Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smothered by the List

I'm sitting here on my welcoming couch after a long day...
and I'm tired.
It's Spirit Week at school, which means extra thought about what to wear...
and I'm tired.
I have Lincoln speeches to read, English essays to grade, and a memo to write...
and, yeah, you know what comes next... I'm tired.


I think of all the things I'd rather be doing (listening to The Help, starting So Long, Insecurity, reading blogs, sleeping!).
My eyes barely open, my mind numb.

Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed with that to-do list that stares at me, taunting me constantly.
It sees the hold it has on me, you know...
It knows...


But you know what?
Sometimes it's ok to rest.
Sometimes I just need to put it all aside,
the list and the noise and the needs...

This good girl who always feels the need to accomplish, to please, to do...
Sometimes I just need to...stop.
And rest in Him.

It'll all get done.
And it'll all be ok.
I promise.

"...for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His." [Hebrews 4:10]

Do you ever feel smothered by your lists?  How do you find rest?  What scriptures do you seek?  Please share!

Monday, January 30, 2012

In the Quiet

It's quiet here.
Beautiful, embraceable quiet...
A light pink candle of pear and cranberry burns on the mantle next to the photo of the ocean waves.
I inhale, close my eyes.
Be still...


Husband's asleep in the next room.
Furry family members have settled in for long afternoon naps in heat of sunny windows.
And I'm wide awake.
Hearing nothing but the hum of the heater and the songs of the backyard cardinals and finches.
And I count...

#293. Quiet afternoons, nothing pressing, just time to...be


Be still and know...


The weekend of going and doing, the seeing and talking.
All the necessaries and unnecessaries-that-seem-necessary.
The running and list-checking and book-finishing and bed-making.
It's finally over now, and I can relish the silence.

Be still and know that I am...God.


He reminds me that these times are just for us.
He knows what my soul needs...what it feasts upon.
Quiet, thirst-quenching time to be still.


So I settle into His arms and I'm... well, I just AM.


"...He will quiet you with His love..." [Zephaniah 3:17]


~~
#218 weather radios and flashlights
#221 glow of sun after rain
#224 fast-flying clouds
#239 layers of morning- trees, fog, sun
#267 friend just like me
#287 sunrise that makes me stop and stare
#290 three-hour nap






Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fresh Brewed Sundays [Shelter]

Isaiah 58:11-
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
~~
If you stand in lonely fields today and feel the sun's heat bearing down, seek shelter in your Redeemer.  Let Him satisfy and strengthen and refresh your soul.

Just rest...


Friday, January 27, 2012

Try a Little [of His] Tenderness

It's Five Minute Friday.
Type for 5 minutes on one word.
No stopping or editing.











Today's word= TENDER


GO.

Tender.
Open and Soft.
Ready to receive.
Aware.
I want a heart that is tender toward Christ.
Never hard or stubborn or selfish.
Like the heart of a child, always open to love.
There are days when I fight hard for the tender.
Days when the callous thorns spring up and try to choke out the young, tender heart.
I want to be changeable and willing to let him make me what He's planned for me to be.
My hardness shuts Him out, so I run from it.
I run hard.
Breathless.
Into His arms.
His tender embrace gathers me up and protects.
My redeemer teaches me tenderness daily.
Without Him I am nothing.

STOP.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grace for... Myself?

A misspelled word in an email.
A Facebook post that isn't linking up correctly.
A misunderstood comment.

A hair out of place, a lack of remembering, a this, a that, a something else...

Harshly, I beat myself up for the seemingly constant imperfections.  
The almosts and the not-quites.
Missing the mark.
The attempts at perfection that fail.

They haunt me, stress me, worry me.
I wear them as chains around my neck, but hidden from the world.
They cut...deep.
I am left struggling to redeem and it chokes the life out of me, stealing my joy.

Do I expect perfection from those whom I love?
Truly, I do not.Yet I have convinced myself that perfection is expected of me!
I have no room for grace...for myself.
I give it freely but I stand defiant, with closed fist, refusing to receive it.

Measure up.
Fulfill expectations.
Always perform well.

Yes, I am one of those.
I am a good girl.
I bleed attempts and failures and errors, and grace is my only bandage.



But I refuse this grace.
This grace freely given...


Reliance on self comes to the forefront and settles in for dinner and a movie...and a lifetime.
Winning the affections of others is my battle cry, and I charge!
And end up flat on my face.


Lying there, in the dirt, I repeat it over and over...
Be you.
Accept grace.
It's ok to mess up...


"...and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6)


And so I continue on this quest to stop trying so hard to be a good girl and just be His girl.


