Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love Becomes Her

Hello Blog World! To any that may find themselves reading this, I hope you are well and smiling :). I have a blog for you today, a bit out of the ordinary. It is something that I have been reading in the Bible and really thinking about for myself. I hope that it speaks to you, but to be perfectly honest, my husband is making me do it. You see, it pushes on my "uncomfortable button" a bit too much for my personal taste, but I am blessed enough to have married a man who loves me, encourages me beyond belief, and thinks, even when I don't, what I have to say is important and just might encourage people. He's been bugging me all week to do this and so here it is...

Earlier in the week I was reading the first few chapters of Acts and felt God really impress on my heart some verses and thoughts. So I just did what I normally do and journal them out. I had Brandon read what I had written (which I never do!) and he has encouraged me to put it on this blog for all the world to read... yikes!!! So I'm going to let you read my journal! Figuratively, of course! :) This is just an excerpt, straight from the pages of the sacred vault of my heart... no editing or rewriting, just as I wrote it that morning. I hope you get something out of it as it is something that I am very passionate about. The Church. More precisely, His Church. But, I'll just let you read it....

"Some thoughts I want to write down. 
Acts 2:44-45, ' Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.'
Acts 4:32, 34, ' Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold.'
Acts 2:46, ' So continuing daily one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.'
- beginning of Acts tell of the beginning of the church in it's purest state. These were the relational characteristics of it
        1. generosity towards each other
        2. one accord - unity at the highest level (heart and soul)
        3. community
        4. breaking bread daily - fellowship daily
        5. looked out for each other's needs and met them
        6. gladness
        7. simplicity of heart*
Anyway, just a challenge of how are we, as The Church, living by this? Are we in this deep knitted of a community? Do we live generously towards each other or tight-fisted? Do we live with a common goal and purpose - do we see ourselves as a company of like-minded believers joined together to make the name of Jesus famous? Or do we merely just "go to church"? Our hearts need to be knitted together w/a single-minded/focused goal - making Jesus famous.
Fellowship - we need to not just meet each other's needs and live generously w/each other, but we need fellowship. Intertwine our lives w/one another. Live our lives together. People should be involved in our lives and we should be involved in theirs. People should regularly be in our homes and we should regularly be in theirs. 
*Through fellowship/relationship we will learn what their needs are and can meet them.
Simplicity of heart - no ulterior motives; pure --> we need the Holy Spirit and Christ's love to work in us toward this end.
I am sure the early church was messy but what a beautiful picture we get of true community and love for each other born out of a love for serving and knowing Jesus.
What a challenge to us in the world we live in this day. Where walls are our closest companions, not people. Where busyness is our mode of operation. 

Ending with this - 
John 13:35, ' By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.'
Pretty much says it all. This is the Church that Jesus' desires. A Church that loves each other like He loves. A Church that is knit together in pureness of heart (simplicity), w/one purpose and passion. A Church that intertwines our lives w/each others.
Do I do this? Is this how I see the Church? I said on Sunday for Jesus to move in my heart in such a way that I loved His Church like He did and could see her like He did. That I would be captured by what captured Him so much that He was willing to die for her. May I be willing to lay down my life in service to her, seeing her as Christ sees her, loving her as Christ loves her. This love starts with me."

I began to make a mental checklist of how the church is described by others (non believers and believers alike), and I came up with many things, Love being low on the list. Hypocritical, divisive, judgmental, pious, legalistic, elitist, money hungry, boring, funless (even a word??), among others. Now I realize these are generalities and there are many times we cannot help one's perceptions of us, no matter what we do. But if these are the common words to describe us then we have a problem.
Jesus, himself, said we are to be known by our love for each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not the needy and poor "out there" (though that is well and right), but for those that are right next to us. Are people so blown away by how much we love each other within the church that they are drawn and compelled to be a part of it. Or are they turned away by how much we accuse and argue over trivial matters? How much we distance and pretend with each other? Or how "perfect" we are, all sinless and holy?
What are we known for? Love for the world, but despising each other? Quick to judge, whisper, and accuse but slow to embrace? Come on people, we are in this together! We have a mission - making Jesus famous on this earth and He said we will do that by our love for each other. That is how they'll know! It starts here, at Home, between you and me.

I'll end with this... if Jesus was so captured by a Bride of such great beauty that He was willing to leave the glory of heaven and give His very life for her, then maybe we should take note. Maybe there is something more to her. Maybe we should realize that while He died for us, the individual, He also died for us, the complete, whole picture of His glorious, beautiful, breath taking, heart capturing, head over heels silly in love with Bride. We are one in the same. I am her, the individual. And I am her, the corporate. And I better, better treat her right.

