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.

Thistles and Figs

220px-Milk_thistle_flowerhead

Times of transition are challenging for most of us, but for me they can turn dangerous. I find myself in such turmoil that I sometimes throw more than I should into the mix. My subconscious reasoning seems to follow this line – if I’m already going through a time of upheaval, why not just change it all up…try to sneak in a couple changes of my own. Sigh…that has never worked out well for me.

The last few months I have allowed far too many distractions into my life. I’ve been far too preoccupied with filling time, even with unhealthy relationships. I’ve been far too willing to stuff moments with mind-numbing activities, eating up the space that is normally protected and reserved for spiritual growth. Far too open to compromise and smear boundary lines out of curiosity, frustration, and even rebellion, all in the attempt to avoid pulling a few weeds that have been found in my garden.

Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 7: 16-19

Why do I want to hold onto, even protect, a weed in my heart?? I know all too well that bad fruit is unfulfilling and completely disappointing. But look, even a weed can be beautiful when viewed from the right angle at the right time. When a weed is all you know, you might find yourself keeping it around for its moments of rare and fleeting beauty. It takes faith to believe something better can grow there.

thistle

In reality, most of the time a thistle weed is ugly and covered in sharp prickles. Once established, it spreads quickly, replacing native plants. It can spread 10 -12′ in one season (Noxious Weed Control Board, WA State). It doesn’t look good, feel good, or satisfy our hunger.

thistleunflowered

Yesterday it hit me in a whole new way – there are a couple areas in my life that I keep trying desperately to squeeze something sweet out of a weed. I keep getting disappointed when my thistles don’t produce figs, and keep complaining when they hurt me. I’m threatening the fig trees in my garden with a noxious weed and, by attaching such a sick fascination on the untouchable and inedible thistle flower, keeping myself from enjoying the good fruit that is trying to grow for me.

Yuck!! These moments of clarity are so gross, but so good. I feel challenged to increase my TRUST – to allow all that is harmful to be uprooted. It’s a no-brainer in theory, but sometimes hard to know how to surrender all I know. I’m thankful for his voice of direction, and that he guides every move we allow. Time to do some weeding!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:21

Nesting Season

“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.” ~Jesus
John 16:21-23 (MSG)

I woke up thinking about that passage yesterday. Male or female, we can all relate to the analogy. We’ve all experienced growing pains, and they hurt. Stretching of flesh and movement of bones is uncomfortable. The birthing of new life is often excruciating.

Anyone who’s been pregnant or been around a pregnant woman (or animal) knows about the nesting instinct. It’s shocking what can be accomplished when that natural burst of compulsive energy kicks in to put things in order and prepare for the new life.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had tons of rocks delivered to my home and I built a retaining wall for spring break. I painted rooms, helped renovate a house, designed and decorated the nursery. I washed tiny clothes and organized his closet and drawers meticulously, into 3-month size increments. Took care of all those things that there wouldn’t be much time for once my baby came. I packed the bag of things I wanted to have in the hospital. Essentials, but also fun stuff like music, books, magazines, candy. You know why that was important? Because in the cluttered moments of transition, we do not have the clarity of mind to remember any of that stuff. In fact, we barely even care about it once the pain hits.

Nesting brings a frantic scrambling to capture and squeeze every moment the energy rests on us. We are planning ahead of the moment of transition, the birth pangs. We are planning to be ready for the season after.

I feel like so many of us are in this place, right now. We are growing, changing, stretching our comfort zones, getting ready to enter into a new phase of life. I think it helps to see this through the lens of pregnancy. We need to learn to embrace the nesting instinct when it hits. To take advantage of the energy boost – it’s telling us we’re almost there. To proactively prepare for the next phase we’re about to enter into. To relish our time in this old phase before it’s gone. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it hurts.

It will be too late if we wait for the labor pains. They are short-lived. Life is never the same again.

Into the Deep

As this year began, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was on its way. I knew this would be a powerful year of pressing in. A deepening in my relationship with the Lord.

Now, what I have known so tenderly and intimately the past two and a half years is something I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with – his absolute love. That seems to be the truth he made easiest for me to walk in. I am flabbergasted by it, but yet there it is. I don’t argue with him about it, and man am I grateful for it. Operating from that understanding is a prerequisite to walking in true relationship with him.

