Her

Girl Power, Poetry, Writing

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The weight of her in my arms,

unchanged by time.

The smell of her

sweet, musky joy so pure.

Traces of the baby she was play across a woman’s face.

The full, ebullient round of my love,

the swell of heart,

it’s almost too much to bear.

Yet we endure

in this dance,

She as my girl

and I as her mama,

holding fast to her hand.

The Goodness of Being Small

Faith & Spirituality, Poetry, Writing

there’s a goodness in small,

a stature of humble bowing

in dependence outside of self,

acknowledging

I am not mountain,

nor am I sea, 

despite all my striving,

all I claim to be.

for the One who planted mountain

poured out the sea

painting His glory 

for all to see.

and here in my smallness,

my eyes look to mountain 

and waves breaking for shore,

delighting in

each grand reminder 

from my Father above

how tall

how wide

how deep 

is His love.

as

Transformation: Renewing Our Minds

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

Our family recently returned from a crazy family camping weekend. Lots of group activities, very little sleep, critters, and plenty of bug bites with memories to match. You know, all the things that make for good family lore. The best part of the whole weekend? We had no cell service in the park due to the high bluffs surrounding us. No phone calls, no internet. It was glorious.

For some time now, I’ve felt God stirring my heart about the creeping danger of distraction (particularly the role social media has taken) in our lives. As someone required to stay connected to manage social media accounts for work, it has become more and more difficult to draw the line. Where to stop? When is enough? Will I ever just be done? There are always new updates, the latest post, and breaking news to pore over, like, and comment on.

Some of my friends have chosen to opt out or even leave social media altogether to avoid this control in their lives, many citing their struggles over the very real comparison trap of social media. I feel bad about myself when I see what others have/are doing. One friend even told me that she left Facebook because she was tired of the dissonance in her reality, rife with daily struggles, and everyone else’s highlight reel.

Yet, just as in all other areas of our lives, we also have a choice: the choice to maintain control (as I discuss with my teen daughter almost daily). This applies to not just what we CHOOSE to post, but also whether we CHOOSE to look and how we allow what we see to affect us. Harsh? Perhaps, but this is a perfect example of the necessity of training our minds.

In Romans 12, Paul states, “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” {VOICE} How do we keep the pressures of conformity, the trap of comparison, and our own pride and feelings of inferiority at bay? We renew our minds. Transformation, real God-inspired transformation, always begins on the inside.

The process of renewing of our minds will only and always start at the foot of the cross. “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself” (1 Corinthians 1:30a). We do not need to seek any knowledge or change anything about ourselves prior to seeking first His Kingdom. Seek first.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT).

If we truly want to escape the trap and the sadness and the corruption of our humanistic desires, the desire to be smarter than, better than, happier than, skinnier than, and throw way more perfect parties than, then we must cling to these precious promises and move forward trusting Him. But it takes work. It takes dying. Dying to that which you previously held so tightly. How do you spend your time, your talent, your treasure? How do you measure your identity, your purpose, your worth? (Hint: If it isn’t Jesus Christ and the work you’re doing to see His Kingdom come, you may want to rethink some things).

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone (2 Peter 1:5-7 NLT).

Renewing our minds through faith in Christ Jesus remains a process of supplementation. This has been one of my favorite passages lately as I’ve struggled mightily over loving difficult people in my life. To be a good Christian girl, I MUST love others. Yet, God showed me that my struggles were to be expected, because I was coming up short in my legwork. I demanded the full fruits of the Spirit to blossom without actually planting or watering my own faith life.

When I evade moral excellence and forgo time with God, getting to know Him more, how can I expect to maintain self-control? I can’t help looking and comparing myself to others on Facebook when I don’t first ground myself in God and His Word, seeking His help in the process. And I certainly can’t love others genuinely until I’ve had the self-control to avoid comparison, removing the focus from myself and placing it on God, where it rightfully belongs.

Our faith rests secure in Him, but we are life-long works in progress. Take heart, though, “The Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world ” (Philippians 1:6 VOICE} I urge you then to fix your eyes on our King, sisters, not on one another and certainly not on what they might have that you feel you lack. Because when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can step out, hands leading, ready to hold, to hug, to carry one another.

And sometimes that requires removing the distractions that blind us.

AS

I don’t want some online friends or acquaintances or followers,
who see my best side when I want them to,
the girl I wish I was.
 
I want to have real friends,
friends who are brave and let it get messy.
Real friends bare their souls, and share clothes.
Weaving stories, sometimes over wine.
They don’t judge if you act crazy or cry ugly.
They do life with.
 
I want those friends.
Who not only pick up the pieces,
but come alongside with the glue.
Friends who don’t just love me anyway,
but love me because. 
 
AS
Girl Power, Poetry, Random Musings, Writing

What are you? Who am I? How do you know?

