Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Confessing my Addiction

I have an addiction.

Oh, it's not a physical addiction or anything; rather, it's an addiction of the spirit.  Something I've convinced myself I can't live without and something I am finding very difficult to give up.

I am addicted to being needed.

I can remember many years ago, when I started babysitting at the age of twelve, that I felt completely mature and responsible.  I was chosen by parents who trusted me to watch their children, when really, I was nothing more than a child myself.  Somehow, I decided that if I didn't stay with their children, nobody else would and the parents would never get to go out.  I was needed, and it felt good.

As the years passed, and I began to serve in the church, playing the piano or working in the children's program, my addiction flourished and grew.  Craving the praise of others, I proudly performed my duties, decidedly certain that the church could not function without my help.  I was needed, and it fed my ego.

Soon, I became an adult, was blessed with a husband, and my need to be needed, already strong and needing something on which to feed, could take over.  Surely this man needed me to form him into the person he should be!  God had called me to be his wife, right?  That meant it was my job to control the outcome!  So as I carefully crafted my relationship, I felt needed, and it injured my marriage.

All along, as people came to me for help and advice, pouring out their hearts to me, I would drop everything to run to their aid.  After all, my spiritual gift is encouragement, and it's my duty to use it!  And for a long time, I would dole out the perfect words, the "spiritual" words, bringing glory to myself and not to God.  I knew what to say, and I gave comfort!  Why else would they come to me?  I must be great!!!!  And so I chose my own relationships and put everything into them, leaving out the most important part- God's plan.  But I was needed!!!! Or so I thought...

"...Apart from me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)




You know, it's funny.  An addiction in the spirit isn't something readily found.  Our clothes don't smell of smoke and our breath doesn't smell of alcohol.  This kind of addiction is something that God has to point out, and most of the time we aren't willing to listen at all.  Addiction takes root and becomes part of who we are, and before we know it, we're choking in the vine of self.

It turns out that I'm not really needed in the way I've come to believe.  Yes, God is choosing to use me to be his hands and feet, but the lesson I must learn is that I am not the one who is needed; He is!  My loving Redeemer is teaching me that my only requirement is to serve Him and point others to Him.  Being the one who gets things done or helps people is an humbling honor, not something to bring attention to myself or boost my self esteem.  It really has nothing to do with me...  All He needs from me is a "yes."


Monday, March 26, 2012

I Don't Have a Story to Tell

I think back to a time when I didn't know who I was, let alone who I was in Christ.  Today, I have a hard time remembering that girl.  I was full of ideas about what life should look like and how I should live it.  If I'm being honest, I would have to say that I really left no room for Christ once I was done filling all the crevices with that things I wanted.



People keep telling me they want to hear my story.  The first time I heard that, my immediate thought was, "Yeah right. I don't have a story.  I'm just a normal girl who's grown up in a Christian home.  How can anyone learn anything from my story?"

Oh friend, if you've thought these words, please hear me loud and clear.  Please learn what it's taken me years to learn.

YOUR STORY IS NOT ABOUT YOU AT ALL!

It doesn't matter if you have some really awful past with a great come-to-Jesus moment.
It doesn't matter if you met Jesus at age three and have lived for Him since.
None of that matters!
The only thing that matters is that you've been rescued by a living God who desires glory for Himself!
(No, that doesn't mean God is selfish. Who else would we have Him glorify?)

We tell our stories because we must.  We tell them to encourage others that yes, someone else has been where they are.  We write, we sing, we speak- all to share who we are and what He's taken us through.

Don't be too quick to dismiss your story, because we are all part of God's story.
Our stories shine the gospel.
This gospel is all about changing the old to new!

