A Few Things

I wrote this on January 6th, 2014 and never posted it. Here are the musings of my heart from that long ago day…
_______________________________________________________

There are a few things that I feel that the Lord has taught me in the 2013 year. Not only did he teach me once, but he continued to impress these things upon my heart during the many trials and difficulties that I faced this year. These lessons, these truths, are words to live by not only this year, but in the remaining years to come. Not only do I feel that they changed my outlook on life, but I also feel that they changed the way that I live life.

1. It’s not about the circumstances, but it is how we choose to respond to those circumstances.

Like Job and the many, many trials that he faced, he realized and understood that no matter what happened to him, no matter how much he lost, or how much was taken away from him, the name of the Lord is still to be praised. Though the everyday circumstances of our lives can change as quickly as a Colorado day, there are truths that remain constant, remain the same. The Lord is the truth. He is always faithful and always loving. No matter where we go or what we say, the Lord is constantly and continually standing by our side. There will be times when he will choose not to speak, but that does not mean that he is distant from you. Put your arm around his waist and squeeze tight. Sometimes you will feel so tired and worn out that the only thing that you can do is lean your head on his shoulder and continue walking. Arm in arm, heart to heart. It is in these moments that we discover where our strength truly resides. Is the house built upon the rock or is it built upon the sinking sand, crashing to the ground with each new wave of wind that blows along?

I have learned that the purposes and the ways of the Lord are not my own. There are many instances, many circumstances, and many failings that I cannot understand and that seem to occur without purpose, but the Lord is in our past, our present, and our future. He already knows what is to come and every time we fall to our knees before the Almighty and cry out his name in our struggles, he picks us up with his loving hands, draws us close into his embrace, and silently whispers, “Trust me.” There is no greater Lover, there is no greater Maker, there is no greater King than the one who sits enthroned in Heaven.

2. We should not only live under grace, but we should live in it.

It is by grace that we have been saved. It is by grace that we have new life. It is by grace that the Father has loved us and gave his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is by grace that we have hope. It is by grace that we have faith. Grace.

Grace is an integral part of our lives and also an integral part of the fact that we are saved. We have been covered by grace and as we live, we live under this covering. Thank the Lord.

But what I think that we often forget is that to live in such a way as to live like Christ we must live and operate in this grace. Now I am not saying that we are to give grace to people. That is something that only the Father can do because to extend grace is to completely disregard any bias, wrongdoing, or prior sin committed and that is not within human ability. But what I am saying is that we should live in such a way that we respond to every situation and circumstance with our saving grace in mind. IF the Lord could extend grace to us weary sinners, then can we not live in such a way that would glorify the Lord and shine the light of Christ through our words, actions, dreams, and ideals?

Living a life in the Lord’s grace promotes an attitude and a posture of thanksgiving. When you live with the knowledge and understanding of Christ and the power of his resurrection, how can we not fall on our knees in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done? Walk around a mall, watch TV, visit a high school or college campus and the ways of the world are evident. When I think of where I would be without the Lord I cannot help but praise his Name.

3. Learn, press on, and hope.

Mountains exist. I live on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountain’s extending farther north than I can see and distant to the south. I know that mountain’s exist. But sometimes we see the struggles and trials of others and fail to recognize the reality of facing mountains ourselves. Then, when a mountain is looming in front of us, we stand in shock because we say, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” But I can believe it because mountains exist.

There are two parts to this mountainous journey that are important: the middle and the end.

When we are in the middle of the mountain, climbing and stumbling and straining to see the top with all of our might there comes a moment when we must make a choice: to go Christ’s way or to walk our own way. This pivotal moment changes the entire mountain experience because we are deciding between our own strength and might or the strength and might of the Lord who created the Heavens and the Earth and everything in them.

Walk the Lord’s way. To live and to follow the Lord in every trial and tribulation is extremely difficult, but there is no greater peace that exists apart from the peace found in the Lord’s presence. There is no greater place to be than in the Lord’s hands. If you walk with the Lord and lean on his righteous right hand, then it will not be so much about the greatness of the mountain but about the greatness of the Lord.

