Learning to Live: Present

A lesson for my life for several years has been - learning to live: present.  Personally, it seems so easy to vacillate between the past and the future, but to stay firmly in the present, that is hard.  Our culture  easily embeds us in this swinging pendulum: Facebook asks us to continually share what just happened in the past (and often to highlight only the good of those moments).  Our smartphones alert us to what is to come.  We have calendars full of events a year in the future.  We can set reminders that alert us to what will happen in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and more.  Even with all these reminders, I often find myself walking around with the feeling that I am forgetting something, something important.

But I often find that I haven't forgotten anything, except, perhaps to enjoy the present moment.  Perhaps, enjoying the present moment is an element of childlike faith? Why? Because it is something I see my children do all the time.  They do not worry about the past nor the future.  They play, they laugh, they enjoy, they get annoyed, they shake it off and play and laugh again.

Because being present is no longer natural for me, I've had to become intentional about pursuing it.  Here are some things that have helped me over the years to realign myself to the present:

  • Understanding more about God: Through the years, I've had to learn to let go of the neurotic feeling that God was standing somewhere beyond me, tapping His foot waiting for me to get there, so that when (if) I arrived we could move forward together.  For many years, the voices  that surrounded me, held out a carrot saying that tomorrow was better with God. Tomorrow I would be holier, tomorrow I would be more peaceful, tomorrow there would be more joy.  Well, I suppose, I am more peaceful, holier and joyful than I used to be but it didn't happen by continually chasing tomorrow.  It happened when I woke up to the fact that He is with me TODAY, no matter where TODAY places me.  It happened when I realized that He is in charge of His Kingdom (not I) and that He has invited me to be a collaborator with Him in the Kingdom.
  • Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
  • The people walking in darkness
        have seen a great light;
    on those living in the land of deep darkness
        a light has dawned.
    For to us a child is born,
        to us a son is given,
        and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
        Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
        Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Of the greatness of his government and peace
        there will be no end.
    He will reign on David’s throne
        and over his kingdom,
    establishing and upholding it
        with justice and righteousness
        from that time on and forever.
    The zeal of the Lord Almighty
        will accomplish this.
  • Henri Nouwen, "Wherever I am, at home, in a hotel, in a train, plane, airport, I would not feel irritated, restless, and desirous of being somewhere else or doing something else.  I would know that here and now is what counts and is important because it is God himself who wants me in this time and place. (Monk Habits for Everyday Life by Dennis Okholm from chapter 8: Staying Put to Get Somewhere)"
  •  C.S. Lewis: The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them for eternity.  He therefore wants them to attend chiefly to two things - to eternity itself and to that point of time which they call the present.  For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.  Our business, as demons is to get them away from the eternal and the present.

    It's far better to make them live in the future, all their passions point in that direction.  The thought about the future inflames hope and fear.  It is also unknown to them so that making them think about it will make them think of unrealities.  In a word, the future is of all things the least like eternity.  It is the most completely temporal part of time - for the past is froze and no longer flows and the present is all lit up with eternal rays.  Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.  Gratitude looks to the past, love to the present, fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead. (Screwtape Letters Letter 15)

    Years ago I heard a sermon by Erwin McManus where he said something to the effect of, "If you need a vacation to enjoy your life, then you need a new life."  This really struck me at the time, because I felt like I was in survival mode and that vacations, those one week, once a year things, was what I was surviving to live to make it to.  In those obscure places, existed the ability to live in joy and freedom.  His words awakened me to the fact that this wasn't what I needed to live for because God had indeed offered me life for today, in fact it was sufficient for every day.

    So years later, I think it is working:

     Common, everyday life is holy.
    I find myself wondering where my phone is and realizing that I haven't touched it in over 3 hours.  I find myself holding my kids, smelling their hair, looking at them in the eyes, laughing genuinely with them. 

      Living present, enjoying the gift of today.
    I find myself finding joy in the small, monotonous everyday tasks of folding laundry, vacuuming, sweeping; not wishing those tasks away or seeing them as an inconvenience.  I find myself enjoying work, recognizing that it is a holy task that allows me to partner with God in everyday life. 

      Because, this IS the day that the Lord has made.
    I also find myself giving myself grace to be human: to be crabby, impatient, frustrated, grumpy - inviting God to lead me through the dark places that still exist within me.