Do not be afraid, friend.
Let Him speak.

~~~


Always counting...
#441 Honey-roasted peanut butter
#443 Grocery store chats with a dear friend
#445 Heart-to-hearts
#446 Worship
#447 Clearing of rain + sunshine!
#448 Walking downtown with hubby
#450 Psalm 103

Sunday, March 25, 2012

For His Name's Sake

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guide me along the right paths for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)




This is one of those passages we all know by heart and can probably say without even thinking about it.  But herein lies the problem--- we say it without thinking about it!  When I flipped to it today in my Bible, I noticed I'd written the words "not for me" in the margin next to verse three.  This place where I dwell with the Lord is lush and green and quiet.  I am happy and completely fulfilled, but I am not on my own path.  Nowhere in this do we read that we chose the the path and the Lord, the Shepherd, is along for the ride.  No, the Lord is leading and it's all for His sake, His plan, His glory.

The only place we can truly find peace is in His pastures and on His path.  Have you surrendered or are you a sheep trying to lead your shepherd?

~~~

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Running Just to Eat Cake

I've gone off the deep end! 

Well, at least that's what some of my friends might tell you if you asked them right now.

Before my spring break week began, I decided that this would be a good chance to change my eating habits.  My first thought- Paleo.  I have some co-workers who've been doing it for awhile, and they have been very happy with it.  Now when I decide to do something, I go all out; it's very hard for me to ease into anything (thus my knee pain today from running too hard this week).  Because of my need to conquer and succeed, I had to go cold turkey.  I announced proudly to my husband that I would no longer be eating (at least for the week) processed food, refined sugar, or grains.  (I decided to keep the dairy even though it's not Paleo.  My apologies to all the purists; my bones will thank me one day.)  After he gave me a very strange look, he just decided to let me do my thing while he happily munched on a Cadbury creme egg.

I started telling people about my decision.  Some of them looked at me like I was crazy, some said they admired my willpower, and some are along for the journey as well.  I stopped counting the calories.  I started running AND walking instead of just running to make myself feel better about "checking the box" for the day.  I stopped eating the Girl Scout cookies in the freezer and the Wheat Thins in the pantry.  I let my oatmeal packets run out and I gave all the creme eggs to my hubby.  (Did I mention all the Girl Scout cookies we'd JUST bought?!)  

I'd like to tell you that it's been hard and that I've stood in front of the fridge with tears in my eyes, but I can't.  It's been easy!  I've actually enjoyed it!

After four days, I'd already lost three pounds and I have never, ever felt better in my life!

I've been "eating healthy" for awhile, or so I thought.  I've been counting calories, which usually went something like this:
Oh! 500 calories left for the day!  That's... 10 cookies!  Yes!
And I'd sit on the couch eating my cookies and feeling completely happy with myself for "following the rules" and staying under my calorie goal for the day.  (Oh, the dread of the RED number in my fitness app that means I WENT OVER.  I'm surprised alarms don't sound to make you feel dreadfully guilty!)  

You see, the problem with that kind of living is that I was looking at it all wrong!  I was doing everything I could to end up with as much "wiggle room" as I could so that I could fill it with all the unhealthy food I could.  I was pushing the limits and the boundaries, and I was perfectly content to do so.  Oh, the self-righteous attitude I had when deceiving myself.

God agonizes when we, His children, get as close to the limits as we can.  We do all the good things that are on "the list," but we are really deceiving ourselves.


We are very good at running the mile then eating the cake because we think we deserve it.  

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Cor. 6:19-20 ESV)

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that verse and just blown it off.  
Temple of the Holy Spirit, yeah, that means God lives in me, I'm a Christian, etc.
But it clearly says body here, not spirit or soul.  

This is what I want to say to you loud and clear, friend.  Give God your body.  Give Him your cravings and your excuses, your energy level and your time.  Commit to glorifying God with your body, no matter what it takes.

