Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Get away, Get deep

'A vacation is what I need to get away, to escape, to heal.' At least that's what I unconsciously told myself, convincing my heart that this time away would bring me the peace that I so desperately sought. Naively I believed myself, and didn't think one thing about it not being even 1 percent truth.

It was just about two weeks ago that I remembered a deep truth in my heart...that my life situations are what they are, yet only I have the choice in whether I live in them or truly live because of them. Living not in depth of despair, but out of the depths into the light of our Heavenly Father. Taking those changes & seeing where God wants me to go with them. Joy has always been something that God has blessed me with, and it has been so obvious through past hardships, but in the last few months I viciously pushed it away...I really just didn't WANT to be joyful, or happy. 'I'll be happy when I go to Ireland, that'll make me happy. I'll change then, just not now.'

It was only a few days ago that I subtly realized this, and realized that my renewed joy was from the refreshing rediscovery of the fact that it is not a new land that will give me peace, not a new surrounding, not new pictures or meeting new people. Peace would not come from getting away, from writing for days or reading a new book in a far off place, far away from the troubles of this, peace came from the One who is the author & perfecter of our peace. It is the JOY that He alone can bring to my heart. Only through Him will I be able to find sustenance to bring me through another day, hopefully more after that too.

It was then that I pondered, 'Where IS my hope? is it in this "trip" that I'm heading out on, or is it in Christ?' I had to admit that most of my faith was that Ireland would be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow....the promise after the rain. However, it will not be that for me, for I have found my joy...the rainbow that God gave me when He adopted me.

Ireland will not be a place that will bring me peace, but a land that will hopefully give me space to feel & meet God in a new way that I wouldn't before. For it is ONLY in him that I can rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Defining Moments

The thought occurred to me today to think about those defining moments in my life, when something has shifted inside of me to make my view of life or of myself change. I immediately thought about the moments that huge surprises come upon us, and we are thrown into a time or moment of shock....or maybe awe. But is it really in that same moment that we change? You might argue with me (and not get too much fight from me) that it is in that moment that some things may change, or rather we may realize at that moment that things will be essentially different, but realizing situations or life will be different doesn't necessarily equal a defining moment.

For something to define you, I believe it takes insight, circumstantial change & inner rearranging both in thought & actions. Let's take Black Thursday for example. That was a horrible day & incidents that changed many people's lives. But....let's think. Was it in those moments that people were changed? Or was it in the weeks - months to follow that they were changed? I would argue that it is in the small moments, the ones we barely notice, where we grow the most & where the rest of our lives are defined. It is in the small, quiet moments that reality meets our dreams & the two collide to make a new vision.

It is in those moments where you realize you have to choose to either dwell in the shock of your circumstance of grasp the truth that you hold inside & move forward in a new or redefined direction. Using the knowledge you've gained to cast light on your path. You have to choose to look ahead, not forgetting the past but using it. What you do after those startling days, will define who you are. It will show who the real you is and what you're capable of. For it should not be the circumstances around us that shape who we are, but the change within us that defines our life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I know...

"I do not know what lies ahead, the way I cannot see; Yet One stands near to be my guide, He'll show the way to me. I do not know how many days of life are mine to spend; But One who knows and cares for me will keep me to the end. I do not know the course ahead, what joys and griefs are there; But One is near who fully knows, I'll trust his loving care.

"I know who holds the future and I know He holds my hand. With God things don't just happen, everything by Him is planned; So as I face tomorrow with it's problems large and small, I'll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all."

This is a song by Alfred B. Smith and E. C. titled "I Know Who Holds the Future," which I just found tonight while playing old old "Singspiration" music on the piano. The words & truth behind those words brought me comfort & I thought I might share that with you.

"This week has brought me down a path of darkness & decay. But lately I've been feeling that it might just go away. This evening I laughed, I cried & I prayed, all for different things. And then I thought a simple minded joyful heart also prays & sings! The joy tonight I feel inside, deep deep within. And laughter fills my every thought, knowing I'm cleansed of sin." ---me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Positive Memory

