On Borderless Oceans and Frozen

“Spirit take me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters,
Wherever You would call me.”

(Oceans, by Hillsong)

Lately God has been teaching me more and more about following Him, no matter what it looks like to me. It’s Him I’m following, and, as long as I can see Him, why should I worry about what’s in front of Him? To do so takes my eyes off of what’s really important and puts them on the things I can’t control anyway.

To walk where there is no borders. In a move that was very, very far from anything I had planned, I signed up for another three month internship at Hope City. While this was something that I did not really have a lot of personal desire to do, it has been made extremely clear to me that this is where God wants me to be for the next several months. For example, Bryce and I worked and saved for over a year to get the money for the first track of the internship, and still needed to raise support. This track, thanks to the generosity if a few people, has been totally paid for- both the internship itself and my expenses while I am here.

Speaking of provision, my husband and I just had the opportunity to attend One Thing, a year end conference and celebration put out by IHOP in Kansas City. Through a string of events that I can’t even begin to understand other than God providing, we were able to get our entire hotel stay and conference tickets and a very good meal for free. Without asking for any of that. While we could have paid for them if needed, it is a huge blessing, as it helps his budget stretch just that much further. Thank You God!!! He cares about even the little things!

I find through these experiences that I feel like my fear, my worry, my timidity is breaking off like shedding a stone cocoon. Or like Elsa shedding her queen finery in that famous scene in Frozen. (Yes, you may now sing “Let it Go” loudly, unless you’re in a public place. Then scream it 🙂 ) I feel like I am being reborn, exposed for what I really am. And that has lots of both good and bad things. But, I am willing to face the humiliation and the joy, in order to be closer to my Savior.

To walk on water, on a great expanse. With no concept of where the end point is, of where the next step is beyond the one that brings you closer to the Beloved. Is there any greater joy?

Lord, draw us ever closer to You!!!

Of Pyramids and Sliced Bread

(continuing my blog of things I’ve been learning at Hope City)

It is a struggle to hold on the truth. Sometimes it seems like everything is yelling at us, telling us that whatever we are doing at the moment is stupid or meaningless. That our lives are wasted, or will be wasted if we do not perform such and such an action. It feels like we need to create a huge, lasting monument of sorts to have any meaning or worth.

I’ve spent most of my life struggling with that. Even when I was a little kid, I felt like I had to be remembered, to leave a mark on others or on things, in order to matter. That if I didn’t build a pyramid, no one would remember me, and I would therefore be meaningless. After all, we all like sliced bread, but who invented it? (For the record, I looked it up, and Otto Fredrick Rohwedder from Davenport, Iowa [shout out to my Iowa friends!] invented the bread slicer, but that doesn’t mean he was the first one to slice it into slices instead of tearing it….) And, who did build the pyramids? The Hebrew slaves? Egyptians? Aliens? Really industrious desert cats? I know which one I believe, but it is a matter of debate I will not go into here.

And even the pyramids are crumbling into dust.

Does anything last?

Is God the only eternality?

I believe that humanity is created as an eternal being. That all humanity is eternal, whether Christian or not. If this is true, our lives have to have a point, right? What would be the point of living on the earth for the 6 months or 110 years we have if that wasn’t so? Is the point just to consume lots of sliced bread and build a pyramid that will crumble in six thousand years, to reproduce ourselves and try to care for-or not care for as the individual chooses to-the earth or the animals or other people? That whole “Be fruitful and multiply” thing in Genesis?

All of those things fade away.

So, there has to be more.

If the only two things that really last forever are humanity and God, it points to the relationship between them being what is eternally important.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” We are commanded by Jesus to love Him and each other.

Loving requires building a relationship. It requires giving of ourselves, not just throwing a bunch of money at an organization, or buying our kid a Christmas gift, or taking the wife out on a date once a week, or reading our Bible every day, or any other action.

Love is a heart posture. A giving over of oneself. A willingness to bleed out all our compassion and hope and help for someone else, again and again. And again. And again.

And, if we love God and man like that, we are building an everlasting meaning for ourselves by not focusing on ourselves, but by focusing on someone else; not caring about the legacy but building it incidentally. Building something that will last forever. “Love never fails”- love is eternal.

And that is even greater than sliced bread.

Of Icebergs and Doves

(Continuing my weekly blog from Hope City. Sorry the writing is a little rough this week- I’m having a hard time putting this one into words, but want to share it anyway.)