"I can do all of this through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)


~~~
Linking up with the Must Love God community today.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Falling off the Felt Board

Have you ever had an overwhelming feeling that God was preparing you for something big; you just didn't know what it was?  Maybe a part of you was excited at the possibility of something new, but, at the same time, a part of you was terrified of the sacrifice that might be required of you?  This fear of the inevitable unknown.  This call to abandon mundane, lukewarm living for something greater and more powerful.  We all know that God doesn't save us so we can just sit around and bask in blessings.  We are called to serve, to teach, to make disciples.

In Matthew 4, when Jesus called His disciples, they left everything and followed Him.  This was not a following in name only; this was a complete lifestyle change, one for which they would be persecuted.

And we read and think of the felt board Sunday school stories that keep us comfortably in this idea of Christianity that we've created for ourselves, all the while missing the real point that our salvation is for God's glory. Only.

This path is the one on which I have found my feet lately.  This path of change and growth and faith.  God has been cleaning house for months, and I knew something was coming.  I remembering praying months ago that He would reveal the plan for me, that I would know what step was next.  And I admit that if I'd had my way, I would have been given the news much sooner, but, of course, God's timing is never my timing.

So I've waited while He's worked.


"And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do." (Jeremiah 18:4 ESV)




He's stripped me of friendships that I clung to so desperately.
He's stripped me of selfish pride and the need to always win.
He's stripped me of my incessant need to please others.
He's stripped me of time-wasters and tv addictions.
And I've fought Him the whole way!
But isn't it in the struggle that we are made new? 


"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it spring forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)

Though I have far to go, I now know what He has been preparing me for.  My Redeemer knew my next step, but He knew that I was, in no way, ready for it six months ago.  He knew what needed to be taken away and what needed to be added so that I could be ready and willing to follow Him fully.

God has called me to do something for which I am perfectly bent, yet it's something I never thought I could actually do!  But here I am, about to embark on the journey into youth ministry at our new campus, and I can see now that He's been molding and shaping me for awhile.  At this point, I have no idea where it will lead.  Maybe it's just another stepping stone to something even bigger.  Maybe this IS the big thing!  But in the midst of all the maybes, there is complete peace in falling off the felt board and embracing real life!


Monday, March 19, 2012

If Martha had a Blog

"I'll get it done when I get to it."
I turn and walk away, seething with annoyed frustration at the laziness I've just witnessed.
I'll just do it myself.
If I don't do it, it won't get done.
And in that moment I've done two things, just like she pointed out in chapter 5.  One, I've pridefully decided that I am irreplaceable, and two, I have decided that God doesn't want to use anyone else other than me.

Oh Martha Katie, why are you so insistent on your own way?


"Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?" (Luke 10:40 NASB)


What if God means to use someone other than me to fulfill His plans?  What if someone else needs a blessing?  Or a lesson?  And here I am, my own modern version of Martha, looking at my Savior and telling Him to get Mary to help me!

Lately, He's spoken to me about defeat and my need to be the best, yet I find that He is not done with me.  Today, He shouts to me that I am carrying pride heavy on my back.  And it's keeping me from Him. Honestly, I don't want to hear it because I know it will mean more change.  After a year of so much change, I'm not sure I'm ready for more!  I am feeling like Eustace in his dragon skin more and more these days, and even though I've read the end of the book and I know that all my ripping and tearing is in vain, I can't seem to stop myself!  I want to tear it off before He does; then it won't hurt as much.



Maybe I'm afraid to let Him tear off my skin.
Afraid of what's underneath.
Of the sin that's stored there.


My Lord bids me to come and lay it all down, and while I want to, I find that I cannot.  My hands grip strong and my heart beats stubborn.  I insist on my pride without wanting to, and while it's easy to blame it on my sinful nature, I know He's rescued me from that prison.  He's already won that battle, if only I am willing to put down my own tarnished sword and let Him fight for me.


"O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me." (Psalm 30:2)


"In my anguish, I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free." (Psalm 118:5)


No matter how much I search, I cannot seem to find the verse that says I can heal myself.


So here I stand, needing the new and wanting the change.
Yet fighting it all the same.

Yet I will surrender my Martha heart and beg Him for the change.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever- DO NOT ABANDON THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS."  (Psalm 138:8)


~~

Counting gifts...
#422 Visits from Mom
#423 Nights of crickets
#425 SUNSHINE!!!!
#428 Allergy medicine
#432 When the words flow
#433 Standing outside in the storm
#434 Lightning as bright as day
#435 Courage to change
#436 Release of chains in the life of a friend
#437 Phone calls
#440 Smell of bacon cooking



Sunday, March 18, 2012

And I am Called Out

It's dusk here in the South, and I can barely see the fire of sunset through the trees.
Crickets commune and fireflies blink in tall grass.
The sky seems almost purple now, and the tall pines are silhouettes of black that slowly meld together into one vast expanse of darkness.  
An tired and worn old dog, probably resting on his front porch, barks in the distance, breaking the silence.

And I am called out into it, the created basking in the creation.  



The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
whose voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. 
Psalm 19:1-3


Friday, March 16, 2012

Running Again [FMF]

Today is the day we write for five minutes about a topic, but I am going to break the rules!  (Ignoring my good girl...)  I wrote these words weeks ago, and today is the day God has chosen for me to share them.

The topic- BRAVE