The end of the mountain is just as important as the middle of it. It is inevitable, when walking through the mountain with the Lord, that you will learn something very important. When we choose to walk alongside the Lord, he often uses difficult times to strengthen us and to reveal to us one more piece of who he is, what his heart is.

Listen.

It will always be a temptation to run as fast as you can away from that mountain once it is over. To leave behind any memory, and trace of the jagged path left behind. Listen. If we look past and ignore the things that the Lord has placed before us then how will we ever learn from the past so that we will know how to better face the future? Because trust me when I say that another mountain will come. As surely as we live and breathe, it will come. But with the lessons that we learn, the Lord equips us with the knowledge and tools we will need to better fight the ascent up the mountain the next time, hopefully learning that there is no better place to be than with the Lord, even when climbing a mountain.

And finally, press on. Press forward. Hold onto the hope of tomorrow and the hope of new beginnings and blessings. Hold onto the truth of the Lord’s promises and the fact that he will never leave you or forsake you. He wants to give you the desires of your heart and he wants you to know his heart just as much as he knows yours. There is no end with the Lord. His mercies are new every morning and we can live and learn and laugh and love in the peace that is Christ. Allow the Holy Spirit to live and work in your life in this new year. The Lord wants to fulfill his purposes for you. But will you let him?

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Vision of Grace

A couple of weeks ago, the Lord gave me a vision of grace. He showed me an image of life and love and true, right, holy relationship with the Lord. He showed me the truth of success and how I needed success redefined. He showed me a story of love which I will share with you today:

There was a woman lying on a hospital bed; she could not move.
There was a man standing before a crowd, poised to wave at the audience.

The woman had been motionless her whole life.
The man was known; his face was recognized by the crowd.

The woman did not know many a soul.
The man was recognized by many.

The woman’s face was sallow and her fight shown on her face.
The man’s face displayed life and a will to fight for the things in which he believed.

The woman had never accomplished anything societally noteworthy.
The man had accomplished many things societally noteworthy.

The woman had never been able to go out into the world and share Jesus.
The man had never known anything besides going out to share Jesus.

Each knew the Father. Each knew and lived in love, but one lived love in very physical action while the other abided in it.

God has been talking to me about stories. In this vision, the man and the woman had very little in common and lived fundamentally different lives. The woman, by the world’s standards, had never accomplished anything. She had lied in bed her entire life, fighting illness and fighting against a very real spiritual battle. The only people that she had encountered were the ones who came to visit her and her area of influence was very small indeed. The man, by the world’s standards, had lived a very successful life full of influence and movement. In the vision I knew that he had walked through many of what we call trials and that he had come out victorious on the other side. He had lived his life telling the world of God’s grace and glory all over the world.

I know what the world says about a good story. I know what society says is a good story, what will sell off the racks at the grocery store and what makes good entertainment. I know what success looks like by the world’s standards and the expectations associated with it. I know that people love a good climax and conclusion. I know that people like to see others overcome great conflict and arrive at some sort of victorious conclusion.

But I want to know what God has to say about a good story. God is literally the author of the greatest story – a story of love – that has ever been written or could every be thought of. I want to know what He has to say about her story, about his story, about my story.

In my life, I think that I have believed wrongly about what makes a story good. I have succumbed to the lies of the world. I have known the lies and believed them. When God showed me the vision of the man and the woman, I would have classified the story of the man as a good story. He did something! He walked through various trials and arose victorious. He lived in the victory that he knew was his through Christ and told people about it. But when God was talking to me about the stories of the man and the woman, he showed me the story of the man and the woman in a new light. I was not wrong in saying that the story of the man was great. It is true that he lived in glorious humility and it is true that he shared his story well. He loved God and he knew that he was saved by grace. But so did the woman. The woman loved God just as much as the man. She knew that she was saved by grace and she knew that she was a child of the King. Not only that, but God showed me her heart. He showed me all of the quiet moments in the night when she lay there alone talking to her Father. Just think of how she knew the Father! Not only did she know God but she understood what it meant to abide in him; to rest in his love; to be covered by grace; to be strong in spirit despite her physical weakness; to lavish all of her love on the Father; to rest in truth and to speak out hope. She contained within her the fullness of Christ, of his love and life and presence.

