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God, Identity

I Am a Storyteller

March 25, 2015

kels (145 of 165)For as long as I can remember I have had an affinity for words.

Not just individual words, like, “Today I discovered the word splendiferous and now I want to use it all the time in everyday conversation.” (Though I really did come across that recently and have since tried to use it every opportunity I get.)

I’m more fascinated by what words can do when they are strategically ordered to form a song, a poem, a script, a prayer…heck, even a grocery list! But the power when those words become a story…now we’re talkin’.

I used to be obsessed with reading. I could get lost in a good book for hours on end. When I was younger I could be very persuasive in having my bedtime extended because I simply couldn’t stop at chapter 25 when Harry was just about to face Voldemort in chapter 26! And if I had a dollar for every time I got caught in bed with my book light under the covers at midnight…let’s just say I wouldn’t have college debt to pay off right now. As I got older, my dad would always tell me I was going to be a horrible navigator once I started driving – I couldn’t learn directions if I always had my nose in a book while in the car. He was right.

But I couldn’t help myself! My vivid imagination ran wild as I flipped each page. Each word came together to create a world that I could see and step right into. I valued the details. The big ones that built up the important parts of the story…and the little ones scattered throughout that just brought it all to life.

It didn’t take long for me to become quite the storyteller myself. Everything was a story. I’ve always joked that the biggest difference between my sister and I is that when asked, “How was school?” her answer was always, “Good,” – short and sweet – while I spent the next hour diving into what I ate for lunch, the hilarious thing my friend said in the hall, which teachers were actually cool and why, and how many times I got in trouble for talking in class (shocker). Every single mundane detail of my day was important to me.

Sadly, not everyone saw it that way.

For a while, any time I would start to talk to my friends, I would get things like, “How long is this going to take?”, “Is this the Reader’s Digest version?” or, “Ok, skip to the point.” There was eye rolling and laughter, all inserted under the safe bubble of sarcasm. But it wasn’t safe. It hurt. And it conveyed to me the message that there was something wrong with my attention to detail.

I let this get to me for a while. I tried desperately to change. I stayed silent a lot and wouldn’t contribute much to conversation.

But guess what?

I was miserable.

Details are a part of who I am. Storytelling is both a quirk and a gift. Sure, there are times when it’s a bit excessive. I realize that. And I do still try to reign it in when necessary ;) But at the end of the day, I truly believe that the Lord made me a detail-oriented Chatty Kathy for a reason. I notice and appreciate the little things more than most people. And I value the intricate stories of others – I love to listen and discover what makes people who they are.

I’ve grown to understand the heart of God in such a unique way. He is the master storyteller. Maybe He could have summed up the Bible into a short article, but He didn’t. He gave us 66 books of very specific words, each word having a purpose. Sometimes the details seem irrelevant and we want to skim over them to “get to the point.” But think of your own story. He wrote that, too. How unexciting would our lives be if God didn’t include the little things?

Everyone has a story. It’s your testimony. And it’s still being written. There are big, climactic moments, and there are the “fillers,” the seemingly insignificant memories and happenings. All of which God is using for His Glory.

So let’s embrace the details! Because there’s nothing wrong with being a splendiferous storyteller ;)

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Dreamer

March 4, 2015

 

beautiful woman traveling on a vintage car

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was seven I pretended that one of the canopy bed posts on my bed was Tom Cruise. We were dancing at some fancy gala, of course, and as the entire place had their eyes on the two of us, he dipped me real low and gave me the most glorious and life-altering kiss my young heart could conjure. In reality, when I leaned back for said mega dip and kiss, the post on my bed (AKA Tom Cruise) snapped and my entire canopy bed broke.

