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Suspended in Trust

10 Sep

So I journal a lot.  It’s how I process.  Often prayers get woven in as I work through stuff and either come across sin or more clearly see my insufficiency and need for Jesus.  Sometimes I re-read these and am taken aback by how much I get out of reading them a second or third time.  Its also pretty sweet to see how far God has brought me from past entries.

Not too long ago the thought of blogging some of my journals swung through the jungle of my mind.  I was on the fence about it, heck I’m STILL on the fence – it’s pretty personal stuff… but could it help someone?  Can I share without over-sharing?  SO here I am, on the front porch working through my latest almost-meltdown, blown away by how God meets me with his scriptural truth and I’m like, “yep, this needs to be shared.”  So … hopefully it encourages someone.  Other than me 🙂

Mondays are my one day off.  I treasure Mondays.  I commit to NOTHING on Mondays.  I spend at least the entire morning in the Word and journaling.  They are precious.  This Monday morning, however, before I could get settled into my Jesus-time, I encountered a note taped to our front door stating that our landlord was selling our house and we (all 5 of us plus dog) have to be out in a month and a half.  That was a sucker punch.  There are literally a grillion thoughts swarming, all under the umbrella of “do” – I should get on craigslist right away, who do I need to email, I have to tell the other girls, what does this mean for our dog, what are our chances of finding a house this cheap, etc.  But amid all of that mess, I felt a deeper pull to sit down and process this through prayer with my Father and Big Brother.

I just spent the weekend reflecting on the power and sovereignty of God, probably because He is so kind to prepare my heart for this news that would otherwise knee-cap me.  So I KNOW that He is always, only good.  I also KNOW that He is in control of everything – even bad stuff.  And I KNOW that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28) – so this is His plan for all of us.  God is doing the hard stuff, preparing a place for all of us to go.  He has blessed this house in crazy-ridiculous ways, so why would we not trust that He would continue to do this even when the future gets cloudy?  I guess ‘trusting’ could be considered a “do” but what it requires is deliberate waiting.  Looking to someone other than myself.  Waiting on directions.  So that’s really more of an “un-do” or what we like to refer to as “be”.

My planned scripture reading for today was 2 Corinthians 4.  This was actually because I’ve gotten a couple of days behind, but after reading it, I know that it was more than happenstance because I got so much more out of it than I would have if I read it 4 days ago.  Paul wrote this book.  I’m a big fan of Paul. He uses lots of running references, which, as a runner, I geek out about 🙂  But he was also in a steady state of unknown future and plans falling through, in addition to being constantly tormented by an evil spirit so that he didn’t get too cocky.  And NONE of that stopped him!  (See why I dig this guy?)  If anything it propelled him deeper into relationship with Christ!  So, who better to advise on a situation where it seems the floor just dropped out from under us?

I tweeted probably half the chapter because, verse-by-verse, my gaze was directed from the shakiness of my circumstances to the ROCK of my God who is in control of everything down to where I live and who I live with.  In verse 6, where Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” he’s saying that God uses us, even when we freak out, as a light to others.  But not because we turned our own light on, but because HE gave us the light (read: we don’t “do”, we “be”)!  And just two verses later, the encouragement escalates, We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”!  That’s freaking exciting!  I know that I am taken care of as a daughter of the Most High King!  He does not leave me stranded or without support because He literally never – NEVER – leaves me!  Even when things look bleak, the promise of His love, grace and provision remains.  Revitalization moves into super-charge mode as the chapter ends this way: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  YES!!  I literally cannot see my new residence.  I have NO clue how this will work out.  That seems like a pretty big deal, but is it?  When I look back on this in a few months it will seem like a ‘momentary light affliction’.  And things like this prepare us for the ‘eternal weight of glory’?  Yes please!

Trust is hard.  Faith is  hard.  It’s counter-intuitive.  Logic and things ‘seen’ take no faith.  But what we see is impermanent, it dies, crumbles, fades.  Our hope as believers in the Gospel is in the history of promises kept and the glory of eternity promised!  This world is broken and dying, but we trust in the One who made it, who allows everything that exists to exist and everything that happens or doesn’t happen to do so.  We are children.  Really, we are.  Sometimes this is more obvious than others, but seriously, our best doctors and scientists don’t have all the answers – after how many years of study?  We can’t even figure out how our own bodies and ecosystems work!  So in the “grass is greaner” sense, it is blissful freedom to know that, just like when we were children in our parents house and we trusted them for EVERYTHING, we can still trust our Heavenly Father.