    So let us rejoice and be glad in it.
    In Christ,

Advent: HOPE

This week's Advent theme is HOPE.  

In light of this week's tragic news events the lessons I've been learning this week on this topic sit very relevant in my heart, mind and soul.

What does hope mean, in a world of darkness?

What is the purpose of the body of Christ in this age?

Should fear, rule and reign over our hearts?

My reflections on those questions are being answered for me by these thoughts:

  • There is nothing new under the sun. 
  • Christian Hope is not wishful thinking.
  • Christ's Kingdom is not of this world. 
  • We are representatives of His Kingdom here on earth.
 There is nothing new under the Sun
I've been reading, Seeking God, by Esther de Waal this week.  She was discussing how the Rule of St. Benedict was established during the age of the barbarians.  Barbarians from the north were raiding and destroying the known civilized world.  As I reflected on it, I recognized that terrorism is nothing new to the human story.  But neither is the seeking of God, by His people.

Christian Hope is Not Wishful Thinking
Our Lectionary readings at church this week covered the idea of Christ's Coming the second time:

Luke 21:25-36
 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

My pastor reminded us that in the midst of the chaos of this world, we can lift up our heads in hope and confidence, because we do know the ending of this story.  REDEMPTION is what God is up to in this world.

Christ's Kingdom is NOT of this world 
This week, too, I reflected upon Christ before Pilate, answering the question - are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus' response, was that His Kingdom was not of this world.  Jesus was very much in the world and His life was definitely affected by the world, however, He was keenly aware that His story was not written by the world.

We are representatives of His Kingdom here on earth 
All these truths brought me back to the question, then what is our place in this world? Do we need to be given to fear? Because if you spend five minutes watching the news that is where you can easily be led.

Personally, this Advent season is leading me to a new reflection: of Christ returning as King.  I've never experienced Christmas reflecting on this, I've only reflected on it through the eyes of the first Christmas.  However, there is a sweetness to this season, reflecting on the fact that He will return again as King.

In light of all of this: 
Because there is nothing new under the sun, I am aware that terror exists in our world, but I also am aware that Christ is fully confident in the role of His Bride, the Church.  We have been invited to place our Hope (confidence) in Him and what He is up to in our lives.  We've also been invited to fully live in this world and have our lives fully affected by this world, but to also be confident that we are part of another Kingdom.  Finally, we've been invited to walk out His Kingdom, here on earth, in the midst of darkness.  To be the LIGHT in a dark world.

May we LOVE our enemies.
May we pray for those who PERSECUTE us and others.
May we LOVE our families and our children.
May we SERVE our neighbors.

Lastly, I feel this Psalm provides a fitting direction to direct our hearts, souls and minds in this season:
 Psalm 24
 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.
 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]
They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

May we lift up our heads, our King is coming.  May His GLORY be reflected in our lives, even today.

Advent: Hope

In Christ,

Embracing the Father

My children are coming to the age where they are realizing that they have power: power to debate, to move others and to stand their ground.  Often times, the fertile soil for testing these powers is in their relationship with one another.  So today after the third stand-off, I believe over who was to start the dishwasher or something of that do or die sort, I decided it was time we had a little talk.  A talk about what it means to lead - as Jesus leads.

The idea of leadership has been an area of thought for me lately, because I've been blessed with both a boss and a pastor that each lead with grace.  I've been amazed at what a difference it makes in my ability to be creative, excited, free and energized in what I do.  Being under life-giving leadership has really caused me to step back and reevaluate what it means to lead.  Because, if you know me well, I like to lead.  Leading by clearing the path and bringing people through, even if I have to drag them through.  But learning to lead, by grace, first, with patience, hope and belief in those that follow, that is a new one for me; in fact it is a challenge.