Through most of elementary and middle school I would sing as I walked to and from school so that if some famous movie director or talent agent was out mowing their lawn or getting their mail they would hear me and make me famous. I even went so far as to write a fan letter to a boy I saw in a movie, convincing myself that we’d become pen-pals and then eventually fall in love and get married and have famous actor babies. Side note: said actor only did the one movie and never acted again, so bullet dodge. ;-)

As I grew older my dreams became less outrageous and a bit more grounded. It went from celebrity fairytale love stories and fame and fortune to just mild success with an epic everyday-type romance thrown in. Every relationship became THE relationship-every job opportunity became THE job I was supposed to do. My dreams may have moved out of the clouds a bit, but they were still very far from reality.

Life moved on as did many of my dreams. I began to see that so many of the things I had dreamed for myself weren’t coming true. Jobs weren’t working out, relationships were ending, success preceded failure and my desire to dream started to fade.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

For most of my life my dreams were set around me. How could I be happy? What would make MY life great? Although my dreams may have been praiseworthy, heck, even Jesus focused- they were missing one key element, Christ himself.

A dreamer can never reach the end of their rainbow if they first can’t acknowledge the Dream Giver. 

Look at the creativity of the Father. The way He paints the sky in oranges and reds during a sunset. The way a tiny seed can bring forth trees that provide food and nourishment. Humans who can think and feel and create just like God. He IS the original dreamer and He is also the giver of dreams.

We are constantly in a hurry to get to our dream-fulfilled that we forget to stop and look at where our dream began. 

Who gave you that love for music? Who put in you a fiery passion for missions or business? Who gave you the ache for a husband and family? The Dream Giver!

God is not out to destroy your desires. He’s the one who put them there! The place we tend to get so lost in is that He puts those desires there not so that we seek out their fulfillment but rather that we seek Him and allow our fulfillment in Him to bring about those desires.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” Psalm 37:23

Friends, let’s be women who dream big with God.

Women who live in huts in Africa.

Women who preach and teach to the masses.

Women who fight for injustice and poverty.

Women who act, write or sing words of truth and hope and freedom.

Women who are faithful to their husbands and loving to their children.

Women who take risks and don’t live in the safe.

Women who aren’t afraid of the impossible because we know that with God, ANYTHING is possible.

We have been granted the greatest of gifts my friends. We have been allowed to dream alongside the One who hung the stars and soothed the seas. All He asks is that we delight in Him, handing over our finite earthly dreams and allow the immense mind-blowing plans HE has for us become our dreams. Because whatever His best is far outweighs anything we could ever hope for. So will you give your him your dreams?

I may not understand a lot, but I do know this:

Who am I? I am a dreamer.

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Remain

February 25, 2015

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17

On January 31st, as those words covered the gathering, my heart grew and my life changed. Brendon and I stood at the altar, surrounded by the dense tropical forest of south Florida and more love than I have ever felt in my life.

Everything is new. My last name. My official state of residence. My college degree. 2014 was a year of discovery in my life and God began clarifying my dreams for His purpose. Since we all rang in the New Year with sparkly dresses and noisemakers, or for me, my parents and their friends eating chocolate cake and playing ping pong, life has been a flash mob of wedding planning, marriage, settling our home, and living on a tour bus.

So much change. GOOD change! And in all of this movin’ and shakin’ I realize that there is one single thing in life that is constant. And that is the truth of the gospel of Jesus.

God remains. That’s it. He is steady. He is faithful.

 

“…as surely as the sun rises, He will appear…” hosea 6.3

 

To the ladies of A Girl Like Me,

The six of us writers are for you. We are for you because God is for you.

We want to challenge you and walk with you in life.

He cares about you deeply—deeper than what we can possibly know.

In times of distress and in times of joy, admit it!

Let your community bear burdens alongside you and celebrate with you.

God remains in every instant of our lives,

in every country of our world,

in every cry of our souls,

in every promise that He has said.

Rest in His faithfulness today.

 

Choose to speak life.

Choose to be encouraging in a society of criticism.

Choose to reject hate and replace it with compassion.

 

May we be a group of women- quick to run to Jesus, ready to obey God, sensitive to the Spirit working in this ministry, confessing our dirt and sharing our joys, embracing the growing pains and always armed with the Truth of the gospel of Christ.