~~~

A few weeks ago, I got sick and was stopped dead in my tracks for days.  I couldn't eat and I couldn't be up for more than about thirty minutes without feeling like I was about to fall flat on the floor only to wait for someone to walk by and rescue me from certain death.

Thankfully, I'm starting to feel better now, and I know it's about time to start running again.  It's been two weeks since I've seen my treadmill, and I'm pretty sure it's gotten lonely without me.  It might actually be a little angry with me at this point...  Anyway, I've missed running and I'm craving it!  But you know what?

I'm scared.
I am scared to begin again, to start over, to face the possibility of only running one mile instead of three.  I am worried I won't be able to do it after being away for so long.  I am hesitant and wondering if it's worth it after all.

Perhaps this is what we feel when we feel far away from Him.  When we aren't where we should be, and we haven't been for awhile.  When we've fought the calling and pushing and prodding of our Redeemer tooth and nail, hoping He will just leave us alone.  When we're dead and flat on the floor...

And we're scared.

Scared to come back for fear there will be punishment or guilt.  Scared to face the truth that our hearts are lifeless without Him.  Scared to throw down pride and give our lives back to Him.

Scared we will just fail again when we try to be everything He wants us to be.

Scared to surrender.
Scared to submit.
Scared to start over.

And yet our Father sees us from afar, coming down the path, and He welcomes us with tears of joy.  

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;  he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. " (Luke 15:20 NIV)

A long way off... when we're still far away and filled with fear and uncertainty.

"For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."  (Luke 15:24 NIV)

All He asks is that we come.  
He will clean up the mess.
Just come.

