Monday, December 31, 2012

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Yep, I'm putting this on my Life Anthem List. It's a very "now" song for me. :)

Here comes JANUARY!!!

...which involves a LOT of awesome challenges.

#1...it's my month of no spending. Seriously, if you've never tried it, you should! There are definitely some unique challenges to face, but it actually gets a little fun figuring out how to...actually do truly homemade meals, give gifts from the heart, find free avenues of entertainment... Yep, good times. Of course, I do allow for things like bills, gas and emergencies, and I added fresh produce to this month's permissions. Simply...no OTHER spending.

#2...it's my month to get back in shape!! Serious holiday gluttony and no sand volleyball tend to catch up with a girl. Time for trimming!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Year of the Fresh Start

2012 was the Year of Completion. I've blogged about that before...getting fed up with a life of waiting...all because of some serious stewardship issues...thus, making 2012 the year to get a grip. And I did!!!! Well, we did!! All of those door-closings happened with my "With-God" and a fantastic community.

So...what does that make 2013? Yep, it's the Year of the Fresh Start.

I have to be honest. Living for quite some time in a holding pattern has left me with some wonderings about which directions to take, what delights to step into, what challenges to take on... Tons of possibility can be a little overwhelming for this girl. I feel great permission to take it slow though, and that feels good.

So far...some plans. (Because I like to set some goals for the year ahead...hehe.)

I want to start on a writing project that I've been tossing around in my head. Very excited about that.

I'm going to go to Rwanda at the end of July with Our Response (World Vision) on a trip designed to allow educators to help schools there. A personal highlight will be visiting a community of individuals with HIV who have been given an opportunity to support themselves through a mushroom-growing business. (If you'd like to help sponsor me for the trip, let me know!!) :)

I want to get my sewing machine running and start making some things. Wow, it's been ages since I've done that.

And...of course...doing more dreaming...which is completely a "Sarah" thing to do. :)

Here's to 2013: The Year of the Fresh Start

Hoping your year is fabulous too!!! Much love! :)

Spa Night!!

What a FABULOUS time!!! A friend was able to get some time at a spa in Stillwater for her, my sister and myself. A day of massages and pedicures and an overnight in a wonderful cottage. Sushi, wine, treats and a movie. A huge king-sized bed. Wonderful fellowship.

This girl needed it!!!!

Wonderful relaxation for body and soul.

The Spa

The Cottage

Being You

I heard it said somewhere that it is far better to be a messy but authentic "you" than a perfect copy of someone else. I totally agree!! Here's to you!!! Now, go set the world on fire! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Les Mis

Ohhhhhh my. The making of one of the greatest plays I've ever seen into a musical movie was A HUGE RISK. One well worth it!!!!! I cried...it was so wonderful. Oh, to be a grace-giver!! :)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I feel the same way...hehe

Another World Vision Christmas

One of my favorite family traditions for Christmas is our donation to World Vision. Instead of doing tons of gifts, we pool our resources and order different services/gifts for the poor in the US and all over the world. All of the kiddos in the family are the "ordering committee". This year, they chose life-saving meds, newborn survival kits, soccer balls, art and music supplies, fast-growing seeds and Bibles. What a great year!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Identity

Wow...what a tough story! I have to say though...I'm so challenged by her response to her suffering. "...but I knew who [I] was...and I would have victory over violence..."

That's so the heart of the good Father regardless of the situation...He bestows true identity...and true identity (anchored and empowered in Him) unleashes kingdom life. Is it challenging and painful sometimes?...Absolutely!! But in Him there's ALWAYS the promise of life and hope and peace and healing and good. All in His time. Amazing.

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Be Kind

We are all formed. So...don't contribute to the poor choices of another through ill-treatment.

Christmas Break - SPA TIME!!!

Oh my...I'm so excited!! I was invited to an overnight at a spa during my Christmas break. Time to rest and relax with fabulous friends!!

MUCH NEEDED.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Thing Remains

Who Is Left Behind?

So...some straight-shootin'... :)

The issue...I've had a few run-ins with people who, to be honest, have been not so good with relationships. To me and to some people I love.

** Let me clarify that I'm not referring to any current relationships and not anything of a romantic nature. This is about old hurts...wounds I've allowed to fester...and then overflow into my approach to "new" opportunities. That "guarding" we do to prematurely protect against pain.**

It's really not an uncommon thing in this culture. Our consumerism and our entitlement have isolated us more than drawn us together. More relationally immature, we've become more focused on self-needs at the exclusion of an entirely valid and necessary part of relationship...our design to connect and invest in others. Unfortunately, "Me-Me's" can't be "We-We's". (Hmm...that sounds weird. Haha!) You know...can't see passed self enough to value what a blessing they are (and a good need they are) to others in meaningful relationship.

So, they tend to "poof" in and out of people's lives...

They likely don't see the harm in it because they aren't experiencing anything that conflicts with their own expectations of relationship. They are satisfied because they are actively hunting what makes them happy in the moment. That or they are dismayed enough with what didn't make them happy that they will withdraw to smaller circles. Unfortunately, though, when they dart off to greener pastures, there is hurt left behind...experienced by those that valued their friendship. A sense of loss, a sense of rejection, a loneliness ..a hole where a great and delightful gift once dwelt.

I've been here before, folks. And honestly...I've done it before too. For some reason, though, a couple of *poofs* struck a deeper blow, and my choice was not to bring my pain to my "With-God". It was to embrace resentment. I think it was my way of defending myself and others who were hurt...my way of saying that it wasn't ok to do that. Unexpectedly, it only hurt me...and made me more suspicious of new people.

Ugh.

God is so good though. He's good to reveal and then heal if we are willing to let Him. And so...it's time.

I don't expect the specific situations to change much. Goodness, trust is something that takes time to earn back, and boundaries are sometimes necessary. I do expect an "unhooking" though. An outpouring of forgiveness...the kind that sets the prisoner free. It has already started...and I'm feeling relieved...

A friend reminded me today that I'm love...not hate. That my identity in Christ is one of love, and it can be in this place of wounding too. So...his path of healing is headed back to the core. I'll take it. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Authentic Mystic

"In our technological world the word mystic has fallen on hard times. Used mostly in a pejorative sense, mystic has come to mean someone who is spaced out in a dreamy metaphysical fog. An authentic mystic, however, is not a person who engages in unusual forms of prayers accomplished by visions, ecstasies, and levitations. A mystic, in the words of German theologian Karl Rahner, is someone who has experienced something. A mystic is aglow with passionate longing for Jesus Christ, who is sought, loved, and worshiped for himself alone. A mystic is a person whose life is ruled by thirst. That thirst is slaked in prayer, in the knowing-loving-and-delighting in a person. "This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).

The contemplative at Christmas grows quiet before "the light [that] shines in the darkness" (John 1:5). He stills his soul and becomes tranquil like a child in its mother's arms. He interiorizes and appropriates to himself the mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love that are embodied in the Child of Bethlehem. He surrenders to the grace of the Word made flesh. He accepts acceptance."

---

This is an excerpt from a devotional by Brennan Manning..."Reflections for Ragamuffins". I opened it to my birth date and found myself blessed beyond measure...words that are so close to my heart. A mystic...well, it's what I am...and am becoming more and more. The experience of the Godhead...the eternal...today.

