and people a lot of the world writes off. I’ve read thoughtful, raw pieces about vulnerability, celebration, and transition and found myself musing their words over in my head hours later.

I’m amazed by the gift God gives in communication and our ability to experience humanity in a rich way.  To encounter and learn from someone else’s journey, to be encouraged to find courage to take our own.  I’m thankful for the space to read extra in this season and the good books that I’ve soaked up along the way.

learning to be twenty three

23 Aug

Three months ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday.  Since then I have moved overseas and have discovered some really awesome things about myself.  I’ve also been forced to face some not so awesome aspects of myself.  Here – it’s not that easy to ignore.  There isn’t a fancy, cushy lifestyle to hide the pain and numb the emotions.  It’s close living quarters and keeping something hidden isn’t practical or really, possible.  I thought this was terrible at first.  I’m learning it’s a blessing.  A gift from God to feel forced to look the ugly in the face and send it straight to the cross.

One of the things I’ve realized though, is that I don’t really know how to be my age.  For most of my life, people have assumed I’m much older than my actual age.   This had to do with how I looked and normally how I behaved and talked.   For some reason, with that I took on the expectations of needing to act older than I actually am.  I needed to have more knowledge, have more skills, have greater capacity and more success than my age.  Not to necessarily out shine someone else, but to hold onto this image of being and acting older than I am.  It made me feel acceptable and desired because I was able to do what needed to be done.

This unrealistic expectation lead to many instances where I felt disappointed in myself and inadequate for what was ahead.  I never had enough.  I never was enough.  I would read stories of older women and long to hold their experience and wisdom.  And at the same time get down on myself that I hadn’t figured that out yet.

But that’s the point God is slowly showing my heart.  I am only 23.  “Only” holds some lame connotations.  Don’t worry, I’m not shrinking back because I’m “only 23”.  I’m embracing and learning how to only be 23.  To realize I don’t have to have it all together.  I don’t have to have learned and mastered right now all that God is wanting to teach and shape in me throughout my life time.  He isn’t expecting me to be 23 going on 50, full of the wisdom and knowledge I will have then, now.  How ridiculous in words, but how true for the state of my heart.  Those older women know those things because they lived.  They risked, they failed, they fell, they got up, probably fell again and let God reveal Himself in the midst of all of it. They had to learn it, and they probably didn’t know it at 23 either.

This seemingly simple revelation that I’m only 23 makes me feel free.  I feel liberated to learn, discover, soak up knowledge, find people of wisdom and ask good questions.  It makes me want to embrace this experience of Haiti – to learn and grow and stretch and know that the places I let God move in this space will only be a launching pad to what He has ahead for me.  I’ve been kind of timid of this time – placing false expectation for myself to dominate and have full knowledge at how to do the tasks at hand.  Or to already be the person God is shaping me to be in order to really thrive here.  God can’t shape me when I’m trying to pretend like I’m already exactly who I need to be.

I am messy, God’s grace is abundant.  I’m not disqualified because of the mess but fully wanted by a God who’s in the business of healing, shaping and growing.  He wants to take my mess and turn it into a story of His glory.  Where He was strong in the long list of ways that I’m weak.  I don’t have to get it all now and this sets me free.  I get to learn, ask silly questions, fail and fall, but I get to get back up and find God in it all.  To learn what He has for me in this time and space and season to then learn what’s in the next.  I’m not expected to already know what He’s going to teach me in the next.  It is here. It is now. It is real. It is raw.  I am me.  I am His.  I am receiving grace for where I miss it.  I am learning how to actually be twenty three.

living in a beautiful tension

12 Aug

feeling versus knowing

hope infused struggle

helping or hurting

uncertain response

doing while abiding

active, restful waiting

focused eye sight

to have or to lose

eternal wealth

blessed neediness

upside down Kingdom

dream filled conversation

tears of joy and defeat

thankfulness in pain

depth in prayer

urgency in the fight

equipped armor

knitted community

broken communication

transcending love

full&narrow life

finding goodness in the rough

28 Jul

Hard circumstances.  I am first in line to avoid the sight of them.  No one seeks out hard patches. Surgery? No thanks, I have other things to do.  Death?  Mourning is hard, I can’t go there.  High temperatures and no a/c?  Excuse me, no one likes to sweat that much except for at a gym.  From all extremes, hard times are no one’s favorite.  I can testify to that.  This year has been full of hard times.  Really, I have very little to complain about.  My hard times fall in comparison to others around me.  But I’ve been put in the uncomfortable, the difficult and the risky.  And since living in Haiti, my hard circumstances radar has been going crazy.  My awareness of uncomfortable has risen far beyond any place in the states.

I get so frustrated with how tied up my joy is to these circumstances.  Things go right – I’m happy and praising.  Things are hard – I get crabby and emotional.  This week was filled with the later.  Lack of sleep, high emotions, so much heat.  I was rude, full of attitude and just plain exhausted.  And then I read this:

We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

2 Corinthians 1:5 in the message.  Hard times? Check.  Good times of his healing comfort? Even more check.  How much more in this past year, in these past 3.5 weeks have I experienced the goodness of his healing comfort?  The promises, the unexplainable peace, the courage to say yes, the guts to leap in faith, the intimacy of being healed, the necessity of being cared for by community, the expression of the body, the desperate heart of having to hear God.  Those moments, all stemmed from hard circumstances, are so much greater than anything that felt hard or difficult.  What a shame for me not to have experienced them because I hid away in what felt comfortable and easy. How foolish to only remember what hurt and not revel in the full measure of good times that came so faithfully.

Life here is hard.  It’s uncomfortable, hot, complicated, narrow. But it is in full measure of good times of healing comfort.  It’s deep, intimate, near, dependent.  There’s so much more glory in his goodness than in the hard times of following Jesus.  I am thankful for hard times for with it comes even greater goodness.  I never thought I would be thankful for that.