How beautiful is such a story as this! When I saw her story as ‘less than’ because she couldn’t do anything, God saw that her story was all the more beautiful because she knew her Father. There is no greater achievement in life than this: to know God and to be loved by Him and to love him. God desires us. God desires us. He desires us. He desires us. He desires us. God desires us.

So I don’t want to know what the world has to say about my story, because I know what my God has to say about my story. There is nothing greater that I could ever do than to pursue the Lord and to know him. To have a heart that beats in rhythm with his heart, to have a mind that thinks the same thoughts as his, to have a soul that is wholly connected to and is one with his. I want that to be my story. When I am with my Father in the Heavenly places, I don’t want people to say that I ‘did’ great things, I want them to say that I loved my Father well all the days of my life.

For I am His and He is mine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sometimes you just have to sit in the mess.

Sometimes you just have to sit in the mess. Boy, is that true. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to deal with “the mess” of life as I have very much been walking through it. “The mess”can feel like nothing, yet everything. It consists of things that you consciously know and things that you subconsciously feel. It encapsulates all of the messy, painful, frustrating, and sad moments that can be simultaneously bombarding your mind with emotion and affecting and influencing your reaction to the world. “The mess” is painful. “The mess” is for real.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the mess recently because I want to walk through the mess well. I want to be able to face it full force and conquer it so that I can say that “I conquered the road to success through the mess”. Cheesy, punny, but you get the point.

When I look at my life right now in this moment, I can see the mess. The Lord has opened my eyes to see the pain and the sadness and the frustration and the anger and the jealousy and the bitterness and the insecurity that exists in my heart and, in turn, in my life. I’m not sure if you know this yet, but everything that you say and do is directly influenced by the things that you hold in your heart. If you respond poorly to a compliment, maybe you have a root of insecurity in your heart. If you are quickly angered by being asked a basic, harmless question, maybe you need to look at the core of the question and ask yourself honestly why it made you angry. I know that in the past year, I have encountered numerous situations where I responded very poorly to a very basic, generic circumstance and when I looked deeper, I found a wound that I thought had healed years ago, or even a wound that I didn’t even know existed. One of the most ready examples that comes to mind is when I was talking to my roommate/bestie/sister and she very harmlessly commented at something that she thought I wouldn’t like, but I responded with frustration and bitterness towards her comment. When I expressed to her that I found fault with her comment she asked me why and I had to look at myself. I really had to look at myself. And when I looked, I found that her comment bothered me because when I was growing up, people often enjoyed telling me what I would or wouldn’t like. Whether it be my siblings, my friends, my peers, older influences in my life, most of them meant it harmlessly, but nonetheless, I was berated by inferences as to what I would and wouldn’t like. When I found this, I asked myself why it bothered me, and what I discovered is that I despised that inference because it was derived from many of the people in my life who would tell me how young I was. I knew that I did things that were not ‘standard’ for my age, but God was leading me forward so who was I to sit back and say, “No, not yet. Society tells me I need to wait a few years, so I’m going to catch some Z’s.” Heck-to-the-no. I walked forward with my hand safely, securely nestled in my Father’s hand. So as I walked forward with my Father, I was constantly reminded that I was little – that the things that I was doing were not the norm and that I was “just so little”.

I grew to resent that – being called ‘little’ – and I began to avoid situations, conversations, or questions which solicited my age until it became almost a non-issue.

So then, when my authentically genuine roommate asked me why her comment bothered me, I knew that it was not just the comment, that it was not just the reminder of all the people who told me what I should or shouldn’t like or should or shouldn’t do, but it was an even deeper wound that wasn’t quite so ‘little’ at all.