So back to our little talk this morning, it led us to Mark 9:33-37 in The Message.  The beauty embedded in these verses caught me by surprise:

 They came to Capernaum.
When he was safe at home, he asked them,
 “What were you discussing on the road?”
This totally made me smile, especially since I was talking to my kids. Of course He knew what they were talking about.
34 The silence was deafening
(Um, yeah, they knew they had been caught.)
—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35 He sat down and summoned the Twelve.
(Do you see the grace in His approach...)
“So you want first place?
Then take the last place.
Be the servant of all.”
36-37 He put a child in the middle of the room.
Then, cradling the little one in his arms (...and the tenderness?),
he said,
“Whoever embraces one of these children
as I do embraces me,
 and far more than me—God who sent me.”
Here's the thing.  My kids are black and white, solid, logical thinkers.  Why in the world would they want to be a servant to their sibling? (These words finding echoing friends in the chambers of my own thoughts).  But the images Jesus creates - they take us out of our paradigm and He changes the whole conversation.  I saw things in a whole new way during this discussion:
Jesus wants us to view the others with the same gentleness, tenderness and care that we would a baby.  This means they are precious to Him and should be precious to us.  And then, then He takes it one step further, this act of tenderness and compassion becomes a place of blessing for us.  By embracing (holding tenderly in our arms with care and compassion) we are embracing Jesus and not only Him, but God as well.
Personally, I had never seen these verses this way before.  Be a servant. Suck it up. Do the right thing because you have to! That's what I always saw before.
But this, this has shaken me, awakened me, excited me.  Perhaps it will do the same for you.
In Christ,


 cascading off of marble walls.
incased in beauty.
Structures of success,
left empty inside.
today is measured
by what we create
But what do we do when
we've reached the epitome of success
and look around to see that we are standing there
Those are the modern day images I think of when I reflect on 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Often times, I feel that we are taught to measure our lives based solely upon our successes, yet rarely are we taught to love, challenged to love.  It is easier, much easier to achieve than to turn the other cheek and to love.
Yet the way we see God explain how He weaves Himself into our lives is in the dailyness of it all.
Love it is patient.                                                                                                                fails.
  Love it is kind.                                                                                                            it never
        It does not envy.                                                                                              Love
            It does not boast. It is not proud.                                                       It always perseveres.
                It is not self-seeking.                                                                 It always hopes.
                     It keeps no record of wrong.                                         It always trusts.
                                                     Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders fail.
My heart aches when I see brokenness.  Broken lives. Broken marriages. This wasn't the design. This wasn't the intention. It wasn't how we were built to be.  I pray that my heart never becomes callous to the pain I feel when I encounter this brokenness. 
Yet, I see, know and understand that He hasn't abandoned us. Nor has He ignored us. 
May we understand that the little decisions we make everyday.  The choices to love and forgive. To choose to trust, to choose to hope, to choose to persevere - those are the things that truly matter.  Those are the foundational truths upon which our homes are built.
Let us learn how to incorporate Christ into our daily lives, our daily decisions, our daily choices. This is where He belongs.
In Christ,

ReImagining Church

I am a Christian mutt.
What do I mean by this?
After being in the church for 29 years, I've had the opportunity to delve my feet into many versions of "church." I've gone to Bible-believing churches, Evangelical Free churches, I've had my doses of charismatic church, I've been in non-denominational church and
I have been immersed in liturgy.
I find the life and beauty of Christ in all these forms of worship.
If you've been around this thing long enough, I'm sure you've encountered the We vs Them conversations.  I know I've heard it and I know I've proclaimed it: Why we are right by our version of worship and why they are wrong.  When we entered our current church, my pastor counseled us with the wisest information I have ever heard about "denominations":
We are on a spiritual journey.  Simply find the place that helps you to transform spiritually.
After being in the church for years, I had never heard that one, but it was freeing, especially being a mutt, such as me.  I loved all the places I had been. I would never change a spot in my journey, but at that point in my journey, I also needed the freedom to find something different than I had experienced before to heal the wounds of my heart. I no longer wanted to enter into the us vs them church battle anymore.  I wanted to be free to engage in my spiritual worship without feeling like I was saying my way was better than where I had come from or how my friends and family were worshipping.

