Friday, January 22, 2016
This morning in my One Year Bible reading, I was just knocked back on my keister by genesis. And then again, Matthew seemed to be exactly the same message for me. So instead of getting all long winded on the Facebook page (again...gulp...sorry bout that) I thought I'd just go ahead and get verbose over here on my blog. I'll try to keep it short and sweet. No promises though, haha.
So my hubs and I have this sort of "thing" for the "but God" moments in the bible. We love how God crashes in to our yuck with a courageous and triumphant "but I'm here."
BUT GOD remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock that were with Him in the ark and sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.
No one has ever see God, BUT GOD the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known.
BUT GOD demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Corinthians 1:27
BUT GOD chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise...
BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ....
I could go on and on. There are so many radical examples of Jesus crashing in and doing amazing things even though it all looked so terrible! Even in my own life, there are so many "BUT GOD" moments. I was bogged down in the mire of drugs and alcohol BUT GOD came after me and rescued me. I almost gave up on love and family, BUT GOD brought me my hubs and changed the way I walk with Jesus because of it. I almost died of a crazy staff infection in my brain BUT GOD took care of me and healed every bit of that infection. We all have these BUT GOD moments. So everytime I read a BUT GOD verse in the bible, I'm almost salivating for the yummy taste of Jesus victory that I know is coming. Like smelling a batch of freshly baked bread and knowing how that steamy fluffy bread will taste. What my carb-loving self is trying to say is that I get amped when I read the words BUT GOD.
And today I read genesis 45:8 and I was just stopped dead in my proverbial tracks. This BUT GOD was different. I had to just pause and meditate on that. The BUT GOD was a sentence that seemed to hurt not triumph. Then again in Matthew I watched as Jesus sent them INTO a storm. And I just sat back and thought about how much of my life I waste being ungrateful over what is actually a gift to me.
You see, we rejoice and teach bible studies and reflect on the BUT GOD verses and moments in our own lives but
Do we rejoice at THIS instance so BUT GOD ?
When the scenario is
BUT GOD sent me into a season of darkness
BUT GOD sent me into a prison cell
BUT GOD sent me directly out onto the sea and into a storm He knew would be coming
Do we still rejoice that God is swooping in? Can we see the miraculous in even the dark places and valleys that He leads us through?
Can we choose to look above the waves and fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith? Will we trust the God that sometimes sends us into the dark places will meet us there. Will we trust that there will be fruit from the storm, the trial, the swirling chaos of the dark places, and that the fruit is worth having been sent into it?
Joseph is leaping off of these pages and begging us to take heart and not lose faith because not only is there and end to these difficulties but there is also purpose in it as well. There will be fruit from this. Joseph is promising us. The disciples are whispering. Joseph's fruit was restoration of relationships and the preservation of not only his life but the future messiah that would bring TRUE LIFE available to the entire world. For the disciples, they experienced Jesus coming to meet them in the very midst of their storm. That alone is beautiful and worth it all. They saw miraculous water walking, too. But to me the most apparent and beautiful fruit of that storm was the PRAISE.
As the storm ended there was beautiful worship.
So I was challenged:
Jo, will you rejoice when we get to the BUT GOD moments that include
BUT GOD allowed the loss of a baby
BUT GOD allowed the loss of a job
BUT GOD allowed a tumor to grow
BUT GOD allowed permanent limitations
BUT GOD allowed loneliness
Jo, will you CHOOSE to find the fruit, look over the top of the waves, and rejoice that you don't live without purpose. The threads of pain are a beautiful contrast and bring depth to the moments of beauty. They make the tapestry that He is weaving my life into have a meaning and purpose.
There is JOY down in the valley.
Last Sunday at church during worship we were singing this simple chorus
Glorious, my eyes have seen the glory of the Lord
And I was brought to tears because I as I sang these words, images began to flash before my eyes:
Sitting in my chair upstairs in Colorado reading my bible and watching the snow fall before anyone else was awake
Sledding down pine tree hill in the snow
Inter tubing down Boulder Creek with my sweet family
I was thinking about how sweet the glory of the Lord has been in my life. And then it began to be mixed in with surprising images.
Waking up in the ICU after emergency surgery and seeing hazily the helmet that would protect my eyesight and my brain for the next month.
Laying in bed in the hospital night after night, lonely and in pain and crying and asking the Lord not to let a nurse come check on me until I could calm down because I was afraid I would ruin my witness for Jesus if I was a blubbering fool.
Laying in bed soaked with sweat and shaking from withdrawals from pain killers that I never once abused but still had to go through the pain of coming off of.
And I was struck in my heart as I stood in that sanctuary and sang of His glory. Because He showed up in every single one of those moments and they were all in their own way beautiful. He met in those places and the beauty of His presence was enough to make the difficulty of what I went through worth it.
I saw my backyard with two cups of coffee and a friend and sunshine.
I saw my family walk out the door to go somewhere that I couldn't because I couldn't get out of bed yet.
I saw my kids sliding down a slip and slide in my front yard because my next door neighbor is amazing and played with them when I couldn't move.
I saw lightning and tornados passing on the horizon from my second story window.