Start over.
It's time to be brave and run.
Will you join me?

~~~


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stand in Awe

Your lightning sets night skies on fire.
Your thunder shakes tall pines.
Rains pour down around me and winds whip fiercely.
And I stand in awe.
In the storm, the Almighty's unmatched power is thrust upon creation.
And yet, in the storm, my soul is stilled because the Creator of the storm is my Father.
Unafraid, I stand and gaze upon the beautiful display, perfectly safe in His arms.

The heavens declare the glory of the Lord! (Psalm 19:1 ESV)

Image Credit


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not a Four-Letter Word

"I always want people to see me as strong."  

As I read her confession on my screen, I realize that she's me, hiding behind her mask.  It's so comfortable here in the hiding place, but it's also completely lonely.

This culture of ours teaches us that weakness is unacceptable.  We must always be strong!
Strong to accomplish.
Strong to stand out.
Strong to be liked.

There is no room for the weak in our world of masquerade.  Feeling emotional?  Suppress it.  Wanting to share what's really on your heart?  Save it for your journal.  Needing to reveal sin and ask for prayer?  That's something we only do in Bible studies!

"Weak is not a four-letter word." (p. 81, Grace for the Good Girl)

Dear friends, we've been trained to hide.

Enter Jesus.

"That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:10)


And suddenly everything turns upside down.  Taking pleasure in weakness?  Embracing it?  What?  How?!

"As a good girl, I have a hard time with that one [sharing our weaknesses], especially if it means people might think I don't know everything or that I don't have it all together.  The truth is, admitting weakness is the very doorway the Lord uses to lead the tired good girl to a place of rest." (p. 85, Grace for the Good Girl)

Somewhere along the way, we've learned how to play the game.  We share just enough to make people like us, but we intentionally leave out the real and the vulnerable.  Emily calls it "vulnerable with boundaries" (p. 86).  But really, what are we afraid of?  That our weakness will make us look bad?  That we won't be accepted?  That the hidden scars will be too much for them to handle?

As of late, I am finding freedom in the telling and sharing and opening.
I am being given precious moments of connection and depth with sweet sisters that I would have never shared my heart with, had I not surrendered relationships to my Father.
That rejection I feared?  It simply isn't there.  In fact, I've been more embraced and loved since I decided to tear off my mask and let my real face show.

Our Lord clearly speaks to our hearts, and His voice is oh-so-much louder than the adversary's, if we will only listen for it.  He desperately wants us to know that our weakness brings His strength.  When we come to the end of ourselves and give Him our fears, we will always find Him and the gifts He longs for us to receive.



Oh friend, this book is changing my soul.  If you haven't read it yet, you must!
Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman



Monday, March 12, 2012

The Girl I Left Behind

She's starting to fade.

Deep into the recesses of my mind she stands alone, her image becoming more and more murky.
Somewhere amongst the Bible reading, scripture memorizing, and song singing, she fled.
When things started getting uncomfortable and painful, she turned and ran hard.
This precious Savior of mine, this God who loves and gives undeserved grace freely, brought me to my knees in surrender, and she left for good.

"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 43:19 ESV)






I remember the exact moment when everything changed.  It was summer, during the hot and sunny southern days, when I first felt the struggle.  After months of His growing a desire for His Word in my heart, I was firmly faced with a decision.  It was job-related, but now, looking back, I realize that it was not about the job at all; my God was asking me if I was willing to surrender to His will for my life.

There were moments I just wanted to give it all up and stop caring.  It was too much to imagine- this change.  It would mean giving up things very dear to me, and at the time, I wasn't willing to do it.  I wanted my own way, for surely I knew best, right?

So I prepared to go.  I was determined to leave it all behind rather than surrender.  Oh, but thank God that He gives grace and saves us from ourselves!  I can still remember the scene.  My stuff on one side of the room and theirs on the other.  Ready to pack and throw into the trunk of my car.

And I felt the tears coming on strong.
I wanted to get away.

We traveled to a place hours away, a place I could forget all of it.  And my dearest friend let me be sad and wrestle with it.  I needed the wrestle this time, and she knew it.  The middle of the week brought the answer.  I remember that moment; it's still so clear in my mind's eye.  The message that came changed my heart.  The message that brought the tears and pain.  The words that pushed me straight to God.

And I knew I was free.
Free to run forward and leave myself behind.

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (Psalm 119:32 NIV)


I basked in that scripture for weeks.  "...for you have set my heart free!"  Free from the bondage of self and free from fear.  It was that scripture that began a journey.  A journey to the here and now and a journey that continues long past today.  I am running hard to my Savior, and I'm free!



Abandoned to Him.
Completely.
Surrendered to whatever He's planned for me.

I am not the girl I was ten months ago.  That girl who ruled my existence for years is gone.  And she's not coming back.  Ever.

~~~


So much grace!!!
#411 High school students who teach my class so I can work
#413 God's changing of a heart toward purity
#416 Spring Break!!!
#418 New worship music
#419 Sunny afternoon to read outside
#421 New friends who immediately feel like dear sisters

Sunday, March 11, 2012

No Difference! (Fresh Brewed Sunday)

"Seeking nothing but each other's harm, these kinds will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other.  But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time."  (Daniel 11:27 NLT)




~~
I was reading this in my devotion time the other night, and I was struck with God's perfectly sovereign plan.  As we continue to see things get worse in our world, and we watch political leaders lead countries further away from Christ, our God says that none of that will matter in the end because He has already appointed it all!  But it will make no difference!