So I love The Church.  I've been hurt by The Church. I've hurt others by being in The Church.  I've recognized that The Church is a beautiful, mystery that is larger than my imagination and it is needed.  So as a lay person, I would like to share some things I've learned about The Church.  This isn't meant to be a comprehensive, theological, finger-pointing or convicting post.  It is simply to be a reminder of some of the beautiful purposes of The Church, as the body of Christ.
So here's what I've learned along the way:
  • Church is not meant to be a spectator sport: Church is not simply a Sunday morning checking in and out of the "Christianity work card."  Whether you attend a Sunday service or not, if you profess Christ you are part of His body and you are needed. 
  • We is needed, not just you: As Paul describes, the Church is made up of a body.  A body has to interact with one another.  We are meant to encourage and uplift each other in this journey.  While of course there is an element to your spiritual journey that is between you and God there is also an element that connects us all together.
  • There is power in The Church: That power has been seen throughout the ages in both good and bad ways.  Let our generation be known for the good ways.
    • Matthew 16:18-19 And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
      • This is the mode that Christ has chosen to operate and move on this earth.  He hasn't given up on The Church, have you?
  • The Church is a family:
    • Raising children helps me appreciate this truth so much more.  My kids are night and day different from each other in personality.  It means conflict arises.  It means conflict needs to be worked through and they need to learn how to love each other through their differences. When my kids are in conflict I always point them to LOVE first, RELATIONSHIP second, the issue at hand last.  This flips the situation upside down and instead of trying to fix the situation, they are learning to love first and why do they love because relationship is of upmost importance.  If you are part of the church, you will get hurt and you will hurt.  Why? Because the church is made up of human beings. 
    • As a family, we are also meant to be the family that sometimes this broken world incompletely provides:
      • Mark 10: 29-30 No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
        • Along my journey, I have met many people whose biological family lives are broken in so many ways.  However, our hearts were designed to receive proper love from our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers.  When this doesn't happen biologically, the church is designed to do it.  If there is one take away from this entire post, this would be the one I would want everyone to get.  It is a sacred privilege to be a part of the family of God: to be the loving arms, the shoulder to cry on, the hands to heal, the ears to listen. To be the family, the place of refuge for the brokenhearted, the orphans, the widows in their distress. This is our beautiful privilege.
  • The Church is meant to be a BLESSING:
    • Do you remember God's promise to Abraham? That all people would be blessed because of him?  The church is the current lived out moving, breathing action of this.  As this truth struck me, I've had to stop and consciously think about this.  As I go out to the stores I get to be a blessing to the checkout person, to the restaurant server... I also get to be a blessing to my family as well.  So often my eyes and time are me-focused, first.  Recognizing that part of my role in bringing His Kingdom come, His Will be done is simply to bless others changes my tune and perspective in life. 
So my prayer for this post is that it sparks your reImagination for the Church.  It  is so much more than I've listed here but I think there is value in stepping back and reevaluating our perspective on it.  Some things you may know, some thoughts may be new and there may be other things that I didn't even touch on.  But I'd encourage you to revitalize your heart, love and understanding for The Church.
In Christ,

Finding Rhythm in the Chaos

I've been a Christ-follower for 29 years now (Yikes! I must be getting old.).  About 6 years ago, my husband and I were in a de-churched phase (a Todd Hunter term) of our Christian journey.  This just means, we were burned out on "church," busy asking what is the purpose of church, what is the point of church, is there a point to it, etc.  In the midst of that season, through quite a beautiful and divine story, we discovered Todd Hunter.  In the discovery, we both allowed his ministry to pastor our hearts.  Through a slow melting of our hearts, we decided to indeed give Church a Second Chance and found a local body to plug into again.  But even though we've connected with a local body, we still allow Todd Hunter to pastor our hearts on a weekly basis.

So this week, he gave another incredible sermon:

Discipleship 2015 (9/27/2015)

It was in celebration of their church body being 6 years old.  I realized that even though I had never met these people or Todd, my heart was there and it was in celebration with them.  So anyway, this sermon gives a beautiful summary of my heart's journey during the last 6 years: from the disillusionment with church to finding a rhythm and a reason to gather with other believers on a weekly basis. 

I know that not everyone has experienced what we have or may not understand this part of my journey.  But I also know that our story isn't unique and there are some of you who have felt a need to understand the purpose of church again.  I know that during my de-churched phase, I needed a renewal in my understanding of the purpose of gathering with other believers.  While there are lots of ways for that to be done, I feel that Todd does a great job laying out my story and then speaking to the needs of our heart.  I have lived what he is teaching for the last 5 years and it does make a difference.  It wasn't a dramatic moment of change, but more like the movement of a river, it has been a consistent, healing, life-changing, life-giving movement within my heart.  It has calmed me and allowed me to be at peace before God, myself, my family, my friends and my ministries.  These truths have allowed my heart to be sustained in the midst of a world that is often chaotic, discouraging and hard.  I know that I am different because of living out these truths.