So while my proclivity is still to worry over this, my spirit knows that it’s already taken care of.  This took all of 2.5 hours of my morning and I am back on solid ground.  Better than that, I just told you!  And that’s all that is asked of me as a loved daughter of God.

I heart Mondays.

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Do You Want To Want To?

4 Aug

I find that the problem most people, myself included, have with persistence and discipline – in any scenario – is that they lose their drive.  Their motivation is not weighty enough, or their reason for doing or abstaining doesn’t have enough draw.  Call it willpower or resolve or whatever, we’re destined for failure after failure until we find a deeper reason; a Want To.

Often we  know how to make changes, but the ‘how’ isn’t enough, it’s not going to pull you through when you’re faced with confrontation or the temptation to give in and/or give up.  This is why quick fixes and crash diets don’t work.  We would rather take a pill or push a button and wham-bam arrive at our destination without the struggle of the journey.  But what one attains from the journey creates within us the solid, foundational truths that we can build on.  Each battle you fight against your unhealthy desires has a lesson and a truth within it, the question then becomes, are you paying attention or pouting through it?

In her book, Made To Crave, Lysa TerKeurst describes the Want To as “really wanting to make changes and deciding that the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice.”  Again, most of us can search the internet and find a list of things that tell us what we need to do, only to jump into the deep end without swim lessons because we’re so excited by the picture in our minds of our better self.  As a Christian, it has become increasingly more apparent that this issue is not just a physical and mental struggle, but a spiritual one too.  We desire something (like smaller pants) and try to anchor our plan into that, and it fails to hold our ship, so we drift away and feel defeated, hopeless, frustrated, lost at sea.   So here are a few thoughts to aid in building a solid Want To:

  • It is FIRST a spiritual journey. Yes, we want to wear smaller pants.  Yes, we want to live healthy and active til we’re 80.  But you’ve already used those motivators.  Shallow desires produce shallow efforts.  Go deeper.  We were designed to crave, but that craving was to be fulfilled by our Maker.  Our world was created perfect as a reflection of our beautiful Creator and when sin entered (through food, might I point out), our cravings went awry.  Now we have to tune in to our cravings and question whether what we are craving is a misdirected craving for spiritual food.  God cares deeply about this struggle because we are His children!  By leaning on and seeking Him for strength and heart change, we will get SO much more from this battle, even when we stumble.  We can change behaviors (shallow), but only the one who designed us can change our heart’s desires (deep).  That is where the Want To begins to change.
  • It is a physical journey.  What you put into your body matters.  It does.  There is no way around that.  The simple truth is that your body is a machine and if you put crap into it, it’s going to run like crap.  So fuel well and move more!  Research the effects of sugar and processed foods on the body and let it freak you out.  You are not an exception!  And it doesn’t matter that 5 or 10 years ago, you could eat all of that stuff and not see effects.  Are you seeing them now?  Are you frustrated?  Pay attention.  Literally pay attention to your body.  You only get one and it’s gonna have to last you as long as God allows, so you should probably put some effort into taking care of it.
  • It is a mental journey.  You’re going to have to change the way you think about foods (or whatever temptation you’re struggling with).  You can change your mind.  And I don’t mean start thinking chocolate cake is disgusting, but try to think past the immediate pleasure and think about how you’ll feel physically, mentally.  We are faced with TONS of choices daily!  So in the event that you do mess up and give in, because c’mon, we’re all human, know that you will have another chance shortly to make a better choice. Lysa also notes that “one wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline.”  Don’t throw in the towel, keep going forward – even 2 steps forward and 1 step back, is moving forward.  And as I mentioned before, pay attention!  How do feel when you succeed?  When you fail?  What is your self-talk like?  Is it truth or a lie?  Is helpful in keeping you moving through this journey?  How can you change it to something helpful? For me, having scriptural truth to refute negative thoughts is crucial.

