Musings of a Flourishing Flower

Sonnenlicht (Sunlight)This morning I am sitting here, surrounded by the most beauty I’ve ever considered my own. In almost every direction I look, areas in my life that were once on pause are now flourishing.

We live in a house that, to me, is a work of art. The angles, the windows, the height. It’s magnificent. There are so many little spaces to experience that it’s sometimes hard to settle. Careers are thriving. Children are blooming. Breakthroughs are happening.

And the love. The love here is strong and sweet and growing.

I am living in a dream!

I was needing to connect with the Lord and landed in Psalms, where I usually end up when I feel a bit lost and unfocused. Found myself skimming through one of David’s songs, barely comprehending and completely missing the point, until a little phrase jumped out and grabbed my attention:

As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. Psalm 103:15

Isn’t that lovely? It resonated with me, especially in this season of splendor. Flowers are glorious masterpieces, each so delicately and distinctly designed. Some are super dainty and fragile, others hardy and strong. I love to see flourishing flowers, and to be compared to one! With my attention finally captured, I re-read the entire sentence, and then re-read the entire chapter.

Question: How exactly does a flower flourish? Answer: For a very short period of time.

[You’re welcome; and feel free to call me Mr. Killjoy!]

Even if you are a flower on a perennial plant, in California, with the most excellent nurture and the perfect conditions, even if you bloomed your entire life, you have a pretty tiny window to show yourself and the world what you’re made of.  But don’t miss this…YOU HAVE A WINDOW!

The point of the psalm was not to hand us a sweet little catchphrase to land upon and misapply. It was to contrast our fleeting earthly presence with God’s eternal lovingkindness. We have an opportunity here in this lifetime to sparkle and shine, to radiate who we are created to be, and to thrive in the purpose we are designed for. To show off His glory like the flowers do in the time they are given. I want to be a flower wild and vigorous! Deeply rooted and not easily blown down.

So today, I am thankful for the droughts, for the floods, and for the windstorms that have shaped this girl into the blossom you see before you. Each marking, even each flaw, is glorious in its ability to tell a story of survival, healing, and overcoming. I am aware of the tiny window and thankful for the motivation to re-focus and adjust perspective. Let’s show off our spectacular designs!

You be you. I’ll be Me

I woke this morning to His voice.

Living water!! Manna!!

He said, among other things, I’ve been trying to fabricate His spirit. Trying to generate it, recreate it out of my own. Struggling, struggling, struggling to create the atmosphere that only He can create. Getting frustrated and discouraged when I can’t do what I CAN’T DO. He capped it all off with this statement:

You be you. I will be Me.

Oh how I long for the sweetness of seven years ago, where I would wake up eager to see what He had to show me. I didn’t overthink everything. I loved my spiritual childhood!! When did this pressure to perform creep in?

One of my favorite teachers spoke this month about a misapplied trend to pursue the Lord by choosing the “right” things to do. [Do yourself a favor and watch this about four times: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkDifferentlyCounseling/ Using your will 4/11/17]  When I heard him say that, something in me rose up. I want to be a girl who goes hard after her Father’s heart. I want to seek and find more of Him. But today, I understand the point. There shouldn’t be a struggle of deciding what I should do “for” Him. Instead, there should be a desire and a willingness to receive what He’s handing each moment…so I can live “from” Him. Bob Hamp’s teaching (and Jesus’ for that matter!) is all about Receive, Contain, and Broadcast. Some of us are trying really hard to do that last one without getting the first two down.

Just ask.

Living without His spirit is not living. I have been in a dry and powerless place for a while now. And why? Because I’m working hard to bring it back instead of just asking.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
~Jesus, Matthew 7:7

That’s what we’ve been asked to do – receive what He has for us. Let it come in and change us. And we can’t help but share it with others because it’s a miracle.

I am breathing deeper today because of His voice. I am thankful He sees my heart and knows I am sincere in my efforts, even when they are misapplied and so so wrong. But…He speaks!! He speaks to redirect and guide me back to truth and peace. That is unbelievably beautiful.

Dancing Out of Nowhere

Hand Reaching

Every single day it’s there.

In every story, I see it. In every song, I hear it…

The invitation to step out of my comfort zone. The outstretched hand imploring me to come dance. The whisper to be brave and walk into something I don’t even know.

And every day, I find a reason to stay where I am, feet stubbornly grounded in Nowhere. Because I know that place very well. I’ve actually been impressed at the creative excuses I come up with each day to stay here.

I was reading about a day in Jesus’ life this week. He told his disciples to do two things, both absolutely impossible and absolutely terrifying. First, he told them to feed a hungry mob of 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fish. A bit later, he invited one of them to step out of a boat and join him walking on the waves.

These are stories many of us have heard since childhood and, for me, it’s been easy to read them from a critical perspective. You’re with Jesus, people!!

Well, it really hit me this week…I’m in the same exact shoes and doing a much worse job of walking in them. He is also with ME. He is also beckoning ME into unknown adventures too. And I just sit here looking at Him with reasons why I can’t join Him.