This week, I was in our prayer room thinking about God, and I saw life as a trip walking across water- walking in faith. And, that, on that water, there are icebergs- large ones. These icebergs get in the way of our walk, and then we have no choice but to force us to detour, or to walk over them, both options of which leads to the iceberg, which I saw as the lies we believe, being our foundation, instead of faith. But, God’s love and our love of Him is great warmth, and it breaks apart the iceberg, even as the water of faith laps at the iceberg and erodes it to nothing. Faith and God’s love lead us forward in life, so that we can walk, unhindered by the obstacles in our lives and minds, so that we can see Him, see the truth. Internal obstacles are far stronger than external obstacles, but God overcomes all!!! Keep walking in a foundation of faith, not lies- lies get you nowhere except circling an iceberg.

Another thing I was thinking this week that I’d like to share- I’ve been feeling lately that the things I pray just aren’t ‘getting through’ into heaven- like the gates are shut to me. And that can be frustrating, especially being surrounded by people who don’t have that problem. And I saw that, while it is not yet my time to enter as much into heaven as I desire to, my prayers, my spirit are entering like doves flying through the bars of a gate. He hears our prayers, even if it does not seem that way to us. He hears. (The only thing that gets in the way is unforgivenese, so be sure to forgive everyone!!)

Thank You God for hearing us, and for giving us Your foundation to walk on!

On Rollercoasters, Perfume, and Victory

Continuing my (attempted) weekly blog from Hope City…

This was a week of many ups and downs, an emotional rollercoaster. It seems like every day would start out great and I would be holding tight to God’s promises and by the evening, I would be wrestling with some mental hurt. But, I know that I will walk in victory, because my savior is victorious over all!!!

One thing I am really learning this past week is how spiritual life is really, REALLY not dependent on physical life- both the outward and the mental situation. I was reading this week the story of the woman pouring the perfume on Jesus’ feet in Mark 14. The reaction of those around her was less than accepting. I don’t know how she felt, but I know that if that was me, I would instantly start questioning myself. Like “what am I doing?” “maybe they’re right- this was a stupid idea” “I should have sold it and given it to the poor- after all, isn’t that what Jesus would do? “ “He’s always helping others- I should do that and serve Him like that instead’ “after all, what man wants to go around smelling like a huge bottle of perfume?” “why did I even do this, why did I come?” … or something along that line. But, then Jesus says the greatest thing. He says (my paraphrase) “What you have done for me is honoring. What you have done will be remembered by others and by Me. Thank you.”

Talk about shutting up the doubts in your head.

He loves us- He accepts what we do for Him, even when we doubt its value. He just wants us to come to Him, to love Him, to give Him all that we can, even if it seems so little or so crazy. He is proud of us walking in the faith that what we are giving up, the path we are walking, the things we are doing, the little battles in our mind that we chose to let Him have, the secret act of service that no one else will ever know about, matters to Him. I chose to believe that He has me where I am in this life, that the sacrifices I have and am making to be here, are acceptable to Him and have a reason, even when I cannot see it.

Sometimes faith is walking blindly toward His light and love that shine so brightly we cannot see.

Lord, continue to increase my faith in You! Thank You for loving me always, for giving me the victory because You won the victory over all.

I thank each of you for your continued prayers for me and for this area. May God continue to bless you always, and may He draw you ever deeper into love with Him.

retreating into life

I love a good retreat.  It’s a chance to get away from the normalness of life, a chance to slow down and get recentered on what really matters in life, a chance to get back in touch with that child with minimal responsibilities within us that we couldn’t wait to leave behind and now just want to get back.

 

Retreats are awesome. (In interest of full disclosure, I work at a retreat center that is amazing.) I eagerly look forward to the next time I get to do one, whenever that is.

 

But, what if, instead of retreating out of life for a while, we retreated INTO life?  What if we accomplished all that retreat stuff every day?  That would make crawling out of bed much easier…. And enjoyable.

 

Why is there such a separation between joy and relaxation and being centered on God, and work and family and everyday life?  Could even paying bills be a small retreat into life?

 

For example, I also volunteer at a small local house of prayer- a place that has been established to be a gathering point for people who want to worship God and pray with others outside of church hours, as well as a place to help others in whatever manner we are able to.  Within that building I have done some of the weirdest, non churchy or religious things.  I’ve decorated cakes and taught others how to, I’ve sewed and cut out cloth diapers, I’ve played basketball, etc., etc.  I’ve lived life.  And at home, I’ve done some of the most churchy, ‘religious’ things I’ve done anywhere- I’ve prayed with  very broken people, I’ve listened to and danced to worship music for hours at a time, etc., etc.

 

My desire is really to increase that in my life- that ability to be anywhere, doing anything, and have it be a ‘retreat’.  To have my whole life centered solely around God and what He desires me to do at that particular moment; to be filled with joy, knowing that my only responsibility is to serve God, and that He’ll take care of the rest of life, to not worry about what I get done or don’t.  He will supply me with the time I need to do whatever He desires as I am faithful to honor Him with that time.   For heaven and earth to collide in my life until they are so intermingled there is no way to tell where one ends and the other begins.  When I die, I want my spiritual transition from earth to heaven to be so smooth, it’s just like coming home to where my heart already is.

