Friday, December 3, 2010

Foundations of One Question

Today, I spent the night at a coffeehouse looking out a window as it poured cats and dogs and thundered and lightninged. I sat down and listened to the wind whistle through every crack and crevice. Now, I was supposed to be doing my calculus homework, but I couldn't help but eavesdrop on the three lovely ladies sitting right next to me (stalking is my second nature). It was three moms, gorgeous and pretty and they were all sitting down to coffee and talking about "life". You know I sat there for four hours (I'm struggling in calc what can I say. =]) and the only conversation I heard from them was about staying fit and what "Jimmy" said that was so cute or what others said about him. Everything was about the image. How to stay fit, how proud one of them was that their child was desiring how to eat right and stay fit. How tall one of their sons was and how great he was at basketball. How much unhealthy food one could feed her sons because their metabolism was crazy good. Is this really all that there is to talk about in life? I sure hope not. I hope that when I am a mom that my life, my coffeeshop conversations are more than talk about image and the world. I hope that my conversations will be full of meaning and depth, full of God. Have we ever stopped to even ask the question what our life is all about?

What is life about? Seriously, if I were to sit down to some coffee across the table from you and throw you that question, how would you answer it? Our lives are based off of our answer, you know that right? Because from that answer comes our motivation and our plans. That answer supplies our support system and the ways that we comfort ourselves. Wouldn't it be scary if we didn't know that the answer we came up with was the right one? That our whole life was based on a gamble that we were right about the decision we made. How can we even be trusted to make a decision like that? How many times have we been wrong about something? Quite often if you're like me. If we are wrong about other things can't the answer to this question be wrong too? We are human and we cannot accurately answer this question without heart-wrenching doubts. But, I think that this is not the only option we have to find the answer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love - Our View vs. His

How many times have we heard these words about God's Love for us?:

"i hear you say 'my love is over,
its underneath, its inside, its in between
the times you doubt me, when you can't feel
the times that you've questioned 'is this for real?'
the times you've broken, the times that you mend
the times you hate me and the times that you bend
well my love is over, its underneath
its inside, its in between'"

"Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld His compassion?" -Psalm 77: 7-9.

Because it's time we heard these:

"There is no fear in Love. But perfect Love drives out fear" - 1 John 4: 18

"God is Love" - 1 John 4:16.

"Listen to whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will rescue you." - Isaiah 46: 3-4.

"these times you're healing
and when your heart breaks
the times that you feel like you've fallen from grace
the times you're hurting
the times that you heal
the times you go hungry and *are tempted* to steal
in times of confusion and chaos and pain
im there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame
im there through your heartache
im there in the storm
my love i will keep you by my power alone
i dont care where you've fallen, where you have been
i'll never forsake you
my love never ends, it never ends"

-Times: Tenth Avenue North

"But as for me, I trust You" -Psalm 55: 23.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old Marriage-New Relationship

So I was talking with the Big Man Upstairs and we were just sitting there enjoying life together when it hit me, I have a personal relationship with someone who makes me feel completely safe when I'm with Him. It was like being with those that you're closest to and you don't really have to be saying something all the time. It was simply being in His Presence. Resting in Who He is. Can we just take a moment to revel at how ridiculously awesome that is?

Our God, Our Creator allows us to get so close with Him that we drop all walls when we're in His presence. He's not the president whom we meet all dolled up and wearing fancy clothes, putting on an air of professionalism. He's not our grandma whom we pretend like we've never experienced life around and we play the ignorance card on what alcohol, sex, and partying is. He's not the super awesome big brother whom we're always trying to act cool around and strong as if we're more independent then we really are. He's not the stranger whom we put on a facade for and say that our life is in order and that there are no bad things happening. And He's most definitely not that judgmental church group whom we put on our "Christian" act for.

God, He's our husband or wife after being married for years. After the passionate phase, we are settling into the niches of who each person is and enjoying just getting to know each other better. Only He's spent eternity knowing us and we are just entering into knowledge of Him, and He's loving sharing with us. He's that one person that when we see them our day is suddenly brighter. God is all the good that we can think of, and I thank Him that I can be who He has called me to be when I'm with Him: weak and vulnerable in His arms.  Now I pray I will take that to the world.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dwelling in the House of the Lord

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the day of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" - Psalm 23.