Our bodies adapt to consistency.  We generally crave what we eat.  Think about it do you eat something completely different at every meal, every day?  Probably not.  Put some thought into your meals and make them a balance of protein, complex carbs, veggies and fats.  I find that planning out my dinners, at least, and cooking ahead of time helps a lot.  Consider not having dessert, or having it every other evening.  Limit sugars throughout the day.  Get adequate sleep.  Exercise 4-5 days/week for 30 doing something you ENJOY!  Taking that a step further, the next time you feel that craving tug, consider if your body is actually hungry or if maybe your soul is feeling malnourished. (Psalm 42:1-2)  Maybe this is a misdirected craving and your spirit is crying out for a feeding that junk food or even healthy food or tv or shopping or alcohol won’t reach.  My challenge to you amid the above advice is to feed your spirit as much as you feed your body, because that will help your Want To more than anything else you can do physically or mentally.

1 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Just Dance

25 Jun
I love to dance.  I’m 30 years old, and STILL dance around my room with my headphones on to drown everything out.  I have visions of myself dancing skillfully in a modern/ballet style, bringing emotions to the surface of those watching as I communicate to them stories and emotions that stir up their souls.  While this may never actually happen, I don’t have to forgo the sweet freedom that is dance.  When I dance – letting go of thoughts, feeling and moving with the music – there is no feeling that comes close to that.  I feel like my spirit inside is moving right along with my body outside.  I can’t describe it better, I just feel completely united with my soul.  Granted, this is probably not the case for everyone, but do you know if it is for you?  Our bodies are gifts given to us for the time while we’re on this earth and they are strong and capable; they were created to move!
I was recently reading about Miriam, older sister of Moses, in a devotional and was really struck by the authors’ words on dancing.  With regard to the Bible, most of us probably don’t think of dancing.  It seems uncharacteristic.  Maybe a little risque.  The passage below, however, tells us that dancing is not a bad thing, it’s a way to celebrate and express emotions, to give glory to our Creator.
“In biblical times, people danced to celebrate happy events and to praise God. Dancing in Scripture is always linked to joy and happiness.  The presence of mourning means the absence of dancing (Lamentations 5:15), and there is a time for both (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
The very first mention of dancing in Scripture is when Miriam led the Isrealite women in a dance that celebrated God’s miraculous defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea.  Imagine, if you can, the emotions of these women as they walked (perhaps ran?) between the walls of water of the Red Sea, Egyptian chariots right behind them.  Fearful for their lives, they breathlessly reached the eastern shore, turning around to see the waters come crashing in to drown the Egyptians and their horses – a narrow, frightening escape.
Then, quickly, fear gave way to a thrill of excitement.  They were FREE!  When Miriam went by with a tambourine, singing a song of praise to God, the women’s feet moved to her rhythm, their voices joined her song, and they danced!
The Hebrews danced in worship, often in praise of God for his deliverance from enemies (1 Samuel 18:6, Psalm 149:3).  They danced to celebrate happy events, like weddings and the return of loved ones (Luke 15:25).  Hebrew men and women didn’t dance together.  The men usually danced alone, as David did before the Ark [of the Covenant] (2 Samuel 6:14), while women danced together.
There is some evidence that dancing was a part of the worship of the early Christian church.  But according to several early Christian writers, it soon degenerated and no longer expressed a pure praise of the Lord.  Before long it was banned.
Just as Miriam and the women couldn’t help but dance with joy, so when God does a wonderful work in our lives we sometimes respond in much the same manner: our faces break into smiles, our hands are lifted up, and our feet can’t remain still!  Certainly the God who created the human body delights in the pure use of that beautiful instrument to offer praise to him.”
Dancing has taken a lot of heat in past decades, even centuries, as something that compels us towards lusty behavior.  For this reason, lots of us don’t participate.  Or maybe we are nervous that we’ll look silly or fall over or step on someone.  I would challenge you to find a deeper reason to dance.  Dance to celebrate, to express gratitude, to praise your Maker.  If it’s not dance, find the mode of expression that ignites your spirit in a way that you can’t help but do something about!
If you are local in the Seattle area, you should check out my good friend Whitney’s women-only, community dance class Surrender Dance.  It’s donation-based, all levels and LOTS of fun 🙂