What about you?  Do you struggle with missing the mark?  How have you allowed His grace to wash over you?



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chopping Roots

Every single time I see her, something like a knot twists inside my spirit.
Tight.
Consuming.
Cutting breath.

Her face reminds me of the pain that once sliced my soul.
I want to run and hide... and hide.


Lord, how can I love her?
It just...hurts.
Teach me how.


There is something growing, taking hold, deep within.
There is a root called resentment that gives life to something called hate.
Oh Lord, no...  Not hate.  Deliver me from evil.


I fear that left alone, this bitter root will wind around my heart, suffocating me slowly.

And I know it will...
*sigh*
I know.


These are the times I need Him to teach me how to love with His love.
When I am fighting it with all I am.
When my pain speaks so loud that even fingers in ears is futile.
When my heart sheds tears and pitches a fits.

My sin is great and my need for grace is greater.
Despite the pain, teach me to love...even her.


"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."  -Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

Are there any roots of bitterness or resentment in your life today?  How are you fighting them?  Please share!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Blessing Refrigerator

She's over there again... Why does she ALWAYS think there is something up there for her?

We keep our dog's bones on top of the refrigerator, and she knows it!  
Black lab Lucy, when she's needy or sometimes when she's just when bored, will sit in the kitchen, near the refrigerator, and stare at us.
I'm talking STARE.

What do you need, Lucy?
She looks to the top of the refrigerator.
And we know.
And she waits.
Expecting.

After this went on for several months, we dubbed it the "blessing refrigerator," because, from it flow blessings of many kinds for our dog.

Shouldn't we be like that?
Waiting?
Expecting?

God longs to bless us with delights unfathomable.
His greatest joy comes in the gifts.
He longs for us to enjoy Him!

We gain satisfaction and joy and blessing from delighting in the gifts He give us.
Nothing makes the giver happier than to see the receiver delight deeply in the gifts.

Are you expecting blessings today?  Are you seeking gifts in every moment?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Gift of Interruption

Daily I pass through the doors of learning.
After alarm clock and three miles and hot oatmeal and driving, I enter.
I enter to serve them.
These sixty-two bodies with souls and hearts and brains, eager to find out who they are and where they fit.
They, the in-betweens.  The not-child, not-adult humans- they fill the halls with laughter and grumbling and... life.

My list of jobs is long, ever-growing, and I am weary with the keeping up.
I seek solace and silence and... sitting.
If only for a moment.
And as soon as it's found, it's broken.  That silence I crave, shattered.

One, a young boy man who vies for attention, my attention, expands the hallway to include my room.  He ambles along the floor, smiling as he goes, and I think...interruption.


Young girl flies in at bell's ring, arms waving with joy and greeting.
Interruption.


Students working, not a sound, finally...silence.
Precious young lady full of life and bright future bounces in and stands near. I smile and hear. Future words- college, marriage...fear.  Open.
And shamefully, I feel it again... interruption.


What is this disease that gnaws at me, leaving me for dead?
And my heart is hard.
My spirit grumbling.
My soul dry.

But I remember grace.  My ever-growing seeking of the beautiful in the ugly.
I sit.
And I breathe.
Lord, show me the gifts here.
I'm blind.
Open my eyes.

And then I see them-  the lovely, God-given moments of grace.

The ambling, the waving, the words- not interruptions- but blessings!

Those that God sends my way to bring joy in the midst of the everyday.
I've become a refuge.  A place of safety to share joys, dreams, smiles.
This is what it's all about.
This is why I'm here.
To invest life and love into hearts and souls.
To bless others!

Lord, crush my ever-present need to gratify and glorify self.  
Keep my eyes wide open, looking for grace in the everyday moments...
even especially in the interruptions.
~~



Always counting...
#139- silly thirteen year old girls
#145- celebration of small victories
#146- kindergarten school at Chickfila
#151- aroma of pizza in the oven
#157- thunder in early morning
#167- faithfulness of a dog
#179- books finished and books begun
#184- warm blankets
#187- sun's glow on moss-covered trees
#192- crunch of pine bark under birds' feet
#124- freshly-opened peanut butter

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Those Whom He Loves

Young and wide-eyed boy of four, hair all a mess from playing hard, counting members of his family.
Dad..and Mom..Sister..Brother.. Me.. Baby not yet born..
Fingers emerge, counting thoughtfully, carefully.
Seven!
I look quick, confused, wrinkled brow.
Don't you mean six?
He smiles, excusing my obvious forgetting.
You!  You are in my family!
I smile... Deep in my soul.
I matter to him.
I belong to him.
This child whose affection isn't bound by relation of blood includes me in his circle of love.
It all makes perfect sense to him!  Those whom he loves are family!