Whatever changes you are facing, whether it be moving to a new place, switching schools, stepping into a new season of any kind, may you face that new season of life with such grace. Grace that Jesus laid down His life for.

So here I sit, in the back of a tour bus somewhere in north Florida, feeling like a baby calf that was just born- covered in goo and awkwardly wobbling around on my new blogging-legs. Honestly, I just want to write something that will stick with you.

And all I can think of is a Snowy Owl. Snowy Owl parents fiercely protect their young. They know their babies weaknesses and defend their nest. They perch on the highest branch of the tree to look out over the community seeking to provide adequate food. Instinctually, they adapt to change in the climate. They know when their babies are ready to fledge… to fly out of the nest for the first time. To courageously start the next part of their story.

Isn’t that like God?

To protect us and love us in our weaknesses.

To provide for us and prepare us for change.

To be ever-present and all-knowing.

To be our guardian as we face new beginnings.

And remain with us through all time.

 

“…the Lord will fight for you. you need only to be still…” exodus 14.14

 

May we all be fledglings.

Ready for what is to come.

Consumed by His love.

With faith to fly.

 

 Here are a few lyrics to the song “I Will Follow” by Vertical Church Band:

When the sea is calm and all is right // When I feel Your favor flood my life

Even in the good, I’ll follow You

When the boat is tossed upon the waves // When I wonder if You’ll keep me safe

Even in the storms, I’ll follow You

I believe everything that You say You are // I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart

In the good things and in the hardest part // I believe and I will follow You

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Out With the Safe

February 18, 2015

aglmkels (2 of 3)

Oh dear daughter, why do you think you must choose to shrink back, take the safe road, and hide behind your insecurity? Why are you so afraid of what others may think of you IF you fail? And why do you think of them as failures at all, isn’t that just the term the world has conjured up to beat you down, the word Satan has whispered in your ear to cause you to think less of yourself, resulting in comparison to those who seem to succeed and have it all together? Especially when those “failures” came from a heart so beautifully wanting to honor and serve your Father. Do you think I would nudge you to move if I thought you could not walk?

Did I not call you a child of Mine?

Did I not call you by name to rise up and be life and light in this world? Just as I was with Esther in her chambers as she prepared to risk her life for her people, just as I blessed and honored Ruth as she courageously chose the path of integrity and compassion despite the risks that came with breaking culture, just as I was with Mary as she humbly accepted her role to carry the greatest gift of all…when she could have said “Oh no God, you’ve got the wrong girl”….I too am with you as I ask you to step out and move. I am the same God today as I was then. You are no less a daughter of mine than they were. My dreams for you are not any smaller.

The dreams you dream are beautiful….but just imagine those ten fold, as my creativity stretches far beyond what your sweet little dreaming mind can fathom. All I ask of you is to step. Step towards the unknown, the less “safe” route, the risk that goes against the grain. Dare to believe that great things can happen with your obedience. Dare to believe that every “failure” as the world labels it is just a perfectly created opportunity for growth, gained wisdom and motivation to keep jumping to the next stepping-stone in preparation for the miracle because there is no end point. Finishing the book is not the neat and tidy end, getting the degree is not the last chapter, starting the orphanage, serving the mom, winning the gold is not what finishes and leaves you with a “success” badge. Choosing the adventure is the success. Choosing to get back up is success.

 You get to choose.

You can choose the safety of decisions that can be wrapped in your control, tied up neatly with a bow and leaving you with a small content little life or you can chose the great adventure of throwing your hands up and leaping into the unknown, listening to my still small voice urging you ahead, resulting in dreams and victories only possible when you give me your tiny fist of control and let me breathe life into dreams unimaginable.

Daughter, dare to believe that I will weep when you weep and I will hurt when you, my child, hurt…but I will hold you through it if you let me, so that your heart, that has now experienced the pain, hurt, fear, and joys can be prepared to serve and live and dream without limit in the great story I am writing for you. So you can then use the strength gained to walk alongside and shoulder the burden of others in those pains and hurts.

