Sunrise

It was a beautiful morning drive,
And I saw the sunrise with cynical eyes.
The seven wonders of the world could not amaze,
These eyes fixed with a judgmental gaze.
In this fog, I could see nothing of God.
Not the colors in the clouds in their complexity,
Nor the souls that inhabited bodies next to me.

And next to me there sat infinite mysteries,
the glory of God in finite earthly bodies.
Brilliant yellow light touched the tops of trees.
Pictures of beauty that could not unclog me.

This critical and angry temper,
cannot be touched by words spoken,
though true. I’ll only get better
if my heart is turned toward You.

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The Quotable Oswald Chambers

Conformed to His Image
“If it cost God Calvary to deal with sin, we have no business to make light of it.”

“Sin is not wrong-doing, it is wrong-being – deliberate and emphatic independence of God.”

“The essence of sin is my claim to my right to myself; it goes deeper than all the sins that were ever committed… The point is, am I prepared deliberately to give up my right to myself to Jesus Christ?”

“I become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the life of the Son of God.”

“Am I willing for my human nature to be sacrificed in order that the life of the Son of God is nourished in me, or do I only want Him to see me through certain difficulties?”

“…as long as man is sufficient for himself, God can do nothing for him.”

“The essence of repentance is that it destroys the lust of self-vindication; where that lust resides, that repentance is not true.”

Reading Wishlist and Favorites

In no particular order…


Books I would like to read:
Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne
The Justice God is Seeking – David Ruis
Changing the World Through Kindness – Steve Sjogren
Everybody Wants to Change the World – Tony Campolo
sub-merge  – John B. Hayes
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Loving People – Dr. John Townsend
The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
George MacDonald: An Anthology – C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms – C.S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
Autobiography of George Muller
Beren and Lúthien – JRR Tolkien
The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien
The Healing Presence – Leanne Payne
The Broken image – Leanne Payne
Discipline: The Glad Surrender – Elisabeth Elliot
The Path of Loneliness -Elisabeth Elliot
Be Still My Soul – Elisabeth Elliot
Keep a Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot
..for real, I want to read everything Elisabeth Elliot and C.S. Lewis has written

Some of my favorite books:
*The Holy Bible
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When Heaven Weeps – Ted Dekker
Godiva – David Rose
These Strange Ashes – Elisabeth Elliot
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
When Helping Hurts – Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
The Circle Trilogy – Ted Dekker
Blessed Child – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Man Called Blessed – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Passion & Purity – Elisabeth Elliot
Quest for Love – Elisabeth Elliot
From Brokenness to Community – Jean Vanier
Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life – Robert Lupton
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
Restoring the Christian Soul – Leanne Payne
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
Boundaries – Henry Cloud, John Townsend
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
*Conformed to His Image – Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Transitions – William Bridges
Across the Spectrum -Greg Boyd, Paul Eddy
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God – John Piper
Life as a Vapor – John Piper
Revolution in World Missions – K P  Yohannan

*currently reading

 

Don’t Let Your Spirit Die Before Your Body Does

It was for my 26th birthday. We had been planning on getting tattoos together for years, and finally we scheduled an appointment and saved up the money.

I got this tattoo for many reasons. The most obvious one is that I am a Jon Foreman fan, and these are lyrics from his song Terminal.

(The lines before and after go like this:

“…Some folks die in offices one day at a time.
They could live a hundred years,
But their soul’s already died.
Don’t let your spirit die before your body does.
We’re terminal…”

These lyrics could be unpacked and expounded upon. So here is what these words mean to me, especially now that they are a part of me. (Disclaimer: It has nothing to do with dying in an office.)

To begin with, let’s unpack what the spirit is (though not exhaustively). In certain instances, it could be appropriately used interchangeably with soul, or a separate but intricately connected compliment to the soul (whether the difference matters has been highly debated among theologians, but I shall leave it alone.) It could also be used in regards to consciousness, or zeal. I have heard it described as the part of the human being that is in communication with the Spirit of God and the supernatural. To which am I referring to? All of the above.