And God whispers to me that this...this belonging...this pure and unconditional love from a child...
It's a gift.
I do not deserve it.
No, not at all.
Yet this boy gives his heart freely.
Without reservation.

And I humble.
Slowing down and savoring this moment...
Father, is this how you love?  
When I don't deserve, you give love?


How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! [1 John 3:1 NIV]




Friday, January 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday [Vivid]

Five minutes of writing.
No editing.
Today's word is vivid.

GO.

Vivid means alive.
Colorful.
Real.
Clearly seen.
I seek a life that sees everything through vivid lenses.
Small moments, slowing down in time to be savored, remembered...
I don't want to miss anything!
His graces, the ones He's pouring into my ever-seeking heart with every breath.
I press moments into my heart's journal to hold them there forever.
I press deep.
This life is brief, always ticking away, yet we so often hurry and scurry and rush...
Oh, that rush.
Always chasing us into a place of dull, monotonous darkness.
When we stop and gaze and breathe it all in...
That's when life really becomes vivid.




Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pink Edges of Grace

Long, tiring day finally slows to its end.
Home comes into view, a longed-for sight.
Car in park, seat belt off.
Car door opens as frigid wind accosts my skin.


It's so much colder here in the cove.  

I gaze down the road.


That lovely God-created bowl, carved out among mountains high.
This must be... heaven on earth.


Lungs burn deep from blustering breezes, a gentle reminder that winter's bearing down hard.

I open the mailbox, grasping at bills and advertisements and worthless ink on pages.

There, peeking out from a perfunctory pile of papers, it catches my eye.
Pink edges, bearing the name of a dear one.
No address, just a name.
A name that stirs my heart to know what's inside.

I'm a child on Christmas morning, expectant and excited, clutching a package that craves to be opened.


Letter, handwritten, ink all pink.
Short, but enough.
Enough to cause me to linger and read over and over...
Enough to stir joy and gladness and love.
Enough... it's just... enough.


A reminder of a scripture sent long ago.
Gratitude for friendship and love.
Joy in sisterhood of the soul.

Grace.


My gifts, as I journey to one thousand, multiply every moment.
I am surrounded and blessed by grace.

All is grace.







Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Love Found

Every morning I step meekly, expectantly, into her home.  I hear her children's laughter, I see the fields and trees and farms, I feel the winds on my face.

I'm there.

Every day she teaches me... challenges me... to seek grace.  I read her gifts and find myself searching for my own.

It's everywhere, you know...
Surrounding my God-formed skin.

Grace in a fallen leaf bobbing in the winds of the morning.
Grace in the warmth of a soft red fleece blanket enveloping my body.
Grace in quiet moments before the hurried madness of the day.

God's grace.
His delight.
Evidences of His love for us.


Today I'm looking at my word, love, in a brand new way.  There is new thanksgiving in my heart for the little things.  The moments that lure me to stop and ponder the simplicity of love.

This grace comes in moments when I'm looking and in moments when I'm distracted.  It's there, shouting over deafening noise and whispering in soft silence.

His love surrounds me and invites me to remain.
So I do...
Slow breaths...
Calm.
Joy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Passing the Tooth Test

Today my calendar reminded me... Two little words that I really didn't want to read... dentist appointment.  Now don't get me wrong; it's not like I hate going to the dentist.  I have a really cool dentist.  She has tv's and massaging chairs and it even smells nice in there!  No, I don't dread pain or worry about being anxious.  Why do I dislike going to the dentist?

Because I don't want to fail!!!

You see, I am one of those people who must pass every test.  
I do not like to miss the mark!
In anything.
Ever.

Yeah, it's a real problem.

So, I walk into the office, stepping quickly and pulling the hair from my eyes after walking through the windy parking lot.  I push open the office door to find an almost-empty waiting room.  Whew! No uncomfortable smiles or small talk.  After settling down in my chair, opening my Kindle book, and trying to drown out the noise from the basketball game playing on the television, I'm feeling calm.  I've got this.  

Katie, come on back.
Awesome.

(I'll spare you the details of the visit.  We've all been there.  You know,- scrape, brush, floss...)

And at the end of it all, I await her critique encouragement.  

Everything looks great!  You're doing a good job.

YES!  I passed!  No room for criticism here.  SMILE.

As a matter of fact, your teeth are the best teeth I have ever seen!  And while we're on the subject, you're completely awesome.

(Ok, maaaaaybe that last part didn't really happen, but I'm pretty sure she wanted to say it but couldn't because there were other patients around and she didn't want to hurt their feelings.)

