May 17, 2017

A prayer


Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me.  Lay any burden on me, only sustain me.  Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart. 

David Livingstone 

May 15, 2017

Overflow




"And it shall be, in that day," says the LORD
"That you will call Me 'My Husband' (my Ishi) and no long call Me 'My Master' (my baali)."

"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
in righteousness and justice,
in lovingkindness and mercy
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD."

Hosea 2:16, 19-20 

May 6, 2017

A rare moment

Texas Bluebonnet selfie - Spring break trip to Waco / Silos / Magnolia
This blog has been neglected for far too long, mostly due to my overly stuffed schedule, and lack of regular computer access.  All of that is about to change: summer is upon us, which means a different, slightly less full schedule, and (God willing) a new laptop which I am planning on owning by the end of this month!

Life has been so good lately.  Between my job, school, family activities, and college group / church events, I have never been so busy, or blessed.  Those rare moments when I have down time, I sit, pondering how much my life has changed in just a year.  And I am thankful.  For the college group and the community I am now a part of, which helps me stay encouraged and focused on God.  Something I've never really had before.  Not like this anyway.  I am excited to be surrounded by a group of energetic and passionate young people who really like being together, and want to grow in their walk with Jesus.  And I can't say enough about how much being at the Beech has helped me.

My family continues to be a source of joy in my life.  And even though I don't get to spend as much time with them as before, I am still so thankful for all of their love and support, and especially glad for those times we are all together.  The last time I saw my niece, she was so full of childlike curiosity as I played with her in her playhouse, with her various toys, and sat watching her interact with Jaden.  Of course, she is such a delight, but so are the rest of my family members, and I have been trying to spend more time interacting with them via email, text, letters, and phone visits, since some of them live a great distance from me.  Family is forever, and I want to build strong relationships that will last a life time.

Work - something I have really begun to enjoy.  Really, it is a dream job for me, and less of a drag.  I get to be "mom" 50 or so hours a week to two brilliant, strapping little men, who love me with abandon.  Watching them grow and change and develop each day, is just amazing and something I have dreamed about getting to do all my life.  Even though I don't have kids of my own (yet), these two have become so dear and precious to my heart, and I love them like they are my own.  They follow me around, and like to help in small ways which is a delight.  I think the best part of my job is getting to spend so much time outside with them, exploring God's marvelous creation, looking at ant piles, picking flowers, running, laughing, gardening, playing.  I have always LOVED being outside, and thankfully both boys could live outside if they had their way, so it makes for a wonderful relationship.

College group is something new and exciting in my life.  Since joining last fall semester, I have gotten to experience a lot of new and fun things, as well as grow in my walk with Jesus, meet new people, form new friendships, study God's Word (a lot!), take in some uplifting retreats, conferences, and bible studies and just expand my horizon as a person.  Monday night devos are still my favorite, because of the fellowship and singing, and of course the devotional time as well.  There's just something so encouraging about meeting together at the start of a new week, to eat, talk, sing and hear an encouraging thought from Scripture.  It really helps me set the tone of the next 5 days.  Some of my closest friends have been made through this group.  It's hard to believe we've only known each other 8 months, because we have already experienced and shared so much together.  As I look ahead to this summer, I am a little sad because we won't have as many things going on, and some folks are going home for the break, but I know that there will still be friends to hang with, and fun things to do.  Bible camp is one of them, and I am going this year as a counselor - my 4th time to be a counselor, but my first time to go with this congregation.  I am REALLY excited, not only to get to go with my church family, but even more for the content of what we will be learning that week.  It is going to be powerful, life equipping and challenging and I can hardly wait for July to get here!

My counseling classes are coming along nicely.  Right now I am finishing a class on marriage and family counseling, which has been really good.  I have learned a lot, and been challenged and encouraged by each lecture and assignment.  I have also enrolled in a 3 hour class (10 weeks in duration) which begins the end of this month, and continues through the summer.  This will be in addition to my other classes, so I am going to have a busy summer of learning.  God has used these classes to transform my heart, as much as to get me ready to help others.  The awesome thing?  He has already let me use the knowledge I have gained in the last 18 months or so of study, to help others in need and it has been humbling and exhilarating all at once.  I am truly excited to see how this journey ends.  I already have two ministries interested in using my counseling services once I am done with school, which serves as motivation and encouragement to stay faithful til then end.

Besides all of the above, I am also maintaining a summer garden, which is a source of joy and hard work in my life.  I LOVE plants, and so a garden is such a delight to me.  One day I hope to have a huge garden, and use it in my counseling ministry.  Lots of hopes and dreams, and plans for the future... if the Lord wills.  Right now the few beds I do have will keep me on my toes until fall.  I also decided to plant flowers, because a garden shouldn't just be for food, but also for beauty.  The sunflowers are already blooming, and getting taller each day, and the Zinnias I planted from seed are coming up as well, so are the morning glories.  The yard has never looked better, and I feel such pleasure spending time enjoying the beauty all around as I walk with the boys or sit on the patio.  Truly, God has given us such a gift in His creation!