So that makes it a bit difficult to succinctly describe what this tattoo means to me, because it means many things. And within that meaning is a bit of a contradiction. You see, I do not believe that any of us are mere mortals.

The Human Spirit in Relationship with God

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” C.S. Lewis

Therefore, I would argue that the spirit does not die, but either resides in eternity with Jesus or separated from Him in hell. So, you might ask, “How do you reconcile that belief with this tattoo?” Touché, mon ami. That is a very good question.

A figurative death

The simplest explanation is that I am talking figuratively. Kind of. But then the question presents itself, “How does a person die figuratively?” Oh, so many ways, as I am sure you probably know. In our day-to-day lives, we may hear many people express a feeling like death. Here, I would like to touch on a few of my own personal examples – strong reasons for me to remember to stay alive in the spirit.

Let’s go back to the idea of our spirits communicating with the Spirit of God. If my spirit is deadened (numb), it cannot receive from the His Spirit. This could also be referred to as grieving the Holy Spirit.

 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:29-31

If I am not in constant communication with the Spirit of God, I am living by the flesh – doing whatever I feel like, giving in to harmful thought patterns and behaviors. In this state, I get very cynical and bitter. Quite literally, I hate everyone (myself included), when disconnected from and grieving the Spirit of God. Everything is awful in this frame of mind. Nothing is beautiful to me. Everything is irredeemable. Not even a majestic sunrise can touch this hardened heart. I am more likely to gossip, slander, and act out of irritation. I am simply mean and utterly depressed when living in the flesh. The author of Ephesians put it perfectly – “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander… along with all malice.”

 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

The fruit of the Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23

Look at all that beautiful fruit. That is the kind of life I want to live; the kind of person I want to be. Joy. Love. Peace. With that, I can appreciate and enjoy life; the beauty in nature and mankind. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. With these, I can be a blessing instead of a curse, and receive blessing with a grateful heart. Self-control. Here’s the kicker, the hardest fruit to hold on to. To be self-controlled, not giving into the temptation to be mean or act on selfish impulse, is to save yourself and your loved ones needless heartache. Life in the Spirit is truly the recipe for abundant life. With Christ in me, I can forgive like I have been forgiven, and let go of hate.

Referring once again to Ephesians, this bounty of this fruit of the Spirit is available to us as Christians if we do not grieve the Holy Spirit, and we “let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Being Present, Consciousness

I am very naturally excessively analytical and live much of my life within my own head. This life in communication with the Spirit of God is not one of mere introspection. “Don’t let your spirit die before your body does.” This reminder to me yells, “Hey, you’re alive in this body. Live like it! Get out of your head, and experience the present.”

I wrote in my journal on my 26th birthday, “Every birthday is a reminder that I haven’t died yet.” This is partly a reflection on my depression and hopeful expectation to die. I know, you must think that is pretty sad. It’s true, and more often than not, it is subtle background noise to my daily life. I’ve not actively sought death, but prayed for it.

God has not granted that request, so He must have a reason for me to be here. I am guessing that reason is not to be preoccupied with my own thoughts, avoiding the lush beauty of life in the present, and avoiding the love that I can give and receive. The spirit in this body engaged with the Spirit of God is to be active through this body, actively engaging in the lives around me, forgetting about self-consciousness to live for others in each precious moment in light of eternity.

In Other Words

Don’t let your spirit die before your body does,” means to me: Stay alive to the life Christ has given to you, treasuring every moment until the last. Be the person you are in the Savior. Dead to self, alive in Jesus. — All of this is not possible without a relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting the sacrifice He made to redeem us, save us from the death we were headed to for eternity and the death we were living in separated from Him. He is our source of life in the spirit as well as in the body. The source of all life.

“16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.” –Isaiah 38:16-17

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10

Peace to you all. Hope this has blessed you to read as much as it has blessed me to write.

 

The Job You Were Never Given

Here is a sample of a conversation that happens periodically:
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Honey, I’m a mom. It’s my job to worry.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard these words from my own mother (props to my mom). Other people’s moms like to figuratively adopt me as an object of their concern. I love their nurturing tendencies and care towards their children. Their attention and care for me is so incredibly cherished and valued. But I do not want their worry.