What a special confirmation in a wonderful birthday present!! (Thanks, Melody!)


Looking Back...Looking Ahead

Wow! 2012 was truly what I set out to make it!!

 The Year of CHANGE!!

I was so unfathomably restless at the end of 2011. I absolutely had to have a change. I knew I wasn't taking the steps necessary to "become" more of who I'm made to be, and I was finally fed up enough!! I set out to close some of the doors to projects and challenges that I had started long ago. It was so hard, but we did it!! I had to wave the white flag of surrender on some relationships. It was so, so, so very hard, but we did it! I took on some new opportunities and began that grand adventure of exploration into the next chapter of "Sarah".

I'll tell ya what. It was all worth it!! Still looking ahead to more...hopes, dreams, goals, fresh starts...but right now, this girl knows a completion and fullness I didn't know a year ago. It's pretty much...wonderful.

!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wise Leaders

I've been noticing something about leadership. A trait that contributes to a greater effectiveness. An indication of maturity...

Listening to other perspectives.

Asking questions about why those other opinions exist.

I know that seems like a "no-brainer", but truly...there are a TON of leaders (myself included) who find it easier to believe that their own way is THE way. How they see it is how it is...so they dismiss disagreement pretty easily.

Turns out...not so wise.

I'm becoming more and more convinced of it all the time. Greater impact...influence...comes from a more thorough understanding of varying perspectives...ESPECIALLY those that differ from your leanings. #1...it offers an indication of honor...respect for others. #2...it provides the leader with a greater depth of comprehension for wiser decisions.

Man...I wish I was more willing to learn this in my early years of leading. Water under the bridge, I guess. And wow...there are some "youngins" I wish I could impress upon...but alas...we all have our life lessons. Sigh.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Own

I must admit...when I look back on my life...at the days when I tried to be someone else because I had no idea who I was...I shudder to think about the reality I could have created for myself had God not thwarted my plans.

It causes me to pause in gratitude.

We all are mysteries. Goodness...I think we are constantly discovering more about who we really are and will probably do so forever. My self-discovery goes hand-in-hand with my God-discovery. The more I experience His essence, the more my true self is handed to me. The difference is...I'm more honest, more real...and thus more my "own".

Less posing...more authenticity.

That's a girl worth knowing. :)

Balance


Friday, December 7, 2012

Women and the Church

So...I'm pretty sure it's not a secret. My church lets me be a part of the sermon prep team which means that I occasionally do the Sunday teaching. Now...I have no aspirations to be a pastor, but I love hearts and teaching/speaking. Hence, it's a great opportunity for me to invest in others and grow personally.

My church doesn't have many qualms about releasing women into whatever gifting they have (as they would men), so it hasn't seemed all that odd to me. Every now and then, though, I'm reminded that not everyone in the church at large agrees. Hence...I've been looking into the issue of women in leadership and what the Bible has to say. Goodness...way more "grey" than I ever dreamed...and I love it!! I've stumbled across a few interesting articles, and I decided to post them here.

Notable Female Leaders In The Bible

Why Women Are The Key To The Church's Future

Going To Hell With...

‎"then he (atheist friend) uttered words that left me reeling, 'you Christians, you always eat your own'"

Whoa. Seeing that quote on a Facebook post (thanks, Ann!) this morning stopped me dead in my tracks.

We always eat our own...

Do I have a "chew toy" right now? Am I my own target?

Check out this challenging article in Christianity Today.

Going to Hell with Ted Haggard



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stein on the Holidays

This is from a CBS interview some years ago. I checked snopes.com...it's real. I love the part about mutual appreciation. It's a sign of maturity in my book. Respect is a two-way street. 

----

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Going to Church

Ok...I have to blog about one of my convictions. Something I'm pretty passionate about. Along the lines of eating cheesecake, I find church to be a "must" for me.

I should clarify...

    By "going to church", I don't mean simply "attending" in a specific building. I mean "involvement".

    By "involvement", I don't simply mean getting on a committee, joining the worship team, teaching a class... I mean "engaging".

    By "engaging", I mean...sharing your life with a larger group of people. Not just people who think exactly like you do...no, that's not usually healthy. I'm referring to a group that shares a similar foundational love for Jesus but is diverse in the lesser interpretations, passions, giftings, etc. Holding on to humility...such things are beautifully possible.

It's entering into community life.

No, not the weird cult type of thing.

A connection thing. A culture of honor. One that has the free space of grace that challenges the "ick" without shame and more so calls forth the "wow" in each of us.

So, so, so much growth comes out of that. Not the kind that keeps you focused solely on the group...the kind that inspires you to share what God has put in you wherever you go from there. A launching pad.

Relationship. Growth. Mission.

Yep, it involves stepping out of my introverted, comfort zone, but it's worth it. Pursuing relationship with others...eek, initiating...and finding yourself being pursued right back. Lovely.

It's seriously fantastic...and I don't want to miss out on that for one second.

----
Side note: Now, don't freak out...just because it's my belief and my utter delight doesn't mean I somehow think the Christian non-church-goers are idiots. I respect the convictions of others and know we can agree to disagree. I feel for people who aren't simply standing on a belief though...the ones who withdraw because of hurts or even a judgment of pride or bitterness. Sometimes I wish there was a way to push through that to call them out of "reaction" and into "response", but that's not my job...and it's not something you force.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Zombie 101

My students like to talk about the zombie apocalypse...a lot. Haha! Some of it is my fault...on one of the student retreats a couple of years ago, we developed a comprehensive survival plan. ;) Every now and then, it comes up again, and I've been finding that it helps narrow my list of survival tips...improve the chances. Here are the current thoughts. (Yes, nerd.)

1. Zombies aren't savable. If you knew them when they were "living", it's not that person anymore. Don't keep one locked in a "safe" room just in case it all shakes out someday. While you have your sentiments, they want to eat you, and if they do get out, they are GOING to eat you. Nope. Shoot on sight.

2. In combat there's no point going for any zombie part other than the head. People, this is like rabies on steroids. The brain is the source. Take out the noggin. Done.

3. Don't use weapons that draw attention. Seriously...a gun??? You'll draw a herd from the noise. Stupid. Dead. Instead, use something like a bow/arrow or machete or club...

4. Structures with many levels should be avoided. There are fewer routes of escape the higher you flee, so only go as high as you can jump and not break your leg(s). Broken leg means "chew toy". In other words, stay away from cities.

5. Travel in a small group, but DON'T include lazy and/or irritating people! Note: If you are one of those types in the group...be warned. At some point, the group is planning to use you as a distraction...i.e. bait.

6. Stock up on essentials...but make sure you can also transport them. You will likely have to be a bit nomadic. If not constantly, be prepared for the emergency run. Essentials include water, gas, meds, food, weapons...and NOT your technology addictables, Barbie collection or One Direction CDs. Lordy, if we are carting all that crap...see #5.

7. Don't. Make. Noise. Seriously, people...when you suspect they are passing by, shut up!! Noise-makers become snacky-snacks.

