Saturday, February 16, 2013

brothers and grace and growing up

{ Ian's 19th birthday }
Ian came home this weekend. I didn't know he was coming. Everyone else did. They thought I knew just because it'd been mentioned around the house, but I was gone during the hours when they were home most of this last week, so the news had slipped right by me. 

I got home last night, after playing games and eating treats with the girls from church, to his mesh laundry bag propped right inside the front door and his voice coming from the kitchen. My arms full of brownie pans and water bottles and books, I ran to him and hugged him with no arms. Gosh, I miss that kid every time he goes back to school. It's weird when he's not here. Like we're all adults living separate lives but still kind of kids. And when he is home it's like we're all learning to be adults with one another, but still be siblings and a family, and trying to understand what this new season of all being grown-ups looks like together. 

Sometimes the moments of employing our adult status is rough. Sometimes it's good. It's a learning season if nothing else, and it's a lot of learning to have grace with one another. Grace for parents that care and want to make sure you're safe and taken care of, but also don't want to enable. Grace for adult-children who want to make sure their grown-up muscles are being exercised, but not flexed in arrogance or pride... It's learning to try to have eyes of grace--so we can see from the other's viewpoint, and not just our own. It's learning to let go of selfishness in so many ways, and it's learning to care and love on a new level. 

"Everything that the Lord initiates and reigns over is graced." A pastor said that sometime last year when I was living in Colorado. And I am not sure why it just popped into my head, but now it has me thinking that this process of growing up and moving through seasons of life has been initiated by God. He created us. He made us, and we are in progress. As babies we change and learn so so quickly, and we never stop. That's life. 

And I think that if we can just start looking into His eyes and learning to keep our eyes on His, we will learn to love, and we will learn to overflow with it. And won't that just make things, like growing up, and living with compassion, so much easier? I don't know. I don't think life will ever be "easy," but I do think that knowing Jesus makes it so much better--because we know Him--we know the hope of Christ and the love of Christ. And it just stops being about us, and becomes about Him, and knowing Him, and wanting others to know Him too, and living as lights for Him, no matter who we're living in front of. And isn't that how it's supposed to be? All about Him. 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before, others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. --Matthew 5:14-16

I'm currently sitting at the kitchen table, with two vases of flowers in front of me, separated by only my computer and my Bible. Ian's half napping, half watching OU play Kent State, on the couch 10 feet away. And this post that began because I was thankful to see my baby brother turned into me thinking about life and growing up and Jesus and His grace.

So my prayer for myself, and all of us, is that we just keep seeking the face of Jesus, learning to live and walk in the promise of His grace and love. 

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love's Definition

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You

I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful

I once believed that love was a momentary bliss

But love is more than this

All You ever wanted was my attention

All You ever wanted was love from me

All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet

And Tell me
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You

Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love

Then love has to be more than sentiment

More than selfishness and selfish gain

And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me

He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me

I could not escape those beautiful eyes

And I began to weep and weep

He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding

Arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding

Love’s definition, love’s definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree

I began to weep and weep and weep and weep

This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is

And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love

He said to me, “You shall love Me, You shall love Me,
You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me, 

You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

He said, "You shall love Me, You shall love Me,
You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me, 
You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me"

If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me

Take up your cross, deny yourself

Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me

You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness

You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me

And You’ll come alive when you learn to die.

He said, "You shall love Me, You shall love Me,
You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me, 
You shall love Me, You shall love Me, You shall love Me"

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

I am saying yes to You, We say Yes
Show us the way of love, teach us the way of love
We will go anywhere for love.

Misty Edwards; "Arms Wide Open"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

He knows me.

I've received many unexpected gifts lately. And they've come in various forms-- from random nanny jobs, to cash placed in the pocket of my abandoned coat as it sat on a chair in the sanctuary at church, to money slipped into my hand by a "delivery" boy; odd jobs and words of encouragement; multiple women--some I've spoken to only once--telling me they've been covering me in prayer...

And as I drove home from one of my random nanny jobs tonight, I felt dry. That's the word that's been going through my head for days. I am dry. I am drained. I am exhausted. And it makes me feel weak and wimpy, and I hate that feeling. 

And as I drove, I just kept saying to Jesus: I'm tired. I'm dry. I don't understand. You are giving me all these things--you are providing for every single need I have, you are encouraging me through the voices of others. You are blessing me with Your voice, and sweet time together, and incredible, encompassing beauty, and You're answering specific prayers and ordering my steps and speaking to me and da da da da da...but here I am feeling dry. And I'm so sorry Jesus. I'm so sorry I'm not full.

