Monday, September 27, 2010

A little something

I just found the following, hidden away in my documents folder....not sure when I wrote it, but I wanted to share it with you today.

Like little seeds planted in the ground, the seed must die for a new plant to grow! It's like us....when we were ignorant to the grace of God, we lived for ourselves & though we may have done "good" in the eyes of the world, ultimately there was no purpose, no end goal that we could strive for, except for pleasure in ourselves & our works. Now, through the ultimate sacrifice of God's death & divine miracle of His resurrection, we have a hope of something else. We have something to live for, someone who died for us, and now we can live a new life, dedicated to honoring Him for the gift he's given us....freedom, forgiveness, faithfulness, fullness of life, a fearless way to live.

I want my earthly inheritance to be spent before it's stockpiled...I hope to give it away, and to bless those who may never be encouraged to take a step of faith into a life they never dreamed of.  In Psalms 68, it talks about putting the lonely in families. Well, I've been given a family, but others have not. They are the lonely, and they can be part of our family...God's family. The love, care & provision that I have been blessed with all my life, can be someone else's if you or I care enough to share it with them. Sharing not only the practical things like food, shelter, & water, but God's blessings of love, acceptance, forgiveness & encouragement.

Wherever I go, whoever I become, this is the person I want to be: I want to be someone who serves others, who cares about the people who are rejected from society, who is involved with missions, who goes wherever I’m needed so I can meet a need, someone who seeks God first, who is unashamedly Christian, who gives all that I am to love on people, & listening at all times.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A quiet Joy

In the past two years, there have been multiple things that have upset the flow of my life.  Some would say this just IS life....the constant upsetting, twisting, lurching, occasional lull and then surprises once again.  I agree with this, but I think you know what I mean when you feel like your "nice little life" is turned upside down!  Even though crazy things are what make up our life, somewhere we feel's the "normal" days that should comprise the most of it? I don't know if this makes sense....but stick with me.

I've been challenged to look at joy in my life, and here is what I can say....for those of you reading who don't know me well, in 2008 my dear friend gave her life trying to save another camper, and both died tragically over a large waterfall...a few months later, my grandma passed away after a 5 year fight against cancer...a few months after that, my dad had triple by-pass surgery following a motorcycle accident...and a few months after that, my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia...leading to this March, when she met Jesus at home in heaven.  That's part of my backstory...I'm not telling you this so that you pity me, or on the flip say...she has no idea what kind of pain I've been through, I just want you to know that I can to some extent say with assurance that I can empathize with pain...and we can be connected through that. These trials are not the things that make me unique, nor does it for anyone else....but it is the way we respond to these situations that really define who we are, and what we are made of. back to Joy....

"Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever." (Psalm 30:10-12)

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12)

Joy to me, is the confidence I have in knowing that God, the eternal and all knowing, all powerful God will sustain me throughout whatever trials must be faced on this earth.  Having this trust in his unfailing mercy, brings me joy....understanding that though times can be tough, He is still faithful, He is still strong, He will sustain me and hold me up when I feel like falling.  This joy is freedom in Christ, knowing that when I cannot make it, He will continue the work that he began in me.  It is not something that I can do, or stir up, or make grow inside of is something that God reminds me of at the right moment of need...He reminds me that I am not alone, and that there is hope for a future in Him and in that hope I can find joy because my present moment is not the's not final and God will be with me in every situation, at every moment....forever.

This to me, is how joy is seen.  It is in the reassurance of God's unfailing love that I am able to relax in His arms and revel in joy despite the raging seas pounding against my soul.  His joy will give me strength.

"Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of his salvation for his Anointed one." (Psalm 28:6-8)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not what it seems....

"How am I going to be able to grow up without a mom to tell secrets to?" ....this is just one of many quotes that have made me tear up today.... I've been put in a lot of tough situations recently, that are forcing me to make decisions that right now I feel I cannot make.  It's like life is asking me to become a new person, one that I don't know about, and one that I don't necessarily want to be.  I guess it's all part of growing up, but wow...growing pains have never burned so much.

To a large degree, our family & friends that we have relationships with make up a large part of our identity.  When we lose them, we lose a part of our identity too....I've recently heard this termed like an amputation of the familiar self.  Who we were with them, is not going to be who we are without them. It's like....a normal life loss of something like...adolescence, or a job, or moving away...the loss is like a broken arm that takes a while to heal and the pain real but it will eventually heal.  However, catastrophic loss....death of a parent, sibling, friend, child, like an amputation...not just a broken arm.  It will never come back or be completely healed, and you'll always have phantom feelings of the limb that once was there but no longer remains.

I guess this is all part of growing up and growing into who I will be...though it feels different than I thought it would.  You never imagine these things to come, and you'd never imagine the consequences that would follow...everyone is different and we're all trying to become a new different together, yet still individually.  Some people make choices for themselves that affect just them, and other make choices that lead to more and more choices for other people.  It's all very difficult, and hard.....

Wishing that I had some verses right now to write about, but I'm too empty to seek them out today.  If you're reading this...what are some verses that have helped you grow into who you are today?  I'm curious.....because I just feel like I have no idea where my life is going, and it's hard to really go day to day when you don't have a direction. :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Walking into the Dark

This weekend, I received a new book in the mail.  If you're like me, you'll know that a delivery like this is like Christmas!  I love getting packages in the mail, even when they're expected.  You might remember me writing about another book called "The Adventure" by Jerry Sittser....well, this book is also by him, but it is titled "A Grace Disguised--How the Soul Grows Through Loss".   Because I've enjoyed reading "The Adventure" three times through, I figured this new book would also be a good read. Well so far....I'm hooked.  Here are some of my thoughts from the weekend....

Something that he says early on, is that the darkness of grief is inescapable & is something we must face alone.  We know as Christians that we do not have to do this completely alone, but the journey inside is personal and one that cannot be walked by any another human.  One struggle for many (as well as myself) is that we tend to walk away from the darkness and chase the fading light of our hope.  The joy we see disappearing beyond the horizon.  To that struggle, this quote struck me--"...the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise."

Wow.  I think most of us "know" that we are supposed to face pain head on, to walk towards it despite the hurt that continues & sometimes grows worse over time....but too often I fill it with other things, or turn away, or put off until I'm "more ready" to face it, all the while staying in the dark, holding onto the last glimmer of light that has so recently seemed to vanish. Staying here though, holds the light at bay, and refuses to see that only through the darkness can you see light again.  

Sittser says, "The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us." This really spoke to me....once again I am reminded that we ALL have trials, we ALL have situations that are overwhelming...that doesn't make us unique, it doesn't separate us from everyone else because it's something we all go through.  But the choices we make in response to these difficult situations, are what define us & make us who we are....they define who we will become.  "We do not always have the freedom to choose the roles we must play in life, but we can choose how we are going to play the roles we have been given."

Isaiah 41: 9-10, 18 says, "I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.....I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs." This gives me hope...knowing that when I was in darkness, hidden in the furthest corners of the earth, Christ came to find me. He brought me out of that depth & into the light. If Christ has done this once, we can hold fast that He WILL do it again.  
I'll leave off today with this last quote from Sittser, "In the valley of suffering, despair and bitterness are brewed. But there also character is made. The valley of suffering is the vale of soul-making."

Let's journey together through the darkness, alone & yet together, to run towards the light that we yet are waiting to see.  May we trust that God is with us to protect us & hold us though our hearts ache with pain & our limbs shutter with fear. He will give us wings as eagles and feet like deer, able to stand on rocky ground.