I saw hail and sunshine and thunder and wind and beauty.
The song played on, I sang on, and faster and faster I saw more moments of my life. Beauty mixed with pain and all infused with grace and His glory and I was overwhelmed.
So the answer is YES. I will choose to rejoice when I see the BUT GOD moments come crashing into my life. Whether it is something that the world would call good or bad, I will rejoice because that is where His glory dwells. And I only want to be there.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
I was thinking today about the monotony of the everyday. How easy it is to get caught in the little things like finances and health and lose track of the important things like love and grace and mercy and dear sweet HEAVEN. How easy it is to lose focus on what is truest and most real and genuinely good in life.
It's been easy for me to get side tracked these days. You see, we are sick in this house right now. So my house is a wreck and the kids are a bit of a wreck. Christian's seasonal job is winding down, and there are no jobs on the horizon (not for lack of trying, I promise you). I have found a routine with schooling and housework, but it takes every bit of my strength to get through simple things that used to bring joy and almost be relaxing. (I cannot explain how much I used to love to chop vegetables and fruit. It was so soothing to just pull out bags of produce and chop them into little well ordered Tupperware ready for my family to grab and eat. Now chopping hurts and is a struggle so it consumes quite a bit of energy. So, that means less time for reaching out, for making friendships happen in a new place. It's hard to make friends when you're just trying to stay afloat in the everyday of life. Although I have been going to my church's women's bible study on Mondays...so I am trying I promise ). But it's easy to get caught up in just plain how much pain I am in. It's so hard some days to see anything else when the pain makes you bite your lip with every movement.
Now, I know that there aren't a lot of you out there with my exact issues. So many of you have many more complicated things that you're going through. Some of you are caught like deer in the head lights of the semi-tractor trailer that is infancy-toddlerhood in your home. I get that too. For reals. But I think wether you're like a sweet friend of mine who is facing her daughters cancer diagnosis, like me with some limitations that you're not super stoked on, or just caught up the wheelhouse of life that keeps moving without really showing it's purpose, I feel like I'm supposed to tell you this:
It's too easy to think it doesn't.
When my babies were little and I was wading through the fog of sleeplessness combined with post parthum depression and my husbands insane work schedule, I remember just felling the pointlessness of it all. I loved my babies, truly. But some days were just full wow, as soon as I change that diaper, he is going to fill it again. As soon as I feed them, I'll need to clean it up and after I do that, it will be time to make a healthy snack, and then I'll need to sit and feed it to them, and then I'll need to clean it up, and then it will be time to start dinner! There were days when my life felt like a much less colorful version of the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie..." Maybe I should have added cookies to my day. Duly noted. For those of you out there currently in this fog, go get a cookie. Get a cookie, and remember that TODAY MATTERS. That day, the one where we changed four times because of food or puke or other dried on revelations found running down our clothing but never actually got dressed because the change was just into new pajamas. That one where everyone took turns throwing up. That one day when nothing exciting happened and it was just a series of nose wipes, tooshy wipes, and face wipes that crescendoed into a swirl of tears and howling just before the silence of everyone passed out for the night.
That day when you wanted to give up, but you DIDNT. That's the day I'm talking about. THAT ONE MATTERS.
Because without those seemingly insignificant days, my kids wouldn't have grown up into who they are. Because without the days of wiping tooshies and noses, we could not have come to the days of my kids sharing their faith. When Seth boldly told his bestie that Jesus loves him, yeah THAT day couldn't have happened without the many days that seemed to blur together in his infancy.
For me, for this season of my life, the struggle has been, what's the point?
Everything I do is still not enough to get done with everything on my list for the day.
And I have pared down my list and talked my list over with Jesus. I'm not trying to do too much. Dinner on the table and toilets that are clean and just the basics are still so hard for me to do and I just plain do NOT get it all done everyday. So there's this piece of me that says why am I even trying? (I'm just being honest) And the answer that Jesus is speaking to me is this: BECAUSE TODAY MATTERS. That day when I realized no one cleaned the bathrooms last week and I just plain couldn't because my neck hurt. That day when the Fridge was full of food but I was not full of energy to make it jump into a pot and become more than ingredients. That day when the pain was so bad that my biggest accomplishment was to stop crying and get out of bed. That day when I walked outside and realized I killed all my plants by forgetting to water them. For a week. THAT DAY MATTERS. Because those days roll in to each other and lead us into the ones where your daughter talks to you about how she FEELS during a worship service or tells you how thankful she is that Jesus died for her. Because those days lead into the ones where your son says teach me to play guitar because I keep writing songs about how much I love The Lord and I want to play them. Without the days that I crawled through broken and bleeding , I could not have come to the triumph of those moments!!! Am I even making sense here? I guess what I'm saying here is that even if today genuinely stinks, it is still a bridge to tomorrow and to the next day and we just don't know what beautiful things we have awaiting us. The beauty WILL be there. We can't grow weary in well doing because Jesus promises us that we WILL reap a reward if we don't lose heart. So I guess I'm saying don't lose heart. And I took a long time to do so. Sorry about that.