8. For crying out loud...don't build fires at night! Mosquitoes...light...you get the point.

9. Smell bad. Hey, if you end up somewhere they are (total emergency situation), it can't hurt to blend in. Behaving like one is sort of helpful, but it's a sure thing that zombies won't nibble on a zombie smell-alike. Gosh, I know I wouldn't.

Eden

I'm an Eden-obsessed girl. :)

 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wonder Woman

OF COURSE I love Wonder Woman!!! Like Super Man, "normal" is her costume. Who she really is...that's her super hero identity. There's something in that notion that I find appealing. :)

 

Messy Beautiful

* Based solely on a couple of interactions of late. In most of my circles, the negative aspects of this blog aren't the norm...and I thank God for that CONSTANTLY.

It's really striking how some approach the sin of others. Striking because it's like they think they have none of their own OR clearly put all sin on a scale of "least to greatest" (with their own being "least").

Don't get me wrong. Obviously, sin is a serious thing. ALL sin. We all need accountability and need to grieve the losses that come with it...both in our own perpetration and the assaults by others. God is good to bring repentance and healing.

But...for some...well, reactions betray real beliefs about sin. I find it so sad!

Why?

Well...the truth is...God's not running a behavior modification program where all of his "followers" are most importantly noted for being prim and proper. Give me a break!!! That belief system produces shame-based legalists and ginormous hypocrites. You can't ever measure up...not unless you are bathed in pride.

Appearances first. Hearts later.

Bandaids over bullet holes.

The power of the Gospel is seen in what is called the "messy beautiful". People in that imperfect journey that exposes the broken places and unleashes true identity and destiny...all at the same time! It's disturbing AND breath-taking to behold.

The former beats the crap out of you until your dying day and in so doing reminds self how much more superior he or she really is as compared to the "sinner".

The other?? He or she grieves...with you, for you, sometimes because of you...but in the right time helps you stand once again...with surer footing and more authentic strength. That's grace...and...that's JESUS.

The Messy Beautiful are REAL people. They have real problems and real strengths. They have desires and delights...and struggles and sins. But they are open, and they are honest. And because of that...they are MOVING! They are actively becoming more fully human...like Jesus when He had skin on...and in that grand unveiling, they are realizing that they aren't simply being pressed into the molds of "followers". They are being set free to be the sons and daughters of the God of the embrace.

Man, that's where I hope God is taking me! That's the kind of girl I plan to be for others. AND...that's what I'm so thankful for in my community. Yep...Messy Beautiful. :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Where I Belong?

Moment of honesty...I really can't stand this song. Oops...it's true.



"Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong."

I understand it in the sense of those times when we are overwhelmed with the mess around us...the pain, the suffering, the selfishness. Ick. Ick. Ick. So, those moments when we can remind ourselves that this life isn't "it"...that there's more to come...can be peace-giving.

But...

And I mean a huge "BUT"...

There are many who actually abuse the sense of "later". They actually mean "take this world and shove it!" and arrogantly excuse themselves from investing in "today". They focus so much on "then" that they are ineffectual in bringing the kingdom "now". A lens set on self...safety, comfort, survival...life aimed at guarding their own yard until death or the second coming.

It's just plain not what we were made for. Jesus' life and mission here serve as a huge challenge to dive into the present and share the amazing "who" of who you are...the man or woman God made you to be!! You DO belong here! There's a message written on your heart that is a gift to us in this age AND the rest of what eternity encompasses.

So...for people who need a song like this to give themselves peace in the midst of the stresses of a broken world, by all means...peace to you! But, don't stop there!!!! Let it invigorate you...let it drive you to the good Father of the present...the Great "I Am"...and then get back to LIVING.

Don't "shove it"...bring it.

Sigh...rant done. ;)

True Colors

Our Purified Heart

Our Purified Heart [excerpt from 'Beautiful Outlaw, 220. 221]

 When we recover the humanity of Jesus, it helps us find him in the messy parts of our own humanity, of humanity at large. We discover for ourselves the vast richness and beauty of his heart. If his heart is such, in whose image we are made and are being remade, might our own hearts one day be so rich?

 The religious fog has many, many Christians trapped in the Old Testament view of their hearts—deceitful and wicked. They have been blinded to the New Testament teaching that God gives us a new heart: “The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart,” and “He purified their hearts by faith” (Luke 8:15; Acts 15:9). That’ll rock your world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

True Friends...

...will trim your neck hair or chin hairs but draw boundaries with the legs.

Haha! It was one of those weird days at work. ;)

The Rising Sun

"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:76-79 [spoken to John the Baptist about himself and the Christ he would precede]

I was so excited to hear about the phrase that refers to Jesus as the "rising sun". The sunrise. The dayspring. Oh my...He is the breaking of dawn...

The sunrise has been a magical thing for me since I can remember. All of the colors. The steady rising. The retreat of night. Every now and then, I drive up to Lake Superior to watch it rise "out of the lake". I try to find a place free of the possibility of shadows so I can be totally consumed by the rays of the new day. 

It's a phenomenal experience every time...

To think of Jesus in this way is absolutely a blessing. Oh my...it's sweet to my soul!!

He's my sunrise too. My release into the new day...a new life. Things look so different...so beautiful...because of Him. Shadows flee.

Wow. What an awesome gift in this season. The Christmas child who was...and is...the rising sun.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Such is MY Life

Sometimes I have to laugh at the pure ridiculousness of things. Weird stuff happens to me, people. Seriously weird!!! So, I have a week to get to the place of "gracious" and "appropriate"...or at least the appearance of such. ;)

But for today...here's what I really think...HAHA!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The "No Gossip" Girls!

Oh how valuable those friendships are...the ones free of gossip. I'll tell ya...knowing I'm sharing my thoughts and feelings with someone who will NOT pass them on...well, it's pure gold for this girl. 

It's been a yucky run of finding myself hearing about things I've shared in confidence with others...from entirely different sources. Not pleasant...not when you value your privacy...and appreciate the honor and respect of confidentiality.

How the gossipy types still get away with it? Other than people who refer to them as individuals you shouldn't tell your heart's secrets to...and now I know. Sigh. 

Blah, blah...

TODAY!!! I had one of the best, "wide open spaces" conversations. Totally a two-way respect. And I walked away feeling peaceful, stronger...at rest. 

They exist, people! The "No Gossip" Girls! :)

Science vs. Scientism

I'm sure this is controversial, but I love the questions it raises. Rescuing science from scientism! C.S. Lewis had some thoughts on the subject.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lukewarm and Loving It

Lukewarm and Loving It - A great challenge from Francis Chan

The Super Power

So...it's been a season of "walking through the dark valley" for all sorts of reasons, and I know it has been for others too. Well, it's had my heart doing some pondering...a lot of realizations. Of course, alongside all of that, it's the Thanksgiving holiday. The challenge to be grateful in all things has been on the forefront.

You know what I've been realizing?

Gratitude is a super power.

It's true. 

It's a major key to focusing our eyes...surrendering our perspective...so we can see things the way God is seeing them. 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  ― Melody Beattie

For those who want to make a difference in this world in all circumstances...who want to know hope, peace and joy and freely give those things from a full well...it's a necessary discipline and delight. What an asset!

Another infusion that comes from choosing gratitude?