What is the deal here?  Why did I take so much joy in having a good dental visit?!  

Because I passed.
I checked all the boxes.
I was a good girl.  

While it's good to be good, it's also dangerous.  Sometimes I can place too much stock in being good and I tend to want to please my Redeemer by doing all the "right things."  Dare I say I tend to work to be righteous in His eyes?

Ouch.

Attend the Bible study.
Read the entire Bible.
Memorize all of those verses.

While doing things is certainly good and commanded, it's not the only thing.  

Every day, my sweet Savior says, "Come to me and let me clean up the dirt in your life."  He says to come and let Him take care of the rest.  He will gladly scrape away all the sinful buildup I hide, even the stuff I don't know is there.  

How about you?  Do you work to be righteous in His eyes?  Do you forget to just come?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Thing

Confession: This little introverted "must-plan-everything" girl does not like change.  I like routine, schedules, plans!  They allow me to breathe easier and smile more.  (Seriously, try to spring something on me spur-of-the-moment and see what happens...)

I'm convinced, however, that God wants me to chill out a little bit about this whole change thing.  Over the last few years, I've encountered many changes in my world, and every single time, I've met them kicking and screaming!

In the last year or so, I've lost friendships- really good ones!- and I've fought it.  Consistently, I would find myself asking why I couldn't keep that person interested in me or what I said/did to push them away.

Blaming myself.
Every single time.


But I've recently come to realize something, really realize it.  You know, not one of those "it's in my head realizations" but one of those light bulb moments when a reality bangs you in the forehead and sinks right on in!

God gives me the things/people I need for whatever leg of the journey I'm on.


When my life changes, and He moves me to another part of His plan for me, He knows what I need.  He brings new things all the time!

He brings change.


Change that I need for the moment.


"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:18-19)


And what does He require of me?  That I embrace whatever gifts He shares with me.

New opportunities.
New people.


And my loving Redeemer speaks softly to me all the while...

"I am going to make things so satisfying, with myself, that you will have life in the desert!  I will be your living water.  I will give you what you need.  Let go of the past.  Stop worrying.  Stop blaming.  Stop wishing."


Embrace the change.

He is doing a new thing!


~~
Counting gifts with Ann Voskamp today.

#24 Afternoon shadows in my woods
#32 Second Chances
#37 Beautiful music that moves me
#39 Silence when I need it
#46 Weekend renewal for my soul





Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fresh Brewed Sunday [Dwell]

"One thing I ask of the Lord; this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling, He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."
~Psalm 27:4-5

Choose to dwell in Him today and feel His loving arms around you, bringing beautiful peace.


Startling Grace [Part Two]

Another friend, another story of grace.
[Read part one.]
~~
Sometimes God brings people into your life who need your encouragement.  When they stumble onto your path, it's clear that your role is mentor.  I had one such person come into my life last year.  One precious girl that God tossed into my world that would eventually change it completely.

She was hurting.
Badly.
And she came to me.
And I didn't know what to say...


Years running from God had left this dear girl empty and starving for love.  She craved Jesus, but she didn't know it.  She was grasping for anything...anyone that would listen and love her.  She'd experienced deep, painful loss and she was giving up.

Our dialogue was honest and real.  Gut-wrenching at times.  My heart was in deep sorrow for her, for I knew exactly what she needed.  But she was not willing to surrender her heart to God.  There were glimpses of change, but they were short-lived.  Every time she went back to her old ways, a piece of my heart broke all over again.

Oh Holy God, please save her.  
Bring her to her knees before You.
Please, Lord...


As time passed, we shared more and more, and eventually she started to heal and desire something more.  She knew she needed God, but she wasn't quite ready to give it all up.  The world looked so delicious to her hungry heart...

And then God moved.  He took my sweet friend to a place far from home, a place where she had to be Jesus to the unloved.  To those who, just like her, were thirsty for something more...

She could relate.
They needed Jesus.
SHE needed Jesus.


And that's when her life really changed.  She stopped seeking love in the wrong places.  She looked up, gazed into the eyes of her Savior, and surrendered.... finally.

Floored by God's gracious love, I found myself, yet again, speechless.  This sovereign God had been putting the details in place all along, even in the midst of hopelessness.

Bold.
Fervent.
Deeply joyful.
These are all words I would use to describe her now.  I have stood next to her all along, watching this transformation.  She is not the same person who came to me a year ago, drowning in her grief and sin.

God can take the dirtiest, most rebellious sinner and create a pure and clean lover of Himself.  After all, aren't we all dirty?  Haven't we all grieved the heart of our Creator?  Nobody...nobody is beyond His grace.

