Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rough Morning... An Unfiltered, Not-Yet-Finished Story

Out with the old:  If I had a couple grand for a memory foam....

Hello there my friends,

This is one of those mornings.  Oh man.  Let me explain  [and possibly whine a little?].  I'm going to copycat one of my fave bloggers and a real encouragement to me personally, the lovely Robin Dance (because imitation IS the highest form of flattery, after all, annnnnd I really don't know a better way to explain all of this.) in the Roman numeral format that will follow.

Isaac's been sick for a week... and so have I, but I'm doing much better now.   His sickness, however, has resulted in multiple nights in a row of... let's just say "severely limited...." sleep for all 3 of us.

Last night on the way to house church, I was telling Stan that my back was INCREDIBLY tight and sore, and asked him to rub my back when we got there.  He agreed.

Upon arrival, my friend Renee's husband, who's studying to be a D.O., volunteered to manipulate my back.  I volunteered to be a "practice victim" for him... and oh MAN, it was awesome.  SO. NEEDED. THAT.  I felt so much better afterward.

We currently have a  t e r r i b l e  mattress.  Like, uuuurgh... it is so DEAD.  And dented.  In the mornings after Stan gets up to shower, I (and my sore back) roll over into the middle of the king sized mattress, onto the "hump," in order to get an hour or so of supported sleep before Isaac wakes up.

Enter the Sport Utility Vehicle song from the old Veggie Tales movie, "A Snoodle's Tale."  It rolled around in my head this morning over. and over. and over.... while I rolled around in my more-frustrating-than-usual bed trying to get comfortable and go back to sleep.  "I like your car.  I like yours too.  Is it a jeep?"  Sigh....  (If you'd also like to sing this song uncontrollably, constantly, click here.  It won't fail you.)

I rolled around trying to find a comfortable position for a good hour and 45 minutes, singing about a ridiculous SUV in my head, before I finally fell asleep, kind of diagonal across the lower half of our bed.  10 minutes later my beloved hubby was waking me up.  He had to leave for work... and Isaac was awake.

I stumble downstairs, realizing that all of the manipulation and snap-crackle-popping that my friend's hubby did on my back last night has been completely UNdone by our ridiculous mattress.  My whole back feels stiff and I would pay someone a LOT of money right now to DIG into my back muscles.  I wouldn't care if they bruised me.  Unfortunately, Isaac's not strong enough. 

I've been up since 5:30am.  Coffee, praise the Lord, was made by our house mate on her way out the door for work.  I pour in my almond milk instead of my usual heavy whipping cream (YUM) because our church is finishing up a 21-day Daniel fast this week... so no dairy.  It's okay... Jesus, not heavy whipping cream, is my source of strength.  I can handle this.  I can.  I CAN.  (Repeat.)

Just now, as I finished writing point viii, I picked up my coffee mug to take one more sip.  It's... GONE.  And no more almond milk in our fridge either.  No more coffee for this tired mama. :-/  Sigh....

All of that to say... it's one of "those" mornings.  One where Jesus really IS enough, but my flesh sure does have a tougher time than normal believing it.  I keep praying, telling Him He's it for me today... He's my Source, my strength, my joy for this day.  My back doesn't feel better yet... but my (previously, and still slightly, whiny) heart is getting there.  Funny (and supernatural) how our emotions start to line up when we intentionally lean  into Him, remind our own souls that He's our EVERYTHING, and worship in spite of our emotions and/or how we physically feel.  He really is faithful.  Truth brings perspective.  He really is enough.  He IS.  I so need to KEEP reminding my heart of this this morning.

Side note:  Thank you Jesus for this incredibly awesome January thunderstorm that we're experiencing this morning.  Oh, it is so beautiful.  God is speaking my love language... the thunder and lightening reminding me with each flash and boom that He's here, He sees, and He cares.  His grace is sufficient for this day.

Blessings to you all today, friends.  May you experience His all-sufficiency today in your own frustrating/difficult/painful/annoying/exhausting-NESS.  May you draw near to His heart and find in Him all you need for this moment, and the next, and the next.  Annnnd may I.  (Definitely a little tougher than usual today.... But I know He's unchanging, no matter my circumstances.)

Moving on with this day now... My mantra?  Jesus, you're enough.  You're enough.  You're enough.  You're enough for me in this moment.....