You get to choose to step up and be part of a generation of change. To no longer shrink back and let others take your dreams. YOU get to choose to be a woman of boldness and courage, to face the insecurities, tear through the walls of fear and feelings of unworthiness and grasp hold with all your might the miracles God wants to do with you and use as the vision and example to others.   Your choosing to jump gets to be an open testimony to those around you and in the moments when you “fail” you get to decide what those around you see you do as a result….get up and keep leaping? Or stay defeated on the ground and miss out on what was waiting just beyond the next bend.

I am not calling you to live in the safety and comfort of the fluff that settles in a cloud over your culture, I am not calling you to just get by and do the minimum so you can check off a list the little things you accomplished in your own strength. NO.

I am calling you to a recklessly abandoned, relentlessly passionate, overwhelmingly out of your control adventure that will blow your mind.

I am challenging you to act on those small nudges you feel from me without hesitation, taking the risk of failure and defeat….knowing without a doubt that no matter what the world may say, you are walking in victory, because you are Mine. You are moving. You are living. And you are choosing to not just live safe, but to live free and alive.   Daughter, you get to begin new. You get to choose today to start a new way of living. A new way of shining my light…no longer from the cracks in your fists holding tight to the safety and comfort of control, but instead bursting from every inch of your body and soul.

 

 

 

“Let’s be women unafraid to step into our role as His children, let’s own that role and carry the responsibility of what comes with it….being living examples, modern day Esthers, Marys, Lydias, Sarahs, Ruths….Let’s continue the legacy they began.”

Faith, Forgiveness, God, Redemption, Uncategorized

A Bear Introduced Me to Jesus

February 11, 2015

Young woman waiting for the train

I began my relationship with Jesus via a bear…not a real one but one that was a man dressed up like a bear. Now that is not the way most people start their journey with Christ, but what I know is that when I was 6 during a show at church for kids, God drew me to Himself. That’s where it began but certainly not where it ended.

We all have struggles that we just can’t seem to get past, sins that we pray would go away but are still lurking in our minds every day, and the guilt of that specific time when we really messed up. Or maybe it’s something that happened to you that wasn’t necessarily your responsibility, but you feel like you’re still tainted, scarred, and you just want it to be erased.
I grew up being the church girl, and I really did love God! I wanted to to grow in my relationship with Him and tell my friends about Him. But, probably just like you, I still remember the countless times in high school and college when I thought to myself, “Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? If others only knew how bad I really am for what I do and think…”

I wanted to obey God because I knew he saved my life when I was 6 years old. But still I would have selfish, lustful, straight-up-mean girl thoughts about others. I knew it was wrong because it wasn’t “Christian”, but I didn’t know how to stop.
I would fight myself to get rid of these “dirty” thoughts. I hid my sin because I knew it was not honoring to God, but it was just making me feel worse and worse.

I wanted a way to restart. I wanted a way to go back when I first decided to follow Jesus, to be able to STOP doing what I didn’t want to do, and to erase all the sins I kept committing. I wanted to be the girl that God wanted me to be. I knew that I would find joy and freedom there, but I didn’t know how to get there.

I began to really search what it meant to be a follower of Jesus despite my sin and the struggles I faced. I read a lot of books on what the gospel really means. I went to a church that explained the gospel so clearly in a way that I had never understood it before even though I grew up being a “church girl.”

Something began to click and I felt like I had been given a restart every single day and even every single moment. Even on my worst of days, God revealed to me how I could have a clean slate, a do-over. I knew I would still struggle with sin, but I realized that even in the midst of my struggle, Jesus gave me a gift when I first received him when I was 6 that trumps any gift I could ever receive.

One of my favorite Christian authors explained the gospel in a way that made total sense to me…

When you make the decision to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, he not only forgives you by wiping your “slate” clean, but then he takes your clean “slate” and writes on it “RIGHTEOUS”. So not only have your sins been completely forgiven, meaning God chose to completely remove your sin, but then he chose to mark you as PERFECT!