Pray hard.
Trust his heart.
Love unconditionally.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Startling Grace [Part One]

I've been counting gifts this month.  It's amazing how much your perspective can change when you actively look for things to be thankful for!  One Thousand Gifts is next on my reading list (although I couldn't find it at Target or Barnes and Noble today).
~~
Today's Joy Dare is to list three ways I see the startling grace of God.

Startling.

Over the course of the past few months, I have seen so many prayers answered!  I've spent much more time talking with my God and taking my requests and worries to His throne in faith.  Two of my biggest answered prayers recently have come in the lives of friends.

A few short months ago, I was feeling deep fear that I had lost a dear, lifelong friend.  We were heading in two very different directions, and she had chosen to push me away for various reasons.  I found myself on my knees begging God to restore our relationship and remove Satan's hold on her.

But things didn't get any better.


I was devastated.


Eventually, I started to ask God if He was calling me to something else.  Maybe He was asking me to give her up?  I couldn't get a clear answer...other than wait.  And wait is what I did.  No matter how strongly I felt that things were over, God never, ever told me to bow out.  He just told me to wait while He worked.

So I waited.
For a really long time.
And I grew weary of waiting.


My heart felt sick over this whole situation, and I, in my limited human vision, saw no end to the pain.

But...


Praise my precious Savior, He continued to work while I grieved!  There was nothing I could do to fix the situation, and I think that was a lesson He wanted me to learn.  I needed to step back, realize that He is the one in control, and let Him do His thing.  (Yeah, it's a tug-of-war all the time... I'm usually trying to take control when I should just be letting go.)

I remember the night I got her email.  My mouth literally dropped open in shock!  (And I did some joy jumping in my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning!)

She'd come back.
God had answered my prayer!
He'd fixed it all.


Even now as I think of it, I fight tears.  I know that God had the perfect plan all along, and so many people were changed in so many ways just by walking through this journey in her life.

By this time, I'd already convinced myself that it was over and God's answer to me was to let her go.  But have you ever found God to show up when we've forgotten that He works miracles?  When we've become so blinded by what's going on right in front of us that we lose sight of His amazing, wonderful power?

My faith was strengthened that night.


And if that was His intention, then it was all worth it.

The grace of our Lord startles me and leaves me gazing upon His face with awe.

What are you praying for today?  Have you felt like giving up?  Share your story with me!

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'll Never Sleep Again [FMF- Awake]


I'm beginning to love posting on Friday. Having a topic to write aimlessly about is somehow freeing.



Awake:
GO.

I could write about being awake too early in the morning or not being able to fall asleep at night long after I need to be snoring, but I want to dig deeper and find more.

When I think about being awake, my mind goes back to last summer when God awakened my heart to His love and grace.  I was ambling along, sporting a sleepy Christianity, while people around me were experiencing God!  I wasn't even aware that I was asleep.

"Awake my soul, and sing."  Those lyrics from Chris Tomlin are running through my head as I type.  It's only when we find Christ and surrender to His love that our souls can truly be satisfied and awake.

Being awake means being alert, moving around, and seeing.  
When our souls are awake, we are at peace.

Thanks be to God for seeking our souls and our hearts when we don't even know we need it!

STOP.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Such Fragile Skin

Today was one of those days when I probably should have ignored my alarm clock and stayed in bed.  Yeah, one of those... You know the kind I'm talking about.

An unsettled spirit pervaded me, and I was fighting hard to keep it inside.  I mean, hard.

Every person I encountered frustrated me, and it wasn't because of anything they did; it was because I'd let darkness take hold.

Selfish pride.

I begged the Lord to give me whatever I needed to make it through the day without going to prison for murder, and I was starting to wonder if I should just give up and grab an orange jumpsuit.

Blindness.

And then, it happened.
All in one thirty second span, I was metaphorically smacked in the face and knocked on the ground.
I looked back at her, fighting tooth and nail to suppress the tears, and responded with a smile a kind word.
When she walked away, I swallowed my stunned tears.

Today, Lord?  You know I can't handle one more thing today!


So I huffed and puffed at the injustice of the whole situation, knowing full well that she didn't mean it in the way it came out.  But I was completely embarrassed.


Lord, give me strength to love...intentionally.


Today was a test of this thing I'm working on called love.  Do I really mean what I say?  Am I willing to love without finding fault and forgive without resentment?  Can I look past the heat of the moment and seek peace?

I will rise above this and forgive.


And God, in His grace, toughened my fragile skin today.
He knows I need it.
Don't we all?

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. [psalm 27:14]
~~
Is your skin being toughened?  Your love being tested?  Please share!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Word Wednesday [Love] #2

Ahem.