Image Credit: greendairy.com

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Our Deepest, Gaping Holes are the Sweetest Opportunities to Be Filled by Him

These places where I am completely incapable of making myself work correctly, making myself righteous... the holes in my heart, the gaping abysses of my character... All of these broken places, they are the spaces where there is room for Jesus to come in and fill me with Himself.  

The wounds, the struggles with sin, the holes, the darkest, blackest, ugliest gaps in my heart, they are the places into which I can invite Him, the places where I can experience the deepest intimacy with Him as I allow Him to know me and fill me in all of my barrenness, my depravity, my desperate need.

And as He comes in and works deep in those darkest abysses of my heart, beauty is forged there out of intimacy and His glory is revealed.

Jesus, I trust Your process inside of me... and not just trust it; I can lean forward into all You're doing and all You plan to do inside me.  Because in all of it, You're faithful... and even when it hurts, the intimacy that comes when I surrender and allow You to come in and fill these raw places, it sustains me through it all. 

YOUR TENDER LOVE sustains me through it all.

Oh God... have Your way in me. Come into the gaping holes in my heart and tenderly work and move inside of me and form beauty in my darkness...and glorify Yourself in my life today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Intimacy with Jesus Satisfies "The Last Abyss of Our Nature"

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Beloved Friends,

There's this thing the Lord is doing inside of me, that He's inviting me into, that I can't resist sharing with you today.

It's relatively simple... and yet the complexity of it, because the human heart and nature are complex, is astounding.

I'll try to explain it in a quick nutshell:

We were all created with longings... "abysses" in our nature that were ultimately meant to be filled and satisfied by Jesus.  A huge part of our sanctification process, once we've given our hearts to Him, is learning to know ourselves, to know our longings, and learning to allow those places inside of us to be filled and satisfied by Jesus instead of running to other sources to find fulfillment.

A quick list of examples of false sources of life (past and/or present) that I've found myself hanging onto instead of leaving those places in my heart open, hungry, longing, so that Jesus can come in and fulfill them:

**Few, if any, of these things are "bad" in and of themselves.  It's when our hearts turn to them instead of Jesus for life, peace, fulfillment, strength, etc... that they become sin.**

  • Friends.  Relationships.
  • Facebook.  Human affirmation... or just human (adult!) communication. (As a mom, this can be a big one.  Not that it's wrong to have communication with adults... but when it is what we turn to before turning to the Lord... it becomes a false source of life.)
  • Food.  Pleasure.
  • Entertainment.  Pop culture.  Novels.  Movies.  TV.  Etc.
  • Pleasing people.  Human affirmation.  (I mentioned it before, but it's a big one for me and bears repeating.)
  • "The need to be needed."  Finding illegal affirmation in being "the one" that others call when they're in crisis.  Eeeesh.  I so don't like that one.  It's something the Lord's been dealing with me on for a good decade or so.  I feel like it's mostly gone...mostly filled by Jesus now... but every now and then a new little pocket of it will pop up and I'll have to turn to Jesus over it... again.
The other day I found this quote by Oswald Chambers, from "My Utmost For His Highest," that describes with incredible accuracy the "settled-ness" and satisfaction and freedom from these compulsive behaviors that I feel like the Lord is wanting to accomplish inside of me.  Till the very "last abyss of [my] nature has been satisfied by Jesus."

On my kitchen cabinet.  My prayer and my reminder that He's after my whole heart...
that every longing would be satisfied in Him.
"When once we get intimate with Jesus, we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic.  The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus.  The only impression left... is that of the strong, calm sanity that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him."  
~(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 7th.)

Amen... Lord, have your way in me... in all of the deepest places and darkest corners of my heart.

Would you join me, friend, in making this your prayer to Him this year?  He offers it to all of us - this complete satisfaction and filled-up-ness that's available only in Him... this strong, calm "sanity," which I would call perfect peace.   There's not a single one of us who know Him to whom this is out of reach.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Communicating with Confidence [Where Are the Limbs Out on which We Once Walked?!]

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Conviction.  Authority.  Purpose.

That every word I speak, every song I sing, and every prayer I pray, would be laden with it.  Pregnant with it.  Thick with it.

This is my prayer to the Lord in this season.