The truth is – like it or not, acknowledge it or not – we are simultaneously operating in two very different realities. One is the natural, which we see with our eyes and touch with our hands. The other is spiritual, supernatural, which we cannot see or touch.

Let me tell you something. It is absolutely terrifying to step out of a boat and expect a firm surface to walk on. Especially in front of your friends, coworkers, and family members.

It is absolutely terrifying to walk into a hungry crowd expecting to feed them with a piece of a breadstick and a fish tail. In the natural, that’s usually what it feels like I’ve got to offer.

What an honor that He asks us to partner with Him to do things that are absolutely impossible in the natural, and that He keeps asking! He reminds me – if He has asked us to do it, He will provide the miracle to make it happen. He will bless and multiply what little we have to offer. He blesses even the tiniest step toward Him.

So today, as boldly as I can, I hold up this tiny bite and ask Him to bless and multiply my efforts. To feed someone hungry to hear it, as it fed me this week. I don’t want to spend any more time in the shadows of Nowhere, no matter how comfortable it may be to hide there. I say YES to His invitation to dance into our adventure together.

“…when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.”
~Jesus, John 16:13 (The Message)

That’s Clearly the End…Right??

mountain path 1Last year I had a dream that I was a passenger in a bus driving on a mountain road. The brakes went out and, straight ahead, there was a wall of a mountain and nowhere to turn. The chaos and swirling panic focused into a sharp moment of clarity – I knew in my head this was the end.

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

I actually love dreams like this these days. There’s been a shift. Instead of surrendering to feelings of fear and despair, I find myself burrowing into my center. Into inexplicable peace and strength. I started praying for miraculous rescue. When we reached the side of the mountain, the road didn’t lead us to an unavoidable and disastrous end. Instead, it opened up and continued up the slope.

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
Isaiah 45:2

Maybe that was a miracle. Or maybe the road was always there and I just couldn’t see it from where I was sitting.

This dream was brought back to my mind yesterday as, yet again, something looked completely hopeless from my point of view. I do this way too much. I get focused on how things look without realizing I am only seeing a sliver of reality, filtered through my own past experiences and my own understanding. Lord help me break free of myself!!

He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Proverbs 2:8

I am thankful that He still speaks to us. That He uses words and methods we understand. That He reminds us of past lessons. That we are not alone here, and there are perspectives other than our own. That His truth is bigger than any one of our perspectives. I’m seeing more and more beauty in relationship.

In the Gentleness of Wisdom (James 3)

gentle waterRighteous indignation. You ever get that feeling that you are right, and that something you see is wrong? That, in fact, you are SO right and it is SO wrong it is your moral obligation and duty to stand up and make a scene about it? Or at least throw a few passive-aggressive thrusts of disapproval toward the offender? You know, just to make sure they are aware they are off track.

It’s everywhere – we get in debates with each other about it, write blogs about it, post awesome little jabs on social media about it. Because, in our understanding, we’re very clearly morally and maybe even scripturally right.

When Jesus was arrested, one of his best friends pulled out a sword and started swinging. In a fit of righteous indignation, Peter cut off another man’s ear. In the midst of walking into the next chapter of His mission, Jesus pressed pause to heal what had been severed by the hand of one trying to protect Him the wrong way.

From one perspective, it seems almost noble of Peter to stand and defend his friend and a ministry he believed wasn’t finished and a truth he knew to be right. Those are all good things to feel passionately about. The problem is that his response was based on his own circumstantial understanding, his own wisdom. His methodology damaged the very thing that would allow the offender to hear the message he (and the one he was defending) wanted to convey. In fact, James the half-brother of Jesus would later call wisdom which twists the truth to fit your own perspective arrogant, earthly, natural, and demonic (James 3:14-15).

Oh man, I can relate to Peter. Way too often I find righteous indignation flaring up in my heart and, out of my own wisdom and understanding and desire to declare the truth I see, resort to an abrasive and ear-cutting approach. I walk around with a mouth like a sword that’s a little too quickly unsheathed. Here’s what I am learning – Heavenly wisdom does not require or justify beating anyone over the head with anything to win an argument, or killing a person or groups of people (physically OR verbally) to protect or defend the truth.

If the end result is further damage, we are tapping into the wrong wisdom.

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

I’ve been stepping into awareness of this truth for a while now. When I started seeing the potential to harm others (especially unwittingly) with my words, I got better at holding my tongue long enough to process where I’m speaking from.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Proverbs 18:21

There are times I think I’m doing great by keeping my silence..but I’ve come to realize there is a much deeper issue at play. If my heart is producing judgment, separation, and death, I am not seeing through the right perspective.

Just like Peter, I don’t see the whole picture. But Jesus does, and He came saying this:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

His desire is not that we simply avoid speaking death over each other, but that we actively speak Life into each other. This is not completely resolved for me – I still catch myself peeking at life through the lens of bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and arrogance (James 3:14) – so I’m thankful He has shown this to me today. I can be more vigilant about guarding my heart.