Announcement:


I love people!  I love everyone.  After all, Jesus says to love your neighbor, right?
Easy!
And of course, there is the ever-spoken, "You don't have to like them but you do have to love them."
Whew!  As long as I don't have to like them...


You know what?  It's really easy for me to love people just like me.  It's easy with my dear friend who is almost a carbon copy of me.  It's easy with the people who don't talk over me or snub me or simply make my head spin with their constant energy.  It's easy with the ones who will accept me in spite of my complaining, struggling, and pride.  Loving those who...oh my word, it's really true... love me back is easy.  


This isn't unselfish love.
At all...


I find myself loving to gain rather than give.  
Ouch.


God calls me to love my neighbor, which really means I'm to love all kinds of people!  
But Lord, surely you didn't mean that person, did you?  Come on... She's just so ___________!


Ok, so apparently I have NO idea what love actually is...



Philippians 2:3-10 ESV-

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. ...




1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV-

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;





And so I continue my journey down this path of allowing God to rip me away from the comfortable...

What about you?  How do you show love to the unlovable?



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bricks and Tents


So many walls.


Built so tall.
A brick at a time.
Protection.
Safety.
Hiding.

We are very good at it, you know.
Building up those walls around our hearts.
We insist we're doing it for our own good.
After all, we've been hurt before, right?
And we're done with that.

Let Him break them down.
Yes, I know it's too hard for you to handle on your own.
But He never asks you to handle anything alone!
Just step back, stop lugging those bricks around, and surrender your safety.
Expand your tents and allow Him to bring new people and experiences in!

Stop hiding.
Start living.


Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.
~Isaiah 54:2
~~~
He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust.
~Isaiah 25:12

Monday, January 09, 2012

Seek Light or Darkness?

As I type from the road to migraine-induced dizziness, I'm not really even sure where this post will end up.  I've actually been almost stressing about what to write.  I knew I wanted to write something, but I wasn't getting any clear ideas or direction.

And then I got a letter -a gift is what she called it- from someone most dear to my heart.  (First of all, I have a slight love affair with handwritten letters. I think that taking the time to write a letter when it's so easy to communicate in other ways is really special.)  To be honest, it lifted me up and encouraged me more than she knows.

"I pray that you will always shine your light in darkness.  I know that *place where we spend our days* is flooded with light, so I pray that you and I will seek out the darkness."


Seek darkness?  Ok, that sounds great and all, but I'm doing God's work right here where I am, right?  I'm helping to train the next generation of leaders for Christ.  And yes, I am doing that, for that is what He has called me to do.  But He also calls me to be a light, His light, in the darkness.  Right now I'm just being a light in the light!  After all, it's right in the middle of my most-beloved comfort zone!

When you light a candle in a well-lit room, what happens?  Does the candle make that much of a difference?  Not really.  But when you light a candle in a completely dark room, that one candle can light up a huge space!  It really makes a difference!  And which room needs the light more?

The darkness cries out for the light.
Even if it's not aware that it does.
We are the light.

I have no idea where this will lead me, but I know that God is speaking to us.

Imagine how dark this earth was for Jesus 2000 years ago when He left heaven.  But praise God He came running!  To save us from darkness!

What are your insights/encouragements?  Do you run toward the darkness or from the darkness?
~~~
Linking up with the lovely Ann Voskamp today to thank our glorious God for his amazing gifts.









#21 Letters from friends that move and inspire
#22 Rainy afternoons and cozy blankets
#23 Encouragement in beauty from lovely friends
#24 Planning and preparation for the upcoming school year
#25 Yummy new recipes to try!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Little Red Truck

Yesterday morning did not begin so well.  Alarm- 4:15.  Only slept 6 hours...again... and I didn't want to go run.  Did it anyway.  Then I dropped an egg on the floor and later snagged my fingernail with the razor.  Finally made it out the door, and ended up behind Mr. "I'm in the country and I'm going to drive 35mph no matter what."  I don't know how many of you have ever driven through the country (I'm talking Alabama country here), but it's really not that normal to keep to the speed limit out here. (I mean, um, Hi Mom!  I always follow the exact speed limit.)

HE. WAS. DRIVING. SO. SLOWLY.

Well, I decided that this wasn't going to bother me.  What's the point, right?  After I got to the highway, I could be on my merry little way.  I popped in my David Platt sermon for today, which was on James 1.  Yeah, that's the "count it all joy when you face various trials" one...

Suddenly, I realized that, at some point, Mr. Country had turned off.  I was actually driving the speed limit again!  But I could not remember him turning off!