January 6, 2017

Searching




I'm a broken arrow
I'm a fatal error
Missed my mark, I forgot my lines
Waiting for a sunrise

I'm so tired of living like
I don't have what it takes
I don't have what it takes and
I'm still waiting for the day
Where I'm more than mistakes
More than mistakes
I will be glorious
I will be glorious

On my own I'm no one
On my own I follow
Searching every evening's lonely sky
When all I need's a sunrise

I'm so tired of living like
I don't have what it takes
I don't have what it takes and
I'm still waiting for the day
Where I'm more than mistakes
More than mistakes and
I will be glorious

January 5, 2017

Friendship






I have friends, a few of them, with whom I feel comfortable and can truly be myself around without scaring off, and in the past they have all lived at a distance, so it has been strange and wonderful to make a friend who lives in the same town as I.  Jessica is such a friend, and I am blessed to know her.  She loves Jesus so passionately, so purely, and it really motivates to pursue Him with all my being.  Since we met in July of last year, we have shared several meaningful experiences, and have been intentional about getting to know one another better.  She has been a calm, balanced friend in the midst of upheaval I have been experiencing for a while now.  I don't know if she will read this post or not, but I am thankful for you, Jessica, and how you point me back to Jesus again and again.  Thank you for being a true friend. <3 br="">

November 3, 2016

I exist

Have you ever stopped and considered the fact that you exist as a person, and yet have no control over this existence?  Some might argue that you do, because you can choose to end your life, but ultimately, you didn't bring about your life, and you don't know when it will end.

All of that seems high and philosophical, but it is really an every day thought.  And it reminds me of what Paul said in Acts 17

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

(Acts 17:24-28; emphasis added)

Since my existence is dependent upon God, a Being outside of myself, what does this mean for how I live?  Well, it should mean that I spend every waking hour serving Him, and advancing His mission on earth "letting His kingdom come...."  This is harder than it should be, because my selfish heart comes in and steals the joy of this service, replacing its focus on this earthly life with all of its difficulties (or perceived difficulties), pain and labor, and our gaze is shifted from our Good and Loving God, to the dirty dishes sitting in the sink from last night, or the growing pile of unfolded laundry, the unpaid bills, and unmet expectations, and the daily grind of living here.

So how do we look up from what we call life, to see all of the goodness and provision given to us by God?

The author of Hebrews puts it quite simply when he writes:

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:2)

How do we "fix our eyes..."?

Through gratitude, through prayer, through daily immersing our minds, hearts, and actions in God's word, which requires time, attention, attention of the heart.  To step away and be with God is something we must make time for, otherwise we lose our focus and believe lies, which effects our very existence.

Ann Voskamp reminds us that our existence, our longing for the 'Other' can only be completed in giving thanks to God, and in feasting upon Him:

"Eucharisteo, remembering with thanks, this is the bread.  We take the moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes bread.  The thanks itself nourishes.  Thanks feeds our trust." 
And Jesus is that nourishment,
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

(John 6: 47-51)

Jesus Christ makes it plain from this text that His body, His word (since He is the WORD), is what gives life.  Why would I want to go one second without this nourishment?  How foolish and arrogant of me to think that I can exist apart from this Life source, and yet does my life match up with seeking it out?  Do I truly "hunger and thirst for righteousness" or is my hunger and thirst "satisfied" with mere earthly morsels, which are soon consumed and discarded?

Too often the later is what I settle for in my pursuit of life.  Ironic, because while I am seeking life, if I am not going to Jesus, the only True Life Source, I am settling for cheap and useless substitutes.  No wonder my heart yearns for something more, no wonder there is a deep, burning hunger inside my bones.  Because, until I am thoroughly convinced (and life accordingly) that JESUS is enough, I will keep going to broken cisterns, and man made wells which CANNOT ever satisfy my soul.

Oh Jesus, may I hunger and thirst for You alone.  You have promised to satisfy my soul need, indeed you have done so initially, help me to be faithful in feeding on You, and not looking to faulty and sinful substitutes which will never quench this craving of my heart.  Please forgive my wavering, roving heart that is on the prowl for some idol to worship, when You are the true and living God!  I look to You, and thank You for being faithful despite my wandering heart.  I love You, but perfect my love so that it is what You desire.  Make my life a worthy sacrifice, fit for Your altar.  Amen. 

September 29, 2016

A love, an inheritance, a faith


R.M. Rilke said: 

"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it." 

In Ephesians 3:16-19, Paul prays a powerful blessing over the church at Ephesus which resounds similarly to Rilke's words above: 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Oh! to know God's love!  To truly be captured by His father heart for us. To yearn to love Him with our all in return.  Everything, everything He has done for His creations has been out of love, and with such careful thought and attention to detail.  

Even in the seemingly "mundane" parts of Scripture (is that even a thing?), God's love and devotion to His people shines so brightly, how can we not see it?  In my personal bible study, I am reading in Hebrews, and I decided that it would be good to re-read the giving of the law and the setting up of the first tabernacle in Exodus.  And as I read, the love of God oozed from every detail, every word.  As He commanded Moses on the exact dimensions of and supplies to be used for, the tabernacle.  Only a God of love would be so precise, so direct.  

How do we fail to see His love when it is so apparent?  We choose to turn a blind eye to its overwhelming evidence, and focus on the bad, the evil, the ugly which consumes our fallen world.  The Author of Hebrews rebuked his readers, reminding them of the One thing they should set their gaze towards, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

When we look at His face, and see through His eyes, the whole world changes before us.  Yes there is pain and suffering and evil and death and disappointment and heartache, but there is also an abundance of Love.  And when we finally grasp that truth and live it out, the ripples of blessing which go out from our lives, transform the world.  

So, let us love as we are loved, without reserve; willing to sacrifice our hearts and lives so that others will know this Love. 


"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other."
(John 15:9-17)