Maybe you're not in the fog of little ones or the haze of poor health or chronic pain. Maybe it's just the monotony of the everyday that just seems to wear us down. The same job, the same breakfast routine, the same reaction from your family that seems to not think much of you, the same elderly parent dying, the same sad SAMENESS of the everyday. Maybe you're right there with me when I say it feels like I will never accomplish everything I am supposed to each day!
It can seem monotonous. But it is just a piece of the beautiful life puzzle that we are each given. All the pieces matter and they are all necessary.
This is NOT meant to be a guilt trip. Yes, you should try to find the beauty in each day and God has made each one so it does have beauty. But sometimes, we just stink. And so our day seems to stink. Or week or year or what have you.
HOWEVER, the day matters wether you did "well" or not. It matters simply because you survived. I am not here on a soapbox telling you to make the best of today because it matters. That is backwards to what I'm thinking here. I am here telling you that because today matters you have purpose. Your life holds meaning, even in the minutiae.
So because today is not pointless, tomorrow isn't either. And today and tomorrow and a thousand more tomorrow's will roll into each other and build into a towering mountain of beauty that is life. When we get to the end, we will be able to see it. I just think that knowing it now, even though we can't see it, might help us to enjoy the ride.
Some days you end up at a magical park...
Thursday, August 6, 2015
I've been thinking a lot about life these days. Like, mine specifically. What is the point, ya know. Like the age old question. Now don't get me wrong, I know that ultimately my purpose is to bring joy to the heart of my Father in heaven and to walk closer and closer to Him every day until the beautiful day that He calls me home to see His amazing face in true paradise. Also, I know that my main purpose is to love and encourage my hubs as he battles to provide for us spiritually and physically and make our home one that he wants to come home to, that feels like a refuge from the harsh world around us. And I have purpose as a mommy to my wonderful beautiful babies, to love and train and enjoy them. And truly that is more than enough. So that's the place I keep coming back to. My purpose is beautiful.
But I also know that each season in our lives comes along with its own set of purpose. There was a season where my life was consumed by love for the high school girls of Calvary Vista. My heart ached with and for them. My heart soared with joy at their triumphs and victories. It was beautiful. There was a season where my heart felt so deeply the many needs of the people in Paris. Those sweet girls in the college group that filled my life with joy. The amazing women that I grew alongside of in mommy groups or women's ministry. The sweet season in Colorado had it's own unique purpose, a lot of which was ministering to those on the outskirts, the cast offs. It was also beautiful.
So what about now?
I keep asking Jesus, what about now. And He has been speaking to me such a sweet, seemingly never ending answer: joy.
My purpose in this season is to learn to enjoy all of His beauty. Will there be battles coming soon? Yes. I absolutely believe there is rapidly coming a season of battle (and triumph too). Will there be more trials? Of course, even though I feel like I've had enough for a while. I can feel all of the reality of what it means to walk through this beautiful dance of a life as a daughter of my King Jesus, the good and the awful. But it just feels sort of out of focus. I know that will all be there, and soon, but for now I feel like Jesus just wants me to learn how to bask in the beauty of all that He is. I'm not sure I'm making sense, but the image that I have in my heart everytime I pray about it is one of a small child chasing after the bubbles blown by her father into the wind.
How many of us have at least watched this, if not been the one to blow the bubbles? I cannot count the hours that I spent over my kid's lives blowing bubble after bubble and watching them run after each one, chasing them as far as they could until the bubble popped or was too high out of reach even after their valiant attempts at jumping.
And when the bubbles were gone, they were ready to chase more. Why??? Did they get something from the bubble? Was there anything tangible in the bubble as they touched the rainbow surface?
Or was it just the joy of running, hopping, chasing after the beauty orb dancing on the wind?
The purpose was simply just to chase after and touch the joy and then chase some more.
And THAT is what I feel like this season is for. This is my season to learn how to chase after the beauty bubbles and feel the breeze lift my hair as I float along on His grace. And there is no "purpose" to the bubbles. The purpose is just to enjoy the dance, the chase.
And the purpose is to learn to not sit and wait for the perfect bubble to form before going after it.
Abigail and I have been talking about this thought image as it's been forming in my brain the last couple of weeks and we decided that we spend way too much time waiting for the right bubble to come along to join in the chase after beauty. What if that small child in my image in my mind waited for a certain sized bubble? A certain direction for the bubble to float? How silly would that look???
No. The child just chases after what she can grab and giggles and loves the life that she has experienced as she skipped along.
So Abigail and I have decided that we want to chase after ALL of the bubbles in life.
There is a bubble blessing to catch at the beach as we watch the ocean swell with a wave and crash with power onto the shore. There is a blessing bubble to catch when we swing with a friend on the playground or drink coffee with someone we love.
But there are also blessing bubbles as we fold laundry if we will chase after it.
The "chasing" after this elusive bubble is the perspective, the remembering. We can remember that we have a family to fold clothes for, that this t shirt will cover the torso of the man that loves us and works so hard and still comes home and takes us to the beach or the pool or plays cards with us over dinner. There is a blessing bubble in cleaning the bathroom or grocery shopping or anything we are doing because it is in those everyday moments that we can get to know each other better, hear each other's hearts about the "little stuff." Or it's a bubble because it is a chance to pray. Isn't prayer a beautiful enough bubble to chase after, even if we are praying because we are cleaning a toilet and have nothing better to think about. We just might have to chase harder to catch those. But they are there. Waiting for us to catch.