The fact is that it’s not your job. It is no one’s job, not even if you’re really that person’s mom. Please forgive me if this sounds harsh. Yet, I see no room in the scripture for excusing worry.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”

Matthew 6:31 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’”

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Luke 12:25 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

I believe this applies to worrying about other people’s lives as well. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your child’s life? to anyone’s life? Correct me if I am missing something, but I don’t see any exceptions. Jesus does not say here, “Do not worry, unless you are a mom.” Or “…unless you are held responsible for people under your care.” 

Regardless of whether it is our own lives, or the lives of our loved ones, Jesus can handle it. Our worry exhibits a lack of faith and trust. The God of the universe has got this. You not only don’t have to worry, you are commanded not to. How kind is that command? It is the best for us and everyone around us.

Pretty Please

It doesn’t please me to be pretty,
to appease this shallow committee
you’ve formed to evaluate my form
and the color of my face, to scorn
the soul beneath this tent I’ve worn.
This is not why I was born.

Do not think you can hide.
I see the vacancy in your eyes.
I adjure you to look up to the sky,
See the emptiness inside and cry.
Let Heaven transform the way
You see the souls on whom you prey.

But is it ever beautiful to inherit
This light I could just stare at
And this glorious purpose to reflect
The glorious King who is perfect,
To defy this empty pretty
and live from a deeper sea
Regardless of what you do not see or do.
If you can’t see Him,
You can forget me too.
Let me reflect His beauty,
and defy this empty pretty, please.

Not an Explanation (but kind of)

A valued word of advice (I do not recall from whom) bids me not to try to explain or defend myself. So, I hope instead that this translates as a story of my thought process.

For My Groom

I was addicted. And now I am free. I longed for the affirmation of a like or comment. I was wasting precious time. Time that my Savior had coveted for us. My Groom wants more time with me. Do I love Him enough to throw aside every entanglement? Do I love Him enough to crush my idols? My love is so small. But I can start here, with this entanglement, this idol.

I’m not sharing this as a prescription for Christ-followers to copy. We all have our own idols. Our own snares. And we need to come humbly before our Heavenly Father and ask Him how we can honor Him with our lives. In seeking His face and basking in His loveliness, I knew this area was a dark cloud in my life. I felt great peace and joy in His presence when I decided to lay this down barrier to closeness with Him.

Not Only That But… thoughts on anxiety, time, and creativity

I feel so much less anxiety when I am disconnected. It is a gift to simply be. Take in a moment without thought of the next, the past or what is on a screen. This time is a gift. I feel so much more free to concentrate my creativity on positive outlets that reignite my excitement for life. Writing. Prose. Poetry. Reading. Painting. Drawing. Meditating. My mind is more free to receive from my Heavenly Father. I was filling it with so much other stuff. There was hardly any room in there.

 This is a start, a movement towards a more wholehearted love. As we seek His face in humility, He is faithful to bring to mind any hindrance. And I trust He will. I look forward to it, too! He is so kind in bringing us near through teaching us to let go.

Risking Failure

What am I afraid of when confronted with the opportunity to chase a dream? I could fall on my face, face rejection, or I could succeed – leading to far more unanswered questions. It would be so much easier to not take a step. My own pride asserts that I ought to get my life together before I go further. Others are certainly more qualified.

His Glory or Mine
But waiting to move until I am confident in my own awesome ability and credentials robs God of an incredible opportunity to be glorified in my weakness. Moreover, my reluctance reveals a sinful lust for my own glory over His.

Faith Is Never Failure and Obedience Doesn’t Always Look Like Success
I could try and fail, but a step of faith and obedience is never failure, not in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Since Jesus’ obedience led to death, I believe I can say with confidence that God’s plan does not always look like success to the world.

tumblr_lqrhdrE5yk1qg1oh8o1_500
(Quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf)

I fear obtaining my goals and finding myself unable to rise to the challenges they present. But here lies another blessed opportunity for Christ’s power to be made known in my weaknesses. Dreams that scare you are more likely going to need more than you can offer. When God comes through, there will be no stealing His glory if it is something you couldn’t do.