Being called little made me doubt me. Being called little made me doubt that I should be doing what I was doing. Being called little made me doubt that I could do what I was doing and succeed. Being called little made me feel “less than”. Being called little made me doubt my worth. Being called little made me acknowledge my own youth and made me stare it in the face. Being called little actually made me feel little.

This, not-so-little musing of the heart, is just one of the items on the floor that compose my mess. It is real and it is valid and it is part of the mess that I need to walk through so that I can find healing on the other side. That is what I am learning about the mess. First, you have to sit in the mess: acknowledge it, look at it, accept that it is real and that it really affects your life in tangible ways. Secondly, you have to walk through the mess: after you have sat in the mess and you have reached a certain level of acceptance of its existence in your life, you have to walk through the mess, to sift through the wreckage and the disaster zone to uncover the flower that blooms underneath the rubble of the fallen bridge. Then, you hold onto the hope of the flower, knowing that as you walk through the mess and acknowledge the pain and healing that is required, that God’s grace is sufficient both now and forever. That his grace is no less sufficient in this moment than it has always been and that he has been with you through the mess the whole time.

Then, after you reach the edge, the debris begin to thin and become more dispersed, the air gets a little cleaner with each step, and on the horizon you catch a glimpse of the glimmer of waves cresting in his Ocean of Grace. And as you draw closer, as the sand under your feet turns cool after being scorched, his waves of Grace entice you  and you dive under, tasting the sweet water of hope. Truth washes over you as you submerge from the water and float on your back. All of the pain, all of the sadness, all of the anger and frustration, all of the jealousy, all of the bitterness, and all of the insecurity begin to wash away on the waves and their very existence is incinerated by the kiss of the sun against the surface of Gracious waters.

Sometimes you just have to sit in the mess in order to walk through the mess in order to find healing on the other side.

Let’s walk through it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The journey goes on…

IMG_9776Photo by: Kristina Gove, Portland, Oregon

Life is a journey, is it not? Whether we are commuting to work or going to the grocery store or taking the kids to school, we are journeying everywhere. We must get from point A to point B in the least possible time. But the problem with that is that there is potential to forget what the journey is all about. It’s not about point A or point B it is about the thousands of moments in between that determine the outcome of our destination.

I have been on this journey for twenty-one years now. In the past three years I’ve lived in Florida, Colorado, Spain, Washington, and California. I have driven from the West coast to the East coast and touched both oceans, all in one summer. I’ve driven the entire length of the West coast one and a half times. I have made new friends and lost old ones. I attended and graduated from the University of Colorado Denver. I traveled to Paris, London, and Madrid. I watched my brother get married to a beautiful woman who loves Jesus a whole lot. I watched my sister walk across the linoleum stage to receive a Bachelor in Equine Science and in Business. I wept and mourned as I saw families lose loved ones. And still the journey goes on…

Each of these events could be framed as point A and point B destinations, but I think to classify them as such would be contrary to the point. My point A began from the moment the Lord thought to create me. The moment when he delicately placed each curl on my head and each streak of green and blue in my eyes and every vein and tissue was put into place. That was my moment. That was the moment that I began.

Now I am somewhere in between point A and point B trying to capture and cherish every moment that I can. I do not want to miss out these moments. I don’t want to miss the moment when I meet eyes with a woman I don’t know in a coffee shop as she smiles at me, creases forming at the corners of her brown eyes – knowing that I may never see her again – but maybe she just needed someone to see her; maybe I just did. I don’t want to miss the moment of sitting in the family room with my family and friends laughing and playing games. I don’t want to miss her face when she looks at me with an attempt at a smile and tears in her eyes. I don’t want to miss any moment to love, to cherish, to hold close those who I love. My point B lies in the moment when I kneel at my Father’s feet singing his praises and basking in his glory. Where is the place that my father has prepared for me in the Heavens? I don’t yet know but isn’t that the beauty of it? If life is a journey is it not also an adventure?