I've been called out by Jesus to join in the blessing bubble chase and learn how to really experience His joy. Abigail has decided to join me in the chase after this beauty.
Will you join me, too?
Will you, too, commit to making the choice to chase after every blessing bubble that our Father chooses to blow into the wind of our lives? To find the beauty and enjoy the simple purpose of running after His joy? Not because we have to run to find it, but because the joy is often found in the chase, in exercising atrophied legs, in burning lungs that have been aching to breathe deeply of the air instead of sleepily, lazily watching the bubbles to float by. I have to say, I am enjoying the laughter and the splendor of the pursuit of each bubble He sends my way. Even the bubble of surgeries. Even the bubble of moving away from people I love. Even the difficult bubbles. They have beauty. And it is so satisfying to my soul in the deepest places to know that every bubble my Father breathes into the wind is worth chasing. Come join the chase with me.
Ps it was so sweet last weekend, as these thoughts have been rolling around in my mind, to blow bubbles for the kids at the birthday party I was at. Such a confirming picture of all of my muddled hazy thoughts.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
I'm sitting here at the edge of a steep hill in my new home in California feeling the ocean breeze cool my skin as I peek at its source far down the hill and over the expanse in front of me.
It is beautiful.
And very poetically appropriate.
I feel like I'm sitting here at the edge of a precipice, looking into what is coming. Like the beginning of C S Lewis' Silver Chair, when Jill Pole is overlooking the expanse before she begins the adventure that will change her life.
I can feel the gentle breeze of the Spirit, moving and swaying the trees around me, cooling my tense nerves and prompting me to just take in the beauty that is laid out before me.
Like a wedding gown spread out across the bridal chamber the morning the bride wakes up to take her vows, I feel all of this expanse of beauty and peace laid out before me.
Just waiting for me to take it in and dress myself in it.
But not yet.
I feel the need to move slowly. To take in the beauty so that in the chaos of the journey I can remember these moments. Remember the beauty that I am immersed in. The beauty that I can see from high atop my hill of peace.
I'm anxious to start out now. Anxious to begin the journey.
But I will wait.
Wait until the Spirit says it is time to arise and join the dance of the swaying branches surrounding me. As they move with the wind in a beautiful dance of chaos mixed with perfect order, I am drawn to join in. But I will wait. I will wait and I will watch and store the beauty in my heart like a picture book of Gods promises. I will wait and let my heart sing and twirl with the rhythm that I can feel stirring inside of my soul.
As Im sitting here, there's a sort of theme song in my head by Rend.
And it fits just how I am feeling.
As Im sitting here, there's a sort of theme song in my head by Rend.
And it fits just how I am feeling.
Monday, February 16, 2015
I woke up this morning to a few fresh inches of snow, and it's still falling. As I sit from my perch in my second story window reading my Bible and praying and watching the world that is my neighborhood wake up, my eyes are greeted with a fresh blanket of snow covering the dry brown earth underneath it. It is beautiful. It's also just plain NUTTY. Saturdays high temp was in the SEVENTIES. We're talking warm. Like, sun's out, guns out, aka tank top weather. Then yesterday morning a cold front moved in and in began to snow.
Things change quickly in Denver.
And not just the weather.
I've been trying to find a way to write this out for over a month and I just haven't been able to, so I guess I will just plunge in and then try to make sense of it all.
The Road Church will have its last Sunday service this coming Sunday.
Whew. There. I got it out. Man that was HARD. So here's the deal. I will try to explain it the best I know how. Our original vision for coming here was from Luke 24 where the disciples were walking away from Jerusalem dejected that Jesus had died. Probably disillusioned. Maybe frustrated. Definitely DONE. And Jesus MET THEM ON THE ROAD (hence the name of our church). He met them where they were at when they weren't even looking for Him, because He was looking for them. And He explained Himself through the Scriptures. So that was our heart in coming here. Come alongside people and tell them that Jesus is already walking with them, wanting them to understand His love and his character and nature in a real and full sense. And I believe that we have tried our best to be obedient to that command. Are we without sin? Uh, NO. Are we without mistakes. Double no. Have we perfectly fulfilled the purposes of God in this place in this season? Nope. But we HAVE leaned hard into Him, loved Him, and desperately, achingly, wholly loved His people here. We have seen people get saved, people go from a struggling relationship with Jesus to a vibrant one filled with purpose and hope. I've watched seven year olds get excited about reading their Bible every night at their own house. I've watched Seth become a little evangelist. Straight up. The kid is bold and it's awesome cause he is doing it in love and kids are getting saved! I've watched Abigail grow into such a young lady of encouragement. When the kids in our neighborhood got saved, she continued to check in with them to ask what they're reading in the word and how they're doing. And it's so natural and sweet to watch. I dont have enough time or enough emotional energy to write out all of the beautiful things we have seen God do here, but it has been sweet and amazing. For those of you supporting us in prayer or otherwise, please know that it was not in vain and that Jesus has moved mightily.