Presence.

"He inhabits the praises of His people."

Gratitude helps us sense the intimate presence of the Father. In gratitude we see that we are not alone...that, in fact, He is so very near.

So...my hope for us all this Thanksgiving is that we would be able to be grateful from the heart...and see the super powers unleashed in our lives. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Love Each Other?

My parents and I were responsible for bringing treats for the Gathering Grounds time after the church service. It's a time for food and fellowship before we break into our Growth Groups. Mom and I decided to get a cake made at Wal-Mart (super yum sheet cakes) and have it decorated with something nice. (Pretty sugar...yep. Hehe.) What'd I pick???...for lack of any special occasion, I just had them write "We Love You!" with some hearts and such.

So...enter the moment of "pause"...

When I went to pick it up on Sunday morning, the lady at the checkout asked what the cake was for. I replied that it was just for the snack time at church. She stopped short and gave me this really puzzled look.

"Wait. You love each other at your church?"

She went on to clarify that she wasn't used to "church" people expressing love for people in general, let alone each other.

Wow...

Umm...hey, churchy people of America! Something's wrong with that picture!!

"And they'll know we are Christians by our love..." Let's make the statement TRUE!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Fictitious Real

Oh my...I just have to laugh at myself sometimes. I have this weird "issue" with getting so drawn into stories that the fictitious characters actually become real people in my mind. Real enough that I'll be extra concerned  for their happiness, safety, etc...even after the story is done.

Sigh. I'm so weird. ;)

It happened again tonight. I sat in a movie and found myself enormously concerned and then freakishly relieved for the characters in the story. The made-up story!!!!...like they were people I've been friends with for years!! And now...home and tucked in for the night...I'm actually wondering if they are really doing ok...

Hoping so... Haha!!

Yep...that's life in this head. ;)

"Experts"...YAWN.

I'm starting to wonder if it's ok to tell the self-proclaimed "experts"...you know, the people, who for all their facts but mostly their pride, hurl out "expert" opinions (a.k.a. snap judgments, criticism) like they are God's gift to the world. Lord!!!...assuming we all actually want to know their limited, typically negative and slanted opinions!!!

Oh my goodness....SERIOUSLY!!

They tell you their judgments on everything...EVERYTHING...oh heck, even on yourself!!

Pretty ballsy.

Pretty rude.

Pretty stupid.

I actually got the giggles tonight thinking about giving myself permission to go all "expert" right back on their arses. Wouldn't that be a shocker!?!? HAHA!

Oh dear...but for some reason it actually seems INAPPROPRIATE (because of love, grace, honor...social skills!!!) to inform them that they 1) make for insanely qualified Pharisees...legalistic, white-washed tombs...living on the fringes rather than getting in there and serving, 2) likely have an undiagnosed depression issue with serious need for meds, or 3) are revealing with their massive over-compensation that they are actually pretty insecure, 4)...and on and on...

Alas...no...not cool to return the favor. Deeeeeep breaths....

So...I wait...and I pray...and I remind myself to NOT be the same way.

I don't want to be known for sucking the hope out of the room...constantly.

AHHHH!

Try

Oh my goodness...I love P!nk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pride

It strikes me how much of a gate pride is to things we'd never have dreamed in the beginning...sorrow, destruction, pain, isolation. 

‎"Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real." -Merton

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” 
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Opportunities in Grief

Based solely on my own grief of late...

It strikes me that both the Father and the Enemy see great opportunity as we enter seasons of grief.

For the Father...opportunities for greater intimacy with Him, greater depth, lessons, humility, community...healing.

For the Enemy...opportunities for the prisons of bitterness, agreements with his lies, entrance into a smaller, reactive life...further destruction.

It's not that we shouldn't grieve...God knows that's an opportunity for the Enemy! No, we SHOULD grieve...grieve honestly...grieve humbly...grieve well. All of this WITH the active intention of partnership with the right team. Team Jesus. :)

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Looking for the Sunrise

One of the things I'm sad about in all this [see posts below] is a loneliness.

While I'm definitely a Jesus-girl, I don't seem to fit in the boxes that some Christians seem to need. I don't always understand the modernists and Evangelicals...seems like too much reliance on "truths" at the expense of real relationship with the "truth-giver", seems like too much emphasis on "later" that "today" is robbed of its beauty and potential. Sigh. 

I'm a mystic. I'm God's daughter in this "now" who is messily learning to live humbly in and from the right kingdom. I'm committed to becoming the "me" that He wrote on my heart and living the destiny He and I were meant to live together. I want to chase Him in the sunrise and find wonders all around. Express the Eden in my heart.

I'm experiencing Him HERE...and I'm misunderstood all the time. :(

So...my friend who is struggling right now was my free space to "be". Even if he didn't always understand, I had great permission to explore and discover. So much grace from one person. I grew and deepened because of it...and was able to speak more and more out of it. I'm sure that space is still there, but the reality of the situation means things have to change for a while. 

I guess that makes me sad...because heart-friends are hard to find. 

My Dad reminded me that we all hold a piece of this thing called "faith", and that each of us then carries some of that loneliness. Yep, that rings true. So, it's a good reminder to honor that in everyone and see the common ground that can exist because of it. AND...in true Dad-fashion...I am reminded that being "alone" in actuality ISN'T true. Varying perspectives are pieces of the beautiful puzzle. It would be so wrong and isolating to continue to think otherwise. Yep...done.

And then there's God...what He's seeing and saying...that regardless of the situation, it's time...and it's ok...to not be the "kid" anymore. It's time to be a "big girl" and walk in confidence in Jesus and HIS wide open spaces of grace...and maybe start being that free space for others...walk alongside others. 

So...being a bit sad...but looking for the sunrise. His promises never end. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Free

When Sin Comes At Ya

Note: These are just some of my thinkings prompted by a situation at church. Whether allegations are true or not (praying things will become clear with time), it is a good reminder to stop and consider our reactions/responses any time we encounter sin...other's...our own...

Note #2: Grief is a real and necessary process. I believe wholeheartedly in embracing the journey to healing when hurt by another. Getting stuck isn't a good idea. Living in reaction (see previous post) isn't God's ideal. Being free to be real, though...wonderfully good. So, for those reading this that are grieving, keep on keeping on! I pray you will find God's "with" presence and find yourself longing to gaze where He is gazing.

----

First of all, let me say a HUGE "Thank You" to the majority of brothers and sisters in Christ from area churches who have overwhelmed us with support. Whether true or not, allegations alone can really rock a community, and sadly, the church at large doesn't always have a reputation for love and grace. Recent experience has shown me, though, that the remnant is in full force. Your kindness, encouragement to keep going strong, and space to face this free of judgment are a BLESSING!! In Christ, no one is alone. What a beautiful response!!

Every now and then, though, I run into people...only a handful...who aren't very good at being brothers and sisters in Christ. The anger of grief is one thing (and totally acceptable and understandable), but with only a few words some others reveal their pride, legalism, divisiveness... I feel so, so badly for people like that. Imagine how they view themselves in the face of their own sin...horrifying. And how inhibited others are to be authentic in struggle when in their presence...so very tragic. Sadly, it's usually heartbreaking wounding in their own life (that and/or an enormous pride) that creates the Pharisaical approach. A sad facade...unpleasant reaction.