We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

So at the first of the year, this drawing to go deeper was exciting for me. What could be more wonderful than burrowing deeper into that cocoon of grace, peace, and love that I knew so well? When I asked him to reveal more of himself to me, I naturally expected to experience more of those aspects I knew and was so comfortable with.

There’s that word again: comfort. I’ve noticed there are very few comfortable, lazy seasons in this walk!

Do you know there is more to God than his grace, peace, and love?

It’s actually turned into a pretty uncomfortable year for me as he has been faithful to answer my (seriously naïve) prayer.

“You do not know what you ask.” – Jesus
Matthew 20:22

He has certainly shown me more than I bargained for! Not just more of what I knew and already loved, but some of those other, harder-to-swallow attributes. There is a justice and a wrath that I am starting to understand on a different level.

I have such a tremendous reverence for this King of kings who calls me his daughter, his darling, his beloved! Such respect for this judge who declared me righteous and set me free. Such devotion to this creator of all things who knows my DNA, my name, my gifts, my heart. Such a love for this mightiest warrior who laid down his life for me.

I’m so enraptured by him! I am overwhelmed by how big he is! There are days it is hard to reconcile that the God of infinite, incomprehensible vastness is the same God who whispers truth to me. How brilliant to have grounded me so firmly in his love before revealing more of himself to me!

There are times that fear of the unknown (or newly discovered) threatens to rise up in me. There are just so many things I don’t understand. In those moments, he wraps me up in his divine hug – yes, in his grace, his peace, his love. There he is, my Father, friend, and comforter, reminding me he is constant. He is Faithful and True.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 19:11-16

Oh…It REALLY Isn’t All About Me!!

Over the past several months, I’ve become more aware of how random nudges, choices, and bits of information come together to knock my socks off. I’ve started noticing that when I let them, they position me at the exact right place, at the exact right time, to receive a huge blessing.

This is happening all the time!

Just this weekend, a girlfriend and I went to dinner and to see one of our favorite bands in concert. We planned this out months ago – picked the restaurant, made reservations, the whole thing. As we drove past thousands of fans who had already gathered and made a line to get in, we felt a little disappointed knowing that we would not be seeing the show very well. At the restaurant, our reserved table was in a corner by the bar workers and the back patio door. Again, we felt a little disappointed because the place has so many cool niches to sit in, and this wasn’t one of them…but we were happy to have a place to sit and catch up. As we settled in, we happened to look over and see that the person sitting closest to us, right across the walkway, was the lead singer of the band we were going to see with his beautiful wife. I admit there was a certain smugness at that moment. We both felt pretty darn special, feeling blessed and favored by our Father with this gifted encounter. That is normally where I would stop, pleased and thankful that this happened for us, for me.

I am somewhat shocked and extremely happy to report that my perspective has shifted once again. This encounter was super fun, true, but in the end it was not about me. We were positioned there for more than our entertainment. I really believe we were put there to be a blessing to our brother and sister. After we welcomed them to Dallas, we privately prayed protection over their relationship and their ministry. You’re welcome!

I want to think I’m getting a little quicker on the uptake these days, but I realize he’s been trying to get me to this place for a long time now. It started with writing this blog…taking me out of my comfort zone to share what was being given to me, things I would prefer by nature to treasure in private. For a year and a half, I have received so much more by being open and vulnerable. I am seeing that the more I give for him, the more he gives to me; the more willing I am to share, the more he shares with me. So…thanks for bearing with me as I learn to listen.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
~Jesus, Luke 6:38

Playing My Position

Father forgive me, for I sometimes want to play other people’s positions.

I just attended a 3-day women’s conference that blew my mind. I was inspired by women who confidently strode up and down the stage proclaiming truth and victory. I was impressed with the dozens of women who sacrificed hours, weeks, months of their lives to create a beautiful atmosphere for an encounter with the Lord. I was excited for the thousands of sisters who walked in, wide-eyed and expectant.

Sometimes I get a little too focused on what other people are doing or experiencing, and feel like I must be missing out on something. After all, I am certainly not able to do everything I love to see you doing. Sometimes I think I should help you play your position, or (ha!) that I could play it better than you do. I forget that we are all on a team, that we are each supposed to be playing our own position.

Dissatisfaction has been a lifelong vulnerability for me – there has been a deep yearning to know my own position. Inadequacy was a constant companion, and it makes more sense now.