But a few months ago, we felt a shift. We just felt a stirring to LISTEN to Him, that He had something to tell us and that we needed to be open and vulnerable to just listen. So we began to listen and pray and fast and cry as we realized that Jesus was telling us that our season at the Road Church would not be forever. Last fall, both Christian and I felt God speak to us through a bible study on Elisha that we were to stay put and continue to love on and pour into and enjoy our sweet congregation, but that the flow of the Spirit would be shifting and that He wanted us to do something different.
We sat on that for a while because we didn't know the timeline. Hey, for all we knew, it could be years from now. But Jesus is sweet and didn't let us stay sitting on it for long. In January, we tried to start up a men's and women's bible study and a few new things and the Spirit just plain said "NO." We were startled and began to fast and pray again and He spoke so clearly. This is done. I am moving into a beautiful new thing. Will you go with me?
As we prayed, we knew that Jesus would take care of the details so we announced to the church mid January that we would finish the book of 1 Peter and that our last service would be February 22nd. As a group, we talked about helping them to get plugged in somewhere else where they would get good teaching and good fellowship. As leaders, the Bedfords and the Phillips and of course we have tried out different area churches. Because as I prayed over what would happen to these sweet people that we have fellowshipped with these past two and a half years, the Lord gave me a vision of seedlings in a window box. And I just saw that they were healthy and happy there, but it was time to be planted in a larger garden where they could thrive. Jesus is sweet to give us reassurances that we are not just hurting them. I think that is probably my biggest fear in all of this, is to hurt someone. But we have to do what Jesus says to do! So we are.
Are there issues of sin that are behind the closing of the doors? NO. Double and triple, NO. No one has done anything to disqualify themselves from serving. I just wanted that to be out there so no one wonders. I mean, yeah, we sin and mess up but not the kind that gets you booted out of serving. Just the kind that drops us to our knees in repentance and dependence on the Spirit.
Are there practical reasons why we are shutting the doors? Yes. But those reasons aren't too big for God to work out. He could have intervened if He wanted to. We are shutting the doors simply because He said to. It wasn't a decision we made, but a command that we are obeying.
So please pray for us. That these wonderful people who have become like family to us would find a home church and really dive in and belong and grow and flourish. We just desperately want to see them flourish. Please pray that WE would flourish. You see, we don't feel like Jesus is done with the mission He gave us. We aren't done with ministry. We believe that we were called here to live life alongside people, to love them, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and MOSTLY to pray our guts out for the people and for the city. Although Christian deeply loves to teach the word of God, we both realize that he doesn't have to be behind a pulpit every Sunday to be fully immersed in the mission Jesus sent us to do. We truly believe what we have been telling people for years: the most ministry happens outside of the church walls. The church is there to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The ministry happens at work, in line at Sprouts, in the doctors waiting room, at the rec center after school. And prayer is so vital! And that takes no public platform. Really, the ministry we came to do will be the same. Just a different channel.
Yesterday, as I was reading the One Year, I came across Exodus 40:34-37
So that's kinda where I'm at. I want the glory of God to so fill our lives and ministry! I want to be overshadowed and just have our lives so full of Him! But, like the children of Israel, we have to follow where the Spirit says to go. If the cloud rested, they stayed put. If it moved, they moved.
WHENEVER the cloud was taken up, the would GO.
But if the cloud was not taken up, they didn't journey. They didn't move TILL THE DAY IT WAS TAKEN UP.
We have been waiting on Him. Seeking Him. He said to sit still. We did. Now he says to move. We are. Well, were not MOVING as in moving our physical location. We will still be in Denver in our cute little townhouse. I mean, unless Jesus says something later. We will have to wait and see. But for now we know that this is the season where He has taken up the cloud and said to journey into the next thing.
And it just made me think as I was praying that someone reading this might need to hear this. It's important to be flexible and sensitive to the Spirit. It may not make sense to everyone around you, but if Jesus says to do it and it's in line with scripture and you prayed and fasted and sought counsel, well, step out my friend. Don't sit by as the Spirit moves into something new. Yes, it's petrifying, but isn't missing out on the move of the Spirit even more frightening??? I just feel like Jesus wants to remind us all the He sits in charge of the world so we can trust and obey and it truly will be good in the end.
I have no idea what the future holds for us. Honestly, my health is kinda tanking. I have some things going on that my neurosurgeon says isn't from the surgeries and so I have an appointment in two weeks to figure some of that out. But all of that to say, I'm not doing fabulous. I have moments when I can get up and do something, but each decision is calculated, knowing that a half hour at the park with the kids means at least two hours of pain lying down afterward. I can make it to church now, but I pay for it for hours later. It's been difficult to be honest. Is Jesus still being good to me? Uh ABSOLUTELY. I am so cradled in his is arms and we as a family are seeing Him in a new and more beautiful way than ever before. We have found our new church home at Mile High Calvary and the pastor there said yesterday "sometimes you have to fall down to be able to look UP" and that is exactly where I am at. I am brought low, but it's a good low if that makes any sense.