I love how they make my words seem like mere child's play. God will forever be the master poet, and I humbly and gladly fall into His ever encompassing shadow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Staff Paper

I love listening to music, I love piano, violin, and cello to be exact and I love anything that is supposed to be classical but is put into main stream music. I love listening to the sweet melodies, followed by the dark and foreboding ones. My heart feels as if it comes alive when I hear the sound of music and I have become thoroughly addicted to it. It's presence peeks out when studying, showering, walking, and strangely in unison with my Chemistry class in lab and recitation.

So many unspoken languages seep through when someone composes a piece. All feelings of loneliness, anger, melancholy, despair, joy, love, exuberance, and passion, saturate the sheet music speaking another language that only the heart and imagination can fully comprehend. It seems that we know when it is being spoken, but so often we have no idea what this language is saying. Our heart flutters, our minds soar and we draw deep into ourselves.

Well, for me music is the tangible example of my relationship with God. My life is one giant piece of staff paper. There have been so many times when my past has spoken of dark, dreary, and despairing times and during those sections I can hear the bass, short and spastic, breaking into the deep abodes of my anguish. I can hear the pounding of the piano keys as I yelled, threw things, and sobbed in the bed sheets grabbing onto to anything with such vehemence that my knuckles grew pale white. There have been times in my past that sing of joy, such joy that it cannot be bottled no matter how many containers the world provides. In those areas, the staff paper informs the flutes to tweet and twirl their notes in the air in a secret dance, the violins to burst into long, sweet strokes of young girls running through fields and the bells and xylophones to sound out the laughter of family and friends. And I know that when I meet my husband, our song will be a beautiful sync between the firm and authoritative voice of a tenor sax and the encouraging, heart-lightening love of a piccolo. We'll make a beautiful duo with our voices, even better that Joshua Radin in his many duets (if that's even possible), and it will be composed by God, the One saying "these two will work beautifully, this will make gorgeous sound, play for me".

Yet, when my life is average I cannot find the inspiring music that I express with my ups and downs. When my life is simply going through the motions and I have no passion my musical song stops. The drums quit pounding, the guitars break rhythm, and the saxophones screech. When my life isn't full throttle for God (encompassing risk, hurt, inexplicable joy, and laughter) then it becomes a dull, bland, uneventful, and uninteresting waste. My music stops and in those moments so does my living.

God is the composer of our songs, but if we don't let Him compose chaos occurs, the violins play one beat, the cellos another, the bass something despairing, the violas something chirpy and there is discord, not melody. When we don't let Him compose and lead the entire song, the music stops and noise ensues. God will direct our song for us, He will fill the staff paper with endless notes, ones that make us come alive, that speak to the very fibers of our being, that coax out the best of us, but we cannot become complacent, refusing to play, and we cannot try to take control, claiming to know more about the way the song should sound.

I am so excited to hear the final piece of my song when I stand before Him.  To cry in His lap during the dark parts and to dance with Him in the melodious, sweet sections. I'm excited to hear the songs of my brothers and sisters and I can only hope that when we get to the end our songs will be long and full of life as He has called us to live.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Striving for Security

Have you ever sat down and suddenly felt a bombardment of everything? All of a sudden, everything you've been doing wrong crowds your mind and you can't escape it. The replays that you have of past days are not of memories of laughs, but instead of stupid things you've said, dumb things you've done, people you've hurt, and areas where you could've improved. And you say to yourself in that moment that you're going to become a better person. You're going to do your best to not say stupid things, do dumb stuff, hurt anyone else, or fail. You say to yourself that it's healthy that you want to improve, to make yourself a better person...always striving, never resting. Have you ever felt like such a failure that nothing anyone says or does will change that idea, that lie that is SO implanted in your head?