Each moment in the past three years could have been a final destination, but how many moments I would have missed spending with my father weeping for the things that break his heart and rejoicing in the moments of his glory shining forth. The compilation of every moment in my life is what makes this life worth living and worth hoping for and worth fighting for and the journey goes on…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Blessed Life.

This life that I live, what a blessed one it is indeed.

I have thought about sitting down and blogging for over a year. I would open up my browser, type in wordpress.com, wait for it to load, try to remember which email address that I used when I first started my blog, and what in the world did I make my password? I would open up each blog and look back at what I used to write,the musings of a heart so connected to the written word that it flowed so seamlessly, a melody riding on the Father’s rhythms of grace. I open a new page, a new post, my cursor blinking and blaring at me, and then: nothing.

No words. Not at least, words that I felt were adequate enough, succinct enough, whole enough, to put to paper, to express. I saw my thoughts as a jumbled mess, a tangled ball of yarn with no discernible beginning or end. But that is life sometimes isn’t it?

Sometimes life feels like a tangled ball of yarn with no discernible beginning or end. Sometimes life feels like a puzzle freshly removed from the box and poured out on the table, all of the pieces turned this way and that and right-side-up and flipped upside-down. Sometimes life is a beautiful mess.

A few days ago I walked into my closet to hang up my sweatshirt and in the process decided to pull out my winter clothes since it ’tis the season. I sat down on the floor and proceeded to pull each piece of winter clothing from  the box, caressing each piece like a long lost friend that had walked many winter miles with me. – In many ways that’s how I feel about this blog. Going back and reading through old posts is like looking at old snapshots of the long winter months where I would look up and hope to catch just a glimpse of the sun through the expanse of mourning gray clouds. – After I had successful pulled out every piece of winter clothing, I sat on the floor of my closet, leaning against the wall surrounded by past winter moments, surrounded by clothes strewn here and there, surrounded by my mess. As I sat in that moment, I sat contented because when I walk through my mess, underneath the canopy of the forrest, and I push through the overgrown foliage, and I tromp over dead grasses still standing and the snow underfoot, I come into the middle of a clearing and I sit. I sit and I reflect. I can see the mess from which I came to my right and I can see the mess to which I must press on to my left, but in that moment I can just sit. I know from whence I came and I know where I need to go. I may not know all of the mountains and valleys I will meet along the way and I may not know which companions the Lord will bring to me to walk along the path with me and push through the overgrowth, but I know from whence I came and I know where I am going. I came from my Father and to my Father I will return. I came from the Potter’s hands and in his hands I will always remain. I am gold which has to go through the fire to draw out the dross to perfection. I am a child of the King who sits on my Father’s lap and listens all day long as he speaks his Creation over my head. I am a princess wearing a woven crown of jewels and my Knight, wearing gleaming silver armor, stands in front of me in the presence of my enemies. I am a fierce woman clothed in robes flowing of unwavering truth, a belt of righteousness, sandals of fortified faith, and a crown of steadfast hope; eyes and heart blazing with the loving zeal of my Father. I am a mother who holds her child in her arms as her child listens to her heart beat of her unending, overflowing love from her Papa.

I am woman and I am fierce.

As I sat on the floor of my closet, God showed me these things. He showed me who he had taught me to be and who he had created me to be. He showed me that there is purpose and glory in every moment, every season that I have walked through. I climbed onto his lap as he began to go through the scrapbook of my life, turning page after page with pictures and little captions about each precious moment, and he whispered the beautiful secrets of  his glory over my life. He always speaks his love over me and he always gives me grace for each day. He is always faithful and he is always good. He is my most faithful provider and my constant strength. He is my source of hope; he is the reason for my hope. He shows me his majesty through his Creation and his care in the details. He is gentle and he is kind. He is my continual source of wisdom and truth. He is my heart and he has my heart. He is so beautifully jealous for me.