So if you are curious to understand my heart, or if you have some disillusionment within your soul, I would encourage you to take time to listen to his sermon.  After listening to the sermon, I would encourage you to listen to the song, Song for Someone by U2

I think this song is a beautiful, artistic expression of the same ideas.  My prayer for those who let me speak into their lives (on a periodic basis) is that their hearts do not whither under the heaviness of this life but that they allow themselves to love and be loved in the midst of it all.
In Christ,

Conflicting Kingdoms

Dark Halo Image Quest Britannica.com

When I woke up this morning, the first email I read in my comfortable bed was discussing ISIS and the people trying to escape cruelty for a better life.  My mind started spinning as I went from these large world issues, to remembering/praying for the life issues that those around me are currently carrying and then moving from there I went into an even smaller arena - to my personal issues that I bring before the Lord.  As I went from there into quiet time, I prayed these thoughts:

Lord, these life issues seem larger than I am.  While I don't want to be callous to what is going on, worldwide, I also need to see your hand in our personal individual lives.  I know that you love us and you are up to something larger than we can imagine but I need You personally, my loved ones need You and our world at large need You.

After doing my quiet time, I went for a run and decided to listen to a sermon instead of music.  It was Todd Hunter's sermon:

Kingdoms In Conflict - September 6, 2015

If you listen to the first five minutes of this sermon you will see that it ends up being a direct conversation with my prayer this morning.  It was also a reminder that my prayer, isn't a new prayer nor will it be an old prayer.  Because of this we do not need to lose heart.  If your heart resonates with this prayer I would encourage you to listen to the whole sermon as Todd reminds us of who God is in the midst of world and personal chaos, the need for the church and finally for personal devotion to God.

In Christ,

Romans 7 & 8 Part 1

In the past few weeks I've really been captured by the end of Romans 7 and all of Romans 8.  In the following video, I begin to discuss some of the things that I've learned by reflecting on these passages.



In Christ,

Intersection of Grace


Sometimes God places you in moments where He takes your breath away and you feel separated from time and space, while at the exact same time very present to the moment at hand.  He recently took me into one of those scenarios.  While the moment only lasted but a few minutes I knew that it was from Him and that a shifting within me had taken place.

Sometimes we go through seasons in our live that are life-changing.  Sometimes we pray prayers that feel empty and feel like they fall to the ground; that they are unheard by heaven.  If I could give you one piece of advice for your life during those times it would be this:  

Hang on 
You are heard,
you are seen, 
and you are known.

God rarely moves in the ways that I "expect" or have been "taught to expect."  He, however, does move!  I am learning to see Him completely differently and expect Him completely differently and it has drawn me to a closer understanding of Him and has shown me how to be at peace in the present - even if the present makes no sense.

The foundation of this life change has been believing that He is good.  Truly good, truly loving - always - no matter what circumstances dictate or show.  As the picture that accompanies this post shows, our past, our present and our future all intersect in the cross.  For me, that is the foundation of this love. We have to start at the cross and allow it to be what defines and shapes our lives.  Our past and present have a profound affect on our present day life but these areas should be shaped and rearranged by the cross.

My prayer for you is that you would breathe deep His grace in your present moment.  He has invited you to enjoy today, to know Him - today and be loved by Him - today.  Let your past and future be shaped in the understanding that He loves you.  And know that those big, unanswered questions are heard.  It is likely He may answer those questions, not in the way you expect, but rather through an invitation to rest in the security of His character in a manner that heals the past, holds the present and gives you peace for the future.

In Christ,

Strands of Love

As a writer, I always struggle with what to share because I want to say something that is authentic.  I also struggle with wanting something that others can relate to so that those who take time to read what I write find their time well spent.  As I wrestled through how/what to say for this post I had an image of strands of thread.  All I can offer you is a beautiful strand - it doesn't amount to much when it stands on its own, but if you can take a strand or two of mine and combine it with other strands that you yourself hold in your hand, then perhaps, out of those strands something beautiful can be weaved.

In this post, I want to look at how relationships can lead us to a deeper understanding of God's love towards us.  I know that not everyone has experienced positive examples of these types of love, but that is why we should glean from others when possible.

So here are a couple strands for you to add to the life experiences that you yourself hold.

Parental Love Strand:
I had a heart-rattling dream where my son was lost for a day-and-a-half.  The emotional upheaval of thinking he was dead really shook me.  During the dream I made the statement, "How can I live without him?"  In the rawness of that dream, I realized how deeply entrenched the parent/child relationship is - there is no ceremonial moment of declaration for this love - it just is.  This child, who is birthed out of you and becomes a separate, individual person, is deeply connected to your heart. 