What I'm most concerned about is how grief over the possibility of sin in another can cause people to question their own freedom or healing. They can let their mind spin enough to rob them of their new life. Steps backwards in their "becoming". You know what?...it's not a place we have to linger in for very long. While no one is promised immunity, we can choose the way of humility and continue in our journey. We can pause and take account of how our hearts are doing when it comes to sin and enter into repentance for areas found wanting. Maintaining relationships of accountability helps in preserving humility. That person who will help you see when you are playing with fire. And best of all...we don't have to journey alone. Embrace fellowship with the body!! Community inspires the release of true identity and destiny. Friends "becoming" together.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Peace, Be Still

Now, this is a face I could stare at forever. The artist (see link below) is offering her rendition of Jesus calming the storm. She notes that His eyes are filled with peace. That's where I'll gaze. :)

















Peace, Be Still


Yum On!

...and now for Ben & Jerry's...yep, strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Don't even think about taking that away from this girl. ;)

"With" in the Valley

"God With Us" in the valley.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
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 mercy will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the
house of the Lord forever.

Life has its moments, people. Those ones where everything makes no sense. What's going on? What's true, what's not? What is sure is that "God With Us" is real. He goes through the darkest things with us...His here-and-now presence, His authority, His guidance. So we keep our eyes fixed on Him...we trust His ability to shine light where it needs to be shone, to bring truth and freedom...and we follow HIS path as walk through. His promises are true today just like they were on the mountaintop. So...don't get distracted by all of satan's garbage. Fix your eyes on Jesus...and DON'T LOOK AWAY!

Living in Response

Reaction versus Response. 

Reaction keeps a person a prisoner to their pain with bars of resentment, bitterness, legalism... Response is different. It allows a person to grieve but then helps them to unhook from their wound so that they don't have to live in reaction. Response allows for grief, valuable lessons and continuation in freedom. Better equipped!! I choose response. Jesus is real and wonderful that way. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Keep On Keeping On

In Jesus' Name, We Press On.

When it's time to go through the darkest valley, we lock our eyes on Jesus and follow Him. We face what needs to be faced. We grieve what needs to be grieved. AND...we trust that His promises are no less true in this moment than they were on the mountaintop.

"He (or she) who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Held

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Single Problem

Sometimes I wish I could explain to the "church" [universal] how much they don't understand and thus serve the single crowd that occupies seats in congregations. Marriage/family is treated as the "yes, you have arrived" level of life. Beyond a beautiful arrangement experienced by some, it has become an idol. Try even challenging it a bit (especially in this political season), and you'll get your hand slapped for messing with the cookie jar.

Single people in this system are the wallflowers...pitied by some for "missing out", feared by others for choosing something different than the "married way". I've actually had people spiritualize lack of marital bliss by explaining (in true formula-fashion) "if you'd just let go of wanting to get married, God will give you your significant other"....because being single, obviously, we are doing something wrong to create the lack. Ironic "idol" psychology. Sigh. I've had others pull away from me a bit, acknowledging subtly that I'm their worst nightmare for their daughters because instead of a Mr. Right (at the moment) I have...dare I say...personal goals and dreams. Shriek.

Women's ministries are set up to support motherhood and the wife-life. They celebrate weddings and births. That's about it, though, as if these are the only things to mentor and celebrate in women's lives. Now, don't freak out...these are valid and wonderful aspects of womanhood...but when did these become IT???

It makes me crazy.

To elevate marriage to such a state puts people in boxes. Definitions that keep us from true identity. We are NOT our roles, relationships and responsibilities. We are what we BRING to our roles, relationships and responsibilities...WHATEVER THAT LOOKS LIKE. That, my friends, puts ALL of us on the same playing field.

Besides...aren't we FIRST God's child and the bride of Christ?...seems like more of a place to start defining "quality of life"...but I digress. ;)

[Sorry...venting...]

Stickwork

Oh wow! I'm going to see this!!!

Stickwork

Be Thou My Vision

Beautiful "With"

I felt like pausing from the busyness of life to bask in something truly amazing. It's really a whole, new world for this girl. A life of "with". Intimacy with the Trinity is a beautiful thing...one that unleashes identity and destiny. The reality of Him is sometimes the thickest thing I feel. It certainly fuels a longing for more...so I'll wait with expectation. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fortune Days

I'm weirdly productive when this song come on my Pandora. It's my techno-side. ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Boyd on Marriage Amendment

I don't always agree with everything this pastor has to say, but I find his willingness to be "real" quite inviting. He'll wrestle with any topic...without fear...and he loves Jesus so much. This video...about quite a controversial topic...is really interesting to me...and interesting to think about. Hmm...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Annie Lobert

Powerful story of a lady who runs a ministry in Vegas called "Hookers for Jesus". Amazing.

Done

I decided to make the break. I don't know why it can be so hard for me...it certainly doesn't seem so difficult for others...but I did it. I cut ties.

I think I sometimes hold on to strings of relationship in the hopes they'll come back to life. That, or I weirdly feed some bitterness by maintaining a minute connection...to remind myself of the hurt. Either way...not anymore. At least, not with this crew. I'm not allowing my disagreement with their choices to rule my quality of life today!! The hurt was real and was not okay, but I don't have to allow it to have a voice any longer. It can truly be something of the past.

Letting it be...done.

#delete #steppingstone

Eva

Wow...Eva Cassidy. A voice gone too soon. But...as the commentator says..."So many of her favorite songs...were about how it isn't over when it's over..."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Howling Wilderness

Sad Days

Well...two of my friends lost parents this week to battles with cancer.

Far too young. Gone so quickly.

My heart just breaks for them. So, so, so very sad.

Please pray for Amy. She lost her Mom, Cheryl. And, pray for Steph. She lost her Dad, Herschel.

Two very special people.

----

On a more selfish note...I just have to admit. The heartbreak makes me miss Mr. Right. Sometimes a hand just needs holding, you know? Sigh.

Let it be...

I look to You

I know some aren't fond of Miss Whitney. I am. :) This song has been on my heart lately. I love the words.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Real Deal

Wow...I'm telling ya...this "with-God" life (the here and now, relational life with God) is REAL!!! When I stopped to pay attention, He was speaking to my heavy and confused heart. A children's song, actually...being sung to my soul...

"...walking and leaping and praising God, walking and leaping and praising God...in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!!"

He is always breathing life to our hearts. Receive!! :)

Don't Open Something That's Closed

...or at least only open it when you are supposed to do so...

Here's what I mean...

I had a blast from the past reminder this weekend. One of those old wound sort of things. Honestly, it's something I've faced and moved through. A long time ago God helped me "go there", feel it, let it go and heal. In a sense we closed the door on that.

Now, I will say...it's not an uncommon thing to have to do further healing on matters of the heart. Goodness, if God did all His surgery on us at once, we'd surely die!! Phew...ever the Gentleman, He brings us to healing in doses that, together, we can face. Moving toward His shalom-completion. So, when it comes up again, it's not a failure!! God may just want to further what He's started. A very good thing!