So I suppose that as I begin to blog again and as I begin to write and to pray for succinct language to communicate his great and mighty works and words in my life, that I will sit and I will write and his glory will shine through because that’s who He is.

Sundown - Snow Covered Forrest

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Loved and Blessed

Mmm… hello again little blog of mine.

It is hard to describe the deep peace and rest that I find in this moment in my Savior’s presence. I have been skimming over pictures from the past: laughs shared, smiles exchanged, lift lived. How extremely blessed I am to have known so many amazing people. So many lovers of Jesus. So many conversations of the things above. So many moments spent loving and being loved by people that are near and dear to my heart.

When I look a picture of who I was six years ago and a picture of who I am now, I can see all of the puzzle pieces fitting together into a beautiful picture of my Father’s graceful touch on my life. What an honor! What a privilege! To be called daughter, dearly beloved, my special one whom I love, have always loved, and will always love. What joy we have in Christ!

When I look back on the last year, I can recount trial after trial. I can see the tears running down my face, I can see the anger, the hurt, the sadness. The loss.
But what I also see is beauty. I see a covering of grace to handle situations with as much grace as I could muster. I see new beginnings. I see redemption. I see strength where there was weakness and weakness where there was too much strength. I see love; a love that completely and inexplicably transcends my understanding both then and now. I see rain falling on dry ground. I see flowers blooming. The most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.

I am blessed. I am loved. I have a blessing and a love that can only come from one source. The Source of life. The source of hope. The source of love. The source of grace. The source of gentleness. The source of kindness and self-control. The source of joy. The source of peace.

The source of the very breath that I breathe.

How sweet, how fresh! For the old is past and the new has come! For where there is light, no darkness can remain! Where there was pain, there is hope! Where there was loss, there is redeeming love! Joys and mercies new every morning.

How beautiful is my Savior, the one who died for me so that I may be free both now and forever. Not bound to the sins and darkness of the world, but alive and free to dance and sing and live in a true joy.

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Loving.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

Love your neighbor as yourself.

I have often talked about the deep friendship that existed between Jonathan and David and have pondered the implications of what it would look like, what it would mean to love someone as you love yourself. This concept that was lived out by Jonathan and David is completely foreign to the world today.

The relationship that Jonathan and David had was completely selfless. To love someone as you love yourself literally means putting that person first every time. It means honesty and integrity and respect.

I have often thought of how treasured and cherished a relationship like this would be in the 21st century. Such a concept is extremely difficult to comprehend and is also extremely difficult to come by in the world today.

But what I think what few of us truly realize is that each and every one of us is called to life like this. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is written loud and clear. Plain as day. But the implication of this verse has been skewed so completely that it no longer has the intended meaning.

We are given two very important and vital commands as Christ Followers: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. You would think that with these two commands put so close together that we would understand the magnanimity of what the Lord was saying but we do not.

Over and over in 1 John the Lord commands us to love. To love as the Lord has loved us and to love because the Lord loved us even when we were still in sin. This love that the Lord speaks of is God-given. It is not a thing that we can come by on our own and if we try it is affection in its most intentional form.

We have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves with a God-given pure and honest love that can receive no retribution for its purity. It will be persecuted and it will be condemned because the truth that the Lord’s love gives will blind the world with its brilliance. This love will not be accepted and it will not be appreciated by most but it is the desire of the Lord for his perfect love to be made complete on Earth as it is in Heaven.

The gospel is offensive. The Lord so loved us, that he gave his only son…that he so loved us. Love is offensive. Darkness will do all in its power to snuff out love, to prevent it from forming, and tear it apart when it has been established. The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy but the Lord came so that we may have life and have it to the full.

To love as the Lord has loved us is life and it is having it to the full.

——————————————————————————————-

1 John 3:11 – “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

1 John 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:23 – “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

1 John 4:7 – “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know GOd, because God is love.”

1 John 4:10 – “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

1 John 4:16 – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

“And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 4:21

Posted in God, Hope, Jesus, Journey, Lessons, Life, Love, Uncategorized | Leave a comment