I'm realizing ways in which I've diminished myself.  It happens in many facets of my life, but one area that God is highlighting to me these days is my communication.  I, and I believe the great majority of us, have a tendency to shrink back from confidently expressing opinions... and for me, that is especially evident in my leadership of those I'm pouring into.  It especially comes out when I'm sharing the things that Jesus is doing in my heart, or the things I believe He's saying to those I lead... those I love.  

When I'm insecure, when I'm not confident in the Lord, it manifests in several different ways, not the least of which is the filling of the air with meaningless words... like, totally just whatever, ya know?

Here's a video by Taylor Mali that describes with incredible accuracy this self-diminishing that I'm talking about: (It's short and it's awesome.  Ya gotta watch it!)

But, on the cross, Jesus paid the price for me, that I would have complete confidence before the Father...AND complete confidence before men.  He paid the price for me to be so deeply rooted and grounded in His love that I can confidently speak my heart, speak it into the hearts of others, and not shrink back.  

When I speak and live this way, I am definitely walking out on more "limbs," but, more often than not, I am finding that, when I take the risk to communicate with conviction and authority, unapologetically, not holding back even an ounce of the passion with which I believe the things I'm saying... then He comes in and anoints and empowers my words and they are piercing straight to the hearts of those for whom they're intended, and God is going deep, rooting out lies, bringing truth and healing and correct perspective on His heart.

I'm learning.  I still fail, probably every day.  I still look back at conversations at times and think, "Oh man, I wasn't truly myself in that conversation.  I wasn't true to what's in my heart.  I wasn't true to the Lord and what I believed He was saying.  I shrunk back.  I withheld the fullness of what's in my heart.  I diminished myself, and therefore I diminished what the Holy Spirit was wanting to say and do.  And... since I didn't take the risk of communicating my beliefs confidently, with conviction, I missed an opportunity to deepen my trust in the Lord: to walk out on that limb and trust Him to "catch" me if the limb broke."

Fear of failure is a big piece in this puzzle.  It wants to keep me shrinking back.  Keep me from taking these risks.

And it is risky.  It's risky because we're afraid of people's opinions of our opinions.  And we're afraid that our depth of conviction, passion, confidence will make people uncomfortable

But as I try, as I succeed sometimes and fail other times, as I learn to obey Him in this stuff, He continually blows me away by the way He comes in and anoints and empowers and speaks through me to the hearts of those I love.  I'm still growing in this.  But, oh... it's so sweet, this journey with Him.

Do you identify with this struggle?  I'd be interested to hear some of your personal processes with the Lord around learning to confidently communicate the things He's put inside you.

Be blessed today, friends.  Be confident in His love.  Your identity rests in your value to your Father... the value spoken over you by the blood of His Son.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Introducing: (in)RL [this could change your life.]

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So there's a website that's become a real encouragement to me... Not meaning to be punny... but it's called (in)courage. In their own words, (in)courage is a "home for the hearts of women."  And truly, it is.

This is a pretty amazing group of ladies who really love Jesus and who've formed an on-line community that intentionally reaches out and loves on ladies around the globe.... They've created this incredible online space where women's hearts are drawn out and accepted and affirmed and where the love of Jesus permeates every communication.  (Side note: they also published an article I wrote a few months ago. :) )

So this online community has been going strong for a number of years, and last year, these ladies decided to extend their community beyond the online world and into real life.  Enter (in)RL (In Real Life).

Instead of re-explaining everything that the (in)Courage gals have already written about (in)RL, I'll invite you to stop by their site today and check it out.  You can participate no matter where in the world you live.  Registration for this year's (in)RL (coming up this April!) opens today and there are a couple really cool freebies that come with registering today!

Real life community is so, so incredibly crucial.  We were SO not made to do life on our own, friends!  I'm registered and excited to get to know some new friends and possibly invite a few of them into my own church community.

If you're new-ish to your area and/or you just haven't yet found a solid group of Jesus-loving, encouraging, heart-friends... could I just REALLY REALLY encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to begin a few of those relationships?  OR... if you're IN a church community where you do have solid friendships, grab one or two of those friends, step out into (in)RL, and extend your own community to those who're in need of it!

Ready..... set..... GO.  Register.  Do it!  :)

This might take some serious courage.... but you won't regret it.  And God just might use the weekend of April 26 and 27, 2013 to change your life.  :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

One Word for 2013? I Think Yes.

Hola, my friends!  Happy New Year to you all!