I’ve been trying to play someone else’s position most of my life.

Today I am so thankful for a reminder of who I am, and where, and why. I have an appointed zone to maintain and nurture. I have my relationship with the Lord, my family, my career, my neighbors, my girlfriends, my home and all who enter it, my finances, my children’s schools, service to my church family, and (in a way, dear reader) you. That’s more than enough for me to handle today! When my eyes stray from this zone to “help” someone else play their position, who am I helping?? I am keeping them from learning the game, and I leave my own zone neglected and wide open for attack.

This is such a no-brainer – I’m not sure why it takes me so long to really get things sometimes. At the conference, there were some amazingly gifted singers, poets, dancers, musicians worshipping the Lord with their talents. Every time they performed my heart would leap, and I found myself wishing that my children would experience or be part of something so beautiful. At one point, I felt God take my face in his hands and say, “Stop worrying about them! That heart leap was for YOU. YOU learn how to dance for me, and they will follow!” Oh how I love my Father, my friend, and his gentle reminders to play my position.

Dance, dance, dear Shulammite, Angel-Princess!
Dance, and we’ll feast our eyes on your grace!
Everyone wants to see the Shulammite dance
her victory dances of love and peace.
Song of Solomon 6:13

To Be Or Not To Be…The “Single” Question

To someone recovering from relationship addiction, this is a big question.

When that person has finally found wholeness and peace in Christ alone, it’s even bigger.

When you introduce that person to someone with a matching fire for God…well, it can create a dilemma. It’s a really nice dilemma, but it ultimately demands a weighty decision. I’ve been swimming in that place for a couple months now.

Background: When I met Jesus, a radical life transformation took place. I put myself under good teaching and prayed for faith and more faith. Things clicked for me instantly in just about every area of my life. Strongholds that had been built up for decades came crashing down in a period of about four weeks. I was a beautiful mess, resting in His palms like a newborn, learning to see and hear and grow from scratch. Because of my history, He made it very clear that I was to avoid men for an indeterminate period of time. [He gave me Matthew 19:12 – yes, the eunuch verse, which I’m sure will require its own blog discussion at some point.] His disciplinary process was done with humor and tenderness, but it was REAL. I am so thankful He loved me enough to take the time to put me on the short leash/choke chain/shock collar. After all, “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” (Heb 12:10)

A few weeks ago I went to camp with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. We had a break and I found a bench around a fire pit where I could lay down, look up, and talk to Him. There was a small circle of blue sky surrounded by layer upon layer of tree branches. I really began to see the layers, even in the sky. My view of a group of tiny black dots was interrupted by a soaring hawk closer to the tree tops. The branches were all unique, made up of different varieties, some lush and some needing to be pruned out. The higher the tree got, the narrower the patch of sky got…and the fewer branches there were.

That tree became the Kingdom Tree to me – I could see that each layer was made up of lush and healthy branches, with areas that need to be cut out to reach the next level of intimacy with God. Lord, I want to go higher! I can see that even blessed relationships can keep us from reaching a higher level – they tie us to this earth, distract us from giving our full attention to the Kingdom – but they are still blessed by God. Is it also possible that a Biblical marriage could push us higher than we would get walking alone? I believe that is God’s intention.

Marriage is intended for holiness, not happiness… though I like to believe a holy marriage will be a nest of delight. It is meant to bring three people together – two who are already complete in their marriage to Christ. Can I support someone as he grows deeper in relationship with Him; can I overcome my habit of finding and focusing on all the flaws; can I love a man the way He would have me do it?

I hear Him say that either path will be equally blessed at this point, and that neither will be a disappointment to Him. He has put the choice in my hands…and He is loosening the leash to allow me to make it. So I will just continue to walk in each day given. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) You can say that again!

I pray for a fervant disciple who loves God as much (or maybe even a tiny bit more) than I do. I pray that he has walked with Christ longer than me. I pray that the man He wants me to walk with will be found walking on the same path. I pray protection over him, protection from me!, that neither I nor anyone else will distract him from his calling and purpose. I pray strength for him, because he will certainly need it.

And I am thankful to a Father who pulled me from the pit and restored my innocence, my childish awkwardness, my purity. Who will allow me to experience “the real deal” in this lifetime if I choose. Who is more and gives more than I will ever need, and still continues to give.

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