Stop for a second and just think about that paragraph above as deeply as you can. If you understand it, it should revolutionize your entire LIFE!

He doesn’t just forgive and forget. He literally makes you a perfect daughter in His sight, and he wants you to believe this even more so on your worst of days when you feel like a complete mess up because those days will still come.

It’s ok if you don’t have it all together. It’s ok if you mess up and just don’t understand why you still struggle even though you pray every day. God knows your struggle. He knows your pain. And he is with you the entire way. It’s a journey, and it’s all for your good.

The difference is that you no longer have to feel guilty because you aren’t!

You no longer are damned or screwed because God sent Jesus to die in your place so that you could receive Jesus’ perfect life AS YOUR OWN! There is nothing you can do to screw it up once you are His. The gospel is a mystery and entirely beautiful because through the gospel, Jesus gives us a new life, a do-over, a restart forever.

I want to end with what the Bible says about this since it actually has power compared to my mere words :-)

Here is what Romans 8:22-25 says about this with my added comments in parenthesis,
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction

(no matter how bad you think your sin may be or how good you think you are):

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified

(or made “right”)

by his grace as a gift

(nothing we could have ever done on our own to earn this),

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation

(which means Jesus bore all God’s wrath IN YOUR PLACE)

by his blood, to be received by faith.”

 

This amazing news will change your life the more you begin to understand it and give God the praise and glory for it.

Will you let it change your life?

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Get Over Yourself

February 4, 2015

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We’ve been friends a while, haven’t we? We’ve walked through life together, sharing our secrets, our hurts and our joys. So, because we are friends, friends who love each other, it’s time to start getting real with one another. You ready friends?

It’s February. By now you’ve had enough time to make resolutions and not keep them. You’ve had time to set goals and miss them. Time to seek freedom from sin only to be lured back into its tempting grip. I can imagine that for those of you who are in this place, you’re probably telling yourself things like this:

“How can God ever forgive me?”

“Why can’t I get better?”

“I’ll always be stuck like this.”

“I should just give up. God has totally abandoned me.” 

I get it. You’re in a dark place. You feel like you’re at the bottom of a deep well with no possible way out. You want hope. You want a way out of this place and into a better life. For those of you who might be feeling this way, as your friend, I have something to tell you.

Get. Over. Yourself.

I know that sounds harsh. I know that it’s not the flowery, grace-filled, sunshine and roses affirmation you want to hear. But listen my sweet friend, it’s the truth.

In order to move forward, move past and move on from whatever it is that is keeping us from freedom and a closeness to Christ, we first have to learn to get over ourselves. We have to realize that we are not the exception to the rule. When Christ said that he died for ALL mankind, you are included in the all. When he said that His death has granted us freedom from the stronghold of death and sin, again, YOU are included in that. Stop thinking like you aren’t.

When we begin to tell ourselves that our sins are too great or too big or too bad for God to ever forgive, we minimize Him and make much of ourselves. We are saying that God can’t overcome our strongholds, because we are just too messed up for the almighty Savior of the world to redeem. It’s not in humility that we say that God could never forgive us, but rather our pride.

Listen closely, you’re not at war with God. The moment He took His last breath on the cross and broke the chains of hell and death was the exact moment that the chasm caused by sin was filled and your battle with Jesus finally found peace. Live in that peace. Stop telling yourself that your chance for freedom is too far gone. Stop looking to yourself and focus on Jesus.

Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Did you hear that? You are FREE. So as Paul says, stand firm in that freedom and don’t make yourself a slave anymore.

Ladies, let’s make this the year we finally learn to get over ourselves. The year we stop glorifying our guilt and not Jesus. Let’s be women who stop making much of our our sin and instead live in how much we are loved by the Father. Let’s not just say we want to be free, but instead live as the free people we are.