In awe of this love, I stepped back to reflect on the fact that our God declares that He is our Father and we are His children.  I know that the pain in my heart from a nightmare (that I got to wake up from - and not everyone gets to wake up from) is only a mere droplet of God's heart for us.

Where did humanity come from? 

It was birthed out of the heart of God. 

How can I live without them?

 Maybe, just maybe, this is a small glimpse of how our Heavenly Father longs after us.  We, who were created in His image - individual and separate yet deeply connected to His heart. It isn't through ceremony nor anything that we have done. Perhaps seeing Him as Father, through His eyes (instead of looking upward as a child) will help you to see how full of love He is for you, His child.

Marital Love Strand:
I'm coming up on 14 years of marriage and I love it.  I've been to two weddings recently and each time I hear those vows repeated they hold so much more meaning.  You realize that in that moment you had no idea what you were actually declaring, yet how true each and every word would need to be to carry you through life.

I found love on a swing
I found love on a swing.  I was young, he was young.  I remember the sun setting and the rocks tickling between my toes.

As the metallic chains twisted we talked about life.  He said, "What's the point of dating if it's not the person you plan to be with all your life?"

We were young.  How could we know what life and love would throw our way?

We are still young, I'm sure in many ways but in other ways I feel we stand at a crossroads: watching our grandparents teetering at the end of life.  Watching our parents whom we remember as young as us entering "old age." The letting go of today and welcoming the unknown.  We see our kids young and impetuous, full of life and dreams yet just starting to touch their toes to reality of hardships that life brings.  And in this place of middleness, I remember finding love on a swing.  The words and promises that were made without knowing the depths it would take us.  The snapshot of perfection in time.  I know that I was given a gift from above.  A gift that undergirds my entire life.  

I found love on a swing; it is such a gift to me.

There is something about marital love that is unique and special.  Unlike parental love, it emerges from a choice that we make after we learn more about the other person.  It is a type of love that strengthens and deepens with time.  God has invited us to not only know Him as our Heavenly Father but we have also been invited to be the Bride of Christ.  This next type of love, is an invitation for us to know Him more deeply, to experience everyday life with Him.  Yes, there are moments of declaration of this love, but only time lives out the reality of this love.

Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.  This is the love that He has declared for you.  A love that was declared in a moment of time, yes, but also a love that walks beyond that moment with you through time.  Do you see it embedded into your life?

As I said in the beginning, these are mere strands that I offer to you.  I know that not everyone has experienced true parental love and/or marital love.  I do pray though that what you walk away with is a pinprick to stop and reflect on when you have experienced a type of love that moved you.  How has that love moved you?  Does reflecting on it give you a greater glimpse to the depths of the love that God has towards you?

In Christ,

Photo from:  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=37443&picture=red-heart

Timeout for Mom

Well, Mother's Day was a test of my emotions, not because of a lack of love or appreciation from my family, rather it was due to what rose up inside of me.

"It's my party and I can cry if I want to..." would probably have been an appropriate theme song for that weekend. I don't usually need attention but something about that weekend awakened a quietly sleeping selfish beast. This beast thought: I should be served and appreciated and I shouldn't need to lift a single finger on Mother's Day weekend. (I'm just being honest.)
While this picture didn't turn out because I was trying not to squint, it does ironically capture a look at the beast.

The next day was no picnic either. After being loved on, celebrated and appreciated, you'd think it would be a beautiful day of peace and calmness where I eloquently demonstrated that I am that mother that was celebrated. But it just wasn't so.

So this morning, I had to give myself a timeout and be brought back to what I know to be true. I've prayed the prayers, "Lord, take my selfishness away. Make me patient, loving, gentle and kind!" And what I meant by that is: rip out all the evil and immediately upload the good. Do  a massive reboot today and let me look like who I really want to be in my mind. But as usual, I was reminded that just isn't how He works (at least not with me). Instead, He promised to walk with me today and teach me how to live and love by being daily transformed from inside out. Instead of the wave of a magic wand, I have to do the hard work of saying I'm sorry, asking for forgiveness and demonstrating by action that I need God to help me be a mother. So during my timeout, I went back through some old posts about what He has taught me in the past because I needed the reminder. So if you too were reminded on Mother's Day that you are far from the perfect mother and that you need God to be the builder of your home feel free to glance back with me:

10 pennies: which now reside in my pocket, 6 pennies in one and 4 in the other...