Once in a while, though...and the issue I faced...the resurfacing of pain is at our own hand. Opening a door that was meant to stay closed. Yep...this girl took an old pain, opened it up and ran with all the icky messages that the first wound told my heart. Messy stuff.

Thankfully, I woke up a bit and stopped the spiral, but I stood stunned at my willingness to launch through a door that God wasn't really leading me to open again. So...He and I had to do some "re-packing" and "closing" again last night. Sigh. He's good that way.

Perhaps it is the fear of the "new" that makes us willing to re-enter the "icky". The shitty seems familiar...hence, weirdly comforting...as compared to the new frontier and all of its unknowns.

Well...rebuilding and relaunching. Bewildering but thankfully not a "last stop". :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

"With"

I highly recommend this book. It's not an "end-all", but it starts some great "thinkings". It's about the notion...the real REALITY that God desires the "with" life. He's not a far-off God. He's here, now and wanting real relationship in this moment. Powerful stuff.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Loss and Loving

One of my very good friends is facing some things a daughter shouldn't have to face...not at this age. Her Dad is in a fight for his life. Every day brings a new set of challenges...setbacks that signal a possible end or hope that things may be improving. It's a roller coaster ride that's brutal on the heart.

So, first...please pray for them! I love them all so much!

Second...it's been squeezing my heart in regards to my parents. The thought of life without them. Reminders of almost losing my Mom to cancer. That, and the ache for my friend's suffering. Ugh...my heart has been full of sorrow.

God keeps reminding me that He is our peace...so this girl is being real with Him and trusting He will bring the stillness and rest that only his embrace can bring...those wide open spaces of grace.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Girl on Fire

Draw the Line

Well...something that's not easy for me to do...demanding better treatment and setting boundaries to promote that. It's definitely a difficult thing...caring for self shouldn't make someone feel so guilty. Sigh...but it does. Oh well...temporary discomfort for long-lasting peace...and way less crap from arrogant people. Yep, it's necessary.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Powerful

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls

Heart-wrenching. Not for children. A powerful glimpse into the realities of sex trafficking and prostitution...and the beautiful love of Jesus and good people who stand for freedom...

For the Women

Well...what a season it has been! Since the completion of my thesis, I have felt freedom to start looking at my purpose...my dreams...some God-sized and God-partnered exploration.

The theme lately seems to be a heart for women's issues. Really the suffering of women has been a heartbreak of mine since I can remember...so it's not surprising. The confirmations, though, have most definitely reconnected me with that concern. Those included viewing two movies, "Half the Sky" and "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls", going to a benefit gala for The Refuge, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, participating in the Trek Bike Ride for breast cancer research, and arranging guests for an upcoming fundraiser for our local Pregnancy Resource Center. I don't know that I will work with some of the specific causes highlighted by those events, but my compassion for women and overwhelming desire for them to know their God-given worth are most definitely at the top of my Life Passion list.

Here's to more dreaming!!...and serving accordingly!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Is This Love Amazing

I made a decision a while ago to not just worship with my mind. I decided to let wonder...everyday wonder...be a major place of worship. Watching for how I'm encountering Him in regular moments through my senses, my imagination, my passions, my love of stories...all of it has unlocked an awareness of "God WITH Us". Right here, right now. Attach gratitude to it...Yep...it's amazing. Boy...it has also made worship through song so much fuller. When I hear a song, I permit my imagination to do its thing. To picture it...and then enter in to the things I'm seeing. For some reason, I can picture this song...and it's been rocking my socks off. ;)

 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Compassion Hurts

I don't know who wrote this quote, but I love it. It reminds me of the verse in Matthew about those who will stand to the end...the ones that refuse to let their love grow cold.

The Charter For Compassion

I'm sure this video causes a great deal of controversy...the idea that all people, regardless of religion, can gather around the notion of compassion and make a difference in the world. I'm absolutely sure that some in any of the religions would strongly disagree..perhaps even wondering why they should be asked to work alongside someone "else" for "others". I know many others, though, who profoundly disagree on issues of belief but without question would extend a helping hand with any and all to any and all. If that's delusional...well, it's my kind of delusion. ;) Here's to compassion from all to all!

 

Great Quote

"I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow living." ~Anais Nin

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Better Together Minnesota

So...here it is! The official start of "Better Together Minnesota". Right now, it's a website and a Facebook page that highlight service opportunities in East Central Minnesota. Hopefully, people will check it out and get involved! I'm on the hunt for more events to add to the list. If you know of any, let me know! In the future we hope to add organized service projects to compliment the others being offered! So excited!...and hoping that with exposure to the opportunities that abound more and more people will share their strengths and make the world a better place!!! :)

Better Together Minnesota

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Great Teaching

I know this is on the longer side, but if you are a Jesus-person, it's fantastic. The ending is just phenomenal. Well...all of it...but the ending was so sweet. :)

 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The School Year Bucket List

I'm preparing an activity for my 11th-12th graders on making a "School Year Bucket List". It's the beginning of the new year...a fresh start...so I thought it was fitting to make a list of the hopes, challenges and resolutions that are desired. Things we will make right, things we will challenge ourselves to do, adventures we will step into. I'm excited...and kids this age (the age of ownership) are in a good position to start to consider the direction of their lives a bit more. How about you? :)

I'm a Fan of the Red Pill :)

The Rejection Blues

It's Wounding 101 really...taking the message of a wound and adding it to our grid to apply to other situations. What do I mean?...we suffer a tough experience (hurt by someone we love), we take the message of that wound (they thought I was worth rejecting, etc.) and we carry it into other unrelated situations (he/she/they must be rejecting me too, etc.).

What we do with that can take a variety of forms. Many stay perpetual victims, always assuming rejection from others. Some quickly form judgments and overreact with negative self-talk, "pity parties", withdrawal and tantrums. Some become aggressors...either by rejecting (or leaving) before getting rejected or baiting people to see what it would take to be rejected (and then acting like they don't care when those others have finally had enough).

Being the one that someone with rejection issues is targeting (or just being someone in regular relationship who cares for a person with this affliction) can be really overwhelming. I get to the point where I just want to scream, "STOP IT!!!!...it's not true that someone is necessarily rejecting you by not inviting you to something, having other things to do, not needing your help, not being super communicative at the moment, being more intense than you, and on and on and on!!!!!" Sigh. Alas, we all have to decide that on our own...and it sucks waiting for that.

On the flipside...bringing this from the realm of "others" to ourselves...it truly is hard but imperative that we face, nurture and release our rejection issues. It's the only path to healing...and a life less driven by our woundings. Real moments of rejection are painful. And from my heart to yours...it wasn't ok. Truly, though...going after others (assuming rejection all the time) is NOT a way to defend ourselves from a painful moment a long time ago.

I have to be very intentional with my rejection issues sometimes. I have to purposely try to view others without applying my hurtful experiences from a few. In the moments where that's difficult, I'll actually take some time to pull a particular hurt off the shelf (the one that situation is bringing to mind) and really let God speak to that experience. I'll ask Him what His view of me and that situation is and ask that His message now be what reigns true in my life. I'll ask Him to help me forgive...and to let go. Seriously...He does an amazing job of breathing new life to those dead places. And slowly...with time and intentional practice...we can become more secure in our worth and live a life of more "response" than "reaction".