Remember how I said we’re friends? Well friend, get over yourself and I’ll do the same. And together, as friends, we can make this new year one of hope and peace.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

Out With The Old

January 28, 2015

 

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There’s something about a new year and all the “new” it brings… New is exciting. New is terrifying. New is…pretty much everything this time of year. January 1st is just another day, really. As are the other 364. But that one digit change at the end of the date from a 4 to a 5 tells us that we made it another 365 days. We can’t wait to finally close the book that was 2014 and dive into the crisp, clean pages of 2015. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in new new new that we forget the importance of the old.

Now don’t get me wrong – new beginnings are a good thing. There are times in each of our lives when we just need a fresh start. But too often we take that to mean that we need to start over completely from scratch…wiping our slates clean, forgetting the past year, and resolving to focus only on the year ahead.

Again, the intentions are great, but here is where we need a shift in perspective.

Whoever said we have to be completely out with the old to welcome in and embrace the new?

Sure, maybe you had just a downright crappy year. But how much did God teach you and mold you in that time? How many intense, yet valuable lessons did you learn when your world was upside-down? How much growth came from the most unfortunate circumstances?

…And how much beauty was birthed from the pain, frustration, anger and confusion? How many tears did God turn from sorrow to joy? How many screams did He transform into laughter? How many headaches faded to make way for smiles?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

ALL things. Not just the fun times, but the miserable ones, too. Not just your highs, but your lows. God works all of these things together for our good! Sometimes that can be hard to see, of course. But when we stop dwelling in the negatives, we beginto see all the positive things the Lord has done and the light He has brought from our darkest moments.

Now let’s turn the tables a little bit. Maybe you’re like me and your year wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, of course, but for the most part…you can’t complain. Or maybe it was great! So you don’t need me telling you not to chuck your memories out the window. But it’s actually just as easy when you have a good year to fall into this “out with the old, in with the new” mentality!

This is exactly where I found myself recently. I approached the new year expecting big, exciting, radical lessons. I learned a lot about myself and about the Lord over the past year, and I appreciate every single lesson. But I’m ready to go deeper. I’m ready for more. I’m ready for new.

So right off the bat I was looking for it. That first big experience of many sure to come this year that would open my eyes and stretch my faith. I was ready. Watching. Waiting…

…And here we are, just about at the end of January. And all that’s come my way is just the same old, same old.

I let that discourage me for days, thinking maybe I was doing something wrong. It felt like I just wasn’t growing the way I thought I would, and I thought maybe my heart wasn’t in the right place. Maybe I wasn’t seeking the Lord enough. Maybe I wasn’t spending enough time reading my Bible to be learning anything in the first place.

But it didn’t take long for God to clear the lies and redirect my focus.

You see, while I was searching for big, new challenges, I was ignoring other equally important lessons He was trying to teach me…lessons I have already learned, but constantly need refreshed on. It’s easy to think since I’ve already “been there, done that,” I don’t need to reevaluate basic things like pride, patience, forgiveness, grace, etc. So when I feel the Lord reminding me to check my bitter heart at the door and find joy in all circumstances, I feel the need to remind Him that I already checked that one off the list a while ago. Or when He starts loosening my grasp on my wallet, I grip tighter and kindly inform Him that I know what I’m doing.

Somehow in setting our sights on all the new that we know God has in store for us this year, we tend to forget that we never mastered the old (and never will!). By tossing out the old to find the new, we assume that past lessons have nothing more to offer us and we have nothing more to learn from them.

So whether your year was fantastic or much less than perfect, let’s not forget 2014. Instead, build upon it. Take those old lessons and put them into practice this year. Let experiences in your past drive you towards hope and surrender. Let memories of God’s goodness, in the good times and the bad, bring motivation and confidence to say…

2015…bring it on.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

New That Lasts

January 14, 2015

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New doesn’t intimidate me.
Or scare me or cause me to question.

I love New Year.
I love clean lines and fresh beginnings.
Blank calendar pages holding promises of opportunity.
Empty “to do” lists meaning anything can happen
and I’m not bound to commitments.