Okay, so here's something that is good! Some of you know that I work with an 8th grade class at my church, teaching them & questioning them about what they believe about Christianity & the theology in their hearts. Basically, here's what our church believes, and why....and then asking them to look into the Bible & to discover for themselves what they believe. So two Wednesdays ago, my friend Ellen & I took this group to a memory loss home. We paired off each of the kids with a resident to do a "thanksgiving" craft. For each pair, we had a sketch of a bare tree...then we had the kids ask the residents what they were thankful for & write it on printed colored leaves & paste them on the tree. It was so cool. Afterwards, we took the kids to culvers to talk about the experience. It was interesting to have them open up about how they were intimidated right away & nervous because they didn't know what to expect. They noted how many of the residents kept repeating questions "like 50 times!" The kids thought it was neat to meet people who others sometimes think is less important or worthy. And they were excited at the possibility to go back again! Then last week, due to outside circumstances, we only had 1/2 hour to brief the kids on the lesson for next week on how we are created in God's image. I took 8 of them out for pizza and discussion...we talked about which was more important between a puppy, baby, horse or old person. They almost all chose the baby, but then I gave them other questions like...if you were a pregnant teen & your fiance wasn't the dad of the baby & your parents might disown you, would you have an abortion? Then I asked what if you had twins, one was disabled & the other born somewhat "normal" and you could only keep one alive....which would you choose? And then again, if there was an old person who couldn't remember anything, and didn't know any family anymore, would it be so bad if someone helped them to die? The whole point in asking these questions was to get the kids to wonder what it is about us as humans, that makes us special. Is it who we are physically? Mentally? Socially? or is it more than that? If we're created in the image of God, what does that mean? Why does that make us special & worth something? And if we're ALL created in the image of God, is it fair or right to judge one person worth more than another? We got into a good discussion, and I think they really "got it" that the Bible is clear about our value in life. At the end of the night, I had each of the kids write their name on the top of a red note card. Then they passed them around the table, and everyone wrote one thing that they thought was unique and special about that person. Then we read Psalm 139. (which when i told them psalm 139, they all wrote psalm 1:39.....thought that was funny!) “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

What comfort, to know that God knows us inside & out, upside & down, good & bad, our worth & our sinfulness. He knows us & yet loves us. He chose us. He chose to die for us, to bring Glory to Himself. He alone is worth more than anything we can think of...He is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nothing to Say---

Do you ever have so much to say that you don't say anything? Can't say anything? Would rather shut up than say what you'd like to?

Are the thoughts so vivid & alarming that you shock yourself...or you think that no one would really understand? And you wonder if God is preparing you for yet one more thing while crying because you think that your last weekends memories were just that...preparing you for what happened yesterday?

Since I really have "nothing" to least not here anyway (I just need some deep conversations with God right now)...I'll give you some verses that I've been thinking on.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another --and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25)

"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult & persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." (Hebrews 10:32-35)

This is the hope I hold onto. This is something I know to be true & evident in my life and in those around me. Let's encourage one another, though we suffer....let us remember Who Christ is...that is our hope.

Monday, November 03, 2008


This weekend was very trying on me. Saturday evening I took part in a Novembering service at Church of the Open Door. It was beautiful, every part…we lit candles, sang beautiful songs, remembered those who we have lost & grieved with each other as we sat & wept. Maybe not everyone wept, but I sure did. I slept deep that night & woke up crying. Not a hard cry, but just a solemn finality of life cry. Sunday morning I listened as my dad preached on suffering & hope. I did not want to hear about hope…don’t get me wrong, that’s the ONLY thing getting me through each day, but I didn’t want to hear it. I cried the ENTIRE service…from the first songs through the last prayer & beyond. I just would not hold myself back, which I know I should not do, but wow did I hurt. Now, as I write this, my eyes are refilling themselves with tears.

There are many reasons why I write to you my thoughts, emotions, feelings & frustrations. I want to be honest. I desire to share, yet am sometimes unwilling to vocalize. I yearn to heal. I need encouragement. I remind myself that “yes, there are things to hope for & people who care.” I pray that through my honesty & openness that you are able to be encouraged.

This morning, I was encouraged. An email I received referenced a verse I have never read (or at least didn’t remember). While the truth is something I hold onto with white knuckles, sometimes I forget. The verse was Malachi 3:6a, “I the LORD do not change.” Such confidence I can have here, and so can you…. It is interesting. The title “lord” means (in my terms) ruler over my life and death. And so I see that amidst the changes of both life and death, our LORD does not change. He is the same yesterday, today & forever.

My prayer for you & for me, is that together, while we seek out what our futures look like, and how our pasts influence how we grow into our future, that we would bind together as friends, brothers, sisters, encouragers, rejoicers & mourners….that we would come along side each other in prayer & support as we approach God in our weakness. In our brokenness, that we would share with each other realizing our inability as humans to recover from this alone. To see that God has given us each other to lean on while we are walking this earth together.

Here's a song that touched me this weekend. It's called "I will Rise" by Chris Tomlin.