No one's worth rejecting...but life happens. More than anything...we need to let God's view of us be the truest thing in how we view ourselves and the situations of life.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A "Service" Non-Profit

OK...so I've been doing a ton of thinking. Ya, what's new. ;) I'm quite the visionary mind, so ideas are constantly flying through my head. I'm used to most of them not sticking because I'm a bit of an ADD visionary, so I've learned to pay attention to the ideas that keep coming back. ;)

I think I've found one!!!

I've always had a conviction that humanity is wonderful, beautiful, magical and POWERFUL...that our world's problems aren't so much that people are "human" but that people often choose to live "less than human". I think Jesus' life...a life of being "fully human"...shows just how wonderful our humanity can be.

With that has come an internal nagging that most of us...if we were to take a serious inventory of our priorities...could really stand to invest, give, build, steward, create, serve, inspire, etc. MORE than we currently are. Certainly, the entitlement training of our culture could use a course-correction to an outward-focused way of life.

Following that belief has come a real heart for people working together regardless of religion, denomination, or political affiliation. Setting the arguments aside for a moment of betterment...sounds good to me!! And more than that...acknowledging and releasing the strengths in each other because collectively we accomplish more than we do as individuals. A complimentary team with a world of assets to share...

So...I met a couple last month that has chosen to serve their city more intentionally...adding this sense of community mission to their normal, everyday life. I was so inspired!!!! And, I officially want more!!

I'm tossing around some ideas of what this could look like. A service-oriented non-profit that alerts people to service opportunities of all shapes and sizes from other organizations and creates service opportunities consistent with the mission?? I think I like that!

Yep...it really has me dreaming... ;) Thoughts?

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” Mother Teresa

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Change the World

I have to be honest. As one who madly loves the God who madly loves me, I get frustrated with my fellow "loved ones". So many are still talking about sin and heaven/hell...like it's the only thing our faith is about. Important...yes...but the only thing???...NO! The "good news" is SO MUCH MORE!!! This clip is a snapshot of what could be. Believers...who step into their identity as His children...experiencing real, NOW relationship...well, those "kids" change the world. It's so exciting!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

10-Year Depression

Haha! I think that's what I'm calling it! I just can't explain the sense of relief...and new life!!!...that I'm experiencing since the completion of my thesis! It's SO BIZARRE not having that weight on my shoulders. I feel so much possibility all the time!! I sit sometimes and ponder all the directions I could now go...all the things I could do next. It's so much fun!!!

Life before that...the 10-Year Depression...all done!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Betrayal

Who doesn't have these moments? Friends, family, loves of our lives... Goodness, we are the perpetrators too! And, it's hard to let those things go. Forgive. But, God's been showing me...there's still life around the corner. Hope. Peace. God's good like that. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Missing Jack

Sigh.

And then there are the things that you don't (beforehand) think will ever be hard on the heart...and then (in the moment) find harder than you ever thought.

Que sera, sera...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thesis!!!

I got the call that my thesis is finally bound!! Yep...my first little book. 55 pages!! Haha! So awesome!

Turandot!!!

Oh my goodness!! It's on the calendar!! One of my Life List items is to see the song 'Nessun Dorma' performed live. It's a song from the opera, Turandot, that Pavarotti sang AMAZINGLY. Well, the opera is coming to the Ordway (I love that place!) in April...and WE HAVE TICKETS!!! Sigh. I'm in heaven...and trying to wait patiently... ;)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blessed Assurance

I've been revisiting some of the old hymns lately. Wow...some powerful stuff! "Blessed Assurance" has been rolling around in my heart, so I decided to youtube it. I think I would have loved being in the audience for this performance. I like powerhouse vocals. I honestly have no clue how that audience just sits there through it...I would probably consider the chandelier...you know...swinging from said chandelier. :)

Keep On!

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. - Matthew 24:12-13

I stumbled across this verse yesterday, and it really got me thinking. The battle of love and evil...and how the increase of one can threaten the other. As the words point out...and as I experience in my life...when evil is running rampant, it's hard to keep on loving. Unfortunately, it's love that is the very weapon against evil...the wall that holds it back, the extinguisher of the raging fire. Thus, the decision to let our love grow cold only perpetuates evil's existence. And, the world suffers...hearts suffer... Tragic.

Oh my...it's why I love the charge to "stand". We all need those reminders to KEEP ON LOVING. We have to nurse our wounds, but we don't stay down. We get back up...and we love.

---

Boy...and it also serves as a fantastic reminder...while it's true that it was humanity that unleashed hell's war against the human heart, creation, relationships, etc., it's also God's design that divine love expressed through humanity would bring its end.

So...is His Love coming through us? Or are we leaning on our "bullet points", our "opinions", our "must have's and can't stand's". Perhaps, His Love is flowing in those things...but perhaps, it isn't. We need to ask Him!!!...because, if we aren't fueled by His heart, we just may be working for the wrong side...

KEEP ON LOVING!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ships In The Night

Exploited Beauty

Here's the thing...I've been noticing how women present themselves...to the degree that I actually get concerned sometimes. I see pictures that some of my students, former students, friends, and acquaintances post on their social networking sites. Many are very lovely, but some make me...cringe. 

I know every woman has her own sense of style. Personally, I'd like a wardrobe assistant to put together cute ensembles for me. A mix of the costuming from "You've Got Mail" and "Secretariat" would be really nice. Unfortunately, this girl has no clue how to do it herself, so I'm not the kind of gal that criticizes the hair and clothing styles of others. I think that's basically rude. But, this posting isn't about style. It's about beauty. The beauty of a woman.

It wasn't so long ago that I had a limited view of beauty. Our culture, reflected in the media, quickly educates us all regarding a purely physical definition...a severely flawed perspective at that. My own journey with body image issues led me to a deeper and fuller understanding...one that sets me more and more free every day! John and Stasi Eldredge wrote a wonderful book for women called ,Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, that became a real help in the midst of my struggle. Some of the quotes speak to their message:

“She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish with Eve. She is the Master's finishing touch.” 

“Her soul is Alive. And we are drawn to her.” 

“What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?” 

Here's the thing...a woman's beauty is...but is so much more than...physical. It's spiritual, it's intellectual, it's emotional...it's full of strength and vulnerability...it's all of her. Beauty is soulful...essence. Somewhat of a mystery, God designed it to be discovered...unveiled...unleashed. All of that in the context of respect, honor and challenge. From the basketball court to the dance floor, from the kitchen to the board room...she brings it wherever she goes. It's "who" she is brought to whatever she does. 

Some women cherish themselves well. Others...likely from wounding or insecurity or flawed education...seem to more exploit their physical loveliness...all the while, marring their own holistic beauty by their own striving. 

It's sad to me. So very sad. 

Now, don't get me wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not pushing an uber-conservative image of "pretty"...the "baggy" costuming. That's a choice, not a rule. Be sexy. Be saucy. Be classy! Be confident! We have a design that's meant for celebration. 

But slutty? The rabid predator?...it's beneath beauty. In fact, it restrains it. 

No woman deserves that. No man does either...he deserves the full, rich beauty of a woman as much as she deserves his full strength. 