So that is all, just some thoughts that have been churning through my heart. I hope that maybe you get something out of this and we can all allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts so that, once again, we can be known on this earth by our love for one another. And in turn, Jesus' Bride will shine brighter and brighter with the glorious reflection of Him to the rest of the world, so that they may come and take their place within our Home.

Love to All. I pray this day you will know how amazingly special you are to the God of the universe who is intimately acquainted with you and STILL thinks the world of you!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cupid's Exegesis

Happy (albeit a bit late) Valentine's Day to you!!! I love Valentine's, along with most every holiday! I always have and always will.
I love that, as a kid, my mom would take the time to spend days helping to decorate my "mailbox" for my valentine's party at school (I mean, c'mon people, this was a massive work of art happening!), or that I would always get cards from my parents and grandparents with little hearts and a quick rhyme about why I was their special Valentine. I loved searching through my pre-made, perforated valentines for just the right saying and "artwork" to go to my very best friend, or the chance to slip a "romantic" little quip to a fleeting crush. I mean, what better way to disguise our secret affections, however deep or shallow they may be, on a day when it is expected! Genius!!
I know to most people, Valentines holds a mix of emotions and expectations that really just give it a bad rep, or even erroneously forgoing an entire people group within our society. Oh what is being missed!
Valentine's Day is not about singling out the loved and unloved, creating some elitist holiday, but rather about celebrating the relationships in our life and giving expression to what is in our heart 365 (or 366 :) days of the year. In my family growing up, V Day was never relegated to just romantic feelings. We celebrated friendships, siblings, parents, children, grandparents, teachers, and even near strangers!
One of my favorite Valentine's ever, was when a group of us girls in high school spent the night together, and then proceeded to spend the whole day of Valentine's watching black and white movies while eating donuts. All day. It was awesome. We weren't feeling sorry for ourselves or spitting in the face of all things love and romance. We were just enjoying being together and the chance to celebrate our friendships with each other. Whatever it meant to them, I don't know, but to this day it still sits in my highlight of Valentine memories and a picture of the absolute potential of such a holiday.
We humans aren't typically good about opening our hearts to each other, even those we love the most. That is why we have books and seminars on the subject. Sometimes we just need a little help and the tools put in our hand to do so. And what a better tool than a whole day screaming the very value of humanity.YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU MATTER! Whatever the relationship.
I love that, growing up,  I was surrounded by, what I feel, is the true meaning of Valentines. I love that, regardless of my relational status, V Day gives me a chance to celebrate the people in my life and to meet the greatest human need of all time. Love.
I feel that I have fallen very short in this area (loving people, not celebrating holidays :) and fear that I do not always do a great job of modeling to my children what is in my heart. But it has been very good for our family to really come back to basics and make sure our foundation is strong at it's core. Our family had a great Valentine's day yesterday from home made cards, breakfast in bed for daddy, a Valentine Dance by Asher and Safari they choreographed themselves, home made pizza and watching Cars 2 together, to Asher and Safari's secret "garage sale" to raise money to buy us Valentine's presents (let's just say, I had to put a stop to that one :). I hope it is just the beginning of a lifetime of memories for my kids. I hope that they feel so loved and secure, that Valentine's is a day worth celebrating no matter what state of singleness or romance they find themselves in. I hope they are so able to love those around them that they are never at a loss for friends or meaningful relationships.
I am so thankful for the picture my parents painted year after year for me of what Valentines is about, and I hope and pray that I can do the same for my kids, but I pray that I do not stop there. I hope that whoever is in my life, for however long they are there, will feel that they were loved and valued by me.
Happy Valentine's everyone. And whatever state you find yourself in on Valentine's form here on out, listen to the day that is talking all about You.... You are Loved and You Matter.


Here are some pics from our day... sorry there's not much but without an actual camera these days, we don't get a lot of pics of stuff right now

                                                     Asher's card for me... melt my heart <3

                                                       Getting ready to make pizza!!!

                                                          End result and ready for Cars 2!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I know it's been a long bit since my last blog in which I said I would be posting the continuing story of what started as the semester from hell.... well, sorry :). I started to write many blogs but it just wasn't.. right. I couldn't find the words. I couldn't express it. In fact, many days there were no words. No words at all.
Some days, it was just too deep to even express. It felt as if I put words to it too early, I would be defiling the holy ground that God was moving on within my heart. So I ended up just leaving it there for a bit. I hope that was okay with you.
There has been some time, some space, that I feel I can begin to put to words this unfolding journey God has me on. So, if you feel so obliged, come sit with me for a bit and let me share with you the depths of my heart. And I say that very, very purposefully...