But what happens when I “add new event” on iCal-
Or, as I inevitably will, break a new year’s resolution?
What happens when old habits win out against new attempts?
When the new doesn’t feel very new anymore….

I went on an amazing adventure in 2013.
An eleven month, eleven country mission trip.
New was easy to find.
New was easy to dream with
and set goals with…
and try to do better with…

Then, I came home to the very opposite of new. I came home to the town I went to high school in, I moved into a bedroom with furniture from my childhood. I drive the same way to work every day.

I started the new year with every intention of greatness,
every hope of being different and the energy to fulfill every new resolution…

It’s been two weeks-
and new has been replaced with normal. Radical with rhythm.
And the promises of a new season and all the potential for new habits are forgotten.

Because the feeling of newness doesn’t last.
Did you catch that?
the feeling of new doesn’t last.

In Second Corinthians Saint Paul writes,

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed
away. Behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthinans 5:17

If I have a single greatest struggle in my relationship with Christ it is this.
I don’t always feel like a new creation.
I don’t always, in my flesh, act in accordance with my belief that The Cross was enough.
I would rather earn my newness.

Like a child in a proverbial bathtub
I constantly scrub and question and scrub and question
and jump in the mud just to watch the stains swirl around the drain
scrub and question.
and repeat.
Am I shiny and new enough yet?

Paul isn’t writing about personalities, or lists, or hair colors or even our habits.
Yes, there is continual sanctification going on-
and Yes! we desire to look more Christlike each day.

Spiritual disciplines are good and right.
But disciplines and doctrine are not what make us new creations.

Sweet girls, Paul writes of the eternal things.
The things that are unseen.
Our souls and our spirits-
the very things that were paid for once on the cross.
Our most true selves.
We have become new because we are in Christ.
The kind of new that lasts.

Let us not pursue the feeling of newness this year.
Let us not become distracted by imitations of new.

But rather, let this new year-
with all of it’s excitement and potential and symbolic newness-
remind us of the full restoration of all things to come and the sure fulfillment of God’s promises for his daughters. Promises not bound by our understandings of new, or our feelings, or our timeframes or lists. As the calendar fills up, and the rhythm sets in, and the excitement fades may we rest in this truth…

Your newness is full, complete, lacking in nothing, because of Christ.

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life

Monday’s Truth

November 10, 2014

I’ve read it over ten times. Day five. This post in my devotional book is one I go back to. One that no matter how many times I’ve read it, it somehow always brings me to tears. It’s a message my soul needs repeated. It’s a message I feel you need to hear.

So I’m sharing it with you today. Day five. My breath of grace. My hope for today. I hope you are blessed.

 

kels (9 of 165)

DAY 5: CURED AND CLEAN

Taken by: Comforts From the Cross (by: Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“His disciples said to him,
“You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say,
‘Who touched me?’”

MARK 5 : 3 1

“Excluded. Unclean. Defiled. For twelve desperate years she had struggled against her body. Blood poured from her, and that blood not only brought about personal distress but also made her a societal outcast. If she was a married woman, she would have been unable to have sexual relations with her husband. Even if she was precious to him, he could not take her into his arms. Married or single, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she couldn’t lie in bed and play with them. Anyone who sat on a chair on which she had sat would be unclean and would have to wash ceremonially and then offer a sacrifice at the temple. When the family went to the temple on a holy day, she had to stay home.

To live in such isolation after childbirth was expected in those days, but the new mother was surrounded by a loving family, all waiting the day when the priest finally declared the mother clean.

But the isolation experienced by the bleeding woman wasn’t the usual week or two; it was twelve years. Twelve years without access to worship. Twelve years of gossip whispered behind her back. Mothers would have warned their daughters: “Don’t go near; she’s unclean.” Twelve years without a caress, a touch, an inviting smile. Twelve years of desperate exclusion, loneliness, and shame.

That she was desperate is clear. She “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had” (Mark 5:26). We can imagine that year after year she heard about women in other villages who were cured, so she rushed to uncover their secret, scraping up the necessary payments, yet she “was no better but rather grew worse.” Every penny she could get her hands on went to doctors who only exacerbated her condition.