There was no audible response-- but I already knew the Truth-- the words that refute these feelings: no condemnation in Christ, I will give you rest, return and rest in Me, My grace is sufficient for you...etc. All good things--all God's word. But at that moment, I was choosing not to receive them.

And this is what happened next: I turned onto the road that takes me 13 minutes to drive from one town to my town, and in that time, the sky went from faint, dull grey with a light purple-pink glow where the sun was beginning to set, to an explosion of pink that lit the clouds in purple as it mixed with the blue, and one ray of bright pink light shooting straight into the Heavens.

Okay, right now, if you don't know me, sunsets are one of my love languages, and I have seen many many many, from many different cities, states, regions, terrains, etc...And I have NEVER seen one like this. Maybe it was my desperation, but it was what I needed, and it is what I could receive. 

And tears filled my eyes as I just whispered thank You to my Father who knows exactly what my heart needs, and exactly how to love me.

It absolutely kills me that I only had my phone to take a picture. And it DOES NOT
even come within a lightyear of doing justice to the sky God painted tonight...but it's what I have.

Monday, January 14, 2013


God has drawn me close, restoring my soul, loving who I am, despite my flaws.
He’s drawn me close to His heart, and wrapped me up tight in His arms. He’s whispered tender things in my ear.

He’s pursuing me, and loving me in ways I’ve never experienced. He’s showing me how He speaks to me in the language of my heart, and He offers Himself to me. He let’s me come to Him any time—all the time—and just hold onto Him, or sit quietly with Him, or thank Him, or cry, or spew words everywhere and be an ungrateful brat.

Why do we ever doubt Him? All He wants is for us to see Him and to trust Him—to be close to Him—to love Him.

I am so overwhelmed by what He is doing and what He seems not to be doing, and what I’m feeling and thinking and learning and having taken away and being given...and I just don’t know how to process or share it all.

So tidbit by tidbit I’m going to try to work through it.

There are beautiful things everywhere. There are simple things day to day that are meant for us. They are there to delight us and to be received by us.

God has put gifts all over for us to pick up as we walk through our days, and as we stumble over obstacles and time and people and life. He puts them there to surprise and delight us. He puts them there for us to take notice and see His love in them. Sometimes those gifts are words. Sometimes it’s a sunset. Sometimes it’s the time you get to spend with Him. Sometimes it’s the laughter of a friend, or the cup of coffee you get to buy with a gift card. Sometimes it’s the warm sun on your face. Sometimes it’s simply knowing that you can walk or take deep breaths.

I’ve told a few people the story of how I forgot that it was fall. Let me preface this story by saying: I AM ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED WITH FALL. IT IS MY FAVORITE. IT IS THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL AND MOST HAPPY AND YOU CAN’T TALK ME OUT OF IT.

But seriously. The fact that I forgot that it was fall is really just a picture revealing an even deeper struggle I have with receiving God’s gifts.  

About one third of this last fall fell victim to oh me of little faith. I was so busy planning an event, so worried about the election, so thrown together, so frantically running from one thing to the next, wondering if I’d be able to pay my bills—pouring my heart out to Jesus in the morning, and then being sucked dry by the time lunch came around.

I couldn’t figure out why though. And then one day a friend instagrammed a picture of her with her cousin-in-law’s little boy (is that a second cousin?) And the caption was simple: gorgeous fall day!

That’s it. Gorgeous fall day.

Wait, it’s fall? Oh my gosh, it is fall! It’s my favorite season! What happened? Where have I been? How could I have forgotten? How could I have neglected to notice?  

You know how we start new things with the best of intentions? Kind of like new years? Well that’s how I began the fall: celebrating it and marveling at the falling leaves, and amazing colors, and fun sweaters and boots, and the stunning sunsets, and the giddiness I felt in my spirit to be surrounded by a Midwest fall again...
And then it was gone, because I forgot. I forgot to see—to receive—to play—to delight—to be thankful...because I was too busy worrying—too busy putting the pressure on.

God was giving faithfully, like He always does. But I was forgetting to soak it let God, and His good things, permeate my heart. I was being offered them, but choosing not to receive them. Because I was consumed with life. Because I was filling myself with worry and stress and attempted perfection instead of Him—His face, His beauty, His Love, His Truth, His Grace.  We can do the routine Jesus stuff—the checklist—but if we don’t choose to really embrace Him—to seek His face—to know Him—then we’re going to be like a quickly consumed bottle of water instead of a constantly filled and flowing hose.

I had forgotten that He was the One upon whom all rests. He is the One who made it all—made us all. He is not a slave to time. He is not a slave to a government. He answers to no one. He is I Am. He is constant. He is steadfast. He does not change or shake or stumble. He is sovereign and omniscient and omnipotent and some more omni-words that I cannot remember.