Believe and Trust
If this door is presently closed to me, I will trust that He will use it to teach me what I could not have known and grow me in ways I could not have grown otherwise. If it is opened, trust that He will provide for all of the uncertainties and challenges that follow.

Father, I want to trust You beyond what my eyes can see or my mind imagine. You are worthy of all my trust and faith. Lead me. There is none more skilled in guiding me. I’m sorry for worrying and trying to work things out in my own strength.  You are good. I trust You.  Amen

 

 

 the face

OneThing Recap: Wholeness and Healing

After years of feeling so broken, my Heavenly Father spoke wholeness and healing over me. Restoration. Through a stranger and through a new friend.

A stranger wrote to me: “He knows where all the broken pieces are! He wants His child whole – His mission – His heart’s desire is to gather those pieces – to mend, to make whole His child! … His great desire is to lovingly take each broken piece and restore it – under His grace – as we sit in His presence and allow Him to speak. As we allow ourselves to receive, He will heal. So simple. So hard. To rest and receive. Receive, sweet sister. The world doesn’t understand coming to a conference and crying… They don’t understand our God, our Beloved Savior weeps with us; that the tears are healing! It’s communication with Him. It’s connection with Him. It’s His great desire for tender hearts to come before Him.”

I receive that, sweet sister. Thank you stranger. For all the strangers and friends that have prayed for me this week, thank you! God hears you, and God is healing me.

To the gentleman I did not know who told me that there is purpose in pain, thank you. To the young man called me his sister and prayed for deeper healing than merely physical and shared practical wisdom with me, thank you.

To the woman in the restroom who stood and persisted in prayer over me with my friends until the warmth of healing spread from the top of my head to my toes and peaceful rest filled my soul in sweet communion with the Father, thank you. I think we stood there for 10 minutes.

To my new and old friends who persisted with me this week, giving me a place to stay, transportation, and even going with me to the hospital, thank you. I am so blessed by you all, and I pray God blesses you abundantly beyond your wildest dreams.

To the speakers and singers at the OneThing Conference, thank you. Especially Francis Chan, Matt Maher, and Audrey Assad… I was drawn into worship like I haven’t been in a long time. I am blessed by the love of Christ and His church exhibited. I understand 1 Peter 4 like never before, and I am equipped to go into this new year with the joy to embrace suffering as Christ did for me.

Even though the pain of whiplash did not entirely subside, it is dramatically better now. Even though I will have learn how to get to work without a car, I am encouraged knowing that in Christ I have everything, and I shall not want. If he did not provide one more physical comfort to me, He would still be enough. His sacrifice on the cross is still enough to prove His love.

Thank you for my little brother, who is not so little anymore, who prayed for my  health and drove me home this morning. I don’t know if you know how much that means to me.

“In my darkest hour, in humiliation, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. Though I lose my life, though my breath be taken, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. One thing I desire, to see You in Your beauty. You are my delight. You are my glory. You, my sacrifice, oh Your love is all consuming. You are my delight. You are my glory. You’re the lover of my soul. Even unto death, with my every breath, I will love You. Jesus, the very thought of You…”Audrey Assad

After all the good and the bad, after feeling so full and so broken, so needy… It is easy to over-emphasize what I lack. It is easy to focus on how I have disappointed myself and frustrated others… I want to focus instead on the beauty of God’s people, thankfulness, what I have in Christ, wholeness, love…

” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:2-4

I am whole. I am loved. There is nothing that I lack. I am laying to rest the past on the bosom of Christ.

 

Love and Dismay

I’ll meet the road again with
the things that I don’t give away
to a city once acquainted with
lamenting the lovely dismay.

I have not tied myself down
with a stake in the ground
Though my love is bound
to people on the ground
And I feel the ache and stretch
of those I cannot wrap my arms around.

But my heart is tied up to the sky
and my spirit whispers, “Fly.”