Since the day our feet has hit the soil of this country God has pushed me, challenged me, debased me, and completely stripped me. Over and over again. Immediately, my world was rocked to it's core. Not just the semantics that a move like this brings of transition and getting resettled in life, etc. Not only was going to grocery store enough to put me in tears for the night, or the stress of running outside in the rain to grab my nearly dry laundry off the line just to have it smell like mildew for the next few days because I couldn't get it all the way dry in the heights of Sydney winter. Nevermind the frustration of having to pretend you understand what someone is saying when you actually haven't the slightest idea. Just smile and nod :)
All that seemed nothing compared to the utter crushing that God has been doing in me. When I say there where days I had no words, I mean I had no words. I would try and they just weren't there. Many times all I could do was just cry. In worship I would just cry. Many times my prayers were just tears pouring and pouring down from my face, from my heart. But honestly, those times that I couldn't speak were times I felt God so near to my heart. No words were needed. I knew He heard me when I couldn't say anything. He understood me when I couldn't understand myself. A year and a half and I haven't been able to understand what God was doing. I couldn't see it. He was always so near yet felt so vague.
But it wasn't just with God. Even with those around me, I just felt so.. lost. All the time. I never felt like myself. Normally someone who always has something to say and is usually full of passion for something going on inside her or around her, I felt completely silent and empty on a constant basis. And I succumbed to this silence and emptiness. 
It was during this time that I went from being completely crushed and broken down by God to being flattened and stretched farther than I ever have before. Much like when one uses a rolling pin to flatten dough, stretching it out a little farther every time. I felt so at my limit on every level I was afraid a nervous break down was in my very near future. This was during my semester from hell :).
I didn't know when to fight and when to submit. I didn't know what was God and what was the enemy. I could barely catch my breath and I had to constantly run to God just to keep sanity about me. My capacity to handle was pushed to it's utter limit. Handle what, you ask? Anything. The smallest thing required more than I had to give.
I felt like God was pushing me so much from the inside and it was showing up through my ability to handle pressures on the outside. And I just wanted Him to stop. Just so I could feel like a normal person again.
All this culminating with a break down in the dark, in my garage one day,with my dad on the phone from the other side of the world listening to me sobbing over the line. I was done. I was finished. I couldn't handle anymore.  So I quit. I quit both jobs I was working. I pulled out of singing in Kids. School was done for the semester so all my responsibilities were done for the year.
And I just breathed.
I felt completely different. Slightly scarred, but utterly at peace. Totally empty but ready to be filled. Completely broken down but in the hands of the Potter.
And it was in this breathing that He began to reveal.
It was at this moment that I realized a huge truth about myself. My complete and utter inability to just be. To be vulnerable. To be okay. To be still. To be God's daughter. To be the passion of Jesus' affection. To just be with Him. To just sit in His presence. To be transparent with others and let them in my heart. To be imperfect. To be me. As I am. Without all the answers. Without all the ability I need. Without having it all together. Without my facade, my barriers and walls that I didn't even know were there.
There were many, many other lessons I have learned and truths that God has revealed during these times but this one has been the heaviest for me. And the most challenging. A total redoing of my identity. How can I be when my whole life has been in doing? I realized then that I have built a life on letting what I do be what defines me. Take away what I do, and what do I have left? Not much. Just me. And that has always been my fear. That I am not enough. The soul-reaching fear that I am not enough in and of myself.
Though God has been dealing with this in me for many years it just went to whole other level this past year and a half. He has used circumstances and relationships in my life here to break me down so He can build me back up correctly. Firmly planted in my true identity.
I can be honest and say this is a journey because if you were to ask me what that identity is I don't think I know all the way, and what I do know I can't yet put into words.
But I hope I will live my life finding that out.

"Father, I pray that I will always first and foremost know what it means to be Your daughter above all. The daughter of my King. The bride of my Saviour and Lover of my soul. That if I never "do" anything for You, that I am enough for You, as I am, failures, weakness, and all. Help me, Jesus, to be a lover of Your presence above all else that has my heart. That in the midst of doing, I will first remember to be."

What a journey we are on. I don't know why I chose to write about this other than it is a feeble attempt to be on my part. To be transparent and vulnerable. To let people into my heart and be at peace that I wrote this first to Jesus, second to you. So whatever fears I would have about it I can lay it to rest, because the love letter of my life is already nestled away in His heart and my Father is already proud of me.