Cause that's me right now, as I type this I hold back tears (mainly because I'm in a public place and well that would be awkward). It's taking all that I am to say to myself it's a lie: a lie that I can make myself perfect, that I can walk my Christian life on my own. It's taking all that I am to accept that i'm not a failure in God's eyes, that i'm not a screw up to Him. It's taking all that I am to accept that no matter how much I work I will never be what I want to be, that no matter how many promises I make to myself I will break them and fall again. That no matter how many resolutions to lose weight, study harder, become funnier, or build stronger walls, I make, I will always fall short of them. I have to struggle so much to understand that God wants me to come to Him broken so that HE can be the one to fill me. He doesn't want me to try to fill myself, fix myself, or better myself, because He knows how imperfect I am and how incapable I am of doing that. I cannot make myself whole. I cannot make myself feel secure by working harder. I cannot earn salvation by striving to be perfect.

"Father, take away the lies that grab onto us with such a firm grip that we feel it will kill us to pry it off. Give us strength to accept our weakness and our imperfection. Hold our hands as we accept our smallness and our failure. And let us see the grace You extend to us; let us feel the Love that You give us and the protection You offer us. Don't let us walk this alone. In Your Name. Amen. "

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baptismal Weddings

Going to a baptismal service today, I became aware that that is the way God intended a wedding to be. They are both a public display of our commitment. One to the Lord and the other to our future husband or wife who is to point us towards to the Lord. Baptism is our indication that we accept Him as our eternal Lover, our eternal Protector, and our eternal Comforter. And weddings say the same.

I watched a beautiful girl about the age of 8 wrapped in white and absolutely stunning in her admission to forever follow the Lord, step into the water as her father leaned over her, on his knees, whispering to her that He was baptizing her in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I watched as her father gave her away to the Lord as he put her under the water and brought her back up, allowing God to kiss his beautiful daughter with renewing life. I watched as the tough men, the ones who don't usually express emotion step into the water and come up weeping in their joy. Baptisms, like weddings, are a place where emotions run high and all parties involved usually need to break out more then one box of tissues.

My friend, Brittany Donoho, wiped her eyes at the end of the service and said to me, "I'm a sucker and cry every time at these baptisms" which flashed me back to the memory of sitting next to my best friend, Maddy Rhodes, as she wiped her eyes at the end of a wedding and said, "I cry at every wedding".  It's that commitment to someone for your entire life that makes the tears flow and who better to marry than the one Lover you know will never leave you and will never forsake you? And who will be a better comforter, a more consistent challenger, and will love you with a more perfect love better than God?

I say to that beautiful girl of 8, good choice my dear, you will be forever cherished because you chose the right man to say yes to. And now I encourage others to do the same. What a beautiful moment it is when you finally choose to marry the Savior and Ruler of All, He is always asking for your hand.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coffee, the God-Given Example of Obsession

I would like to take a moment to introduce a specific lifeline that I have come to love and Take this moment with me if you are a coffee lover and journey through the wonders of a cup of joe and if you are not a coffee lover make sure to ask yourself why not....

The door opens to the favorite coffee shop and the smell of coffee, rich strong and enveloping hits you like an oven opening on Grandma's Apple Pie. Your attention is drawn to what's on the menu and you let the mental debate ensue, usual or splurge, the choices wage war inside of your brain for all of two seconds and then you sigh, deciding on the usual. As you walk your cup from the ledge where the coffee was distributed to the counter to get a lid you start to spill and the vicious cycle of spilling beverage begins, step-spill-step-spill, you know it's going to be quite some time until the steaming hot liquid stops swishing up and over the opposing sides of your cup, so you stop to re-balance and then continue. There are drops of coffee everywhere, on your hand, shoes, on the floor, and on a particularly bad day on the person next to you.

Now, there's this segment in the Youth Walk that I'm reading called "Coffee Stains" and it discusses their obsession with coffee (which if you know me automatically gives them supa fly points). They are always around it and are always drinking it. They spill their coffee everywhere, on the floor, in the car, on their clothes. Let's just say that if a stranger walked into their lives they would automatically know they were obsessed with coffee.