Rest in that, friends.

~~

Linking with Barbie@FreshlyBrewedLife today.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Emptied of Everyone [FMF]

It's Friday!  Time to write for 5 minutes without worrying.  (Maybe eventually I'll get to the not worrying part!)
Today's topic is empty.

~~~

I can remember when the friendships started ending.  
Disappearing before my eyes.
I felt so empty.
So many people I'd always counted on--- gone.
Vanished.
Leaving me alone.
Empty.



Some ended because of differing paths.
Some because of faith.
Some ended for reasons I couldn't understand.
But they all brought pain.
And left me feeling empty.

So I [finally] gave them all up to Him.
Surrendered my relationships and my desire for them.
I emptied my hands of the things I don't really hold anyway.

So with empty hands, I started to climb the mountain alone.
My only companion was Christ, and I wondered if this is how He felt in the wilderness or in the garden that night.
Alone.
As He emptied Himself for me.

And just as He emptied the grave that day and conquered the climb,
I have begun to descend the mountain.
Alone I am no longer, for after He taught me to rely only on Him, He began to bless me with new companionship, so much better than what I had sought before. 
Some relationships strengthened, some begun.
But most of all, they are filled with Him.

Emptied of myself and filled with my Father.
And I've never been more joyful.


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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I Want to be the Best (Confessions of a Good Girl)

Ahem.
I have an announcement to make:

I want to be the best.

The best teacher, the best friend, the best Christian.
The best everything.
And when someone is better than me, my inner three year old comes out again (She sure is around a lot these days, isn't she?) and my heart throws a fit.
This desire for being the best fuels my drive for perfection, my need to perform.
Second-best just isn't a viable option for me.
There is no room for mistakes.

Today I found myself fighting jealousy because I was not the best one.
I stood in the corner and sulked (with an "I'm fine" smile on my face of course, because that's what all good girls do) while someone else got the praise.
For being the best.

"Anything I do to get life and identity outside of Christ is an idol, even service to Christ." (Grace for the Good Girl, p. 65)

As I looked upon this scene of not-for-me praise, I found myself thinking of ways I could make them like me more.

"Obviously, I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If please people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." (Galatians 1:10 NLT)


Oh really, Paul?  Obviously you don't know me very well.
Because I AM trying to win the approval of people.
And I AM Christ's servant.
I am.... right?

How can I reconcile these two?
How can I stop desiring the praise of men and only the perfection of Christ?
When will I stop wanting to be the best in everyone else's eyes except those of my Savior?

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." (Colossians 3:23 NLT)

for the Lord rather than for people


Satan loves to whisper his lies in my ear.
He tells me that if I'm not the best in the eyes of those around me, then I am no good.
That I'm not performing and I need to work harder, check off more things on the list, add more responsibilities.
He tries to make me believe that those things will assure that I am the best,
which will make me happy,
thus removing my dependence and need for God.

"Good means I never mess up." (Grace for the Good Girl, p.25)

And here I am again.
Exactly where he wants me.

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8-9)

I've gotten it all twisted around, and I've convinced myself that performance equals holiness.

"But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy." (1 Peter 1:15 NLT)


Be holy, not perfect!
Be holy, not praised.
Be holy, not the best.


He calls me to a higher standard, but not one placed upon me by people.
It's the highest standard I can reach.
To be like Him.
That's all He asks.
And the only way I can reach that impossible standard is through His grace alone.
Oh, how I need that grace...
If only I would stop striving and just rest.

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens (who try to be the best), and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart (just like I want you to be), and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)






Monday, March 05, 2012

Soaring Above the Storm

It's a stormy day here in the South.



One of those typical early spring days where we spend hours watching the radars and sitting in our "safe places."  (By the way, 180 students makes for a very small-feeling safe place!)  But on this day, I found myself outside in the yard, staring at the sky.  I love watching storms roll in.  The dark clouds, the rumbles of thunder in the distance- it gives me a sense of wonder and awe at Creator God.  As I smell that completely wonderful smell that spring storms bring, I notice the hawks over the cove.  They're soaring fast and free, and I think about how wonderful it must be high in their sky.

When storms come, they don't hide.
When storms come, they don't try to fly against the winds.  Instead, they are still and let the winds carry them.
When storms come, they don't look up at God and ask why the weather is so terrible.

They trust.
They trust because they know that every other storm has always become calm, and every windy day has led to a sunny one.
They trust that nature will act as it always does, according to the patterns it's been assigned.

And then... there's my dog.
My precious 8-year old dog who is terrified of storms.
She's learned that when the sky lights, thunder is coming, and she immediately begins to shake.
The loud noises and heavy rains make her heart race with fear, and she runs to hide in the bedroom.

I've decided that we're dogs and not hawks.

We worry.
We fear.
We hide.

And somewhere along the way we've learned to look to the heavens and ask why the storms come.
We find ourselves (sometimes angrily) questioning the bad weather in our lives.
We find ourselves without trust as we try to fly against the winds in our own strength.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather soar above the storm than hide in the bedroom shaking.

I know my Savior brings the storm clouds, and I know He loves me.  These two things are not mutually exclusive.  He brings storms AND He loves me.  And because He loves me perfectly, He brings the storms to build my character.

So I will spread my wings and soar, trusting Him to protect me and cover me with His love.

"But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)