So that's where we are at. We have no clue, really. But we will stay where we are in Northglenn until the day Jesus says to do differently. Christian will continue to give his full energy to work. I will keep homeschooling and praying and trying to keep my gaze fixed on Jesus. We are just chasing His beauty through this wilderness and loving that He calls and guides and LOVES. He is just so beautiful.
Friday, January 2, 2015
Hello out there! I am so sorry that I have been sparse in checking in, but things have been a little nutty around here and I just haven't had the mental energy to try to put to words everything that the Lord is doing. But I am going to try today in spite of my fuzzy brain, so here goes.
As far as everyday life goes, we are doing well. We took a three week break from school because of friends coming in to visit and it was so nice to have that flexibility!
We had sweet fellowship with our friends, a fun mellow Christmas, and then we all got sick. Like really very extra sick. In fact, Abigail got such a bad ear infection that her ear drum ruptured. That was a new one for me. I've never had to watch blood oozing out of my child's ear before but really it isn't that big of a deal.
Christian was up in the mountains taking this picture and snowshoeing (new favorite-est thing ever) so Jesus helped me clear the four inches of snow and ice off of my car and we got her all taken care of at the doctors. She still can't hear us out of that ear but her fever is gone and she's feeling better enough to enjoy all of her Christmas gifts. (P.s. How awesome is this amazing score from Jesus?! I found this American girl sized camper that sells for $70 for $16.99 at the thrift store!!! Brand new and unopened! One smallish crack on the back that Christian fixed with super glue and ta-da! Awesome gift!)
Seth is doing awesome and kinda climbing the walls from cabin fever because we've been sick for so long. Yesterday I took him out in the snow for half an hour and he literally just rolled around in it. Haha poor kid!
Spiritually, well, yeah I am still just getting wrecked. Every day it feel like I see more of my yuck. But I am also being blown away by His grace every single day and that's been amazing.
I am so thankful for the prayer that an amazing lady prayed over me as a new believer! She prayed that I would LOVE to read the word of God, that I would have a hunger for it.
Wow, what a prayer to pray over someone! Because through my walk with Jesus, through all of the ups and downs, His word has been my anchor. It has kept me grounded in Him and I know I would not know Him as sweetly without that time with Him. That's one of huge things I love about the one Year Bible. I know it's not for everyone and I'm not guilt tripping anyone, but I love that it takes me by the hand and leads me through every nook and cranny of the word. By the end of it, not one part has been over looked. I just love that! It doesn't matter really how you use it. My daughter is reading the New Testament and the psalms portion this year and plans to next year read the Old Testament and the proverbs. So it will take her two years instead of one. Some people just read and pay no attention to the dates. That's cool too. And last year, Christian jumped off the bible bus and read chronologically. Whatever you do, just read the Bible! For reals. Two minutes a day, two verses a day, just be in it. Your hunger for it will grow. There are days when I feel too tired to get up or I sleep in and it would be so much easier to skip it. But there's this sad place in me that knows IM GOING TO MISS SOMETHING. It's not a guilt trip! But have you ever had the choice to stay home and sleepily lay on the couch or pack up and spend some face time with the one you love on a beach listening to the sound of the waves and the declarations of love from your adorer? Who really picks lazily sitting on the couch? Not me! I love me some declarations of love! And I'm not about to miss out on that, ya know? Like really is that extra half an hour in bed going to charge up my batteries for the day and make me more productive and joyful? Uh yeah, from experience, I can say NOPE. But half an hour sitting with Jesus, reading His word, pausing to pray it in, praying for the people in my life, praying for the day and season ahead, yeah THATS what gets me going for the day. Better than any cup of coffee! Although a hot cup of coffee when it is -8 outside is helpful for my brain, not gonna lie.
Well, I truly began this post without any mind to exhort anyone to read their bible this coming year, but I guess I've landed there anyway. So yeah read your bible and pray every single day haha. No really, do it. No guilt for the days missed, but beg for a hunger for it that will be satisfied no where else. I'm praying that we will both have a hunger for reading the word of God this new year!
This year I am reading the One Year Bible again just because it works for me and I love it. There was so much good stuff today!!!
Genesis 4:6 was convicting! Examine why you're angry if you are and really break it down!
Matthew 2:14, 17, 23 was a wake up call for me. What if the things happening in my life, even the hard things, are happening so that Gods beautiful word can be fulfilled? Can I stop fighting against that and just TRUST?
Matthew 3:3 oh my! What is MY life crying out? Can anyone hear me? Do I cry out my woes and only whisper my praise?
But this morning I was mostly struck by genesis 4:16. You see, everytime I come across this story, I am reminded that God can speak His truths to anyone. When Abigail was just two years old, almost three, we were reading the Bible together. I was reading a chunk and then we would talk about it and pray. It was sweet. I decided to start at the very beginning, cause that a good place to start (and now that I have strung that sentence together, I have a song in my head...Sound of Music anyone?) and we were making our way through the story of creation and then came chapter four. Lots of hard things to discuss with a two year old! So I came to this section and paused. Murder. Should I really discuss murder with my two year old? I prayed and felt the nudge to continue so I did. I read through and her face was priceless. She was hanging on every word and when I finished with verse 16, I closed the book and looked at her.