Ok, so I'm an English teacher, so parallels come to me rather quickly and when I don't even look for them.  And, of course, God whispered one in my ear.

You see, when we are struggling along in life, bogged down by something or other, all we can see is the little red country truck that's hindering our joy.  We are unhappy because the lines are solid and we can't pass it.  We are frustrated that we are stuck.


But what we forget, so many times, is that when we change our focus, we forget all about the truck!  When we abide in His Word, our struggles are lifted without us even realizing it!

Set your eyes on your Savior today.
Stop wishing you could pass the truck.
Learn to dwell in Him.

James 1:2-4-
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Friday, January 06, 2012

All the Noise [FMF- Roar]


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most important: visit, comment, encourage the person before you.
This is what Five Minute Fridays are all about! Dive in!


Roar:
GO.

What?!  Roar?  Ok, this is a tough one.  But here we go.
When I first started thinking about what to write about, I thought, well, lions roar, but how can I apply that?
Then I thought about wind or the ocean-- they roar.
But I settled on noise.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the noise of life, as I'm sure you do to.
Constant.
Distracting.
LOUD.
It's all those things that keep me from abiding in the love of my Savior.
It's the to-do lists, the meetings, the work to be done-- all of those things that pile up and seem to shout in my ears.
What do they shout?
Hurry.
Go.
Move.
Accomplish.
Roar.
How wonderful it would be to have peace without the roaring noise.
But, of course, it's in the noise that we serve.
We feed on the quiet times so we can conquer the roar.
The roar is important, you know.
But the quiet... the time when we abide in His Word and His love... that's the most important.

STOP.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Smile, Snap, Check

"Take another one... just one more!"
smile, snap, check
"Ugh, that one's no good either. One more?"
(poor hubby)
smile "better", snap, check again
"I give up."
~~
I really need a new blog picture. These people are going to think I'm...
Frustration fills me.
...ugly.
~~
Lord, why did you make me this way?
Why don't I look like *person who's a size 2* or *person with perfect hair*?
Every time I try to get just one good picture of myself, I end up taking at least 50 and not being happy with any of them.
Satan likes to whisper in my ear--> "People could never really like you. They only like the pretty people."
What? Maybe he's right...
~~
Then I hear another whisper, a little louder than the first.

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. [1 Peter 3:4]


Let me make you who I want you to be.
Stop worrying about what's on the outside.
I can make you beautiful.
Abide in my love.

Things I Love [Kindle Library Lending]

I got an iPad for my birthday over the summer, and even though I wasn't sure if I would use it enough to make it worth the money, it turns out that I'm using it all the time!  One of the biggest uses I've found is the Kindle app.  I am reading ALL the time, and I haven't paid for a book yet!

One of the coolest things that Amazon has begun is the ability to borrow e-books from your local library.  It works just like borrowing a regular book except you don't have to drive to the library!  Of course, the selection is still limited, but I've found enough books to keep me reading as much as I have time for.  I've found so much good Christian fiction on there (look in the sidebar for a list).

If you have an iPad, there is an app to make it easier to find the books.  It's called Overdrive, and it will store your library for you.  I had to go to the library to get a PIN number, but that was really the only setup I had to do.

Here is the link for using your Kindle for borrowing books.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Open [Five Minute Friday...on Wednesday!]

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most important: visit, comment, encourage the person before you.
This is what Five Minute Fridays are all about! Dive in!


(Yes, I'm posting this on Wednesday, but I'm trying to get on schedule.)

Open:
GO.

Being open isn't something that's easy for me. I have many thoughts and opinions, but too often I just keep them to myself.  (Darn introverted personality!)
But...
As I've started becoming more involved in the blogging world, I've found that people really crave authentic and open conversation.
What do we have to lose by being open?
Perhaps someone will dislike what we have to say?
Maybe someone will think we're strange?
But think about our savior.
He was different, the MOST different, yet He was unafraid to be completely open about who He was.
He was not a people-pleaser.
Not like we are.
Being open allows us to connect and really get to know other people.
When we share our struggles, joys, and fears, who knows who might be encouraged by our words?
God will use our "realness" in so many ways.
But this requires being unafraid and stepping into unknown, sometimes scary territory.
This is one of my goals for 2012- to be more open without fear.

STOP.

One Word Wednesday [Love] #1

Rather than just making a list of New Year's Resolutions, Ali Edwards sparked the idea of choosing one word to embody in the coming year. (Sara's story is also inspiring. Visit her blog if you have a few minutes hours.)

My word last year was faith.  It was a year of trusting God and growing in my faith.  So many things changed in my life, and I definitely learned to give my fears and worries to Jesus.  I grew to love His Word, and I began to crave time with Him.