~~~





Always counting...
#395 NICU nurses
#396 Newborn holding my finger
#397 New friends I can encourage
#401 Nights to sing loud
#402 "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me!"
#404 Brainstorming sessions with freshmen
#407 A day of texting with a new friend
#408 Thunder clouds and wind
#409 Dinner with best friends
#410 Rocking baby to sleep



Friday, March 02, 2012

Aching for the Wrong Things [FMF]

It's Five Minute Friday.  Today's topic- Ache


~~~
The ache in her heart is strong and real.
She longs for something more, something she just can't seem to reach, no matter how high on her tiptoes she stands.
Her hands far above her head, she stretches tall.
But she finds that in all her trying, the ache remains.

Aching for more, for perfection.
Seeking protection in the doing, the checking the boxes, the performing.

If only she could make the ache go away.
She knows her ache should be for Jesus alone, in His grace, but her sinful nature shouts loud.
To surrender is to give up control, and she knows this will pain her deeply.

This change that He demands.
The giving up of self so that He can fill the ache.
It's all worth it though, right?

Empty my hands, fill up my heart, capture my mind with You.-  (Tenth Avenue North)





Thursday, March 01, 2012

He Won't Relent

He stands before me and I see tears brimming.
Oh, he's fighting them hard, but they're winning the battle.
"Can I have an extension?"
And I'm struggling with words and a lump in my throat, not sure of where this road will lead.
"No, I'm sorry.  It's still due Friday."
He hides his face behind the pages, shoulders dropping with a sigh.
"It's impossible then."
And there it is.
That familiar friend.
Defeat.

It's not good enough.
It's got to be redone.
He has to start over.


And it's killing every bit of his 14-year old spirit.



And although my heart is filled with compassion, I know that I cannot relent.
This is building character.
This is forming courage.
This is for life.


"That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me."  (Colossians 1:29 NLT)


How many times have I hidden my face, tears forming in my eyes, crying out to my God?

"It's impossible!"


When I mess up, make mistakes, and have to start all over, I know that feeling of defeat and the heaviness it brings.  I want it all to work perfectly the first time, and actually I want it to work perfectly every time!

As soon as the "I can'ts" overtake the "I can tries," we've been stopped in our tracks

"I didn't lose those 5 pounds I wanted to."
"That friendship is dying and I can't do anything about it."
"Everybody else has a baby, why can't I?"
"What marriage?"


Defeat, defeat, DEFEAT.



And although His heart is filled with compassion, He will not relent.
This is building character.
This is forming courage.
This is for His glory.



"You won't relent until you have it all.  My heart is yours." -Jesus Culture



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