Gentleness: Oh, what a good reminder.

Training Children: Maybe better yet it should be called Training Parents.

This is a better reflection of how my family really makes me feel.

In Christ,

Confidence in Christ

Even as I write the title to this post, I cringe at the cliché those words can bring.  We need to have confidence in Christ can sound so spiritual and heady that even as the words drift off the page they easily get tangled up into our misconceptions and misunderstandings:  

Yes, I need to have more confidence in Christ.  I will work on that and put it at the top of my to-do list.  As the day goes by, I will try to remind myself that I need to have more confidence in Christ.”

While words are powerful, it is easy to mix them up with misunderstanding and rip the mystery and depth right out of them.

In the past 5 years, I have fallen in love with liturgy and the church calendar.  These were tools that facilitated the renewal of my tired heart.  Liturgy has challenged me, it has centered me, it has calmed me and it has given me confidence in Christ.  

I have written before about why I love Daily Prayer, so I won’t go into all the reasons again, other than to say I still find myself in love with it.  It weaves all of Scripture together for me on a daily basis, the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and the Gospel.  I’m reminded daily that I am part of a story that is bigger than I am and that this great Creator has been intimately involved in human history for thousands of years and He will still be there when I am long gone. 

“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
Julian of Norwich

We live in a world of heartbreaking news.  There is no way to wrap our minds and reality around the tragic events that plague our world.  I read in the news about 200 Nigerian girls who have been raped and tortured for months and then I look across the room at my daughter, the same age no doubt as some of these children, who is carefree and loved.  And my heart cries out, “Why not the same for them?  Why did their childhood have to be torn away?”  And I pray for their precious babies, conceived in horror, will they find a life where they are loved, embraced and cherished?
As these words wrap around me, I begin reading Paul.  I’ve come to realize that there are some in the Church who view Paul as harsh and demanding.  They can never quite measure up to “his expectations.”  But I think that for many who feel that way it happens because they have separated these holy words from the story of life.  Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the mystery, the awe and the beauty of Scripture because we have turned it into merely a rule book that reminds us of how far short we still are from God’s beauty and holiness. Instead of an invitation to learn about God’s love.
I have found no other way to experience life in my own life apart from Christ.

But I love Paul and he no longer strikes me in this way.  He is passionate and he struggles with putting words around the beauty and mystery of the cross.  He has seen human history, he has studied religious history, and he understands firsthand how cruel humanity can be.  Yet he has fallen in love with a Saviour whom he is willing to die for.  When he sees humanity putting confidence in themselves and selling short the beauty and mystery of the cross, yes, he does get upset and expresses it.  But I don’t see it as an angry, why don’t you get your act together?  Rather I see it as a cry “What can I do to make you see with my eyes?  What must I do to make you understand?”

Ephesians 2: 1- 9
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So what does confidence in Christ mean to me?  It is something that is always changing, growing and challenging me.  But it means learning to rest in the beauty of who He is and learning to walk in His love.  

Love not guilt, 

grace not shame, 

mercy not me trying harder. 

Loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself.  

Starting here, always, every day, every hour, every minute.  

He loves us (period).  

He loves us – believe it.  

He loves us – accept it.  

He loves you, yes you.

Let’s start there. Let’s live it out as reality in our lives so we have something to offer this brokenhearted world, to bring life, hope and healing to their hearts.  Sometimes I think we are so busy fighting our own hearts, our own weaknesses that we find ourselves with nothing left to offer.  But perhaps if our confidence was in Christ alone we could walk forward offering the Bread of Life, the water that is free and available to all who are weary & thirsty.  

Drink deep His love.  It is healing, it is real, it is life-giving and it is the hope our real world needs.

“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
Julian of Norwich

So I end this post with a song, “Looking for You” by the Lone Bellow.  I have fallen in love with this haunting song and I’ve wanted to share it with you all.  I don’t know the intention behind this song, but for me I see it as a call from Christ’s love to our hearts.  Sometimes we are captured more easily by music then words alone.  If you are feeling lost and broken, maybe this song will minister to your heart and encourage you to put your trust in Christ’s love. 

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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