I thought long and hard about my word for 2012, and I've decided on love.  I want to be intentional about loving God, family, friends, even enemies. I am already finding that this is something I have to keep in the forefront of my thoughts.  If my goal is intentional love, I cannot be selfish!  Others have to come before me, and of course, that is never easy.  This little self-loving sinner doesn't like to be last!

How are you intentionally loving others?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Heaven on Earth? I Wish...

I wish I could wake up every day at 7 (not 4:30), run 5 miles (at 3 now; goal for 2012 is 5), sit a the table (need a table first) with breakfast and a good book, and THEN go into work.

I wish I could extend the number of hours in the day so I could read everything I want to and still have time to watch something on TV.

I wish I could keep a to-do list in the shower since apparently that's where I do my best remembering/thinking.

I wish every e-book was free so I could read them all!

I wish the sun was up when I get up because it would be really awesome to see my woods from the window while I'm sitting at my make-believe table reading my good book.

I wish chocolate had no fat and I could eat as many calories as I want to.  (It would also be nice not to develop a slight tick when I go over my limit for the day.  Yes, I'm a little crazy...)

I wish my devil precious cat would stop digging his claws into the door trying to get outside at 4AM.  You know how awesome it is to be awakened 30 minutes before your alarm goes off...

I wish for heaven on earth, perfection in the puddles of mud called life.

But for now, I will choose to take joy in each moment that God gives me, even if my heaven on earth never comes.  My life has been chosen especially for me by a sovereign Savior who loves me and wants nothing less than my best, for His glory.  Embrace your life and seek to find His will for you today.

Healthy Turkey Cabbage Soup


Healthy Turkey Cabbage Soup
(Ok, if a recipe has more than like 6 ingredients, I'm not very likely to make it...  This soup is healthy and super easy!  Freezes well, too!)

Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground turkey
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 head of cabbage
2 cartons beef broth
(See?  Only 5!!!)

Saute/drain turkey.
Chop cabbage.
Add tomatoes, beans, and broth to meat.
Add as much cabbage as you want (I like a lot!)

Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium.
Simmer for an hour or so.
Season to taste.

That's it!  Easy and delicious!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Going Back

Well, it's here.  My last day of Christmas break.  Two weeks of heaven that always come exactly when it's most needed!  Students, parents, and teachers are always ready for some time away.  The only problem is that it's always too short!  This year's break has been particularly great.  It's been so peaceful and restful.

But of course, tomorrow it's back to reality.  4:30 will come awfully early, and I'm sure when I get ready for my morning run, I will be wishing I was cuddling with my blankets in the bed.  It's very easy to get caught up in the thoughts of what we don't have rather than dwelling on the opportunities God gives us each day.

Teaching is my calling, and I wouldn't want to be heading anywhere else tomorrow.  A small Christian school with my 62 high schoolers, freezing in car duty line, a planning period which usually gets filled by meetings or grading, getting ready to direct our production of Pride and Prejudice, and the fact that I will be receiving 19 research papers the day after we return-- these are all the things that are completely worth getting up and leaving behind my wonderful Christmas break.  Because when I walk into my classroom, I will see smiling faces and hear the laughter of young adults, excited to come together after 2 weeks away from each other.  And even though they pretend they'd rather be sitting at home playing video games and watching movies, deep inside they're thrilled to be back... just like their teachers.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

My Day in Pictures

Finally got the Christmas decorations put into the attic today.  This box is full of things I bought at Target on clearance the day after Christmas.  I always love opening the boxes the following year and finding things I've forgotten I have!

I've been putting bird seed out on the deck for the birds.  This cardinal decided to pose for a picture today!













Niko enjoyed an afternoon nap on his spot on the bed.













Lucy can play and play and play when she has her ball.  It's ridiculous.













We decided to open the windows today!  It was 61 degrees, and since it's going to be a seriously cold week, we took advantage of the loveliness.














The beginnings of Oatmeal Apple Walnut Cookies...  Yum!




Land of My Heart


This is the series I've been reading lately.  I just finished the first one, Land of my Heart, and I'm about 30% through the second one.  So good!  (I can't read the summaries of books #3 and 4 for fear that I will find out something that's coming up!  Yes, I'm a huge hater of spoilers...)

I've read 16 books in the last 6 months, all thanks to the Kindle app on my iPad. I've been borrowing free e-books from the library (Did you know you can do that?) and it makes reading so much more convenient for me.  My goal for 2012 is 40 books.

I keep a running list of the books I've read on the side over there.    --->.

Shareaholic

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...