I can’t imagine what terrible indignities she suffered at their hands. This wasn’t modern medicine with its tidy gynecological offices housing highly trained physicians who write prescriptions for hormonal therapies and perform sanitary procedures. No, ancient medicine consisted of the most base herbal preparations, poultices, and methods that not only failed to cure her but made her suffering worse. She was unclean and her uncleanness had bankrupted her. And still she bled. Days and months of disappointment followed by months and years of shame and isolation. She could touch no one; no one wanted her touch. And now, all hope was gone. She had no money left, so even if a cure could be found, she couldn’t afford it.

Then she heard reports about a holy man who loved unclean women and welcomed them as followers. Many had been ill like her. Some had been possessed by devils; others had been notoriously wicked, but he had healed and welcomed them all. Amazingly, hope began grow within her breast again. Perhaps she thought, I have no money to pay him. I can’t touch him because I’m unclean. But even so, she believed, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (v. 28). So she waited until his followers and the crowds were passing by, and she slipped into the press. Keeping her head down and her shawl up, she furtively pushed her way ever closer to the One. There he is. If I can just stretch out my hand past these others! I’m almost there; please don’t let me be discovered. There! With my fingertips I brushed his cloak. Immediately, she felt her body change. The blood stopped. She was healed. The crowd moved on, but she stood still—a whole, clean, honorable woman at last. She had finally received all that she hoped for, but she was soon to learn that her expectation had been far too small.

From the midst of her reverie she noticed the crowd halt. The Master was speaking, “Who touched my garments?” (v. 30). An icy shard of fear pierced her heart. What if this holy man finds out what I did and takes my healing from me? What if he is angry because I’ve made him unclean by my touch? Will this simply end in more shame, more separation? While his disciples pointed out the size of the crowd, the woman bravely made her way to him. In fear and trembling she “fell down before him and told him the whole truth” (v. 33).

How did he respond? He called her “Daughter.” This is the only time that Jesus actually called a woman by this name; it was a sweet acknowledgment of relationship and endearment. Instead of pushing her away, he drew her close. Daughter-Don’t be confused. Jesus wasn’t stumped about who had touched him. He knew this woman’s name (even though we don’t). It had been written on his heart for twelve times twelve million years—yes, forever. This woman would have been satisfied with physical healing, but her Savior would not. He forced her to come to him and be in relationship with him, to fall down before him, to come out of the shadows and into the full light of day. Our Savior loves to give us gifts, but the best gift of all is himself, and he won’t let us slink off, back into darkness and isolation. No, his love will pull us out of our shame, defilement, and fears, and then he’ll speak gently and lovingly to us. “Daughter, be at peace.”

Because Jesus is completely pure, he isn’t concerned about becoming defiled by touching us. He’s not afraid that our uncleanness will contaminate him. Instead he draws us near; he speaks to us in love. He sees our desperation, our bankruptcy, and our uncleanness, and he calls us “Daughter.” If you’re like me, it’s easy to find a measure of satisfaction and peace in knowing that our sins are forgiven and we’ve been cleansed. But our Savior wants more than that. He’s taken us for his bride, and he isn’t satisfied when we hide from him or try to use him for our own purposes. Yes, we want to be clean, and he wants that for us too; but clean strangers aren’t what he’s after. He means to have a wife. And so he continually brings us to points of desperation when we have to fall before him, broken and bankrupt, and then he speaks lovingly to our hearts and draws us up into his presence.

Don’t be afraid to go to him now. He isn’t fazed by your sin; he isn’t afraid that you will contaminate him. In fact, as you get close to him, his holiness will infect you. Go ahead, daughter; press in through the crowd of all that threatens to block access to him—your shame, pride, destitution, and uncleanness. Touch him out of your desperation and find him patiently loving and awaiting your arrival.”

Excerpt From: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. “Comforts from the Cross.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/5Nkjx.l