And she broke into tears and hid her face on the floor and cried. Like giant huge wailing.
I was thinking, great, well that really went well...why did I think she wouldn't be upset about murder again? So I set aside the bible and said, honey, why are you crying, expecting to hear her say cause that guy killed that guy. Cause that would upset ME. But no.
She looked up at me with tears still streaming down her face and haltingly said
It turns out that she was so upset at the thought of someone purposefully leaving the presence of God.
I sat there stunned. I had never thought about that before when I had read that. Yes, of course it's sad that someone leaves the presence of God, but CAIN. Yeah, I had never looked that closely before. He killed his brother and took off. That had always been the end of the story for me.
So we sat there, my two year old and I, grieving for those that choose to walk away from the Lord instead of repent.
And I learned not only more depth to a story I had thought I understood, but also that Jesus can use ANYone to speak truth. Jesus especially loves to speak truth to the littles, so I decided then and there to listen more to them. Sometimes, I still forget. But He is sweet to remind me.
So in the middle of this terrible story of mans fall into sin and the effects it has had on all of mankind, there is this beautiful reminder to me to grieve over those who choose to walk away. And to listen for His truth from even the least of these. God values the littles! They are in fact some of His favorite people.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Hello from Colorado! Fall has melted into winter more quickly than I had anticipated, but it's been beautiful. We drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park for Christians birthday and just enjoyed a peaceful gorgeous picnic on Bear Lake. It was a blast, and thankfully the lake did not live up to its name.
Family life is great but spiritually, well, here is just a peek into the ways that Jesus is kicking my butt these days.
Psalm 106:9 says
"So He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.."
That could sort of be my life verse this last year. There's been a little bit of drama, for sure, and it has felt like "the depths" at times. But even in the darkest places of this past year, in the fog of not understanding why I was in ICU, where is my husband, why can't I lay on my back??? Even in the darkest questions of my heart, why is this happening, why is this happening again, why AGAIN, why can't I just feel normal again...
He has sustained me.
He has led me through "the depths" by His righteous right hand. And I have the mysterious beauty of holding His hand in contrast with the pain of continuing on in this season pulling at each other. I don't want to be in pain, but I have so enjoyed sitting in His lap and being shushed by His beautiful melodies.
But as I have begun to feel the shift of the seasons spiritually, I feel like I am moving into something new, and downright terrifying.
The death of the self life.
This last year has taught me that I don't need health or physical comfort to enjoy Gods peace and joy and beauty. But as I leave "the depths" and enter into this new season with a sputtering start, I have balked at what is before me.
IT IS EASIER TO DENY THE FLESH WHEN IT IS AFFLICTED. When I was in pain, it was easier to deny my self. Because my self wasn't feeling so hot. I could easily see that I had no place of refuge to run to besides the arms of my Savior.
But now, as things ease up a bit, do I immediately run to my Refuge? Am I as desperate as I was this last year?
I should be, because I'm a wretch.
Everywhere I look in my time with Jesus, He is teaching me about what it looks like to walk with Him in the power of HIS SPIRIT.
Everywhere I turn in my time with the Lord, there are plumb lines to hold my life up to and see how much I need Him.
The plumb lines are not there to condemn me and make me feel less than some standard. They are there to show me what is actively ruling in my life
Self or the Spirit
I keep running into things like 1 Corinthians 13
2 Timothy 1:13
Titus 2 & 3
These are each plumb lines that show me whether or not I am empowered by His Spirit or trying to do it on my own.
It has beautifully defined for me what the battle of the Christian life really is. It has reminded me that although I'm weary, there is a battle that needs to be fought. There is a goal worth keeping my eyes on.
And honestly IT IS TIRING TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT TOWARDS THE GOAL.
When Paul said he was pressing on towards the upward call, pressing on toward the goal, I don't know why I pictured a walk along a grassy meadow with butterflies flitting about and sunshine filtering the light into a perfect set of warm tones. Oh my gosh, I am so dumb.
PRESSING ON. This is implying an upward climb, a struggle, a difficult walk. I picture in my mind a ship pushing into the middle of a hurricane, everything soaked, the ship practically on its side at times, people being tossed about. Actually, I have this image in my mind of Jack Sparrow from the first Pirates movie (debatably the only decent one of the trilogy) guiding his ship through that insane storm towards Isla de Muerta after the Black Pearl. The lightning is cracking the sky open, the rain is a deluge, the men barely hanging on to the sides of the ship. And there's jack, smiling. Smiling, because as he pressed INto the storm, he knew he was gaining ground.
Yes, I did just compare the apostle Paul to Jack Sparrow. Sue me. I'm an imagery person. On a side note, so was Ezekiel and man did God use some imagery with him! I'm so glad Jesus knows us and speaks to us how we need to hear it. Rabbit trail.
Now, I don't actually think Jack Sparrow is anything like Paul, but I hope you get what I'm saying. That's the imagery. Smiling into the storm, understanding that what you're gaining is far more than the accumulation of the difficulties taking place at the moment. The storm in the movie was the vehicle to get him where he needed to go, and faster. Our storms can do the same.
The crux of the matter is this:
WILL WE DENY SELF LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THAT THIS LIFE ISNT ABOUT US?