They wondered if the very same strangers who picked up on their coffee addiction would pick up on their obsession with God. They say, "I don't go around spilling coffee to make sure everyone notices what a big part of my life it is. I just love it, so it shows up a lot." Coffee lifts up our spirits, wakes us up in the morning, and is simply relaxing. Well, God, the Creator of ALL good gives us a spirit to lift, wakes us each morning with a whisper of hope and love, and the Lord is the very essence of relaxation amidst our chaos.

Could we describe our relationship with the Lord with the words "I'm obsessed"? Could we be around the Lord so much that He shows up wherever we are? Could it be that we love the Lord so much that when someone walks in the door, they automatically know we're obsessed?  Could we live a life that is shouting the Lord's Name above all other lies that bombard us in this broken and fallen world? Could we point up to the Lord by living out our sloppy, unchecked, unrestrained passion for our God? Let yourself believe that you can. Let yourself fall into the person that you desire to be and the pursuit of a God who can make you become that. Let yourself become obsessed with Your Savior.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For Those Who Need

Life, it's something that becomes simplified, played up, easy and cheap in today's society. They air it on TV as something that can be discarded, thrown around, and abused. They don't show the broken hearts, the skewed identities, the crippling pain. They don't show the parts that bring tears to one's eyes continually day after day with no hope at the end of the tunnel, they don't show the true frustration. Now why is that? Why don't they show that this world, this reality is one full of pain, heartache, and strife? Do they really think that by creating a world where all goes right and things play out and good prevails that it will become a real one? They don't have to think because they've convinced enough people that it is. Those who are longing for something, who know there is something more from this world that they are not getting. They watch television and they fantasize and they get lost in a world that is not their own because they feel safe, wanted, loved, perfect, and whole.

What if I were to tell you that there is a way of feeling these things in this world, this one where explosions on trains kill thousands of people and there are planes crashing into buildings? What if I were to tell you that you could feel desired, loved, pursued, romanced, and whole while you're mother or daughter or son or brother or whoever is beside you dying from disease and you are suffering through heart break? What if I were to tell you that there is a way of rejoicing and being joyful when you have to put a loved one in the ground or you feel like all you can do is cry and rock? What if I told you that there is a love greater than any you've ever seen, experienced, enjoyed, been romanced by, or made complete through? Would you believe me or tell me that I was a fool lost in my own world of fantasy? What if my life showed you that it was true? What if I was confident in the fact that I was made whole by a love that was flawless and I lived it out, so evident and bright that you couldn't help but notice I was different? Would you believe me then? Or would you say I had convinced myself so well that there was something else that I had begun to believe it myself?

Well that's what I'll tell you and I'll let you call me or think of me in any fashion you desire. God is Love like you've never seen, like you've never felt, like you've never been lost in. A boyfriend sends you flowers, makes you feel beautiful, and gives you a sense of safety. A girlfriend shows you that you are a man, makes you rest, and eases your loneliness. But GOD sends you sunsets, shooting stars, lightning storms, and galaxies to woo you. GOD the Creator of the Universe says to you "I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed. for I am your God." -Isaiah 41:9b-10a. He will offer you protection, validation, and strength EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL. He will make you whole, show you what it is to be pursued with a holy, and righteous passion.

Please, world, please, reader, please, Child of God, don't get lost to what this world says is love, what this world claims is perfection or success, don't settle into what this world has for you because it is not enough. It will never be enough. I'm crying out to you and crying for you. Don't let this world tell you that you are not good enough. That you are not man enough. That you are not beautiful enough. That you are not worth anything. Please, don't let your identity become lost in the pain, don't let yourself believe that the pain inflicted on you is all because you deserve it. Believe me that there is something more, something worth hoping for, rejoicing for, and living for. Something that embraces the pain of this world with the full knowledge that it's not the end. I love you too much to let you believe that no one cares. I love you too much to let you keep living in self-doubt, insecurities, and pain. I love you too much to let you keep crying with no one beside you and feeling as if you will always be alone. There is more. I promise you. Please don't give up yet. God wants to know you and He wants you to know Him. Please, let Him beautiful Son and Daughter of God.