It's mysterious. It's messy. A ton of debatable "gray" for sure. One thing, though, is undeniably clear...beauty was never meant to be exploited...not even by its owner.  

*** Oh...and if you are a beauty in hiding...a woman who doesn't yet know she is or a woman who fears the power and authority of her own essence...there's a message for you too. The world desperately needs you to share your beauty...to shine. Without you, we are less. So, get moving. Your heart is worth it too. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Face Fear

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." - Eleanor Roosevelt

This. Is. So. True!!! Having been a fear-ruled person, I know the prison...the facade of safety even...that fear creates. No more for this girl. It's a terribly scary thing to do, but staring fear in the face and confronting it with truth is well worth it! Greater strength, clearer vision, wise responses instead of reactions...always take fear to task. To not is to not offer the world your truer, purer humanity. 

5K Training

Sis and I are going to start training to run 5K races. Ya, I know...it's only 3+ miles. Still...it's a milestone for us!! My friend recommended a site "The Couch-to-5K Running Plan". We'll see how we do!!

Couch to 5K

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The First and the Last

We had an awesome worship time in church today...from the singing to the sermon...beautiful. :) The purpose of the singing aspect of worship was focusing on Who God is. Wonderfully, how we view/know God directly impacts how we see ourselves. God's identity births ours.

As we were singing, I was reminded how important it is to live with declaration. Speak out God's Identity...those things that are true. We bless...and we act in accordance. It brings Life to life.

To God...in praise...we affirm how amazing He is...that it is because of Him that we are forever changed and will never be the same.

To life...in blessing...we affirm how amazing He is...that it is because of Him that we are forever changed and will never be the same.

To the Enemy...in resolve...we affirm how amazing God is...that it is because of Him that we are forever changed and will NEVER be the same.

It's true He is the Alpha and the Omega. He spoke the first words, and He'll have the last. A life of declaration lets His words have life in our moments. Oh, baby...it's a wild ride. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Free to Dream

I'm in this bizarre place. It's so strange how different everything feels right now. Finally finishing my thesis has released me into a world of so much possibility. I guess when I look at everything else that was wired into that writing project...burnout, grief, depression...and the ways that God helped me face those things in the process...it truly is a whole new world.

For the first time in a very long time, I don't have the burden of not finishing something I started hanging on my back. He has helped me to be faithful...to be a good steward. As a result, I'm completely free to dream.

Get ready. This girl is in full flight. :)

So with that...one of my life theme songs...it's message is back in business!

Fall of Leader

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. What a terribly sad reminder to keep ourselves in check. A naughty little behavior, when left without accountability, can really spin itself into insanity. I was going to go on and on about how embarrassing this one is...a Christian leader who colossally screws everything up. Truly, it is pretty sad. Then I realized that it's no more sad for him than anyone. Deceptions to cover struggles...spiraling out of control...total destruction.

Repentance is the path home. God is good like that. I hope this guy is still facing the consequences and finding the healing he needs.

Shocking.




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eyes on the...Buns

Yep...here's a strange one. ;)

A group of us went on a bike trip to an awesome park. Beautiful day, fun trails, great people. The only frustrating part was that the trails weren't well marked. We had maps, but the size of the park (and lack of marking) made it a unique challenge at times. I was cool with it until the last leg of the trip. Specifically, the moment I was separated from the pack.

At first, I was fine with it. I was bound to end up somewhere familiar, right?

After a while, though, I started to worry. Well, more like panic. If I took a wrong turn, I'd be heading an another loop of many miles without knowing.

Enter the hero.

Sure enough, I came around a corner finally and found Paul. He was looking at a map trying to figure out where he was and should be going.

SIGH OF RELIEF!!! I figured, at minimum, I wasn't going to be alone if I was lost in the woods. And if you know Paul, you know that he is a peaceful soul. I bet he could calm a stirred-up bees nest. ;)

So, Paul thought he knew where we should go (and he was right!!!), so we got back on our bikes and headed for the end.

Next challenge...biking the rest of the way.

Yep...after maybe 17 miles, I was exhausted!!! With 6+ miles to go, I was struggling. Then I was reminded...I wasn't alone, and Paul was leading. All I had to do was keep my eyes on his...well...back end...just focus and we'd be at the end in no time.

HAHA! Yep...Eyes on the buns. Of course, if you know Paul, you also know that I changed diapers on those buns decades ago. Supposedly, that makes things less creepy. ;) Whatever, though...we made it back!

Yep, there's a life application in that. Apparently, I'm keeping my eyes on the Hero's buns too. 'Where you lead me, I will follow." Strange, I know, but a good reminder for this girl. :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Introvert Manual

I wish there was an Introvert Manual that I could give to just a few people. Usually, it doesn't matter...most people seem to roll with people's personalities and not react to someone's extrovert/introvert tendencies with self-deprecation. Goodness, though!!! There are some who absolutely can't understand a personality other than their own and completely freak out at someone's need for space. Somehow...usually because they are more shame-based, sadly...a need for even 30 minutes of "alone time" turns into an insecurity flare-up. The over-reaction makes the situation worse. 

Sigh. 

Just 30 minutes, people! 30 minutes!!! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Day

Yep, it's the first day of the rest of my life. I wonder what I shall do... :)

 

Fighter

"Give 'em hell. Turn their heads. Gonna live life 'til we're dead. Give me scars! Give me pain! And they'll say to me, say to me, say to me...there goes a fighter! There goes a fighter! Here comes a fighter! That's what they'll say to me, say to me, say to me...this one's a fighter!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Long Battle...FINISHED!!!

After TEN YEARS...it's official. I finally finished my master's thesis! It's been a crazy battle...one that totally caught me off-guard. Writing papers is not a difficult thing for me, but this project...because of so many other things...ended up being one of my hardest challenges. I started it right-smack at the beginning of a job change...a totally impossible work situation (but that's for another book. Hehe.). Add to that deaths of two grandparents and one Board member within months of each other. To say that I instantly burned out...understatement of a lifetime. I just couldn't do it. Time, emotional coping skills...I had none. The following year brought my Mom's cancer. Burned out and brokenhearted. After that, it just became easier to NOT do it. 

Well...it had to be God's provision...the college allowed me to give it another try after so much time. 

The writing process was so difficult because it actually brought up a lot of that old stuff. It became a journey of writing a paper, processing (and grieving) the past and shaking off some nasty habits of cowering in the face of challenge. There were times that it was so difficult to write that I had to actually make it into an act of worship. "I'll write this sentence for You, God.". And then another and another. 

When it finally came down to it, God helped me to see that it wasn't that the degree was important...it was about being a good steward...being faithful to finish what He and I had started.  

After all this time...we did it. :)

Oh...and by the way...God whispered that my time of grief...my time of burnout...is done. Time to fly. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quote Site

I'd use these for women too! Great words!

Wholehearted Men Quotes

Seeing Rightly

The story of your life is the story of the journey of your heart through a dangerous and beautiful world. It is the story of the long and sustained assault on your heart by the Enemy who knows who you could be and fears you. - John Eldredge


If the enemy (satan) knows who you are and fears you...isn't it time to start taking your life more seriously?? You are a precious gift...steward yourself well. :)