…For his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
~Jesus, Luke 6:45

This is what heavenly wisdom looks like. It requires diligence, intentionality, patience, selflessness, and lots and lots of hard work … but it’s definitely going to be worth it.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
James 3:17-18 (MSG version)

He Will Bring You Back

peaceinchaos2

Life!! Slow down!! I wish this was over and I was in Tomorrow already!!

I’ve been saying a combination of “Hurry up and slow down” my entire life. Just like everyone else on the planet, I have wanted more time to do what I love, to be with who I love. Every day throws its own agenda at me and, quite honestly, some days the only thing I feel certain of is that I cannot do it. I just wish for Tomorrow.

I have a lot going on in my life…I have two+ jobs, two (soon to be five!) very active and awesome kids, two (soon to be four!) pets, a home, a ministry, treasured friendships that I try my best to nurture well, and now praise God a dream-come-true man who has chosen me too. As a person who likes to either do things with excellence or not at all, life feels pretty extreme sometimes. There are ALWAYS at least five things tapping on my shoulder or pulling on my sleeve.

There is another connection in my life that is even more essential and vital to my day. It’s one that keeps me grounded and at peace and helps me avoid choosing “not at all” on a daily basis. Because I don’t like to limit it and because I rarely have the time I’d like to devote to it, it is almost always the first to get postponed. The more often I choose to postpone it, the easier it is to postpone it again…because at that point I feel like I need even MORE time for it. Oh how I love having hours to spend alone with the Lord – where we connect and He speaks life back into my spirit. Speaks peace into the chaos.

Life is just so full! No matter who you are, or what season of life you’re in. Whether you’re organized or not. Whether the distractions pulling at you are healthy or not. We have a choice every day to put Him off or turn to Him. This morning I was reminded that when I turn to Him with my whole heart, He is there to welcome me back.

When you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul by all I have told you today, then the Lord your God will have you return from where you were held. He will have loving-pity for you. He will gather you again … Even if you are driven to the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.
~Deuteronomy 30:2-4

I have a tendency to get caught up in the chaos of my life, good and bad. Sometimes the thought of reconnecting with the Lord is really overwhelming to me. Sometimes I’m ashamed there’s a disconnect at all. Sometimes it feels like I’ve put Him off too many times, or that I will never have enough time to return to the deep, constant connection we had in the beginning of our walk together. But then He pulls at my sleeve and whispers:

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
~Jeremiah 31:3

I’m thankful He continues to tap on my shoulder and pull on my sleeve. I am thankful for His passionate and patient pursuit of my heart, and that He calls me into peace in the midst of chaos. I love the way He can magnify one second together to fill everything.

He Sees Me in White

wedding-dress1

What an exciting and miraculous time!! I have found a (healthy, loyal, patient, funny, hardworking, honest, giant hunk of a God-loving) man! He is so FINE! We both love spending time together! We are making plans to spend the rest of our lives together! These are truly the most joy-filled words I’ve ever written.

And yet…there’s been something just under the surface I haven’t quite put my finger on. A tiny twinge of shame every time I post a picture of us on facebook. I am almost embarrassed at how wonderful he is, and how blessed I am. But more than that…I feel so unworthy of his love. I have never been so “watched” by people who love a man before. I mean, the man is surrounded!! I felt the same way when I met Jesus (no pressure, honey). The more I watch for their approval, the more inadequate I feel.

You know…it’s possible there are a couple people who are thinking along those lines – that he could be better loved elsewhere, and are less than thrilled to see us choose each other – but I’m pretty sure almost all those thoughts are coming from one head. MINE.

Like I said, this little thorn has been hanging out in the periphery where I could barely see it, but this week it can hide no longer. This week, I’ve been tasked with finding The Dress I’ll wear to meet my husband. He wants it to be white, to celebrate the fact that we have both been washed and made whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7), and because what we have together is pure and belongs to the Lord. As I have struggled to pick one…it hit me. My man sees me that way. Jesus sees me that way. Why don’t I??

They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
~Revelation 3:4-5

Like most lies we believe, there’s a tiny bit of truth to this one – I could never be “good enough” or do enough to earn the love Jesus has for me. There’s no amount of anything I could do that would make a man try to love me the way Jesus does. And there’s no way I can love this man as well as he deserves. These are simply sweet gifts that I can choose to receive, or not. To reciprocate with all I have, or not.

I am happy that the Lord continues to draw me deeper into love more perfect, revealing areas where I am walking outside His best for me and encouraging me to be more like Him. I am far from perfect, and I never want to go without hearing the words and nudges of the Holy Spirit. But OH. Lord forgive me for caring so much about what other people think about me!! For allowing the thoughts and feelings, real or imagined, of other people to influence the worth and value that He’s given me. I am chosen, I am redeemed, I am HIS!

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
~Isaiah 43:1

What a beautiful reminder to keep my eyes on HIM and HIM alone. I get so excited thinking about what He’s done for me, what He’s doing in my heart and life, and all I want to do with Him. And I am so thankful to be able to experience those exact things with a partner here in this lifetime. Jesus has taught me what Perfect Love looks like, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to give and receive it to the best of my ability. I love that they see me in white.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
~Isaiah 61:10

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