I think with all of the gazillions of New-Year-related blog posts over the last week, I've just... kept... quiet.  Didn't want to add to the sense of pressure that a new year can sometimes bring.  Pressure to make and keep resolutions, pressure to start over in some arena of life.  Truly... there is SO MUCH pulling and tugging on our brains and our hearts at this time of year and it could easily begin to feel a bit overwhelming.


There is one New-Year-related bandwagon that has really intrigued me as I've heard about it over the last couple of years.  Intrigued me... and yet, I've never jumped on it... till right now.  And oh, I'm jumping.

It's this concept of selecting one single word to mark your year.  Selecting it out of a place of prayer over what God wants to emphasize to you, or to focus on within you, during the coming year.

I've been interested over the last couple of years to hear other people's choices of words.  Things like.... 


Each word with so much more depth and meaning behind it than is visible at a glance.... meaning that flows out of the secret place of that person's walk with the Lord.

And so.... this year, given the season that I've been in with the Lord recently... I really, really have wanted to choose a word for this year.  And several have been floating around in my head, but I knew that none of them were right.  They actually were all varying aspects of the word that FINALLY occurred to me this morning, just as I was lying in bed trying to wake up.

Ready for it?


The state of existing within a certain place.  AND...

...here are some quotes from David Benner's book Sacred Companions in which he very aptly describes the "presence" that I'm seeking to develop:

  • "The presence of each person is unique, just as the atmosphere of each person's home is unique."
  • "Presence involves a sharing of something of my deepest self."
  • "Stillness, safety, and love are preconditions for... presence."
  • "Presence begins with attentiveness.  This demands that I focus on the other person and his or her experience."
  • "It usually means setting aside my own interests and preoccupations.  It also demands that I stop analyzing what I am hearing or rehearsing how I will respond.  And as I have noted, it also involves resisting the impulse to solve problems or fix things that appear broken."
  • "Genuine presence involves being genuinely myself.  I can be present for another person only when I dare to be present to myself.  And as noted, I can be genuinely present to myself only when I can be genuinely present to God."
  • "Presence to another person is sharing this gift of my true-self-in-Christ."
  • "It is impossible to offer genuine presence to others if I am simply an assortment of roles.  Often we wear our personas like masks, each for the correct occasion.  The performance is so well-rehearsed that we fail to be aware that it is a performance.  But it is."
  • "Being genuinely present to another demands that I be a real person.  It demands integrity of character - a correspondence between my inner world and outward appearance.  While none of us accomplishes this in any final state, spiritual friends are people committed to achieving this integrity.  Becoming their true self-in-Christ forms a fundamental part of their journey of Christian spirituality.  Presence does not demand perfection.  But it does require that I be on a transformational journey and committed to its continuation."

There it is.  My one word for 2013.  

And there are 3 different facets of presence that I feel the Lord wants me focusing on this year:

  • God's presence to me.  His tender, intimate, undistracted attention to every detail of my life and my heart.  His attentive nearness to me and His desire to speak and encounter my heart in every single moment of every single day.
  • Being present to God.  Present to His presence.  Being "tuned in" to His nearness and His voice and His heart.  Being aware of His nearness to me in the midst of the day-to-day.  This entails being present and engaged in THIS moment, not wishing years or days or even seconds away, but being zoned in on the RIGHT-NOW-ness of my life and God's activity in the midst of it.
  • Offering the gift of true presence, as described above, to those He puts before me.  My husband and son.  My extended family when I'm able to talk with them. My church family.  My sweet friends.  My blog readers. :)  The clerk at the grocery store.  My bank teller.  My hair dresser.  You get my drift. True presence.  Zoning in on the heart, the story, of the one that God puts before me in any given moment.
All of this is so much easier said than done and I'm so thankful for grace.  I'm also thankful that as I lean into Jesus, He will empower me for growth in all of this, that I don't have to do it in my own strength.  Hooray!!!  

He is more than enough to fill in my gaps, and His strength is made perfect in all of my weak places as I surrender them to Him.

Annnnnnd, there you have it.  

I'm so looking forward to tacking this word up in various places around my house to remind me... that what He's extending to me and what He's asking of me and what will lead others straight to His heart... is genuine presence.

Do you feel inclined to ask the Lord to give you one word to mark your 2013?  I'd love to hear!  

Happy New Year, friends!  May it be blessed with a deepened knowledge of God's nearness to you and His commitment to your heart.

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