He is.

It’s that simple, yet we make it so hard. I make it so hard. Where is my faith? Where is my belief? What happened to the girl who moved halfway across the country without a job or a place to live, knowing only half a handful of people? Where did she go?

I struggle with that question a lot these days. I wonder sometimes, if in the midst of my return, the courage God gave me, leaked out across the miles and miles between Colorado and here.

But God keeps showing me how His faithfulness is what gives me courage, not me. Not anything I do. Just Him.

So, that girl is still here.  She just needs to be reminded of who God is. Who He says He is. Who He says she is.

She’s changed. She’s seen Him provide and rise high above the chaos and calamity of the world. She’s watched Him send rain down onto a raging fire. She’s seen Him heal emotional wounds so deep they seemed likely never to mend. But He did it. She’s seen Him provide a house for close friends. She’s seen Him provide financially for every need. She’s seen Him whisper needs in the ears of His children and ask them to give gifts to His other children. She’s seen Him heal kidneys. She’s seen Him redeem relationships and restore brokenhearted friends. She’s seen Him heal her own heart. She’s seen Him teach her to forgive and love and give of herself. She’s seen Him put words in the mouth of someone to speak specifically for encouragement. She’s seen Him free her from the bondage of disordered eating. She’s seen Him provide the best friends and community she could have ever imagined. She’s seen Him supernaturally protect a house. She’s watched Him redeem her view on living with others and community and fellowship and believers and the church...

She’s seen Him ask her to take blind steps forward, holding onto His hand, then pull her nearer to Him with each step. She’s seen Him love her more deeply and fully than she’s ever known love.

Every day we can remember the ways He’s been faithful—and the ways He’s even gone beyond just to bless us because He loves to do it. Every day He puts visible and invisible things before us. We can choose to receive them, or we can choose to ignore them and walk away from them.  Every day—every hour and every minute—He let’s us choose: truth or lies, love or despair, grace or condemnation, being full or being empty...We can keep seeking His face, choosing to hold His hand, walking beside Him, waiting on Him, trusting in Him, believing Him...or we can choose to stumble around and trip and experience life without God, without His hand in ours, without His eyes reflecting who we are back at us, without His heart beating in us...

The steps are frequently blind. But He’s got His arms stretched out to me. He’s not going to let me fall. He will in fact carry me when I can’t go. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. That certainly doesn’t mean I won’t experience suffering or bad things, because I will—this world is full of them and I (and you) live in it. We will face adversity and hard stuff and junk. But we face it knowing that Jesus is with us—that He will never leave us or forsake us—that He is our refuge, our shelter—that He has victory—that nothing in the world will last; our true home—our eternal life—is with Him, and it is good and perfect and FOREVER. We are here for such a short time. And sometimes it seems so big and like too much, but it isn’t. We will be with Jesus in the blink of His eye—but while we’re here He wants us to trust Him—to obey Him—to love Him—to give up everything for Him—everything. We must lose our lives, die to our selves, in order to follow Him.

He’s got you. He’s got me. We just need to choose Him. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

This is The Gift

I'm going to try to put into words what the Lord showed me this morning. And you all probably already know this, but I just got it, so bear with me :)

2 Corinthians is kind of my go to book (along with Psalms), so I feel like I've read it a bunch. But this morning one of the verses was written at the end of Jesus Calling, and it was like it was the first time I'd ever read it.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich." --2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus let go of His riches--not earthly riches, heavenly riches--to become poor in every sense (in comparison to the treasures of Heaven: knowing and being God) so that we, though poor in spirit and in life, may have everlasting riches in Heaven. 

He became poor so that we could be rich.

Not just His life was sacrificed; not just His communion with the Father, but His riches--because eternally He is rich. He endured this life for a short while to give us eternal treasure--eternal life--eternal communion--with Him. So that we may know the face of God, forever. 

This is the gift He gave over two thousand years ago. He sacrificed Himself. He--our King--came down from His throne and gave up His Heavenly home to know the suffering and pain and evil of the world--to know separation from God--and eternal separation at that, because He knows eternity past and eternity evermore, so forever He will know the wretchedness of hell.

He became a baby--helpless, yet Holy. That grew into a boy, who became a man, who was faithful with those the Lord gave Him. Who passed on His Light, who was killed on the cross, who rose again, who has been restored, forever to His true place, at God's right hand.

Who by doing so, gave us the hope of a life to come and a treasure so great we can only imagine. One day we will know the face of our Father, and rejoice in His radiant presence,

This is the gift of Christmas.