Yes, Jesus loves us. He stinking died for us. I think it's clear that He loves us. And He does have a beautiful plan for our lives. Hello, we have the beautiful hope of heaven lining the majesty of His creation. Regardless of circumstance, we can see that his plans for us are beautiful.
BUT WHAT IF HIS PLANS FOR US, WHAT IF THE BEAUTY IN THEM, IS NOT SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS?
What if the beautiful plan He has is to use us to display His grace to the world?
WHAT IF THAT HURTS?
Will we deny the self life that seeks it's own comfort?
Reading through Ezekiel has been so challenging this last week! So many times, God has him do some crazy stuff JUST TO BE A PICTURE TO PEOPLE WHO WERENT EVEN GOING TO LISTEN OR REPENT YET.
God knew they would eventually look back and remember and repent but Ezekiel's job was to be the picture NOW regardless of what Ezekiel saw as fruit of the situation.
Oh, how many times I have argued with God lately that what He is asking me to do is pointless. No one cares. No one is listening. The only ones that care would care even if I did nothing, so what's the point.
And He has spoken to my heart:
Do it anyway. Ezekiel 3:3
It's not about you.
Don't look at their faces. (Ezekiel 2:6-8)
Don't be dismayed.
It MAY BE that someone will listen
Even if the only fruit is the joy of obedience, do it.
The main point:
GET OVER YOURSELF JO
This life is not about you
Deny your rights
Deny your need to feel like someone approves of you or cares.
Do this thing I'm asking NOT because you understand it or because it will produce much fruit. DO IT BECAUSE I ASKED YOU TO, I HAVE A PLAN, AND ONLY MY PLEASURE MATTERS.
Set aside self.
And what happens when we choose NOT to set aside self?
Well it reminded me of King David when he chose not to go out to war in the spring when all the kings were supposed to. He was tired of war. He wanted to sit down and rest. But this life isn't time to rest!
The story starts in 2 Samuel 11:1, but basically, he chose to stay home because he was tired. He wanted a staycation and if God wasn't going to give it to him, he was going to take it! And what follows is sin and death and a breach in the sweet fellowship he had with God. God brought forgiveness and beauty to the story, but there was so much destroyed in the process that David realized that battling until his last breath would be better than walking a path that God hadn't chosen for him. He had to give up his "rights" and trust that battling every moment of this life if that was Gods plan was better than walking outside of fellowship with God.
We don't get to pick how we bring glory to God. We just get to pick whether or not we stick to his path. And sticking to His oath means giving up control, means saying goodbye to the self-life.
And it's hard to give up the self life. It's HARD.
But anything worth doing in life,
Anything scripture clearly lays out,
ITS HARD TO MAINTAIN
Not walking in the flesh
All of it cannot be done without constantly checking back in with the Spirit. Checking in with God in a continual surrender.
I think in fact that this is part of what Jesus meant when He said to pray without ceasing. We should just be having a life-long constant RELATIONSHIP with Him. As we seek to be free of selfishness or pride or anger or whatever we are struggling with, we are spending more time with Him. And that's not a bad thing!
So the duh moment for me right now is this:
It's okay that even after a season of suffering, I still have to come to Him to teach me daily what it means to BE LONGSUFFERING.
It's okay that I don't have it yet.
"Not that I have attained but I press on towards the goal"
That dude certainly had it way more together than ME! But even he said he hasn't arrived.
After this last season where He spoke so much into my heart and life, I feel almost as if I should be more grown up or something. And hopefully I have grown a little, but that's not the point.
MAYBE GROWING IS THE REALIZATION THAT WE ARE IMMATURE
Maybe the most mature people in life are those that are aware of their own immaturity because then they can take that immaturity to the Lord and submit it to Him. And ya know what? After they do, they'll have to do it again, or they'll find another area that needs to be submitted.
What I'm saying is just this:
It's okay to be constantly aware that we fall short.
Because we do. It's what we do with the realization of ourselves, of how much the self life is on the throne of our hearts, of how much of our lives wouldn't change if the Holy Spirit departed...it's what we DO with that that matters.
What do you do when faced with your utter depravity?
Are we defensive and begin making excuses?
Are we crushed by the disappointment of realizing that we aren't as good as we thought we were?
Or do we turn to our Jesus in thankfulness not just for the cross that allows the grace to be saved at all but also in thankfulness that He has shown us where we have fallen short as well as given us the Resource to fly with Him again (the Holy Spirit)?
Are we thankful that He has shown us how we can grow?
The beginning to denying the self life is to realize life isn't about ME. So that's where I'm at.
Spiritually, I'm a wreck. I'm a crazy sinner and dude I've been desperate for Him!
Physically, I'm doing a bit better. I can get out of the chair in the corner for longer periods of time and if I'm careful not to overdo it, I can school the kids and make SOME food. If you're into praying for me, I'd love prayer to get better and better though. Cause I'd love to clean my house again. I'd love to sew and sled down a snowy hill with my kiddos without pain. But, all in all, things are really very much better than they were a month ago.
And pray for me to live in brokenness with Jesus on the throne instead of my self-life ruling the day. That is what I need most of all!