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

Over and over, these questions of existence, purpose, and identity haunt our individual consciences, floating in and out of our daily activities, clouds dancing across the sun. Søren Kierkegaard famously stated, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So in answering the questions that acknowledge my existence, I have a trove of experiences from which to draw. But do they point to one specific end? Peaks and valleys of victory and defeat, but am I merely measured in the sum of those days?

How can I possibly define myself outside of the One who defines me? What am I, then? Who am I? While I would like to believe myself known as some shiny, finished product, the reality is I am still being formed. I guess if I am going to define myself as anything, I would love to think of myself as clay. It begins humbly, unassumingly part of the earth, dirt almost; but with work, and a master’s hand, it can be utterly transformed! My pride, my ambition, they render me tough, brittle even, but through the work of the Master, I become more pliable, more usable, more ready to become a vessel of His love, carrying His work into this world.

“Still, Eternal One, You are our Father.
We are just clay, and You are the potter.
We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth.” – Isaiah 64:8

In the end, it’s not about my own creative ambitions or making a name for myself that matters. Instead of worrying about finding worthiness in myself, I’ll leave that up to Him, seeking my peace inside of His presence, my purpose from within His promises, my life individually stamped by the Master’s hand.

While I Wait, I Work

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

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In a reiteration of historian Thomas Fuller, “The darkest hour always comes before the dawn.”

Once Jesus gave up His spirit, creation’s heart broke with a great earthquake, the dead emerged from their tombs, and the Holy of Holies became visible from behind a torn curtain. “This man truly was the Son of God!” proclaimed those present at the crucifixion. And then, they held their collective breath and waited, remembering what He had said. “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” {Matthew 12:40 NLT}

Three days, three nights. And once again in applying my humanity to Jesus Christ, I had simply assumed that He waited as well. As the world wept, Jesus rested with the Father, shaking His head at ‘ye of little faith, hanging out just as Jonah did before God sent Him forth again. A kind of backstage lounge or green room to the heavenly realm. Since we as Christians believe that our spirits are not connected to our earthly bodies after death, why would Christ as the Son of Man be any different?

In short, He wasn’t. In death, just as in life, Jesus was busy. Busy speaking His message of redemption, busy drawing others to Himself. But this time, He wasn’t preaching to the living, but the dead. 1 Peter 4:6 states, “The Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.” {NLT} 1 Peter 3:18-20 goes on:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey. {ESV}

Then, Ephesians 4:8 (drawing from Psalm 68) speaks of Christ’s ascension to heaven with those He redeemed in death! “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” {NLT} Not only did Jesus leave us with spiritual gifts when He returned to heaven, but He had companions in those former prisoners, the faithful who died before His time. Christ’s message of salvation cannot be limited by time, space, or even death!

When it seems darkest in my life and I am begging for God to send the sunrise, I must remember the work to be done. While you abide in your Father and His lavish love, clinging to His hope in your despair, remember those that have NO hope without Christ’s message of salvation. For Jesus was bound to the same earthly struggles, pain, temptations, and death we all face; but even after He had died, He worked so others may experience eternal life.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. {2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV}

And in this, I can persevere, because I know the Son will rise on Sunday morning. So, while I wait, I work in the hope that others may be delivered by the promise that comes at the first light of dawn.

 

A Willing Participant?

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

So often when we think of Good Friday, we think of it as a willful compliance, a submission even. But the God who designed creation was also the God of the Crucifixion, Christ’s death always a demarcation on the horizon. Always. God on the cross was never any less God, and in authoring His own death, “It was finished.” {John 19:30}

Tozer states that, “Nothing in God’s created world is able to make God–to require God–to do anything.” Even in His infinite justice and unending love, God would have never gone to the cross unless He intended to all along.

Even when He delivered His law to the Israelites, God is perfectly articulate as to who He is.

The Eternal God, full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and abundant in loyal love and truth, who maintains loyal love to thousands of people, who forgives wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin; yet does not allow sin to go unpunished. {Exodus 34:6b-7 The Voice}

In this, I AM is telling Moses what to expect and giving all of humanity a glimpse into His character, not at that moment but always. Our God is a God of compassion and mercy, a God of patience, who is forever loving and honest. In this love He is forgiving, but He is also just. And in response? “Moses quickly bowed down on the ground and worshiped.” {Exodus 34:8}

Since God is compassion and mercy, God is love, and God is justice, it is not merely those elements of His character that externally force His hand, but those elements of Him that bleed from His heart into His actions toward us. No more so was that demonstrated than on the cross.

The character of God was not diminished in Jesus Christ, nor was it altered by the cross, rather it was fully proven. Now, instead of wondering how God must feel about us, we are confident in the knowledge of His feelings for us.

But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us. {Romans 5:8 The Voice}

And our response? Simple, we worship.