 

I pray it is your desire also.

Expecting the Unicorn, Getting the Vacuum.

Expectations.

 

You know that Christmas gift you thought would be a unicorn that instead turns out to be a second hand vacuum cleaner, or that book you thought would be so cool and instead was something you could have written yourself….when you were four years old….

 

Or more seriously, that job you thought you’d retire from that gave you a pink slip yesterday (and not the kind that goes under your now-threadbare skirt), or that baby you long for so much and the pregnancy test that came back negative…again….or the friend/spouse/family member you thought would always have your back and who now barely speaks to you.

 

Expectations.

 

So many things in life are based around what we expect.  And it seems that we are often wrong.  So, what’s the point?  Should we just not expect anything and live with the lowest standards possible, in order to not get hurt?

 

Expectations are, at their core, hope.  Hope is listed in II Corinthians 13 as one of the three greatest things in existence, and is also listed elsewhere as a byproduct of living by God’s Spirit and as He desires.  So, it goes to reason, that hope is a wonderful thing.  It heals wounds by the mere possibility of it being possible; it gives joy and light in a dark place by the mere suggestion of its existence. Hope assists in being faithful to another; in persevering through a tough situation; in giving a task or life meaning.  Hope is a strong cord at the core of all heartbeats- the expectation of another heartbeat.

 

All of which sound like really good things.  So why are expectations so often, well, wrong?  Are we putting our hope in the wrong thing? Or are we just assuming something, instead of expecting it?  Is there a difference?

 

Actually, there is.  Expectation is something that you want to happen, but that you aren’t sure will happen. The dictionary defines it as: eager anticipation; belief about (or mental picture of) the future; wishing with full confidence of fulfillment; the feeling that something is about to happen.

Assumption, meanwhile, is something that you think will happen, and are taking for granted that it will, or accepting it as truth without proof.  Assumption is, at its core, entitlement, or possibly pride.  It hurts relationships by putting itself first; it brings the darkness of self-absorption to an otherwise light situation; it takes all the meaning in life and makes it about only the self.  Not a really good thing.

 

So, I will be the first to admit, that what I so often think I am expecting, I am actually assuming.  For example, that pregnancy test negative would hurt a lot less if I looked at it as the anticipation of something that will happen, and not getting consumed by the idea that it has to happen NOW, and assuming that I know best how it should be.

 

It boils down to focus and control.  Who you are focusing on is who has control of your life, and who has the control shapes whether you eagerly expect something or selfishly assume it.  I know for myself, I definitely want my focus and control to be with God, because I definitely don’t want to carry around the burden of trying to make my life shape what I think it should.  UGH! TOO MUCH WORK!!  He’s way better at that than I am, and He sees the whole picture.  And I know that He will take care of me, and does all the time.

 

This is both an expectation and a bit of an assumption….

But that’s a whole other topic….  🙂

 

Focusing on the freight train, or a paradigm shift

Sometimes there are moments in life where your paradigm and thought changes so fast, it feels like a freight train just roared past at 200 mph, 6 inches away, and now your face is sideways, looking at the train and trying to understand it more, unable to understand all the things you thought pre-train, and knowing you will never be the same again.

 

I have just recently had one of those moments.  I was thinking about how much Christ gave in order to show His love, and how much we give and sacrifice in order to show our love to Him.  But then I thought- Wait!  Is it really a sacrifice?  It’s not easy, but, if we keep the mindset of the hugeness of the sacrifice, what’s the point?  I can give myself; someone else can give their selves and a ton of money, Jesus dies and gave everything to be with us, does it really matter? 

 

No, it doesn’t.

 

Now, don’t give up on me yet.  Let me explain.  On a certain plain, yes, of course all of those above things matter very much.  Especially what Jesus did for all of humanity.  It matters more than anything else ever has.

 

But.

 

Those things happened in order to pay the price for something else.  If what you are obtaining in return is worth the cost (or more than it), does the cost matter?  It’s like selling everything you have to obtain your deepest dream and desire.  Once you obtain that, would you bemoan the loss of all that you’d paid?  Would it really matter?

 

I give Christ my all, my entire life and breath and all my steps and existence for eternity.  In return I get ever-increasing, ever closer knowledge and access of His heart.

 

He gave everything for me, and in return, He obtains my willingness to love and desire Him in return.

 

While I cannot speak for Him, I know I’m getting back infinitely more than I am paying….

 

Which makes the cost not matter.

 

And I know, for me, I want to focus solely on Him and all He has for me, weather I perceive it as bad or good, because, if I focus on what I’m giving up, it’s much harder to give up and it’s much harder to receive what He has for me.

 

And that is a sideways-face-train-bypass moment that I never want to get over.